29 February 2012

Harvest Bible Fellowship Claims Its Second (known) ER2 Casualty

From the website of Harvest Bible Chapel in Prescott, Arizona:
Over the last 11 months or so, Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago (HBC Chicago) has made statements and taken actions that we strongly believe reflect a change in the direction of critical parts of their ministry. We believe these actions and resulting changes can be categorized into three areas: 
We believe that HBC Chicago has begun championing the idea that Christians can associate with those teaching heresy (such as those who engage in teaching the Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospels) without necessarily endorsing them or their ministries, implicitly or explicitly. 
Scripture tells us... 2 John 1:9-11, "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [10] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, [11] for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." 
We strongly believe that when church leaders associate with those teaching false and/or heretical doctrine, it confuses and misleads God's people into potentially dangerous areas of belief and acceptance. Scripture is clear, those who teach heresy are not to be received, much less embraced. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. 
We believe HBC Chicago has begun communicating the idea that in these last days, unnecessary divisiveness exists and at its root is overly restrictive adherence to Biblical doctrines, that it is more important, for the sake of unity, to extend grace and loosen strict adherence to Biblical doctrines. 
Scripture tells us... 2 Timothy 4:1-4, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." 
We strongly disagree that by making previously non-negotiable doctrines appear to be negotiable (or effectively deemphasizing them by ignoring them), greater unity can be attained by embracing those who would otherwise be excluded from orthodox Christianity. The warning in Scripture is clear, the danger to the church in the last days is not a lack of unity, but a lack of standing firm on Biblical truth. We as an elder team have a deep conviction that this drift is occurring. We do not believe HBC Chicago is disavowing Biblical truth, but instead is leading down a path which leaves wide openings for the presentations of “other” gospels as legitimate, orthodox and main-stream. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. 
We believe that one of our roles as Elders in Christ's church is to be diligent in helping bring clarity to God's people in areas of truth and faith. Since the Elephant Room 1 Conference, we have experienced more and more confusion from Harvest-related events and we believe that the confusion has grown exponentially due to Elephant Room 2. 
Scripture tells us... Titus 2:7-8, "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, [8] and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." 
God's Word instructs us to have clear communication with integrity. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. (Online Source)
The elders of HBC Prescott conclude their message to the congregation with the following:
Over this time period, we have repeatedly and privately expressed our concern with the leaders of Harvest Bible Fellowship. After many months of prayer and consideration, we have reached a point in time that we believe to continue our association with HBC Chicago would appear to be endorsing their decisions, which would cause confusion for the flock that is under our care. So it is with a heavy heart, out of what we see is our obedience to our responsibility to our Lord to care and shepherd His flock, that we must end our association with HBC Chicago. (Online Source)
The reader is encouraged to access this post in its entirety here. Indeed, the elders of HBC Prescott did a fine job of expressing their concerns with Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago. One will notice that every point is rooted clearly and soundly in Scripture, and thus their subsequent decision to separate from Harvest Bible Fellowship was one grounded in the truth and conviction of God's Word. We commend this church and its leadership for taking such a strong stand in making what was most assuredly a difficult decision.

Sadly, this is not the first casualty of the Elephant Room 2 and the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) and Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). The reader may recall that, in January 2012, Harvest Bible Church in Detroit made the same decision to separate from HBF:
For five years our church has been privileged to be a part of the Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). We appreciate the ministry of James MacDonald and the HBF leaders. We have been blessed to take part in the planting of Bible-preaching, Christ-exalting churches all over the world. Dozens of our church members have been equipped in ministry through Harvest’s annual conference. The Harvest Fellowship has had a significant role in the strengthening of our church. 
However, it is with great sadness that our elders have unanimously decided to part ways with Harvest Bible Fellowship. This is not due to any change in our church’s position, but due to what we believe is a change in the Fellowship’s direction. James MacDonald seems insistent in pushing boundaries in the area of associations with men whose ministry philosophy, practice, and even theology we can’t endorse. As a member of HBF, our desire was for good, consistent, conservative leadership from HBF. When we became a member of HBF five years ago this is what we received and this is what we could wholeheartedly endorse; however, in our estimation that has changed. We have been surprised by significant decisions made by James MacDonald (and supported by HBF), resulting in our trust being shaken regarding their guidance as well as future direction as a movement of churches. Despite several personal conversations with HBF leadership, our concerns have not been assuaged. (Online Source)
The elders of HBC Prescott voiced quite well the over-arching problem when they declared, "The warning in Scripture is clear, the danger to the church in the last days is not a lack of unity, but a lack of standing firm on Biblical truth." It is unfortunate that James MacDonald and the leadership of HBF cannot see this same truth.

May we keep these courageous churches and their leaders in our prayers as they continue to stand boldly for the truth of God's Word. Surely they have chosen the way of the Apostle Paul, seeking to please God rather than man (Galatians 1:10).

