Author: Ed Rickard
Source: The Moorings
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the church of Jesus Christ is sick with apostasy, debilitating every missionary work, every Christian school, every witness through the media, and every local assembly of believers. The apostasy that now fills the whole church germinated in about 1800. Since then, it has steadily grown and spread, with corrupting effects that can be clearly seen in two ways.
1. Christianity has fragmented into ideological camps, all of which to some degree reject Biblical faith and practice.
2. Western society as a whole, once composed of nations that prided themselves on their allegiance to the Christian religion, has become thoroughly secularized.
The sorry state of the contemporary church exactly reproduces all the prophetic pictures of the church in the Last Days, on the eve of Christ’s return. According to prophecy, it would be a church riddled with corruption and crippled by apostasy.
Before the eighteenth century, no one who considered himself a Christian doubted that the Bible is true, and in European society there were few who were willing to say that they were not Christians. But in the eighteenth century, the educated elite began to drift away from Christianity toward alternative world views conceived by speculative philosophy. The most popular of these was deism. Its core belief was that God created the universe as a self-perpetuating machine, operating according to natural laws discoverable by science. This new world view denied the supernatural, as well as God’s continuing involvement in human affairs.
In the early nineteenth century, doubt in the supernatural and in Biblical history began to infect organized Christianity. The Unitarians, prominent in New England, went so far as to reject the full deity of Christ. Under the influence of the movement in literature and art known as romanticism, many of them believed that God is a mystic oversoul transcending nature yet intimately in union with it. That conception of God was called transcendentalism.
After the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species in the 1860s, important segments of the church accepted his ideas and abandoned belief in the literal truth of the Scriptures. Then emerged a new form of theology known as liberalism. Its basic tenets were these:
1. Although the Bible offers spiritual and ethical insights, it is only a collection of human writings. Many of them must be classified as folk tales or legends with no historical value.
2. Jesus may have been divine in the sense that we are all divine, but He was not uniquely God. Nor did He exist before His birth. Nor was He born of a virgin. Nor did He rise bodily from the grave.
3. The purpose of life is not personal salvation from sin, but salvation of society from the evils of poverty, ignorance, and injustice.
In some of its manifestations, liberalism came close to denying God completely, except as a human thought.
By the early 1900s, liberalism had gained control of all the Protestant seminaries and had won over many pastors, missionaries, denominational overseers, and college officials. Although the average churchgoer was still fairly conservative, his leaders were working feverishly to bring his views up to date.
But liberalism had an unexpected effect. The average churchgoer had enough sense to recognize that if liberalism is right, why go to church? By midcentury it became obvious that the mainline churches where liberalism was dominant were losing people. So, liberals in religious professions began looking for a more appealing theology that would still accommodate their unbelief. The new theology that they created is known as neo-orthodoxy.
Since World War II, neo-orthodoxy has supplanted liberalism as the dominant outlook of mainline churches, although out-and-out liberalism retains many adherents, both Protestant and Catholic. The fathers of neo-orthodoxy include Karl Barth (called by Billy Graham one of the two greatest theologians of our time, the other being Pope John the 23rd), Rudolph Bultmann, Emil Brunner, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The essence of neo-orthodoxy is its claim that the Bible contains existential rather than factual truth. That is, the Bible affords the religious man a valuable, time-honored framework for conceptualizing and describing his own personal encounters with God (however he conceives of Him).
Neo-orthodoxy permits a worshiper to mouth hymns and creeds that he does not really believe. Thus today, if you visit a typical Methodist or Lutheran church, you hear liturgies that seem to exalt Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet when you meet the ministers privately, they will (if they are honest) confess their unbelief that the historical Jesus was anything more than a man. How do they justify their public affirmations of orthodox faith? They regard the language of orthodoxy as simply a vehicle for attaining a satisfying religious experience. Subjective experience rather than objective truth is, in their view, the foundation of religion.
Evangelicalism and Neo-evangelicalism
At the turn of the century, the advances of liberalism alarmed true Christians and stirred them to action. They began to cooperate with each other in efforts to keep existing church organizations from going liberal. Around the time of World War I, a series of books called The Fundamentals appeared, defending at length the essential doctrines of Christianity. These books were so influential that the new movement which had arisen to protest liberalism took its name from them, calling itself fundamentalism.
In the 1920s and 30s, fundamentalists failed to oust liberals from control of the mainline denominations. In consequence, fundamentalism itself divided into two camps. One warmly embraced the principle of ecclesiastical separation—the principle that a local assembly of believers must separate itself from apostate Christian organizations. The other took a less enthusiastic stance in favor of this principle.
1. The first camp left mainline denominations and began forming their own institutions, including schools, mission boards, and parachurch associations. From them came the GARB, the Bible Baptists, the Bible Presbyterians, the IFCA, and other groups, as well as many strictly independent churches.
2. The second camp included many who continued the battle of trying to purify the mainline denominations, many (especially among the Southern Baptists) who did not feel that liberalism threatened their own denomination, and many who formed new churches but who maintained dialogue and cooperation with more liberal elements in the church.
In time, largely as a result of patronizing the same religious media, the second camp coalesced into a distinct movement known as evangelicalism. This movement has retained its cohesion even as it has forsaken its original identity and evolved into something more modern, tainted with apostasy.
Its chief error today is an emphasis on positives to the neglect of negatives. Although an evangelical church may faithfully teach the basic doctrines of Christianity—the Trinity, the authority of the Bible, salvation by faith, and so on—it gives everything a wrong slant. It says much about the love of God, but very little about the judgment of God or God’s hatred of sin. It speaks often of heaven, but seldom of hell. Its members hear much about getting to heaven through a commitment to Christ or through being born again, but very little about repentance. They listen often to promises that the Christian life will make them happy, but seldom to warnings about the difficulties and demands of the Christian life. Rather than burden them with negative rules and standards, their pastor tells them that they have liberty to live as they please, so long as they do not break an explicit command of Scripture. As a result, they never escape a worldly lifestyle, because many modern vices were unknown in Bible times and the Bible says nothing against them.
