30 September 2009
@khad The Good News is that God loves us. Loving our neighbors is empty moralism without Christ. (Online Source)
*Buzzer Sound* EH! WRONG! Sorry, Khad, but the Good News is that we who were once dead in our sins have been redeemed by the blood of Christ through His substitutionary death on the Cross. The Good News is that we have been saved from the wrath of God and from an eternity of torment, that we have been purchased and are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to Christ and righteousness through Him. The Good News is that if we repent of our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them! Does God love us? Yes. Did He die because He loved us? Yes. But if all you say is "God loves us." the story seems to lose it's luster, don't you think? Not to mention it gives unrepentant sinners a terribly false sense of security. If you're going to preach the Good News, preach it as the Bible does.
Then young "outlaw preacher" Khad tweeted:
@khad “[God] saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5) #thef******ggospel @timbreyfogle (Online Source)
In case you're wondering...yes, I inserted the asterisks to the above hash tag. On "pastor" Khad's Twitter page the word is there in all it's sinful glory. Hm, call me crazy, but that language just seems a tad inappropriate for someone who is supposedly called to shepherd a flock of God's children, don't you think?
Khad epitomizes Outlaw Preachers. His Michigan "church" meets in a bar. Do I really need to explain the dangers any further? If so, see the post 'Theology on Tap.' These young, albeit ambitious, "pastors" who mistakenly think they need to be cool and relevant in order to bring people to Christ need to beware of the tactics they are utilizing.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
29 September 2009
"God wants to party with you. He'll run out to meet you where you are in order to party with you. (Your brother might be upset, though.)" Online source.
How deep. How profound. How unbiblical. At least he doesn't attempt to back it up with Scripture. I suppose just pulling an unbiblical thought out of thin air is better than twisting Scripture in order to make it fit your own agenda a la Rick Warren. So what is an "outlaw preacher" you ask? They're a new, self-defined breed that I like to define as "Emergents on Tap." As in, you're very likely to find your local tattooed, pierced "outlaw preacher" hanging out at your neighborhood watering hole, aka BAR. They began with Jay Bakker and now include such sadly familiar names as Nadia Bolz-Weber and Khad Young. The Apprising Ministries article OUTLAW PREACHERS, BEER, AND THE BIBLE offers a brief look into the philosophy and...ahem...theology of this new breed.
But I didn't start this post because I wanted to give you a history of outlaw preachers. What struck me specifically today was the above "tweet" by Khad Young: "God wants to party with you. He'll run out to meet you where you are in order to party with you. (Your brother might be upset, though.)" It caught my attention because it sounded disappointingly familiar to something I read over the weekend:
Billed on posters around the bar as "Faith, Hope, Love and Beer," Pub Theology is a Sunday night show that's one part church and one part party. In other words, it's like nothing else you will find in Broad Ripple -- or just about anyplace else.
The preceding quote is from an article in my former local paper, The Indianapolis Star. The article can be found in its entirety here. In a nutshell, the article tells the story of an Indianapolis band that began in a rather large Indianapolis mega-church and has decided to take their ministry "on tap." They call what they do "Pub Theology" and apparently can be found with a beer in one hand and a Bible in the other. In a bar. Supposedly sharing the Gospel. Looks like Indianapolis is breeding its very own Outlaw Preachers. Welcome to the postmodern, Emergent world, Indianapolis--I will pray for you.
If you ask me, the postmodern approach leaves much to be desired. Allow me to digress slightly from my focus here and ask: where is the reverence? First we eliminated the idea of wearing our "Sunday best" to church each week as members of the congregation. The pastors then joined in and can now be found wandering the aisles in worn jeans and cowboy boots. Then we decided to make church more appealing by giving it a coffee shop atmosphere with couches replacing the pews and with baristas in the back steaming lattes during the opening prayer. We eliminated the theologically sound hymns in favor of emotion-producing rock-band type praise choruses that say little if anything of substance. We decided that a beautifully trained choir was too stuffy so instead we tossed a few hip, trendy singers and guitarists on stage to put on a show and entertain us. Oh yes, we replaced the pulpit with a stage. We replaced sermons with "talks." We, well, we replaced church as a place of reverence and worship and instead turned it into the latest and greatest neighborhood hangout. A place where you won't be judged, you won't be convicted, you won't be taught anything except love and acceptance. The problem? The Bible convicts. The Bible speaks of judgment--a final judgment that is coming for all people who reject Christ. And if all you ever do is talk about loving people and never tell them about the disease that is silently but steadfastly killing them, then you, my friend, are failing in your mission as a Christian.
So back to "Pub Theology." This group thinks they're doing these barflies a service by "reaching out" to them. After all, didn't Jesus eat with the tax collectors? Well, yes He did. But did He preach to them with a cigarette in one hand and wine in the other? Not in my Bible He didn't. Just because Jesus surrounded Himself with the dregs of society (and lets remember here that we are all dregs of society and sinners without Christ) does not mean that He brought Himself down to their level and participated in their sin in order to make them feel comfortable. In fact, tax collector or Pharisee, I'd argue that Jesus pretty much made everyone feel uncomfortable until they came to realize the depravity of their nature and their hopelessness without a faith in Him.
Sadly, I don't see one reference to the true gospel in this Indy Star article. Is the band preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection? Or are they preaching that God loves everybody and life is really great if we love God too?
"Whether they want to admit it or not," Damon Earlewine says, "I think everybody wants the message of faith and hope and love in their life."
Well, there's my answer. "Faith and hope and love." Sounds like a Backstreet Boys song. Biblical principles, yes, but the whole Gospel? No. What I see described in this article is a weak offshoot of your typical social gospel. Social justice, feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc etc. All things that Christians are called to do as fruits of their faith HOWEVER, these works mean nothing if we are not preaching the full Gospel of repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ.
An interesting anecdote in the article reads:
"On more than one occasion, the band has found rides home for people who have had too much to drink. One man was so grateful to wake up in his own bed, McCord said, he called the band the next day to say thanks. Within a few days, he was being baptized at East 91st Street, with the band members as witnesses."
Okay, so they helped someone get home safely--how nice! And then that man was baptized...okay...Now tell me, is that man still spending his weekends sitting in a bar getting so drunk that he can't find his own way home? Because if he is, then I'm afraid that The Travellers, as this band calls themselves, need to re-evaluate their postmodern approach to church and to Christ.
The most heart-breaking sentence of this article can be found toward the end as the journalist tells us a bit about some of the band members. Member Kyle McCord is quoted as saying, "I can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette and play some of my favorite songs and hang out with my friends and maybe meet someone and tell them about Jesus."