ER2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty

28 February 2012

Women Pastors, Priscilla Shirer, and the SBC

The following was written by Christian Research Network General Editor, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries:

Apprising Ministries reminds you that while the issue of women being ordained elders and pastors has been debated within some of evangelicalism, up until now it’s been essentially contained within the more charismatic and Pentecostal fringes.

The more mainstream denominations, e.g. the Southern Baptist Convention, have for the most part still maintained the proper Biblical position that women cannot be ordained as elders.

However, as one whose work in the Lord is to monitor Intel along the Internet Front and assess trends within the larger visible church, it’s my considered opinion that this will soon be changing.

You need to know that placing women in the pastorate is now going to be a real push by those falling victim to the delusion of Rodney King theology passing as Christian doctrine in too much of the church visible.

In fact, this issue is closer to the nearly anything goes SBC than you may realize. For example, in Emerging Ecumenical Evangelephants And The Word Faith Movement I reminded you that Elevation Church of prophet-pastor Steven Furtick was a 2007 plant of the North Carolina Baptists, the NC state convention for the Southern Baptist Convention:

(Online source)
You might wonder what this has to do with the subject of women pastors. Well, I showed you recently that Word Faith Pastrix Christine Caine Preaches Sunday Morning sermon For Steven Furtick. Caine is a pastrix at the nefarious Word Faith Hillsong Church in Australia where pastor Brian and pastrix Bobbie are the “senior pastors.”

Quite obviously, given his growing ties with the Word Faith movement in general and with Hillsong in particular, Steven Furtick has no problem with women in the unbiblical role as pastor. Apparently, neither does Priscilla Shirer, who is a good friend of wildly popular SBC Bible teacher Beth Moore and featured here at Lifeway:

(Online source)
If you didn’t know, Lifeway is the publishing arm of the SBC. I think it’s also interesting to note here that Priscilla Shirer’s bio tells us her mentor is motivational speaker Zig Ziglar:

(Online source)

You’ll probably remember that Shirer appeared with her friend Beth Moore in the infamous Be Still DVD promoting the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) of Foster-Willardism. We do have real reason to be concerned about Shirer’s discernment when we also consider Priscilla Shirer Points Us To Richard Rohr.

She does so while she was “anxious to connect you with some folks who I think you’ll be so blessed by.” One of them was Jan Johnson, whom Shirer tells us about in her July 2010 post Wisbits. Notice Shirer informs us in language common to Word Faith theology that “Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life” years ago:

(Online source)
Self-professed “spiritual director” Jan Johnson herself tells us that she actually works with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard at Renovare teaching their CSM:

(Online source)
Since it’s not the thrust of this article, here I’ll just draw your attention to a few key points: 1) Shirer’s been familiar with Jan Johnson’s work for years, so 2) she would undoubtedly know Johnson’s teachings about Foster-Willardism, and 3) the Johnson post Shirer republishes is built around the mythology of Richard Rohr.

You need to know that Rohr is a universalist Roman Catholic mystic who works closely with Living Spiritual Teacher and Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren. McLaren is one third of the Emergent Church unholy trinity along with universalist EC pastor Doug Pagitt, and his friend Dr. Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch headed by Pagitt.

Now, I’m not saying that Priscilla Shirer endorses the mythology of the Emerging Church. That said, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt that Jan Johnson, whom Shirer does recommend, advances Foster-Willardism. And no less an authority than Brian McLaren told us long ago that Richard Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard were “key mentors” of the EC.

It’s also an incontrovertible fact that Richard Rohr is directly involved in promulgating postmodern Progressive Christian theology—a Liberalism 2.0 that these EC rebels against the authority of God’s Word often refer to as “big tent” Emergence Christianity. The point being, this is a fruit of the CSM of Foster-Willardism.

Now it’s sinful ecumenicism comes another step closer to mainstream evangelical churches. As CSM spreads it’s bringing with it a syncretism drawing sectors of Christendom together that a few years ago not many would have ever believed. Who would have foreseen the mainstreaming of Word Faith mogul T.D. Jakes in Elephant Room 2?

Yet because of ER2 James MacDonald resigned from the Gospel Coalition in order to embrace Jakes as his Christian brother, which you see in There’s More To The Resignation of James MacDonald From Gospel Coalition. Now the parallel issues of women pastors and mainstream acceptance of Word Faith preachers moves even closer to you.

