Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Warning To Christians About Homeopathy

Posted by Christine Pack

The idea of mystical essences imbued into nature isn't a hard sell to New Agers. After all, the New Age mindset already embraces a panentheistic worldview, which means that they believe some form of Divinity is "in" all the stars, the galaxies, the planets, in zebras, rocks, mountains, oceans, snakes, plants, humans, etc.  This concept of "Divinity," however, is far from the Christian understanding of the God of the Bible, and can mean that this animating force comes from a monotheistic god (somewhat similar to the biblical God) or from multiple gods (polytheism), or it can also simply serve to describe some kind of vague force often nebulously described as an "energy," "vibration" or "essence."

With this worldview in mind (a worldview, that is, that developed in the east outside of the scientific method that was developing in Christian nations in Europe and America in the west), it's not hard to see that eastern methods of health treatment (which I hesitate to call medicine, as they don't employ scientific methodology) would develop along distinctly different lines. The overarching view in eastern medicine, which stems from their panentheistic belief that "God" (or some concept of "Divinity") is "in" all things, is that the human body is born into a state of perfect alignment, wholeness and health, and that illness is just a result of some element no longer being in alignment. This is obviously in distinct contrast to the Christian worldview, which is that illness is a result of humans living in a broken, fallen world, and that until Christ returns to institute his kingdom, there will be suffering, illness and disease in this life. By saying this, I don't mean to imply that people shouldn't care for their bodies to the best of their ability (they should). But, Christians should not resort to using pagan medicine that has occultic spirituality at its core when their bodies begin to break down. Until we are in heaven, ALL of us are inhabiting bodies that, at some point or another, are going to begin to break down. Out of the eastern mindset and worldview, we have many alternative forms of treatment, but here are just a few:
- Aromatherapy
- Yoga
- Reiki
- Acupuncture
- Acupressure
- Cranial sacral massage
- Rolfing
- Chakra therapy
- Cupping
- Iridology
Which brings us to Homeopathic, an alternative treatment that was not strictly speaking developed in the east, but was created with the underlying beliefs and philosophies of the eastern mindset. Homeopathy was created by a Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, who began his life's work as a formally trained doctor in Europe. At one point in his life, Hahnemann began to eschew the western methodology of testing and observing data for more eastern ideas of treating the human body. Hahnemann wrote a series of medical journals entitled The Organen of the Healing Art, and it was in the fifth volume of these journals that Hahnemann began to introduce metaphysical concepts outside of the western scientific method construct. He also began to write in terms of "vital energy," a concept better associated with the eastern world, Panentheism and Taoism.

For Christians desiring to learn more about the background of homeopathic remedies, and how they were developed, please consider reading the free, online e-book Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour by Steven Ransom. (** Please note that if you click the preceding link to the book, the book will automatically begin downloading **)

Magical Mystery Tour documents the beginnings of homeopathy, a very popular alternative treatment that once only existed on the fringes of the culture, within the New Age movement, but has now become mainstreamed, and is sadly even being embraced by Christians today. (As noted above, while Samuel Hahnemann was the developer of the homeopathic theory, a man by the name of Edward Bach came along later and systematized Hahnemann's theory into what is known today as the Bach flower remedies, pictured above.)

While homeopathic cures are often discussed and treated as if they are medicine, they are not. They're quackery, plain and simple. Sugar pills and water. It's modern day snake oil. And yet, because this area is not regulated by the FDA, all kinds of outlandish claims can be made of the asserted (but non-existent) curative properties of homeopathy.

Since I have been observing many in the Christian community accepting and embracing the claims of homeopathy, and since the focus of the Sola Sisters ministry is primarily to warn about false teachings coming into the church, I am therefore making a warning to the church at large about the unscientific, untested claims associated with Homeopathy. I am also warning about the unbiblical belief system out of which Homeopathy was developed. To begin with, I think it might be prudent to simply consider the scientific method, and why it is so valuable. According to the article The Foundation of Modern Science Is The Biblical Worldview by R. Totten, Christian writers Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton have written an excellent book entitled The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy, which explains in detail that the scientific method for study has its origins in Christianity. Does this not make sense to us as Christians? That our good and loving God gave us minds, which He obviously desired for us to employ as we navigate our lives? We are not animals, who navigate by instinct; we have minds with which we are able to critically evaluate and assess data.
"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)
From the article by Totten:
Human Minds can Discover and Understand the Natural Order - The Bible teaches that man is made "in the image of God," which means (among other things) that man is personal, creative and imaginative, and able to "step back" (transcend) and rationally analyze and develop knowledge about many realities of nature and existence. 
But in contrast, in his book, The Grand Tradition ('69), J. Needham --an expert on Chinese culture-- maintains that the Chinese (who developed most of the 'alternative treatment' methods popular today) never developed modern analytical science, because they did not think there existed either a definite understandable order in nature, nor the human ability to figure it out. To the Chinese, whatever order did exist in nature "was not an order ordained by a rational personal being, and hence there was no guarantee that other rational personal beings would be able to spell out ...laws which he had previously formulated" (p.327). 
On the other hand, in Christian Europe, scientists did have such a guarantee, because they believed that a rational and orderly Creator had made everything --including man as a rational personal being. The resultant outcome is that, to a meaningful extent, man can "think God's thoughts after Him", and thus understand much of the rationally logical order of nature......
We are never, at any place in Scripture, exhorted by God to turn our minds off and live by impulse or instinct. In fact, just the opposite is true: God gave human beings minds with which to assess and evaluate data via proven scientific methods, thus setting us apart from the animals. Have we all forgotten our 9th grade science lessons on "the gold standard"? (Please see the attached article, The Scientific Method and Why It Matters, if you would like to be refreshed on your high school basics of the scientific method for testing hypotheses.)

