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Are You Dancing with Darkness?

10/31/2014

Link: about.me/gideonsword

 

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An Invitation to the Occult?

Halloween – 1997

 

Author: Chuck Missler
Source: Koinonia House-Update

This is always a difficult time for Christians, especially those with children. It has been suggested that for a Christian to be asked to celebrate Halloween is like asking a Holocaust survivor to celebrate Hitler’s birthday!

It is also a dangerous time for some, since many of the seemingly “harmless” involvements associated with Halloween can also be “entries” for the occult, and can prove very tragic for the unwary.

Pagan Background
In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic festival of Samhain was observed on October 31, the end of summer. November 1 was the new year for both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon calendars and was one of the most important and yet sinister calendar festivals of the Celtic Year.

Settling in northern France and the British Isles, the Celtic people engaged in occultic arts and worshiped nature, giving it supernatural, animistic qualities. (Much like our Federal government is attempting to enforce today.)

The ancient Druids were the learned priestly class of the Celtic religion. Many of their beliefs and practices were similar to those of Hinduism, such as reincarnation and the transmigration of the soul, which teaches that people may be reborn as animals. The Druids believed that on October 31, the night before their New Year and the last day of the old year, Samhain, the Lord of Death, gathered the souls of the evil dead who had been condemned to enter the bodies of animals.

The Druids also believed that the punishment of the evil dead would be lightened by sacrifices, prayers and gifts to the Lord of Death. (This begins to reveal the strange link between this holiday and the non-Biblical concept of purgatory.)

The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired a sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature.

And, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther drove a stake into the heart of many of the prevailing non-Biblical concepts by nailing his famous 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, which started the movement known today as the Reformation-the single most important event in modern history.1 Appropriately, he did this on Halloween.


Modern Halloween Traditions

In early American history, Halloween was not widely practiced until the 20th century, when it was introduced by the Irish Catholic settlements. Gradually, Halloween became a secular observance, and many customs and practices developed. The carved pumpkin may have originated with the witches’ use of a skull with a candle inside to light the way to coven meetings.

Since 1965 UNICEF, an agency of the United Nations, has attempted to incorporate into the Halloween observance the collection of money for the United Nations Children’s Fund. This exploitation by the ungodly United Nations of this pagan holiday seems strangely appropriate.

The Occult is Increasingly Popular
Halloween is, for many, a “crossover” involvement in which innocent games can lead to serious entanglement with real witches, neo-pagans, New Agers, and other occultists.2 A common pastime is the use of a Ouija board to attempt to contact ghosts or spirits that are believed to be roaming about. This can lead to serious consequences including demon possession.3 Demons have a vested interest in Halloween because it supports the occult, and it also offers novel and unexpected opportunities to control and influence people.

Forms of the occult can include mediums, channelers, clairvoyants, psychics, spiritists, diviners, mystics, gurus, shamans, psychical researchers, Yogis, psychic and holistic healers, astral travel, astrology, mysticism, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, contact with the dead, UFOs, and thousands of other practices which almost defy cataloging.

Occultism includes Satanism, astrology, Kabbalah, Gnosticism, theosophy, witchcraft and many forms of serious magic. It includes activities seeking the acquisition of “hidden” things-which are expressly forbidden by God in the Bible.

 

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The Biblical View
Halloween practices can open the door to the occult and can introduce forces into people’s lives that they are not equipped to combat.4 There is genuine power in the occult, but it is demonic power.5

Any serious study of Biblical demonology will reveal Satan as the power behind false religion, witchcraft, idolatry and the occult.6 The Word of God makes it clear that these are all to be shunned as dangerous. There were many superstitions and false concepts in ancient Israel about which the Bible is silent. However, occultism, in any form, was punishable by death! Why?

The spiritual power and reality behind idols involves demons.7 The Bible commands us to shun occult practices. Mediums and spiritists are expressly prohibited.8 Nowhere are such practices acceptable.

Your Protection
Intellect alone is insufficient. “If it were possible, it would deceive the very elect.” This is another example of the necessity to truly understand the Armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6. This brief review was excerpted from our featured briefing package, Halloween: Invitation to the Occult?
[Related Article: Blending Witchcraft and Christianity]

End Notes

1. Manuscript by his son D. Paul Luther preserved in the library at Rudolstadt, quoted by F.W. Boreham in A Bunch of Everlastings or Texts That Made History, Judson Press, Philadelphia, 1920, p.20.

2. See Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, Eugene OR, 1996.

3. The case studies underlying William Blatty’s The Exorcist indicate that the trouble all began with a child playing with a Ouija board.

4. Russ Parker, Battling the Occult, Inter-Varsity Press, Downer’s Grove IL, 1990, p.35.

5. Isa 47:9; Mt 24:24; Acts 8:7; 13:6-11; 16:16-19; 19:18-20; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 6:7-11, 22; 2 Tim 3:8.

6. Deut 32:16,17; Ps 106:35-40; Acts 16:16-19; 1 Cor 10:19-21; 2 Thess 2:9, 10; 1 Tim 4:1f.

7. 1 Cor 10:20; Ps 106:37.

8. Lev 19:31; Deut 18:10, 11, 14 2 Chr 33:6.

Sources

- Missler, Chuck, Signs in the Heavens, The Mysteries of the Planet Mars Halloween: Invitation to the Occult? (briefing packages), Koinonia House, 1991-6.

- Ankerberg, John, and Weldon, John, The Facts on Halloween, Harvest House, Eugene OR, 1996. A key reference for this article.

- Sykes, Egerton, Who’s Who in Non-Classical Mythology, J.M. Dent, London, 1993.

- Patten, Donald Wesley, Catastrophism and the Old Testament, Pacific Meridian Publishing Co., Seattle WA, 1995.

- Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, Eugene OR, 1996.

- Also the video, Halloween: Trick or Treat, Jeremiah Films, Hemet CA

This article was originally published in the
October 1997 Personal Update NewsJournal.

HALLOWEEN

10/31/2014

Link: about.me/gideonsword

 

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Halloween

 

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Source: Let God Be True!

 

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Hallowe’en: The eve of All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day celebrated the last night of October. In the Old Celtic calendar the year began on November 1, so that the last evening of October was the night of all the witches, which the Church transformed into the Eve of All Saints. Source: The Oxford English Dictionary.

1. The Druids invented the earliest Halloween celebrations. They were an order of Celtic sorcerers. The Bible condemns all sorcery and sorcerers (Rev. 21:8; 22:15).

2. November 1, the first day of the Celtic year, was a feast day to Samhain, lord of the dead, by the Druids. But the Christian God is the God of the living (Mark 12:27)!

3. The jack-o-lantern, large fires, and apple bobbing also come from superstitious paganism, as most any encyclopedia will prove; but God condemns the use of religious practices from unbelievers (Deut. 12:29-32; Jer. 10:1-2).

4. The only cultures and societies that masquerade religiously as evil characters around fires at night are patently pagan, God-rejecting, devil-worshipping nations, which Christians are to entirely reject (Lev. 18:24,28; Deut. 4:6; 9:5; 12:29-32; 18:9,14).

5. When God wrote the laws for Israel, all witches and any related persons were to be put to death, for He strongly hates anyone seeking to devils and witchcraft rather than to Himself (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26,31; 20:6,27; Deut. 18:9-12; I Chron. 10:13-14).

6. God specifically commanded His people not to learn the dark customs of the nations around Israel, including all forms of witchcraft (Lev. 18:1-4; Deut. 12:1-4,29-32; 18:9-12).

7. The idolatrous practices of pagans are devil worship, no matter what the worshipper thinks or intends (Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; II Chron. 11:15; Ps. 106:35-39; I Cor. 10:20).

8. The holy God condemns any observation of the religious traditions and customs of unbelieving pagans, even if you are doing it as a Christian to Him (Deut. 12:29-32).

9. The Catholic Church whitewashed the pagan customs with a new name to keep their pagan “converts” happy. But Jesus Christ declared that church to be the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Rev. 17:1-6; II Thess. 2:9-12; I Tim. 4:1-3).

10. The worshippers of God are to come out of Roman Catholicism by special warning from heaven (Rev. 18:4), and the celebration of Halloween as a non-pagan tradition is clearly and concisely traced directly to the Roman Catholic church. [The holidays celebrated by modern-day North America are the direct result of the efforts of the Catholic church - beginning in the Third century - to bring pagan beliefs and rituals into the church in an effort to attract pagans. This includes Easter, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent, and many other Catholic customs and traditions.]

