Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tim Keller on Whether or Not Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews are Saved After Death

Posted by Christine Pack

Martin Bashir: Do you believe that there is only one God, and that there is only one way to approach that God? 
Tim Keller: If....yes, if.....okay, yes, if....I'm speaking as a Christian here.....if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, if he is the Son of God from heaven, if he is, uh, if he really was bodily raised from the dead, and if he was our original Creator, I mean if all that's true, that's what he says, then of course there'd have to be just one way to God, because our souls would need him, or they would shrivel eternally, just like your body needs food or it would shrivel. I mean, the fact is my body here needs food or it would shrivel, that's not narrow-minded to say, that's just the way it is. If Jesus is who he said he is, then our souls would have to get him in order to be eternally full and thrive. And if we don't get him, then we would eternally shrivel. So to seems so narrow, to claim that there's only one way to God, to say that actually precludes the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is. I mean, if he is who he says he is, then that's what we're - that's what we have to say. 
If he's not who he says he is, then of course it's narrow ..... So basically you have to sit down and ask yourself the question about the facts about Jesus' life and look at that. And not say, "I don't even want to look at Jesus, I don't even want to hear the claims of Christianity because they seem so exclusive." 
Martin Bashir:  So where does that leave the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews?  Are they sadly and completely deluded? 
Tim Keller: People who never heard about Jesus, or never really got a hearing about Jesus... 
Martin Bashir: I'm not talking about them, because some of those people have heard (about Jesus). I'm talking about the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews who have heard about Jesus. Where does your thesis leave them? 
Tim Keller: Where they are right now, it means that if there's never any change, they don't get Jesus. If he is who he says he is, then, long term, they don't have God. If on the other hand.....all I can always say about this is God gives me, even as a minister with the Scripture, a lot of information on a need-to-know basis. And a need-to-know basis means, "Here's all I can tell you: unless you get Jesus Christ who created you to start with, unless you are reunited with him sometime, there is no eternal future of thriving." It just makes sense. Again, I'm trying to go back to this idea that, that, if he is who he says he is, you've got to have him.  If right now a person doesn't have him, he or she needs to get him. If they die and they've never, if they die and they don't have Jesus Christ, I don't know. In other words, I have a need-to-know basis, the only thing I know is you need Jesus. I certainly know that God is wiser than me,  more merciful than me, and I do know that when I finally find out how God is dealing with every individual soul, I won't have any questions about it. 
Martin Bashir: Okay, but if this is the only way to God, and if Christians are heading for a place called "heaven," does that mean, therefore, by deduction, that millions of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, all of whom hold their faith with enormous integrity, all of them are heading for hell? 
Tim Keller: There's a lot of people who are born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and they grew up in First Baptist Church there, who are also headed for a Christless eternity. Every human being chooses an identity. It's either chosen-- it's either based on the grace of God, or it's basically based on your own performance, and your own ability, and therefore on your own self. And if a billion years from now, you've put your hope in the grace of God, you will be beautiful and happy. If you, a billion years from now, you've put your, you've based your identity on your own self and your own abilities and your own performance, you'll be miserable. In fact, you can see it even now. Self-centered people are miserable even now, not a billion years from now. So, there are plenty of people who're raised Christians, there are plenty of people who were raised in First Baptist Church, but in their hearts, have not turned toward the grace of God. People in other religions, unless they find Christ, I don't know any other way (to heaven), but I also get information on a need-to-know basis. If there's some, if there's some trapdoor, or something like that, I haven't been told about it. But I also don't know. I guess I want to know this: I want to know when a person says, "I need to know everything about how God is going to deal with, you know, all eternity, with all individuals before I can bite down on Christianity," I feel that you actually are maybe projecting your American democratic individualistic understanding of (who God is). You really want a president or a governor or a mayor. You don't really want a King, and I can understand that, because human kings, human beings, are flawed, and therefore, monarchy was not a very good approach to things. But if you have a perfect God, a perfect King, who comes and suffers in (the person of) Jesus Christ, then at a certain point, I trust him.
 Sola Sisters Commentary 

This response by Dr. Keller is troubling for several reasons, but for now, I'll just put this partial transcript (with my emphasis highlighted in red) "out there" for readers to ponder.  Further commentary to come soon.

