How do Christians respond to Gay Pride?

When I was in Junior High, one of my friends’ mother was our Sunday School teacher at the United Methodist Church I attended.  Mrs. Tuthill was her name.  Her claim to fame in our little town was her ability to overwhelm sweepstakes contests with entries and win just about everything.  She even won a car.  Besides her ability to bend an envelope in a certain way to increase its chances of being drawn out of a barrel, she made an immediate and deep impact on us when it came to understand God’s view of homosexuality and those that are in that sin.

We were in 1 Sam 18:1 and we read aloud where David and Jonathon’s souls were knit and that Jonathon loved David as his own soul.  Mrs. Tuthill’s son said under his breath to the child sitting next to him, “Sounds like a couple of homos”, which received some stifled laughter.  He, however, hadn’t said it low enough to where his mother wouldn’t hear him.  When she heard it, well, Hiroshima looked like a firecracker compared to the ‘sermon’ we heard on how homosexuality was an abomination to God and the judgment of God, and oh boy did she let us have it.  Well I was convinced, even as a young unregenerate Methodist, and it made an immediate and lasting impression.

It was always scandalous back then when some movie star or whatever would ‘come out of the closet’.  Boy George had us all wondering what ‘he’ was.  Movies and television constantly portrayed them as flippant girly men that pranced about.  It was always a punch line.  Comedians like Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams made fun of them, in fact, most comedians cracked jokes about them.  It was an insult to call someone a queer, and accusing other teenage boys of committing such acts was one way to start a fight, or win an insult contest.  Then HIV and AIDS appeared and it seemed as if the culture’s attitude towards homosexuals started to change then.

Yes, the era I grew up in was an odd one if you compare it to today.

Today, the tables have been turned.  There is such a thing as ‘Gay Pride’.  Proud of being gay?  Really?  What is gay pride, you might ask?  Well, according to what you may see in a ‘Gay Pride Parade’, it means you have no shame for your sin, and you want everyone to accept you for what you are.  And to prove it, you will trot out offensive floats, perform offensive acts, and then get offended when people comment at how lewd the gay folks were during the parade.

Okay, we get it, your here, your queer, but as Christians, we won’t get used to it.  Our response to your ‘Gay Pride’ is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners who commit such sins.  You don’t believe me?  Have you ever read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians?

1Co 6:9-11
(9)  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
(10)  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
(11)  And such were some of you.But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The response we need to make is that their unrepentant sinfulness will cause them to be sent to hell for all eternity, but Jesus Christ died for sinners.  They should repent of their sin, trust in the Savior.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of all kinds of men and women, even those who commit the sins of homosexuality.

Jesus what a friend of sinners.

Fulfilled Prophecies that Prove Christ is God

Fulfilled Prophecies that Prove Christ is God

Who is Jesus Christ? Is He God? Or was He just a man? When Jesus asked His disciples this same question,[1] He was met with Simon Peter’s earnest reply: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[2] There are many who would answer just as earnestly, but who define the terms “Christ” and “Son of God” very differently than Peter himself did. For some, “the Christ” is a way of thinking/being/relating to existence and “the divine cosmos;” for others, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other modern-day proponents of Arianism, “the Christ” was only a man when He was on the earth. The problem with all aberrant Christologies is that they ignore the simple fact that their denial of historical Christianity’s understanding of Christ as being both God and Man amounts to a denial of some of the most profound fulfilled prophecies recorded in the New Testament. More than this, it also amounts to a denial of the Biblical Christ, in whose place they set up an idol.

Beginning with the very first verses of the Gospel of Mark, we are given a pretty bold declaration of the Deity of Christ. Mark opens his Gospel account by combining two prophecies about the Messiah into one. We read:

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets, “Behold I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way,The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”[3]

Note that it is God who, through the prophets, is speaking of Christ. God will send His messenger before Christ, John the Baptist, who will prepare the way of the Lord, Yahweh/the God of Israel. We know that John the Baptist prepared the way of the Christ, Jesus, since the very next words that follow are: “John [the Baptist] appeared…and he preached saying, ‘After me comes He who is mightier than I…”(vv.4-7). Christ, therefore, is “the Lord” whose way was prepared by John the Baptist – that is to say, Jesus is Yahweh/God. The significance of this prophecy cannot be overlooked; if the very coming of the Messiah included the fact that He would be Yahweh, then those who deny Christ’s Deity are denying that He fulfilled these two prophecies that Mark combines.[4] To deny that Christ is God is to deny Christ.

Matthew’s Gospel also teaches us that a denial of the Deity of Christ is a denial of Christ Himself. He writes: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”[5] In these two small verses there is a ton to be learned about the Messiah. We learn (i.)that Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14; (ii.)that Christ was conceived miraculously by the power of  the Holy Spirit; (iii.)that He will be the child of  a woman; and (iv.)that He will be God on earth. Matthew’s explanation of Christ’s fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 goes even farther back in time in the life of Jesus Christ, prior to even the beginning mentioned in Mark 1:1-3. Matthew records that Christ’s conception itself is a fulfilled prophecy, and that the prophecy contained a declaration of His Deity. Therefore, we can say with certainty that a denial of Christ’s Deity even at the moment of conception is a denial of Christ. Incidentally, contrary to what the Mormons teach about Christ – i.e. that He was only a man who achieved godhood – the Scriptures declare that He was God even at the time of His being conceived. Jesus Christ did not eventually become a god; rather, Jesus was, is, and will always be God Almighty.

