Friday, May 15, 2009

25 years ago: The Death of Francis Schaeffer

May 15, 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Francis Schaeffer. Mr. Schaeffer was a Presbyterian pastor in the United States for many years before moving to Switzerland to found L'Abri, which was a place for young spiritual seekers to find answers to their questions about Christianity. Mr. Schaeffer wrote a number of excellent books in the areas of Christian apologetics and ethics, including The God Who is There (1968); Escape from Reason (1968); No Final Conflict (1975); How Should We Then Live? (1976); and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (1979--with C. Everett Koop). How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? each served as the basis for a documentary film series. Mr. Schaeffer was dying of cancer as he wrote his last book; The Great Evangelical Disaster was published a couple of months before his death. In this book, he warned that evangelicalism was in danger of abandoning belief in the infallibility and authority of the Bible, and argued that the Southern Baptist Convention, for example, was in the same condition in 1984 that the mainline churches were in during the 1920s and '30s. In 1976 Mr. Schaeffer delivered an address on this theme, titled The Watershed of the Evangelical World, to the National Association of Evangelicals in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, Francis Schaeffer's last warning has largely gone unheeded.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Social Gospel and postmodern heresy at a Christian and Missionary Alliance assembly

More Books and Things has a post about Erwin McManus being invited to address the biennial assembly of the Canadian Pacific District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Langley, British Columbia on May 19-21, 2009. My views on Mr. McManus’s book The Barbarian Way have already been posted. As a Christian and as a member of a C&MA church in the neighbouring province of Alberta, I was not only disturbed by the invitation to Mr. McManus, but also by what I saw when I clicked on links at the assembly website. Some examples are found below.

"Missional" and "transformation" are currently popular buzzwords in the emerging and dominionist camps. "Missional" is a particularly popular word with postmodernists. Like postmodernism itself, which denies that words have objective meanings, "missional" seems to mean (a la Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland) whatever its users want it to mean. As far as I can tell, "missional" is largely used as a code word for those of like mind to be able to identify one another. "Transformation" and its derivatives aren’t used in the sense of Romans 12:2 (...be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...), but in the sense of transforming society and the world. These are 21st Century terms for the old 20th Century social gospel heresy of man bringing in the Kingdom of God on earth. For those who want to research these terms and topics further, I particularly recommend Lighthouse Trails Research Project; Herescope; and Kjos Ministries.

Sustainable… Missional…Church… Movement…
The 2009 District Conference

"Living Out - Bringing God's Kingdom into our Communities"

We believe in encouraging an environment that empowers the family of churches in the Canadian Pacific District to be a missional movement where God given dreams, visions and passions can be unleashed with life-transforming power.

About | Mission
Evangelism Life Zone

BIOMES : Environmental Transformational Plan

A 'biome' is a life zone, or a region, where special kinds of plants and animals live in a special climate. A biome is made up of unique environmental factors that sustain a particular type of organic life. The language of ecology can be used to express spiritual realities. For our context, biomes are spiritual life zones.

Our objective was to identify strategic life zones and creatively influence the environmental factors surrounding those life zones to stimulate missional transformation.

Just imagine an evangelistic environment where . . .
1. Believers in local churches are missionary to their core, engaging with their community to discover what people need and how they can meet those needs.
2. The local church is seen by the unchurched as a vital part of the health and hope of a community.
3. Each local church identifies its parish and uncovers opportunities to minister kindness and compassion to the marginalized and least reached.

"How about that!," as Mel Allen would say--"Biomes," "spiritual life zones," and "missional transformation" all thrown together. It reads like the bafflegab that the New Age Movement has been serving up for the last 25-30 years. "Biome" is a word I haven’t heard before, but I won’t be surprised to see it catch on in evangelical circles. Note too, that the word is lifted from its proper context of the physical environment and applied to the spiritual environment.

Take the word "church" out of the three points above and substitute "community social service organization" or some such phrase, and the meaning would be the same. The presence and direction of God isn’t necessary for these things to take place; man can accomplish this just by employing the proper paradigm, strategy, and research. It might be pointed out that the church in the book of Acts didn’t bother doing this kind of research. In Acts 11:27-30 we read that a prophet named Agabus came from Jerusalem to Antioch and predicted through the Holy Spirit that a severe famine would spread throughout the entire Roman world. The disciples there provided help for their fellow Christians in Judea, sending their gift by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. There’s no evidence that they let their community know of the coming famine, or provided for their "felt needs." This was when the church was under the leadership of the Apostles, men commissioned directly by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Ministries | Global Ministries
Global Connecting for World Transformations

Our main purpose is to resource and network Churches, Missions Teams, and Missions Commitees and help in the building of a roadmap for the reinvention of church-based missions.

