In this new article over at Apprising Ministries I walk you through some reasons why we need to be concerned about this and reject the Alpha Course.
by Cameron Buettel and Jeremiah Johnson
In the final chapter of Strange Fire, titled “An Open Letter to My Continuationist Friends,” John MacArthur outlines several dangerous ramifications of the continuationist position. The first of those dangers is that “the continuationist position gives an illusion of legitimacy to the broader Charismatic Movement” (p. 234).
We recently saw why that warning was fitting when Dr. Michael Brown spent a week as a guest on Benny Hinn’s daily television program, This Is Your Day. Brown is a charismatic and is widely regarded as a first-rate apologist and Old Testament scholar. Hinn, of course, is a world-renowned charlatan who has conned untold millions of dollars from followers through his prosperity preaching and faith-healing ministry.
Brown has been one of the most vocal critics of the Strange Fire book and conference. His chief complaint is that John MacArthur and the other speakers at Strange Fire last October “painted with too broad a brush,” not always drawing a clear line of demarcation between the rank charismatic charlatans on TBN and more cautious charismatics like him. Now, just a few short weeks later, it seems incongruous that Brown would openly and unashamedly align himself with a noisome prosperity preacher and overtly avaricious swindler such as Hinn. But there you have it.
The topic of discussion on Hinn’s programs was how to find Christ in the Old Testament. Hinn exhibited all the decorum of a small child at a magic show as Brown worked book by book through the Old Testament, giving examples of appearances of Christ along with several instances of Messianic foreshadowing and typology. While Brown’s scholarship and recall were impressive, any lasting value was robbed by Hinn’s incessant interruptions. Hinn repeatedly reduced what could have been an enlightening, encouraging discussion of the gospel to a sideshow of theological novelties. In short, it was a fiasco.
Hinn’s television program reportedly has as many as twenty million viewers per day. Whether any of them came away from the Michael Brown episodes with any legitimate spiritual fruit is a mystery. What is certain is that a significant portion of that viewing audience sees no difference between Brown and Hinn. In fact, Brown’s obvious expertise only lent a false credibility to Hinn and the vaguely orthodox statements he made throughout the week. Brown’s guest appearances will also make it significantly harder for him to confront Hinn’s obvious abuses and heresies.
Rather than accepting Hinn’s flattery and defending his decision to share the stage with a notorious heretic, Brown ought to be using his influential position within the charismatic movement—including his nationally syndicated daily radio program—to call out false teachers like Benny Hinn.
But confronting theological error is scarce in Charismatic circles. While many within the movement readily acknowledge the presence of false prophecies, phony apostolic gifts, and heretical theology, there are very few who actually step up to confront those obvious errors. That passive stance contradicts repeated instructions in Scripture for pastors and church leaders to be on the lookout, ready to protect God’s sheep from spiritual wolves (Matthew 7:15-20; Acts 20:29-31; Romans 16:17-18; Titus 1:9).
Brown himself has dismissed the need for such confrontation, writing the following in one of his earliest criticisms of Strange Fire:
If a pastor is shepherding his flock and feeding them God’s Word and his people are not guilty of these abuses or watching these TV preachers, why is it his responsibility to address these errors?
Does Brown realize that his appearance on Benny Hinn’s show served as an overt encouragement to “his people” to tune in to one of the worst “TV preachers” of all time?
Sadly, Brown is not alone in his sentiments. Plenty of charismatics are incredulous at the thought that they have a responsibility to police their movement. Charismatic blogger Adrian Warnock tweeted his reaction during the Strange Fire conference: “If we researched & criticised all the crooks, cons, and cookies in the Charismatic Movement we’d have no time for anything else.”
Indeed. That’s the very point we are making. What Warnock and others like him fail to realize is that their argument is self-refuting and self-perpetuating. The overabundance of “crooks, cons, and cookies” in the charismatic movement is a direct result of the epic failure of charismatic leaders to warn about false teachers—blended with a truckload of doctrines, practices, and superstitions that undermine the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Sadly, by refusing to protect the sheep, Warnock is accommodating the wolves—making the charismatic movement an even more noxious breeding ground for error and confusion.