Similarly, at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry we see that His Deity is also explicitly testified to, being part and parcel of His very Person and Work. Matthew 21:4-5 tells us that Christ’s riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which refers to Yahweh God as the One who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. Therefore, in order for Christ to be the Christ, to fulfill that which was written of Him, which in this case is Zech 9:9, He must be God. Yet He must also be man, since Matthew goes on to record the fact that the people cried out: “Hosanna to the Son of David![6] Christ is Yahweh become flesh and the Son of David who is also David’s Lord.[7] The Deity of Christ, moreover, is evident in His understanding of Himself as Judge of the living and the dead. We can see this in Matthew 29-31, where we read:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

There are two allusions to the Old Testament that are made in this passage, both of which refer to Yahweh and which Jesus tells us are about Him. These two passages are Zechariah 12:10, in which Yahweh speaks of being pierced and mourned over, and Psalm 50:1-5 where Yahweh God calls His elect to Himself from the all over the planet in order to judge them, and condemns the hypocritical who pretend to be His children and falsely take His covenant upon their lips. If we believe that Jesus will return to judge the quick and the dead, which He prophesies of here, then we are required to believe that He is God.

Until that time when our Lord returns, however, He is seated in high heavenly places, for “it says, ‘When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’”[8] Christ, according to the apostle, has fulfilled this Word found in Psalm 68:18 by His descent to earth in His incarnation, ascension back to His throne after His resurrection from the dead, and His giving of spiritual gifts to His church.[9] What is problematic for the Arian is the simple fact that Psalm 68 is about Yahweh God, opening with the triumphant words: “God shall arise” (v.1). Paul does not quote from this Psalm haphazardly either, for we can see that there are numerous themes within it that correspond to those found throughout the epistle to the Ephesians.[10] I would personally go so far as to say that Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is almost a sermonic exposition of Psalm 68 in light of the Lord Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. To deny that Christ is God, then, is to also deny His ascension to the throne, His giving of spiritual gifts to His people, and His working of all things according to the counsel of His own will.

Conclusion

To deny that Christ is God is to deny that (i.)He fulfilled Isaiah 7:14 in being conceived by the Holy Spirit, (ii.)He fulfilled Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 in His entrance into ministry, (iii.)He fulfilled Zechariah 9:9 in His entrance into Jerusalem toward the end of His ministry, (iv.)He was wrong to apply passages about Yahweh to Himself in referencing His return (cf. Ps 50 & Zech 12:10), and (v.)the apostle Paul, although under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, misinterpreted Psalm 68. These conclusions are detrimental to the Arian’s belief that Christ was merely a Man who fulfilled all of the above prophecies (in the case of (i.), (ii.), (iii.), and (iv.)); it is also detrimental to the Arian’s belief that Scripture is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (in the case of (v.)). The Arian is obligated to either affirm that Christ is the Messiah who is, therefore, God Incarnate, and affirm that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, or the Arian can continue to cling to his heretical ideas about Christ and deny that He ever fulfilled any of the above prophecies about Him, and further deny that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

-h.


[1] Cf. Matt 16:13-15

[2] Matt 16:16

[3] Mark 1:1-3

[4] Respectively, the two prophecies are taken from Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3.

[5] Matt 1:22-23

[6] Matt 21:9

[7] Cf. Matt 22:41-46

[8] Eph 4:8

[9] Cf. Eph 4:9-10

[10]

Psalm 68 Ephesians
God will arise (vv.1, 18)He will put His enemies to shame by His victorious ascension (vv.1-2, 20 [which is itself a further allusion to Genesis 3:15 which prophesies of the coming Messiah])

Jew and Gentile would be united in worshiping Him (vv.32-35)

He will “bear up” His people (v.19)

He will give His people the gift of salvation and the blessing of being His people (vv.4-6, 26-35)

He restored His “inheritance” (vv.7-10)

Jesus Christ has arisen (1:20, 2:6)Christ has made known God’s Wisdom to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places (3:8-10)

 

 

Jew and Gentile are united in worshiping Christ (2:11-22)

 

Believers in Christ have been “raised” with Him (2:6)

Christ has given us the gift of salvation and the blessing of being His people (1:3-14, 4:1-16)

He has a “glorious inheritance in the saints” (1:18)

 

Sermon: The Scandal Concerning King David

Here is a sermon I wrote and preached at the local church I am a member of.  I hope this gospel message is a blessing to you.

2 Sam  11-12

Text 2 Sam 12:1-13

 

In our text we find ourselves reading the story of King David and what had already taken place.  The King had taken Bathsheba into his house, after he had seen her bathing herself. When David saw her, he lusted after her, used his power to have her brought to his house, committed adultery with her and then sent her home.  We then find out the result of this one night affair when Bathsheba sends word to him that she is with child.  David then sends for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to come home under false pretenses.   He wants this man to actually go home and cover up his sin.  When, through his own ignorance, Uriah refuses, David sends Uriah back to the battlefront, carrying his own death sentence in his hand.  The orders are carried out and Uriah dies by the sword of the Amorites.

 

With the cover up complete, David brings the woman to his house to become his wife, in hopes of continuing the great cover up.

Nobody knows but David and Bathsheba…

And of course God.

 

This is where we will pick up on the story.  God sends His prophet to David, with a particular message just for him.  A parable of 2 men.  This story is not unlike the stories and parables Christ told during His earthly ministry.  I think of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee going to the temple to pray, the Prodigal son. These stories and parables pointed out the spiritual deficiency and misunderstanding of those in the audience, like the parable of the two debtors that were both forgiven and who loved the one that had forgiven them more, that the Lord told in Simon the Pharisee’s house while the sinful woman anointed his feet, washed them with her tears and worshipped Him.

Nathan’s story shows us the poor man that had only one sheep, an ewe lamb that was special to him.  A pet.  It lived in the house with Him and his family just like a dog or cat that many of you here have.  Pets are just like family members.  You train them, feed them, pet them, and you let them sleep in your bed.  This man’s little lamb was as one of his children.  And to that, many of us here can relate.