Ah yes, "reinvention." Why is it that in the new "paradigm shift" everything must change right now? It sounds like the old Hegelian dialectic at work: thesis + antithesis = synthesis. It helps the process along to bring in a lot of changes at once--you may be successful at neutralizing potential opposition by keeping people off balance in this way.

Ministries | Church Effectiveness | Church Conflict Assessment & Resolution

It is not enough to just work through a present conflict but we must help our churches develop a clear pathway to exercise biblical peace-making as part of their spiritual DNA.

An interesting and informative article on the term "spiritual DNA" and its connection with the New Apostolic Reformation has recently been posted at Deception Bytes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

40 years ago: The revised Roman Catholic calendar

On May 9, 1969 a revised Roman Catholic calendar of church feasts, dropping more than 200 saints and adding saints from outside Europe, was published in Rome. Among those dropped because of doubt that they ever existed was St. Christopher. I can't help but wonder how many people wasted their time and effort trusting in and praying to saints who may not have existed instead of trusting in and praying to the God who does exist.

Nowhere in the scriptures are we told to pray to saints, but we're continually exhorted to pray to God. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

Jesus also prayed to His Father. Perhaps the best example of this is found in John 17, where He prayed for Himself (verses 1-5); His disciples (6-19); and all believers in Him (20-26).

I can't improve on the Holy Spirit-inspired words of the Apostle Paul:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Libertine University

The reaction of some male students to Carrie Prejean’s recent "chapel" address at Liberty University came as no surprise to this blogger. A book by a young man who went "underground" as a student at Liberty for a semester was recently published (go here to see an excerpt), and the author was surprised to find that except for opposition to homosexual acts, the students were pretty much like everybody else. Indeed, the hooting reaction to Miss Prejean’s mention of the swimsuit part of the Miss U.S.A. pageant helps to confirm that view.

Search the archives of Liberty University founder Jerry Fatwhale's Falwell’s columns at WorldNet Daily, and you’ll find an emphasis on state-of-the-art athletic facilities; the performance of LU’s athletic teams; the contribution of Liberty U to the economy of Virginia; and how well they compare academically to secular universities. Emphasis on molding godly character in LU’s students is much harder to find. Liberty U’s graduation speakers have included John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and Ben Stein, whose political conservative credentials are more impressive than their Christian credentials.

Go back 20 years, and you’ll find that Liberty University was denying that it was a Christian university (not to potential Christian donors, but to state authorities):

During January court hearings in Lynchburg relating to Liberty University’s apparently desperate efforts to obtain a $60 million tax-free bond issue, chancellor Dr. Jerry Falwell said LU’s rules requiring short hair for men and bans on rock music and alcohol have no specific biblical basis but are "just our preference" and totally and "entirely" a matter of taste (2/16 Sword). He said the church has no control over the school. An LU dean declined to call Liberty a Christian school when he testified Jan. 11 (1/29 Christian News). LU professor Rod Littlejohn said no teachers at Liberty inject religion into coursework. FBF pres. Dr. Rod Bell says Liberty is not a religious institution, that there is no way fundamental Baptists could recommend Liberty U. to educate and train their children (11-12/89 FBF News Bulletin).

--Calvary Contender, January 3, 1990 (reprinted in Australian Beacon, April 1990, p. 8). "Sword" refers to Sword of the Lord; FBF is Fundamental Bible Fellowship.

Several years later, Liberty U was $73 million in debt, in no small part the result of Rev. Fatwhale’s Falwell’s desire to be competitive in sports. One of those who helped to bail LU out of its financial problems was antichrist Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Do a Google search on Jerry Falwell and Sun Myung Moon, and you’ll find plenty of items. A good short one (with useful links) is by Rick Ross.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Rock Church in San Diego (Carrie Prejean's church): First Church of Christ, Druckerist

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:1-4

The Rock Church in San Diego is the church home of Miss California, Carrie Prejean. A look at their website gave me the impression that like so many megachurches, The Rock is more of a social club and community service centre than a church. Other than prayer and worship, almost none of the offerings mentioned on their ministry page have anything to do with Jesus Christ or His gospel.

What statements can be found regarding doctrine are Biblical, if lacking in detail, at least concerning the Bible and the Godhead. However, the emphasis of The Rock is very much on works, especially those that transform society. From The Rock’s A.R.M.Y. page:

What's the A.R.M.Y?
Pronunciation: \'är-me\ | Function: noun | Definition: a body of persons organized to advance a cause

We're an A.R.M.Y. of doers... The Rock Church wants to make a difference in people's lives. You can help change the world!

