Category Archives: Opinion/Commentary

Narcissus Revises Christianity, Makes It Liberal

In Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Narcissus pines away, looking at his own reflection, until he dies and turns into a flower.  Many misread Ovid’s character as someone conceited and self-absorbed.  In the Latin tale, he does not know that the beautiful boy he sees is himself until he has already descended into madness.

Narcissus cannot love anyone, but he suddenly falls in love with an unreachable beauty – a face in a pool – who causes him to experience the rejection and inconsolable yearning his own coldness has inflicted on others.  His unattainable object of desire is actually, as he gradually realizes, himself: “Oh, I am he!  Oh, now I know for sure the image is my own; it’s for myself I burn with love; I fan the flames I feel…my riches beggar me.”

Narcissism is a self-deceiving act producing affection only for things that unwittingly reflect one’s self.  The narcissist fails to know Christ, for example, because he can love Christ only when Christ resembles a man just like him.  The narcissist does not realize he worships himself, but he does.

Christian Narcissus

I have noted an “uptick” in the number of articles about Christianity in liberal circles.  Most have focused on supposedly new spiritualities that flatter a progressive, pro-choice, and pro-gay worldview.  The New Republic, New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, and other left-leaning papers ran stories about religion in close succession.  Consider this subtle title from the New York Times: “Religious Liberals Sat Out of Politics for 40 Years; Now They Want in the Game.”

Pro-gay groups decided to “surround” the Southern Baptist Convention’s yearly meeting in Phoenix, demanding that the staunchly conservative congregation reverse its biblical view on homosexuality, supposedly for the sake of youths who might kill themselves.

Since “winsome” and “charitable” are the orders of the day, I will behave generously and not assume that such liberals are heretics, Satanic, or agents of evil.  I will assume they are simply narcissists, falling into the same trap that ensnared Ovid’s youth.  They are projecting onto Christ their own minds and then imagining that what they see is not really, in the end, a vain reflection of themselves.

Below are eight of the most common narcissistic lines we hear again and again:

  1. “Jesus cared about the poor a lot more than he did about sin.”

Democrats have created a paradox for themselves by splicing greed from lust, reading financial selfishness as cruel but sexual selfishness as benign.  Few eras have imagined that “concupiscence” or “earthly desire” could be transformed from an evil into an objective good, if only transferred from money to carnality.

Jesus emphasized that people who care about earthly pleasures will lose eternal life.  In John 17, Jesus says He is not of this world, and neither are those who believe in Him.  Democrats understand this in part, correctly seeing that people who care most about getting rich tend to trample holiness.  But sin includes more than money.  In John 8:34, Jesus states, “[E]veryone who commits sin is a slave of sin,” and the only way to be free of slavery is to follow His truth.

Eternal damnation is the punishment for failing to help those in need (Matthew 25), but nowhere does Jesus say people must eradicate poverty entirely or focus on poverty relief to the exclusion of other forms of holiness.  In Mark 12:43, Jesus praises the widow who gave all she owned to the temple, leaving herself destitute.  He did not state that the temple should give her money back to her so she would not be poor.  Most importantly, in Matthew 26:11, Jesus says, “You always have the poor with you.”  The text presents Judas Iscariot, the great traitor, as the one disciple who griped so much about Jesus’s refusal to make charity for the poor the sole focus of ministry.

  1. “You have no right to tell people who’s a real Christian.”

Jesus repeatedly warns against false prophets (Mark 13:22), blind fools leading other blind people into pits (Matthew 15:14), and hypocrites who say long prayers only for show (Mark 12:40).  Those who have authority and mislead others “will receive harsher punishment.”  In John 8:31, He states, “if you continue in My word, you really are My disciples,” followed by the harsh point, “[b]ecause you cannot listen to my Word, you are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”  The gospels demand corrective responses to falsehood.  Jesus is firm when he rebukes Peter for being so misdirected, saying “Get behind me, Satan, because you think not of God’s concerns, but man’s!” (Mark 8:33).

  1. “Out of love and kindness, you should respect my view of Christianity.”

Jesus said it was crucial to love others as we expect to be loved.  But He also reminded people of the highest Mosaic law: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30).  Turning the other cheek is not the same thing as sitting quietly while someone defiles God’s Name with false teachings.  While Jesus was gentle – as we should be, too­ – toward people who sin for lack of self-command, Jesus was not gentle with the scribes, Pharisees, and false teachers.  Those who lead and teach others are not given the clemency shown to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:7) or the promiscuous Samaritan at the well (John 4:17).

The entire chapter of Matthew 23 involves a screed by Jesus Christ against the “brood of vipers,” the hypocrites like “whitewashed tombs” who have rotten hearts and spread their rot while claiming to be holy.  In Mark 9:42, Jesus says those who lead the young to stumble would be better off with millstones around their necks, cast into the sea.  And Jesus states that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the one sin that can never be pardoned (Matthew 12:32).  Christians can be tender and amicable toward a man who has engaged in lustful contact with men due to his insuppressible urges, but not to Rachel Held Evans when she tells her myriad Twitter followers that it’s okay to “be LGBT-affirming.”

  1. “Christ was a rebel.”

As the L.A. Times reports, LGBTs rallied against Trump.  Churches sent pro-gay contingents, including one lesbian who proclaimed, “Jesus resisted.”  Citing Jesus, she takes to the streets and shouts for violent confrontation with the people who supported Trump.

It is important to note that Barabbas was a rebel who fits the description of angry street forces – and it was Barabbas who was chosen by the doomed crowd that demanded that Jesus Christ be sacrificed in Barabbas’s stead.  Christ was a powerful presence, certainly, daring to overturn the money tables in the temple, but He conspicuously avoided behaving like the leader of a rebel movement.  He gathered a small number of disciples and sent them out to win souls with the Truth, then submitted to His execution willingly.  He was not Barabbas, and the crowd’s inability to differentiate between them was no small crime.