The other man, the rich man, has an indiscriminate amount of livestock that are inconsequential in his life.  They are just there.  They are an investment a token of his wealth and stature.  When the traveler comes to see him, it was the pleasure of the host to care for him, to feed him, have his feet washed.  Hospitality was showered upon visitors.  They would break bread, drink wine and eat meat together.  But this rich man did not feed his guest out of his own abundance.  He spared his own livestock, his own livelihood and reached into another man’s home and took not just a possession, but also a special part of the poor man’s family, a precious pet who was as one of his daughters.

David does not know it.  This story is about him.  He does not see himself being talked about.  Verse 5 tells us that David’s wrath was greatly kindled against the man.  Without knowing it, David is pronouncing exactly what his sentence should be under the Law.  David committed adultery and murder.  Both worthy of death under the law of God.  But that is not all that he had done.

He not had just broken 2 commandments in this affair.  But he had broken almost all of the commandments God had given to Israel on Mt. Sinai.

1st he coveted his neighbors wife.  Then he committed adultery with her.  Then he lied to both Joab and to Uriah.  He had Uriah murdered and then he Stole Uriah’s wife.   All these actions were shameful, and with them he dishonored his mother and father.  Nathan tells us that by doing these things David despised God and we will see that by this he taught the enemies of the Lord to Blaspheme.

All in all we see that David did not love the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his might and he did not love his neighbor as himself.

David’s anger is stirred.  “as the Lord liveth, the man that hath done these things shall surely die:  And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he had no pity.”

What a hypocrite, right?  We cannot wait for Nathan to pounce on him.  How dare David make such bold statements concerning such a, in comparison, trivial event.  It was just a little lamb, He conceived a child through adultery.  He had a man murdered to try and hide his own sins.

Come on Nathan, put him in his place.  TELL HIM.

In our minds, we imagine Nathan pointing a big bony finger in David’s face, triumphantly declaring THOU ART THE MAN.  And we hear it so loud and clear as we, in our minds eye sit in the audience, in judgment over this wicked sinful man.  But the bible is not clear on or with what emphasis he speaks it.  He just says it, Thou are the man.  It’s you David.  I would like to change your perception of this if I could.  Instead of imagining in your mind Nathan standing in boldness, proclaiming David’s guilt, picture a man brokenhearted at what his King had done.  View him with tears in his eyes, or even the tears rolling down his face as he is about to proclaim.  I do not wish to write this in the Bible, I cannot.  But I do want you , myself, to look at other’s that are unrepentant of their sins with sorrow instead of triumph.

But what I failed to tell you about this story.  What I didn’t tell you after we read both chapters, is that this story, is about you about me. I am that man. You are that Man.  You are that Woman. Just as David declared what the rich man deserved, you also said in your heart,  “David deserves to die”.  I know you did, because I did, too.  But it is you and I also, that is worthy of death under the law. We are guilty.

You say “I am not like David…I am not a sinner like Him”.  Really? Have you lied, or should I ask how many times have you lied?  Have you ever taken something that did not belong to you?  Or commit adultery in your heart, as Jesus describes to us?   Have you ever hated someone so much that you spoke words to their harm, you looked at them in hate?  That is murder according to the apostle John.

You may say, I have not done what David has done…  But you haven’t loved your neighbor as yourself, have you.   Something good happens to a co-worker, and you wished it happened to you.  Did you shake their hand and congratulate them?  Someone in school got a higher grade on a test, and you were jealous, and wanted it to be you.  These are sins as worthy of judgment from God as the sins that David had committed.

Nathan tells David Thou art the man.  God had made David king, and David in his actions despised God, and God would do to David what God does with all His children… He would bring down the loving hand of chastisement on David.  This would not pay for David’s sin….It would be unpleasant, but as Hebrews 12 tells us, Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth.  Why chastisement and not wrath?  Though to the human eye, we might not be able to tell the difference between the two, but the end purpose, the result that God is bringing about is different.  The announcement of these soon to be and also future tragedies brings about the purpose in which God has sent them forth to do.  To bring David to repentance.  Paul tells us in the book of Romans that it is the ‘goodness of God that brings us to repentance”.

David announces to David that he had indeed sinned against the Lord. Let’s read Psalm 51 and see that in this Psalm, the Lord indeed has brought our fallen King to repentance.

Psa 51:1-19

(1)  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

(2)  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

(3)  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

(4)  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

(5)  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

(6)  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

(7)  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

(8)  Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

(9)  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

(10)  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

(11)  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

(12)  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

(13)  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

(14)  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

(15)  O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

(16)  For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

(17)  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

(18)  Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

(19)  Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

 

I have failed to point out the Scandal concerning King David.  Now some of you may scratch your head and look back at chapter 11 and point.  There is the scandal, right there in the previous chapter.

No, the scandal is the last half of verse 13 when Nathan says.  The Lord also hath put away your sin.

What do you mean, The Lord hath put away your sin?  Where did he put it, where did it go?

David in Psalm 32 wonderfully  explains to us what Nathan has said.

Psa 32:1-11

(1)  A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

(2)  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

(3)  When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

(4)  For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

(5)  I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

(6)  For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

(7)  Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

(8)  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

(9)  Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

(10)  Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

(11)  Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

 

If it was not imputed to him , where did God put David’s sin?

Col 2:11-14

(11)  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

(12)  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

(13)  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

(14)  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Jesus Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness.  Our sin was imputed on him:

2Co 5:21

(21)  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

His righteousness is imputed to sinners:

Rom 5:12-21

(12)  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(13)  (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

(14)  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

(15)  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

(16)  And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

(17)  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

(18)  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

(19)  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

(20)  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

(21)  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The scandal is that people like me, like David, like you who have trusted in Christ alone will be part of the population that John saw in Revelation, a multitude that could not be numbered.

It is scandalous.

 

 

You Can’t Use the Bible to Prove the Bible!

The Charge

A common charge against Christians who appeal to the Bible in order to prove that the Bible is God’s Word is that they are “arguing in circle.” The accusation is common, but is it true? Do Christians “use the Bible to prove the Bible”? This question is necessary to ask in light of the accusation being made against believers in Christ; but there is an even more foundational question to ask before we consider the possibility that we are defending the inspiration of Scripture by arguing fallaciously. The question is this:

What does the accusation even mean?

