Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Church if pastored by Bob Barker

Unregenerate soul - COME ON DOWN!

Revolution Church (Long Beach, CA) is having its Grand Re-Opening (with "new and improved" everything) on February 5 - which is known around the world as "Super Bowl Sunday." To get more people to come to the worship service, the church is raffling off two wide-screen televisions and two PlayStation Portables for the children. Revolution prides itself in being an emergent church with "practical messages" (usually church-speak for two minutes of Bible and 25 minutes of stories and jokes).

If this is an acceptable model of church behavior, I wonder what Jesus thinks of His Bride? Is she not attractive by herself? Must she put on the world's makeup in order to be "acceptable" to the world? Must we trick or bribe people to visit the church?

Too bad the disciples didn't think of this at Pentecost. Then we could read in the Bible that "Those who accepted his plasma TV were baptized and that day 3000 people were added" (Acts 2:41). Yeah, yeah, I know - they didn't have plasma TVs back then - but they plenty of other things they could've given away - like the GOSPEL!

Monday, January 30, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Kim Riddlebarger recently posted the following picture and asked his readers to figure out what was amiss. Can you spot it?

As far as excuses go, this one is pretty lame!

In the recent edition of Christianity Today, the producers of "End of the Spear" justify the hiring of Chad Allen to play the role of Nate Saint. They say that they didn't know Chad was gay until after they had selected him for the part and then they said they felt obligated to give him the job.

Does anyone really believe that? Is that how they hire people in Hollywood? Just look at the face and say "He's our man!" We live in information age where you can find out almost anything in milliseconds.

I just typed in the words "Chad Allen" on GOOGLE. In less than a fraction of a second (Thanks to a sooooper fast DSL connection), I had 4.7 MILLION links to check through. Now, it is obvious that there is more written about Chad Allen in the last few weeks than before the movie came out. But a simple search surely would have revealed the cover to a recent edition of ADVOCATE magazine, a nationally known gay/lesbian periodical.

So, a Christian company that you would suppose would want to cover all the bases to protect itself and its message could not take the time (all three seconds of it) to do even this little bit of "research" on its starring actor. It might be just me - but I find that just a little tough to swallow.

The Church at the End of the Spear

There has been much ink spilt (or digital bytes "internetted") over the controversial decision to have homosexual activist/actor Chad Allen play the role of Nate Saint and his grown son Steve Saint in the recent movie "End of the Spear." Sadly, this role has given Allen a platform to espouse his views on homosexuality on Larry King and in magazine interviews. He mentioned his church in some of those interviews. What do you find when you visit the website of ALL SAINTS CHURCH in Pasadena, California.

Here are some excerpts from a sermon found online:
The elephant in the room of this gospel lesson is obviously the oft-quoted sentence, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." Now I know how biblical literalists deal with this sentence (I was formed by that way of dealing with this sentence). It goes like this: If you don't profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you're going to roast in hell forever. I don't believe that and I don't believe Jesus believed that. In the Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church is a part, we do not believe that Scripture is the only source of authority for truth. The Bible must always be in dialogue with our reason, with our experience and with the living experience of the community called tradition. And our minds and experience teach us that brother Gandhi, who was Hindu, and brother Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was Jewish, had valid and fruitful and mystical relationships with God apart from the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

What "No one comes to the Father but by me" means, I think, is that you cannot get to the God of peace, the God of reconciliation, the God of forgiveness, inclusion, nourishment, playfulness and joy by paths that are not peaceful, forgiving, inclusive, nourishing, playful and joyful. If you use violence, war and genocide to try to get to God or if you participate in war and genocide and say that you are getting to God through Jesus then the god you reach is a god of your own creation and is not the God of the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the embodiment, the incarnation of the virtues of peace and reconciliation, forgiveness, inclusion, nourishment, playfulness and joy. That is why Jesus is the embodiment of the way to God without being the only, the exclusive embodiment of those virtues as we see in the lives of Gandhi, Heschel and many other holy people of other paths.