In the 1950s a small group of Christian intellectuals spearheaded a new movement that became known as neo-evangelicalism. At the outset, the chief distinctive of this movement was its desire to engage learned unbelievers in dialogue, seeking not only witness, but also an adjustment of Christian language, traditions, and tenets to bring them into agreement with the established results of scientific and academic inquiry. Neo-evangelicalism quickly gained the upper hand at institutions like Fuller Theological Seminary and Wheaton College. By now, its influence has been felt everywhere in evangelicalism, yet some clear differences between the older movement and its spin-off remain.
1. Most evangelicals are politically conservative, whereas many neo-evangelicals follow trendy liberal causes. They tend to be pacifistic, to favor strong governmental action against social problems, and to support advances in minority rights, including the rights of women and homosexuals.
2. Evangelicals hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, whereas neo-evangelicals reject inerrancy or else deny that the Creation accounts and other portions are meant to be taken literally.
3. Evangelicals still oppose practices like drinking and smoking, and some oppose dancing to secular music. Neo-evangelicals have no such scruples, although they look on smoking as unhealthy and inadvisable, and they endorse moderation in drinking.
4. Evangelicals avoid fellowship with people in the liberal or neo-orthodox realm, whereas neo-evangelicals willingly interact and fellowship with anyone except a fundamentalist.
Neo-fundamentalism and Cultic Fundamentalism
The segment of the church left behind as evangelicals drifted toward more liberal positions kept the name “fundamentalist.” But purity and unity within fundamentalism did not long survive all the divisive currents in the modern church. As late as the 1960s, all fundamentalists could still assemble and feel that they shared a common identity. But then the fracturing process began. By the 1980s, two new movements had appeared, both weighed down by apostate tendencies. One of these has been called neo-fundamentalism. The other I will call cultic fundamentalism.
“Neo-fundamentalism” was originally a label that fundamentalist opponents of Jerry Falwell pinned on his political action movement, known as the Moral Majority. The label is useful to signify churches and groups that have emerged from fundamentalism and acquired the following characteristics, now evident in many with no connection to Jerry Falwell:
1. They prefer modern translations of the Bible.
2. In 1950, Time Magazine, reporting on the revival at Wheaton College, spoke of it as bearing “the stamp of its strict fundamentalist heritage: no movies, smoking, card-playing, dancing or drinking,” and it said derisively of the readers of Christian Life, a popular Christian magazine in those days, “Drinking, smoking, dancing, card-playing and movies they consider the Devil’s traps” (1). These five prohibitions were for many years universally upheld by Bible-believing Christians. Christian institutions enforced them, and pastors denounced the forbidden practices as sin. Modern neo-fundamentalists may not openly reject the traditional standards of separation, but they increasingly feel that insisting upon them is legalistic.
3. They have adopted popular styles in sacred music.
4. They tend to be involved in politics, and in politics they do not hesitate to make alliances with religious groups that are non-fundamentalist or even unorthodox, like the Mormons.
Evangelical churches display many of the same characteristics. So, it appears that except for their history, neo-fundamentalist churches are becoming indistinguishable from evangelical churches.
The mark of cultic fundamentalism is its exaltation of one leader to spiritual supremacy. At least two fairly large cults have emerged in the last twenty years, and more seem to be in the making. The first is the cult associated with Jack Hyles and Peter Ruckman. The second is the Bill Gothard cult.
The evolving distinctives of the first have clearly heretical tendencies.
1. Hyles and Ruckman teach that the King James translation of the Bible was given by inspiration.
2. Both men curry the adoration and total submission of their followers.
3. Both men are tolerant of divorce.
4. Both men promote ideas that verge on the bizarre (see the articles cited below).
The Gothard cult appeals to a different class of people, but is no less cultic in its suppression of individual soul liberty. The leader has drawn his followers into a way of life that restricts their contact with people outside his control and binds them to his leadership for every decision they make. What they believe, how they eat, how they manage their practical affairs, how they relate to each other, and what they teach their children—all require attention to his teachings, some of which are clearly unbiblical. For example, he opposes (or at least many of his followers believe that he opposes) adoption, giving as his reason that a child of immoral parents will inherit their moral weakness.
Excellent critiques of these cults from an orthodox perspective are available on the Web. By following the links, you will see informative articles on Bill Gothard, Peter Ruckman, and Jack Hyles. I do not agree with every position taken, but the articles do well in exposing how far these men have strayed from a sound Christianity. (Please inform me if any link goes dead.)
Each wind of apostasy that has swept across Christendom has blown people away from moorings in sound faith and practice. Few churches remain that approximate what they should be, according to God’s design laid out in the New Testament. Those that still hold fast to their fundamentalist heritage find themselves under tremendous pressure to move either toward evangelical compromise or cultic authoritarianism, rigidity, and superstition. Will any survive as living churches? God is testing His people, to see whether any will love Him rather than the world, though it offers them an easy religion, without sacrifice or self-denial.
A superficial look at statistics would lead to the conclusion that the church in America is thriving. As recently as 1991, almost half of the adults reached by telephone reported that they had attended a religious service within the last week (2). In surveys done between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, about 95% of adult Americans stated that they believe in God, about 90% claimed that they pray, about 80% agreed that Jesus was God or the Son of God, and about 70% accepted the Bible as the word of God (3). It would appear that Christianity still has a strong hold on American society. But the appearance is misleading. A deeper look at statistics reveals that the influence of Christianity is rapidly declining and in danger of disappearing altogether.
Fading influence of the Bible
Although Americans retain a token respect for the Bible, a diminishing minority regard it as a guidebook for life.
1. The finding in the late 70s that about 70% endorsed the Bible as the word of God may seem like a sign of healthy fundamentalism. But the comparable measure after World War II was 86% (4).
2. In 1963, an amazing 65% still believed that the Bible is literally true. Ten years later, the same measure had dropped to less than 40%, and has remained low ever since (5).
3. In 1990, less than 40% defined sin as “going against God’s will,” going against the Bible,” or “violating the Ten Commandments” (6).
4. In the same survey, only 13% stated that they believe in all Ten Commandments. (The unpopularity of the Sabbath law is the main reason for the surprisingly low figure.) Only 40% stated that they believe in at least five (7).
The many reasons for the Bible slipping to the margins of American consciousness include these:
1. Bible ownership has drastically declined.
2. The language is changing, making the traditional versions inaccessible to today’s reader.
3. Literacy is declining, with the result that people read less and what they read is less challenging. For many, the Bible has become hard reading.
