Category Archives: Apostasy Watch Resource Library

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Praying Circles

Praying Circles

by Gary Gilley
July 19, 2016

Prayer is surely one of the most blessed of all privileges afforded the child of God. Just to think that sinners, even forgiven sinners, are invited to approach the throne of grace where we will receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb 4:14-16) is nothing short of astounding. In prayer we worship and praise our Lord (Psalm 34:1-3); in prayer we call on God to fulfill His great purposes (Matt 6:10), ask for our daily provisions (Matt 6:11), request forgiveness (Matt 6:12), and plea for protection from temptation (Matt 6:13). In prayer we ask for deliverance from the wickedness of others (Psalm 31:1-2), make our requests known (Phil 4:6), cast all our anxiety on the Lord (1 Pet 5:7), and much more. Christians love prayer, even when they foolishly do not take time for it. No believer is against prayer and anything that will encourage and inform us about prayer is welcomed. Anything, that is, which is biblical.

Unfortunately, it is often because of the very benefits and blessings of prayer that the people of God seem so easily deceived in its use. Two of the books I have written have substantially addressed this very issue. My first book, “I Just Wanted More Land,” Jabez, challenged the prayer of Jabez craze that had been invented by Bruce Wilkinson. Wilkinson, who should have known better given his theological training and ministerial background, ripped an obscure prayer out of the Old Testament and offered it as a model which, when prayed, “correctly,” virtually guaranteed a life of miracles and prosperity, or so he said. His book (The Prayer of Jabez) sold tens of millions of copies and generated a cottage industry of other books, products and ministries. My book challenged the whole premise behind Wilkinson’s application of the prayer of Jabez as well as the misguided hermeneutics Wilkinson used to come up with such an off-based interpretation of Scripture. What staggered me at the time (15 years ago), and still does today, is how many people, many of whom were/are surely Christians who love the Lord, could be taken in by such obviously misguided and deceitful claims. My most recent book, Out of Formation, examined the Spiritual Formation Movement which promotes numerous biblically unfounded disciplines that are supposed to enhance the believer’s spiritual life. The central discipline within the movement founded by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard is contemplative prayer, which is a form of mystical praying found nowhere in Scripture and yet proclaimed by the adherents of this movement to be the highest form of prayer. Today millions of those who would consider themselves Christians practice some form of contemplative prayer.

What unites the prayer of Jabez and contemplative prayer is that neither is taught in Scripture as a form of biblical praying and yet both have been embraced by great numbers of Christians. Believers are being duped on a regular basis because of their lack of discernment. And now they are being introduced to praying circles which, like the Prayer of Jabez and contemplative prayer, lacks biblical foundation.

The Circle Maker

This latest prayer fad stems from the teachings of Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., and in particular his 2011 book, The Circle Maker. The publisher claims that Batterson is offering a new way of praying (see advertisement on page 233 of The Circle Maker) based on a Jewish legend of Honi the Rainmaker, also called Honi the Circle Maker (pp. 11-13, 226). Honi, who lived a century before the ministry of Christ, supposedly drew a circle in the dirt, stepped into that circle and prayed for rain to end a devastating drought. He told God that he would not leave the circle until the Lord sent rain and, according to the myth, God soon sent rain. It should be noted that the story of Honi is at best a legend and most likely a myth. There is no independent or historical evidence that anything like this event ever took place. Even more importantly, this account is not drawn from Scripture. Nevertheless, when Batterson discovered the story he claimed it forever changed the way he prayed (p. 21). Now he circles his prayers, either by stepping into a drawn circle (it is recommended that a circle be drawn on the ground with chalk) like Honi, or by walking around the object of his desire, as the Jews walked around Jericho in the Old Testament. Batterson teaches that circling our prayers will result in God responding by producing a miracle. If my count is correct, and I am sure I missed a few, the word “miracle” shows up some 166 times, averaging almost one appearance per page of actual text. While certainly God can and does bring about miracles today, Batterson has cheapened the meaning and reduced it to the accomplishment of an improbability rather than the reversal or defiance of the laws of nature that the Lord set in place. Walking on water is a miracle, the purchase of a piece of property that was hard to get is not. Batterson does not distinguish between the two. Despite these obvious issues, on the back cover of the book it is boldly stated:

In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark Batterson shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the circle maker, a first-century Jewish sage whose bold prayer ended a drought and saved a generation. Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a circle maker, Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles around your dreams, your family, your problems and most importantly, God’s promises. In the process, you’ll discover this simple yet life changing truth.

There are numerous red flags in this short blurb. Two that should be noted immediately is that the author is “drawing inspiration from his own experiences,” not from Scripture. Experiences are not inspired, the Bible is. Therefore personal experience, not backed by the Word, is of little value at best and highly dangerous and destructive at times. We must never base our lives and theology on experience but on God’s revealed truth. Secondly is the word “new.” Batterson is offering us a “new” way to pray, which means it is not taught in Scripture. When someone offers us something new as a way of living the Christian life, the wise believer runs the other way. If it is new, it is not of God. If the Lord wanted us to incorporate something into our lives He revealed it in the Bible. The Circle Maker is much like The Prayer of Jabez. Both promise miracles if we will but follow little known and obscure prayers found in the past. Despite the fact that these prayers are not taught or mandated in Scripture, and not even drawn from Scripture as in the case with Honi, a unique system of prayer is based on these stories. It should not take a theologian, or even a very mature Christian, long to realize that something is wrong with drawing circles as part of our prayer life, and especially making outlandish promises in connecting with this method.

The very fact that a church leader and author is attempting to instruct fellow believers how to practice the Christian life, especially in a vital area such as prayer, based on an extra-biblical myth rather than Scripture, should be all a discerning believer needs to know to walk away from his teachings on the subject. But it might prove helpful to dig a little deeper into Batterson’s theology. This is especially true given that Christian notables such as John Ortberg, Ruth Graham, and Rich Wilkerson (founder of Peacemakers) endorse The Circle Maker, and that Batterson considers Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio among his close friends. In fact, he has spoken at Stanley’s Catalysis Conference on a number of occasions. [1] And his teachings on prayer have been adopted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Life Action Ministries (more on this later).

Below are some concerns about Batterson’s approach to Scripture and his theological teachings, in addition to the fact that the whole circle prayer methodology is based on an ancient myth and not Scripture:

We are told that every promise in the Bible is ours to claim, no matter the context. For example, Batterson was reading from the book of Joshua concerning the Lord’s promise to Joshua that he would give “you every square inch of land you set your foot on – just as I promised Moses.” As he read this promise given specifically to a biblical character he felt that God wanted him to stake claim to the land that he believed God was giving him and his church (p. 17). Such misuse of Scripture and misappropriation of biblical promises to others, but claimed for himself, are found throughout the book (see pp. 15, 41, 53-55, 59, 89-90, 100-101, 128, 131, 151, 199). Batterson is even willing to mistranslate Scripture to make his point. The most blatant example is Habakkuk 2:1, in which the author inserts “circle” into the verse to support his theology, translating, “I will stand upon my watch, and station me within a circle” (p. 159). The NASB reads, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me…” Batterson claims that Habakkuk and this text were the inspiration for Honi: “His inspiration for the prayer circle was Habakkuk. He simply did what the prophet Habakkuk had done” (p. 159). This clearly is not true. At no time did the Old Testament prophet (or any other personage in Scripture) draw a circle and then step into it to pray.
Prosperity theology abounds. In addition to the constant use of the word miracle to describe answers to prayer, statements like the following are common: “I’m confident that you are only one prayer away from a dream fulfilled, a promise kept, or a miracle performed” (p. 15), and “[God] allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail” (p. 71). Nor are these mere cheerleading slogans which echo the preaching of Joel Osteen and other prosperity teachers, (pp. 15, 51, 71, 180-188, 197-198); Batterson obviously embraces the theology behind the prosperity gospel which is that visualization plus faith plus verbalization lead to miracles. At one point he tells his readers to record their vision (visualization), have faith and verbalize (pp. 184-185).
Following prosperity methods, He adds that drawing a circle and stepping into it in prayer are the keys to getting what we want from God. Batterson often promises that by drawing circles around what we want will lead to miracles and fulfilled dreams (e.g. p. 16). After all, “God said it, I’ve circled it, and that settles it” (p. 94). This quote is found in the context of a story of a young boy who is unable to talk. A pastor claimed Isaiah 59:21 as a promise from God that someday the boy will be able to speak. Apparently the promise has not been fulfilled ten years later, but his parents have circled it in their Bible and are convinced that God will one day deliver on His promise. The tragedy of accepting false teachings becomes real when a story such as this is read. It is more than a bit irritating that people buy into these deceptions; it is heart breaking (cf. pp. 23, 37, 64, 79-80, 129, 138).
Much of Batterson’s understanding about how God directs us is based upon the idea that the Lord will speak to us directly apart from Scripture. Batterson assures us that we should expect God to prompt us regularly, giving us revelations which carry the full weight of His promises. It is these subjective promises that we can claim, not just biblical promises. In addition to the story above we can expect God to give us the name of our child (p. 26), define our specific purpose in life (p. 29), give us revelation about the purchase of property (pp.40-41, 107), show us how much money He will give us (pp. 63, 67-68), and tell us when to take wool socks to work (p.115). He will occasionally tell us what to preach (p. 131) and prompt us to make phone calls (pp. 200-202). And despite the fact that there is no clear way that these so-called voices can be discerned to be the Lord’s (something he admits), still we need to obey these promptings as we would Scripture (pp. 117-121, 125, cf. p. 208).

