Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dr. James White (AOMin), Fred Butler (GTY) Weigh In On The Problem With Conspiracy Videos

Posted by Christine Pack
"I have a loved one who is into political conspiracy theories. For example, a couple of years ago, he told me a few months before the Presidential election that it would not take place because the US would be under martial law by that time and Obama would be ruler for life. Innocent citizens will be shot down by drones as they're walking down the street. The Illuminati is behind everything. There are secret military training camps hidden all over the country. His latest is hiding away survival materials in the instance that he would need to protect himself against government attacks. I'm starting to worry about his sanity. Still, he is a strong, Bible-believing Christian. Are there any biblical resources out there that I can pass along to him to perhaps persuade him to forget all this craziness and trust Christ?" (message received from a reader of our blog)
Why do people become captivated by conspiracy theories? Why do some otherwise rational thinkers begin to follow rabbit trails in their thinking, rabbit trails which conjure up all manner of nefarious mischief being plotted, when there is no evidence to support their beliefs? More specifically, why do some Christians become ensnared by such thinking, given that, of all people in the world, Christians should be those with the most hope and the most joy, and should not given to suspicious, paranoid thinking, such as is engendered by the conspiratorial worldview? Is there even a balanced way to think about conspiracy theories? What about secret plots that have existed over the years and which have come to light (such as the KGB brainwashing, Nazi human experimentation, etc.)?

With those thoughts in mind, I would like to point our readers to two of today's Christian writers who are tackling this topic of the conspiratorial worldview head on. On a recent Dividing Line program, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries discussed the production of conspiracy videos in which spooky, manipulative music and leading language take the place of actual scholarly data. The specific film being discussed was Tares Among The Wheat by filmmaker and talk show host Chris Pinto, and in this segment, Dr. White christened Pinto's filmmaking style as the "the spooky music proof approach." Unfortunately, the sad reality is that these fringy films have a way of getting around in the Christian community, and thus it is a real service to the body of Christ for our respected leaders to acknowledge that these films are out there, and take the time the refute them, as Dr. White has done. (The segment begins at about the 11 minute mark in the video below.)

(NOTE: Dr. James White of AOMin also recently participated in a public debate with Chris Pinto regarding the issue of Codex Sinaiticus as a Jesuit forgery.....you can listen to the debate in its entirety here.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Writer Fred Butler (who works with John MacArthur's GTY media ministry) has also weighed in on Chris Pinto's film with his article entitled Tares Among The Wheat, A Review. In his review, Butler noted that the reason he felt the need to review this film was because Chris Pinto has been given credibility by his association with a Christian ministry that has a number of credible teachers associated with it. From Butler's article:
"Someone who is driven by a conspiratorial world view isn’t taken seriously by most regenerated, sober-minded, Bible-believing Christians. However, within the last few years, Pinto has gained more recognition by being numbered among Brannon Howse’s Worldview Weekend ministry partners. A conspiracy theorist is featured along with other reputable Christian men including John Whitcomb, pastor Mike Abendroth, Justin Peters, and Erwin Lutzer.  That association provides him some credibility that I don’t believe he deserves, nor is it one the Christian church at large needs." (online source)
As I've written before, my own thinking became fear-based for a brief season of my Christian walk by scaremongering radio shows, websites and videos. After all, as an ex-occultist, I am fully aware that there is genuine evil out there, that occultic and New Age groups do use occultic symbols, etc., etc. It was only in conversations with my friend Marcia Montenegro (who is also a former occultist/New Ager and who writes for Christian Answers For The New Age) that my own thinking became more biblically aligned. Out of those conversations, I asked Marcia to write an article on symbols that really was a turning point in my own Christian walk as far as steadying me in this regard. (You can read that article here.) So please understand that my true desire is to exhort my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to guard their minds against this kind of fear-based teaching. God did NOT mean for us to walk in fear! Yes, it is true that Jesus, Paul, and most (if not all) of the apostles were targeted by conspiratorial groups (which were in all likelihood guided by Satan), groups that sought and achieved their deaths. And yet, Scripture nowhere exhorted them (and by extension, us) to focus on the evidences of these conspiracies, but only to continue studying God's word, growing in the faith, and sharing Christ with the lost.

 God's Sovereignty 

When I did a Precepts study on the book of Isaiah a few years ago, one of my takeaways from that year of study was a real wonder and marvel at the sovereignty of God. Such knowledge brings what can only be described as a supernatural peace, and I truly wish this kind of peace for my Christian brothers and sisters enslaved to a focus on Conspiracy Theories. In Isaiah, God reveals himself as an omnipotent being so powerful that He has the ability to swing the pagan rulers over his head like a club and mete out punishment to the Israelites using these pagan kings as a disciplining tool. He reveals himself as a God who knows the end from the beginning, as a God who sets up (and takes down) rulers, as the One who says "I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass." (Isa 46:11) Such knowledge of God should bring us peace and joy, even in the midst of this dark and crooked generation in which we live.