The scientific method is something that should not be disdained by Christians. The scientific method employs reason, facts and quantifiable data. And yet, so much of the alternative medicine realm eschews the scientific methods by which we are able to evaluate information in an orderly, repeatable fashion in favor of hunches, impulses and even mystical feelings. So when you hear claims by the alternative medicine community that this or that treatment is scientific, check it out for yourself, using the gold standard, to see if that is in fact, true. But I can assure you right now that the "science" associated with homeopathy (and a great deal of alternative medicine in general), is not really science, but is based almost entirely upon anecdotal accounts or upon studies funded by alternative treatment advocacy groups. The "scientific" studies that are pointed to as "proof" of claims made by alternative practitioners are rarely, if ever, long-term, placebo-controlled trials done on humans. And let's not forget that the human body is not a controlled environment in the same way that a petri dish is. By that, I mean to say that a substance that works in a petri dish to kill cancer cells (gasoline, antifreeze, etc.) might not do so well in the human body.

Below is an excerpt about Edward Bach and how he came up with his flower remedies:
Edward Bach (1886-1936),
creator of Bach flower remedies
Bach came to the conclusion that humanity could be divided into twelve main emotional groups or 'world types' and he listed them as follows: 
- Feelings of inner torture and restlessness
- Impatience with others
- Feelings of discouragement
- Known fears
- Extreme fear
- Highly-strung and unable to relax
- Desiring isolation
- Weak, easily dominated personality
- Lack of confidence in own judgment
- A possessive and selfish attitude
- Daydreams who have little interest in life
- Indecision and mood swings 
Bach's spurious 12 point hypothesis was the turning point in his life. He gave up his London practice and spent the next four years wandering the countryside, searching out the special flowers and plants he believed would be the positive correspondents to these twelves negative emotional types. But the manner in which Bach carried out his 'field work' was far from orthodox and revealed the complete eccentricity, even the madness of the man and his methods. 
The process of identifying a 'healing' flower would being with Bach first of all working himself into an absolute frenzy of whatever one of the twelves 'types' he was seeking to heal. In a state of inner torture or extreme fear, he would then wander the countryside, approaching various flowers and shrubs until he 'sensed' a particular plant was helping his frenzy subside. (Writer and Bach Remedy proponent) Nora Weeks notes the following:  
“Through his finely developed sense of touch he was able to feel the vibrations and power emitted by any plant he wished to test.... Some would have a strengthening, vitalizing effect on mind and body; others would give him pains, vomiting, fevers, rashes and the like.”  
That Bach could induce vomiting, fevers and rashes by merely touching the petals of the mimulus or marigold mirrors the extreme behavior of (homeopathic theory developer Samuel Hahnemann) who was able to record a staggering 174 physical and mental symptoms just through eating a single sliver of green pepper. And now here was Bach building his own castle in the sky and doing so by the same, quite extraordinary powers of imagination. 
Bach led a nomadic life during (the years he was formulating his remedies) and he would often stay in different places across the UK for weeks at a time, returning to his lodgings quite late in the evening, dishevelled, muddied, bloodied and completely exhausted from the day's manic 'field experiments'. With twelves emotional states to heal, Bach eventually arrived at twelves different flowers known as the 'twelve healers'.......Bach's methods of preparing his medicines (from the twelve healing flowers flowers he had isolated as the 'healers') was equally bizarre. Nora Weeks again on her master's next flash of inspiration: 
“The thought flashed into his mind that each dewdrop must contain some of the properties of the plant upon which it rested and that the heat of the sun would serve to draw out these properties until each drop was magnetised with power. The resulting remedies would contain the full, perfect and uncontaminated power of the plants.” 
Bach experimented by floating various flower petals in a glass bowl filled with clear stream water, leaving these concoctions in direct sunlight. The sun's rays would 'charge' this flower-water mixture and after roughly four hours, the resulting potion was deemed to be 'impregnated with magnetic power.' 
Like Hahnemann, Bach believed his medicines were being powerfully spiritualized by (his preparation) methods.
(SOURCE: Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery TourSteven Ransom) 
My questions for Christians, after reading the above account are these: are Bach's theories, methods and preparations scientific? Do they seem compatible with the Christian worldview? Let's remember, again, that God gave us minds with which to reason things out, and that includes the use of the scientific method for testing substances, as opposed to going by mystical feelings, hunches, guesses, or impressions (which was how Bach developed his remedies).

Also, when I look at the list of 12 emotional types that Bach came up with, I can think of lots of Scripture that addresses those weaknesses in humans, none of which involve floating flowers in stream water and allowing the sun to spiritually imbue the essence of those flowers into the water in order to magically free the affected individual from those weaknesses. Christians should call sin "sin," and should address their areas of weakness biblically: through accountability, Scripture memorization, Bible study, prayer, etc. That takes relying upon the Lord and the power of the Holy spirit for wisdom, strength and diligence. There are no magical remedies for sin, but thankfully the Bible does gives us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
"(Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
Big Pharma has its problems, and I get that, but I just want to caution all the Christians I'm observing jumping on the hate-big-Pharma bandwagon (which originated in the New Age among quack practitioners with snake oil to sell, by the way) that Big Pharma has its uses. I'm sure that all of us can think of family members of ours whose lives have been saved by Big Pharma. My husband is currently under long-term treatment with medicine developed through scientific methods. The treatment is saving his life. I had an illness in my 20s that would have killed me if I had not had access to antibiotics. But above and beyond even that, what I'm really wanting to caution against is an embracing of supposed medicinal items that have been developed through mystical or even demonic means. When I read about Edward Bach, I'm sorry, but it seems to me that at a bare minimum he was mentally unbalanced, and at worst, perhaps demonically possessed. Why would any Christian want to use a treatment that came from a man who was mentally unstable and/or possessed by a demon? A deeper question to ponder is this: what does the Bible have to say about Satan and his demon deceptions? does he have our best interests at heart? or is he out to steal, kill and destroy, whatever that looks like?