Given the obvious problems with the exaggerated claims of Batterson and the clearly unbiblical basis and assertions in reference to prayer circles, what is the attraction? Apparently, the incredible promises given coupled with such little effort (praying inside a drawn circle or walking around the object of one’s desires while praying) are just too much to resist. After all Batterson tells his readers, “The Circle Maker will show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities. You’ll learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals” (p. 16). In a YouTube video Batterson adds, “You can’t just read the Bible, you need to start praying circles around the promises.”[2] I guess such an offer is just too good to refuse for many Christians. Of course, those who actually analyze Batterson’s promises in light of Scripture, especially that the basis of prayer circles is an ancient myth and not the authoritative Word of God, will see through the deception.

The Influence of Prayer Circles

Batterson is clearly misguided in The Circle Maker. And after critiquing his many other theological problems, his embracing of the prosperity gospel, his emphasis on the subjective, and belief in additional revelations to believers today, his atrocious hermeneutics and misuse of Scripture, it would be easy to dismiss him as a confused pastor who will affect only those already in his theological camp. If that were the case, I would not have bothered to write this analysis. I have already mentioned that Andy Stanley has promoted Batterson and his errant teachings to tens of thousands of Christian leaders and young adults by inviting him to preach at his conferences. Even Glenn Beck is promoting The Circle Maker. [3] But it gets worse. At Revive Our Hearts women’s conferences sponsored by Life Action Ministries and led by Nancy Leigh Demoss, unsuspecting Christian women, mostly from the conservative end of evangelicalism, have been introduced to prayer circles as an acceptable and biblical method of praying. Nancy DeMoss has been on the staff of Life Action Ministries since 1980. She is the author of numerous books and a sought-after conference speaker. She is also the host and teacher for Revive our Hearts and Seeking Him, two nationally syndicated radio programs. In an article found on Revive Our Hearts’ website, DeMoss writes:

It’s a challenge Life Action has issued repeatedly to men, women, teens, and even children. It’s a simple expression of a heart prepared for God’s work—and no matter how many times it’s done, it keeps illustrating something critical about the revival we are praying and pleading for God to send. It involves a simple piece of chalk. This piece of chalk represents a turning point, a moment of surrender, a change of heart. It marks the difference between those who would pray, “Lord, change them” and those with humility to plead, “Lord change me!” It is a piece of chalk with which we kneel and draw a circle around ourselves and then look to heaven expectantly and pray, “Lord God, send revival, and begin it right here in this circle.” [4]

Shortly after writing this short piece DeMoss spoke at a True Woman Conference in Indianapolis in September of 2012. There chalk circles were drawn throughout the conference room and the ladies at the conference were told to step into these circles for prayer. An article on the website states:

On the very first night Nancy Leigh DeMoss opened the conference by sharing an illustration of a British evangelist of the 1860s, who encouraged people to “Go home, lock yourself in your room, draw a circle around yourself, and pray fervently that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.” Throughout the convention center white circles had been applied to the floor. Women were encouraged to step into the circle to ask God to start His work of revival in their heart first. It was thrilling to see that occurring throughout the conference. [5]

Pictures of participants doing so can be found at the conference’s web address as well as below: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/report-true-woma…. Those attending the conference were also sent home with little bags containing chalk so that they could immediately begin drawing prayer circles at home and perhaps at their churches.

A dialogue among the main speakers including Jan Parshall, Priscilla Shirer, Joni Eareckson Tada and DeMoss is recorded below. Over 8000 women attended the conference from all over the country and many other parts of the world:

Leslie (interviewing the others): This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, October 1. Today, we’ll hear highlights from the conference and we’ll hear from some of the True Woman speakers. They’ll describe the work God did in their own hearts as they sought the Lord for personal revival.

Bob: We began the event first thing by asking all of the speakers who were going to be speaking in the main session to come up on the platform.

Nancy (conf): There was an old-time revivalist whose name was Gypsy Smith. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. The story is told that Gypsy Smith would go to a town to preach—he was an itinerant preacher. He would come to the town where he had been invited, and he would come to the outskirts of the town. He would stand and draw a circle in the ground, in the dirt on the outskirts of town. Then he would step inside that circle, and he would begin to pray for God to move in that town. He would say, “Lord, please send revival to this community. But, oh God, let the revival start inside this circle. Let it begin in me.”

Holly Elliff: I loved that during the conference around the auditorium and in various places there were circles. And those circles were symbolic because they represented the fact that every woman wanted to put herself there, draw a circle around her own life and say, “God, what do You want to do in me?”

Nancy (conf): And as you pass by those in the days ahead, I want to encourage you, if there is room, to just step inside one of those circles.

Bill Elliff (conf): And those circles just remind us that it’s always personal . We can get real theoretical about revival and awakening. But it starts with me. And if it doesn’t start with me, if it doesn’t start with you, then it doesn’t start.

Leslie Bennett: I can’t live on yesterday’s revival. The white chalk circles all around this conference center were a constant reminder that I need revival. Every moment of every day I must humble myself before God and ask Him to come into my heart to do what only He can do as I seek Him and I’m repentant before Him—that He will make my heart afresh. He will make my heart anew and fan the flames of my heart for Jesus. I so appreciated that reminder as we went about the conference all weekend long. Revival starts with me.

Nancy (conf): Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Leslie: Not with anybody else. It’s not them. It’s me.

Nancy (conf): It’s not my brother, not my sister, not my mother, not my pastor, not my friend who came with me. It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of You.

Bob (conf): One of the unique things about the way the stage is set up this year is that the speaker’s podium, the platform podium, there’s a large white circle around it.

Nancy (conf): Because seeking Him starts right here in our hearts as we’re speaking.

Bob (conf): And so as we’re calling women to seek God and to seek Him for revival in their own lives and then in their churches and then in our nation, we’ve drawn a circle around the podium.

Joni : Because all the speakers had an opportunity to stand in it. And of course, I had an opportunity to wheel inside that circle. May revival begin with me.

Juli: I’m preaching to myself first. I’m the first one who needs the very messages coming out of my mouth.

Bob (conf): You can’t go and call women to a place if you’re not ready to go there yourself. That’s hypocrisy.

Joni: May renewal in the church begin with me inside that circle.

Nancy (conf): And to step inside that circle and say, “Lord, would You send revival to my family? Would You send revival to my church? Would You send awakening to our nation, to our world? We desperately need it. But oh, Lord, would You start the revival inside this circle? Let it begin in me.”

Janet: So let me tell you what happened for me as a speaker when I stepped into that circle. I was under very strong conviction. David said, “My sins are ever before me.” That’s what I felt when I was in that circle. I thought, “Lord, I’m not here to teach these women. I’m here to seek Your face.” [6]

There is no desire here to question the sincerity of these women, nor their Christian character, nor is their doctrinal content as a whole being challenged. But this is just the point. Even among Christian leaders who take solid theological stands, and who are well-respected within conservative circles we are finding a strange acceptance of a practice found nowhere in Scripture. Unfortunately, however, prayer circles can be found in many pagan religions. American Indians, Muslims, Hindus and Mormons all practice prayer circles. [7] And even Wiccans use circles in their practice of magic. [8] This is not an accusation that those using prayer circles are participating in witchcraft or pagan religions. It is to say that there is nothing distinctively Christian about prayer circles. As a matter of fact, there is nothing Christian about them at all since they do not stem from Scripture.

Biblical Prayer

To hear all the praise being poured out on Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and prayer circles, the unaware child of God might swear that this kind of prayer is what Jesus practiced and taught His disciples. But this is not true. As a matter of fact, circle prayers are not mentioned in the Bible at all. David did not write a psalm about them, Jesus did not mention them, and the epistles, while calling on us to pray without ceasing, are silent on the subject. Paul, in his marvelous New Testament prayers (e.g. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-14) ignores them. At no time or place in all of the Word of God are we commanded, told to examine, follow as a model, or use circles for our prayers.

It would be good to close this paper with a very brief overview of what the Bible teaches about prayer. It is not as if the Bible has no instruction concerning how to pray. And it is always of utmost importance to begin with Scripture on any subject and let it inform us before we jump in another direction. What do we know about prayer from God’s Word? There is so much mentioned concerning prayer in the Bible that whole volumes could not do it justice, so we will narrow our scope to just one incident in the life of Jesus. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), what did He say? Did He say, “Well, boys, first you draw a circle in the sand; next you stand in the circle and pray for what you want”? Not at all. In Luke 11:2-4 He gives them what we often call the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with God and His greatness. Next it focuses on the big picture of God’s plan for the future – His kingdom. Concerning the individual the requests are simple. While there is certainly nothing wrong with bold prayers, and there are many found in Scripture, most are not “big, audacious, and hairy” as Batterson calls for (p. 179). The disciples were taught to ask for daily physical needs, “Give us each day our daily bread.” And they were to seek the forgiveness of their sins even as they forgave others. And finally they were to ask for deliverance from temptation. While other prayers in the Bible, especially the prayers found in the epistles mentioned above, line out many other things for which we are to pray, it is most instructive to read Jesus’ answer to a direct question about how to pray. How simple, clear, free of gimmicks, and authentic is this example of prayer. No true Christian wants to minimize the power of prayer, but it must be prayer as taught in Scripture not based on myth and/or invented by people.

[1] https://catalystconference.com/read/seven-hard-earned-lessons-about-calling/

http://catalystconference.com/read/the-rule-breaker/

http://catalystconference.com/read/catalyst-atlanta-speaker-spotlight-mark-batterson/

[2] www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg6ymCcIFDE

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcpP-H2IRKQ

[4] www.

[5] http://www.truewoman.com/?id=2250

[6] https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/report-true-woman-12/

Only portions of this dialogue are recorded. The full conversation can be read on the link above.