A very helpful passage from Isaiah 8 (below) very specifically and pointedly addresses conspiracies, one of the few places in Scripture where God does so. And before I get a barrage of emails with scriptures mentioning plots and conspiracies, please try to understand that just because there are Bible verses that do mention plots and conspiracies, this does NOT mean that Christians should extrapolate out from that that we should spend hours of our time on the internet, attempting to connect this nefarious group to that nefarious group. That's a very, very poor hermeneutic.
"For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 'Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.'" (Isaiah 8:11-13)
I have personally dealt with Christians completely ensnared to the conspiratorial worldview, and if you try to lovingly and gently point out why this type of material isn’t edifying to the Christian walk, ah well, then, *you* must therefore be part of The Big Conspiracy. You’re not a fellow Christian, you’re One Of Them. It’s very tidy, how this whole cottage industry first preys upon people’s fears and then answers back to the naysayers who would attempt to bring in a reasoned, biblical response to those ensnared by the teachings being peddled. And make no mistake: there is an entire cottage industry of these kinds of videos that lurks within Christendom, ready to prey upon Christian’s fears. Illuminati! Bilderberg! The all-seeing-eye! Oh my! It’s a real moneymaking endeavor for the person who can convince his audience that he alone is the decoder who can help them Connect The Dots, because well, they will just keep coming back for more…and more…and more. What I eventually began to realize, through God’s grace and the Holy Spirit growing me in discernment, was that God truly never meant for us to walk in fear of Satan’s schemes, but by being undergirded with the truth of God’s word which commands us to fear ONLY the Lord (Prov 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”).

In closing, I want to say clearly that while the conspiracy stuff is not considered an essential, this is still NOT a minor issue. Conspiratorial thinking is not only not edifying to the Christian walk, but as I stated earlier, nowhere in Scripture are we taught to unravel supposed conspiracies. Instead, we're to keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). I know several Christians who attest to having gotten involved with this conspiracy stuff, and that it made them fearful, anxious and perhaps even a tad pietistic (and I mean "pietistic" in the sense of feeling one has superior knowledge to other "lesser" Christians who are supposedly clueless of all these supposed secret societies actively working to do spiritual mischief). A Christian friend, who at one time was ensnared by the conspiratorial mindset, made the following remark to me:
"All I know is my family used to joke around about me wearing a tin foil hat. Were they intrigued? Yes. I could tell them all kinds of Illuminati, Masonic, Satan worship, mind stealing stories and keep them glued to my pc for hours!!! Did they get saved? No. Did they hear the gospel? Not really. They wanted to hear more conspiracy junk over what the Bible has to say. They didn't care if I had any good MacArthur downloads. I'm glad I turned away from that stuff because there isn't a whole lot I can do about the New World Order. But....God can and God is still on the throne and I'd much rather prepare myself to meet Him. He's really the one we should fear and not the Jesuits creeping around. Let 'em creep. God's watching them and they can only do what He allows. Why scare the heck out of yourselves and your loved ones? Not edifying at all."
To answer the question posed at the beginning of this article about whether or not there is a balanced way for Christians to view conspiracy theories, the answer is yes, there is. Simply put, it involves weighing actual evidence, and not just relying on anecdotal accounts or speculation. Of all people, Christians know that there is real evil in the world, and that we have a real Adversary, a real spiritual presence that is alive and well and active in the world today ("Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8). But, we also know that a sovereign Lord  rules and reigns over the affairs of man, and that what we are commanded to do is simple: contend for truth and share the gospel.
"Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'" (1 Chronicles 16:31)
"Say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns.' The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." (Psalm 96:10)
"The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake." (Psalm 99:1)
"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all." (Psalm 103:19)
"In the LORD's hand the king's heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him." (Proverbs 22:1)
"Thus says the LORD, 'Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them'" (Jeremiah 10:2)
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1)
"It is God changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." (Daniel 2:21)
"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Satan is alive and well, and is a very real and active presence in the world today. We're not to be ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor 2:11), but only in the sense that we need to know how to tear down the strongholds of worldly wisdom raised up against God's unchanging truth, and that we do by applying God's word, rightly divided, "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Cor 10:4). The answer is to refute the false beliefs with truth from God's word. Our battle is doctrinal, it has to do with ideas, not with things like decoding symbols or connecting the dots from this nefarious group to that nefarious group. With all this in mind, not only do I now refuse to have any part of any ministry actively selling videos that serve to ensnare Christians with a conspiratorial worldview, I would even go a step further and say that because I see such thinking as being so potentially damaging to the Christian walk, I believe I have something of a responsibility to actively warn against teachings that serve to create such a mindset. And thankfully, more Christians (James White of AOMin, Fred Butler of GTY, etc.) are also now beginning to weigh in on this topic. It's an important issue to address and for all of us as Christians to be mindful of as we navigate our own Christian walks.

photo credit: James Provost via photopin cc

 Resources About Conspiracy Theories 
The Christian and Conspiracy Theories (Ken Samples, Issues Etc.)
The Christian and Conspiracies (Faith Defenders)
Christians and Conspiracy Theories: A Call to Repentance (Acts 17:11 Ministry)
David Rockefeller, the New World Order, and the Necessity of Verifying Internet Quotes

