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Posts Tagged ‘Emergent Church’

(revised 01/30/15)

I feel privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member of the “anti-Emergent” Facebook Group Concerned Nazarenes. This Facebook Group is attempting to confront and warn members primarily of The Church of the Nazarene denomination.

I, John, and many others are concerned about the doctrinal falling away of many evangelical churches and entire evangelical denominations. Most of these churches are falling away from biblically sound doctrine into the postmodern heresies of Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc.

Interestingly, all of the above individuals have spoken and/or taught at the heretical George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary, schools in the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. The EFCI was once (relatively) biblically sound.  But, in recent decades, all the Regions of the EFCI (including the once very biblically sound, Wesleyan Holiness EFC-ER) have begun trending quickly into postmodern “progressive evangelical” apostasy.

By the way, John – like myself – is Wesleyan Holiness in doctrine. We hold to the Wesleyan-Arminian position that a born again Christian can turn his or her back on God, walking away into apostasy and “losing” his or her salvation. Technically, we believe in “conditional eternal security”.

So why exactly is the EFCI (and many other evangelical denominations) falling away? There are many factors I’m sure – factors which I will not attempt to enumerate here. But I did find the following post by my friend John Henderson very pertinent. Click here for the original source of this post. Note: I am inserting comments [in brackets] and emphasizing certain points by bolding.

Point of No Return
By John Henderson
12/14/14

This is one of those things where I would welcome, would embrace, having someone tell me I was wrong and showing me how so. It has to do when a person or a group has gone so far in the wrong direction, making wrong choices, and ignoring and neglecting God that they will never return to their better days outside of a divine miracle of intervention.

It happened first in the Garden of Eden. God made it clear to Adam and Eve what the limits were and what would happen if they went beyond them. They went past them and, in the day they sinned, they died spiritually on the spot and physically a few years later. Not only were those the consequences to them but they brought sin and damnation upon all of their descendants that only the Cross of Christ could overcome.

One might argue that God’s creation was perfect and it was impossible for man to undo what God had done. That is a good argument but it was not what happened. Salvation is perfect but man can still trample the perfect redemption.

That is how it is. There is a point where a person can go beyond the possibility of repentance—not because God is powerless but because his or her conscience is so seared by unbelief and rebellion that they cannot come to repentance. Someone has likened it to no longer hearing God’s call because the heart is so filled with animosity to the things of God and the attractions of the world that His call is drowned out by the din of those things. The call has not diminished. The hearing has ignored it so long that it is as though there is no call.

We have a grandfather clock in our hallway. It chimes the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes. Frankly, I do not notice them very often because I am accustomed to ignoring them. A visitor sleeping in a nearby room will often remind me of them. I try to remember to silence the chimes when we have overnight guests.

For this reason, I think a backslider who once followed Christ faithfully is less likely to return than would be a reprobate who has never received Christ. I think of the man who wrote that great song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” who apparently never made it back. There are statics [sic] that say younger people are more likely to receive Christ than are older people. I often wonder if I would have ever turned to Christ had I put it off at the age of 15 until a later time; had I decided to taste of the world a bit before considering Christ.

There are many sad stories of people who put off salvation so long until all opportunities are gone. I do not like to hear of them but they are out there. Many of them I knew personally.

That same thing is true of once-great churches. I have yet to learn of a backslidden church or denomination that ever returned to its original level of spiritual life, activity, and influence after having started down the road of compromise. The slide was always gradual and hardly noticeable in the beginning. After a while, people started to notice something was wrong and eventually there were those who began to warn about it. There were occasional turnabouts, but not many and not often. Once the fatal drift took hold, it was too late. The cancer of sin had eaten away too much for there to be a recovery. If there ever was to be a cure, it had to be divine, but usually God had been so excluded that He was no longer considered that relevant and His call was no longer being heard.

The good news is that it does not have to turn out like that. There is still that clarion call and most can still hear it. Some will turn to Christ who seemed beyond the call.

I was told that when news got out that I had been saved, there were some who found it unbelievable about me. One person reportedly expressed such disbelief as to say: “Not him! Not that Henderson boy! Anybody but him could be saved!” I am glad that the Holy Spirit thought differently. God may have had to reach a little farther for me but He did. The stain of sin may have penetrated deeply even at my young age, but the Blood of Jesus went deeper than the stain had gone.

I have often thought that my own point of no return was very near then. An accident that should have been fatal convinced me of that. I had come to Christ shortly before the accident—maybe a week, two at the most—and believe I would have perished in the accident if I had put off salvation. I broke my neck in three places in a diving accident and walked away with no permanent damage of any sort.