 

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11. Halloween is an evil day originating with unbelievers and infidels, based on blackness, darkness, night, unrighteousness, and infidelity, which Christians should separate from and not even touch, if they want to be God’s children (II Cor. 6:14-18).

12. Christians burn anything that has to do with witchcraft, for they are commanded not to touch any unclean thing (Deut. 7:25-26; Acts. 19:13-20; Gal. 5:20; II Cor. 6:14-18).

13. Halloween is a worldly religious celebration of pagan origin, and Christians are not be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed (Rom. 12:1-2).

14. When a devil or sorcerer meets God, he knows he is helpless; and one day God will cast all devils, sorcerers, and witches into the Lake of Fire (Ex. 7:11-12; 8:18-19; 9:11-12; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Rev. 21:8; 22:15).

15. The disciples of Jesus Christ and sons of God are to walk as children of light, not as the children of the darkness of this world (Acts 26:18; I Thess. 5:4-8).
[Related Article: The Sedgefield Community]

16. God’s true followers value His precepts on all subjects and hate any idea, opinion, or practice to the contrary (Ps. 119:128; Is. 8:20; II Tim. 3:16-17; I Tim 6:3-5).

17.
Halloween is popular with the world, which is evidence that it is an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). Friendship with the world makes God your enemy (James 4:4).

18. If you must have Halloween, God has offered you a simple alternative. Become a great celebrator of Halloween and reject Christianity, because He cannot stand you polluting His name with your hypocrisy (Ezek. 20:39; Hos. 4:17; Amos 4:4-5).

19. The past lives of Christians had enough excess and sin to cover a lifetime, so there is no need to participate in this worldly, wicked, and pagan celebration (I Pet. 4:3-5).

20. Christians do not threaten “trick or treat” to anyone for any reason, so parents should not endorse such profanity (Gal. 5:14; Eph. 4:31-32; I Thess. 5:15; James 2:8), and neither do Christians deceive others with masks, even for a joke (Prov. 26:18-19; Rom. 13:13).

21. Paul condemned a compromising brand of Christianity that loves pleasure more than God and has a form of religion without authority or true discipleship (II Tim. 3:1-5).

22. The blessed God of heaven seeks worshippers to worship Him in spirit and in truth, according to the apostolic faith once delivered to the saints (John 4:23-24; Jude 1:3).

 

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Abbreviated History and Customs of Halloween

 

“Hallowe’en. The eve of All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day celebrated the last night of October. In the Old Celtic calendar the year began on November 1, so that the last evening of October was ‘old years’ night’, the night of all the witches, which the Church transformed into the Eve of All Saints.”
Source: The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition)

“Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve, the name given to Oct. 31, as the vigil of Hallowmass or All Saints’ Day, now chiefly known as the eve of the Christian festival. It long antedates Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Hallowe’en were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that this is the one night in the year during which ghosts and witches are most likely to wander abroad. History shows that the main celebrations of Hallowe’en were purely Druidical, and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland Oct. 31 is still known as Oidhche Shamhna, ‘Vigil of Sama’. This is directly connected with the Druidic belief in the calling together of certain wicked souls on Hallowe’en by Saman, lord of death.”
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica (14th Edition)

“The Druids, an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings but were changed as a punishment for evil deeds. From these Druidic beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities.”
Source: World Book Encyclopedia (1959 Edition)

 

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“The American celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs which can be traced in direct line from pre-Christian times. Although Halloween has become a night of rollicking fun, superstitious spells, and eerie games which people take only half seriously, its beginnings were quite otherwise. The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, Lord of the dead, whose festival fell on November 1.”
Source: Halloween Through Twenty Centuries (by Ralph Linton)

“It was the Celts who chose the date of October 31 as their new year’s Eve and who originally intended it as a celebration of everything wicked, evil and dead. Also during their celebration they would gather around a community bonfire and offer as sacrifice their animals, their crops, and sometime themselves. And wearing costumes made from the heads and skins of other animals, they would also tell one another’s fortunes for the coming year.
The celebration remained much the same after the Romans conquered the Celts around 43 A.D. The Romans did, however, add a ceremony honoring their goddess of fruit and trees and thus the association with apples and the custom of bobbing for them.”
Source: World Book Encyclopedia (Quoted in the Atlanta Journal on 10/16/1977)

“In the A.D. 800’s the church established All Saints Day on November 1 so that the people could continue a festival they had celebrated before becoming Christians. The mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hallow e’ven or Halloween…. It means hallowed or holy evening.”
“Jack-O’-Lanterns were named for a man called Jack, who could not enter heaven or hell. As a result, he was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until Judgment Day.”
Source: World Book Encyclopedia (1959 Edition)

“Customs and superstitions gathered through the ages go into our celebration of Halloween, or ‘Holy Eve’, on October 31. The day is so named because it is the even of the festival of All Saints, but many of the beliefs and observances connected with it arose long before the Christian Era, in the autumn festivals of pagan peoples…. Even after November 1 became a Christian feast day, honoring all saints, the peasants clung to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween…. Our Halloween celebrations today keep many of these early customs unchanged.”
Source: Compton’s Encyclopedia (1978 Edition)

The ‘Jesus’ the World Loves

10/30/2014
Link: about.me/gideonsword
The ‘Jesus’ the World Loves

 

Author: T.A. McMahon
Source: TheBereanCall – 12.02.2008

 


What do you think of Jesus? That’s a question I’ve asked at times to engage non-Christians in conversation about Him for the purpose of witnessing. A fairly typical response used to be that He was a religious teacher who did a lot of good, said many good things, and they usually concluded with a belief that He was a very good man. I then could ask, “Did you know that He claimed to be God?” When looks of puzzlement followed, I would explain that He couldn’t be a “very good man.” In claiming to be God, He was either self-deluded or an outright fraud—that is, unless He was telling the truth. More often than not, that thought, raising the issue of being accountable to God, would bring our conversation to an awkward end. At least it had provided the opportunity to plant some seeds that I hoped would grow into conviction. Most people aren’t comfortable with the truth about Jesus.

 

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Those who profess to be Christians quite often have ideas about Jesus that are just as wrong as those people who are not Christians. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created god and that He is also Michael the Archangel. Mormons believe Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer and that He was married and had children. The followers of Christian Science and the Religious Science religions believe that Jesus was simply a man upon whom the “Christ empowerment” came. Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine of the Eucharist can be transubstantiated, or changed, into the literal body and blood of Jesus, who is then ingested into one’s stomach. Lutherans believe that Jesus is consubstantiated, or present, “in, with, and under” the bread and wine of communion. Such unbiblical beliefs are a mere handful among hundreds promoted by various Christian denominations and cults. Yet what is even more appalling is that an inquiry about Jesus today among those who call themselves evangelicals (Bible-believing Christians!) too often reveals “another Jesus” and a “false Christ.” How does that happen?

Let’s start with how one comes to a true knowledge of, and relationship with, Jesus Christ. It begins with a simple understanding of the gospel[1] that Jesus is God,[2] who became a Man[3] in order to save mankind from everlasting separation from God[4] that resulted from man’s sin.[5] Jesus satisfied the perfect justice of God[6] by His once-and-for-all payment for the sins of humanity[7] through His death on the Cross.[8] His resurrection from the dead[9] assures the salvation of all those who acknowledge before God their sin[10] and their hopelessness in saving themselves,[11] and who by grace through faith[12] accept Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf[13] and His free gift of eternal life.[14] This is how one is reconciled to God[15] and born again spiritually.[16] This is how one’s relationship with the biblical Jesus Christ[17] begins.
[Related Article: Praying for the Sedgefield Community]

Although that relationship is supernatural in that every true believer in Christ is indwelt by God,[18] it nevertheless progresses, as any good relationship does, by getting to know the person with whom one has a relationship.

The primary way a relationship with Jesus develops is by reading the revelation of Himself given in His Word. This is the only way to obtain specific information about Him that is objective and absolutely true. In addition, not only is the content of Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit,[19] but that same Spirit of Truth is given to believers to understand that content.[20] How then could those who profess to follow God’s Word come up with erroneous ideas about Jesus? Regrettably, many are getting their information about Jesus from sources outside the Bible or second hand from those who claim to be teaching what the Bible says about our Lord.