We are all sinners. We all cling to undesirable habits. But should someone who is trying to lead others to Christ do so with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other? McCord is misleading these potentially new, young believers into thinking that they can continue in their worldly lifestyle and still be "Christian" thereby getting their free ticket to Heaven. I hope you've experienced that the closer we walk with Christ, the less we desire the things of this world--especially those things that can lead us into the dark trenches of sin. But if I see a leader doing these things and I am young and vulnerable in my faith, then I am going to be led to believe that Christianity can compromise with my sinful past. May it never be!
The members of The Travellers would do well to rediscover the words of the beloved disciple John who said, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17.
And they best heed the words of Christ Himself when He said, "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6.
Below is further information on the "outlaw preacher" trend. You'll notice the grave danger of this mindset leading to a preaching of acceptance of homosexuality within the Christian church. This is the Postmodern Road, Friend. Please don't wander down this wide path, and if you see your church beginning to dabble in this postmodern thoughts, PLEASE speak boldly and hold your church leaders accountable:
WHAT SO-CALLED OUTLAW PREACHERS JUST DON'T GET
MEET OUTLAW PREACHERS
A GIFT FOR OUTLAW PREACHERS VIA JOHN MACARTHUR
COMMUNION WITH OUTLAW PREACHER KHAD YOUNG
OUTLAW PREACHERS AND OTHERS IN THE CHURCH-GROWTH MOVEMENT MISS THIS
28 September 2009
By Dr. David R. Reagan
The fig tree is one of the symbols of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures (Hos. 9:10, Jer. 24:1-10, and Joel 1:7).
Jesus used a real fig tree to point out the future of Israel. His prophecy is contained in the Fig Tree Lesson in Matthew 24:32-35, which He presented in His Olivet Discourse. The day before He delivered this speech, He had put a curse on a barren fig tree, causing it to wither (Matt. 21:18-22). This was a symbolic prophecy that God would soon pour out His wrath upon the Jewish people because of their spiritual barrenness in rejecting His Son.
The next day Jesus reminded His disciples of the fig tree. He said to watch for it to bloom again. In other words, He said watch for the rebirth of Israel. He indicated that when the fig tree blooms again, He would be at the gates of Heaven, ready to return (Matt. 24:33).
Equally significant, He added an interesting observation:
"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place" (Matt. 24:34).
What generation? The generation that sees the fig tree blossom.
Jesus singled out this event as the one that would signal His soon return. Well, the re-establishment of the state of Israel occurred on May 14, 1948, so we are that generation!
The fig tree has blossomed. Jesus is at the gates.
27 September 2009
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.
23 September 2009
The Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11
Christ lived. Christ died. Christ rose. For you. For your sin. Repent and believe!
Christ lived: Perfectly. Christ died: For your sin. Christ rose: He conquered death. Repent and believe!
Why do I feel like I could go on all night? The Gospel isn't complicated, it just isn't socially acceptable. That's where Rob Bell and the Emergents run into problems; they can't fit their unoffensive, politically correct, all-inclusive un-gospel Gospel into 140 characters. Even Jesus was able to declare the Gospel in less than 140 characters when he said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Hm. Guess you have to work on cleaning up that verbosity there, Rob. But clean up your theology first because it's filthy with false doctrine.
- "Christian" Ouija board
- "Christian" seance
- "Christian" witchcraft
- "Christian" idolatry
A Message from Nathan E. Jones
As a Christian, would you...
1. worship the sun?
2. practice various ritual genuflects to idols?
3. seek to have your spirit leave your body in an attempt to gain mystical knowledge?
4. arouse the "Serpent Power" at the base of your spine to allow a new spirit to enter your brain?
5. merge with a demon to find your "god in us?"
6. writhe on the floor helpless in fear, uncontrollable laughing or weeping, intervals of ecstasy, tremors, spasms, and violent shaking?
7. dabble in the occult in seeking unearthly power?
8. believe that you are God and all is God?
"No way!" you'd easily exclaim. And yet, those are the very things one does when participating in the eastern occultic practice of Yoga.
Yoga is Hinduism
Now, I know what you might be thinking. "Occult? Oh, come on now! Aren't we overreacting just a little bit? Yoga is just exercise."
But, did you know that Yoga is one of the essential religious practices of Hinduism? As Subhas Tiwari, a professor of yoga philosophy and mediation at the Hindu University of America in Orlando, Florida stated in the September 5, 2005 issue of Time Magazine — "Yoga is Hinduism."
Hinduism is monotheistic, sort of. It recognizes one supreme deity known as Brahman, or "ultimate reality." Brahman is the universe and all it contains. Essentially, god is everything, and everything is god, a belief that is known as pantheism. To take the concept further, if everything is god, then that would include you and me. Unlike Christianity, Hinduism has no concept of a personal and knowable God, who is separate from His creation. To a Hindu, Brahman is simply all that exists.
Hinduism also has a polytheistic side. It includes aspects of worship of multiple deities that are all considered manifestations of the one "ultimate reality." In addition to the major incarnations of Brahman, forces of nature, animals, and humans can all be deified, giving Hindus a pantheon of 330 million gods and goddesses to worship.
And, in fact, Yoga is the major missionary arm of Hinduism and the New Age movement in North America.
There are a surprising number of Hindu influences in our North American culture. Many of these go unchecked or even unnoticed by the Christian Church. Yoga for one has really caught on in the Christian community and many church calendars have become filled with Yoga classes. The spiritual effects, though, have been detrimental.
Christians will often say about Yoga, "Well, I don't practice the spiritual part of Yoga, I just do it for the exercise. It's the same as the Apostle Paul saying it's OK to eat food sacrificed to idols" (1 Cor. 8).
But, how many people who know of the New Age indoctrinations behind Yoga are standing outside watching Christians practicing it? What by our example are we telling the world?
In verses 9-11, Paul warns, "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge."
Not only does the Christian ruin the testimony of Christ to others, but as verse 12 states, "When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ."
The Christian Response
What should we do with Yoga, then? Verse 13 concludes, "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."
Yoga is not worth the workout if it puts your walk with Jesus in peril and ruins the chances of someone coming to Christ.
Because there is a proliferation of false teachers promoting false doctrines indicating we're living in the end times, Jesus is about to fulfill His promise to return (Matt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22). May He not arrive and find us stretching to a "sun salutation" in a Yoga class.
For a detailed look into the occultic practices of Yoga, read the article on The Christ in Prophecy Journal blog or on the Berean Watchmen Ministries' website.
21 September 2009
17 September 2009
You can access the show here.
