Saturday, April 21, 2007

September 11 and the LDS Church

6 years ago, in 2001, the LDS Church community did what it could to rally our nation in its own unique way after the horror of September 11. We are grateful for that. In that day, we all united as Americans outraged against the cowardly and monstrous acts set forth by Islamic extremists and pledged to stand against their terrorism.

With the Mormons, all Americans - be they atheists, Democrats, Muslims, black, Evangelicals, Mexicans, poor, Catholics, middle class, Hindus, Libertarians, pacifists, etc - for one shining moment, were as one in shock, horror, mourning and outrage.

150 years ago, on September 11, 1857, that was not the case.


The United States was at great odds with the Mormon community that had just traveled to the then unsettled Utah territories. There was no such unity and antagonism between the U.S. government and the leaders of the LDS Church is an established historical fact. And it was the clash of Mormon religious elitism that socially defied American morality that was at the core of the issue. Following the self-proclaimed prophetic authority of Brigham Young, Mormon society - often referred to as "Zion" - was clearly a counterculture that eschewed the "Gentile" world outside it.

But September 11 will forever be a red letter day for the Mormon Church.

A new movie entitled "September Dawn", which will premiere on May 4, will explain why September 11, 1857 is a day Mormonism would love to bury and forget. This movie will not allow that to happen.

Click here to watch the trailer.

This is an important reminder that if we forget our past we are condemned to repeat it. Today, men and women may no longer be skewered or shot to atone for their sins in the LDS Church (sins that often include simply acting upon conscience) .. but they are drawn and quartered alive in a living death more horrible than a mass murder or gang rape. My good friend Eric Kettunen's website details this accordingly through the many testimonials of Mormons who can testify to this.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

How A Mormon Could Become President



A fascinating with a capital F article on this question ..

A slice or two from it .. this was written before Mr. Romney finally stopped testing the waters and made the plunge

snip

AS MITT ROMNEY tests the waters for a potential 2008 presidential run, he’ll be able to tap a vein of affluent, motivated, activist supporters with considerable political experience — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), a/k/a the Mormons. The Romney family is to the Mormons what the Kennedys are to the Catholics. Mitt Romney’s father, George, a former CEO of American Motors and governor of Michigan, himself ran for president in 1968. Marion Romney, one of Mitt Romney’s cousins, was once a member of the LDS Church’s First Presidency, a triumvirate of the world’s three most powerful Mormons. And then, of course, there’s Mitt. A former venture capitalist and Mormon bishop, Romney unsuccessfully challenged Ted Kennedy in a 1994 Senate campaign and then rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah — the Vatican of Mormonism — from certain disaster before being elected governor here. Like John F. Kennedy, who played to the religious loyalty and ethnic insularity of his fellow Catholics, and Michael Dukakis, who appealed to Greek pride, Romney — if he runs — will surely look to his own religious base to give his campaign leverage and traction.



FOR A CRASH course in Mormon political power, consider the important role the LDS Church played in the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have guaranteed women equal rights under the law. Passed by the House in 1971 and by the Senate in 1972, the ERA enjoyed widespread national support and seemed destined to succeed. By 1976, 34 states had ratified it; only four more were needed to make it part of the Constitution.

Then the Mormons got involved. In October 1976, the LDS Church’s First Presidency — consisting of the church’s three highest-ranking members — issued a formal statement opposing the ERA: the amendment, the First Presidency warned, might "stifle many God-given feminine instincts" and lead to an uptick in homosexual activity. This denunciation had a near-immediate impact in Idaho, home to a relatively large Mormon electorate. The Idaho legislature had previously given the ERA the requisite two-thirds approval, but this was undone by a January 1977 referendum in which a popular majority opposed the amendment.

Next, the LDS Church turned its focus to the state-level International Women’s Year (IWY) conferences taking place around the country. These gatherings had no formal role in the amendment process, but served as highly public barometers of female support for the ERA. As Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn recounts in a forthcoming anthology, God and Country: Politics in Utah (Signature Books), LDS women in numerous states worked to block pro-ERA resolutions at IWY conferences. The process was top-down, and controlled by the Church’s (male) leadership. In Hawaii, for example, Mormon women received these written instructions: "Report to Traditional Values Van, sign in, pick up dissent forms. Sit together. Stay together to vote. Ask Presidency for help if needed." At other state conferences, male Mormon coordinators staked out various rooms and informed their compatriots when a particular vote was pending; the Mormon women in attendance then rushed in to participate. This kind of discipline and cohesion allowed the Saints, as the Mormons call themselves, to dominate conferences in states where their total numbers were quite small. For example, Mormons represented about four percent of the total populations of Washington and Montana, but accounted for half or more of the women attending each state’s IWY gathering. And in both Washington and Montana, every proposed pro-ERA resolution was defeated.

In addition, under the guidance of Gordon Hinckley — then a special adviser to the First Presidency, and now the president of the LDS Church — Mormon-led civic groups were set up in a dozen states. Anti-ERA speakers were invited to speak in LDS Church buildings, and massive letter-writing campaigns were launched. Here, too, the Mormons’ limited numbers belied their ultimate effect: by one estimate, Saints generated 85 percent of the anti-ERA mail sent in Virginia, where they made up only one percent of the population. Ultimately, after a promising beginning, the ERA was defeated. And while it might be going too far to say the LDS Church killed it, it certainly put the amendment on life support. True, Mormons made common cause with conservative Catholics and Protestant fundamentalists in their battle against the ERA, a collaboration that paved the way for the political sector now broadly known as the religious right. But without the LDS Church’s timely intervention and efficient opposition, the amendment probably would have passed.

More recently, Mormons have devoted their political efficacy to the fight against gay marriage. In 1994, the First Presidency issued a formal statement opposing the marriage of same-sex couples. Soon after, fliers offering advice on how to create anti-gay-marriage PACs were distributed at Mormon congregations nationwide. In the mid ’90s, the LDS Church’s national headquarters tapped couples from Utah to participate in anti-gay-marriage endeavors outside the state, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to "traditional marriage" campaigns around the country. Meanwhile, local leaders used their wards (which are analogous to parishes) to coordinate anti-gay-marriage lobbying efforts. In 1996, for example, at every LDS chapel in Texas, meetings were held to urge Mormons to join the Coalition for Traditional Marriage, a Church-sponsored lobbying group. The necessary registration forms were provided in case they wished to do so on the spot.

This strategy came to fruition in California during the fight over Proposition 22, an initiative to ban gay marriage in that state. In the year before the election, LDS leaders mobilized local congregations to support the ban, formally asking California Mormons to raise money, knock on doors, send mailings, and staff phone banks. It worked. In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22 by a 23-point margin.



AT THIS POINT, of course, it’s all still hypothetical. Romney hasn’t committed to a presidential run, and his fellow Mormons haven’t lined up to support him. Until he does — and until they do — two caveats are worth noting.

First, Romney wouldn’t be the first Mormon presidential candidate. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the LDS Church, declared himself an independent candidate for the presidency in 1844. More recently, George Romney, Mitt’s father, made an attention-getting run in 1968 (see "Here Comes the Son," News and Features, September 17, 2004), and Utah senator Orrin Hatch launched a bid of his own in 2000. The collective Mormon genius for politics wasn’t enough to put any of these candidates over the top.