 Additional Resources 

What Is A Christian Universalist?

"The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life" Not So Wonderful

By Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers for the New Age - CANA)
August 2011

Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow’s book, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, alternates chapters by Beck with those by Dr. Ablow. Beck reveals a painful past struggling with his destructive alcohol addiction and his search for spiritual meaning. Ablow, in his chapters, comments on Beck’s entries, relates anecdotes from his practice as a psychiatrist, expounds on the seven wonders, and offers advice for the reader dealing with similar or other issues. The “seven wonders” from the title are courage, faith, truth, compassion, friendship, family, and common sense.

What people should know is that this is yet another self-help book based on the (unbiblical) belief that people “are inherently good” (165).

 Glenn Beck 

Early in the book, Beck states the false assumption that God is “in everything and everywhere and inside me, too” and that God “will not let me rest until I took the journey to find my pure personal truth and full potential” (58). Beck does not give a basis for this conviction except to quote Exodus 3:14 where God gives his name as “I AM.” Beck also gives a rendering of this as “He who is ever becoming what He is,” a phrase repeated throughout the book by both Beck and Ablow.

Beck writes that he read New Age bestselling author James Redfield’s book, The Celestine Prophecy, which teaches an idea called synchronicity (see CANA article on The Celestine Prophecy). This concept fascinated Beck.

Synchronicity as a theory originated with occultist psychiatrist Carl Jung, and was the name for his proposition that seemingly unconnected coincidences are in reality meaningfully connected. After reading Redfield’s book, Beck decided to look for synchronicity in his life and follow up on them. One of these trails of synchronicity concerned his friend Pat Gray, a Mormon, who, over the years, expressed his desire to tell Beck about the LDS faith (Latter Day Saints). Beck states that he was often working at jobs connected to Mormons – radio stations owned by Mormons (in Seattle and Provo, Utah), or he had Mormon coworkers. This connection with Mormons happened often enough for Beck to view this as synchronicity.

Giving in at last to Pat Gray’s invitation to attend a Mormon service, Beck visits with his family.  In a class called Gospel Principles, Beck asks the teacher, “Where’s Gandhi? He didn’t accept Jesus as his savior, so is he burning in Hell?” (Reading this evoked a flashback for me of Rob Bell’s use of this issue for his book Love Wins). Beck expected that the answer would be that although Gandhi had been a good person, he was in hell (147). So to Beck’s surprise and delight, he discovered that Mormons believe that people have a chance after death to believe in Jesus, and that there is no actual hell, only “the Hell of realizing you could have been with your loved ones and your Heavenly Father and His Son, but you’re not” (148-149). [Note: Mormons deny the Trinity so their Heavenly Father and His Son are separate, the Son being the created offspring of Heavenly Father and his wife].

Beck once again uses the “I AM” phrase to mean that one’s “path is to forever evolve into yourself; to always be striving to become the person you are supposed to be” (150-151). This begs the question: Supposed to be based on what?

Beck refers approvingly to writer Jon Kabat-Zinn as a “physician and author” (89). However, Kabat-Zinn is not a physician. Rather, he is a follower of Zen Buddhism whose mindfulness stress reduction method is unfortunately being taught and used in hospital centers across the country (see CANA article on Mindfulness).

 Keith Ablow 

Ablow also makes assumptions, such as “you are permanently, irrevocably connected to truth” and “divine power” is in everyone (71). He refers to the Bible but interprets it from a New Thought perspective. New Thought, a movement birthed with angel whisperer Emanuel Swedenborg, gained steam in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. New Thought, which claims to be Christian, teaches that every person is innately divine, that man’s problem is that his perception of God and man has been warped by traditional Christianity, and that the man Jesus came to correct this wrong thinking (see CANA article on New Thought). The New Age movement blended in large amounts of New Thought along with tenets from Gnosticism and Eastern religions. New Thought added an apparent big dose of Christianity to New Age.

