Friday, November 29, 2013

Pope Francis and his Failure to Expose Islamic Atrocities

For most politicians, truth is a commodity – twisted and manipulated for personal benefit. However, it shouldn’t be this way for a Christian. A recent Papal Proclamation brings this to mind:

  • "Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful On the Proclamation of the Gospel In Today's World," from, November 24:

  • 253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

While there isn’t anything controversial about extending Christian love to those who hate us, it is another thing to claim that “for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” and that those who deny this are spreading “hateful generalizations.”

This is blatantly untrue. Here are just a few Koranic verses that should easily dispel this claim:

  • Then kill the Mushrikun [Polytheists and Trinitarians] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for then each and every ambush. But if they repent and offer prayers perfectly and give Zakat, then leave their way free. (9:5)

  • Fight against those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (9:29)

  • They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back [from Islam], then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper. (4.89)

And here’s what Muslims say about the Koranic teachings:

  • "If we follow the rules of interpretation developed from the classical “science of Koranic interpretation, it is not possible to condemn terrorism in religious terms. It remains completely true to the classical rules in its evolution of sanctity for its own justification. This is where the secret of its theological strength lies." -- Egyptian scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

  • "Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion." -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 defendants

  • "Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Koran extols Muslims to wage jihad. We only fulfil God's orders. Only jihad can bring peace to the world." -- Taliban terrorist Baitullah Mehsud

  • "Jihad, holy fighting in Allah's course, with full force of numbers and weaponry, is given the utmost importance in Islam....By jihad, Islam is established....By abandoning jihad, may Allah protect us from that, Islam is destroyed, and Muslims go into inferior position, their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligation and duty in Islam on every Muslim." -- Times Square car bomb terrorist Faisal Shahzad

Evidently, Pope Francis feels that he is justified in making such a blatantly incorrect statement in hope that he can secure better treatment for Catholics from their Muslim persecutors. It is almost like telling a rape victim not to scream out, lest her rapist might treat her even worse. It is like Pope Pius XII, who refused to speak out against the Holocaust. In both cases, a naïve, baseless hope was substituted for the needful - exposing the evil, enforcing justice, and direct intervention.

However, even if by some chance the Pope’s over-the-top flattery does offer some immediate relief for persecuted Catholics, is flattery at all justified before God? Not according the Bible:

  • Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. (Proverbs 28:23)

  • A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

“A flattering mouth works ruin” to the many millions who have lived under Islamic oppression for centuries and also the Muslims who hope for reform with the help of the Western powers, which might highlight this oppression. Besides, this is a question of justice – something central to God’s heart:

  • Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. (Proverbs 24:24)

Although deception might be a useful and even justified war-time strategy – think of Rehab or lying to Nazis about hiding Jews – it is not justified in other circumstances:

·         Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph. 4:25, 29)

One might argue that this passage doesn’t apply, since Pope Francis is merely talking to Islam. However, his words are heard by the entire Christian world! Instead of alerting people to the very obvious dangers of Islam, even for Muslims, he has made a monumental contribution to the conspiracy of silence. Rather, the Christian must be entirely committed to truth:

·         Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor. 4:2)

If a Christian leader distorts the truth in one circumstance, how can he be trusted to not distort it in other circumstances? Paul understood that if they resorted to deception in one instance, they could not “commend [themselves] to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” When trust is broken, so too is influence! Even the Muslim can see through the Pope’s pitiful ruse. In their eyes, he has become just another politician, however likeable.

We are not free to convert truth into a tool. It is central to our lives of worship and to the heart of our God. Jesus explained what is central to His Father in a conversation with a Samaritan woman:

  • “True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

What we do with our mouths is also worship and is of over-riding concern to God. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Apostles, Peter insisted that they had also lied to God (Acts 5:4, 9). Our lies are not merely private or even interpersonal matters. They are transacted before God Himself.