Then again, none of these candidacies really gave Mormons a chance to flex their political muscle. As the founder of a widely distrusted new religion and a perceived threat to the federal government, Joseph Smith was perhaps the least-viable presidential candidate in American history. George Romney’s appealing candor hobbled his campaign early on, and he was essentially finished by the New Hampshire primary; furthermore, the elder Romney made his run before the LDS Church waged its formative battle against the ERA. And Hatch — burdened by profound blandness, and running against John McCain and George W. Bush — never managed to gain traction in the 2000 race. If Romney runs in ’08, he should be the most nationally viable Mormon candidate yet.

The other point is more problematic. Veteran observers of Mormon politics believe that the LDS Church will not formally endorse or support Romney if he runs. Kim Farah, an LDS spokeswoman, says this is correct. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a longstanding policy of political neutrality," Farah said via e-mail. "The Church does not endorse political parties, candidates or platforms."

This raises a perplexing question: is top-down guidance necessary to shift the Mormon machine into high gear? Some believe it is. If Romney runs, Quinn argues, "you’d have independent firebrands with great organizational skills working in Memphis or Tallahassee or Boston, but their organizations wouldn’t be connected. It would not represent a coordinated campaign." He adds that the endorsement of the LDS Church president — who, in addition to being the Church’s top administrator, acts as its living prophet — carries profound weight: "Mormons can be critical thinkers, and skeptical, until they receive instructions from the ‘living prophet.’ Then believing Mormons act like army ants under orders from headquarters." This jibes with the conclusions of Monson and Campbell, who suggest that top-down direction is crucial to ignite the "dry kindling" effect.

But is it? First off, overt neutrality on the part of the Mormon hierarchy might well co-exist with quiet support for Romney’s candidacy. "I very much doubt that they would publicly support Romney in an official way," says Ed Firmage Jr., a liberal Mormon political activist in Salt Lake City. "The Church is very skittish about appearing too political. But while it would be completely unofficial, in every invisible sense, [Church support] would probably be pretty strong." Again, the case of the ERA is instructive: while LDS leadership publicly condemned the amendment, it also worked to obscure the Church-directed nature of its members’ opposition. Even if Church leaders were to remain formally neutral, comparable surreptitious support for Romney might be forthcoming.

Furthermore, there’s something faintly ridiculous about the notion that, if Hinckley and lower-ranking Mormon authorities remain publicly neutral in the face of a Romney run, the Mormon electorate won’t be able to discern their private preferences. Think about it: Romney saved the Salt Lake Olympics, which doubled as the LDS Church’s chance to re-introduce itself to the world. His father remains a revered figure among Mormons; to a lesser extent, so does his cousin. Factor in some additional Romney attributes — his squeaky-clean image, his business success, his photogenic family — and it becomes clear that our governor is a paragon of Mormon virtues. "Honesty and integrity play well in Mormon culture," says J. Bonner Ritchie, an emeritus professor of organizational behavior at BYU. "Mormonism has become a true pro-business culture; successful businesspeople have credibility, and he’s a successful businessperson. He has a good family — he has a beautiful wife, and sons, some of whom are in school here, who look like they’re strong and good and behave well. All those things carry weight." Would Mormon voters really see their religious leaders as agnostic between Romney and the pro-gay-rights Rudy Giuliani? Between Romney and the libertarian McCain? Between Romney and Hillary Clinton? It seems unlikely.

clippers down

It's a huge article. Enjoy .. think .. and pray .. Personally, I always thought Mitt Romney will definitely run for President. Here's what I wrote about Mr. Romney's political and spiritual assets and liabilities.

snip

The big question is, however, when he will announce his desire to seek the GOP nomination.

Will it be in the next Presidential race? I'm not sure but I would suspect that it's not likely. The Grand Old Party is going to get a pasting in 2008 if 2006 is any indication (and you didn't to be some political commentator to have figured that out) and the party is still largely in disarray, no matter how "unified" the PR tries to make it sound. The closest thing to a front runner in the GOP is John McCain and his maverick politics that have often been at odds with the Bush administration will be a model for all of the presidential candidates across the nation who will seek to distance themselves from their monstrously unpopular national platform. The national groundswell turned to the Democrats (surprise) and it's a good sign that we will likely get a Democratic president in 2008.

So I don't think Romney, who is a member of a very shrewd and cagey political family, is going to weigh anchor and run for presidency in the present political firestorm of transition our country is now facing.

I think Romney will wait for a Democratic presidency to arise and then run. They will wait for all of the national political circus to run for a few years, establish a new political climate and then test the winds to see if his ship will sail. I think he will then correctly gamble that the non LDS consitutuency of the GOP - including Evangelicals - will be longing for a Moses to lead them to the Promised Land of electoral deliverance and be willing to look the other way about his religious conviction.

Evangelicals have been looking the other way about a lot of things like financial scandals, immorality in leadership and questionable doctrine/practice. Mormonism will be the next asherah we'll tolerate. We won't burn babies there (of course not, we're all "Pro Life") but we won't cut those damnable things down and will let them tower into the sky ..

Remember what the Bible said about the "high places" of idolatry in Israel and Judah during the years in which kings ruled there .. and learn ..

A Year Later: Why The DaVinci Code Freaked So Many Out



The buzz over Dan Brown's runaway best seller "The DaVinci Code" has long cooled down. Frankly, I've always been amazed at how many gazillions of people out there actually bought the book and how many of them became immediately caught up in the frenzy of discussion over the themes it hammers home. Clearly, Brown walloped a grand slam of controversy over some very sensitive subjects. The Passion of The Codebecame a part of the brief but stentorian belch of cultural hot air last spring that sharply cut through the normal level of room noise in Western Society.

Why is this? The book is popular for all the hot buttons it pushes. Whether Dan Brown is a Christian or not, I cannot say. I personally don't know. I do know that his posited worldview in the book is utterly antichristian, that's for sure, appropriately irreverent in its postmodern rationalistic prose, trying to strike a medium between true crime and apocalyptic religious thriller.

The book is popular because Brown's tale - which I found to be contrived and not particularly well written - weaves so many well known elements embedded in the pop consciousness of Western society into the story. God alone knows how many people have written book after book combining various combinations of these plot elements. It was only a matter of time before a Dan Brown would hit the right balance to tip the jackpot into his lap.

There's religious scandal, conspiracy theory, the murky doings of vast, multinational organizations, love, murder mysteries and secret societies doing unspeakable things to protect the "truth" of what Jesus and Christian faith is about. There's the deliciously engaging belief that "truth" isn't what we think it is and we MUST, at all costs, uncover the reality which culture and tradition has buried with the status quo - a heady rush that seizes the imagination. There's a hero fighting a battle in that battlefield in which the lines between good and evil are intentionally blurred. You got rigorous investigative intellect facing down established European intrigues based on thousands of years of "tradition. And you even got Opus Dei, so byzantine and powerful that the Jesuits look like a bunch of bumbling Friars Tuck. All stitched in a tale set against the tragedy of tragedies in today's postmodern credulity - the possibility of forever missing out on getting down to the bottom of the "truth that's out there."