Consider that on Saturday night the aforementioned Priscilla Shirer tweeted:

(Online source)
Notice Shirer uses the pastoral reference “to sit under” pastrix Caine’s teaching. Then yesterday Shirer said:

(Online source)
I’ll have you know this is the same WF pastrix whom I mentioned earlier had preached for Steven Furtick. The two quite obviously hit it off as Shirer would also tweet the picture below:

(Online source)
Shirer was no doubt very impressed with the sermon from pastrix Caine:

(Online source)
You’ve probably heard the term bromance, well here we see that a femance was born as Caine would also tweet out the pic of her new friend Priscilla Shirer:

(Online source)
Caine would also tweet:

(Online source)
I’ll explain what Caine meant when she told Shirer “see you at Colour” in a moment. First however, obviously Trinity Church was impressed with their special guest pastrix:

(Online source)
Not all that surprising as Trinity Church is an Assemblies of God outfit that’s already off the rails being headed by pastor Jim Hennesy and his wife, pastrix Becky:

(Online source)
As I get set to close this out, for now, I’m going to show you yet more surprising syncretism coming about because of CSM and charismania. Let me remind you that in Beth Moore To Speak At Hillsong Church I originally drew attention to the upcoming Colour conference which pastrix Christine Caine referenced above.
Within that piece I told you about the below tweet from Bobbie Houston, whom I said above is senior pastrix of Hillsong Church along with her husband Brian. Remember, Caine is a pastrix there as well:

(Online source)
To which Beth Moore would respond:

(Online source)
I think we now have even more reason to be concerned about the discernment of Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore if she actually thinks that Bobbie Houston, a rebel against the Word of God, is a “faithful servant of Christ.” Is she really “humbled” to be speaking at heretical Hillsong Church?
The fact is, Hillsong regularly features the major prosperity preachers of the heretical Word Faith movement at their annual conferences such as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and his new friend T.D. Jakes. Yet Moore’s set, along with her own good friend Priscilla Shirer, as Key Speakers for Hillsong’s upcoming Colour Conference.

And you’ll see, Shirer’s already been there before:

(Online source)

The conference itself purports to be:
ONE LOVE, ONE HEART, ONE SISTERHOOD frames The Colour Conference,the Colour Sisterhood and a rising movement of women across the earth, who have a devotion, love and commitment to be the change in their local and global communities. (Online source)
While a noble goal, here we have two high profile Southern Baptist Convention endorsed Bible teachers partnering with Word Faith pastries who clearly are in rebellion against the authority of God’s Word. Such is the sorry state of the SBC. You should be able to see it has much bigger problems than worrying about a name change.

See also:

Visit the original article here.

27 February 2012

Separating From Unbelievers

Thanks to an anonymous reader for alerting me to this fine message.

"Historic Interfaith Document" was "One Year in the Making"

From the December 2011 archives of the blog of the Islamic Center of Southern California:
Last Sunday, a historic event took place at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Saddleback is known for its famous pastor, Rick Warren, who delivered the prayer at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. The Church hosted a number of Muslim communities in based in Southern California for its second annual celebration of Jesus (pbuh). This event is significant because Saddleback is a large evangelical church with over 22 thousand members. Although only a select number of individuals were invited to this dinner, it demonstrates the new theological position of Saddleback. At the celebration, a document one year in the making was presented which encourages Christians and Muslims to appreciate the similarities of our faiths.
The document encouraged that our communities work together towards the common good and to combat bigotry in a 1-2-3 plan. The first step in the plan identifies the belief in one God. The second step acknowledges God’s commandment to love God and your neighbor. Finally, step three is for our communities to commit to three things: making friends, building peace, and serving the world at large together.
This relationship with Saddleback Church was initiated over a year ago with a friendship between one of the pastors, Abraham Meulenberg, and the ICSC’s Jihad Turk. Pastor Meulenberg reached out having heard about the Center and our interfaith work. From this friendship developed an institutional link between their respective organizations. (Online Source, emphasis added. To view pictures of this event, visit here.)
As stated in yesterday's post, Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims, while Islam may bow to one god, and Christianity serves one God, these two are not the same God. As was also mentioned yesterday on this blog, the idea of "love God, love your neighbor" is not the Gospel, it is the Law. Indeed, as emphasized above, this recent step taken by Saddleback Church does reveal "the new theological position of Saddleback." Yet, can it really be said that this is a new position? After all, did not Rick Warren stand before a room of Muslims in 2009 and declare:
You know that obviously as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ. But you also need to know that I am committed not just what I call the “Good News,” but I am committed to the common good. And as the Scripture says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I am commanded to love and I am commanded to respect everybody. Everybody. Now I was asked to speak to you about how Muslims and Christians can work closer together for the greater good, in our world. And I will tell you that I am not interested in interfaith dialogue, I am interested in interfaith projects. There is a big difference. Talk is very cheap. And you can talk and talk and talk and not get anything done. Love is something you do. It is something that we do together. Love is a verb. Now as the two largest faiths on this planet, Muslims and Christians, we must lead in this. We must lead. With over one billion Muslims, and over 2 billion Christians, together, as half the world, we have to do something, about modeling what it means to live in peace, to live in harmony. (Online Source)
Sadly, Rick Warren is not only deceiving millions, but he appears to be deceiving himself as well. For all of the talk of "loving neighbor," if he truly did care for his Muslim neighbors, he would reach out to them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if it meant that his beloved P.E.A.C.E. plan would cease to flourish. If, as a Christian saved by Jesus Christ, Rick Warren truly felt love and compassion for those trapped in the false religion of Islam, then even the mere thought of affirming belief in a shared god would cause him to tremble. Rick Warren's actions display both a misunderstanding and a lack of true Christian love.

