Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Missionary's Heart

Before missionary Bill McChesney left for the Republic of the Congo in 1964, as he solidified his call to Africa, he wrote this poem.


I want my breakfast served at "Eight",
With hams and eggs upon the plate;
A well-broiled steak i'll eat at "One",
And dine again when day is done.

I want an ultra modern home,
And in each room a telephone;
Soft carpets, too, upon the floors,
And pretty drapes to grace the doors.

A cozy place of lovely things,
Like easy chairs with innersprings,
And then i'll get a small TV -
Of course, "I'm careful what I see."

I want my wardrobe, too, to be
Of neatest, finest quality,
With latest style in suit and vest.
Why shouldn't Christians have the best?

But then the Master I can hear,
In no uncertain voice, so clear,
"I bid you come and follow me,
The Lowly Man of Galilee."

"Birds of the air have made their nest,
And foxes in their holes find rest;
But I can offer you no bed;
No place have I to lay my head."

In shame I hung my head and cried,
How could I spurn the Crucified?
Could I forget the way He went,
The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?

For forty days without a bite,
Alone He fasted day and night;
Despised, rejected - on He went,
And did not stop till veil He rent.

A Man of sorrows and grief,
No earthly friend to bring relief -
"Smitten of God", the prophets said -
Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.

If He be God and died for me,
No sacrifice too great can be
For me, a mortal man, to make;
I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
No other way will please my God;
So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
My choice for all eternity.
Preaching and Bearing the Cross

All Christian themes and every Christian doctrine find their source and culmination in one all encompassing truth, the cross. Without the cross there is no Christian faith, and without Calvary Christianity becomes nothing more than a self improvement system. Without the cross there is no redemption, no atonement, and no resurrection. Christ Himself become a way shower and not THE way if indeed there is no cross. The cross is not just our theme, it is our life and our glory.

God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…

History’s pages continue to turn and with them the cross is diminished and assigned to a fringe issue within much of the evangelical community. We ourselves, the sinners for whom the Christ has died, have become the modern theme of Christendom. Our desires, our wants, our talents, and our wisdom have become our idols and replaced the Christ and His cross. The cross centered gospel has made way for the “how to” gospel of societal improvement both individually and collectively. And amidst the din of new theologies and pragmatic advise the message of the cross continues to die an ignoble death of negligence and disregard.

If I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.

But ours is the message of the cross. Wholly and faithfully holding high its scarlet banner of salvation, the church and every believing follower of Jesus Christ are called to herald Golgotha’s glory. Embedded within a modern and post modern culture, the cross still retains the power to save to the uttermost all who believe upon it’s bleeding Savior, in spite of the hollow sophistication of today’s philosophical guidance that seeks to build upon man instead of Christ.

Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.

The cross must be our standard bearer, it indeed must be what distinguishes us from all other peoples of the world. Our preaching must not just be seasoned by the cross, the cross must be the be the foundation of our gospel message that creates the spiritual phalanx of our entire commission. Boldly and without shame and yet covered with humility, the message of Calvary’s cross which contains the divine power of redemption must be proclaimed relentlessly. Those two Roman planks were preordained to showcase the Son of God, and they were the wooden altar upon which the Lamb was slain for the sins of the world. It seems so archaic and medieval, and to modern sensibilities the cross is another ancient talisman belonging to an outdated religion of superstition and sentimentality.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

But how can this instrument of death continue to make grown men weep? Why do intellects bow at its feet? Rich and poor men, kings and serfs? What power does it wield over men and women who give their very lives just to deliver its story? Perhaps millions have had their lives taken upon a wooden cross, and yet this one singular cross ceaselessly draws sinners to embrace its forgiveness, experience its redemption, and then while still covered in its blood go forth with passion and joy and with its song on their lips and hearts. This, brothers and sisters, is His cross which was given to us, the Lord‘s doing, and isn‘t it wondrous in our eyes?

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take his cross and follow me.

But while we recognize the falling away of much of the evangelical community, and while we pursue the preaching of the cross, we can never forget that we are prisoners of grace and not our own devices. Let us not receive praise for preaching the cross, and most especially from our own pitiful lips. God forbid we stop our lips from praising Him and His cross so that we can spew forth any self righteousness about our own faithfulness. We are unprofitable servants of the Most High God, and as our great Apostle Paul once observed we are “debtors” that are bound by our own gratefulness to preach the message which saved our own souls from death.

And having made peace through the blood of his cross...

This should be no task, this preaching of the cross, this should be our glorious privilege! And while we speak correction to the compromisers we must be ever so careful not to lift ourselves up as if we have aught to glory in save that same cross we embrace. We are not to be pondered as faithful, He is. All the names we love to splurge upon ourselves, orthodox, fundamentalist, or any other name, serve only to unmask us as self righteous servants that seem enamored by our orthodoxy and not His glory. We did not make the cross, we did not construct the message, we did not die on its bloody wood, and we did not come to its salvation upon the wings of our penetrating intellect. This is all of God and God alone, and so let Him be lifted up forever at the worthless expense of our own spiritual narcissism.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us it is the power of God.

It is a great challenge to preach the cross to the world and also speak correction to the compromising church, and still hold fast to the humility concerning our own state of complete grace. The first ounce of self satisfaction encroaches upon His glory and begins a path that leads to the praise of men and not God. The most faithful man who ever lived, the one who Jesus said was more faithful and anointed than any man born of a woman, said that Jesus must increase and that he, John the Baptist, must decrease. How repulsive is it then for us to claim any praise about our preaching and faith? We preach Christ and Him crucified, and by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we pray we will be faithful unto death. But at the last breath of death, after having been faithful to the everlasting gospel, let is proclaim with our dying breath, “It was all of Christ and none of me”, and with that being more truth than we can imagine, let us die in the arms of the cross we loved.

We are called to preach His cross and bear our own as well. Our calling is to die while preaching Him. Take no pride in your preaching, you are dead and only preach by His life. Take no pride in your orthodoxy, you have been kept by His power and not your own. Take no pride in speaking correction and rebuke to others, you are speaking His words and not your own. Take no pride because you preach the cross, but speak the message with tears of breathtaking awe and joy, always remembering that cross is Christ’s and you have been made a partaker by His grace and not anything of your own.

The cross we preach is the altar upon which we died, and the life we now live we live by faith. In reality, we bring a message that invites sinners to
“Come and die…and find life”.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Distorting the Gospel

Attention please! The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Great news! Eternally great news! But is there anything that so undermines that news as a moral catfight especially in a political year? James Dobson now accuses Barak Obama of distorting the Bible. Wow, tell us something we don’t know. Distorting the Bible is an Olympic event in politics and somehow, somewhere, Christians and preachers themselves have become embroiled in the meaningless distortion known as politics, and of course they drag the Bible into the fray. And when it comes to distorting the Bible the list is incredibly long and maneuvers in and out of almost every religious camp. Especially when it is politically motivated.