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_circle

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_circle

 

 

 

http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/133-spiritual-formation-movement/941-praying-circles

War Room: A Review

War Room: A Review

by Justin Peters
Posted on September 10, 2015

If you do not know the Kendrick brothers by name, you almost certainly know them by their films: Flywheel (2003),Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), and Courageous (2011). Stephen, Alex, and Shannon Kendrick have just released their fifth faith-based film, War Room. War Room, starring popular (DTT:FALSE TEACHERS) Bible teachers Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore, looks like it may well be the most successful of their films to date bringing in $11 million just on its opening weekend; more than triple it’s $3 million production budget.

Given the popularity of Christian themed films and the considerable buzz about this one in particular, my wife, Kathy, and I went to see War Room on the evening of September 3rd so that I could write a review. For those of you who read my review of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s movie, Son of God, you know that I am a bit skeptical of the Christian movie genre as a whole. Nonetheless, I do want to offer what I hope to be a fair review. This review will not touch on every single facet of the movie or even on every theme it presents, but I do hope to address what I believe to be the most important of them.

Plot Overview

War Room is centered around Tony and Elizabeth Jordan, their ten year old daughter, Danielle, and Elizabeth’s real estate client-turned Christian friend, Mrs. Clara. The Jordan marriage is in serious trouble. Tony, a pharmaceutical salesman who travels extensively in his work, is the kind of husband and father one loves to hate. Though a hard worker, he shows little interest in his daughter and pursues a female work interest behind his wife’s back. Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, goes to Mrs. Clara’s home discuss the particulars of putting it on the market. The meeting, however, went far beyond deciding on a listing price for the house.

Mrs. Clara, an older widow, is a Christian fiercely devoted to prayer which she does in a closet she has dubbed her “War Room.” Mrs. Clara goes to war here, battling Satan who is portrayed as the source of every form of evil plaguing mankind. Rather than plotting troop positions on a military map, Mrs. Clara pins prayer requests and Scripture verses on the wall of her war room, prays to God, and rebukes the Enemy.
Mrs. Clara begins to ask Elizabeth some probing questions about her family, marriage, and church attendance. Upon learning that the Jordan family is at the point of collapse, Mrs. Clara exhorts Elizabeth to fight for her marriage in her own war room.
Slowly but surely, Elizabeth is changed by her newly found prayer life and by reading the Bible. One day in her war room, she discovers via a friend’s text that Tony has been seen in a restaurant with another woman. Elizabeth immediately prays for her husband and asks God to stop him. God gives Tony a stomach ache in the restaurant preventing him from following through with his adulterous plans.

Shortly after this, Tony is fired from his job. Rather than the anger and sarcasm he expected to receive from Elizabeth upon hearing this news, she offered him love and support. The change he sees in his wife eventually changes Tony as well. He confesses his sin and turns back to God. He seeks and is granted forgiveness from both Elizabeth and Danielle, and the Jordan family is on the fast track of restoration.

Despite his new life, Tony is fired from his job. What his boss did not know, though, was that Tony had been stealing drugs from the company, selling them and pocketing the profits. Though he had gotten away with it, his now sensitive conscience drove him to return to meet with his former boss, confess his theft and make restitution. His boss could easily have turned Tony in to the authorities to face prison but chose not to do so. The Jordan family was spared the loss of being torn apart again just as it had begun to heal. Tony eventually found a new, though less lucrative job, his family grew closer to one another and the Lord, Mrs. Clara’s house sold to a pastor and his wife, and all was well because of the battles fought in the War Room.

Strengths

The movie was, of course, clean. There was neither foul language nor any innuendos (other than what was about to happen between Tony and his almost-mistress at the restaurant) anywhere to be found.

War Room emphasized the importance of fidelity to one’s spouse and cutting off any potential threats to the sanctity of the marital covenant. The film championed the virtues of character, integrity, and selflessness. The importance of family, and the need for regular church attendance were stressed. Mrs. Clara (a very winsome character in the film) taught Elizabeth the importance of reading Scripture and, of course, prayer. The movie did teach the biblical truth that man is unable to reform himself. “You can’t fix Tony. Only God can.” said Mrs. Clara to Elizabeth.

The Gospel was, well, mostly there. Mrs. Clara presented the Gospel to Elizabeth in one of their meetings and she talked about sin, that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, was raised from the dead and that a person must believe in Jesus and repent. These are all essential elements of the Gospel and I am glad that they were included. That having been said, even though the proper biblical terms were used, often these terms were not explained. The term “repent,” for example, was used but never fleshed out. The lingo was there to be sure, but without a biblical understanding of these terms they are just that, lingo.

Weaknesses

As I’m sure you are expecting, I did find much with which to be concerned. Some of the film’s failures could have been avoided with more careful attention to doctrine and theology and some of the failures, as I will explain in the conclusion, are inherent to the genre itself and unavoidable. I will outline my concerns in a series of “Outs:” Out of Home, Out of Order, Out of Focus, Out of Bounds and Out of Context.

Out of Home

I may as well begin with the most politically incorrect and probably the most controversial point I will make in this review and get it out of the way. Not everyone reading this will agree, but truth is truth.

That men and women are of equal value before God is beyond dispute (Gal. 3: 28-29). That having been said, men and women do have different roles and the role of a young wife and mother is to be a worker in the home. The Apostle Paul writes that older women are to teach “the young women…to love their husbands, love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). Note the “workers at home” part.

The context makes it quite clear that the “young women” are those who are married and have children in the home. This text makes it quite clear that such women’s primary place of service is not to be outside of the home but within.

Pastor and teacher Dr. John MacArthur has written that if a young woman is adequately fulfilling all seven of the requirements listed in this passage then she “will probably be a very busy individual” and have little time for work outside of the home. If, however, “she still has time left over, then she would be free to pursue enterprising and creative activities outside the home.”1 It is not that a young woman should never engage in wage earning work of any kind. Proverbs 31, in fact, depicts the godly woman who may do some enterprising work from within the home.

One of the first things I noticed in the film is that Elizabeth worked outside of the home as a real estate agent. Had she been adequately fulfilling all of her duties inside the home, then the case could have been made that this was permissible. This was not the case, however. In fact, the movie actually makes a point that Elizabeth was so involved at her job that she did not know what her daughter, Danielle, was doing at school or in her jump-rope team.

The sad reality is that the fallen world in which we live often requires young women to work outside of the home. Some “young women”2 have been abandoned by their husbands and some may have husbands unable to work due to some type of infirmity. In situations such as these work outside of the home is, unfortunately, unavoidable.

When a young woman can avoid working outside of the home, though, she should. If a young woman works outside of the home out of preference rather than absolute necessity, then a biblical principle has been violated. The issue is not a minor one. Note that if a young woman works outside of the home at the expense of her biblical household duties, then the result is that the Word of God is βλασφημῆται (blasphemetai), literally, blasphemed.

Writes Dr. MacArthur:

The home is where a wife can provide the best expressions of love for her husband. It is where she teaches and guides and sets a godly example for her children. It is where she is protected from abusive and immoral relationships with other men and where, especially in our day, she still has greater protection from worldly influences—despite the many lurid TV programs, magazines, and other ungodly intrusions. The home is where she has special opportunity to show hospitality and devote herself to other good works. The home is where she can find authentic and satisfying fulfillment, as a Christian and as a woman.3

Out of Order

War Room is a theological train wreck chronologically speaking. In other words, it totally gets out of order the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration in a person with the fruits of regeneration.

In their first meeting, Elizabeth tells Mrs. Clara of the distressed state of her marriage to Tony. Upon hearing this, Mrs. Clara asked her, “Have you prayed for him?” There is nothing, of course, wrong with this in and of itself except the fact that Mrs. Clara made this inquiry without having first made certain that Elizabeth understood the Gospel herself. Though Elizabeth certainly was not guilty of the overtly egregious sins of her husband, like he, she displayed little understanding of the Gospel. She attended church only “occasionally” and was biblically illiterate. There was no discernible spiritual fruit in her life to indicate that she was a believer.
Another example occurs after Elizabeth hears the Gospel (most of it anyway) from Mrs. Clara and begins to get on the straight and narrow. Shortly after Elizabeth found out about Tony’s attempt to cheat on her, he came home from his failed dalliance to a meal she had prepared for him. She looked at her husband and asked, “You wanna pray?” At this point in the movie there is absolutely no reason to believe that Tony had been converted. He had little interest in Danielle and he did not love his wife.4 He was selfish, arrogant, was a thief, and had no conviction over his sin. He cared only for himself, had no godly sorrow, and showed no affections for things holy and pure. He was ignorant of Scripture and comfortably so. That Elizabeth, by this time walking with the Lord, would ask her husband to pray assumes that this is something he could do which, as a lost man, he could not.
Save the prayer that one may prayer at conversion, prayer is a spiritual discipline that can only be done by the saved. The movie gives the impression that praying for one’s spouse or asking God to bless the evening meal can be done by one who is lost. This, of course, is an impossibility. Before coming to Christ we are enemies of God (Col. 1:21), dead in our sins (Eph. 2:8-9), and cannot seek Him (Rom. 3:10-11); a condition which precludes any ability to pray (Is. 59:2).

Now, this having been said, I am not saying that this was the intention of the Kendrick brothers. It is probably the case that they were simply portraying how people normally speak. I am not at all saying that theologically they would believe that lost people can pray. The problem, though, is the vagueness in which it was portrayed.

Additionally, and even more worrisome is that the film gives the impression that one can live a life of habitual, unrepentant sin and still be a believer. In her own war room, Elizabeth petitioned “Lord, I pray for Tony that you would turn his heart back to you.”

My issue here is not that Elizabeth is praying for her husband, but that her prayer gives the viewer the impression that Tony was a just backslidden Christian.5 “Turn his heart back to You,” she prayed. Again, Tony was an absolutely loathsome individual at this point in the movie who displayed zero evidence he had ever experienced regeneration.