Instead, now is time to cry out against Islam and to expose the genocide that they are conducting against Christians in so many of their countries. Scholar and writer, Raymond Ibrahim, is helping to expose the extent of this carnage:

  • From one end of the Muslim world to another, Christians are suffering under the return of Sharia…Whenever Muslims are in power or getting more power, churches are outlawed, burned or bombed, while Bibles and crucifixes are confiscated and destroyed. Freedom of speech – to speak positively of Christianity or critically of Islam – is denied, often on pain of death…Christian women and children are routinely abducted, raped, and forced to convert to Islam. (Crucified Again, 8)

Now is the time for all of us to cry out, not only in prayer, but also in words and deeds. It is a time for our leaders to prick the conscience of the world for their complicity, through silence, to the genocide. It is a time to shame Islam in the United Nations, in the media and in the universities by exposing their deeds, refusing them a voice at the table until they address the atrocities of their nations. It is a time for people of conscience to speak up and to not enable the horrors that the persecuted are silently enduring.

The Pope is the most influential voice in all Christendom. If he refuses to strenuously raise his voice for the persecuted, why then should any Catholic! If instead, his judgment prevails – that those who do speak up are making “hateful generalizations” – then what hope do we have of any change? And what hope do the persecuted have under this mantel of denial? The same hope that the Jews had after the silence of Pius XII!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Evolution and the Continuing Saga of Silencing any Opposition

Can we trust the “findings” and the proclamations of the scientific community? Not if it is dominated by fear and repression! Here is a good example of what happened to a scientist who published findings that didn’t agree with the party line:

  • Soft unfossilized tissue continues to be found in a wide variety of fossilized dinosaur remains. One of the latest is a stretchy film membrane containing unfossilized osteocytes (bone cells) found inside a triceratops horn in 2012. The paper reporting this find was published in a peer reviewed journal called Science Direct, Volume 115, Issue 6, July 2013, pages 603-608. These unfossilized tissues are made of fragile protein molecules which under the best conditions…have total degeneration projected at less than 30,000 years. (Bruce Malone, Search for the Truth, Vol.6, Number 4, Fall 2013)

Of course, such a finding calls into question the orthodoxy of the evolutionary establishment, requiring a re-dating of both the dinosaur and the rock level – millions of years old, according to this orthodoxy.

We might hope that the establishment would welcome these multiple finds, however unorthodox they might be, and re-adjust their theory accordingly. Instead,

  • [Mark] Armitage [California State University] was fired from his job within days of his paper being published…This was in spite of years of stellar performance and excellent reviews setting up and running the university’s microscopy lab.

How then can a rational person trust the establishment’s pro-evolution pronouncements? On the one hand, these elites control hiring and firing to such an extent that only their (unnaturally) selected few can make authoritative pronouncements. On the other, they receive all of the research money. Result – scientific monopolies might produce convincing propaganda, but they don’t make for good and trustworthy science.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Islam and its Enabling West

Islam’s agenda is world domination, but why are the Western elites enabling them? In his “must-read” book, Raymond Ibrahim explains:

  • Christian persecution is perhaps the most obvious example of a phenomenon the mainstream media wants to ignore out of existence – Islamic supremacism. Vastly outnumbered and politically marginalized, Christians in the Islamic world simply wish to worship in peace, and yet they still are hounded and attacked; their churches are burned and destroyed; their children are kidnapped, raped, and enslaved…they must be subjugated, according to Sharia’s position for all others, for all infidels…If the mainstream media were to report honestly on the persecution of Christians under Islam, the obvious implications that Islam is dangerously hostile to all non-Muslims would be inescapable. Hence, journalists develop an instinct – or make a deliberate choice – to ignore or minimize these uncomfortable facts. (Crucified Again, 232)

Some horrific stories are merely ignored or denied, like Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti’s statement that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches” in the Arabian Peninsula (223). Islamic acts of genocide are often described as “sectarian strife” (227).

What then is the agenda – the cultural bias – of the Western media? The liberal bias that we can all live peacefully together under secularism! Ibrahim’s book is partially an expose’ of this faulty, insupportable narrative:

  • The abuse of Christians where Muslims are in power has the capacity to completely undermine the liberal narrative that has dominated politics for decades. Muslim violence in Europe or against Israel poses no challenge to that narrative: in both cases, Muslims are seen as the underdogs, who may be sympathized with no matter how much they lash out. They may be screaming and rioting, firing rockets, and destroying property – all while calling for the death and destruction of the “infidel” West or Israel’s Jews to cries of “Allahu Akbar!” Still the bloodlust can be portrayed as a natural byproduct of the frustration Muslims feel as an oppressed minority, “rightfully” angry with the “colonial” West and its Israeli proxy.