Genuine revival is still possible. Maybe it won’t look like we used to know or expect, but it can be every bit as real and far-reaching as ever. As long as the Holy Spirit is still with and in us, everything pertaining to the preaching of the gospel is still just as possible as it was in the beginning. That will not change or diminish until Jesus comes again.

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Back in 2010, I came across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I ended up corresponding with Aaron Wright. Aaron, along with his brother Adam and their dad Troy, have a discernment ministry called Foundations Research Group.

Interestingly, Aaron, Adam and Troy had been attending the Evangelical Friends church in which I grew up. This church (as well as many churches in the Evangelical Friends denomination) is increasingly following the postmodern/ Emerging/Emergent teachings of heretics Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc. Aaron, Adam and Troy attempted to “wake people up” in this Evangelical Friends church. Unfortunately, their efforts failed.

Aaron, Adam and Troy now attend a Grace Brethren Church in North Canton, Ohio along with their families. Eric Barger’s 2010 seminar was held at this church.

Troy has written various discernment articles. My Concerned Nazarene friend Manny Silva posted one of these – an article by Troy entitled “Falling Away”. Click here for the original posting of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Falling Away
March 29, 2012 by reformednazarene

[Introductory comments by Manny Silva (reformednazarene)]:
The following is from a brother in the Lord, Troy Wright, of Foundations Research Group.  With his sons Aaron and Adam, they work diligently at providing information, as well as teaching, about the many dangers that have come into the evangelical church.  I met them finally last year at an Eric Barger conference in Canton, Ohio.  If you are in Ohio and you need resources or any kind of help in dealing with false teaching, please contact them.

Falling Away
(Troy Wright)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2: 1-2)

The Bible predicts a “Great falling away from the faith” in the last days shortly before the return of Christ to earth to establish His earthly kingdom. Foundations Research Group is an apologetics/discernment ministry of under-shepherds (sheepdogs) committed to the protection and guarding of the sheep. We seek to support local pastors (shepherds) by providing research and support tools that time prohibits them from gathering on their own.

Our prayer is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to the apostasy that is prophetically sweeping over the church in these last days. May He give you unashamed courage to stand up for Biblical truth in your own church and to expose these false teachings wherever they pop up.

Do not be naïve about the reception you will encounter. You would think that in light of Paul’s instructions throughout his letters to call out and expose deceivers and Christ’s example with the religious leaders during His ministry, committed Christians would have unashamedly cried out the truth long before these teachings established their footholds in our churches. But in the name of Christian unity, love, and meekness the silence has been deafening. But let one small voice boldly speak truth in the face of the deception and suddenly all the Christians grow vocal chords and are emboldened with courage to shout their disapproval…….not at the false teachings……..but at their Christian brother for voicing his “mean-spirited” judgment and stirring up dissension in the church. Thanks to the “seeker friendly” mentality they don’t want to offend anyone by disagreeing openly and suggesting absolute truth. That would appear too “narrow” and would be disrespectful to the heretics……….and we are talking about heresy. The teachers of these apostate movements attack the very foundations of historic, apostolic Christianity as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

Those of us who have been serving Christ for a generation or more remember when the Bible was revered as the very Words of God Himself throughout the pulpits all across America. We knew that a day was soon coming when the world would forsake the God of the Bible and swear their allegiance to a one-world ecumenical religious system. We recognized through Bible prophesy that we were living in the last days of men’s rebellion against their creator and that the soon return of Christ for His church was right at the door. We assumed that the “great apostasy” preceding His return referred to all those liberal churches of the last 2 centuries and of course Roman Catholicism. Because of the Biblical foundation of our faith, it was easy to discern false doctrine and heresy.

What is so alarming to all of us is that in just three short decades or so, we have watched one Bible-believing church after another fall into disbelief and even paganism until now it’s difficult to find anyone who is willing to stand up for truth in our pulpits. Our fundamental denominations are caving in to ecumenical pressures as their seminaries are filled with liberal professors and new age thought. Due to the feel-good-gospel and the you-can-have-it-now message, our churches are full of false converts who are oblivious to Bible truth and are offended when they hear it. Since they are clueless about Bible prophesy and what’s really going on around them, anyone who sounds a warning is considered a nut, not to mention politically incorrect and socially despicable.