Christians can and do sin (1 Jn. 1:8) but their lives are not to be characterized by sin. It has been said that a Christian can stumble into sin, but he cannot swim in it. A believer is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God Who produces in him good fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). Many people living lives of habitual sin are told they are just “backslidden” when they’ve never slid forward in the first place. Charles Spurgeon stated, “Unless our faith makes us pine after holiness and pant after conformity to God, it is no better than the faith of the devils, and perhaps it is not even so good as that.” Whether intentional or not, there is a danger of this film giving some of its viewers a false assurance of their salvation.

Out of Focus

War Room certainly did deal with sin, but it did so, I thought, primarily on a horizontal basis. In other words, though it showed the damaging consequences of sin in relation to our fellow human beings, it did not focus nearly so much on sin’s deadly consequences in our relationship to God.

Tony and Elizabeth both sinned in that they focused on their employment at the expense of their daughter, Danielle. Tony, of course, sinned in his pursuit of a woman who was not his wife. Eventually both came to see how their sin hurt others and they repented. In and of itself, this is good.

What I did not see – or at least what I believed was not emphasized nearly enough – was the vertical nature of sin. There was no mention anywhere in the film of the wrath of God that our sin incurs. There was no mention of God’s wrath abiding on the unbeliever (Jn. 3:36) or that we are saved from it (Rom. 5:9). There was no mention of eternal judgment for those who die in their sins (Lk. 16:19-31).

Without first understanding the wrath of God, one cannot rightly understand the mercy of God. Without first realizing that our sins are storing up God’s wrath (Rom. 2:5) which will be poured out on the ungodly for all of eternity (Rev. 14:10), we cannot truly appreciate His mercy. It is only in understanding God’s deserved wrath that we can fully understand His undeserved mercy. It is His wrath that makes His mercy so precious.

In watching the film both my wife and I were looking for one thing which is a hallmark of every genuine believer: a godly sorrow over sin.

The Bible speaks of two types of sorrow over sin. There is a worldly sorrow which is merely a guilty conscience. A worldly sorrow is one that is concerned only for the horizontal consequences of sin and it leads to death (2 Cor. 7:10).

The other type of sorrow, however, is a godly sorrow. A godly sorrow comes about when we understand that our sin is first and foremost against God. A godly sorrow is when we grieve over our sin because we understand that our sin grieves God and we desire to turn from sin because we do not want to grieve Him. It is this godly sorrow which “produces a repentance without regret leading to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Unless we both missed it, neither Kathy nor I saw any godly sorrow evidenced in either Tony or Elizabeth’s life. There definitely was sorrow over hurting others, but nowhere in the film did we see the kind of godly sorrow exhibited by David when he humbled himself before the Lord and said to Him, “Against You and You alone have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Ps. 51:4).

Out of Bounds

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6 exhorts the immature believers in Corinth “not to exceed what is written.” In other words, we as believers are not to exceed biblical parameters. Whether in our theology or in our practice we are to stay safely within biblical parameters for when we exceed these God-given parameters we are opening ourselves up to demonic influence and demonic deception.

Sadly, biblical parameters dealing with spiritual warfare are exceeded throughout the movie. The entire film is saturated with Word-Faith/N.A.R. (New Apostolic Reformation) spiritual warfare lingo.6 There seemed to be as much time and effort expended in binding, rebuking and casting out Satan by Mrs. Clara and Elizabeth in their respective war rooms as there was praying to God.

In one of the more emotionally rousing scenes of the film, upon discovering her husband’s philandering ways, Elizabeth retreats to her war room. As she repeatedly cites to herself James 4:7b, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” indignation swells within her and she begins to talk to the devil. “No more, you are done! Jesus is Lord of this house and there is no room for you anymore! Go back to Hell where you belong and leave my family alone!” she shouts.

There are at least two significant problems with this. First, Satan is not in Hell. Only when the eschatological events of Revelation 20 take place will he be thrown into the lake of fire and “tormented day and night forever and ever” (vs. 10).7 The Bible makes it very clear that, for now at least, Satan is quite free “prowling about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Secondly, and more significantly, we as believers are not to be addressing Satan. Ever!

Consider that in Jude we have the record of Michael the archangel disputing with the devil and arguing over the body of Moses. Jude records for us that when he disputed with the devil, Michael the archangel “did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Think about that for just a moment and let it sink in. If Michael the archangel – the archangel – did not “dare” to rebuke Satan then I think it’s probably a safe bet that we should not do so either. Pastor Jim Osman in his excellent book Truth or Territory writes, “What God’s highest holy angel would not dare to do, sinful, fallen men presume the authority to do. It is unthinkable. I have been in the presence of Christians who boldly declare, ‘Satan, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus,’ and I wonder, ‘Who do you think you are?’ Rebuking, commanding, or ridiculing the devil are not tools of effective spiritual warfare; they are marks of prideful, arrogant, self-willed false teachers.”8

It is troubling that noted Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer does not know this and would model such a dangerous and unbiblical practice. By exceeding biblical parameters, people are exposing themselves to the very enemy that they fancy themselves as rebuking.9

Incidentally, given that so many people are rebuking and binding Satan, have you ever wondered how he seems to keep getting back out? It seems that as soon as someone binds him, he’s free again. All of these people binding Satan don’t seem to be tying him up very tightly. And if we can bind and rebuke Satan (Be sure to bind him first. The last thing you’d want to do is rebuke an unbound Satan as he might give you a nasty uppercut when you’re not looking.), why not just bind him from all places at all times and be done with it?

But I digress.

The movie also has a decidedly mystical bent. Towards the end of the film, an older pastor named Charles and his wife, clients of Elizabeth, are shown the home. Charles notices the closed door to the “war room,” opens it and slowly walks inside. He looks around, pauses, backs out of the closet, and then walks back in as though he feels something different in the atmosphere. His wife asks him what he is doing and he says that there has been a lot of praying in this room. “It’s almost like it’s baked in,” said the old pastor.

This is pure mysticism. God speaks to us through the Bible and we speak to Him through prayer. Prayer is an act of obedience that serves to conform our will to that of the Father but it in no way changes the atmosphere in a closet, house, hospital, gymnasium, state or country. This is hyper-charismatic, Word-Faith mysticism.

In another scene Mrs. Clara, Elizabeth and Danielle were on their way to get ice cream when their trip was interrupted by a knife wielding thug demanding their money. The unflappable Mrs. Clara stared him in the eye and commanded, “You put that knife right down in the name of Jesus.” All of the sudden the thug looked dazed and confused. Powerless to follow through with his criminal plans, he fled the scene. Saying “in the name of Jesus” to this miscreant was like giving Kryptonite to Superman.

Throughout the film the name of Jesus is used in this way. It is used almost like a magical incantation, a Christianized version of Abracadabra, to manipulate the physical realm toward one’s desired outcome. Whether used in prayer to restore a marriage or to thwart a mugging, the name of Jesus always got results in War Room.

Contrary to the way in which it is portrayed in the film, saying “in the name of Jesus” is not like putting in coins in some theological vending machine. The name of Jesus is synonymous with the will of Jesus. When we pray for things in Jesus’ name rightly, we are praying for Jesus’ will to be done (Jn. 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15). Using the name of Jesus does not always bring the results we desire.

It was fidelity to the name of Jesus that led nearly all of the Apostles to gruesome deaths. It is fidelity to the name of Jesus that has brought horrific persecution to untold millions of Christians during the last two thousand years. Many Christians throughout the world face persecution to this day because of the name of Jesus. Sometimes the name of Jesus gets us not what we want, but what we may not want. Often it is in times of trial and persecution for the believer that God is most glorified.

Out of Context

The thief comes to steal, kill and to destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10) was quoted several times throughout the movie. In War Room the “thief” is identified as Satan who has come to steal people’s joy and marriages.

While it is not necessarily incorrect to identify the thief in John 10:10 as Satan, the context of the passage argues for a much broader view. The context indicates that the thief includes not only Satan, but any false teacher who claims any way of salvation other than that which is found exclusively in Christ. What the “thief” is attempting to steal is not one’s joy or marriage but rather one’s reception of the Gospel itself. The context is that of salvation, not one of life enhancement.

The movie concluded with one of the most familiar, beloved, and yet taken out of context passages in the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The text was shown superimposed on a shot of the United States capitol the insinuation, of course, being that if we will repent that God will heal our nation’s many societal ills.

Though a thorough treatment of this passage is beyond the scope of this article, to apply this verse to the United States of America (or any other country for that matter) is to employ poor hermeneutics. The context of this verse is that it is God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple recorded in the previous chapter. There has only been, is now, and only will be one country in a covenant relationship with God – Israel.

Another aspect of the movie that was out of context is the entire premise of having a prayer closet in the first place. The film portrayed this room almost as having magical powers. If you want your prayers to be effective, it’s best to pray them in a closet emptied of its contents. Upon first consideration, this idea appears to have biblical support:

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father Who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:5-6.

As we were driving home from the theater that night, Kathy and I talked about how we would be willing to bet that thousands of people will see this film and then go to their homes, clean out a closet and make their own “war rooms” believing that their prayers will become more effective.