Sadly, many well-meaning Christians are reluctantly complying with the liberal narrative in hope of not stirring up more genocidal attacks. Robert McManus, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, stated on February 8, 2013:

  • "Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims."

However, this is reminiscent of the Pope’s misguided Concordant with Hitler. He had been ignorant of Hitler’s ultimate plans and thought that he could placate the idealistic Hitler. However, there is no placating the designs for world domination, especially when it is fueled by a racism or chauvinism that regards the infidel as worthy of death. This is something that liberalism refuses to see, as Ibrahim points out in many areas:

  • As far as former U.S. president Bill Clinton is concerned, “inequality” and “poverty” are “what’s fueling all this stuff” – a reference to Boko Haram’s jihad to enforce Sharia and eliminate Christians. Clinton further called on Nigerians to “embrace the similarities,” adding, “It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence” – apparently a suggestion that Nigeria’s government not retaliate with any severity in response to Boko Haram’s mass murderers. (241)

Denial is not a good way to deal with reality. Denial had been the solution of Neville Chamberlain. Fortunately, there was also a Churchill!

My Response to Emergent Church Guru, Tony Jones


I think we have to choose our battles carefully and not confront every expression of hypocrisy. However, some are so egregious that they must be addressed for the good and unity of the church – something you say you care about. However, you charged:

  • Those who continue misogynistic [women hating] practices [by maintaining any role distinctions] in the church are not being faithful to the Bible or the Spirit of Christ, they are perpetuating retrograde and archaic beliefs and are doing great violence to women and men and the cause of Christ.

Indeed, Scripture teaches much about the essential equality of male and female (Gen. 1:26-27; Gal. 3:28) and the mutuality of husband and wife (1 Cor. 7:1-10; Eph. 5:22-30). However, your insinuation that the church is “not being faithful to the Bible or the Spirit of Christ” in terms of maintaining role distinctions is Scripturally insupportable. Here are some verses you might consider:

  • 1 Cor. 11:3 I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (Note that even though Christ subordinates Himself to the Father, this doesn’t imply any inferiority. Likewise, the wife subordinating herself to her husband is in no way demeaning. In fact, the greatest shall be least!)

  • 1 Tim. 2:11-14: A woman should learn in quietness [of spirit] and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (Note that this role distinction was not relative to the churches of Paul’s day but to the creation order and the Fall! Also 1 Cor. 14:34-38)

Jesus Himself appointed no women among His 12! Will you also charge Jesus with misogyny?

Is the Bible’s teaching on role distinctions injurious to women as you charge? I don’t think so! Instead, it dignifies them (1 Peter 3:7). If you choose to disagree and claim that there must not be any role distinctions among people – child/parent, subordinate/supervisor – that all role-distinctions are demeaning, then you must prove this!

You claim to be concerned about Scripture, but you show no respect for it. You claim to be concerned about the welfare of the church, but you consistently tear down the “Bride of Christ” with your charges.

Monday, November 18, 2013

John Sanford and the Utter Failure of the Theory of Evolution

Plant geneticist Dr John Sanford, research scientist at Cornell University, co-inventor of the gene gun, and author of Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, had been a true believer:

  • I was totally sold on evolution. It was my religion; it defined how I saw everything, it was my value system and my reason for being. Later, I came to believe in God…I would not say that science led me to the Lord (which is the experience of some). Rather I would say Jesus opened my eyes to His creation—I was blind, and gradually I could see.
  • On a personal level this was a time of spiritual awakening, but professionally I remained “in the closet”…So I felt the need to take temporary leave from academia and institutional science because of the tension I felt in this regard, and the enormous potential hostility I sensed from my academic colleagues. I think the academic environment is very hostile to the very idea of a living and active God, making it almost impossible for a genuine Christian to feel open or welcome.
Eventually, Sanford’s new-found faith led him to re-examine the “evidential foundation” for the theory of evolution, and found that it was virtually non-existant:

  • Institutional science has systematically “evolutionized” every aspect of human thought. Contrary to popular thinking, this is not because evolution is central to all human understanding, but rather has arisen due to a primarily political and ideological process. Consequently, in the present intellectual climate, to reject evolutionary theory has the appearance of rejecting science itself. This is totally upside down…We cannot really explain how any biological system might have “evolved”, but we can all see that virtually everything we look at has extraordinary underlying design.
  • I am not aware of any type of operational science (computer science, transportation, medicine, agriculture, engineering, etc.), which has benefited from evolutionary theory. But after the fact, real advances in science are systematically given an evolutionary spin. This reflects the pervasive politicization of science.’
He subsequently concluded that evolution into more complex forms is impossible. For one thing, mutations are the source of de-evolution (the corruption of the genome) and not evolution:

  • Mutations are word-processing errors in the cell’s instruction manual. Mutations systematically destroy genetic information—even as word processing errors destroy written information. While there are some rare beneficial mutations (even as there are rare beneficial misspellings), bad mutations outnumber them—perhaps by a million to one. So even allowing for beneficial mutations, the net effect of mutation is overwhelmingly deleterious. The more the mutations, the less the information. This is fundamental to the mutation process.’
Sanford also concluded that natural selection does little to slow the de-evolution process:

  • Very rarely a beneficial mutation arises that has enough effect to be selected for—resulting in some adaptive variation, or some degree of fine-tuning. This also helps slow degeneration. But selection only eliminates a very small fraction of the bad mutations. The overwhelming majority of bad mutations accumulate relentlessly, being much too subtle—of too small an effect—to significantly affect their persistence. On the flip side, almost all beneficials (to the extent they occur) are immune to the selective process—because they invariably cause only tiny increases in biological functionality.
  • So most beneficials drift out of the population and are lost—even in the presence of intense selection. This raises the question—since most information-bearing nucleotides [DNA ‘letters’] make an infinitesimally small contribution to the genome—how did they get there, and how do they stay there through “deep time”? Selection slows mutational degeneration, but does not even begin to actually stop it. So even with intense selection, evolution is going the wrong way—toward extinction!’
Sanford concludes that:

  • The bottom line is that Darwinian theory fails on every level. It fails because: 1) mutations arise faster than selection can eliminate them; 2) mutations are overwhelmingly too subtle to be “selectable”; 3) “biological noise” and “survival of the luckiest” overwhelm selection; 4) bad mutations are physically linked to good mutations, so that they cannot be separated in inheritance (to get rid of the bad and keep the good). The result is that all higher genomes must clearly degenerate. This is exactly what we would expect in light of Scripture—with the Fall—and is consistent with the declining life expectancies after the Flood that the Bible records.
Sanford is not alone. Many evolutionists share Sanford’s assertions about the problems with evolution. All the following quotations are taken from John Lennox’s masterful book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God:

  • “There is no theoretical reason that would permit us to expect that evolutionary lines would increase in complexity with time; there is also no empirical evidence that this happens.” (John Maynard Smith, E. Szathmary)
  • “In the whole experimentally accessible domain of microevolution (including research in artificial breeding and in species formation), all variations have certainly remained within the confines of basic types [species, more or less].” (Siegfried Scherer)
  • Cell biologist E.J. Ambrose of the University of London argued that it is unlikely that fewer than five genes could ever be involved in the formation of even the simplest new structure, previously unknown in the organism. He then points out that only one in 1,000 mutations is non-deleterious, so that the chance of five non-deleterious mutations occurring is 1 in a million billion replications. [This means that every organism will probably die before it adds a new organ!]
Nor is there any experimental evidence to counter-balance these assessments:

  • In his book, Grasse observed that fruit flies remain fruit flies in spite of thousands of generations that have been bred and all the mutations that have been induced in them…More recent work on the E. coli bacterium backs this up. In this research no real innovative changes were observed through 25,000 generations of E. coli bacterium. (Lennox, 108)
Lennox also informs us that the fossil record, citing many evolutionists, “gives no good examples of macroevolution.” Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the design hypothesis!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What is Shariah Law – the “Way of Islam?”

A group calling itself Defending Religious Freedom published a pamphlet for Western consumption entitled Understanding Shariah:

  • Shariah preserves basic human rights in order to maintain harmony in society.
    This necessary protection applies to all members of society, irrespective of their race, religion, or ethnicity. These rights are classified as faith, life, progeny, property, and intellect. These fundamental protections ensure freedom of religion, affirm the sanctity of life, validate the importance of family, guarantee the security of assets, and uphold the power of reasoning. (
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But is it truthful or just another Islamic attempt to deceive the infidel?