Just forget for a moment that this church has a very strong and active homosexual agenda. Read the following statement on its own merit and decide just what kind of church this truly is:
  • ...we do not believe that Scripture is the only source of authority for truth. The Bible must always be in dialogue with our reason...
Here's one more sermon excerpt - it is chilling to read and you will find it nearly impossible to believe this is preached in a Protestant church (sorry for the length but it all matters and the lengths evades the charge of "out of context" quotation):

During my entire ministry at All Saints Church, I struggled against exclusivism. We wanted to have an inclusive spirit in all that we did. Carl Sandburg was asked just before he died what he thought was the worst word, the most despicable word, in the English language. Without hesitation, he replied - exclusivism. Exclusivism. It means to exclude, to shut out, to keep out, to dispose, to resist admission to the outsider. ...

In today's Gospel, John puts words on Jesus' lips that have led Christians through the centuries to claim an exclusive way to salvation. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through me." That is one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to interpret adequately. Those who claim Christianity is the exclusive way to a saving faith cling tenaciously to this verse. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through me." If my reflections on this verse are to have integrity, I must speak as though my close friends Rabbi Leonard Beerman and Rabbi Steven Jacobs, in whom I have seen the glory of God, are sitting right here in the front row. I want Leonard and Steven and my other Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist friends and colleagues to hear my words for they have illuminated my journey into God. They have helped me see God in new ways. ... I can no longer think about Jesus as the only way to God and a saving faith. ...

"I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through me." The first thing I want to say is I simply refuse to hold the doctrine that there is no access to God except through Jesus. I personally reject the claim that Christianity has the truth and all other religions are in error. I think it is a mistaken view that says Christianity is superior to Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism and that Christ is the only way to God. Ours as the one, true religion is deeply engrained in Christianity. Many good people take deep pride in their exclusive claims. Yet it is a terrible arrogance to believe you alone are right.

Although the majority of American Christians probably believe that salvation is possible only through faith in Jesus Christ, I believe that it is a profound distortion of what Jesus was about in his ministry. My reading of the Bible points me to a God whose love is inclusive and universal in its dimension. This thought is very significant because it was this proclamation of universal love that got Jesus into trouble. The flags of exclusivism were flying all around Jesus, and he steadfastly resisted each one of these seductive invitations to belong to us only and exclude the rest. Jesus loved them all. He put his arms around everybody - and they killed him. Ideally, it is much easier to talk about one human family in God's love if it is seen in generalities - but it falters when it means putting our arms around those who look and think and believe and live so radically differently than we do. The love I see at work in Jesus is inclusive, a love that reaches out to everyone. Nobody is outside the pale. And yet in the name of this loving Christ, some of the most vicious acts of exclusion are perpetrated.

Christianity is not the only guilty party. So much tragedy throughout history and into this resent hour have come out of those religions that find their core message in exclusivism. The suspicion, fear and hatred of the other - the one not like me - is the fundamental disease of the heart. It is the source of every pogrom, every genocide, every ethnic cleansing, every holocaust. It is the disease at work in Sri Lanka and India, in Israel-Palestine, in South Africa and Somalia and on and on it goes. In the United States, this disease of the heart is the source of every racist episode, every urban riot, every gay bashing, every skinhead outbreak. ... I truly believe All Saints Church with its ministry over the decades has tried to set its face against the tide of this disease of exclusivism.

These words are put on Jesus' lips: "No one comes to God except through me." It is the traditional interpretation of that text that concerns me deeply. Not only is this exclusive claim that Christ is the only way to God a distortion of the total biblical message, it is the source of the most deadly conflicts over the centuries down to this present hour. The terrible effects of the Christian exclusionary claims to salvation have not been confined to the horrendous persecution of Jews. We have mounted deadly crusades against Muslims, and Christians have killed other Christians in the brutal wars of religion - all in the name of bringing others to the correct understanding of how God is uniquely known in Jesus Christ. The arrogance of conviction. God be merciful. Until this murderous and arrogant history is faced with a genuine spirit of repentance; until we Christians confess that our exclusionary theology has led Christian groups, Christian leaders and churches as a whole to unspeakable sins against other Christians, other religions and against God - until we face squarely and honestly this truth about Christianity, there can be no possibility for the Christian Church to be an unequivocal force for peace and justice in this radically pluralistic age. ...