Moral wars and political steel cage matches so distort the gospel and the meaning of God’s cross, that lost in the entire melee is the everlasting offer of eternal redemption. And let us ask ourselves what is the motivation for Christians to aggressively engage the lost community to alter their morality? It surely cannot be for their benefit and salvation because faith in Jesus Christ requires no morality, it is by faith alone. It cannot be so God will not condemn them, they are condemned already. As a matter of fact, this political activism doesn’t have the welfare and salvation of sinners in mind at all.

The evangelical push to legislate morality is selfish at its core, for it seeks to by-pass the cross and contour the moral landscape to acceptable Biblical parameters which would, you guessed it, benefit us, the church. We seek our desire, our moral ambiance, and we seek to do it by the strength of our numerical political involvement and not the labor of our prayer closet, our sacrificial lives, and the entirety of our loving and powerful evangelism. As we can see clearly, we have little of that which is why we must spend enormous energy and money attempting to turn the sociological ship by the rudder of secular politics and not the power of the gospel. Even those who profess the gospel as the true agent of change still compliment that calling with political involvement. You do not see the secular politicians compromising their politics with involvement in the gospel.

The church has its hand in the cookie jar tightly wrapped around a mirage and we still cannot understand why the Philistines are upon us. And all over the news channels they report how Dobson has accused Obama of distorting the Bible. And this distortion is not about Jesus and salvation, it is about morality. Morality has become the golden calf of American evangelicalism, and millions seek to worship it on the altar of the voting booth and the first amendment. Are we really concerned with men’s souls, and if so why do we put moral stumbling blocks in front of their redemption so that the evil One convinces the sinners that we require such moral adherence to be Christian? This Christian political activism is now a powerful machine that wields legislative pressure and raises massive amounts of money, not to preach the everlasting gospel of the Everlasting Savior, but to push through some meaningless morality.

Oh yes, all morality without Christ is eternally meaningless, and we have yet to learn that the heart of the king is in God’s hands. Oh my, what would happen to this nation if the Christians withdrew their political participation? Abortion might become legal. The gay lifestyle might spread. Violence might cover the land. The entire country might be consumed with money. Think again, that is what has happened with colossal amounts of evangelical participation in politics. Hello, anyone home?

But worst of all, these type of attacks distort the gospel. We are not called to fight morality and indeed publicly accuse some political figure of distorting the Bible, almost to a man do they all do that. I did not hear Dobson attack President Bush for distorting the Bible when he said all faiths lead to God. I did not hear these attack machines chew up Dick Cheney when he said he accepts gay people’s lifestyles. You see, politics makes Christians respecters of persons and not respecters of God. The sinners who live in this part of the world need to hear and see Jesus Christ, they can have no spiritual benefit by engaging in a moral shoving match carried out in public.

The early elders refused to wait on widows because it would encroach upon their time in prayer and the ministry of the Word, but today’s “elders” find plenty of time chasing moral windmills and engaging in useless rhetoric with a fallen world which needs the very light they hide under political bushels. And many of these political preachers believe in the eminent return of the Lion of Judah and yet they waste time, money, and words arguing with dead people. How have we gotten so far and how can the church ever extricate herself from the very mess she reviles?

The answer is repent and believe…the gospel.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Message Charles Finney Would
Have Loved

I have read many, many sermons by Charles G. Finney, a revivalist in the 1800’s. I have read the accounts of great revivals, city sweeping revivals, that so many times followed his ministry. There are few preachers today that even come close to the fire and intensity that came from Finney’s lips, and in truth Finney would not have many welcomes to preach in churches today. But I have found a preacher today that preaches things that I have read in Finney’s messages of long ago. His name is Paul Washer and this message below about the Great White Throne judgment could just as easily come from the books of Charles Finney’s sermons.

This message contains an abundance of metaphors and similes and means of persuasion that mirror what Finney used to say and preach. The entire message is filled with sensationalism and drama, some of which isn’t Biblical but serves a purpose. Washer says that the reason that God will throw people into hell is because he needs to rid creation of sinners before he can create a new heaven and a new earth. That is a great word picture but I have not found Scriptural foundation for such a notion. And when Washer alludes to each sinner standing before God he uses the illustration of a wax figure being melted by a blow torch, another moving metaphor akin to what Finney has used.

Rev. Washer goes on to say that God will say to the lost “I’ve made myself known to you and I have extended my hand to you but you have refused. I have made promises to wicked people but you would not.” Arminianism - I love it! Washer goes on to say that every fallen thing in this earth, from suffering to childbirth, cries out for all sinners to be saved. Again, an effective tool but I am not sure sound doctrine, especially of the Calvinistic variety.

Rev. Washer goes on and asks the congregation to imagine themselves standing before the Great White Throne judgment, and feeling their cheek twitch and feeling terrified that God has seen that twitch. If that isn’t Finney nothing is. He goes on to offer the word picture of God saying “Bring them before Me”, and heaven and earth vomiting the lost up before the throne. This message is a great one, however not in any form a Calvinistic one.

Washer says that the presence of God will be so terrible that those who are already in hell would rather remain there than come out. That is rather confusing and some colossal leaps of Scriptural truth. Now all these hyperboles and sensationalism are exactly what Calvinistic and reformed churches decry from Arminians, but they seem to be alright when they come from a man who professes Calvinism. Washer is at best a backslidden Calvinist and at worst a closet Arminian.

One of the most colorful examples of Arminain theology is when Washer says that his wife has to help him with civility. Because, he says, if he was left to his own devices he would sometimes rush down into the congregation and grab people by the neck and shake them until they came to their senses. Wow, now he is almost reading from a Billy Sunday playbook. I love this guy, and I believe he is genuine and a man of God. He just isn’t a Calvinist.

Now we come to the three biggest doctrinal fax paus that are always eschewed by any Calvinist worth his five point salt. Washer uses the novel “A Christmas Carol” as an object lesson for part of his message. This equates to using a modern day movie as a base to preach Scriptural truth, something that the Calvinist camp writers systematically rail against. I could not believe my ears as I listened to Washer do exactly what the camps who post his messages preach against. Washer has used more “methods” in this one message than most Arminians use, except our friend Charles Finney. If Rev. Washer claimed to be an Arminian he would be verbally eviscerated by Calvinists for his emotional persuasion and his use of so many manipulative literary techniques.

The second major doctrinal breach comes when Washer makes this claim. “There is enough grace in the cross of Christ to save ten billion worlds”. Now watch the Calvinists come and explain this away, as if he did not say what he just said. Wasted redemptive grace? Isn’t that saying that Christ not only died for everyone in the world, he died for everyone in ten billion worlds? You know, this proves you can pretty much say anything and the camp to which you belong will defend it. I happen to believe this message should be preached in every church, but it is the furthest thing from reformed theology one can possibly get.

