Friday, October 28, 2011

“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you and persecute you.”

by Jeremy Clarke, Legacy Baptist Church, Northwest Arkansas
The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:22-25)
As you may recall, Luke is giving an account of Paul’s second missionary journey and recent entrance into Philippi of Macedonia.  Paul and Silas have just seen the conversion of Lydia, and shortly thereafter are met by a demon-possessed slave girl who has chosen to follow them in an effort to discredit their ministry…namely, by incessantly barking a feigned expression of the gospel. Paul, in exasperation, finally orders the demon to evacuate the young girl, much to the disappointment of the girl’s masters who were profiting from her demon-possessed antics.  Being none too happy about Paul’s vindication of their human side-show, they apprehended Paul and Silas and literally drag them to the marketplace to stand before the chief magistrates where they begin issuing accusations against Paul and Silas, even suggesting that they have somehow brought the entire city to a point of chaos (v20) in their proclamation of the gospel.  By this time a frenzied mob begins to form with an insatiable appetite for injustice, it would seem.

With this context in mind, we pick up Luke’s account now in verse 22: “And the crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them, and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

Well, to the untrained eye it would seem that these wicked masters have had their way. They’ve incited the entire town to rise up against our two missionaries...and by now, Paul and Silas must have been saying between themselves, “How in the world has all of this come about?” I mean, they’ve only been in town a few days (v12). Now, all of a sudden, they find themselves naked (disrobed), encircled by a frenzied, boiling mob in the center of town…and the magistrates (supreme officials; towns usually had 2 of them) have just “order[ed] them to be beaten with rods.” And what is the indictment brought against them? Well, verse 21 says they were accused of “proclaiming unacceptable customs.”  Interestingly, the indictment is not that they’ve vindicated the slave-girl, but rather, that they are proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ…and for their testimony of Jesus Christ they have come under this severe persecution and punishment.

Now this should not surprise us, should it?  Paul said to his protégé Timothy in Phil 1:29, “To you it has been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  That seems pretty clear to me.  In other words, union with in Christ will be accompanied by suffering for Christ in the world…and both have been granted to the Christian for the sake of Christ.  The Lord Jesus Himself spoke of our imminent persecution in Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when [not if] men cast insults at you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:11).  Now listen, the persecution of a Christian by the world is the world’s response to the Christian’s message of Jesus Christ; of repentance, and faith, and purity.  Paul states it as clear as it can be stated: “All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). It is the inescapable lot for the genuine Christian.

As one theologian said, “A wolf is not going to devour a plastic sheep.” How true!  In other words, the world may dislike, but it will not persecute a counterfeit Christian.  The world may scorn but it will not martyr a hypocrite.  Make no mistake, beloved, persecution is a testimony to the genuineness and reality of the Christian faith.  And I’ll say further, if you profess Christ and have never come into the experience of some level of persecution, you can at least doubt the genuineness of your outward testimony and you may have reason to doubt your profession. It is folly to suggest that God’s people and can be distributed throughout a godless world system and not experience the hostilities of that system against the testimony and message they bring. You must expect to find some form of scorn from the world.

Well, Paul and Silas don’t need anyone to tell them that.  They come into intimate proximity with scorn and persecution under these magistrates who have just ordered their flailing and beating. And for that special task of punishment they deploy some very hardened men known in these ancient communities as the “Lictors.” Allow me to introduce you to them.

Lictors were Roman civil servants assigned with the task of serving as bodyguards for the local magistrates (officials).  And to aid his work, a Lictor carried a “peacemaker” of sorts; a bundle of individual birch rods approximately 4 feet in length which he bound together by a red leather ribbon to form one tight column of solid rod.  In the center was a small ax that was carried in order to carry out impromptu executions.  So picture something like a meter-foot long nightstick weighing 4-5 pounds with a small ax head protruding outward. Now, these Lictors would lean these rods up against the shoulders much the same way a rifle might be carried today, and 10 to 12 of them would form a collective rank in front of the magistrate to which the were assigned.  Wherever the magistrate went, the rank of Lictors went, escorting him like special police entrusted to ensure the magistrate’s safety, and also to keep the local peace within the community. On occasions when civic conflict arose, these Lictors would become instruments of punishment by the magistrate’s command, and were often ordered to arrest and punish (or punish, then arrest, as we’ll see shortly) citizens that were appeared to be creating unrest.