4. The Bible has been banished from public schools, and is ignored or mocked in the mass media. Even to post the Ten Commandments in a public place has been forbidden.
5. The Bible receives little attention in the home. As long ago as the late 70s, only 17% of American parents stated that they had read the Bible with their children during the last week (8). If false affirmatives could have been sifted out, the true percentage would have been much lower. The percentage today would be lower still.
Fading influence of the church
Despite the rosy statistic cited earlier—that half of the Americans interviewed in 1991 reported that they had gone to a religious service in the last week—a full picture of the evidence shows that church attendance is falling catastrophically.
1. Researchers have determined that about half of those who say they went to a service are lying (9). Actual church attendance is about half the figure gleaned by telephone surveys.
2. By 1996, the same kind of telephone survey found that only 37% of adults reported going to a service in the last week (10).
3. With few exceptions, almost all denominations are losing members. Practically the only religious assemblies registering growth in recent years have been megachurches (11).
4. In confidential interviews, 27% say that they go to church regularly, but 58% say that they went regularly as a child (12). The drop is greatest among Jews (12% and 31%) and virtually the same for Catholics (41% and 78%) and Protestants (34% and 67%) (13).
The proportion of the population saying that religion is important in their lives declined from 75% in 1952 to 70% in 1965 and then even more to 53% in 1978 (14). No doubt the percentage has fallen further in the last thirty years.
Fading influence of the Christian world view
The weakening allegiance to a Christian world view is evident in many ways.
1. As we have already shown, many bodies of organized Christianity have repudiated orthodox theology.
2. Some statistics suggest that popular religious opinions are still fairly orthodox. But these statistics belie the truth.
a. Although 90-95% of Americans say they believe in God, most of them have a faith that can only be described as extremely shallow.
b. After World War II, 87% of those questioned said that they were absolutely certain of God’s existence (15). By 1964, the portion with no doubts had fallen to 77% of the population, and by 1981, to 62% (16).
c. In 1990, six out of seven said that it is okay not to believe in God (17).
d. The consensus that Jesus is God is also misleading. Many fewer now believe that it is necessary to accept Jesus in order to be saved. In 1964, a bare majority, 51%, still believed that Jesus is the only way. But the same measure slumped to 38% by 1981 (18). Since then, the measure must have slumped further.
e. Twenty years ago, 70% identified the Bible as the word of God, but about three sevenths of these also said that it contains mistakes (19).
f. Belief in an afterlife remains prevalent. In 1990, 82% agreed that there is an afterlife including heaven and hell (20). But only 4% expected to go to hell, and 45% also believed in ghosts (21).
g. Almost a fourth of the populace accepts the occult to some degree. A full 31% believe that some people have magical powers, 28% believe in witchcraft, 24% in black magic, 20% in voodoo (22).
3. A survey in 1990 looked at opinions on leading public issues. On no issue did a majority feel that they needed religious guidance to the right answer. On almost all issues, a majority did not even know what position their religion took (23).
4. Perhaps the most dramatic proof that America is forsaking its Christian heritage emerges from the history of how the law views Christianity. In 1892, the Supreme Court ruled that “our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian” (24). Today, the Supreme Court has gone so far in enforcing separation of church and state that, in the opinion of former Chief Justice Rehnquist, it has become anti-religious. In a dissenting opinion, he said that “the tone of the Court’s opinion . . . bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life” (25).
1. Time Capsule/1950 (New York: Time Incorporated, 1967), 184, 187.
2. “Church Attendance on the Decline,” Christian Century, 11 September 1996, 843.
3. George Gallup, Jr., and David Poling, The Search for America’s Faith (Nashville, Abingdon, 1980), 136, Appendix A, supplement to Appendix J; Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith since World War II (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), 165.
4. Wuthnow, 17.
5. Ibid., 165.
6. James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1991), 203.
7. Ibid., 6.
8. Gallup and Poling, 51.
9. “Church Attendance,” 843 ff.
12. Patterson and Kim, 200.
13. Ibid., 205.
14. Gallup and Poling, supplement to Appendix J.
15. Wuthnow, 17.
16. Ibid., 165.
17. Patterson and Kim, 201.
18. Wuthnow, 165.
19. Patterson and Kim, 204.
20. Gallup and Poling, 136.
21. Patterson and Kim, 204.
23. Ibid., 200.
24. Quoted by Sterling Lacy, Valley of Decision (Texarkana, Tex.: Dayspring Productions, 1988), 9.
25. “Supreme Court Says Student-Led Prayer at High School Football Games Violates First Amendment,” CNN.com, 19 June 2000.
© 2007, 2012 Stanley Edgar Rickard (Ed Rickard, the author). All rights reserved.
Author: Ben Rast
Source: Contender Ministries – 8.23.2005
Though the doctrine of the Trinity is quite biblical, many Christians find themselves unable to adequately answer the attacks on this doctrine by other monotheistic religions such as Islam and Judaism, as well as polytheistic and henotheistic religions such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (henotheism is the belief in multiple gods, but the worship of only one). Few Christian doctrines are attacked so viciously as the doctrine of the Trinity. This aspect of the nature of God is awe-inspiring and wonderful. As Christians, we should be prepared to explain it to unbelievers and to defend it against attacks. As you will see, most arguments against the Trinity are weak and unable to stand up to biblical scrutiny or an appeal to logic. If you witness to a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or a Muslim, some of these arguments are likely to come up, and it’s vitally important that you are able to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15), demolish these arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5), and contend for the faith (Jude 3,4).
I have covered the biblical supports for the triune nature of God in a previous article, “A Comprehensive Biblical Defense of the Trinity.” If you have not read that article, I encourage you to do so before moving on to this one. In it, I provide biblical proof for the following points:
1. There is only one God
2. The Father is God
3. Jesus is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God
5. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons.
Before addressing the most common objections, it’s important to make sure that we are starting with an accurate definition of the Trinity. Many who oppose the Trinity do so with a faulty understanding of the definition. Simply put, the doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one true God, and within that God there are three co-equal and co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each Person of the Trinity is distinct from the other, but all three comprise one God. Various heresies arise when this definition is distorted, and I covered some of them in the previous article. Now that we start from a common definition, let’s turn ourselves to some common objections.