  1. “Christ said nothing about homosexuality, so we must endorse it as good.”

Jesus Christ gave us more than enough material so that we do not even need to consult Paul or the Old Testament to understand the problem with homosexuality.  Jesus states in John 8:31 that His disciples are those who “continue in” His “word.”  The Christian cannot skate by, when feeling urges, by scanning Jesus’s words to see if anything He said forbade such action (though there is much reason to discern that Jesus did forbid all unchaste behavior).  Rather, we can’t do anything that Jesus and scripture did not explicitly command us to do.  In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, “to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Nowhere in the entire Bible is there any positive reference to same-sex activity, yet there are numerous vilifications of same-sex activity.  Jesus does tell us to engage in sex – with the opposite sex.  Jesus laid down a specific model for marriage in Matthew 19:4-12, referring back to Genesis and the fact that male and female were created for permanent unity as one flesh.  To those raising caveats, Jesus makes clear that if people cannot respect that model, they must live as a “eunuch” (Matthew 19:12) and have no marriage or sexual relations at all.  In addition, Jesus describes two sexual sins (adultery and sexual impurity) as “defilement” even if only spoken (Matthew 15:19).  The other defilements are evil thoughts, murder, theft, slander, and blasphemy.  Given the myriad references outside the four gospels labeling homosexuality defilement, abomination, unnatural, etc. – would you, if you felt same-sex desires, be willing to gamble your salvation on the pro-gay interpretation of Jesus?

  1. I speak “prophetically” to the world.

The idea of prophetic witness has surfaced in a number of places recently.  I saw, for instance, that some from the Princeton Theological Seminary justified their barring of Tim Keller from receiving an award by saying the seminary chooses to speak “prophetically” against homophobia.  Keller’s adherence to a scriptural view on homosexuality was a deal-breaker.

There were quite a few prophets in the Old Testament.  None of them sought to use the prestige of an established institution to chastise another child of God for championing chastity.  In the eyes of some liberal Christians, to speak “prophetically” seems to mean trumpeting fashionable ideas that go against what is actually written in the Bible.  The prophet is the voice in the wilderness, not the tenured professor in Princeton.

  1. We should “engage the culture.”

Often liberal Christians accuse conservatives of losing the culture by refusing to engage it.  This charge contradicts itself, since liberals invariably level this accusation at the conservative Christians attacked for sounding mean, sexist, or homophobic.  In truth, Christians who hang out at gay film festivals or enjoy pleasant lunches with Planned Parenthood executives are not engaging the culture.  They are kissing up to the ungodly powers of this world – quite the opposite of Jesus, who went to the outcasts and downtrodden, all the while telling them to repent, turn away from their sins, and live for God.

  1. Jesus listened to women, so Christians today should listen to women and respect their pro-choice position.

Jesus gathered twelve disciples and did not include a single female.  Nowhere does Jesus sit quietly and declare that a woman’s experience has inspired Him to reverse a godly principle so that women can be spared difficulty.  Of the many miracles of healing and demon-busting performed by Jesus, no abortion occurs.  The notion that women must abort so that they can avoid difficulty, ostracism, or a slowing of their career goes utterly against Jesus’s instructions to accept hardship and find strength in God and His Word.  Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, to avoid stressing about clothing or money or a place to live, and to hedge against the error of gaining the world while losing our souls.  That He would suspend such philosophies upon hearing a pregnant woman say she can’t deal with the trials of giving birth and raising a child makes no sense, given His ministry and many statements about humility and putting others before ourselves.

There are so many more statements to debunk, but these eight are quite a lot to digest in one sitting.  The common thread in all these fallacies is the narcissistic trap of cooing over a Jesus who isn’t really Jesus, but rather a person just like the liberal looking for a God to mirror his own political agenda.  It is a timeless error with a timely urgency.

Source:  Narcissus Revises Christianity, Makes It Liberal

WSJ: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researchers have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.

Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).

Correction

An earlier version understated the number of zeroes in an octillion and a septillion.

Source: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

Barna Update | 2017 Bible-Minded Cities

We live in an age when the Bible is read and understood very differently in cities across the country. So how exactly do Americans from each region interact with the Bible? In the annual Bible-Minded Cities report, in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. Where does your city rank?

Read more

CultureWatch: Recommended Reading on the New Age Movement

Let me begin with a confession: I was involved in the New Age Movement (NAM) back in my wild youth. And that was before it was even referred to as the NAM. My involvement was in the late 60s, early 70s, while the term itself came around a decade or more later. You can read about my involvement here: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/06/27/coming-home-my-testimony-part-1/

My conversion in 1971 put an end to my infatuation with NAM beliefs and practices. But sadly the movement really started to take off then in the West, and it continues unabated today. Given the many very real dangers associated with the NAM (not least of which its heavy roots in Eastern religions and the occult), Christians need to be very wary indeed.

Biblical discernment is required, even with some aspects which may be more or less spiritually neutral in themselves (various physical therapies and breathing exercises, etc). Indeed, we need to be wise and well-informed about the various recovery techniques, or psycho-technologies.

new age 2For example, how should Christians think about such things as creative visualization, tarot cards, alternative medicines, yoga, numerology, colour therapy, reflexology, astrology, the martial arts, Reiki, macrobiotics, the use of crystals, acupuncture, pyramids and aroma therapies, and so on?

As mentioned, some of these therapies can have some scientific validity, and some of these things in themselves can be used in a neutral fashion with no spiritual overtones. But far too often they are accompanied by spiritual and occultic baggage. Thus great care and discernment is needed here. These are matters we dare not take lightly or cavalierly.

I will need to pen more articles on the NAM to look more closely at the Eastern and occult influences, practices and beliefs. Suffice it to say that the Bible offers us plenty of warnings about the occult, sorcery, spiritism, magic, divination and so on.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 would be just one of the many passages that need to be considered. And the point to remember here is that the Bible does not ban such things because they do not work. It bans them because they do work – satanic counterfeits abound, and we dare not allow demonic influences into our lives, or the lives of our churches.