Steven Emerson, director of the award winning documentary Jihad in America, writes:

  • If you want to know what’s really happening in the Muslim world, there’s one man to turn to: Raymond Ibrahim… Crucified Again is a stunning and revelatory book that should be in the hands of every congressman ... and every reader who cares about Islamist aggression, human rights, and the survival of Christians in the Holy Land and elsewhere.
Ibrahim writes about The Conditions of Omar – and this is almost inseparable from Shariah – in as far as it governs Christian worship under Shariah. “Conquered Christians had to agree to”:

  • “Not build a church in our city – nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas – and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters;
  • Not to prevent Muslims from lodging in our churches, by day or night, and to keep their doors wide open for [Muslim] passerby and travelers;
  • Not to harbor in them [churches and monasteries] or our homes a spy, nor conceal any deceits from Muslims;
  • Not to clang on cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches;
  • Not to display a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims;
  • Not to congregate in the open for Easter or Palm Sunday, nor lift our voices for our dead nor show our firelights with them in the market places of the Muslims.” (31-32)
Elsewhere, Ibrahim lists other requirements of The Conditions of Omar:

  • “Not to display any signs of polytheism [Jesus as God] nor make our [Christian] religion appealing, nor call or proselytize anyone to it; 
  • Not to prevent any of our relatives who wish to enter into Islam;
  • Not to speak like them [Muslims], nor adopt their surnames;
  • To honor the Muslims, show them the way, rise up from our seats if they wish to sit down;
  • None of us shall do business with Muslims unless the Muslim commands it;
  • To host every traveling Muslim for three days and feed him adequately;
  • We guarantee all this to you … and if we change or contradict these conditions imposed upon ourselves  … we become liable to the same treatment you inflict upon the people who resist and cause sedition [death].” (26-27)
Ibrahim demonstrates that these Conditions strongly reflect the teachings of the Koran and also Ibn Kathir’s interpretation of Surah 9:29:

  • Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the dhimmis [the unbelievers who live under Shariah] or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced, and humiliated. Sahih Muslim [a canonical Hadith collection] recorded from Abu Hurraira that the Prophet said, “Do not initiate the Salam [peace greeting] to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in the road, force them into the narrowest alley.” This is why the Leader of the Faithful [Omar] … demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace. (23) 
Surveys show that the vast majority of Muslims want to impose Shariah, although perhaps not every stipulation of The Conditions. Ibrahim argues that these Conditions are still very much a part of Islamic thinking. He cites the sermon of Saudi Sheikh Salem al-Ghamdi to prove this. Ibrahim also cited the forward to a paper written Sheikh Ismail, written by Saudi Arabia’s former Grand Mufti:

  • It is forbidden to build churches in Islamic lands; that it is obligatory to demolish them if they are built; and that building them in the Arabian Peninsula … is the greatest sin and offense. For the Prophet, followed by his Companions, ordered the expulsion of all Jews, Christians, and idolaters from the Arabian Peninsula, and forbade other religions from being practiced. (34)
Ibrahim writes:

  • When it comes to churches, Islamic history is a testimony to Islamic doctrine … According to one medieval Muslim historian, over the two-year course of a particularly ruthless Christian persecution campaign, some 30,000 churches were burned or pillaged in Egypt and Syria alone.
How then should we regard the pamphlet, Understanding Shariah, published for Western eyes? The West needs to promptly get acquainted with the doctrine of Taqiyya, which authorizes Muslims to deceive the infidel in order to promote Islam. Ibrahim can be of great help in this regards!

Mysticism, Tony Campolo, and the Hope of World Unity

Many in the Western church are choosing experience over truth. Mysticism is now touted as the means to directly experience God, without our “divisive” doctrines, and as the hope of finding common ground among the various religions, through shared mystical experiences.  In this regards, sociologist, Tony Campolo, writes:

  • A theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God…I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism. (Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, 108)
According to Campolo, we can plug into God through mystical techniques and experiences. He claims that he has been able to achieve “intimacy with Christ” through “centering prayer” (113) – for him, the repetition of the name of Jesus. However, he suggests that Muslims – and probably others – may also be able to achieve this same “intimacy with Christ” through the use of similar mystical techniques.

