Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

William Lane Craig asks: should Christians embrace postmodernism?

WINTERY KNIGHT

Here’s a short clip:

Dr. Craig thinks that Christianity does a lot better when it is commended to others using logic and evidence. He thinks that postmodernism undermines logic and evidence.

Sean McDowell has more on what this means for Christians:

In Postmodern Youth Ministry, for example, Tony Jones argues that postmodernity is the most important culture shift of the past 500 years, upending our theology, philosophy, epistemology (how we know things), and church practice. It is an “earthquake that has changed the landscape of academia and is currently rocking Western culture.” (p. 11). Thus, to be relevant in ministry today, according to Jones and other postmodernists, we must shed our modern tendencies and embrace the postmodern shift.

For the longest time I simply accepted that we inhabit a postmodern world and that we must completely transform our approach to ministry to be effective today. But that all changed…

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Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That (02 May 2014)

 

  • New Age Mormon Glenn Beck spoke at Liberty University. Again.
  • Here’s another report on that.
  • No, that guy didn’t really go to Heaven.
  • Speaking of gimmicks: physical fitness is good. Substituting ‘workouts for Jesus’ as worship? Not so good.
  • A 2008 article about Benny Hinn that a few people *cough*Michael Brown*cough* might need to read.
  • Hey look! Benny Hinn ecards!
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Do we believe the Bible is enough?
  • A little Roman Catholic folly for you.
  • Now we finally know what Jesus looked like.
  • Well, I’m glad this kid didn’t seem to hurt himself, but honestly, what a stupid thing to do.
  • Good grief, Oprah starring in ‘The Shack’? Isn’t this one of the signs of the apocalypse?
  • Hey, if you want so-called ‘marriage equality,’ you can’t speak against this at all.
  • Could it be that the cubicle isn’t such a curse after all?
  • A Pyromaniacs conference? Can it be true? But alas, unless it’s in my backyard I won’t be able to attend. Will you send me a postcard if you go?
  • Sigh. Sad that this accurately portrays American evangelicalism.
  • The Fall and need of redemption:

Source

Distinguishing Consequences And Condemnation

Reading all the blogs and comments about what happened with Bob Coy reveal that lots of people confuse these two categories which results in two basic responses. Some people question his salvation: “how could anybody really be a Christian and make the mistakes Bob has made? Off with his head.” Others say, “Wait a minute. We’re no better than he is so why does he have to lose his job? After all, don’t we believe in grace and forgiveness?”

The first group needs to be reminded that God’s love for us and acceptance of us does not in any way depend on what we do or don’t do, but rather on what Jesus has done. Who we are before God has nothing to do with us—how much we can accomplish, who we can become, our behavior (good or bad), our strengths, our weaknesses, our past, our present, our future, and so on. Who we are before God (our identity) is firmly anchored in Jesus’ accomplishment, not ours; his strength, not ours; his performance, not ours; his victory, not ours. Our guilt is met with his grace, our failures with his forgiveness, our mess with his mercy. God only loves bad people because bad people are all that there are.

The second group needs to be reminded that consequences on the ground of life are real. Real people make real mistakes that require real action to be taken. So, for instance, we can talk bad about our boss without sacrificing one ounce of God’s acceptance because, before God, “our sin has been atoned for, our guilt has been removed.” We stand before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Justified. In forever (no vertical condemnation). But we might still lose our job (horizontal consequences). We can make the mistake of driving 100 MPH on I-95 without losing a bit of God’s love for us because “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (no vertical condemnation). But we might still lose our license (horizontal consequences). When we confuse consequences with condemnation and vice versa, we don’t know how to make sense of things when tragedies like what happened to Bob (or us) take place.

The truth is that when we are in the throes of consequences for foolish things we do, our only hope is to remember that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In fact, the kind of suffering that comes from the consequences of sin is like a brush-fire that burns away every thread of hope we have in ourselves and leaves only the thread of divine grace.

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Taking God at His Word: An Interview with Kevin DeYoung

Rev. Kevin DeYoung The Bible stands at the heart of the Christian faith, but people disagree about its nature and authority. Can we trust the Bible completely? Can a book written so long ago be relevant to the demanding challenges of the 21st century?

Rev. Kevin DeYoung (@RevKevDeYoung) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan.

Taking God at His WordBible Gateway interviewed Rev. DeYoung about his book, Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway, 2014).

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5 Ways to Empower Homeless People

homelessHomelessness is one of the most widely recognized faces of poverty. Wherever you live and whatever your socioeconomic status, chances are you’ve encountered homeless people. Maybe you avoid them out of fear that someone desperate enough to ask a stranger for help might also be desperate enough to take advantage of you. But if you want to do more than say “God bless” or “good luck” (James 2:14–17), here are some practical ways you can make an impact on the life of a homeless person:

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Dead to Sin in Life

 

Julie Ganschow speaks for all of us when she writes:

We often wonder why we have no power to carry out spiritual things. We wonder why our prayer life is flat lining, why our desire to read God’s Word is steadily waning, and why our joy is incomplete. The answer is very clear and it is found in this passage; we are not living or believing as though we are dead to sin.

