Category Archives: The Church

Start With A Lump Of Blasphemy, Add A Liberal Dose Of Syncretism…

Being a 44 year veteran of presidential campaigns and something of a political cynic, this writer is not very easily shocked or appalled.

The chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, Sue Everhart, has managed to pull it off. A quick read of this short article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives ample demonstration of the lengths to which many in Republican leadership are willing to go to pander to the Christian voters. It also demonstrates the incredible ineptitude of those leaders.

What remains to be seen is if “conservative (whatever that means)” Christian voters who have attached themselves surgically to the Republican Party are capable of being outraged at statements like “John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross.” Hopefully, discerning Georgia Republicans will not be fooled by Everhart’s nearly instant back-pedal in which she explains “I’m not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I’m looking at the pain that was there.” In other words her direct comparison wasn’t a direct comparison, at all.

In an election year in which the presumptive Republican candidate is openly disdainful of evangelical voters and at least one of the presumptive Democratic candidates is claiming that Christ was a socialist while comparing his plan for collectivist redistribution of private wealth by government with what he thinks Christ came to do on earth, this is shaping up to be a watershed year for the Christian voter.

Republicans are trying to lure the Christian voter with short memories and little knowledge of the Constitution with promises of “good Supreme Court” nominees while openly moving to abandon the pro-life plank of the Republican platform and embracing environmentalist syncretism. Democrats promise “social justice,” via the bayonet if necessary, and twist scripture, using what Lenin called “useful idiots,” groups like the Sojourners and the so-called Red-letter Christians (i.e., Christians who deny that Christ said every word in the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21) as the vanguard.

Will this be the year that “conservative” Christian voters finally cut the sutures binding them to a party which, election cycle after election cycle, year after year, makes grand promises when their votes are desperately needed only to yank them away at the last minute, just like Lucy does with Charlie Brown? Over and over. Year after year. After all, Charlie Brown always tries to kick the ball. Always.

Is this the year that “conservative” Christian voters finally flex their political muscle and do the most productive thing they can possibly do in these circumstances? Will they vote “NO” for president?

Like John Lofton says “If God had wanted Christians to vote, He’d have given them Christian candidates.”

48 Hours: Mystery- A Christmas Night Sucker Punch For The Faithful

The Crumbling ChurchWinding down from a day of joyous celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world with family and food, my wife and I made the mistake of tuning in CBS’s 48 Hours: Mystery. The mystery being investigated in this episode is, appropriately, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. Go here for a transcript of the program.

Why a mistake you ask? First, have you ever noticed that news outlets seem to think that the “balance” provided in a “balanced report” is three to five scholars and/or experts who represent the side the reporter or producer of the report have already chosen as the correct presentation versus usually one scholar, expert or ranting lunatic (depending on how much bias the reporter/producer feels comfortable revealing)? CBS’ 48 Hours is certainly no exception to this unwritten but undeniable rule. On the side of the those who deny that there was anything miraculous about the birth of Jesus were noted apostate “scholars” John Dominick Crossan (Jesus Seminar member), Elaine Pagels, the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and an adherent to second century Gnostic heresies and Michael White a “New Testament scholar” from the University of Texas who thinks that the 4 Gospels contain lots of “creative writing.” On the side of biblical truth was Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary.

As could be expected Crossan, Pagels and White got the bulk of air time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since much of what they proposed was contradictory, not to mention openly heretical, at least to anyone passingly familiar with the Bible and specifically the Christmas narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Witherington, on the other hand gave a thoughtful and reasonable explanations for supposed “contradictions” in the narratives. These “contradictions” were never actually listed or presented in any coherent form, their existence was merely asserted. He also debunked legends associated with famous sites associated with the birth of Christ. Crossan, Pagels and White could not agree where and when Christ was born. Witherington showed that the “where” of Christ’s birth was well documented and the when was also fairly well known.

The “contradictions” that the three Nativity doubters cite include the fact that shepherds appear in the story only in the Gospel of Luke while the magi appear only in the Gospel of Mark. Michael White put it this way

“When you start looking at them and realize that you can’t make the way you heard it come out the same way, you have to ask, ‘Wait a minute, what’s going on here?’”

Of course, what’s going on here is that this is the same story told from different perspectives. There’s nothing that excludes Luke’s details in Mark’s Gospel or vice versa. But it’s interesting to see how the CBS producers twist facts to create the illusion of “contradictions.” From the transcript-

And most scholars agree that each Gospel author tailored his argument to fit his target audience.

Of course this is true but there’s another, better explanation for this than the conspiratorial fantasy proposed in the program. As anyone who has listened to eyewitness testimony will tell you, different people who were in different places with different vantage points and different ways of memorizing things give testimonies with different levels and types of detail. Matthew was a Jew, a Levite and a tax collector (a pariah in Jewish society). John was a very young Jew. Luke was a Greek physician and Mark was apparently a North African whose Gospel is thought to have been taken from Peter’s teaching. Why would anyone expect these diverse human beings, inspired by God, to tell exactly the same stories with exactly the same details? As parents, if we got testimonies like this from our children about some incident at home, we would instantly suspect that the stories had been harmonized before being told to us, wouldn’t we? What we should realistically expect is the same basic facts with very different detail, exactly what we see in the Gospels.

