GOD’S LAW AND THE GRACE OF CHRIST

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Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (2 Corinthians 6:7)

The Law And The Cross Reveal Sin And Lead To God’s Grace

I begin by reminding you that one of the blessings of having to go through such a time of testing as God’s seen fit to be putting me through is that you get to spend a lot of time with the Lord. Undoubtedly, this is eventually going to have the effect of seeing some things a little clearer. Sadly, most professing evangelical Christians are under the impression that the church visible, which they often do not distinguish correctly, is in a time of refreshing just prior to some coming awakening. For example, the Future Outpouring “Prophecy” of SBC elder Beth Moore.

That’s the foolish belief that supplies the root to the charismaniac compromise of TV Preachers Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’, which featured Moore’s mentor James Robison. You need to understand that nothing good will come from it. However, this reversal of the Reformation is going to continue in spite of the tragic death of Robison’s friend Tony Palmer.1 The reason being, mainstream evangelicalism is now full of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and charismaniacs lusting for peace with the world.

And you have the evil influence of the neoliberal cult openly operating within the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church to thank for that. For years now young evangelicals have been bombarded by EC propaganda telling them they need to be more like the world to reach people. The tragic fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. All this false teaching has now spread throughout the Seeker Driven camp of evangelical megachurches leading to scores of false converts; many who have now grown up and are unconverted men and women standing behind pulpits.

It has been well-stated elsewhere that the visible Christian church has its mightiest influence to the direct degree that it stays separate from the given culture, i.e. the world, around it. God will always provide power when the church follows His directive in our opening Scripture. Frankly, church history—and most importantly the Bible—prove this and teaches us not to rely on our own ingenuity. Unfortunately, we live in the middle of a time where church leaders have turned their back on this. Instead, we’re told just the opposite; that we must be like the world.

What we need to see right now is a wholesale turning away from evangelical mythology and a return to Scripture. Just think of the devastating consequences of listening to people-pleasing preachers like Joel Osteen and Word Faith king Kenneth Copeland with their compromises. Osteen avoids the Cross while Copeland embraces sinful ecumenicism. I shudder to think of how many people following those fools will die dropping into hell. How sad when all their lives they would have been deluded into thinking they are Christians, but were never regenerated.

Never forget that the Cross of Christianity never compromises; in fact, it stands for separation. And remember, in Jesus’ time, a cross killed everyone who was ever placed upon it. It separated all from life and those who were condemned to be crucified knew they had a death sentence. You say, “This message is extreme.” I say, you’re right; it is. You need to realize that Jesus knew this when He said, “whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). All those who heard Him say this knew exactly what our Lord meant.

They understood that the cross was extreme and it was final. No one who carried a cross was spared. As one minister put it, “The genuine message of Christ is a call across a gulf from death to life, from sin to righteousness and from Satan to God.” This is counter to today’s non-gospel. Without preaching the Law and the Cross the unbeliever never gets to see why they’re in such spiritual peril. Being like the world so as to comfort them in their sin keeps them from ever seeing just how amazing the grace of God really is. At best, today’s Christian message cheapens it.

I discussed this previously e.g. in Jay Bakker, Homosexuality, and Gospel Reductionism. You really need to come to grips with all of this before you read what is to follow from Martin Luther below There was an old Nazarene preacher who gave some advice to a young minister who was just starting out. Sound wisdom, which the young man never forgot. “Son,” he said, “I sure like the way you preach the Gospel, and I’d like to give you a little bit of advice.” The young minister eagerly told him that he would love to hear anything the more experienced man of God might wish to share.

And the old preacher really appreciated the attitude of that young man. So, he looked him in the eye and said, “When you go out, always preach the love of God, and the grace of God, in Jesus Christ. But, if they don’t want Jesus—then leave ’em with the Law according to Moses.” For you see, that is the other side of the Good News:

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

We need to learn how to clearly distinguish the law given through Moses from the grace that came through Christ. We must always keep the role of Christ separate from the role of Moses and make a clear distinction between the two.

We need to know precisely what purpose each one fulfills so that we don’t become confused. I was confused about this distinction myself for over thirty years. I just couldn’t believe that Christ wanted to show His kindness to me.

The first commandment teaches us that God wants us to sincerely trust him. Yet we also must fear him above everything else. In other words, Christians are like children who have been punished but who still love their father.

And they remain confident that their father still loves them. The good works required by the first commandment are far better than wearing special clothes, fasting, praying, and all other the other god works religious people have invented.

So the good works required by the first commandment are holy and must be obeyed. But who can live up to them? Certainly no one can completely obey the first commandment. Everyone is a sinner except Christ.

Christ, however, comes to us and says, “I have shed my blood for you. My blood cries out on your behalf.” Out of his grace and kindness, he brings us the forgiveness of our sins at no cost to us whatsoever.2

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Palmer was killed the other day in a motorcycle accident: http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=23566, accessed 7/23/14.
  2. Martin Luther, Faith Alone [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], July 23.

JESUS, THE GOD OF HOLY SCRIPTURE

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For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? (Psalm 8:”6-7)

As I begin this piece I remind you that the one true and living God has given us a most powerful weapon in this life, the fervent prayer of faithful saints. While there’s no power in the act of prayer itself, there most assuredly is power in the One Who answers our prayer in Christ.

With this in mind then, we wish to thank you for your continued prayer. Please know it is appreciated and I’ve no doubt that the Lord is using it for His glory. I’m still battling what seems like a flood of physical issues, which is what has been slowing me down right now.

Even so, we do feel glimmers here and there that this time of testing is going to come to an end one day “soon.” For now, I turn to a major reason why we are currently witnessing an accelerated apostasy within the mainstream of the professing Christian community.

It really began within more conservative evangelicalism when it made the fateful decision to embrace the enemy’s Church Growth Movement, which slithered out of Fuller Theological Seminary (FTS) in the mid-60′s. And it’s quite easy to see where FTS would derail.

They lost faith in the perspicuity (clarity) of Holy Scripturethe inerrant and infallible Word of Godas I outlined some time back here at Apprising Ministries, e.g in Teachings of Demons on Church Growth. FTS turned it’s back on how God revealed we should grow churches.

And in rushed men like Rick Warren who would teach scores of evangelical pastors to compromise Biblical doctrine in order to gain converts to what became a quasi-Christian Purpose Drive/Seeker Driven religion. Tragically, this ushered in many false concepts about God.

Here I offer that it should be obvious that the Christian faith is only as strong as it’s view concerning Who God really is. Sadly, what is passing for the Christian faith before the majority of the world right now is portraying things about God that simply aren’t true.

Add to this the satanic syncretism that has also snaked its way into the very heart of Christendom, through its bowing before the altar of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticismalong with its twin pillar of charismaniaand you have the recipe for spiritual disaster.

However, the Lord had already warned us in Scripture long ago — Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Well, they’re now here.

Instead of preaching the God of the Bible, these Warrenites and their fellow postmodern liberals have settled for a mystic mush god who wouldn’t hurt a fly; essentially, he/she/it is simply just a bigger version of themselves. Yet God has also revealed that:

I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:6-7)

I’m afraid that the following words from Charles Spurgeon are as true now as when he spoke them concerning those who succumbed to the mythology of the original liberals:

At the present day, I am afraid that nine people out of ten do not believe in the God who is revealed to us in the Bible. “What?” you say. It is so, I grieve to say. I can point you to newspapers, to magazines, to periodicals, and also to pulpits by the score, in which there is a new god set up to be worshiped; not the God of the Old Testament, he is said to be too strict, too severe, too stern for our modern teachers.

They do not believe in him. The God of Abraham is dethroned by many nowadays; and in his place they have a molluscous god, like those of whom Moses spoke, “new gods that come newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” They shudder at the very mention of the God of the Puritans. If Jonathan Edwards were to rise from the dead, they would not listen to him for a minute, they would say that they had quite a new god since his day.

But brethren, I believe in the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob; this God is my God—ay, the God that drowned Pharaoh and his host at the Red Sea, and moved his people to sing “Hallelujah” as he did it; the God that caused the earth to open, and swallow up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and all their company—a terrible God is the God whom I adore—he is the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, full of mercy, compassion, and grace, tender and gentle, yet just and dreadful in his holiness, and terrible out of his holy places.

This is the God whom we worship, and he who come to him in Christ, and trusts in him, will take him to be his Instructor, and so shall he learn aright all that he needs to know. But woe unto the men of this day, we have made unto themselves a calf of their own devising, which has no power to bless or to save them! (source)

Tragically along this same line, as a consequence of the gospel of humanism perpetrated by these purveyors of the postmodern liberalism of CSM and their charismaniac compadres, the Lord of Glory has been reduced to A “Jesus Who’s Gandhi with a Beard. In closing this, for now, here’s something to contemplate.