Instead, what Rick Warren is propagating is the dangerous practice of ecumenism. Performed in the name of "peace" and "unity," ecumenism is perhaps one of the greatest dangers to the church today. We are not called to join hands with false religions in any spiritual enterprise. Rather, Scripture commands against this, for it is an abomination to the one and only true and living God.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
There's a Lion On the Ground (by Tony Miano)
Does Rick Warren Still Get John Piper's "Stamp of Approval?" (Sola Sisters)

26 February 2012

Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims

The Orange County Register reports:

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America's most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
The effort, informally dubbed King's Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.

Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to Christmas dinner and played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine attended by more than 300 people. (The game pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths. The teens won.)
The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback's congregation.
At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King's Way as "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians."
The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.
"We agreed we wouldn't try to evangelize each other," said Turk. "We'd witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion."
Continue reading...
The reader will notice that this news report, though recent, is covering an event that happened back in December of 2011. Nevertheless, we would do well to sit up and take note of the continuous creeping leprosy of ecumenism that is plaguing the church today. According to this article, Abraham Meulenberg, a pastor at Warren's Saddleback church, has co-authored a document that "affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in 'one God' and share two central commandments: 'love of God' and 'love of neighbor.'"

Christians believe in one God and Muslims also believe in one god, but, they do not believe in the same God. Nor do the two groups affirm the same gospel. "Love God, love neighbor" is not the Gospel, it is the Law. As such, two groups uniting in this fashion will only do great harm to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Note: Pastor Rick Warren has stated in the comments section of the above referenced article that the article contained many inaccuracies. Unfortunately, he did not elaborate any further. Should Saddleback Church or Rick Warren offer any additional statements that deal with the "multiple errors" that he claims are contained within the OC Register article, I will be sure to update this post accordingly.

**UPDATE** February 26, 8:30 pm:
The following was posted three hours ago in the comments section of the above mentioned article from the Orange County Register:
(Online Source)

Ken Ham Misrepresented by Tim Keller

From Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis blog:
Tim Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. He attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. 
He is known as a good Bible teacher and has a heart for evangelizing New York City. Redeemer Presbyterian’s Hope for New York outreach program seeks to satisfy the spiritual and material needs of those in the community. Hope for New York does sets a high standard for Christian participation in the larger community. 
But … In a new article posted this past week, he has grossly misrepresented what I believe and teach. 
Continue reading... 
Some Concerns About Keller

Sunday Morning Praise

And Can It Be

It is said that this was the first hymn that Charles Wesley wrote following his conversion. Indeed, the love of Christ is amazing beyond comprehension.

25 February 2012

Robert Morris Teams Up With Hybels, Noble and Word Faith Preacher Tim Ross

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church perhaps may be best known for his Blessed Life sermon series and accompanying book. His message from this series is quite popular among attractional, seeker-driven pastors. Why? Because the core of this message is that one must tithe to one's church in order for God to be able to bless him. Of course, mega church pastors thrive on this type of message, which is largely driven from a misuse of Malachi 3:10. Morris has preached at such venues as Saddleback Church, and has taken his Blessed Life series to Perry Noble's Newspring Church as well. Indeed, his influence can be seen among many of our favorite mega church pastors.

But this time it was Morris' turn to hold a conference at his own Gateway Church, and for others to fly to him. The event? The Alpha Summit, a men's conference like no other:
This year’s Alpha Summit is going to redefine the way you look at men’s conferences. The Thursday night kick-off party will be like nothing you’ve ever seen, including a tailgate cook-off (free food!), Motocross jumping, the latest golf equipment from the professionals and much more! This power packed weekend continues on Friday and Saturday with breakfast each morning and super-charged activities planned throughout the day. And don’t worry, we’ll still have our incredible Gateway Worship and guest speakers who will challenge you to live out your faith in every area of your lives. This will be a conference you won’t want to miss! (Online Source. Note: as of the completion of this post, The Alpha Summit has concluded for 2012. As such, some links may re-route the reader to the website for the 2013 men's conference.)
Let us ignore the silliness of a tailgate, motocross and golf, and take a look at the guest speakers Morris invited to teach the men of Gateway Church from February 23-25, 2012:
(Online Source)
There is little need to spend much time on Bill Hybels or Perry Noble. Most are familiar with Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Hybels helped to pioneer what has come to be known as the "seeker-driven" movement, and he has successfully woven liberalism and other deceptive teachings into his church. Yet, he continues to be viewed as an evangelical leader.

Noble is no stranger either. Not only is he adept at "sheep beating" and name calling, but he also has yet to escape the stigma of daring to play "Highway to Hell" as the opening song of Newspring's Easter Service a few years back. In short, Perry Noble epitomizes the Seeker Driven/Attractional Pastor model.