Well with that context in mind, we see more clearly what is taking place on the occasion that Luke records here for us.  The local magistrates, with this growing mob looking on, has ordered their 10-12 Lictors to beat Paul and Silas with these meter-long, 5 lbs rods (ax heads removed).  Further, verse 23 states that our missionaries were struck, not a few times, but rather, “…they had inflicted many blows upon them.”  The word “many” literally suggests the idea that someone had lost count.  It speaks of a great number.  Further the world “blows” speaks to what is called a “stripe” or a heavily inflicted wound.  So Paul and Silas were beaten times without number in a way that inflicted very deep/heavy wounds…as one might expect when being flogged by a 4-5 pound, 4-foot long column of tightly wound birch rods.

Verses 23 and 24 go on to state that, following their beating, the magistrates had Paul and Silas “...thrown into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks.”  That word “thrown” is also interesting.  It means “to let go of a thing without caring where it falls.”  So that’s Paul and Silas’ introduction to their new quarters – they’re just thrown in wherever they may land – didn’t matter; just tossed in the hole – that’s the picture here.  I can assure you that in those days, prisoners there had far more reason to talk about prisoners’ rights than prisoners do today.  The inner prison noted here is nothing more than a large, dark hole carved out of rock.  The sanitary conditions, rodents and insects alone would have made this imprisonment unbearable. And keep in mind, Paul and Silas have probably had their backs beaten to a very threatening point, medically speaking, and are now placed in this dark, filthy hole, the floor of which is no doubt covered by a thick layer of human excrement. Further, their feet have been placed into stocks, which I learned were wooden holes situated in a way that stretched the legs so that they would cramp constantly.   Miserable, miserable conditions for a healthy man…let alone two severely beaten men.

But verse 25 reveals the testimony of 2 men who, by God’s grace, saw every circumstance through the grid of God’s providential purpose.  That is, they considered themselves prisoners of the Lord, not of these magistrates…and in that mind-set, verse 25 records: “But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” I don’t have the white space to go into this verse in detail.  We’ll have to dedicate doing so to next week’s article. The short of it is this: These two men endured their circumstances by turning to our all-sufficient Lord in prayer, and by reminding themselves of His intimate love for them by way of singing hymns that saturated their minds with reminders of the care and concern of God for His people.  And soon, God would transform the circumstances of these men to place them as conduits through which to bring about the conversion of their contemporary hardened Roman jailer….and one of God’s elect. How instructive for us, beloved.

photo credit: Image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries.

 Additional Resources 

On Serving One Another In Love

Discontentment Is A Sin

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sola Sisters Interview

Posted by Christine Pack

Thank you to Amy Spreeman and Mike LeMay of Q90-FM's "Stand Up For the Truth" radio program for having both the Sola Sisters on their radio show....including the mostly silent Sola Sister (Cathy Mathews). We shared our testimonies of coming out of the New Age and occultism, and we also discussed how we are seeing some of the same things we did in the New Age creeping into the church, only now, these practices have been cleverly repackaged with Christian terminology.

The program can be listened to in its entirety here.

After the Darkness, Light

Posted by Christine Pack (another essay on the Reformation, this one by my younger son)

From the 5th century to the 15th century, a spiritual darkness gripped  the world. This period of time was known as the Dark Ages (sometimes also known as the Middle Ages), and was a time of war, disease, and famine. Centuries before this time, God's own Son, Jesus, the light of the world, had come to offer his life for the sins of mankind.  But now the true Church, the one set up by Jesus, had been persecuted horribly and driven underground. So the greatest problem for the people who lived in this period was not their suffering.  It was Satan's spiritual deception—the Catholic Church which had come to dominate the world, masquerading as Christ's true Church.

