Thursday, April 24, 2014

Et tu, Jars of Clay?

Posted by Christine Pack
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
It used to be that professing Christians, even the more liberal ones, knew that unrepentant sin was not okay. But no longer. In today's finger-in-the-air, blow-with-the-trends evangelicalism, it seems that those who call themselves "Christian" today must be stopped at the gate for a definition-of-terms check. Affirms Jesus as the Son of God? Check. The substitutionary atonement as payment for sins? Check. Jesus raised from the dead as proof of his satisfactory work? Check. Gives a pass on homosexual sin in the name of ultra-tolerant love? Not so fast, buster.

Which brings me to my subject for today. The lead singer of one of my all time favorite Christian singing groups, Jars of Clay, recently began tweeting out his support for same sex marriage, and then expressed dismay that other Christians would challenge him on this, while claiming that the Bible has nothing to say on the matter of morality.

I can't say I'm completely surprised at this stance taken by Dan Haseltine. Not to be unkind, but CCM artists are hardly known for their strong doctrinal positions. However, Jars of Clay released a hymns album (Redemption Songs) back in 2005 that really ministered to me one summer early in my Christian walk. The reworked hymns contained beautiful doctrinal treatises on God's holiness, the seriousness of sin, and man's wretchedness and inability to save himself that really helped ground me as a new believer struggling in a mainstream evangelicalism that had just begun to go squishy and liberal. Maybe Dan Haseltine needs to go back to that wonderful hymns CD the group did, and listen to some of the theology that they so beautifully set to music, and remember that (1) unrepentant sin is serious to God and (2) that God clearly spells out for us in Scripture what is sinful, and yes, unrepentant homosexual sin is on the list.

I'm not saying that homosexual sin is specifically named in any of the hymns done by Jars of Clay (it's not), but true Christians who know the Word of God know that the Bible teaches clearly and unambiguously that unrepentant homosexual sin is wrong in God's eyes. That's not to say that a person might not struggle with homosexual urges....they can and surely do, in the same way that someone else might struggle with pride or anger or covetousness. But to attempt to normalize that sin, and shaming those who won't? No, no, no. For shame, Dan Haseltine. I'm calling you, as your sister in Christ, to repentance. I pray that God will grant you Godly sorrow over your public comments on this issue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From the beautiful hymn Hiding Place, originally composed by John Hyatt Brewer (1856-1931), and recorded by Jars of Clay on their Redemption Songs CD. Surely a plain reading of this hymn reveals God as the giver of moral standards, as well as man's inability to save himself through his own ideas of truth or his own attempts at righteous works:
Hiding Place
You know the vileness of my heart
So prone to act the rebel's part
And when You veil Your lovely face
How can I find a hiding place 
How unstable is my heart
Sometimes I take the tempter's part
And slight the tokens of Thy grace
And seem to want no hiding place 
But when Thy spirit shines within
Makes me feel the plague of sin
And how I long to see Thy face
'Tis then I want a hiding place 
Lord Jesus, shine and then I can
Feel sweetness in salvation's plan
And as a sinner plead for grace
Christ, the sinner's hiding place.

 Additional Resources 

A Biblical Response to Matthew Vines ("God and the Gay Christian") by Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries

Jars of Clay Lead Says of Christian Upbringing: I'm Not That Way Now."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sola Experienca?

Posted by Christine Pack

Erik Raymond of the Ordinary Pastor blog has written an excellent article entitled Sola Experienca Is For Real, which challenges a rising tide of mysticism among professing Christian believers. From the article:
"We have a culture awash in a neo-gnosticism that gobbles up personal experience like samples at Costco. We cannot resist them. Then we have people everywhere telling their own stories and then interpreting them with authority. And of course we have a church that goes right along with it to reinforce sola experiencia to the thousands who attend each Sunday morning." 
"I was reading about the new movie to be released this weekend about the runaway bestseller, Heaven is for Real. In this book, as I’m sure you are aware, a 6-year-old boy reportedly went to heaven and then came back to tell us all about it. Our supernaturalist society gobbled up the book. The family is a professing Christian family from small-town Nebraska. I am sure they are nice and truly believe all of what they wrote and say. However, what they are doing is unwittingly contributing to the fog that reinforces the heart’s unsubmissiveness to God and his word."
The article can read in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

What Is Mysticism?

Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?

John MacArthur on Spiritual Formation and Biblical Sanctification

The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer

What Is Mysticism? (5-Part Series by Dr. Gary Gilley) - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Mystical Youth Ministry

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence


Posted by Christine Pack

From The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus
(John Cross,

 It Is Finished! (Tetelestai) 

The phrase “It is finished” is translated from a single Greek word tetelestai. Tetelestai had many different usages, but the following three have significance to the story:

1. Tetelestai was used by a servant reporting to his or her master upon completing a task: “The job you gave me is finished.”

2. Tetelestai was also a familiar term in Greek commercial life. It signified the completion of a transaction when a debt was paid in full. When the final payment was made, one could say “tetelestai,” that is, “The debt is finished.” Ancient receipts for taxes have been found with tetelestai—paid in full—written across them.

3. The selection of a lamb for sacrifice in the temple was always an important time. The flock would be searched and, upon finding an unblemished lamb, one would say tetelestai—the job was finished.

Quite literally Jesus shouted:

“The work you gave me is completed.....the debt is paid.....the sacrificial lamb is found!”

The Scripture says Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished (Tetelestai)!”

Jesus Came to Put Religion In Its Place?

Posted by Christine Pack

(Putting Religion In Its Place, Apr 6, screen capture)
Andy Stanley, pastor of the third largest church in the U.S. (Northpoint Community Church-Atlanta, GA) said some confusing things regarding the character and nature of God in a recent sermon. Writes Alexander Griswold in his article entitled Andy Stanley's Troubling New Sermon:
The last place you might expect to hear a call to put “religion in its place” is a church. And certainly the last church you might expect to hear it at is an Evangelical megachurch . But that was indeed the message of Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday, April 6, entitled “Putting Religion in its Place.” Stanley, the pastor of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church, addressed the topic as part of a sermon series addressing why God became human. One of those reasons, Stanley preached, was “to put religion in its place.”
And a curious statement by Stanley from his Apr 6 sermon:
“Jesus’ conscience was informed by compassion, rather than consistency........” 
You can read the entire article by Alexander Griswold here.

 Additional Resources 

Andy Stanley: "The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture."

Deconstructing What Andy Stanley Said (Chris Rosebrough's Fighting For The Faith radio show)

Is This Andy Stanley's Gay Affirming Shot Across the Bow?

Problems at Andy Stanley's North Point Church?

Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism? (Dr. Al Mohler)

Is The Megachurch the New Liberalism? (Chris Rosebrough's Fighting For the Faith radio show)

Homosexuality, Megachurches and Andy Stanley (Apprising)

Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Questions Over Homosexuality Stance (Christian Post)

Andy Stanley Avoids Gay Issue in Last Sermon of Controversial 8-Part Series (Christian Post)

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flocks (Criticial Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Thoughts on Resurrection Sunday and Worldly Wisdom

Article by guest writer Chris McIntyre

Isn't it ironic that there are two things in life that are certain - death and taxes - and that Good Friday and tax season are right now? Do you believe that the dead will be raised? Many don't, even in religious circles. Jesus responded to them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." The Apostle Paul explained in letters in the first century... "If Christ is not been raised, then ... your faith is in vain. We are ... misrepresenting God...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile...we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead...for as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) has come also the resurrection from the dead." And Paul also said, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Saved from what? Physical and spiritual death.

Men have decided that God is dead. Astounding. Man has come to the conclusion after thousands of years of its species that instead of an eternal and all-powerful God, the "Universe" is alive, self-sustaining, eternal, and somehow cognizant, operating things, resulting in millions of years of evolution to produce... us! That's a pathetic result - look at how we damage the earth and produce energy that harnesses destruction, the ripping apart of matter and resulting corruption and harmful output.