Finally, Rev. Washer goes into the dreaded altar call. Oh yes, and not just a dry, doctrinal call, but an emotional plea that is wrought with persuasion. He even mentions that he asks for no tears in a kind of reverse emotional technique. Washer says they will stay with those who come forward the entire night if need be, thereby revealing not just an altar call, but an extreme mourners bench and anxious seat. Wow, an all night mourner’s bench, I feel Finney right now saying “Amen!”.

My question to all the Paul Washer Calvinists is this: Why is it shallow and manipulative emotionalism when an Arminian preaches with such metaphors and literary devices, but it isn’t when a Calvinist does not only the same thing but even better. Doesn’t preaching like this run the risk of frightening a sinner so much that he makes a profession of faith based upon emotion and not true saving faith? Isn’t that what all good Calvinists contend? Isn’t that what “Hell’s Bells” and other Arminian outreaches do, and when the people come forward, isn’t that what Calvinists criticize as emotionalism?

No matter how you slice it, this message was not only Arminain, it was hyper-Ariminian. And to tell you the truth, it was great!
The problem that can arise when a certain preacher is idolized is that when we post his messages we are usually saying "See, this man preaches what everyone else needs to hear!".

Sunday, June 22, 2008

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The Glory of the Gospel

I Tim.1:11 - According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God...

We live in a technologically superior age in which pictures coming from the surface of Mars are only minor curiosities. A nuclear submarine with enough warheads to literally destroy an entire nation is not as news worthy as the next sporting event. Animals have been cloned from a single cell and that does not stir our beings. Wars rage all over the world, millions die of starvation, and the front page of the newspaper will shout the latest escapade of some movie star. We have grown complacent and even ambivalent about the incredible strides in knowledge and science that have come about in the span of our lifetime. We are sophisticated.

And in this sophistication we expect answers to problems to be just as technologically sophisticated. No home remedies, no divining rods, and no simplistic superstitions will be accepted as authentic remedies for the problems we face. We are enamored with our human intellects and we award prizes to men and women who through ingenuity and perseverance establish advances in science and invent ways to make our lives better and longer.

And this is also true in the broad landscape we refer to in an extreme generality as Christianity. Sophistication has found its way into the church as well. Not only technology, but intellectual sophistication otherwise known as philosophy. Simplicity is considered backwards and “so yesterday” when it comes to understanding Biblical truth. There are now many and varied views of truth and in fact it is fashionable to question the ability to be certain about any truth itself. In other words, underlying the current movements that are departing from historic Christianity is the presupposition that truth either cannot be known with any solid certainty, or that truth itself is something that changes to accommodate itself to certain times and cultures.

And at the very core of this trend is the retooling and rethinking of the nature of the gospel and what it means to be a Christian. The old view of atonement is no longer completely relevant to our sophisticated society that now has so many psychological tools and whose expansive information about all the varied and seemingly logical presentations of gospel truth have spearheaded an inclusive view of a variety of doctrines. And these views are usually not embraced by praying, fasting, and investigative seekers who are both desirous to be faithful to God’s Word and also have a healthy wariness of new doctrines that subtly eviscerate the teachings of historic Christianity.

No, the masses that are being slowly and systematically drawn to these new and untethered teachings are the result of the best communication, the best technologically superior media, the most relevant teachings of self enhancement, and the touching of the emotions, self esteem, and the insatiable desire for significance. Christianity and the gospel have been pressed into a post modern world complete with all the nuances and intellectual accoutrements that elicit interest to the carnal mind. The old time gospel no longer has the spiritual attraction for much of the modern and post modern success seeker.

And as Babylon has presented the church with a list of desires and grievances, the church has not only acquiesced to its demands, she has continued in that process to conform to cultural parameters rather than solid Biblical truths concerning the gospel. As Hezekiah gave the king of Assyria the gold from God’s temple, so has much of the modern church handed over the gold of God’s truth to the modern Assyrians. Most of the faithful preachers of past generations would not recognize what passes for the gospel in today’s evangelical world. If the gospel changes then it is no longer Christian at all.

But in the midst of retreat and intellectual acquiescence, and among the humanitarian gospel that trades the atonement for the works of man, stands the gospel still. The glory of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Incarnate God Himself, all of which was motivated by love and culminated with an offer of atonement for the sins of mankind. It is the story of simplicity and depth, a narrative which took place in time and space and yet lives victorious throughout history. It cannot satisfy the carnal sophistications of modern man, but it can and continues to satisfy the fallen need of every sinner who trusts it message and by faith embraces it Author.

This gospel is trans-generational in its understanding and trans-cultural in its power. This gospel has been planted once and for all through the very act of the Savior and preserved in the pages of what we call, quite appropriately, the gospels. It is not just a narrative, but within the truth of its events lies a hidden and potential power that is available to every sinner who seeks Him by faith, and in fact, eternal life is in its very message. The story of the death and burial of a Jew from the loins of Judah is no unique event, however when that Jew resurrects from the dead, then the entire account must be reviewed in a divine light. For now we must take inventory of the gospel account in the light of who this man was and just what has transpired through this narrative.

If indeed this man, Jesus, resurrected from the dead then He was God in the flesh since only God has power over death. But just what was He accomplishing here, and why did He come in the likeness of a man, and why did He die? In order to extract the meaning of His labors as it pertains to us, we must understand His purpose. Was it just to show a better way? Was it just to show sacrificial love? Was it just to exhort us in our dealings as human beings? Just what was the mission of the man fashioned God and was it accomplished in those last three days?

And many today would have include the earthly works of Jesus as part of the gospel. Of what benefit was the turning water into wine to us? When Jesus healed the blind man, was that part of the gospel? When He fed the five thousand, was that part of the good news? All the works that Jesus did were a revelation about who He was, but they are not the gospel. The gospel that is good news to every sinner is that Christ has paid the price for the sins of the world, He has resurrected from the dead, and offers eternal life for anyone who fully trusts His offer of redemption. And His works before the cross are examples to every believer, but they do not make believers. Only the gospel produces believers.

The heart of man has always held out a hope of a life after death, even sometimes as an offset to the fear of that same death. But the fallen intellect of man has stood in the way by concocting many different theories, usually based upon a distorted view of good works or a place universally prepared for every human being. But continuing to stand in the midst of centuries of change and the ebbs and flows of doctrinal detours is the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a glory that abides within the gospel message, and that glory is God’s alone. The intellect of man has been laid waste by the atoning majesty of God’s gospel message. It cannot be gained by works nor wisdom or even sincerity, it can only be fully embraced by a genuine, childlike, and genuine faith. What glory is this? Has God provided an eternal escape from judgment and an eternal life with Him simply by faith in His gospel? Surely there must be more, and yet any touch by human hands renders the message useless. This is the absolute core of God’s glory, that all salvation flows directly through Himself, with the sinner the object between the beginning and end which is Jesus Christ the Alpha and Omega. In a sense, God sends forth His glory which returns unto Him with the fruits of His grace, the church. And the entire process is camouflaged within the simplicity of the gospel.