The Catholic Church looked in many ways like the true church.  It taught some true things of God: the biblical timeline, the creation, the fall, and the death and resurrection of Jesus. There was, however, one important flaw amongst the teachings of the Catholic Church, one mistake that was sending thousands of people to Hell.  The Catholics believed that Jesus had NOT paid it all.  The way to get to heaven, they taught, was to get there through works.  The Bible says this is wrong.

During the Dark Ages, the Bible was only viewable by priests, and then only the most highly educated ones could even understand it.  But, from about 1400-1550, some brave men started smuggling Bibles into Europe and other countries, and translating the Bible into different languages.  This was called the Reformation.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther was one of the best known characters of the Reformation.  Luther became a monk after he prayed during a frightening thunderstorm, asking for God to protect him.  God brought him through the storm, and Luther kep his promise to God.  While he was a monk, he wrote 95 challenges to the Roman Catholic Church, or theses, as most people tend to call them.  He understood from reading the Bible that the Catholic Church was wrong in what they were teaching the people. What the priests taught the people kept them in spiritual darkness.

John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale and others also played important parts in the Reformation, but Martin Luther is the one that we know best today, because of the dramatic thunderstorm, the 95 Theses, and his part in God's plan to pierce the spiritual darkness of the Catholic Church, letting the light of God's truth into the world.

 Additional Resources 

The Reformation (a short paper on the Reformation by my older son)

"Luther" - the full length movie available at Amazon

The Reformation: Post Tenebras Lux

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with."

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

According to the video above, Mark Driscoll has embraced a dangerous false teaching in which Christians are taught what amounts to hand-to-hand combat with demons. This bizarre teaching was once confined to the hyper-charismatic denominations but has now invaded mainstream evangelical Christianity. (Incidentally, this teaching is also pervasive in C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation.) This teaching instructs that Christians are authorized by God to deal directly with so-called territorial demons, in which a Christian must "reclaim" dominion over a territory (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, etc.) that has been given over to demons due to personal sin. A recently published book (by Karl Payne) that is endorsed by Mark Driscoll might give us some insight into how and why Driscoll thinks the demon world should be directly engaged. From the publisher's notes:
"Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance is a transferable, step-by-step training manual on spiritual warfare. It focuses on clarifying and explaining "how to's" for recognizing and resolving attacks from the world, the flesh and the devil." (online source, Amazon)
Mark Driscoll's endorsement of Karl Payne's Spiritual Warfare book:

From the Appendices, Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance (pp 240-242)

On a personal note, my sister and I both have had first-hand experience with so called Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministries, having both been personally involved with these ministries as very new Christians. We will be writing more on this in upcoming posts, but suffice it to say, we both came out of those experiences strongly committed to warning others about the unbiblical nature of such ministries.

While we both recognize and affirm that there IS a spiritual battle raging all around us in the unseen realm, we strongly disagree with those who believe and teach that the Bible instructs us to engage demons directly, as Mark Driscoll is discussing in the video above.

At the end of this article are a number of resources which were extremely beneficial in helping both me and my sister form a more biblical worldview. Coming out of the occult as we both did, we were virtually sitting ducks for deliverance ministries. Although we were true, born again Christians, realizing how much occultic stuff we had done - and at the same time having a very high view of God and not wanting to sin against Him - rendered us very vulnerable to suggestions to get rid of past curses, generational sin, etc. through unbiblical binding/loosing and deliverance ministries. These ministries, however, instead of helping us, led us into darkness and despair.

More to come on this....


 Radio Series 

Spiritual Warfare According to the Warfare Worldview - Part 1, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
C. Peter Wagner, Bob Larson, Greg Boyd and others teach a worldview in which the well-being of Christians depends on interactions between spirits and humans. They claim there is a spiritual legal system that must be uncovered and used to fight the spirits.

Spiritual Warfare According to the Warfare Worldview - Part 2, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
We examine the claims of proponents of the warfare worldview that suggest we need to gain information from shamans, New Agers, and even demons themselves in order to do battle with spirits. They create a spiritual technology based on secret information.