Sure enough, just this morning as I was writing this piece, I was watching the Daystar channel as presidents and hosts Marcus and Joni Lamb played a clip from Eyewitness New Fox 58 as Aaran Perlman interviewed two of the Kendrick brothers. A visibly emotional Perlman said, “I saw this movie last weekend with a group of people, I’m gonna start crying before I even get into this. It changed my life so much. This movie, it’s about prayer. It’s about finding a room called the war room and immediately after this movie I went home and ripped everything out of my closet and made my own war room.” “Wow, that’s incredible, awesome! You will see a difference in the days ahead. Write ‘em down so you can keep up with them. It’s great to be able to check off those prayer requests to realize God is alive and well and at work in your life,” Stephen Kendrick responded.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with praying in a closet if that is what one wants to do, the location is not the point. The point Jesus made in this text was not about location but attitude. The point is that we are not to make a show of our prayers as did the scribes and Pharisees and should remove any distractions which may divert our attention away from the One to Whom we are praying. Sincere, humble prayers offered in a living room, a backyard, or in an airplane at 40,000 feet halfway across the Pacific Ocean are heard just as well as those offered in an empty closet. Believing that there is some special power in the location itself is not only mystical, but borders on idolatry. The Object of our prayers and the condition of our hearts are the important things – not the location.

Conclusion

Some will read this review and undoubtedly think that I am being too nitpicky and critical. I have talked to some who have seen War Room and thought that it was great and that it had a solid biblical message. There is no doubt that the film was Christian themed – an element that has drawn the ire of numerous secular critics – but we are enjoined to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) through the lens of Scripture and to “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15). Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”

Finally, as I hinted at the beginning of this piece, I am not a fan of the whole Christian movie (I am not including documentaries in this) thing in general. It is not that I am inherently opposed to the genre per se, but rather that I believe there to be an inherent danger in them. For one, in order to be successful at the box office, Christian movies must be intentionally vague when it comes to many doctrinal matters. Christian films never really go past the basics of the Gospel and, sadly, often even fail at that. Yet the Bible says that we are to pay close attention to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13) and to persevere in it (vs. 16).

Additionally, these movies are highly emotional. They tug at our heart strings. There is nothing wrong in and of itself with emotion, but emotion cannot be a substitute for obedience to objective biblical truth. Movies in and of themselves cannot bring lasting change to anyone’s life. It seems that every few years or so something new is introduced to the evangelical masses and is portrayed as the next great evangelistic super-tool. Whether it’s a blockbuster movie like the Passion of the Christ, or best-selling books like The Purpose-Driven Life, or Jesus Calling, 10 people get all excited. Spin-off products follow and incredible amounts of money are spent chasing after the latest fads. But they are just that – fads. Recall the Prayer of Jabez craze about fifteen years ago? Remember how everyone was praying for God to enlarge their territory? Do you have any friends still praying the prayer of Jabez? Me neither. Without a foundation of sound doctrine, without a constant and proper hermeneutic, all of these things are the spiritual equivalent of a sugar pill.

It is a sad commentary, in my estimation, that so many professing believers get so excited about the latest thing to come down the evangelical pike, but show little enthusiasm in and put precious little effort into reading, studying and obeying God’s Word. Watching a movie is easy. Laboring in the Word is not. But only the latter will bear fruit that remains.

Sources

1 Source: http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA188/is-it-wrong-for-wives-to-work

2 For the purposes of this article when I write “young women” I am referring to the biblical definition of the term per Titus 2.

3 Source: https://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ101712/Does-Scripture-Permit-Women-to-Work-Outside-the-Home

Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon and an End to Christianity??

Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon and an End to Christianity??

April 15th, 2016

By Caryl Matrisciana and Roger Oakland
(authors of The Evolution Conspiracy – Lighthouse Trails, April 2016, 2nd ed, illustrated)

Shattered marriages. Sexual promiscuity. Abortion. Human trafficking. Homosexual marriage. Crime. Terrorism. Youth in rebellion. What is happening to our world? And why?

It may astonish you, but belief in the evolution of life is the source of much of our present society’s confusion and waning morality. Evolutionism, in all its forms, has become so firmly entrenched that it now tears at the very fabric of our moral structure.

How do the “big bang” theory and other conjectures of evolutionary thinking contribute to the devastating condition of our society? What is the connection between evolutionary concepts and the state of our moral, spiritual, and physical health?
The theory of evolution holds that everything material developed as a result of natural forces, laws, and processes. In and of itself, this may not sound too alarming. However, consider the spiritual implications when evolutionists make the leap from the physical to the spiritual realm. They claim the laws of nature are constantly at work and increasing the level of man’s complexity and capabilities. They say that man also has the potential to evolve in every aspect of his being. The “wholeness” of man—body, soul, and spirit—is supposedly also growing and becoming more spiritually advanced. Many claim that man is reaching higher levels of goodness, love, and social benevolence with each succeeding generation.

Not all those who subscribe to the evolutionary theory of biological development would acknowledge the existence of a spiritual dimension to life, let alone subscribe to the notion that the evolutionary process encompasses the spirit and soul. Nevertheless, as we delve into this new millennium, it is becoming more and more evident that this conjecture is gaining momentum. Without a doubt, the growing advancement of the theory of biological evolution has set the stage for the next likely step in man’s “progression”—the quantum leap to godhood. As Richard Greene, New Age spokesperson, explains:

We’ve mastered the evolution of the physical body. We’ve mastered the evolution of the mind . . . and we’re coming to a time when we’re using this perfected—quasi-perfected—body, this opening and perfecting mind, to access the true perfection of the universe, which is the spiritual dimensions.1

Growing numbers of scientists and nonscientists believe this “spiritual evolution” is the next step in the progress of man. Yet one need only look at the world’s deteriorating social conditions to see that this evolutionary hypothesis bears utterly no resemblance to reality. World press reports ought to be enough to convince even the most hardened evolutionist that man’s moral and spiritual condition is becoming more debased.

Increasing crime and murder, government corruption, rampant rape and sexual abuse, intolerable crimes against children, huge numbers victim to human trafficking, more than 58 million abortions in America alone, pornography: a multi-billion dollar industry, and the proliferation of broken marriages resulting in countless fatherless homes—these surely reflect moral regression, not progression.

It is very telling to take a look back through history. The idea that ancient men were lower on the “consciousness ladder,” as claimed by evolutionists, sabotages historically proven accounts of past human generations. Holy men of old were amazingly advanced in spiritual matters. They were led by divine inspiration and were intellectually leagues ahead of their counterparts today. The mental excellence of merchants and philosophers, the structure of archeological splendor, and the advanced history of entire cultures and civilizations provide satisfactory evidence that men were originally created as men, as stated in the Bible.

Men and women, created from the beginning with God-given intellect, have achieved many outstanding accomplishments from the earliest times. We see no such achievements or aspirations in architecture, trade, scholarship, or any other area in the animal kingdom. One does not see the production of mathematically complex pyramids in jungles filled with ape-like creatures. These are evidenced only where civilized man is known to have lived. Yet evolutionary explanations for the existence of early ape-like man continue not only to mock our common sense but erode our morality as well.

Myriads of people are being shipwrecked in spiritually defiled waters and don’t understand why they are drowning. They cling to lifeboat “Science” in the hope that its answers to the origin of life, backed up by impressive credentials and high-sounding assurances, will rescue them and provide them with the stability and meaning for which they are desperately searching. They have been hooked by false claims that the world began by slow evolutionary chance processes rather than by spontaneous creation by God, who is both separate from the universe and the planner and designer of all that is. They assume the all-too familiar theory of evolutionary development is verifiable fact supported by scientific data.

Poison at the Roots

In replacing God’s act of creation with a process of natural evolution, we are faced with the question: Have morality, truth, goodness, kindness, love, and other human values also developed from nothing?
If they have, we must accept such things as “relative truth,” “shifting absolutes,” and “values clarification.” And these pose serious threats to every daily decision we make. Nothing then can be based on absolutes; nothing can be determined to be right and nothing wrong if truth is seen to be forever in transition.

If, however, we believe that God, a moral Creator whose character is absolute truth, supernaturally created the universe and made man in His own image and likeness, then another picture emerges. Man inherits from Him a sense of right and wrong, truth and error. And he performs best when living in harmony with the Creator’s guidelines.
A car designer precisely molds his machine and arranges its internal electronics and engineering to work best in conformity with certain strategic instructions he has devised. For the owner of the car to deviate from the designer’s intentions and instructions would be counterproductive. Guesswork or ignorance would not secure high-level performance. Only dedicated adherence to the rules laid out in the car-owner’s manual guarantee the machine’s successful operation.
In a similar fashion, at creation, mankind was given inbuilt directives. The most important of these is the spiritual heart and instinct that God created the inside of man who is able to be led by the Holy Spirit and by God’s instruction manual, the Bible. This quality is unique to man alone. It is not found in animals or nature:

The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. . . . He fashioneth their hearts alike. (Psalm 33:13,15)
But man doesn’t want to submit to God’s guidelines. Without a Creator God, man is free to develop his own moral code for his life, his government, his home, and his schools. This is the logical rebellion of evolutionary thinking.
God’s law, when applied correctly, establishes man’s personal and moral conduct, his family’s well-being, and harmony in the ruling of a nation. All three are interwoven and dependent on God. But the individual must come to a place of personal commitment to the God of the Bible and to the authority of Scripture as truth. The first thing we are told in the Bible is “God created.” Evolutionism erodes man’s personal walk with God. God denied “in the beginning” brings disharmony in every other relationship in life.

Evolutionism frees man from the question of submission to God. It appeals to man’s religious nature while leaving intact his intellectual pride. This explosive combination wreaked spiritual havoc with Adam and Eve (the first man and woman whom God created). And it continues to harm mankind today. The evolutionary premise is a cancerous tumor that has reached into every major circle of society and corrupted cherished values.

Calling Evolution’s Hand

Although many scientists claim that mankind is scaling the evolutionary ladder, no such evidence exists. No scientific proof drawn from life sciences such as biology or earth sciences such as geology verifies that evolution ever occurred in the past. In fact, as we will show, today’s most outstanding scientific information visibly opposes evolution.
It is interesting to note that one of the characteristics scientific investigators claim they possess is the ability to think and observe critically. Every child in grade school is told by his or her science teacher that open-mindedness is an absolutely essential quality of a good scientist. In other words, a scientist must use critical thinking and be willing to examine all the evidence. Uncritical thinking arises when we fail to ask for the evidence that supports all ideas and all theories.