Some Christians made a lot of hay about trying to harness the attention of the masses by advocating Mars Hill styles of dialoguing outreach from Christians wanting to reach for Christ their non believing friends who entertained the book's skewering of Christian faith. If these were "witnessing" opportunities, I'd say they'd be about the nature of what is true and how we know what is true. In a day and age in which absolutes are optional claims true for one and not necessarily someone else, this is a BIG question. It's how we come to know truth, which is called epistemology, that is a big arena to explore questions in. And epistemology is ultimately what we stand or fall on. Brown's book makes Christian faith to ultimately be the sumtotal of a religious crapshoot between warring factions of Christian mystics, scholastics and conspiracies. That plays VERY well into the hands of an already thoroughly skeptical Western mind who've been imbued with that spirit since the Enlightenment.

And I fear that most Christians will be ill prepared for the kinds of questions their friends may ask about it. The homework on the banal claims set forth by the Da Vinci code plot has been done for years, but most Christians haven't a clue on this. They'll just take it by face value and try to deal with the demoralizing implications it sows. And once more, an assault by the artistes of the day on the Faith went down in cineplexes in a few days, reinforcing the printed words that have preceded it. Just another day in paradise. God alone knows how well the Church and the Christian faith stood when tested in a million anonymous and unseen courts of public and private opinion in the hearts and minds of those tempted to consider the truthclaims made by Brown's book outside its context.

agape

rafael

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jesus Is God: Does It Matter, Really?


A question came up on the bulletin board I used to frequent, a good question that deserves careful consideration by all believers in Christ.

I don't see where understanding the deity of Christ is a requirement for salvation in scripture. Consider the fact that Acts does not record Peter bring this up in his presentation of the Gospel to a monotheistic audience in Acts 2.

Let's take this another step up .. Think through this with me.

Can a created spirit being like an angel die for my sins on the Cross?

Can a figurative metaphor that personifies the highest ideal of God shed blood for me?

Can an extraordinarily good man - born of human parents - actually atone for my sins just by being framed and murdered by a jealous status quo?

How about one that was so good that God decided to adopt him as His "Son"?

All of these bogus spiritual conceptions of who the Savior was and IS and IS to Come are what have been circulated among mankind since He ascended. Many are the counterfeit religions of today that at some point assert all of these and other heretical views of Christ in their teaching. And I contend that this is no different an error than that of the Catholic who can affirm every bit of the deity of Christ that we can and who will bow before a piece of bread and call it the mystical flesh of Christ Himself. That is where your assertion would lead us. If ANY of these options were the possible explanation for who Jesus was, then He could not be divine. That's just plain logic in action. Jesus is God completely apart from human convention or He is as C.S. Lewis has well said "liar or lunatic."

And what of Acts 2:36-37?

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what
shall we do?

BOTH Lord AND Christ in ONE PERSON! Both eternal servant and King at once, and whose revelation in Peter's sermon blew away the religiosity of the pilgrims and convicted thousands. That truth hooked them and turned them to throw themselves head long into a confession of faith in that Holy One who saw no corruption, whom they knew of .. and whose visitation they missed.


That kind of conviction sounds like something only God can do ..

Of Himself, Jesus said this ..

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58.

The prophet Isaiah foretold and the apostle Matthew clarified ..

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:23

The deity of Christ is well attested to in Scriptures like these and this:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and
the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a
Son?

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And,
Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but
thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be
heirs of salvation?


Hebrews 1:1-14

Those who resist grappling with the Bible's revelation of God are in
danger of found fighting against him .. those who hold fast to the
truth need to be aware of the warning of the author of Hebrews found also
in verse 15:

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which
we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Catholic Question


Some one asked me a question about whether Roman Catholics are Christians or not ..

If they truly believe that Jesus died for their sins, yet they still follow all of the other Catholic teachings are they saved? I have my own opinion but I was just curious what others think.

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19)

In other words, simply believing Jesus died for your sins doesn't begin to explain how YOU really are living and what YOU really
believe.

Sincere practicing Catholics affirm this through attention to the
Catholic Mass believing THAT is where the power of atonement is
brought down for all to see, wonder and worship at .. Sincere
practicing Catholics then devoutly behold the priest who holds up the
wafer and wine of the Mass as the literal body and blood of Christ
and who reinforces 2000 years of error by compelling their "amen" to
his statement "This is the Body of Christ." Sincere practicing
Catholics believe their sins cannot be forgiven outside the authority
of the priesthoods ability to absolve their sins through confession,
proscribed good works and in some cases, self-mortification from
fasting to self-flagellation. Sincere practicing Catholics are fully
and passionately committed to embodying this unbiblical travesty of
the Gospel through a pious, religious and moral lifestyle they
believe is the way to heaven.

If that is "Christian," why then do we not do likewise?

For such people this is how they live out "Jesus dying for their
sins." But the trust exercised in these acts is not true faith. It is works-based righteousness that
ignores and tramples over the simple grace of actual TRUST in JESUS for salvation, a completely naked, unadorned and total faith in what He has done in the past for mankind and what he has promised for the forgiveness of sin, for the answer of prayer, for strength in the time of storms.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Ephesians 2:8-9.

If THAT is what is behind their belief of "Jesus dying for me," they
are lost, living in a tragically unfounded belief and need to hear
about the Gospel of faith in a living Christ who died ONCE and for
ALL, and whose sacrifice THEN does not and cannot be reiterated
thousands of times a day around the Catholic world for salvation.

Jesus alone is the way to God .. not Catholic ritual or dogma. To
suggest that this false teaching can raise men heavenward is at best
naive .. at worst, plain apostacy. It is an insult to the all
sufficiency of Christ who ended all human religious speculation in His eternal
Word: "I AM THE WAY .. THE TRUTH .. THE LIFE .. no man comes unto the
Father but BY ME."

agape

rafael

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Jehovah's Witnesses' Spin On Jesus As The "Wisdom Of God" - or - How The Watchtower Makes The Bible Fit Their Doctrine And Not Vice-A-Versa


First, a summary of the problem ...

Why do JW's teach that Proverbs 8:22-31 is an allusion to Christ's preincarnate existence as a creative worker? It's simple - because of their systematic and longstanding denial of His deity and their desire to buttress their "Biblical" argument for his being a created being by using any possible twisting of Scripture to support that erroneous line of reasoning.

Here's a summary of their position from their "Bible study" brochure What Does God Require of Us? published in 1996.

Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. He was God’s first creation, and so he is called the “firstborn” Son of God. (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) Jesus is the only Son that God created by himself. Jehovah used the prehuman Jesus as his “master worker” in creating all other things in heaven and on earth. (Proverbs 8:22-31; Colossians 1:16, 17)

A more detailed explanation of how they arrive at this is found in their antitrinitarian booklet Should You Believe In The Trinity? Observe how they build their case, it's a great example of deceptive reasoning - they use non-Watchtower produced Biblical translations and plenty of specious reasoning that can easily be fallen prey to ..