 The Debate Between Dr. James White (AOMin) and Chris Pinto (Noise of Thunder Radio) 
Is Codex Sinaiticus A Modern Forgery? Dr. James White and Chris Pinto 12-11-13
In Response To Chris Pinto (Dr. James White 12-13-13)
Why The White/Pinto Debate Matters (Fred Butler, 12-16-13)
Chris Pinto vs. James White – Debate Summarized (Turretin Fan, 12-16-13)
Responses to Steven Avery's and Chris Pinto/NOTR's Counterpoints (Turretin Fan, 12-23-13)

 Miscellaneous Resources 
What is the KJV Only movement? Is the King James Version the only Bible we should use?
Textual Criticism: What Is It?
What is the KJV only movement? Should we only use the King James Version of the Bible?
What Is Textual Criticism of the Bible?
Chris Pinto's Films on YouTube's UFOTV Channel

 Dr. James White, Alpha and Omega Ministries  
The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations?
Chris Pinto's Conspiracy Theories (8-29-13)
A Discussion of Chris Pinto's "Tares Among The Wheat" (10-22-13)
Chris Pinto's Conspiratorial Worldview (12-3-13)
Very Important Debate Today on Fighting for the Faith (12-11-13)
"Ex Vampire" William Schnoebelen in Chris Pinto's Film (8-20-13)

 James White and Gail Riplinger Debate - 1993  
Introduction and Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

 Chris Rosebrough, Fighting For The Faith 
Challenging The BBC’s Higher Critics Misuse Of Codex Sinaiticus (9-18-13)

 Fred Butler (Grace To You, Hip and Thigh blog)     
Why The White/Pinto Debate Matters (12-16-13)
Tin Foil Hat Theology - Part 1 (6-5-14)
Tin Foil Hat Theology - Part 2 (6-10-14)
Tin Foil Hat Theology - Part 3 (6-26-14)
Mystic Helena Blavatsky Bolsters Chris Pinto's Case? (12-29-13)
Fred Butler: An Interview on King James Onlyism (12-6-13)
George E. Merrill on the Simonides Affair (9-28-13)
Slandering Tischendorf  (9-27-13)
Determining the Antiquity of Ancient Manuscripts (9-25-13)
Chris Pinto’s Disingenuous Response to His Critics (9-20-13)
Answering the Claims of KJV-Onlyism (6-1-10)

 Pastor Bob DeWaay, Criticial Issues Commentaires (CIC)  
King James Only? Refuting the False Conspiracy Theories of King James Only Teachers
How the KJV Only Doctrine Obscures the Truth, Part 1
How the KJV Only Doctrine Obscures the Truth, Part 2

 C. Michael Majewski, Christian Research Network (CRN)  
The Slips and Follies of the Pintonian Inquistion - Part 1
The Slips and Follies of the Pintonian Inquistion - Part 2
The Pintonian Inquistion: Scholarship or McCarthyism? - Part 3

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Thrill of Hope, The Weary World Rejoices

Posted by Christine Pack

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Posted by Christine Pack

I hope that my brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy celebrating Christmas are enjoying this season as we celebrate our Savior's birth. We are spending a lot of time in our house dwelling on the goodness of God, and on the fact that He actually chose to dwell among us as a human being, as one of us. Because of this, He is intimately acquainted with our struggles and sufferings, and can empathize with us at the deepest level. What a humbling and encouraging thing to know about our Savior! Are you weary and heavy leaden? He knows your struggles, and bids you to come to Him, for He alone will give your soul rest.
"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb 2:17-18)
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:15-16)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29) 
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

 Additional Resources 

Merry Christmas From Sola Sisters

God Came Near

The Glory of Jesus

To Christmas or Not To Christmas: That Is the Question

Posted by Christine Pack

I love celebrating Christmas! As a former New Ager, I have written before about my guilty secret of celebrating Christmas every year as a non-believer, even during the decade in which I was immersed in New Age and eastern beliefs. To the dismay of my New Age friends (palm readers, tarot card readers, psychics, reiki practitioners, etc.), every year at Christmas time, I put up a tree, decorated my house, sang Christmas carols, and endured the teasing of my more "enlightened" New Age friends who had long since cast off the traditional beliefs associated with their Judeo-Christian upbringings. And along with them, I never could quite understand why I chose to participate in celebrating Christmas. It certainly was not because I self identified in any way as a Christian (I did not). For those years of my life, my worldview was a mixed bag of New Age/New Thought mixed with eastern teachings, including reincarnation. But the idea of Christmas always seemed so hopeful to me at heart, the idea that a sovereign creator God could or would actually choose to dwell with mankind as one of us, even if I believed it wasn't true. Imagine my delight, then, as a born again Christian when I came to realize that it WAS true after all: God did become flesh, and He did dwell among us. And He did it out of his great and wondrous love for us, as part of his plan of redemption. Amazing! Obviously, Christmas took on a whole new flavor for me after that.