But unfortunately, evolutionism does not always work that way. In fact, when challenges appear, the evolutionists often set themselves high upon a pedestal and proclaim their infallibility. The idea often projected by evolutionists is that their theory is always self-correcting and continually modifying itself—that it is a progressive truth accommodating new facts as they are discovered. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Is it not reasonable to question evolution if there is observable evidence that contradicts the theory? Why is it that evolutionists would rather disparage opposing views and dismiss facts that do not agree with their notions?
Creationists who claim that evolutionary teaching is based on unobservable evidence are labeled as religious fanatics attempting to force the “public indoctrination of a religious view.”2 Only those individuals “properly qualified within the scientific community”3 are capable of properly evaluating the facts, states anticreationist Willard Young in The Fallacies of Creationism. And to really drive his point home, he insists:

The obstacle the layman faces is not, in general, any lack of intelligence, but simply ignorance of the technical details of the subject. To achieve “expert” competence in complex and difficult subjects requires many years of study and experience.4

Unfortunately, all too many people have fallen into the trap of accepting the opinion of so-called “authorities” and “experts” on blind faith. No questions asked. Certainly, there are areas and concepts of science difficult for the nonscientific person to grasp. But one thing that everyone has the ability and the right to question is the difference between that which is fact and that which is not fact. Even the layperson has the ability to discern the difference between common sense and logic, wishful speculation, and outright nonsense. History has revealed over and over again that many theories and ideas of the past have turned out to be completely erroneous even though they were convincingly presented to the public as absolute truth. Do evolution scientists really have the right to declare their unchallengeable “priesthood”?

The Call to Arms

Considering the eternal consequences that result from the denial of God and His handiwork in creation, it is time to see just how firmly evolution has wrapped itself around our culture—and our very own lives. Caught in its grasp, we must seek to discover a way to disengage ourselves so that we can weigh evolution in the balance of truth. Is it logical? Have we accepted its ideas just because we were told they were scientific? What proof is there for evolution? And most importantly, have we let the vehemently anti-Christian values of the evolutionary premise mold our thinking?
Analyzing evolution on all its fronts, we must recognize the critical goals of the evolution/creation debate, summed up by anti-creationist, science writer, and ‘joyous atheist,” Richard Bozarth:
The day will come when the evidence constantly accumulating around the evolutionary theory becomes so massively persuasive that even the last and most fundamental Christian warriors will have to lay down their arms and surrender unconditionally. I believe that day will be the end of Christianity.5
Satan pulls no punches. His game plan is to use every available means—in this case evolutionary supposition—to bring people to moral chaos and eternal destruction. As Christians in a society that has already bought, unreservedly, into evolutionism, we have a responsibility to enter into the fray and bring the evolution conspiracy to light. The hearts of many depend on it.
(This has been an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Evolution Conspiracy, 2nd ed., 2016, Lighthouse Trails – Release Date: April 29th, 2016)

lighthousetrailsresearch.com

THE FEDERAL VISION

The Federal Vision

The Federal Vision
A New Perspective—an Old Heresy

By Rev. T. Aicken

So, what is all the stir about the Federal Vision? Well, from one perspective, namely the extent of its influence, it is not making great waves at all. It has created some ripples in some denominations, but otherwise, it has made hardly a splash in the pond of Reformed and Presbyterian churches, now numbering hundreds of denominations worldwide.

From another perspective, though—not the extent of its influence, but its serious departure from the Bible, from historic Christianity, and from all that confessional churches have stood for since the Protestant Reformation—yes, the Federal Vision is making waves, and pretty big ones at that. It may be a tempest in a teapot, yet, for those of us in that teapot, it is a tsunami that is bearing down on us and threatening to pull us under. Are we ready for it? Are we securely anchored in the Word of God? Do we even recognize what we are up against, or what others (who said they were Reformed) have lost?

The Federal Vision combines Klaas Schilder’s view of the covenant (not the historic view, by any means), Norman Shepherd’s view of justification (for which he was dismissed from Westminster Seminary in 1982), plus several speculative notions of the Anglican Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright and other innovators of what has come to be known as the “New Perspective on Paul (NPP).”

Broadly speaking, the Federal Vision is neolegalism (a system advocating works-righteousness over free grace), which is a trend in churches as old as the Galatian heresy of New Testament times. Specifically, this new version of that old trend denies, or at least ignores, the unconditional covenant God made with Christ as the Second Adam, and in Him with all the elect as His seed. It focuses exclusively, rather, on the administration of that covenant, i.e. on the covenant handed down to Abraham, consisting of conditional promises only and ordinances administered by the visible Church.

What are the practical effects of such a truncated covenant? Regrettably, it leaves us with a warped and twisted view of covenant blessing. I shall give three examples of that.

First, the clear emphasis of the Federal Vision is on covenant—not on Christ. The Federal Vision teaches that we are saved by the covenant, whereas the Reformed faith (in line with the Bible) teaches that we are saved by Christ. The Federal Vision teaches that the covenant itself conveys a relationship of peace and favour with God; the Reformed faith (again, in line with the Bible) teaches that Christ is the only Mediator, the only Redeemer of God’s elect, and that the covenant offers salvation only by faith in Him. Richard D. Phillips observes,
“The most stunning feature of the Federal Vision writings is the way Jesus Christ, in His person and work, recedes into the background. I am astonished that in the great mass of Federal Vision material dealing with God’s covenant and salvation, our Savior is almost completely ignored (The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision, p. 84).

God the Father has given all things into the hand of His Son (John 3:35). The Holy Spirit, in turn, testifies of the Son (John 15:26). Are we now to believe that the covenant is more important than the person and work of the Son of God? Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21) . He did not say, “to live is the covenant.” Surely, the covenant is nothing, and can do nothing, apart from Christ Himself coming into the world and sealing to His people all the benefits of God’s covenant through the shedding of His own precious blood. This is the whole point of Rev. 5.

Second, another distortion characterizing the Federal Vision’s covenant and of the blessing it is said to yield is its emphasis on a grace that is external to the recipient, and hence the importance it attaches to water baptism. An exaggerated view of ritual and ceremony is directly contrary to the Bible’s demand for an internal work of grace, for Spirit baptism, and it is contrary to the priority the Bible gives to the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

We find the need for an internal work of grace (and how useless signs and symbols are without that) to be a strong, unbreakable cord woven throughout the Scriptures. Consider, for instance, Isa. 29:13, Jer. 4:4, Rom. 2:28,29, and Rom. 10:8-10. There is an external element to the covenant, to be sure. The water sprinkled in the sacrament of baptism is real water, something tangible. The external is meant to serve the internal, however, to be a sign and seal of rich blessings we can appropriate only by faith.

This does not mean, of course, that we can afford to ignore the external, or that we can justify our neglecting it. But, at the same time, we need to understand that water baptism does not include Spirit baptism, nor is it adequate to replace it. What does water baptism say to the unregenerate? It says, “You need to be cleansed. More than the sign, you need what it signifies. You need Christ, and you dare not die without Him!” On the other hand, to those who are converted, and are led by the Holy Spirit, this same sacramental water says, “You are complete in Christ. Nothing in all the created order can separate you from God’s love to you in Him!”

Third, one more perverse effect of the Federal Vision’s covenant has to do with its view of the Church. The Federal Vision makes no distinction—or says that this is the wrong distinction for us to consider—between the invisible Church (i.e. the elect) and the visible Church (i.e. those who profess faith in Christ plus their children).

Indeed, this new paradigm, as it is called, does not distinguish even between professing members and baptized members in the visible Church. All are lumped together, as it were, of one and the same status, since salvation is deemed to be conferred on all through the sacrament of baptism. Douglas Wilson, for instance, defines a Christian as “anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by an authorized representative of the Christian church” (“Reformed is Not Enough, p. 19).

If you think that this sounds similar to the teaching of Rome, you are right. By confusing the sign (baptism) with the thing signified (salvation), the Federal Vision leads us full circle, back to Rome.

Some would insist in all this that they do not deny the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but say that faith and salvation are both conferred through the sacrament of baptism. What this does, of course, is to make everyone in the church a believer, whether or not he really is a believer, and it also gets rid of the need for conversion since everybody is a Christian from the moment the water of baptism is sprinkled upon him.

Is this what the Scriptures teach? (See John 3:3; Matt. 18:3) Is this what we confess? (Consider the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 3, 23, and 27.) Is it not contrary to our experience? Is it not proved to be wrong and absurd by even common sense and reason?

But let us examine this claim more closely. Those of the Federal Vision who tell us that they do not deny justification by faith alone are indeed quick to deny it when they go on, as they do, to define faith as faithfulness, i.e. faith and works together. This is not the historic Protestant view of justification by faith alone, but merely a clever attempt to make it sound so to the unsuspecting. As a matter of fact, these same people insist that we are saved, not by faith in Christ, but by faithfulness to the covenant. This is a further corruption of the doctrine.

Now we need to be very clear about this. We are saved, not because we are faithful to God’s covenant, but because Christ Himself was faithful to it. Our salvation rests, then, not on our faithfulness, but on His. Jesus Christ met with the demands of the covenant of works (fulfilling all righteousness); He also met the demands of the covenant of grace (taking upon Himself the penalty for our unrighteousness), and offered these blessings to us when we did not, and could not, meet what was required of us on account of our own disobedience and sin. Through faith, on the other hand, we lay hold of these benefits of Christ. His righteousness is imputed to us, our unrighteousness is imputed to Him, and, dressed now in the unblemished righteousness and perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, we are declared to be righteous before God for Jesus’ sake.