While commenting on John 14:13, Martin Luther now explains to you just Who Christ Jesus of Nazareth truly is. The fact is, He’s the exact imprint (Hebrews 1:3) of the one true and living God in human flesh. In other words, Jesus is the very God just described by Spurgeon above.

Or, do you not remember that Jesus says — Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9). So yes, you will often hear evangelical leaders affirm Jesus as the God of Holy Scripture, but too often today exactly what that means is largely lost upon the visible church:

What does Christ mean when He says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name”? I would think He should say, “What you ask the Father in my name, he will do.” But Christ is pointing to Himself in this passage.

These are peculiar words coming from a human being. How can a mere man make such lofty claims? With these simple words, Christ clearly states that He is the true and almighty God, equal with the Father.

For whoever says, “Whatever you ask, I will do,” is saying, “I am God, Who can and will give you everything.” Why else should Christians pray in Jesus’ Name? Who do people call on saints as helpers in times of need?

Some call for Saint George for protection in War, Saint Sebastian for protection from pestilence, and others for other circumstances; obviously, they believe that these saints will somehow answer their prayers.

But Christ claims this role for Himself. In other words, He is saying, “I won’t command others to do whatever you ask for, I will do it Myself.” So He is the One Who can help in every situation with what we need.

He is mightier than the devil, sin, death, the world, and all creation. No being—whether human or angelic—has ever had, or ever will have, such power. Christ possesses all of God’s power and strength.

Here Christ sums up what we can ask Him for in prayer, He doesn’t limit His promise by adding, “That is, only if you ask for gold and silver or for something that other people can give you.”

Rather, He says that He will do “whatever you ask.”

Further reading

A GOD OF FLESH

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His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. 
(Psalm 147:10-11)

It is a good thing to be learned and wise, and the more you can cultivate your minds, the better, but remember the words of the Apostle—”Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” And, oftentimes, the wisdom which is merely that of the mind may even prove like scales upon the spiritual eyes, hiding from the soul the blessed sight which alone can save it! It is true mentally as well as physically, that the Lord takes no pleasure in any of the faculties which a man possesses if he is destitute of Grace.

Another thing in which the Lord takes no pleasure is that self-reliance which is much cried up nowadays. This is only another form of “the strength of the horse” and “the legs of a man.” Some persons proudly say that they are self-made men—and I generally find that they worship their makers. Having made themselves, they are peculiarly devoted to themselves. But a man who is self-made is badly made! If God does not make him anew, it would have been better for him never to have been made!

That which comes of man is but a polluted stream from an impure source—out of evil comes evil, and from a depraved nature comes depravity. It is only when God makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus that it is any joy for us to be creatures at all! And all the praise must be given to Him. “It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves,” if this day, “we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Therefore, although you should exercise every faculty that you possess and push with might and main in the battle of life, do not rely on yourself.

It is foolish to worship a god of wood, or of stone. It is equally foolish to worship a god of flesh. And it is mostfool-ish when that god of flesh is yourself! Worship the Lord, trust in God—”Trust in Him at all times; you people, pour out your heart before Him.” “Cursed is the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” The Lord takes not pleasure in the boastful self-dependence wherein some glory. Nor, dear Friends, do I think that God takes pleasure in any mere capacity for service which exists in any of us, whoever we may be.

“The strength of the horse” and, “the legs of a man” do but set forth what I now intend to speak of. Suppose a man is a child of God and a preacher of the Word—and that he possesses peculiar gifts to set forth the Truth of God—let him not, therefore, exalt himself, for in mere capacity, even though it is the capacity to preach the Gospel, God takes no pleasure! A preacher has a talent which brings with it great responsibility—it will not be a blessing bringing a reward unless Grace is given to him to use it to his Lord’s Glory! (source)

KAY ARTHUR WITH ERRONEOUS CONTEMPLATIVE INTERPRETATION OF PSALM 46:10

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As I begin this piece, let me first touch upon what I brought up in Latest Concerning Apprising Ministries. We do greatly appreciate those of you who have been praying about my ongoing health issues. If He should sustain me, I have every intention to continue trying to trust God through this difficult time. My plan is to go ahead researching and writing as health allows on a given day.

We also wish to thank those who have been sacrificing to send financial support as well; it has helped us with monthly expenses. However, at the same time, our prayer remains that the Lord will raise up a few people and/or churches whom He’s given the substantial financial resources, along with the gift of contributing in generosity (cf. Romans 12:6-8), to help us begin working on wiping out the $150,000 debt we’re currently under.

In any event, we still feel strongly led that God indeed has more plans for me to keep carrying on as I help pioneer this new mission field of online apologetics and discernment ministry here with Apprising Ministries. Sadly, we do live in a time where the heart of professing Christendom has degenerated into widespread apostasy.

A reason for this is the proliferation of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)—along with its parallel track of hyper-charismatic excesses (i.e. charismania)that is currently slithering throughout the entire mainstream of evangelicalism, which I warned you about a while back in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania.

With this in mind, let me point you to Kay Arthur, who founded Precept Ministries International back in 1970 along with her husband Jack.1 The Arthur’s tells us that:

Precept Ministries International was raised up by God for the sole purpose of establishing people in God’s Word to produce reverence for Him. It serves as an arm of the church without respect to denomination. God has enabled Precept to reach across denominational lines without compromising the truths of His inerrant Word. (source)

You might also remember my earlier piece Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries International and the Unchanged and Unchanging Neil Anderson as well. What is of concern here is the contemplative language used as Arthur wants you to Become Who You Were Designed to BeBeing Still and Knowing God.2

Using an incorrect interpretation of Psalm 46:10 a la teachers of corrupt CSM she tells us to:

aq1
(source)

It’s important for you to understand that Kay Arthur is firmly within the ostensibly conservative evangelical camp. However, phrases like learning “The Art of Being Still” sound like something we’d hear from gurus of CSM we first encountered in the postmodern liberal cult of the Emergent Church, now openly operating within evangelicalism through its foolish embrace of the Emerging Church.

From all of this by Kay Arthur’s PMI, we can see she’s appealing to — Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10), which is a classic verse misappropriated by instructors of CSM. The following is the language, originally gleaned from apostate Roman Catholic mystics, which is so often employed by gurus of the CSM:

Can you remember the last time you sat in total silence except for the sounds of nature – listening intently to hear the voice of God.   It is time to:

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Be still (cease striving)
Rest, relax, chill out, stop fighting, drop your weapons
Know that I am God
Learn that I am God, or “see that I am God”, “Get to know me better”

God is telling His children who are living in a busy world to stop, get quiet so that they can listen and get to know Him. It is only in stillness, the quiet, that we can hear the voice of God. (source, bold theirs)

No, this passage isn’t about any kind of meditation; and it has absolutely nothing to do with sitting in some lotus position and subjectively trying to “hear” God’s voice in creeping crickets or inner burblings of bellies. Rather, this is a firm admonition and warning for all nations—particularly His people Israel—to stop worrying and to recognize God’s sovereignty. More on that in a moment.

You may recall my 2008 article Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer? In that piece I told you that it’s quite common for those who are teachers of spurious CSM, which is also known as so-called Spiritual Formation (SF), to appeal to verse 10 of Psalm 46 in an attempt to try and justify their unbiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).

It’s important for you to realize that CCP, the crown jewel of CSM, is truly a type of meditation in an altered state of consciousness; i.e. transcendental meditation for the “Christian.” Let me point out here that you’ll definitely see this erroneous appeal to Psalm 46:10 to try and justify CSM and CCP in the spiritually bankrupt teaching of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.

Perhaps the best recent example would be the DVD Be Still And Know, which was an veritable ode to CCP. The “Bible Study Guide” that comes with it informs us:

Be Still is an interactive film that provides a contemplative look at the history, importance and power of prayer from a cross-denominational point of view… demonstrat[ing] contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives… featur[ing] some of today’s most highly respected Christian authors, educators, speakers and ministers including Dr. Henry Cloud, Richard Foster, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shriver and Dallas Willard.3

Sure enough on page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” we’re told that, “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And the first verse used to support their contention that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for CCP meditation is Psalm 46:10. Now we’ll look at the aforementioned Richard Foster’s book Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home (PFTH).

This book literally teaches us how to practice CCP. In his PFTH Foster shares the following mystic mythology:

Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism… Contemplative Prayer is the one discipline that can free us from our addiction to words. Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence… It is recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer…

A Warning And A Precaution

At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…

I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection.4

Incidentally, you’ll even find that piece of spiritual skubalon from Richard Foster in the online library of Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) where new charismatic Calvinism mentor John Piper was pastor for some 33 years.5 Leaving that aside, concerning Psalm 46:10, Richard Foster tells us in PFTH:

So many passages of Scripture provide a touchstone for Meditative Prayer: “Be still and know that I am God”; “Abid in my love”; “I am the Good Shepherd”; “Rejoice in the Lord always.”6

As I close this out, for now, I’ll just point out to you that the mainstream of the professing Christian community has a serious problem as we’re witnessing more of this kind of CSMish teaching coming from supposed conservative evangelicals like Kay Arthur7 and her PMI. Remember, she’s reputed to be a great Bible teacher8  and yet she has totally missed what this verse of Psalm 46 is actually telling us.