"There's a wideness in God's mercy," we sing in that great old hymn. It's the wideness of mercy in the divine that provides the theological imperative for pluralism. Here we don't need to build walls to exclude the views of others, nor do we erect a universal canopy capable of gathering all the divine faiths under our own Christian domain. The multitude of religious expressions can't be limited to or encircled by one tradition. So the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Jew, the Christian - all have their boundaries. But they do not have to be places where we stop and struggle with our differences. They might be places where we meet and catch a glimpse of the glory others see in God. We do not bring God to these non-Christian faiths. God is already there actively at work. In the presence of some Muslims I've come to know and respect, I sometimes think I hear those words God spoke to Moses by the burning bush addressed to me: "George, George, take off your shoes - for the place where you are standing is holy ground." This is a radical change for Christians. No tradition can claim the truth as a private property. Pluralism is not just diversity. It is open engagement and participation in dialogue with those who are different and remain different.
There is SO much error in those few paragraphs. Fortunately, there is little explanation that needs to be given to point out these errors. It is truly amazing how easily a human being can rationalize the message of Scripture away in a futile attempt to justify their own sin.

Lord, keep us from doing the same in our own lives (divorce, lust, adultery, lying, pride, idolatry, and many more "lesser" sins in the evangelical closet).

You think YOU had a rough day?!?

Click here to read an interesting/sad/funny story and be thankful it wasn't you!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bill Gaither and Mark Lowry - Whaaaaa???

Bill Gaither has been around FOREVER. I remember singing (or listening to my sisters sing) "I AM A PROMISE" on my parents' eight-track in the old Dodge Royal Monaco growing up. (It's bubblin', bubblin', bubblin' in my soul . . . God likes to talk to little boys while they're fishin' . . . oh, the memories!). Gaither even has a page in the Baptist Hymnal - he wrote "He lives, He lives - Christ Jesus lives today - you ask me how I know He lives - He lives within my heart."

Gaither's fame and influence has increased exponentially with the incredible popularity of his "Homecoming" concerts and video reunions. On these occasions, he manages to get the best and brightest in the Souther Gospel industry to gather and soulfully sing everyone's favorites. Anyway, we've all heard of Bill Gaither and those he sings with, such as comedian/singer Mark Lowry.

You might not have heard of Marsha Stevens. The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music says “If Larry Norman is to be called the father of Christian Rock, then Marsha Stevens certainly deserves to be known as the mother of contemporary Christian music, a title that Christian Century and others have bestowed upon her. She was the leader of what is considered to be the world's first contemporary Christian music group, Children of the Day.”

Where Marsha Stevens really became famous was a decision she made -
Stevens became the first (and as of 2002, the only) major singer in the contemporary Christian music subculture to identify herself publicly as a lesbian…Christian Century Magazine has said that Stevens became "conservative Christianity's worst nightmare - a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, God-fearing lesbian Christian."

Someone will have to explain the multiple-level oxymoron in that description. If you can, I'll explain to you why that is no nightmare to me! Such a creature does not exist!

David Cloud (and I am no big fan of David Cloud and his KJV-Only & Anti-Reformed Theology screeds) but let's not fall prey to the genetic fallacy here - consider the argument as presented, not the presenter of the argument) wrote the following: (You can read Stevens' own version of the night HERE: (http://www.christiangays.com/news.shtml) - just do a page search for "Gaither" or scroll down til you see it (near the bottom as of Jan 27)).

In late 2002, Bill Gaither and Mark Lowry met with and encouraged Marsha Stevens, the lesbian author of the popular gospel song "For These Tears I Died." Stevens, who has a ministry called BALM (Born Again Lesbian Music), attended the Gaither Homecoming concert in Phoenix in December 2002, with her lesbian partner. (NOTE: Here's a picture of Stevens with her "bride" at their "wedding.")

