Friday, January 15, 2016

HERETICAL AMERICAN EPISCOPALIANS (ANGLICANS) SUSPENDED

HERETICAL AMERICAN EPISCOPALIANS (ANGLICANS) SUSPENDED
Today, 15 January 2014, the summit of Global Anglican primates will be formally announcing the suspension of the heretical American church over support for so-called 'Same-Sex marriage':  Their public statement released ahead of the press conference gives the reason: “the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.http://goo.gl/PjKgJz The Ugandan leader walked out in protest, arguing that both the Canadian and American Anglican church should withdraw until they repented.  The international alliance of biblical Anglicans, GAFCON said that ‘…this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning’ , also calling for action against the Canadian church http://goo.gl/kL6U6P
While the divide has formalised over ‘same-sex marriage’, it has been growing for decades with Western Anglican churches ordaining clergy who simply don't believe the core teachings on the Bible whenever it is controversial with culture - on a wide range of issues.  For them, the Bible must be interpreted through the lens of culture, rather than culture seen through the lens of scripture. The British leadership is already so divided on these issues, it is too weak to lead the international Communion. The best scenario will be if this action provokes an internal split in these compromised Western denominations - with the healthy parts staying with the international Anglican Communion.
The suspension is being well reported in the secular media, who hopefully will get the message that these heretics, who support so called ‘same-sex marriage’ do not speak for the Christian faith.
For around ten years, Biblical North American Episcopal congregations have been in conflict with their own hierarchy over homosexuality. The hierarchy have unjustly disciplined Biblical ministers - including J.I. Packer, possibly the most widely respected living theologian - and confiscated congregations church buildings. In a historically unprecedented move, geographic parish boundaries were broken and churches shifted allegiance to biblical African, Asian and South American bishops and sent their tithes there - in turn these international leaders have defended them against the charge of rebellion. The 'politically correct' are left with a dilemma in that, while promoting diversity to attract more people, they are pale skinned and in exponential decline - while the Biblical Anglicans have chosen to submit to leaders of other races, to stay faithful to the Bible and are growing in number.
Historically, heresy has usually only appealed to one particular culture. For example in the 4th Century, Arianism and Gnosticism appealed to Greek culture, of the Eastern part of the Roman empire, but not so much the Latin West. The International Church meeting at Councils was able to pass Church resolutions condemning these heresies which then led to them being stamped out. The Latin church gave support to Biblical Greek Christian leaders unjustly disciplined in the East. In South Africa, postmodern emerging church teaching appeals to the mostly white elite, but hardly has any support in the black population. Conversely, compromise with traditional ancestral religion is a problem in some African churches. But the multi-cultural church meeting together usually sides against these localised cultural heresies.  In 2013, the World Evangelical Alliance put a stop to the politically correct mis-translation of Bibles by certain publishers to try to edit out the term ‘Son of God’ to make it more acceptable to Moslem majority cultures.  Historically, sometimes a country has gone so deep into heresy that it is necessary to send new missionaries to re-evangelise it. That is already happening with Global South churches sending missionaries to re-evangelise Europe with Biblical Christian faith.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURE WAR FOR SOUTH AFRICA

OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURE WAR FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Sometimes it is helpful to step back from the short term skirmishes and look at what is happening locally, internationally and on a generational time scale - many Christians seem clueless, fighting badly or even fighting on the wrong side of the culture war. 

In the 1980s, we had a four way cut-throat fight in South Africa.  Marxism, National Socialism, Christianity and Liberalism competed for dominance.  At the time, the two most powerful seemed Marxism and National Socialism (Apartheid).  Marxism and National Socialism both collapsed in the early 1990s, leaving the fight to Christianity versus Liberalism.  While the African Nationalist brand of Marxism and National Socialism (Apartheid) were supposed enemies, they had a lot in common: Both drew on ethnic support and both believed in an 'super powerful state' to solve all problems.  The fall of the Soviet Union took away South African Marxists funding, arms, their inspiration and training.  It also removed the main argument used by the apartheid government to stay in power.  Liberals, who were a small minority at the time except in academia, seized the power vacuum and gained key positions in government, the judiciary and the official opposition.

In the early 1990s, most Christians viewed their faith as a personal or church matter and were poorly equipped to engage culturally.  After decades of international isolation due to apartheid, they were unprepared for the tidal wave of liberalism arriving from the West.  Liberalism was boosted by the media and an influx of foreign money to fund liberal lobby groups that push agendas like abortion, pornography, condoms in schools and prostitution.  Two exceptions were however Community Radio and Education.  Christians took the initiative to start up radio stations, home school children, start private schools and serve on school governing bodies – successfully wresting power from the state, with Christian lobby groups defending their right to do so.   While state control of pornography was lost, most shops stopped stocking it due to consumer pressure.  Had we not won these key battlegrounds, South Africa would probably already be in a state like Europe.  Instead of South Africa being taken over by Marxism, South African missionaries penetrated every part of the former Soviet Union and its allies with the gospel – most significantly our neighbour MozambiqueNamibia, instead of going Marxist as feared, kept the Christian laws and got rid of the bad laws of the Old South Africa.

What happened to the Church in the 1990s? The Protestant mainline denominations allowed their ministers to be trained at state funded universities – which all except for NorthWest went liberal.  Disastrously, these denominations are now liberal dominated.  But liberalism itself had its own revolution – moving from Modernist denial of the supernatural to Post-modernism.  Most church growth was within the Charismatic oriented Churches – which began as a supernaturalist rival to Modernism within the Mainline denominations, but these left to form their own churches – leaving most of Protestantism to the liberals.   A minority of Protestant churches, mostly English Calvinists, who did not rely on Universities for training pastors maintained a modest but steady growth.  Afrikaans Calvinist Churches relied on state funded universities for pastors, and mostly went liberal.  The new Charismatic churches rapidly absorbed the youth of the liberal denominations, but in many cases were hijacked by personality cults.

In the mid-2000’s many evangelical churches began to try to adapt to the changing culture to attract youth – first the seeker sensitive movement, followed by the postmodern movement – which took things a step further.  Many young pastors didn’t know where to stop in accommodating culture – and ended up with a loss of quality in holiness truth in favour of entertaining the masses.  The result was short term unhealthy growth, followed by long term stagnation.  Spiritual decline is eventually followed by numerical decline.  The Postmodern movement, unlike Modernist liberalism was open to the supernatural and thus could penetrate Charismatic churches, albeit with a false spirituality. A few Charismatic pastors studied for degrees at liberal universities and ended up liberal themselves – no one is immune.  Positively, the 2000s saw a surge of interest in prayer, with prayer rallies filling major stadiums.  Unfortunately, when these got really big, the focus moved off repenting and seeking God for revival and church leadership politics and the media limelight.

Internationally, Western liberalism followed the decline described in the Bible in Romans chapter 1.  Ironically, the ex-Marxist nations have not.  Each year, more depraved laws and entertainment come from Europe and America and South African liberals in and outside the church march lockstep following these fads.  In the mid 2010s (now), Western postmodern liberalism shifted from individual rights emphasis to fascist ‘political correctness’ – attempting to bulldoze away Christian religious freedom, attacking us by any means possible. This trend naturally arrived at South Africa – most aggressively led by gender and sexuality revolutionary activists. 