And so Paul exhorts all of us,
“Let no one move you from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.”.
The glory is all of God, and the simplicity?
It is the glory of God in His condescending redemptive love.
The glory of the gospel is in two words…
Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Anxiety Driven Church

Oh my, the church of Jesus Christ, the standard bearer for the God of all redemption, is again ringing her hands in anxiety and trepidation. What could it be this time? Has Satan unleashed his massive hordes to attack us? Surely not the Lord God Himself, we’ve long since lost any fear of Him. Well then, what are we supposed to worried about this time?

Whisper in the streets and keep your voice very low, we should not want people to hear what causes us consternation. Have no fear, though, we aren’t upset enough to open the church doors for prayer on Tuesdays or Fridays or even early on Sundays. But you can hear the anxious ripples as this thing has shaken us and even made us a little belligerent. The state of Colorado has passed a law that forbids churches from preaching against homosexuality except within the closed doors of its sanctuaries.

The world must look upon us as the biggest whiners and so reactionary to everything the government does, as if that should have any effect or impact about how we obey our Lord. This law doesn’t forbid the preaching of the gospel in open air meetings, and so it has no impact of evangelism. But let us be clear, unless Jesus comes those laws are coming as well. And so we are faced with a choice, if we feel this new law infringes on what we are called to do then we must disobey it and be thrown in jail. That is what so many thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters did in the face of persecution, they did not have writing campaigns and whine on the radio and television and in the pulpit.

This is what we have become, a squawking bunch of Sunday morning building visitors that have both so little spiritual power and so little real compassion for sinners that we must deceive ourselves by political activism. And instead of enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, we recoil and reject the slightest bit of so called persecution. How dare they restrict and persecute us, when all the while our God may be attempting to wake us up spiritually not politically. The secular, fallen government passes a law and we are suddenly moved into action, or at least complaining.

Our God is not restricted by any human laws and we should not be concerned, in fact, we should rejoice that we are at least a tiny bit persecuted in the midst of modern day Babylon. They haven’t come barging into our sanctuaries because they rightly have no fear about what goes on there. And this new law isn’t because the church is spreading their doctrine all over the city, this law is a result of gay activism groups and a correct reading of America’s pluralistic constitution. And let’s face it, how many churches are actively preaching against homosexuality in the streets and how will that restrict anyone? You can still teach what you will in church, you can still teach your children what you choose, and the gospel can be and should preached to every creature without ever mentioning homosexuality.

So what we have is a façade, an attempt by the church to get all offended and claim some sort of right to speak publicly against what is now a part of American society. If we didn’t want the gay community we should have spread the gospel decades ago with prayer and power, but instead of seeing the plank in our own eye we take comfort in political cause Christianity. Hey folks, abortion is still legal and I do not see either the streets filled with protesters except on a “right to life” Sunday and I further do not see the churches filled with weeping kneelers crying out to God in repentance and brokenness. These political issues are nothing more than convenient camouflage that keeps our spiritual nakedness from being exposed. Oh yea, we organize National Day of Prayers as if it were the Day of Atonement in which all our sins and backsliding can be expunged.

What do we care what the government says or passes as laws, if it is against our Biblical mandates and commands we should fearlessly and in humility do as did Daniel. Let us throw open the windows and seek the face of God until he rains down righteousness upon us, and should they forbid us even that, then throw us to the lions with songs of praise on our lips. We disgrace the memory of the martyrs by our bewailing of the government and its laws, let us keep our eyes upon the Author and the Finisher of our faith, He will take care of us, and not through political leverage. Many think that men like me who have forsaken the political system are what is wrong with the nation, when I believe it is the very opposite.

The church has too long been lured by the wicked sirens of political activism and the false notion that somehow democracy is God’s tool of morality or redemption. I believe the current dalliance with politics has suffocated the spiritual life of the church. We build great debt ridden edifices that serve as meeting places and most are built with all the necessary rooms of church business. Sunday school rooms, offices, restrooms, lobbies, fellowship halls, teen rooms, activity places, music rooms, but how many have built large rooms that are separated specifically and exclusively for prayer? Rooms that have no chit chat, rooms that take no offerings, rooms with no special music, rooms with no recreation, rooms with no meeting tables, rooms with no telephones, rooms with no announcements, rooms that when entered, the presence of God Himself is tangible due to grown men and women, children and the aged, and the pastor and his staff chronically on their faces before the Living God is sacred petition and praise.

Where are those rooms I ask you? We are concerned about what the government does in their legislative rooms and yet we have been negligent about the most important room of all, the prayer closet. We bow to the power of petitions and letters but we only give lip service to prayer. Political activism raises interest and sometimes donations, but in truth it raises no interest from the Almighty. He is interested in seeing His church follow hard after Him and pursue His voice and His correction more than the affairs of this life. He desires to see His people weeping before the altar while they place themselves upon that same altar. The Lord seeks after a people who are so consumed with Him that our children cannot help but be drawn to Holy Spirit as He works in and through their parents.

Oh people, let us release the cares of this world and all the carnal ebbs and flows of a fallen people attempting to create their own heaven, and let us repent and return to the Lord our God in prayer and fasting. How long will we halt between two opinions, and how long will it take before we realize the political machinations of man are a revolving door of redundant futility and are even an obstruction to the gospel preaching church. Let us embrace persecution and let it propel us into greater seasons of prayerful seeking of God’s face. We have not become so different and so dangerous to the government that we need fear jail, no, we have a long way before the devil considers us a threat to him. We seek the face of God and His eternal legislation, and we have been commissioned to seek the souls for which Jesus bled and died. The new law restricts condemning homosexuals but it does not restrict us from presenting to them the glory of the everlasting gospel. I beg you, please, do not let the world see us as battling for our right to condemn, let them see us as bring a light into a world of darkness that needs redemption not condemnation.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus would have eaten with the gay community and that His love and compassion would have won many over. So should it be with us.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Just when I thought I understood Calvinism, they move the chairs. Paul Washer is a preacher who also is a staunch Calvinist. He says some good things and he has become a recent darling of the Calvinist camp and you can find some of his clips on YouTube and on many blog links as well. In this post though he has me confused. At about the 32:50 section in the video he rightly begins to reject the easy believism that is so prevalent in today’s churches. OK, so far. He rightly states that Rev. 3:20 is Jesus knocking on a church door, not the door of a sinner. He then quotes this statement,

“If Jesus wants to open the door of your heart, He’ll kick the door in, it’s His.”