Spiritual Warfare According to the Warfare Worldview - Part 3, presented by Bob DeWaay &  Dick Kuffel
C. Peter Wagner says that we need to use "relatively new spiritual technology" based on information not found in the Bible. He says that we need to take this secret information and do "field tests" in the world of the spirits.

Spiritual Warfare According to the Warfare Worldview - Part 4, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
In this final message, we summarize the claims of the warfare worldview and show that the only logical conclusion one can come to from that perspective is that he or she is cursed and it is hopeless. We give the alternative.

False Spiritual Warfare Teachings - Part 1, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
This program examines the claims of those who teach that Adam gave world dominion to Satan and that the church has to get it back through unbiblical spiritual warfare techniques. We show the dangers of dominion theology.

False Spiritual Warfare Teachings - Part 2, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
This program examines shows how unbiblical spiritual warfare teachings deny God's sovereignty over all things. We show that denying God's sovereignty leads to many unbiblical errors and creates confusion in the minds of Christians.

The Bondage Makers - Part 1, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
Pastor Bob offers a frank discussion of the years he spent in deliverance ministry during the 1970's, the problems with such ministries, and how God helped him out of his errors. He explains the differences between the warfare and providential worldviews.

The Bondage Makers - Part 2, presented by Bob DeWaay & Dick Kuffel
Pastor Bob offers a frank discussion of the years he spent in deliverance ministry during the 1970's, the problems with such ministries, and how God helped him out of his errors. He explains the differences between the warfare and providential worldviews.


False Spiritual Warfare Teachings: How the Church Becomes Pagan

How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage: A Warning Against the Warfare Worldview

The Dishonoring of God in Popular Spiritual Warfare Teaching: Refuting the Bad Theology Espoused by Spiritual Warfare Teachers

Binding and Loosing, Part 1: False Spiritual Warfare Teachings

Binding and Loosing, Part 2: False Spiritual Warfare Teachings

Generational Curses: Biblical Answers to Questions Raised by the phrase "visit the inquities to the third and fourth generation"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Reformation

Posted by Christine Pack (a short paper written by my oldest son)

After Christ's death and resurrection, the true church was driven underground by fierce persecution. During the Middle Ages, Satan's counterfeit church (the Roman Catholic church) began to gain control over the citizens of Europe. This happened because of the deceit of the Catholic church and its leaders. Many lies spread by the Catholic church served to keep the people in spiritual bondage. One lie was that the priests could pray to help deceased loved ones enter into heaven. The church was “selling” these prayers for money. Another lie of the false church was that dying people should deed their properties to the priests. This lie also served to enrich the Catholic church. Unsurprisingly, at this time, the Catholic church grew in power and control over the people.

The printing press
The beginning of the Reformation was, surprisingly, the printing press. Who would have thought such a humble invention would bring about such great things? Soon, the Bible and other books were being spread throughout Europe. Yet, there was another problem. The Bible had not been translated into the common languages of the people of Europe. Only priests and trained scholars could read the Bible, and they weren't exactly about to spread the Good News of how man was reconciled to God. They were too entrenched in their luxurious lifestyles. This is why the printing press did not bring about dramatic changes at first; that is, until a certain man came along. This man was Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a scholar born into a highly educated family, whose father desired for him to become a lawyer. At one point in his life, being afraid of a fierce storm, Martin Luther prayed and vowed that he would be God's servant if God would deliver him from the storm. God spared his life and Luther became a monk. But Luther became angry at the Catholic church because he read in the Bible that salvation was through grace alone by faith alone in Christ's atoning death – and this was radically different from what the priests taught the people.

Martin Luther acted boldly to free the people from spiritual bondage. He wrote ninety-five points (or theses, as they came to be known) that directly challenged the teachings of the Catholic church, and which explained to the citizens the treachery of the church leaders. He then nailed these Ninety-Five Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany! This act was the spark that ignited what came to be known as The Reformation. Martin Luther, along with others, worked to translate the Bible into the languages of the people. Those who fought for truth, and against the teachings of the Catholic church, were called “Protest-ants,” (because they were protesting against Rome) and eventually became known as Protestants, a designation still used today. The Reformation was the way that God brought the light of truth into the darkness that characterized most of the known world during the Middle Ages. To God be the glory!