In fact, when it comes to outlandish faith healers and prophets, Warnock—like many leading charismatics—openly advocates what he calls the “Gamaliel approach.” Gamaliel was an unbelieving Pharisee who counseled his underlings to stop harassing the apostles of the early church and let time determine the validity of their ministry (Acts 5:33-39). Essentially, Warnock prefers the pharisaical response to apostolic teachers over the apostolic response to false teachers. It’s a wait-and-see attitude that allows charismatics to overlook the worst examples of unbiblical doctrine and practice in their movement without ever openly disavowing them.
That’s not what a true shepherd does.
On that point God’s Word is inescapably clear: The responsibility of the shepherd is to identify the wolves and protect the sheep. Embracing and executing that responsibility in wisdom, grace, and conviction is one of the distinguishing marks of a true shepherd. It indicates the difference between those who truly love the flock, and those who are mere hirelings (cf. Matthew 10:12-13).
Over the next several days, we’re going to examine some of the key passages in Scripture that describe the pastor’s protective role, and revisit some of John MacArthur’s landmark teaching on this vital aspect of spiritual leadership and pastoral ministry.
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140205
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BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fifth in a five-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on biblical counseling and depression. Few issues are more painful. God’s Word provides us with wisdom for addressing depression with compassion so we can care well and wisely. You can read Part One by Andy Farmer here, Part Two by Hayley Satrom here, Part Three by Bob Kellemen here, and Part Four by Paul Tautges here.
Depression and anxiety are sisters. They live together and talk to one another incessantly. They drive each other insane, but can’t live apart. It’s a match made in hell. All of us experience it to some degree. No one can escape it.
The experience of anxiety is complex and varies by degrees. It often expresses itself as a dull, aching sense that things are not going to work out well. The future is uncertain. Sometimes you may lose your appetite and can’t eat. You can’t get out of your own mind. The world is caving in on itself and you feel helpless and out of control. Anxiety can then bleed into depression. Feeling helpless can move towards feeling hopeless.
The experience of depression is equally complex and varies by degrees, as well. Everything feels hopeless. You feel stuck. Unlike anxiety, the future isn’t even on the radar. You don’t feel like doing anything. There is an absence of desire. You feel flat. Is there something you can eat or drink that will take the edge off? The weather, or time of year may contribute to your depression. It’s not worth living. Who cares? Then you start to care. You get up and move and have a fleeting emotion. Hope? No…Yes. Do something…then anxiety returns. What will, might, could happen? You don’t know. You are back to feeling anxious.
Statistics reveal that the highest prescribed medications are the ones designed to treat anxiety and depression. That should tell us something. This struggle is not unique and we all need help.
Some Beginning Words of Counsel…
The Genevan Reformer John Calvin said, “Preaching is the public exposition of Scripture by the man sent from God, in which God Himself is present in judgment and in grace.” Faithful pulpit ministry requires the declaration of both judgment and grace. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword that softens and hardens, comforts and afflicts, saves and damns.
The preaching of divine wrath serves as a black velvet backdrop that causes the diamond of God’s mercy to shine brighter than ten thousand suns. It is upon the dark canvas of divine wrath that the splendor of His saving grace most fully radiates. Preaching the wrath of God most brilliantly showcases His gracious mercy toward sinners.
Like trumpeters on the castle wall warning of coming disaster, preachers must proclaim the full counsel of God. Those who stand in pulpits must preach the whole body of truth in the Scriptures, which includes both sovereign wrath and supreme love. They cannot pick and choose what they want to preach. Addressing the wrath of God is never optional for a faithful preacher—it is a divine mandate.
Tragically, preaching that deals with God’s impending judgment is absent from many contemporary pulpits. Preachers have become apologetic regarding the wrath of God, if not altogether silent. In order to magnify the love of God, many argue, the preacher must downplay His wrath. But to omit God’s wrath is to obscure His amazing love. Strangely enough, it is merciless to withhold the declaration of divine vengeance.
Why is preaching divine wrath so necessary?
(Washington, D.C.) — “More Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible and it has more monthly users worldwide than most continents have people,” reports AP.
