Easter is one of the most important religious holidays of the year for many Christians – a time to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey, roughly half (48%) of Christians in the U.S. say they believe that Christ will definitely (27%) or probably (20%) return to earth in the next 40 years. Somewhat fewer (38%) say this definitely will not happen (10%) or probably will not happen (28%).http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/US-Christians-Views-on-the-Return-of-Christ.aspx
Wow! While most were supportive, some were angered by my inclusion of the word “compromise” in the title of the post regarding Tebow’s recent announcement that he would not follow through with his speaking engagement at First Baptist Church in Dallas. However, I am comforted by the insight of Dr. Al Mohler in his recent coverage of the controversy.
Did Tebow actually compromise on serious convictional issues in scripture about the ”Exclusivity of Christ” and “homosexuality?” I am inclined to think so.
Read Mohler before you decide. He documents the kind of pressure applied to Tebow to withdraw from his speaking engagement as revealed in the articles extracts below.
Remember, it is always wrong to be “lovingly winsome” if it means portraying biblical truth as ”hatefully offensive”.
“…controversy quickly shifted to secular outrage that Tebow would agree to speak to a church known for such beliefs.
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports warned, “Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life” by speaking at “a hateful Baptist preacher’s church.” Doyel described Jeffress as “an evangelical cretin” guilty of serial hate speech. Of course, Doyel engaged in hateful and slanderous speech of his own by associating Jeffress with the truly hateful Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Jeffress “isn’t as bad as Westboro,” Doyel admitted, “But he comes close. Too close.”
Other sportswriters piled on. Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post offered his own warning to Tebow: “After a season on the sidelines, the ball’s in your hands, Timmy. Better not fumble this one.”
…Writing at The Huffington Post, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush made it clear the controversy wasn’t just a matter of Jeffress’s tone, conceding, “while Dr. Jeffress has a tendency not to sugarcoat his feelings,” he is nonetheless voicing what evangelical Christians “have been saying for a long time.” The central scandal here is the belief that Jesus is the only Savior and that homosexual behavior is sin. In terms of the larger public debate, it is the issue of homosexuality that has predominated the larger public debate… “
…Evangelical Christians are now called upon to think strategically about what it means to speak truthfully and lovingly to a society that increasingly sees us as the moral outlaws.”
All I can say is Powerful! Profound! Penetrating! PHENOMENAL!
Tim Challies called this “Gospel Thunder!”
I call it a much-needed rebuke of biblical proportion!
Jackie Hill delivers her thundering ”Jig-A-Boo” poem unflinchingly in front of an audience of nearly 3,000 people.
I implore you to listen to her “gospelized rebuke” and then have your pastor do the same.
“Skillful Scripture Study” was the one class I enjoyed teaching the most during my tenure as a Prof at Christ for The Nations Bible College in Dallas,Texas. I endured the angst of many irate students by challenging charismatic myths fostered by those ignoring hermeneutical norms so that they could play fast and loose with a biblical text.
Binding and loosing, Satan comes to kill,steal and destroy, and Pulling down strongholds are but a few of the texts I showed to be selectively abstracted from the contextual flow of a favorite verse.
Selective abstraction is a type of cognitive bias in which terms are taken out of context while everything else in the context is completely ignored. Credo House Ministries posted this great example of how Matthew 18 is often de-contextualized by making it a proof text for having others simply agree together in general prayer.
I selectively abstracted a section to entice you to read the entire artlicle. Now thats funny!
“… I sat there praying with this group of people, saying my “umms” and shaking my head at the appropriate times (I hope). Then something made me hara. I tried to brush it off, but it was too difficult. She said the unthinkable . . . I cannot believe she used this verse. It was manipulative, irresponsible, and downright misleading. What was her crime? She used the “where two or three are gathered in my name . . .” trick. She misused Matthew 18:20. Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek. She did not really have any ill-intentions. She was just following the folklore about this verse, which she had probably heard herself countless times in the past. We have all done it so don’t get smug. Let’s look at the verse.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
It happens all the time: Prayers which invoke the presence of Jesus during the gathering . . . well, so long as there are “two or three.” What does this mean? Does it mean that Christ is more likely to answer your prayer? Does it mean that Christ’s actual presence is in the middle of your prayer circle . . . a ghost, phantom, or floating entity? Maybe he is there holding our hands. And which is it, for goodness’ sake? Two, or three? The idea is this: we have to have more than one person to get this mystical real presence of Christ invoked and some people have made a sacrament out of this.