14 September 2009
Before I go any further in my discussion of Nicky Gumbel, I want to pause and examine the content of the Alpha Course. Is this course wholly, completely, and correctly presenting the full Gospel of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ? As an “introduction to the Christian faith” one would hope that it is doing this rather boldly. However, as I mentioned in Alpha Exposed: Part 1, the Alpha course is readily accepted and endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. Hm. A works-based religion is endorsing Alpha? It seems to me that, if anything is proclaiming the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, Roman Catholicism would be nearly the last group to support it, second only maybe to Islam and atheists. So what about Alpha is so terribly non-threatening? The Gospel that I believe and share is actually quite offensive. I’ve lost “friends” for speaking the Truth of Jesus Christ. Since the Bible promises such a response, I’m confused how Alpha can be so friendly with the world and with false religions.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19
For your reference, below is a list of the titles of the 15 talks of the Alpha Course. You’ll note that there are only two which discuss Jesus, while several others discuss the Holy Spirit or present an obvious charismatic approach to the “good news.”
• Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?
• Who Is Jesus?
• Why Did Jesus Die?
• How Can I Be Sure of My Faith?
• Why and How Should I Read the Bible?
• Why and How Do I Pray?
• How Does God Guide Us?
• Who Is the Holy Spirit?
• What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
• How Can I Be Filled With the Spirit?
• How Can I Resist Evil?
• Why and How Should We Tell Others?
• Does God Heal Today?
• What About the Church?
• How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?
Chris Hand of The Christian Research Network Journal (CRN) offers six major criticisms of the Alpha Course:
- “The God of Alpha is not the God of the Bible. …it does not present us with the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. … It simply fails to tell us anything we need to know about God.
- The plight of man in Alpha is not as serious as in the Bible. … Alpha does not use strong terms and leaves us rather unclear about where we stand. As one follows its argument, sin is more to be seen in the way we have ‘messed up our lives.’ … For all the gravity of sin, Alpha never allows us to feel too bad about ourselves. It never permits us to see ourselves in God’s sight. That is a big omission. (Just a personal note here: I have watched one of Gumbel’s “teachings” and was astounded to hear him refer to sin not as sin, but as “mistakes” that we may make. The depravity of man is downplayed terribly. I can only assume that this is one of the “non-threatening” tactics of Alpha. But without a full realization of man’s absolute and utter disgusting sinfulness, one can never come to full repentance before the throne of God.)
- The Jesus Christ of Alpha is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. … despite having part of the course titled ‘Why did Jesus die?’, it is unable in the final analysis to answer this question.
- The love of God in Alpha is not the love of God of the Bible. … The God of the Bible is love but it is love that is seen in His willingness to save sinners. … without the context of God’s holiness and absolute perfection, the meaning of love is lost to us.
- The Holy Spirit of Alpha is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible. … Alpha’s “Spirit” appears to work in ways that lie outside the confines of Scripture. Whoever it is that people are ‘introduced’ to at the Alpha Weekend, it is not the Holy Spirit. But whoever this mysterious guest is, he is equally at home with the ecstatic gatherings of New Age enthusiasts and non-Christian religions alike.
- Conversions in Alpha are not like the conversions in the Bible. … More often than not it is an emotional experience about the love of God but without any understanding of holiness or the need to be saved from our sins. … For all its efforts, Alpha does not help us to know God. It does not describe the true and living God for us. It does not diagnose man’s condition accurately enough. … it is unable to supply us with the ‘good news.”
In this post, I am only going to tackle a few of the issues above and, as is noted by several of my sources, the list above is in no way an exhaustive list of the discrepancies and errors of the Alpha Course.
I want to first briefly examine the Jesus of the Alpha Course. Dusty Peterson and Elizabeth McDonald of Bayith Ministries have done extensive research into the Alpha Course and Nicky Gumbel, and they will be my main resource for this particular point. First, let’s look at ‘Was Jesus Sinless?’ Well, the Bible clearly states that Jesus was “without sin” (Heb 4:15, 1 John 3:5b). Obviously, this is a foundational belief of the gospel because, were Jesus not without blemish, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice that was required for the forgiveness of the sins of mankind. However, in the Alpha videos, Gumbel fails to properly explain Jesus’ sinless nature. What he actually says is “Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are. Jesus had evil thoughts.” Now, earlier in this discussion, Gumbel has explained to the course participant that ‘evil thoughts’ come “from within, out of your hearts.” Doesn’t this present just a bit of a problem? An innocent listener of this teaching would walk away assuming that Christ had evil thoughts which came from out of his heart! Perish the thought! As Peterson and McDonald clarify, “Jesus was offered temptations, He was offered evil thoughts by the enemy, but He rejected them all instantly.” How sad it is that Gumbel fails to make this distinction. In fact, throughout his talks and teachings, Gumbel consistently fails to use the term “sinless” choosing instead less blunt phrases such as “Jesus never did anything wrong.”
Without going into detail (although, if you would like to see my references, please feel free to contact me), let me briefly list some other areas where Peterson and McDonald feel Gumbel and Alpha are lacking in their teaching and presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Gumbel seems to inappropriately present Jesus’ infallibility. In Talk 13, he almost seems to indicate that it was Jesus’ lack of faith that required a second try for him to heal the blind man in Mark 8.
- Was Jesus righteous and holy? “Although Alpha does employ the word ‘righteous’ in several places, it is never categorically applied to the Lord Jesus except to say that he shared the ‘human’ emotion of ‘righteous anger’” Throughout the only two Alpha talks that are devoted to our Savior, Gumbel fails to refer to Jesus as being “holy.”
- Was Jesus perfect? Gumbel tells us that “Jesus himself set us a great example.” Where am I, the land of “Jesus was a great guy, but…”? Why dance around it, Gumbel? Didn’t Jesus set the perfect example?
Most critics of Alpha concede that Gumbel’s presentation of Christ, sin, and God the Father are not necessarily incorrect in their entirety. However, the same critics reveal that Gumbel’s presentation of these truths seems to be lacking, especially in comparison to the attention given to the Holy Spirit. As noted earlier, the Alpha Course contains more “teachings” dedicated to the Holy Spirit than to Jesus Christ! While I certainly recognize the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the bottom line is that without Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and victorious resurrection, Christians have nothing, our faith is in vain!
The Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO) article “The Alpha Course—Final Answer or Fatal Attraction?” states, “The Holy Spirit of Alpha is not the Comforter who assists us in the development of the fruit of the Spirit and practical Christian living but is a capricious being who makes us do all kinds of weird and crazy things. His [Gumbel’s] theme song could well be “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” If one could speak of heresies in sanctification, it would be here. If there are converts, they are now thrown into the briars and thickets of pure speculation, human imagination and emotional excess.” The article continues, “The ‘believer is inundated with teaching about tongues-speaking and burning body parts. […] We are instructed to seek guidance in visions, voices and dreams.”