Mark Lowry, who has sung with the Gaither Vocal Band for many years, approached her and said that he was proud of what she is doing. Surprised, she said, "You know what I'm doing now?" He replied: "I sure do and I wish the fundamentalists would find Jesus. They're going to have a lot to answer for, leaving out people that Jesus died for" (Marsha Stevens, New Years Eve 2002 with Bill Gaither," www.christiangays.com).

Bill and Gloria Gaither then came over and told her that they, too, appreciate her ministry today. A photo at Stevens' web site shows her and her lesbian partner with Bill Gaither and Mark Lowry.

In the last part of the concert later that night, Gaither invited the crowd to sing along to "For Those Tears I Died." He then said: "You know, the young woman who wrote that song is here with us tonight, and maybe you're like she was and you've heard about a God who would reject you for who you are or who might turn you away for something you've done or where you've come from. Well I want you to know that I don't know that God. The only God I know is the one in this song that she wrote. The one that says, 'I am right here for you.' The one who sent His son. The one who says, 'You are my child, I love you, come stand by my side.' So sing with me again!"

I am stunned! Gaither and Lowry might think they are doing what Jesus would do - the whole "judge not" thing. But this is not showing Christian love to these two women. These two men are giving tacit approval and are outright condoning their sinful lifestyle. That is not presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When Christ crossed paths with individuals engaging in open public sin, He told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more" and confronted one woman with the truth that she was living in sin with another man. Jesus sure didn't just idly hope the fundamentalist Pharisees would find Him! Jesus would have told these two ladies that what they are doing is wrong and they need to repent!

I tried to verify this story. A friend of mine contacted Mark Lowry Productions and received an answer that this episode occured several years ago and has been retold and changed so much that it is hardly accurate anymore. The answer further revealed that they no longer respond to this issue (and did so this time only because of a common bond with this friend). That is amazing to me - if this event did not happen the way the gay community thinks it did, I would want everyone to know the truth and would place a permanent link on my website and have a form letter/form email at the ready for each and every inquiry.

With all that being said, I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. But, on the chance that this is true at all - shame on Lowry and Gaither for bowing before the politically correct throne of the world and allowing their ministries and thoughts to be governed by a worldly anti-biblical tolerance for evil.

Shame on Lowry and Gaither for compromising the gospel of Christ. You can talk all you want about "not judging" and "loving the sinner and hating the sin," but sin is sin. Just because many don't call out divorce or other such plagues in the church is no excuse to let slide another sin - especially one that is so public.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Eerdman's Continues Its Downward Spiral

Since 1910, "the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has firmly held to the motto established by its founder William B. Eerdmans, Sr.: 'The finest in religious literature.'" Eerdmans quickly established itself in the publishing and academic communities. Their big breakthrough was with "its numerous volumes on and about John Calvin, including a new printing of the 50-volume "Commentary of John Calvin" published at a cost of $300,000. Calvin's Institutes are still to be found on Eerdmans' list as well as a number of books about John Calvin."

I don't think Bill Eerdmans would be happy today.

First, the company published a book by
Robert Millet, the Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding and professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. His book, Another Jesus?, though advertised by Eerdmans as a work "intended to inform rather than to convince or persuade," is pure apologetic from start to finish. James White says that "You could find this kind of work at your local LDS bookstore."

White goes on to comment that Millet's book is a "work that attacks the Trinity, deity of Christ, sola scriptura, justification by grace through faith alone, the sovereignty of God in salvation, the finished work of Christ on the cross---OK, like I said, it is an LDS work of apologetics, so it is pretty well opposed to sound theology at just about every point---and he has made sure that book will be right there in your local Christian bookstore (how many bookstore owners will recognize it for what it is? Then again, what section will they put it in anyway?)."