However, this is not what this verse means. And I do get somewhat red-nosed about this because it can mislead us about the power of God and our prayer life.
Matthew 18:20, like every other passage of Scripture, has a context. When we look at the context we find that the pericope (single unit of thought) in which this verse occurs starts in verse 15…..”
Wow! We should implement these questions in the church of the good ole U.S.A.
I hear the charge of “legalism” or worse, by those who continue advocating an un-biblical “non-lordship easy believism” in the form of telling respondents to ”pray this simple prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart”.
David Fitch recently made this statement in Christianity Today,” statistics continue to show that only a small percentage of our recorded “decisions” are made by people who will still be following Jesus a year later…and yet, we keep doing this.”
Maybe it’s time we transition to the Gospel Jesus preached that is now being implemented by the Asian church. Just a thought.
Asian Access (or A2), a Christian missions agency in South Asia, listed a series of questions that church planters must ask new believers who are considering baptism. (Due to safety concerns, Asian Access does not mention the country’s name.) The country is predominantly Hindu, but over the past few decades Christianity has grown in popularity—especially among poor and tribal peoples. These are the seven questions asked to help determine a new convert’s readiness to follow Christ:
- Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
- Are you willing to lose your job?
- Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them?
- Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord?
- Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith?
- Are you willing to go to prison?
- Are you willing to die for Jesus?
If the new convert answers yes to all of these questions, then A2 leaders invite that person to sign on the bottom of the paper that of their own free will they have decided to follow Jesus. But here is the risk. If a new convert signs the paper and is caught by the government,he or she will spend three years behind bars. The one who did the evangelizing faces six years in prison.
Christianity Today Magazine spring 2012 pg 60
“Bishops can begin using “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” on December 2, when same-sex couples can exchange vows and rings. Each bishop will decide whether to allow the rite within each local diocese, and a conscience clause bars penalties for bishops who oppose the rite.
“… Proponents offered stories of gay friends who would benefit from the rites, while opponents suggested the denomination was contradicting its own doctrine.”
“…the Episcopal Church approved new anti-discrimination language for transgendered clergy candidates and church members. Some Episcopal dioceses already ordain transgendered people or elect them to positions of parish leadership.”
“By adding “gender identity and expression” to its nondiscrimination canons, those who are transgendered shall not “be denied rights, status, or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this church.”
Treven Wax recently wrote that there is a theologian we should all know and I agree.
George Eldon Ladd is said to be one of the most influential scholars of the 1900′s. It was Ladd who popularized the view of the kingdom as two dimensional by describing it with the “already inaugurated -not yet consummated” paradigm.
He argues that there is a tension between the already realized and future eschatology throughout the entire New Testament. While the future Kingdom of God already has broken into the present reality, its fullness remains to be consummated with the second coming.
Now deceased, Ladd is considered a premier Kingdom theologian and any serious study of eschatology should include time invested to read ”The Gospel of the Kingdom” and ”The Presence of the Future“.
Other great books that I can personally recommend:
“The Blessed Hope“- His central thesis is the second coming is The Blessed Hope, not a pre-tribulational rapture.
“A Theology of the New Testament“- Ladd’s magisterial work on New Testament.
Brian Zahnd writes about his journey in “Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity”.
Trevin Wax gives us an inside glimpse into how something of this magnitude can transpire during an interviewing with Brian.
Here are a few extracts of Trevins questions followed by one of Brian’s core answers. I chose it since it closely summarizes my own my personal journey out of the traditional charismatic paradigm.