The teaching of justification by faith alone allows no room for our own faithfulness to crowd in, as if we could ever contribute anything to gain a right standing with God ourselves. Are we not called to be zealous for good works? Of course we are, but they are the fruit of faith; they are not in any sense an instrument to lay hold of Christ.

Let us now take this one step further. If we are not saved by faith in Christ, but by faithfulness to the covenant, and if we are kept in good standing with God by having to continue in that faithfulness, then we have to produce a never-ending supply of good works or we will lose our justification. This is one of the distinguishing features of this new paradigm: one may gain and ultimately lose his salvation, his right relationship with God.

The Federal Vision, remember, teaches baptismal regeneration. It teaches that salvation is conferred on all, not through faith, but through the sacrament of baptism. Yet, while this baptismal regeneration renders conversion unnecessary in their view, still, every Christian has to preserve his favourable standing before God through good works, through his own best efforts, for he has no enduring hope of heaven apart from that.

Do you see, then, how the Federal Vision’s covenant, which is intended to save everybody under its fountain of sacramental water, does not actually guarantee anything or secure any future blessing for anybody? The one thing it is purported to do—to take away all anxious fears and doubts—it therefore cannot do because it allows for no perseverance of the saints. In fact, it is a theological system based on built-in fears and doubts.

This is not a minor controversy among Christians, something that will require only grace and tact to overcome. It is the old Galatian heresy, which is no Gospel at all (Gal 1:6-7). “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law,” asks Paul, “or by the hearing of faith?….Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2-3).

How is it that most churches in mainline denominations have become apostate over time? Many people would surely say, in response to that question, that they went wrong when they no longer believed the Bible to be the Word of God. In other words, it is really a question of authority. When the leaders could no longer accept, consciously and with conviction, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were inspired of God and thus the only infallible rule of faith and practice, those churches began right then, like a runaway train, careening off the rails.

I submit that it happened before then. Indeed, long before the pastors and teachers were even conscious of their having overturned the Bible and rejecting its authority, they had abandoned preaching Christ and Him crucified. They had turned to liturgies instead, to a grossly exaggerated view of the value of religious symbols and ceremonies, and they had rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone, supposing that men are not so bad that they cannot contribute something of worth to secure for themselves favour with God.

Can we not see, therefore, where this Federal Vision trail is leading us? Shall we be any different from so many who came before us if we, too, should go the wrong way? “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). And what legacy will it leave our children and grandchildren?

https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/the-federal-vision/

Federal Vision- Heresy?

Is the Federal Vision Heresy?

Many are honestly confused about the Federal Vision, and are looking for a quick, basic understanding of it. As such, here we offer a crash course about this enormously influential movement.

The following resources demonstrate that the Federal Vision is indeed a heresy of the worst kind, and perverts almost every doctrine related to salvation. It is has much in common with N. T. Wright’s theology, and is essentially a form of Roman Catholicism in sheep’s clothing. It denies justification by faith alone, Christ’s active obedience, and perseverance of the saints, and holds to salvation by works (for instance, the soul damning heresy of baptismal regeneration).

Some of the major proponents of the Federal Vision include the following:

Douglas Wilson

James B. Jordan

Norman Shepherd

Peter Leithart

Steve Schlissel

Steven Wilkins

Rich Lusk

John Barach

(Note: For a refutation of the Federal Vision view that the only works of the law Paul condemns when it comes to justification are “Jewish identity markers,” click here.)

I. In 2002 the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the United States (RPCUS) gave the following “Call to Repentance” to those of the Federal Vision movement. This lists the movement’s main heresies.

“Covenant Presbytery of the RPCUS declares that the teaching presented in the 2002 Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Pastors Conference involves a fundamental denial of the essence of the Christian Gospel in the denial of justification by faith alone.

“That the teaching of the various speakers: Douglas Wilson, Steve Schlissel, John Barach, and J. Steven Wilkins, has the effect of destroying the Reformed Faith through the introduction of false hermeneutic principles; the infusion of sacerdotalism; and the redefinition of the doctrines of: the church, the sacraments, election, effectual calling, perseverance, regeneration, justification, union with Christ, and the nature and instrumentality of faith.

“That the rejection of the Bible as propositional and the introduction of an illegitimate post-exilic Jewish mindset as an interpretive scheme, denies the role of Scripture in interpreting itself. This view, while affirming the written word, yet gives license to reformulate and reinterpret that word through the glasses of an unrevealed and antipropositional mindset that is closely akin to the old liberal higher criticism of the early 20th century.

“That the denial of the distinction of visible and invisible church and the introduction of an historical and eschatological church, opens the door to new and mystical meanings being applied to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper that are sacerdotal in orientation; makes justification an eschatological process instead of a definitive legal act; obscures the reality and necessity of the new birth; and corrupts Gospel preaching by eliminating the call to repentance and faith within the congregation.

“That baptismal regeneration constructed upon the principle of linking the sign and the reality in effect differs little from Roman Catholicism.

“That the doctrine that maintains union with Christ is an external position and place in the church confounds regeneration, union with Christ, and the outward ordinances.

“That the maintenance of the language of Calvinism in these speakers is superficial and misleading: their doctrine of perseverance is made to deny effectual calling; their doctrine of corporate election is made to deny particular redemption; and the native depravity of man is made to be removed in the outward administration of water baptism which thereby sufficiently qualifies the recipient for the Lord’s Supper.

“We therefore resolve that these teachings are heretical. We call these men to repentance. We call upon the church of Jesus Christ to hold these teachings in contempt. We call upon the courts of the churches that are responsible for these men to institute judicial process against them and to vindicate the honor of Christ and the truth of the Christian Gospel by bringing judgment upon them, suspending them from office, and removing them from the communion of the church should they not repent.

“May God have mercy upon their souls.

– Adopted unanimously by Covenant Presbytery, Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, June 22, 2002.”

The Council of Chalcedon, “A Call to Repentance” (Cummings, GA: July/August 2002), 13.

II. For a good overall understanding of the Federal Vision, read

“A Refutation of the Auburn Avenue Theology’s Rejection of Justification by Faith Alone” by Brian Schwertley

At the end of Schwertley’s article is this chart below, which compares the [COLOR=green]Federal Vision, or Auburn Avenue Doctrine[/COLOR], with biblical Christianity, nicknamed the “Reformed Faith”:

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine-Covenant is relationship which is rooted in the relationship between the persons of the ontological trinity.

The Reformed Faith-Covenant is an agreement. The covenant of grace is rooted in the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis).

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Before the fall Adam was under a covenant of grace.

The Reformed Faith- Before the fall Adam was under a covenant of works.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- After the fall God requires a partial obedience to His law in order to be justified. This partial obedience is fulfilled by faithful Christians and results in final justification.

The Reformed Faith- After the fall God requires a perfect and perpetual obedience to His law in thought, word and deed in order to be justified. This perfect and perpetual obedience is fulfilled by Jesus Christ and is imputed to believing sinners.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Jesus’ sinless life is only an example of faithfulness for His people to follow.

The Reformed Faith- Our Lord’s sinless life is not only an example but is also a fulfillment of the covenant of works that is necessary if a believing sinner is to be declared righteous before God.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Christians are justified by faith and faithfulness (i.e. perseverance in personal obedience).

The Reformed Faith- Christians are justified by faith alone apart from the works of the law.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Faith and obedience are necessary to obtain final justification. Faith is introspective. It is divided between Christ and the believer’s faithfulness. Obedience is a co-instrument of justification.

The Reformed Faith- Faith is the sole instrument which lays hold of Christ and His accomplished redemption. Faith is extraspective. Obedience is a fruit of justification.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Faith and obedience are the same thing. Faith is complex and includes the fruits of faith.

The Reformed Faith- Obedience flows from true faith and is distinguishable from it. Faith is simple.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Good works or covenantal faithfulness has an important role to play in a believer’s final justification.

The Reformed Faith- The good works of believers are tainted with sin, are non-meritorious and onlydemonstrate the reality of saving faith.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Paul’s condemnation of the works of the law in relation to justification concerns only the ceremonial laws or Jewish identity markers which exclude Gentiles from the covenant.

The Reformed Faith- Paul’s condemnation of the works of the law in relation to justification refers to the whole law: ceremonial and moral. The traditional Protestant law/gospel antithesis stands.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Justification refers only to the pardon of sins and not the imputation of Jesus’ active [or preceptive] obedience. Pardon is supplemented by covenant faithfulness which results in final justification.

The Reformed Faith- Justification involves the imputation of the believing sinner’s guilt and liability of punishment to Christ on the cross and our Lord’s perfect righteousness to the believer. The good works or covenant faithfulness of the Christian has nothing to do with justification.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- If a person does not continue in obedience the justification received when baptized is removed and the apostate person loses his salvation.

The Reformed Faith- Because a Christian’s justification is achieved solely by Christ it can never be lost. People who apostatize never had saving faith and were never justified to begin with (1 Jn. 2:19; Mt. 7:23).

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Sanctification if faithfully continued leads to final justification. The process which leads to justification is synergistic.

The Reformed Faith- The moment a person is justified, the life-long process of sanctification begins. The justification of sinners is monergistic.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- The covenant of grace includes conditions. One condition is faithful obedience or good works. The personal righteousness, obedience or good works of believers has salvific “value” (i.e. merit) before God.

The Reformed Faith- The covenant of grace has only one condition which is faith. This faith is a gift. It is instrumental and non-meritorious. It merely grasps the person and work of Christ.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine- Since faith and obedience are the same thing and we receive glorified life in the same manner as Adam before the fall, the covenant of grace is a watered down covenant of works (i.e. a partial obedience is now required for final justification).