Eerdmans responded to the Millett controversy thusly:
While there is a fair body of literature that tells evangelicals and other Christians how to witness or evangelize Mormons, there is precious little published that clarifies what Mormons themselves think. Frankly, a lot of the evangelical material about Mormons is inaccurate. Granted the serious departures in Mormonism from more orthodox views of Christ...shouldn't that fact want to make Christians better understand the Mormon view of Jesus? If one intends to discuss Jesus with Mormon neighbors...wouldn't it be helpful to understand what they believe?
Now, it seems Eerdmans has gone out of its way to let another "misunderstood" group tell their side of the story so we ignorant evangelicals can finally know the truth. A new book by Jeffrey Heskins called Face to Face: Gay and Lesbian Clergy on Holiness and Life Together is available through the Eerdmans publishing company. Straight from the horse's mouth, we learn that "Jeffrey Heskins takes a step back from heated rhetoric to listen to Christians who are committed both to ordained ministry in the Anglican Church and to a life of holiness with a partner of the same sex. . . . What does it mean to live a 'holy life'? Should the pattern for 'holy living' be any different for gay and lesbian couples in ministry than for others? . . . Face to Face is a refreshing instance of Christian hospitality--listening to brothers and sisters before presuming to speak God's word to them."

In this book, we can listen to these incredible words:

“In trying to lead a holy life, I think that we are responsible for trying to see the effect that it has on others, even beyond the relationship. It is very easy to think about the two of us, but if a life together is lived in holiness, it has enormous impact on those around you.”
— Female priest with partner 3 years

“When I first met her, I was really angry with God and I found God’s maleness and the patriarchy of the church all too much. I stopped going to church. It was my partner who helped me heal from all those open wounds, and if I hadn’t healed from them, then I don’t think that I could have found God again.”
— Female priest with partner 13 years

“Where there is love there is God . . . so while living a life of Christian holiness may be difficult to quantify, those who want to make pronouncements or recommendations on what constitutes holy living really do need to go and see people’s lives in action. It’s the meeting face to face that really is transforming of opinions and attitudes.”
— Male priest with partner 32 years

It appears that Eerdman's slow descent on that slippery slope has morphed into a virtual avalance.

Rick Warren: His Ideas Work

There is a new movement in Judaism called "SYNAGOGUE 3000." Their website says that S3K is a "catalyst for excellence, empowering congregations and communities to create synagogues that are sacred and vital centers of Jewish life." In trying to better reach the Jewish community with their message, they turned to the one man who best knows how to revitalize the spiritual life: RICK WARREN. Yes, the evangelical Protestant CHRISTIAN pastor Rick Warren!

Here's what the S3K website had to say about Warren's "ministry" with them:
On June 16, 2005 Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, the author of the bestselling "Purpose Driven Life" met with the S3K Leadership Network - Spiritual Leadership Working Group. Over the course of an hour and a half, Pastor Warren discussed the challenges and strategies of building a compelling spiritual community. His advice spoke directly to the mission of S3K, and his interplay with the S3K leaders demonstrated the common issues facing both churches and synagogues in attracting new members while serving the existing community.
What do we know here? We know that Jews reject one of their own, Jesus of Nazareth, as their Messiah. The Jews are still waiting for their "true Messiah" to come.

So, it appears that the message Rick Warren has been feeding Christians works just as well without Jesus! Does Rick Warren REALLY believe that non-believing Jews can have a true "compelling spiritual community" without the Spirit Of Christ?

Another has well said: "What would the apostle Stephen have said if he had the opportunity to speak to this collection of Jewish leaders?" Remember Stephen? He was arrested for saying that "this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us" (Acts 6:14).

When Stephen "took the stand," he gave a long history of God's acts in history and closed with this bombshell:
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
What was the end of this brave witness? Luke tells the rest of the story:
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

When Stephen spoke to the Jewish leaders, they got angry at his message and killed him. When Rick Warren spoke to these Jewish leaders, they applauded. What might be the difference in the two messages?