1. The word “Trinity” isn’t found anywhere in the Bible!
True enough, the word “Trinity” isn’t found in the Bible. A similar argument is used by theological modernists who assert that the term “homosexual” is a modern word that didn’t exist at the time the Bible was written, therefore the Bible can’t condemn homosexuality. I think most people will agree that the Bible STILL condemns homosexuality, even thought this particular English word wasn’t used in the Greek or Hebrew texts. Interestingly, the word “pornography” is similarly absent from Scripture, but we are still able to view the biblical teachings on sexual morality, coupled with Jesus’ teaching that a man who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery with her in his heart to recognize that pornography is sinful. The word “theocracy” is not found in the Bible, but the concept can be found there. The absence of a word does not preclude its teaching in Scripture.
Critics also argue that no single verse of Scripture clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. While many single verses provide excellent evidence for the triune nature of God (see the previous article), it is true that this doctrine is not capsulated in a single verse or passage of Scripture. The Bible is not titled, “Christian Doctrine for Dummies.” It is sometimes necessary to look at the teachings of Scripture as a whole. When we allow ourselves to do that, we can see that the Trinity is quite Scriptural.
2. The Trinity doctrine is confusing, and God is not the author of confusion.
1 Corinthians 14:33 in the NIV states in part, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” In the spurious New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the verse similarly states, “For God is [a God], not of disorder, but of peace.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons will frequently cite this verse when arguing against the Trinity. After all, the concept of a triune God can be confusing. They argue that such a confusing doctrine must come from Satan, since God is not a God of confusion or disorder. Yet such an argument is illogical. That humans cannot fully understand the nature of God simply means that we are finite created beings who do not possess the mind of God. The Bible is clear that such confusions are to be expected:
“ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”
“Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
(1 Corinthians 13:12)
Many aspects of God’s nature are hard, if not impossible, for the human mind to comprehend. For example, infinite concepts give me a headache. If I try to comprehend the concept of an infinite sum, I get a headache. If I try to really comprehend the eternal nature of God (without a beginning or an end), I get a headache. My finite human mind simply cannot comprehend eternity beyond the vague concept. I’m not alone in this either. While Jehovah’s Witnesses will use the confusion argument against the Trinity, they contradict themselves in other areas. In the Watchtower publication Reasoning from the Scriptures, they acknowledge this confusion after citing Psalm 90:2, referencing God’s eternal nature: “Is that reasonable? Our minds cannot fully comprehend it. But that is not a sound reason for rejecting it.” 
As is so often the case in arguments by cultists and heretics, they have divorced 1 Corinthians 14:33 from its context to use it in the fashion they desire. It is vital that we read Scripture in context to gain a proper understanding of it. Let’s put this verse back in its appropriate context, including verses 26-33, 39-40:
“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…. Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
When placed in context, we can see that this passage is talking about how our worship should be orderly. Paul is trying to put the gifts of tongues and prophecy into their proper usage and eliminate the confusion that can result in a service when these gifts are used improperly. Just as there is no discord within God, so there should be no discord or confusion in our worship of God. Putting Scripture in context allows us to read it the way the authors (and the Ultimate Author) intended us to do so.
3. The Trinity is a pagan concept adopted by Christianity.
This is one of the most common arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity. I’ve heard it expressed often by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Usually, the person using this argument has no evidence to back up this assertion, but on rare occasions they do. Unfortunately, it is equally rare that a Christian is prepared to “demolish” this argument. It can be done easily by an appeal to facts and logic.
- The Jehovah’s Witnesses / Watchtower Society (Christian Apologetics Resource)
The argument typically is expressed that certain pagan cultures, such as the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, developed a Trinitarian belief in places far removed from the birthplace of Christianity and predating it by thousands of years. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that these pagan doctrines were introduced into Christianity hundreds of years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, this isn’t exactly true.
The Babylonians and Assyrians did NOT develop a Trinitarian theological dogma. Rather, they believed in triads of gods who headed up a council of other gods. In other words, whereas the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that ONE GOD is comprised of three co-equal and co-eternal persons, the Babylonians and Assyrians believed that three separate gods formed a leadership over other gods. In this, their beliefs more closely resemble the polytheistic/henotheistic beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Mormon doctrine holds that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods in leadership over this world. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah God created Jesus – a lesser god, and that the Holy Spirit is simply Jehovah’s active force in this world. These beliefs are closer to the ancient pagan beliefs than is the Trinity doctrine, which is strictly monotheistic. Moreover, the separation of early Christian development from these pagan beliefs with respect to time and geography make it highly unlikely that the pagan beliefs played any role in the Church’s clarification of the Trinity doctrine as found in the Athanasian Creed. This creed reads, in part, “This is what the catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is. The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated. The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal. Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being. So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being. Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. However, there are not three gods, but one God.” It should be noted that “catholic” in the early centuries was used to describe universal and orthodox Christianity long before the Roman Catholic Church existed as such. The creed continues in this manner. Athanasius did not fabricate this. Rather, he summarized the teaching of Scripture.
Association based on similarities is faulty logic. Pagans (and indeed practically all ancient cultures on earth) have a legend concerning a global flood. Does this negate the truthfulness of the global flood described in Genesis? Does this mean the Genesis account was “borrowed”? Of course not. The ubiquity of the flood story actually buttresses its truthfulness, even though other cultures don’t have all the details correct. Furthermore, some pagan cultures have a “messiah” legend that has similarities to the gospel. However, there are also differences in these stories. We can take joy in the fact that these legends haven’t the accuracy of the Bible as verified historically and archaeologically. Similarities don’t impart guilt. Therefore, similar pagan doctrines in triads of gods are not the same as the Trinitarian doctrine of Christianity, and it is baseless to assume that the Trinity was “borrowed” from paganism. It’s simply not true.
