Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lord Is My Shepherd

(written by honorary Sola Sister Ansley, my 8 year old niece)

Have you ever wondered why sheep need a shepherd? In Psalms 23, God tells us that sheep need a shepherd for many reasons. Sheep have poor eyesight. Since they can’t see well, they need a shepherd to carefully guide them and watch over them. Sheep have no natural defenses. They can’t run fast and they have no sharp claws or teeth. The shepherd uses his rod and staff to protect them from becoming dinner or lunch for wild animals. Sheep also have heavy wool, and that is why the shepherds lead the sheep beside “the still waters.”  Rough waters could make them drown, because the wool soaks in the water and weighs down the sheep. Sheep are not very smart, and they sometimes just wander off. Sheep also need to “chew the cud” so they can digest their food. This is why the shepherd makes them lie down in green pastures.

The shepherd protects his sheep from many harmful things, the same way the Lord protects His people from Satan and sin. Because I am just like a sheep, I need Jesus as my shepherd. And I will follow him.

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photo pin cc

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I'm A Modernist At 33,000 Feet"

"We're living in strange times," so began Dr. Al Mohler at the 2007 Contending For the Truth conference held by Ligonier Ministries.  Dr. Mohler, president of the The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave a truly masterful talk on the topic of "Postmodernism and Society." He lays out in layman's terms exactly what the postmodernist movement is and how it is impacting our culture today, and more importantly, our children.  Dr. Mohler closed with a strong exhortation to Christians, and especially Christian parents, that they should take steps to educate themselves about what is at the heart of this dangerous movement so that they might earnestly contend for the faith:
"I believe that time is short, because the reality is that (postmodernism) is affecting our children.  They're watching the movies, they're seeing the advertising, so many of them are in schools where this postmodern worldview is being basically mainlined into them, almost as if it were an I.V. going right into their bodies.  They're getting it from the culture, they're getting it from the music, they're getting it from their peers.  James Davison Hunter, now 15 years ago, wrote an amazing book in which he indicated that evangelical young people, who would now be in their early 30s, who in terms of their belief system, were radically different from their parents without their parents recognizing it.  If that was true 15 years ago, then I would suggest to you that it is far more true, and far more urgently and emphatically important than even then.  It's important that we understand postmodernism and frankly, it's important that we understand postmodernism in its uncut form, because if you don't understand the source, you can't possibly understand the fountain.  But we need to be people who with keen eyes and with an apologetics sense of mission can look at the world and say, "I know where that comes from."  And we need to be the kind of people who, in an evangelistic conversation with our neighbors, understand when they talk about morality-as-oppressive, and they start using this language....we know where this comes from.  One of the most important things we can do is show an honest postmodernist where postmodernism lands with a thud.  You can have a postmodern architect....but not a postmodern engineer.  You can have a postmodern artist...but you don't want to have a postmodern banker.  And as Richard Rorty, himself a postmodern theorist, said: "I'm a modernist at 33,000 feet."  You want a pilot who believes in absolute truth and rationality and order and predictability.  It's a great apologetics challenge to live in the time that the Lord has given us.  It's a great opportunity.  It's a great opportunity to "subvert subversion" to the glory of God. To help people see where postmodernism shapes the culture....and where postmodernism collapses upon itself.  Sometimes one of the most important ministries of the Christian is to stand amidst the debris and point to the cause of the fall and to the only hope for recovery."
This is a fantastic talk by Dr. Mohler - I was really "at attention" by the end of it.  And I'm speaking as someone who was taught postmodernism and initially embraced it.  My sister and I were both of the generation that was right on the cusp between modernism/postmodernism, but postmodern thought, by the time we were teenagers, was very prevalent.  I initially embraced it because it sounded so much more tolerant and loving for there to be a worldview that "allowed" everyone to hold whatever conflicting views they might have, with no-one holding out one particular set of beliefs as "truer" or "better" than any other.