 Additional Resources 

After The Darkness, Light (another short paper written by my youngest son)

Answers in Genesis FREE Weekly Download - "The New Answers DVD"

Posted by Christine Pack, from the Answers in Genesis website:
What do you really believe—and why does it matter to your life, your family, and your faith? 
We live in a culture with more questions than ever—questions that affect one’s acceptance of the Bible as authoritative and trustworthy. This video download features easy to understand answers to some of the most important apologetics quandaries of today. You’ll love these highly stylized mini-interviews, featuring authors from the best-selling books. This DVD contains twelve answers, each about 4-minutes in length. 
This DVD answers the following questions: 
- Did Humans Really Evolve from Apelike Creatures? (Menton) 
- Does the Big Bang Fit with the Bible? (Lisle) 
- What’s Wrong with Progressive Creation? (Mortenson) 
- Is the Intelligent Design Movement Christian? (Purdom) 
- Can Creationists Be “Real” Scientists? (Lisle) 
- What’s the Best “Proof” of Creation? (Ham) 
- Doesn’t the Order of Fossils in the Rock Record Favor Long Ages? (Snelling) 
- Why Is the Scopes Trial Significant? (Menton) 
- Was the Dispersion at Babel a Real Event? (Hodge) 
- When Does Life Begin? (Mitchell) 
- Does Radiometric Dating Prove the Earth Is Old? (Snelling) 
- How To Respond to Someone Who Asks, “Why Is This Important?” (Ham) 
Concise and fast-paced, this cutting-edge video download is especially great for teens and young adults. (Ten of the answers are based on topics in The New Answers Book 2, and two are totally new.)
Go here to access your FREE video download.

 Special 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 

Answers in Genesis FREE Weekly Download - "Why Won't They Listen?"

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 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

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Is The New Apostolic Reformation? (And Why Should We Be Concerned About It?)

Posted by Christine Pack

[UPDATED: Please note that John MacArthur addressed the New Apostolic Reformation in his 2013 Strange Fire conference, as well as in his book by the same name.]

"It is not new, it is not apostolic, and it is not a reformation." 
(John MacArthur, on the NAR)

We all know about pandemics, right? The World Health Organization will often track a virus that is in pigs or birds or some other known animal carrier.  The virus being tracked could stay within its animal group for years, not causing problems for humans, but sometimes, for reasons unknown, the virus will unexpectedly "jump" from its animal humans.  That's what the scientists are always concerned about, and when that happens, they sit up and take notice, and start churning out public service warnings, because they know that this previously harmless virus could potentially turn into a very dangerous, and deadly, pandemic.

In somewhat the same way, a new movement - with some pretty strange beliefs - inside of Christian evangelicalism called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has gathered lethal momentum very unexpectedly.  This movement had up until recently only been taught and believed inside the hyper-charismatic movement (think IHOP, Kansas City Prophets, Mike Bickle, etc.). But now, having somehow "jumped" from its normal carrier, rather than being "contained" as a strange belief system that would only impact a limited number of people, it suddenly began to go viral when big names on the political right began to align themselves with the big names from the charismatic Christian side.

Why exactly has the NAR, which makes alarming use of militant "warfare" language and talks of "taking dominion" over the world "one mountain at a time," gotten so big, so fast, and with so many big political names attached? In my view, it's because there are many on the political right, who, despite their moral/Judeo-Christian underpinnings, have a tendency to be more invested in political strategy, power and numbers than in sound doctrine and biblical truth. Thus, to the political right without discernment, Numbers = Power. And I suspect this is what happened: they looked out over the landscape of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement (which is an extremely large segment of professing Christians), decided this was representative of "Christianity," did the math, and then jumped on board.

