Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Caution About Alternative/Naturopathic/Holistic Treatments

Posted by Sola Sisters

photo credit: snowpea&bokchoi via photopin cc
In order to clarify our position about where we stand on Alternative Treatments vs. Traditional Western Medicine, below are some of our articles about various alternative treatments that we've discussed in recent months, as well as a list of helpful links and resources. Our concerns are twofold for the Christian:

(1) Our primary concern is spiritual in nature: the vast majority of alternative/naturopathic/holistic treatments are undergirded with New Age philosophies and beliefs which can expose Christians to beliefs and ideas about the human body, the world and sin that are unbiblical.

(2) Our secondary concern, but still an important one, is physical in nature: due to the unregulated nature of the alternative industry, these unregulated products (a) may not do what they claim to do, and (b) might not even be what they purport to be.

photo credit: veo_ via photopin cc
These are tricky areas to navigate. This is not helped by the fact that most alternative treatments today are being presented as being scientific. But just because a practitioner wears a white lab coat and uses scientific jargon and terminology does not mean that the alternative treatments being presented have undergone the kind of rigorous scientific testing and trials that a medicine would have. Also, in the same way that medicine can be misused and misdiagnoses can be made, with fatal consequences, herbs can also be misused and misdiagnoses can be made, sometimes with fatal consequences also. The underlying issue here is that many today have the mistaken notion that just because something is "natural" that it can only help and never do harm. This is not the reality.

One's own medical treatment is a very personal topic, as anyone who has ever endured a health crisis can attest to. We are simply presenting the resources below to, hopefully, be a blessing to those with questions and concerns about the alternative treatment industry. To begin with, we highly recommend these resources first:
Natural = Better? (Sola Sisters)
The Scientific Method and Why It Matters
Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse in Healthcare (Marcia Montenegro)
Update: Ingrid Schlueter Interviews Marcia Montenegro and Christine Pack (Crosstalk at VCY America 4/26/11) to Discuss The Wellness Article - you may listen here
Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour  (Free, online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies)
The Unregulated Nature of the Alternative Treatment Industry: Does The Label On The Outside Tell The Truth About What's Inside? (Sola Sisters)
Are We All Syncretists Now? A Conversation About Evangelical Christianity and Alternative Medicine with Historian Candy Gunther Brown (Dr. Al Mohler)
What Christians Need to Know about Alternative Medicine: An Interview With Candy Gunther Brown (Christianity Today, 10-22-2013)
And for further study, please feel free to look through some of the resources linked below.

 General Resources 

Hospitals: A New Dark Age? (Marcia Montenegro)

No Scientific Evidence For "Chi" or "Qi" (NYU Langone Medical Center)

The Scientific Method and Why It Matters


 Warnings About Homeopathy 



 Warnings About Alternative Treatments 

The Truth About Nutritional Supplements (Fitness Magazine, 10-01-2009)

Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements (NPR radio interview, 7-16-2014)

Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today)

Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic)

5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)

Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)


Severe liver damage from certain dietary aid supplements  (Examiner, links to archived New York Times article, 11-3-13)

Tapping: The Next Big Thing in Alternative Medicine
 (Sola Sisters)

Problems with Alternative Medicine
 (Marcia Montenegro)


 Warnings About Essential Oils 

The Christian and Essential Oils: A Few Thoughts [UPDATED] (Sola Sisters)

Essential Oils Revisited (Sola Sisters)

Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception? (Chuck and Julie Cohen)

A Critique of David Stewart's Healing Oils of the Bible (Marcia Montenegro)

The FDA Warns Young Living, doTERRA Essential Oils Companies To Stop Making Unsubstantiated Claims That The Oils Cure Cancer, Protect Against Ebola (Food and Drug Administration, 9-22-2014)

How To Use Essential Oils: A Step-By-Step Guide (satire, warning: some mild language)


 Warnings About Essential Oil Toxicity 


Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion (Hub Pages)

Eucalyptus Oil and Essential Oils Poisoning (The Royal Children's Hospital - Melbourne, AU)

Can Aromatherapy Oils Poison You? How Tiny Particles 'May Damage Liver and Kidneys' (Daily Mail, UK)

Hidden Dangers of Essential Oils: The Frightening Truth About Natural Remedies Such as Olbas Oil Which Can Cause Heart Problems, Convulsions and Eye Ulcers (Daily Mail, UK)

Danger for Cats: Essential Oils (Articulate Animals Blog)

Warning About Peppermint Oil Overdose (New York Times)

Shannon: Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.

Toxic Effects of Essential Oils - Addresses Oils Taken Orally and Externally (The Research Pedia)


 Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Threads - Essential Oils 


Sola Sisters Facebook wall - February 23, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - April 24, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall -April 26, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 28, 2014 (general warning about essential oils) 
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 30, 2014 (critique of essential oils/YL by Chuck and Julie Cohen)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 11, 2014 (should Christians partner with companies who market their products with unbiblical spiritual concepts?)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 28, 2014 (discussion re: Sola Sisters' concerns about YL/alternative)

 John Ankerberg Resources and Articles 

The Unregulated Nature of the Alternative Treatment Industry: Does The Label On The Outside Tell The Truth About What's Inside?

