Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just Eat The Good Food?

Posted by Christine Pack


Knowing that there is false teaching but not being willing to name names is like knowing there is a chef in town who is putting arsenic in his food, and people are dying from it, and your friends are going out for date night. And you say, oh hey, there's a chef in town who's poisoning the food, so whatever you do, don't eat the poisonous food. Only eat the good food! You know what good food is, right? So just eat that. No, I don't think I should tell you his name because that would be unloving. But I know you know what good food is, so just eat the good food. Okay, bye! Have fun!

Except that....the consequences of getting the gospel wrong (or not protecting others from the false teaching out there in opposition to the gospel) are a lot more dire than someone just dying. The consequences are eternal. So let's be exhorted to do the loving thing and gently and lovingly and with all humility name names when we need too, and examine all teachings in light of Scripture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jonathan Cahn's Own Mars Hill?

Posted by Christine Pack

There is an unlikely book taking the Christian world by storm right now (unlikely because there seem to be obvious problems with it) and yet this book, surprisingly, has been embraced by a a number of evangelical Christians. The book is The Harbinger, and it was written by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jew who is also the senior pastor of the Jerusalem Center/ Beth Israel in Wayne, NJ. In our original Commentary on The Harbinger, we noted that The Harbinger is a fiction book, and features a character known as the prophet who is slowly giving seals to one of the main characters (Nouriel). These seals contain messages (nine in all) which are meant to be put together as clues in a mystery, so that a final, distinct message will emerge and be revealed. This message, once decoded, is intimated to hold the secret to bringing America back to its moral center and becoming once again a Godly nation. And in our original article, we discussed some of our concerns with the book, chiefly that, (1) in our opinion, the book has a distinct gnostic flavor to it, with its "mysteries" needing to be decoded, and also that (2) Jonathan Cahn's two appearances on Mormon Glenn Beck's show to discuss spiritual matters were problematic because Glenn Beck is not a Bible-believing Christian, and so his view of God and Cahn's view of God are vastly different, and such an alliance is likely to be very confusing, in general, to the body of Christ. 

One of the Cahn's staunchest defenders has been discernment speaker and talk show host Jan Markell, who is featuring Jonathan Cahn at her 2012 Understanding The Times conference, and who also recently had Jonathan Cahn on her radio show to discuss his controversial book in a two part interview (segment one here and segment two here). In these interviews with Jan Markell (which also included Dr. Walter Martin's daughter Jill Martin-Rische and discernment speaker Eric Barger), Jonathan Cahn addressed concerns that have been raised about him by discernment ministries (including ours), specifically his appearances on the Glenn Beck show. This was Cahn's response:
"If I am given an invitation to go on an interview show, and I am given an open platform to share the gospel, to share the word of God, to share the warning and the call to repentance, I will do that. In no way, shape or form is going on an interview show, are you giving consent that you agree with the host's position or they agree with your position. And so they're giving an open platform........If I spoke to some of these people in these discernment ministries, and said, there's a man who's actually going to a pagan place, where it's all pagan, a pagan event, and he's going to speak, they would condemn him or crucify him, most likely. And they'd be crucifying the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill. And because he went there, it didn't mean that he was agreeing with Mars Hill."
This is the second interview that I know of in which Cahn has likened his appearance on the Glenn Beck show to that of the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill addressing their "Unknown God." But in my opinion, that is an incorrect characterization of Cahn's Glenn Beck appearance.

 Did Jonathan Cahn Use His Appearance on The Glenn Beck Show To Give The Gospel Message?