Jesus, in his prehuman existence, was “the first-born of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15, NJB) He was “the beginning of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14, RS, Catholic edition) ... Yes, Jesus was created by God as the beginning of God’s invisible creations. Notice how closely those references to the origin of Jesus correlate with expressions uttered by the figurative “Wisdom” in the Bible book of Proverbs: “Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning, before the oldest of his works. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I came to birth; before he had made the earth, the countryside, and the first elements of the world.” (Proverbs 8:12, 22, 25, 26, NJB)

First, the Watchtower teaches that Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14 irrefutably teach that Jesus was a created being, the first of Jehovah's creation in all of existence, a "spirit creature" also called an angel in Scripture. With this completely unbiblical position established, they begin to build their argument that if he was a created being, then the "references" have some sort of "correlation" to the expressions of "figurative Wisdom" they cite in the verses in Proverbs.

While the term “Wisdom” is used to personify the one whom God created, most scholars agree that it is actually a figure of speech for Jesus as a spirit creature prior to his human existence.

Now the Watchtower goes on to move from false supposition to deliberate distortion - they make the bold claim that "most scholars agree" that the references in Proverbs are referring to Christ's preincarnate existence as an angel! Just who these scholars are is never quite identified. I've yet to hear of any reputable Bible scholars who have made that kind of connection. This is pseudoscholarship foisted off as proof of their unbiblical argument.

And the Watchtower's engine of error purrs onward, citing Scriptures from a variety of mainline Bible translations to press home this point:

As “Wisdom” in his prehuman existence, Jesus goes on to say that he was “by his [God’s] side, a master craftsman.” (Proverbs 8:30, JB) In harmony with this role as master craftsman, Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus that “through him God created everything in heaven and on earth.”—Today’s English Version (TEV).

So it was by means of this master worker, his junior partner, as it were, that Almighty God created all other things. The Bible summarizes the matter this way: “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things.” (Italics ours.)—1 Corinthians 8:6, RS, Catholic edition.

Note the change of vocabulary, based upon the reiteration of the false assumption that Jesus' "prehuman existence" was indeed "Wisdom." Since we now see that "Wisdom" is indeed Jesus, another false assumption is set in stone - that the dialogue of Proverbs are the words of Jesus himself illuminating how he was created. The JW's then cleverly assign "Wisdom" another role, that of "master worker" and "junior partner" (why after all, He is the SON of God, right?). And the Bible is once again called upon to "summarize the matter."

You can see how "airtight" they think they can make the argument. There are holes all through it, but the sad thing is that too many Christians are uncertain of their faith enough to feel intimidated by it. Coupled to their well-conditioned self-representation as supremely self-confident and their willingness to pull out their New World Translations to prove their arguments, many Christians just throw in the towel without showing them the truth.

Here's a response ..

Let me add a few remarks first. If you're going to go "live" with a Jehovah's Witness or anyone deceived by them on this, there are some additional things to keep in mind.

First, you are seeing how masterful the Watchtower's ability is to deceive. This is a great example of how cults twist the Bible to deceive. Their Brooklyn headquarters has housed and fed generations of men who spend all their days creating "questions" (1 Timothy 6;4) for which they presume to provide the final "answers" upon - a practice that all cults use so as to exalt their authority and supposed mastery of all truth. They have created billions of instructional books in well over 150 languages that are religiously studied by Witnesses worldwide in weekly training sessions to help prepare them to not only speak but to preach.

As you can see, they do this by combining Scripture twisted just enough to suit their ends and enough argumentation based upon misrepresentation, erroneous presumption, over/understatement and outright deception .. all done in their unique form of calm, low key and seemingly rational teaching. These same books are carried with them when they go door to door and they will pull them out whenever they need to do so to clarify the Watchtower position.

These Brooklyn-based heretics sound SO convincing to begin with, but when delivered by Thoroughly (with a capital T) trained and prepared Jehovah's Witnesses who daily practice how to converse convincingly with others door to door combined with an impeccably pious zeal, this can be a most unsettling and disorienting experience for the Christian who tries to reason with them.

BUT ... it doesn't have to be. We have the truth. They teach a lie - what little of the truth they do know is twisted to cover their falsehood.

So how do we untangle this?

Presupposing you know Jesus, understand the Bible and the power of your God the Spirit as being the "anointing that teacheth you" (1 John 2:27), here's how I’d suggest you look at this.

1) Recognizing the nature of this false preaching is the first step to dealing with how it can fluster and confuse you personally. The interpersonal dimensions of sharing with people are a bridge that false teaching exploits to spread and . You have to be able to LOVINGLY and CAREFULLY drop the toll gate by the Spirit of God in your heart and mind and not allow that to get to you (that's why the fruit of the Spirit coupled to good listening skills is so important in any dialogue).

2) Defining the Biblically twisted argument is the next step, which I've tried to do concisely. They take a multi-layered approach to preach and argue their false doctrine involving bogus scholarship as well as false presuppositions to take into their view of the Scriptures in Proverbs 8.

This is the Main Point - they are denying the deity of Jesus Christ by interposing their belief that he is a created being into their interpretation of Proverbs. As you can see, they are using Proverbs 8:22-31 as a proof text to show that Jesus is a created being and cunningly capitalize upon the literary devices of personification and symbolism as well as selective applications of a figurative/literal interpretation to sound as if they know who "wisdom" is here. In other words, they play a deceptive game by their own rules while trying to sound like they are the reasonable and Biblical ones.

3) A response has to address the core issues involved here - and this involves what some here have already raised ..

a) We have to establish the Biblical context - examining Proverbs 8:21-31 as it stands in the chapter FIRST as well as the greater context of the book itself SECOND and then considering other Biblical passages that bring further illumination of the concepts of "wisdom". Often the clearest way to do this is to keep to the paths found just in the book itself, and in this instance, we’ll confine ourselves to that. Some here have already alluded to this ..

First, look at the Watchtower version of the passage:

Proverbs 8:22-31 – “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth. When there were no watery deeps I was brought forth as with labor pains, when there were no springs heavily charged with water. Before the mountains themselves had been settled down, ahead of the hills, I was brought forth as with labor pains, when as yet he had not made the earth and the open spaces and the first part of the dust masses of the productive land. When he prepared the heavens I was there; when he decreed a circle upon the face of the watery deep, when he made firm the cloud masses above, when he caused the fountains of the watery deep to be strong, when he set for the sea his decree that the waters themselves should not pass beyond his order, when he decreed the foundations of the earth, then I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time, being glad at the productive land of his earth, and the things I was fond of were with the sons of men.” (New World Translation)

Note their “translation” well here and keep it in mind.

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings. The word “proverb” itself is a concise and often pithy statement of truth based upon firsthand experience. It is a summary of human insight into some aspect of everyday life, and Proverbs is actually theology in work clothes. From the get go, the book explains what it sets forth to do.

Proverbs 1:1-6 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

The unknown scribes can’t be any clearer as to their intent in preserving these wisdom sayings: they set out to spread godly wisdom, teaching, and understanding. It is God’s inspired Word captured in human language. The book, like the rest of the Bible is a form of literature that employs all the elements of standard literature like narrative, metaphor and simile and Proverbs contains the distinctive characteristics of Hebrew poetry. It records the struggles between protagonists and antagonists, plot lines and character sketches that help us identify with it at such a deeply personal level. Foremost of Hebrew poetry is what is called parallelism in which presented truths or subjects are compared or restated in various ways to highlight their similarities or differences. This is particularly emphasized throughout all of Proverbs.