The Reformed Faith- The covenant of grace is radically different from the covenant of works because Christ the second Adam fulfills the terms of the covenant in our place. People who are under the guilt and power of sin cannot achieve or even contribute to their own justification.

III. Supplement the previous info with the following audio downloads:

1. The Gospel Crisis in the OPC and PCA (by Brian Schwertley)

(About the urgency for church leaders to decisively deal with the Federal Vision heresy. A text version is available here.)

2. Debate between John M. Otis and Federal Vision proponent Steve Schlissel

3. Auburn Avenue Theology Refutation Parts 1-6 (by Brian Schwertley)

4. Refuting the Federal Vision Heresy Parts 1-4 (John M. Otis)

IV. Get “Danger in the Camp: An Analysis and Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision by John M. Otis

In this enormous book, Otis systematically exposes the heretical teachings of the Federal Vision proponents in their own words, and refutes their teachings.

https://flockalert.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/what-is-the-federal-vision-is-it-heresy/

TGC-A Coalition for the Advancement of Realized Eschatology?

A Coalition for the Advancement of Realized Eschatology?

Posted on April 15, 2015

by Mark Snoeberger

This week the Gospel Coalition’s annual meeting features a panel discussion with panelists who reject the Gospel. On the face of things this seems to be out of step with TGC’s founding principles, which exalt commitment to the Gospel as the singularly non-negotiable feature of belonging to the TGC “alliance.” To be a TGC “ally,” one must be a “born-again Christian with whom I can go a long way down the road.”

But as Bethany Jenkins notes in her apology for the TGC’s decision to include panelists who are hostile to the Gospel, there exists a cause broader than the Gospel in which an unbeliever may serve as a “co-belligerent,” or “a person who may not have any sufficient basis for taking the right position, but takes the right position on a single issue.” And because of this isolated virtue, “I can join with him without any danger as long as I realize that he is not an ally and all we’re talking about is a single issue.”

Jenkins evinces sympathy for her position by noting that as “individual Christians” we labor with co-belligerents all the time “in our work outside the church and home”—the common/civil sphere, or the realm of “common grace.” And, irrespective of whether one agrees with her in using the term “common grace,” we must agree with the substance of her observation. As fellow image-bearers, believers and unbelievers must work together in our pursuit of God’s revealed mission for collective humanity: the dominion mandate. And when rogue humans or groups of humans rebel against God’s natural/civil structures (attacking the sanctity of human life, denying human dignity/solidarity, corrupting marriage/family, distorting justice, etc.), we as collective humanity must do what we can to suppress this rebellion. The substance of our “alliance” in such cases is not the Gospel, but the imago dei. And I would argue with the greatest of energy that as individual believers, we must be the very best humans, citizens, and neighbors that we possibly can be, irrespective of whether we live among fellow-Christians or pagans. I cannot be more earnest in this statement.

Jenkins makes a colossal leap, however, when she argues from individual co-belligerence to ecclesiastical co-belligerence: “The church, too, can work with co-belligerents who are committed—knowingly or not—to certain kingdom purposes.” Even though we “radically disagree,” she continues, we can work together “against a common enemy,” which she identifies as those who seek to thwart of “the common good and human flourishing.” And it is the destruction of this enemy that divulges the heart of the newest evangelical experiment. The Gospel exists not merely to establish regenerate communities alien to and paradoxical with our fallen world, but to domesticate fallen culture and establish “eschatological signposts ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ of the coming kingdom.” And to that end it may and must court co-belligerents from unbelieving culture.

This is precisely the same path that the new evangelicalism took last century. Its ecclesiastical mission included the Gospel, certainly, but its goal was the realization of a particular vision of the kingdom that could accommodate social action and cultivate the cultural/societal goodwill enjoyed by the modernist (and by-and-large postmillennial) church of even earlier vintage. And I think it is reasonable to wonder whether what we have today is really a gospel coalition, or whether instead it is a coalition utilizing the Gospel as one of several measures in the service of realized eschatology.

http://dbts.edu/blog/a-coalition-for-the-advancement-of-realized-eschatology/

Want Some False Doctrine in Your Life? Try These Handy Tips!

“Want Some False Doctrine in Your Life? Try These Handy Tips!”

March 11, 2015

Don’t be shy about it-admit it: [COLOR=Green]false doctrine is fun and, well, it just feels good. Here are some handy tips to keep you fully deceived and incapable of discernment:[/COLOR]

1. Always think to yourself: “I know what he meant when false teachings are taught; don’t listen to the actual words themselves. Pretend you are giving someone the “benefit of the doubt” when you’re actually permitting bad teaching. Also, bad teaching isn’t so bad if the pastor tells an emotional story to drive home the heresy; and he must be telling the truth if he starts to cry, especially at the same point of the story in multiple services!

2. Here’s a handy saying: “No church is perfect!” The assumption here is that it’s not of any value to carefully examine doctrine because all churches are wrong in one way or another, so just accept anything. If you go to the church because “you feel comfortable there” and the “worship team really rocks” you’ll probably never have to think much about doctrine anyway. This can also be modified as: “No pastor is perfect!” False teachers and mediocre pastors really appreciate it when you think this way.

3. Focus on your feelings rather than the clear teachings of Scripture. Because you’re a sinner, this will be very easy. For added validation of your false beliefs, convince yourself that God told you to disobey Him and somehow violate His word; but don’t use such obvious language. For example, say: “I really feel that God spoke to my heart, that’s why I believe it’s okay to (fill in the blank with whatever sin and/or false doctrine you want). A great little catch phrase to instill this principle would be something like this: “Theology will never change a man as much as a direct encounter with God.” Of course, if you really had a direct encounter with God you’d probably be dead…

4. Allow false doctrine from a teacher because “he has some good things to say, too…” A handy little phrase to repeat is: “Chew on the meat and spit out the bones.” Although this concept isn’t Biblical, pretend that it is. It will probably help you to imagine yourself “open-minded” and “non-judgmental” when you repeatedly ignore God’s clear instructions to hold fast to correct doctrine.

5. Consider “doctrine” the same thing as “religiosity” or “legalism.” If you realize that doctrine is just another word for teaching (and the Bible demands correct teaching) you might decide to become more discerning, and remember, false teachers everywhere are counting on you to stay ignorant and gullible.

6. Promote false teaching “for the sake of the un-churched.” You want to have lot’s of new people coming to church, don’t you? Well, give the public what they want and watch attendance skyrocket! Remember, the unrepentant sinners out there will show up if they are promised something to appease their selfish desires. Better sex? Bigger paychecks? Well-behaved children? God can give your un-saved neighbor all of that-and more! The seeker-friendly pastor already knows this dynamic growth program, and with your blind support (and weekly tithe checks) he will craft emotionally appealing motivational speeches to convert pagans into regular attending members! And let’s not forget that these same pastors (“leadership experts”) will provide your community with a sense of purpose and identity (and a six-figure salary for themselves), so don’t bog them down with Biblical requirements that would stunt the growth of the organization.

7. “Group Think” is a major component of false doctrine, so, “go with the group!” Fortunately for you, there are plenty of groups that are teaching and promoting false doctrine, so just pick the one you’re most comfortable with and buy into their twisted version of Christianity. Here are some of your choices:

First, there’s the “What do we believe this month?” “Emerging”, Post-Modern church (think: Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, etc.). Millennials love this one; it’s hip and it only get’s hipper as it dumps Biblical doctrine in favor of pagan mysticism and cultural sensitivity (which is usually just capitulation to the culture). Remember, you’re never actually believing false doctrine, you’re just “having a conversation!” Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Second, for the suburban soccer-mom crowd, there’s the “seeker-friendly” mega church (think: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, etc.). These churches are a mash-up between a cinema-plex, a shopping mall and a Starbucks. Bigger is better, right?! And if you ever (accidentally) start to question whether anything lines up with Scripture, you can just take a look around the vast auditorium: this many people can’t be wrong! As long as you think so, you clever little conformist!

Thirdly, for the truly adventurous, you can find a vast number of Charismatic churches that aren’t even close to orthodox Christianity! (Think: Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, T.D. Jakes, etc.) What’s not to like about a church that believes anyone can come up with new doctrine anytime by hearing directly from God?! Oh sure, they give lip service to the Bible, but with proof-texting, they can make the Bible appear to say anything! Does God just want you to be rich, happy and successful? Sure He does! Do we just have to “speak that into existence?” Sure we do! Remember, the Holy Spirit is your personal genie in a bottle, and after you’ve swayed back and forth with the praise band for an hour or two, you’ll actually start to believe that. Key words and phrases: “Woooo!” “Fire!” “More, Lord, more!” “Shaba!” “I feel a releasing of the anointing that is beginning to shift the atmosphere, and the mantle of His presence is about to come down so that the glory of His anointing can release His presence into the manifold destiny of His glory…”

http://themessedupchurch.blogspot.com/2015/03/want-some-false-doctrine-in-your-life.html

Shocking Things That Will Shock You!!!

Shocking Things That Will Shock You!!!

Now that I’ve got your attention with that stupid heading: READ THIS-these are some of the Bible passages that are being strangely ignored by the [COLOR=Green]Apostate (Messed Up) church:[/COLOR]

Matthew 7:15-23 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Matthew 24: 3-14; 24-25 “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Vs. 24): For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance.”

2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”

2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

1 Thessalonians 2:5 “You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.”

Acts 20:28-31 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

1 Timothy 6:5 “…and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Titus 1:7-11 “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

Galatians 1:6-9 “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Titus 2:7-8 “…in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…”

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

2 Timothy 3: 13-17 “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4: 1-4;16 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (16)Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”

2 John 1:7-11 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

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