Posted by Christine Pack

Besides our general concerns about the New Age philosophies and beliefs that often undergird alternative/naturopathic/holistic treatments, we also have concerns that due to the unregulated nature of the alternative industry, these unregulated products (1) may not do what they claim to do, and (2) might not even be what they purport to be. From the article entitled The Truth About Nutrition Supplements (Fitness Magazine, Oct 2009):
"According to a 2002 Harris Poll, more than half of us believe that a government agency like the Food and Drug Administration is keeping a watchful eye on the $20 billion supplement industry......It's not. The federal regulators who would normally be all over poor-quality supplements had their hands tied by a piece of legislation signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The bill was intended to make dietary supplements -- including vitamins, minerals, and herbs -- more widely available by classifying them not as drugs, like aspirin or ibuprofen, but as foods. In practice, that means supplements not only don't have to do what they promise (such as protect against disease) but don't even have to be safe.........The results have been predictable: In 2004 alone, more than 24,000 "toxic exposures" to supplements were reported, while other research showed that some supplements contain potentially dangerous contaminants such as lead, mercury, pesticides, mold, and bacteria.........No wonder some consumer advocates say that this regulatory loophole has helped create a marketplace that fails to protect consumers from contaminated, adulterated and, in some cases, deadly supplements."
photo credit: veo_ via photopin cc
A recent program (Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements) on the secular radio station NPR (National Public Radio) also highlighted the growing concern among even the lost that the alternative treatment industry (which includes essential oils) is a largely unregulated arena. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to use, or already using, natural supplements to listen to this program. It was mentioned during the show that testing done by a group called Consumer Labs found that, on many occasions, what was on the outside label of bottles of natural/herbal supplements did NOT accurately portray what was contained within. The reason for this is because there are very few regulatory practices put into place for ensuring quality/accuracy in alternative/"natural"/herbal supplements. What this means is that a person can buy a bottle of an herbal supplement, and be getting something other than what is labeled on the front of the bottle. It could be 100% of the herb, could be 90/10 - herb/filler, or 10/90 - herb/filler, or could be all filler. Same thing with essential oils: a bottle labeled "100% Essential Oil" could be 100% of the oil you are expecting, OR, it could be comprised of 90% carrier oil (like linseed oil, almond oil or olive oil) with only 10% of the essential oil. Again.......it's an unregulated industry.

Just like there are sinful men involved in the FDA, sinful men who act selfishly and make wrong decisions, there are also sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry. But the sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry are entirely unregulated, meaning they do not have to meet any scientific or federal standards for the claims they make about their supplements. Both sides are flawed, but at least the FDA has some measure of accountability due to regulatory requirements.

I literally spent thousands on supplements during my decade as a New Ager without knowing that these herbal/natural supplements were (and still are) unregulated. And not only can the substance within not match up with the label, distributors of natural/herbal supplements are not held to the same standards that those in the pharmaceutical industry are held to, in terms of claiming benefits for a supplement that haven't been scientifically verified. And while the common belief is that herbals are only benign, and can only help (and never harm), this is not necessarily true. There is a reason why your doctor often asks you to list not only all medications you are taking, but also all over-the-counter vitamins, mineral and herbal supplements you are taking as well: some supplements can interfere with your prescribed medicines, and some can even work in tandem with your prescribed medicines to cause harm. For more on this, please see the following articles:
Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today) 
Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic) 
5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)
Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)
Those selling essential oils (which we've talked about here and here and here) and herbs and other supplements shouldn't automatically get a pass because they are selling "natural" items. Herbs and oils are not somehow more holy than pharmaceuticals (and even though I get that there are problems with the pharmaceutical industry, including over-diagnosis of many medications, that's another topic for another day). The alternative treatment realm is an industry that makes profits in the billions. And yes, that's right up there with Big Pharma.


 General Resources 

Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse in Healthcare
 (Marcia Montenegro)

Update: Ingrid Schlueter Interviews Marcia Montenegro and Christine Pack (Crosstalk at VCY America 4/26/11) to Discuss The Wellness Article - you may listen here

Are We All Syncretists Now? A Conversation About Evangelical Christianity and Alternative Medicine with Historian Candy Gunther Brown (Dr. Al Mohler)

Hospitals: A New Dark Age? (Marcia Montenegro)

No Scientific Evidence For "Chi" or "Qi" (NYU Langone Medical Center)

The Scientific Method and Why It Matters


 Warnings About Homeopathy 



 Warnings About Alternative Treatments 

Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour
  (Online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies.....I highly recommend this eye-opening, FREE ebook)

The Truth About Nutritional Supplements (Fitness Magazine, 10-01-2009)

Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements (NPR radio interview, 7-16-2014)

Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today)

Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic)

5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)

Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)


Severe liver damage from certain dietary aid supplements  (Examiner, links to archived New York Times article, 11-3-13)

Tapping: The Next Big Thing in Alternative Medicine
 (Sola Sisters)

Problems with Alternative Medicine
 (Marcia Montenegro)


 Warnings About Essential Oils 

The Christian and Essential Oils: A Few Thoughts [UPDATED] (Sola Sisters)

Essential Oils Revisited (Sola Sisters)

Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception? (Chuck and Julie Cohen)

A Critique of David Stewart's Healing Oils of the Bible (Marcia Montenegro)

How To Use Essential Oils: A Step-By-Step Guide (satire, warning: some mild language)


 Warnings About Essential Oil Toxicity 


Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion (Hub Pages)

Eucalyptus Oil and Essential Oils Poisoning (The Royal Children's Hospital - Melbourne, AU)

Can Aromatherapy Oils Poison You? How Tiny Particles 'May Damage Liver and Kidneys' (Daily Mail, UK)

Hidden Dangers of Essential Oils: The Frightening Truth About Natural Remedies Such as Olbas Oil Which Can Cause Heart Problems, Convulsions and Eye Ulcers (Daily Mail, UK)

Danger for Cats: Essential Oils (Articulate Animals Blog)

Warning About Peppermint Oil Overdose (New York Times)

Shannon: Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.