If the Bible is a unity of sixty-six books written by a variety of authors utilizing different genres, symbols, themes, diction, and even syntax,[1]then there is no way to “use the Bible to prove the Bible.” The accusation is, really, meaningless. The Bible attests to its Divine origin intertextually. In other words, the Bible, i.e. the unity of sixty-six books, internally attests to its Divine origin: One text not only declares that it is God’s Word, it affirms another which in turn attests to its Divine origin, and these two affirm yet another, and so on. Christians do the same when they reiterate what the Scriptures say of themselves, employing Scripture in order to prove the Divine origin of Scripture. There is nothing fallacious about this method, as I’ll show.

Consider the following set of questions and answers.

1. Question: How do we know that the four Gospels are the Word of God?

Answer: Major Premise: The Book of Acts identifies the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ as the Word of God.

Minor Premise: The four canonical Gospels consist of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Conclusion: Therefore, the four canonical Gospels are the Word of God.

2. Q: How do you know that the Book of Acts is the Word of God?

A: MP: The apostle Paul states that all Scripture is God-breathed, etc.[2]

Mp: Paul identifies Luke-Acts as Scripture.

C: Therefore, Luke-Acts is God-breathed, etc.

3. Q: How do we know that the apostle’s word is the Word of God?

A: MP: Peter identifies the apostle Paul’s writings as Scripture.

Mp: 1 Timothy is one of Paul’s writings.

C: Therefore, 1 Timothy is Scripture.

4.Q: How do we know that Peter’s word is the Word of God?

A: MP: The book of Acts identifies the apostolic exposition of the OT and explication of Christ’s Person and Work as the Word of God.

Mp: Peter’s writing is an apostolic exposition of the OT and explication of Christ’s Person and work.

C: Therefore, Peter’s writing is the Word of God.

There is no circularity in the above set of syllogisms. The book of Acts attests to the status of the four Gospels. The apostle Paul attests to the status of Luke-Acts. The apostle Peter attests to the status of the writings of Paul. The book of Acts attests to the status of Peter’s writing, and so on…

The Logical Fallacy Hidden Within the Charge

The meaningless assertion: “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible!” commits the fallacy of equivocation. The fallacy of equivocation occurs when an argument uses the same word twice, each time with a different meaning. The accusation that Christians “use the Bible to prove the Bible” asserts the following:

Major Premise: Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

Minor Premise: Christians quote the Bible in order to prove that it is the Word of God.

Conclusion: Therefore, Christians use the Bible to prove the Bible is the Word of God.

The argument would be sound if the phrase “the Bible” meant the same thing in both instances, which is not the case. In the major premise, “the Bible” means the accepted canon of sixty-six books forming a unity we call the Word of God; in the minor premise, however, “the Bible” means something like “a portion” of one of the books of the Bible, or a verse or set of verses taken from different books of the Bible. This subtle difference in meaning is glossed over by the unbeliever and so the charge of circularity only seems to be a valid one, when it really isn’t. Unbelievers, then, need to define the terms of their objection to/arguments against Christians using the Gospel of Matthew, let’s say, to prove that the entire Old Testament is the Word of God, seeing as such a proof is in no way guilty of committing the fallacy of circular reasoning.

-h.


[1] Dr. G.K. Beale gives some attention to the uniqueness of the syntax of the book of Revelation, for instance, and how it relates to the style and theology presented therein. Desert Springs Church has five sermons on the book of Revelation up for free download here.

[2] Cf. 2 Tim 3:16

Pastor will you not give us the Gospel?

I am utterly sinful.  I find myself doing things, thinking things, desiring things that war against what I know is right, against the Law written on my heart.

As an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB’er), I was aware of my sinfulness, but I was more aware of everyone else’s.  IFBer’s have the cure for your issues – ‘stop it’, ‘do better next time’, ‘quit being like that’.  None of their solutions are really the solution, they just cover up the nastiness that is our sin with ‘law works’ that only condemn us further.

It is Sunday morning (or whenever you gather to worship) and we have gathered together as God’s people to fellowship, worship, hear God’s word.  We are singing songs about God’s grace, and then a few about ‘Trust and Obey” because apparently “there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus”.  The “tithes and offerings” have been guilted…I mean collected.  Now comes the time where the man called to Pastor the church opens up that wonderfully inspired, inerrant, precious Word of God to divide it up and hand out to the multitude that has gathered.  The Lord’s Sheep hunger for this heavenly food, they need it desperately.

But what do they hear?

Honestly ask yourself, Pastor, what are you feeding them?

Are you providing them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, dying on a cross for their sins, buried and rising again the third day, conquering death, hell and the grave for them?  Their sins are forgiven by Christ’s death on a cross, His burial and Resurrection.  FORGIVEN!!!

Or, did you beat them over the head with the law of God (which is what God’s law does, and should do) and berate them for their laziness, apathy, and lack of care for their neighbor and God?  Did you leave them with the guilt of “do better or God is going to get you”?  Did you make the cure for all their sinful ways an instruction list of how to avoid those transgressions?  Did you give a big ‘rah rah’ speech that incited an excitement to serve in those areas ignored before, like evangelism and bible study?  Did you leave out the gospel for their sins and only offer  a quick fix salvation prayer for those visitors “who had decided to give Jesus a try”?

If this is the case, you are starving God’s sheep.

Repent and receive forgiveness of sins in Jesus name for the sin of neglecting God’s sheep, and go and do this sin no more.

If you do not see the error, I beg of you to reconsider and I pray that God’s sheep in that pasture no longer have the wonderful Gospel and the wonderful words of Life withheld from them.