I still have a deep love for Christmas today, and the idea of celebrating our Savior, God in the flesh, coming to earth. Each year as a believer, it is with great joy that I embrace the Christmas season (earlier and earlier each season, my husband would hasten to point out). And while I recognize that for some, the Christmas season is one big frazzled rush, I really love the joy and sparkle and decorating and busyness of the Christmas season. My sons are still at home with us, and I like being able to advantage of the many opportunities I have to point them toward the joy of knowing and remembering and dwelling on God's goodness in providing a Savior for us, in whatever ways I can. For instance, I take great pleasure in cooking special foods that we have only at Christmas time, because I can use this as an object lesson to point my boys to God's goodness in giving us special, delicious dishes that we can look forward to and enjoy only during the Christmas season. A little taste of heaven to come, is how I frame it.

The songs we sing during the Christmas season are also a great opportunity we can use as a springboard for broaching the subject with our lost loved ones of how it is that man is reconciled to God (and WHY he needs to be reconciled to God in the first place). After all, so many of our Christmas carols are just loaded with doctrine that tell the story of Redemption in just a few verses.....and we ALL know those songs, even the lost! Christmas carols are played over and over and over all season long at Target, at the mall, at the grocery store, at Wal-Mart......they're everywhere! We go around humming and whistling these familiar tunes, many of us remembering them from our childhood. And yet, only Christians can actually explain to the lost what these songs mean.
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

(from Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

(from O Holy Night
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day,
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy!

(from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
In those verses above, you can see the eternal problem of man laid out very simply in just a few words: man with a sin debt he cannot pay, and a holy God, to whom man is accountable, stepping into history with a plan of Redemption. How simple is it to turn to someone in the store next to you and say, Aren't these Christmas carols so beautiful! Do you know the meaning of the one you are humming? I can tell you about it......

Having said all this, I have noticed in recent weeks what seems to now be an annual occurrence of Christians-shouldn't-celebrate-Christmas-because-it's-a-pagan-holiday commentary online. So to address that topic head on, I would like to first say that I would never urge a brother or sister to go against their conscience if they felt that celebrating Christmas was wrong or sinful. I don't disdain my brothers or sisters who don't have a comfort level with such celebrations, nor do I feel somehow superior in my freedom. But what I would like to point out is that a lot of this fear over celebrating Christmas (and oftentimes Easter, too) comes from misinformation attributed to an historian named Alexander Hislop. We've posted before about the myths associated with Hislop which you can read about here, myths that were formed from his own biases, and which were not actually rooted in historical data. And I would therefore urge, with all gentleness and kindness, for my fellow Christians to think this issue through biblically, historically and truthfully. After all, God is the author of ALL truth, isn't He? So truth matters.
"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!' When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them." (Luke 2:8-20)
"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11)
I would also like to ask for my Christian friends who are not comfortable with celebrating Christmas not to disdain those of us who do enjoy celebrating the birth of our Savior. After all, the gospel accounts of Luke and Matthew DO tell of Jesus' birth being proclaimed, angels singing his praises, shepherds rushing to see him, and wise men bringing him gifts some time later. So for Christmas, I feel freedom and great joy in:
......proclaiming his birth (often using Christmas as a springboard to talk about how God has sent a Savior who died for sinners);
......singing his praises;
.....dwelling on the fact that one day I will bodily be in his presence, just as those who rushed to his side that day were in his presence; and
.....exchanging gifts with my loved ones as a way of remembering the greatest Gift of all time, our Savior, who was given to us by God out of his great loving-kindness.
So again: I would never urge Christians to go against their consciences and celebrate a holiday or festival they aren't comfortable with. BUT, for those who look forward to Christmas each year so that they can celebrate the birth of their Savior (even though no-one knows the actual date of Jesus' birth), yet who have heard that they are sinning against God if they love celebrating Christmas, please read the articles linked below, and feel freedom to reclaim your joy in Christmas.
"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.......Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God." (Romans 14:1-6, 10) 
"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day." (Colossians 2:16)

 Additional Resources 

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? (Dr. John MacArthur, GTY)

God Came Near (Sola Sisters)

The Glory of Jesus (Sola Sisters)

Christmas Is Just a Christianized Pagan Holiday? Not So Fast..... (Sola Sisters)

Should We Have A Christmas Tree? (Got Questions?)