The 7 Mountain Mandate
But let me back up here and give a little background information about the NAR. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), as I noted, is a movement that has its roots in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements (Latter Day Rain, Kansas City Prophets, International House of Prayer-IHOP, Joel's Army). This movement is loaded with self-appointed "apostles" and "prophets" (who take Ephesians 4:11-13 out of context to to defend the idea that the office of apostle and prophet are still valid today). The leaders of this movement believe and teach that Christians have a mandate to reclaim "for Christ" Seven Mountains of influence, which they have designated as:
1 - Business
2 - Government
3 - Family
4 - Religion
5 - Media
6 - Education
7 - Entertainment 
This movement and its 7 Mountain Mandate has been very enticing to Christians who hold to a Dominionist view, which is the idea that the church's role is to "take back" dominion of the earth from Satan. This is based on a faulty understanding of Psalm 8:6 and Genesis 1:26. Dominionists assume (wrongly) that the dominion God gave to Adam and Eve extended to the spiritual realm (not just the physical realm), and that they therefore had the power and ability, when they sinned, to give the world over to Satan. Dominionists think that they are mandated by God, through these misinterpreted Scriptures, to take back all these spheres of influence, thus reclaiming the world spiritually for God, and then Christ will return. This view has also been extremely seductive to the Conservative Right, because hey, the idea of knuckling down and working hard is what America is all about, right? So there you have it: combine the errant "doctrine" of Kingdom Now/Dominionism from the Pentecostal/Charismatic camp with the moralism of the Conservative Right, and you've got one dangerous pandemic, because both groups, in their own ways, are tremendously influential and powerful.

Who are the players in the NAR movement? It's a long list that is growing longer by the day, but below are some of the names currently associated with the NAR. And please note that the presence of a name on this list does NOT mean that the person in question showed up only one time on a random list somewhere or attended one NAR conference, and then disassociated themselves. Each person on this list has had repeated associations and/or dealings with the NAR, and without any record of concern over the heretical theology of the IHOP/New Apostles aspect of the NAR. Now having said that, this doesn't necessarily mean that all who are on the list are high level movers and shakers in the NAR......I do think that some could be somewhat innocent as to the core theology they've become yoked with. So my article is not an attempt to smear or slander anyone, but to highlight some repeated associations that are causing concern:

Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding, CA) 
C. Peter Wagner 
Bill Bright 
Mike Bickle 
Rick Joyner 
Chuck Pierce
Pat Robertson 
"Joel's Army"
"Latter Rain" 
"Manifest Sons of God" 
Cindy Jacobs 
Mike Jacobs 
Lou Engle 
Ché Ahn 
Todd Bentley 
Dutch Sheets 
Jim Garlow 
Os Hillman 
Paul Cain  
Chuck Colson 
Lance Wallnau 
Loren Cunningham 
George Otis, Jr. 
Ed Silvoso 
Jack Hayford 
Tommy Tenney 
Charles Kraft 
John Eckhardt  
Bill Hamon 
The NAR is capturing the hearts and minds of many conservative Christians with the enticing idea of "saving" America though Christian activism. In truth, Christians are not ever, anywhere in Scripture, promised easy lives, or even the "right" to live in freedom. But please note that the siren lure of political activism is nothing new. Do we not remember that even Jesus's disciples repeatedly jockeyed for position in the earthly kingdom they wished for and desired for Jesus to institute?
"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34)
And even after Jesus's resurrection, they were still questioning Jesus about the earthly kingdom they hoped would be coming in their lifetimes:
"So when they met together, they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?'" (Acts 1:6)
The NAR teaches that, through the advancement of medicine, science, technology and the gospel, this world is getting better and better. That through strategically "capturing" each of the designated "mountains," we will set up Jesus' earthly kingdom, and that once we have accomplished this, Jesus will return as the glittering jewel in the crown of his earthly kingdom. But is this true? Is this what the Bible teaches? Let us let Scripture lead us on the matter of Jesus' kingdom:
"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.'" (John 18:36, my emphasis)
The life of a born again Christian is not complicated. Become reconciled to a high and holy God through the shed blood of Jesus, share the gospel, be persecuted, and die. But the seductive lure of an earthly life in which we (the Christians) control the earth and all that is in it, is a dream that dies hard. And now the NAR, with its utopian vision of heaven on earth, has once again showed us that very few people are willing to do as Jesus taught us, and that is to "Count the cost" (Luke 14:25-35) and "Take up your cross and follow me"(Matthew 16:24). Flee from this movement, my fellow Christians.
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Prov 14:12)
A Personal Note: Please send this article to your loved ones so that they can be on the look-out for this dangerous movement sweeping through Christianity. We consider this to be one of the most important articles we've written to date. And please understand that we have only scratched the surface in this article. Unfortunately, the NAR is such a massive movement, with so many tentacles, and so many people involved, that it was almost impossible to talk about it concisely. It is almost unfathomable how many churches have been devastated by this movement. Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear from at least one person who has personally had to flee a once solid church because this teaching has suddenly swept in, or someone who has watched a loved one be seduced by it, or someone who has even been unwittingly swept up in this movement themselves.