 Personal Accounts of Problems With Homeopathy 

After recently posting on the unscientific nature of homeopathy, I received an email from a friend who wrote about a close family friends of hers who had been very negatively affected by a homeopathic doctor. This doctor had received a Doctorate in Homeopathy from Hahnemann University, a school named after the founder of the homeopathic movement, Samuel Hahnemann. This doctor, who has been so heavily influenced by the homeopathic principles developed by Hahnemann, claims on his website to have had positive results in treating AIDS, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and arthritis. And yet in reality, my friend attested to me that this doctor had unsuccessfully treated a woman for cancer of the femur (she died a very painful death within the year), as well as a young wife and mother of 4 who had breast cancer, and who also died within a short period of time. I was also told that this doctor had treated numerous other people who have not done well despite his public claims, and that the doctor had been put out of fellowship for errant doctrine and fraudulent business practices.

Please understand that I am NOT saying that all who go into homeopathy have evil intent or wrong motives. Not at all. This doctor in question might have the best of motives. But these homeopathic practices that these doctors are basing their practices upon are based on unscientific methods.

I think it should also be noted that, according to Walter Isaacson (author of a biography on Apple founder Steve Jobs), Jobs had regrets about pursuing alternative treatments for his cancer for such a lengthy period of time before making the decision to have surgery. Jobs, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2003, died in 2011. (online source)

Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers For The New Age (CANA), a friend and former New Ager (and frequent contributor here), has also written an excellent article on the occultic roots of homeopathic medicine, linked here: Homeopathy, The Occult and Beyond.

photo credit: salimfadhley via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour  (Free, online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies)

Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse In Healthcare (Sola Sisters/Marcia Montenegro)

Update: Ingrid Schlueter Interviews Marcia Montenegro and Christine Pack (Crosstalk at VCY America 4/26/11) to Discuss This Show- you may listen here
The Scientific Method and Why It Matters

The Biblical Worldview Is The Foundation of Modern Science

 John Ankerberg Resources and Articles 

Centering Prayer Taught By Mystic Phileena Heuertz at Catalyst Dallas

"Centering Prayer" exercise,
Catalyst Dallas
Posted by Christine Pack

Writer Jim Fletcher is reporting from the Catalyst Dallas conference that a Centering Prayer exercise was recently led by mystic and contemplative spiritualist Phileena Heuertz at Catalyst conference, which is a Christian conference that moves from city to city. The current Catalyst is being held April 30-May 2, 2014 in Dallas, TX.  Heuertz, who is the author of Pilgrimage of the Soul, was listed as a "lab speaker," which means that her session was probably a breakout session in which not all of the conference attendees were participants. Some of the other Catalyst Dallas speakers include Tullian Tchividjian, Dave Ramsey, Louie Giglio, Mark Batterson, Jen Hatmaker, Craig Groeschel, and Francis Chan.

(HT: Jules LaPierre, Jim Fletcher)

Phileena Heuertz
Some background information on Phileena Heuertz: Heuertz and her husband teach contemplative mysticism at their website gravity, as well as other mystical/pagan practices:
- Breath Prayer 
- Centering Prayer
- Labyrinth 
- Lectio Divina
- Yoga
On her Centering Prayer page, Heuertz talks about having been taught Centering Prayer by Roman Catholic mystic monk Thomas Keating himself, with whom the practice of mystical centering prayer originated. (Learn more about Thomas Keating here on a show by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith.) According to Heuertz's bio on the Sojourners website, Heuertz is "a member of the New Friar movement," teaches and writes on contemplative spirituality and facilitates contemplative retreats.

 Additional Resources 

What Is Mysticism? (Sola Sisters)

Lecture and Meditation Sessions Led By Thomas Keating (Christian Answers For the New Age)

The Inventor of Centering Prayer Teaches Us What It Is For (Fighting For the Faith)

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

Mystical Youth Ministry

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence

A Former Mystic's Testimony

John MacArthur on Spiritual Formation and Biblical Sanctification

Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?

The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Of Sin and Mirrors and God

Article by Jonathan Cousar (Gospel Masquerade)
Printed with permission

People don't seem to be able to understand why small sins are so big to God. It doesn't seem right that God would damn someone to eternal hell for every day run-of-the mill kinds of sins.

If you ask somebody if they're a bad person they will almost always say NO! Then if you begin to point out some of their sins, they'll inevitably start making excuses. The most common excuses are, "Ah, come on! Everybody does that!" Or, "I'm not nearly as bad as some people."

This shows that people don't really understand the seriousness of sin. The reason sin doesn't seem like such a big deal to us is because we are not precision moral agents. But God is! He is the ultimate precision moral agent. He can spot a tiny little sin a thousand miles away. But we hardly notice them even when they hit us in the face.

Maybe this will help. Sin is kind of like dust. If a little speck of dust gets on your $25 bathroom mirror, not only will you not care, you probably won't even notice. In fact, it won't be until thousands of pieces of dust collect on it that you'll begin to think about cleaning it.

Those little particles of dust are like your sins. And your bathroom mirror is like you. A bathroom mirror is very forgiving when it comes to particles of dust because it's not a pure precision mirror. Same with people. Most people are very forgiving when it comes to sin because they're not precision moral agents. Bathroom mirrors are made very quickly, by slapping a reflective coat of tin and silver onto the back of a piece of glass. It can be made with corrupted glass and it will still function fine for most of our needs.