Christian Christmas Grinches (Kevin DeYoung)

 Resources Refuting the Errors of Alexander Hislop 

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

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Is Codex Sinaiticus a Modern Forgery?" A Landmark Debate Between Dr. James White and Chris Pinto

Posted by Christine Pack
Chris Pinto: "Is it not possible that within those 2,000 manuscripts that there could be the readings that you are referring to in Codex Sinaiticus? The unique readings....is that not possible?" 
Dr. James White: "Anything is possible, but that is not how you do history." 
Chris Pinto: "Have you been to Mt. Athos?" 
Dr. James White: "No, I have not been to Mt. Athos." 
Chris Pinto: "You have not been to Mt. Athos, okay. Do you believe it is possible that within the total of fifteen thousand manuscripts on Mt. Athos, because this was where the work was done, on Mt. Athos...they have a total of fifteen thousand manuscripts there, and we are told that there's at least a hundred manuscripts on Mt. Athos itself that had never been seen by the outside world.....do you believe it's possible that among those manuscripts are the three unnamed manuscripts that Simonides mentioned in his writing?" 
Dr. James White: "Well again, it's possible that the New Testament in Klingon is on Mt. Athos too, but I haven't been there, and nobody's seen them. But again, the problem in your question is that mere possibilities are not facts in evidence." (Debate, 59 minute mark)
The above exchange was an amusing moment in last night's Codex Sinaiticus debate, and was somewhat unexpected given that textual criticism, often regarded as a dry and dusty topic, is not generally given to humor. But the exchange was revealing in that it highlighted that respected Bible scholar Dr. White showed up being, well, Dr. White, thoroughly prepared and ready to go, and Worldview Weekend's Chris Pinto showed up with not much more than speculation and vague possibilities, which as Dr. White so humorously but correctly pointed out, is not the way textual criticism is done.

 The Details 

Dr. James White (Alpha and Omega Ministries) and Chris Pinto (Noise of Thunder Radio) have finally completed their much anticipated debate last night on Pirate Christian Radio. The debate topic was "Codex Sinaiticus: Is It A Modern Forgery?" (The debate can be listened to in its entirety here.)

The Codex-Sinaiticus-Is-A-Forgery argument has been trotted out time and time again to bolster the King James Only (KJVO)/Textus Receptus Only (TRO) position, a view which casts suspicion on all translations that don't come from the Textus Receptus. (Dr. James gives a brief synopsis of the KJVO movement here.) The reason this issue matters so much is because the KJVO/TRO view has produced an almost cult-like movement within Christianity, and if left unchecked, these errant teachings have a way of infecting, and affecting, the body of Christ in profoundly negative ways. Many of us as Christians have had at least some kind of experience in dealing with Kings James Only/Textus Receptus Only proponents, and we understand the difficulties in helping those ensnared in these beliefs to understand the truth.

It seems as if every generation or so, a new proponent of the King James Onlyism/Textus Receptus Only position emerges, with Chris Pinto of Noise of Thunder Radio apparently being today's bearer of that torch. But I agree with Dr. White when he stated on his Oct 22, 2013 show that "Mr. Pinto and folks like him, are a hundred years behind in scholarly study."  The fact is that all of us can, and do, make mistakes. My hope is for Chris Pinto and Dr. White to actually get together off-the-record, during which time Dr. White can bring Chris Pinto up to speed on the many, many much older fragments and whole sections of the Bible that have been found since the time of Textus Receptus that independently corroborate each other, and which sort of make the "King James Only/Textus Receptus Only" arguments obsolete. No conspiracy can account for that kind of independent corroboration.

Fred Butler of Grace To You media ministry and the Hip and Thigh blog has also recently given his testimony of being a former King James Onlyist. He describes himself as having been "known as a guy you wanted to avoid" because of his argumentative and strong stance for the King James Only position. But while at seminary, he was challenged by a friend to look at the evidence, which he decided to do. Butler went down to the seminary library and gathered up all the sources cited by Gail Riplinger in her book, and as he tells it, he knew within minutes that Riplinger was "not being honest with her research." And of course, not long after that, he came out of KJVOnlyism. (You can listen to his interview in its entirety here, starting at the 35 minute mark.)

I've also heard Bob DeWaay of Gospel of Grace Fellowship discuss the KJVO/TRO issue with respect to Gail Riplinger (the leading KJV-Onlyist of several decades ago). He makes the point that these kinds of teachings move along and gain steam because the more solid teachers might be aware of the wrong teaching and think, "Well that's absurd, no-one's going to be taken in by that," and then not think it worthy enough to even address. But unfortunately, when that happens, the errant teaching continues to grow and gain steam, and is doing damage to the body of Christ all along the way because it hasn't been definitively addressed. So it's therefore a good thing we have the James Whites and the Bob DeWaays and the Chris Rosebroughs and the Fred Butlers out there who have the will to contend, and who are willing to get in and do the heavy lifting of doing a point-by-point, scholarly refutation of the errant teaching in question.

Incidentally, I suspect that the ripple effect from this debate will no doubt continue for years to come, much like James White's debate with Gail Riplinger from 20 years ago that is still considered a landmark event, and is still discussed today. A big thank you to Dr. James White for taking the time to systematically work through the errant teachings of the KJVO/TRO position in last night's debate, and a big thank you also to Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith for setting up the debate.