Here’s some critical thought for you concerning all of this evangelical CSMish practice. It’s beyond question that CSM originated with Roman Catholic mystics.9 The fruit of their “being still and knowing God” would eventually so corrupt the Roman Catholic Church that it would become apostate; which would then lead to the Protestant Reformation and the Church of Rome condemning the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.10

Why in the world would Protestants wish to reject the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura and return to these occult “disciplines” of CSM?11 God hated this attempt to approach Him outside His means of grace then, and He hates it even more now. If you don’t believe me, then make some time to be still and meditate upon the spiritual principles the Lord shows us in Jeremiah 3. God was angry when Israel engaged in idolatry.

However, He was even more angry with Judah because:

“She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too wentand played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.” 

“Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.” And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.” (Jeremiah 3:8-12)

I would suggest that if Kay Arthur et al wish to near the Voice of the Lord about this, then they should go ahead and read Jeremiah 3 out loud. Now, as it concerns a proper view of this oft-misused verse Psalm 46:10, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series, Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren is right when he points out that:

the psalmist encourages the godly to “know” that the Lord is God. Though it was tempting to ally themselves with foreign powers, to rely on military strength, or to give themselves over to idolatry and pagan ways, the godly must learn to persevere to the end. The exhortation “be still” calls on them to stop doing one thing in favor of something else. What their temptation was may be implied from v.2: “Therefore we will not fear.”

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, severe national distress brought the temptation to abandon true religion for the ephemeral security of political alliances, military strength, and worldly paganism (Realpolitik). Instead of choosing a negative option, the people of God distinguish themselves by the pursuit of godliness: “Know that I am God.” The “knowledge” of God includes a factual knowledge about him, his past acts, and his promises. But in this context the psalmist calls on them to commit themselves to the Lord and to seek his “refuge,” “strength,” and “fortress” (vv.1, 7, 11).12

Then in his own classic The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon quotes Jonathan Edwards as teaching the following concerning Psalm 46:10 :

Verse 10Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed,

A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. (source)

I'll now leave you with the following from Be Still: Contemplative, or Listening Prayer and Psalm 46:10 by pastor Larry Debruyn as he further instructs you what this verse, in its proper context, is actually talking about:

So as advocated by some of today’s most notable Christian communicators, what should Bible believers think about using Psalm 46:10 to promote contemplative prayer as a practice the Bible endorses? Bible Interpretation 101 teaches that every text without a context is pretext. Extracting Psalm 46:10 to be an endorsement of meditative-listening prayer is just such a pretext. Here’s why.

First, the injunction to “Be still” must be understood in the milieu it was uttered. The Psalmist addressed a cosmos in crisis. The crisis imperiled the creation (vv. 1-3); threatened the city (vv. 4-7); and besieged the country (vv. 8-11). In the crisis with their world falling apart, the people were afraid (v. 2).

Second, the verb “Be still” (Hebrew, rapah) is used 46 times in the Old Testament with meanings everywhere from describing laziness to ordering relaxation. Though the majority of versions translate the injunction “Be still”, other meanings are “Cease striving ” (NASB), “Be quiet” (NCV), “Desist” (Young’s), or “Calm down” (CEV). In no biblical usage or context does the Hebrew verb enjoin God’s people to meditate or practice contemplative or listening prayer. Rather, believers are to rest and trust in God.

Third, verse 10 contains two co-ordinate imperatives, with the emphasis being on the second command, to “know that I am God,” not the first, to “Be still.” With the first imperative functioning as an adverb, the verse might read, “Calmly (or quietly) know that I am God . . .” [6]Thus by their focusing upon the initial command, to be still, comtemplative spiritualists ignore the greater command, and that is, to know that I am God.

The command “know” primarily means, “to know by observing and reflecting (thinking) . . .” [7]As such, believers are encouraged to find comfort of soul by reflecting upon the saving works that God has both performed and promised. The meditation the psalm envisions is therefore objective, not subjective. “Be still” does not call persons to induce within their consciousness a wordless void or incubator in which state a mystical word from Jesus can be hatched. The cognitive command to “know” cancels that notion. In the light of God’s mighty works and providence, the psalm exhorts believers to reverence Him. As the prophet Habakkuk wrote, “. . . the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Fourth, the command to “Be still” (v. 10) is specifically addressed to the survivors of a war torn nation, people that on all sides continued to feel threatened. To those scared to death by what was going on all around them (v. 2), the sovereign Lord encourages them to stop their trembling. As one commentator observed, “In this explosive context, ‘be still’ is not an invitation to tranquil meditation but a command to allow God to be God, to do his work of abolishing the weapons of war.”[8]

And finally, in the third section the Psalmist looks forward to a new order when God will impose his peace plan upon the world (See Isaiah 2:4.). As He will have ended conflicts and destroyed the weapons of war (vv. 8-9), the Lord affirms that in the coming kingdom age he “will be exalted among the nations” (v. 10). In view of this prospect, the sovereign Lord encourages his covenant people to, “Be still, and know that I am God . . ..” In the end, the sovereign God will defeat war and end terrorism.

There resides a potential danger in mystical practices. It is this: In their attempt to journey into an altered state of consciousness, contemplative meditators may forget that God is the object and they are the subjects. As the theologian Warfield noted almost a century ago, “The history of mysticism only too clearly shows that he who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God.” [9] (source, bold his)

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. http://precept.org/who_we_are, accessed 7/5/14.
  2. http://store.precept.org/Being-Still-and-Knowing-God.html, accessed 7/5/14.
  3. Copy on file at AM
  4. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home [New York: Harper Collins, 1997], 155, 156, 157.
  5. You’ll find Foster’s book here: http://bit.ly/1seZ2Nc, accessed 7/5/14.
  6. Foster, op cit. 149.
  7. She even claims that God Himself gave her this interpretation: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/precept/read/articles/resting-in-him-9547.html, accessed 7/5/14.
  8. For example, Arthur’s been promoted by the SBC appearing alongside quasi-elder Beth Moore, whom they promote heavily: http://www.lifeway.com/Article/Christian-conference-deeper-still-ends-as-began-Arthur-Moore-Shirer-Cottrell, accessed 7/5/14.
  9. Though as I showed you previously in Dangers of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism: Lectio Divina, these practices of CSM can actually be traced to heretical hermits in the desert of Egypt circa third century; and then, this antibiblical ascetism of so-called disciplines would go on to flower in the monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism.
  10. And I already showed you year ago from the Vatican library that The Roman Catholic Church Hasn’t Changed Its Condemnation of the Gospel; the Gospel being that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone on the Cross. This is not negotiable (cf. Galatians 1:6-9) no matter how devoutly religious someone may appear to be.
  11. God the Holy Spirit already warned us not to return to religious bondage, e.g. Galatians 5:1.
  12. Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976-92), Psalm 46, CD-ROM.

LATEST CONCERNING APPRISING MINISTRIES

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We think it’s important that you know, unfortunately, I’ve been having some rough days again health-wise. My hospital/doctor debt is just north of $150,000 and that’s weighing very heavily upon us.

This has affected my sleep and I’m not getting rest, which is serving to wear me down. This then causes my eyes to be even more difficult to focus; and it’s also hard to focus on writing.

In addition, both eyes have a partial vitreous detachment (PVD). With this comes an increase in what is known as floaters. Briefly, virtually everyone has some of these spots in their vision.

With my PVD the floaters are more serious than usual appearing as cloudy gel-like gobs that float through my line of sight and then serve to further blur my vision. The doctor believes they should clear in time.

As silly as it may sound, it almost makes me think I’m in a mini-Job kind of thing. It seems as if God is allowing Satan to keep afflicting me as now my Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is worse.

CMT causes ankles to lose strength, which leads to foot deformity and pain. My ankles have weakened more. The bottom line is: Nearly two years of health issues have strained my nerves and I get anxiety at times now.

This is why I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write until the Lord starts restoring me. I’m frequently praying through James 4:6-8a and the Lord’s Prayer. Yet at times it all gets very bad for me right now.

During those times it almost gets unbearable with anxiety bordering on full-on panic attacks. So far, it does seem the Lord does just enough to help us keep trusting Him; however, you should know I’m growing weary.

Our plan is for me to still try and battle through all of this because it truly does seem like, at its root, it’s a spiritual thing. Unfortunately though, I’m certainly not Job. We really need much prayer support to weather this.