The Wheels on the Bus go 'round and 'round

It appears that several colleges around the country have offended the "Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered" students on campus. To battle these offenses, the SOULFORCE EQUALITY RIDE will begin on March 5. Beginning on that date, students will get on the bus and cross the nation, visiting 19 schools from New York to Los Angeles. Why? According to the website, the Equality Ride will "take 25–30 young adults on a seven-week bus tour to confront numerous religious and/or military colleges that ban the enrollment of GLBT students. At each stop along the journey the members of the Equality Ride will present a powerful case for GLBT equality."

They have it all planned out:

Through dialogue with administrators and discussions with students, the young activists of the Equality Ride will make clear the harmful effects of the false notion that homosexuality is a “sickness and a sin,” and “a threat to the nation and the military.” To make public their case for equality, the young activists on the Equality Ride will hold vigils, Bible studies, class discussions, community forums, and press conferences.
The first stop on the tour will be Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. It appears that the bus riders had a tough go at it on the past visit to the Naval Academy.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I wonder if the Pope "went forward"?

In a very courageous move, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa spoke in a December 16 Advent service before Pope Benedict XVI and the Pope's closest aides. He pulled no punches and presented the gospel to them in that sermon, which you can read about here.

The following are quotes from that sermon:
  1. Christianity does not start with that which man must do to save himself, but with what God has done to save him.
  2. Gratuitous justification through faith in Christ is the heart and it is a shame that this has been practically absent from the ordinary preaching of the church.
  3. The Protestant Reformation debate over the role of faith and works led the Catholic Church to focus so much on the need for the demonstration of faith in actions that it practically ignored the need for faith in the first place.
  4. Conversion to the fact that faith in Christ is the only means of salvation "is the conversion most needed by those who already are following Christ and have lived at the service of his church."

Father Cantalamessa told a familiar Italian story about the shepherds near Bethlehem going to visit the newborn Jesus, each of them trying to outdo the others with the beauty of the gifts they offered. One poor shepherd had nothing and was ashamed. "Mary could not figure out how to accept all the gifts, since she was holding the baby in her arms," he said. "So, seeing the poor shepherd with his hands free, she handed Jesus to him." Having his hands free was his fortune and it should be ours as well.

There was no mention on what invitation hymn was used.

I Guess Things Really Are Different on the Left Coast

No comments to make - just ask you to follow this link to see the plans Saddleback Church has for an event in their Worship Center in February.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Top 50 Christians

Remember high school superlatives? Most Athletic! Most Likely To Succeed! Wittiest! I remember in ninth grade that I was voted "Most School Spirited" which is amazing to those who have ever watched a ballgame with me!

Anyway, the Church Report (Real Issues, Real News, Real Solutions) has just released its list of the FIFTY MOST INFLUENTIAL CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA. If several of these individuals truly do weild a lot of influence on the modern evangelical church - it really explains a lot.

Coming in at #1 is no real surprise - Dallas super-pastor T.D. Jakes and his mushy Trinitarianism. Close on his heels at #2 is the Smiling Pastor - Joel Osteen from Houston. I really wonder just what sort of influence he is making on the church - dream of bigger boats?

A little sanity returns at #3 as the venerable Billy Graham fills the slot. Even with Parkinson's ravaging his body, Dr. Graham is still being used of God for the sake of the kingdom. How he is ranked third behind the first two is beyond the pale. A good question to ask is "How much will "X" be missed when he is gone?" This question would reverse those rankings if it were to be asked in the first place.

The #4 and #5 spots are also filled by pastors of mega-churches: Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. This is probably true because a lot of churches around the country were influenced by their decision to cancel worship services on Christmas morning.

Number six is Paul Crouch, head of Trinity Broadcasting Network. I have some comments but my mom taught me - "if you don't have anything nice to say" - you know the rest.