To demonstrate how ludicrous a relationship dependent upon such sources of knowledge is, consider what might happen to a husband and wife who try to form an intimate relationship with each other by relying on the insights of other people who claim to know them. That’s a sure recipe for failure, yet Christians often run to extra-biblical sources for their knowledge of Jesus.

The amazing popularity of the book The Shack among evangelicals is just a recent example of someone depicting a Jesus who is foreign to the Bible and worse. What does the author think about Jesus? He characterizes Him in a way that may make some people feel more comfortable with Him, yet the Jesus of The Shack is clearly a false Christ. He’s a “good old boy,” who likes to fix things and takes “pleasure in cooking and gardening.” He laughs at crude jokes, is a bit of a klutz, engages in trout fishing by chasing one down as He runs on water, carves a coffin for the body of a little girl, and enjoys kissing, hugging, and laughing with the two other members of the “Trinity.” The book is filled with dialogue from the characters of God the Father (portrayed as an overweight Afro-American woman), the Holy Spirit (a petite Asian woman), and Jesus. All three speak as the “oracles of God,” giving insights and explanations neither found in nor consistent with Scripture. Some enthusiastic readers say the words and interactions with the Godhead have comforted them, answered difficult questions about their faith, and made the person of the Lord seem all the more real to them.

The reality is that out of his own imagination the author has put his words into the mouths of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which are then perceived by multitudes as “thus saith the Lord.” This is not only a bogus secondhand source but the arrogance of false prophecy at least and blasphemy and idolatry at worst. It is man, making God in his own fallen image.

More influential among evangelicals than The Shack is Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which became a huge box-office success, thanks mostly to evangelical support. Available now as a “definitive edition DVD,” it features, for those who want the official Catholic theology of the film explained, a discussion with director Mel Gibson, along with a Catholic apologist and two Catholic priests who were the film’s theological consultants. The movie has a false gospel, a false Christ, and is loaded with supposedly biblical scenes from the minds of Gibson and a Catholic nun given to mystical hallucinations. Yet it continues to be used extensively by evangelical churches, especially during Lent and Easter week.

In response to “What do you think of Jesus?” millions who saw the movie now mistakenly believe that: He was confronted by Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane; He was thrown from a bridge by His captors and dangled from a chain; His image was captured for posterity on the veil of a woman named Veronica; as His cross began to fall, it levitated to keep Him from hitting the ground, and, most contradictory to the gospel, it was the merciless scourging He suffered that paid for the sins of humanity.

These are only a few of the unbiblical images that the world and many in the church have added to their perception of Jesus. Movies are today’s most popular form of disseminating superficial information and misinformation. Feature films about Jesus and God have put erroneous ideas about them into the hearts and minds of the masses: Jesus Christ Superstar; The Last Temptation of Christ; Bruce Almighty; The Da Vinci Code; Judas; Oh God!;Oh God, Book II; Jesus of Nazareth, to name but a few.

What about “more biblically accurate” Bible movies—those that take the words directly from Scripture, for example? When you have an actor portraying Jesus who says only the words of Jesus that are found in the Bible, does that make the portrayal more accurate? More accurate than what? Does the actor actually look like Jesus, or talk like Jesus, or reflect the godly demeanor of Jesus? More critically, can he accurately imitate the God-Man, the Creator of the Universe, the One in whom all things consist? Even if he could, which is impossible, it would still be an imitation! Furthermore, he will leave millions, including believers, with an image of a false “Christ.”
[Related Article: The Spirit Of This Age]

A few such movies are sincere attempts at communicating the content and stories of the Scriptures through visual media. Although sincere, they are doomed to failure regarding truth. Why? In addition to what was noted above, the Bible is an objective revelation from God given in words. All attempts at visually translating those words abandon objective revelation in favor of subjective interpretation. Take a passage of Scripture, for instance, and have five people give their understanding of the verse based upon the context, the grammatical structure, and the normal meaning of the words. More often than not, the interpretations will be quite similar. Should one of the five come up with something very different, it can be corrected by simply checking it out objectively against the context, grammar, and accepted definitions of the words in the passage. On the other hand, what if five artists were to translate the passage visually? The result would be five very subjective and quite different renderings. Even if only one artist visually translated the verse and four people tried to interpret the image, you would likely have four different views because the medium has no objective criteria comparable to that of words. Are you getting the “picture” here? Imagery is not the way to communicate objective truth.

God did not draw pictures on the tablets He gave to Moses. His continual command to him and to His other prophets was to write down His instructions. Visual imagery was at the heart of pagan worship used by people whose lives centered around idols—the chief by-product being unbridled superstition. The same was true of the medieval Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, who fed their followers images rather than teaching them to read and write (as the Jews had done successfully from the time of Abraham). Even today, superstition continues to be rampant within those visually oriented religious systems.

Where does the world get its ideas about Jesus? Most non-Christians only know what they’ve picked up from sources they regard as Christian, although rarely is the content biblical. More than a billion Muslims, for example, hold a view of Jesus that Muhammad gleaned from questionable Christians. The Qur’an states that Isa (Jesus) is not the Son of God because Allah has no son. Isa’s birth took place under a palm tree, and, while still a babe, he cried out from his cradle that he was a servant of Allah, who had given him a revelation and made him a prophet. He did not die upon the cross; someone took his place—all in contradiction to the Bible.

Many Jews put stock in the alleged Talmudic stories that oppose the gospel accounts. They have been taught that Jesus was an illegitimate child who was born to a harlot and a scoundrel. Declaring himself to be the Messiah, he performed healings by sorcery and consequently was stoned and then hung on a tree for his magic and blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God.

Hindus have added Jesus as one more avatar, or god, among their 330 million gods. All of their gurus who have become popular in the West—from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Rajneesh—preach their own “Jesus.” Buddhists, such as the 14th Dalai Lama, regard Jesus as a bodhisattva, or enlightened god, among multitudes of gods reincarnated for the service of humanity.

Incredibly, the above erroneous beliefs about Jesus are fostered within professing Christianity by a popular practice among Emerging Church fellowships. Some invite the followers of the world religions for “conversation” in order to learn more about Jesus from a pluralistic perspective. The goal seems to be to establish a Jesus who is acceptable to people of all faiths—or no faith. A common refrain heard from the Emergent communities is “We love Jesus but not His church.” Certainly, as the church has compromised with the world, there is much not to like. Yet sadly, for many, it is neither the biblical Jesus whom they love nor the biblical church that they support. Some are under the delusion that Jesus is becoming more respected in our culture. That has never been the case for the Jesus revealed in Scripture.
[Related Article: Reinventing Christianity: Emergence and Relevance]

It is hard for anyone who has a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ to accept that the world hates Him, this One whom we love so much. It was difficult for me, and I still struggle with that. How could anyone reject the One who loves us more than we could ever comprehend, and whose sacrifice for those He created is so wonderfully unfathomable? Such hatred is often masked and develops progressively and by stealth. It is found in Satan’s strategy that began with “Yea, hath God said…?” His dialogue with Eve provided a ripe opportunity to subvert the truth about God and His command. Eve bought the Adversary’s lying alteration of God’s character and his denial of the consequence of disobedience. Her offspring down through the ages have done likewise.
[Related Article: Richmond, Va and the Greater Richmond Area]

Yet that reality in the guise of condescension and mockery nearly moved me to despair as I reviewed a particular episode of Fox TV’s The Family Guy. The program (presented by the same network that created “Fox Faith” to market movies to Christian families) featured a Jesus character who left heaven to get away from his “nit-picking, overbearing father”; who proves his “deity” by changing meals into ice cream sundaes and enlarging a woman’s breasts; who walks on water to fetch a five-dollar bill; who appears on Jay Leno and an MTV award show; who goes Hollywood, gets drunk at a party, and lands in jail, and who comes to the conclusion that he’s not mature enough yet to help the world. I immediately searched for protests from Christendom against this Fox TV top-rated program. There were found neither cries of outrage nor weeping for those who blasphemed and ridiculed the only One who could save them. Some Christians offered uneasy rationalizations that Jesus certainly must have a sense of humor. That’s the Jesus the world wants.

