Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Will the Visible Church Soon Accept LEGAL Same Sex Marriages, in the Same Way that World Vision Has? [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack

(UPDATE: About a day after their announcement that they would begin hiring professing Christians in same sex marriages, World Vision made a statement reversing this new policy change, calling it a "mistake." While I am glad for this reversal, my prediction is that World Vision will eventually reverse this reversal, only they will do it quietly next time, without any kind of grand public statement. I think they learned their lesson, especially after immediately being called out by Franklin Graham and Dr. Albert Mohler, and others. Our Facebook wall was also flooded with comments from readers expressing that they could no longer in good conscience partner with World Vision. So sadly, the lesson I think World Vision learned was not to have greater fidelity to God's word, but to "manage" their liberalism more covertly. I could be wrong about how this plays out, but time will tell. I think that liberal churches and organizations [and yes, I'm counting World Vision among them] are just biding their time until such time as same sex marriage is legal in all states. At that point, I predict they will be straight up same sex marriage affirming, and will feign shock and dismay that "certain" Christians [and we know who they are, right?] still refuse to affirm homosexuality as lawful and good in God's eyes. The law is the law, right? I can just hear it now. Be prepared for World Vision to go all Romans 13 on us at that time, it's coming.)
"(T)he board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision." (in-house letter to World Vision staff)
After we recently published an article about the fact that World Vision has decided that going forward they will hire professing Christians who are in "legal same-sex marriage(s)" (while at the same time confusingly claiming they're not endorsing same sex marriage via an in-house letter to their staff), we got to thinking about what the real issue is here. Could it be that the visible church of today is slowly apostasizing, and yet assuaging its collective conscience with the salve of legality? After all, as the United States rushes headlong into legalizing same sex unions (17 states so far, and counting), it seems it will only be a matter of time before same sex couples can get married in every state in America. So the real question for Christians today is this: do you understand how this battle will likely play itself out? Fines and jail sentences and increasing persecution will in all likelihood be coming to Christians who refuse to participate in same sex unions, whether that is a Christian baker choosing not to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple, a photographer choosing not to book same sex weddings, or a pastor of a church refusing to perform a legal (but biblically sinful) wedding ceremony between a same sex couple. Are you prepared for this battle, my friends? Because it's coming to your door very soon. And the hinge that's swinging this door will be that these unions will be 100% legal, though still condemned in God's eyes. Are you ready?

Monday, March 24, 2014

World Vision Affirms Same Sex Marriage [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack

(UPDATE: About a day after their announcement that they would begin hiring professing Christians in same sex marriages, World Vision made a statement reversing this new policy change, calling it a "mistake." While I am glad for this reversal, my prediction is that World Vision will eventually reverse this reversal, only they will do it quietly next time, without any kind of grand public statement. I think they learned their lesson, especially after immediately being called out by Franklin Graham and Dr. Albert Mohler, and others. Our Facebook wall was also flooded with comments from readers expressing that they could no longer in good conscience partner with World Vision. So sadly, the lesson I think World Vision learned was not to have greater fidelity to God's word, but to "manage" their liberalism more covertly. I could be wrong about how this plays out, but time will tell. I think that liberal churches and organizations [and yes, I'm counting World Vision among them] are just biding their time until such time as same sex marriage is legal in all states. At that point, I predict they will be straight up same sex marriage affirming, and will feign shock and dismay that "certain" Christians [and we know who they are, right?] still refuse to affirm homosexuality as lawful and good in God's eyes. The law is the law, right? I can just hear it now. Be prepared for World Vision to go all Romans 13 on us at that time, it's coming.)

Richard Stearns, U.S. President of World Vision, announced today that the organization would reverse its previous policy of requiring their employees to abide by marriage as defined in God's word as one man and one woman, and would begin hiring professing Christians who were in legal same-sex unions. From the article:
World Vision's American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman. 
Stearns asserts that the "very narrow policy change" should be viewed by others as "symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity." He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.
(Online Source: World Vision: Why We're Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages)
At the same time, World Vision claims to be distinctively Christian. From their website:
We are Christian: We acknowledge one God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ, the love, mercy and grace of God are made known to us and all people. From this overflowing abundance of God’s love, we find our call to ministry........We bear witness to the redemption offered only through faith in Jesus Christ. The staff we engage are equipped by belief and practice to bear this witness. (online source)
Sorry, but World Vision can't have it both ways. If World Vision is going to reject the authority of God's word, it would be better for Christianity if, going forward, they would simply proceed purely as a relief organization, and not as an organization claiming any Christian distinctives. After all, for true believers, Scripture is our guideline in all matters of faith and practice. And the Bible is not unclear on what it says about unrepentant homosexuality, so it's not a matter of interpretation, but one of obedience. World Vision simply can't claim to be a Christian organization, but then deny the Bible in practice where it speaks clearly and authoritative on matters, as it does on unrepentant homosexuality.