The Apostle Paul on Mars Hill
The Apostle Paul clearly gave the gospel message on Mars Hill, while, by all appearances, Cahn went on Glenn Beck's show to promote his book (The Harbinger), and did not proclaim the gospel. If you read the passage from Acts (below), and contrast it to what Cahn discussed on Beck's show (1st interview here, 2nd interview here), you simply cannot find anything in either of Cahn's appearances  where he clearly proclaimed that Glenn Beck, as a Mormon, has given his allegiance to a false god, and is himself, personally, in danger of judgment, and that he needs to repent and place his faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins.
"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him I now declare unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things; And has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Therefore then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Deity is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God overlooked; but now commands all men everywhere to repent: Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he has ordained; and of this he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them." (Acts 17:22-33, my emphasis)
Our family has been reading through the Bible on a yearly reading plan, and as providence would have it, we recently landed on this passage of the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill.  I've read this passage many times, but in light of Jonathan Cahn's insistance that he will use any platform as his own "Mars Hill" in order to proclaim the gospel message, I slowed down and really looked again at what exactly happened on Mars Hill. I ended up coming away from the text with an even deeper appreciation of Paul, who, not surprisingly, gives a magnificent gospel proclamation to the men of Athens. And make no mistake, it's all in there: 
- A sovereign creator God who is holy, who made us and who has a righteous claim on our lives.
- Man's depravity and inability to save himself.
- Man's attempt to conjure up his own path to God with his all-bases-covered "Unknown God," and Paul then proclaiming that this God, who is "unknown" to them is real, that He commands all men to repent, and has Himself appointed a Man by whom salvation comes, and as proof of this, has raised this Man from the dead (all of which probably drove those sophisticated, religious pagans bonkers in the same way that it drives sophisticated, liberal Christians of today bonkers when people take the Bible literally....but I digress).
So my lingering question is this: Going by the biblical text from Acts above, and comparing that to Jonathan Cahn's Glenn Beck appearances (here and here), does it appear that Jonathan Cahn took the opportunity, as he claims he did, to present the gospel message on the Glenn Beck show? Do we hear anything of God's holiness? man's depravity? a command to repent and believe on the Jesus of the Bible, who bodily rose from the dead, for the forgiveness of sins? I just don't see it. But beyond just taking apart what he said he did vs. what he actually did, would it be stating the super obvious for me to wonder, also, where is Jonathan Cahn's pastorly care and compassion for Glenn Beck as a lost human being on his way to Hell? I'm rather neutral on the subject of Glenn Beck, other than finding him pretty amusing, but on the subject of Hell, I am not neutral. The thing about Jonathan Cahn's interview with Beck that is the most upsetting to me is that Glenn Beck has a soul, having been made in the image of God, and I'm left wondering this: how will Glenn Beck feel when he wakes up in hell, and thinks, wait a second, I was just twelve inches away from a Christian pastor who sat there and nodded when I talked about "God" and never told me that my Mormon god was a false god? Glenn Beck is lost-lost-lost, and he needs to hear that the times of ignorance have been overlooked by God, but that He now commands all men everywhere to repent (and that includes sincere, well-intentioned Mormons, like Glenn Beck).


 Additional Resources 

Jonathan Cahn's first appearance on the Glenn Beck show (Glenn Beck online)

Jonathan Cahn's second appearance on the Glenn Beck show (Glenn Beck online)

Is The Harbinger Fact or Fiction?
 (Apprising Ministries)

Implications of The Harbinger
 (Erin Benziger)

A Commentary on The Harbinger (Sola Sisters)

The Harbinger - A Review and Commentary (Pastor Larry DeBruyn)

The Harbinger - A Review (Pastor Gary Gilley)

What To Make Of The Harbinger Mystery (Stand Up For The Truth, Amy Spreeman)

The Rise and Fall of World Powers (Dr. John MacArthur)

When Contending Becomes Cantankerous (a pro-Harbinger interview, with Jan Markell, Eric Barger, Jill Martin Rische)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Myths From Hislop: A Call To Examine Facts

by Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers For the New Age - CANA)
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 
“A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.”  Proverbs 19:5 
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14
Many mistaken views can be traced to the pages of The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop. This book made a number of claims which do not rest on clear historical data, but were conclusions drawn by Hislop influenced by his own biases.

One of Hislop’s supporters, Ralph Woodrow, wrote a book based on Hislop’s book titled Babylon Mystery Religion. However, Woodrow later discovered that Hislop’s claims were largely unsubstantiated, and Woodrow withdrew his support of Hislop, pulling his own book out of print. Woodrow wrote a book to expose the false claims he was now rejecting, The Babylon Connection?

