Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On The "Faith" of Mother Teresa: John Ortberg Strikes Out

Posted by Christine Pack

In a recent article for Christianity Today (10/17/11), John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, addressed the issue of "When God Seems Far Away" with an account of Mother Teresa's life. Ortberg talks about Mother Teresa having an on-fire faith for Jesus as a young woman...but then at some point, suddenly and inexplicably, the "fire" goes away. And not only goes away, but stays away. In her struggle to understand why her "God" had deserted her, Mother Teresa wrote a number of letters over a long period of time (50 years), letters which were published posthumously, and which, rightfully, raised questions about Mother Teresa's spiritual status when she died.

Ortberg writes that during this period of spiritual desolation, "a wise spiritual counselor told (Mother Teresa) three things she needed to hear." These three things were:
First, that there was no human remedy for this darkness. (So she could not control it.) 
Second, that "feeling" the presence of Jesus was not the only or even the primary evidence of his presence. (Jesus himself said that by their fruit—not their feelings—you shall know his true followers.) In fact, the very craving for God was a "sure sign" that God was present—though in a hidden way—in her life. 
Third, that the pain she was going through could be redemptive. That Jesus himself had to experience the agony of the Absence of God: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" His suffering redeemed us. Like him, Mother Teresa could suffer redemptively by clinging to God in the midst of darkness. (online source)
While this person who counseled Mother Teresa might have been considered wise by the world's standards, let's look at this counsel as compared to the Word of God:
(1) "(T)here was no human remedy for this darkness." 
This is actually a true statement in that there is no human remedy for the kind of spiritual darkness experienced by Mother Teresa. However, we know from Scripture that not only is Jesus light, and brings spiritual light to his followers, but that his followers are also characterized by this light: 
“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) 
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
(2) "(T)he very craving for God was a 'sure sign' that God was present—though in a hidden way—in her life."
In my own life, sadly, I can attest that before being born again I had a deep craving to know God and be connected to God. But my heart was not oriented toward the true God of the Bible. However, we know from Scripture that we are made in the image of God, and because of this, we are all - lost and saved alike - spiritual beings who are oriented toward worship (or, "craving" for God). And being thusly made, we all can, and will, worship. The question is: is our worship rightfully oriented toward God? or is it oriented toward the false god(s) conjured up in our vain imaginations? Having a "craving for God" does not prove that the true God of the Bible is present; it merely proves that one is human and is spiritually oriented toward some kind of worship. Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hindus and Buddhists all seek after God, or so they think. But their "sincerity" does not somehow transform their seeking into true worship. And as Mother Teresa was a practicing Roman Catholic, what evidence is there that she sought the God of the Bible, as opposed to the false, and changeable, "God" of the Roman Catholic church?
(3) "(T)he pain she was going through could be redemptive."
This idea of redemption-through-suffering is far more Roman Catholic than it is Christian. Writes Tim Challies in his article The Myth of Mother Teresa:  
“The common belief is that Mother Teresa worked with the sick and destitute to lovingly return them to health. An examination of her missions will show that this is far from the case. Mother Teresa believed that there is spiritual value in suffering. Once, when tending to a patient dying of cancer, she said 'You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.' (Christoper Hitchens - The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, p. 41). For this reason she would not prescribe pain killers in her clinics, choosing instead to allow her patients to experience the suffering that she believed would bring them closer to Christ. (my emphasis)
So Mother Teresa apparently "ministered" to people in her care by allowing them to suffer pain unrelieved by pain medication under the Roman Catholic delusion that their suffering had redemptive powers. But from Scripture we know that redemption comes through repentance and faith in Christ's atoning death for the forgiveness of sins, and no other way.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  (John 14:6)
There is also, more importantly, evidence that Mother Teresa withheld the life-giving truth of the gospel message from those in her care who were dying, and would instead encourage them to pray to the "god" of their particular religious faith, whatever that might be. Here is even more troubling evidence that Mother Teresa herself was in all likelihood not saved herself.
I consider this article by Pastor John Ortberg to be a big swing and a miss, and also a real missed opportunity to exhort Catholics to reject the teaching of salvation by sacraments/works/suffering (as taught by the Catholic church) and come out from that dark, spiritual bondage and into the light - the true Light - that only comes by hearing the true gospel message and being born again by faith in Christ alone.