Thankfully, God eventually opened my eyes to the fact that this idea of all-truths-as-valid necessitated the fatalistic - and futile - view that no truths were valid.  And if no truths were valid, then there could never be an ultimate and objective standard for truth on which one could firmly stand, and say with conviction, "That. That is truth."  As Christians, we know that truth is not a "what," but a "Who."  It is a person, Jesus of Nazareth, God in flesh, who entered into time and space and spoke these words: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the Father but by me." These words uttered by Jesus cut like a sword through today's world of easygoing, tolerant, "anything goes" postmodernism.  These words are narrow and exclusive, and they demand a response: what is your response?  Do you humbly bow the knee before the Sovereign Lord of the universe, or do you turn away gnashing your teeth at the narrow-minded intolerance of it all?

Postmodernism is perhaps the most dangerous of all philosophical movements to date.  At first blush, it "sounds" good, but ultimately it is damning.  It tickles the ears, but the Bible tells us we must guard against this (2 Tim 4:3-4).  For the sake of the next generation, we must educate ourselves about this movement so that we not only warn our children about postmodernism, but also actively train them in what the thinking is, how it takes shape and how to respond to it from a Biblical worldview. And, as Al Mohler said, " 'Subvert subversion' to the glory of God."

 Additional Resources 

Chris Rosebrough's Fighting For the Faith - Audio Version of This Talk

Pastor Bob DeWaay's Excellent Book on How Postmodernism is Undefining Christianity

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

American Idol "Gives Back" - To Pro-Abortion Groups

Posted by Christine Pack

For those not already put off by American Idol's in-your-face homosexual agenda, this article might be the clincher. As noted in the article cited above, American Idol's two "Give Back" campaigns this year are Save The Children and the United Nations Foundation, both of which channel funds to pro-abortion groups (makes the "Save The Children" moniker seem a bit ironic, doesn't it?).  American Idol also recently lent its support to a campaign to raise funds for Planning Parenthood in Los Angeles, CA. 
Eu·gen·ics (yū-jĕn'ĭks) - n. (used with a sing. verb) The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.
For anyone unaware of Planned Parenthood's core philosophies, Margaret Sanger, who was the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a promoter of forced eugenics, sterilization, segregation, and sexual immorality.  She has been widely quoted for years by Planned Parenthood leaders, plainly revealing her - and their - core beliefs: 
"The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."(Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.)
"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race." (Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.)
"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."(Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.)
"Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ... We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."(Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review.)
"Eugenics is … the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."(Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.)
"As an advocate of birth control I wish ... to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the 'unfit' and the 'fit,' admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation....On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective."(Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.)
"The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics."(Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.)
"Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying ... demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism ... [Philanthropists] encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant ... We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all."(Margaret Sanger. The Pivot of Civilization, 1922. Chapter on "The Cruelty of Charity," pages 116, 122, and 189. Swarthmore College Library edition.)
"The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind."(Margaret Sanger, quoted in Charles Valenza. "Was Margaret Sanger a Racist?" Family Planning Perspectives, January-February 1985, page 44.)
"The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped."(Margaret Sanger. Speech quoted in Birth Control: What It Is, How It Works, What It Will Do. The Proceedings of the First American Birth Control Conference. Held at the Hotel Plaza, New York City, November 11-12, 1921. Published by the Birth Control Review, Gothic Press, pages 172 and 174.)
"The marriage bed is the most degenerative influence in the social order..."(Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.)
"[Our objective is] unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children..."(Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.)
"Give dysgenic groups [people with 'bad genes'] in our population their choice of segregation or [compulsory] sterilization."(Margaret Sanger, April 1932 Birth Control Review.)
(Online source, Diane S. Dew

photo credit: BestofWDW via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Abortion Shame? Karma Doesn't Cut it

The Racist Ties To Abortion

Monday, April 19, 2010

Eckhart Tolle Gives Us Just Another Rat Wheel

Posted by Christine Pack

Life is challenging.  There are bills to pay, relationships to navigate, children to raise, health issues that rear their heads, family problems to tend to, and on and on.  So what is the "prescription" for bringing peace into our difficult and challenging lives?  In a recent USA Today interview, today's premier spiritual writer, Eckhart Tolle, has a very simple prescription:

     "Stop. Drop those thoughts. Breathe. Be still. Just be."

