Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000 Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.” “On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985,” a statement on the church’s website says. A call placed to Coy on Sunday was not returned.
I guess he’s being coy… And…
Blogger Michael Newnham wrote that Coy was dismissed by the church board. “We have confirmed that Coy has admitted to at least two affairs in the past year alone and has had a long standing ‘problem with pornography,’” he wrote.
Look, it’s time everyone admit that these mega church pastors become or are already egomaniacs who think that none of…
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Do discernment and divisiveness go hand in hand? Is it true that the term discernment is often employed as a cover for a contentious or critical spirit?
Let’s acknowledge that there are unscrupulous people who, under the guise of “biblical discernment,” engage in unbrotherly criticism. Their tactics often include innuendo, character assassination, guilt by association, and other dishonest methods. They weave conspiracy theories, sensationalize their attacks against others, and favor personal slurs over substantive doctrinal analysis. Militant fundamentalism has made this type of criticism its specialty. As a consequence, that movement has steadily lost its influence, forfeited its credibility, and fragmented into tiny, warring factions. My appeal for discernment is not a call to that sort of factious attitude.
Undoubtedly the prevalence of hypercritical attitudes among some fundamentalists has caused a backlash that has only accelerated the decline of discernment in the church. We rightfully deplore a pugnacious spirit. No true Christian wants to be contentious. No one who has the mind of Christ enjoys conflict. Obviously, harmony is preferable to discord. But when some crucial truth is at stake, how do we display the mind of Christ? Certainly not by allowing the error to go unchallenged. If we truly are to be like our Savior, we must both proclaim truth and condemn error in unambiguous language (see Matthew 23).
That means we must learn to discriminate. In modern usage, the word discrimination carries powerful negative connotations. But the word itself is not negative. Discriminate simply means “to make a clear distinction.” We used to call someone “a discriminating person” if he exercised keen judgment. “Discrimination” signified a positive ability to draw the line between good and evil, true and false, right and wrong. In the heyday of the American civil-rights movement, the word was widely applied to racial bigotry. And, indeed, people who make unfair distinctions between races are guilty of an evil form of discrimination.
Unfortunately, the word itself took on that negative connotation, and the sinister implication is often transferred to anyone who tries to discriminate in any way. To view homosexuality as immoral (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:9–10) is condemned now by the politically correct as an unacceptable form of discrimination. To suggest that wives ought to submit to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18) is now classified as unfair discrimination. To suggest that children ought to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1) is also labeled unjust discrimination by some. We see more and more that anyone who “discriminates” these days risks becoming a target of boycotts, protests, and lawsuits. We are not supposed to draw lines. That is the spirit of this age, and unfortunately, it has crept into the church.
If we are going to be discerning people, we must develop the skill of discriminating between truth and error, good and bad. The original languages of Scripture convey this very idea. The main Hebrew word for “discernment” is bin. That word and its variants are used hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It is often translated “discernment,” “understanding,” “skill,” or “carefulness.” But in the original language it conveys the same idea as our word discrimination. It entails the idea of making distinctions. Jay Adams points out that the word bin “is related to the noun bayin, which means ‘interval’ or ‘space between,’ and the preposition ben, ‘between.’ In essence it means to separate things from one another at their points of difference in order to distinguish them.” Discernment, then, is a synonym for discrimination. In fact, the Greek verb translated “discern” in the New Testament is diakrinō. It means “to make a distinction” and is translated that way in Acts 15:9.
So discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. The discerning person is the one who draws a clear contrast between truth and error. Discernment is black-and-white thinking—the conscious refusal to color every issue in shades of gray. No one can be truly discerning without developing skill in separating divine truth from error.
Does Scripture tell us how to be discerning? It certainly does. Paul sums up the process in 1 Thessalonians 5:21–22: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” There, in three straightforward commands, he spells out the requirements of a discerning mind.
And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.
(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140407
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Should Palestinian and other Arab schools teach their students about the Holocaust?
This is not an academic question. Many Palestinian and Arab political organizations recently pounced on reports that a new human rights curriculum being prepared for use in Gaza schools operated by Unrwa, the United Nations aid agency for Palestinian refugees, might include historical references to the Holocaust. Their reaction underscores the urgency of answering this fundamental question: Should Palestinians (and other Arabs) learn about the Holocaust? Should this historical tragedy be included in the Arab curriculum?