 

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My mind raced to the Garden of Gethsemane, thinking about our Savior on His knees in prayer before the Father, where in His anguish He sweat as it were great drops of blood. He would become sin for us. Our Creator would take our sins upon Himself and experience the eternal penalty due every soul. Although He would be triumphant in paying for the sins of mankind, He nevertheless cried out to the Father that if there was any other way to save humanity, to let this cup of separation pass. But there was no other way.

I thought of the Lord of Glory hanging upon the cross on Calvary’s hill, with the mockers about Him. Yet He died for them—and for those who mock Him still.

Pray that we who truly know Him would not drift from Him because of “another Jesus” conjured up by the world, our own flesh, or the devil. Pray also that the Lord will enable us to reflect the true character of Christ in our words and deeds; that He will help us to show the world the true Jesus, who, being God, came in the likeness of man, was treated as though He were sin itself, and satisfied the divine justice of God by dying upon the Cross, thus providing salvation for all of mankind. TBC

Endnotes:

1. Romans 1:16

2. John 10:30-33

3. 1 Timothy 2:5

4. John 14:6, John 3:16-17

5. Isaiah 59:2

6. 1 John 2:2

7. Hebrews 10:10-12

8. Hebrews 12:2

9. Romans 1:3-4

10. 2 Corinthians 7:10

11. Romans 5:6

12. Ephesians 2:8

13. John 3:15

14. Romans 5:18

15. John 3:3

16. Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 1:23

17. Colossians 1:27

18. 1 Corinthians 6:19

19. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

20. John 16:13

Deconstructing Roe vs. Wade

10/29/2014
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Deconstructing Woe vs. Wade

 

Author: William Sullivan
Source: American Thinker – 01.24.2013

This week, Americans celebrate, lament, or just indifferently shrug at the fortieth anniversary of that storied 7-2 decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in the United States.
[Related Article: Virginia's New Governor Supports Late-Term Abortion]

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post is among those shrugging his shoulders at the milestone, using the occasion to appeal to the GOP that “it’s time Republicans stop talking about Roe v. Wade.” It’s simply a lost cause, he argues, because public opinion is continually shifting to support abortion rights. “It’s hard to get 70% of Americans to agree on much of anything these days,” he writes. “But, for the first time, one of those things is Roe v. Wade.”

This conclusion that the trend we witness favors the pro-abortion crowd runs in stark contrast to the conclusion offered by Time magazine earlier this month. Kate Pickert offers that ever since Roe v. Wade, the pro-abortion lobby has lost significant ground in terms of both public opinion and legislation at the state level:

Even though three-quarters of Americans think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances, just 41% identified themselves as pro-choice in a Gallup survey conducted in May 2012. In this age of prenatal ultrasounds and sophisticated neonatology, a sizable majority of Americans supports restrictions like waiting periods and parental consent laws. Pro-life activists write the legislation to set these rules. Their pro-choice counterparts, meanwhile, have opted to stick with their longtime core message that government should not interfere at all with women’s healthcare decisions, a stance that seems tone-deaf to the current reality.

In other words, scientific progress lends credible evidence to the notion that a fetus within a womb represents a life. Therefore, the argument that the decision to end that life is simply matter of “choice” is becoming ever more rejected by the public.

In truth, both Blake and Pickert are right. Blake is right in concluding that revisiting Roe v. Wade is very likely a lost cause. And Pickert is right that technological advances are undermining the narrative of the pro-abortion “power brokers” who made their push for abortion rights all those years ago. But if the pretext of “choice,” which was the pivotal driver leading to Roe v. Wade, is increasingly rejected by the public, why is challenging the decision such a distant possibility?

There is only one possible explanation. Because leftist engineers have constructed, and because Americans generally believe, the narrative that the decision is “settled precedent,” as Justice Sotomayor puts it. And because it has been so for decades, it simply doesn’t matter whether the decision and its aftermath were constitutional (they weren’t), whether the principle behind it is right (it isn’t), or whether the decision even makes sense anymore (it doesn’t).
[Related Article: The Negro Project: Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, and Eugenics]

Rick Santorum was on to something when he confronted Al Sharpton with the logic that “abortion is acceptable for the same reason that slavery was tolerated: both the slave and the unborn are not considered full “persons” entitled to the protection of the law.” The parallel is useful here.

 

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It is pertinent to note that the right to own slaves is not explicitly protected by the Constitution. The tenderness and divisiveness of that subject at the time of our Constitution’s ratification led many of our founders to regretfully leave the issue to the discretion of the states per the Tenth Amendment. Many founders, however, denounced the wickedness of the slave enterprise, noted that it was contrary to the freedoms enunciated by the Declaration, and some even anticipated that the legitimacy of slavery in the context of the Constitution would be challenged by future generations. It was, and that argument was bloody, to say the least.

Slave ownership was, however, declared constitutional by Supreme Court decree, just four years before the advent of the Civil War, handed down in Dred Scott v. Sanford. Despite the precedent having been “settled” by this Supreme Court decision in 1857, it does not change the fact that the decision was unconstitutional, morally reprehensible, and did not make any sense at all in a time when abolitionist logic arguing for slaves’ humanity and freedom was becoming increasingly accepted. As such, the decision was rightfully abrogated by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.

Likewise, the right to abort unborn children is not specifically protected by the Constitution, and prior to 1973, abortion legislation had been understood to be limited to the power of the states per the Tenth Amendment. Roe v. Wade introduced the specious notion that that a woman’s decision, however whimsical, to abort her child is protected by a “right to privacy” guaranteed by the “due process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. To believe that lawmakers had abortion in mind while crafting the Fourteenth Amendment requires a Herculean leap of faith. Dissenting Justice Byron White provides the more plausible reasoning:

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new Constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.

Roe v. Wade not only established abortion (for any chosen reason) as constitutional under curious pretenses, but it functioned as a federal edict granting new powers to the federal government — the power to provide an eternal allowance for abortion under the newly created guidelines prescribed by the ruling. And these guidelines and timetables by which states can legally proscribe abortion (the particulars of which were clearly not included in the Fourteenth Amendment) were arbitrarily decided upon by the Court, not federal lawmakers. In spite of this seemingly egregious usurpation of the powers of the legislative branch by the judiciary, the ruling in its entirety is now somehow understood to function as law.

So under the pretense of “privacy” and “choice” and without convincing legislative grounding, wholesale abortion became allowable by federal authority. The decision only passively entertains the notion of the unborn life’s humanity that is increasingly understood today, ruling that states can have some flexibility in deeming the life “viable” and protecting it in certain conditions after the first trimester — but never before.

So yes, Roe v. Wade and its application can be convincingly described as unconstitutional. Abortion can be as morally reprehensible as murder if modern science is to be believed. And the decision’s underlying principle of “choice” is being increasingly rejected by the public. But despite all of this, and despite the overwhelming support to curtail frivolous abortion at the state level in recent years, it’s untouchable.

I don’t necessarily argue against the conclusion that it would be a political mistake for Republicans to target Roe v. Wade. But if hindsight is truly 20/20, and in light of what we can now reasonably know to be the truth about the flaws in Roe v Wade‘s genesis and legacy that surpasses holocaustic magnitude, the pressing question we need to ask of our society is: Why?
[Related Article: Pondering the 2012 Election]

 

abortiontruths1

Liberal Newspeak

10/28/2014
Link: about.me/gideonsword
newspeak-obamanation

 

 


Liberal Newspeak

 

Author: Daniel Greenfield
Source: the Sultan Knish blog – 10.12.2013

Orwell’s mistake in 1984 was assuming that a totalitarian socialist state would maintain the rigid linguistic conventions of bureaucratic totalitarianism. That future commissars and fuhrers would insist on everyone talking like office clerks picking out words from a coded manual of procedures.

It was an understandable mistake though. Orwell had seen 1948. But he hadn’t seen 1984.

 

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Liberal Newspeak is the hybrid product of advertising, academia and bureaucracy. It takes ideas from creative leftists, rinses them in conformity, uses techniques from the ad world to make them as safe as possible and then shoves them down everyone’s throat.

Newspeak’s objective was to enforce linguistic schizophrenia as a means of subdividing personalities, killing rational thought and making opposition into a form of madness. Liberal Newspeak’s is less ambitious. It settles for muddling your brain. Like modern advertising, its goal is to make you feel comfortable without actually telling you anything.
- Manufacturing Intolerance

Liberal Newspeak is the chirpy announcer in a drug commercial soothingly telling you about all the fatal side effects while on screen couples have romantic picnics and go whitewater rafting. That is the job of most of the news media. Forget outliers like MSNBC which caters to a self-consciously progressive crowd. The media’s real job is to be that announcer telling you that if you vote liberal, your taxes will go up, your job will go to China and you will die, without getting you upset about the terrible news.