OK, a little theatrical but I understand hyper Calvinism when I see it and there is no contradiction there with his theology. Then he tells a story of when he was preaching near Alaska and a huge unsaved man came to hear him. After the message the man came up to him and asked him how to get saved. Rev. Washer asks him if he heard the message and the man replied that of course he heard it and understood what he was saying but nothing happens when he desires to be saved. The man shows him a doctor’s invoice that explains that this man has only 3 weeks to live and the man says he is afraid to die. OK so far. But now Rev. Washer volunteers to stay with this man for the three weeks. And this is what Rev. Washer says they will do:

“We will get down on our face, we will read through Scripture, we will read through the promises of salvation, we will cry out to God, until you either die and go to hell or God does a work in your heart and saves you”.

OK, wait a minute now. Is he suggesting God will respond to that type of extended mourner’s bench and save this man because he expends such dedication? God couldn’t open his heart, in fact kick it in, during the message Rev. Washer preached? This man must do all these things? It is borderline Pelagianism as well. And how can this man cry out to God when he is dead to God? This is exactly what Charles Finney would have said to that man as well. Oh yes, Paul Washer has borrowed a chapter from Charles Finney who was the furthest thing from being a Calvinist as one could ever imagine. Finney encouraged sinners to seek God for salvation in the very way Rev. Washer begins with this man. Tears, crying out, Scripture, and begging God to save them was Finney’s altar call too.

Now to the glory of God this man made a profession of faith that same night after reading Jn.3:16. There is no doubt that God answered his diligence in my Arminian theology and I rejoice in that story. But then to cap it all off Rev. Washer makes this unbelievable statement:

“Now what would’ve happened, I’ll tell you what would’ve happened, you’ve got a majority of Southern Baptist evangelists that would’ve had him saved in five minutes, gone to Denny’s, and 3 weeks later that man would’ve died and gone to hell”.

That, my friends, takes the cake with several well frosted layers. First, the obvious implication is that by the elongated time of begging and seeking God, the Lord granted that man’s salvation. I suggest the presence of works. Second, Rev. Washer openly parades the fact that he led that man to Christ through his own sacrificial time and thoroughness which most other SBC evangelists would not have done. I suggest the presence of self righteousness. Third, Washer concludes that had he done what the other evangelists would have done that man would have died and gone to hell. I suggest the presence of a free will.

You know what, if the Calvinists can have it both ways so can I. I now believe in the five points of Calvinism AND I also believe in complete atonement for everyone, a full and free will for every man, one can commit apostasy after being saved and end up in hell, and that even a fallen man can make a step toward God.

This post just reveals what I have always suspected, even a Calvinist doesn’t always believe it, especially when Arminianism fits better in your message.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Doctrine of Compassion

Matt.14:14 - And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

I visit a cross section of blogs with differing doctrinal views. I read a post from a brother who exhorted compassion by believers. Toward the end he made this prayerful and powerful statement that impacted my spirit.

“Use us in your work to transform us into little Christs.”

Most times when we hear the word doctrine we think of some creed or confession or systematic theology. When we say doctrinal soundness or doctrinal integrity we almost always mean the adherence to a set of teachings related to truth that must elicit faith. In other words we have tethered the word doctrine to believing a set of theological tenants. And in light of this mindset we have relegated works of compassion to a seriously subordinate and neglected position of importance and indeed, practice. These expressions of compassion usually only rise to the level of “bait”, and actually things we must do within the clandestine motivation of evangelism.

But if we are correctly secure with the superiority of redemption against all other doctrines, and if we realize that our entire lives are epistles of that redemption, can we not see that this compassion must be exercised with committed hearts of pathos and concern for human beings, motivated by both redemption and simple, unconditional charity? Should acts of compassion and charity be exclusively the product of evangelistic strategy, or can there be, and should there be, a significant element of pure sympathetic mercy? We as the representatives of Christ have so often been dismissive of indiscriminate humanitarian acts of compassion and help, and even though we must shine Christ in our lives and deeds, the motivation should not always be harnessed to evangelical strategies. God Himself is well capable of using our expressions of charity, even when shared without the open witness we would have hoped, as future stepping stones to draw men to Himself.

Did Jesus ever minister acts of compassion to some who He knew would not embrace Him as Savior and Lord? Of course, and in fact the Incarnate God of all Compassion did works of kindness to Judas Iscariot who was not only His enemy, but ultimately His betrayer. The God who is love cannot help but show even his rebels the kind compassion that reveals who He is. I fear we have taken what was meant to glorify God and minister to needy humans and made it a hostage to our own doctrinal creeds, when in fact compassion is a doctrine in and of itself. And that is the simple truth but profound indictment in so many of our evangelical and fundamental circles that recoils at showing compassion and humanitarian expressions of mercy to sinners, especially sinners that have been singled out as worse than the average, garden variety sinner.

This reveals a disturbing and embarrassing aspect of the walk of faith we have constructed, because it shows that our compassion is not genuinely without preconditions and caveats, it is interconnected with our judgment of the sinner and sometimes comes with heavy handed and clumsy attempts at final stage evangelism. And before you immediately misinterpret what I am saying let us be clear, the redemption of sinners by way of Christ’s cross is paramount and the core of God’s heart, and our commission is the preaching of that gospel. That cannot be compromised.

But somehow we have been deceived into believing that showing compassion and mercy to the lost by way of earthly acts of compassion is compromising that gospel. I am beginning to see them more and more as the overflow of God’s heart of grace and mercy. Let us not forget that it rains on the just and the unjust, and God shows grace and mercy to the most militant of His enemies with no gospel strings attached. The goodness of God leads us to repentance, and it is true beyond controversy that they cannot be saved without hearing the greatest news ever spoken, however binding up the wounds of the poor and needy can and should be in concert with that message of eternal hope. And sometimes when the speaking opportunity isn’t as accommodating as we would have desired, these acts just give expression to the God of all mercy and compassion.

I reject joining with those who would reject Christ in almost any endeavor because that carries with it a counter productive essence that helps and deceives at the same time. But I have seen a laxity and even a reluctance to reach out to people’s needs based upon both an exclusive focus on doctrinal creeds and a confusing disconnect between compassion and the gospel message. Open and earthly deeds of compassion are never to replace the gospel message, but they must be a natural and unbridled expression of that message and the God about Whom the message speaks.

The Old and New Testament make it clear that humanitarian deeds to the world’s needy is a doctrine of the church. This is no suggestion or choice that is presented to believers, this is a mandate to all of us and somehow we have made it a cold part of an evangelical equation. Evangelism will flow out of these and other expressions if sinner’s see and feel the vulnerable compassion and love that doesn't differentiate between kinds of sin, and that comes naturally from a hereditary gene implanted from the Father of all Mercies. Sometimes our contrived humanitarian efforts come across as just that.