Our war is with the lies of the enemy of our souls. We aren’t directly fighting the wolves who are attacking the flock with their false teachings and books. Our main battles in this war are with the goats……..those church members and leadership who God has permitted to live among us until he separates us at the rapture. They sit in our pews with us and sing our songs. They like hanging out with sheep. Though never really surrendered or regenerated, they intellectually and logically ascent to the same beliefs as we do. They do all the same stuff as sheep but without a life or death commitment to Biblical truth. They actually think they are sheep because of the great works they do…..sheep stuff. They even try to convince the Lord at the resurrection that they are sheep but He tells them “I never knew you.”

Because goats have not surrendered lordship over to Jesus, they are very possessive of their environments. They don’t want anyone messing with their territory. If you try to spiritually take a goat where he doesn’t want to go he will buck you. Goats aren’t concerned about the welfare of the flock but only with the comfort of their own stall. Doctrine is of no importance to goats. You see, sheep eat sheep food…….the pure milk of the gospel of truth. They feed from the hand of the Good Shepherd. They know His voice and eat of The Word. Goats, “on the other hand,” will eat anything. They even eat garbage. They don’t care where it comes from or how clean it is. If they can get it down, they will eat it. Goats especially like goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is that watered-down, low-fat gospel fit for goats who are lactose “intolerant” of the nutritious, pure milk of the gospel. When a pastor offers sheep food from the pulpit, he will fill his church with sheep. If he offers goat’s milk he will fill his church with goats.

I cannot stress enough how lonely this battle is for most people. Most of your friends and relatives will encourage you to keep quiet if you disagree with the church’s new teaching and simply leave the church without a controversy. They always bring up Matthew 18:15-17 instructing you to go to the person privately and not to bring reproach on the church. This scripture is for a brother in sin or for someone personally offended and is out of context when used for false teachers in the church. We are never instructed to be quiet or understanding toward wolves attacking the flock in scripture. As Paul, we are to lovingly and with all truthfulness expose, correct, call out by name, print, and warn the other churches about unrepentant heretics as his letters did in the early church and were passed around to the entire body of Christ. God’s Word is offensive to all who love not the truth whether in the church or out and THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW IT.

Make no mistake about it, these movements have leaked into every seminary and every church to some degree in the form of books, videos, study courses, worship seminars, pastoral retreats, small groups and  youth leaders.

Don’t be discouraged. There are thousands of Christians in churches all over the country fighting this same truth war with these last-days false teachers. We and many other good ministries across America have lots of materials available for you. You can contact us by internet through our e-mail at frgsheepdogs@hotmail.com. The scriptures warn us to “come out of her” in Revelation 18 referring to the apostate church. If you don’t feel equipped to fight this battle, find another church that stands for Biblical truth. But first find a warrior in your church who you can share this material with who feels compelled to stay and fight for the flock. Pray, pray, pray for our pastors and leaders in these last days. Behold….He comes quickly!

Troy Wright
co-researcher / Foundations Research Group
Canton, Ohio
on FaceBook

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Back in 2010, I happened to chance across the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. It was through this Group that I met Concerned Nazarene Manny Silva. And it was not long before we found something in common – Manny had recently attended a local seminar here in Ohio, led by counter-Emergent speaker Eric Barger. Small world!

I am reposting a blog by Manny, in which he recounts Eric Barger’s seminar. Click here for the original posting. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

1 Timothy 1:18-20  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

By tonight, I will have returned from Canton, Ohio, where Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries, spent two days at Grace Brethren Church.  Eric is a Christian apologist who has been traveling all around the country for over 27 years now, warning the body of Christ of false movements, such as the New Age, the emergent church, and many more.  On Saturday, he spoke in the morning on the dangers of the emerging church, and in the afternoon session, the topic was about how the popular novel, The Shack, is deceiving so many Christians today, even though it is a book filled with heresies and blasphemous doctrine.  On Sunday, he preached in the morning on the truth and reliability of the Bible, and finished in the evening with a talk on the “real Jesus vs. the counterfeits.”  Eric is a true soldier in the fight for the true gospel. Eric spent three days with us at the Nazarene General Assembly last June, helping Concerned Nazarenes to expose the heresies being introduced to the Nazarene denomination by way of the emergent church.  Please pray for him and his ministry, as Christians who do what he does are constantly under vicious attack by the enemy from within.  I am hoping that he can soon be invited by someone to speak in New England, where he has never spoken yet.