The dictionary of Liberal Newspeak is full of empty and meaningless words. Community, Care, Access, Sharing, Concern, Affordability, Options, Communication, Listening, Engage, Innovating and a thousand others like it are wedged into sentences. Entire pages can be written almost entirely in these words without a single note of meaning intruding on the proceedings.

It’s not that these words don’t have meanings. It’s that their meanings have been rendered meaningless. The techniques of advertising have been used to pluck up words that people once felt comfortable with and wrap them around the agendas of the liberal bureaucracy.
- The Sovietized American Media

Community is a perfect example. It was the perfect word to hijack because it once seemed to mean the dignified independence and interdependence of small town life. A community had structure. It had values. But in Liberal Newspeak, a “community” is a recognized identity group or concern group. It means a distinct population that has to be managed or rewarded or addressed in some way.

But Community is also a mandate. We are all expected to be part of communities. Community has become the opposite of individualism. It has come to mean the conformity of identity groups and unelected activists who mandate the behavior of entire identity groups. The virtual community is not a legal entity. It holds no elections or referendums. Its leadership is chosen for it from outside.

Liberal Newspeak is concerned with making people safe while telling them absolutely nothing. It’s a new language that conveys reassurance rather than meaning. Its totem words are almost pre-verbal in that they mean nothing except “You are safe” and “We are taking care of you.”

That is what gibberish like, “We are improving access options for all community interest groups” or “We are striving to innovate while listening to everyone’s concerns” means. Daily life has become filled with meaningless pats on the head like that, which dedicated liberal newspeakers spew up like newborns. This empty babble says nothing. It’s the hum of the beehive. The signal that keeps all the drones headed in the same direction.

Unlike Newspeak, Liberal Newspeak doesn’t engage in any showy inversions of meaning. Those are the games that intellectuals play and above the ground level at which most Liberal Newspeak chatter takes place, there are mountains of academic jargon that work hard to invert meanings and ideas. But like the brilliant inventions of engineers, these rarely make it down to the ground level.

Liberal Newspeak isn’t the work of the engineers of the left, but its marketers. It doesn’t bother with frontal attacks on language. Instead it reframes everything in comforting language while teaching you to use the appropriate terms that change the context completely. It owes less of its perversity to Marxism than it does to Madison Avenue. The language that was used to convince millions to buy junk that was bad for them or that they didn’t need is used to convince them to buy liberalism.
- Obama Greenlights Domestic Propaganda

 

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While the implications of Liberal Newspeak are ominous, its tones aren’t. It deliberately embraces the feminine side of language. It strives to be comforting, nurturing and soothing. It never tells you anything directly. Instead it makes you read everything between the lines. It rarely answers questions. Instead its answers indirectly explain to you why you shouldn’t even be asking the questions.

Liberal Newspeak is a language of preemption. It preempts questions and ideas. Its terminology is so vague that specific questions require a convoluted assemblage of words. The more specific the question, the more convoluted the sentence, until asking even a simple question is like trying to make a wish with a genie. And then the sheer amount of words makes the meaning impermeable.

You can’t think in Liberal Newspeak. You can only feel good or bad, angry or self-satisfied. There is no room for thoughts, only feelings. You can feel guilty in Liberal Newspeak. You can be outraged, self-righteous or concerned. But you can’t weigh one idea against another because it isn’t a language of ideas. It’s a vocabulary of emotional cues that could just as easily be taught to a smart animal.

Liberal policies go awry so often in part because Liberal Newspeak makes propaganda easy, but practical planning very difficult. The language they use is designed to make people comfortable with uncomfortable things, but descends into meaningless waves of bureaucratese when discussing any specifics. That is the difference between marketing ObamaCare and making ObamaCare work.
- Liberal Media Bans “Dirty” Word

It’s easy enough to put up a glowing website full of smiling people talking about affordability, access, sharing, concern and care. But it takes more practical communications skills to make that website work. Obama’s CMS built a whole television studio to sell ObamaCare, but kept tinkering with the website specifications until the last minute and tried to manage integration with disastrous results.

Liberal Newspeak excels at telling the uninformed that everything will be fine when the government takes care of them. But project communications in Liberal Newspeak that prattle endlessly about access and relevance and community and integrity may look like a plan to the newspeakers, but is a tremendous waste of everyone’s time and resources.

Newspeaker bureaucrats think that they’re planning when they write memos about engagement and access, when what they are really doing is maintaining conformity in the same way that the Soviet and Red Chinese engineers constantly discussing Lenin and Mao as inspirations for their work.

Communist Newspeak however wasn’t a language, it was a series of formal statements of allegiance. Once those were gotten out of the way, it was possible to talk brass tacks. But there are no brass tacks or sharp corners allowed in Liberal Newspeak. No one ever gets to the point except when attacking Republicans. The point is an attack on the integrity of the group, its accessibility, engagement and innovative listening status. Once you get to the point, the hum of the drones no longer has a purpose.
- Everything Is Fake Now

Liberal Newspeak is full of terms about listening, engaging and sharing, but it’s a closed loop.

It’s language as a command and control mechanism for establishing conformity. There is no room for debate in Liberal Newspeak. Arguments are settled with emotional resorts to the dominant political agendas of the day.

 

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There is no way to disprove anything in Liberal Newspeak. All you can do is denounce your opponent’s lack of ideological conformity while claiming that your experience gives you special insight into the form of oppression that the political agenda is meant to solve.

The empty words are signals like the noises that birds and animals in the forest make. They establish identity, rather than ideas. A Liberal Newspeak discussion is more likely to be about identities, racial, gender, sexual, than about anything tangible. Like two moose meeting in the north or two sparrows chirping on a power line, the only communication that really happens is an assertion of identity.

The “security” of Liberal Newspeak comes from that sense of mutual identity through conformity. Everyone has access, community and shares their concerns which are all about conformity. It’s an unbroken loop of reassuring gibberish punctuated by bursts of anger at outsiders who are not part of the hive and don’t understand how important community access and engaged listening really are.

Newspeak was concerned with the manipulation of meaning, while Liberal Newspeak is concerned only with emotional cues tied to identity. It doesn’t replace meaning, it displaces it. It has emotions, but no ideas. It is the noise that takes the place of the signal and the hum that ends a conversation. Its purpose is to take an individualistic culture where ideas were proven through adversarial contests of the intellect and reduce it to a conformity that promises safety in exchange for never thinking again.
- Lying Liberal Liars

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The Word of God vs. Man

10/26/2014

Link: about.me/gideonsword

 

The Living Word of God

 

Author: Dave Hunt
Source: TheBereanCall – January 1, 2001

Inspired of the Holy Spirit, Paul declared, “For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,…so that they are without excuse” (Rom.1:20).
God has provided to humble observers of the universe ample evidence for His existence, evidence available in every culture and time in history. Thus there is no excuse for rejecting the witness of creation. No wonder the psalms twice declare bluntly, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Ps.14:1; 53:1).

Christians have long pointed to the works of creation as proof of design and thus of a designer, i.e., Creator. Atheists have insisted that science would solve all questions about the cosmos and thus do away with the need for a God to explain anything. And they have persisted in this delusion in spite of the fact that, with each discovery science makes, the evidence for God becomes ever more irresistible.

Every door science opens reveals ten as yet unopened doors. While knowledge of the universe is expanding exponentially, the unknown expands even faster, like receding images in a hall of mirrors. Scientific discoveries overwhelmingly necessitate a power and wisdom, without beginning or end and infinitely beyond human comprehension, which alone could have brought all into existence.

Nowhere is the evidence for God stronger than in life forms, especially since the discovery of the electron microscope and invention of computers. Investigating the molecular level of life, we have discovered that its intricate design and ingenious function are beyond imagination. Reflecting that fact 3,000 years in advance, David said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works…” (Ps.139:14). Observing the astonishing design and function even of microbes or insects, let alone human bodies, one is forced to admit that David was right: we could not have evolved, we could only have been created.

