Thursday, December 27, 2012

We're All Hindus Now?

Posted by Christine Pack

Dr. Peter Jones
Truth Xchange
Christian talk show host Janet Mefferd recently had Dr. Peter Jones of the Truth Xchange on her show to discuss the growing influence of Hinduism in America, even among professing Christians. This is a very important topic, because in my experience, many Christians today seem to grasp the religious syncretism and idolatry of the Old Testament at only an intellectual level. You would get head nodding all 'round if you brought up the topic of religious syncretism, with your Christian friends affirming oh yes, that would be bad, very bad indeed, if Christians today were to try to syncretize their religious practices with forbidden pagan religious practices! Of course, the problem is that they might say this while they're tucking their yoga mats under their arms and heading out the door for a yoga class. This is the kind of disconnect that Dr. Jones addresses in this very informative interview. From the show:
"(Newsweek author) Lisa Miller cited polling data (in the 2009 article We Are All Hindus Now) showing that, conceptually at least, (Americans) are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, ourselves, each other and eternity. We do see it on a superficial level, of course, with our culture mainstreaming terms like karma, and yoga, and nirvana, avatar, and mantra.......How did this happen? And where is this trend headed? And most importantly, how should Christians think biblically in this day and age to avoid the spiritual pitfalls of openly - or unwittingly - embracing Hinduism." 
Janet Mefferd's interview with Peter Jones can be listened to in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

"Christian" Yoga?

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Doctor Prescribes "Therapeutic" Yoga For A Christian Woman

Yoga Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sarah Leslie on the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy

Posted by Christine Pack

Mike LeMay and Amy Spreeman of Stand Up For The Truth radio interviewed Christian researcher Sarah Leslie of the Herescope website regarding the so-called Mayan Doomsday Prophecy and how New Age teachings have infiltrated today's church.

Many Christians have become swept up in the supposed doomsday hysteria, so for those who have, or for those who know someone who has, this interview is recommended listening.

This interview can be listened to in its entirety here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

God Came Down

Posted by Christine Pack

(Note: This article was originally published December 26, 2010)

Have you ever stopped to ponder why it is that, when the world attempts to portray what it would look like for the supernatural world to intersect with the natural world, the things they come up with are most often frightening and perverted in some way? Many examples of this come to mind: werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, zombies, aliens, mummies, and so on. The human mind seems predisposed to think of the supernatural in a way that is scary, frightening, and most often a horrific perversion of what is normal and natural. From a Christian perspective, though, doesn't it make sense that the natural, unregenerated mind - in its sin-darkened state - can only conjure up a darker, more frightening version of what it "knows" (humans and human-ess) when attempting to make sense of the world? After all, the Bible tells us that man is darkened in his understanding, his wisdom is foolishness.

The truth is that, without benefit of the special revelation of God's Word, the Bible, the human view of that which is supernatural seems to default to the freakish and the frightening.

But what does it really look like for God to enter into time and space, and intersect with the natural world by taking on flesh and dwelling among us?

Scripture tells us the story rather simply:
“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”
(Luke 1:26-38)
God, our omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign Creator, chose to enter into our world as.....what? As a magnificent archangel, so that everyone would know how glorious He was? No. Well, then, perhaps as a mighty king, as a sort of preview of Christ's eternal kingdom to come? No. God's own Son, God in flesh, entered into our world as a baby. A tiny baby, born to a poor carpenter and his betrothed, tucked away in a small town that was considered insignificant.

Let's first consider the fact that Jesus was even able to be born, live among us, and interact with throngs of people during his ministry in a way that wasn't, well, frightening. Think about it. Of all the supernatural beings ever imagined or conjured up in the imagination of man, Jesus was the most supernatural of all supernatural beings ever to walk among us. How was it possible that he even could walk among us without people falling to the ground in abject terror over his glory? How could people be in his presence without being consumed?  How could a mere mortal - Mary - carry him in her body?

There are glimpses of his glory and magnificence throughout the gospels: most notably, his miracles, Peter recognizing his Lordship and falling at his feet on the fishing boat, his transfiguration, his power over nature, his resurrection.

 God Came Near 

Among other things, I was a practicing Hindu before God saved me.  I actually ventured into a number of different religions and religious practices before being saved, but Hinduism seemed to make the most sense to me.  And even though I had very profound mystical experiences as a Hindu, I can't say that the God I wanted so desperately to reach and connect with ever felt near.  For me as a Hindu, "God" was remote, inaccessible, impersonal.  The idea of God "coming near" was too much for my mind to grasp.