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Mother Teresa
The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa A Lost Soul

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest....From Darkness to Light

Far From Rome, Near to God

Proclaiming the Gospel: The Ministry of Mike Gendron (former Roman Catholic)

CNN Reports That Mother Teresa Underwent Exorcism

BBC Reports About Exorcism Performed on Mother Teresa

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (courtesy of former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mother Teresa In Her Own Words

Posted by Christine Pack 
Mother Teresa
We never try to convert those who receive [aid from her organization] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. Growing up in love they will be nearer to God and find him in his goodness. Every human being comes from the hand of God and we all know what is the love of God for us. My religion is everything to me but for every individual, according to the grace God had given that soul. God has his own ways and means to work in the hearts of men and we do not know how close they are to him but by their actions we will always know whether they are at his disposal or not. 
Whether you are a Hindu, a Moslem or a Christian, how you live your life is the proof that you are fully his or not. We must not condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. Maybe a person has never heard of Christianity. We do not know what way God is appearing to that soul and what way God is drawing that soul, and therefore who are we to condemn anybody? It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation. This is the way God comes into his life.” (Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, pp 81, 82, my emphasis)
A nun who had worked with Mother Teresa was once asked, with respect to the Hindus they ministered to, “These people are waiting to die. What are you telling them to prepare them for death and eternity?” Mother Teresa replied candidly, “We tell them to pray to their Bhagwan, to their gods.”

“Are you not afraid of God? You call him Ishwar, some call him Allah, some simply God, but we all have to acknowledge that it is He who made us for greater things: to love and to be loved. Who are we to prevent our people from finding this God who has made them — who loves them — to whom they have to return?” (Letter from Mother Teresa to Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai)
In an interview with her biographer, the following exchange was recorded:
Biographer Naveen Chawla: “Do you convert?” 
Mother Teresa: “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him.”

So our question.........Was Mother Teresa a Christian, if this was what she truly believed?

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Mother Teresa A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon, website of former Roman Catholic priest)

Explaining the Heresy of Catholicism - John MacArthur, Grace To You

A Former Roman Catholic Priest Gives His Testimony (Why Catholicism Cannot Save)

Deeds, Creeds and Mother Teresa's Despair

On The "Faith" of Mother Teresa: John Ortberg Strikes Out (Sola Sisters)

The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words (Sola Sisters)

Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith (Time Magazine)

Mother Teresa Did Not Feel Christ's Presence for Last Half of Her Life, Letters Reveal (Fox News)

BBC Reports About Exorcism Performed on Mother Teresa (BBC Archives)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is Steve Jobs in Hell?

By Jonathan Cousar, originally posted in Freedom Torch blog

I hesitated in writing this article because it has no political content whatsoever - so posting it here on seems a little out of place.  But as I watched the news over the last two days of Steve Jobs' tragic and untimely death I couldn't help but wonder, "where is he right now?"  The news stories lauded praise and not a one raised the question of where he might possibly spend eternity - which actually seems to me to be the most important question of all.

We all know the secular media isn't ever going to get into questions like that.  And we know that non-Christians will always portray a good man as meeting St. Peter at the "pearly gates" and welcomed into heaven - thanks to their goodness.  And although that's not what the Bible teaches, even many Christians seem to want to go along with that story - because it just makes everybody feel better. But shouldn't we stop offering delusion for the sake of good feelings on a matter like eternity where the stakes are so high?