This leads us to the third speaker, Tim Ross. Who is Tim Ross? According to his biography on The Alpha Summit website,
Tim Ross speaks both nationally and internationally with over 15 years of ministry experience. He began preaching at the age of 20 and has already impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. His dynamic teaching style and uncanny ability to make people understand the gospel message is the reason why he has been such an asset to ministries across cultural and denominational lines. Tim’s gift to communicate developed under two dynamic ministries: God’s Way Holiness Fellowship Church in Valinda, California, and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. (Online Source)
That's right, Ross was groomed at The Potter's House, home to "Bishop" T.D. Jakes. In fact, Ross is still mentioned on the website of The Potter's House:
Pastor Timothy Ross serves as the young adult pastor for The Potter’s House of Dallas. Articulate, energetic, captivating and on the cutting edge of ministry for this generation, he is one of the most sought after speakers both nationally and internationally.  In 2001, Pastor Ross was the youngest to ever receive ordination credentials and was installed as an elder. Pastor Ross is the “go-to” guy for a host of ministry needs with his unique ability to reach youth, young adults and singles.  He is also recognized as a trusted voice to general assemblies, conferences, convocations and workshops.
Pastor Ross began preaching at the age of 20 and has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for more than a decade.  Pastor Ross specializes in creating a “spiritual sonic boom” that breaks the sound barrier between Heaven and Earth and allows prophecy to flow in a dynamic way.  His teaching style and uncanny ability to present the Gospel in an easy-to-understand format is why Pastor Ross has been an asset to the Kingdom of God for more than 10 years. (Online Source, emphasis added)
The reader would do well to note the the emboldened text above. It seems that Tim Ross is recognized as one who receives direct revelation and prophecy from God Himself. Upon visiting the website of Ross' own ministry, one can view several videos. The video entitled "The Power to Get In, The Power to Get Out," was recorded during one of Ross' preaching endeavors at The Potter's House. His Word-Faith tendencies are obvious in just the first three minutes of his message:

As Ross progresses through his sermon, the viewer becomes privy to an interesting event. It seems that Ross believes that he received direct revelation from the Holy Spirit while he was preaching:

Ross does not seem surprised by this and treats it as though it is a regular event. His language, speaking of "birthing the thing God whispered in your ear," is typical of those enmeshed in the Word Faith movement. This must leave us wondering, then, what could someone of this propensity have in common with "evangelicals" like Perry Noble and Bill Hybels? One also cannot help but question, does James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel approve of this type of teaching? After all, MacDonald has embraced T.D. Jakes as a brother, and Tim Ross not only was conditioned for ministry at Jakes' The Potter House, but, as noted above, apparently also serves as youth minister there.

It seems we are witnessing yet another entwining of the Word Faith movement with mainstream evangelicalism. The more common this becomes, and the more that we see such men embraced by "evangelical" leaders, the more churchgoers and professing Christians will be inclined to accept it with a smile. And so the New Downgrade continues.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves
Did James MacDonald "Learn a Ton" From T.D. Jakes?
"Code Orange" Speaker "Bishop" T.D. Jakes

The Justice Conference Seek's God's Heart for Justice, but Which God?

If an Emergent, a liberal theologian and an evangelical are all speaking at the same conference, addressing the same issue, seeking to arrive at a unified conclusion, can they be successful? What if "the heart of the conference, and the driving force behind the plenary sessions, is to speak to the broad idea of God’s heart for justice (Online Source)?"

What if the Emergent is Shane Claiborne, the liberal theologian is Miroslav Volf, the evangelical is Francis Chan, and the conference is the Justice Conference, occurring now in Portland, Oregon? And what if the evidence indicates that these men, as well as many of the other speakers, do not actually share the same God?

In an article entitled "On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation," Shane Claiborne notes:
When a devout Muslim brother asked Tony and I to have this cross-generational dialogue about interreligious cooperation for an interfaith publication, we jumped on it. (Online source, emphasis added.)
As Ken Silva rightly questions in his article, "Is Shane Claiborne a Christian-Muslim?"
If Shane Claiborne has a devout Muslim “brother,” does this now make Claiborne himself a Christian-Muslim? I mean, apparently he’s in the process of approaching this in the opposite direction from those alleged hybrid Muslim-Christians, who’re practicing Muslims that supposedly “love  Jesus.” So could it be that, in Shane Claiborne, we’re witnessing a new breed hybrid of Christian-Muslims practicing Christianity but who also love Muhmmad? (Online Source)
This seems to be a fair question. In the aforementioned article, "On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation," Claiborne (SC) interviewed Tony Campolo (TC) regarding this topic. About midway through the article, an interesting exchange occurs:
SC: Both Muslims and Christians are very evangelical in the sense of desiring others to come to faith in their God. When we talk about inter-religious cooperation, does that mean that we need to stop trying to convert each other?
TC: We don't have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don't convert, they are God's people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.
I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam. 
SC: That seems like a healthy distinction—between converting and condemning. One of the barriers seems to be the assumption that we have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell. (Online Source)
Well, if "the assumption that we [Christians] have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell" is a barrier, then men like Jesus, Paul and the other apostles must have had their message all wrong. See, it isn't an issue of "experiencing" things differently. No, it is an issue of truth. This truth is found in Scripture, the very Word of God. Yet, from the conversation above, it doesn't seem as though Shane Claiborne accepts this truth as final. This, then, would easily explain his embracing of a Muslim as a "brother" and does indeed leave one asking, "is Shane Claiborne a Christian-Muslim?"

