Wednesday, February 22, 2017

HOW THE CULTS STEAL THE BIBLE





The cults steal the Bible in many ways. They add to it; they take away from it; and they also steal it away from their sheep. How do they steal it? Let’s start with Madam Helena Blavatsky, the late nineteenth-century founder of the Theosophical Society. In “Isis Unveiled,” she wrote:

·       “The greatest teachers of divinity agree that nearly all ancient books were written symbolically and in a language intelligible only to the initiated.” (James Sire, “Scripture Twisting,” IVP, p. 108)

“The initiated” refer to supposedly super-spiritual enlightened ones who alone can understand the meaning of the various Scriptures. Orthodox Jewish writer, David Klinghoffer, has expressed a similar idea current among Orthodox Rabbis:

·       “Scripture is cryptic…The Pentateuch contained innumerable textual difficulties…The Rabbis taught that what looked like editing glitches in almost every verse were really allusions to esoteric teachings.” (“Why the Jews Rejected Jesus,” p. 24)

Consequently, only the rabbis could understand Scripture. However, in order to do so, they often rejected its obvious surface meaning, rejecting the Word of God, in order to get at the hidden “esoteric teachings.”

Of course, Scripture does contain deep teachings. However, in order to get into the bedroom or the basement, we have to enter through the front door of the plain surface teachings of the milk of the Word. In fact, Scripture warns us against rejecting the front door. Once we reject this door, obedience to the Lord becomes impossible. Moses argued that obedience depended on the understanding of the common man:

·       "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. (Deut. 30:11-14)

Israel had no excuse for their disobedience. This is because the Word of God was so plain to them that they were able to understand. In fact, Israel had made many excuses for their disobedience. However, they never claimed that they were unable to understand the Word of God.

It was only because they had been able to understand that God was able to test their obedience. Moses, therefore, often reminded them of their moral failures:


·          Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:2-3)

When we examine God’s instructions about gathering manna in Exodus 16, we find that they had been very plain, not at all esoteric. Consequently, Israel disobeyed because they wanted to, not because they were unable to understand God’s commands.

Jesus also assumed that Israel was able to understand His commands.

·          "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Israel’s problem had not been one of understanding, but an unwillingness to understand, as God had often explained through the Prophets:

·          “And they [Israel] come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.” (Ezekiel 33:31-32)

“Christian” evolutionists (CEs) steal the Bible in a different way. They dismiss Genesis 1-11 as unhistorical, claiming that it is merely a spiritual allegory. Not only does this degrade these chapters, it also demeans the rest of the Bible that depends on them. For example, Peter’s argument for the final judgment of God depends upon the historicity of these chapters:

·          For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly…if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (2 Peter 2:4-9)

If these chapters do not teach the God had actually judged in the past, there is no reason to believe that He will judge in the future. Dismissing the obvious – that the Bible teaches history, even in Genesis 1-11 – means that we cannot be certain about anything that the Bible is teaching. In effect, it steals the Bible.

Cult leaders often claim that they have received supernatural revelations necessary to unlock the mysteries of Scripture. Emanuel Swedenborg, Church of the New Jerusalem, elevated himself in this way:

·       “Lest, therefore, such a spirit of denial, which especially prevails with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been granted to me to associate with angels and to talk with them as man with man, also to see what is in the heavens and what is in the hells, and this for thirteen years.” (Sire, 112).

Should we even begin to consider such a claim? No! Instead, Scripture warns us that everything must be established by 2-3 witnesses (Deut. 19:15). It also instructs us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Bereans were praised because they didn’t initially believe what Paul had preached but checked everything out against Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Even Jesus warned us to not believe Him without corroborating evidences (John 5:31) but then cited the many reasons why we should believe in Him. Therefore, if anyone asks us to trust in their revelation apart from conforming evidences, they are going against Scripture.

However, this is the very thing that cult leaders have routinely asked us to do. Mary Baker Eddy wrote:

·       “In the year of 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love [her trinity], and named my discovery Christian Science. God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing…I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration.” “In following these leading, the Bible was my only textbook. Scriptures were illuminated; reason and revelation were reconciled, and afterwards the truth of Christian Science was demonstrated.” (Sire, 114)

Eddy turned Scripture upside-down, denying even the reality of sin. However, we shouldn’t be surprised that the presence of so many false prophets. Scripture has often warned us about them:

·       For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

Even miracles are not enough to certify that a prophet has a message from God. It had to completely accord with God’s revelation:

·       “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

Sun Myung Moon has asked us to believe that he is the savior from God. While he makes use of the Bible, he has perverted it for his own purposes:

·       “The Bible is not the truth itself but a textbook teaching us the truth.” [What is needed] “is a new truth that can elucidate the fundamental contents of the Bible so clearly that everyone can recognize and agree with it.” “This new truth has already appeared. With the fullness of time, God sent His messenger to resolve the fundamental questions of life and the universe. His name is Sun Myung Moon. For many decades, he wandered in a vast spiritual world in search of the ultimate truth…He came in contact with many saints in Paradise and with Jesus, and thus brought into light all the heavenly secrets through his communication with God.” (Divine Principle, Sire, 117)

In order to come to the Word of God, we must come through Moon. However, for someone to make such claims, they not only have to demonstrate Scriptural support, but they also have to prove themselves through prophesying:

·       But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'-- when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deut. 18:20-22)

The false teacher robs us of a direct relationship with God by putting himself in the place of God and His Word. Instead of being a shepherd who leads His flock to the waters of the Word, the false teacher leads his sheep to his own waters and his own glory.





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

THE YOUNG SEEKER-SENSITIVE CHURCH





We attended one this past Sunday. It is theologically conservative but politically progressive. Wanting to attend their group on racial reconciliation, I read their required reading. Alarmed by it, I sent a letter off to the organizer:

“Thanks so much for your warm greeting and invitation to join your group.

I quickly read the required reading by Tom Airey and was very troubled by it. First of all, he wrote:

·       Before good news is proclaimed, root causes must be named in the midst of this opportunity-for-some-and-devastation-for-many situation. http://www.anabaptistwitness.org/journal_entry/a-theology-of-mission-for-colonized-gentrifying-spaces/

This advice is not only non-scriptural, it is against the teachings of the NT. When Paul was surveying the gloomy prospects of the end times, he counseled Timothy to keep the Gospel central:

·       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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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, (2 Timothy 4:1-3)

Airey then wrote:

·       Detroit was colonized and then abandoned by white, mostly “Christian,” settlers, backed by a church that has overwhelmingly justified the project.

I cannot agree at all with his assessment of the problems. Besides, he terms capitalism “history’s most destructive economy.” However, Detroit is a fairy tale compared to the experience of communism and the Leftist solutions he wants to implement, the very same solutions that had brought Detroit down after decades of Democrat rule.

Airey seems to merely be echoing the same failed racial reconciliation strategies that have resulted in increased racial polarization and antagonism:

·       To “save Detroit,” white Christians ought to set themselves to the task of saving themselves by listening to the plight of the poor, researching the political and economic roots of these devastating issues, and then creatively naming them.

How can we creatively name the problems when we disagree about them? Therefore, this becomes a formula for upheaval and not reconciliation.

Besides, his solution is not Biblical. A Biblical solution demands that we treat our brethren as equals. There are no good guys and bad guys, just sinners who have been saved by grace. No one should be required, especially by skin color, to take a subservient seat to be instructed by others. This is guilt-by-color, reverse racism. Instead, where criminal acts have occurred, the perpetrators should be brought to justice irrespective of color:

·       What Detroit desperately needs is what is needed all over the globe: a theology and practice of mission that organizes resistance and alternatives to, rather than reproducing, the crises of “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

We cannot combat racism with more racism or with the failed strategies of “resistance” and intimidation. Instead, we have to combat the divisions with love. We all must listen, learn, and devote ourselves to each other in love. If we really trust our Lord, we must clothe ourselves with His Gospel and not the ways of the world.

It sounds like these meetings involve teaching and not discussion. As you can see, even though we share the same goal of Christian oneness, we have different methods. I would still be willing to attend if I had an outlet to express my concerns, but not for the purpose of reeducation and radical intervention.

If this is the case, please count me out.

Sincerely,

Your Brother in Christ, Daniel”

AN UPDATED JESUS AND A MARKETABLE GOSPEL





It is possible to "update" Jesus for modern consumers by leaving out some of the offensive aspects of the Gospel. In a December 2016 NYT editorial, "Humanizing Jesus," Peter Wehner wrote:

·       Indeed, one of the indictments of him by the religious authorities of his day was that he was a “friend of sinners.” Jesus’ love was “undiscriminating and inclusive,” according to the writer Garry Wills, “not gradated and exclusive.” He spent most of his time with those who were forsaken, poor, powerless and considered unclean. In a patriarchal society, Jesus gave women an honored place. He not only associated with them, but they were among his disciples, the object of his public praise, the first people he spoke to after his resurrection.