This raises several questions: “What is an ‘ecstatic union with God?’” The Bible makes no mention of such a thing. The Biblical silence is suspicious, especially in light of the fact that Scripture claims to provide everything that we need for a relationship with God:

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
If mysticism is the means for world unity and peace, we should expect that Scripture would say something about this!

If anyone had experienced an “ecstatic union with God,” it was Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. However, instead of teaching His disciples about how to have an “ecstatic union with God,” He instructed them to not tell anyone about what they had seen (Matt. 17:11). If there ever had been a teachable moment to introduce mystical methods, it was then!

Moses also had a fantastic mountain-top experience, through which his countenance was transformed. However, instead of telling the Israelites about how they too could experience God, he related to them God’s words (Exodus 34:29-34). Rather than focusing upon having an experience, Moses placed the emphasis upon the Word of God.

Campolo fails to recognize that there is a steep price to be paid for genuine experiences or revelations from God. God had taken Paul on a journey to heaven. However, lest he become proud about what he had learned and experienced, God chastened him severely (2 Cor, 12:1-10)!

However, it is important to realize that each one of these transformative experiences had been the product of God’s initiative and not human manipulations. In fact, the idea that we humans can coerce an “ecstatic union with God” is sheer arrogance.

At a low point in his ministry, Moses did request a divine revelation: “Show me your glory” (Exod. 33:18). However, God delivered in the form of doctrinal content rather than an ecstatic experience. He placed Moses in “the cleft of a rock,” while “His glory passed by” (33:22) and He honored him with His Self-disclosure (33:19).

But do we really encounter God through mystical techniques, and what assurance do we have that we aren’t really plugging into something malevolent? The mystic:

  • Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand – something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.” (Roger Oakland, 99)
Foster is presumptuous if he thinks that just a “prayer of protection” will suffice.  In view of these spiritual threats, he should be asking if he has taken the wrong path, an unbiblical one, one that has taken him outside of the parameter of God’s protective hand! In view of the fact that the Devil poses as an agent of the light (2 Cor. 11:14), what guarantee does Foster have that he hasn’t been deceived?

This leads us to the next question: “Can people of other religions employ mystical techniques to experience God?” For one thing, God is the last Person that the unredeemed wants to experience. Naturally speaking, we hate God (Rom. 8:8:6-7) and can’t stand His presence:

  • This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
Even the children of Israel couldn’t tolerate His presence:

  • When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)
The last thing they wanted was a more intimate encounter! Surprisingly, God was pleased that Israel had this awareness and, therefore, wouldn’t try to pursue a mystical union with Him. Without what Jesus had accomplished on the cross, He too didn’t want to be in Israel’s presence. He explained that He might destroy them if He came into their presence:

  • I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” Exodus 33:2- 3 
Campolo suggests that the Muslims might also be experiencing God, apart from faith in Christ. However, if they were to experience God, they would be experiencing His wrath:

  • The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (Romans 1:18)
It is only through faith in Jesus that we have been redeemed from the wrath of God: It is only through Him that we can enter boldly into His presence:

  • Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Mysticism would not be quite so offensive if it only claimed to influence our personal experience. However, it also claims to influence God! Campolo writes:

  • The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.” The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein the separation between the self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelope the soul. (114)
Campolo claims that “constant repetition … to create…the thin place” out of a thick separation between he and God, enables his less-than-omnipotent god “to break through and envelope the soul.” In essence, Campolo has become the prime agent of reconciliation!

However, Scripture assures us that God already lives within us to such an extent that we can confidently say:

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)
Mysticism preaches a different Christ, One who is not omnipotent and cannot break through to us without our mindless repetitions or other techniques. Jesus even warned us against this practice:

  • And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7)
Repetitions might make us feel connected, but they have nothing to do with our relationship with our Savior! Instead, God wants truth, not repetitions, in our inmost being (Psalm 51:6). This truth should entail contrition and repentance and not ecstatic union!

Perhaps most troubling of all, Campolo claims that, through his “centering prayer,” he is the one who has removed or thinned the separating barrier between him and God. However, God claims that this is a barrier that He has eliminated through the cross, renting the separating temple veil in two! Of course, this is not to deny that we do erect barriers through our sins. However, we address such barriers through confession and repentance and not mystical practices!