Also embracing this Chrislamic movement is theologian Miroslav Volf, who has stated that, "Christians and Muslims, notwithstanding their important and ineradible differences, have a common and similarly understood God" (Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response [New York: HarperOne, 2011] , 262). 

At the blog, My Sheep Hear My Voice, it is noted that Volf,
is one of the key architects of the “Loving God And Neighbor Together: A Christian Response To A Common Word Between Us And You”document (an ecumenical document that claims that Muslims and Christians have the same God) – from “A Common Word”
“Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.”
So, is there now a “common love” for the God of the Bible and the god of Muslims or other religions? Do we all serve the same God? According to Mr. Volf Muslims and Christians do serve a “Common God”
“The Jews worship God without acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature; Christians worship God while acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature. Both cannot be right about God’s Trinitarian nature, but both can worship the same God. The same holds true of Muslims.”
It is indeed a bit befuddling to wonder how one could even begin to equate the God of the Bible with Allah of the Koran. But here again is another example of the subtle and silent compromise that is happening within Christianity.

Here we have looked briefly at just two of these speakers for the Justice Conference. Two men who claim some type of Christianity, yet it is a Christianity that is foreign to the historic faith. This leads to the obvious question: what would Francis Chan, a supposedly conservative evangelical, be doing at this same conference?

To be fair, the Justice Conference does seek to answer any questions regarding its religious foundation:
Is the conference a Christian Conference? 
While the organizing organizations and many of the conference team are Christians, the conference seeks to be a blend of about 70% faith based and 30% non-faith based in speakers and organizations represented. (Online Source).
Based upon this, one cannot necessarily decry the presence of one individual over another. Yet, do not forget the stated intent and purpose of this gathering:
The heart of the conference, and the driving force behind the plenary sessions, is to speak to the broad idea of God’s heart for justice. (Online Source)
And ponder for a moment the following promotional video for the Justice Conference:
“The vision is revealed by the light, there like a gift God speaks our calling to create. The same Voice that calls us to make calls us to come.” “We stand as one and give thanks because we believe the same God that called us to create and come together is the one (emphasis added) who raises justice from the ground.”
If only 70% of the speakers are "faith based," and even those individuals differ widely in their profession of the Christian faith, then how can this event ever hope to speak to the "broad idea of God's heart for justice?" How can this conference ever hope to address "God's heart for justice" if those engaging in the conversations are ultimately not seeking after the same God?

Like all ecumenical events and movements, one question looms large over whatever purpose hopes to be achieved: which god?

The Justice Conference: Another Ecumenical Emergent Event?

Richard Dawkins Is Not Entirely Sure God Doesn't Exist

The Huffington Post reports:
LONDON (RNS) A controversial Oxford University professor billed by many as the world's "most famous atheist" now says he is not 100 percent sure that God doesn't exist -- but just barely.
In a 100-minute debate with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins surprised his online and theater audiences by conceding a personal chink of doubt about his conviction that there is no such thing as a creator.
But, to the amusement of the archbishop and others, the evolutionary biologist swiftly added that he was "6.9 out of seven" certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs.
Replying to moderator Anthony Kenny, a noted English philosopher, Dawkins said, "I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing (is) very, very low." 
It must be difficult to be an atheist when you aren't 100% sure that God doesn't exist. Perhaps Dawkins' small sliver of doubt is due to something Paul teaches about in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21)
No man is without excuse. Not even the world's most famous atheist.