4. Jesus calls the Father, “the only true God,” therefore Jesus cannot be God.
This is an interesting argument often raised by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. This argument, as we will see, is self-defeating for them. This argument refers to Jesus’ words to the Father in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Critics argue that the Father cannot be the “only true God” if Jesus and the Holy Spirit can also claim to be God. The thinking is illogical. First, Jesus’ words do not exclude the Son and Holy Spirit from also being the only true God. They DO exclude Jesus and the Holy Spirit from being separate gods. In other words, if the Father is the only true God, then Jesus cannot also be a true God and the Holy Spirit cannot also be a true God (distinguishing them as separate gods rather than simply separate persons). If we understand the true nature of the Trinity, we can acknowledge that the Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal persons that comprise the one true God, and John 17:3 does not counter that. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe that Jesus is a separate god, and Mormons believe that the Holy Spirit is yet another god. In the New World Translation, John 1:1 states, “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (emphasis added). Mormonism’s founding prophet taught, “In the beginning, the head of the gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.” Now if a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness wants to claim that this verse teaches that the Father alone is the only true God, then Jesus and the Holy Spirit must be false gods. If that is true, the teachings of the LDS prophets and the New World Translation must be wrong.
- The Mormons (Christian Apologetics Resource)
5. Jesus prayed to God in the garden, so Jesus can’t be God.
This statement has needlessly stumped some Christians, though not for long. It is a misleading generality to say, “Jesus prayed to God.” To be more precise, we should say that Jesus (The Son) prayed to The Father in the garden. While it is true that there is only one God, it is equally true that God exists as three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. During His earthly ministry and being subject to a mortal body, Jesus willingly endured the limitations of man. As such, it should come as no surprise that He communicated with The Father through prayer! This does nothing to diminish the deity of Jesus Christ or to contradict the monotheistic nature of God.
6. The Bible says that God is ONE!
This argument, which attempts to disprove the triune nature of God based on unity, is based largely on two verses:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 in the New World Translation says, “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” We’ve gone into detail in other articles about the fact that “Jehovah” is not a word that appears in the Bible, but is rather a modification of Yahweh. One way to read the last phrase with some of the Hebrew intact is “Yahweh (Jehovah) our elohim is one Yahweh (Jehovah)”. The Hebrew words themselves are “Yahweh elohim echad Yahweh.” The NIV footnote for this verse lists a few possible ways to translate this verse based on its grammatical construct. Echad means “one” or “only”. Because of the construct, this verse could be translated as it is above, or as “The LORD our God is one LORD,” “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one,” or “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” I think the best of these translations can be assessed by observing the context of the passage. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses had just presented the Israelites with the Ten Commandments. One sin that marked these people was their habit of turning to idolatry (golden calf ring a bell?). As we read down in chapter 6, we see that this is still the focus and concern at this point. In verses 14-16 we read, “Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.” This is a very clear exhortation for the Israelites to abandon their worship of multiple “gods.” Therefore, the most reasonable way of interpreting Deuteronomy 6:4 is “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” This establishes that only Yahweh is the true God. All other “gods” are false and must be rejected. Deuteronomy 6:4 does not exclude God from being triune in nature. Mark 12:29 is simply a recitation of Deuteronomy 6:4 with the intent of that verse intact – we have one and ONLY one God!
- Is Jesus Really The Only Way? (the ONE WAY blog)
Yahweh is our elohim, Yahweh alone. In my previous article on the Trinity, I established Scripturally that not only is the Father Yahweh, but Jesus is also Yahweh. Similarly, the deity of the Holy Spirit reveals He is also Yahweh. In this article and the previous one, I have addressed some of the most common objections to the doctrine of the Trinity. The teaching of the Word of God is clear. There is one God. God exists in three co-equal and co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these three are rightfully called God, yet each is distinct from the other. The absence of one convenient summary of this truth in Scripture does not negate its truthfulness, nor does it mean this truth is not found in Scripture. God has revealed this wonderful truth to us through His Word. The question is, are we listening?
1. Reasoning from the Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), p. 148.
2. Joseph Smith, Jr., The King Follett Discourse (Salt Lake City: Joseph Lyon & Associates, 1963), p. 9.
[While I am not a Mennonite I fully support the position their Southeastern Conference took towards divorce and remarriage in 1983. It is supported by God's Word and stands soundly upon the doctrine and practice of the New Testament church. Sadly, in today's "progressive" society, many churches and fellowships have chosen to ignore and explain away the portions and doctrines of the New Testament which they find unappealing and convicting.
The source for the following post can be found at anabaptists.org SJ]
Divorce and Remarriage
Officially adopted as a statement of position and policy on June 24, 1983, by the Southeastern Mennonite Conference.
In approaching the problems brought on by the evils of divorce and remarriage, we need first to understand the Scriptural significance of marriage. Marriage was ordained by God in the creation and is confirmed in the New Testament by Jesus Christ. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman, dissoluble only by death. It involves a voluntary, unreserved commitment to each other for life and supersedes all other human relationships. Marriage is a union which is recognized and validated by God, whether the contract is solemnized by the church or by the state and whether the contracting persons are believers or unbelievers. (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:6-9; Hebrews 13:4)
In order to establish a Scriptural position on divorce and remarriage, we must also consider the Biblical teaching on adultery. In both Old and New Testaments the unfaithfulness of God’s people is referred to as adultery in a figurative sense. Literally, adultery means voluntary sexual relations between a married man and a woman not his wife, or between a married woman and a man not her husband. However, the Scriptures teach that adultery involves more than the act of immorality. Adultery is also a breach of fidelity between husband and wife. Jesus said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth [or continues to commit] adultery against her.” Such persons enter upon an adulterous relationship. (Jeremiah 3; Hosea 1, 2, 3; Matthew 16:4; James 4:4; Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3)
The indissolubility of the marriage bond is a principle that is basic to a consistent interpretation and application of Bible teachings in relation to problems issuing from divorce and remarriage. When confronted with the question of divorce, Jesus based His response solidly on God’s ordinance in creation when He said, “Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder [to divide or separate].”