Crossan and, judging from this interview, White are working from a viewpoint that the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were written from the fictional but nevertheless legendary (at least amongst certain biblical “scholars”) Q document. The Q document is supposedly a lost text from which the three writers who call themselves Matthew, Mark and Luke took their accounts. This is textual criticism carried out to its logical absurdity. Since Crossan and White (and obviously Pagels) believe that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John could possibly have been written the Gospels attributed to them then it follows that ALL manuscripts must have been taken from a theoretical single account with “creative writing” elements adding details. All three of these scholars, based on their presuppositional rejection of Christ as Son of God, reject the idea that these may be actual eyewitness accounts of Christ’s disciples (Matthew, John and possibly Luke) or transcripts of eyewitness accounts (Mark and Luke).

All three of the anti-Nativity scholars use their rejection of the biblical accounts as the pivot point on which revolves their rejection of Christ as Son of God. Crossan and White question whether Christ was born in Bethlehem and believe He was born in Nazareth. They offer no real proof but speculate openly on the basis of their rejection of the truthfulness of the Gospel accounts. Elaine Pagels, for instance said-

The Gospel of Phillip basically implies that Jesus had biological parents as we do. It’s not a literal truth that Jesus was born from a mother impregnated by the Spirit. But, rather, one has to understand that as a metaphor for the divine process of rebirth that takes place when we’re born again spiritually.

The Gospel of Phillip is not a Gospel at all, of course. It is a Gnostic forgery dating from somewhere between the second and fourth centuries. Much of the DaVinci Code heresies are pinned to the Gospel of Phillip. Pagels insists that it be given the same weight as the New Testament Gospels and Epistles because she is invested in second and third century Gnostic feminism, not because she can prove that they were contemporaneous to the Gospel accounts. She believes she doesn’t need to do this because she rejects scholarship placing the writing of the New Testament in the mid to late first century.

On and on these Christ doubters go, questioning everything, not based on eyewitness accounts or other concrete evidence but upon their materialistic presuppositions that these things just could not have happened as they were told to us in the Gospel accounts. Dr. Witherington does a stand up job defending the Gospel accounts and it seems that perhaps CBS erred in presenting only one conservative scholar. Under these circumstances the conservative viewpoint was presented as coming from a unified front, while the skeptical claims were presented as being haphazard and random, the result of scholarly infighting and ego driven insistence regarding whose theory of the real story was the more scientifically plausible and in the case of Elaine Pagels more politically correct in its Gnostric feminist approach.

All in all, it was a wretched thing to run on Christmas night (or any night, for that matter) but a Christian voice for truth, in the form of Dr. Ben Witherington, rung out loud and clear in contrast to the sour notes of the baseless criticisms of the naturalistic naysayers and feminist fault finders. CBS should be ashamed, not just for for attempting to deliver a black eye to Christianity, but also for doing it so ineptly. We serve a sovereign and almighty God who will not be mocked.

Christian Charlatans or Swindling Senators- Which Is Worse?: Update

The Crumbling ChurchAn editorial in January’s Christianity Today reveals that, uncharacteristically, CT gets it! Surprisingly, CT asks all of the right questions about the motivations of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley in his “investigation” into the finances of famous health and wellness gospel preachers and seems to get all of the right answers.

That is, they see that this a sitting Senator’s attempt to directly interfere in a church doctrine (health and wellness doctrine) that he does not like. We agree that the health and wellness doctrine, that teaches that monetary wealth and health are direct indicators of the measurement of a persons faith, is aberrant.

We disagree with Senator Grassley, that the federal government has any jurisdiction in the matter at all. Don’t misunderstand. We think fraud is a crime. There is no fraud involved in health and wellness doctrine teaching. We think these preachers believe what they are teaching, to their eternal peril. The first amendment to the Constitution is very clear on the subject; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” Doctrinal discipline is for Christ’s Church to perform, not an overreaching federal leviathan. Grassley is attempting to make political hay by implying a threat of force to change church doctrine.

This is a very dangerous precedent. It’s time for Christians to speak out on this now!

Christian Charlatans or Swindling Senators- Which Is Worse?

Crumbling ChurchSenator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) apparently believes that he has the constitutional authority to oversee church finances. Watch as he does the quick shuffle to explain where his power to conduct such investigations comes from.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzpBLxSlWJM&feature=related[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl68CA0Rb40[/youtube]

Grassley attempts to equivocate- “Well, this is not a first amendment issue…We’re not interested in doctrine.” This is, of course, a patent falsehood. The churches chosen to be investigated have a core doctrine, aberrant though it may be. They believe that they can create wealth with the spoken word, that Christ intended for His faithful to be wealthy and the degree of wealth achieved will depend on the depth of faith. Does this ignore the true teachings of Christ? Clearly. But who appointed Grassley to be the Archbishop Laud of the United States? Grassley’s own attempts to justify his foray into constitutionally forbidden territory reveal his real aim. To subjugate the government of Christ’s Church to civil authority.