Toxic Effects of Essential Oils - Addresses Oils Taken Orally and Externally (The Research Pedia)


 Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Threads - Essential Oils 


Sola Sisters Facebook wall - February 23, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - April 24, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall -April 26, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 28, 2014 (general warning about essential oils) 
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 30, 2014 (critique of essential oils/YL by Chuck and Julie Cohen)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 11, 2014 (should Christians partner with companies who market their products with unbiblical spiritual concepts?)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 28, 2014 (discussion re: Sola Sisters' concerns about YL/alternative)

 John Ankerberg Resources and Articles 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Legacy of a Christian Father

Posted by Christine Pack


When I was a new believer, my father spent a lot of time discipling me and helping me grow in the faith. He used to tease me that every time his phone rang and he saw it was me, he would grab his Bible because he knew I would have a list of questions for him  My father also was (and is) a Civil War* buff. Thus, he tends to pass things through the filters of (1) his interest in the Civil War, and (2) his love for God. So Daddy being Daddy, he taught me about God's sovereignty using (1) the book of Isaiah and (2) the life of Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate general in the Civil War. He told me an account of Stonewall Jackson being pressed during the war not to go to the front lines with his men, to which he replied, I will be with my men, to lead them and because they need me, and I will rest in knowing that any bullet that strikes me must first past through the hand of the Lord Almighty.

I love my father and am thankful for him, and for his good teaching over the years which has made me steadier and steadier in my Christian walk. I am also resting in God's sovereignty for today's trials, the fruit of learning such wonderful, steadying truths about God. Thank you, Daddy, I appreciate you.

A few Stonewall Jackson quotes:
[On being asked ‘General how is it that you can keep so cool, and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shells and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?’] "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me." 
"It has been a precious experience to me that I was brought face to face with death and found that all was well." 
"You see me severely wounded, but not depressed—not unhappy. I believe it has been done according to God’s holy will, and I acquiesce entirely in it. You may think it strange; but you never saw me more perfectly contented that I am today; for I am sure that my Heavenly Father designs this affliction for my good. I am perfectly satisfied that either in this life, or in that which is to come, I shall discover that what is now regarded as a calamity is a blessing." 
[His last words before dying.] "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."
______________________________________________________________________
*Yes, the Civil War was brutal and bloody and awful, and there were complicated and Godly men on both sides. God used that war for his own sovereign purposes to end the vile practice of slavery, and to create the unified nation we have today.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Some Thoughts On Halloween

Posted by Christine Pack

 Halloween and Death 

I grew up in a non-Christian home, and Halloween used to really be no big deal. The day or so before Halloween, we would get our pumpkin and carve it into a scary (or silly) face after cleaning out its slimy, stringy innards. On Halloween, we would throw on some homemade costume and stay up late trick-or-treating. It was a one night deal, boom, done and gone. But nowadays, Halloween has become one of the most popular holidays of the year, in some polls surpassing even Christmas, in terms of length of the season (up to two weeks and more for some), money spent on decorating for the event, and parties thrown in its honor.

When my children were small (and I was a new Christian), we did participate in Halloween for a brief season, because for my kids, it was just innocent fun: dressing up like a hotdog or a giraffe, getting lots of candy and staying up really late. But at one point, it stopped being innocent fun and became creepy, and thankfully, it was very clear to us when that was, so we stopped. We've done different things since then: we've handed out candy and tracts, we've shut the house down and gone to a movie, we've gone out of town, etc. This year, we've opted to stay home and hand out candy and tracts.


While my son and I were recently walking through our neighborhood, we observed that many of our neighbors are celebrating Halloween in macabre, gruesome and over-the-top fashion. We passed yard after yard decorated like haunted houses come to life: cobwebs, spiders, zombies, Frankenstein, vampires, mummies, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, witches, and even makeshift graveyards, complete with corpses and skeletons bursting forth from the ground. My son asked me why it is that people decorate like that, and I told him that it's lost people's way of trying to deal with death. I explained that for the Christian, death has no sting because Christ has conquered death, but that lost people are probably trying to deal with their fear of death by either glorifying it, or pretending it doesn't exist, or making a game out of it, like having Halloween parties with spooky music and eyeball punch and pretzel spiders, or transforming their front lawns into creepy graveyards. We're living in Romans 1 times, a season of spiraling depravity, and what we're seeing in the culture around us is just a reflection of the darkness of the times we're living in. But thankfully, for the Christian, we do know that Christ has conquered death.
"For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'
'Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

 Ouija Boards 

Since it's close to Halloween, it's probably the right time to again post a warning about the Ouija board. The Ouija board is available at Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc., and is marketed as a game for kids (Manufacturer's Recommended Age: 10-15 years). But the Ouija is NOT a harmless game, and should not be marketed or made available to children. Below are some of the purchaser's reviews from Amazon.com., some of which are truly heartbreaking. Also, note how many of the reviews are from parents or relative purchasing this product for children. (The reviews are taken from this page.)
 