But let us forever unveil works of compassion and humanitarian deeds as legitimate doctrines to the church, every bit as legitimate as all the others. We cannot fear being viewed as compromisers and in fact, we cannot let fear stand in the way of ministering to people where they need it most, even if they have brought heartache and suffering upon themselves. Ours is a divine compassion, both in message and in deed. The question we must ask is this,

If we knew that a certain gay man with AIDs would never believe the gospel, but that same man needed a ride once a week to the clinic for treatment, would you or I give him that ride?

The answer to that question probably will reveal if we have the compassion of Christ, or the compassion of evangelism. The compassion of Christ contains the compassion of evangelism, the compassion of evangelism is sometimes missing the compassion of Christ. If we do not exhibit the compassion of Christ, including humanitarian deeds of mercy to all who need them,

we are doctrinal heretics.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The Greek word for repentance is metanoia (μετάνοια) which is compounded from the preposition μετά (after, with) and the verb νοέω (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing)—metanoia means "a change of mind".

A man is driving his car toward his place of employment. As he does every morning he turns left on Main Street and approaches the Main Street Bridge that will take him across the river and to his place of business. He has no reason to even question his belief that the bridge will be open. As he approaches the bridge he sees a large sign in the middle of the road that says “BRIDGE CLOSED - TAKE THE JFK BRIDGE”. Before he has turned his car around he has repented, in other words because of the sign and the obvious repair work on the bridge, he now does not believe he can take that bridge to work. He has change his mind about that bridge.

Now he turns his car around AS A RESULT of his changing his mind, his repentance (metanoia). The turning around of his car was a manifestation of the genuineness of his repentance, his changing of his mind about that bridge. Had he not believed the sign he might have stepped on the gas and gone through that sign which may have caused him his life. In that scenario he would not have changed his mind or repented. But he has changed his mind, and because he has he now turns his car around. What does he believe now? He now is heading toward the JFK Bridge because he now trusts the sign in front of the closed bridge. In order for him to get to work, he not only had to change his mind about the Main Street Bridge, he had to take the faith he used to have about the Main Street Bridge and place it on the JFK Bridge.

There has been a misrepresentation about the nature of what the Bible calls, in the English translations, repentance. Some have mistakenly taught that repentance is the act of forsaking or giving up sin and some even attach that to a prerequisite for believing on Jesus Christ for salvation. That is not what the Bible means when it says, “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mk.1:15). What Jesus is exhorting sinners to do is “Change your mind and believe the good news”. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the reason some could not enter into God’s salvation was because of unbelief.

Heb.3:18-19 - And to whom swore He that they should not enter into His rest but to them that BELIEVED NOT? So we see that they could not enter in BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF.

Notice God doesn’t say because of sin, of which there was plenty, but the Lord clearly states that they would not change their evil hearts of unbelief and believe, or as the New Testament would say in one inclusive word - repent. The writer even goes so far as to warn the brethren about renouncing your state of repentance.

Heb.3:12 - Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in DEPARTING from the living God.

That warning my friends should not be taken lightly regardless of your theology concerning apostasy and eternal security. But it is clear that sin can and does contribute to unbelief by hardening the heart and by desensitizing the conscience to both sin and God Himself. Notice this warning from the same chapter in Hebrews.

Heb.3:13 - But exhort one another daily while it is called To day, lest any of you BE HARDENED through the deceitfulness of sin.

Sin is a destroyer. It destroys the conscience, it destroys lives, it destroys families, it destroys souls, and it destroys faith. We must be continually changing our carnal minds about sin. We cannot rely upon a decade old profession of faith we must as Spurgeon observed “be daily turning from sin and unto Christ”. But you cannot forsake sin until you allow the Holy Spirit to change your mind about it. And so it is concerning salvation. A sinner can no more forsake sin than can a dead person, it is not within his power to do so. In fact, an unsaved person does not even know what sin is or have the ability to accurately identify the sin in his life. All he can know by the Spirit’s illumination is that he is a sinner.

And repentance is not enough for conversion. A sinner can change his mind about his atheism and believe in Buddha and still be lost. He must repent, change his mind about his unbelief, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. And people can give up certain sins without true repentance. Many support groups that are not spiritual or religious have helped people out of addictions that were harming and even killing them, but that is not Biblical repentance. They haven’t changed their minds about the nature of their sin and about the Person of Jesus Christ. Biblical repentance is allowing God’s Spirit to change your mind and then having faith in His grace and power to change your life.

I have seen people repent of sin and yet it has taken time for them to completely forsake that sin, but because their minds had been changed they now feel differently and willingly enter the struggle about which all true believers know. Paul so vividly describes that struggle in Romans chapter 7 and anyone who reads Pilgrim’s Progress recognizes that same struggle which begins with repentance and culminates with God’s victory. So often we have judged people who say they have repented by saying “If they had truly repented they would not still be doing it”. Can you see the self righteousness in that statement? If true repentance means a complete forsaking of sin, then why don’t all of us truly repent of ALL sin and be totally sinless?

So Bible repentance is a changing of our minds, our wills, and then proceeding to walk out that repentance through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our lives should be filled with repentance, continually and daily changing our minds about ourselves and renewing our minds about Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that we should not be conformed to this world, but we should be transformed. How? By the renewing of our minds. And just how do we renew our minds? We seek God’s will through God’s Word and through repentance we garner faith in God’s Word and not our own worldly views.

When a sinner sees Christ and believes on Him as Lord and Savior, that act of faith carries with it the very act of repentance. As he believes on Christ, he has substantiated the fact that he is repenting of his unbelief. He has changed his mind, he has changed his will, he has changed his heart, and God has now changed his life. The process of sanctification has now begun, and the ongoing washing of the Word will bring new fruits of true repentance that all have sprung from the day in which he first trusted Christ. And although I am an Arminian let there be no mistake, this is all the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Insulated From Human Stories

We as people, and yes we as Christians, tend to view the human experience in overarching and generalized terms, usually seeing humans in vast nationalistic expanses of genders, ages, and of course socio-economic categories. This lends such insulated self righteousness and provides such an emotional buffer zone within which we can assess, judge, and pronounce a pristine and authoritative inventory on all the collective categories. And this continuum between human lives and their spiritual standing ministers most and best to ourselves. It is painless and usually is spoken through cold and uncompassionate lips that operate at the behest of cold hearts transplanted from the stereotypical Pharisee. We enjoy being insulated from the boundless stories of individual human stories of struggle, pain, and incredible suffering. To know Bill or Janet is far more dangerous and emotionally vulnerable than just saying “they” at an impersonal distance.