Read her developments of this important thought from Romans 6 in Dead to Sin in Life.

What’s mysticism doing at a Christian leadership conference?

Catalyst Dallas - Centering prayer session

Remember when Pastor Rick Warren posted a tutorial on Centering Prayer on his Pastor’s Toolbox website, encouraging thousands of pastors to teach their congregants to go into the silence?  No? That’s probably because he yanked it down after biblically sound Christians sounded the alarm bells in his comments section. (Good thing there’s screen capture.)

Now thousands of young Christian leaders are getting a front-row seat to this mystical practice, at this year’s  Catalyst Leadership Conference in Dallas.

As someone who has attended Catalyst conferences and who knows full well that young leaders are taught the social justice, business growth model “gospels” there, I can tell you that you will not find much in the way of biblical discipleship tutorials or the sharing of the Gospel, nor will you find much about repentance and holiness unless it’s whispered in the hall. I know that’s tough talk, but I still get the huge posters, mailings, thick brochures and web videos for every Catalyst event known to man. So it doesn’t surprise me in the least to learn that contemplative prayer from the mystical eastern religions have made their way into the curriculum at Catalyst. Sola Sisters has the story. Please do take note of the excellent links about what these contemplative prayer practices are, who is teaching them and how they have made their way into our mainstream, very visible churches:

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The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By 27 MILLION Since 2000

Did you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has “dropped” to “6.3 percent”? Well, it all comes down to how you define who is “unemployed”. For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category. According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are “unemployed” and there are 92.02 million Americans that are “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job. Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job. That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000. Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news. (Read More….)

Facebook twists reality again and risks ruining your children

Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of the virtual reality company Oculus VR means that millions of people — lots of them teenagers — will be able to put on an Oculus Rift headset and, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment.” Zuckerberg says people who have tried the Oculus Rift feel like they are “actually present in another place” and say it’s “different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.”

Here’s the problem: If the Oculus Rift were a pharmaceutical or a medical device, rather than a gaming headset, the FDA would study it for years and demand rigorous clinical trials in volunteers before approving it. It would want to make certain the device had no unexpected side effects — like depression or attention deficit disorder or anxiety or delusional thinking. And it would want to make sure it was not addictive.

Is no one concerned that Mark Zuckerberg’s zeal for completely immersing people in alternate realities might be toxic for them?

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Series of Storms to Attack Central US, Mid-Atlantic in Summer

As summer 2014 takes shape, the West will sink deeper into drought and severe thunderstorms will ignite from the Plains to the southern mid-Atlantic.

While a typical summer is in store for much of the East, hurricane season looms, threatening areas along the coast. While this year’s hurricane season is expected to be below normal, two systems may make landfall in the United States.

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Are the End Times Upon Us? Author Says ‘Unrestrained Immorality’ Mirrors ‘Pandemic Godlessness’ Seen in the Bible

Is mankind evolving into a more peaceful and prosperous people – or are we on a path toward ever-increasing moral depravity, social chaos and destruction? …Christian author Jeff Kinley…sees human beings continuously and perilously cutting God out of society. “I look around my world and I think, ‘Wow, we’ve written God out of our own story here,’”…

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Why [Israeli-Palestinian] Negotiations Collapsed :: Joffe in Times of Israel

Effective foreign policy requires a balance between the predictable and the unpredictable. Alliances require careful maintenance and no surprises while adversarial relationships sometimes require unpredictable responses. It is the unique gift of the Obama administration to have reversed this equation.

The collapse of peace negotiations was wholly predictable and has finally taken place. Efforts are now being made to assign blame and exert pressure on the parties. In a series of off the record interviews with Israeli newspapers, unnamed American officials involved in the negotiations have quite predictably put most of the blame on Israel. Careful reading, however, reveals more about America than it does Israelis or Palestinians.

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The Idolatry of Experience – John MacArthur

 

The inclusion of Bible references throughout Heaven Is for Real [1]Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (Nashville: Nelson, 2010). may convince superficial readers that Pastor Burpo has painstakingly com­pared his son’s account to Scripture and judged it accurate on that basis. But to those who take the time to look up the citations and ana­lyze them in context with any degree of discernment, it will be clear that Todd Burpo’s facile method of proof-texting betrays a lack of any serious engagement with Scripture. He has failed to test everything carefully as we are instructed and encouraged to do (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11).

Amazingly, Todd Burpo himself admits that he rarely “tested Colton’s memories against what the Bible says.” (Heaven Is for Real p. 101). In the one instance where he mentions testing Colton, he declares, on the thinnest possible evidence, that Colton “passed [the biblical test] without batting an eye.”

What was the biblical issue at stake on that occasion? Todd was asking his son if he had ever seen God’s throne. He first needed to explain to the boy what a “throne” is. (“I picked up the Bible storybook and pointed . . .”)

“Oh, yeah!” Colton replied. “I saw that a bunch of times!”

Todd, in keeping with the tone he maintains throughout the book, was utterly agog: “My heart sped up a little. Was I really going to get a glimpse into the throne room of heaven?”

Colton continued: “And do you know that Jesus sits right next to God? . . . Jesus’ chair is right next to his Dad’s!” (p. 100).