2 Tim 3:16-4:4

The Impossibility of Modalist/”Oneness” Theology

The Legal Necessity of the Distinct Personhood of the Father and the Son

There is only so much Scripture twisting that can be done when one is trying to uphold a heretical doctrine. After a certain point, the Scripture twisting that’s been going on becomes so clear that the advocates of a heresy expose their errors on their own, proving that they were never Christians to begin with but only wolves in sheep’s clothing. This is the case with Oneness Pentecostals who adhere to a form of Sabbellianism that is everywhere contradicted by the Scriptures. Thankfully, passages that are twist-resistant are abundant in God’s Word, so this makes our duty of finding them and pointing them out to Christianity’s opponents a little easier. One such verse for Oneness Pentecostals is John 8:17-18, where Christ tells the Pharisees:

In your Law it is written the testimony of two people is true. I am the One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness about Me.

It is the testimony of two people that is true, not the testimony of One Person in two different modes! Since Christ is claiming that His testimony along with the Father’s testimony makes what He is saying true, there is absolutely no way that the Oneness proponent/Sabellian can claim that Christ and the Father are the same Person. If Christ and the Father are not distinct Persons then (i.)Christ is not keeping the Law, (ii.)He is lying about His keeping of the Law, and (iii.)His testimony about Himself is invalid. In other words, the Oneness proponent can either bow the knee to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, recognizing that these Three distinct Persons are eternally One God undivided in essence – or they can nullify the Law or, worse yet, turn Christ into a liar.

If Oneness Pentecostals want to accept Christ’s testimony about Himself, then they are legally required to acknowledge that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons. The Son is not another mode of the Father; the Son is eternally distinct from the Father and the Spirit; yet these Three are One God.

-h.

Heretics that are Holier than You

Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Emergents: What Do They Have in Common?

Lawlessness comes in two main forms: Legalism and Antinomianism. These two heresies are dealt with extensively in the New Testament, so my point in writing this article is not to delve deeply into those two forms of legalism. No, what I want to talk about is moral-superiority-complex of heretics that is evident all throughout Scripture and among contemporary enemies of the Christian faith. Consider the enemies of Christ Himself, viz. the Pharisees & Co., and the putrid scent of sanctimoniousness that wafts out from the pages of the New Testament whenever they speak. “[John the Baptist] has a demon,”[1] they say, “for he came neither eating nor drinking.” “Look at [Christ]! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners,”[2] they’ll exclaim, for “the Son of Man came eating and drinking.” You can hear them popping up out of nowhere, criticizing those who trust in the finished work of Christ for salvation and not in their own works, and saying: “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”[3] You can hear them rebuking the Lord of Glory, asking Him why His “disciples break the tradition of the elders;”[4] and you can see them rolling their eyes as He replies:

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person…for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person…”[5]

You know them well; everyone does – they make it their business to make sure everyone see how holy they are, especially in comparison to those who believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in the Scriptures alone to the glory of God alone.

The Pharisees & Co. may have some external differences with Emergents, but they have more in common than the superficial observer would notice. The Pharisees & Co., for instance, played fast and loose with the Scriptures in order to justify their sin, all the while claiming that they were doing so for the sake of serving God.[6] In another passage, we see that they “tie heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”[7] They are good at performing as though they were holy; they are skilled at using their moralism as an excuse for not believing what Christ Jesus says of Himself, and as justification for looking down their noses at the followers of Christ who trust His Word alone, resting upon Him for salvation, and looking forward to the Day when He returns to judge the living and the dead. The Pharisees & Co. and the Emergents have an external religion of works-righteousness; both sought to put on a show and talk a big moral talk in order to cover up their unbelief and their hatred of Christ. Essentially, they both pray aloud:

“God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this [Reformed, Baptistic Calvinist]. I [recycle every] week; I give [all of my book proceeds to GreenPeace and the LGBT movement]…”[8]

And when push comes to shove, they will rebuke those who worship Christ as God-Incarnate and Savior of the lost, and do so under false moral pretenses – just like Judas did. The woman who prepared Christ’s body for His burial understood who Christ is, so she responded appropriately: She gave her all to Christ. It was Judas who, out of his sinful desire to fill his own belly, thought that the woman’s possessions should not be spent on Christ and His Gospel but upon goods for the poor, showing that the value he placed on his own belly (via his false concern for the poor) was higher than the value he thought Christ had.

If the connection between the Pharisees & Co. and the Emergents isn’t clear yet, just go to an Emergent blog, read an Emergent book, or talk with one and it will all become clear as day. Critic after critic of Orthodox theology is leveling moral criticisms against various Christians and/or Christian denominations and using that as justification for twisting the Scriptures, denying their basic teachings  under the guise of reading the Bible through new lenses/eyes, from a different perspective, for some grandiose moral pursuit. Don’t get me wrong, Christians are commanded to pursue holiness; and anyone who claims to be a Christian and yet has no desire to be sanctified by the Spirit of God through His application of spiritual truth to our souls, is probably not a Christian. Sanctification is not a problem. The pursuit of holiness is not a problem. The problem is heretics that are holier than you, who are too holy to contend for sound doctrine and proclaim the truth of Scripture.

-h.


[1] Matthew 11:18

[2] Matthew 11:19

[3] Matthew 12:2

[4] Matthew 15:1-2

[5] Matthew 15:10 & Matthew 15:18-20

[6] Cf. Matthew 15:1-9, where the Lord Jesus Christ rebukes the Pharisees for judging Scripture by their traditions in order to gain what was not theirs and look holy in the process.