Number seven is Joyce Meyer. Meyer is part of the Word Faith crowd along with Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis and Benny Hinn. She also teaches that Christ's victory was not won at the cross but after suffering at the hands of Satan in hell for three days. She even goes so far as to say that "There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth that I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe that Jesus took your place in hell." (Quoted from The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make (1991), 37 (emphasis added). The words “in hell” are deleted from this sentence in the 1996 version of The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make. However, substantial references to the general idea remain in this later version). Meyer also believes that she gets her sermons from angels, saying "I believe that right before I speak some anointed statement to you, that one of them bends over and says in my ear what I’m supposed to say to you." This type of influence we do not need.

Rounding out the Top Ten are President George W. Bush, Dr. James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

Other notable additions include the following:
  • #19 - Robert Schuller
  • #29 - Paul Crouch, Jr. (I didn't know there were TWO of them!)
  • #30 - Benny Hinn
  • #36 - Creflo Dollar
  • #38 - Rod Parsley
  • #42 - Brian McLaren (the "leader" of the Emerging Church phenomenon)
  • #44 - Pope Benedict XVI (I imagine the Roman Catholics would be upset with this - the vicar of Christ on earth 14 spots below Benny Hinn?!?)
  • #50 - Dr. Phil McGraw
How many have truly influenced you? For the good?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rick Warren - Enemy of the Fundamentalists

Recently, the Philadelphia Enquirer interviewed Rick Warren of Saddleback Chuch in California (The Purpose-Driven Pastor) for the paper's series on evangelicalism in America today. Warren made this quote at the end of the article:

Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be "one of the big enemies of the 21st century."

"Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism -- they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.

Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, responded in his blog:

Equating Christian fundamentalism with Muslim fundamentalism is both wrong and dishonest. This falls right into the hands of those who argue for a phenomenological definition of "religion" that includes "fundamentalism" as a general reference to any person or movement that refuses to accept the basic worldview of modernity. Adding the therapeutic category of "fear" just adds to the confusion. The motivation of fundamentalist Christianity is fear of Muslims and Jews?

And, we might ask, just what definition of Christian fundamentalism operates here? Who, exactly, is Rick Warren talking about?

This much is clear -- an approach like this doesn't help.

SBC Professor Speaks out on "Seeker-ism"

The Southern Baptist Convention puts out a montly news magazine called "SBC LIFE." You can view it online here. In the January 2006 issue (click link and scroll down to "Seeker"), Dr. William Brown wrote an amazing article on the prevalence and danger of seeker-oriented services in the modern church.

Accroding to the article, William E. Brown (PhD) is associate professor of Evangelism and Church Planting and Nehemiah Project director at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is to be congratulated for writing such an article and SBC LIFE is to be applauded for printing it. It is very encouraging.

Some of the quotes found in the article go along with several things I have been saying over the past several months. The following are quotes taken directly from the online article:

  • The Bible establishes from its opening verses that God is the initiator of His relationship with mankind. He is the Seeker.
  • The Bible clearly teaches that man cannot initiate or advance his salvation. He cannot seek. One may ask, "How about Matthew 6:33, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God....?' or Hebrews 11:6 where God reassures us that He rewards those who diligently seek Him?" Whenever the Scriptures speak of man seeking God, it is in the context of a relationship in progress, not man deciding on his own to restore his relationship to God.
  • Charles Finney, the "Father of Modern Revivalism," laid much of the groundwork for modern seeker theology. His semi-Pelagian position — that a non-Christian could accept Christ, of his own initiative, whenever he so chooses — motivated Finney's use of "New Measures."
  • We must always remember that our responsibility is to clearly declare the gospel, giving people the opportunity to respond to the Holy Spirit's stirring rather than our own. When we assume responsibility for the individual's response to the gospel, it is just a short step to the Seeker model. After all, if I can stir emotions so that people will "accept Christ" after they have come to the service, then should I not also do whatever I can to get them to the service in the first place? (Perhaps like this: On December 31, 2005, Abundant Life Church in La Marque, Texas gave away a $120k house to a lucky "worshipper" on New Year's Eve. Since 2003, the church has given away a car, a motorcycle and furniture. According to the church's website, lighting, music, indoor fireworks and balloon drops were part of the festivities. A church member/home builder charged the church $53k to cover the cost of materials to construct the house.)
  • Rather than trying to attract the lost, the Good Shepherd went in search of the lost sheep. The Great Commission commands us to go.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I must be the chief of all troglodytes!