What if instead of a bathroom mirror, you had a precision telescopic mirror? In this case, you would need the most pure kind of mirror we know how to make. The raw power of any telescope is determined by the size and purity of its main optic mirror. This telescope will be used to view objects that are billions of light years away. This mirror has to be a pure precision instrument, completely unlike the "blunt" object you use in your bathroom every day. This mirror has to be absolutely perfect because the type of work it's going to do is so much more precise than what your bathroom mirror is made to do.

The mirror that will fly aboard NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope is the most expensive, sophisticated and pure mirror ever made by man.
"They will be precise enough to capture single photons. And the slightest speck of dust or greasy fingerprint could ruin them." 
(Why space telescope mirror is most complex ever built, BBC online)
One of the most difficult parts of making this kind of mirror - and one of the factors that makes it so incredibly expensive - is the requirement that not a single speck of dust, not even the tiniest speck, ever touch it! Why? Because the mirror has to be so pure that even a micro speck of dust will destroy it.

This mirror costs $8.7 BILLION! It is a fine, precision optical instrument. Therefore, not only would the tiniest speck of dust be noticed - the tiny speck of dust would destroy it. That tiny impurity that's nothing to your $25 bathroom mirror, would ruin an $8.7 billion mirror.

Why? Because the $8.7 billion mirror, unlike your bathroom mirror, has to be so pure and so precise in order to do what it's designed to do.

And so it is with God - who is the ultimate in purity. When your little sins, the ones you hardly notice, bump up against the pure and holy God - He takes great notice. He notices it like an $8.7 BILLION mirror notices a tiny speck of dust or a hairline scratch. Your tiniest sin is a huge deal to God - just like a tiny scratch or speck of dust is a huge deal to a pure multi-billion dollar mirror.

That's why even the smallest of your sins must be dealt with and paid for before you can enter the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is absolutely pure and not even the smallest sin can enter it. That same tiny speck of dust that is completely inconsequential to your bathroom mirror will totally destroy a precision $8.7 billion mirror. Same with your every day sins. In front of another person, they appear inconsequential. But before a completely pure and holy God - they bear eternal consequences.

The reason we don't understand the seriousness of our sins is not because we don't understand sin, but because we don't understand the absolute purity and holiness of God.

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

(In the video below, notice how the guy inspecting the mirror at 4:00 - actually touches it with his hands. On a precision telescopic mirror this would destroy it!)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Et tu, Jars of Clay?

Posted by Christine Pack
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
It used to be that professing Christians, even the more liberal ones, knew that unrepentant sin was not okay. But no longer. In today's finger-in-the-air, blow-with-the-trends evangelicalism, it seems that those who call themselves "Christian" today must be stopped at the gate for a definition-of-terms check. Affirms Jesus as the Son of God? Check. The substitutionary atonement as payment for sins? Check. Jesus raised from the dead as proof of his satisfactory work? Check. Gives a pass on homosexual sin in the name of ultra-tolerant love? Not so fast, buster.

Which brings me to my subject for today. The lead singer of one of my all time favorite Christian singing groups, Jars of Clay, recently began tweeting out his support for same sex marriage, and then expressed dismay that other Christians would challenge him on this, while claiming that the Bible has nothing to say on the matter of morality.

I can't say I'm completely surprised at this stance taken by Dan Haseltine. Not to be unkind, but CCM artists are hardly known for their strong doctrinal positions. However, Jars of Clay released a hymns album (Redemption Songs) back in 2005 that really ministered to me one summer early in my Christian walk. The reworked hymns contained beautiful doctrinal treatises on God's holiness, the seriousness of sin, and man's wretchedness and inability to save himself that really helped ground me as a new believer struggling in a mainstream evangelicalism that had just begun to go squishy and liberal. Maybe Dan Haseltine needs to go back to that wonderful hymns CD the group did, and listen to some of the theology that they so beautifully set to music, and remember that (1) unrepentant sin is serious to God and (2) that God clearly spells out for us in Scripture what is sinful, and yes, unrepentant homosexual sin is on the list.

I'm not saying that homosexual sin is specifically named in any of the hymns done by Jars of Clay (it's not), but true Christians who know the Word of God know that the Bible teaches clearly and unambiguously that unrepentant homosexual sin is wrong in God's eyes. That's not to say that a person might not struggle with homosexual urges....they can and surely do, in the same way that someone else might struggle with pride or anger or covetousness. But to attempt to normalize that sin, and shaming those who won't? No, no, no. For shame, Dan Haseltine. I'm calling you, as your sister in Christ, to repentance. I pray that God will grant you Godly sorrow over your public comments on this issue.

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

From the beautiful hymn Hiding Place, originally composed by John Hyatt Brewer (1856-1931), and recorded by Jars of Clay on their Redemption Songs CD. Surely a plain reading of this hymn reveals God as the giver of moral standards, as well as man's inability to save himself through his own ideas of truth or his own attempts at righteous works:
Hiding Place
You know the vileness of my heart
So prone to act the rebel's part
And when You veil Your lovely face
How can I find a hiding place 
How unstable is my heart
Sometimes I take the tempter's part
And slight the tokens of Thy grace
And seem to want no hiding place 
But when Thy spirit shines within
Makes me feel the plague of sin
And how I long to see Thy face
'Tis then I want a hiding place 
Lord Jesus, shine and then I can
Feel sweetness in salvation's plan
And as a sinner plead for grace
Christ, the sinner's hiding place.