There were several more reasons to come to Ohio.  In the past two years, I have found many new brothers and sisters in Christ who are true Christian soldiers, while I was undertaking whatever efforts I could to fight false teachings in the church.  And it seems that for every friend I have lost because of standing for the truth, I have gained at least one or two more.  My list is long, but every single person who has joined me in this fight, via emails and the phone, has been a blessing and an encouragement, and in turn, I have also been able to help some of them as well, and I thank God for that, and nothing else.

A few of these soldiers is a small group of men in Canton, Ohio, who helped organize Eric’s seminar.  I met Aaron Wright about a year or so ago via email, and along with his father Troy, and Aaron’s brother, Adam, they have a ministry called Foundations Research Group in the Northern Ohio area. When Aaron and his family encountered false teachings of the emergent church in their former church, they did not close their eyes to it and pretend it did not exist.  They did not say, oh well, we’ll just have to live with it.  No, they boldly confronted the purveyors of false teaching and tried to show them the truth of God’s word.  The end result was that they made the decision to leave, rather than stick around and tolerate false teaching.

Their faithfulness has been rewarded with a ministry that is now helping Christians at their new church and in the community to equip themselves with knowledge of the emergent church, and at the same time, equipping and reinforcing others with a love for the scriptures, which is the best way to combat false teaching.  Grace Brethren Church, led by Pastor Joe Cosentino, is a shining light in this town where there does not seem to be much light, or much of a desire to fight false doctrines.  If you live in the Northern Ohio area, and are looking for a strong, Bible believing church, perhaps you should pay a visit to Grace Brethren.  These kinds of churches are becoming rare in the midst of all this apostasy.

And so God blessed the faithfulness of Aaron and his family, and led them to a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church whose pastor and leadership will not put up with the nonsense of emergent heresy or any other gospel except the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  So one of the reasons I went to Canton was to finally meet Aaron and his family, who are truly another new addition to my eternal family, the family of God.  We have shared information over the past year and helped each other with our ministries, and they have already made a big impact in their community and church.

But there were other soldiers that I just knew I had to meet when I came to Ohio.  There was Becky, her husband and young daughter, who came to the seminar.  I had met Becky over the internet as she was also finding herself and her family being thrown into turmoil, and again, the usual suspects were the purveyors of emergent church heresy. Their eyes were opened to the truth, and they had to walk away from their church as well.

Then there was Angie, and her friend Wendy.  These ladies are true soldiers as well, and for staying true to God, have also paid a price for it.  The tenacity and the determination of these two women, is an inspiration to me.  They will not be moved, they will not be pushed around or bullied by any false teacher.  Not even by the high-minded intellectuals with multiple PHds, nor by the smooth words of deceived pastors or anyone else.  They just want to faithfully compare and contrast everything they hear with the scriptures, and like the Bereans, prove that what they hear is faithful to the word of God.  They are solid sisters in Christ, and I am glad I got to finally see them personally.

There was also my good friend and brother in the Lord, Tim Wirth and his wife Donna, and I thank God for their friendship.  Tim started the Concerned Nazarenes website a few years ago, and was instrumental in helping get the DVD put together about the emerging church.  He was the first person that I actually made contact with when I first started stepping into the emergent mess, and has been a trustworthy friend who has given me solid advice, friendship, and encouragement.  Tim is also not well liked by a lot of emergents, which to me is a badge of honor for him, because he has a knack for exposing their false ideology, just by using the sharp-edged sword of God’s word against them.  I value his friendship; and the impact he has made in this battle as a missionary to the Nazarene denomination is immeasureable, and only God knows.  He and Donna are true and courageous soldiers in the fight against the apostasy of this age.

Finally, the only regret that I had was that there at least a few other soldiers from the Ohio area who could not make it to the seminar.  There was Brenda, who I have known also since the past year and a half.  She and her family chose to leave a Nazarene church because of emergent ideology, rather than stay and tolerate false teaching.  She has been a source of encouragement and advice and a real sister in the Lord.  And Beverly Turner could not make it this time, but I had hoped to see her as well.  She is a very brave Christian lady and evangelist who is not afraid to speak the truth about what has poisoned our denomination.  And then Rick Headley is also in Ohio, but I was not able to see him this time.  But he also has been an example of standing for God first, above anything else, including his own denomination.  He would not compromise, and like Brenda and Beverly, is a true soldier in this battle as well.  Finally, I thank God for a wife who has been behind me all the way, put up with my long hours of writing on some nights, was okay with me going on this trip, and who has also refused to compromise in any way her faith in Christ.  She knows the price that she has paid, but she would not change her mind if she could.  Her support has made this job I am doing a lot easier to do.  She is a soldier in this battle.