photo credit: alexperuso via photopin cc

 Books Warning About The New Apostolic Reformation 

"Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets" (Keith Gibson)

"A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement" (Doug Geivett and Holly Pivec)

 Interviews About The New Apostolic Reformation 

"NAR 101" Holly Pivec Interviewed on Pirate Christian Radio

Doug Geivett Interviewed on Stand To Reason (STR) Radio Show

Doug Geivett Interviewed on Apologetics 315 Radio Show

God's Super-Apostles: An Interview with Doug Geivett

Holly Pivec Interviewed on View From The Bunker 
(Note: I don't recommend the View From The Bunker website, only this interview)

Holly Pivec Interviewed by Michael Boehm

 John MacArthur/GTY Warnings About Self-Appointed Prophets/NAR  

Charismatic Chaos Sermons Series

Strange Fire Conference Audio

"Setting The Record Straight On The Work of the Holy Spirit"

"The Apostles Who Don't Do Anything: The New Apostolic Reformation"

"Discernment and Disaster"

"False Apostles and the Case of Todd Bentley"

"Refuting the 7 Mountain Mandate - GTY Question and Answer Session"

"Marks of a True Apostle: Foundation of the Church"

"Marks of a True Apostle: Unique Ministry Duties"

"Marks of a True Apostle: Appointed by Jesus"

"Marks of a True Apostle: Witness of the Risen Christ"

"Is God Still Revealing Truth?"

 Critical Issues Commentary (CIC) Radio 

CIC Radio Show Re: NAR, False Prophets and Apostles 

 Critical Issues Commentary (CIC) Articles 

Apostles and Prophets and the Foundation of the Church: Biblical Exegesis that Proves that Only the New Testament Apostles are Authoritative

The New Apostolic Reformation: A Warning About Latter Day Apostles

John the Baptist and Prophets to Nations: Biblical Evidence that Between John the Baptist and the Two Prophets in Revelation, There Are No Prophets to Nations

The Pitfalls of False Prophets: Why the Predictions of Errant Prophets are Worthless

The Colossian Heresy: How Rick Joyner's Claimed Visit to Heaven is a Direct Example of the Colossian Heresy

The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation: Exposing the False Teachings of C. Peter Wagner and Bill Hamon

Mike Bickle and International House of Prayer: The Latter Rain Redividus

The Dominion Mandate and the Christian Reconstruction Movement

 Herescope Articles Re: NAR 

The Coalescing of the Christian Right with Apostolic Dominionism

The 7 Apostolic Spheres (NAR's "7 Mountain Mandate")

The Tea Party's Strange Bedfellows and What They Believe 

C. Peter Wagner and the NAR

 Herescope Radio 

What Is Dominionism? (an interview with Herescope's Sarah Leslie, beginning at 1:08:00 min mark)

 Misellaneous Articles Warning About NAR 

The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception (Steve Kozar)

The Fault Lines of Theonomy/Christian Reconstruction

What Is Dominion Theology? (Pastor Gary Gilley)

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?