[7] Matthew 23:4

[8] Paraphrase of Luke 18:11-12

How to Not Debate What Doesn’t Matter

There are some debates that just shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, we often get sucked into such debates because we are zealous to contend for the faith, temporarily blinded by the fact that the person who is arguing against Christianity is arguing fallaciously in one way or another. For instance, Euthyphro’s Dilemma has absolutely nothing to say about God (i.e. the Triune God of Scripture) and yet critics of the Christian faith consistently press this issue as if it did. Rather than debating the particular issues that arise from accepting our opponent’s mistaken notion that Euthyphro’s Dilemma applies to God, we could end needless debate by (i.)correcting their poor theology and (ii.)exposing their unproven presuppositions. There are countless examples that we could look at but I’ve chosen one that I think is very relevant for those who have encountered the writings of proponents of “Higher Criticism” or arguments against the Christian faith based upon premises drawn from a “Higher Critical” interpretation of the Bible (e.g. Bart D. Ehrman, The Jesus Seminar, etc).

The example comes from liberal theologian William Barclay in Volume 1 of his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Concerning the Lord Jesus’ healing of the two demon possessed men recorded in Matthew 8:28-34, he writes the following:

This miracle confronts us with the idea of demon-possession which is so common in the Gospels. The ancient world believed unquestioningly and intensely in evil spirits….To these demons all illness was ascribed. They were held to be responsible, not only for diseases like epilepsy and mental illness, but also for physical illness….It may seem fantastic to us; but the ancient peoples believed implicitly in demons. If a man gained the idea that he was possessed by a demon, he would easily go on to produce all the symptoms of demon-possession….He could genuinely convince himself that there was a demon inside of him…Even if there are no such things as demons, a man could be cured only by the assumption that for him at least the demons were the realest of all things.[1]

Barclay’s argument here is that the demon-possessed men were not truly demon possessed; rather, they believed themselves to be demon possessed due to their ignorance. Because they weren’t really demon-possessed, Christ never really cast demons out of them. Instead, Christ played along with their assumption that for them the demons were the realest of all things, pretended to cast the demons out, and the men then believed themselves to be cured.

In instances like this it’s often difficult to hold one’s peace and give a thoughtful analysis of the argument being presented. However, it is necessary to do so if we are to avoid getting trapped in debates about particulars that only have secondary relevance to the argument being made by our opponent. When we look carefully at Barclay’s argument we see that it can be restated as follows:

Major Premise: Most of the ancient world falsely believed that all illnesses were caused by demons.

Minor Premise: The two demoniacs whom Jesus healed lived in the ancient world.

Conclusion: Therefore, the two demoniacs whom Jesus healed falsely believed that their illness was caused by demons.

Barclay’s argument commits what is called the fallacy of division, in which one ascribes to the parts of a whole attributes that belong to that whole. One assumes that what is true of the whole must be true of the parts as well. This means that even if the ancient world largely believed that all illnesses were caused by demons it does not logically follow that Matthew, Mark, Luke, Christ, or the two demoniacs also held this belief. Barclay is attributing to the parts what is largely true of the whole. His argument is fallacious and holds no weight whatsoever. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion; however, once he steps beyond mere opinion and attacks the veracity of the account given in Matthew’s Gospel, he is arguing fallaciously and needs to be corrected.

Therefore, knowing that Barclay’s argument as a whole fails to comment on whether or not the miracle of casting out the demons that infested the demoniacs of Matthew 8 is true, we need to look at the major premise, minor premise, and conclusion of his argument. Is the major premise true? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is true that “most of the ancient world falsely believed that all illnesses were caused by demons.” Regarding the minor premise, we know it’s true that the two demoniacs lived in the ancient world. The conclusion has no evidential support from the text and, therefore, has to be left open for discussion. We can, however, ask whether or not Matthew believed that all illnesses were caused by demons. Interestingly, we encounter a viewpoint that is very different from that which is presented in Barclay’s commentary. According to Matthew 4:24, Christ’s “fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and He healed them.” Matthew clearly makes a distinction between demonic oppression/possession and illnesses. While not excluding the possibility that illnesses may have had a demonic origin in some cases, his words directly contradict Barclay’s assumption.[2] And it is precisely because of the fact that Matthew contradicts Barclay that we can go on to establish the case that the two demoniacs were really demon possessed. You see, if Matthew himself differentiated between illnesses and demonic oppression/possession then either Matthew was lying to make it seem as if the Lord Jesus was casting out demons when He was really just playing Dr. Phil with a couple of social outcasts, or William Barclay is completely wrong.

Without delving into needless discussion of minute historical details, we can quickly get to the root of the tree (i.e. the logical fallacy involved in our opponent’s argument), dig it up, and dispose of it. It isn’t necessary for you to have a PhD in Second Temple Judaism to refute the claims of liberal theologians, like Barclay, who deny that certain narratives actually occurred or could have occurred — of course,  given their knowledge of the ancient world. If you know what you believe you can refute those who think they are refuting what you believe. If you can find a logical fallacy in their argumentation, then you can dismantle their attack on the faith, and build your case up from the solid foundation of Scriptural exegesis.

Soli Deo Gloria!

-h. 


[1] The Gospel of Matthew: Volume 1 (Chapters 1 to 10), pp.320-321 (The Westminster Press, 1975)

[2] We can also say the same thing about the testimonies of Mark (cf. Mark 1:34), Luke (cf. Luke 4:40-41), and John (cf. John 5:1-14 & 9:1-3).

Is God a “Failed Hypothesis”?

Philosophical Confusion

Of all the meaningless statements that atheists make,[1] I think the most irritating among them is the claim that “God is a failed hypothesis.” It isn’t just the arrogance that fuels statements like this that I find irritating, it is also the fallacious nature of the proposition itself, for behind the statement are metaphysical presuppositions that the atheist who argues this way wants the theist to merely accept. Within the proposition “God is a failed hypothesis,” firstly, the epistemological autonomy of man is presupposed as true. In other words, the atheist who makes this claim is first of all assuming that “Man is the measure of all things,” which means that if I do not approve of any given proposition or system of propositions, then I can (i.)create the criteria whereby any proposition is to be subjected to verification and (ii.)determine, upon the basis of my arbitrarily determined criteria of judgment, whether or not such a proposition or system of propositions can be proven within the confines of my criteria. But Christianity axiomatically denies that man has any such epistemological autonomy. We see this in passages such as Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 1:7, Isaiah 28:23-26, Daniel 1:17, Matthew 13:10-17 & Matthew 16:13-20, Luke 24:45, and Romans 1:18-23 & Romans 1:28; God is Sovereign, even over the very thoughts that man thinks. Presupposing that man is epistemologically autonomous is something that we cannot do as Christians; rather, we assert along with Scripture that men are only as wise as God allows them to be, for God reveals knowledge to whomever He wills to reveal knowledge.