Scripturally, there is nothing which breaks the marriage bond except death. The act of adultery does not dissolve the marriage bond, although it decidedly affects the quality of a marriage relationship and leaves a permanent scar on the persons involved. A legal document called divorce, from God’s point of view, does not break the marriage bond, else remarriage would not be adultery. Even the conversion of one of two unbelieving married partners does not dissolve the marriage bond. If the unbelieving partner should leave, the marriage bond continues. Divorced persons who enter a second marriage relation while their first partners are still living may be recognized by the state as legally married, but “from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:6-8; Mark 10:4-9; Prov. 6:32, 33; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10-16, 39)
The church is called to minister with loving and caring consideration to those who are caught in the tangles of divorce and remarriage. Concern for their personal salvation should motivate us to lead them to a full commitment to Jesus Christ and to show them from the Scriptures those holy principles which regulate the marriage relationship. While the final decision to separate from an adulterous relationship would be voluntary, God requires it for reconciliation to Him. (John 4:13-18; 8:1-11; Romans 15:14; Galatians 6:1-3; Colossians 4:6)
Divorce was granted in the Old Testament only as a concession and was neither commanded nor commended by God. Divorce is clearly depicted in the Scriptures as being in direct contradiction to the original purpose of God and the true nature of marriage. Principles of the New Testament would allow a divorced person two options. He may remain unmarried or be reconciled to his partner. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 5:31,32; 19:3-8; Mark 10:2-9; 1 Corinthians 7:10,11)
If the divorced person remarries, he faces far greater and more serious complications. Both single persons and persons previously married can be involved in an adulterous remarriage. Circumstances may vary but the consequences are quite similar. Complications issuing from adulterous remarriages are legion and do not have easy answers. For many, their first marriage was contracted before conversion. Since the Scriptures teach that marriage is validated by God, whether contracted by believers or unbelievers, we believe the first marriage is still binding as long as both are living. (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3; Hebrews 13:4)
Some couples claim that in their adulterous remarriage they have discovered real marital compatibility. This only points up a grave weakness in modern society. Marriage is depicted as an experience of selfish gratification rather than a commitment to life-long fidelity. (1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8; Ephesians 5:22-23)
A very real test comes when children are born in an adulterous marriage relationship. To dissolve such a family unit may cause the children extreme suffering. However, children are also caused to suffer similarly from divorce of original partners or from being born out of wedlock. Such consequences are touching, and are a grim reminder that in the wake of sin there are many innocent sufferers. (Proverbs 6:32, 33; 13:15; Galatians 6:7, 8)
To legally dissolve an adulterous remarriage relationship in our culture generally requires either annulment or divorce. If to effect either annulment or divorce means that one partner must become an aggressor at law against the other, such an action would be in conflict with the Bible teaching on nonresistance. We believe that a simple separation would be consistent with the teaching of Scripture. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
In keeping with the Bible principles of practical holiness, Christian expediency, and a blameless witness, we believe it would be inconsistent for couples who sincerely repent of their adulterous marriage relationship to continue to live in the same dwelling or to maintain close relationships. However, since there are often children born in adulterous marriage relationships, Christian integrity would require that a believing father bear responsibility for the material support and care of his children. (Romans 13:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-12; 10:23; Ephesians 5:8-17; Philippians 2:15, 16; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Timothy 5:8)
There are cases where an adulterous remarriage relationship is legally and legitimately dissolved. If a person involved in such a relationship was previously married and there is a mutual desire on the part of the original partners to be reunited, there is no New Testament principle that forbids it. The teaching of the New Testament is that the original marriage bond is indissoluble, except by death, and the tenor of the New Testament is reconciliation and return. On the other hand, if a person involved in an adulterous marriage relationship was previously single and desires to be legitimately married, the case is more complex. While such a marriage may not be specifically forbidden in the New Testament, we believe it would not be an expedient practice for the church to follow. (Matthew 19:6-12; Mark 10:9-12; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 6:9-12; 7-10, 11; 10:23; Galatians 6:7)
In conclusion, we believe the church is called to demonstrate the holiness and permanency of the marriage relationship. Furthermore, she is commissioned to make disciples of all nations and to teach them how to follow the commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Concerning Richmond, VA (LiveJournal.com)
Apostasy In the Modern Church (TheMoorings.org)
This Is A Hard Saying: The Bible on Divorce and Remarriage (TraditionalChristianity.com)
[Below are two articles dealing with the failure of Barack Obama's foreign policy; the first article is a political summary of Obama's tenure to date, and the second article is an examination (from a Biblical perspective) of the fallout Obama's foreign relations will bring upon this nation. SJ]
Even the Hapless Jimmy Carter Wasn’t This Bad
Author: Jack Kelly
Source: RealClearPolitics.com – 3.02.2014
Leaders of other countries don’t respect President Barack Obama, said 53 percent of respondents in Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 3-6. That only 53 percent of Americans think this is an indictment of the news media’s coverage of foreign affairs.
He would lead the world by “deed and example,” not try to “bully it into submission,” Sen. Barack Obama wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2007.
In a major foreign policy speech in 2008, Mr. Obama said he would focus on “ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
The key elements of his foreign policy were to be a “reset” of relations with Russia, and outreach to Muslims.
To symbolize “reset,” when they met in Geneva, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red plastic button modeled on the “easy button” in the Staples ads.
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” Mr. Obama said in a much ballyhooed speech in Cairo in June, 2009.
No president has talked the talk so well, but walked the walk so badly.
- War and Dishonor
The plastic button Ms. Clinton gave Mr. Lavrov was supposed to say “reset” in English and Russian. But “peregruzka” means “overcharged.” Relations went downhill from there.
To appease Russia, President Obama cancelled a ballistic missile defense treaty with Poland and the Czech Republic. But the more concessions he made, the more contempt with which he was treated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His Russian policy has been a total failure. But it hasn’t backfired as much as has Mr. Obama’s “outreach” to Muslims:
- Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama weakened economic sanctions as a gesture of goodwill, so now the mullahs have the money to finish the job.
- Saudi Arabia is so angered by Mr. Obama’s appeasement of Iran it refused a seat on the U.N. Security Council; so frightened by it the Saudis are talking quietly with the Israelis about joint military action.
- In what had been our foremost Arab ally, Egypt, the president’s dalliance with the Muslim Brotherhood has alienated both the military and the people.
- Mr. Obama waged war of dubious legality to oust Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, an evil, mean, nasty, rotten guy, but not, since 2005, a threat to the United States. (He gave up his nuclear weapons program because he was afraid what happened to Saddam Hussein might happen to him.)
- Seventy percent of the 2,313 Americans killed in Afghanistan died after President Obama escalated the war. They died in vain. The Taliban is expected to take over when U.S. troops leave.
- The fighting in Iraq was over when Barack Obama took the oath of office. His inept diplomacy and premature withdrawal of all U.S. troops permitted an al-Qaida resurgence there.