Citing a Vedic (Hindu) story, Ablow states that “the entire universe, according to Vedism, can revolve around one person’s inner resolve to find truth and pursue his or her destiny” (79). Going further, he refers to the “Gnostic religion” as “an offshoot of Christianity,” and states that Gnosticism teaches the value of “remembering who you truly are, not who you have allowed yourself to become” (83). He also quotes a Gnostic writing that one “who knows himself, knows the depth of all things” (84). Ablow is taking liberties in trying to make Gnosticism sound like a modern self-help philosophy. In actuality, these Gnostic statements refer to the belief that man is actually a spirit being from a remote God who is trapped in a body in the material world. The key to liberation from the material world is to know the secret Gnostic teaching that one is truly a spirit and thus learn how to escape the body. That is what “knowing who you are truly are” is about. Frankly, these ideas are not far from the New Thought worldview, so it is no surprise that Ablow is sympathetic to Gnostic thinking.

Ablow also quotes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas that “if you know yourself then you know the Kingdom of God” (84). These Gnostic teachings are at total variance with the Bible, and thus should be immediately rejected by Christians. One does not know the kingdom of God by knowing one’s self! Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God, and it is only through faith in the true Jesus that one becomes a part of and enters the Kingdom of God.

Ablow, in true New Thought/New Age fashion, believes in an energy that flows throughout the universe from which one can draw. He states that the reader can tap into this, that it is a “force that was inside your soul from before your birth and is inside your soul this very moment. It will never leave you. You can rely on it. It is nothing less than your connection to God” (113). In this view, God is a source of energy; He becomes merely a tool that enables you to achieve and succeed, to reach your “full potential.” This is pure New Thought.

As a true New Thought New Ager, Ablow cites a variety of religious sources: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, New Age, and others. He devotes almost a whole page to a quote from Ernest Holmes (1887-1960), a New Thought pioneer and founder of the Church of Religious Science (176-177). Clearly, Ablow is on the same spiritual wavelength as Ernest Holmes, not just due to this quote in the book, but based on what he is saying about one’s potential and innate connection with the energy from God.

 “God Wants You to Have Your Moment” 

Despite the God talk and references to Jesus, this book is all about you. You have a vast potential that has its very source in God. This remains untapped until you realize it and make use of it. “God Wants You to Have Your Moment,” writes Beck (220).

Ablow refers to “the miracle of spirit, of God, that has lived inside you from long before you were born” and you must now connect with that (85).

Misquoting the biblical statement, ”You are the temple of the Holy Spirit” as “You Are the Temple of God,” Ablow uses this to bolster his message that everyone is a temple of God, meaning that everyone has God in him and her (283). That everyone is divine and is part of God and/or has God in them is a core New Thought and New Age doctrine and is a major theme of the book. “Every single one of us has magic inside us that can transform our lives and the lives of others” declares Ablow (283).

Faith and truth are the two most distorted of the seven wonders in this book. There is nothing in the book about man’s need for redemption because man’s inner divinity is assumed, and everyone is innately connected to God and part of God. There is no message about faith in the true Jesus Christ, and it would be surprising if there were since neither Beck nor Ablow are Christians.

The term “I AM” is never clarified in context and it is never explained why it implies we are all part of God. Beck quotes the biblical story of God giving this name for Himself to Moses, and then Beck immediately begins to misinterpret and misapply it as meaning that God is in everyone. However, although God is everywhere, He is distinct from His creation. He is not part of it.

“I AM” is God’s name, not a name for man, and it has nothing to do with man reaching his full potential or having an inborn divine nature. But since Mormons believe that God was once a man and that man can evolve toward godhood, and since New Agers have a belief about being in process of uncovering their true God Self, Beck and Ablow together forge a harmonious but poisonous message. Unfortunately, this message ignores the holiness and other-ness of God, and denies man’s sinful nature and need for salvation. God is undermined and man is built up, principles that are twin cornerstones of New Thought and New Age philosophy.
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. Who is like Me? . . . Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” Isaiah 44:6b, 9b 
[Jesus speaks] “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Revelation 1:17b-18 
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58 
[Jesus speaks] “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

photo credit: Psychology Pictures via photopin cc

photo credit: Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

I'm Sorry, Glenn....It's Over. It's Not Me, It's You.