It will be noted that most of the books offered here were penned in the 80s and 90s. The NAM was certainly big back then, but it still is today. Perhaps part of the reason why Christians are not writing about it as much today is because it has become so mainstream. It is everywhere part of Western culture, and even worse, it has infiltrated our churches in many areas as well.

And sadly far too many people claiming to be Christians are up to their ears in various NAM practices, if not beliefs. They will actually become quite hostile if you try to point out to them some of the many spiritual dangers involved with these things.

Indeed, just yesterday I wrote a piece on Christians and yoga. Already plenty of battles have broken out, with some believers actually quite offended that I even dared to write about this. They are happy to defend things like yoga to the hilt, and they seem oblivious to any actual dangers involved.

And don’t get me started on how many so-called believers have gotten sucked into the poisonous worldview of folks like Oprah Winfrey. As I have often said before about her, she is one of the biggest promoters of New Age spirituality on the planet, and has deceived millions. Yet plenty of Christians just love her!

As to the books below, they are all almost of equal value. They have different emphases of course, and some cover different aspects of the NAM. Some are a bit more academic in nature while others are pitched at a more popular level.

Some involve personal testimonies of those who were once steeped in the NAM. Some do a great job of integrating all the biblical data on this. I have subsections featured below the main list for more specific areas of study. And if you were to ask me to highlight a few especially helpful authors, I could do that as well.

In the US Douglas Groothuis has penned at least four very useful books on the NAM. In Australia Clifford and Johnson have written a number of good volumes. And on the NAM influence in, if not takeover of, the churches, see especially the many valuable works by Peter Jones, some of which I mention below.

Here then is my list:

General Works
Amano, J. Yutake and Norman Geisler, The Infiltration of the New Age Movement. Tyndale House, 1989.
Ankerberg, John and Craig Branch, Thieves of Innocence. Harvest House, 1993.
Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs. Harvest House, 1996.
Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, The Facts on the New Age Movement. Harvest House, 1988.
Chandler, Russell, Understanding the New Age. Word, 1988.
Clark, David and Norman Geisler, Apologetics in the New Age: A Christian Critique of Pantheism. Baker, 1990.
Clifford, Ross and Philip Johnson, Jesus and the Gods of the New Age. Lion Publishing, 2001.
Clifford, Ross and Philip Johnson, Sacred Quest. Albatross Books, 1993.
Clifford, Ross and Philip Johnson, Taboo or to Do? Darton, Longman and Todd, 2016.
Drane, John, What is the New Age Saying to the Church? Marshall Pickering, 1999.
Groothuis, Douglas, Confronting the New Age. IVP, 1988.
Groothuis, Douglas, Deceived by the Light. Harvest House, 1995.
Groothuis, Douglas, Unmasking the New Age. IVP, 1986.
Herrick, James, The Making of the New Spirituality. IVP, 2003.
Hoyt, Karen, et. Al., The New Age Rage. Revell, 1987.
Jones, Peter, Capturing the Pagan Mind. B&H Publishing, 2003.
Jones, Peter, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992.
Jones, Peter, The Other Worldview. Kirkdale Press, 2015.
Jones, Peter, Pagans in the Pews. Regal Books, 2001.
Jones, Peter, Spirit Wars. WinePress Publishing, 1997.
Lucas, Ernest, Science and the New Age Challenge. IVP, 1996.
McRoberts, Kerry, New Age or Old Lie? Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
Martin, Walter, The New Age Cult. Bethany House, 1989.
Michaelsen, Johanna, The Beautiful Side of Evil. Paperback. Harvest House, 1982.
Miller, Elliot, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement. Baker, 1989.
Newport, John, The New Age Movement and the Biblical Worldview. Eerdmans, 1998.
Rhodes, Ron, New Age Movement. Zondervan, 1995.
Scott, Brad, Embraced by the Darkness. Crossway, 1996.
Smith, F. LaGard, What You Need to Know About the New Age Movement. Harvest House, 1993.
Strohmer, Charles, The Gospel and the New Spirituality. Thomas Nelson, 1996.
Strohmer, Charles, Wise as a Serpent, Harmless as a Dove. Word, 1994.

The New Age Jesus
Groothuis, Douglas, Jesus in an Age of Controversy. Harvest House, 1996.
Groothuis, Douglas, Revealing the New Age Jesus. IVP, 1990.
Rhodes, Ron, The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement. Baker, 1990.
Zacharias, Ravi, Why Jesus? FaithWorks, 2012.

Reincarnation
Albrecht, Mark, Reincarnation: A Christian Appraisal. IVP, 1982.
Geisler, Norman and J. Yutaka Amano, The Reincarnation Sensation. Tyndale, 1986.
Morey, Robert, Reincarnation and Christianity. Bethany House, 1980.
Snyder, John, Reincarnation vs. Resurrection. Moody Press, 1984.

Near Death Experiences
Abanes, Richard, Journey into the Light. Baker, 1996.
Alnor, William, Heaven Can’t Wait. Baker, 1996.
Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, The Facts on Life after Death. Harvest House, 1992.
Green, H. Leon, If I Should Wake Before I Die. Crossway, 1997.
Habermas, Gary and J.P. Moreland, Immortality: The Other Side of Death. Thomas Neslon, 1992.

Alternative Medicine
Mathuna, Donal and Walt Larimore, Alternative Medicine. Zondervan, 2001.
Reisser, Paul, Dale Mabe and Robert Velarde, Examining Alternative Medicine. IVP, 2001.
Reisser, Paul, Teri Reisser and John Weldon, The Holistic Healers. IVP, 1983.

Oprah Winfrey and the NAM
Bruner, Kurt, Oprah’s Jesus. Destiny Image, 2010.
Lutzer, Erwin, Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth: A Critique. Moody, 2008.
McDowell, Josh and Dave Sterrett, “O” God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah’s Spirituality. WND Books, 2009.