After presupposing the epistemological autonomy of man, the atheist then proceeds to assume that God has been created by autonomous man to fill an explanatory need of some sort, much like the French Mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace assumed when he famously identified God as an unnecessary hypothesis. Laplace, and the atheists who call God a hypothesis, are, from the outset, assuming that God has not spoken and revealed Himself to man. In their view of things, it is man who has conjured up a reason as to why everything is the way it is. They have automatically ruled out the Scriptures as God’s revelation to man. Thus, they are left growling at a strawman version of the God of Christianity. Let them chew away at the strawman they’ve created, just make sure to correct them on their fundamental error. Christianity teaches that God condescended to reveal Himself to humanity in history which has been recorded in His Word, i.e. the Scriptures, whereby what He requires of man in terms of the Law, as well as what He promises His elect in terms of the Gospel, are made very clear. Christianity takes the text of Scripture seriously when it tells us: “God said to man…” in the beginning chapters of Genesis, while the unbeliever does not. And it is only upon the basis of presupposing that the Scriptures are not inspired that one can even begin to further presuppose that the Scriptures were written as a means of explaining what “primitive man” could not understand (e.g. the origin of the universe).

How to Respond

When presented with the claim that “God is a failed hypothesis” what I think we should do is point out the errors in the atheist’s thinking. He is not thinking correctly on a number of different levels. For instance, he assumes that (i.)man is epistemologically autonomous, (ii.)the Scriptures, therefore, reflect the minds of primitive men trying to figure out the mechanics of existence (whether in cosmology or morals), (iii.)therefore, God is a proposed solution to the ignorance of “primitive man,” (iv.)all that exists is matter in motion. These are all assumptions that the atheist cannot prove. All he can do is fallaciously appeal to “the majority of scientists,” or appeal to authority, or, when these two fallacious means of reasoning have been exposed by the Christian, resort to name calling.

I think, then, that before getting defensive when atheists claim that God is a failed hypothesis, we should pick apart their meaningless assertions, explain to the atheist that he has done absolutely nothing to either comment upon the Nature and Being of God or refute the One True God–Father and Son and Holy Spirit–of the Bible.

Then read 1 Corinthians 1:20 to them:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Amen.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

[1]There are many statements that fall under this category, a few examples are: “God is a moral monster,” “The existence of God, while not impossible, is highly improbable,” “Can God create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it?” ad nauseam.

Calling a Spade a Spade in the Aftermath of May 21st

A Personal Testimony

When the Lord saved me a few years ago, I never thought I’d wind up sitting under the “preaching” of a cult leader whose only intention was to tear my faith in Christ down, tear my wife and I apart from one another, and, well, gain my allegiance, worship, and adoration. I was bright-eyed and filled with the joy of knowing that Christ had forgiven me of all of my sins, from the “biggest” sins (i.e. those sins that every one can see) to the “smallest” sins (i.e. those sins of the heart – murderous thoughts, envy, lust, covetousness), and I was eager to learn about God’s Word. So…I studied His Word daily, searching the Scriptures and comparing what I was reading with what I was hearing on the radio, in church, from fellow believers. The more I did this, the more dissatisfied I became with much of what I was hearing. I wanted to be taught God’s Truth and share God’s Truth with my brothers and sisters, but I couldn’t find it. The people in church were loving, to be sure, but I longed for fellowship around the Persona and Work of Jesus Christ, not around sports or relationships or American Idol or social functions.

I continued to study the Word of God and began to understand that I was slowly becoming Reformed in my theology, so I sought out a Reformed Church in my area. At first things were okay, but over time I began to pick up on the unbiblical reverence with which the congregants at this “church” were speaking of their leader. A woman told me that “he taught as one who has authority and not as the scribes.” Her willingness to apply a Scripture about Christ the Lord to her leader sent off a warning in my mind, but I let it slide since I was trying to be obedient to the Lord and sit under the teaching of a reformed pastor/teacher. Over time, however, things gradually got worse. Personal conversations that I had with the “pastor” were quoted verbatim by him in a sermon condemning the very topic of our initial conversation. Bible passages were taken out of context in order to justify the leader’s own sense of self-accomplishment. Christ stopped being the focus, and the leader’s importance and authority replaced Christ’s. Instead of teaching me to submit to Christ, he was teaching me to submit to him. Instead of warning me about works-righteousness, he was creating an environment where self-righteousness was the key indicator of whether or not one is truly a Christian.

The longer I remained, the more I began to see how this man who claimed to be a reformed pastor was actually a cult leader who preyed on people like me. It wasn’t until he openly preached heresy that, by the Lord’s powerful mercy, I had the courage to confront him about his theological sin. And once I did, he showed his true colors. He was infuriated that I would so bold as to tell him that I couldn’t remain under his teaching if he refused to answer why he had preached that a man is saved by believing the Gospel and obedience to Christ. He accused me of sin, called me rebellious, and told me that what I was doing was the intellectual equivalent of self-pleasuring. He then went on to slander me, lying to his congregation about me in order to cover up his own sin.