Is Codex Sinaiticus A Modern Forgery? Dr. James White and Chris Pinto 12-11-13
In Response To Chris Pinto (Dr. James White 12-13-13)
Why The White/Pinto Debate Matters (Fred Butler, 12-16-13)
Chris Pinto vs. James White – Debate Summarized (Turretin Fan, 12-16-13)
Responses to Steven Avery's and Chris Pinto/NOTR's Counterpoints (Turretin Fan, 12-23-13)

 Miscellaneous Resources 
The Christian and Conspiracy Theories (Dr. Ken Samples, Issues Etc.)
What is the KJV Only movement? Is the King James Version the only Bible we should use?
Textual Criticism: What Is It?
What is the KJV only movement? Should we only use the King James Version of the Bible?
What Is Textual Criticism of the Bible?

 Dr. James White - Alpha and Omega Ministries   
The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations?
Chris Pinto's Conspiracy Theories (8-29-13)
A Discussion of Chris Pinto's "Tares Among The Wheat" (10-22-13)
Chris Pinto's Conspiratorial Worldview (12-3-13)
Very Important Debate Today on Fighting for the Faith (12-11-13)
"Ex Vampire" William Schnoebelen in Chris Pinto's Film

 Dr. James White and Gail Riplinger Debate - 1993     
Introduction and Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

 Chris Rosebrough (Fighting For The Faith) 
Textual Criticism and Higher Criticism are not the same thing (9-18-13)
Charles Spurgeon did not warn the church About Textual Criticism (which is not the same thing as Higher Criticsm) (9-26-13)

 Fred Butler - Grace To You, Hip and Thigh blog    
Why The White/Pinto Debate Matters (12-16-13)
Mystic Helena Blavatsky Bolsters Chris Pinto's Case? (12-29-13)
Fred Butler: An Interview on King James Onlyism
Tares Among The Wheat - A Review (11-26-13)
George E. Merrill on the Simonides Affair (9-28-13)
Slandering Tischendorf  (9-27-13)
Determining the Antiquity of Ancient Manuscripts (9-25-13)
Chris Pinto’s Disingenuous Response to His Critics (9-20-13)
Answering the Claims of KJV-Onlyism (6-1-10)

 Pastor Bob DeWaay - Critical Issues Commentaries  
King James Only? Refuting the False Conspiracy Theories of King James Only Teachers
How the KJV Only Doctrine Obscures the Truth, Part 1
How the KJV Only Doctrine Obscures the Truth, Part 2

 C. Michael Majewski - Christian Research Network (CRN)   
The Slips and Follies of the Pintonian Inquistion - Part 1
The Slips and Follies of the Pintonian Inquistion - Part 2
The Pintonian Inquistion: Scholarship or McCarthyism? - Part 3

 Facebook Discussions 

My personal wall
There is no pentagram in the streets of Wash DC (8-3-13)
Respected teachers today (John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul) don't teach about Illuminati (8-4-13)
Article that discredits William Schnoebelen, Chris Pinto's "expert" in several of his films (8-6-13)
Upcoming debate between Dr. James White and Chris Pinto (8-9-13)
YouTube video of William Schnoebelen, Chris Pinto's "Open Letter to Christine Pack" (8-17-13)
"Ex-vampire" William Schnoebelen (who is featured in Chris Pinto's Riddles In Stone) (8-17-13)
"An Open Letter to Brannon Howse" (8-19-13)
Update on my "Open Letter to Brannon Howse" (8-23-13)
What Susan Heck Actually Said (Compared to What Brannon Howse Says She Said) (8-23-13)

Sola Sisters wall
"My Open Letter To Brannon Howse" article (8-19-13)
Susan Heck article (8-23-13)
"My Open Letter To Brannon Howse" article [UPDATED] (8-23-13)
Susan Stilley's article "Talebearing from house to Howse" (8-23-13)
Fred Butler's critique of Chris Pinto's Tares Among the Wheat film (9-27-13)
King James Onlyism (9-28-13)
Symbols and conspiracy theories, and the proper place for them in the Christian walk (9-30-13)
King James Onlyism, Textus Receptus and Jesuit Change Agents.....oh my! (10-1-13)
GTY's Fred Butler reviews Chris Pinto's Tares Among the Wheat (11-26-13)
Conspiracy theory films, including Chris Pinto's Tares Among the Wheat   (12-2-13)
Dr. James White's critique of Chris Pinto's Tares Among the Wheat film (12-3-13)
Dr. James White debates Chris Pinto (12-13-13)
Why the debate between Dr. James White and Chris Pinto matters (12-16-13)
Conspiracy theories and the Christian (12-31-13)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mark Driscoll: "Shut Up and Do What You're Told"

Posted by Christine Pack

Mark Driscoll: "The one issue though that they were struggling with surrounded conflict and sin with two leaders. They're mentioned in chapter 4, verse 2 (of Philippians). And these two leaders had somehow gotten into sin, or pride, or folly, we're not exactly sure what. But there was contention and controversy around these two leaders. We find ourselves in exactly that same season as a church, where we recently had to discipline two senior leaders in the church. The people in the days of the Philippian church, they responded with grumbling and questioning. Many of the members of our church are guilty of those same sins. Lots of grumbling and questioning........So some of you are like, what does that mean in Greek? It certainly can't mean shut up and do what you're told? That's what it means."
If a pastor ever tells you that asking questions about an elder leaving is a sin, well, you might want to think about looking for another church. This is how cult leaders talk. Cult leaders demand blind obedience and will try to tell you that asking questions about leadership matters is sinful. Sometimes they do this harshly, but sometimes they do this with a very winsome, humble appearance.