- Worldwide, al-Qaida is as great a threat today as it was in 2001, the director of national intelligence told Congress last month.
- Peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have gone nowhere, which is nothing new. But Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to lose the trust of both Israelis and Palestinians.
- More than 130,000 people have been killed in the civil war in Syria. President Obama threatened to intervene militarily on one side, then, after pressure from the Russians, in effect switched to the other, to the dismay of our European allies.
- Syria’s Christians Risk Eradication
Because he so often has “led from behind,” blustered and retreated, our enemies don’t fear our president; our allies don’t trust him; neither do they respect him.
- Barack Obama’s Nightmare
American influence has shrunk along with the president’s stature. During the crisis there, Ukraine’s defense minister refused to accept calls from our secretary of defense.
Not even the hapless Jimmy Carter made so big a mess. Relations have soured even with Canada, which is tired of being jerked around on the Keystone pipeline.
It’s time the news media noticed.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.
Prophetic Precipice faced by America
Author: Bill Wilson
Source: The Daily Jot – 3.03.2014
While Russian President Vladimir Putin thumbed his nose at the occupant of the Oval Office’s warnings against invading Ukraine, the US president huddled in an hour-long Oval Office interview with Bloomberg reporter Jeffrey Goldberg. The purpose of the interview was to send a clear warning to Israel ahead of that country’s Prime Minister visit to the White House. The warning: Israel better give in to the president’s proposed peace framework or face a bleak future–one of international isolation and demographic disaster. The president skipped a National Security Advisors meeting on the crisis in Ukraine, but took an hour with a reporter to warn Israel. Watch the prophetic clock tick in the next 24 hours.
The Lord God says of Israel in Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee.” This is an ongoing ordeal for America as presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and the current occupant of the Oval Office have built precept upon precept to force Israel into accepting terms of the terrorist Palestinian negotiators. A clear example of the US facing a political, economic or natural disaster within 48 hours of a US president pressuring Israel is Bush demanding that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rid Gaza of its Jewish settlers. Gaza became a hostile enclave for Hamas terrorists within hours. Within 48 hours was the formation of a tropical depression that became Katrina.
- Please Wake Up
White House support of all things Islam has Biblical implications for all Americans. Most all the prophets–major and minor–point to current Islamic nations coming against Israel in the “Day of the Lord.” Russia’s role has always been in support of Israel’s enemies–Russia/Soviet Union supplied the weapons to Arab states that attacked Israel after its independence, the six day war in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The US president is pitching a prophetic grand slam on the people who elected him. He has drawn a line in the sand by warning Russia to not invade Ukraine and he is warning Israel of the consequences of not giving up traditional lands of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian terrorists.
- The Rise Of the Bear
There are prophetic consequences, however, of the president’s actions. One could tie many things, such as the support for the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, his pressure on Israel, his support for abortion and homosexuality, his selective enforcement of law, his lack of fiscal responsibility, his reverse racism, his destruction of the economy, etc., to prophetic consequences that inform the current American condition. The one thing that each nation needs, however, is national security. His warnings to Israel amid his weak response to the growing crisis of Russian aggression are a combination adding up to prophetic and practical consequences. Proverbs 29:2 says, “…When the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.”
- Catastrophic Failure of Human Government
Have A Blessed And Powerful Day,
Author: Harold Vaughn
Every era has unique characteristics which help define it. These attributes have been referred to as “the spirit of the age.” Throughout history there has been a “world spirit or spirit of the age” that has dominated the thinking of the masses.
Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, plainly said, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God”
(1 Cor. 2:12). This thought is echoed in Ephesians 2:2, where reference is made to “walking according to the course of this world.” Throughout Scripture the “world” is presented as the enemy of God and His people. “Know ye not the friendship of the world is enmity with God?”
(James 4:4). Repeatedly, we are warned about the “spirit of the world,” the “course of this world,” and the dangers of friendship with the world system.
Now we have come to the place where I fear we have drunk so deeply into the ‘spirit of the age” or “world spirit” that everything is seen as compatible with Christianity. What are the dominant thought patterns and ideas of our generation? What is the spirit of our age that must be defined and rejected if we are serious about revival?
The only sin left in America is the sin of intolerance. “Diversity,” we are told, is the source of our strength. In a pluralistic society we have to respect the “cultural diversity” of all peoples except those who founded the country and held to Judeo-Christian values! It has been said, “Tolerance is the last virtue of a totally corrupt society.” Our culture is marked by pluralism in creed and permissiveness in practice. Inclusivism demands that differences be denied and it’s okay to think anything you choose, but don’t be judgmental! A.W. Tozer wrote, “A new Decalogue has been adopted by the neo Christians of our day, ‘Thou shalt not disagree’ and a new set of Beatitudes too,
Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything.’“
After decades of “doctrinal downsizing” it seems that the construction of Tower of Babel II is nearing completion. I heard some religious leaders speak of the need for the “United Nations of Religion.” Ecumania is definitely the rage. The “feel-good, Mother Theresa evangelicals” are mainstream. It has now gotten to the point where few dare say a word against the current move to amalgamate all who name themselves as Christians. In some quarters, Catholics and even the Mormons are accepted on the basis of a common moral outlook.
- Richmond VA and the Greater Richmond Area
Religion has been defined as “morality tinged with emotion.” Ecumania qualifies as religion, but it is definitely not Christian! Good intentions and infiltration have never been the means to revival and reformation.
How can anyone who Is serious about revival overlook, ignore, and disobey the clear-cut Biblical commands to avoid fellowship with sin and error? Jesus said, “If ye continue in My word, then ye are My disciples indeed”
It’s time to bring back the Puritans. These serious saints had strong doctrinal beliefs and actually practiced what they believed! Today doctrine is seen as a stumbling block to unity rather than the Biblical basis for it. Treason is not too strong a word for those who make common cause with the opponents of TRUTH. Dr. Gresham Machen felt constrained to leave his denomination because of liberalism. In his farewell address at Princeton he said, “A man may believe what he pleases, provided he does not believe anything strongly enough to risk his life on it and fight for it. Tolerance is the great word.”
“If it works it must be right.” “If it is successful it must be right.” When churches and movements are judged solely on the criteria of their ability to draw large crowds and produce pleasant emotions, the spirit of pragmatism obviously holds full sway.