24 February 2012

This 'n' That

Surely you have heard by now that Ed Young, Jr. has started his own fashion website. Yes, PastorFashion.com is every attractional pastor's dream. After all, ever since they did away with those bulky, dominating pulpits, the pastor's ensemble is so visible. And let's face it, no one wants a frumpy pastor. So Ed Young, Jr., in all of his creativity, has launched this new website in order to help remedy this growing problem. In his first video entry, Young shares one of his trade secrets: Spanx for men. No, I'm not joking. Naturally, then, it is easy to see that Young has identified a large and urgent problem in the church today.
Pastors aren’t typically known for their fashion. Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit. But why not?! Why can’t the men and women of God set the standard for the rest of the world in fashion as well as faith? That’s why we’re launching PastorFashion.com. We want to set the trends. 
Check back with us regularly, as we’ll be posting things like what not to wear, fashion tips, the latest trends and so much more! 
We’re not trying to be like the world…we just want to be fashionable while we try to change [...] (Online Source).
Well, I hate to be a copy-cat, but I am greatly intrigued by Young's ingenuity. That is why I am pondering the idea of starting a similar website. BloggerFashion.com would offer tips and tricks for all of you fashion-challenged basement-dwelling opinion givers. Let's be honest, it's not easy to truly "rock" a pair of shabby sweatpants and fuzzy bunny slippers, but BloggerFashion.com would show you how. If the idea takes off, we may even expand into offering hygiene tips, such as sharing some of the best ways to remove the Cheetos stains from your fingers. Of course, this is all just a great, wonderful idea in my mind. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment string. (And please, please, do not miss the sarcasm that is dripping from this paragraph)!

But enough about the latest trends. It's Friday and we all know what that means. Pour your coffee and enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • The Telegraph in the UK reports that their government will now be maintaining a database of every phone call and email. Now there's a comforting thought.
  • Speaking of the religion of peace, Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for converting to "Christianity" and has in that time refused to recant and claim Islam. We are now hearing that Iran has finally ordered that he be hanged. And so we pray. But we pray not just for this man's earthly life, but also for his eternal one. It seems that Nadarkhani is actually a pastor of a non-Trinitarian cult. If this is true, then Nadarkhani does not know the true Jesus of the Bible. So as we cry out to the government to spare his life, let us also cry out to God for the salvation of this man.
  • "A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments..." My Way News has more on this disheartening story.
  • A zeal without knowledge:

23 February 2012

Are We Christians? Or Are We Worldlings?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings? Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days? Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen--except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?
"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!" Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not always be "living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry." But even where these are absent, there is 'high living'--luxury of the table or the wardrobe-- in conformity to 'this present evil world.' 'At ease in Zion!' Yes! there is the shrinking . . .   from hard service;   from 'spending and being spent;'   from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;   from self-sacrifice and noble adventure, for the Master's sake. There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ! There is a laying down, instead of a taking up of the cross. Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it! Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age. Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross! We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader, so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that 'modern enlightenment' has so elevated the race, that there is no longer the battle or the burden or the discipline; or has so refined 'the world and its pleasures', that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the Siren song.
'At ease in Zion!' Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed! Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches! Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe! We are cowards, when we should be brave! We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold! We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent! We are cold, when we should be full of zeal! We compromise and shuffle and apologize, when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin--in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or 'unify' the Church.
Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing. Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day! A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him--renouncing ease and denying self.
- Horatius Bonar, "Self-Denial Christianity"

22 February 2012

Word of the Day: Evangelephant


EVANGELEPHANT [[ih-van-jel’-uh-fuhnt]
[evangel: 1300–50; Middle English  < 1585–95;  < Late Latin evangelus  < Greek eu├íngelos  (adj.) bringing good news. (see eu-angel); replacing Middle English evangile  < Middle French.] [c.1300, olyfaunt, from O.Fr. oliphant, from L. elephantus, from Gk. elephas (gen. elephantos) "elephant, ivory," probably from a non-I.E. language, likely via Phoenician (cf. Hamitic elu "elephant," source of the word for it in many Sem. languages, or possibly from Skt. ibhah "elephant")] [Literal: evangelical elephant]
    1. A self-professing evangelical who, above all others, feels called of God to be among the very few Christians who are to demonstrate for the Body of Christ how the Christian faith is really supposed to be lived out, but independent of solid biblical Truth.
    2. A self-professing evangelical who does everything to avoid open and forthright acknowledgement, proclamation, profession or promulgation of the Gospel of Salvation.
    3. An evangelical person who, when faced with the very obvious Gospel Truth of Scripture, does not discuss nor address this topic, but rather ignores, camouflages, rearranges, sidetracks, beats around the bush, diverts, or otherwise avoids the evidence, in an attempt to change the agenda to one that is self-seeking or self-serving.
    4. An emerging evangelical who is intent on ignoring the biblical Gospel through inventive plans of deconstruction that bypass, obstruct, redefine, reformulate and reconstruct the message, especially in order to make it more culturally relevant.
    5. An evangelical person, leader, organization or group that engages in the any of the above, especially including the systemic denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by either their actions or stated beliefs, especially in order to promulgate and profit from a new gospel.
    6. An evangelical who seeks to avoid any controversy that can be associated with acknowledging factual and/or Gospel Truth. (See: Evangostrich)
Adapted from www.dictionary.com
Combination of the concept of  The Elephant in the Room and The Elephant Room 
See also:
HT: Apprising Ministries

21 February 2012

"What a Joy to be a Slave of Christ"

The SBC Name Change Distraction

The Baptist Press reports:
The task force appointed to study a possible name change of the Southern Baptist Convention is recommending the convention maintain its legal name but adopt an informal, non-legal name for those who want to use it: Great Commission Baptists. (Online Source).
If you follow "church news" at all, then you know that the issue of the SBC name change has been brewing for awhile. This suggestion by the task force is not final, but will be proposed again at the SBC annual meeting this June. This was not a story that I intended to cover on this blog. While I have no qualms with my SBC brethren, I myself am not a member and, even if I was, this story appears to be little more than a distraction.