 Additional Resources 

The Folly of Same Sex Theology

Dan Haseltine Responds to Media Frenzy Over His Support for Same-Sex Marriage

A Biblical Response to Matthew Vines ("God and the Gay Christian") by Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries

Jars of Clay Lead Says of Christian Upbringing: I'm Not That Way Now."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter -- Is It Pagan?

Posted by Sola Sisters

It really is ok to celebrate Easter! My Christian friends, there is no need for you to be afraid that you are participating in a pagan ritual to worship the sun god Baal or the pagan goddess Ishtar if you choose to celebrate Easter. For those unfamiliar with these ideas, they were once widely held and taught by Christian writer Ralph Woodrow, who promoted the idea of Easter as being a pagan holiday that Christians should not participate in. This idea also promulgated by Christian historian Alexander Hislop, and which we wrote about here.

From the more recent article Easter -- Is It Pagan? by Ralph Woodrow, who has since changed his views:
"Those who oppose the celebration of Christ's resurrection at the Easter season, sometimes make the wild claim that those who do so, are really worshipping the Sun- god Baal! They quote Ezekiel 8:14-16 about 'women weeping for Tammuz' and men worshipping 'the sun toward the east.' This, it is claimed, was the real origin of Good Friday and Easter Sunrise Services! But there is no valid connection. If a Christian group chooses to have a special service at sunrise to proclaim the good news of an empty tomb and resurrected Christ, it is not pagan. After all, it was at sunrise that the women came to the tomb and discovered it was empty: 'And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun' (Mk. 16:2). No Christian has ever gone to an Easter Sunrise Service to worship the Sun-god Baal. We admire Christians who desire to stand for the purity of the gospel, who do not want paganism in the church. But we should be certain that what we reject is indeed pagan, so that in pulling up weeds, we do not pull up the wheat also."
In closing, let me state that I am not urging any of my fellow Christians to go against their consciences and celebrate Easter (or Christmas, for that matter) if they are not comfortable doing so. I simply ask that they not condemn those of us do feel freedom to participate in these holidays, as we celebrate our Savior who came, lived, died and was raised from the dead so that we all might walk in newness of life.

 Additional Resources 

Myths From Hislop: A Call To Examine Facts

Why Christmas on Dec. 25?

To Christmas or Not To Christmas? That Is The Question

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sola Experienca?

Posted by Christine Pack

Erik Raymond of the Ordinary Pastor blog has written an excellent article entitled Sola Experienca Is For Real, which challenges a rising tide of mysticism among professing Christian believers. From the article:
"We have a culture awash in a neo-gnosticism that gobbles up personal experience like samples at Costco. We cannot resist them. Then we have people everywhere telling their own stories and then interpreting them with authority. And of course we have a church that goes right along with it to reinforce sola experiencia to the thousands who attend each Sunday morning." 
"I was reading about the new movie to be released this weekend about the runaway bestseller, Heaven is for Real. In this book, as I’m sure you are aware, a 6-year-old boy reportedly went to heaven and then came back to tell us all about it. Our supernaturalist society gobbled up the book. The family is a professing Christian family from small-town Nebraska. I am sure they are nice and truly believe all of what they wrote and say. However, what they are doing is unwittingly contributing to the fog that reinforces the heart’s unsubmissiveness to God and his word."
The article can read in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

What Is Mysticism?

Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?

John MacArthur on Spiritual Formation and Biblical Sanctification

The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer

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

Mystical Youth Ministry

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence


Posted by Christine Pack

From The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus
(John Cross,

 It Is Finished! (Tetelestai) 

The phrase “It is finished” is translated from a single Greek word tetelestai. Tetelestai had many different usages, but the following three have significance to the story:

1. Tetelestai was used by a servant reporting to his or her master upon completing a task: “The job you gave me is finished.”

2. Tetelestai was also a familiar term in Greek commercial life. It signified the completion of a transaction when a debt was paid in full. When the final payment was made, one could say “tetelestai,” that is, “The debt is finished.” Ancient receipts for taxes have been found with tetelestai—paid in full—written across them.

3. The selection of a lamb for sacrifice in the temple was always an important time. The flock would be searched and, upon finding an unblemished lamb, one would say tetelestai—the job was finished.

Quite literally Jesus shouted:

“The work you gave me is completed.....the debt is paid.....the sacrificial lamb is found!”

The Scripture says Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished (Tetelestai)!”

Jesus Came to Put Religion In Its Place?

Posted by Christine Pack

(Putting Religion In Its Place, Apr 6, screen capture)
Andy Stanley, pastor of the third largest church in the U.S. (Northpoint Community Church-Atlanta, GA) said some confusing things regarding the character and nature of God in a recent sermon. Writes Alexander Griswold in his article entitled Andy Stanley's Troubling New Sermon:
The last place you might expect to hear a call to put “religion in its place” is a church. And certainly the last church you might expect to hear it at is an Evangelical megachurch . But that was indeed the message of Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday, April 6, entitled “Putting Religion in its Place.” Stanley, the pastor of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church, addressed the topic as part of a sermon series addressing why God became human. One of those reasons, Stanley preached, was “to put religion in its place.”
And a curious statement by Stanley from his Apr 6 sermon:
“Jesus’ conscience was informed by compassion, rather than consistency........” 
You can read the entire article by Alexander Griswold here.

 Additional Resources 

Andy Stanley: "The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture."

Deconstructing What Andy Stanley Said (Chris Rosebrough's Fighting For The Faith radio show)

Is This Andy Stanley's Gay Affirming Shot Across the Bow?

Problems at Andy Stanley's North Point Church?

Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism? (Dr. Al Mohler)

Is The Megachurch the New Liberalism? (Chris Rosebrough's Fighting For the Faith radio show)

Homosexuality, Megachurches and Andy Stanley (Apprising)

Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Questions Over Homosexuality Stance (Christian Post)

Andy Stanley Avoids Gay Issue in Last Sermon of Controversial 8-Part Series (Christian Post)

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flocks (Criticial Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Thoughts on Resurrection Sunday and Worldly Wisdom

Article by guest writer Chris McIntyre

Isn't it ironic that there are two things in life that are certain - death and taxes - and that Good Friday and tax season are right now? Do you believe that the dead will be raised? Many don't, even in religious circles. Jesus responded to them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." The Apostle Paul explained in letters in the first century... "If Christ is not been raised, then ... your faith is in vain. We are ... misrepresenting God...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile...we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead...for as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) has come also the resurrection from the dead." And Paul also said, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Saved from what? Physical and spiritual death.

Men have decided that God is dead. Astounding. Man has come to the conclusion after thousands of years of its species that instead of an eternal and all-powerful God, the "Universe" is alive, self-sustaining, eternal, and somehow cognizant, operating things, resulting in millions of years of evolution to produce... us! That's a pathetic result - look at how we damage the earth and produce energy that harnesses destruction, the ripping apart of matter and resulting corruption and harmful output.

It's a lie. This relativistic, naturalistic and humanistic worldview provides not only zero rationale for life, but it spawns death. The system of belief and understanding is inconsistent within itself. It is illogical. It gives no answers to the mind, to the heart. It also defies physical laws.

This weekend, I am reminded that we must understand God's will. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He either rose from the grave, or He did not. And if He did, you better repent! And if He didn't, there is no hope for mankind.

photo credit: lady-traveler via photopin cc

An Open Letter to IBLP

Posted by Christine Pack 

A number of Christian leaders have added their voices to the growing public concern over the troubling issues associated with Bill Gothard and the ministry he founded known as Institute in Basic Life Principles. Gothard recently stepped down as president from the organization amid reports of sexual misconduct. According to the open letter, Christian leaders have attempted over the years to address concerns with Gothard, reaching as far back as 1973. From the letter:
Over the years a number of leaders and organizations have expressed concerns over certain IBLP teachings which they have found unbiblical and harmful. Many of them have attempted to work with Bill Gothard to correct and/or drop the more problematic teachings but have been rebuffed, ignored, and on occasion attacked. We believe that some of these teachings are at least partly responsible for the recurring moral failures of Bill Gothard and other IBLP leaders. 
Prior to the sex scandal of the 1980s, Dr Earl Radmacher, then president of Western Theological Seminary, made such attempts and his associate, Dr. Ronald B. Allen had made attempts since at least 1973..... 
These warnings went unheeded then, and in spite of the attempts by these and other leaders and organizations, including Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. and, as in prior cases Bill Gothard’s consistent response has been to issue denials, attacks, and even threats from an ever more strongly entrenched position. (Online source)
Some of the signers of the letter include Norman Geisler (Chancellor, Veritas Evangelical Seminary) Paul Carden (Centers for Apologetics Research), Don Veinot (Midwest Christian Outreach), Ron Rhodes (Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries), Keith Gibson (Pastor, Word of Life Community Church) and Sarah Flashing (Christian researcher/writer).

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

The complete list of co-signers can be read here.

 Additional Resources 

Bill Gothard Legalism (Sola Sisters)

Josh Duggar's Infidelity Outed in Ashley Madison Website Hack (Sola Sisters)

A Beginner's Guide To Bill Gothard (Ron Henzel)

Growing Up Gothard (The Gospel Coalition)

A Matter of Basic Principles (an excellent expose of Gothard legalism by Don Veinot)

Battered Sheep - a review of Don Veinot's book A Matter of Basic Principles

Bill Gothard Resigns, Duggars Still Slated To Speak at IBLP 2014 Conference

Conservative Leader Bill Gothard Resigns Following Abuse Allegations (Religion News Service)

The Duggars, Bill Gothard, Vision Forum, and The Quiverful Movement (I am aware that some of the links in this article are no longer active, but this article still gives a quick thumbnail sketch of Bill Gothard, the Duggars, Vision Forum, Hyper-Patriarchy and the Quiverfull Movement, and how they are interconnected and overlap with each other)

How God Saves Us In Christ (And The Problems With Legalism) (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

 Midwest Christian Outreach 

From the IBLP website
A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life

Josh Duggar, Mike Huckabee and Fodder for Progressives

Is Jesus a Sinner According to Bill Gothard’s Teachings?

If Bill Gothard is Wrong, Then What’s Right?

Bill Gothard: Who Knew What and When? A Question of Accountability


Bill Gothard’s Analogous Teachings

Bill Gothard; Déjà vu All Over Again

Bill Gothard and the Continuing Sex Scandal

Bill Gothard - Truly Repentant?