As always we are very grateful for those of you who have been praying for, and financially supporting, AM these past nine years. That said, I must tell you that we are currently in the worst financial slump we’ve yet faced.

If you would like to help us out in this time of need, your prayer and financial support would be deeply appreciated. If you feel so led, you may donate via PayPal by clicking here.

Or, you can make your checks/money orders payable to Connecticut River Baptist Church with Apprising Ministries in the memo and send them to:

Connecticut River Baptist Church
P.O. Box 340
Claremont, NH 03743

Further reading

HUMAN NATURE WON’T SUBMIT TO CHRIST

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Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)

Thirdly, I see here that man’s chief objection to Christ is His authority, for the pith of that inscription was, “Jesus the King.” Pilate did not write, “This is Jesus the Teacher,” or many might have said, “Let Him teach what He pleases, it is no concern of ours. We do not care what the Seers see, or what they say.” Pilate did not put up, “This is Jesus the Priest.” Many would be quite content to let Him be the great High Priest if they also might be priests. But Pilate wrote, “This is Jesus the King,” and that is the target at which they shoot all their arrows!

You remember that the writer of the Second Psalm says, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” The resolve of human nature until it is renewed is always this, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.” Men might be willing for Christ to save them, but not for Him to reign over them. Such laws as these—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “You shall forgive till seventy times seven,” the law of love, the law of gentleness, the law of kindness—man says that he admires them, but when these laws come home to him, and lay hold of the reins of his ambition, cramp his covetousness and condemn his self-righteousness, straightway he is offended!

And when Christ says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” When He begins so teach the necessity of absolute purity and to say that even a lascivious glance of the eye is a sin, then men reply, “His rule will never do for us!” And they hang Him up to die because they will not submit to His authority. Once more, we learn from this narrative that man ridicules Christ’s Kingdom. Pilate did not hate Christ. He probably did not think enough of Him to expend any of His hatred upon Him. I have no doubt that he thought that Jesus was a poor enthusiast who had been living alone so long that He had addled His brains. He was well meaning and perhaps clever, but at the same time, not the sort of man for a Roman governor to dispute with.

He was very sorry to have to put Him to death, for there were so many good points about the poor Creature that he did not wish to let His enemies destroy Him. When the question of Christ’s Kingdom came up, I can imagine how scornfully Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” How contemptuously he must have looked down upon such a poor emaciated Creature who seemed to be despised by everybody, as Christ said, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” and Pilate asked, “Are You a king, then?” half laughing as he spoke. He must have felt as if he could fairly laugh Him to scorn and I have no doubt that it was in that spirit that he wrote, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,” doing it in a vein of grim sardonic humor, first, towards the Jews and secondly, towards Christ Himself, as much as to say, “This is the great King that the Jews have been looking for.They are going to fight Caesar and get free—and this is the ringleader who is to help them to defeat all the legions of haughty Rome.”

Among the ungodly, at the present day, the idea of a spiritual kingdom is quite beyond their comprehension—they cannot make out what it is. The relation between Church and State will not be settled by the statesmen of any political party. There is a very singular relation between the two, though they are as dissimilar as materialism is from spirit. The realms of the two often overlap one another—you cannot draw a line and say, “So far is the State, and so far is the Church.” The fact is the true Church of God is never subordinate to the State— it moves in another sphere altogether and rules after another fashion! A spiritual kingdom, according to some people, means certain laws and regulations that are drawn up by the bishops and synods and councils, but that kind of kingdom is no more spiritual than an Act passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords!

It is only another kingdom of the flesh, an ecclesiastical State of a similar kind to the secular State, but as for the spiritual Kingdom of Jesus Christ, it is not a thing that you can see with your eyes or understand after the manner of men. “You must be born-again” in order to get into it, or even to see it! [See Sermon #3121, Volume 54—THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION] It is too ethereal to be checked by human legislation. It is a mighty power which Christ has set up in this world—a power mightier than all secular states combined—a Kingdom like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which will break in pieces every other power and fill the whole earth in God’s appointed time! Oh, that we saw its power more manifest nowadays in the hearts of men—the power of that Kingdom of which Christ is the King, this blessed Book is the Law, the Holy Spirit is the great Executive and each of us is a servant in the courts of the great King living and acting according to His will!

“Oh,” you say, “this is ridiculous!” Yes, I thought you would say that. That is what the world always says of the Kingdom of Christ—that it is ridiculous. They can understand a kingdom in which there is a head like the Pope, and in which there are cardinals, bishops and priests. They can understand the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of York, and all that appertains to Episcopalians, but to know that we are one with Christ, that He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, that His saints are to reign with Him forever and that the weapons of our warfare, though not eternal, are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds”—they do not understand it, nor do they want to understand it!

This is why they still hang up Christ the King and say, “If this is His Kingdom, we do not want to belong to it and we do not believe in it. Away with it! It is not worthy of our consideration, it is only a few low- minded fellows who will always be the subjects of such a Kingdom as that.” This is “as it was in the beginning” and “is now”—but not as it “ever shall be, world without end,” for the King is coming, a second time, in all the splendor of His Glory and He will let the world know that although His Kingdom is not like others, and is not to be kept up by gold, pomp, rank, dignity and physical force, yet it is a Kingdom which shall last when earthly princes and thrones shall all have passed away! And everyone who belongs to that Kingdom shall possess a crown and a glory before which all the pomp of this world shall pale forever! (source)

Charles Spurgeon 

T.D. JAKES HOSTS CHRISTINE CAINE ON TBN’S PTL TONIGHT

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As I continue to battle through lingering health issues here at the online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries, I’m doing my best to carry on and document for you the sheer rapidity with which doctrinal distinctives are now being obliterated.

You may recall I explained to you that James MacDonald Was A Bit Late In Mainstreaming T.D. Jakes. For you see, e.g. modalist and Word Faith mogul “Bishop” T.D. Jakes has already been preaching for Southern Baptist pastor Ed Young, Jr for nearly ten years now.

Not a peep out of milquetoast SBC leadership.1 Jakes also appeared along with Ed Young, Jr2 and Andy Stanley3 at the Hillsong Conference 2010,4  put on by the heretical Word Faith outfit Hillsong Church (HC), Australia. As HC pastrix Christine Caine informs us:

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(source)

Jakes was also a featured speaker for Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church in the summer of 2010 as well. Despite his denial of the Trinity, i.e. the very nature of God, there right alongside Hybels, Christine Caine, and some others, T. D. Jakes spoke at The Global Leadership Summit 2010.5

And then there was Jakes speaking the mainstream evangelical The Tension Is Good Catalyst Conference Atlanta back on October 6-8 of 20106 along with Andy Stanley once again, Francis Chan, and SBC-sponsored quasi-elder Beth Moore:

Notice how the same names keep cropping up like interlocking concentric circles of syncretism. If you think this is all by coincidence then I’d avoid anyone claiming to sell a large bridge in England. As far as pastrix Christine Caine, she is tip-of-the-spear for the advance of Word faith mythology of HC’s Brian Houston.

Yet recently we saw Word Faith Pastrix Fills In For Beth Moore during her Wednesday’s with Beth on Life Today TV of leading charismaniac ecumenicist James Robison.7 Caine’s become quite the evangelical darling because we’ve also witnessed John Piper Preaching With Hillsong Pastrix Christine Caine At Pssion 2014.

Evangelical Ecumenical Magisterium8 leader James MacDonald would have us believe that T.D. Jakes Has Repented Of Word Faith Heresy. The lineup tonight for tonight’s Praise the Lord (PtL) program on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), hosted by T.D. Jakes, says otherwise.

As I explained the other day in Tullian Tchividjian On TBN’s Praise The Lord TonightPtL is the main vehicle used by TBN for fleecing the gullible within the Christian flock:

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I’ll repeat again what I said in Franklin Graham Hosting TBN’s Praise the LordChristians faithful to Jesus send a better message by having nothing to do with TBN. As it is written:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18)

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. You can see that back in 2007 I made then SBC president aware of Jakes preaching in an SBC church in Dr. Frank Page Responds Concerning “Dr. Ed Young To Share The Pulpit With T.D. Jakes”.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZLxpkZtMtc, accessed 6/20/14.
  3. http://christianvideos.orgfree.com/musicvideo.php?vid=ffcfc7f08, accessed 6/20/14.
  4. https://www.facebook.com/events/115756188451785/, accessed 6/20/14.
  5. http://www.willowcreek.com/ProdInfo.asp?invtid=PR34744, accessed 6/20/14.
  6. http://www.rochestermedia.com/catalyst-2010-the-tension-is-good/, accessed 6/20/14.
  7. For example, see this lunacy in the Lord’s Name: James Robison To Pope Francis “In Christ We Are Brothers”.
  8. I explained e.g. in Steven Furtick Debuts on Trinity Broadcasting Network amid Financial Concerns that the EEM comprised of notable multi-site megachurch pastors seems to have sprung from the Elephant Room conferences of James MacDonald and his co-host  Mark Driscoll.