I was burdened, overwhelmed, confused, angry, hurt. I had trusted this man to be my teacher, to be a shepherd under Christ’s Shepherding. Instead, he had used every possible opportunity he had to try to place himself between me and the Lord Jesus Christ, to undermine my assurance of salvation, to make a worshiper of a sinful, unregenerate man, instead of a worshiper of the Lord Jesus Christ. The stress reignited a medical condition that I had for years, and I was hospitalized for three days. The cult leader never once repented for his sin against me, my wife, and my son. His followers never once repented of adoring him more than they did Christ. All continued as planned. My family was shunned and the cult leader remained sinless in the eyes of his followers.

I know what it is like to suffer at the hands of a teacher that you’ve entrusted yourself to because you want to be obedient to the Lord Jesus. I know what it is like to have your conscience bound to a man who couldn’t care less about you, who viewed you merely as a means to an end (namely his own self-glorification). But I also know that Christ Jesus was faithful to me, answering my prayers, as I pleaded with Him to reveal whether or not this “pastor” was an abusive wolf in sheep’s clothing, bringing healing to me as I sat in the hospital with no visits from the cult leader or his followers, with no signs of love from any of the people who claimed to be the only church in the area where I live. I know what it’s like to have God bring my family closer together than anything I could have imagined and strengthened our faith in Him and not in sociopathic old men with a theological axe to grind.

The Problem…Not Calling a Spade a Spade…

What I’ve come to notice since that awful time is that men like the cult leader I was being brainwashed by, as well as men like Harold Camping and other heretics, take advantage of the genuine attempts of genuine Christians to genuinely refrain from slandering men who publicly profess to be Christian teachers. They prey on the weak, using their excitement about the Gospel and God’s Word, their love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and their experiential and Biblical ignorance to feel important about themselves. And this, in my own estimation, is a big problem. You see, in the seeker-friendly churches across our country there are, no doubt, hundreds of people who have truly been drawn by God, convicted by His Spirit, and led to faith in His Son, people who desire more in depth teaching (as Scripture says that they should be getting from their pastors) who are being told that their desire for more in depth teaching is selfish. I can attest to this, having received a veiled criticism of my desire to be fed by my seeker-sensitive pastor from another seeker-sensitive pastor who informed me that my experience came from his failure to teach me to be a “self-feeder.” I was ignorant of the fact that it was/is his job to take his congregation deep into God’s Word, so I could only protest vocally, not knowing at the time how to answer from Scripture, although I knew he was wrong. So where do these people turn? Where do sheep without a shepherd who have been wounded by those who are less serious about obedience to God’s Word go? Here is an example of a Mega Church Pastor who is teaching other pastors on this issue.

In a word, they go to those who seem to be enamored with the Gospel, with God’s Word, and who have a superficial desire to eradicate heresy. If these shepherdless sheep knew better, this would be a good thing. However, for those shepherdless sheep who don’t know where to go this could be a disastrous move. I know this from personal experience. But the problem is that there are many in Christ’s church who are aware of the seeker-sensitive abuse of God’s sheep who say nothing, who do not call their leaders to repentance, and who, consequently, are complicit in pushing Christ’s sheep away from Him and into the hands of false teachers whose only desire is to abuse them in his pursuit of self-glory. Similarly, there are many in Christ’s church who are aware of false and abusive teachers who have a history of abuse (in the cult I was attending, I came to find out that the leader has a history of spiritual/psychological/emotional abuse that spans close to thirty years) in conservative circles, but they refrain from calling a spade a spade.

And where does that leave those who belong to Christ? In a place where they are abused by neglect/starvation (i.e. by continuing to attend seeker-sensitive churches) or in a place where they are actively abused by regular spiritual/psychological/emotional beatings. In either case, we their brothers and sisters are failing them. By not speaking out against men like Harold Camping and saying that he is not a Christian, that he is an unregenerate deceiver whose glory is his own belly, we have the Great Disappointment #2, and whatever else ensues. In the last few months, Rob Bell has become a regular name among professing Christians. They have derided him and mocked him for being a universalist, but I read Velvet Elvis a couple of years ago and was absolutely disgusted by his hatred of God’s Word and his pseudo-piety. I also knew that he was a universalist. And so did many others. And they asked him if he was a universalist. And he ran circles around them in order to avoid telling the truth about his satanic teaching. And he took advantage of the sincerity of believers in their attempts to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in not slandering. And here we, some years later wondering how Rob Bell became so prominent, how it is that he has been able to draw such a large audience to himself, and wondering how we can combat his heresy.

The Solution

Theological error will never be fully stamped out while we remain on this earth, but we do have a job to do. Paul tells us to “Mark those who cause divisions,” i.e. call a spade a spade. Jude tells us to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, i.e. to fight against heretics like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, etc etc etc. John tells us to test “the spirits” to see whether or not they come from God. This means that we are to test not only the teaching, but the individual himself and make a Scripturally balanced assessment of him. Is Rob Bell a Christian? According to his own beliefs, I would resoundingly say NO. Is Harold Camping a Christian? Since he has left the church (cf. 1 John 2:19) and condemned every pastor teaching as teaching under the authority of Satan and not Christ Jesus, I would resoundingly say NO.

Men who have openly denied the faith need to be called out for what they are: False teachers, heretics, and unregenerate tools of the enemy of our souls. This doesn’t mean that we should haphazardly go around pointing fingers at the first person we think is a false teacher, but it also isn’t to say that we should just sit back and watch what happens as thousands, perhaps millions, watch as their spiritual, emotional, financial, familial, and psychological well-being completely falls apart. If a man is a danger to the souls of Christ’s sheep, we need to call a spade a spade. This is what Christ, Paul, Peter, Jude, etc did in Scripture. This is what Luther did when he called the Pope the Antichrist. This is what Calvin, Turretin, and Beza did.

We are called to defend God’s truth against His enemies (like Rob Bell and Harold Camping, for instance), for His glorification, and for the sake of the safety of His beloved Bride.

Let’s pray that the Lord grant us the discernment and humility necessary for this task.

-h.

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