 Bending To the Culture 

Caving on the same sex marriage issue is a very "cultural" stand for World Vision to take. By explicitly making a public statement that they will, from now on, be hiring into their organization homosexuals who profess to be gay, then they are accepting, as valid, a profession of Christian faith from practicing, unrepentant homosexuals. And again, by doing so, World Vision is rejecting the authority of the Bible, which condemns unrepentant homosexual sin (along with all other unrepentant sins).

 Administering ONLY Relief to The Needy Will Merely Make Them Comfortable on Their Way To Hell 

Richard Stearns stated in his interview with Christianity Today that:
"...when Christ left, he gave us the Great Commission [to make disciples] and the Great Commandment [to love others as ourselves], and we're trying to do just that."
But is this accurate? Is this how World Vision operates? Are they seeking to preach the gospel message to the lost, that there is a holy God who made them and to whom they are beholden, and who commands all people everywhere to repent and believe on Christ's atoning death for forgiveness and reconciliation? If so, I could not find any evidence on the World Vision website of the gospel message being a part of the World Vision ministry.
"World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice." (online source)
Unless I missed something, from looking at the World Vision website, it seems apparent to me that World Vision sees their primary focus as being one of bringing relief to the needy. Nowhere on the site did I find a statement attesting to the  desire to bring lost sinners into a saving relationship with their Creator, who made them and who has a righteous claim on their lives. And while there is nothing at all wrong with ministering to the poor and needy, and a whole lot good with doing so, Christians need to remember that ONLY doing benevolent acts for the disenfranchised is not the same thing as preaching the gospel to them. While growing up in a very liberal mainline denomination, one thing I heard often was this quote (often wrongly ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi):
 "Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." 
This quote makes me cringe today. The gospel cannot somehow be mysteriously conveyed by kindness or good works. The gospel is a distinct message, communicated with words. Of course, kindness can and should enhance the message of the gospel, but the gospel is a MESSAGE. It's a message comprised of actual words which convey the truth of our Savior, Jesus the God-man, who lived a perfect life that He offered up as an atonement for the sins of wretched, sinful man. Kind actions cannot convey that message.
"For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Going into third world countries with medicine and blankets, and digging wells, and building infrastructure are good, benevolent and loving things to do. But such actions are not a SUBSTITUTE for speaking the actual gospel message. Thus, if an organization claims to be Christian, but does not proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins, then they really ought to rethink their mission statement. I contend that if Richard Stearns and World Vision are only ministering to the physical needs of those in need, and not their greatest need, their spiritual need, then they really ought not to identify themselves as a Christian organization. It only muddies the waters for the rest of us who don't mind taking heat from the world for giving the gospel that offends and for taking stands that aren't popular, such as the hotly raging same-sex marriage issue.

Let me close with this exhortation: To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please don't be under any illusions that if you give $$$ to World Vision that you will be participating in the unadulterated gospel message going forth into the world. Jesus did not turn a blind eye to sin (homosexual or otherwise), nor did He bend to cultural trends.

 Additional Resources 

On World Vision and the Gospel

Pointing To Disaster — The Flawed Moral Vision of World Vision 

Franklin Graham's Statement on World Vision

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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

Post by Christine Pack

"I wish (Driscoll) would step out of ministry, at least for a time, for a long time, and really try to get the issues---,  really seriously reboot his life. I don't think that's gonna happen. I think what we're actually gonna see -- because he's hanging on to all of his authority and all of his influence and all of the things that really seem to matter the most to him -- I don't see him making the sort of changes that are needed." (Phil Johnson - Executive Director, Grace To You, beginning at 27:20 mark in his 3-18-14 interview with Chris Rosebrough)
In the wake of recent scandals that have rocked the Mars Hill empire of celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll, Driscoll has written an open letter of apology which was recently posted by Renue Magazine. Driscoll's apology (A Letter Of Apology From Mark Driscoll) reads in part:
"(A) marketing company called ResultSource was used in conjunction with the book Real Marriage, which was released in January 2012. My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church. In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the '#1 New York Times bestseller' status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well." (online source)
Driscoll wrote that, in conjunction with what he termed a "Board of Advisors and Accountability," he has decided he will "be doing much less travel and speaking" and "will not be on social media for at least the remainder of the year."