"With all talking boards you are openly inviting the influence of disembodied entities. Be very careful what you are opening the door to. I wouldn't even consider using it without deep and sincere prayers for protection." 
"To get answers from your board it is important that you relax and concentrate only on your question. Try to clear your mind of everything else. The Ouija Board is my favorite game and I thank my aunt for introducing it to me."
"When I was about to use it I got the creeps and I thought about how this could change my life so I put it away in my garage and left it there for about 8 months without actually using it but playing around with it. I told my neighbor that I had one but I didn't use it at all. She told me if she could use it. I told her just to be careful with it. Since her cousin was there, they both used it. The next morning I called her and I could hear them laughing and saying, "Oh My Gosh."They were playing it and I asked them if it really did work. She said it's so cool. I went over her house in excitement and I sat there, watching them play and just seeing how quickly the message indicator would move across the board. I couldn't believe how accurate it spelled out everything. So we played all day long and time went by fast because we were so into it. The board told us it was a good spirit so we were okay. The next day it said strange things and creepy things so we decided to put it away and not use it for a while. It's really fun though but you just have to be careful with it. It's a must have. " 
"Brought back childhood memories! got it for my teenage daughters sleepover and the girls had a blast." 
"We tried it once at my house at about 8 pm, but there was no activity on the board. This didn't surprise me because I didn't find my house to be haunted. However, since we used the Ouija board at my house, I have been hearing footsteps in the hallway outside my bedroom and in my bedroom, as well as on the main level of the house. I hear activity in the kitchen and my parents' voices when I'm home alone. Nothing bad has happened, it's just a little freaky........Now, I'm not going to say the Ouija board doesn't work because there are entities at my house now." 
"It didn't seem to work very good. I don't think they are made as good as the older one's. My granddaughter was pretty disappointed, plus it didn't glo at nite." 
"Bought this for my 11 year old daughter at Christmas. We have fun asking dumb questions and understand that it has nothing to do with god or spirits... it's a BOARD GAME! If you're NOT ok with it, DON'T purchase the product. If you're open minded and can have fun with it, then this might be for you.....My son's girlfriend gets really freaked out, and we like exacerbating her fears, but she's a good sport. Good times!" 
"I had a Ouija Board when I was 12, so I ordered this one for my son for Christmas. He and his friends have had tons of fun 'communicating with spirits'!" 
"i bought this cause both my inlaws past away and my husband wanted to talk to them well it worked. my husband got his answer to bad it only worked the one time now we are not getting anything" 
"We didn't meet any insane, crazy, or emotional people either time it worked. Just spirits that were informative and told us the basic details of their names, age, location, & death when we asked. I guess they weren't harmful spirits. I have met a few people who have met suspicious or emotional characters, so definitely be careful when messing with these. Just because my experiences were fine doesn't mean it will be the same for you." 
"I bought this Quija board for my daughers birthday party, the girls had a blast scaring the heck out of themselves with this board. To funny, plus it glows in the dark! what more could you ask for?" 
"I got this for my 13-year-old daughter. The product itself is fine, she likes it and uses it with most of her female friends. The problem is, some of the girls are adversely affected by it. I noticed one of them was crying and several of them were attracted to the darker aspects of the "spirit world." It seems like every other 'spirit' with whom they 'communicate" committed suicide or was murdered'." 
"My sister passed away two years ago and many times we had this boad predict our futures, future surgerys, health problems, boyfriends, good things and bad things have happened, we always said a prayer and protected ourselves with crosses,if you belive its a respectful item I dont consider a toy, if you belive its a toy maybe your only asking for trouble...or fun, just have respect for something that may be made by Hasbro now but was once a respected tool for talking with those who had passed, and getting answers!" 
"Fun birthday present for my 14 year old daughter, she loved it. Cute & Fun. Glow in the dark is a great added feature." 
"It's a fairly harmless game if it is respected and not overused. I recommend not asking it the same questions over and over again because the unseen force may not like that. I also recommend praying a prayer of protection before and after using the board as a safety concern for the super religious fanatics; however I doubt that it will possess anyone as I've used it many times and I've never been possessed." 
"I have played this game before and I don't know why everyone is ranting about it being " demonic". It is a toy. It is not inhabitated by evil spirits or bewitched by Satan. It is a toy. I am 10 years old and am never frightend by it. I will admit that creepy things do happen, and that there are spirits, but they are not evil. They can not hurt you. They will not kill you. They can be nice, clever, and friendly. If you are ever bothered by anything the spirit says, tell the spirit to stop. They will listen. Buy this and you will not regret it! Great for sleepovers." 
"i was with my friend kylie and my other friend will. when we asked who the spirit who it was it said the gradmother of william so we made william get off the board, then we asked her questions that only he would know such as what he called her when he was little [nini] and what he called his grandfather [susu] when she died [1994] and other such questions. he was so astonished he's bought one and uses it all the time and has gotten to the point where he can ask questions in his head and do it by himself. it's not fake, i did it this weekend and you can definitely feel the energy pulling it." 
"At first i wasnt really into "spirits" or bringing back the dead, but after using an ouiji board, it changed my mind. When me and my 2 friends used it, we didnt do it correctly and i could tell that one of the friends kept on moving the piece. So while she was away, me and my other friend did the ouiji board correctly by sitting "indian style" with our knees touching and we balanced the board on our laps. We placed our fingers on the piece slighty and asked questions waiting for the piece to move. After about 10 minutes, it didnt move, so me and my friend were ready to just give it up. Then I could feel the piece moving on its own, and me and my friends fingers were barely touching it. We continued to have a conversion with a spirit by the nickname of "fuz" and he answered questions that i never dared to tell my friends. I was certain she wasnt moving the piece because she didnt know the answers and i didnt want to move it because i wanted to believe it was real, and it was. We talked with this spirit for a while, and he told us he was right beside us. After we were done, i felt very cold and chills going up and down my arms. I felt like i was going to pass out and i almost felt like crying, so i went to bed. The ouiji board is very real, and if your not afraid of contacting the dead, i suggest buying this because it is a........lot of fun."
Marcia Montenegro, former New Ager and professional astrologer, has written several articles having to do with Halloween, the Ouija Board and spirit contact (what the Bible calls "necromancy"). You can read her articles here:
The Ouija Board - Just A Game? 
Spirit Contact: Who Is On The Other Side?
Halloween Statement For Christians