When we consider Proverbs 8 by an examination of the entire chapter in the context of the previous 7 chapters, we get a true grip on who “wisdom” is. It’s not who the Watchtower says it is – that being Jesus Christ describing Himself.

A figure identifying themself as “wisdom” (verse 12) comes forth and is described by the author of the chapter as having a feminine gender in verses 1-3.

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.


We hear “her” voice in verse 4 - “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.” The entire chapter contains the sayings of this one called “wisdom,” and this same approach is also seen in Proverbs 1:8, where we see the writer of the proverb, addressing the reader as if they are one of his children: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother,” and from that perspective, introduce us to “wisdom”there also (1:20-21 – Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words .. ). The same perspective occurs again in Proverbs 2:3-5 also. The evildoers mentioned throughout Proverbs 1-7 are among those who would seek to obscure her light from those needing her counsel and deafen those from her calls to beckon to her. In these verses, wisdom is a noble and wise woman to be diligently sought out and ardently pursued, one who is “a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”(3:18).

But Proverbs brought further perspective on this by also showing that wisdom was also simply viewed as knowledge rightly observed and acted upon by godly people in the real world, as profound human insight being passed unto the reader by wise teachers and mentors (who in turn might also freely describe wisdom in feminine and neutral terms – 2:1-11, 3:21-22, 4:7, 5:1-13, 6:20-22). In Proverbs 14:33 and 15:33, this is particularly clear and further brings greater perspective on “wisdom.”

If all of this is the case, then Proverbs 8:21-31 must mean something OTHER than what the Watchtower says it does. Since personification as a device of literature is something that we plainly see all throughout the Bible, the book of Proverbs is no exception. Proverbs chapter 8’s “wisdom”speaks expansively of “herself” in terms of her being present and “with God” in creation but doesn’t teach that she was the Creator whatsoever. Wisdom is “one” whom we are to pursue, whose voice calls to us to listen. That is all the verse is teaching.

Only when you refer to the twisted perversion of the Bible produced by the Watchtower called the New World Translation (NWT) do we hear their smugly confident suggestion that this is a reference to Christ as a created creator – but it is far from proven.

Their NWT’s Proverbs 8:22 says there that “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago” and verse 30 there goes on to say “I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.” From these verses, they insist, we are made privy to the dialogue of a preincarnate Jesus Christ as Jehovah’s chief architect of all creation. They can only assert this from an argument of complete silence and in willful ignorance of the context of Proverbs we’ve just discussed. And “wisdom” in the pages of the NWT is spoke of having been produced (‘brought forth”) by Jehovah and having been present (“I was there”) during the creative acts described in verses 23-31 – but where is it suggested she was doing the creating? There is no explicit reference to this in their version of the passage. No matter how badly they corrupt them, the verses primarily refer to the personified presence of “wisdom” as being with Jehovah, that divine genius personally resident in His divine being from the eternal past.

So Proverbs 8 cannot refer to Christ – only to the wisdom of God we see manifest in His creative power (Romans 1:20) and in the greatness of his works (Romans 11:33). . It is the Watchtower’s accursed, systematic and illegitimate insistence on thrusting their antitrinitarian bias into the consideration of Proverbs 8 that the question ever comes up.

If the “wisdom” of Proverbs 8 is Jesus Christ, why then in Proverbs 7:4 do we hear the wise father of this chapter pen the following: “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman”? How can a Jehovah’s Witness or anyone call Jesus Christ, the wise master builder, their “sister” in the same sense they must call “understanding” a kinswoman? Who then would be the “kinswoman” to us? What high and lofty divine being would this be? The faulty interpretive system of the Watchtower really shows its cracks at this point. We can press the point, but the context above is pretty convincing.

b) You will need to address the unbiblical concept of Jesus as the "first creation" who created "all other things" which the Watchtower cites from the other verses I've shown in Colossians and Revelation. This is directly going after their doctrine that holds Jesus to be an archangel Jehovah used to create everything else and showing by a careful Biblical study in context of Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14 that we've done for Proverbs. I don’t have time right now to do that, but maybe later this weekend.

We are not denying that Jesus is the Creator. We would contend stiffly and to the end with the Watchtower’s false doctrine that He is a created being through whom all else came forth.

c) A firm but unwavering challenge of the Watchtower’s assertion that there is widespread Biblical scholarship that asserts that the “wisdom” of Proverbs 8 is an Old Testament shadow of Jesus Christ. If you can find “scholars” who hold this view, they are going to be in the very small minority. I know of no reputable Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant Bible scholars or theologians who teach this.

Even if an argument for this being an utterance from the preincarnate Christ could be mounted from the implications of the verses, there is no way to Biblically defend their belief that it indicates his status as a created being. The Watchtower’s feral rejection of the Trinity is behind their twisted teaching here, but this is something often completely overlooked by Christians being confronted by this verse.

Don't be fooled by the confidence of the Jehovah's Witness who trusts in the pseudoscholarship of his organization. Preach the Word, ask the questions, use the Pregnant Pause in conversation, and above all prayerfully walk in the Spirit and stay dead to the religious heat that can build up in such discussions. You will see God do glorious things as you do .. so you may testify to the REAL Jesus ..

agape

rafael

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16

The Holy Ghost Strawmen


Holy Ghost Strawmen - how we Pentecostals fool ourselves

http://www.spiritwatch.org/firethree.htm

A straw man by definition is a weak argument or opposing view usually set up by someone as they press a point home which they can then attack and easily demolish, thus leaving their audience the all-important impression that they've decisively presented a solid case for their position. It also can refer to people who are used to carefully disguise the actual intents, activities and goals of someone else seeking to be hidden from discerning eyes.

Straw men are the stuff of contentious arguments and heated discussions, and are readily, quickly created and then trashed by their creators - and occasionally, whole groups of people can, without even realizing it, be enlisted as straw men for a mass movement with it's own agenda that seeks cunning victory by disguise, misrepresentation or even outright deception.

I hope this helps someone today ..

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Galatians 4:16

Who really are the "Missional" ?



A COG minister once asked me a few years ago for some information on the number of missionaries the COG had in contrast to other missions-minded religious organizations.

At the time, we were fielding 185 COG missionaries.

I'm sure these numbers have changed since then (I think I did this back in 2000) ..

The Southern Baptists sent out 4834 ..

The Mormons had in circulation 65,000+ ..

We won't speak of the impact of the Jehovah's Witnesses .. they only fielded 698,781 of their "Pioneers" ..

I'm not trying to belittle those 185 missionaries at all nor am I being critical of the world missions efforts of the Church of God which are by far among the better responses of the Body of Christ in the last days to answering Christ's Great Commission to go out and preach the Gospel to every creature. So please don't misunderstand my words as meaning that - for all of our failings and warts, I am certain that our efforts to spread the Gospel into all the world have been ordained, empowered and sovereignly blessed by God. We are fielding and supporting some of the choicest people on this earth to go where we, for any one of a millions reasons, do NOT go .. (and that is a post for another time)

My concerns, however, lie in the fact that I think the Church of God as a movement can do better, far better, and we do not. So can the entire Body of Christ. We can argue all we want to about the politics behind the funding of any given missions department or organization, but the truth of the matter is that while money makes things happen, the plain fact is that the world will not hear unless the church goes out and preaches. I am just not convinced finances are the problem. We miss the bigger picture here when we start fighting over our myopic view of missions funding. There's a far deeper issue here we are missing completely. And it is THIS reason that explains why there are 185 COG missionaries, 4000+ Baptist ones, and well over 60,000 of the Mormons ..