Happy reading, and stay safe.

[1315 words]

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CultureWatch: Christians and Yoga

A really lousy piece that appeared in today’s Herald Sun entitled “Yoga classes banned for ridiculous reason” deserves some attention. The reporter must have had too much spare time on his hands, and the subeditor too much empty space to fill in his paper. It begins this way:

Yoga classes are being banned in some Sydney church halls because the exercise practice may lead Christians to “worshipping false gods”. Erskineville’s Anglican Church, in Sydney’s inner west, is not allowing yoga classes in its hall after June 30 to stop “spiritual confusion”.
And other churches across the region have been told by the Anglican church’s Sydney Diocese to “review” yoga classes being conducted on any church premises. This review comes after the diocese received a report — Yoga and other such activities — from its Social Issues Committee, at its 2015 Synod, the annual policy meeting of clergy and lay people.
In the report, the committee urged that yoga be kicked out of church and school halls because it “emerges from an Eastern religious background”. The Synod, in accepting the report, noted that the First Commandment points out that “as Christ’s disciples” they must “avoid participating in the worship of false gods”.
The committee advised churches not to rent out their premises to yoga classes “on account of the spiritual confusion this may cause”. It also suggested that other activities such as tai chi, some martial arts and dragon boating should be examined because they are contrary to the gospel.
A diocese spokesman said the church was reviewing classes being conducted on church premises where there was a spiritual teaching associated with the practice, “as opposed to yoga positions done merely for the sake of exercise”.
“The review is ongoing in a number of churches. In the case of Erskineville, conversations have been entered into with class providers but no final decision has yet been taken,” the spokesman said. But two yoga teachers said they have been told by church officials that their rental agreements with an inner west church would not be renewed after July 1 if they continue yoga classes.

yoga 1This is a silly and rather nasty piece for several reasons. First of all, why should what churches allow or prohibit on their own premises be a worry to any smart alec secular newspaper reporter? So what if a church does or does not hold bingo nights? So what if a church does or does not allow square dances?

What a church decides its building can be used for should not concern in the least a secular newspaper – unless it is fomenting terrorism, urging the overthrow of the government, etc. And that is just what many Islamic mosques are allowing. Maybe these cadet reporters should go to a mosque if they are looking for a serious story.

But another problem with this piece is that there are indeed very good reasons why Christian churches should look more closely at allowing these practices in their buildings. While yoga may be seen just as a harmless form of exercise, meditation or relaxation for some, there is absolutely no question that there ARE spiritual overtones to this which all believers need to be aware of.

The discipline of yoga (from a Sanskrit word meaning yoking, joining, union) is especially found in Hinduism but also in other Eastern religions. The goal is to silence and empty the mind, to enable you to unite with the divine within. The control of one’s consciousness is to achieve moksha or liberation. Bhakti yoga (transcendental meditation) and hatha yoga (mainly physical exercises) are especially popular in the West.

But the idea that a Christian can just be involved in some spiritually neutral physical exercises while avoiding any contact with the broader spiritual and occultic realities is to skate on thin ice. As Ankerberg and Branch warn:

It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate yoga theory (Eastern metaphysics) and practice (postures, breath control, etc.) . . . The very physical postures and breathing exercises adopted in yoga are intended to metaphysically influence both mind and spirit. . . . Virtually all the authoritative texts reveal that yoga is an occult practice. Yoga is designed to awaken occult energies in the body, to lead to an occult transformation, and to secure specific occult goals. . . . Yoga involves far more than mere physical exercise; at its core it is an occult practice having occult goals.

Christians of all people need to be aware of what is really happening with yoga. As McDowell and Stewart say about TM: “Although some degree of success in relaxation can be achieved by practicing TM, the dangers far outweigh the benefits. There is a Christian alternative to TM and that consists of meditation on God’s Word, the only source of real peace.”

I can quote many other experts here, but let me finish with just two more. In the 80s and 90s Christian apologist and New Age authority Douglas Groothuis penned four very helpful volumes on the New Age Movement:
Unmasking the New Age (IVP, 1986)
Confronting the New Age (IVP, 1988)
Revealing the New Age Jesus (IVP, 1990)
Deceived by the Light (Harvest House, 1995)

These are all very informative volumes which believers should be aware of. But instead of quoting from these books, let me refer you to an interview Al Mohler conducted with Groothuis seven years ago. It is worth reading (or listening to), in its entirety, but here are some extracts from it:

Groothuis: Well a lot of Christians really want to know whether the practice of yoga can be incorporated into a faithful, biblical way of life and sadly, many Christians are answering yes to that. We have some emerging church leaders such as Doug Padgett and others saying that it is simply a physical discipline, you don’t have to incorporate the element of Hinduism and in fact it can actually bring you closer to God, the God of the Bible, the God of the universe, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and I do not believe that is the case for many reasons but the word yoga itself means to be yoked or to be in union and it comes out of this ancient non-Christian religion called Hinduism and it’s one of the essential planks of Hinduism. Hinduism is a very big tent but all forms of Hinduism advocate as a necessary spiritual discipline some type of yoga and yoga involves physical practices such as postures and breathing and chanting but the essential point, the goal of yoga is not the purification of the body or the beautification of the physique, the point of yoga is a change in consciousness, a transformation of the consciousness wherein one finds oneself at one with the ultimate reality which in Hinduism is Brahman so when people brought Hinduism to the West as is detailed in this book by Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body and other books, they didn’t always emphasize the overtly religious aspects. In some cases they did, in some cases they did not, in fact in the case of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who brought transcendental meditation to the West, Maharishi sold this form of yoga when he was a guru as simply a way to be more peaceful, to become more intelligent and so on. But he was basing his teachings on the ancient Hindu doctrines of the Vedas the primary scriptures of Hinduism.