In general, the mystics teach a different Christ, a Christ who is not so much concerned about truth, faith, doctrine, righteousness, repentance, obedience, and holiness as He is about learning techniques – repetitions, centering prayer, imaginations, visualizations and practicing silence. These are practices that find absolutely no biblical support.

Nevertheless, experience is essential to the Christian life. However, we enjoy this experience through the blessings of learning about our Lord (2 Peter 1:2-3; 1 Cor. 3:18; Jer. 9:23-24).

Our experience/feelings reflect what we understand! Having experienced decades of depression and self-loathing prior to coming to Christ, these tendencies had been deeply imprinted upon my flesh. They were so deep that I even felt that God loathed me. It seemed that God had created humanity for His own sadistic entertainment – plenty of laughs. However, one evening, He made very real for me the cross, His own suffering and compassion (Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 63:9). My tears of gratitude have not ceased flowing since!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Labyrinth and Post-Modern “Christianity”

Postmodernism has rejected doctrine in favor of experience, as Julie Sevig has written:

  • Post-moderns prefer to encounter Christ by using all their senses. That’s part of the appeal of classical liturgical or contemplative worship: the incense and candles, making the sign of the cross, the taste and smell of the bread and the wine, touching icons and being anointed with oil. (The Lutheran, “Ancient New,” Sept. 2001)
Are these really ways to “encounter Christ?” How do we know this? If so, why doesn’t the Bible specify these things? Are we even supposed to be seeking to “encounter Christ?” For many, these questions don’t even seem to matter. Instead, it’s a matter of the experience.

Meanwhile, the Christian faith suggests that if we “encounter” Christ, it is through His Word:

  • Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:2-3) 
Nevertheless, techniques, not Scripture knowledge, abound which purport to get us into contact with Christ. One of the many is the prayer labyrinth walk. Lauren Artress is credited with reviving this technique:

  • For her, the labyrinth s for the “transformation of human personality in progress” that can accomplish a “shift in consciousness as we seek spiritual maturity as a species”…She calls her discovery of the labyrinth…one of the “most astonishing events of my life.” For her, the labyrinth is a “spiritual tool meant to awaken us to the deep rhythm that unites us to ourselves and to the Light that calls from within.” (Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, 68)
If the labyrinth is essentials for the “transformation of human personality,” why isn’t it ever mentioned in Scripture? Instead, Paul has written that Scripture contains everything we need for spiritual growth:

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
To claim that the labyrinth is essential, is to add to Scripture! This is something that Scripture warns against:

  • I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22:18-19)
I don’t mean to pick on the labyrinth. There is certainly nothing wrong with walking in circles when you pray. (I even enjoy walking as I pray!) The problem with the labyrinth is not the labyrinth or even the action. Instead, as with the many other mystical techniques promising a “connection” with Christ, it is a matter of what we believe – where we place our faith.

To believe that the labyrinth as an essential part of the Christian life is to believe in a different God, one who cares more about learning various mystical techniques than what He specifies in His Word – righteousness, holiness, peace, faith, repentance and obedience.

In fact, nowhere in Scripture are such techniques specified. Instead, God warns against rituals, even those He specifies, when they are not accompanied by true piety:

·        Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence." (Jeremiah 14:11-12)

Jesus insisted that believers “must” worship God in truth (John 4:22-24)! Why? Any relationship must be founded on truth. If my wife discovered that I love her because she reminds me of my first fling, our relationship is doomed.

Instead, belief is foundational to experience. I used to feel that God condemned me. I was rescued by the truth that “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1). This enabled me to reject the feelings of condemnation and to love God.

They Hate Me!

No one likes to be hated. I don’t like being hated, but hatred comes as naturally as breathing. One typical Facebooker just wrote me:

  • Daniel, you are one of the worst people I have ever come across. You are a joke.
What horrible thing had I done that had elicited such a reaction? I defended traditional marriage! You might think, “People have differences of opinion all the time. You must have crossed the line!”

