Friday, December 18, 2009

Facing The Music: When The Church Has To Discern Itself

The Lausanne Movement is a massive global effort of evangelicals who are dead serious about world evangelization with the Gospel of Jesus Christ who have been working together to reach the world for almost fifty years. It is a massive and global effort involving hundreds of Christian ministries seeking to motivate and spark renewed efforts in obeying Christ's commands to ensure that the "Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world

They are preparing to have only their third congress in that time in Capetown, South Africa in 2010. Lausanne describes itself in the following:

Throughout its history, the Lausanne Movement has intentionally avoided building a large bureaucratic organization. Instead it strives to be a dynamic, catalytic force that propels a movement of like-minded missional Christians who pray, plan and work together on global evangelization.

Since 1974, dozens of Lausanne-related global, regional, and topical conferences have been convened all over the world. Global gatherings include the Consultation on World Evangelization (Pattaya 1980), Conference of Young Leaders (Singapore 1987), Lausanne II (Manila 1989), The Forum for World Evangelisation (Pattaya 2004) and The Younger Leaders Gathering (Malaysia 2006). Lausanne has also inspired a constellation of regional networks and topical conferences such as the Asia Lausanne Committee on Evangelism (ALCOE), Chinese Coordination Center for World Evangelisation (CCCOWE), three Nigerian congresses on world evangelization, and eight international consultations on Jewish evangelism.

The Lausanne Theology Working Group (LTWG) is right now working to prepare for the 2010 congress. Who is the LTWG? They are a steering committee of Christian leaders and theologians who work together before their meetings to hammer out the doctrinal issues that the congresses are meant to consider.

The Lausanne Theology Working Group (TWG) serves the whole Lausanne Movement by ensuring that its passion for mission strategy and activism is grounded in careful theological reflection, and by challenging evangelical theology to have biblical effectiveness for holistic mission in the spirit of the Lausanne Covenant. The TWG has a core steering committee drawn from around the world and convenes small annual international consultations and several regional ones. Currently the TWG is working with the leadership of Lausanne in preparation for Lausanne III, in Cape Town 2010, by engaging in careful theological examination of each phrase in the Lausanne motto, “The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World.”

What is powerfully significant is that Lausanne's TWG found it important enough to have to grapple with the doctrines loved by so many in the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds, the "prosperity gospel" and release a statement on it to help provide a framework for Lausanne 2010 to discuss it upon.

The importance they assign to it, however, isn't very encouraging to the passengers of the Full Gospel ship. The LTWG's statement can be found here in full. We lament at having to post this below.

We further recognize that there are some dimensions of prosperity teaching that have roots in the Bible, and we affirm such elements of truth below. We do not wish to be exclusively negative, and we recognize the appalling social realities within which this teaching flourishes and the measure of hope it holds out to desperate people. However, while acknowledging such positive features, it is our overall view that the teachings of those who most vigorously promote the 'prosperity gospel' are false and gravely distorting of the Bible, that their practice is often unethical and unChristlike, and that the impact on many churches is pastorally damaging, spiritually unhealthy, and not only offers no lasting hope, but may even deflect people from the message and means of eternal salvation. In such dimensions, it can be soberly described as a false gospel.
We call for further reflection on these matters within the Christian Church, and request the Lausanne movement to be willing to make a very clear statement rejecting the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with evangelical biblical Christianity.

Read it and weep. Thanks to the American church, the Gospel of Christ is being daily perverted and twisted and then neatly packaged as the latest thing from heaven to vast populaces of Christians dwelling everywhere in both Africa and the world. A Christian missionary painfully recounts here how the prosperity gospel cancer is defiling the Body of Christ in Zambia

I highly doubt that men like Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Paul Crouch will give the LTWG the time of day though.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Would Tommy Do? The Advance of Adventism At The Expense Of Truth

As I've often said here, when the End Time Apostasy comes knocking at your door, truth is usually the first thing brushed aside by the eager gush of friendly, sincere crowds who want to come calling and "share." It's the first casualty in a cheerfully grim war of spiritual attrition in which heretics are no longer identified - they're welcomed as guests at the the table.

Last month, a Seventh Day Adventist publishing house announced the launch of a brand new study Bible using the New King James Version text. The SDA Church, in case you are unaware of it, was born out of the proselytizing efforts of its founder, the alleged "prophetess" Ellen G. White, whose legalism and exclusivism is legendary around the world. Rejecting both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and assuming themselves to be the only true "remnant" of God's people on the earth (because of their adherence to a Saturday Sabbath and White's free reinterpretation of Jewish dietary laws as binding upon Christians today), the SDA Church's legalistic approach to the Christian faith well known, yet almost universally overlooked by the non discerning church today. The latitude given to White's skewed interpretation of Christianity borders is both illegitimate and unbiblical, and the unbelievable deference given to her teachings has led many of them to hail her as the "Spirit of Prophecy."