He explains how this is a counterfeit spirituality:

Groothuis: Yoga tells you to go within to find the absolutes. Now Scripture teaches us that we are made in the image and likeness of God however we are fallen and Jesus said that out of the heart comes all these various evils so we cannot find our true self and find salvation by looking within. Our true self is damaged through sin and the only cure, or the only rescue comes from outside of the self and I love the way Frances Schaeffer use to put it – he said we lift up the empty hand of faith so we lift them up, up unto the Lord and they’re empty. Or as J.I. Packer put it, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is our need for salvation. Now yoga says that through these postures, through the breathing, through the chanting, you can discern and unlock the universal, impersonal power which is ultimately known in Hinduism as Brahman that is the telos that is the essential purpose of yoga and Americans want better bodies and they want to feel peaceful and that’s why they’re initially interested in yoga but that is certainly not the purpose of it….
Yoga aims at the elimination of the body, it is a depersonalizing, deindividualizing, dehumanizing practice because the ultimate reality in Hinduism is not a personal moral creator but Brahman an unknowable something that you dissolve into.

Can there be some physical benefits to yoga? Yes but…

Groothuis: Well if something is truly yoga it has that spiritual basis and that spiritual direction and that spiritual essence. Now are there bodily postures that are similar or maybe even identical to some yoga postures that have some health benefits? Yes, but I always tell people when they ask me this question, any health benefit you could derive from yoga you can get from outside of yoga such as through Pilates or physical therapy or something like that. Yoga means being yoked with Brahman essentially and you don’t want to submit yourself to that alien spiritual practice so if there are limited physical benefits they can be obtained outside of the practice of yoga itself.
Mohler: I think that’s very well stated and I think the other side to that is that if you have to get into some kind of meditative state in order to assume some kind of posture you are defining as exercise you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s mere exercise.
Groothuis: Exactly and that is the point of yoga. It is the transformation of consciousness from the finite to the infinite and only God is the infinite personal creator. We are the finite personal creatures and yoga wants to blend those two into this one faceless non-personal thing and yoga is the means to achieve that.

Finally, a brief quote from one Hindu, Rajiv Malhotra, who understands the very real incompatibility of yoga and biblical Christianity:

While yoga is not a “religion” in the sense that the Abrahamic religions are, it is a well-established spiritual path. Its physical postures are only the tip of an iceberg, beneath which is a distinct metaphysics with profound depth and breadth. Its spiritual benefits are undoubtedly available to anyone regardless of religion. However, the assumptions and consequences of yoga do run counter to much of Christianity as understood today. This is why, as a Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, I agree with the Southern Baptist Seminary President, Albert Mohler, when he speaks of the incompatibility between Christianity and yoga, arguing that “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” is fundamentally at odds with Christian teaching. This incompatibility runs much deeper.
Yoga’s metaphysics center around the quest to attain liberation from one’s conditioning caused by past karma. Karma includes the baggage from prior lives, underscoring the importance of reincarnation. While it is fashionable for many Westerners to say they believe in karma and reincarnation, they have seldom worked out the contradictions with core Biblical doctrines….

He concludes:

Most of the 20 million American yoga practitioners encounter these issues and find them troubling. Some have responded by distorting yogic principles in order to domesticate it into a Christian framework, i.e. the oxymoron, ‘Christian Yoga.’ Others simply avoid the issues or deny the differences. Likewise, many Hindu gurus obscure differences, characterizing Jesus as a great yogi and/or as one of several incarnations of God. These views belie the principles stated in the Nicene Creed, to which members of mainstream Christian denominations must adhere. They don’t address the above underlying contradictions that might undermine their popularity with Judeo-Christian Americans. This is reductionist and unhelpful both to yoga and Christianity.

While much more can be said on this topic, I do encourage all Christians who are engaging in yoga to consider what they are doing, and if they may not be involving themselves in something they really should not be. And I for one am thankful that this Sydney church DID take a careful look at the issue, and did decide to let those who want to teach yoga do it elsewhere.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/sydney-church-bans-yoga-classes-because-of-spiritual-confusion/news-story/1f7485c47314e44af4822e6638c12aa3
http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-meaning-of-yoga-a-conversation-with-stephanie-syman-and-doug-groothius/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/hindu-view-of-christian-yoga_b_778501.html

[2095 words]

The post Christians and Yoga appeared first on CultureWatch.

Hell: “It is apparently not enough for some of the liberal-minded to help those on Medicare and Social Security; now people must be guaranteed eligibility for heaven as well.”

One of the best comments about Bernie Sanders’ opposition to a nominee’s confirmation because he didn’t believe Muslims are saved comes from Michael Gerson:  “It is apparently not enough for some of the liberal-minded to help those on Medicare and Social Security; now people must be guaranteed eligibility for heaven as well.”  See also Lutheran Satire’s [Read More…]

REALITY For America If They Will Hear It!

When ETERNAL spiritual absolutes and natural and moral laws are rejected for a delusional reality and a godless morality (which is actually immorality), know that the end is near to our nation! America today cannot survive under the EXPONENTIAL weight of our godlessness, decadence and licentious society. What I find absolutely amazing is how today’s media and the Washington establishment – made up of Marxist Democrats and moderate Marxist Republicans – are seeking to promote and expand on the social suicidal lawless agenda of moral relativism. These reprobates in their thinking believe in doing so that all will be good and all will bring peace and unity to America. O blind deceivers! Even now after a little grace to our nation by Almighty God in this past 2016 election year we are still at the imploding point in light of what the false prophets of optimism preach today.

 Today’s modern conservatism movement is at “the Alamo” and anyone who is truly objective has to see that.

Today’s modern conservatism movement is at “the Alamo” and anyone who is truly objective has to see that even if president Trump should embraced a social conservative platform – which in many ways he has not – it could never be able at this point in our history to sustain nor override the EXPONENTIAL weight of the cultural junk heap and social devastation placed on America by the “Haters of RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Sad to say, even conservatives today refuse to be objective about our day and the realities of Almighty God and His Word. In many ways, conservatives are no different from today’s secularists. Both of these groups – though dramatically different politically – REJECT the Divine revelation of Almighty God found in His authoritative Word and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16-17, Rom. 6:23; 10:2-4).