 Closing Thoughts 

Whether as a Christian you choose to participate in Halloween or not, or use it as an outreach opportunity, I'll leave you with some scriptures that address some of the darker aspects of the occultic realm:
"When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this." (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) 
"Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:31)
"I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people." (Leviticus 19:31)

"Do not practice divination or seek omens." (Leviticus 19:26b)
As I noted, I'm aware that Christians choose to handle Halloween differently: some participate, some do not, some use it as an outreach opportunity. This Halloween, our family elected to hand out gospel CD messages and candy. The CD we handed out included this audio message:
Are You Afraid Of The Dark? 
Have you ever wondered why the dark is so scary? Well, have you ever been in total pitch black darkness, the kind where you can't even see your own hand in front of your face? What do you think you would do in that kind of darkness? You would probably stick your arms straight out in front of you and try to feel your way around, so that you won't trip over something or walk into a wall. And you would probably take little baby steps for the same reason. It's kind of disorienting and hard to do anything in  that kind of darkness, isn't it? Even if you're just in bed sometimes, if it's that dark, that kind of total darkness we’re talking about, your mind can start imagining all kinds of things. Maybe you put the covers up over your head. But even that can be scary. But why? It's scary because you can't see. You can't see what is really around you, what's really there. You can't tell if you're about to walk into a wall, fall down a flight of stairs, or trip over something. You can't see if you are by yourself or if someone is with you. What's the only thing that can help in this situation? Light. Any kind of light. Once you have a light- everything changes, you relax because you can see. 
Did you know that the Bible talks a lot about light? As a matter of fact, the very first words the Bible records God saying are "Let there be light." God spoke this at creation. And did you also know that two thousand years ago, God sent Light into the world a second time. Why would God need to give us light again? Well, the first time God sent light, it was physical light, because the world was dark. It was the kind of light that our eyes need so that we can see. But the second time God sent light, it was for a different kind of darkness. A kind of darkness that is not about our eyes…but about our hearts. 
Just like the "eye" kind of darkness keeps you from seeing things around you as they really are, the "heart" kind of darkness keeps you from seeing the truth about God. What is it, then, that makes our hearts dark? All of our hearts are dark because of sin. Sin is disobeying God. God is the One who created you, and the world, and the light, and all things. We sin when we disobey God by our thoughts, our words, and our actions. 
So how do you know if you’ve ever sinned? Well, you can ask yourself some questions: Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that didn't belong to you? Have you ever disobeyed or dishonored your parents? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you have sinned, because those are some of God's laws. And God is so holy and so perfect, that if we commit just one of these sins, we stand condemned before this holy and perfect God. Sin is bad because it offends God, who is good and perfect and holy in every way. Think of our sinfulness and God's holiness in the way you might think about oil and water: they just don't mix, do they? Sin breaks the relationship between you and God. Sin keeps you from seeing how good God is. This is a terrible reality. Think of it this way: as scary as it is to not be able to see with your eyes what is around you, like when you're in pitch black darkness, it is even scarier to not see God for who He really is. 
But, like I said earlier, God sent Light again. Only this time, it was the kind of Light that our dark hearts need. This Light has a name…and the name of the Light is Jesus. Jesus was not just a good man, as some believe; He was fully man and fully God at the same time. He was born into the world in the same way that you were, as a baby. He was a toddler, a child, a young man, and finally an adult, and in all the years that He lived, Jesus never sinned in thought, word or deed. Jesus lived a life of perfect, holy righteousness. Instead of breaking God’s moral laws, like we have, Jesus kept them all, every single one of them. He did this so that He could then give His own life for ours, and He did this by allowing himself to be tortured and then hung on a cross to die as a payment for our sins. We stood guilty and condemned before God, who is the holy and just Judge of all the universe, and yet Jesus paid our fine so that we could be set free. When we examine ourselves in light of God’s moral law, we should recognize our need for a Savior, and understand how amazing this gift from God is. 
Do you know what happened to Jesus? The last you heard about him, he had been killed by being hung on a cross. But guess what? Because Jesus had never once sinned in his life, He did not stay in the grave. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin are death, and since Jesus had never sinned, death could not hold him. On the third day after his burial, Jesus was raised from the dead, and many people in the town where He lived witnessed that Jesus, whom they had seen killed, was indeed alive again! They saw him, they heard him teach, they talked to him, walked with him and even ate with him. You see, God had raised Jesus from the dead, a fact recorded by many historians, as proof that Jesus’s payment for sins was acceptable in God’s eyes. 
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you have broken God’s moral laws, you need a Savior. But thankfully, God provided that Savior in Jesus, who kept all the moral laws, and then gave his own perfect life as a ransom payment for those who place their faith in him. This is called repentance. If we repent, that is, if we turn away from our sins, and turn toward God by trusting that Jesus’s payment on the Cross has the power to cleanse us from our sins, then God forgives us. Our hearts will have light and with this light, which is spiritual light, and not just a physical light like a lamp or a candle, we will see God as He really is, and we will love Him, and worship Him, and serve Him. God will also cleanse us on the inside, and will give us new hearts and new desires, desires that are pure and holy. 
The Bible calls this being born again, when we have moved from being a prisoner in the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light. So when you're scared of the dark, it's only to show you that you need light. And when you have a dark heart, it's only to point you to the fact that you need a Savior. This is why the Bible calls Jesus "the Light of the world." 
photo credit: bbusschots via photopin cc