For generations, hordes of SDA evangelists have endlessly conducted"Bible prophecy" seminars in efforts to raid members from established Christian churches, as well as penetrate the world with the gospel according to Ellen G. White. The strident and almost cultic exclusivism driving the SDA vision has left many a victim in its wake and far too many people who've honestly questioned and striven against its challenges to ignore the Biblical and logical answers to Adventist errors. What many of these same people are also unaware of is how the Watchtower Society is an offshoot of the SDA movement itself, abandoning the "prophetess" Ellen G. White's alleged prognosticatory power for that of "pastor" Charles Taze Russell, who was as obsessed with Biblical chronologies and Bible prophecy as she was.

So it was no surprise again, with what Jesus has said about these dark times in Matthew 24, that we'd eventually find a major Christian publishing house, no less then the venerable Thomas Nelson Publishing house, creating a study Bible for Seventh Day Adventists. In doing so, they created a brand new marketing tool that will enable them to penetrate more homes then ever with the legalistic deception of White's questionable doctrine and false prophecy. Creatively restated and recrafted for a new generation of Christians conditioned by a backslidden and media-dependent church to read Bible study notes to glean truth and not rely upon God's Word as taught by God's Spirit (John 14:26), it will fly:
Yes, the new Remnant Study Bible (NKJV) has all the study aids serious Bible students have come to expect from their study Bibles — but it goes way beyond that. Way beyond.

For the first time ever, the masterful commentary of E. G. White is now included alongside the Bible text! You’ll also find a complete array of other unique Bible study aids, such as a complete set of Chain Reference Bible Studies and detailed sections on prophetic symbols, the prophecies of Daniel, and the awe-inspiring sanctuary services.
Remnant Publications, the publishing house behind this project, makes abundantly clear where they are coming from, in that they are unashamedly advocating SDA doctrine. Thomas Nelson, says this about their allegedly Christian focus, sounding more like a greeting card company run by Joel Osteen or Kahlil Gibran :
At Thomas Nelson, we believe that we exist to inspire the world. We believe that the world desperately needs inspiration—the right kind of inspiration—and that we are a conduit for change.

To make this personal and memorable, we have reduced this to a slogan: “We inspire the world.” Here’s how we understand each phrase of this statement.

“We”

The pronoun “we” emphasizes our commitment to teamwork. We cannot accomplish God’s purpose for our company on our own. It takes more than a handful of star performers. It takes all of us, collectively working together, each employing our unique gifts, to fulfill our calling.

“Inspire”

According to the dictionary, “inspire” means

1. To affect or guide; 2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion; 3. To be the cause or source of; bring about.

All of these meanings are relevant to our purpose as a company:
  • First, we want our products—books, videos, and conferences—to affect people. We are not in the business of merely entertaining our audiences or “tickling their ears.” Instead, we want our products to have a positive impact on consumers. In addition, we live in a day when people are desperate for direction and advice. As a result, we want our products to provide practical guidance.
  • Second, we want our products to have a positive emotional impact. Emotions are not something to disparage or disregard. They can be the very thing that provide the impetus for action. Inspired emotions can lead to noble actions. We want to intentionally stimulate (though not manipulate) those kinds of emotions through the products we produce.
  • Third, we want our products to be a source of real change, both in individuals and in our larger culture. Looking back over our lives, most of us recognize that real change frequently came about as a result of the books we read, the conferences we attended, or both. These types of products provide an opportunity to affect deep and lasting change.
It is interesting to note that the word inspire originally came from the Greek work theopneustos. It literally means “God-breathed” (Theos, God, and pneo, to breathe). This is particularly fitting for our company, since we acknowledge that God is the ultimate Source of inspiration. We want our products to be a means by which God breathes new life into His world.
With that reverent coda, the publishers at Thomas Nelson no doubt want to impress upon us that their core mission - the creation of Christian literature that God uses to "breathe new life" into the world - is one which Christians should trust.

The problem is that Thomas Nelson betrays an obscene naivete, gross negligence, or immoral indifference when agreeing to this project - or is guilty of all three. SDA doctrine is a distortion of Christian doctrine and has created untold amounts of unbiblical legalism that have plagued the SDA Church and all who have come under its orbit. 