Potentially Millions of Evangelicals Compromising the Gospel by Joining With Glenn Beck

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rick Perry and The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)

By Justin Edwards, airĊ blog, reprinted with permission

There have been many warnings over the last few weeks with regards to Rick Perry's The Response prayer event in Houston, Texas on August 6, 2011.  I shared Brannon Howse's warning on the blog a couple of weeks ago, and other warnings can be seen at Sola Sisters, an extensively detailed piece from Apprising Ministries entitled IHOP Enters Dominion/Christian Rights Politics, another piece from Howse titled The Emergence of The New Religious Right And Its Threat To The Church, Chrystal Witt's piece Divorcing America from Baal?, and Marsha West's response post-prayer event that offers great insight to the good, the bad, and the ugly that took place at The Response.

What, or who, exactly has Rick Perry aligned himself with?  The links above clearly show what is taking place behind the scenes unbeknownst to many conservative Christians.  Many participated or supported Perry's prayer event  last week, including best-selling author and watchman on the wall, Joel Rosenberg.  In fact, Rosenberg said in this article the day after the prayer event:
Some evangelicals were critical of "The Response." They urged people not to attend because they have serious and fundamental theological differences with some of those involved in the event. A few emailed me and urged me not to participate. I heard those concerns and I have strong disagreements with some of the participants, too. But the truth is the vast majority of organizers and participants of this prayer meeting were theologically, morally and ethically solid evangelical, Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ.
It is unfortunate that Rosenberg has not done his research and cannot see the undercurrent of deception that is taking place.  What's more, despite the "serious and fundamental theological differences" and having "strong disagreements with some of the participants," he chose to endorse the event anyway.

(UPDATE 9/9/11: Please click here to read an encouraging report about a recent conversation between Brannon Howse of Worldview Matters and Joel Rosenberg regarding The Response prayer event.)

Those whom we have serious and fundamental theological differences with happen to believe that before Christ will return to this earth, it is the church's mandate to pave the way for the Kingdom, that Christ won't return until the Kingdom has been established by Christian world domination.  This domination, according to dominionists, will occur by taking over the government and cultural landscape.  Lighthouse Trails has a recent piece titled, Will the Evangelical Church Sell Out the Gospel for a Dominionist Political Agenda? that offers the following definition:
The Gospel of Salvation [according to dominionism] is achieved by setting up the “Kingdom of God” as a literal and physical kingdom to be “advanced” on Earth in the present age. Some dominionists liken the New Testament Kingdom to the Old Testament Israel in ways that justify taking up the sword, or other methods of punitive judgment, to war against enemies of their kingdom. Dominionists teach that men can be coerced or compelled to enter the kingdom. They assign to the Church duties and rights that belong Scripturally only to Jesus Christ.
These, then, are not merely "strong disagreements" that we can just push to the side for the sake of unity as Rosenberg has suggested.  The compromise at hand is one that is centered on the Gospel and has major implications for the Body of Christ, of which many believers are being deceived into co-mingling, or even substituting, patriotism and moralism with our mandate in the Great Commission.  As was said in this article concerning Glenn Beck and Evangelicals from last year, "we must not compromise the Gospel on the alter of ecumenical patriotism!"
With this background, I now share with you something from the secular media.  I by no means am a fan of Rachel Maddow, but she brings up some very serious concerns even though the root of her concerns are not the same for Christians.  The following video [removed from YouTube due to copyright infringement] shows just who Rick Perry has aligned himself with, and that the New Apostolic Reformation has chosen him to be their vessel to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  After showing various clips of C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, and John Benefiel, Maddow closes with the following:
Rick Perry did not just do a prayer event in Texas that was a no-non Christians allowed event, Rick Perry did a prayer event that involved a specific Christian political movement, a movement that has political goals, and wants a political vehicle, and that seems to want a Rick Perry presidential candidacy to be their political vehicle.  The Texas Observer begins its story about these new self-styled apostles with a story about a visit two of them paid to Governor Perry in Austin in 2009, quote, "The pastors told Perry of God's grand plan for Texas.  A chain of powerful prophecies had proclaimed that Texas was "The Prophet State," anointed by God to lead the United States into revival and Godly government.  And the governor would have a special role."  The New Apostolic Reformation appears to have chosen Rick Perry as their candidate, as their vehicle for their political goal, which is of course, world domination, blah blah blah.  Rick Perry is announcing his unofficial start to his presidential campaign this weekend in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa, after hosting a stadium prayer event with all of these folks, and frankly, getting away with no one in the beltway media reporting on who those folks are or why they did just this stadium prayer event with Rick Perry.