Alpha resources also see Gumbel claiming that “The Church is meant to be a party…” He uses the well-known parable of the prodigal son to explain that our Sunday worship services should be like a “party.” “Jesus was saying that…the Church is like…a feast and a celebration, and at a party everyone has a good time. There’s fun, there’s laughter…Why shouldn’t there be laughter at the biggest party of all? And that’s what we’re seeing today, laughter and fun, and people getting drunk—not with wine, Paul says ‘don’t get drunk with wine—be filled with the Spirit, Come to a party where you can get drunk on God…”
Does anyone else feel blasphemous just reading that? Yes, the Church will celebrate at the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb upon Christ’s return, but when I wrote “Partying for Jesus?” I was remiss to find any Scripture references that feature the Christian life as one big party. And I have even more difficulty finding any Biblical reference for getting “drunk” with the Holy Spirit. I fear that this explanation is another attempt of Gumbel’s to be relevant and attractive to today’s culture, as well as a method to help justify those “holy laughter” incidents.
Perhaps by taking the emphasis off of Jesus Christ and onto other, more mystical practices and elements, Alpha is able to reach across those pesky denomination barriers. It is obvious from the many “visions” of the virgin Mary across the world that the Catholic Church is rooted in mysticism, not to mention idol worship and false teaching. However, Alpha claims to be “adaptable across tradition and denominations.” Really? How is that? If Alpha is presenting the true historical and theological facts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then how could it possibly be adaptable to the Catholic Church? Gumbel tells Alpha participants in Talk 8 that the differences between Protestants and Catholics are “totally insignificant compared to the things that unite us.” Really? Really? I tend to find A LOT of differences that make it impossible for a true Christian to unite in any way with the Catholic Church! Worship of idols and a failure to acknowledge the believer’s direct access to God through our only High Priest, Jesus Christ, would be two with which to start.
What I see in the Alpha course is a desire to include Catholics, not convert them. But if we as Christians are aware that someone is involved in, to be blunt, the largest cult in the world today, shouldn’t we seek to share the true Gospel with them rather than water it down, removing a few potentially “offensive” thoughts in efforts to merely “include” them in our little social gathering? I can only conclude that this is not the goal of Alpha but that it is instead all about numbers for Gumbel. How many Alpha offices can we have? We can have a dedicated Catholic office? Great! How many people can we get to come this weekend? And, most dangerously, with Gumbel’s practice of the “Toronto Blessing,” and his belief in “holy laughter” and being “drunk in the Spirit” his goal may not be to see people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but to instead expose as many unaware souls as possible to whatever spirits are controlling him.
In the Alpha resource Telling Others Gumbel says “we make it a rule on Alpha never to criticize another denomination, another Christian church or a Christian leader.” Great. Apparently Gumbel lives in that imaginary land where we’re never supposed to rebuke false teachers because it might make someone mad or sad. The article “The Dangers of the Alpha Course” from the website Deception in the Church responds to Gumbel’s statement, “[…] there are times when failure to criticize—or rather rebuke and correct (2 Tim 3:16; 4:2-5)—is actually to be disobedient to the Word of God. […] [W]e are to test all teachings, prophesies and practices against Scripture and judge whether they are true or false (1 Cor. 2:15, 16; 1 John 4:1).”
Having not attended the full course myself, it is only through research that I can conclude that Alpha offers a muddy view of the Gospel at best. And if someone who has been a Christian for quite some time is confused by Gumbel’s presentation, how much more confused must an unbeliever be! The acceptance of Alpha by such a false religion as the Roman Catholic Church leads me to the logical conclusion that the Alpha Course is not adequately presenting the full Gospel of Jesus Christ. If it did, the Catholic Church in its works-based righteousness would be offended and would denounce Alpha’s teaching rather than embrace it. Finally, I cannot comprehend a course that spends more time on the Holy Spirit (outside the realm of the Biblical definition of the Holy Spirit, no less) than it does on Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Lord, He is our Savior! His perfect sacrifice is the very core of the Gospel that Gumbel claims to believe! So how can Gumbel dedicate such little time and such poor, incomplete teaching to our Lord? I daresay, (and please forgive the understatement) that Gumbel has his priorities a bit skewed.
13 September 2009
So why are so many contemporary "praise and worship" songs written as if a teenage girl is singing to her first boyfriend? Below is what I consider to be the worst offender. Kari Jobe singing "The More I Seek You":
In case you didn't catch all of that, here are the lyrics:
The more I seek you,
The more I find you
The more I find you, the more I love you
I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming
Is anyone else gagging? Not only is the song nauseating, but then we have to sing the same lines over and over? I've determined that if I ever hear this song played in my church, I will leave and never look back for fear that I'll be turned into a pillar of salt.
Do I love Jesus. YES. Do I love Him romantically? NO. That is not Biblical! Jesus Christ is our Lord, our Savior, not our boyfriend and certainly not our bearded girlfriend (for the men). Speaking of, just a thought: if I, as a woman, would be uncomfortable singing that song, how in the world must the men in the congregation be feeling? Talk about out of your comfort zone, yikes!
Another example is Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few":
You are God in heaven
And here am I on earth,
So I'll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You
And I'll stand in awe of You,
Yes I'll stand in awe of You,
And I'll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You
The simplest of all love songs
I want to bring to You,
So I'll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You
Thankfully, Redman has humbly confessed that upon further Scripture study and reflection, he has realized that the use of romantic language when singing to Christ is not exactly Biblical.
Moving beyond the romantic, I take further issue with the incredible audacity of so many "worship" songs that are, in fact, worshiping us instead of Jesus! For example, "You are Worthy of My Praise":
I will worship (I will worship)
With all of my heart (with all of my heart)
I will praise You (I will praise You)
With all of my strength (all my strength)
I will seek You (I will seek You)
All of my days (all of my days)
And I will follow (I will follow)
All of Your ways (all Your ways)
- I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise
Hail You as king (hail You as king)
And I will serve You (I will serve You)
Give You everything (give You everything)
I will lift up (I will lift up)
My eyes to Your throne (my eyes to Your throne)
And I will trust You (I will trust You)
I will trust You alone (trust You alone)
- I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise
Or, better yet, why don't we sing something theologically and doctrinally sound? These songs today are so overwhelmed with emotion that they lack any real substance. You want a song that will invoke true emotion? Try something steeped with truth and good news like "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"!