While many Christians (fans?) have rushed to accept this letter from Mark Driscoll as a genuine offering of true repentance in keeping with biblical mandates, a few are not so sure. For instance, Phil Johnson (Executive Director of Grace To You) and Christian talk show host Chris Rosebrough (of Fighting For the Faith radio) recently discussed Driscoll's repentance letter, and are publicly questioning the sincerity of it. On the 3-18-14 FFTF show, Phil Johnson made the following statement:
"Even the confession, if you call it that, was a bit weak because (Driscoll) manages to make himself sound like kind of a victim. He does this throughout the letter. He talks about the crushing weight of the responsibility, and his lack of a personal pastor, but when he gets to that part about the New York Times (bestseller) list, he makes it sound like he was sort of duped into doing that, that it was unwise, it was a bad decision and all of that. He doesn't really address the heart of what it is that makes (what he did) so wrong. And that it's a) dishonest, and b) he used church funds to do it."
And later in the discussion:
Phil Johnson: "When it comes to that letter (Driscoll) is the one calling all the shots when it comes to defining both what his sin was and what his consequences are going to be. That's not genuine repentance. Real repentance lets Scripture define the nature of the sin, and somebody else needs to define what the consequences are."
Chris Rosebrough: "Right. The way I read it is, Jesus supposedly is the pastor of Mars Hill, and Jesus and Mark Driscoll decided Driscoll's punishment, and then it was rubberstamped 'Approved' by their Board of Accountability.' I've never heard of or even seen a scheme like that run in any organization even remotely calling itself 'Christian.'" 
Phil Johnson: "No, but you have to see that that is the inevitable result of the notion that God speaks directly to (Driscoll). He's a prophet, he thinks of himself as a prophet. I think he even calls himself a prophet in that letter. He sees himself as a prophet, and therefore, he's in control of what is said about this, what is going to be done about it, because he and Jesus worked it out, just the two of them together. And they have this (Board of Advisors and Accountability)--- whatever they call it, it's hard not to see that as a total sham, because it was set up in the wake of several moves that so changed the leadership at Mars Hill, where (Driscoll) actually got rid of anyone who had any inkling of trying to hold him accountable." 
Also discussed in the Johnson/Rosebrough FFTF interview:
- That Driscoll has made public mea culpas in the past which don't seem to bear the biblical marks of genuine, biblical sorrow for the sins being apologized for 
- That Driscoll has yet to apologize for the lies he told in his gate-crashing publicity stunt at the Strange Fire conference 
- That Driscoll has claimed to receive what can only be termed as "pornographic visions," and which Driscoll has blasphemously ascribed to the Holy Spirit.  
- That Driscoll continues to engage in coarse/off-color language 
-  That Driscoll delivered sexually explicit content during a sermon (the infamous Song of Solomon incident), and when the inappropriateness of that sermon was pointed out by John MacArthur, Driscoll scrubbed the record of that sermon from the internet and told a series of lies to cover himself
- That, perhaps most alarmingly, Driscoll has extended the hand of Christian fellowship to modalist heretic TD Jakes
Rosebrough also commented that Driscoll has never publicly apologized to Janet Mefferd of The Janet Mefferd Show for saying on-air that she was just "having.....a grumpy day" for questioning him over his several incidents of plagiarism she had uncovered. (Incidentally, it is to Janet Mefferd that many Christians owe a great debt for being willing to publicly confront Driscoll over his plagiarism in a show some months back, for which she was severely criticized and forced to make a public apology. So kudos to Janet for being the first across the battlefield and being willing to be bloodied for that. It seems God has vindicated her in this matter.)

Quite a laundry list of known sin issues with Driscoll, isn't it? And yet, Driscoll's fanbase (there's no other term I can think of that more accurately describes them), continue to come out en masse whenever Driscoll gets into hot water and vigorously defend him against the charges made, no matter how heinous the charges might be. So in closing, I'd like to publicly give a big "thank you" to Chris Rosebrough and Phil Johnson for having the willingness and the boldness to publicly state that the problems with Mark Driscoll have reached enough of a critical mass for Driscoll to be disqualified from holding the office of pastor (see biblical qualifications listed below). May other Christian leaders come to understand how grievously harmful Driscoll has been to the body of Christ, and follow suit in calling Driscoll to step down from pastoral office.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1 Timothy 3:1-13 - Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 
In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 
In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 
A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Titus 1:5-10 - Qualifications for Elders
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.