Tolle, who rocketed to fame after his appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, explains to us in his best-selling books, A New Earth and The Power of Now, that the ultimate path to inner peace is available to all of us, and at any time.  All we have to do is let go of all our thoughts.  But this thinking is nothing new, and even Eckhart Tolle understands that. Tolle was born Ulrich Tolle, but later in life took the name of "Eckhart" in honor of Catholic mystic Meister Eckhart, one of many mystics throughout the ages who have championed this idea of inner-peace-through-mysticism.  Tolle himself is a modern day mystic, determined to bring this message of inner peace through mystical practices to the masses.

But can this methodology bring peace?  In practical terms, what happens after a person has given himself or herself a little "mental spa treatment," à la Tolle's prescription?  They've got to come back to reality at some point.  Which means, back to the same circumstances.  Back to themselves.  Nothing's changed, and this is why this prescription for inner peace doesn't work.  A trip to the spa might temporarily lift the spirits and remove one from life's circumstances.....but in the end, it's back to same situation.  And more importantly, back to the same you. Sure, when times are tough - whether it's the economy, or a troubled marriage or whatever - a little escapism is enticing.  (Just ask a person who struggles with depression: oversleeping is a major symptom of depression, because sleep can oftentimes be used as an escape.)  But in the end, if there is no inner change in a person, how can outer change be effected?

I contend that Eckhart Tolle's prescription for inner peace, besides teaching one how to temporarily escape from life, is just another rat wheel.  All false religions and cults have a rat wheel for its adherents to get on - and "works" for them to start churning out - in an effort to have peace.  You see, innately, all humans have eternity written on their hearts.  People instinctively know that there is a sovereign Creator God to whom they are beholden.  But how to have peace with this God? That's the eternal question.  Of all the world's religions, only Christianity answers this question satisfactorily.  We have peace with our Maker only through the means provided by Him, by God.  After all, if a Hindu or a Buddhist could achieve peace through yoga and meditation and fasting; if a Muslem could achieve peace through jihad or mecca; if a Catholic could achieve peace through the sacraments or good works, then what would be the point of the Cross?  None of the practices of other religions can bring peace because all they are are man's pitiful attempts to figure out a way to have peace with God. The systems of "works" generated by western civilization may be a little more sophisticated than the system of works designed by cultures that do rain dances and sacrifice village maidens, but they're still just works. They're still just another rat wheel to get on in an attempt to assuage our consciences.

Take a look at some of the key points from Tolle's teachings (along with scriptural truth which refutes that any of these things are possible in an unregenerated state):
To find abundance, give it away. (Jesus tells us that we will have life and more abundantly - but it will only be through Him).
Take responsibility for your inner state. (The Bible tells us that the heart of man is desperately wicked and beyond repair.)
See, hear and appreciate. (Only Christ can give us eyes to see and ears that hear spiritual truth.)
In contrast to Tolle's teaching, the Cross stands as a monument to the exclusivity of Christianity - and the futility of works. Christianity is different in that Christians understand that salvation - peace with God - comes only from God, through the Cross, and not from themselves.  Peace comes from God reaching down to us, and never from us reaching up to Him.  Scripture tells us that there is no one who is righteous, and none who seek God.  Salvation is a gift from God, and comes not by works, so that no one can boast.