11 September 2009
The minute I heard this guy say "holistic" I knew we were in trouble. To be honest though, I anticipated this type of content. That's actually why I even bothered wasting an hour of my life with this meeting! The speaker was Dr. Jonathan Spero, the CEO and President of InHouse Physicians and while he seems to be a perfectly nice guy, I was less than impressed with his tips for staying well in the business world. Dr. Spero himself meditates every morning; it's part of his morning "ritual." And yes, he advised us to create our own "rituals." Sorry, doc, but something about the term "ritual" doesn't sit right with me.
Leaders of the New Age Movement are very much aware of their intentional shift into the business world. The New Age Journal states: "An unconventional new breed of consultant has surfaced on the corporate lecture circuit. They speak of meditation, energy flow and tapping into the unused potential of the mind."
In his book, "For Many Shall Come in My Name," author Ray Yungen says the following:
"Once, while attending a New Age convention, I was told by one of these new breeds that resistance to New Age concepts in business was being replaced by a new openness. 'How you focus it is all important,' he began, and then added: "If you barge in with occult lingo it turns them off right away. You have to tell them how you can make their employees happier and get more productivity out of them--then they will listen. You are really teaching metaphysics, but you present it as human development."
Disturbing? I thought so when I read that. Even more disturbing after this seminar. Dr. Spero spoke of "focusing" and how that will aid in our productivity and help us be better employees. So what we see is that these instructors use corporate lingo, but New Age ideas lie not far beneath the surface.
We all know that breathing exercises are at the core of so-called meditation. This is when you supposedly focus on your breathing. In. And out. In. And out. Empty your mind from frets and worries. In. And out. So what did Dr. Spero have all of us attendees do within the first 5 minutes of his presentation? You guessed it, breathing exercises. Supposedly this relaxes you. Personally, it would drive me crazy to sit and contemplate my naval for 15 minutes. But this use of mantra meditation is common in these programs.
Yungen explains further, "Many of these programs have metaphysical motives within them. One such wellness expert promoting total health explained how she was able to teach mantra meditation to a group of businessmen: 'Just yesterday I met with a whole room of executives for breakfast-top executives in a huge multinational company...Here were these executives closing their eyes and breathing deeply into their abdomens, and quieting their mind by repeating just one word-relax, relax.'"
Like I said, I anticipated that this would be the crux of this presentation. How did I know? The term "wellness." This is a huge tip-off term, especially in the corporate world. It moves beyond just being healthy to nurturing the whole person, physical, emotional, spiritual. My opinion is that my employer needs to stay out of my emotional and spiritual life (unless of course you're in ministry). Why bother infiltrating the corporate world? Ray Yungen explains: "New Agers know that if they can transform business, they will have transformed the world. The reason for this is that business and government feed into each other, so to speak. [...] The two cultures are profoundly intertwined. If the corporate world goes New Age (as we see it doing) the world of government isn't far behind."
If you think I'm paranoid, I challenge you to keep your ears and eyes open in your own place of business. Just please, please, keep your mind engaged on the things of God! Satan is busy, but we Christians, with our armor of God have nothing to fear as we face him and fight!
09 September 2009
08 September 2009
The Christian Institute in the UK reports in their article dated September 8, 2009 and entitled "Kids' Author Says Jesus is Not God":
An atheist children’s author is to use his latest book to say that Jesus was not God, instead claiming the Apostle Paul imagined the idea.
In a new book entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman says the idea of Jesus being God came from the “fervid imagination” of Paul.
Mr Pullman is a strident atheist who has said his books aim at “killing God”.
Mr Pullman described Paul as, “a literary and imaginative genius, who has had more influence on the world than anybody else, including Jesus. He had this great ability to persuade others and his rhetorical skills have been convincing people for 2,000 years”.
He adds: “By the time the Gospels were written down, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether different and extraordinary.”
You may know Pullman best as the author of the the book that inspired the 2008 children's movie The Golden Compass. At the time of the film's release, the Christian community issued warnings about the film, but I fear many of them went unheeded by parents. How do I know this? All I have to do is look at the astonishing number of "Christian" parents who have allowed their children to eagerly embrace such series as Harry Potter and Twilight. Here's a newsflash: Just because you send your child to Sunday school or youth group once a week does not mean that they are prepared to properly and Biblically discern the material they are exposed to in these books and movies! In fact, with the rapidity that false teachings such as the emergent church movement are infiltrating the youth groups, I'd be willing to bet that your child is actually more prepared to accept the pagan thoughts in these books and films!
Unfortunately, nothing is "innocent" anymore. The Harry Potter series teaches witchcraft and sorcery. Twilight tells of "undead" vampires and is a story about the lust between a teenage girl and a centuries-old vampire. Common theme: the occult. Wrapped in a package of light, just as the Bible promised us Satan would appear to us. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to deny your child the things that are popular and that all of their friends are talking about. But standing firm in your morals now will demonstrate to that child how important it is for Christians not to compromise in this world. Teach your kids now to take the narrow path rather than allowing these authors to teach them the wide path of an "accepting, open mind."
07 September 2009
Deception, Seduction, and the Death of Discernment
By Terry James
"Amazing" isn't a powerful enough word within which to cocoon the impression. “Astonishing" comes closer to describing the speed of Christian acceptance of changing world political, economic, societal, and religious values. This generation isn't just on that proverbial slippery slope to a foreboding destiny; it is in free fall.
Those who look at Bible prophecy through the premillennial, pretribulation prism — the view that is on the side of God's Word, we believe — have long thought that the delusion that will tip humanity toward believing the great lie of the coming Antichrist will come totally post-Rapture. That prophesied delusion is given through the apostle Paul:
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness... (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).The delusion that Paul foretells will lead all who reject God's truth to instead believe a great lie, thus preventing them from coming to truth that will save their souls for eternity, will certainly be at full power post-rapture. The Holy Spirit, as restrainer of evil, will have departed with the church at the rapture. Deception and delusion will mesmerize the masses while Antichrist, the beast, rises to full power.
However, while great deception is prophetically set for that future era of horror, it is wise to think upon whether the delusion is already well into the process of setting up during our time. The operative statement written by the great apostle I want to consider is:
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work..." (v. 7).Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, forewarned of the great deception that will be on the world scene at the time just before His return to earth. He warned His followers to be aware of the deception at that future time. The forewarning is recorded at the beginning of all three accounts of His Olivet prophecies. Deception will be the dangerous societal backdrop of the time.
Paul's word said that mystery of iniquitous activity was already on the scene at the time he wrote to the Thessalonians. The deception was already discernable, will grow worse, and - by the time Antichrist has come to his full satanic power — will produce deception so strong that those who refused salvation through Christ before the Holy Spirit removed as restrainer of evil will believe a great lie.
Many interpret this to mean that if one rejects Christ before the rapture — for the restrainer removes when the church goes to be with Christ at the Rapture — he or she will have no chance to be saved, because that person will believe Satan's "lie."