CHRISTIAN MARCHING ORDERS

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And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth; go, therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:18)

While I was meditating in private upon this text I felt myself carried away by its power. I was quite unable to consider its terms calmly, or to investigate its argument. The command with which the text concludes repeated itself again, and again, and again in my ears, until I found it impossible to study, for my thoughts were running here and there, asking a thousand questions, all of them intended to help me in answering for myself the solemn enquiry, “How am I to go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?”

The practical lesson seemed to me to overwhelm in my mind the argument of which that lesson is only a conclusion, “Go and teach all nations.” My ears seemed to hear it as if Christ were then speaking it to me. I could realise his presence by my side. I thought I could see him lift his pierced hand, and hear him speak, as he was accustomed to speak, with authority, blended with meekness, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the all glorious God.”

Oh! I wish that the Church could hear the Saviour addressing these words to her now; for the words of Christ are living words, not having power in them yesterday alone, but today also. The injunctions of the Saviour are perpetual in their obligation; they were not merely binding upon apostles, but upon us also, and this yoke falls upon every Christian, “Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

We are not exempt today from the service of the first followers of the Lamb; our marching orders are the same as theirs, and our Captain requires from us obedience as prompt and perfect as from them. Oh that his message may not fall upon deaf ears, or be heard by stolid souls! Brethren, the heathen are perishing; shall we let them perish? His name is blasphemed; shall we be quiet and still?

The honour of Christ is cast into the dust, and his foes revile his person and resist his throne; shall we his soldiers allow this, and not find our hands feeling for the hilt of our sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? Our Lord delays his coming; shall we begin to sleep, or to eat, or to be drunken? Shall we not rather gird up the loins of our minds, and cry to him, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly?”

The scoffing skeptics of these last days have said that the anticipated conquest of the world for Christ is only a dream, or an ambitious thought, which crossed our leader’s mind, but which never is to be accomplished. It is asserted by some that the superstitions of the heathen are too strong to be battered down by our teachings, and that the strongholds of Satan are utterly impregnable against our attacks.

Shall it be so? Shall we be content foolishly to sit still? Indeed, rather let us work out the problem; let us prove the promise of God to be true; let us prove the words of Jesus to be words of soberness; let us show the efficacy of his blood and the invincibility of his Spirit, by going in the spirit of faith, teaching all nations, and winning them to the obedience of Christ our Lord. (source)

Charles Spurgeon

Further reading

SBC AFFIRMS BIBLICAL SEXUALITY BUT NO DISCIPLINE FOR GAY-AFFIRMING SBC CHURCH

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In earlier Apprising Ministries pieces like Homosexuality Removed From Hillsong College Student Handbook and Pastor Danny Cortez and his Gay-Affirming New Heart Community Church I’ve been warning you concerning the powerful pro-homosexual lobby that’s now applying pressure within mainstream evangelicalism.1

You need to understand it really has made serious inroads into the timid heart of the evangelical camp. Now, you may recall a while back I told you about Ken Wilson, pastor of Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan and his book A Letter To My Congregation where he reveals that he’s changed his views on homosexuality.2

This is the same thing that happened recently with SBC pastor Danny Cortez who, after his son came out and announced he was gay, would publicly acknowledge that he’s also changed his views on homosexuality. Long sordid story short, pastor Cortez tells us:

I recently became gay affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year. I scoured through your whole website and read everything I could. And it was especially the testimony of my gay friends that helped me to see how they have been marginalized that my eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought.

In August of 2013, on a sunny day at the beach, I realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality. (source)

For our purposes here, it’s important to note that SBC pastor Cortez would go on to inform us that now he’s led his own local church, New Heart Community Church (NHCC), right along into this apostasy with him:

I then told my church on Feb 9 about my new position… However, I expressed that my goal wasn’t about trying to convince everyone what I believe, but that we should allow room for grace in the midst of disagreement. I shared that the body of Christ is segregated every sunday between gay affirming and non-gay affirming and that there must be unity and love.

Unfortunately, many weren’t pleased, so the church had to vote whether to terminate me or accept my proposition. On March 9, the church voted instead to prolong the period of prayer, study and discernment until May 18. We then invited teachers, both gay and straight, from both sides of the debate to speak to our church.

The church just voted two Sundays ago, on May 18, 2014, to not dismiss me, and to instead become a Third Way church (agree to disagree and not cast judgement on one another—see Ken Wilson’s book, “A Letter to my Congregation”). This is a huge step for a Southern Baptist Church!

So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. (source)

So, 1) Cortez has rejected what the Bible says concerning the deviant and sinful lifestyle of having sexual relations with another of the same sex, i.e homosexuality. 2) Instead of dismissing their pastor for his apostasy, the church has already made the decision to join him in it when the congregation voted to take the position to “accept,” i.e. affirm, LGBT people in their sin.

This is important to understand as we move forward in this article. As I asked in my prior piece concerning this sad situation, which happened just before the SBC Convention this year, the question now becomes: What will the SBC do about this; will they expel NHCC now that it’s turned its back on the Word of God,3 or will they merely continue to cower behind their Idol of Autonomy?4

Keep this in mind as I tell you about Garrett Haley’s report Southern Baptists Unanimously Affirm Biblical Sexuality, Oppose ‘Transgenderism’ yesterday where we learn:

Southern Baptist leaders voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to affirm the biblical model of human sexuality, agreeing that gender identity is solely determined by biological sex and not by ‘one’s self-perception.’

As previously reported, church representatives at the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore considered a number of items for discussion this week, including the topic of gender identity. While many claim that a person’s gender can differ from one’s sexuality, the Southern Baptists declared just the opposite in a resolution titled “On Transgender Identity.”

“God’s design was the creation of two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female, which designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race,” the resolution states in part.

“The messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, affirm God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design,” the resolution continues.

 The resolution also exhorts Christians to unashamedly proclaim the biblical perspective on human sexuality. (source)

Sounds good so far; however, this also locks the SBC into opposing the practice of homosexuality, which because it will always be sexual relations outside of marriage, is a sin of sexual immorality. Haley then goes on to inform us:

In addition to the resolution on human sexuality, the Southern Baptist Convention agreed to “consider discipline” for the Californian “pastor” who recently endorsed homosexuality from the pulpit. As previously reported, Danny Cortez of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California, recently claimed during a sermon that the Bible is “gay affirming.” (source)

Well, not so fast; it appears the waffling in the increasingly squishy SBC has now begun. Apparently the considering of discipline has already been done. ABPnews/Herald reporter Bob Allen is reporting that the SBC passes on discipline of gay-tolerant church:

The Southern Baptist Convention responded in a “third way,” neither condoning nor rebuking a church on record opposing Southern Baptist teaching that homosexuality is a sin. Contrary to a leader’s forecast, the Southern Baptist Convention did not rebuke a church for challenging the denomination’s policy against gay-affirming congregations at the convention’s 2014 annual meeting June 10-11 in Baltimore.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, singled out New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., in a blog June 2 after Pastor Danny Cortez said publicly that he no longer believes the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

“I am confident that the Southern Baptist Convention will act in accordance with its own convictions, confession of faith and constitution when messengers to the convention gather next week in Baltimore,” Mohler predicted. (source)

Herein lies the problem with the SBC’s Idol of Autonomy; exactly what real “convictions” is Al Mohler speaking about? For you see, Allen now shares information that tells you much about how the SBC uses it’s Idol:

Seminary President Danny Akin replied that discipline is a matter for the local church, but Southern Baptists can rest assured that graduates coming out of their six seminaries are committed to the traditional view of marriage as the union of a husband and wife. (source)

That’s nice; so we in the SBC “can rest assured” that some amount of graduates of SBC seminaries will remain “committed to the traditional view of marriage as the union of a husband and wife.” It’d have been better if he’d said Biblical view; but even so, that has nothing to do with the issue at hand re. Cortez and his NHCC. The fact is, rather than this local SBC church disciplining its pastor—in violation of the SBC’s above statement on Biblical sexuality—it actually joined in with his apostate view.

Ok Dr. Akin, now what? It’s all well and good to trumpet “the biblical perspective on human sexuality” to the SBC choir in house, but it’s another thing to bear the criticism for it outside the camp. Finally in this regard, let me now point you to Southern Baptists not expected to address gay-affirming congregation by Jonathan Merritt, whom I introduced you to a couple of years ago, e.g. in Homosexuality and Jonathan Merritt, which was a followup to my article Southern Baptist Jonathan Merritt Outed As Gay?