What great love, then, had God the Father that He would make a way for Jesus to dwell among us.  And not only did Jesus, the most supernatural being ever to step foot on this earth, dwell among us, but He wasn't frightening. He wasn't grotesque or strange or freaky or odd, and His face didn't throw off beams of light (contrary to what the carol "Silent Night" claims).  In Jesus, God came near in an immensely personal way.  He was born as a baby, who grew to be a man. He entered into the mire of our human existence by becoming one of us, fully experiencing life as a human, suffering pain and sadness and temptation just as we do.

But why?  Why did God come near?

The elegant book of Hebrews unfolds much of this mystery for us, explaining that Jesus was tempted and yet never sinned:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15)
Again, why?  Why was it important for God to record in his Word that Jesus was tempted, yet did not sin?  It is because of this:

If Jesus came to earth and was not fully man, he would never have been able to make atonement for us.  The first man - Adam - acted on behalf of all mankind when he first sinned, way back in the Garden of Eden.  Thus, we inherited his - Adam's - sinful, fallen nature, which means that we are born into sin and we choose to sin.  And because of our sin, we are doomed:
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
But Jesus came as the "second Adam" to represent all mankind in the way that the first Adam failed to.  He lived a perfect, sinless life, never sinning in thought, word or deed.   And then He willingly offered his life as an atoning payment for all who would repent and place their faith in his perfect sacrifice made on their behalf:
"For as in Adam all die, so those in Christ will be made alive." (1 Cor 15:22)
What greater love is there in all the world than this?  A sovereign creator God, who made us and has a righteous claim over our lives....and yet is intensely personal, and desires that all might come to repentance:
"The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
What great, good news this is!  This is the message of Jesus and Christmas and the Nativity and the Cross.  God came near.  God made a way for sinful, wretched men to be reconciled to a high and holy God.

For all those who are struggling with deep and difficult ideas of man and God and truth and eternity, and who have not yet bent the knee in humble submission to an infinitely holy - and yet merciful - God who has made a way for sinful men to be forgiven, may today truly be the day of salvation for you:
"For God says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2)
photo credit: Martin LaBar via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

God Came Near

Monday, December 17, 2012

God Came Near....It Really Is True

Posted by Christine Pack
(Note: This article was originally published December 10, 2010)

Christmas was always my guilty pleasure every year as a New Ager. My wiccan-pagan-hindu friends would give me a hard time for putting up a tree and decorating, and not having the "strength of my convictions." But I just always loved the gaiety of the season: the parties, the food, the sparkle, the fun, the decorating. And it seemed so hopeful at heart, this idea that God could have actually come into the world. Impossible, of course, but hopeful.

Once I was born again, of course, Christmas became the most wondrous time of year to me because it was TRUE......God did step into humanity, piercing the veil between the natural and the supernatural, but even more than that, He did it so that wretched men and women could be reconciled to a high and holy God.  Amazing!

Soli Deo Gloria.

photo credit: via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

To Christmas or Not To Christmas.....That Is the Question (Sola Sisters)

Christmas is Just A Christianized Pagan Celebration? Not So Fast..... (Sola Sisters)

God Came Near (Sola Sisters)

The Glory of Jesus (Sola Sisters)

Christmas Prophecies Fulfilled (Grace To You)

How Christmas Solves The Prophetic Puzzle (Grace To You)

Is There Anything Inherently Sinful or Dangerous in Delebrating Christmas? (Grace To You)

Should Christians Have Christmas Trees? (Grace To You)

The Attack on Christmas (Answers in Genesis)

 4 Part Series by Dr. Richard P. Bucher 

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 1 , Overview

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 2, Answering the Argument: "Christmas is obviously pagan because there is neither Biblical command nor precedent for celebrating Christ's birth."

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 3, Answering the Argument: "The first Christians never observed the celebration of Christ's birth until emperor Constantine in 313 AD officially tolerated Christians."

Christmas Is Not Pagan, Part 4, Answering the Argument:  "The date of Christmas (December 25), and its many customs all come from pagan sources. Therefore Christmas is pagan."