Deception today is horrific in its scope and influence. So deluding are its powerful manipulations that much of the church is all but anesthetized to truth, which several decades ago was solidly front and center in defending against all attempts at seduction by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Not so now. The sugary pabulum coming from the ministries with the most funding for their TV extravaganzas and mega-million dollar media/entertainment centers, supposedly serving the cause of Christ, spews the lukewarm, feel-good message that must make the Lord of heaven nauseous.
The seduction has been so successful within Christ's body, the church, that there is little discernment of the sort required to stay a straight course through these violent, end-times waters. Space limitations inhibit citing the many examples that could be given of the delusion that has set in at this late hour.
One example that stands out, however, is the lack of righteous outrage from the majority of Christian pastors and leaders — or from leaders who claim to be patriots — over America's president using that high office to warmly embrace the religion of Islam. This, while his whole modus operandi since coming into office has been to vehemently support proposed legislation in practically every case that flies in the face of Christianity.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised American Muslims for enriching the nation's culture at a dinner to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.Islam and Christianity have in common advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings?! I've not read of any Christian ministry that adheres to God's Word ever say to kill those who won't convert. I've never heard of a true minister of Christ advising families to engage in "honor killings" if a member of the family wants to become a member of a religious group other than that embraced by the family. I've never known a true Christian church declare women to be less worthy than men, and require that they wear clothing that exposes only their eyes and hands. I've never known of any true Christian to want America to forbid others in our nation from practicing the religion of their choice, unlike most Islamic nations, which will in every case forbid the practice of another religion than Islam, and will in many cases kill or imprison those who are caught doing so.
“The contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country,” Obama said at the iftar, the dinner that breaks the holiday's daily fast.
The president joined Cabinet secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and lawmakers to pay tribute to what he called “a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress.”
... Obama also released a video message to Muslims before the start to Ramadan. In the video, he said Ramadan's rituals are a reminder of the principles Muslims and Christians have in common, including advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings... (Obama Praises Islam as ‘Great Religion' - FOX News, September 1, 2009).
Islam advances justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings?! This, dear readers, is deception, seduction, and the death of discernment.
It is one thing more: a sure sign that we are bumping up against the very end of this debased, debauched age.
06 September 2009
I love this song because it presents the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ!
This is one of my favorite hymns and you can't get any better than this video with Steve Green singing and scenes from "The Ten Commandments"!
What a blessing that this man has been using his God-given gift to praise God and to share the Gospel around the world for the past 25 years!
I read Chan's book nearly a year ago and found it relevant and even recommended it to friends and loved ones. Key word: relevant. Yes, I admit, I was duped. In hindsight, I didn't really glean anything from this work (I didn't underline or highlight one thing, which never happens when I read a good, heavy book and should have been a sign to me!). Moreover, a critique of the book shows that Chan focuses solely on love and emotion with little to no mention of the rest of the Gospel: Christ's death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. I didn't walk away from this book convicted of my sinful and wretched condition. Instead, I walked away convicted that I wasn't doing enough, I wasn't loving enough. See the danger here? I walked away with a works-based outlook. Thankfully, I'm grounded in Scripture enough to have spit out the bones of this book. But who among the people I recommended it to were not so grounded? I apologize now to the people to whom I recommended this work. At the time, my discernment skills were not as honed as they are today. This proves how busy Satan is trying to deceive "even the elect." This is why it is crucial for us to be so immersed in GOD's Word that we cannot possibly be deceived! I'm thankful that God is now revealing the truth to me and am praying that the many youth groups that are praising Chan's book will not begin to slide down that slippery emergent slope.
03 September 2009
each time we are together for one of these celebrations somehow we are celebrating God’s movement in our lives and the lives of others. they are sacred spaces—no matter how fancy or unintentional—a set-apart time to say “God, we know you are at work somehow and we are thankful.” whenever i leave a celebration i always leave a little more full, a little more inspired, and somehow more mindful of my own life and what God is up to in it.
Hm. I don't know about you, but I'm going to have to disagree. I think I can safely say that there are quite a few parties going on out there where neither the hosts nor the attendees are even thinking about God unless they're devising new ways to defy Him! Can parties or get-togethers be a fun way for Christians to gather together in fellowship? Absolutely. Should this be considered a spiritual discipline? Absolutely not. Once again, we are desperately trying to twist our faith to accommodate our world rather than radically altering our world to accommodate our faith. Hey, anything to make God more relevant and appealing, right? It's so baffling to me that salvation from an eternity in Hell isn't appealing enough!
02 September 2009
In the post Bill, Bono, and Blair: An Unholy Trinity? I alluded to providing further information regarding Nicky Gumbel, the Anglican who is a member of Tony Blair's Faith Foundation. My main goal, however, is to expose the dangers of the Alpha Course, of which Gumbel is the head.
You may or may not have heard of the Alpha Course. In the past two decades or so, it has swept across the UK, finding particular success amongst Roman Catholics (right there--you should be raising an eyebrow!) Alpha likes to describe itself as "a practical introduction to the Christian faith." Interesting, but if it is truly introducing the Christian faith, then why do Catholics who participate continue to attend their Catholic churches after they've completed the course? But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Alpha Course has found moderate success in America as well, with evangelical churches hurrying to include it as a new, non-threatening way to present the Gospel. But why do we need a catchy logo and an elaborately developed program to present the Gospel? Funny, but it seems to me that Jesus and the apostles just preached the Gospel, plain and simple. No tactics or techniques required. And we can be certain that they offended people in the process because the Gospel of Christ is offensive and foolish to those who are perishing! Oh, silly me, I guess that straight preaching just wouldn't be relevant enough to today's culture. I keep forgetting that God's Word nowadays has to conform to society rather than the other way around!
I want to start with a brief history of Alpha because the history that Alpha itself provides is terribly lacking in truth and detail. It's true, Alpha began in the 1970s at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London. But it's not Alpha's early history I want to focus on so much as it's recent history, namely since Nicky Gumbel took the stage as leader and head. I've decided to tackle this topic in multiple posts in the interest of time and attention. Throughout these posts I hope to present the idea that the Alpha Course does not teach the Gospel as presented by Jesus Christ and the apostles and, as if that wasn't dangerous enough, that it's roots lie in New Age, anti-Biblical practices. Putting it bluntly, I believe that the Alpha Course is being used as a tool of Satan, with a "Christian" mask of "Christian" terms and "Christian" supporters. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to share my research with you.
Alpha likes to tout and advertise that "Over thirteen million people have explored the Christian faith at Alpha courses all over the world." Well, that's great. So how many of those people genuinely accepted Christ and continue to serve Him today? Numbers mean absolutely nothing, especially when it comes to true faith in Christ. Was it not Jesus Himself who said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."?