But at the same time the West is declining, our cold war enemy China, which had around a million Christians in the 1970s, now has around 100 million, outnumbering communist party members.  It is a matter of time, before this translates into political change.  Central Africa, once called the Dark Continent – and predicted by Christians a hundred years ago to become Islamic - is being cited even by liberal scholars as ‘The Next Christendom’.

WHAT ARE THE LESSONS? 

* We must realise there is a culture war on and help other Christians to do so.  Some haven’t got that far yet.  Some haven’t even realised the Bible has anything to say about culture or if they do, that we have any hope of changing it.

* We must protect the church from becoming corrupt by:
- Keeping pastor training in church control and out of state control.  We need men full of the Word of God.  Degrees are optional. 
- Realising every Christian denominational grouping is vulnerable to corruption.
- Maintaining biblical checks and balances, realising the sinfulness of human nature, to prevent fascist personality cults and cartels governing the church.
-  Church adapting to culture in every generation is necessary but must be done carefully, lest we absorb cultural corruption.
- Aiming for healthy church growth through spiritual revival rather than through cultural adaption.
- Keeping the focus on seeking God for spiritual revival.

* We are in an international fight – for the whole world. 
- Our modest investment in missions has had a huge return in other nations.
- Bad ideas from overseas tend to come to South Africa and we have to fight them as they arrive.  We need thus to watch overseas trends and learn from Christians there fighting these battles before us.

* The successes in schools, shops and community radio should be an encouragement that we can substantially influence the culture.

* We have to fight for our freedoms, otherwise we will become just a persecuted minority.


* While Western liberalism seems powerful in the 2010s, so did Marxism and National Socialist apartheid in the 1980s.  Liberalism doesn’t have to be the future.  Our enemies are not invincible.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

HOW TO BENEFIT MORE FROM A CHURCH SERMON


HOW TO BENEFIT MORE FROM A CHURCH SERMON

How many church sermons have you heard? How many do you remember? Two people sitting in the same church may learn a very different amount.  If you go to church every Sunday, you will probably spend thousands of hours there.  These points will help you benefit more.

1.  TAKE NOTES:  Don't write everything. Write down the following:
- The outline of the sermon (sometimes pastors helpfully project this to a screen). 
- The points that strike you as relevant to apply to your life.
- The scripture references.
- Questions you are uncertain about.
- What you see in the passage in addition to what the pastor is saying.

Why take notes?
- So you can follow the overall logical thread of what is being said.
- To help focus your attention on the sermon.
- So you can review the main points of the sermon in future. 

2.  QUESTIONS: Throughout the sermon, think of questions related to the topic and what the pastor is saying.  Write the more important ones down.  Hopefully, the pastor will answer some of those questions later in the sermon or you will remember some other scripture that answers that question.  That way your mind will be more focused. If by the end of the sermon your question is not answered, then you can discuss your question with the pastor or someone else who knows their Bible after the service or at a home group during the week - and/or you can research the topic in the Bible later.  But if you are continually asking and answering questions then you will be more awake and learn more.  By writing down your questions, you will concentrate better, be more interested and have more chance of persisting until you find answers than if you just keep your question in your head.

3. LOOK UP REFERENCES: Look up the Bible references.  The Bible commends the Berean Jews (Acts 17:11) for looking up what Paul was saying in the scriptures to check whether what Paul was saying was true.  There are three reasons to do this.  Firstly, if the Bible confirms what the pastor is saying then by reading the scripture reference, that point will be more solidly in your mind than if you had only listened to the pastor.  Nevertheless, even the best pastors are fallible.  Listening to a sermon can be compared with eating fish.  You must eat the fish and not the bones.  Checking the scripture references help you sort through whether what points are: i) taught by scripture ii) out of context iii) only said in one Bible translation iv) a speculative interpretation v) only half the story (in which case it needs to be balanced with other points not quoted). If the scripture verse hits you as very helpful to your situation, then try repeat and learn that verse.  Thirdly, if you learn the Bible reference, then you can use that to teach someone else or answer their question in future.

4. TAKE YOUR BIBLE TO CHURCH: Either take a physical Bible or put your Bible on your smartphone or tablet. There are many free Bible applications for cell phones you can download, but the more popular Bible translations you need to pay for in order to read offline.  In my opinion, "Olive Tree" is the best application for the small screen (www.olivetree.com), and you can also use any resources you buy on your PC.  On an Android phone, select the 'Google Play' application, while connected to Wifi and search for 'Bible' to see a selection to choose from.  (If you are not connected to Wifi, you may use up your data limit very fast downloading Bible resources).

5. STUDY THE BIBLE CHAPTER BEING PREACHED FROM:  When a pastor preaches from a particular chapter of scripture, then read that chapter again and again during the sermon and write down in a separate column what you see in that passage.  Then compare what you see with what your pastor is seeing in the text.  That way, you will get a better understanding of what he is saying and will also get additional bonus insight.  If the sermon is thin on content or not so relevant to your situation, then you will find more truth to supplement.

6.  READ BIBLE BOOK BEFORE: If the pastor is doing a series on a particular book of the Bible, then read that book of the Bible preferably several times during the period of the sermon series.  That way you will understand what he is saying 'in context' and combine what you found in the Bible book with what your pastor found.

7.  FILE NOTES: File the notes either by subject or in the order they appear in scripture so that when you are studying that passage of scripture in your personal Bible study or if you are struggling with an issue in you life that was preached about - then you can use them again.  If the pastor preaches a topical sermon, then probably sometimes it will be more relevant, other times less relevant to your life.  But keeping the notes means you can remind yourself again of the Biblical wisdom at a later date when you may be facing that issue more directly.

8.  DISCUSS THE SERMON: Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us to "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up".  The point is that when you discuss Bible teaching with other people for example over coffee after the sermon or while you are driving home, then: Firstly you will remember more of it and you will also be helping the other people you discuss it with to remember more of it.  Secondly, out of the discussion you may get more insight from that scripture passage than either you or your pastor saw.

9. PREPARE YOUR HEART: If your relationship with God is not right, you will have difficulty receiving benefit from the scripture.  The communion meal challenges us to make right with God through applying the cross: repenting of sin, forgiving others and trusting Jesus for his high priestly cleansing of our sin (Hebrews 10:22).  When communion is offered, that is a reminder to apply the cross. Nevertheless, there is no reason why we should not also do so before the church meeting.  Jesus said that God reveals the scripture to little children (and those with that attitude) but hides it from the 'wise and learned'.  The state of the heart matters more than the intelligence of the listener.

10. RESPOND TO BOTH THE GLORY AND THE APPLICATION: The Word of God works in us in two very different ways: Appreciating God and hearing his instructions to us.  Both are important. Many Bible books (e.g. Romans, Colossians, Ephesians) are divided into two parts: The first part focuses on the glory of God and the second on the practical things we must do.  Other books mix the two.  Seeing the glory of God has a mysterious and powerful effect on us (2 Corinthians 3:18) quite apart from trying to follow practical instructions.  When we see the glory of God revealed in scripture, then we must respond by glorifying God or otherwise we will be judged by God with spiritual blindness (Romans 1:21).  When we respond with thanking God and praising God for the glory we see, then God will reveal more of his glory to us.  Even if we later forget the sermon, the glory of God revealed will have had a powerful effect on our minds and consciences.  When we respond to God's commands with obedience, then he will show us more.  If we respond in disobedience we risk his judgment.  We praise God for his glory and we do what he says.