We — a Muslim-Palestinian social scientist, and a Jewish-American historian — believe the answer is yes. Indeed, there are many reasons why it’s important, even essential, that Arabs learn…
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I’ve lost count of the number of times some tragedy has occurred – a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, a drunk driving death – and the victims or their relatives, usually Christians, start “forgiving” the offenders within hours or days of the crime.
I understand the motive, and also the desire to present an attractive witness about Christian forgiveness to the world. But it’s not a faithful witness to God. It does not reflect how God forgives, which is to be our pattern and model. Here’s why:
God does not forgive those who do not want forgiveness.
Here’s how God forgives:
I have to admit that I have always found this a confusing aspect of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Charles Spurgeon expressed his one disagreement with Bunyan in this way: “If he meant to show what usually happens, he was right; but if he meant to show what ought to have happened, he was wrong.”
When I ask this question to my students who have just finished reading the book, they nearly always respond with a variety of answers. After batting around several ideas, we narrow the possibilities down to two: Christian was saved either (1) when he entered through the Wicket Gate or he was saved (2) when his burden rolled off his back at the cross.
Most students come to the conclusion that Christian got saved at the cross.
But this is, in fact, the wrong answer. Christian got saved when he entered through the Wicket Gate.
Students get the wrong answer because they misunderstand three critical elements of Bunyan’s allegory: (1) The Wicket Gate, (2) Christian’s Burden, and (3) the proper object of saving faith.
A reader recently sent in this astute question:
Why does Jesus tell people to “Go and sin no more” when He knew it was basically impossible for them to stop sinning?
This is a great question, and one that has been cropping up a lot in the comments on this blog recently. For example, check out some of the comments in my post about “How do I stop sinning?”
Before I attempt to answer this important question about what Jesus means when He says “go and sin no more,” let me state two disclaimers.
Yes, I know that Scripture contains numerous passages which seem to teach that sinless perfectionism is possible in this life (cf. Matt 5:48; 1 John 3:4-10). So please … don’t leave a comment below quoting all the text in the Bible which you think I haven’t read. I have read them, studied them, and believe them. I simply have a different understanding of those texts than you do.
Second, just because I believe the Bible teaches that it is not possible in this life to go and sin no more at all ever again in any way, this is not at all the same thing as telling people to go sin all they want. I believe that Christians can and should stop sinning, but I approach the issue of sin differently than often encountered elsewhere. I think the primary reason God wants us to stop sinning is not because it offends Him, but because sin damages us.
There are two times in the Gospels when Jesus tells people to “go and sin no more.” One is after Jesus healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:14) and the other is after He rescued the woman caught in adultery from getting stoned to death (John 8:11).
The case for the reliability of the New Testament Gospel eyewitness accounts is dependent on the reliability of the authors. Eyewitnesses are typically evaluated in criminal trials by asking four critical questions: Were the witnesses really present at the time of the crime? Can the witnesses’ accounts be corroborated in some way? Have the witnesses changed their story over time? Do the witnesses have biases causing them to lie, exaggerate or misinterpret what was seen? We can examine the Gospels and their authors by asking similar questions. Is the Bible true? The cumulative case for the trustworthy nature of the Gospels confirms their reliability:
The fact that #WorldVision has been discussed by biblical scholars and theologians more than #Syria is just wrong. Very wrong. When you refuse to address issues that REALLY matter (like Syria, Palestine, poverty, the unjust control of wealth by the very very few, etc.) you make yourselves irrelevant and you serve only to marginalize God, faith, and Church.
Your silence on the issues of the day is a renunciation of your calling. And your focus on trivialities trivializes both biblical studies and theology.
It’s time for you to address human trafficking and child abuse and alcoholism and ministerial misconduct and stop riding your pet hobby horse. Whether that be boycotts or some other meaningless activity.
Long ago Barth said that Pastors and theologians needed to have a newspaper in one hand and a bible in the other. Faith which doesn’t speak to culture, and in opposition to the evils of society…
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Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers. But how do we do that?