Nicky Gumbel took over Alpha in 1990 and is the main architect of the course as it now exists. He happens to be Vicar at Holy Trinity Brompton church in London. HTB is an Anglican church, a denomination that has been widely accepting and tolerant of error (ordination of women and moral issues to start) for quite some time. This leads to my first hesitation: If Nicky Gumbel is so faithful to the Word and Truth of God, then why does he continue to hold a position in an Anglican church?
But my bigger issue with HTB is that it was this church that helped spread the Toronto Blessing across England. While I don't wish to go into great detail about the Toronto Blessing here, a brief examination is required in order to realize the gravity of the reality that this is where Alpha's roots lie.
The Toronto Blessing is a New Age movement that infiltrated some churches in the early nineties. With a few Christian terms tossed in to aid in the deception, the Toronto Blessing emphasizes experience and a realization of a higher self as truth. In fact, those who receive "the blessing" find themselves "drunk" with laughter in a "slaying of the spirit" experience. Once Gumbel received "the blessing" himself from Eleanor Mumford (who is greatly responsible for bringing "the blessing" to England from Toronto) he wasted no time effecting the same phenomenon in his own church. Author and apologist Dave Hunt wrote that HTB "...became the center of holy laughter for England and Europe." Following services and prayer meetings, the church would provide taxis for those in attendance who were too "drunk in the Spirit" to even drive home!
A 1994 Time Magazine article entitled "Laughing for the Lord" says:
"It's Sunday evening in London's fashionable Knightsbridge neighborhood. Though pathetically tiny flocks of Londoners attend many Anglican services, Holy Trinity Brompton has a standing-room-only turnout of 1500. After the usual Scripture readings, prayers and singing, the chairs are cleared away. Curate Nicky Gumbel prays that the Holy Spirit will come upon the congregation. Soon a woman begins laughing. Others gradually join her with hearty belly laughs. A young worshipper falls to the floor, hands twitching. Another falls, then another and another. Within half an hour there are bodies everywhere as supplicants sob, shake, roar like lions, and strangest of all laugh uncontrollably. This frenzied display has become known as the 'laughing revival' or 'Toronto Blessing'. After first appearing at Holy Trinity only last May, laughing revivals have been reported in Anglican parishes from Manchester to York to Brighton. At London's Holy Trinity, schoolteacher Denise Williams says she 'came here a little skeptical' but soon was caught up in the fervor. 'There was a lovely feeling of warmth and peace.' Lines outside Holy Trinity now start forming an hour and a half before services."
I ask you, does this sound like the services of the early church as described by the apostle Paul? This description sounds like the exact opposite of the type of orderly worship that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14.
Those of you who may be willing to give Gumbel the benefit of the doubt are saying, "Okay, but that's the church, not Alpha per se." Well, to begin with, Alpha is 100% linked with Holy Trinity Brompton (if you follow this link you will see that their International Head Office is located at the church). Secondly, Gumbel has most assuredly brought these same practices into the Alpha Course proper. Not only does the course focus greatly on the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the repentance of sins and Christ crucified and resurrected for our salvation) but Alpha culminates into one great weekend experience known as the Holy Spirit Weekend. Let's be honest, if his religious beliefs lie in something as ensnaring as the Toronto Blessing, surely those beliefs will filter into his other religious endeavors!
In the Personal Freedom Outreach article "The Alpha Course - Final Answer or Fatal Attraction?" the author indicates, "Gumbel unashamedly is trying to move people into esoteric experiences, altered states of consciousness, self-hypnosis and mindless emotionalism and then tell his followers it is all of God. Gumbel uses "God's words" to move people toward the ultimate end which is hysteria, loss of control, and mindlessness."
Gumbel himself has stated that the purpose of these weekends is to expect and experience various types of odd manifestations and loss of control of one's own body. In the same article, Gumbel himself is quoted as saying, "Sometimes, when people are filled, they shake like a leaf in the wind. Others find themselves breathing deeply, as if almost physically breathing in the Spirit...Physical heat sometimes accompanies the filling of the Spirit and people experience it in their hands or some other part of their bodies." This loss of control seems to directly contradict the God of the Bible, "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." 1 Corinthians 14:33. In fact, I would challenge Gumbel to present Scripture in defense of this loss of bodily control as a necessary effect of the Holy Spirit upon the believer.
Sounds to me like Gumbel could be great friends with Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Phyllis Tickle, and the like. All of these individuals draw from New Age thoughts and practices and dangerously emphasize feeling and experience over the Truth of God's Word. As long as it feels like God is making me warm and tingly it must really be Him, right? So who needs Scripture if I have a warm fuzzy feeling and I'm shaking uncontrollably? Christian, beware of ANYTHING that promotes feeling over God's already spoken truth. Realization of Alpha's approach to "truth" leads to the conclusion that any conversions that are supposedly taking place are wholly emotional and stand little chance of actually passing the test of true faith and a true walk with God.
An article at Deception in the Church entitled "The Dangers of the Alpha Course" quotes Gumbel as admitting, "I have found on Alpha that those from an essentially enlightened background feel at home with the parts of the course which appeal to the mind, but often have difficulty in experiencing the Holy Spirit. Others coming from the New Age movement find that rational and historical explanations leave them cold, but at the weekend away they are on more familiar territory in experiencing the Holy Spirit." Is anyone else concerned by that quote? The Alpha training manual and videos tell the participant that "We live in the age of the Spirit." Really? Where is that in Scripture? Quite the opposite of God's Word, this instead sounds very reminiscent of the New Age idea of the Age of Aquarius.
(If I may take a slight but brief detour: Indeed, far from being a brief fad of the eighties, New Age practices and ideas have been running rampant for centuries--even in the early church--and they continue to impact and infiltrate our churches today. For more information on the dangers of the New Age, email me and I can send you a list of resources for further research.)
A quick glance at some of the "great" men who endorse Alpha should also cause eyebrows to raise. Men like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Tony Campolo among others. It should come as no surprise that apostates such as these would give high praise to a "Christian" course that elevates emotion over truth and that focuses more on meeting a temporary felt need than on the true unregenerate spiritual condition of a person's heart.
On Saturday evening of the Holy Spirit weekend, Gumbel will pray for the participants and for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. So how do we know that they have actually received the true Holy Spirit. Well, I would argue that we don't know which spirit these people are receiving. Believers are clearly called to test the spirits (1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.) and it is quite obvious that Gumbel has chosen to ignore this call of Scripture. But for Gumbel and proponents of the Alpha Course, one of the signs that the Holy Spirit has descended is that the people begin to speak in tongues. I think it is safe to say, however, that there are many true, Bible-believing Christians walking around today who have never spoken in tongues, so from my perspective this can hardly be a definitive sign of the Holy Spirit.