So the secular media is picking up that these self-appointed prophets and apostles are getting behind the presidential candidacy of Governor Rick Perry.  They have seemingly "chosen Rick Perry as their candidate, as their vehicle for their political goal, which is of course, world domination".  This is not just something to have "strong disagreement" with, but to accept that we indeed have "serious and fundamental theological differences" that include the Gospel itself.  As such, we have clear guidance from Scripture as to what to do in this type of situation:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,  “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
We must separate ourselves from these false teachers, and continue to admonish, rebuke, and warn our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being caught up in the deception of ecumenical patriotism.

At this point, I do not see myself getting behind Rick Perry, even if he is a born again believer.  He is clearly deceived and lacks discernment, and if his candidacy has any role in the NAR, Joel's Army, the Manifests Sons of God, Latter Rain, etc., gaining a foothold stronghold, then I want nothing to do with it and will continue to sound the alarm against it.

photo credit: eschipul via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Joel Rosenberg, NAR, IHOP – Encouraging News

Say No to Rick Perry's "The Response" Prayer Event

Do Not Be Deceived

Potentially Millions of Evangelicals Compromising the Gospel by Joining With Glenn Beck

I'm Sorry, Glenn....It's Over. It's Not Me, It's You.

"Why I Believe Christians Should Not Participate in Governor Perry's "The Response" and Why It is NOT "Just A Prayer Event" (by Brannon Howse)

Pastor Justin Peters Explains Why the Word of Faith Movement is Dangerous and Unbiblical - Part 1

Pastor Justin Peters Explains Why the Word of Faith Movement is Dangerous and Unbiblical - Part 2

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Makes Strange Bedfellows

Do You Love Christ? True versus False Conversion

Posted by Christine Pack

J.C. Ryle
1. If we love a person, we like to think about him.
We do not need to be reminded of him. We do not forget his name or his appearance or his character or his opinions or his tastes or his position or his occupation. He comes up before our mind’s eye many a time in the day. Though perhaps far distant, he is often present in our thoughts. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! Christ "dwells in his heart," and is thought of more or less every day (Eph. 3:17). The true Christian does not need to be reminded that he has a crucified Master. He often thinks of Him. He never forgets that He has a day, a cause and a people, and that of His people he is one. Affection is the real secret of a good memory in religion. No worldly man can think much about Christ, unless Christ is pressed upon his notice, because he has no affection for Him. The true Christian has thoughts about Christ every day that he lives, for this one simple reason that he loves Him.

2. If we love a person, we like to hear about him. We find a pleasure in listening to those who speak of him. We feel an interest in any report which others make of him. We are all attention when others talk about him, and describe his ways, his sayings, his doings and his plans. Some may hear him mentioned with utter indifference, but our own hearts bound within us at the very sound of his name. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ. The true Christian delights to hear something about his Master. He likes those sermons best which are full of Christ. He enjoys that society most in which people talk of the things which are Christ’s. I have read of an old Welsh believer, who used to walk several miles every Sunday to hear an English clergyman preach, though she did not understand a word of English. She was asked why she did so. She replied, that this clergyman named the name of Christ so often in his sermons, that it did her good. She loved even the name of her Savior.