In an article (link below), Woodrow shows the fallacies behind some of Hislop’s thinking:
Let’s suppose that on May 10th a man was stabbed to death in Seattle. There were strong reasons for believing a certain person did it. He had motive. He was physically strong. He owned a large knife. He had a criminal record. He was known to have a violent temper and had threatened the victim in the past. All of these things would point to him as the murderer, except for one thing: on May 10th he was not in Seattle—he was in Florida! 
So is it with the claims about pagan origins. What may seem to have a connection, upon further investigation, has no connection at all! 
By this method, one could take virtually anything and do the same—even the “golden arches” at McDonald’s! The Encyclopedia Americana (article: “Arch") says the use of arches was known in Babylon as early as 2020 B.C. Since Babylon was called “the golden city” (Isa. 14:4), can there be any doubt about the origin of the golden arches? As silly as this is, this is the type of proof that has been offered over and over about pagan origins.
Since many popular ideas derive from Hislop’s book, some may not want to face the facts and prefer to cling to these unproven or even false views. Many notions linking Easter and Christmas with paganism are linked to Hislop. This is often used by cultists as a battering ram against Christians.

But as Christians, we are called to truth. After all, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6)! How can we as Christians claim to embrace and preach Jesus if we ourselves do not want to see factual evidence that overturns some cherished beliefs that came from Hislop (or any other less than credible sources)? Therefore, it is suitable and biblical to examine all claims in the light of objective truth and reject any that are unsupported by solid data and which spring from dubious sources. Let us not jump to conclusions or make hasty judgments.


Article by Ralph Woodrow, regarding his previously published book Babylon Mystery Religion, and his public statement of the errors in that book (Woodrow also wrote and published The Babylon Connection? as a corrective to his original book that promulgated the Hislop errors)




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Survey of Heresies

Posted by Christine Pack

Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace To You and creator of the Pyromaniacs blog, has done an excellent teaching series entitled A Survey of Heresies:
Phil Johnson
“It’s important for Christians to have a grasp of heresies that the church has battled over the centuries, because they often return with new clothing, and the unprepared Christian is likely to fall into these old pits. Phil does an excellent job of looking at some of the major heresies that are revisiting the church today: Socinianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism, and Judaizing. This is an excellent 6 part series that will shore up some weak points in the church today.”
The helpful chart below gives a thumbnail sketch of the heresies, when they originated, the main theological error, and, perhaps most importantly, how that heresy is manifested in today's culture:


And below are links to each of the teachings:
The Judaizers 
The Gnostics 
The Arians pt1, The Arians pt2 
The Pelagians 
The Socinians
Thanks to this series, I am now able to state that I grew up in a Socinian church (where I never heard the gospel), went off into Gnosticism, and was flirting briefly with Pelagianism and Judaized theology as a new Christian. But, I'm now back on the straight and narrow, thanks to all the great teaching out there, including this particular series by Phil Johnson. Listen and be blessed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Shepherd Guards His Flock