 Additional Resources 

How to Identify True Repentance (Fighting For The Faith)

Documenting the Problems with Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

True Repentance, The Ministry and What (Really) Just Happened (Janet Mefferd)

Mark Driscoll's Problems and Ours: The Crisis of Leadership in American Evangelicalism (Carl Trueman)

Documenting The Problems With Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll

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

Mefferd/Driscoll Interview

Mark Driscoll bought his way onto the NY Times bestseller list through anonymous 3rd parties

Chris Rosebrough interviews Janet Mefferd about Driscoll's latest scandal

Mark Driscoll and His Rated R Sermon in Scotland (Warning: Explicit Content)

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

Mark Driscoll Brags About Pile Of Bodies Behind Mars Hill's Bus

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Having An Eternal Perspective

Posted by Christine Pack

“If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodsman's ax, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
Morning and Evening Devotional, p. 141

Friday, March 7, 2014

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

Commentary by Ingrid Schlueter, posted with permission

Duggars keynote speakers for IBLP 2014 conferences

Bill Gothard has recently resigned from an institute he founded, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). IBLP (also known as ATI) is a pseudo-Christian ministry that advocates for homeschooling, but is also a systematized form of legalism and extrabiblical rules, including strictly supervised courtship dating and a ban on all secular music and movies. The IBLP principles are very popular within the Quiverfull movement, which the Duggar family in the popular 19 Kids and Counting television show adhere to. (The Duggars are slated to speak at several IBLP conferences in 2014.) Gothard's resignation comes on the heels of recent abuse allegations documented by the Recovering Grace website.

Bill Gothard made it to 79 years of age, lived the life that he planned out, and now, resigns, leaving unbelievable human wreckage behind him. Why it takes so long for these monsters to be outed, I will never understand. And most of his followers will just claim it was a set up to tear down a Great Man of God. None so blind as those who will not see.

For many in fundamentalism, he was like a Mormon-style influence. He produced clean cut kids and families that looked so good coming out of the 60's anarchy. It was a natural response from parents genuinely concerned about drug use, promiscuity, etc. in the culture. But where the local churches should have been doing their job, a whiz bang parachurch ministry stepped in and took over. Wrong. Wrong and wrong. That was problem #1. The actual teachings were the biggest problem.

Ironically, Protestants who rejected even the concept of a Pope in theory had no hesitation in following the teachings of one man on nearly every aspect of their lives, including sex and contraception, nutrition, family, even medical information which was proven false and dangerous. He was far more of a pope than the Pope, frankly.

 Additional Resources 

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

Bill Gothard Legalism (Sola Sisters)

Growing Up Gothard
 (The Gospel Coalition)

An Open Letter to Bill Gothard's IBLP

A Beginner's Guide To Growing Up Gothard (Ron Henzel)

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

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)

Recovering Grace

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 connected)

 Midwest Christian Outreach 

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

From the
Institute in Basic Living Principles (IBLP) website

43 Seconds of Funny

Posted by Christine Pack

Why does Daisy get her ice cream before Cooper gets his?  At first I thought tiny Daisy might get hers first because she was the alpha dog......but no.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Andy Stanley Continues His Sad Slide Into Compromise

Posted by Christine Pack

Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church, Atlanta, GA 
Matt Kennedy has recently written an excellent article entitled Andy Stanley and Baking Cakes for Gay ‘Weddings’ on the Stand Firm blog, in which he calls into question a recent statement made by popular North Point pastor Andy Stanley to USA Today. (For those not familiar with Andy Stanley, Stanley is headquartered in Atlanta, GA, and his church is the second largest church in the U.S. Thus, statements made by Stanley can be understood to have a potentially widespread effect on Christendom.) Stanley had this to say about the battle over same-sex marriages and whether a Christian baker (or florist or photographer, etc.) should be forced to participate in a same sex wedding ceremony with their services:
“Serving people we don’t see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. Jesus died for a world with which he didn’t see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn’t want to sell its products to a gay couple, it’s their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it.”
From the article by Matt Kennedy:
"I hope you can spot the problem with Stanly’s ethical proposition here? There is a cosmic difference between, say, baking cookies for your porn star neighbor (serving someone you don’t see eye to eye with) and driving your porn star neighbor to the set. There’s a big difference between helping your heroin addict office secretary get an appointment with a rehab counselor and driving your heroin addict office secretary to a meeting with her dealer. Love does not celebrate or participate in the self destruction of the beloved." (Andy Stanley and Baking Cakes for Gay ‘Weddings’)

photo credit: Willow Creek D/CH via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

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

What Is the Foundation of Andy Stanley's Faith? (Chris Rosebrough, Fighting For The Faith)

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? (discussion) (Chris Rosebrough, Fighting For the Faith)

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)