OBSTACLES TO UNDERSTANDING

* NON-CONVERSION: Many people sitting in church Sunday after Sunday are not converted Christians.  They go for a variety of reasons: they go with their family; it is a tradition they enjoy; they like the music; they are looking for friends.  One person who spent decades in church before converting told me he did so with 'cotton wool in his ears'.  Suddenly on his conversion, Bible teaching came alive, because the Holy Spirit was opening it up to him.  A person who is not converted will be very limited in how he benefits from the Bible.  Thus it is important to ensure that you have repented of your sin, made Jesus Lord of your life and believe in him to save you. Likewise those who teach should seek to evangelise the unconverted members of their congregations.

* POST-MODERNISM: Many people going to church, while they may have believed Jesus for salvation use our postmodern culture as a lens to interpret the Bible rather than the Bible as a lens to interpret the culture.  Sadly, probably the majority of middle class youth fit in this category.  Thus they end up filtering the sermon through ideas they have got from the secular media and state schools.  What the Bible teaches is thus not taken as an absolute commands and truth but as inspirational suggestions to pick and choose from.  Such people need to cut down their intake of secular entertainment; increase their intake of Bible; realise there are two opposing ideologies that cannot be reconciled - and choose to renew their minds progressively with the truth of scripture.

* If you are a pastor, consider encouraging your congregation to use these ideas.

Philip Rosenthal

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE CHURCH NEXT DOOR?

DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE CHURCH NEXT DOOR?

Overall, the church in South Africa is in a crisis of spiritual decay - and if that decay is to be stopped and reversed, major changes are needed - in repentance and action. That can be proven by the pattern of:
- postmodern doctrinal drift from biblical truth;
- the epidemic of what in previous generations was considered scandalous behaviour - in congregations and leaders;
- the replacement of biblical authority either with individual relativism or the facist authoritarian personalities and their cult followings
- numbers: fewer educated people are attending church at all, and while attendance may be still be good among the poor, pastors are increasingly having their time consumed with HIV related funerals - making one wonder how many of these church goers are truly converted? While sexual sin can often be hidden, the epidemic of divorces and broken families cannot.

Nevertheless, listen to the leaders of just about any church and you will not hear this message. The message and attitude you hear from just about every side, whether a healthy church or not -is that 'Overall, we are doing well, but we have a few problems we are working to sort out.' How this disconnection of facts and most churches self-perception?

First question is when you say 'We are doing well' - 'Who is 'WE' and what is 'WELL'? Who do you include when you say 'WE'? 'We' and 'Well' get redefined. Most people mean either 'Our local church' or 'Our local church' and a few other very similar local churches our church is friends with. The problem comes from two angles:

* Unhealthy backsliding churches are generally in denial about their backsliding and their leaders get very angry if anyone points that out to them. They can usually find something which they are doing well. Maybe their attendance has increased due to some seeker sensitive marketing gimmicks, despite spiritual decline. Maybe finances are doing better? Maybe they have just learned some new truth from the scripture (while neglecting more important issues). So 'Well' gets redefined to exclude central moral behaviour and doctrinal drift. For biblical individuals in these churches, the problem is that 'we' is defined to include all the unbiblical ones as well. So they get defensive and hurt rather than doing something to challenge others. "How dare 'you' criticise 'us'"?

* As individuals, backslidden Christians generally hide their sin or if it becomes unhidable, drift out of the church they were in and stay out of church a while and if they recover - come back to a different church. The old church generally doesn't follow them up let alone discipline them. The new local church, if they know about the sin at all, can always take that this was not 'Us', the backsliding was due to the other church. Not part of 'We'.

* When a church backslides, generally the more godly people get fed up and move to a more healthy biblical church. Then the old church is no longer part of 'We' and is left to backslide further. The former members generally have no interest in the spiritual health of the church they left.

* Leaders of more healthy churches and denominations, unfortunately tend to take 'We' as meaning other healthy churches like theirs. If unhealthy churches lose members to biblical churches, the attitude of most healthy church leaders is 'We win, they lose' - let them decline more and their members can move to us. And the leaders of the healthy churches are completely in denial about the possibility that their church could ever decline like the 'others'.

In the 1980s and 90s, the evangelical mainline denominations such as the Presbyterians, Methodists, Dutch Reformed and Anglicans began to be infiltrated with modernist liberalism. There was an exodus of young people to newer churches, which were mostly Charismatic in their view of the Holy Spirit. Whatever one believes about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Charismatic churches at the time were uncompromising on teaching the authority of the bible for all matters of personal conduct and doctrine. There was no compromise, debate or softened stance on homosexuality, abortion, adultery, public nudity/pornography. The doctrine of the virgin birth, eternal punishment, Jesus as the only way were taken for granted and not questioned. That unfortunately is no longer the case. But the problem was that the healthier new churches saw the mainline denominations as competition rather than as brothers needing help.

Today, most of those same Charismatic denominations founded in the 1980s are in spiritual decline either to postmodernism or facist personality cults or both (although many continue to grow numerically). Out of the mess, new denominations have sprung up, which are often more healthy - but for how long till they follow the same path? The new ones gain members leaving the older declining ones and generally show no interest in helping to arrest their sister churches spiritual decline. They will generally not challenge sin or doctrinal compromise even if they know about it - or try to support those who do.

A development of the new millenium is the rise of the 'new Calvinism', partly Charismatic and partly not, which is experiencing a revival of biblical expository preaching led by men like John Piper and Al Mohler. Nevertheless, the same pattern as with the new Charismatics vs mainline denominations is evident again. Generally, the 'new Calvinist' leaders are unconcerned about their non-Calvinist sister Churches which are in spiritual decline - at best they ignore them and at worst are happy about the decline, because people come over to their churches.

The big picture problem is not about Charismatics vs Cessationist or Mainline vs New Networks or Calvinist vs Arminians or those in between - really these divisions are not central to the gospel. Core doctrinal truths like hell, one way to heaven through Jesus and moral behaviour like sexual purity and the sanctity of life are are central to the gospel.

Right now numerous denominations are teetering on the edge of falling wholesale into liberal postmodernism or facist authoritarianism. Will you pray for them? Will you speak up for truth - to leaders of straying churches - or on doctrinal issues they are struggling with on your blog? Will you support people in those churches who speak up? Will you invite them to your biblical conference? Will you give them biblical books? Will you help answer questions? Will you get involved in the debates around postmoderism and facist authoritarian church governance? Will you help mentor godly leaders? If we don't, your church could be the next one to go into decline in maybe a decade or two - will then anyone help rescue your church?

Please DO care about the church next door. They are not part of 'them' but 'we'. And if you are in a declining unhealthy church the wolves in sheeps clothing who are leading your church astray into postmodernism and Fascist authoritarianism are not part of 'us' and don't get hurt if people challenge them. Be careful who you define as 'Us' and 'Them'. Be careful what you define as 'Doing well'.