How about you? Social media can be fun and fascinating. But as 2014 begins, how much time are you investing in reading the Word of God and building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
- “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
- “Now these [Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica…
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And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor 4:3–6)
The long-awaited debate between Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham and atheist “science guy” Bill Nye finally took place yesterday evening, 4 February. Listening to the exchange, I could not help but think of the Scripture verses quoted above. Indeed, we may spend a proverbial billions of years arguing with an atheist evolutionist, but only God can renew his mind and save his soul. In the end, it is extremely unlikely that anyone who began viewing the debate on one side emerged at the end of it even vaguely questioning his own position. It is unfortunate, but ultimately it simply seemed not to be an overly persuasive 150 minutes for either side.
Have you ever mourned for America? All over this country, there are tens of millions of Americans that still deeply love the United States and that are deeply saddened by how far this nation has fallen. Recently, I posted an article comparing the America of the 1970s to the America of today, and it really struck a nerve. Those that grew up in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s remember how great life in America was back then, and large numbers of them are absolutely disgusted with what America has become today. We have abandoned our values and the principles that this nation was founded upon, and the consequences of doing this are manifesting in our society in thousands of different ways. The very foundations of our once great nation are rotting and decaying at a staggering rate, and the entire structure may soon collapse. Around the world, many will celebrate the downfall of America, but I will not. Like millions of other patriotic Americans, I still deeply love this nation and I mourn for what has (Read More…)
Did you see what just happened in Japan? The stock market of the 3rd largest economy on the planet is imploding. On Tuesday, the Nikkei fell by more than 610 points. If that sounds like a lot, that is because it is. The largest one day stock market decline in U.S. history is only 777 points. So far, the Dow is only down about 1000 points during this “correction”, but the Nikkei is down more than 2,300 points. The Nikkei has dropped more than 14 percent since the peak of the market, and many analysts believe that this is only just the beginning. Those that have been waiting for a full-blown stock market collapse may be about to get their wish. Japan is absolutely drowning in debt, their central bank is printing money like crazy and the Japanese population is aging rapidly. As far as economic fundamentals go, there is very little good news as far as Japan is concerned. So will an Asian financial collapse precede the next great financial crisis in the United States? That is what some have been predicting, and it starting to look increasingly likely.
According to the federal government, the number of heroin addicts in the United States has more than doubled since 2002. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, it is being reported that heroin-related overdose deaths have risen 84 percent just since 2010. The truth is that the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is just the tip of the iceberg of the raging heroin abuse epidemic in America. Heroin is cheap, it is potent, and it is very similar to the legal painkillers that millions of Americans are currently addicted to. According to ABC News, Hoffman was found “with five empty heroin bags as well as many as 65 more bags that were still unused” when his body was discovered on Sunday in his New York apartment. It is a great tragedy, but the reality is that tragedies like this are happening all across the United States every single day. Heroin is the the number one killer of illegal drug users, and as heroin use continues to rise so will the number of dead bodies.
In his latest Blog Essay, “Bill Nye’s Reasonable Man—The Central Worldview Clash of the Ham-Nye Debate,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the recent debate between Ken Ham (creationist) and Bill Nye (evolutionist) on the issue, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”
Click here to read Dr. Mohler’s analysis and to know why he characterizes the debate as “the clash between the worldview of the self-declared ‘reasonable man’ and the worldview of the sinner saved by grace.”
A new study bible. Ok. By Rick Warren? Not ok, since he knows about as much about the Bible as Joel Osteen does and has proven in all of his books that he’s more than happy to destroy passages and their contexts. But a bible based on a feature film? That’s the worst thing of all. That’s crass marketing and nothing more than Lifeway looking to make a buck off of a movie. What next, the Duck Dynasty Study Bible?
No, Lifeway, you long ago parted ways with decent publications. Your stores are festooned with theological dung. This simply adds to the pile of stench you have assembled in quest of your almighty dollar.
Did you seriously wish to minister to people, you would provide them with substantive theological materials. You don’t.
by Mike Ratliff
14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει· 15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 NA28)
14 These things I write to you hoping to come to you quickly, 15 but if I delay, you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)
As we have discussed countless times on this blog, the visible church in our time has taken on a “mission” that is different than the one assigned to it by God. Parts of it have the mission of being “user-friendly” while other parts are “purpose-driven,” and others are “seeker-sensitive.” None of that is…
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