For the next two blog posts, I want to address each half of that question. First, how to identify false teachers in the midst of the church. Second, how to deal with them.
The Bible suggests at least six characteristics that commonly identify false teachers. Not every false teachers exhibits all of these characteristics at once, but often times they present some combination of these traits.
I’ve written about the five “C’s” I look for when hiring staff or inviting volunteers into strategic leadership roles: competence, character, catalytic ability, chemistry, and calling.
But in various settings, I’ve found myself talking increasingly about the defining character trait of those who pass those five and grow with an organization; the defining mark of someone who truly succeeds. I don’t mean the world’s definition of success, but those who make a mark for the Kingdom and who stretch out toward their full redemptive potential as an ambassador for Christ.
Not sure that’s a word, but it works for me.
It means someone who is, obviously, teachable. This is more than being able to learn, but being willing to learn. Eager to learn. Desiring to learn.
And what does it take to be teachable?
The pride that keeps someone from being teachable is one of the most subtle forms of pride there is, but I’ve seen it take root and keep many people from developing into who and what they most needed to become.
So let’s tease this one out.
Here are a series of questions to ask yourself:
…eagerly seek counsel?
…have a sense of entitlement – that you should be given position, prominence or platform?
…fly across the country to give a sermon, but not walk across the street to hear one?
…automatically assume you pretty much know everything about what it is you currently do?
…put what you do before others for review?
…work to be genuinely open to new ideas and perspectives, as opposed to simply shutting down or arguing against them?
…look to be intentionally mentored and coached?
Notice what questions I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask whether or not you are reading the most trendy titles, visiting the hippest websites, or availing yourself of the most cutting-edge blogs.
You can do all of those things and not be teachable.
My questions were aimed at attitude. At spirit. At the humility necessary for teachability.
Because in the end, teachability isn’t about learning.
It’s about knowing you need to.
James Emery White
The biggest promoter of New Age moonbattery in the world today is of course Oprah Winfrey. Many years ago she abandoned any claim to being a Christian, and she now shamelessly promotes every bit of loony spirituality around. New Age guru Ekhart Tolle is just one of the many new spirituality folks she fervently champions.
I have written about all this elsewhere: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/06/18/the-gospel-according-to-oprah/
But it is not just outright paganism that she peddles to millions of gullible and conned groupies, but whacko Christian leaders as well. For example, she just loves megachurch paster Joel Osteen. And no wonder, since what he preaches from his Texas pulpit is indistinguishable from what Tolle, Oprah and others preach.
Indeed, their message is basically identical, as I document here: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/05/18/will-the-real-gospel-please-stand-up/
It is all the New Age and cultic ideology of self-improvement, mind over mattter, self-help, and creative visualisation. Just think happy thoughts and say happy things and you will live a happy life. You will be happy, successful, rich, problem-free and living the good life.
All of which is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught of course. He said we will be hated by the world, we will be persecuted, we will have troubles, and we will face constant opposition and hardship. And he said that the real disciple of his is one who denies himself, takes up his cross daily, and dies to self.
The gospel of Oprah, Tolle, Osteen and others is all about ME. It is the Gospel of Self. Self is deified, worshipped, coddled, pampered, pandered to, and made the centre of the universe. It is an anti-God gospel actually, since it makes self the centre of all things, and the highest good in the universe.
Thus Osteen writes best-sellers like Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You. And now Oprah is doing a national “The Life You Want” tour. Hey, that sounds just like something Osteen would run with. It has the identical focus: It is all about ME. It is L’oreal Christianity in fact: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/04/30/l%E2%80%99oreal-christianity/
So nothing surprising here. But what continues to be a worry is how many compromised Christians she is bringing on board here. And as usual, she will dupe and deceive millions by adding a few big name Christian leaders who happen to be apostates.
The chief one this time will be “No Hell” Bell. Yep, you got it. Emergent church guru Rob Bell will be on board the magic circus ride to push his heterodox version of Christianity. I have discussed him often elsewhere, eg:
But let me mention a bit more about this major tour of deception.
Even the Federal Reserve and NOAA (that’s right, the weather people) have their own mini-armies of supercops. Why?