Leveraging Lunacy: How Bill Gothard Rode a Wave of Evangelical Goofiness

Four part series on Bill Gothard
 - Part 1, Bill Gothard's Evangelical Talmud
 - Part 2, Bill Gothard's Chain of Authority
 - Part 3, Bill Gothard and the Law
 - Part 4, Bill Gothard's Mystical Approach to Medical Issues

An Evening With Bill Gothard

 Secular Articles 

When Having Kids Is A Religious Experience
 (ABC News)

Quiverfull: More Children For God's Army (Newsweek writer Kathryn Joyce)

Inside the Duggar Family's Conservative Ideology (Newsweek, Kathryn Joyce)

 Websites by Former Gothardites 

Recovering Grace

Abuse Allegations Against Bill Gothard, Founder of Institute In Basic Life Principles
 (Dr. John Cornish and Kari Underwood, co-founders of Recovering Grace)

Under Much Grace

Genesis 3:15.....the Protoevangelium

Posted by Christine Pack

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

photo credit:

 Additional Resources 

The Gospel in Pictures (Full of Eyes)

What is the Protoevangelium? (Got Questions)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Doug Phillips, Repentance and Justice

Posted by Christine Pack

 Repentance and Forgiveness 

After yesterday's article about the lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct brought against Vision Forum's Doug Phillips by Phillips' former nanny, there were a few on our Facebook wall who took exception to my post.  I was told that writing about Doug Phillips' alleged sexual abuse of Lourdes Torres was a "rush to judgment," and that I wasn't "leaving room for the gospel" and "forgiveness and reconciliation." All I can say is, I just don't see evidence of true repentance on Doug Phillips' part. And while I would certainly not withhold true reconciliation from Phillips, neither should I (or anyone) rush in to offer forgiveness and hugs when he's not truly repentant. I would never do with my own children! If one of my boys has his arms crossed, and is hemming and hawing, and trying to build his case about sure, he may have done *something* but really, it was all his brothers', I'm not rushing in with forgiveness and cuddles while he's being stubborn and unrepentant. Nope. We all know what true repentance looks like.

So then I am told....hey, you just can't know what could be going on behind the scenes. Well sure, I can't, but what I can do is evaluate what I do see. There are a lot of us I think who have been watching this play out, and we're waiting....and waiting......and watching, and what comes forth? A carefully parsed statement about an inappropriate "romantic" and "affectionate" relationship in which Doug Phillips states he never "knew" the woman in the biblical sense. *Shew* went everybody, because gee whiz, it wasn't good, but at least there was no physical component to the relationship. But not so fast. Then came statement #2 from Doug Phillips, clarifying oh wait, yes, did I forget to mention that there *was* physical touching of a sexual nature? And then silence for a long time. And now Camp Phillips, after lawyering up, has finally spoken again through attorney Jason Jakob to say that it was all Miss Torres' fault, *she* instigated the affair (if a circumstance in which the power imbalance was so vast could even be called that), and so therefore it was entirely consensual (again...the power imbalance thing......). So, no, I'm not buying what he's selling. And I'm not seeing repentance. Maybe others are, and if so, that's great. But I'm not.

(Online source)


Justice for the weak and disenfranchised is a big deal. It's a big deal to God, and it should be to us as Christians. I obviously don't mean in a social justice/social gospel kind of way, but rather, in the sense that we ought to look after the members of our church body as if they were members of our own blood families. One concept that was a big takeaway for me the year that I did a study of Isaiah was that God is angry with those who don't seek justice. He also despises those in authority, especially spiritual authority, who prey upon the weak and helpless in their care:
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)
"Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them." (Isaiah 1:23) 
"Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent." (Isaiah 5:22-23) 
"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." (Isaiah 10:1-2) 
"This is what the LORD says: 'Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.'"(Isaiah 56:1) 
"No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil." (Isaiah 59:4) 
"So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice." (Isaiah 59:14-15)
Yes, justice matters to God. So if Lourdes Torres' allegations prove to be true, I pray that she receives justice.

 Additional Resources 

Former Nanny to Doug Phillips' Family Files Lawsuit, Alleges Sexual Misconduct

Copy of Filed Lawsuit
 (Warning: Explicit sexual content)

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Resigns, Cites Moral Failure

Vision Forum Ministries to Close

Hall of Shame: Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Mennoknight)

Rethinking Vision Forum

Christian Giant Sued For "Using Nanny As Sex Object" (World Net Daily)

Religious Right Leader Sued For Sexual Battery, Treating Young Follower Like A 'Personal Sex Object' (Right Wing Watch)

Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse (Slate)

How God Saves Us In Christ (And Why Legalism Can't Help Us) (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

Why The Law Cannot Sanctify (Romans 7:5-6) (Pastor Kevin Williams)

 Doug Phillips Responds 

Former minister denies allegations that he kept woman as a 'sex object'

Doug Phillips' statement released through is attorney, Jason Jakob

Who Are You Following?

Posted by Sola Sisters

 Additional Resources 

Am I the Kind of Person That God Saves?

John Crotts (Faith Bible Church)

John MacArthur (Grace Community Church)

Martha Peace (ministry to Christian women)

Kay Arthur (ministry to Christian women)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Former Nanny to Doug Phillips' Family Files Lawsuit, Alleges Sexual Misconduct

Posted by Christine Pack

Beall Phillips, Lourdes Torres, Doug Phillips
World Net Daily is reporting that Vision Forum's former president, Doug Phillips, has been named in a lawsuit by Lourdes Torres, a young woman who worked as a nanny for the Phillips' family beginning at the age of 15. Torres has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging that Phillips committed "inappropriate, unwanted, and immoral sexual acts" against her while she worked and lived in the Phillips' home and tended to his children. The lawsuit was filed in Kendall County (Texas) Tuesday, April 15, 2014, and can be read here (Warning: Explicit content). However, according to Diaz Jakob, the attorney representing Doug Phillips, the relationship between Phillips and Torres was "consensual," and was "initiated, encouraged, and aggressively perpetuated by (Torres)." The statement released by Phillips also makes a point of noting that the contact between Phillips and Torres did not begin until Torres had reached the age of 23. While it has been confirmed by Torres' that physical contact did not begin until she had reached the age of 23, Torres had known and worked for Phillips from the age of 15. (Torres' family first met the Phillips family at a Vision Forum homeschooling conference.) Also, in the Vision Forum worldview, it must be understood that hyper-patriarchalism was in full force, with girls being viewed as property to be passed from father to husband. Many girls and young women in this Vision Forum system appear mature and capable, and in many ways they are, having been trained from very young ages to look after entire households. They are also trained to unquestioningly serve and obey their fathers, as well as all other male authority figures in their lives. It is for these reasons that Phillips's claim of the relationship being "consensual" rings hollow to me. (Phillips' statement released through his lawyer can be read in its entirety here.)