Even such a determined proponent of evolution as Richard Dawkins confesses that living things “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” (1) He even admits that the nucleus of every cell (the smallest living unit, of which there are trillions in the human body) contains “a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the En-cyclopedia Britannica put together.” (2) Just the mathematical odds of getting millions of letters lined up in the right order by chance is off the possibility chart.

 

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Richard Dawkins


For life, something even more amazing is involved than the chance aligning of billions of chemical molecules in the right order. Dawkins refers to a digitally coded data-base! This is recent terminology never imagined by Darwin. Not only must the DNA molecules be put together correctly, but they must, like letters, express information in a language providing instructions to be followed.

Each person at the moment of conception begins as a single cell. How does that cell know what to do to construct a body composed of trillions of individual cells of different kinds and different functions? Most school children know the answer: imprinted in that original cell are instructions for the construction and operation of the human body—instructions which will be followed unerringly. DNA replicates this blueprint into every cell produced. And every cell, amazingly, will know which part of those directions it is to follow.

Today’s school child also knows that DNA has an incredible capacity for storing information. The information contained in DNA the size of a pinhead would fill a stack of books 500 times as high as the distance from earth to the moon! It would take tens of thousands of desktop computers to store and process that amount of data.

The world’s fastest supercomputer is now being completed. It is called “Blue Gene” and will perform one quadrillion (1 with 15 zeros after it) calculations per second! It is being built to map the three billion chemical letters in the human genome, equal to a 100,000-page run-on sentence of operating instructions for a human being. All put together by chance?

Blue Gene’s first task will be to figure out how the body makes just one protein molecule. To solve that problem it will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a full year! Yet the body, following the instructions imprinted in DNA, creates a protein molecule in a fraction of a second. Were the instructions which this computer will take a year to understand arrived at by random processes? All this for just one protein molecule! “The probability of the required order in a single basic protein molecule arising purely from chance is estimated at one chance in 1 followed by 43 zeros. Since thousands of complex protein molecules are required to build a simple cell, probability moves…outside the realm of possibility.” (3)

It takes many different kinds of enzymes (made of protein) to decode/translate the genetic information encoded into DNA—and the enzymes are independently encoded to do this. So it would do no good for evolution (even if it could) to imprint genetic information on DNA; at the same time it would have to independently encode the enzymes to translate it. DNA and the enzymes to decode it could not “evolve” over a period of time. All must be in perfect working order from the start. At the molecular level evolution is a bad joke!

Years ago the conundrum was, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Now it’s “Which came first, protein or DNA?” It takes protein to construct DNA, but it takes DNA to make protein. Obviously, both were created at once; neither could have evolved.

But the lesson of DNA points far beyond the statistical impossibility of it all somehow falling together through random processes over great time. The three billion chemical letters express information in a language which must be read to be usable! A language necessarily involves ideas framed within grammatical rules and can be created and expressed only by intelligence. This moves us beyond statistics and matter into another realm, involving issues—and issues cannot be comprehended by tissues.

Language expresses thoughts—and thoughts are not physical! They may be articulated in physical form, such as sounds or words and sentences on a page or the coded chemical letters in DNA. Obviously, however, the thoughts being conveyed by the language are independent of the material upon which they are expressed. A sentence may be written on paper, wood, sand, a computer chip, or audio tape, but none of these originated the message. It must have an intelligent, nonphysical source independent of the physical means of storage or communication. The Bible, of course, says that the God who encoded the DNA is a spirit (Jn. 4:24).

The fact that life is created and functions by language originating from an intelligent, nonphysical source forever finishes evolution. There is no way that chemicals could put together intelligent thoughts in a language that contains the instructions for constructing and operating even a single cell, much less the trillions of cells in the human body! The fact that DNA is designed to replicate itself precisely and only fails to do so through destructive error eliminates even theistic evolution.

We are driven by science and logic to admit that life in any form can have its source only in a God who is independent of the material universe. That there cannot be more than one source is proved by the uniformity and universality of the language. These inescapable facts refute not only atheism but pantheism and polytheism, the major delusions of paganism.

DNA, of course, does not understand the information encoded into it. It is a mechanism built and programmed by the Originator of the encoded language to follow His instructions automatically. And the most complex mechanism built by DNA is the human brain. More advanced than any computer yet built by man, it contains some 100 billion nerve cells connected by 240 miles of nerve fibers involving 100 trillion connections.

For all of its complexity, the brain no more originates or understands what it is doing than does DNA. The brain does not originate thoughts. If it did, we would have to do whatever our brains decided. On the contrary, we (the real persons inside) do the thinking and deciding, and our brains take these nonphysical thoughts and translate them into physical actions through a connection between the spirit and body that science can’t fathom.

Wilder Penfield, one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons, describes the brain as a computer programmed by something independent of itself—the mind. Science cannot escape the fact that man himself, like his Creator, must be a nonmaterial being in order to originate the thoughts processed by the brain. But man did not originate thought itself. He did not create himself nor give himself the capacity to think. The Bible says that God, who is a spirit, created man “in his own image” (Gen.1:27), that man is a “living soul” (2:7), i.e., a nonphysical being made like unto his Creator, capable of thinking thoughts and making decisions. This ability makes him morally responsible to God. To escape that responsibility is the sole reason for atheism.

 

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Dr. Wilder Penfield


Not only has science failed to do away with God, but the latest data from computers and the examination of life at the molecular level confirm what the Bible has always said. Christians have wondered for centuries what was meant by the Word of God dividing even between “the joints and marrow” (Heb.4:12). Now we know that the language God has encoded in the DNA in the act of creation does exactly that. But God communicates to man in his spirit in a higher language which “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12). This Word of God is “for ever…settled in heaven” (Ps.119:89).

Long before modern science, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps.19:1-4).

It becomes ever more thrilling and increasingly glorifying to God to allow Scripture to expound upon the essential role language plays in all creation. Genesis 1 tells us that God said, “Let there be light,” etc. The New Testament tells us that “the Word was God. All things were made by him…” (Jn.1:1-2). Later we read, “the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Heb.11:3). And the universe is “by the same word…reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pt. 3:7). Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken…shall judge him in the last day” (Jn.12:48).

Man’s capacity to study and understand DNA language is proof that he is a nonphysical being like the Originator of DNA, thus capable of a spiritual relationship with the Creator which is far different from that of any part of man’s body. His ability to form conceptual ideas and to express them in speech allows man to receive communication from his Creator in language which man (but not animals) can understand and obey. And conscience tells us when we disobey. The Bible says that believing and obeying this communication from God is absolutely essential for spiritual life. Moses declared 3,500 years ago, “[M]an doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deut 8:3).

Since Adam’s rebellion, his descendants are by nature all “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.2:1) and must be born again to spiritual life by the Word of God through the Spirit of God into the family of God: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn.3:6); “Being born again…by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever….And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pt. 1:23, 25); “the word of faith, which we preach” (Rom.10:8). The psalmist said, “thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Ps.138:2).

Miraculously, the children of their “father the devil” (Jn.8:44) can become the “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal.3:26). Yes, “now are we the sons of God…” (1 Jn.3:2). After receiving spiritual life from Him through believing His Word, we are capable of and “must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn.4:24).

One can see the serious error of looking to physical things like baptism and the communion wafer for spiritual life. Yes, Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (Jn.6:53). Clearly, by eating and drinking He meant believing: “he that believeth on Me shall never thirst …every one which …believeth on Him, may have everlasting life” (vv. 35-40). As He explained to those who could not understand, “…flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (v. 63).

Man’s existence as a nonphysical being does not end with the death of his material body. For the Christian, death means a temporary separation for both soul and spirit “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor.5:8). That separation ends when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven [and] bring with him” the souls and spirits of those who have been in His presence while their bodies have been asleep in the grave. “With a shout” He will call their bodies from the grave to rejoin their souls and spirits, the living believers shall be transformed and “caught up [raptured] together with them…to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Cor.15:50-53; 1 Thes.4:13-18). Fantastic? No more so than creation!

His bride, snatched from earth and taken to His Father’s house as He promised (Jn.14:1-3), after the “judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor.5:10), will be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white” and married to her Lord (Rev:19:7-8). The One who returns triumphantly to the Mount of Olives (from which He ascended – Acts 1:9-12) leading the armies of heaven as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,”…wearing “a vesture dipped in blood,…is called The Word of God” (Rev.19:11-16). TBC

Endnotes:

1. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (Longman, England, 1986), 1.