Philip Rosenthal

Thursday, July 25, 2013

STOPPING CAPITULATION TO THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA

STOPPING CAPITULATION TO THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA

The past few weeks, evangelicals have faced a series of shocking American evangelical capitulations to homosexual activism:

* The Boy Scouts bowed to pressure to open its doors to homosexuals, while remaining closed to atheists.

* Exodus International, the worlds largest outreach to homosexuals announced that it was closing down. Its leader, Alan Chambers announced he was starting another organisation that would have a different message. That new message seems less offensive to homosexual activists, more muddled and postmodern. Thankfully, Biblical former affilates of Exodus International are regrouping under the banner of Restored Hope Network http://www.restoredhopenetwork.com/ - many left around two years ago when they realised the organisation was heading in the wrong direction. Chambers confusion is not entirely surprising considering his home church pastor is preaching a 'hyper-grace' message, which omits the need to properly repent of sin. What is tragic is that he has been allowed to destroy the organisation from the top instead of being thrown out when he announced last year that Exodus was changing its message in a more postmodern direction.

* Fuller Seminary, the worlds largest evangelical seminary, has given permission for a homosexual club to operate on its campus, while continuing to say they oppose pre-marital sex and homosexual political advocacy. I would argue that is unacceptable compromise and unrealistic wishful thinking. Nevertheless, the slide in Fuller started decades ago when the founder Charles Fuller's son Daniel went to do a PhD under Neo-Orthodox theologican Karl Barth. Daniel took over the leadership of the Seminary from his father and gradually relaxed its biblical definition. For many years, it grew numerically and institutionally producing many highly respected leaders, while slowly weakening its Biblical faithfulness. It has also become a centre for the promotion of the 'Insider movement' which is weakening missions to the Moslem world.

If you are thinking of studying theology, don't even consider Fuller any more. Books written by Fuller professors can no longer be automatically be considered evangelical before being stocked in Christian bookshops. The contents need to be checked for biblical orthodoxy.
http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/16012-evangelical-fuller-seminary-says-yes-to-homosexual-campus-club
Send your complaint to Fuller Seminary to Fuller Vice President, Fred Messick fmessick@fuller.edu

For those seeking good biblical rebuttal of 'homosexual theology', Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is emerging as the premier defender of the faith on this issue. http://www.robgagnon.net/Index.html

WHAT CAN WE LEARN?

The bottom line is that American evangelicalism and most evangelical movements led from America are in a theological crisis over a set of issues relating to postmodernism: feminism, homosexuality, 'insider movement' missions, the requirement for repentance from sin and many more. The only large grouping holding the line against this capitulation are the Southern Baptists, who had a resurgence of Biblical theology in the 1980s. The liberal denominations capitulated long ago. The seeker sensitive movements are in process of capitulation. The 'Gospel Coalition', which started out well is sending mixed and muddled messages - particularly Tim Keller. A number of smaller seminaries, formed when conservatives withdrew from mainline denominations remain faithful. Sadly, the fundamentalist and Charismatic movements have been fragmenting into smaller groupings centred around personalities rather than agreed truth. Usually after a decade or two, such movements deteriorate into personality cults and when their leaders spiritual life falters, their following tends to go downhill with them. Similar trends are evident in South Africa.

Why does this matter in South Africa? Because currently, most middle class South African churches are looking to American ministries for leadership. That leadership, with a few exceptions noted above is failing drastically. Barring an Ezra type revival, it will probably continue to decline. A century ago, world Christianity looked to England for leadership. No more. Before that there were other centres: Germany, Rome, Greece, Jerusalem. Our centre must be the Bible. Those who rely on the latest pre-packaged church programmes and conference speakers from America are mostly going to be swept up with America's decline and capitulation.

In a previous article, I explained the slippery slope on homosexuality which much of the American and South African church is following.
http://emergingthreat.blogspot.com/2012/07/ending-postmodern-sexual-compromise-of.html Read this article again.

The lesson coming out of America is that we cannot afford to be soft, patient and quiet any longer. If you see these signs, speak up. We speak up now or we lose our denominations, Bible Colleges and ministries. Once they start on a slide, we don't have long before they are destroyed. The so called 'seeker sensitive' movement is producing a modest short term influx of church members to some churches, but overall it is leading to a gutting of the gospel - and paves the way for liberalism - after which the membership gain is initially muddied with false conversions and eventually lost.

Those who want to retain Biblical Christianity need to count the cost. People are going to get hurt on both sides. Those fighting for truth will get hurt and unavoidably those on the other side or who get caught in the middle will be hurt by any defence that is made - in words or institutional actions.

ACTION

I have been involved in combatting church and ministry compromise and decline on these issues in South Africa in numerous denominations over the past decade - most of which one cannot publish openly on the internet, as one wishes to maintain trust while negotiating to try to resolve issues with leaders. Please pray for me and consider financial supporting ChristianView Network www.ChristianView.givengain.org and take a stand in our own denomination.

* Send your complaint to Fuller Seminary at fmessick@fuller.edu

On a separate issue, we can thank God that the 'Insider Movement' was resoundingly defeated at a public theological debate in London this month on the issue of mis-translating the 'Son of God' in Bibles aimed at Muslims.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE CORRECTS WYCLIFFE MISTRANSLATING SON OF GOD

WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE CORRECTS WYCLIFFE MISTRANSLATING SON OF GOD

The World Evangelical Alliance has just released a report, correcting Wycliffe Bible Translators for mistranslating 'Father' and 'Son' in new Bibles intended for Muslim majority nations. Unfortunately, the WEA report seems to affirm the idea that Muslims may have a legitimate difficulty in understanding the concept of God as 'Father' and 'Son', while I would argue the problem is not understanding, but that Muslims are offended by the Biblical teaching that conflicts with the Qur'an. But overall, it is a victory in the defence of Biblical Truth.

Key WEA recommendations are: "1. The WEA Panel (hereafter referred to as
"Panel") recommends that when the words for "father" and "son" refer to God
the Father and to the Son of God, these words always be translated with the
most
directly equivalent familial words within the given linguistic and cultural
context of the recipients.....

2. The Panel recognizes that there is significant potential for
misunderstanding of the words for "father" and "son" when applied to God,
and that in languages shaped by Islamic cultures, the potential is
especially acute and the misunderstandings likely to
prove especially harmful to the reader's comprehension of the gospel.
Therefore, in case of difficulties, the Panel recommends that translators
consider the addition of qualifying words and/or phrases (explanatory
adjectives, relative clauses, prepositional
phrases, or similar modifiers) to the directly- translated words for
"father" and "son," in order to avoid misunderstanding. For example, as the
biblical context allows, the word for "father" might be rendered with the
equivalent of "heavenly Father" when referring
to God, and the word for "son" might be rendered with the equivalent of
"divine Son," "eternal Son," or "heavenly Son" when referring to Jesus.

The Panel also encourages translators to use paratextual material to clarify and avoid
misunderstanding in these cases.."

Read the WEA full report at:
http://alturl.com/cse79

Wycliffe says they will implement the panels recommendations: "We’re asking our partners and supporters around the world to pray with us as we submit to the panel’s recommendations and move into the implementation phase." http://www.wycliffe.org/sonofgod.aspx Lets pray for Wycliffe as they ask us to.