 Additional Resources 

Documenting the Problems with Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mark Driscoll's Failed Publicity Stunt That Ended With Him Lying About What Really Happened

Posted by Christine Pack

Strange Fire
A dust-up recently occurred at the Strange Fire Conference (a conference exposing the theological errors of the charismatic movement), in which megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll (who is a charismatic) showed up at the conference and tried to hand out his books, probably for the purpose of "correcting" what he sees as the errors of the cessationist movement. Initial reports of what happened (including Driscoll's own Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds) were that security had seized Driscoll's materials. They didn't. I was on the phone in almost real time with friends of mine at the conference who were told by a member of the security detail what actually happened.

This is what I was told: Mark Driscoll was NOT a registered participant for this event, and his materials had not been cleared for distribution. Every vendor present at Strange Fire had to go through an extensive vetting process before being allowed to set up their tables. When security explained this to Driscoll, Driscoll continued to try to give out the materials. He was told by security that they would help him take his materials back to his car, and he told them he would like to give them to Grace Community Church as a gift. They accepted this "gift," (Driscoll's words), and when they parted company with Driscoll, Driscoll immediately began broadcasting via social media that his materials had been seized. It was a bald-faced lie.

Mark Driscoll went in with an agenda to kick up a fuss, and get his books into the hands of GTY personnel. Only, the GTY folks were far more kind and gracious in dealing with him than he probably thought they would be, and he literally had to force his books on them.
Mark Driscoll to the GTY personnel: "Why don't y'all just take 'em and do whatever you want with 'em." 
Mark Driscoll on his twitter feed: "Security confiscated my books."

I would also like to point out that Driscoll slandered the security personnel at GTY by claiming they did something that they did not do, and he has yet to publicly apologize for that. By all accounts, the security personnel who dealt with Driscoll are godly, humble men who were just doing their jobs, and as the video evidence proves, they did their jobs with Mark Driscoll very kindly and graciously (you can read more about that here). All of the people who comprise the security team at GTY are real people, and are all members of the body of Christ. Just because nobody in Christendom knows the names of the GTY security personnel doesn't mean that they aren't every bit a part of the body of Christ as all the rest of us no-namers out there. It also doesn't mean that they can just be used as a means to an end for a Celebrity Pastor with an agenda. I might potentially like to see a public interaction between MacArthur/Driscoll at some point (which Driscoll has publicly asked for), but it surely cannot be like this, not with Driscoll gatecrashing an event at which he was not a paid registrant in order to pass out unvetted materials, and then leveraging himself up over the no-name bodies of security personnel to get what he wanted. That's not right.

Video of what happened:

 Additional Resources 

Mark Driscoll: A Timeline of His Downfall
 (Sola Sisters)

Mark Driscoll Repents? Not So Fast, Say Phil Johnson and Chris Rosebrough

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship

Strange Fire - media

Thoughts On Driscoll and The Biblical Qualifications For A Pastor

Documenting The Problems With Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seeds of Praise: FREE Download Through Thanksgiving

Posted by Christine Pack

We have recommended the Nashville-based Seeds Family Worship ministry before as a great resource for teaching Bible verses to children (and adults, too). Well, we're happy to let you know that Seeds Family Worship is currently offering a great special through Thanksgiving: their entire Seeds of Praise album....for FREE! Simply follow this link, and then follow the friendly and easy instructions once you get to the download page, and before you know it, you'll be singing along (and memorizing) Psalm 86:11-13, Psalm 46:10, 1 Chronicles 16:9-10, Revelation 148:1-5,  Psalm 136:1-6,  Zephaniah 3:17, and more.

 Additional Resources 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Former New Ager Warren Smith Explains That The "Jesus" of Bestseller Jesus Calling Is Not The Jesus of the Bible

Posted by Christine Pack

Warren Smith, former New Ager,
author of "Another Jesus" Calling
Ladies, do you have friends who have been taken in by the über popular book Jesus Calling? You almost can't miss this book, which has been a bestseller on Christian book lists for several months now, and has spawned many derivatives: devotionals, teen and children's versions, even a study Bible. But is it a biblically sound book?

Former New Ager Former New Ager Warren Smith says "no," it's not a biblically sound book, and explains in an interview on Stand Up For The Truth radio that the channeled entity in Jesus Calling is NOT the Jesus of the Bible, but a demonic counterfeit instead. Warren Smith is also the author of the just released book entitled "Another Jesus" Calling, which explores the problems with Sarah Young's book in greater detail. The title of Smith's book is taken from 2 Corinthians 11:4:
"For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully." (my emphasis)
If you have friends who have been taken in by this book, you will want to forward this interview with Warren Smith to them.