It's fascinating to note that Mr. Nelson, who founded the company in London in 1798, was of sturdy Scottish Covenanter stock and that the Covenanters' had rejected the King of England as the head of the Christian Church there and steadfastly asserted that Jesus Christ alone stood in that authority. The Covenanters endured these "Killing Times" as a result, enduring persecution, civil strife and civil war that dragged on as a result of their unbending rejection of human authority over their faith. 

What would Tommy do if he was alive today to see the company he started to now being used to champion another agenda to exalt a purely human authority over the Christian faith? And what might that old Scottish Christian might think in a day in which that same kind of human authority, having no temporal power of state to back it, can easily litigate to shut the voices of dissent off?

What would Tommy do?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Did Christianity Cause The Crash?

Don't laugh.

It probably didn't help as much as it should have.
In a allegedly "Christian" land whose financial foundations were supposedly engineered by a historically rigid and pious Protestant work ethic, the religion supposedly serving the Faith of our Fathers seems to show an awful lot of wear in these recessional days. Especially when the Prosperity Gospel is what's being preached from the pulpits of today.

Yes, you heard me and yes, you can give it some thought yourself by checking out this painfully honest and all too illuminating essay here. Frankly, I'm not just outraged, disturbed and angry. I'm just not surprised. Faking it til you make it has reached a whole new level of cultural delusion among the "children of light," which is why the "children of this world" still possess a level of wealth that is supposed to be possessed by confession of those same well-lit King's Kids.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Would Jesus Buy? Just In Time For The Holidays!

Well, it's Christmas time again. And while I hate to spit in anyone's figgy pudding, it must be firmly noted this Advent season that America is not a Christian nation, becoming more profane and pagan by the day. On Black Friday and every Shopping Day since, millions of Americans are thinking more about Stuff then the Savior the Christmas season is to herald. I assure you, the only opening prayers at the gates of the Big Boxes uttered were that people got in and didn't get trampled to death by the hordes of materialistic people behind them.

If even a fraction of the estimated 60 to 70 billion dollars
of discretionary income people pump into the chimera's maw of Christmas shopping was diverted to clothe the homeless, improve a widow's shattered house, or feed hungry people, it might truly be more of a holiday season.

Instead, we lose ourselves in the minutiae of glittery cultural trapping and forget that for much of the rest of the world, where Christians live daily under threat of death or imprisonment in slave labor, Christmas is just a way to line their pockets from the wealth of the distracted West. The packaging becomes the Reason for the Season. Christ is the kid in the manger hidden behind the gaily wrapped Play Station, power tool or Mudd boots.

video

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seriously Overdue Update Department

I can't believe it's been that long since I've last blogged. Well, New Year's resolution # 5 .. blog more (resolutions 1-4 are private and will remain so).

One of my other ones is .. Reach out more .. Be even more available. You can email me direct at rafael (at) spiritwatch.org.

I've already been at it the past few months, which is why I haven't been blogging.

It's been an interesting year, between helping spiritually abused people, writing and updating the Spiritwatch article list - primarily in our Strange Fires section - and engaging in counseling sessions as well. It's been also an intriguing year keeping abreast of the rumblings in Remnant Fellowship and fielding media inquiries about them as well as withstanding yet another attempt by Gwen Shamblin and her sycophantic lieutenant Tedd Anger to litigate me into silence over their authoritarian ways (to no effect, we will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights). I haven't yet found Shamblin's lawyer trashing me on blogs yet, so maybe's he's busy buying printer toner or something.

We also were invited to help plan and execute a discernment conference for Spanish speaking Churches of God in South Carolina in Anderson. We laid a foundation for discernment using teaching on sound doctrine, critical thinking and a review of what spiritual deception is which we will build upon in our next trip there (hopefully sometime early next year) on cultism itself. We understand that aside from the LDS and JW heresies, the apostolic Oneness movement as well as assaults by the cultic La Luz Del Mundo movement have been a great problem for Spanish speaking Christians in the area. We want to be ready to address those.

I preached on cultism at our local church, the South Cleveland Church of God as well and hopefully will be preaching a lot more there and in other venues in the future. I wanted to post here on that but was so busy preparing for that and never got a chance. Hopefully, we will be returning soon there.

This next Sunday, December 20, I will be preaching a Christmas message at the Third Street Church of God in Fort Wayne, Indiana . If you're in the area, it would be a pleasure to see you there. Pastor Truman Smith and his wife are dear friends of ours, a mentor in the faith and someone whose ministry has been a great blessing to Fort Wayne for many years.

The Lord willing, we intend to be more visible and more involved here on the blog this next year and everywhere else we can. It's the last days. We need to keep pointing and working for the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) while we still can ..

agape

rafael