3. If we love a person, we like to read about him. What intense pleasure a letter from an absent husband gives to a wife, or a letter from an absent son to his mother. Others may see little worth notice in the letter. They can scarcely take the trouble to read it through. But those who love the writer see something in the letter which no one else can. They carry it about with them as a treasure. They read it over and over again. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian delights to read the Scriptures, because they tell him about his beloved Savior. It is no wearisome task with him to read them. He rarely needs reminding to take his Bible with him when he goes a journey. He cannot be happy without it. And why is all this? It is because the Scriptures testify of Him whom his soul loves, even Christ.

4. If we love a person, we like to please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions, to act upon his advice and do the things which he approves. We even deny ourselves to meet his wishes, abstain from things which we know he dislikes and learn things to which we are not naturally inclined, because we think it will give him pleasure. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian studies to please Him, by being holy both in body and spirit. Show him anything in his daily practice that Christ hates, and he will give it up. Show him anything that Christ delights in, and he will follow after it. He does not murmur at Christ’s requirements as being too strict and severe, as the children of the world do. To him Christ’s commandments are not grievous, and Christ’s burden is light. And why is all this? Simply because he loves Him.

5. If we love a person, we like his friends. We are favorably inclined to them, even before we know them. We are drawn to them by the common tie of common love to one and the same person. When we meet them we do not feel that we are altogether strangers. There is a bond of union between us. They love the person that we love, and that alone is an introduction. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian regards all Christ’s friends as his friends, members of the same body, children of the same family, soldiers in the same army, travelers to the same home. When he meets them, he feels as if he had long known them. He is more at home with them in a few minutes, than he is with many worldly people after an acquaintance of several years. And what is the secret of all this? It is simply affection to the same Savior and love to the same Lord.

6. If we love a person, we are jealous about his name and honor. We do not like to hear him spoken against, without speaking up for him and defending him. We feel bound to maintain his interests and his reputation. We regard the person who treats him ill with almost as much disfavor as if he had ill–treated us. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian regards with a godly jealousy all efforts to disparage his Master’s word, or name, or church, or day. He will confess Him before princes, if need be, and be sensitive of the least dishonor put upon Him. He will not hold his peace, and suffer his Master’s cause to be put to shame, without testifying against it. And why is all this? Simply because he loves Him.

7. If we love a person, we like to talk to him. We tell him all our thoughts, and pour out all our heart to him. We find no difficulty in discovering subjects of conversation. However silent and reserved we may be to others, we find it easy to talk to a much–loved friend. However often we may meet, we are never at a loss for matter to talk about. We have always much to say, much to ask about, much to describe, much to communicate. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian finds no difficulty in speaking to his Savior. Every day he has something to tell Him, and he is not happy unless he tells it. He speaks to Him in prayer every morning and night. He tells Him his wants and desires, his feelings and his fears. He asks counsel of Him in difficulty. He asks comfort of Him in trouble. He cannot help it. He must converse with his Savior continually, or he would faint by the way. And why is this? Simply because he loves Him.

8. If we love a person, we like to be always with him. Thinking and hearing and reading and occasionally talking are all well in their way. But when we really love people we want something more. We long to be always in their company. We wish to be continually in their society, and to hold communion with them without interruption or farewell. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The heart of a true Christian longs for that blessed day when he will see his Master face to face, and go out no more. He longs to have done with sinning and repenting and believing and to begin that endless life when he shall see as he has been seen, and sin no more. He has found it sweet to live by faith, and he feels it will be sweeter still to live by sight. He has found it pleasant to hear of Christ and talk of Christ and read of Christ. How much more pleasant will it be to see Christ with his own eyes, and never to leave him any more! "Better," he feels, "is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire" (Eccl. 6:9). And why is all this? Simply because he loves Him.

J.C. Ryle 
Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots

 Additional Resources 

Daily J.C. Ryle

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nondenominational Meditation?

By Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers for the New Age - CANA)

The attempt to market Eastern forms of mediation as “nondenominational” and as secular practices continues. A recent Washington Post article from September 2, 2011 has a write-up on classes on meditation led by someone from a Buddhist group in Wash. DC, the Insight Meditation Community. The classes are offered in a Unitarian Universalist Church right outside DC in Bethesda, MD.

 Excerpt from the article

“Brach says over-thinking, sometimes to the point of obsessing, is typical for those who don’t meditate habitually”


It is a hallmark of Eastern meditation, especially Buddhist, to make thinking a sort of enemy. Buddhism is not against thinking per se but teaches that our thoughts and thinking prevent us from realizing spiritual truths and “awakening” to reality. Since Buddhism believes that the perceived reality of the material world and the self are false, Buddhism therefore believes that our thoughts come from these perceptions of the false reality (and create them). Therefore, the thoughts reflect and perpetuate false views. Sometimes, thinking is termed “monkey chatter” (also in Hinduism).

 Excerpt from the article 

“Each evening concludes with a dharma talk, where Brach offers teachings on a broader issue related to living in a “mindful” way.”


Please note the word “dharma” in the above sentence. Dharma is a distinctly Buddhist concept. If anyone is teaching about “dharma,” then it is not “non-denominational.”

Here is a link to the article (the whole section is 5 pages, but the section on mediation is only one page and part of another, p. 1 and part of p.2)

There is one comment on the article – by me! Here it is:
“The section on meditation states that the classes are "nondenominational." That is somewhat misleading. I am sure the classes are for anyone but what is being taught is not nondenominational, unless one wants to say Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhism is, however, one of the major religions of the world. Mindfulness is part of the Noble Eight-fold Path. The techniques will alter one's outlook, but people should know that it will be altered in a religious way that sees the world the way Buddhism sees it. How many Americans, I wonder, know that Buddhism teaches there is no self? Mindfulness is not nondenominational and is not intended to reduce stress. It has spiritual intentions that enhance the Buddhist worldview.”

photo credit: [c] via photopin cc

 Additional Resource: 

Christian Answers For the New Age Article on Mindfulness

Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse in Healthcare

Christian Answers for the New Age (CANA) - Research website of Former Professional Astrologer/New Ager Marcia Montenegro

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Living The Christian Life - A Mystical Secret? The Life of Hannah Whitall Smith

By Francis MacDonald, Lamps Burning blog

 Living The Christian Life - A Mystical Secret? 

Her life seemed to be an unbroken chain of tragedies. Nevertheless she penned one of the most popular Christian devotional books ever written. She had discovered the "secret of happiness" even in the midst of unspeakable loss and sorrow.

Single minded, sometimes impulsive, unorthodox and more often than not, very controversial. All this and more would fail to encompass the fascinating person and life story of Hannah Whitall Smith.

Blessed with a keen intellect, inquiring mind and indomitable will, this remarkable woman's influence is realized even today on society at large and western Christianity in particular.

The latter alone necessitates a closer look at Hannah Smith and her famous Christian classic, The Christian's Secret Of A Happy Life.

 Early Life 

Born on February 7th, 1832, Hannah Tatum Whitall Smith was the firstborn daughter of John Mickle Whitall and Mary Tatum Whitall. Her parents were devout, prominent and influential members of the Quaker community of New Jersey.

Hannah was married on November 5th, 1851 to Robert Pearsall Smith, also descended from the same Quakers of that area.

Her very early life, up to the age of about sixteen, has been described as being very unremarkable, with Hannah apparently experiencing a very happy childhood in a stable albeit very strict Quaker home. As with most of us, we are at least in part the sum total of our early childhood and life experiences, be they good or ill. This holds true of Hannah, who was undoubtedly influenced strongly by the mystical approach to God that characterized the Quaker's belief system and practices. It would appear unmistakable that such beliefs informed her worldview and were instrumental in her "discovering the secret" to a satisfying, or as she would characterize it, a "happy" Christian life.