Could it be US? how many missionaries have launched from our churches? How much of the missionary zeal we once had still exists?

One of the buzz words making the rounds in churches seeking to think "outside the box" is one that describes the quality of being focused upon a particular objective in an very intentional way. That word is "missional" and this word has been bandied about in many a church circle in recent years in regards to how we are to "do" church. The hard truth of the matter is that the adherents of Mormonism are hard pressed to not be the poster children for what is truly "Missional" - and that with a capital "M"

This LDS website gives great insight into how a cultic movement has systematically mobilized its membership to an intentional missionality that is simply beyond most "Evangelicals" to fully appreciate, much less approximate.

Today, every worthy young man of the Church is expected to fulfill a mission. Every worthy, young woman can also serve a mission, and many do. The missionaries and their families are expected to pay their own way, or as much as they can. In circumstances where extreme poverty or hardship may prevent a young person who is desirous of serving from going on a mission, the members of the missionary's home congregations, called a ward, will help out. Missionaries are also aided by a general Church fund set up to assist missionaries. In general, however, most missionaries and their families save up for the expected time. Many young Mormons will have a missionary fund in which they can save money for their future mission.

When young men turn 19, or 21 in the case of women, they can submit their name to the Church to prepare for a mission. Mormon leaders, including the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, prayful consider where missionaries are needed and what applications they have. They then assign each missionary to a particular mission, of the Church. As of 2005, there were over 330 missions worldwide. When the soon-to-be missionary receives his or her call, it is time for the whole family to celebrate.


In all of the years I have witnessed to Mormons, gotten to know them and spoken to ex-Mormons, many of whom served missions themselves, I have come away with a sobering insight that familiarity with them brings. The LDS culture, from the cradle to the grave, relentlessly and endlessly emphasizes the LDS mission as a divine calling everyone is meant to answer and serve in precisely the manner spoke above. The expectation of serving LDS mission is passionately celebrated, advocated and impressed upon ALL LDS youth from their earliest days. Generations of earnest LDS parents, Sunday School teachers and disciplers have used song, multimedia, curricula and the LDS missionary presence perpetually upheld in the local congregations to totally immerse their children in this ideal.

There are two LDS hymns I've heard wistfully and sometimes even tearfully referred to by ex Mormons who remembered these as cherished memories of childhood: here is one and here is the other if you want to take a listen ..

This music is part of Mormonism's particularly potent shaping of its young minds and ideals to Mormon ends. When Grandma and Grandpa give you $1000 at age 9 to be put into your savings account you started when you were 5 to go on your mission, when you see and hear how fervent the prayers of Elder Smith and Elder Jones are when they serve in Sunday worship, when you see the heartwarming videos and satellite conferences extolling missions .. and you realize there's millions of others out there like you "preaching the restored Gospel" like Joseph did, what would you expect but the zeal of a child harnessed and captured for the work of the "Kingdom"?

It's an indoctrination beyond imagination, but this why the LDS Church is where it is today. Is it any wonder then that THOUSANDS of young men and women from countries all over the world would then obediently submit to what they see is a "call" from God when they approach their leaders? Doesn't this explain why they choose to become totally submissive flag bearers for the LDS Church at their own expense for 2 solid years wherever the Church bids them to go?

NOW, I ask, where is the Evangelical response to THAT? Where is the Church of God response to THAT?

Showing Veggie Tales? Video games on Sunday morning? A weiner roast in a back yard? Maybe a whole soundstage of colorful props and lights and energetic kids ministries? All of that is well and good, I'm not knocking it. But I'm convinced that much of that energy and time and money is spent entertaining and occupying children instead of discipling and instilling in them the vision we are supposed to have. I know there are many fine children's ministries workers who are doing just that .. but it's often completely out of sync with any coherent focus in the total educational thrust of a church, which is usually running a hundred different directions to begin with.

And I'm trying to be as charitable as I can. I double majored in Biblical AND Christian education at Lee College .. I've seen this sideshow dimension in children's ministry really become a bane in the side of our movement. And then we wonder why the kids drift away when they get older? What did we teach them up with so they wouldn't depart from it? Do we still think our baby sitting extravaganzas are going to found them in faith, let alone captivate them with a vision of reaching the world with the Gospel?

At one time, early in the beginnings of this movement, I think the Pentecostal Church was aflame with that kind of truly Evanglical mission and urgency - but we always exalted the preacher and the revival and the Event as the focus of what we did. The LDS Church has compelled their entire membership to be a part of it day in and day out and they show no signs of slowing down.

My God, we can change this! We can.

WE CAN! Aren't we supposed to be Holy Ghost filled firebrands loosed on the earth for the "End Time Revival"? I have always believed that Pentecostal folk should be better than the level we wallow in. But we are not. And the cults, who know how to manipulate and indoctrinate, run rings around us every time.

And where are the leaders of such change among us? What is the vision? The Great Commission? Or the Good Church Revival?

THAT is why there are 185 Church of God missionaries .. and thousands more serving the cult of a lustful polygamist prophet who created a pious pretense of religion buttressed by scrupulous morality, winsome sincerity, enviable zeal and a PR Machine beyond belief.

And leading tens of millions to hell on the broad road paved with good intentions ..

agape

rafael

Chick Tracts: Whoa ..

posted in 2006

I used to love Chick Tracts. I still have a copy of "The Beast" .. which was the one tract that opened my eyes to the horrors of the end times as depicted with that unforgettably well rendered pen and ink drawings. He doesn't sell it anymore I think. That tract shook me like no other when I was a reprobate and 17 back in the late 70's. Mom knew what she was doing leaving them lying around the house.

I inhaled and developed a collection of Chick Magazines and tracts as a baby Christian. I think because I love cartooning and comic book art back in the late 70's that his work had a dual attraction. Their technique changed from tract to tract, but I always enjoyed reading them and admiring the very obvious skill, composition and graphical talent that went into it.

However, I almost went too far swallowing the Chick worldview. That brilliant old heathen Carl Sagan described it well with the title of one of his books: for Chick, this is truly a "Demon-Haunted World," and his obsession with a conspiracy theory championed by Old Scratch himself to explain all of the great collisions of evil in world history is too heavy to believe. Everything in the world is black and white. His comic book characters make a point of ensuring we catch every proverb and belief Chick feels we need to understand.

That always seemed strained to me.

Do you remember the black and white guy who were ex-Rambo and Super Fly characters, natural born killers who could break you in half, but who find Christ through humble old preachers and become prayer warriors with 30 inch biceps who globe trot through adventures exposing evil everywhere? It always seemed just a WEE BIT forced when they would be rescuing nude teen age girls from knife wielding Satanists in one panel and then be complaining about Mexican food in the next? You learned pretty quickly that if you didn't ask too many questions, you'd learn a lot. I had too many, so I started to realize that this comic and the tracts were a bit too propagandizing for me to push.