In the former article I reminded you that I’ve stated on a few occasions I believe an evangelical figure of some note will come out as homosexual “soon” serving to fully detonate this whole gay debate—currently ripping apart and dividing mainline denominations—right with the mainstream of evangelicalism itself. Frankly, the more I’ve researched him and read his articles concerning homosexual issues, I wouldn’t really be surprised if it ended up being Jonathan Merritt himself.5

To be clear, this is simply my personal opinion; nothing more. For me, even all this time later, something is just not right concerning all of this surrounding him. However, since it’s not the subject of this piece, for more detail I’ll refer the interested reader to those prior posts. Be that as it may, the reason some “conservative” evangelical is going to come out is due to years of antichrist propaganda by the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church operating within the Emerging Church attacking Holy Scripture.

Sadly, the younger sectors of Christendom, by and large, just do not adhere to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. So when it comes to issues like homosexuality, instead of going by what the Bible clearly says, they are now being led by their fickle feelings. A good example would be gay-affirming EC “pastor” Jay Bakker. Notice Bakker only appeals to subjective experience as he tells us something diametrically opposed to Scripture:

The more I follow grace, the more I’m drawn to him [God], the more I’m willing to stand up for people being persecuted,” said Bakker. “It sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin.’ ” (source, emphasis mine)

Take a look at the mainline denominations and you’ll see that they’re falling one by one before the pro-homosexual lobby. Just the other day the Church of Scotland “backed a proposal which could allow the ordination of ministers in civil partnerships.”6 I’m telling you, take that honest look around, and you’ll get a glimpse of the near future of the mainstream evangelical community as well. And the growing acceptance of women as pastors will only speed up the inevitable.7

You may believe me when I tell you that issue itself is also about ready to explode within the very heart of the ostensibly conservative Christian community. Right now, however, I’m merely going to point out that Jonathan Merritt happens to be the son of Dr. James Merritt, president of the SBC from 2000-2002. If you didn’t know, Dr. Merritt currently serves as senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church (CPC) in Duluth, Georgia; and in fact his Jonathan, who was once on staff at CPC, is set to preach there again on July 6.8

In his June 11th article Southern Baptists not expected to address gay-affirming congregation, as it concerns Danny Cortez and his gay-affirming NHCC, Jonathan Merritt tells us:

The church decided not to remove Cortez from leadership even though it is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a denomination that condemns homosexual behavior. Sources within the SBC say they do not expect the denomination to respond to, reprimand, or remove New Heart from fellowship during their annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland this week.

Fermin Whittaker, Executive Director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, told me that media outlets haven’t accurately reported all the facts on the matter. New Heart is a Pilipino church, not a Spanish one. They are not actively involved in the SBC and, according to Whittaker, have only given $80 per month to the denomination’s Cooperative Program. But more significantly, he does not consider it a traditional congregation.

“This is a mission church, we think,” Whittaker said. “It is not an organized congregation, and the parent church had no knowledge of the changes happening there.”

He says that Baptist polity does not allow him or the California arm of the SBC he leads to revoke a congregation’s membership. Unless the denomination acts at their national gathering this week, New Heart will remain a participating Southern Baptist congregation until at least next Summer.

Whittaker added that there has been no outcry from other California Baptist churches. The only phone calls he has received on the matter came from pastors in Mississippi and Arkansas. (source)

It’s interesting to note that according to Merritt’s quotation from Fermin Whittaker, there’s been “been no outcry from other California Baptist churches” concerning NHCC’s apostasy. From where I stand, all of this just serves to show you how the SBC uses its Idol of Autonomy to avoid doctrinal controversy. Whittaker says, “it’s a mission church,” NHCC is not “a traditional congregation,” and what’s worse in SBC circles, it hasn’t given much money to the SBC’s cherished  Cooperative Program. Perhaps if NHCC gave more then he’d consider it a “real” church.

Well, in spite of his verbal dog and pony show, Whittaker has just told us NHCC is a “congregation” and “a mission church” that you will see below is still affiliated with the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association of the SBC and listed under its Directory of Churches:

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As I get set to close this out, for now, we now go back to the op-ed piece from Dr. Al Mohler, which was referenced above by Bob Allen. In his There Is No ‘Third Way’ — Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision (and so will you) Mohler tells us that:

In his message to the New Heart Community Church congregation, [SBC pastor Danny] Cortez admitted that his “new position” represented a “radical shift” that put him into conflict with both the position of the church and the convictions of the denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. He acknowledged that his change of heart on the issue of homosexuality put him at odds with the SBC’s confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message. (source)

The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) is the rather watered down statement of faith adopted by the SBC. Al Mohler is right, SBC pastor Danny Cortez and his NHCC are in violation of the SBC’s own BFM. However, I think it’s even more important to point out that they are now also in direct contradiction to the inerrant and infallible Word of God in the Bible. Begging Mohler’s pardon, I would offer that this is even more important than any denominational positions. Infinitely so; and I know I’m not alone in that feeling either.

I wonder if Al Mohler remembers the following from the 2001 SBC Presidential Address by an SBC president by the name of James Merritt; yes, the same James Merritt I mentioned earlier. Dr. Merritt thundered from the pulpit:

Now listen!! I do not believe we ought to be heresy hunters… but I do believe we ought to be heresy fighters.  My friend, if the truth is worth believing… The truth is worth defending. And instead of following the paths of some denominations, who waste their breath debating what the Bible denounces as sin, we ought to spend out breath to defend what the Bible declares as truth…

In my home state of Georgia, where I live, and the City of Atlanta, where I pastor, there was a controversy fed by a media frenzy over an association that refused to disfellowship two churches that had been just fellowshipped by the Georgia Baptist Convention.  Churches who accept openly avowed homosexuals as members and even as leaders…  The reason the association gave was,  the autonomy… of the local… church…

Now I want to say this straight and I want to make it plain…  I believe in local church autonomy… I don’t want any leader,… any agency,… any institution or any convention giving orders to me or my congregation but hear me and hear me well…  the ocean of church autonomy stops at the shore of biblical authority… (loud applause from messengers).

Local autonomy without biblical authority becomes spiritual anarchy!!  My friend, it is the height of spiritual callousness and theological hypocrisy to hide behind the skirt of local church autonomy or the priesthood of the believer while pretending that churches can do anything they want to do and believe anything they want to believe and still be a Baptist  church!!  (applause)
(source, notations in original)

Quite impressive, no? Um, apparently not; just some thirteen short years later. And to think, there are those who wonder why the SBC is dying. Dr. James Merritt is right; even so, would he be willing to take the same stand if his own son were to come out as homosexual? Of course I sympathize with SBC pastor Danny Cortez; what Christian wouldn’t? That said however, in Christian love I will have to remind him of the following:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

In addition, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ Jesus of Nazareth is the LORD God Almighty Himself; therefore, Jesus is truly Love in human flesh. And so, I leave you now to listen to what Love told us long ago:

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” 

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:32-39)

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. For example, I explained why there’s such a push for the acceptance of homosexual marriage in Dan Haseltine of CCM band Jars of Clay in support of Homosexual Marriage.
  2. We’re not surpassed to find out that Wilson is deeply immersed in corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticismhttp://renewedmess.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/book-review-mystically-wired-by-ken-wilson/, accessed 6/13/14
  3. cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.
  4. It’s not the first time this issue has come up for the SBC. e.g. see: http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?id=10227, accessed 6/13/14 and: http://www.christianpost.com/news/sbc-committee-decides-against-expelling-members-of-pro-gay-bapist-alliance-49169/, accessed 6/13/14
  5. For example, I would offer this 2011 article from Jonathan Merritt: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-merritt/evangelicals-gay-acceptance_b_882079.html, accessed 6/13/14.
  6. http://www.christian.org.uk/news/kirk-leaders-back-gay-ministers-proposal/, accessed 6/13/14.
  7. In On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania I walked you through the progression that led the mainline denominations to where they are today re. homosexuality. I then showed you that mainstream evangelicalism is well on the way down the exact same dead-end path.
  8. http://www.crosspointechurch.com/news/page_teachingschedule.htm, accessed 6/13/14.

OPRAH WINFREY NOW PLAYING GOD?

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Just like Shoeless Joe, I’m afraid I also can’t say it ain’t so; for it appears tis true according to News Talk WTAQ and Hollywood Staff reporter Shannon Houston’s May 11th post How Controversial Will Oprah’s Role as God in Her New Christian-Themed Movie Be?