We reported last October that Phillips had resigned as president of Vision Forum after citing a personal moral failure (that article can be read here). As noted in that article, Phillips has long been the face of a particular branch of Reformed Christianity which models very rigid and oppressively legalistic family structures (led by the "Federal Head," the husband), promotes the Quiverfull lifestyle, enforces strictly supervised courtship dating for youth, and also teaches a form of Dominionism (got to have lots of babies, you see, through embracing the "quiverfull" teachings, if you're going to have any shot at taking Dominion of the world). Unfortunately, with Doug Phillips' moral failure, we are seeing yet more proof that Christian environments that have systematically built oppressive legalism into their structure are not safeguarded against sin. The law does not, and never has had, the ability to protect us against sin or sanctify us, and thinking so only leads to legalism, spiritual oppression and sin abounding all the more. Thus, systematizing legalism into entire movements (like Quiverfull, hyper-patriarchalism, Dominionism, Bill Gothard's ATI/IBLP systems, the Shepherding Movement, etc., etc. ) is no guarantee or insulator against sin, which is the great leveler of us all.
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:20) 
"We maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." (Romans 3:20) 
"For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death." (Romans 7:5)
Pastor Jeff Crippen of Christ Reformation Church in Oregon addressed this issue of legalism in a recent sermon, specifically naming Vision Forum as a legalistic and problematic movement:
"I think that Doug Phillips and Vision Forum have been proponents of a very legalistic, so called gospel, and it's not surprising then that sin is incited, because we know from scripture that the Law is the power of sin. And if you're gonna pursue rightness with God by the Law, well look out, because it's just going to feed sin." (How God Saves Us in Christ, 11-3-13)  
Lourdes Torres, Doug Phillips
Vision Forum Ministries had created an entire cottage industry devoted to resources based on lawkeeping and rules-based behaviorism, all geared toward producing perfect children, perfect wives, perfect husbands, perfect homes, perfect marriages, etc. Before closing, Vision Forum Ministries produced and sold all manner of material dedicated to training their devotees in the proper Vision Forum lifestyle, including wholesome, family-friendly videos, some of which featured Doug Phillips, his children and Lourdes Torres. By all appearances, those who bought into the Vision Forum mindset thought that by adding extrabiblical instructions and rules to their lives, they could safeguard themselves against sin. Sanctification via a step-by-step methodology: Insert Slot A into Slot B....... Sadly, their leader's profound moral failure has revealed what a demonic deception legalism is.

Some of the allegations in Torres' lawsuit:
"Douglas Phillips—standing in a position of influence and prominence within patriarchy—methodically groomed Ms. Torres so that she would eventually participate in illicit sexual rendezvous with him promising that she could one day marry him. This grooming began when Ms. Torres was a fifteen-year-old child." 
"Phillips repeatedly told Torres that this was possible because his wife, Beall Phillips, was going to die soon." 
"Douglas Phillips, on the evenings he visited Ms. Torres' (bedroom while she was living in the Phillips home), persuaded her that he was not doing anything wrong, that he intended to marry Ms. Torres, and that his wife would die shortly and enable him to marry Ms. Torres. He further repeatedly told Ms. Torres that he loved her, that he would take care of her, and that what they were doing was not wrong. He also stated that if it was wrong, it was completely her fault." 
"Ms. Torres was unable to consent to the sexual contact and repeatedly asked Defendant Douglas Phillips to stop. However, Ms. Torres did not tell anyone about Defendant’s conduct because he manipulated her into believing that it would ruin his reputation, destroy his ministry, and get her in trouble with the church." 
"On or about January 2, 2013—after 12:00 midnight—when Ms. Torres had refused to be alone with Defendant Douglas Phillips for several weeks, had stopped assisting him with Vision Forum work projects, and was no longer communicating with Douglas Phillips, Douglas Phillips came over to Ms. Torres’s house around midnight and began knocking on her bedroom window. Ms. Torres’s family heard the noise and Ms. Torres’s brother and father went outside and chased Douglas Phillips without knowing it was him. When they caught him Defendant stated he had come to “pay” Ms. Torres for her Vision Forum work. Ms. Torres’s father told Defendant Douglas Phillips to leave and he left." 
"On October 3, 2013, Ms. Torres received an e-mail from Beall Phillips threatening her if she did not keep silent about what happened to her, i.e., her abuse."

 Additional Resources 

Doug Phillips, Repentance and Justice

Copy of Filed Lawsuit (Warning: Explicit sexual content)

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Resigns, Cites Moral Failure

Vision Forum Ministries to Close

Hall of Shame: Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Mennoknight)

Rethinking Vision Forum

Christian Giant Sued For "Using Nanny As Sex Object" (World Net Daily)

Religious Right Leader Sued For Sexual Battery, Treating Young Follower Like A 'Personal Sex Object' (Right Wing Watch)

Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse (Slate)

Legal complaint filed in Vision Forum case (World Mag)

How God Saves Us In Christ (And Why Legalism Can't Help Us) (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

Why The Law Cannot Sanctify (Romans 7:5-6) (Pastor Kevin Williams)

 Doug Phillips Responds 

Former minister denies allegations that he kept woman as a 'sex object'

Doug Phillips' statement released through is attorney, Jason Jakob