In a time when we are seeing the Trinity under attack, and when we are witnessing the subtle acceptance by the evangelical mainstream of such abhorrent teachings as the prosperity gospel, one of the leading "movements" in American Christianity is worried about changing their name. Really? It is just one writer's opinion, but it seems as though there is a rather large point being missed here.
The name "Southern," Draper said, is a barrier to the Gospel in some regions of the country.
The goal from the beginning, Draper said, "was to consider the removal of any barrier to the effective proclamation of the Gospel and reaching people for Christ." (Online Source)
These quotes by task force chairman Jimmy Draper are reminiscent of  another large organization's recent name change. In the Summer of 2011, Campus Crusade for Christ underwent scrutiny for announcing that they were going to change their name to simply Cru. The reasons offered were as follows:
Our name presented obstacles to our mission. The word “campus” does not adequately represent all our ministries in the United States and confuses our constituency as well as potential partners. The word “crusade”-while common and acceptable in 1951 when we were founded-now carries negative associations. It acts as a barrier to the very people that we want to connect with. It’s also a hindrance to many Christians who would like to partner with us but find the word Crusade offensive. (Online Source).
Now, to be fair, the situation is not exactly the same. Campus Crusade for Christ actually ended up removing "Christ" from their title, to which they replied:
Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) is unswervingly committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.
We are committed to the centrality of the cross, the truth of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the global scope of the Great Commission. We care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than we do about having the word “Christ” in our name. (Online Source).
But the reason for "Cru's" name change was:
Our surveys show that, in the U.S., twenty percent of the people willing to consider the gospel are less interested in talking with us after they hear the name. We are changing the name for the sake of more effective ministry. (Online Source).
To the above statement I would propose to "Cru" that people were turned away not by "campus" nor by "crusade" but by Christ. The name of Jesus Christ is not one that most unsaved people welcome with a smile. You may be able to engage an individual in a conversation about God or about some nebulous "higher being," but when Jesus Christ is declared by name, unbelievers, who are living as enemies of Christ, will almost always inevitably shut down and shut you out. Jesus Christ is a stumbling block.

This is where it seems, in this writer's opinion, that the SBC is missing the point. Let us look again at what has been declared by task force chairman Jimmy Draper:
The name "Southern," Draper said, is a barrier to the Gospel in some regions of the country.
The goal from the beginning, Draper said, "was to consider the removal of any barrier to the effective proclamation of the Gospel and reaching people for Christ." (Online Source).
Perhaps this is a bit simplistic, but it seems to this writer that if Jesus Christ had similar concerns as to what may hinder the proclamation of the Gospel, then He went about His ministry and earthly life all wrong. After all, in the first century, why would anyone want to submit in repentance and faith to the Lordship of a Jewish man who was tried, condemned and killed as a common criminal? If that was not perceived as an earthly "barrier to the effective proclamation of the Gospel" then it seems that the SBC may have their concerns and their priorities a bit confused.

Are we really so faithless, are we really so superficial as to believe that this is what would prevent people from receiving the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If the SBC retains its title, and more importantly, retains its reputation for uncompromisingly (in some cases) proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, then they need not worry that the word "southern" may hinder that cause. God will draw whom He will draw. The only hindrance to the Gospel is the sin and depravity of man.
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. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)
But even a man dead in trespasses and sin can be regenerated to new life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
It does not matter if the SBC continues to call themselves Southern Baptists, or Great Commission Baptists, or Bible Baptists or plain, boring "Christians." The "effective proclamation of the Gospel" will only be hindered if we, the Church, stop proclaiming it. And even if that were to happen, I suspect that we may begin to hear the rocks cry out. While we quibble over names and acronyms, the Gospel is being attacked and it is being compromised and it is being twisted and it is being perverted. The SBC has pastors like Ed Young, Jr. pulling publicity stunts such as spending a weekend on the roof of his church in a bed with his wife. And with SBC leaders like Rick Warren and Beth Moore declaring that the Roman Catholic Church is part of the true universal Church, it thus seems that they may have more important issues to address. Yet, we do not see a "task force" being formed as means of speaking out against these aberrant goings-on within the SBC.

The enemy loves to distract us and, it ought not surprise us that he may love to watch the irony of us being distracted "in the name of Christ." But we are to have one focus and that is Jesus Christ Himself. If our eyes are ever on Him, and if our desire is to loudly and boldly proclaim His Gospel, then the silliness of these types of conversations becomes overwhelming.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:13-15)