Pastor Burpo’s response again emphasizes his avid credulity (not to mention his cluelessness about the kind of images a four-year-old raised on illustrated Bible stories might have in his mind): “That blew me away. There’s no way a four-year-old knows that. It was another one of those moments when I thought, He had to have seen this” (p. 100–101).

One of the most troubling aspects of Heaven Is for Real is the way Todd Burpo constantly insinuates that personal experiences—even the spectral memories of a three-year-old boy under anesthetics—are somehow more compelling than Scripture alone. “I had been a Chris­tian since childhood and a pastor for half my life, so I believed that before. But now I knew it” (p. 84). Colton’s experiential exegesis of heaven has clearly made a far more profound impact on Todd (and has been more formative to his notion of the afterlife) than anything he had previously gleaned about heaven from his own study of Scripture.

That way of thinking is diametrically opposed to what the Bible says about faith, experience, and the authority of Scripture. In fact, the most important defense Christians have against self-deception is a conviction that the written Word of God is more certain and more authoritative than anyone’s experience. Scripture teaches this explicitly and repeatedly.

For example, writing about his experience on the mount of transfiguration—an undeniable miracle at which other eyewitnesses were present—the apostle Peter says: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths. . . . We ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven” (2 Peter 1:16, 18 ESV). It was a stunning, unprecedented, up-close look at the glory of heaven—literally. Peter goes on to say, however, that the written Word of God is even more reliable than an experience of that caliber! “We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention” (v. 19 ESV).

Authentic faith “comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV)—not from mystical experiences, and certainly not from blindly trusting a child’s account of a mystical experience. That kind of naive conviction is not true faith at all; it has more in common with dangerous self-confidence.

Nevertheless, Pastor Burpo clearly believes that somehow little Colton’s experience has bolstered his family’s faith in a way Scripture could never do. “I love the way my mom sums it up,” Todd writes, and then he quotes his mother’s words, which stand (except for a brief epilogue) as the book’s closing sentence: “I accepted the idea of heaven before, but now I visualize it. Before, I’d heard, but now I know that someday I’m going to see” (p.150).

I’ve given this prolonged critique of Heaven Is for Real not because it is the worst of the genre, but because of all the books in this category, it is the most likely to be read and deemed harmless by the typical evangelical. It is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and suf­ficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effec­tive stimulant to faith than Scripture alone.

While Heaven is for Real has been the focal point of our discussion, the theological problems and dangers it presents are not limited to its pages alone. This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible. In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.

That is the point I want to stress at the close of this series. It is the principle of sola Scriptura. That Latin expression means “Scripture alone.” It is a shorthand expression that signifies the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It means that Scripture is the sole rule of faith and practice for Christians—so that no duty, no teaching, and no belief that lacks a biblical foundation is ever to be deemed binding on any Christian.

To put it another way, the principle of sola Scriptura starts and ends with a recognition of the Bible’s superiority over every other source of knowledge, truth claim, reli­gious tradition, and supposed new revelation.

This principle was one of the fundamental pillars of biblical Chris­tianity recovered by the early Reformers. It had fallen into neglect and denial, as sound, biblical doctrine had been crowded out of mainstream church life by false teaching, medieval su­perstition, ecclesiastical corruption, and a host of problems all related to the visible church’s failure to submit to the authority of Scripture. The current evangelical fascination with near-death experiences (and with other extrabiblical sources of alleged spiritual enlightenment) is pointing backward to the same kind of apostasy.

Clearly, if we believe Scripture is the Word of God, we must re­ject every anecdotal account that contradicts or goes beyond what Scripture teaches. We must also refuse to get caught up in every kind of speculation, every truth claim, and every supposed new revelation that detracts from or leads people away from simple reliance on the Word of God.

 

(Adapted from The Glory of Heaven.)


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Postmodernism 10 – Theological Declarations

 

Because there are no absolutes in postmodern religion, identifying a specific theology for the movement is essentially impossible. So rather than try to develop a comprehensive theology, here are some statements from emerging church leaders that might help at least give us an idea of where they are and where they might be heading.

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Pamela Geller, Breitbart: Tennessee Imam Preaches Jihad and Jew-Hatred: ‘Jews and Christians Are Filthy’

“Tennessee Imam Preaches Jihad and Jew-Hatred: ‘Jews and Christians Are Filthy’”, Pamela Geller, Breitbart, May 1, 2014

Memphis imam Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute, is back in the news this week for a controversial video that he has made saying that Jews and Christians are filthy and that their lives and property can be taken in jihad by the Muslims.

The thing is, this video is nothing new. I reported at my website PamelaGeller.com about Qadhi’s outrageous statements about jihad in July 2013, and about other vicious Islamic supremacist statements he made in August 2013. That was seven months ago. Why is Qadhi still an imam in good standing in Memphis? Why has he not been dismissed by the Al-Maghrib Institute, or by Rhodes College in Memphis, where he is an assistant professor of Religious Studies? – See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/05/pamela-geller-breitbart-tennessee-imam-preaches-jihad-jew-hatred-jews-christians-filthy.html

 

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