Even now after a little grace to our nation by Almighty God in this past 2016 election year we are at still at the imploding point.

When the Rapture of the Church finally transpires, America will fracture into anarchy and discord because of today’s strong partisan stances and ideological differences in Washington D.C.. Following the removal of Almighty God’s redeemed from the earth at the Rapture, a second American civil war will arise and as the Day of the Lord begins full blown lawlessness will sweep across this nation (Matt. 24:10-12, Rev. 6-19). In the end, America’s final demise will be its assimilation into the godless United States of Europe (Rev. 17:13,14), and those who remain of the United States of America will then go against Almighty God at the Battle of Armageddon (Psalm 2; Joel 3:2; Zech. 14:2; Rev. 16:13-16).

Dear friends, today is America any different than Israel of old who had forsaken Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS ways and reaped upon herself the wages of ALL her destructive vices. Do not be deceived, for we cannot continue to violate EXPONENTIALLY Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS and moral absolutes and not receive His RIGHTEOUS retribution!

Today, trust not in America and harden not your hearts to the Word of Almighty God! Understand objectively that ALL of humanity needs a saving relationship to Almighty God; through Jesus Christ the RIGHTEOUS Savior and RIGHTEOUS propitiation for ALL of Adam’s fallen race (Matt. 6:33, 1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 John 4:10). May you consider and may you seek the RIGHTEOUS One, who loved you and gave Himself for you that you may have forgiveness of sins and ETERNAL Life!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

10 Things Your Children and Grandchildren Need To Know About You

What do your children and grandchildren know about you?

I don’t mean where you were born, and what school you went to, interesting though that might be. What do they know about what God has been doing in your life and what he is doing right now?

Some years ago, a friend and mentor said to me, “Be sure you spend good time with your sons during your teenage years.” I took his advice, and during their high school years I made the habit of spending one evening each week with one of our two boys. We would head to the shops, play tennis, or enjoy a good Chicago hot dog together.

In addition to our family times, my wife Karen and I both found that we were able to engage our children in a different and deeper conversation when we were with them one-on-one. Now that we are grandparents, we will soon have the opportunity of doing something similar with our grandchildren.

10 Things Your Children and Grandchildren Need to Know About You

Paul had a close mentoring relationship with his young apprentice, Timothy, and his description of what Timothy knew about him gives a helpful framework for some great conversations:

You…know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…Yet the Lord rescued me from them all. (2 Timothy 3:10-11, NIV)

These verses give a checklist of 10 things you want your children and grandchildren to know about you.

1. Your teaching

What do you believe about the Bible, about the effects of sin in the human personality, about who Jesus is, and why he died and rose? What about the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, about the church, baptism and communion, and our glorious hope in the second coming of our Lord?

2. Your way of life

What has weighed most heavily in the choices that have shaped your lifestyle? There’s a great conversation to be enjoyed here about the value of living within your means, and the way you make choices about your use of money.

3. Your purpose

How would you describe the great purpose of your life? How have you pursued (or not pursued) that in the past, and how are you pursuing it now?

4. Your faith.

Where in your life have you most had to trust God?

5. Your patience

Where have you had to be especially patient in your life, and what did you learn when what you sought was long delayed?

6. Your love

Who and what do you love the most? This question opens up a great opportunity to affirm your love for your family, the Lord, and his people.

7. Your endurance

When did you find it especially difficult to persevere in something that God was calling you to do, and how did you find the strength to keep going?

8. Your persecutions

Where have you endured hardship that came into your life because you were serving the Lord? Your children and grandchildren will know that following Christ is always costly. What they need to grasp is that it is always worth it.

9. Your sufferings

How have you suffered in your life, and how has the Lord helped you in your suffering?

10. Your deliverance

Paul speaks about how God rescued him from all the afflictions that he faced. How has the Lord rescued or delivered you?

How to Start These Conversations

One way to get started would be to tell your children or grandchildren about this verse, and suggest that when you are together, you would like to have 10 conversations that mirror those Paul would have had with Timothy.

You could use the questions above to start these conversations, and after you have taken the lead in sharing your experience, you could ask your child or grandchild to respond by sharing theirs. Hearing them open up about what they believe and where they struggle will be a great blessing to you and to them.

You have more to share with your children and grandchildren than you may think, and they may have more interest in hearing than you might expect.

[This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s June 2017 column in Mature Living Magazine.]

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The post 10 Things Your Children and Grandchildren Need To Know About You appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Alexander: There WAS Collusion…

ALEXANDER’S COLUMN

The Smoking Gun: There WAS Collusion…

By Mark Alexander · June 7, 2017   Print

“[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.” —George Washington (1795)

2017-06-07-c0508b88_large.jpg

The Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy is, arguably, one of the most successful “fake news” propaganda campaigns in the history of the Democratic Party‘s decades-long collusion with mainstream media PR outlets.

Indeed, there is no foreseeable end to the Demo/MSM transparent collusion to delegitimize the legitimate election of Donald Trump and to undermine his legislative agenda and that of congressional Republicans, including the restoration of Rule of Law.

The Demo/MSM charade centers on the claim that Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin cut a deal to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Apparently, we are to believe that Mr. Trump’s agenda in support of Liberty is more aligned with Putin’s socialist ideology than Clinton’s mega-socialist ideology, or that of her hyper-socialist opponent, Bernie Sanders.

Of course, it’s much more likely that, if the Russians endeavored to undermine Clinton’s abysmal campaign specifically, it was because she colluded with the DNC to undermine the campaign of Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate — the aforementioned Bernie Sanders. If Russian surrogate hackers had a candidate-specific objective, it was to punish Clinton for rigging the Democrat campaign against Sanders. It was certainly not to reward Trump, with whom they had nothing in common politically, and whom they undoubtedly assumed would ultimately be crushed by the Clinton machine in the general election.