2. Ibid., 18.

3. Jerry R. Bergman, in In Six Days, John F. Ashton, ed. (New Holland Publishers, 1999), 29.

Beware the Error of Replacement Theology!

10/26/2014

Link: about.me/gideonsword

 

Replacement Theology

Its Origins, Teachings and Errors

 

Author: Dr. Gary Hedrick, President of CJF Ministries (With Minor Editing By Rabbi Loren)
Source: Jeremiah111.org

 

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These are challenging and confusing times. With all the numerous and varied “winds of doctrine” that are blowing around us these days, many Christians find it difficult to discern the difference between truth and error. Here at CJF Ministries, one error we frequently encounter is Replacement Theology. Actually, it’s nothing new: in fact, it’s been around for centuries. Some of its roots are traceable to the writings of some of the Early Church fathers. And even today, oddly enough, this pernicious error is taught as a fact in many Bible colleges and seminaries worldwide. So let me ask you – how much do you know about Replacement Theology? If you were called upon to refute it, could you?

Definition

Replacement Theology – reduced to its simplest form – teaches that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. The term “Replacement Theology” is relatively new and unfamiliar to many people (in some cases, even those who believe in it). Among theologians, the older and more widely used term is “supersessionism.” The Church “supersedes” Israel. Its proponents teach that God has set aside Israel and made the Church “new Israel,” the new and improved people of God. There are many variations within the broad spectrum of Replacement Theology, but two of the main approaches are these:

1. Israel’s role as the people of God was completed (economic supersessionism). This is the kinder and gentler way of stating the basic thesis of Replacement Theology. It says that once the Messiah came 2,000 years ago, Israel’s mission was completed. A transition occurred at that point, and the Church took over as the people of God and became the focal point for the outworking of God’s plan and purpose in redemption. God is no longer working administratively through ethnic Israel.

2. Israel’s place as the people of God was forfeited (punitive supersessionism). Other Replacement theologians are more straightforward and actually say that the supposed replacement of Israel was a divine judgment on the nation for its rejection of the Messiah in the first century. This is what some writers have called “punitive secessionism.”

Perhaps Martin Luther articulated this position most eloquently when he wrote: “For such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence that they [i.e., the Jewish people] assuredly have erred and gone astray. Even a child can comprehend this. For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terrible, so unmercifully … Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God” (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 265).

Common threads that weave their way through the numerous variations of supersessionism are (1) that God is finished with Israel as a nation, and (2) that the promises He made to Israel in the Old Testament have been inherited by the Church. (However, most Replacement theologians are reluctant to say that the Church – which is largely in apostasy today – has also inherited the curses and judgments that God pronounced on Israel for her apostasy.)

One defender of Replacement Theology writes: “The Jewish nation no longer has a place as the special people of God; that place has been taken by the Christian community which fulfills God’s purpose for Israel” (Bruce Waltke, “Kingdom Promises as Spiritual,” in Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Testaments, Ed. John S. Feinberg [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1987] p. 275).
This is how one evangelical theologian summarized the essence of supersessionism in a paper he presented at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting a few years ago: “The issue is whether national Israel as an administrative structure is still in the plan of God” (A Future for Israel in Covenant Theology: The Untold Story, by R. Todd Mangum, Instructor in Historical and Systematic Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania [November 16, 2000], p. 20.)

Theological Basis

Replacement Theology is closely associated with Reformed (or Covenant) Theology, the brand of theology historically linked to John Calvin (1509-1564) and the Protestant Reformation. Reformed/Covenant Theology, in turn, is closely associated with amillennialism, an eschatological view with a spiritualized (rather than literal-historical) interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures. The natural affinity these views (that is, Replacement Theology and amillennialism) seem to have for each other is understandable because Replacement Theology relies so heavily on a non-literal and allegorical interpretation of the biblical promises to Israel.

Although many of the early Reformers and Puritans – including even Calvin himself – wrote about the nation of Israel one day being restored by the grace of God and experiencing a national regeneration, that is an increasingly marginalized, minority view in Reformed Christianity today (which is ironic, since we have seen the amazing rebirth of the nation of Israel, just as the Word of God predicted!). And even among those who allow for an end-time work of the Spirit of God among the Jewish people, there is still a reluctance to acknowledge that God is not finished with His people Israel as a nation, or to acknowledge the prospect of a future Kingdom on the Earth.

This view stands in contrast to the teachings of Dispensational Premillennialism, which affirms the continuing role that Israel plays (in tandem with the Church) in the outworking of God’s plan of redemption.

Historical Roots

Elements of Replacement Theology can be traced as far back as Marcion (A.D. 160), who carried on a theological crusade to purge the Church of what he perceived to be dangerous Jewish errors and influences. Later, many of these same anti-Judaic sentiments found their way into the thinking (and writings) of the Early Church fathers. Irenaeus (c. 180), for instance, wrote, “The Jews have rejected the Son of God and cast Him out of the vineyard when they slew Him. Therefore, God has justly rejected them and has given to the Gentiles outside the vineyard the fruits of its cultivation” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, [1885-1887], Volume 1, p. 493).

Over time, statements like these became the basis for full-blown anti-Semitism in some sectors of Christianity. Anything Jewish was renounced as an attempt to subvert and “Judaize” the Church. Teachings like chiliasm (millenarianism), for instance, were denounced as “Jewish fables.” The Early Church, which was clearly and undeniably Jewish, was described as “primitive,” unenlightened, and beset by erroneous notions that were carry-overs from ancient Judaism.

By the seventh century, Jewish people who came to faith in the Messiah were required to denounce their Jewish ancestry and heritage before they could be baptized. Professor Paul Halsall of Fordham University cites the following Visigoth profession from c. A.D. 680-687: “I do here and now renounce every rite and observance of the Jewish religion, detesting all its most solemn ceremonies and tenets that in former days I kept and held. In future I will practice no rite or celebration connected with it, nor any custom of my past error, promising neither to seek it out or perform it. In the name of this Creed, which I truly believe and hold with all my heart, I promise that I will never return to the vomit of Jewish superstition. Never again will I fulfill any of the offices of Jewish ceremonies to which I was addicted, nor ever more hold them dear. I altogether deny and reject the errors of the Jewish religion, casting forth whatever conflicts with the Christian Faith, and affirming that my belief in the Holy Trinity is strong enough to make me live the truly Christian life, shun all intercourse with other Jews and have the circle of my friends only among honest Christians. With them or apart from them I must always eat Christian food, and as a genuinely devout Christian go often and reverently to Church. I promise also to maintain and embrace with due love and reverence the observance of all the Lord’s days or feasts for martyrs as declared by the piety of the Church, and upon those days to consort always with sincere Christians, as it behooves a pious and sincere Christian to do. Herewith is my profession of faith and belief as given by me on this date …” (“Professions of Faith Extracted from Jews on Baptism,” from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook compiled by Professor Paul Halsall of Fordham University [www.fordham.edu/halsall/sources/jewish-oaths.html]).

The incredible irony here is that only a few centuries earlier, the Church had been almost exclusively Jewish! The Messiah was Jewish; the writers of the Bible were Jewish; the apostles were Jewish; the earliest Christians were Jewish; the first congregation was Jewish (located in Jerusalem); and the first missionaries were Jewish!

In fact, a council of Church leaders – including Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James – was convened at Jerusalem (Acts 15) so the leaders of the new and growing Messianic Movement (known first as “the sect of the Nazarenes,” Acts 24:5) could decide upon what conditions non-Jews would be admitted into the fellowship of the saints! But here, within just a few generations, the shoe was already on the other foot! Non-Jews were in control of the Church now. Jewish doctrines (the earthly Kingdom in particular) were considered erroneous and even seditious. And non-Jewish Church leaders were laying down the terms for Jewish believers in Jesus who wished to be baptized.

Exegetical Problems with Supersessionism

Did the sins of the Jewish nation result in her rejection? Paul’s answer is found in Romans 11: I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away his people whom He foreknew (vv. 1-2, NKJV). I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! (vv. 11-12, NKJV). For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (v. 15, NKJV).