Jesus wants you to listen to His call. He's calling you to DO Something. He wants to transform people's lives -- but He needs an A.R.M.Y. of believers united and trained and committed to do it. Signing up for the Rock A.R.M.Y. is simple, but it means signing up for a way of life. Why? Because it involves Accountability, Reaching the Lost, doing Ministry, and being wise with Yo' Money.

Here’s some of what The Rock Church has to say about accountability:

It's all about ACCOUNTABILITY

An Accountability Relationship is engaging in a one-on-one relationship that allows you to grow through the challenges of life with someone, while holding each other accountable to serve the Lord and others.

No more slipping in and out of the crowd on Sunday mornings! Being accountable to at least one other fellow Christian is crucial to growing in the Lord. That means you need a Partner to hold you accountable to pray, study the Word of God, worship every week, participate in service, and be a good steward of your resources.

If there’s anything in the New Testament that says "Be ye accountable to at least one other person," I’ve missed it.

Evidence of The Rock’s works-based view of righteousness can be found in its emphasis on numbers:

In 2009, The Rock Church is committed to providing 600,000 DO Something hours of city-transforming ministry service hours to the county of San Diego and the world.
Visit IdoSomething.org

Here’s what you find when you do visit IdoSomething.org:

161,882 service hours completed in 2009
27% towards goal of 600,000

In 2009 the Rock Church is committed to providing 600,000 DO Something hours of city-transforming ministry service to the county of San Diego and the world.

Log Your Hours! After volunteering in your community, record the # of hours you did here or by text message.
Tell us what you did and what God did through you. (Also, upload your photos and videos!)

If this isn’t doing one’s alms to be seen of men, I don’t know what is. Why the emphasis on numbers? I suspect that this church has been influenced by Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven paradigm, which in turn reflects the influence of management guru Peter Drucker, who was very much of a mentor to Rick Warren. Berit Kjos comes to mind as someone who has provided much useful information on the influence that Peter Drucker’s management philosophy has had on churches (go here and the links contained therein for information). Using Peter Drucker’s methods, growth and productivity must be measured quantitatively. How do you measure growth in faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ? It’s pretty hard if your idea of righteousness is rooted in correct doctrine. However, in order to fit into Mr. Drucker’s paradigm, you must have an observable quantity of something that you can measure, hence the emphasis on works. You can keep a record of number of hours spent in community service; an increase in this quantity is then taken to be a measure of one’s "spiritual growth." The church’s view of righteousness has now become works-based, and if it continues in this direction, it will result in a "church" composed of Pharisees. As for the emphasis on community service, if you read the Gospels you'll see that the multitudes loved Jesus when He performed miracles for them--but they hated Him when He started proclaiming doctrine.

Focus on the Family is beyond satire

If an anti-Christian activist were to write a novel or fictitious screenplay mocking early 21st Century North American evangelicalism, he'd have a tough time topping the Carrie Prejean saga. Details (and excellent Biblical commentary from a female perspective) can be found at Slice of Laodicea and Surph's Side.

Focus on the Family is among Miss Prejean's most vociferous defenders, rushing to get an interview with her. The interview is scheduled to run on American stations on May 11 and 12, although I wouldn't be surprised if it were pulled after the latest revelations about Miss Prejean's conduct (May 12 update: the programs were broadcast in the United States and Canada). The Focus programs for May 6 and 7 concerned the National Day of Prayer, and weren't broadcast to Canadian listeners. What Canadian listeners were provided with, however, was a rerun of the programs titled Teaching Sexual Purity to Your Kids I and II. One wonders what lesson kids will learn when Carrie Prejean, whose behaviour can hardly be equated with purity, is the honoured guest of Focus on the Family just a few days later. For a show dedicated to the family, Focus seems to have an increasing number of programs that require younger members of the family to be moved to another room while the broadcast is on.

May 10, 2010 update: The broadcasts no longer seem to be available online, but if you contact Focus on the Family and mention the dates and title or subject matter, you should be able to purchase the recordings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Outhouse (aka The Shack) in God's house

Paul Young, author of The Shack (or, as I call it, The Outhouse), made another return visit to his native province of Alberta in March 2009. As a member of Beulah Alliance Church in Edmonton, I was not thrilled that Mr. Young was invited to speak there, nor was I the least bit interested in paying $10 to hear him (other public appearances by Mr. Young that week charged higher prices).

On September 15, 2008, Mr. Young was in Calgary to address an audience at his alma mater, Ambrose University College (it was known as Canadian Bible College when he was a student there). The fact that this heretic was invited to speak there is evidence of Ambrose’s continuing downward slide (see my previous posts). The podcast of Mr. Young’s address at Ambrose comprises too large and time-consuming a download for my computer, but those who are interested can find it here and here. Mr. Young also did an interview with CJCA radio during his recent visit to Edmonton, which can be found here.