Posted by Christine Pack
"And you've heard the rumor, that Pastor Jim killed the Beth Moore trip. Let me clarify that rumor: I killed the Beth Moore trip." -Pastor Jim Murphy
Thank you to a friend of mine at First Baptist Church of Johnson City, NY for sending me the sermon preached this past Sunday by his pastor, Jim Murphy. I thank God for pastors today, like Jim Murphy, who are boldly taking a stand and, lovingly and with great graciousness, and yet firmly, warning their flocks of false teaching. I am also thankful for pastors who recognize that the church is not "theirs" but belongs to God, and was purchased by the blood of Christ. It is an institution wholly unlike anything else on earth. It is not a business or a social club, and should always be dealt with with the utmost care. I'm thankful that there are at least a few pastors out there who do not fear man, who tremble at God's holy Word, and who are seeking, often against the tide, to fulfill their God-ordained responsibilities in shepherding their flocks:
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28, my emphasis
"(An elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Titus 1:9, my emphasis
"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears." Acts 20:29-31, my emphasis
As we have mentioned in previous posts, it's not like deception waltzes in with a sign hanging round its neck, announcing its intent. Deception is deceptive. In this sermon warning and exhorting his flock to train themselves in discernment that they might not be deceived, Pastor Jim Murphy does not hold back and names names in his sermon entitled The Subtlety of Satan:
Shane Claiborne 
Doug Pagitt 
Rob Bell 
Tony Campolo 
Rick Warren 
Bill Hybels 
Beth Moore 
Dallas Willard 
John Piper 
Richard Foster 
Margaret Feinberg 
Francis Chan
Looking at this list, you might be thinking: are you saying that all of the above are false teachers? In truth, some of them are straight up false teachers. But some of them, while they are perceived to be solid, have begun embracing the mysticism of Spiritual Formation and the Contemplative Spirituality movement, both of which borrow heavily from Roman Catholic Monastic mysticism. (And again, I have to repeat something I feel I say far too often: what could lost, cloistered Roman Catholic monks dabbling in occultism, eastern mantra meditation and mysticism possibly be able to teach true, born again, in-dwelt Christians of today about deepening their relationship to God? But I digress....)

In this sermon Pastor Murphy gives a scathing indictment on what today's version of a "Christian" is:
"(Today's Christian is) someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well-adjusted, self-actualized risk-taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a no regret life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage, is an attentive parent celebrating recovery from all their hurts, their habits, their hang-ups, and that practices biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off his gross, and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation......Never once do you read in that modern contextualized interpretation that a Christian is one who sees their sin, confesses their sin, repents of their sin, and receives the gift of salvation in Christ alone. That's how far we've come. So Christianity now is dictated and defined by culture." 
Pastor Murphy also exhorts his congregation to "connect the dots," between the many dangers we are warned about repeatedly in Scripture and what is being taught under our noses in many churches and by many Christian authors and leaders today.
‎"The mood is that if you have a reformed soteriology you get a pass on everything else."  -John MacArthur
I would also add the warning not to give an automatic pass to pastors perceived to be solid. We must always be Bereans, and we must always be holding all things being taught in the name of God up to the actual word of God. But please, don't just take my word for it, or Pastor Murphy's word for it, or even John MacArthur's word for it: all that I have written about here is a matter of public record for those who want to know the truth about what is being taught, and by whom. It's there for the finding for anyone who looks.

"And as Jesus sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?' And Jesus answered and said unto them, 'Take heed that no man deceive you.'" Matthew 24:3-4
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8 
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

 Additional Resources 

First Baptist Church of Johnson City, NY (main site)

The Subtlety of Satan (First Baptist Church - Johnson City, NY)

Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit (Sola Sisters)

Testimony of a Former Mystic (Sola Sisters)

What Is Spiritual Formation? (Sola Sisters)

A Time of Departing(an excellent primer on how mysticism is entering today's churches)

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer? (Christian Answers For The New Age)

The Origin of Contemplative Prayer (Apprising)


The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer (Sola Sisters)

On John Piper and Lectio Divina (airo cross)

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence (Do Not Be Surprised)

What Is Mysticism? (Sola Sisters)

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

Mystical Youth Ministry
 (Gary Gilley)

Lectio Divina and "Hearing God's Voice" (Chris Rosebrough, Fighting For The Faith radio)

John Piper Encouraging Lectio Divina (Sola Sisters)

John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church Endorsing Books by Contemplative Spirituality Mystics Dallas Willard and Richard Foster (Sola Sisters)

Beth Moore and John Piper Lead "Lectio Divina Lite" Prayer at Passion 2012 Conference (Apprising)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beth Moore Preaches At Louie Giglio's Church

Posted by Christine Pack

Bestselling author
Beth Moore
Apprising Ministries recently published an article pointing us to Pastor Louie Giglio's decision this past Sunday (7/1/12) to allow Beth Moore to preach that morning's sermon before the entire congregation.
"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." 1 Timothy 2:12
But the command from 1 Timothy (above) is not complicated or hard to understand, is it? Why, then, is Beth Moore, a widely admired and popular Bible study teacher, given a pass to disobey this clear command from Scripture?