I think where I learned pretty quickly you had to watch out with using Chick Tracts was when you tried to heed his specious Alberto Rivera saga: I almost lost a relationship with a devoutly Catholic relative .. my aunt and godparent .. when I shared with her Chick's rag on that ..

Sounds and looks impressive, don't it?



This link shows how Cleveland, TN has a rather interesting link with the good "Dr. Rivera." Personally, I wish I could find him around. I'd like to have a little cara a cara with Hermano Alberto and let him know about how I really feel about some of the things he's been pushing ..

Chick has a really, REALLY bad problem with promoting some really dippy and even dangerous people in the past through other portions of his product line like John Todd, Bill Schnobelen, and "Dr." Rebecca Brown. All of them have been documented as fabricating the major portions of their so-called "testimonies", which brother Jack seems to have a really hard time owning up to. Sensationalism is the double edged sword of too many "testimonies" of ex-Member Of A Bad Group, and it sells tracts: it's understandable why brother Jack has a hard time cutting loose from these scam artistes.

The sad thing is that when Chick sticks to the GOSPEL and creatively uses his wonderful graphic skills to advance it, he is probably the best out there. But he mixes so much of his conspiratorial obsession in even those tracts that I can't simply use them. And some of his tracts on cults, the occult and the world religions are so unbelievably ham handed and unreal that it really is sad.

BUT, all things considered, his antievolutionary poster is one of the coolest, most awesome Christian cartoons of all time. If there's any ONE Chick publication I'd recommend you get, aside from "This Is Your Life", his BEST gospel tract, THAT would be it. It is a HOOT .. with a real message.

agape

rafael

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

leeches in the Church. Do something today about it



posted in 2004

Leeches are one of the beasties in this world belonging to the class of parasites. Parasites are creatures that cannot exist without drawing shelter, nutrition and in some cases actual hosting within the bodies of other living things. Fleas, lampreys, tapeworms .. yecch .. they are all parasitical things.

The Body of Christ is covered with these damnable things that are dragging so many in the Christian world down with them. They've been there so long, we've come to accept them as part of the scheme of things. The Bible makes no room for them, however, and roundly puts them in their place. Yet we welcome them and even ring the dinner bell for them:

- Cults cannot exist without the Church: too many Christians are fat targets for their wiles and groups like Remnant Fellowship to the Unification Church to Mormonism et al ad nauseum (Mt 24:4) seduce so many who could do well without them to their eternal ruin.

- Hireling church leaders who couldn't make a living any other way and who feed upon the flock to rip them off, milk them dry and steal away their livelihood (Ezek 34) by magnifying their authoritarian "anointing" through fear, intimidation and hardfisted politicking.

- The menagerie of opportunists (Mk 11:17) whose cottage industries based upon warped appeals to the pride, greed and weaknesses of the Church (like the fund raisers, so-called "Christian" TV, etc.) would collapse without the "widows mites" they shill mightily for.

- The amazingly well entrenched consolidation of aberrant, good-ol-boy leadership which is seen often at the helm of many a church movement dedicated to "the Kingdom of God" but who exist only to perpetuate their foul lineage of cronies and sons (and daughters) who have no business in the ministry at all (Mark 7:1-13).

I could go on. But they are there. We see their loathesome presence all the time. But we tolerate them so well. We are told just to "pray" for them, to "love" them, to "accept" them, to "not gossip" about them .. by those whose spiritual vessels have long ago been breached by the bloodsucking probosces of the parasites they defend so ably (in some instances, reckoning them as the Only True Defenders of the True Faith whose dictates are the very breath of the Spirit, "fresh words" that only stink of their decay). So they live on to this day, undisturbed, eating away at the Body with scarcely a concern.

And Jesus said it would be like this before He returned. But hey, we're in revival, right? Billion Soul Revivaltime, right?

But just because He noted their ilk would be on the hunt for us doesn't mean we automatically needed to just surrender and let them fasten on us like some alien thing ready to invade our temples of the Spirit. Far too many of us do so. Some of them are the loudest mouths on this board who defend nothing they truly understand, who cherish heroes and doctrines and practices that do nothing but sap the Church. It might be interesting to see what those red patches around their ears might actually be caused by, and what might be lurking beneath those darker ones around their hearts.

But we can deworm the Body of Christ .. these things can be sent packing if we would do but ONE thing .. STOP FEEDING THEM!


agape

rafael

journey into holiness by an unholy ex-reprobate


posted in 2005

How I love that old Pentecostal confession: "I thank God for saving, sanctifying and filling me with the Holy Ghost." You never hear it anymore. The old confession of faith. How wonderful .. !

I will someday publish my own testimony of how I came to Christ but for now, I will just say that I came into the Church of God in 1980. My first pastor preached that confession and preached it well while he was still serving in the pastorate. Some of the older saints in the church were from Churches of God in the South (my homechurch was in Chicago Metro) and would still stand up and testify that they were saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost .. I would often wonder at what they meant, as a young babe. Glory to God, through His Spirit and Word I know better now.

Thank God for these wondrous Bible truths that the Spirit has laid on us to confess! Because they so wonderfully summarize what I have always believed has been the rock solid foundation of Pentecostal doctrine .. and what gets the job of true Christian discipling done. To follow that way isn't glamorous - never has been and never will be. It will always cost true disciples their blood, sweat and tears. It will demand a separation and a price to be paid that the flesh will not give up easily. But it gets the job done.

I learned this, thank God, very well as God's Spirit drew and dealt with me as I struggled to live "right" without quite understanding what "right" was. You need to understand that my struggle as a naive ex-Catholic pagan to first of all UNDERSTAND what in the world this "tongue talking" stuff was all about was never answered to my satisfaction during the two and half years after I came to Christ in February 1981. You need to understand that without anyone telling me so, without any Pentecostals slapping hands on me, I just felt a profound hunger and desire to embrace this bizarre, weird, otherworldly reality sought that involved physical manifestations and speaking in tongues that were completely alien to my Catholic background. I both feared and desired it enormously. There was an intuitive longing for what we now know as "the baptism" after I was first touched by God with saving grace back then.

I could never explain it, but something just drove me to seek an encounter with this frightening, unknown reality. There was something there I knew I just HAD to touch, but I could never ever put it in words. But at every juncture, no matter how many times I wept, cried, pounded the altars, "nothing happened."

I remember one night at the Jacksonville Beach Church of God (when I was attached to a ship in the Navy homeported in Mayport, Florida only a couple miles away)how I literally saw, with eyes shut tight during a worship service, a honest-to-God vision: an indescribable blaze of flaming glory before me beckoned me to embrace it. But as shaken to my core I was to see it, that overwhelming compulsion to spring upon it seized me, and as I sought to rise to my feet to walk to where it seemed to be in the front of the church, a literally tangible blackness arose before me and blocked my view of it and yet again froze me solid.

To make a long story short, I later learned what this meant for me (and I haven't had many visions like that since, I guarantee) .. the Comforter was ready to pour upon me, and yet there was one little matter that needed to be dealt with .. my SANCTIFICATION. The darkness was - I would realize later - a very bitter hatred of my father that I had for his absolute and utter failure to be any kind of meaningful presence in my family's lives, and this sinful attitude simply had to be confessed, repented of and renounced before my vessel could be meet for the Master's use.