But the report by WEA Theologians simply confirms the outcry from thousands of concerned Bible believers around the world - and we need to continue to proclaim the message of faithful translation and teaching of the plain truth of scripture no matter how much it offends the hearers of whatever culture. We need to raise the same concerns with those who mistranslate English scriptures to avoid offending feminists.

Philip Rosenthal

Friday, July 27, 2012

ENDING POSTMODERN SEXUAL COMPROMISE OF THE GOSPEL

ENDING POSTMODERN SEXUAL COMPROMISE OF THE GOSPEL

Earlier this month, homosexual activists complained to the Advertising Standards Authority against a billboard by 'Light of the nations church', Pretoria which said that Jesus could set people free from a list of sins, which included homosexuality. The activists argued that Jesus cannot set people free from homosexuality in contradiction to the Bible (1 Corinthians 6:11) Tragically, without even trying to defend the gospel, the church responded by deleting the word 'homosexuality' from the billboard. http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6169 On their Facebook page, July 13 Pastor Deric Linley said the church's philosophy had not changed but the deletion had been to "a show of a non-judgmental spirit to the gay community. Because of this attitude, we have gay members in our church; and because our members already know our unchanged philosophy on this ... “Rather have homosexual people in a church with a good attitude, than heterosexual people with a bad attitude..." Actually, the ASASA has no juristiction over any church and is just bullying - it is a voluntary association. Sadly, a few years back on court instruction Moreleta Park church apologised to a homosexual music teacher they had fired for his immorality.

Is this an isolated incident? Sadly not. Evangelical pastors and churches from almost all theological and denominational camps are capitulating like dominoes to the homosexual agenda and other sexual compromise - some more publicly than others.

But lets move focus to some of the bigger names in evangelicalism: Tim Keller, Reformed scholar, mega-church pastor and one of the founder-leaders of the Gospel Coalition when asked whether homosexuality is a sin and whether homosexuals are going to hell replied "...it is very misleading to say, ‘Homosexuality is a sin’ But that’s not what sends you to heaven or Hell....”We would say homosexuality is not the original design for sexuality. Therefore, it’s not good for human flourishing." The homosexual interviewer cited the Bible, but Keller, under pressure of an interviewer, buckled and fudged the issue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZFCB9sduxQ (The answer to that question is simple: Yes homosexuality is a sin; Yes homosexuals are going to hell unless they repent of such sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Shockingly, this video is posted without criticism, correction or apology by the Veritas Forum, which purports to promote Biblical worldview.

In April this year, Andy Stanley, senior pastor of Northpoint mega-church in Atlanta preached a sermon with a case example about grace in his church. A man in his church left his wife for a homosexual relationship and the man and his new partner wanted to serve as volunteers in the church. Stanley told the man he needed to divorce his wife first, before he could do so. The story ends with the homosexual couple, the first man's ex-wife and their child, as well as her new boyfriend and his child from another relationship, all coming together to worship together church. http://global.christianpost.com/news/pastor-andy-stanley-responds-to-questions-over-homosexuality-stance-74262/#CGihldEQ4fcti11L.99 The implication is that homosexuality is okay, but adultery is not - and that divorce can legitimise marital unfaithfulness. Stanley has been strongly challenged but has not yet clarified his views. Stanley sends ministry teams to South Africa and his books are on sale here.

Many more similar examples could be given. Philip Yancey, Christianity Today editor and popular author gives a muddled view http://www.philipyancey.com/q-and-a-topics/homosexuality . Why are his books still stocked and why is he an editor of this magazine?

Is this just about homosexuality? No. Is the issue about sexuality in general? No. The issue is bigger than that. What is at stake is the gospel itself: Jesus power to save. Our right to proclaim it. The definition of sin. What is the message of the gospel? Subtly... step by step.. the gospel is being eroded. And the gospel is an issue for which we must be prepared to suffer unpopularity and if necessary die. When Paul rebuked Peter in Galations 2:11 the issue that let him to write that blisteringly angry letter was not just circumcision or even Jewish-Gentile race relations. The issue was the gospel. Paul didn't get madly upset about the circumcision issue until people started linking it to a false gospel - and that is what we have here too - the argument that Jesus cannot save people from homosexuality. On that issue we must not flinch in the face of persecution.

THE PATH OF COMPROMISE

When challenged, such people will usually argue they still believe what the Bible says about homosexuality - but they are compromising on the installment plan - each year, such churches are sliding a little bit further. Lets look at the slippery slope of compromise (not necessarily in order):

* The use of homosexual language which carry their assumptions: For example: 'gay' instead of 'homosexual'. 'orientation' instead of 'sin'.

* Accepting the assumption that homosexuals are a discriminated group needing protection - so called 'gay rights'.

* Compromise 'fall-back' political positions rejecting the worst demands of the homosexual agenda, but accepting the old ones. For example,opposing 'same-sex marriage', but accepting 'civil unions'; accepting 'same-sex marriage' but opposing homosexual adoption; opposing civil unions, but accepting anti-discrimination legislation etc.

* Apologising to the homosexual community for the 'hurt' caused by the churches 'unloving' attitude - creating a false guilt and excuse for futher cowardice with the gospel.

* Accepting homosexuality as an 'identity/sexual orientation' rather than a sin - failing to distinguish between a temptation someone struggles with but fights and something people just live with like a disability.

* Talking about 'gay christians' and 'gay churches' - as if there was such a thing.

* Preaching half-truths with lies and loaded messages:
- Preaching against 'all forms of discrimination & judgmentalism' while lumping homosexuality together with things people cannot change such as race and HIV status. Thus implying that homosexuality can't be changed as with these other things.
- Preaching trivialising sodomy and other sexual sin by putting it in the same category as much lesser sins - and then arguing we are all sin all the time so we should not make a big deal about sexual sin. (The Bible does categorise some sins as more serious than others, for example by the death penalty specified in the Old Covenant, the requirement of excommunication and the social effects of some sins can be seen as more destructive than others.)
- Preaching that homosexuals must just 'be celibate', while failing to preach that even celibate homosexual relationships and entertaining such lusts are also sinful.
- Being silent on the issue of homosexuality.
- Avoiding the whole concept of sin and repentance for it, and applying psychological language of 'problems' and 'brokenness'.

* Affirming the pro-homosexual misinterpretaton of the Bible as 'clever' without correcting it.

* Relationships with homosexual activist 'christians', thus given them credibility:
- Accepting homosexual activists claiming to be homosexual Christians as brothers
- Eating with homosexual activists, while the scripture says we must not (1 Corinthians 5:11) as did Mega-church pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-06-09/news/0806080226_1_gay-christians-willow-creek-community-church-rev-bill-hybels)

* Distancing, speaking against and even persecuting groups opposing homosexuality and presenting the true gospel to them - in order to get more acceptance from the homosexual community.

* The gospel message:
- Shifting from 'evangelising' homosexuals by challenging them to repent of sin with the gospel to 'dialoguing with them'.
- Shifting from trying to help people 'out of homosexuality' to trying help people to 'live with' the problem.
- Changing the message from holiness to treating people as 'victims of sexual brokeness' which ignores the whole concept of sin.

* Allowing homosexuals to be in the office of a pastor:
- first, provided that they are celibate.
- then, even if not celibate provided they are 'married' to their homosexual partner.
- then into more senior church positions.
- then with no constraints.