photo credit: riptheskull via photopin cc

photo credit: scriptingnews via photopin cc


 Additional Resources 

What Do We Do With Halloween?

The Ouija Board - Just A Game?

Spirit Contact: Who Is On The Other Side?

Halloween Statement For Christians

What Do You Mean By The Occult?

The Occult and Paranormal: What Does God Say?

Radio Interviews with Former Astrologer/Occultist Marcia Montenegro

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll Resigns, Claims He Is Not "Disqualified From Future Ministry"

Posted by Christine Pack

Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, who was first introduced to the world by being featured as a keynote speaker at John Piper's 2006 Desiring God conference, and who quickly gathered a large following along with a "bad boy" reputation, has now resigned. However, in his resignation letter, Driscoll appeared to leave open the possibility of his return to public ministry by stating that he was thankful to the Mars Hill church oversight committee for making it clear that he (Driscoll) has not been disqualified from future ministry. His basis for making such a claim seems to rest on the fact that the oversight committee had stated that Driscoll had not been charged with "criminal activity, immorality or heresy." It should be noted, however, that these things, while important, are not the entire standard against which a pastor is to be held.
Titus 1:5-10 - Qualifications for Elders 
"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party."
To understand the seriousness of the charges being made against Mark Driscoll, please read the following article:
Documenting the Problems with Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]
Also, the following articles (most of them by Warren Throckmorton of patheos) have documented questions and concerns that still remain about alleged improprieties over the handling of some of the finances while Driscoll was the lead pastor at Mars Hill, particularly with respect to the Global Fund. The Global Fund was a fund that Mars Hill attendees were encouraged to contribute financially to, and which was positioned as a missions fund.
Mars Hill “Global Fund” Contributors with Concerns Invited to Contact Washington State Attorney General’s Office
Mars Hill Global Fund: Help the Helpless or Use the Helpless? 
Mars Hill Church Scrubs Three Mars Hill Global Fund Videos 
Mars Hill Church’s International Mission Ministry: Mars Hill Global Fund
Mars Hill Member Wants Accounting of Global Fund Donations
Former Mars Hill Church Members Speak Out About Global Fund, Church Finances

 Additional Resources 

Pastor Chris Rosebrough Discusses Mark Driscoll's Resignation

Mars Hill “Global Fund” Contributors With Concerns Invited to Contact Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Posted by Christine Pack

Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, who was first introduced to the world by being featured as a keynote speaker at John Piper's 2006 Desiring God conference, and who quickly gathered a large following along with a "bad boy" reputation, has now resigned. However, questions still remain about alleged improprieties having to do with the handling of some of the finances while he was the lead pastor at his church, particularly with respect to the Mars Hill Global Fund, a fund that Mars Hill attendees were encouraged to contribute financially to, and which was positioned as a missions fund.

According to former Mars Hill member Dean Watkins:
I just got off the phone with an employee in the Washington State Attorney General's office. They have spent some time trying to figure out how to have accountability for the Global Fund issue. As a church, Mars Hill is exempt from filing with the Secretary of State. But under RCW 19.09 "Charitable Solicitations," whether or not an organization is exempt from filing with the Secretary of State, they must still comply with the law. 
The chain of procedure is for Global Fund contributors to first go to the Attorney General's office, who would then forward to the IRS, if upon examination they felt there was enough evidence to warrant doing so.
For Mars Hill attendees, both former and present, if you at one time contributed to the Global Fund, and you are concerned that the money might have been used incorrectly, please follow the link and file a complaint online. Also, if you do file a complaint please be aware that it will become public record. In the complaint you may even want to mention some of the desired outcomes (i.e., forward to IRS, etc.).
If you did not contribute to the Global Fund, but you still have friends that you think might have, please forward this information to them. I didn't personally give to the fund since I left the church a few years ago. But I thought it was important to investigate what entity might hold them accountable. And this is the best I could come up with. 
If there are enough complaints, the Attorney General's will likely investigate. But the complaints need to be from people who gave to the Global Fund. Thank you each for filing your complaint, or sharing this information with someone that may have a complaint to file.
If you are a Mars Hill attendee or former Mars Hill attendee who contributed tithe money to the Global Fund, and you would like to request that this fund be examined, please follow this link - General Consumer Complaint Form. Please also feel free to forward this link to those you know who might have also contributed to the Global Fund.
Titus 1:5-10 - Qualifications for Elders  
"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party."