Twice Grassley is asked if he intends to investigate the Catholic Church, one of the largest landholders in the country and one of the richest church entities in the world and twice Grassley quickly sidesteps the question. The fact is that Grassley knows that the Catholic Church has the status of not only a church but that of a foreign nation and too much probing could cause an international furor, not to mention create problems with Roman Catholic neighbors and allies.

Grassley further “explains” that his committee has jurisdiction because it oversees “…tax law. We have tax exemption to encourage charitable giving.” Well, no Senator Grassley, that’s wrong. You have tax exemption because it used to be understood by government servants that the tithe is a tax collected by the church and mandated by God for the operation of His Church including the feeding of the poor and that failure to exempt the amount tithed amounted to a double tax on an independent entity. The sudden requirement for churches to obtain Internal Revenue Service 501(c)3 “tax exempt status” in 1953 (thanks to another Senatorial swindler Lyndon Johnson who didn’t like the fact that several Texas churches had openly opposed his election effort, and so used the tax code as a gag for the pastors’ mouths) is nothing more or less than a club that is hung over the head of churches to bring them into submission to the state. Grassley makes it abundantly clear that he is now prepared to swing that club in order to assert the authority of the state over the Church. Submit or let your congregation be double taxed, a sure way to de-fund a church.

Grassley has demonstrated that he has a predators heart regarding getting the prey he wants. He chooses the weakest member of the herd, cuts them out then mercilessly chases them down and eviscerates them. The word-faith pastors he has chosen are clearly the weakest members of the herd. Having abandoned the true core teachings of Christ in favor of the health and prosperity gospel wherein they enrich themselves from the givings of their flock, they are an easy target. Many orthodox Christians are torn about what to think about the investigation because they do not understand the separate roles of the Church and state and they revile these pastors as con men. They therefore hesitate to step in to defend the pastors, not realizing that their own churches are going to be next on the list for any infraction Grassley and his ilk can pull from their grab-bag of unconstitutional tricks. This is how all totalitarian governments handle matters. First go after the unpopular groups then, as they fall, go after members of successively less popular groups until none are left to band together for defense.

Grassley, who knows he is on shaky constitutional ground, doesn’t hesitate to play the class envy card. If the Church should happen to awaken to this attack as a call-to-arms, he will have a ready made set of allies in the class envy crowd. When asked if he thought it mattered if a pastor of a large successful church drove a Rolls Royce vs. a Buick, Grassley wasted no time in saying “…for a person like me it’s simple. Jesus came into the city on a simple donkey. To what extent do you need a Rolls Royce to expand the ministry of Jesus Christ? I speak this as a Christian…” And there you have it. As a representative of the civil authority he is going to invade the realm of church authority to fix what he perceives to be a problem in certain ministries because he doesn’t like the way those ministries run their affairs. Grassley wants the Church to answer to the state before answering to Christ.

Senator Grassley needs to realize that disciplining individual members of the Body of Christ is up to the Body of Christ as a whole, not a meddling outside authority which has clearly demonstrated that it has an ulterior motive in doing so. He also needs a little remedial training in the US Constitution which explicitly prohibits ANY government interference in the free exercise of religion. Perhaps he should take Michael Peroutka’s Institute On The Constitution class. The word-faith pastors are clearly engaging in the practices of their faith, as flawed as they are. The Body of Christ has been doing a pretty good job of exposing the false teachings and practices of these pastors and it’s also doing a pretty good job of picking up the pieces and repairing the human damage they’ve done inside the Body.

Thank’s Senator, but the Church doesn’t need any help.

Church History And Modern Life- Update

Abandoned ChurchIt’s a little late but here’s the update on last Wednesdays question- What’s so important about today’s (October 31, 2007) date in church history?

For those of you who didn’t feel like Googling it or were too lazy to do it or forgot or whatever the date in question was Reformation Day. In fact it was the 490th Anniversary of Reformation Day. Just what the heck is Reformation Day you ask (and you’re no alone if you have to ask a very sad but true fact)?

Reformation Day commemorates the day that Martin Luther performed the rather simple act, hardly an unusual act among clergymen of the time, of attaching 95 theses for debate on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. An act that, thanks to the printing press and the corruption of the church, sparked a church reform movement that swept through Christendom and divided it into two camps (three main camps, counting the Orthodox faith which split with Rome in the 11th century).

That’s not exactly what Luther wanted but what happened was the Lord’s will, for His own glory and purpose.  Think about that next October 31st.

Church History And Modern Life- How Is Today’s Date Significant?

Abandoned ChurchWhat is significant in church history about today’s date? Does anyone out there know? You should. It doesn’t matter if you are Protestant or Roman Catholic, the events which took place on this date shook the church and changed it in a way that still reverberates today.

I was personally shocked at how few people, in an unofficial and completely unscientific poll I conducted today, knew what happened on this day in church history.

Do you know? Leave us a comment if you think you do. We’ll tell you this weekend, if you haven’t Googled it by then.