There are many situations in which people suffer. Relationships, physical, emotional, dignity, and many, many other definitions describe an existence where human beings suffer. I would like to deal with a specific area of emotional suffering that is happening in epic proportions, and is not only hiding within unseen walls of fear and shame and confusion, it is many times being exacerbated and even celebrated by those of us who bear the Name of the most perfect expression of compassion ever offered by the Creator God Himself. And in the midst of immeasurable suffering and pain, it has become ever so comfortably dispassionate to address these specific stories of human pain in antiseptic terms which corral the individuals and verbally focus them in neat and sweeping collective nouns. And in those tethered to those linguistic umbrellas, we find not only a buffered existence, but we can keep these “people groups” separated from any responsibility laden compassion.

These are the men and women we now call the gay community, as if they are not an embedded and accepted part of the overall community of human beings. And one benefit of having collective nouns and monikers about people is to see them as one interconnected teeming mass who are emulsified into one definable mindset and existence, when in fact, there are millions of individual stories that sometimes bear no similarity to each other save in the aspect of sexual attraction. But it is so much easier to see them as a whole so we can deal with them with one simplistic answer which usually is constructed to absolve us from the preponderance of responsibility as well as remove the discomfort that usually accompanies genuine compassion.

There is much more solace to be found in saying “them” rather than Janet or Bill. But many families that have safely seen the gays as “them” have one morning awakened to greet them as “son” or “daughter”. The word "quandary" is deeply insufficient to describe what a family feels who experience the revelation of one of “them” emerge in the midst of the sanctity of their own set of loved ones. And when that scenario is further refined to include followers and believers in Jesus Christ, well, the situation has become untenable and presents no easy course correction.

I have done some research lately, and I have listened to and watched some deeply painful stories from families that have gone through this exact situation, and I’ve listened to parents and gay offspring alike share what I have never felt myself. And in the very core of this unfolding story is the confusion that grips a Christian home that is faced with this reality. I have listened as a gay young man in his early twenties relates the disgust he felt about himself as he heard his father speak disparagingly and carelessly about gay people before he knew his own son was struggling. And after ten long years, even from the age of seven, and after making many deals with God in hopes of deliverance, this young man was faced with having to tell his parents of his inward attractions. I am sure that when a daughter must tell her parents of a premarital pregnancy she must be devastated, but many times the child that is born is still considered a blessing. But of what benefit can a gay young man expect when he informs his parents that he has become their deepest fears?

And I watched as a young man confessed that he had packed his suitcase, fully embracing the possibility that his evangelical parents would demand he leave the house. I cannot imagine such a burden, and many times these parents do turn their back on their son or daughter because of shame, disgust, disappointment, and the reservoir of teaching they have had about the hatred and wrath of God on gay people. The confused emotions of the parents cannot be overlooked as well. Many parents say they would rather have their child be killed in a car accident than become a practicing gay person. And then their Christianity lies shattered before their very eyes, whatever happened to the “bring up a child” principle?

Most times the gay child has immense internal struggles that last for years before he ever shares this most painfully vulnerable truth about himself. Weeping alone, feelings of suicide, self loathing, parental disappointment, and just a pervasive depression about themselves and their future is the inward lifestyle they live. And quietly they also process the harsh and caustic attitudes and verbiage coming from family and friends about others who have the same attractions. And what must be the depth of that depression that doesn’t stem from something you have done, but who you are? Many succumb to suicide which many times reinforces the general societal assertion that the gay lifestyle, if chosen, can have many adverse affects. So even worse than talking past each other, there isn’t much dialogue of any kind.

Now we can continue to place an uniformed template upon these human beings, or we can reach out with compassion and understanding without surrendering any basic Biblical teachings but with a journey to become a pliable conduit through which flows the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s redemptive mission. I know, we have become quite accustomed to doctrinal hygiene which has protected us from any messy excursions into unknown territory that may well be criticized by those who remain entrenched. And if we leave the safety of doctrinal surety we might be accused of consorting with and condoning sin. Remember, we have a forerunner who experienced that same accusation against Himself and His mission.

If you believe that same sex attraction is a choice and is a slave to the wills of all the men and women who have them, then you may return to your vantage point as you watch Columbus load up the Santa Maria for his long and uncharted journey. But if you are sophisticated and honest enough to see that many are born with this phenomenon, then you must ask yourself some uncomfortable practical questions about how expansive and sociologically penetrating is the redemption of Jesus Christ. How can the power of God’s love for sinners and his judgment of sin be reconciled at the cross and within the blood stained signature that is redemption incarnate? Are these sinners that are so often myopically defined by their sexual attraction a part of John 3:16’s world or are they out of the scope of redemption until they shed that one sin so all the others can be forgiven?

Every heterosexual boy is born with a sexual attraction for unholy objects of many and varied natures. From the old time National Geographic pictures of African natives, to his new young teacher. Cousins, older sisters, next door neighbors, bra models in the Sears catalogue, classmates, and on and on pass the long, lifetime parade of objects to which the inherent sinful attractions are drawn and many times acted upon privately and sometimes publicly in later years. Which men among us would deny we have these attractions that have been alive and well most times, and lurking in other times? Let us step forward and admit publicly that we did not choose these attractions, we were born with them. They are not in line with God’s Word and Jesus even said we have practiced them even if only by thought.

These unrighteous heterosexual attractions are a part of the fallen nature that pervades all humanity, and they are every bit as wrong as other sexual attractions. The issue is not the righteousness of these attractions, it is can those who have them find redemption? And the paradox about opposite sex attractions is that they can be righteously satisfied within the context of marriage, but imagine the same strong and constant same sex desires, accompanied by no attraction for the opposite sex, and with no righteous way to satisfy that basic desire. This is the struggle about which most of us know nothing, and neither do we wish to know the struggle or the one who battles himself constantly about the truth of who he is. This is not a search for Biblical accommodation, this is a search for redemption.

The church has insulated itself from the heartache of the individual and in fact there are more seminars about financial suffering as compared to gay pain and struggles. We have become very adept at using some of the more militant wings of the gay agenda to provide a reason to reject the entire unknown mass of humanity we call gay. How many Christians know and interact with a gay person, and how many would desire such a privilege? How many churches have a open ministry to the gay community around them? How many churches actively seek gay people to come to their church? And how many churches would be very uncomfortable with a dozen gay people having faithful attendance on Sunday mornings, regardless of how and when they made any sort of outward change?