If the Jewish nation has no future in God’s plan, as the supersessionists claim, then what is the future “fullness” of Israel that Paul mentions in verse 12? And when, exactly, will the nation be resurrected (“life from the dead”) and “accepted” by God (verse 15)? Paul can’t be talking about the Church in this passage because the Church has never died – and never will (John 11:26). The only reasonable answer is that Paul is referring to a yet-future resurrection and restoration of Am Israel (the “people of Israel,” a collective term for the nation), as prophesied in passages like Ezekiel 37:1-14. It doesn’t mean they will automatically be saved simply because they are Jewish; rather, it means that the majority of Jewish people who are living at that time will recognize Yeshua of Nazareth as their Messiah and receive Him as Savior (Zechariah 12:10, Romans 11:26).

They will be saved in the same way believers from all ages and generations have been saved; that is, they will be saved by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8-10). The problem with saying that God rejected His people Israel is that the term “rejection” implies permanence and finality. Paul’s forceful statements in Romans 11 probably indicate that people were claiming, even in his day, that God had “cast away” His people Israel (v. 1). They were saying that Israel had “stumbled’ and “fallen” from her former position (vv. 11-12). Paul rejected any such notion (“Certainly not!” in verses 1 and 11). Then he goes on to say that even if we insist on saying that they were rejected, then we are forced to the conclusion that the rejection is only temporary. Even if we insist on saying that they did stumble and fall, then it must also be said that their fall brought salvation to the rest of the world (Gentiles) – and Israel’s fall, too, is only temporary because they are destined to be restored one day to a position of “fullness” (v. 12).

The “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25) refers to the time when the full number of non-Jewish believers has been added to the ranks of the Church and the last person has been saved. Likewise, the “fullness” of the Jewish people (v. 12) refers to the time when “all Israel shall be saved” (v. 26). As we saw earlier, that means the Jewish people en masse will recognize and receive their Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth. There may be some dissenters – and there probably will be – but the Holy Spirit of God will do a powerful work among the Jewish people, and multitudes of them – the vast majority of them – will come to faith in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth.

The truth is that God is no more finished with Israel than He is finished with the Gentiles. Neither one has been replaced by the other; and God’s plan for both remains intact, in spite of their failures. This is really the crux of the issue. Replacement Theology says that Israel was rejected by God and that the rejection was permanent and irrevocable; however, we say that God’s calling on Israel was permanent and irrevocable, in spite of her many sins and shortcomings (Romans 11:29).

What Did the Apostles Believe About the Millennium?

Another problem for supersessionism and amillennialism is that these views are not in harmony with the teachings of the Apostles and the Early Church. Almost without exception, Church historians agree that chiliasm, an early form of premillennialism, was the position of the Early (Jewish) Church. In his classic, encyclopedic History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff wrote, “The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene Age [A.D. 100-325] is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, … a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius …” (Scribner, 1884; Vol. 2, p. 614).

What’s interesting about this admission is that it comes from someone who was neither evangelical nor premillennial. Schaff, in fact, was himself an ardent supersessionist! He wrote, “The carnal Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament is a diabolical perversion. The Christians, and not the Jews, are the true Israel of God and the righteous owners of the Old Testament Scriptures” (Ibid., Sec. 167, “Barnabas”). Yet as a student of history and as a scholar, he had to acknowledge that chiliasm was “prominent” in the Early Church, even though he himself despised it.

It should be noted that Papias (who believed in a future, earthly Kingdom) was a disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John who actually penned the passages in the Book of Revelation about the Millennial Kingdom. Premillennialism, then, may be the only eschatological system with an unbroken link directly to the author of the Apocalypse. This means that amillennialism represents a departure from what the Early Church believed. Augustine (354-430), author of City of God, a 22-volume defense of his theological views, proposed ideas similar to what we know as amillennialism (Books 15 to 19). However, even Augustine started out as a premillennialist! It wasn’t until later in his life that he decided that the prophecies about (and promises to) Israel should be interpreted symbolically and applied to the Church, rather than being interpreted literally and applied to Israel.

The Sticking Point: Messiah’s Millennial Monarchy

Evangelicals have been busy for years trying to hammer out an understanding between premillennial dispensationalists and adherents of Reformed/Covenant Theology. Dispensationalists who have been actively pursuing this agenda (and making concessions to the opposing view) are known as “progressive dispensationalists.” The one point, however, that continues to be a fly in the ointment of reconciliation is the Millennial Kingdom. Even Covenant theologians who allow for an end-time mass conversion of the Jewish people still have difficulty accepting Israel’s role in a future, literal Kingdom on the Earth. This shows just how diverse amillennialism and premillennialism are and how difficult it is to bridge the gap between them without seriously compromising one or the other.

Why Is This Error Dangerous?

Is Replacement Theology really worth arguing about? Or is this discussion much ado about nothing? One reason it’s important to call attention to questionable theology, no matter how deeply entrenched it may be in traditional Christianity is that sooner or later, bad theology always leads to bad practice – and in this case, it already has! Replacement Theology has provided the basis for all sorts of mischief, persecution, and atrocities against the Jewish people throughout Christian history.

For example, Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, was a supersessionist. Near the end of his life, he said that synagogues and Jewish schools should be burned to the ground, Jewish people run out of their homes, their prayer books and Talmudic writings burned, and the rabbis forbidden to preach or teach on penalty of death (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 268-271). Luther also declared that Jewish people in Germany should be confined to their own homes and neighborhoods – a plan the Nazis implemented literally when they quarantined Jewish families in ghettos in Poland and other places before shipping them to the death camps for extermination. One historian writes: “It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believer in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jews. Luther’s advice was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering, and Himmler” (William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich [New York: Simon & Shuster, 1960], p. 236).

No one is suggesting that anyone who believes in Replacement Theology is an anti-Semite or would agree with Luther’s statements. That would be an unfair characterization – and it certainly is not the case. It is important, nevertheless, to examine the implications and ramifications of any position, including Replacement Theology: and it is an incontestable fact that ideas similar to those of Replacement Theology have inspired some horrible atrocities against the Jewish people.

We’re Making Progress!

As we observed earlier, the term “Replacement Theology” is relatively new, and is generally avoided by adherents of supersessionism. As far as they are concerned, they’re simply espousing traditional theology – and in a sense, they are! Supersessionist ideas have been widely accepted in mainstream Christianity since the third century or so, as mainstream Christianity was gradually losing its original Jewish character. The Gentile powers-that-be in early institutional (Eastern and Western) Christianity wanted to distance themselves from Christianity’s Jewish origins. And they did!

The good new is that slowly but surely we’re making progress in our battle against Replacement Theology. Everywhere we go, all over the world, (even Arab countries!), we find believers who acknowledge Israel’s unique and ongoing place in God’s plan of the ages, and who are anxiously awaiting that Golden Age when, for the first time, “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the Earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).

Most Baptists today are premillennial (except for the most liberal Baptist denominations), as are many Bible-believing churches, particularly those associated with IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) International and similar groups of independent churches. There are even premillennial Presbyterians! Our ranks are growing with every day that passes. Much of the opposition comes from the more liberal, mainline denominations and their seminaries. And it’s not merely coincidental that these are the same churches and institutions that are aligned with the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian World and National Councils of Churches.
[Related Article: Delusion at the Checkpoint]

If you’d like to know if your church leaders believe in Replacement Theology, ask them! If they are not familiar with the term, be patient because it’s entirely possible that they have never heard it before, even if they attended seminary. Also, it’s not likely that they’ve ever knowingly aligned themselves with any view that’s anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic or anti-Israel. This may all be new to them! Ask them, very humbly and sincerely, if they believe that God rejected Israel when Israel rejected His Son in the first century and that as a result, He has no future plan or purpose for the Jewish nation. They may reply that yes, of course, Jewish people can be saved and join the Church – and to them, that means God has a plan for the Jewish people. However, that’s not what we’re asking. We want to know if they believe that God is no longer dealing with the Jewish nation – and don’t be surprised if the answer, ultimately, is in the affirmative. After all, as we saw earlier, this has been the predominant view of mainstream Christianity for centuries – roughly since the time of Augustine, in fact. Sadly, this view has become normative in much of the Church, including many denominations and their seminaries.

Let’s not be afraid to challenge theological tradition when it’s wrong. It’s our responsibility to proclaim and defend the premillennial hope of the Church – and the nation of Israel – in these days of widespread error and apostasy. We should encourage our premillennial Bible colleges and seminaries to take a stand on Replacement Theology and challenge them to produce graduates who are knowledgeable about the historical and theological issues Replacement Theology encompasses. There’s a lot we can do, and we should be doing all we can!

 

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