What ultimately prompted me to write about this today was when I went to theGospelCoalition website out of curiosity to see if even Christian websites were talking about his eternal destiny.  If anyone was going to speak on this issue you'd think it would be a Christian website.  But it wasn't to be - so I guess ironically - it will have to come from a political website!  I was startled to find an article on theGospelCoalition site lauding Steve Jobs and suggesting the church could learn a few lessons from him!  At the end of this article the author said that "when we see those glowing Apple logos let us take a moment to honor the greatness of our God."  I was stunned by that because what we know of Steve Jobs' Buddhist and new-age spirituality is that he was fairly militant in his hostility to Christianity.

At the end of his life none of us know where Steve Jobs stood in relation to Christ, but if we go by what we did know, then the Bible says he will be spending eternity in hell.  I don't report this to you with any glee or happiness whatsoever, for indeed it is the greatest tragedy of all.

I should say that I'm writing this as a Christian to Christians, so if you're not a Christian, please forgive my expression of these Christian views here.  This is not meant to demean or in any way disrespect the beliefs of many of our FreedomTorch members.

As I've listened to the news reports of his great, life-improving achievements, I realized that I myself have great admiration for this man and his accomplishments - they've certainly improved my life as well.  But, I couldn't help but wonder where is he now, and the words of Mark 8:36 came to mind:  "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"

From a Biblical perspective, since we can't know for sure whether Jobs had a last-minute conversion, let me not pick on him personally, but use him as a metaphor for wealthy, powerful people who do die without Christ and try to picture what that experience - going from life to death - might have been like.

Try to imagine being as wealthy, powerful and influential as he was.  Imagine having so much wealth that you can speak things into existence by the very power of your words.  Imagine having everything you could possibly want at the snap of your fingers.  Imagine being able to literally call anyone in the world on your iPhone and have them take your call.  Celebrities, presidents, corporate chieftains, actors/actresses.  Is there anyone who would not have taken a call from Steve Jobs?  Imagine the sensation of having that kind of power and influence in the world.

You're a true Master of the Universe, you're respected, honored and adored universally.  And then suddenly - you die.  And you die without Christ.  In an instant you've lost everything.   At the moment of your death you make the most horrifying discovery that everything written in the Bible you rejected, was true. You enter into the most horrible place you've ever imagined. While people are still lauding you with praises back here on earth you have just entered a place where the screams alone are unbearable. The heat is unimaginable. Think of the tragic victims of 9/11 who were forced to jump from the highest floors. The heat was so intense that a jump from the 100th floor became the more attractive option. Now, imagine a fire unbearably more intense than that. When you arrive you hear people screaming in agony, screaming that there's no escape - it's too late. And suddenly you're faced with the reality that you are going to be there FOREVER! For ETERNITY and there's no way, nothing at all, not a single possibility you can ever get out.

Imagine going from your beloved earthly reality to that Biblical reality - in an instant.

Christians don't talk about this often anymore and I'm not sure why. It's Biblical reality.

But we really need to think about it. Liberal pastors like New York City's Tim Keller says, "the primary purpose of salvation is cultural renewal - to make this world a better place." But is it really the PRIMARY purpose? What about ETERNITY and where we spend it? Is that not made more important by the sheer fact that it will go on and on forever?

While liberal pastors and theologians are busy at work thinking of ways to minimize the Biblical doctrine of hell, many more people are ending up there because they're not being taught the truth.

In Philippians 3:18-21 the Bible tells us:
"For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their future is eternal destruction.  Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth.  But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.  And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere." (my emphasis)
Liberal pastors, theologians and writers like Tim Keller, Rob Bell and yes even C.S. Lewis, tell Christians they shouldn't talk about eternal damnation and hell and fire and brimstone, because they say, it turns people off from the Gospel!  But, it is an integral part of the Gospel!  It's like saying "don't tell people what the Gospel says because it might turn them off from the Gospel"!