Jesus allowed, welcomed, and even chose Judas to follow him and be a part, even an usher, in every service at which the Master spoke. For over three years Judas did not change, and Jesus knew it and continued to love him and his invitation as one of the twelve was intact. Jesus did not condone the sins of Judas or Peter, but He seemed to be uncomfortably inclusive and in the end, it was Judas who refused Christ, not Christ refusing Judas. How can we who claim to be the organic and living body of that same Jesus do any less? But if we extend love and redemption to gay sinners without extracting something from them either first or at least at certain intervals, we will be maligned in the evangelical community. We will be questioned about our doctrine. We will be judged about our compromise. And in fact, we will be absolutely crucified.

Hmm...that may be just what we need.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Journey Toward Apostasy

II Jn.9-11 - Whosoever transgresses and abides not in the doctrine of Christ has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. If there comes any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Before you read this post I would strongly suggest you go to the link I have provided at Apprising Ministries. In this article Ken Silva succinctly outlines an incredibly disturbing connection between different men which will give you just a glimpse into just how rapidly parts of the evangelical community are heading toward apostasy. And Silva's article is by no means exhaustive, but it does represent what is happening across the evangelical landscape. Not just shallowness and not just weirdness, but apostasy itself.

Let us retrace some of the connections that Ken Silva has made. First of all no evangelical can consider Marcus Borg and John Crossan as anything but full blown and openly militant apostates. They deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, and the deity of Jesus Christ Himself. Both Marcus Borg and John Crossan completely deny the Biblical account of the gospel including rejecting any atonement in the cross. Neither man is a Christian, both are apostates in the clearest terms and anyone with the Spirit should and must believe that.

Now we move to an emergent teacher named Brian MacLaren. He is one of the founders of the emergent movement and has just written a new book titled “Everything Must Change”. Ken notes that when MacLaren is asked about his spiritual influences he mentions Borg and Crossan as positive and helpful in his new book. That makes MacLaren an apostate as well. The Apostle John tells us in no uncertain terms that anyone who bids these apostates “godspeed” is a partaker with them. And these men do not just say God bless you (God speed), no, they openly recommend their heresies to the sheep. They are hirelings of the very worst kind, those who actually lead the sheep to streams of eternal poison.

Borg and Crossan do not parse words, they are not being coy and elusive, they are blatant and clear in their apostasy. That is one aspect about which they have integrity, they are honest about their apostasy. I cannot stress enough how wicked these men are and how grievous are the teachings of these wolves. They are the very type of men that true shepherds are equipped to expose and to warn the sheep to steer clear from anything these heretics say. But that is not what we see even among men who up until now have been given some leeway concerning their own ministries.

Before I proceed, let us dismiss some disingenuous contentions that some have made. Some have defended men who recommend books and writings of apostates by asserting that those recommendations do not mean a carte blanche endorsement of all the writers espouse and teach. And in fact, that is true, it doesn’t automatically mean a unequivocal endorsement. Pastors and Christian writers who are strict Calvinists will, for instance, quote and recommend John Wesley even though they disagree with elements of his theology, and vice versa. That is quite another issue. That is one dedicated brother in Christ quoting another dedicated brother in Christ even while overlooking some doctrinal disagreements.

That is completely different than some pastor quoting and recommending reading material form a Christ denier. That is being a partaker of his apostasy and that act in and of itself disqualifies you from being a shepherd. You have left protecting and feeding your sheep and you are now not leading them beside the still waters of God’s truth, but you are leading them to an ocean of apostasy in which they will drown. The shepherd that does this knowingly has become the worst sort of guide, he has used his office in an ungodly and corrupt manner and has become complicit in injuring the very sheep he is supposed to protect. It is unconscionable and is a sin against the Spirit Himself.

Legion are those who run to the defense of these compromisers with the very shallowest of arguments. They suggest that reading these apostates broadens one’s world and religious views, and that renouncing any writings is akin to a book burning. Some books are well deserving of being burned, and everything Borg and Crossan and MacLaren write should find their God directed destination in the fires of destruction. Attempting to expand people’s minds by recommending apostasy is antichrist at its core, and these spirits of antichrist are now thriving within post modern evangelicalism. When men like Borg, Crossan, and MacLaren are recommended and quoted by so called evangelical leaders, you can be rest assured the spirit of antichrist is present and active.

And Brian MacLaren may just be the most dangerous apostate of them all since he is considered mainstream in many evangelical circles. This man has endorsed the “ministries” of Borg and Crossan, and he is a guest speaker in many pulpits around the nation. And he has also been a guest speaker at Mars Hill Church, pastured by a man named Rob Bell. There is no nuance here, and there can be no defense in not only recommending an apostate such as MacLaren, but having him actually come and feed your own sheep. A man like Bell, regardless of his obvious intellect, has now exposed himself solidly as a heretic and on a journey toward apostasy. When someone cannot recognize the utter apostasy of someone like MacLaren, and then even recommending books by apostates like John Crossan and new age unbelievers like Ken Wilbur, that man is no longer a shepherd, he has become a facilitator toward apostasy.

The entire emergent/emerging movement is now rushing toward apostasy, and even the more “conservative” wing is complicit with all the multi-faceted avenues of apostasy being generated by this new and abominable movement. It is beyond understanding how anyone who claims to believe the Scriptures and the historical gospel can willingly stay as a part of an amalgam of Bible destroyers and not realize that the same Scriptures they claim to believe tell us to reject heretics and have no dealings with apostates. The Scriptures even go further, we are commanded to reprove and expose such men and their apostate teachings. The days are evil and the apostate inertia has vanished, the rails are greased, and the teachings that the church would have rejected just one generation ago are now being sold in church lobbies.

This current deception is very strong, and it is evident that there is no productive value to dialogue at all. And if you think that there will be no rancor or malice when dialoguing with emergent and emergent leaning people, you will be unpleasantly surprised. The same unchristian verbiage that some attempt to confine to the orthodox crowd is openly displayed within the emergent “conversation” as well. Demeaning, condescension, dismissiveness, and the entire menu of unchristian discourse is rampant throughout the internet and I am sure it blossoms even further in private conversation among like minded people. So if you desire to affect some emergent people by having a congenial and somewhat dispassionate conversation you may find that not only will your words change nothing, but there will be other unpleasant residuals. For one you might experience some aspects of that dialogue that you did not expect. Secondly you will almost certainly uncover some astounding beliefs that you never realized these people espouse.

The only way to combat this journey toward apostasy is to remain devoted and close to Christ personally. Do not read anything by anyone who even entertains these people, and although we need to stay informed, do not let it consume you. However we must warn people who have not as yet been drawn to these heresies. Anything with the emergent/emerging moniker should be avoided like the plague it is. Apostasy is a serious business, it is a denying of the faith and there can be no deeper sin against the Holy Spirit. We must remain vigilant and yet humble, all of us could still be candidates for being swallowed into this stream of apostasy. There may be coming a new and more sophisticated deception, so continue to hold fast to the ancient landmarks established by the unchanging written revelation of God’s Word.

HT: Ken Silva