Beth Moore's popularity and influence among her followers has catapulted this issue into the spotlight, and I suspect this issue of whether or not women should preach to men will become increasingly important. At least, I hope it becomes increasingly important. I have a little bit of a dog in this fight, having grown up in a very liberal denomination (Presbyterian-USA) in which women were (and still are) allowed to preach authoritatively from the pulpit to men. It was only as a born again believer, after I had become an adult and was in a church that actually read and taught the Bible, that I came to realize that, biblically, this women-preaching-from-the-pulpit thing is not okay in God's eyes.

And yet, several widely respected pastors, and pastors who are perceived to be conservative, have been blurring the lines between (1) what is popular and accepted in today's culture and (2) what is biblical:
Pastor Louie Giglio turns his Sunday morning pulpit over to Bible study author Beth Moore
Pastor John Piper recommends a book by "Reverend" Lauren Winner
Pastor Tim Keller  recommends a book by "Pastor" Adele Ahlberg Calhoun 
I indicated that I hope for this issue to become front and center in today's church, and this is why: as I noted, I grew up attending a liberal church where women were allowed to share in pastoring duties. But in addition to that (and no surprise), the idea of Sola Scriptura (i.e., the idea that we bend the knee to Scripture as authoritative on all matters) was something of a joke. For anyone asking questions about scripture addressing women pastors (and yes, I was the questioning type), one was told, with a patronizing pat on the arm, Well of course we can't take the Bible as entirely accurate for today! No, the times have changed. It's just the biblical principles of helping others and following Jesus' example that we need to follow, you see. 

After rejecting what I thought was Christianity and leaving the church as a young woman, I went into the New Age where pretty much anything goes for you, as long as you are sincere about your beliefs. And of course, while in the New Age, I became deeply involved in mysticism and occult practices.

Mercifully, God rescued me. He opened my eyes to the futility of liberalism and man-made wisdom, as opposed to seeking the truth of God's word on all matters. But more importantly, He opened my eyes to my own sinfulness and my need for a Savior. I repented and placed my faith in Christ's atoning death. What a miracle that a wretch such as I could be saved! My husband and I joined a church, and I naively thought that liberal teaching and New Age mysticism were far behind me. How foolish I was! I had only been a Christian for a short time before I began to realize that once conservative preachers and denominations were now sliding down the path toward liberalism....and yet the conservative evangelicals around me seemed not to notice or understand when I tried to point this out. I also suddenly began to see New Age mysticism (albeit with Christianized new names) flowing unchecked into the churches, sometimes brought in by Sunday School teachers, sometimes by the pastors.

This is why my sister and I write this blog. We've already been where the conservative evangelical church of today is headed. We've already lived out the liberalism and mysticism. We desire, with a deep and pure longing, to warn the church of what waits at the end of this road. It is not a good end. Despair and confusion and universalist theology with no salvific power will most likely be the result for churches that don't hold the line on Sola Scriptura. My question for the church of today is this: do we believe the Bible is God's inerrant word, or don't we? If we do, we must contend most earnestly for this issue. Share articles and books and DVDs with your pastors and church leaders. Contend earnestly but graciously with them, with Scripture as your guide. And above all, please be in earnest prayer for the church of today and for our pastors. These are not easy times in which to pastor a church. It is said that Charles Haddon Spurgeon, after having battled the Down-Grade Controversy all of his adult life, died of a broken heart. And yet, our church today is many times worse than the church during Spurgeon's day. Our pastors and churches need prayer.

 Additional Resources 

Theology......More or Less With Beth (Sarah Flashing, Midwest Christian Outreach)

An Overview of Beth Moore (CARM)

Beth Moore's Dangerous Bible Twisting ( Fighting For The Faith radio)

John Piper Happy To Learn From Beth Moore