Without a clear Biblical understanding of hell, we humans have no way of understanding just how bad even the least of our sins are to God.  And don't we use this same principle in our criminal justice system?  Don't serious crimes get harsher punishments?  And don't criminals, even the ones who think there is nothing wrong with committing the crimes they've committed, understand by the harsher punishment that society judges their crimes as more serious? You see, without knowing the punishment, we can't truly understand the seriousness of our crimes - or our sins.

It's only when we look at the serious nature of the eternal punishment that we can begin to faintly come to grips with the serious depravity of our human nature.  And it is only when we begin to understand the seriousness with which God considers our sins that we begin to dimly understand our need for a savior.  And it is only when we begin to understand our need for a savior that we begin to understand just how wonderful the word Gospel - which means Good News - really is.  For indeed, it is glorious news to learn that God has acted in human history to save us from the eternal punishment our sins have earned us.

I think it's fitting to close with the story that Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  The points of this story that haunt me are that hell is absolutely horrible and there is no way of ever getting out of it or getting any relief from the eternal pain and torture.
Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed and who lived each day in luxury.  At his door lay a diseased beggar named Lazarus.  As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man's table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.  Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried and his soul went to Hades.  There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham. 
The rich man shouted, "Father Abraham, have some pity!  Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in great anguish in these flames." 
But Abraham said to him, "Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing.  So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.  And besides, there is a great chasm separating us.  Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here is stopped at its edge, and no one there can cross over to us."

Then the rich man said, "Please Father Abraham, send him to my father's house.  For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won't have to come here when they die."  But Abraham said, "Moses and the prophets have warned them.  Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to." 
The rich man replied, "No, Father Abraham!  But if someone is sent to them from the dead, they will turn from their sins."  But Abraham said, "If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead."  
Now that by bringing the Biblical doctrine of hell to you, I have thoroughly succeeded in making everyone despise this God who would send us to such a horrible punishment, I have to remind you, that's not the whole story. There's one more part. The knowledge of an eternal hell makes the words of John 3:16-18 truly wonderful.  These words people have read so many times that they're sick of them.  But you can only be sick of these words if you don't understand that without them you too would spend eternity in hell.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.  There is no judgment or condemnation awaiting those who trust him.  But those who do not trust him have already been condemned for not believing in the only Son of God."
photo credit: Sean Molin Photography via photopin cc

 Additional Resources

How Steve Jobs and Christ Defeated Death and Preached the Gospel

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What does the Hebrew word "day" in Genesis 1 mean?

Posted by Christine Pack, from the Answers in Genesis website:

In this challenging presentation, Ken Ham clears up some common misunderstandings about the debate over Genesis 1 and “six days” of creation.  He addresses questions and topics such as: 
➤ Can the Hebrew word “day” in Genesis 1 mean anything other than an ordinary 24-hour day? 
➤ Why do so many Christian leaders reject the clear teaching of Genesis 1 about ordinary days? 
➤ The real danger of arguing that the “days” of creation are long ages—it allows death and disease before sin 
➤ The church’s general compromise with evolution’s long ages is undermining the biblical worldview
Go here to access your FREE video download

 Note to Readers 

I can't even begin to express how instrumental Answers in Genesis was in helping to form my biblical worldview. As a new Christian, I was still pretty evolutionary in my thinking. Then along came AIG.  I remember going through their LONG list of scientists on staff and just being amazed! And here's why: I had always been told and taught, from grade school all the way up through college, that science had "proved" evolution. Evolution was "fact." So, having had this life-long indoctrination, the first time I ever heard of "Young Earthers" as a new Christian, I immediately thought "cult!" But then several years later, along came Answers in Genesis, and here were all these scientists on staff, many of them with multiple and advanced degrees in the sciences.  In other words, it's not like these were guys with their PhDs in Literature or something, weighing in on subjects they hadn't studied. These were scientists who had studied Archaeology, Biology, Zoology, Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Palaeontology, etc., etc., and who, after studying the evidence, were saying, "It points to Young Earth, and here's why...." Bottom line: I just really like how these scientists, working alongside Answers in Genesis, have turned that condescending, worldly dismissal of the Young Earth view on its ear. There are no "village idiots" in this bunch, my friends. You can say a lot of things about this group of scientists, but one thing you can't say is that they're stupid. In fact, I believe that God is using the ministry of Answers in Genesis to respond to the mockers of this age:
"It is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.' Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Corinthians 1:19-20)

 Additional Resources 

Radioactive and Radiocarbon Dating with Dr. Andrew Snelling

The Grand Canyon: A Trickle of Water Over Millions of Years? Or A Deluge of Water Over a Brief Period?