Indeed, God does love the entire world, all of His creation and is willing to receive any who come to Him. However, Wehmer has left out a key and understandably offensive element – repentance and confession of sin:

·       There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5; ESV)

Teachings on the need to repent of our sins makes Jesus less than appealing to a modern audience, but it does fill churches and opens doors to the NYT and other progressive outlets.

Jesus teachings are even more offensive. He taught that many would not find the way to salvation, even those who claimed to have been His followers:

·       “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few…Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7: 13-14, 21-23)

However, modernity has no taste for such judgmental teachings. Therefore, many churches choose to ignore them.

Modernity doesn’t like rules either. It prefers undemanding relationships, which we can leave at will. And Wehmer seems to understand his market, the spiritual consumer:

·       While he certainly argued for the importance of righteousness, Jesus was far less concerned about rules than he was about relationships and reconciliation — with one another and with God. For some of us, Christmas is a reminder that while moral rules can be issued on stone tablets, grace and redemption are finally and fully found in a story of love, when the divine became human.

While I would agree with Wehmer that relationship must precede rules, according to Jesus, relationship contains its own set of rules. Consequently, we cannot live in any manner that we choose:

·       Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

·       Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)

Yet many will protest:

·       Presenting such a demanding Gospel will just drive people out of our churches.

This is possible. However, thinking pragmatically, it is also possible that the Church has been harvesting the wrong fish, to its great detriment.

However, the first great commandment is even more important than these pragmatic assessments of cost/benefit:

·       And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

What does it mean to love God? It means to uphold His Word. On the basis of this, Paul declared Himself innocent before God:

·       “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)

While pragmatic considerations are important, they must never be allowed to elevate themselves above Scripture. Instead, they must serve the Word of God. Anything less is a failure to love God.

(I will not try to submit this to the NYT. I know better.)

SUBJECTIVIZING THE BIBLE: PROGRESSIVES WANT BIBLICAL UNCERTAINTY





One progressive Facebooker posted this assertion:

·       "Nobody believes the Bible. Not you. Not me. What you believe is your interpretation of the Bible.  While you may insist the Bible is inspired, Your interpretation is not. A befitting Christian disposition about this is to handle your interpretation humbly  --  and to allow space for the interpretation of others.” (Keith Killough)

What does it mean “to handle your interpretation humbly?” Since it is not the Bible we are embracing, but just our personal interpretation, we can’t be too confident or assertive about it. Instead, we have to give equal “space for the interpretation of others.” And since it’s all just a matter of interpretation, we can’t claim that our interpretation is any better than the next guy’s.

Why is it just interpretation and not a matter of the teachings of Scripture? Because, according to the progressives, there exists an impassable chasm between the Bible and our interpretations. The two are so entirely separated that a bridge cannot connect the two. This leaves us in a state of uncertainty and an unbiblical “humility.”

While humility is a great virtue, the progressive “humility” condemns us to not knowing. This uncertainly demeans the Scriptures and everything that it teaches. It makes teachers, sermons, commentaries, accountability, and any kind of learning irrelevant. Why? Because of the impassable chasm between the text and our futile attempts to grasp it!

Let me try to contrast this extreme position with true wisdom and understanding (about anything). Wisdom recognizes that understanding comes slowly and that we can learn from teachers and studies. We can avail ourselves to the evidences, pro and con. Wisdom doesn’t damn learning, but points to the fact that it can be difficult, but also, that it is possible for the inquiring mind to more closely approximate the object of study.

Yes, it can be argued that everything is a matter of interpretation, a very complicated involvement of neurons, gray matter, and electrochemical reactions. However, we must not equate interpretation with uncertainty.

While some subjects and questions lie in the netherworld of uncertainty, others do not. Although, I have to interpret the hands of the clock, there is no uncertainty in my mind that it is now 8:00 AM. Also, there is no uncertainty that a 50 MPH speed limit sign means just that. It is not a suggestion or an artistic expression but a statement of a legal requirement.

The Bible agrees in a thousand different ways that interpretation can accurately embrace its truths. It claims, by virtue of the evidence (Romans 1:18-20), that we are “without excuse” when we reject God. It asserts that we can have confidence and assurance about the teachings of the Bible (Colossians 2:1-4; Hebrews 10:19-23). We can have such a high degree of confidence in its teachings that we can hold others to account both legally (Romans 13:1-5) and ecclesiastically (Matthew 18:15-20). The Bible insists that we can bridge the chasm between the real world (including the Bible) and our subjective interpretations:

·       And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:19-20)

However, our progressive culture feels more comfortable in a world of Biblical uncertainly. Uncertainty silences the Biblical voice and any judgment it might proclaim upon them.