 Crisis of Faith and Subsequent Conversion 

At around the age of sixteen, Hannah became very distressed over the issue of her relationship to God and had grave reservations that she even possessed salvation. She grew more and more disenchanted with the "Society of Friends" Quaker denomination and its insistence on legalistic demands upon its adherents. Her diary entries indicate the spiritual bondage she experienced in trying to be and do good absent a relationship with Jesus Christ. That all changed some years later at a prayer meeting revival in 1858 at which Hannah and her husband professed conversion to Christ. At great personal loss and banishment by many of their family members, both Hannah and Robert resigned from the Society of Friends.

 Early Evangelical Influences 

Hannah's first instructors under the evangelical umbrella were members of the Plymouth Brethren. She was excited to be learning the Bible but soon took offence to the Biblical notion that God would somehow choose some for salvation in Christ but leave others to perish in their sin.

She could not reconcile in her mind how an all-loving God could do such a thing and vowed she would never be able to worship and serve such a cruel divine being as she perceived taught in the Brethren's strict Biblicism. Though not fully developed, from the very beginning it appears she believed what would later become evident from her later writings, a Christianized version of the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. It would seem Hannah had left the Quakers but Quakerism never quite left her.

Bidding farewell to the Plymouth Brethren, Hannah began attending meetings conducted by the embryonic Methodist holiness movement. In July of 1867, Hannah's husband Robert was apparently "sanctified" in true Methodist fashion at a camp meeting. Soon after they both became active members of the National Holiness Association. In short order Hannah experienced a less dramatic sanctification experience as her husband but "settled" the matter of holiness as the Methodists were wont to say.
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley preached an estimated 40,000 sermons and travelled some 250,000 miles in bringing the gospel to multitudes.
Thus, Hannah Smith and her husband Robert adopted the Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification also referred to as "entire sanctification." This somewhat complex, and Biblically debatable, view of the process of the Christian's growth in holiness (sanctification) without doubt also contributed greatly to Hannah's developing theology, as did the aforementioned adherence to the aberrant doctrine of Christian Universalism. The next major influence on the Smiths followed on the heels of these experiences in the form of a popular Christian author and speaker, whose teaching was a key impetus in the formation and subsequent flourishing of the holiness movement in the United States.

 William E. Boardman and "The Higher Christian Life" 

The Smiths were exposed to the teachings of "Deeper Life" proponent Presbyterian minister William E. Boardman at a meeting, and his impact upon them was instant and dramatic. Boardman had been experiencing tremendous success in his preaching and teaching ministry, particularly in Britain. He authored the very popular and widely read book, The Higher Christian Life (1858), which expounded his view of sanctification and which in fairness must be said differed from Wesleyan Perfectionism. In the book, he sets forth a theological view of sanctification that, if not demanding, strongly suggests the necessity of a second work of grace.

The Smiths immediately became disciples of Boardman and it appears he groomed them to become speakers promoting Holiness and the Higher Life. During the years 1873-1874, Boardman and the Smiths spread this message throughout England. Later they would take this same message to the United States as influential speakers in the Holiness Movement.

Part II coming soon...

Photo credit: {{Public domain: Information |Description= Hannah Whitall Smith |Source=Asbury Theological Seminary, B.L. Fisher Library Archives [] |Date= |Author= |Permission={{PD-US}} |other_versions= }}

 Additional Resources 

Hannah Whitall Smith's Unhappy Life (Though Her Book The Christian's Secret of A Happy Life Is Still Considered A Classic of Christian Literature)

Coming to Christ in Simple Faith

❝They that thirst and want to come to Christ must remember that simple faith is the one thing required. By all means let them come with a humble, broken, and contrite heart; but let them not dream of resting on that for acceptance. Faith is the only hand that can carry the living water to our lips. Faith is the hinge on which all turns in the matter of our justification.

It is written again and again that 'whosoever believes shall not perish, but have eternal life' (John 3:16). 'To him that does not work, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness' (Romans 4:5). Happy are they that can lay hold on the principle laid down in that matchless hymn:

 Just I am! without one plea,
Save that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come!❞

~ J.C. Ryle

 Additional Resources 

Daily J.C. Ryle


Net Hymnal / Cyber Hymnal