It was what was keeping me cut off from the living water I thirsted for .. and until that was dealt with, He would not bless with His Baptism. That is why, I think, many are not baptized in the Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues .. because they have not yet become completely yielded vessels to Him. That is partly why I am such a strong advocate of the preaching of the graces of salvation, sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.

Later, the Spirit dealt with me about this bitterness, which I repented over, forgiving my father in an unforgettable moment of death to my self aboard my ship. And two days later, a brother Archie Webb called me out in a Family Training Hour in mid December 1982, by the word of knowledge indicating that I had been seeking the Baptism, and THAT night, I would receive. I was skeptical, weary, but I obediently sought the Lord. And through a stammering lip and another tongue, not ten minutes later, the Shekinah poured into me, and my life was never, never, the same ... Later, as I studied the Bible I found the Scripture that explained what happened to me and found them literally jumping off the page into my heart. Oh, praise GOD!

All of this so radically changed my life! I never looked at the world, nor walked in the Spirit the same again.. I learned from the Bible that the Baptism of the Spirit was given to empower for Christian service, to be a witness for Christ, and was a divine visitation of the fulness of the Godhead within our weak human vessels! GLORY! what a truth! It still makes me dizzy ..

I am afraid that this precious Biblical blessing is a priceless spiritual legacy that we are losing in the Church of God (Cleveland). The tenuous balance the COG (and other Pentecostal denominations) once had in trying to apply these concepts to a practical Christian lifestyle is fast teetering over the brink of extinction. We have always historically preached that three fold confession but have never historically well articulated it to the people in our movement. Without that, the process of distinctively Pentecostal spiritual formation (read that DISCIPLESHIP) has been almost terminally choked by our full gospel traditions and outright errors.

Sadly, we never, as a denomination, have ever come to a Biblical unity over what sanctification is, so - IMHO - we have seen the trend today of preaching salvation .. then "getting the Holy Ghost". Sanctification has been relegated to the dusty file cabinets behind the church parsonage as a messy, sticky tangle nobody wants to talk about anymore since it cause SO MUCH DIVISION (part of the cultural LIE we have swallowed which demand that we don't Make Waves but be "Moderate").

And unfortunately this is a trend that is all too easily discernable. When is the last time ANY of you heard the doctrine of sanctification CLEARLY spelled out, proclaimed, and consistently applied in a Christ-centered, sensitive, yet uncompromising program of Christian discipleship ANYWHERE?

When I left my church in 1986 to come to the Holy City (Lee-bound), I honestly can say that I never heard one single sermon on Sanctification in all the dozens of Lee college chapels (and four convocations) I attended until the Spring of 1988, when Mark Rutland visited and in love pinned our ears back. "Amazing, brothers!" I kept saying all the way back to homiletics class, unable to hold in my own astonishment any longer .. "amazing! It takes a Spirit filled Methodist to tell us Holiness people what living right MEANS." And it took 9 more years for me to again hear a sermon on the subject at my home church (and I have since lost the tape of it I bought, but I assure you that as soon as I find it, I'm going to lock it in a vault).

In my humble opinion, the present day Pentecostal movement still has yet to fully grasp what holiness really is and is perilously teetering between the two extremes of legalism or license. With all I have seen go on in the Pentecostal and Charismatic worlds in the past 20 years, I can only further submit that we might not be able to right ourselves anymore. I seriously question if passion for holiness still is what's behind the "passion" of much of the church today. But without it, the Bible says, no man will see the Lord.

In that case, Christians, follow the direction of the first altar call in the Bible, from the first herald of Pentecost, brother Peter:

"SAVE YOURSELVES FROM THIS UNTOWARD GENERATION."
Acts 2:40

Why Another Blog - Because I Said So


As if anyone cares? We shall see ..

This blog, entitled "Spiritwatch Unchained", is designed to be an outlet for me to expand upon various hot potatoes and subjects raised by the work I've done on our ministry website, "the Spiritwatch" .

As one of the facilitators of a countercult ministry outreach, we've all seen some pretty unbelievable things concerning the fields of faith, religion, spirituality and culture. And having myself become a born again believer in 1980 and a Pentecostal minister in 1983, I've seen more than my fair share of metaphysical melange in my 47 years. Spiritwatch Unchained will be my own personal outlet to comment on things. This will include and is not limited to the spectacles of the mundane and the mystical found in Evangelicalism, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, and of course, the Cultworld itself. Some of my postings will be from an old forum I used to post upon and which I felt I needed to leave (with no hard feelings) for several reasons, not the least of which was just a desire to explore life outside it's hothouse.

A little about myself?

I came to faith in Christ out of a licentious life as a pagan Catholic after living on the streets of Chicago and finding the love of Jesus Christ touching me at the Pacific Garden Mission on St. Patrick's day, 1980. I joined the Navy, left it in June 1983 and began to learn what it was to be a disciple of Jesus at my first little Pentecostal homechurch, which is affiliated with the Church of God - Cleveland, TN. In 1983, that same Jesus called me to the ministry and my life has never been the same.

After a maelstrom of spiritual growth and development that sadly was punctuated by parental divorce aftermath, the death of my first pastor and the tragedy of a church gone wrong, I left Chicago to prepare for ministry in the buckle of the Bible Belt, Cleveland, Tennessee (the Holy City). This was in 1986 and the time at Lee College (now University) provided for me another furnace of spiritual testing and personal growth (that would take too long to really fully explain).

After getting my Bachelor of Science degree double majoring in Biblical Education (Pastoral sequence) and Christian Education (with ETA certification) in 1991, God orchestrated things seriously to ensure I remained here. I was ready to blow town and head out to Wheaton College graduate school for Intercultural studies in preparation for missions work when out of the blue, He sent me the princess I am in love with and am passionately married to (a Clevelander, of course). Talk about change - it's a change I've never regretted and Joy Lynn Robinson has truly been a joy in my own journey, someone through whom God's grace and character has been part of my continual growth, edification and even chastening. Good Christian women will do that for you.

I finally became a licensed minister with the Church of God (Cleveland) in 1992 and then, a few months later after Ms. Robinson became Mrs. Martinez, Jesus then bestowed upon us a calling to evangelize those in cults and to help bring healing and restoration to those wounded by them. Our membership in the Westmore Church of God was part of how He spoke to us, and through Westmore's encouragement, we entered a vast and almost unexplored galaxy of ministry I call the Cultworld in our first efforts to win Jehovah's Witnesses in 1993.

14 years later, and after several other seasons of transformation, outreach and ministry, the Holy Spirit has set us apart to be among the many serving the Remnant Fellowship cult by trying to arrest its' madness, confront its' practical and theological errors, and try to help those ground into the dirt by it. Joy earned her degree in Psychology from Lee in 2004 and that is where we are up to this point, and , we now are members at the South Cleveland Church of God, where I am an elder.

Although I am a man of God, I am also a man .. and a Christian who has grown enough to learn three important truths that never escape me:

I am still a man in need of a Savior

God is Love but he is also Jealous

I will always need His grace and the End of all things is still at hand


I hope the postings on this blog, as funny or serious as they may be, communicate some of that amazing Grace God has imparted to me .. as I wander through this vale of tears ..