 Resources Specifically Refuting the Errors of Alexander Hislop 

Myths From Hislop: A Call To Examine Facts (Marcia Montenegro, CANA)

Exposé of Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons (UK Apologetics)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Every Tongue Will Confess

Posted by Christine Pack

To celebrate our anniversary, my sweet husband took me to hear the Atlanta Symphony and the Atlanta Choral Society perform their annual Christmas program. There is a longstanding tradition in our country that, when the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah is performed, the audience, wherever they are, rises to their feet during the performance. I love this part! And at the same time, it made me sad last night to look around at that audience in downtown Atlanta and know that most of those in the audience who were standing at this majestic song are lost, and do not even know it. And yet, God's truth, so powerfully delivered in this choral piece, almost cannot be denied. I think this must be why people, even lost people, get to their feet.
"The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground." Ezekiel 38:20 
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

 Additional Resources 

God Came Near

God Came Down

The Glory of Jesus

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ann Voskamp Gets Original Sin Wrong

Posted by Christine Pack

“What that first and catastrophic sin of ingratitude ruptured…union…can be repaired by exact inverse of the Garden: lifestyle gratitude …” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p220)

A friend of mine read the above quote and observed thusly:
"The Doctrines of Ann Voskamp: 
Original sin = ingratitude
Result = broken union
Answer = "lifestyle gratitude"  
Let's see anyone support THAT with Scripture."
I am inclined to agree. On the subject of Ann Voskamp,  what I keep hearing is, Hey look, nobody has perfect doctrine, why are you picking on poor Ann? And my point is.....doctrine matters. As another friend noted on a rather frisky discussion thread on Facebook:
"Ann Voskamp makes it seem like Adam/Eve were ungrateful for all the Lord had given them. When in reality they were disobeying God's clear command to not eat of the tree - they listened to the serpent twist God's words and the doubt placed in their minds caused them to think they knew better for themselves than God did. Voskamp seems to be saying that just by living a life of gratitude, that will restore the union between God and man. There is nothing in regard to repentance for sinning against a holy God. Thankfulness does not bring escape from the wrath of God. True repentance brought by the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness and life. She done got the gospel wrong."
 Additional Resources 

An Open Letter To Tim Challies about Ann Voskamp (Sola Sisters)

Tim Challies Reviews One Thousand Gifts (Sola Sisters)

In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp's Forgiveness... (Tim Challies)

An Interview With Sarah Flashing About Our Open Letter To Tim Challies (Sola Sisters)

Concerning One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (by Ken Silva)

Ann Voskamp: Mystical Estrogen (Fighting For The Faith radio show)

A Commentary On Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" (by Marcia Montenegro)

Romantic Panentheism, a review of One Thousand Gifts (by Bob DeWaay)

What Is Panentheism? (Apprising)

Panentheism Is Not A Gift (Amy Spreeman)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Church of Tares A Must-Watch Video

Posted by Christine Pack

The following video, by producer Elliot Nesch, is a must-watch video for Christians today who are alarmed over the state of the church today, and want to know why the church is the way it is. This film includes in-depth analysis from radio talk show host Chris Rosebrough, pastor Gary Gilley, pastor Bob DeWaay, Christian researcher Ray Yungen, and others. From the producer's website (my emphasis added):
"Can the Church borrow the marketing tools of the world and apply them to the Church? What is the history of the Church Growth movement and its false premises? Who is involved in the new evangelicalism and second reformation? Why are these movements embracing contemplative mysticism? How does this movement play into the New World Order? These questions and more are answered in Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker-Sensitive, Church Growth & New World Order. 
Church of Tares chronicles the man-centered pragmatism of these evangelical Christian movements in comparison to the Bible’s instruction for building the Church of Jesus Christ. As a sequel to The Real Roots of the Emergent Church, Church of Tares documents the connections between the liberal Emergent Church movement and the Church Growth movement. Both movements’ leadership were discipled by business management guru Peter Drucker, who was attracted to the megachurch movement as a social phenomenon that could bring about his 'new society' and New World Order. Megachurch pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels as well as Leadership Network founder Bob Buford all acknowledge Drucker (who professed not to be a Christian) as their mentor and have built their organizations upon his secular business management philosophies rather than the foundation of Jesus Christ. 
The fruit of these movements is great compromise of the Gospel and the Great Commission. Rick Warren claims to be ushering in a new spiritual awakening and second reformation with his P.E.A.C.E. Plan. But this reform appears to be a social reformation rather than a spiritual one by joining together in ministry with unbelievers to fight global giants. Such compromise has led to the affirming response letter to the Common Word document which declares Muhammad to be a prophet and the Bible and Qur’an to be of the 'same Divine origin.'"

 Additional Resources 

Holy Bible Prophecy (Elliott Nesch)

Fighting For The Faith (Chris Rosebrough)

Southern View Chapel - Articles and Book Reviews (Gary Gilley)

Critical Issues Commentaries - Radio Shows and Articles (Bob DeWaay)

Resistance Is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into The Community

Interview With Peter Drucker

Fascism Reborn