 Additional Resources 

Documenting The Problems With Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

Mars Hill Global Fund: Help the Helpless or Use the Helpless?

Mars Hill “Global Fund” Contributors With Concerns Invited to Contact Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Mars Hill Global Fund: Help the Helpless or Use the Helpless?

Mars Hill Church Scrubs Three Mars Hill Global Fund Videos 

Mars Hill Church’s International Mission Ministry: Mars Hill Global Fund

Mars Hill Member Wants Accounting of Global Fund Donations

Former Mars Hill Church Members Speak Out About Global Fund, Church Finances

Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll Resigns, Claims He Is Not "Disqualified From Future Ministry"

Pastor Chris Rosebrough Discusses Mark Driscoll's Resignation

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Enneagram and Christianity, Like Oil and Water

Article by Marcia Montenegro (Christians Answers For The New Age)
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." Colossians 2:8-10
An article by Laura Turner, “What Kind of Sinful Are You?” on the Christianity Today website promotes the use of a device called the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a chart of numbers one through nine, usually depicted with arrows from each number pointing to two other numbers. My article on the Enneagram, written in 2011, can be found here: The Enneagram GPS: The Gnostic Path To Self

Below are selected quotes in italics from the Christianity Today article, followed by my comments.

 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 
"…..The book was Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. (It’s pronounced any-a-gram.) I had been flipping through it, but quickly realized this wasn’t a book to flip through."

 MY COMMENTS ON ROHR 
Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar who runs the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At his conferences, Rohr promotes not only the Enneagram, but panentheism (God is in everything, i.e., the earth as God's "body"), Buddhism, and New Ager Marianne Williamson.

In the last 8 minutes of this lecture at Texas Lutheran University (from the YouTube video titled "Falling Upward," which can be viewed here), in response to a question re John 14:16 (the question is at 1:25:35), Rohr expresses a Jesus-Christ distinction. He first says that Jesus’ statement that He is “the way, the truth and the life,” is that John’s Gospel is written so much later than the other gospels, and that “this is not Jesus of Nazareth; this is the eternal Christ speaking” in John’s Gospel. The following are other quotes from his reply:
"Jesus became the Christ." 
"Jesus came in a moment of time to reveal what was eternally true." 
"The Christ was born at the moment of the big bang when God decided to materialize” and “to become visible." 
"Strictly speaking, it is not correct to say Jesus is God. Jesus is the combination of God and human." 
“We all have to put matter and spirit together.” 
Jesus is telling us that "Your deepest identity is divine."
In this interview (from the YouTube video titled "Cosmic Christ," which can be viewed here), Rohr says:
"Jesus became the Christ." 
“The Big Bang is the birth of the Christ.” 
The Big Bang was the materialization of the Cosmic Christ, who is later revealed in a human person (Jesus).” The mystics "got this." 
We’ve been concerned with the historical Jesus but missed out on the Cosmic Christ. 
The height of "Christian seeing" is "to see God in everything." 
“The world was the first body of Christ.”
Rohr goes beyond talking about the incarnation because his statements indicate a distinction between the historical Jesus and “the cosmic Christ.” He also states that Christ or “the Cosmic Christ” had a beginning in the Big Bang.

 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"The Enneagram is an ancient personality typology, understanding people through the lens of their passions and their temptations…."

 MY COMMENTS 
*Wrong! It was never an “ancient personality typology.”


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"At the recommendation of a friend, I took the Enneagram online assessment, which categorizes each person as a number, one through nine. I was a three…."

 MY COMMENTS 
*This is arbitrary. Why 9? Who decides it should 9 numbers and what each number represents? Read further to see the real reason it’s 9 numbers.


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"….Its exact origins are contested, but by many accounts, the idea of having nine types ('Enneagram' means 'nine-pointed shape')* derives from Evagrius Ponticus’s eight deadly thoughts and the central thought he called “love of self.” Ponticus was a Christian monk and ascetic, a Roman citizen in the late 4th century who lived in a monastic community outside of Alexandria many years of his life."

 MY COMMENTS 
Origins of the Enneagram are disputed but it is possibly from Sufi origins. Nine is seen as a divine number in Sufism, and, according to the Enneagram Institute, support “for the nine types is a Gnostic idea of the "nine divine forms," and a presumption that man's natural essence is perfect and in union with Divinity. Advocates of the Enneagram point to the geometric proportions in the diagram that illustrate the relationship of the numbers to each other as support for their view that there is a special meaning and purpose to the diagram. This is sacred geometry, an occult belief that shapes, patterns, or certain proportions have special inner meaning”) (quoted material from my Enneagram article).

The Enneagram was promoted by mystic George Gurdjieff (1866?-1949) and by his followers, P. D. Ouspensky (1878-1947) and Oscar Ichazo (b. 1931). Gurdjieff claimed to have learned the Enneagram from the Sufis (a mystical spin-off sect of Islam), though many dispute this.

Psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo (b. 1932), a pioneer of New Age related psychological theories, breathed new life into the Enneagram by refining it as a tool of psychological assessment in which a person discovers his number in the chart, and then studies the best and worst traits of that number via the diagram. Each number represents a particular personality type, and is connected to two other numbers, one which supposedly highlights the worst traits, and the other representing the best.