Folks, there are many more soldiers in this battle.  I only mention these friends now because of the Ohio connection and my trip there to see them.  There are so many more around this country and even around the world, who I have met, who are standing up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Someday, I will write about many more of them (with permission) and tell you how they have chosen to stand for the truth, and how they have blessed my life with their example.  This is why I call them soldiers.  A true soldier of Jesus Christ is someone who refuses to sit quietly on the sidelines while multitudes of young people and adults walk down the wide path of destruction towards hell, following a different Jesus.  And it does not take too many requirements to be a “true soldier”: just be faithful to Jesus Christ- completely faithful; and trust only in the word of God that is revealed in the Holy Bible.  It does not mean you have to write a blog like I do; it does not mean that you have to be a preacher or evangelist; or that you have to have a ministry like the one Aaron and his family has.  No, all it means is that you are willing to stand up for the truth, with whatever gifts God has given you, and be faithful to Jesus Christ and defend the gospel once for all delivered to the saints.

You see, if you had not noticed, there is a great apostasy spreading throughout the Christian world, dressed in the robes of a false Jesus. It does not matter what denomination: Nazarene, Brethren, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Salvation Army, Calvary Chapel, you name it.

It is here, it is deadly, and it is leading countless people down the road to hell with a false gospel, with another Jesus which is not of the Bible.  Don’t you see it yet?  And if you have seen it, what are you doing?  Are you going to be walking through the narrow gate, or have you been diverted to the wide path?

Are you willing to stand for the truth… no matter what the cost, and be a true soldier for Christ, like these friends decided to do?

2 Timothy 3:12-14 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

MannyAaronEricPastorJoe.JPG
Manny, Aaron Wright, Eric Barger, Pastor Joe Cosentino

EricAdamAaron.JPG
Eric, Adam Wright, Aaron Wright

TroyAndEric.JPG

Troy Wright, Eric

* Note to all emergents and New Agers and other false movements reading this: we will not let up in our battle for the truth.

FOR FURTHER READING AND RESEARCH

Canton event notice on Facebook

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Plain and simple, I like lists. Lists of cults, lists of false teachings, even lists of lists. So I was intrigued to come across a “list” article reposted here by our friends Amy and Mike on the Stand Up for the Truth website. In this article, a diehard postmodern lists and discusses “6 things [that he thinks] Christians should just stop saying”. Be forewarned – his list is extremely liberal/ Emergent and anti-Christian. This, my friend, is a look inside the minds of today’s postmoderns – sick.

Amazingly, this is the garbage many evangelical churches and colleges today are entertaining, in clinging eagerly to the teachings of Emergents Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and a myriad of other heretics. (Some of these postmodern/Emergent leaders hold to just a few of the six anti-Christian views below; most hold to all six anti-Christian views.)

Now on to the article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Six ways Progressive theology is destroying Christianity

Jesus is So Cool

[Introductory comments by Stand Up for the Truth]:

First they asked you to think outside the box of Truth; now they’re asking you to stop speaking Truth altogether.  The Progressive wing of the Church has been able to grow and thrive, thanks in part to the re-surging Emergent movement that has long been taking the doctrines of Christianity apart. Here’s how contributor to the extreme leftist publication Huffington Post (a site from which I share frequently about the activities of the Christian Left), is trying to re-shape the Bride of Christ into the harlot of Babylon.  How influential is this guy? Steve is celebrated as the “Voice of the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious),” as well as author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher.  His latest article is getting thunderous applause. Gird your loins:

6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying

It is time. No, it is past time. Christians must stop saying the following things.

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It isn’t inerrant and not likely even in the “original manuscripts.” But then, I cannot say that with absolute certainty, anymore than anyone else can either. Why? Because no such “original” manuscripts even exists. That’s like saying, “We believe there are aliens on other planets!” Good for you. Now, prove it. As we have it, no matter what translation you favor, the Bible is replete with errors. To pretend otherwise is your right. To say otherwise is a lie. You are entitled to your opinions, your assumptions, even your beliefs. What you are not entitled to is a misrepresentation of the facts. A corollary to this that Christians should stop saying is this:

2. We just believe the Bible. That, too, is false. What you really believe is your interpretation of the Bible. And the last I checked, the history of the Christian church is the history of disagreement over “interpretation.” How else do you explain the scores of denominations within Christianity alone? It would be patently more honest of Christians to say, “The following represents our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures, but we are also aware there are many equally sincere Christians who interpret the Scriptures differently from us.” A third thing Christians should stop saying:

3. Jesus is the only way to heaven. What you are really saying is, “The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: ‘If you do not believe in Me, you won’t go to the Father when you die.’” For this, I refer back to No. 2 above: what you and your group of believers really mean to say is, “It is our interpretation of John 14:6 that Jesus is saying that He is the only way to heaven.” There are scores of Christians, however, and I am one of them, who do not interpret Jesus’ words in John 14 the same way. Just because I do not makes me no less Christian than you are. So stop drawing lines in the sand, please, between equally sincere followers of Jesus. When I read the 14th chapter of John, I see a context that yields an alternative reading of the text. Instead of Jesus starting some new religion here and saying, “OK, fellas, I’m going to go away soon” — referring to his death — “but, before I go, you should know that where I’m going you, and others who believe just like you, will one day be, too — that is, of course, if they believe like you believe that I am the only way to heaven. That is to say, if the people around you and who come after you don’t believe that I am the only way to heaven, then, of course, they’ll have to go to hell. Is all that clear?” I offer an alternative interpretation: When Jesus spoke to them about leaving them, they were understandably shaken. How could they not be? After all, they had left everything to follow him. Now, just a year, or two, or three years later, Jesus is saying he’s getting ready to leave them? But, of course, they’re upset. So Thomas, speaking on behalf of the others, asks, “But where are you going and why can’t we go with you? Furthermore, how will we know the way?” Jesus responds in tender, reassuring ways. Sensing the fragility of their faith, seeing the anxiety on their faces, he reassures them that, in God’s house are many rooms, “mansions” or places. Yes, He’s going away but where He’s going they, too, will go. Just as He has led them this far, He will lead them further still (and what follows in the latter part of John 14 is the beautiful reassurance of the on-going presence of God in the Holy Spirit). So, for me personally, and many other Christians, too, Jesus is no more pointing to himself as the “one-and-only-way” to God than Thomas is expressing in his question concern for Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists and whether they’ll go to heaven? I can assure you that Thomas, and the others, were only concerned about themselves. And yet, even at that point, Jesus is tender in His care of them and seeks to reassure them that, just as He and the Father were one, and just as they had trusted the things He had been saying to them during his time with them, so they could trust him and what he was saying at this time, too. Yes, he was leaving them. But no, they would not be left alone. Where he was, they would be. He had shown them the way to the Father. But, even after He’s gone from them, they will know the way then, too. The Comforter would guide them. And so, the Church is here today. But not because Christians declare, “There is no way to go to heaven if you don’t believe in Jesus.” The Church is here today because when people do trust the things Jesus said about Himself, about His relationship to the Father…when people believe and so live the teachings of Jesus they, too, are changed — they, too, become “new creations in Christ,” as Saint Paul put it (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, I took longer with this one thing Christians need to stop saying because many Christians seem stuck here, thinking that there’s only one way to interpret Jesus’ words about being the way. It is my hope these Christians will know there are equally sincere Christians like myself and others who do not believe Jesus was drawing a line in the sand between him and some new religion he was creating and all the other religions of the world. Again, it’s your right to “believe” or, more accurately, interpret Scripture as you wish. You do not, however, have permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words. Last I checked, no one’s interpretation of anything is infallible. Not yours. Not mine. A fourth thing Christians need to stop saying:

4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent. Again, if you want to believe in some secret rapture of Christians from the earth just before the Tribulation, if you want to believe in and carry around in your hip pocket detailed charts and graphs of how its all going to happen, then so be it. But do the rest of us a favor and stop saying so in public. So far, your record of correctly predicting the future earns a flunking grade. And I and scores of other Christians are frankly tired of apologizing for your arrogant — and so far, absolutely wrong — predictions as to when it’ll happen. My recommendation? Burn up your charts and go live like Christ. Quit masking your real fears by calling them faith. It isn’t faith that leads you to sell all you have, give the proceeds to some wacko, and go camp out on Mount Horeb as you await the rapture. It’s stupidity instead. It’s embarrassing, too. It makes thoughtful Christians have to apologize to the world and explain that we’re not all off-our-rockers, at least, not yet, anyway. So, please, please. If you want to believe in the charts that Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and other “get-rich-off-the-stupidity-of-Christians” have duped scores into believing, then have at it. Just stay out of the news please! Go quietly to your campsites and do your waiting.:

5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God. This one issue, my friend, is on the outs. If you don’t know that, you are more blind than the Republicans were in the last election. They misinterpreted the political environment and so completely blew it when it came to getting their candidate elected. And you, my friend, are misinterpreting the moral, spiritual and religious environment — and the changes that are coming. My son said it well the other day. We were discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage and he observed, “Dad, it’s your generation that’s hung up on these issues. Once you guys get out of the way and the younger generation moves into the decision-making arena, these issues will disappear. The day will come when, just as slavery is unthinkable in our consciousness today, it will be equally unthinkable to deny anyone the right to be who they are or the right to same-sex marriage.” You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don’t need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important. Finally, please, please Christians stop insisting that…

6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old. If you want to believe that Genesis is a scientific description of the origins of the universe, then have at it. Just stop insisting that those myths be taught in our public schools. You do no service to the Bible nor to the morality of this country by demanding school administrators include textbooks that teach that nonsense or by demanding courts hang the Ten Commandments on chamber walls or classroom walls. If this democracy is going to survive, get over your silly, misinformed notions that our forefathers were all Bible-believing, Bible thumping, Genesis-affirming Christians who came to this country to establish your kind of Christian nation and then expect everyone else to conform to your misguided assumptions. Whew! I feel better. Thanks for letting me get a few things off my chest. Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember — no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) — and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by… Not our beliefs. Not our doctrines. Not our denomination’s distinctions. Not even our declarations. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35). When we love, what more needs to be said?

[Note – the reposting of the above article here on the Stand Up for the Truth website is followed by a number of insightful reader comments.]

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In the early 1970s, I noticed a shift in the emphasis of many evangelical churches. They increasingly incorporated methods such as “easy to understand” Bible versions and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) to “draw in the youth”. Today, over forty years later, many evangelical churches are postmodern and youth oriented, lacking the leadership of the elder generations. Many attenders (particularly the young people) in evangelical churches have not even had a born again “crisis conversion experience”. Tragic!

Concerned Nazarene John Henderson posted a more detailed article about this shift in youth ministries, here in the Concerned Nazarene Facebook Group. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Reaching Today’s Youth
By John Henderson

Life has spanned enough years for me to observe the different modes leaders in the church have used to reach the youth of our generation. My wife and I are products of the youth outreach of our time. There has been a noticeable change in the approach to reaching the young people from that time to this.

Even before our own time, there was the YMCA and YWCA. Those were actually evangelistic arms of the church. We have seen now that not only has evangelism ceased in them but any real semblance of Christ or Christianity exists except for smatterings of some sort of general morality. Even that is not all that much emphasized.

We were exposed to Youth for Christ and came to Christ and grew spiritually under its banner. Churches had Sunday evening youth services that have now gone from what they once were to being hardly noticeable, if at all. Not much is heard of YFC these days. It, Campus Crusade for Christ, and others seem to have faded and some have taken on the identity and mission of the emergent church movement.

Somehow and gradually, the notion arose that assumed young people should be reached in their own sub-culture. That sub-culture was largely identified by the worldly influences in vogue at the time, especially in the “music” of that sub-culture. The choruses and gospel songs were soon replaced with rock-and-roll sounds that contained hints of being gospel in some way. That was further enhanced by “worship” music set to shallow ditties that were justified because they somehow alluded to something Christian. Gone were the youth songs and choruses of the past that always supplemented the major hymns and songs of Christ and the entire shebang was replaced by this new music.

Music has always been a teacher of theology and so it still is. It is just that the theology changed to suit the music or else the music was changed to reflect the new theology. We may sometimes call it contemporary but [it] is far from contemporary. It is just rehashed out of the world into a veneer of gospel.

Frankly, we have it all wrong. We shall never reach young people for Christ by giving them amended worldliness. If nothing has changed over the years, it is the simplicity of the gospel. It is like a beautiful girl and when we gaudily dress it up like a floozy, we ruin the beauty that is there by nature. I have peered into areas used for youth activities and saw what resembled night clubs more than places for prayer. Add to that the stage performances—and the stages themselves—and there is no doubt as to what is being learned.

We should be bringing our youth into environments that more resemble the church as it should be. They should be exposed to learning the Bible and memorizing the Scriptures. They should be trained in praying and in witnessing so that they can actually pray with a fellow young person until that person meets Christ in repentance and faith. Their music doesn’t have to sound like it is from the Middle Ages but it should have the same depth of message in it that they should be hearing in regular church. In other words, they should be in training for taking the leadership when they become responsible adults. If they remain trained in shallowness that is what they will carry into the church’s leadership when it is their turn to lead. That is, those who hang around long enough to actually take the reins of leadership.