While punishing Clinton might have been a factor, there is no question that there was a Russian dezinformatsiya campaign in 2016, but the primary objective was to further erode American citizens’ confidence in our government, regardless of who was elected, by undermining the integrity of our election process. Russians have endeavored to hack away at our republican government since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, but, until the digital age, they had to rely on socialist agitators in the U.S. — like Barack Obama and his long list of mentors.

As for collusion with Russia, while there is absolutely no evidence of collusion between Trump and Putin, there is clear and substantiated evidence of such collusion between Obama, Clinton and Putin.

Let’s review…

Vladimir Putin, a hardened communist KGB aggressor, who said famously that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was the disintegration of Russia’s Soviet empire, knew that Obama was a milquetoast president, and an ideological socialist sympathizer at that. Putin is a chess player, while Obama struggled with checkers.

And Clinton, Obama’s understudy, set the tone for relations with Russia as his secretary of state, when, as you recall, she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a giant “reset” button prop with “Peregruzka” stamped on the front. “We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” said Clinton, asking “Do you think we got it?” Lavrov replied, “No,” and informed her that “Peregruzka” didn’t translate as “reset” but “overcharged.”

That faux pas was a fitting metaphor for the Obama/Clinton reset, because they short-circuited our established foreign policy around the globe, but most notably giving rise to the “Russian Spring,” allowing Putin to roll tanks into Ukraine and annex the strategically vital Crimea region.

2016-07-29-5b349fd8_large.jpg

And if there was ever conclusive evidence of treasonous election collusion between Obama and Putin, it would be Obama’s 2012 hot mike assurance to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would surrender NATO’s plans for anti-ballistic missile defenses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria after his re-election. He told Medvedev, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this — this can be solved, but it’s important for [incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin] to give me space. This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Medvedev replied, “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” He added, “I stand with you.”

Again — “I stand with you.”

As for Clinton, the benefit of collusion with Russia prior to her 2016 campaign was much more personally enriching. Recall how she approved the back-channel sale of 20% of our uranium reserves to Putin’s cronies at Rosatom. Remember how she and her campaign chairman John Podesta lied about that deal until emails hacked from her secret communications server exposed their collusion. Recollect how the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in connection with that deal, and millions more from other Putin oligarchs.

And Podesta certainly profited handsomely, his company receiving millions from a fund established by Putin, while Podesta’s brother Tony was also on the Putin payroll. And all this while Bill Clinton picked up a $500,000 check for a speech in Russia.

2017-06-07-1aad344d_large.jpg

And what howls of protest from Demos and the MSM did we hear about all this authentic collusion? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

So what about Trump and Putin?

This week, all of the MSM shock banner ALERTS are promoting the upcoming congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, who Obama and Clinton wanted to fire, but Trump finally fired for plenty of good cause.

This would be the same James Comey who Hillary Clinton recently blamed for her election loss, as trumpeted in thousands of headlines nationwide: “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president. It wasn’t a perfect campaign, but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Comey’s letter and Russian WikiLeaks.”

Expect to hear Comey parse his answers to Republican questions, but provide no smoking gun in the Democrats’ quest to ramp up their Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy charade.

On the subject of smoking guns, while there is plenty of evidence establishing a wide range of collusion between Obama, Clinton and Putin, what evidence is there tying Trump to Putin?

Of course, there has not been even a puff of smoke affirming the Demo/MSM alleged Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election — unless by “interfere” Democrats mean that Russian surrogates may have hacked Clinton’s illegal and unsecure email server, where she unlawfully maintained official and classified communications to hide them from the public record in advance of her 2016 election — and then, as Clinton asserted last week, turned those communications over to WikiLeaks for public disclosure. The irony of Clinton’s charges is that her official communications were mandated by law to be public record.

According to leftist Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, nothing, nada, zilch.

Asked in a CNN interview if she had seen any evidence of such collusion, she said, “Well, no — no…” When pressed by the interviewer about her “access from the Intelligence Committee, from the Judiciary Committee, all of the access you have had to very sensitive information, so far you have not seen any evidence of collusion, is that right?” Feinstein replied, “Well, there are all kinds of rumors around, there are newspaper stories, but that’s not necessarily evidence.”

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, reinforced Feinstein’s views regarding the Russian collusion charade: “We have no smoking gun at this point.”

Michael Morell, Barack Obama’s former CIA director, said of the Trump/Putin connection, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

So the MSM has trumpeted every conversation about anything between any person with whom Donald Trump has any association, and someone connected with Russia.

Allow me to repeat my assessment about the Demo/MSM collusion conspiracy theory: The very real collusion between the Democrats and their MSM propagandists has one objective — to keep the agenda of Donald Trump and congressional Republicans on the ropes.

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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CultureWatch: Two Humanities, Two Destinies

I remember some years ago a very liberal Christian attacked me for suggesting that there are actually two classes of humanity: the people of God, and those who are not God’s people. He thought that this was an unloving, judgmental and divisive thing to believe and say.

He believed that we are all one big happy family, and there should be no talk about two humanities, or two destinies, or the saved and the lost, or the righteous and the unrighteous, or sinners and saints. He felt that God was an inclusive God who embraces everyone, and we make things hard on sinners if we speak of two humanities.

Sadly many folks believe this lie, including some very popular Christian leaders of today. One noted writer whose books and films have been adored by countless Christians is William Paul Young. But he is one of those who believe that at the end of the day we are included in God’s love.

He is a universalist in other words, who thinks we all are ultimately saved, whether we like it or not. And the very hell he seeks to deny is where millions of folks will go, including those who believe his false teachings. I have written about his older book The Shack as well as his newest book. See here:

http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/04/11/a-review-of-the-shack-by-william-young-part-one/
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/04/11/a-review-of-the-shack-by-william-young-part-two/
billmuehlenberg.com/2017/04/20/william-paul-young-heretic-part-one/
billmuehlenberg.com/2017/04/20/william-paul-young-heretic-part-two/

two roads 4Many others have written about him and his damaging views, including James De Young. In addition to his earlier helpful writings about William Paul Young, he has recently penned an article which looks at his long-standing universalism which is well worth reading: burningdowntheshackbook.com/truth-versus-lies/

One sure way to dispel this faulty notion of one humanity which is all happily reconciled to God is to simply read what the Word of God has to say about this. When we do, we find that from Genesis to Revelation there is always talk about two humanities.