Houston informs us:

Last year when Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker teamed up, it resulted in one of the best films of the year: Lee Daniels’ The Butler. This year the two are working together on a new project, and we have a number of reasons to get excited about it. Whitaker is rumored to be the director of the highly-anticipated adaptation of The Shack, a book that had some controversial plot points when it first came out back in 2007.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but according to reports he has plans to write, direct, and star in the movie. The great Idris Elba is rumored to have been cast in a lead role, so we also have that to look forward to. (source)

BREATHEcast News Reporter Kristen Solis also confirms in a May 2nd report ‘The Shack’ Movie Cast: Controversial Book Adapted to Film; Stars Oprah Winfrey, Directed by Forest Whitaker that:

It appears Hollywood is not slowing the trend of christian [sic] faith inspired films as the global hit “The Shack” will soon be heading to the big screen. Originally a book written by William P. Young, it will be adapted into a film directed by Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker and will star Oprah Winfrey and British actor Idris Elba, best known for his role of Russel ‘Stringer’ Bell in HBO’s “The Wire.” (source)

Back in April the online apologetics and discernment ministry Stand for the Truth summed up my feelings well in What? Oprah starring in “The Shack?” when they wrote:

That’s the latest news from Hollywood, folks. How did this theological train wreck of a book become so popular and recommended? Because people don’t read their Bibles. If you don’t know about the 13 heresies in The Shack, you’ll want to get right on that. (source)

You may recall I talked about this book some six years ago here at Apprising Ministries in Stay Away from “The Shack” and drew together for you what I saw as the best critiques of this warped work by William Paul Young aka Wm. Paul Young. I’ll share a bit more concerning Young himself and his spurious spiritual shanty shack in a moment.

First, for a little backstory I point you to Christian Post reporter Morgan Lee who also told us in April that:

A film about the bestselling 2008 book The Shack will reportedly be directed by Forest Whitaker and may star British actor Idris Elba and television personality Oprah. In January, Deadline first reported that the Academy Award winner Whitaker, who starred in the 2013 film TheButler, was in talks to direct William Paul Young’s book.

It also suggested that Whitaker could be a supporting character in the story that chronicles a man grieving the kidnapping and brutal murder of his seven-year-old daughter, who encounters God in the shed where his child died. (source)

It was on the set of the movie The Butler where Winfrey and Whitaker bonded and apparently a deeper friendship was forged.1 In any event, it appears their close relationship is well known; for example:

Oprah Winfrey presented her ‘The Butler’ costar Forest Whitaker with the prestigious Joel Siegel Award during the Jan. 16 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, for his awe-inspiring charity work in Africa and beyond…

Oprah was beaming when she gave the award to her longtime friend Forest, who was honored for his charity work for once, instead of his amazing acting.

“Forest subtly and so masterfully embodies the soul of a character,” Oprah said, before commenting on Forest’s love for his family, friends, and charity. (source)

The reason the deep friendship between Whitaker and Winfrey is important to highlight is friends tend to involve friends in their projects in beneficial ways. Next we go to The Tracking Board (TB), which informs us that it’s “Hollywood’s Insider Information,” and a post from Madison Barnes.

In {TB Eclusive} Oprah Winfrey and Idris Elba May ‘Shack’ Up. Barnes brings out why the Christian community should be concerned:

As a religious film it will definitely be controversial, and with such big-name talent it is sure to get huge press. All the actors so far mentioned are huge celebrities, and depending on how well the film is made, it may even become Oscar bait.

The budget is currently set at $30 million, and with Oprah or Idris Elba’s attachment could attract an even bigger budget. This is also Whitaker’s fourth time behind the camera, previously helming “Waiting to Exhale,” “Hope Floats,” and “First Daughter.” He currently has 3 other directing projects in the works.

The film is set up at  with Gil Netter Productions also onboard. Gil and  are producing, along with , and  for the studio.  and  are working on the current version of the script, and shooting is supposed to start in the summer of 2014 in Atlanta or Vancouver. (source)

Finally, in this regard Charisma News has told us that we don’t yet know for certain “who Winfrey will play.”2 And Morgan Lee has also pointed out that when the story first broke:

It did not specify which part Oprah could be given, although the main character, Mackenzie Allen Phillips, encounters three versions of God while in the shed, one of them Papa, an African-American woman.

The two other members of the Trinity who Phillips meets are Jesus, a Jewish Carpenter, and Sarayu, a woman of unclear Asian descent whom he later discovers is the Holy Spirit.

Shooting is set to begin on the $30 million Lionsgate film in Atlanta or Vancouver later this summer, according to The Tracking Board. (source)

What you’ve just read lets you know that this Shack project is 1) very likely going to happen;  2) it has enough talent and backing to possibly become a major Hollywood production, and 3) there’s really not much doubt that Oprah Winfrey would be the logical choice to play the god Papa, who is the main character of the spiritual shanty, i.e. The Shack (TS).

By the way, if I sound lately a bit like a tabloid writer while covering these things,3 it just shows you how low the mainstream of Christendom has already descended in The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church. As far as Oprah Winfrey playing the god of TS, it’s really not that much of a stretch for those of her ilk practicing the New Spirituality; originally known as the New Age Movement.4

Some might say, “Wait a minute Silva, Oprah has professed her faith in Jesus Christ.” However, the question is: Which Jesus?5 O yes, I’m well aware of just how gullible professing Christians can be; consider the following from the Facebook page of The Christian Post:

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(source)

In fact, I brought you that video clip in my earlier article Oprah Winfrey is not a Christian, which I recently referenced in Rob Bell Set To Tour With Oprah Winfrey. This all ought to give you an indication that Winfrey can’t even see the Christian neighborhood from her current spiritual residence; let alone dwell in it.

However, to be fair, we’ll let Winfrey herself testify as to what she means by Christian. When we do you’ll clearly see she’s not a Christian at all despite her claim to the contrary. The following clip comes from A New Earth Online Class which Winfrey did with Eckhart Tolle, a leading guru of the New Spirituality/New Age a few years back.

While the two promoted the fickle fables in Tolle’s book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (ANE), this was Winfrey’s first stab at webcasting. Following is Winfrey’s “Christian” testimony from her own lips; and keep in mind this is taken directly from the transcript of the online class, produced by Oprah Winfrey herself.

Winfrey began by telling “this global community” that she was going to “talk about what I believe is one of the most important subjects and presented by one of the most important books of our time, ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’” by “author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle.”6

Here’s what Dr. Gary Gilley tells us about Tolle’s ANE in his review:

A New Earth is little more than the standard New Age (New Spirituality) fare which would be highly familiar to those having knowledge of this doctrine. What makes A New Earth unique is its adoption and promotion by Oprah Winfrey who has become perhaps the biggest cheerleader for New Age spirituality in modern times. Because of Oprah’s endorsement, millions of Eckhart Tolle’s books have been sold and New Age ideas have spread to a whole new segment of Western society…

Tolle believes that all things are one (monism) (pp. 4, 26, 106) with the universe. This Eastern pantheistic teaching ultimately leads to all things being God. We are not surprised when he tells us that, “we are light” (p. 28), we are “I Am” (pp. 57, 60, 64, 79), “you are the Truth” (p. 71), we have a “common divinity” (p. 74), “I am life…I and life are one…I Am” (p. 128), we are God, or Being (p. 220), etc. (source)

Did you catch that; Tolle and Winfrey believe “the standard New Age (New Spirituality)” mythology that all of mankind is “God, or Being.” Classic “Eastern pantheistic teaching” that “all things” are God. Simply put, as drops of water make up the ocean, so we all make up God. Quite obviously, this is not Christian theology and no genuine Christian would think ANE’s a most important book; we’d reject it as blasphemy.

Now you are in the proper position from which to view the following clip, which comes as Oprah Winfrey opens up the discussion she’d been having with New Age guru Eckgart Tolle to her online web class. It also gives you a peek at just how Winfrey’s perversion of the historic orthodox Christian faith is now shipwrecking people’s faith. A transcript follows the clip to make it easier for you to follow along with Winfrey’s wistful musings:

KELLY (ILLINOIS): Well, my question is regarding religion and spirituality.

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Big one.

KELLY (ILLINOIS): I had a Catholic upbringing, I married a Catholic, and we’re raising our children this way. In reading books such as Tolle’s, I’ve really, it’s really opened my eyes up to a new way of thinking: a new form of spirituality that doesn’t always align with the teachings of Christianity. So my question is to you, Oprah, how have you reconciled these spiritual teachings with your Christian beliefs?

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Oh, the question’s to me. I was resting knowing it was going to about—I’ve reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call “God.” I took God out of the box because I grew up in the Baptist church and there were, you know, rules and, you know, belief systems in doctrine.

And I happened to be sitting in church in my late 20s, and I was going to this church where you had to get there at 8 in the morning or you couldn’t get a seat. And a very charismatic minister, and everybody was just, you know, into the sermon. And this great minister was preaching about how great God was and how omniscient and omnipresent, and God is everything.

And then he said, “And the lord thy God is a jealous God.” And I was, you know, caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said “jealous.” And something struck me. And I was like, I think about 27 or 28. I was thinking, “God is all, God is omnipresent, God is—and God’s also jealous? God is jealous of me?”