* Turning a blind eye to open homosexual couples attending church together, and failing to challenge their sin.

* Implying that our position on homosexuality is open to change in future but not right now - for example Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/01/open-letter-to-brian-mclaren.html)

* Arguing that one cannot speak against homosexuality unless one has first passed all sorts of requirements of close experience with homosexuals - for example Brian McLaren.

* Performing ungodly ceremonies:
- Civil unions
- Same-sex marriages

There is so much compromise on this issue that many people are unaware they are compromising or think they are doing well by not compromising as much as some other church or false-teacher.

While some more biblical christians may be shocked by the above and think they would never get into such confusion, they don't take into account two factors:

* OUTREACH RISKS: Those who get involved in any kind of outreach ministry to sinful people are under pressure to compromise to more easily reach them. If you are not doing such outreach you are not currently at such risk, but such outreach is dangerous. Yes, do the outreach, but a church or group should get into such outreach very cautiously and with determination not to compromise - bearing in mind how many people have got into compromise before them. The same is true of pro-life outreach (where some start affirming a pro-choice position to try save more babies), divorce outreach, scandal challenging, Muslim evangelism (compare the Insider movement).

* SOCIAL PRESSURE: If a whole community starts to compromise, the pressure mounts for you to compromise also to stay in with the group - only the only way to avoid compromise is to move. As this problem grows, more and more groups are buckling and if you are not careful you may too.

* NEW GENERATION CONFUSION: Older people grew up taking for granted biblical teaching on homosexuality, but many of our Christian youth have never properly heard it due to the cowardice and neglect of preachers. That have accepted by default many of the above views of the culture. If you don't teach your children and get them into a good church, they will probably be confused too.

DO YOU SEE THESE SIGNS IN YOUR CHURCH?

Not all backsliding churches and leaders are following these steps in the same order. If a pastor makes a mistake, lovingly point it out and give him a chance to correct it, but if he doesn't - and your church is showing several or repeated signs of compromise as listed above, be very concerned but not surprised. You need to challenge it from the scripture, pray for your church and pastor. Probably you also need to look for another church - painful as that may be to say goodbye to the community you love - but if the leadership want to go that way, then you will probably not be able to long resist backsliding yourself and with your family. Rather give your money, your time and your life to building up a healthy church.

If your own church is safe and healthy on this issue, thank God for this and keep praying for and encouraging your pastor. But this toxic compromise needs a wider response. When Ezra returned to Jerusalem and heard about the sin and compromise of the returning exiles (Ezra 9), he lay on the floor and wept. It is not just the liberals who have sinned and compromised, but our own evangelical leadership. These men who have compromised include OUR evangelical leaders of OUR organisations. Let us pray for God to forgive the compromise of the Western evangelical church - otherwise God may reject and destroy us as he has judged other compromised churches in the past.

We are going to win this fight and Biblical Christianity will outlast this compromise but many currently seemingly thriving churches will go ICHABOD (1 Samuel 4) - God will abandon them because of their compromising.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal

Monday, June 4, 2012

WHY POSTMODERNISM WON’T WIN

WHY POSTMODERNISM WON’T WIN

Is postmodernism invincible? The postmodern prophets strongest argument why the pastors should listen to them is that Postmodernism is taking over the culture – especially the youth – and if they want to have a future, they have to adapt to the new ‘emerging’ postmodern culture. Postmodern liberalism has taken over most of the Western World – except for a few isolated ‘behind the times’ outposts of conservative Christianity - and will soon take over the rest of the world also. When I debated the Western Cape MEC for Finance on the legalization of gambling and casinos, he didn’t even try to rebut my arguments of negative social impact. Rather he countered: ‘That is the way the whole world is going. We can’t go back’. Even the name ‘Post-modernism’ implies a time frame i.e. that those who don’t follow are out of date. Resistance is therefore pointless. Conservative biblical Christians are painted as an anachronism. As the old saying goes: “If you can’t beat them join them”. Does this logic fit the facts? What does the Bible say about it?

Yes, it is true Postmodernism has taken over much of the Western world. Through dominance of economic resources from Europe and North America, it seeks to colonise the rest of the world also. International financial aid is frequently tied to promoting postmodern liberal policies such as abortion and homosexuality in Africa, while liberal Non-profits are heavily funded by postmodern governments. Small well funded postmodern minority lobby groups are able to dominate our governments social policies.

But firstly for how long? Secondly, does that mean it will eventually dominate the rest of the world also?

HOW DO WE ANSWER THIS ARGUMENT?

* EMPIRES ARE FALLING FASTER: There have been numerous other ideologies and empires that have attempted world domination. Each has in its own time claimed an invincibility lasting long into the future. Very few have lasted long – and in fact the lifecycle of the rise and fall of empires and the ideologies and elites behind them has generally been shortening. Ancient Egyptian dynasties lasted a few hundred years and their empire a few thousand. The Nazi German ‘thousand year Reich lasted just under six years. Communist domination of the Soviet Union lasted about 70 years. Modernist liberalism with its emphasis on science and promoting Christian morals without supernatural faith has lost popularity to Postmodernism with its emphasis on subjectivity and abandonment of scientific reason and Christian morals. Postmodernism will likely also be replaced in a generation with something else. Just as the Western world is changing its clothing fashions and technology faster and faster, so ideologies are rising and falling faster and faster. In Daniel 2:44, God says “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. So we know that only the kingdom of Christ will endure – all others will die.

* WESTERN RACIAL DOMINANCE: Postmodernist liberals face a crisis of consistency in their global dominance. On the one hand, they want to take the lead in neo-colonial imposition of their policies on the rest of the world. On the other hand, they decry racism and colonial dominance of the West. Reality is they are numerically a minority, but with financial power. An even sharper crisis faces the postmodern Western Church. They are dwindling numerically while the more biblically faithful Church in Africa, Asia and South America is growing rapidly. Recently, for example, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans called for a restructuring of the global Anglican communion away from ‘British empire’ dominance to an elected chairman. Reality is most of the worlds Anglicans will vote for a more biblical leader than will the British. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/19491 More and more international Christian organisations are seeking to include non-Westerners in their top level leadership. This new African and Asian leadership is much less inclined to follow postmodern trends than Christians from North America and Europe. Historically, this has happened before. As an example, the early church in Western Europe helped rescue the Eastern church from the confusion caused by attempts to unite Christianity with ancient Greek culture. The Western European church was not as vulnerable to the heresies that were attractive to the Greek world as the African and Asian churches are not as vulnerable to the deception of Postmodernism.

* CHURCH SHRINK: Even at home in the West, postmodern denominations face a crisis: the more postmodern they are, generally the more their numbers are shrinking – the opposite of what they are telling pastors. Compromise with the culture may draw a few more people for a short while, but eventually these people will become disillusioned with the church if it is much the same as the world.

* DEMOGRAPHIC SHRINK: Demographically, Postmodern mothers are on average having less than two children each. Postmodernism and feminism put low value on children and high value on women’s career success. The divorce rate is higher than other cultures. Many don’t bother to get married at all – and the proportion not marrying in post-modern countries is increasing every year. The more post-modern the country, the fewer are getting married. Children are delayed. Confused gender roles discourage parenting. Postmodernists are murdering millions of their children by abortion.