Answers in Genesis

Answers in Genesis Curricula

Answers in Genesis for Kids

Answers in Genesis Articles Archive

The Creation Museum

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rick Warren Recommends Pagan Mantra "Technique" For Christians

Posted by Christine Pack

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback church in California, made a tweet today recommending a pagan mantra "technique" for Christians to do when they pray, with a link to a site that teaches exactly how to do it. First, here's the tweet:

Now, for comparison purposes only, please compare the above Centering Prayer "technique" recommended by Rick Warren to this one from a Buddhist website:

Why am I showing what Buddhist meditation looks like? Well, as regular readers of this blog know, I came out of the New Age, and while in the New Age I practiced many different types of mystical meditation (Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, pagan, etc.). And because of this, I can therefore attest that what Rick Warren is promoting is exactly like what I practiced as a New Ager doing mystical meditation. The only thing that differs between so-called "Christian mysticism" and pagan mysticism is the "device" used for emptying the mind. And sadly, the big thing in churches now is to try to make this pagan practice "Christian" by adding Christian terminology. But the addition of Christian terminology does not somehow "sanctify" this practice and make it Christian. Any time a Christian hears the word "technique" they should run for the hills. We do not need a technique for approaching God! We approach him through the shed blood of Christ, and this is what we place our faith in. We are to be people of faith, which means we walk by faith and not by sight. In practical terms, this means that we do not require tangible experiences that we can point to to convince us that we are close to God. We are close to God because we know we have approached him on his terms: through faith alone in Christ alone. Remember that Jesus said, after offering up his hands and his side for Thomas to examine, that there was a blessing for Christians who would come later who would believe without requiring some tangible, experiential "proof" of God:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Yes, it is fine to go to a quiet place, calm the mind, maybe even take a few deep breaths. But focus on a word or phrase until one's mind is emptied? No! Doing this technique puts a person into an altered state of consciousness, where the mind is not engaged. Once a person has used the technique to "park" the brain, he or she is still awake and somewhat aware but his or her God-given boundaries are down. So what happens to a person in this state? Mantra meditation is so very seductive because it generates a very powerful experience, an experience that is very real and feels very spiritual, and which deceives one into feeling as if they are actually encountering "God." But let us not forget our warning from Scripture:
"No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."(2 Corinthians 11:14)
Also, the Bible NEVER tells us to circumvent the mind to go to God.....instead, it tells us:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30, my emphasis)
And also this:
"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7)
"Meaningless repetition?" If that's not a description for pagan, occultic, mind-altering, mantra meditation, I don't know what is. Friends, this is dangerous, dangerous stuff. Beware, beware, beware.

 Additional Resources 

Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Good-O-Meter

Posted by Christine Pack

 Additional Resources 

When You Die, Will You Go To Heaven? The Most Important True/False Test You Will Ever Take

The "Good Person" Test...Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?

Testimony By Former Teen Actor Kirk Cameron

Rick Perry's Florida Co-Chair Pam Olsen Clearly Teaching Dominionism/7 Mountain Mandate

Posted by Christine Pack

The reason this matters is because Pam Olsen is co-chair of Rick Perry's Florida Presidency leadership team. Rick Perry has attempted to distance himself and has said (along with his supporters) that he is NOT a Dominionist. And yet here is Perry's Florida co-chair clearly teaching Dominionism and the 7 Mountain Mandate.

 Additional Resources 

Rick Perry and His Dominionist Ties

"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