If all other religions could make a way for peace with God through adherence to some system of works, then the New Age mantra of "All paths lead to God" would be true.  But we know it is not.  We know that only those who have been born again through repentance from their sins and faith in Christ's sacrifice on their behalf will be given that oh-so-elusive inner peace.  A true and lasting peace, rather than a cheap kind of  temporary peace that comes from generating some kind of mystical experience.  Christianity offers the kind of peace that comes from knowing that - regardless of life's circumstances, - they have peace with their Maker.  They won't be given perfect circumstances - in fact, often just the opposite - but what they will have is a Lord who is an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), and a transformed inner nature that will enable them to truly love and give from the heart (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 5:22-24).  Makes a "mental spa treatment" seem kind of small by comparison, doesn't it?

Eckhart Tolle is seducing many Christians into New Age spirituality with his books which artfully blend liberal doses of Scripture with Universalist theology. If you or anyone you know have been lured into this apostasy, please realize that this is not biblical Christianity.  True Christian faith recognizes and proclaims that there is only one way to God, and it is through Christ.  And no matter how good a book may sound or "feel," if this truth is not at its core, it is false teaching.  Repent, and run back to the Savior, for He is mighty to forgive.

photo credit: Earthworm via photo pin cc

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Open Letter To John Piper

Posted by Christine Pack

Dr. John Piper
When I heard the news that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to be his keynote speaker at the 2010 Desiring God conference, I literally laughed. I thought it had to be a joke.  It was even a couple of days before April 1, so I think I can be forgiven for thinking someone might be playing an early April Fools prank on me.  The Desiring God National Conference, where Rick Warren will be speaking, is scheduled this year for October 1-3 in Minneapolis.  This is an annual event held by John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.  John Piper, who has also authored many books, is widely well regarded in evangelical circles as being very doctrinally solid. So, I don't think I'm overstating it to say that many of us are simply in shock at hearing this news.  The blogosphere has exploded with back and forth talk on this topic.  Tweets are furiously twittering.  In just the past few hours, my inbox has had more than 100 messages about this issue.

With a white-hot spotlight on this topic right now, I'm going to take this opportunity to publicly address Dr. John Piper at Desiring God on this issue.  So here goes....

Rick Warren
Dear Dr. Piper,

I want to express my shock and sadness over Rick Warren being invited to speak at the 2010 Desiring God conference.  As a new Christian, I trained to be in leadership with Celebrate Recovery, a Saddleback ministry.  As time passed during my training, I became more and more uncomfortable at being under the authority of Rick Warren.  While I was learning how to lead groups in going through steps that would ostensibly free them from addiction, I began to privately think to myself: "These people don't need 12 steps to get sober, they need one step - to see God as He really is, high and holy."  And these groups I attended did not lift God up high and holy. I heard nothing of the glorious gospel, of wretched sinners being under the wrath of God, without merit and without hope, but that God, being rich in mercy, intervened into this bleak and hopeless situation by sending a Savior, Jesus, who gave himself up as a sacrifice for sins, so that all who would repent and place their faith and trust in him would be set free from the curse of sin.  When I asked about this, I was told that yes, this was definitely a "weakness" of the program.  A "weakness" of the program.....proclaiming God rightly?  But you see, this is everything....

I thank God that he graciously opened my eyes to the unbiblical nature of the Celebrate Recovery program, which led me to research Rick Warren, and what the whole Purpose Driven movement was all about.  Dr. Piper, I hope you don't feel it is ungracious of me to ask you please rethink your decision to invite Rick Warren into your church. You have done so much over the years to protect the purity of the gospel message, and I hope that your eyes are beginning to be opened about the unbiblical nature of Rick Warren's teaching, which undermine the gospel in so many ways.  I hope that you will do some more research about Rick Warren, and if you do, I think you will see that the gospel Rick Warren proclaims is "another gospel." (Galatians 1:6-9)

With kindest regards,

Sola Sisters

 Additional Resources 

Pastor Bob DeWaay Visits Rick Warren, Asks Him To Preach Christ

Redefining Christianity: Understanding The Purpose Driven Movement

Redefining Christianity - 15-part Radio Program