How do we test the spirits? We use God's Word and if what is said or experienced is contrary to God's Word, then we must reject it. And if it is contrary to God's Word, then we can only conclude that the spirits being called upon and descending are anything but the Holy Spirit. In his book Questions of Life Gumbel uses 1 Corinthians 14:2 as his proof that speaking in tongues is a form of prayer. He does us a great favor here by perfectly illustrating the dangers of taking Scripture out of context! Let's look at the verse in context, shall we?
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
According to my study, the gift of speaking in tongues as imparted in Acts 2 was actually the ability to speak in a foreign language. Interestingly, the term used here in Corinthians to refer to speaking in tongues was a word commonly used in the culture to speak of "pagan ecstasy, going out of the body, connecting with the deity and, in a mystical way, beginning to speak the language of the gods," (John MacArthur, "The Truth About Tongues, Part 1"). The Corinthian church was one that was embroiled in it's pagan surroundings and they foolishly had allowed pagan beliefs and practices to filter into their church. Of the Charismatic movement and churches today, MacArthur says, "We have developed a sensual, feeling, experiential, erotic kind of approach to Christianity, only we call it the work of the Holy Spirit when, in fact it is the counterfeit of Satan."
Back to the passage, we see that Paul is teaching that the gift of tongues is secondary. Why? Speaking in tongues will not build up and edify the church, which is the sole purpose of the church! And certainly the Corinthians' use of fake, pagan tongues will be even more detrimental to the edification of the church. Instead, in verse 1, Paul urges the Corinthians to earnestly desire and pursue after love and the greater gifts that edify rather than the showy, dramatic, ego-building gifts.
MacArthur elaborates, "The obvious reason for the inferiority of tongues is that nobody could understand what was being said." Furthermore, in verse 2 (Gumbel's proof-verse), "For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit," the Greek literally says "But to a god". MacArthur explains, "What Paul is saying is, 'You people with your pagan ecstasies are not doing what all spiritual gifts were given to do, that is speak to men. Rather, your ecstasies are speaking to a god, nobody can even understand what you're saying, you are all wrapped up in speaking pagan mysteries!' Do you see what he's saying? Those aren't the mysteries...of God that Paul gave, those are the mysteries of paganism. He that speaks in a tongue speaks not unto men."
MacArthur continues by explaining that spiritual gifts are given for us to minister to men, not to God. God doesn't need us to minister to Him because He is complete! So, contrary to what Gumbel is teaching, this passage is condemning speaking in tongues as a private prayer language to God. These people may be communing and communicating with a god, but it is certainly not the God of the Bible! MacArthur points out that in every prayer in the Bible, not once do we see a suggestion that they were prayed in unintelligible gibberish. Actually, in Matthew 6:7, Jesus himself condemned prayer that resembled that of the pagans!
So why does Paul say in verse 5 "Now I want you all to speak in tongues"? MacArthur feels that Paul is exaggerating to make a point. We know from 1 Corinthians 12 that not all Christians will be granted the same spiritual gift. So Paul is saying in verse 5 that while it would be wonderful if all Christians could speak in (true) tongues, he knows that it's not going to happen.
As a final examination of this passage, read the following from MacArthur's sermon:
There's an interesting little footnote here that's just kind of snuck in there. Notice in verse 2 and in verse 4 where it says 'tongues,' that the King James translators put the word 'unknown' in there. But in verse 5 where it says 'tongues, the word isn't there. Do you know why? It seems that the translators put the word 'unknown' in with the singular and left it out with the plural. Some Bible scholars believe that's because when Paul was using the singular, he was referring to their ecstatic gibberish (which was all one kind, a tongue, a gibberish) but when he refers to the true gift, it's languages. Like in Acts, where every man heard him in his own language. So in verses 1-4 he's saying, "Your false gift is all wrong." But in verse 5 he's saying, "The right thing is all right when it's interpreted in its place."
I think that the above exegesis completely and correctly explains the true meaning of this passage, and illustrates how terribly dangerous Gumbel's interpreation of it is.
It is terribly erroneous to presume that an experience in calling down the Holy Spirit that manifests itself in tongues and shaking and laughter is necessary for conversion. Were that true, then I must count myself among the millions of Christians who dearly love our Savior but who have apparently missed the point of true conversion without this spirit experience. Instead, I am inclined to boldly assert that these experiences are not with God the Holy Spirit but are instead manifestations of evil spirits--demons. To invoke these spirits is to open wide the door for the blatant and direct influence of Satan in your life.
From this brief peek into the New Age roots of the Alpha Course, one must acknowledge that Gumbel has succeeded in twisting the Word of God in order to fit his own agenda. As a "Christian" leader he has failed miserably to filter what he has been exposed to through the never-changing lens of Scripture. He has succumbed to the New Age philosophy of experience over Truth and he has woven this into his curriculum in order to lure young Christians and nonbelievers far away from the Word of God and into the dangerous depths of demonic practices. He has strategically placed a few good "Christian" terms here and there, with a brief out-of-context use of Scripture now and again and has succeeded in deceiving countless unassuming, trusting believers.
The Alpha Course may be offered at your church even now. The sad reality is that even our church leaders fail to test every program against the light of Scripture. And so it has become increasingly easy for Satan to slip into God's house unannounced and unnoticed. We trust our church leaders, but the time has come when we can no longer place our blind faith in these men. Test everything against Scripture. Even the weekly sermon--does it measure up to God's Word? Christian, God never intended for us to put all of our faith into a mere man. He provided His Word to us so that we could all study it for ourselves and see and understand it's clear meaning! Do you realize what a phenomenal gift that is? That God would trust all of us with His Word--whether we are formally educated in theology or not--is amazing! Don't take that gift lightly. Read God's Word. Study it. Thrive on it. Treasure it. And when you are down on your knees, pray for discernment in all things--especially in matters of the church. Do not allow Satan to deceive you in your faith.
In Parts 2 and 3, I hope to examine the odd acceptance of Alpha by Roman Catholics as well as Alpha's stress on unity and Gumbel's connection with Tony Blair, followed by a brief examination of the difference between Nicky Gumbel's gospel and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1
Below are some videos capturing the effects of the Toronto Blessing. I imagine that many of the Alpha Holy Spirit weekends culminate in the same behavior. I want to warn you that these videos may be disturbing. At the risk of sounding extreme, I feel as though evil almost eminates from them. At the same time, I feel it is necessary to share this in order for the reader to achieve a full comprehension of the perils about which I just wrote.