I can fondly remember the experiences [in] the youth services of my day. I loved walking into a meeting being conducted by youth and hearing gospel songs being sung and a young person preaching as well as many adults I ever heard. I loved standing around a [bonfire] on the beach at night while we shared memory verses and testimonies of the saving grace of Christ and the struggles we were having at school because of our testimonies. I recall youth camps that were reflections of the old-fashioned camp meetings the adults were running. In fact, there were no serious differences between youth and adult services except perhaps ours were more youthfully vibrant. The content was just as deep biblically.

By the way! Good marriages were bred in those environments. Calls to the ministry and the mission field were answered there. Lives I still know about were rooted in Christ there and are still grounded in Him. Time never changes anything. The only thing that ever changes is commitment to Christ and the Word of God.

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I wrote a blog awhile back about Tres Dias. In response, a reader recently commented:

“Dave, I chose to respond on your blog for several reasons. Most sites that are critical of Tres Dias and other Fourth Day movements tend to be vindictive, haughty, self-righteous and often base their arguments on supposition, hearsay and unfounded suspicion. You have voiced legitimate, well-considered concerns in a civil, Biblically sound manner…I appreciate that.”

Don’t get me wrong – I have very, very strong positions on many doctrinal issues. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be civil with our “doctrinal opponents”.

Example: my grandfather was a missionary to China and Taiwan. He preached often, witnessed often, and brought many people to a crisis conversion experience of salvation (repenting of sin/conversion/accepting Christ/becoming born again). I remember him telling how he had a deep discussion with some Buddhist monks. He knew the Buddhist teachings better than they did! Because of this, they listened to the gospel message he was able to share. Perhaps some of them accepted Christ and are in Heaven today because of my grandfather – only the Lord knows.

My point is, I am comfortable as a born again Christian discussing the teachings of my opponents with my opponents. If (key word if) my opponents, those who hold to opposing teachings, are sincerely willing to listen to my views.

On the other hand, I have LITTLE TO NO TOLERANCE for the following (in no particular order):

1) Once biblically sound born again Christians who have “apostacized” and are now – in spite of many warnings – brazenly leading other born again Christians astray, like a bull in a china shop

2) New Evangelicals/liberals/mainliners/postmoderns who are invading/hijacking (often covertly) evangelical denominations and leading born again Christians astray

3) Heretical individuals who deceptively, falsely label themselves as “born again Christians”, or order to gain the trust of born again Christians and spread their false teachings

4) New Agers (Oprah Winfrey, Roma Downey, etc.) who deceptively, falsely label themselves as “Christians” – apparently in order to reach the Christian market

There are others I have little to no tolerance for, but the above are the main groups. Hope that helps clarify where I’m coming from with my blogs.

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(revised 02/14/14)


Image source: http://s287.photobucket.com/user/zman22180/media/Art/jesus-crucifixion-wallpaper-105.jpg.html

I was “surfing” the radio today while commuting. One radio preacher was talking about having faith that God will answer your prayers. Another preacher was talking about praying for healing of loved ones. A radio talk show host was talking about how Jesus’ touch can break our addictions. And so on… ad nauseum.

Why do I say “ad nauseum”? Not because the above concepts are wrong or bibically unsound – they are biblical. No, I was upset because, for the most part, something was MISSING. Namely, I heard no mention of:

* sin
* God’s judgment of sinners on Judgment Day
* damnation
* eternal torment
* the need for repentance from sin
* Jesus as the only way to Heaven
* Jesus as our Saviour/Redeemer/Atonement
* the blood of Jesus
* the cross of Calvary

I first noticed this “missing message” in the later years of the Billy Graham crusades. George Beverly Shea and others would sing songs like “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. A nice song of comfort – but where was the convicting message of sin, God’s judgment, eternal torment, and the need to accept Christ as Saviour, the only One who can save us from eternal torment/eternal punishment?

This is the core of the gospel – no other “gospel” can save us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Paul said:

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:2)

And:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

One final note. Various postmoderns (Emerging/Emergents) have accused my ministry and other discernment ministries of being “heresy hunters”, “heretical” and even “cultic”. If people like myself who preach the above message of Christ and the cross of Calvary are attacked with these labels, I feel sorry for their attackers. I would not want to be in their attackers’ shoes on Judgment Day. (If you think I’m angry with postmoderns, you’re right!)

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