I strongly suggest reading the entire conversation.
Trevin Wax: Brian, you’ve had an interesting theological journey in ministry – from Word of Faith type teaching to a celebration of Christianity’s core teachings throughout history. First, tell us about your ministry at the outset – what you were about as a preacher of God’s Word and the vision you had for your local congregation.
Trevin Wax: What initiated your movement away from Word of Faith teaching to something more in line with historic Christian orthodoxy?
Trevin Wax: How did that journey begin to affect your preaching and teaching? That’s quite a shift.
Brian Zahnd: Quite a shift, indeed!
In August of 2004, I announced I was packing my bags from the charismatic movement. By “packing my bags,” I meant that I was taking certain things with me—for example, a belief that the miraculous is part of normative Christianity and should be expected. But I was moving beyond the sensationalism, the shallowness, the celebrity that characterized what I was now calling “easy-cheesy-cotton-candy Christianity.”
Bobby Jamieson gets it right in this recent article over at 9Marks.
A church that neglects or disregards redemptive church discipline is denying the Gospel to the wayward one. For this reason, the Reformers framed three marks of a true church and included discipline as an essential identifying trait.A congregation that was absent of this mark was to be excluded from being viewed as an authentic church.
Here are some excerpts that convey well-reasoned gospel truth.
“When it comes to life in the church, I think that many of us treat church discipline as a dirty chore. From private rebuke to public exclusion, we can resent the whole process. We hold our nose and look the other way as we go through the motions, eager to be done with all the mess.
I don’t deny that dealing with sin in the church can be uncomfortable, painful, and even disheartening. But we shouldn’t treat church discipline as a dirty chore.
Corrective church discipline begins—and, praise the Lord, very often ends—with one church member privately confronting the sin of another member. In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus himself commands us to do this when our brother sins against us. Then Jesus provides further instruction about what to do if the individual doesn’t repent, ultimately culminating, if necessary, in excluding him or her from the congregation.
…When we confront a sinning brother, we should have in hand not only a rebuke but also a blank check of forgiveness. If the brother repents, the check gets quickly written and handed over, and we’ve both won (v. 15).
…Church discipline is the gospel in action. Just as God doesn’t leave us in our sin but comes to us in rebuking grace, so we also extend that grace to others. So, despite the pain and discomfort it can bring, we shouldn’t treat dealing with sin in the church as a dirty chore.
Instead, we should count it a solemn privilege to imitate the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine on the hillside to go after the one straying sheep—which is each one of us.”
Mormonism is definitively a “damnable heresy” that codifies doctrines of demons and stands under the Apostle Paul’s double curse. ”Whoever tells you good news that is different from the Good News we gave you should be condemned to hell, even if he is one of us or an angel from heaven” [Galatians 1:8]
The leaders of the cult are straight up deceitful workers of satan masquerading themselves as ministers of light.…such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. ..even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, [2 Corinthians 11:12 ].
However, as you can see in this video, Joel Osteen states on national television that he personally embraces Mitt Romney’s Mormonism as Christian even though its doctrinal tenets are documentably antichrist and cursed of God.
In making this willfully ignorant and heretical statement, Joel imputes regenerative saving power, forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life to ”the false gospel” proclaimed by Mormonism. In doing so, Osteen stands guilty of damning millions of people to eternity in a devils hell.
Watch this shocking video first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MZgsMzmWgjE
Joel should immediately be brought up on charges of gospel heresy before a church court called by the nations most influential ministers. He must be required to recant publicly and nationally for his damning affirmation of “another gospel”.
In the event that he refuses such accountability, he then should be publicly ”excommunicated” from evangelicalism and ”turned over to satan” Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. [1 Timothy 1:20]
I call upon the “New Apostolic Reformation” and other national leaders to do their job, and while we wait, every follower of Christ should heed the Apostle Johns mandate which will require turning off the television or changing the channel when Joel comes on.
“Anyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; …If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching , don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. [2 John 1:9-11]