 Additional Resources 

"Another Jesus" Calling

Beth Moore Recommends Jesus Calling Book Claiming Direct Divine Revelation

Jesus Calling By Sarah Young: W.U.I. (Writing Under the Influence)

Warning About Popular Jesus Calling Book

Tim Challies Reviews Jesus Calling

False Teachings About Hearing Audible Words From God Taking Even Deeper Root in Today's Church

Bestseller Experiencing God Misleading Christians With "Soft" Mysticism?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vision Forum Ministries to Close

Posted by Christine Pack

Vision Forum Ministries has released a statement that Vision Forum Ministries will be closing, and that donations are no longer being accepted. Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum Ministries, had recently resigned citing a moral failure.

Statement of resignation by Doug Phillips (10-30-13) (online source):

Statement of the closing of Vision Forum Ministries by the Vision Forum Ministries board of directors (11-11-13) (online source):

 Additional Resources 

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Resigns, Cites Moral Failure

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Recommended Resource: Proclaiming The Gospel Ministry

Posted by Christine Pack

I just finished attending a wonderfully edifying 2-day conference given by former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron. More about Mike Gendron, who is now a born again Christian, from his ministry website, Proclaiming The Gospel:
"A devout Roman Catholic for over 34 years, Mike was saved by God’s grace after attending a three-day evangelistic seminar in 1981. Upon completion of a Masters degree at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1992, he served as pastor of evangelism and outreach at a Bible church in Dallas for three years and founded Proclaiming the Gospel Ministry. Mike has addressed the students and faculty at The Master’s Seminary, The Master’s Academy International Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute and Tyndale Theological Seminary. Mike has also done seminars at hundreds of churches throughout the world and has appeared as a guest on many radio and TV programs, including The History Channel."
The conference breakout sessions included:
DAY 1: Biblically examining the differences between Christianity and Roman Catholicism, plus Q and A
DAY 2: How to witness to Roman Catholics, wrap-up session, Q and A
This casual, in-home conference included great teaching, yummy food, and intense theological discussions late into the first night, and more great discussion again after the wrap-up today. Unexpected bonus: Martha Peace (author of The Excellent Wife) and Dr. Jobe Martin (author of The Creation of An Evolutionist) were there, too. It was a great joy to hear God's word boldly proclaimed, and to be encouraged by the fellowship of the saints 

We highly recommend the teaching ministry of former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron, who has such a heart for evangelism, and for helping to equip Christians to lovingly contend for truth with their Catholic family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers.

Below are some radio interviews that Mike has given:
Mike's Testimony: From Darkness to Light - 7-22-2014 
How True Christianity Differs From Roman Catholicism, Part 1 - Part 2 
The Death of Discernment and Its Consequences - 5-30-2009 
The Loss of Discernment In Our Churches - 9-25-2010
Roots of the Catholic Church,  Unbiblical Trend of Christians Linking With Catholics - 9-8-2012
Universalist Comments By Pope Francis - 9-12-2013
A Discussion About The Reformation - 10-28-2013
Former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron Shares the True Gospel on Catholic Radio - 1-22-2014
Mike Discusses His Book Preparing For Eternity - 3-27-2014
The Direction of the Roman Catholic Church - 10-21-2014
All Mike Gendron interviews and talks on Sermon Audio

 Additional Resources 

Preparing for Eternity
 (former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron)

Proclaiming The Gospel (former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron)

Christianity vs. Roman Catholicism - A Side-By-Side Chart of the Beliefs (Sola Sisters)

Testimony of Richard Bennett
 (former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)

Berean Beacon (website of former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)

Catholics, Physical Suffering and Doctrines of Demons (Sola Sisters)

Why the Reformation Was Important (Sola Sisters)

After The Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux) (Sola Sisters)

Biblically Explaining The Heresy of Catholicism (Dr. John MacArthur, GTY)

Redeemer's Tim Keller Recommends Ignatius of Loyola? (Sola Sisters)

Far From Rome Near To God (Amazon)

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

The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa, A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon)

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words (Sola Sisters)

CNN Reports That Mother Teresa Underwent Exorcism (CNN Archives)

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

Christianity vs. Roman Catholicism - A Side-By-Side Chart of the Beliefs

Posted by Christine Pack

Click on the graphics below in order to better view the charts.

 Additional Resources 

Testimony of Richard Bennett
 (former Roman Catholic priest)

Berean Beacon (former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)

A List of False Teachings In The Catholic Church (CARM)

Catholics, Physical Suffering and Doctrines of Demons (Sola Sisters)

Preparing for Eternity (former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron)

Proclaiming The Gospel (former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron)

Why the Reformation Was Important (Sola Sisters)

After The Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux) (Sola Sisters)

Biblically Explaining The Heresy of Catholicism (Dr. John MacArthur, GTY)

Redeemer's Tim Keller Recommends Ignatius of Loyola? (Sola Sisters)

Far From Rome Near To God (Amazon)

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

The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa, A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon)

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)