That may not sound like a big deal now, but that means each generation their numbers are going to shrink. Population shrink happens exponentially, as rapidly as population growth. That means every generation, the rate of shrink is going to get faster unless these women start having more children. But in these same countries, the non-Postmodern communities (very often immigrants) are growing rapidly. To keep their economies going to pay the pensions of the older generation, they need labour to replace those never born, they are forced to open wider the gates of immigration. The result is that in a few generations, unless they can win over the immigrants to Postmodernism (which they are not), these Postmodern nations will become minorities within their own countries. Then they will be out-voted and Post-modern law will be over. In Europe, Moslem immigrants are having lots of children, while postmodern children are below replacement. In America, pro-abortionists are obviously having less children than pro-life Christian Americans.

* LOGICAL INCONSISTENCY: Postmodernism relativism faces core logical internal contradictions:
- Firstly, They call for ‘tolerance’ of their views, but are intolerant of others views. Homosexual activists and liberal denominations are persecuting Christians. For example, numerous biblical congregations have lost their buildings to liberal postmodern denominations.
- Secondly, they argue that nothing is absolute. But having stated this, they have just stated a belief which is their minds is absolute. At some point people will realize the logical inconsistency and thus intellectual bankruptcy of this view.

While this may seem a bit abstract for most people, as an example a postmodern archeology article in New Scientist on the Inca practice of ‘child sacrifice’ stated they could find no logical way to argue from a postmodern perspective that this practice was wrong. The Inca’s believed this was acceptable – so how can we Westerners question them? But inherently from conscience we know it is wrong (Romans 2:15) – but Postmodernism cannot logically explain the conscience.

* THE DAMAGE WILL BE EXPOSED: Most ideologies rely on the circular logic of being taken for granted and not studied objectively from the outside. For example, Karl Marx document on communism was not ‘Das Communism’ but ‘Das Kapital’ i.e. a critique of the evils of ‘Capitalism’. University students were mostly not formally taught the propositions of communism, but implicitly taught it through an attack on the evils of Capitalism using the analytical tools of communism – which included for example the unquestioned assumption that all deserved to be paid an equal amount. Whether this was right and whether it was feasible was never allowed to be questioned in this assault on the Capitalism. After communism had fallen, a group of French former Marxist intellectuals did a similar analysis of the evils produced by Communism. http://www.amazon.com/The-Black-Book-Communism-Repression/dp/0674076087
At present, Postmodernists are attacking the evils of Modernism and what they believe is wrong with Christianity. But when the focus turns to actually study the fruit Postmodernism is producing in Europe and America: Dysfunctional families; divorce; abortion of babies; teen sexuality; degradation of women by pornography; spreading homosexuality; elitist arbitrary government by courts displacing democracy; population shrink – and probably it will soon slide into more problems such as legalizing sex with children and infanticide – as did its ancient Greek ancestral ideology.

* LOSS OF INTELLECTUAL MOMENTUM: Postmodernism grew mostly out of the philosophical ideas of French intellectuals such as Jacques Derrida. It has since spread to other western countries where spread through universities and then the mass media into popular culture. Most Western ideologies have followed this pattern: Philosophers to universities to educational and media elites to the masses. The leaders of the ‘Emerging Church’ such as Brian McLaren and Rob Bell are not that original. They are borrowing ideas from secular philosophers and trying to clothe them in Christian language – engaging to in theological gymnastics to try to bend the interpretation of the Bible to fit Postmodern culture. But Derrida is dead and the whole philosophical debate around Postmodernism among the intellectual elite has dried up – they are generating no new ideas. Philosophers have got bored of the idea at just the time it is peaking in popular culture.

* GOD IS JUDGING: Postmodernism is just foolishness dressed up in intellectual language. As stated earlier it is logically inconsistent and produces bad fruit. Romans 1 discusses how God judges those in rebellion against him. When people fail to give glory to God, they become foolish (Romans 1:22) and he hands them over to idolatry and sexual immorality including homosexuality (Romans 1: 26-27) which is so evident with postmodernism. They are ultimately on the pathway of God’s judgment and will continue on that path to destruction unless they repent. Future generations will abhor the postmodern slaughter of the unborn and the lunacy of men ‘marrying’ men. While God may have used Babylon to judge Israel, ultimately he also judged Babylon. God is in control and Postmodernism will die too.

So, the long term chances of survival of Postmodernism are not good. Western ideologies are rising and falling faster; Western racial dominance is being challenged and the new leadership will not be so Postmodern; Generally, the more postmodern the church, in the long term the more they shrink; Demographically, postmodernists have fewer children and will go into exponential decline; Postmodernism is intellectually inconsistent with itself and with conscience and reality; the social damage of postmodernism will be exposed; the leading intellectual philosophers of the world are losing interest in postmodernism; finally, postmodernism itself should be seen as just God judging and handing over people who fail to glorify him to foolishness and degradation. Postmodernists exude an arrogance that they have history on their side as did communists before that. But generally once an empire with the myth of world conquest starts to decline it does so fast. For example, after the Soviet Union lost Afghanistan, soon the rest of its colonies wanted independence too. Once the myth was gone, so did the empire. By exposing these vulnerabilities and destroying the myth of Postmodern invincibility, we can help accelerate its decline.

In short, Postmodernism will die a slow death and biblical Christianity will endure! But probably, the fools currently promoting postmodernism will jump ship to whatever is popular when the ‘next big new idea’ comes along – just as the liberation theologians ‘jumped ship’ to postmodernism after the fall of the Soviet Union. So we should not for a moment accept the argument that Postmodernism is on an invincible path of conquest, which all should join out of a herd mentality but should be confident that biblical Christianity will endure and Postmodernism (and the Emerging Church) will like Communism (and Liberation Theology) relegated to the dustbin of history.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WHY WE CAN’T LET WYCLIFFE LOSE ‘FATHER’ AND ‘SON’ IN TRANSLATION