And something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things. And so that’s when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me. And I love this quote that Eckhart has, this is one of my favorite quotes in Chapter 1, where he says, “Man made ‘God’ in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, and unnamable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as ‘my god’ or ‘our god.’”

Now I think that’s very eloquently put by Eckhart Tolle in Chapter 1. But that is exactly what I was feeling when I was, you know, sitting in church that Sunday listening to the preacher. And you know, it’s been a journey to get to the place where I understand, as I said on the preshow here, that what I believe is that Jesus came to show us Christ consciousness.

That Jesus came to show us the way of the heart and that what Jesus was saying that to show us the higher consciousness that we’re all talking about here. Jesus came to say, “Look I’m going to live in the body, in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done.” These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way. And when I started to recognize that, that Jesus didn’t come in my belief, even as a Christian, I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity… (source)

From what you learned above, you now know that Oprah Winfrey not only believes “God is in all things,” she also believes that all things are this “unnamable,” impersonal force aka God. This is also classic New Age mythology and actually couldn’t be further away from a Christian testimony. Jesus didn’t come to show us some laws “to know that way.” No, Jesus is the way to the Father.7

What is more, Jesus didn’t come “to show us Christ consciousness,” which to the New Ager means to be conscious that we’re all God, because the Bible tells us God the Son is the Christ.8 So you see, it wouldn’t be hard for Oprah Winfrey to play the god of TS because she already believes that all things make up God. In other words, in her portrayal of the god of TS she could simply see it as being, well, herself.

Before I leave you with further background information about Wm. Paul Young and his foolish book TS, let me point out that Dr. Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News has questioned how this kind of thing would play out with the world religion of Islam if someone was to portray Allah in a Hollywood film in violation of their rules concerning blasphemy.

It does give us pause to wonder: Will there be any kind of a protest from the Christian community? Let’s just say, I’m not going to hold my breath on that one. In closing, I’ll tell you that Wm. Paul Young is “a writer” who’s worked “on staff at a large suburban church while attending seminary” as well as:

owned businesses and worked for others in diverse industries, from insurance to construction, venture capital companies to telecom, contract work to food processing;… While I have extensively written for business, creating web content, business plans, white papers etc.,

The Shack was a story written for my six children, with no thought or intention to publish… (source)

Unfortunately Young, who loves “the wastefulness of my Papa’s grace and presence,” would chose to publish this rubbish. As far as what Wm. Paul Young believes, teaches, and confesses about God we turn to Dr. James B. DeYoung, professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary, Portland, OR.9

Dr. DeYoung is on record revealing:

For more than a dozen years [as of 2008] I have known William P. Young. We have discussed much theology in a “think tank.” Over four years ago [circa 2003] Paul embraced universal reconciliation and defended it on several occasions. He claimed that universalism changed his life and his theology. (source)

This would mean that Wm. Paul Young is a believer in the Love Wins mythology of Oprah Winfrey’s new pal Rob Bell, former rock star pastor of the Emerging Church. In the same article cited above Dr. DeYoung went on to point out that:

Paul now disavows universalism. Yet like all universalists he affirms that he “hopes” that none will experience eternal suffering. But the critical question is this: Does universalism remain in the book? By comparing the creeds of universalism with The Shack one discovers that many tenets of universalism and other errors are implicit in the book. (source)

Rob Bell also says the same thing; however, their subsequent doctrine belies their disavowal of universalism in favor of a form of Christian universalism. As I make this case, it’s beyond any reasonable doubt that the sappy sentimentalism of Universal Redemption, also referred to as Christian Univesalism, slithers its iniquitous way into the spirituality of Wm. Paul Young’s magnum opus TS.

I’ll leave you with a few warnings concerning the spurious spirituality of TS. First of all, here’s what the quietly complaisant Tim Challies says in his review of TS:

Young did not write this book for the story. This book is all about the content and about the teaching it contains… Eugene Peterson grasps this, saying in his glowing endorsement,… “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It’s that good!”

Could it really be that good? Is it good enough to warrant positive comparison to the English-language book that has been read more widely than any other save the Bible? Let’s turn to the book’s content and find out… Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture…

At several points I felt as if the author was encouraging the reader to doubt what they know of Christianity—to deconstruct what they know of Christian theology—and to embrace something new. But the faith Young reconstructs is simply not the faith of the Bible.

Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology. (source)

Next we have the aforementioned Dr. Gary Gilley, who informs us that TS of universalist Wm. Paul Young presents us another God entirely as:

the Trinity takes human form in the novel: the Father (called Papa throughout) appears as a large African-American woman who loves to cook; the Holy Spirit is called Sarayu (Sanskrit for air or wind) and is a small Asian woman who is translucent; and Jesus is a middle-age man, presumably of Jewish descent, who is a carpenter…

The main thrust of the novel concerns itself with an understanding of God and how we are to be in relationship to Him. [However] the method by which mankind comes into the right relationship with God is cloudy at best in The Shack. Young’s Trinity is equally confusing. The author does not develop his understanding of God exclusively from Scripture and, in fact, often contradicts biblical teaching.

The first issue is that of imagining and presenting human forms for the members of the Trinity…the first two of the Ten Commandments would forbid us depicting the Father or the Holy Spirit in physical form. When we create an image of God in our imagination we then attempt to relate to that image—which is inevitably a false one. This is the essence of idolatry and is forbidden in the Word.

Further, the portrayal of God throughout the novel is one which humanizes Him rather than exalts Him. Young quotes Jacques Ellul, “No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts Himself on our human level and limits Himself” (p. 88). Really? This quote is in contradiction to the entirety of biblical revelation which first and often declares God to be absolute Master, yet in no way mitigates the incarnation, as Young and Ellul are trying to claim.

Young further humanizes God and contradicts Scripture by teaching that all the members of the Trinity took human form at the incarnation: “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human” (p. 99). Is Young advocating modalism (an ancient heresy which teaches that the Trinity is not composed of three distinct members but three distinct modes in which God appears throughout human history)? If not, it is abundantly clear that Young believes that the Father died on the cross with the Son and bears the marks of the cross to this day (pp. 95-95, 164).

He also does not believe that the Father abandoned Jesus on the cross as Scripture declares (p. 96). And any concept of authority and submission in the Godhead is denied (pp. 122, 145), although 1 Cor. 11:1-3 is clear that such authority/submission exists. More than that, God submits to us as well (p. 145). By the end of the book God is reduced to being our servant as we are His (it’s all about relationships, not authority) (pp. 236-237).

The very essence of God is challenged when Young, quoting from Unitarian-Universalist, Buckminster Fuller, declares God to be a verb not a noun (pp. 194, 204). In a related statement, Young has Jesus say of the Holy Spirit, “She is Creativity; she is Action; she is Breathing of Life” (p. 110). Yet the Bible presents God as a person (noun) not an action (verb). When this truth is denied we are moving from the biblical understanding of a personal God to an Eastern understanding of God in everything.10 (source)

Then there’s the Thirteen Heresies in The Shack compiled by Dr. Michael Youssef, Leading the Way Ministries:

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus (96).

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice (102).

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless (225).

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil (122).

Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins (120).

The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity (122).

The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices (145).

Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love (164).

The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell (248).

Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him (182).

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us (182).

Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven (122, 192).

Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper (65, 66, 134, 198).

The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

And finally, here’s Todd Friel of Wretched Radio adding some further commentary to Youssef’s Thirteen Heresies:

So, in the end, I say let’s pray that the Christian community will indeed send the world the right message about this upcoming movie and Stay Away From “The Shack”

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/10453443/Oprah-Winfrey-on-her-massages-with-Forest-Whitaker-her-co-star-in-The-Butler.html, accessed 6/10/14.
  2. http://www.charismanews.com/culture/43750-will-oprah-play-god-in-the-shack-film, accessed 6/10/14.
  3. This movie and e.g. last night’s Pastor Carl Lentz Baptizes Justin Bieber in a Bathtub?
  4. Matt Slick of CARM does a nice job presenting this complex subject here: http://carm.org/new-age-what, accessed 6/10/14.
  5. 2 Corinthians 11:4 tells us there is such a thing as another Jesus; and giving you the benefit of my nearly 30 years in the ministry fields of apologetics, non-Christian cults, and Comparative Religion, I introduced you to a number of them a few years ago in Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
  6. http://images.oprah.com/images/obc_classic/book/2008/anewearth/ane_chapter1_transcript.pdf, accessed 6/10/14.
  7. cf. John 14:6
  8. cf. 1 John 5:1
  9. http://www.westernseminary.edu/admissions/faculty/james-deyoung, accessed 6/10/14.
  10. Gilley notes: God “in” everything is known as panentheism—an Eastern belief akin to pantheism which teaches that God IS everything. In reality there is very little difference between the two.