It's a lie. This relativistic, naturalistic and humanistic worldview provides not only zero rationale for life, but it spawns death. The system of belief and understanding is inconsistent within itself. It is illogical. It gives no answers to the mind, to the heart. It also defies physical laws.

This weekend, I am reminded that we must understand God's will. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He either rose from the grave, or He did not. And if He did, you better repent! And if He didn't, there is no hope for mankind.

photo credit: lady-traveler via photopin cc

An Open Letter to IBLP

Posted by Christine Pack 

A number of Christian leaders have added their voices to the growing public concern over the troubling issues associated with Bill Gothard and the ministry he founded known as Institute in Basic Life Principles. Gothard recently stepped down as president from the organization amid reports of sexual misconduct. According to the open letter, Christian leaders have attempted over the years to address concerns with Gothard, reaching as far back as 1973. From the letter:
Over the years a number of leaders and organizations have expressed concerns over certain IBLP teachings which they have found unbiblical and harmful. Many of them have attempted to work with Bill Gothard to correct and/or drop the more problematic teachings but have been rebuffed, ignored, and on occasion attacked. We believe that some of these teachings are at least partly responsible for the recurring moral failures of Bill Gothard and other IBLP leaders. 
Prior to the sex scandal of the 1980s, Dr Earl Radmacher, then president of Western Theological Seminary, made such attempts and his associate, Dr. Ronald B. Allen had made attempts since at least 1973..... 
These warnings went unheeded then, and in spite of the attempts by these and other leaders and organizations, including Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. and, as in prior cases Bill Gothard’s consistent response has been to issue denials, attacks, and even threats from an ever more strongly entrenched position. (Online source)
Some of the signers of the letter include Norman Geisler (Chancellor, Veritas Evangelical Seminary) Paul Carden (Centers for Apologetics Research), Don Veinot (Midwest Christian Outreach), Ron Rhodes (Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries), Keith Gibson (Pastor, Word of Life Community Church) and Sarah Flashing (Christian researcher/writer).

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

The complete list of co-signers can be read here.

 Additional Resources 

Bill Gothard Legalism

A Beginner's Guide To Bill Gothard (Ron Henzel)

Growing Up Gothard

A Matter of Basic Principles (an excellent expose of Gothard legalism by Don Veinot)

Battered Sheep - a review of Don Veinot's book A Matter of Basic Principles

Bill Gothard Resigns, Duggars Still Slated To Speak at IBLP 2014 Conference

Your Money or Your Kids (Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. - p. 8)

When Gothard Comes to Church (Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. - p. 4)

Bill Gothard's Evangelical Talmud (Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. - all begin on p. 6)
 - Part 1
 - Part 2
 - Part 3
 - Part 4

An Evening With Bill Gothard (Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. - p. 6)
From the IBLP website

Conservative Leader Bill Gothard Resigns Following Abuse Allegations (Religion News Service)

The Duggars, Bill Gothard, Vision Forum, and The Quiverful Movement (I am aware that some of the links in this article are no longer active, but this article still gives a quick thumbnail sketch of Bill Gothard, the Duggars, Vision Forum, Hyper-Patriarchy and the Quiverfull Movement, and how they are interconnected and overlap with each other)

How God Saves Us In Christ (And The Problems With Legalism) (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

 Secular Articles 

When Having Kids Is A Religious Experience
 (ABC News)

Quiverfull: More Children For God's Army (Newsweek writer Kathryn Joyce)

Inside the Duggar Family's Conservative Ideology (Newsweek, Kathryn Joyce)

 Websites by Former Gothardites 

Recovering Grace

Abuse Allegations Against Bill Gothard, Founder of Institute In Basic Life Principles
 (Dr. John Cornish and Kari Underwood, co-founders of Recovering Grace)

Under Much Grace

Genesis 3:15.....the Protoevangelium

Posted by Christine Pack

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

photo credit:

 Additional Resources 

The Gospel in Pictures (Full of Eyes)

What is the Protoevangelium? (Got Questions)