Gurdjieff was an Armenian teacher of esoteric spiritual philosophies based on knowledge he allegedly garnered during travels and contacts with secret groups, which are recounted in his book, Meetings with Remarkable Men (in the beginning years of her New Age journey, the writer of this article saw a movie based on this book and was strongly influenced by it). However, these accounts were never verified. Gurdjieff held that man is not aware of true reality and needs an awakening of consciousness. He is widely credited as the first person to make the Enneagram publicly known.

Ouspensky, Gurdjieff's pupil, presented Gurdjieff's ideas as the Fourth Way. Ouspensky's teachings on the Enneagram appear in his books, In Search of the Miraculous and The Fourth Way. Like Gurdjieff, Ouspensky wrote about the Enneagram in terms of the "law of seven" and the "law of three," based on Gurdjieff's view of the esoteric laws by which the cosmos operated.

Oscar Ichazo, heavily involved in psychedelic drugs and shamanism,* asserted that he had "received instructions from a higher entity called Metatron" and that his group "was guided by an interior master."

Naranjo, the psychiatrist who studied with Ichazo in Chile, passed on the Enneagram teachings to Jesuit Bob Ochs, who then brought it into Roman Catholic circles at the New Age Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where Naranjo taught (entire comment from my Enneagram article).

The so-called "Christian monk," Evagrius Ponticus, was influenced and inspired by the esoteric philosophy of Neo-Platonism, a deadly mixture of Gnosticism and Christianity. Ponticus was also a student of the heretical teachings of Origen of Alexandria. Ponticus himself was later condemned for his teachings in 400 and 533.

Ponticus held that Jesus was not the incarnated Son of God, but rather a sinless "intellect" who assumed a body to show humanity the way back to its "original union" with God. This is a Gnostic teaching. Through Ponticus, these false teachings spread to monastic leaders and theologians (comment quoted from my Enneagram article).


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"During his tenure in Alexandria, Ponticus developed a list of deadly thoughts: vainglory, anger, greed, gluttony, sloth, sorrow, pride, and lust, to which he added 'love of self' as the first thought of all. This list provided the blueprint for what were to become the Seven Deadly Sins of the Catholic Church, which Pope Gregory I would assemble from this list some 200 years later."

 MY COMMENTS 
These sins can be found listed in the Bible but this list is not directly from the Bible. However, Proverbs 6 does list seven “things which the Lord hates”
"There are six things which the Lord hates,  Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,  And hands that shed innocent blood,A heart that devises wicked plans,  Feet that run rapidly to evil,A false witness who utters lies,  And one who spreads strife among brothers."

 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 
"…..The fact that it [the Enneagram] is rooted in a fundamentally dark view of humanity—that we are sinning people who are inclined to sin in specific ways*—isn’t exactly a cheerful view."

 MY COMMENTS 
Not true – the Enneagram is not rooted in concept of sin, either from its mystical Gnostic origins nor its New Age psychology origins.


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"…..But the real power in the Enneagram lies in its ability to expose the dark underbelly of every person—their sin pattern.*…."

 MY COMMENTS 
This is not true. This was never the purpose of the Enneagram nor can it do this.


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"….Other people will have other issues, but in knowing mine, I can be better equipped to pray, to confide in trusted friends, to read the truths of Scripture."

 MY COMMENTS 
We only can know our sins through the Enneagram? The truth is that we discover and know what sin is from the Bible. There is no need for the use of the Enneagram to “reveal” sins. Furthermore, the Enneagram cannot reveal anything about a person. One might as well classify him/herself using astrology.


 CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

"Every night at 9:40 p.m. I get an email from the Enneagram Institute."

 MY COMMENTS 
The website for The Enneagram Institute openly refers to concepts from Gurdjieff and company, such as "the Work" and "inner work," to refer to mystical work on the inner self. This "Work," as expressed by Ichazo, involves transcending one's ego in order to find one's "Essence." This is fundamental in Gnostic-based, Eastern, and New Age views.

The Enneagram Institute itself admits that "the philosophy behind the Enneagram contains components from mystical Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, and ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Socrates, Plato, and the Neo-Platonists)." (online source)

The reference to Christianity undoubtedly refers to what is sometimes called "mystical" or "esoteric Christianity." This type of Christianity was often claimed by Gurdjieff and other forerunners of the New Age, and in actuality is a Gnostic (neo-Platonic) distortion of Christianity, not authentic historic Christianity (from my article).


 SUMMARY POINTS 


■ The origins of the Enneagram, though disputed, are spiritually based, not as a tool for personality assessment, which came later.

■ Nine numbers is arbitrary: why 9? There is no objective basis for this. It could just as well be 5 or 12 or 15, etc.

■ The categories are arbitrary with no objective basis.

■ While some things may be true about your “number,” it is likely that the traits described would fit most people as we all have common sin issues, especially from pride, which we all share and which is the source of other sins/problems.

■ The goal of the Enneagram originally (and still used this way today in New Age practice) is awakening to true “Self” and “The philosophy for this is directly derived from the esoteric values of Sacred Geometry and from Gnostic views of the self as sacred and pure in essence” (from my article).

■ A Christian should strive to view himself through God's word; man-based categories detract from and may blur or negate that perspective.

■ Focusing on the self easily leads to self-absorption.

■ Christians are being made whole and complete in Christ (Philippians 1:6; Colossians 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:17) through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.


photo credit: Grace Commons (Wicker Park Grace) via photopin cc


 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 

Interview with Janet Mefferd about the Enneagram  - 10/3/2014