Right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness no longer exist in a climate of pragmatism. Those who hold principles firmly grounded in truth are considered legalistic people with non-negotiable doctrinal convictions are viewed as unloving, intolerant, archaic, and unenlightened. Good intentions, more importantly, “results,” are the measuring stick by which truth is determined.
The church growth experts tell us we have to target a specific group and give them what they want. The basic premise is to find out how people are thinking and appeal to the prevailing “felt-needs.” In order to appear relevant, don’t say anything to modern man that he is not already saying to himself. Use appropriate means and words to make everyone “feel” comfortable. Under this approach preachers are reduced to public-relations agents and the prophetic voice is silenced. John the Baptist, untrained in these techniques, told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife. This bold declaration of truth aroused such animosity that it cost him his life. But Jesus said there has never been a greater man born of woman than John the Baptist. Though an apparent failure by today’s standards, he is a giant in heaven!
C. S. Lewis said, “I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.’ The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” Amen!
Of course, we have to meet people where they are, but we cannot leave them there! Surely, there is a vast array of approaches God can use to reach people. However, our methods as well as our message must coincide with the character of God. De-emphasizing doctrine. denying the need of the Holy Spirit, and abandoning Truth have historically been the gateway to apostasy and that hasn’t changed!
Lawlessness came of age in the sixties when college campuses became riot zones. Rock music was the immoral medium that led the charge to defy all standards of decency and morality. Police were “pigs” and fathers were referred to as “my old man.” For decades now, structures of God-ordained authority have been under assault.
Rebellion is the genesis of every manifestation of the world spirit. From the Fall to the 20th century, the world system has been rebelling against God’s authority. “We will not have this man rule over us” is the continuous cry of a defiant humanity. Have you seen the T-shirt that reads, “Question Authority”? Since all power and authority comes from God, this statement amounts to a recipe for anarchy.
The true nature of rebellion is seen in I Sam.l5:23, where the prophet Samuel said to Saul, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Saul was only partially obedient, which amounted to total disobedience in God’s sight! The spirit of rebellion is the spirit of witchcraft, and witchcraft is the spirit of Satan.
- The Sedgefield Community
As the world continues to slide farther and farther from God in a climate of rebellion, the vast majority of churches fall in right behind the world. Scores of churches no longer want a pastor (servant-leader) to shepherd them. All they want is a chaplain-someone to marry and bury them! In countless congregations there is an appalling lack of respect for the office of pastor and the man occupying it. Pastors are viewed as plantation slaves who can be replaced if they fail to perform satisfactorily.
But membership in a local church means accountability. “Obey them that have the rule over you.” Jesus marveled at the centurion who understood the principle of authority because his outlook was so rare. Rebellion is serious. Miriam was struck with leprosy when she murmured against God’s prophet, Moses. When Korah instigated an uprising, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed him and his cohorts. Deep repentance and submission is the only cure for widespread and deeply ingrained disdain for spiritual authority
The subject of rebellion really hits HOME! Families are failing Counseling is a billion- dollar industry. Satan is cited as the culprit in assaulting the institution called the family.
The permanence of marriage, principles of child-rearing, the chain of command, the husband’s role, the wife’s responsibility, and children honoring Mom and Dad are black and white issues in the Word of God. While there is little doubt an external assault is underway, the main problem may lie within. Rejecting God’s design for the home can’t be blamed on outside pressures and temptations. The real problem here is rebellion and that clearly reflects the spirit of the age.
Christianity has been corrupted by the passion for pleasure. Listen to this excerpt from the book, Hot Tub Religion:
Freudianism has captured Christian no less than post-Christian imaginations with its picture of the human individual driven by desperate desires for pleasure’s especially sexual pleasure’s and likely to come apart at the seams if these desires are not indulged. Humanism has touted individual self-expression, self-discovery, self-realization, and self-fulfillment as life’s supreme goal.
Hot tub religion has been described as “sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid back, not in any way demanding… very, very nice even to the point of being great fun.” Making pleasure, comfort, and happiness one’s goal guarantees you will miss them all. As has been said, the seeds of happiness grow most strongly in the soil of service. Jesus said the way to find your life is by losing it-in Him. Radical statements such as this cut right across the grain of modern thinking.
Selfism doesn’t even pretend to mold the life pattern to the Gospel. Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die.” The man who defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that somewhere, somehow, somebody might be happy’ totally missed the heart of the Gospel. True and everlasting happiness comes through self-denial, not self-indulgence!
Worldliness is embracing the world’s values. D.L. Moody said, “The place for the ship is in the sea but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.” No, Christians are not professional kill-joys. Theocentric simply means we exist for God rather than He for us. Egocentric praying is our attempt at managing and directing God to accomplish our will instead of His. If “covetousness is idolatry” then attempting to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness is SIN!
Christians today no longer live for heaven. Therefore, the concept of detachment from this world is seldom considered, let alone practiced. The world is after pleasure, profit, power, and privilege, and so are we! Nowadays nonconformity to the world, if mentioned at all, relates to the means to attain these goals and not the goals themselves. It is possible to avoid the recognized taboos and yet still thoroughly identify with the sins of society.
Christianity affirms the physical world as God’s creation and renounces the world spirit as corrupted by sin. Contrary to popular thinking, the spirit of the age is NOT the Spirit of God. The spirit of the age embodies and embraces the world’s way of looking at life and must be rejected. “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom 12:2).
I’ve heard of some who were so heavenly-minded they were no earthly good. But this is not our problem. The great need today is found in Colossians 3:2, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” C.S. Lewis said “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
Do we reflect the image of God, or do we merely mirror the culture? Are we more like the unchanging Christ or the world which is passing away? Is our outlook humanistic or Christian? Is our world view Biblical or pagan? Are we ambassadors for God’s kingdom or merely salesmen in the kingdom of this world? Brethren, are we guilty of the subtle sin of worldliness?
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world: the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).
The Spirit of Antichrist – pilgrimpassing.com
The Ten Lies of Feminism – thoughts.com
…And the Pulpits Are Silent – the Watching and Waiting blog
The Shocking Message – pilgrimpassing.com
Reinventing Christianity – the ONE WAY blog
The Breakdown of Moral Discipline in America – the Watching and Waiting blog
America’s Spiritual Crisis – the ONE WAY blog