Not at all! Hating God and those who represent Him comes as certainly as Arctic ice. For one thing, we intuitively know that, if we haven’t received His mercy, we are condemned (Rom. 1:32; Rom. 2:14-15). The great reformer, Martin Luther, knew this in a very personal way. In his Commentary on the Book of Galatians, he wrote,

  • Although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would satisfy Him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather murmured against Him.
Luther had felt himself condemned by a God he could never be good enough to please. He therefore hated Him. However, unlike Luther, most try to deny Him or at least to construct a more user-friendly God – one who validates them. Alas, it never works! As hard as they try to convince themselves that they are worthy, deserving, and righteous, their conscience continues to indict them, as Paul wrote:

  • They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. (Romans 2:15)
Humanity can reject God, but they can’t escape their implanted conscience. It continues to cry, “guilt and condemnation.” What then to do? Suppress the indictment and promote self-righteousness through moral attainments! Nevertheless, the awareness of guilt, shame, and judgment remain. Therefore, this “awareness” must be hated and degraded, as Jesus explained:

  • “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Jesus is the light, and we are His light bearers. We, therefore, must be discredited, as He explained:

  • "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20)
Those who hate the light not only hate Christ and those who represent Him. They also hate the light within! They will not find peace, because they are at war with themselves.

What then is the answer? Receiving the peace that comes as a gift of Christ’s mercy:

  • "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Luther sought and eventually found that “rest”:

  • I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which, through grace and sheer mercy, God justifies [forgives] us through faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through the doors into paradise.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As Traditional Marriage Falters, so Do the Children

Katie Roiphe, professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, writes approvingly about the death of traditional marriage:

  • What would it mean to end the centuries-long American fixation on traditional family structures? Would we be able to look at families living outside of convention without as much judgment, as much toxic condescension?

  • If we woke up one morning and discovered that in America marriage was suddenly regarded as a choice, a way, a possibility, but not a definite and essential phase of life, think how many people would suddenly be living above board, think of the stress removed, the pressures lifted, the stigmas dissolving. Think how many people living unhappily would see their way to living less unhappily.

  • Whatever one thinks about the institution, the truth is that marriage is increasingly not the way Americans are living. If one goes strictly by the facts—that the majority of babies born to women under 30 are born to single mothers, or that about 51 percent of American adults are married—one has to admit that marriage can’t be taken for granted, assumed as a rite of passage, a towering symbol of our way of life. 

Roiphe might be right about these stats, but are they something to celebrate? Should the children born to unwed mothers be pleased that they represent a radical departure from what had long been considered the norm? Not according to the stats! In The Case for Marriage, Linda Waite & Maggie Gallagher assembled these findings:

  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “A large body of research shows that marriage is much less dangerous for women than cohabitors…1987-88 National Survey of Families and Households: married people are much less likely than cohabiting couples to say that arguments between them and their partners had become physical in the past year (4% of married people compared to 13% of the cohabiting).” (155) “Cohabiting women are 8 times as likely as to be unfaithful than married women.” (157)

  • CHILD ABUSE: “A preschooler living with one biological parent and one step-parent was forty times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with two natural parents.” (159).

Interestingly, many talk approvingly of the “wisdom” of cohabitation as a means to test future compatibility. The New Oxford Review also reports that,

  • “One in ten survives five or more years…The divorce rate among those who cohabit prior to marriage is nearly double (39% vs. 21%) that of couples who marry without prior cohabitation.”

  • “Men in cohabiting relationships are four times more likely to be unfaithful…Depression is three times more likely…The poverty rate among children of cohabiting couples is five-fold greater…and 90% more likely to have a low GPA…Abuse of children is 20 times higher in cohabiting biological-parent families; and 33 times higher when the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.”

  • “Cohabitation is bad for men, worse for women, and horrible for children. It is a deadly toxin to marriage, family, and culture.”

We have been led to believe that cohabitation provides a greater measure of protection for the spouse and for abused children. It is argued that the mother can more easily remove herself from an abusive situation if there isn’t a legally binding marriage. However, the statistics demonstrate the very opposite thing:

  • Spanish statistics, which have been highlighted in recent years by Europe’s Family Policy Institute (FPI), and recently reported by the Spanish Newspaper ABC, indicate that while only 11% of Spanish couples cohabit without marriage, such unions account for 58% of the most violent crimes between couples. For every one protection order issued for a married couple, ten are issued for cohabiting couples. (

Clearly, marriage is not an institution to be manipulated according to our tastes and desires. According to Jesus, it is a sacred union ordained by God:

  • "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)