I read of a recent art award and was left dumbfounded. See if you can understand. Here is the headline from the BBC:

A white gentlemen's urinal
has been named
the most influential modern art work
of all time.

According to the article, "Marcel Duchamp's Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year's Turner Prize which takes place on Monday." Runners-up include works by Picasso and Andy Warhol (I've actually heard of those two!).

What really struck me is the amount of work the "artist" had to put in to "create" this work of art. According the report, he must be been mentally exhausted after he did this:
"Duchamp shocked the art establishment when he took the urinal, signed it and put it on display in 1917."

That's IT! He found a discarded urinal, used a 1917-equivalent to a Sharpie and then he's made ART! And very expensive art at that. In this article, the work is valued at . . .

wait for it . . .

wait for it . . .


I'll be returning to my cave now.

Doctors are stealing our ideas

Over at CNN.com, there's a story that reveals the latest findings from Canada's medical research: Giving homeless alcoholics a regular supply of booze may improve their health and their behavior.

Admittedly, this doesn't have anything to do with the church . . . directly. But you have to read the last paragraph to understand what they mean. It says: "The alcohol gets them in, builds the trust and then we have the opportunity to treat other medical diseases... It's about improving the quality of life."

Jim Bublitz over at Slice of Laodicea makes this insightful connection:

That logic (changed to fit the Church Growth Movement) sounds like this:

"Preaching to their felt-needs gets them in, builds trust and then we have the opportunity to treat their spiritual condition... It's about giving them a purpose in life."

Most of us probably cringe a little at this because we see it for what it is - manipulation, well-intentioned though it may be. If that is the case, why do so many rejoice in the same practice in the church?

Manipulation is manipulation, whether it is meeting the desperate sinful "needs" of alcoholics or the alleged "felt needs" of "seekers."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Protect your PC - Practice Safe Hex!

I recently had to competely format my home PC. It had slowed down to a veritable crawl and was maddeningly frustrating. I wiped it completely clean and reinstalled just what I needed. I'm convinced it was crawling with spyware and other malicious code. Now I'm dedicated to protecting my PCs. Here is a good read if you are interested in doing it as well: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Spyware/index.php?p=733

(Sorry for the URL - my "Insert URL" button disappeared. I'll try to fix it soon.)

Also, run through Jason's Toolbox Test to see just how vulnerable you are:


Bono and Christianity - Part 2

I posted earlier on Bono's peculiar brand of Christianity (July 11, 2005). You can read here of another concert-goer's evaluation of one of Bono's "sermons" at a recent New York City concert.

It appears that after a set of songs, Bono pointed to his headband, described in the article as "the “C” in “coexist” was the Islamic crescent moon, the “X” was the Star of David, and the “T” was the cross of Christ. Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband—first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon.

What is more shocking is what happened next - "he began to repeat: 'Jesus, Jew, Mohammed—all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed—all true.'"

I don't expect Bono to be a theologian but he represents himself as a Christian - one who allegedly believes Jesus when the Lord says, "No one comes to the Father except by Me."

Size = God's blessing???

Most pastors are being taught that if your church is huge, then God is behind it and for it. I doubt that population is a good gauge for health. Consider the amazing photo essay from Slate called "The Megachurch Age." The photos are breathtaking but look at #5 - it's the Mormon Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Twenty-one thousand show up - are you willing to say that the God of the Bible is behind this?

Who knew Google did so much?

If you're like me, you are probably just scratching the surface of what Google can do? Go here for a cheatsheet of tools. Here's a good one:

safesearch: blahblahblah

If you are trying to find something that has a hint of sexual innuendo (like, say, "sex education"), type that into the Google-bar, you can search for the term using this method and not get inundated with all sorts of inappropriate websites.