We have the saved and the unsaved. The godly and the ungodly. The righteous and the unrighteous. The redeemed and the lost. And this is found in the earliest biblical accounts of man. Just as soon as Adam and Eve fell, God told them about a divided humanity which would be continuous, extending throughout the generations. Genesis 3:15 says:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.

Here we have talk about a godly seed or line, and an ungodly seed or line. And the fact that God chooses some people to be his own also demonstrates how we have two main groups of people. The choice of Israel over all other nations is a prime example of this. We find this often discussed in Scripture.

In Exodus 8:22-23 for example we read this: “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.”

Other texts speak of the crucial division between Israel and non-Israel. Exodus 11:6-7 says, “There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal. Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.”

And we find this in Leviticus 18:3: “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” Consider as well Leviticus 20:22-26:

Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

The wisdom literature is of course filled with talk of the two humanities. Let me offer just a few of these passages:

-Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
-Psalm 11:5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
-Psalm 37:17 for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
-Psalm 37:37-38 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
-Proverbs 3:33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.
-Proverbs 10:3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
-Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

The prophets too spoke about this. Let me offer just two texts, the first one being Daniel 12:10: “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”

The second is Malachi 3:18:

Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.

Things remain the same when we get to the New Testament. The gospels often dwell on this. Jesus led the way in emphasising this. As he said in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

And consider Matthew 25:31-46 which speaks about the judgment between sheep and goats. Other gospel texts that can be mentioned include:

-Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
-John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God
-John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

And in John 8:31-47 we read about the dispute concerning whose children Jesus’ opponents are. In verse 39 they say, “Abraham is our father”. But in verse 44 Jesus replies, “you are of your father the devil”. Whom, sure sounds like two different lines there – a godly and an ungodly line.

Jesus and the disciples also spoke about the two humanities in terms of the future resurrection and judgment. As we find in Acts 24:15: “I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

Paul too speaks in such terms. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 he writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he says, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Peter also speaks about the two humanities. For example, 1 Peter 2:10 puts it this way: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” And this is clearly spelled out in the book of Revelation. Consider Revelation 20:11–15:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

This is just a small selection of the numerous passages which clearly delineate the two humanities and the two destinies. We are not all one big happy family of God. We are all born sinners, but only those who repent and put their faith in God can claim to be part of his household.

People may squabble over competing sports teams and boast about which side they are on. And folks can claim allegiance to a nation or a philosophy or a lifestyle, over against all the others. But the one thing that really matters is which side you are on when it comes to the two humanities.

That is the most important issue we need to deal with. Moses put it this way: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Joshua put it this way: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Jesus put it this way: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And John put it this way: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Please choose wisely.

[1910 words]

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Seven Personality Types of Sick Churches

Sick churches become dying churches.

Dying churches become closed churches.

Those statements are factual unless some type of change or intervention takes place. But intervention or change is unlikely unless the church recognizes that it is sick.

In simple terms, we must first be aware that many of our churches are sick.

In order to help create greater awareness, I have described illustratively seven personality types of sick churches. For certain, no one church is a perfect illustration of any one type. But I am confident you will recognize churches that have taken on one of these seven as a dominant personality type.

  1. The Denier. Several years ago I did a consultation at a church in the Midwest. The church’s worship attendance had declined by over 60 percent the past ten years, but most of the members I interviewed told me the church was fine. That church will be “fine” all the way to its closing.
  2. The Deflector. In these churches you hear constant complaints about what others outside the church are doing wrong. It’s the denomination’s fault. It’s the culture’s fault. It’s the young people’s fault. And, too many times, it’s always the pastor’s fault. Thus the church’s pattern is a series of short-term pastorates.
  3. The Cool Kid. These churches are rarely viewed as sick. They are typically growing numerically, and often are seen as the cool church in town. But their growth is largely tied to a single ministry, like bus ministries of the past, or to a charismatic leader. When the charismatic leader or the hot ministry goes away, the church declines dramatically. This illness is particularly dangerous because of its superficial appearance of robust health.
  4. The Nostalgic. The nostalgic church lives in the past. It longs for “Brother Bill,” the pastor of thirty years ago. The members are convinced if they would just return to music styles and programs of the past, everything would be fine. These churches grow increasingly unhealthy because they exert so much effort to resist change.
  5. The Street Fighter. These churches are downright mean. Their business meetings are more like a street fight. Bullies and critics often control the church, while the majority of the members remain silent in cowardly fear. The healthier members exit quickly, exacerbating the sickness of the mean church.
  6. The Autopilot. These churches do things they way they’ve always done them because they know of no other way. They don’t necessarily resist change, because they don’t even see the need for change. As long as we do the church the way we did it in 1974, we will be fine.
  7. The Living Dead. There are few active members left in these churches. Most of the members recognize the church is sick, because the worship center is 83 percent vacant. Often the remaining members become desperate and somewhat open to change. Unfortunately, it is usually too late to do anything. The church is on the precipice of death.

I share these less-than-pleasant realities with the prayerful hope they could be used by God as a wake-up call to leaders and members of sick churches. And in my next post, I will share the dismal topic of the six stages of church death with that same hope and prayer.

Source: Seven Personality Types of Sick Churches

Free E-Book: The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel

One of my favorite features on Truthbomb is our Free Apologetics E-book Library located here.

We have recently added a Free PDF version of Lee Strobel’s book The Case for a Creatorfrom Northwestern Theological Seminary’s free online resources. 

For those who haven’t read this work, it features compelling arguments for the existence of God.

You can get it here.