WHY WE CAN’T LET WYCLIFFE LOSE ‘FATHER’ AND ‘SON’ IN TRANSLATION Last year we reported on the disturbing trend in missions strategy, the ‘insider movement’ where postmodern missionaries are encouraging converts to stay in their old religion as for example a ‘Muslim follower of Jesus’, continuing to attend Mosque, read the Quran and pray Muslim prayers. http://emergingthreat.blogspot.com/2011/02/can-you-follow-christ-and-still-stay-in.html Is this just amongst a group of wacky extremists? No. The strategy is being promoted by postmodern leaders in some of the worlds largest evangelical missions institutions including: professors at Fuller, the worlds largest evangelical Seminary; missionaries from ‘The Navigators’ in Asia; the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, and in the 2010 ‘Call to Action’ of the Lausanne III Convention ('Call to Action' (Part 2C,section4)). These postmodernists have penetrated the heart of evangelicalism and are in the process of trying to redefine what it means to be a Christian. In 2008, I warned the Lausanne Convention organizing committee against postmodern infiltration http://emergingthreat.blogspot.com/2008/10/why-postmodernism-and-emerging-church.html Postmodernists in Lausanne 2010 spoke in coded language most delegates did not understand in order to push their agenda, which they managed to influence in much the same way that homosexuals pushed ‘sexual orientation’ subtly into our law and only explained the meaning later. Now we hear that the world’s largest Bible translation organizations including ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators’ and SIL International have already produced 32 new translations of the Bible which mistranslate the scriptures to make them less offensive to Moslems and are aiming to have produced 91 such translations by 2025! Of greatest concern is their editing out of references to God as ‘Father’ and Jesus Christ as the ‘Son of God’. Their excuse? They say that some Muslims will otherwise misunderstand these biological relationship terms to think that it means that God had a sexual relationship with Mary. http://www.wycliffe.net/resources/missiology/Bibletranslationandmission/tabid/96/Default.aspx?id=2213 Alternative words they are using instead of ‘son’ they are using include terms like ‘one and only’ and ‘God’s cherished one’ and ‘Messiah’. Needless to say, this has provoked a storm of protest. The group ‘Biblical Missiology’ http://biblicalmissiology.org/ has written a number of rebuttal articles http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf and a petition against it at: http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible In response to this challenge Wycliffe claim that some of these other words in the native languages imply a ‘son’ relationship. But if that is the case, why do not just use the common word ‘son’. According to them, the issue is so subtle and complicated that only trained linguists and theologians can understand it – and so the rest of us should back out of the debate and leave it to the experts. Wycliffe have suspended these translations pending an review by a panel of theologians from the World Evangelical Alliance http://www.worldea.org/news/3934 HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND? Firstly, even if the alternative words preserve a fraction of the meaning of the word ‘father’ and ‘son’, this is not good enough. Every language has a word for ‘father’ and ‘son’. If some Muslims misunderstand this to imply a sexual relationship, one does not need to change the text of the Bible – you can explain the issue in a footnote, an introduction, a statement of faith, a pamphlet, an article or a radio program – but it is dangerous and blasphemous to distort the Word of God just because some people misunderstand it. Secondly, through history there have been thousands of misunderstandings of scripture by different cultures and will be more in future. We cannot avoid this and the Bible itself even predicts it. Peter says of Paul’s letters “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16http://bible.cc/2_peter/3-17.htm). But misunderstandings of one scripture can be cleared up by studying other scriptures. Thirdly, to answer the argument of ‘dynamic equivalency’: where for example since the Sudanese have no word for ‘snow’ and don’t know what it is – so their Bible says ‘white as cotton’ which conveys the term white. There is no need to do this with the term ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ since every language knows and understand what these mean. Fourthly, these translations if released into the Muslim world will undermine and confuse the church in those countries and give ammunition to Moslems who argue that translations of the Bible are unreliable. Muslim readers who discover the translation they have bought is unreliable are going to get really angry – as they should, but sadly they may also as a result lose confidence in Christianity. Fifthly, in the Bible the word ‘snow’ does not have critical importance to understanding the message of the Bible. The words ‘father’ and ‘son’ do. The gospel of John, Jesus especially focuses on the glorious revelation that God is our ‘father’. While there are many names for God in the Old Testament, Jesus most commonly uses the name ‘Father’ and encourages us to do the same, for example in teaching us how to pray ‘Our father in heaven…’ (Matthew 6:9). The name ‘Father’ is loaded with meaning, which is critical our correct understanding of God: God the father gives us spiritual life as a natural father give us biological life; A natural father gives us our family name and usually our first names also, is the ruler of the family, is responsible for the protection and provision of the family, as God is for us. We are adopted into the family of God the father as children of God. The word ‘Son’ implies an heir and a permanent relationship, rights which ‘servants’ do not have. Fathers have compassion on their children (2 Corinthians 1:3), which an impersonal God like ‘Allah’ cannot give. To drive the point home, Jesus repeats the word ‘Father’ again and again in the Gospel of John and six times in the climax of his great high priestly prayer in John 17. More than any other single word, ‘Father’ is the name that reveals glory of God. Only the Son of God can reveal the Fatherhood of God. It is because of our adoption into this privileged position of ‘sons’ of God that we can have confidence that God will hear our prayers, answer us, provide for us, protect us. It is a loaded term, packed with meaning – chosen by God himself to reveal who he is to us. Sixthly, against the pragmatic argument that these translations will bring more Muslims to Christ – that is unlikely. The fatherhood of God is attractive. Most of the claimed converts by the ‘insider movement’ are not true converts, but simply Muslims interested in Jesus but have not repented of their sins and received him as Lord. But even if it was more successful than traditional missions and faithful translations – even if they did get more converts – should we then follow this strategy. No. Why? Because our aim in missions is not just to maximize the number of converts but to glorify God (Romans 15:9). The Bible most powerfully and uniquely reveals the Glory of God through his name of ‘Father’. Now we have a group of people trying to mask that glory with substitute words for God. Rather we should re-double our efforts to communicate to anyone and everyone the Fatherhood of God and the opportunity to be adopted as his sons. CONCLUSION And it is utterly ridiculous for a group of academics and linguists to try to rip this truth out of the scriptures and confuse the mission field of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia with a distorted and half-baked Bible. God chose to reveal himself as ‘Father’ through his ‘Son’ Jesus and translators who don’t want to translate that plain, simple and with its full meaning should go translate something other than the Bible. Given that the ideology of postmodernism grew out of the work of the linguistic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein it is not surprising that linguists are being influenced by this ideology. Brian McLaren, the greatest proponent of postmodern ideology in the church is in fact trained in linguistics and not theology. Postmodernism emphasizes the subjective meaning of words to the hearer, rather than the intended objective meaning of the author. While it is encouraging that Wycliffe has suspended these translations and is awaiting review from the World Evangelical Fellowship, this by no means guarantees the problem will be properly resolved here. Given that so many leading evangelical institutions already mentioned are infiltrated with postmodernists including the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) itself, one does not know who will be on the panel. Postmodern missions activists infiltrated and hijacked the Lausanne III convention, introducing ‘coded language’ not understood by most of the missions delegation that gives credibility to the ‘insider movement’. There could be a similar infiltration of the WEA and its review panel . See for example an article promoting the ‘Insider Movement’ on the World Evangelical Alliance web site: http://www.weaconnections.com/getattachment/27adf6bd-653d-4caf-abb6-e3a74f579b94/Reflections-on-Contextualization.aspx The postmodern missions contextualization movement threatens to destroy Evangelical Missions in the same way that modernism destroyed Protestant Mainline Missions in the 1930s. If we do not win this fight, we are going to have to say goodbye to all these postmodern infected institutions and organization and start again with a re-grouping of true Biblical Christianity: new mission organizations, new bible translations, new church alliances. That will take decades of work. It will be easier to fight to protect them against this attack now. This ‘insider movement’ debate is not just a conflict of opinions within evangelical Christianity. These postmodern ‘insider movement’ promoters are not evangelicals, they are undermining the basic definition of Christianity, distorting the Word of God not just in teaching but in translation itself. See my previous article at http://emergingthreat.blogspot.com/2011/02/can-you-follow-christ-and-still-stay-in.html for why this is so. Such scripture twisters should not be allowed to be members of evangelical organizations, churches or institutions. Evangelicals need to get beyond friendly debate and take disciplinary action against these people and defund institutions which print unfaithful translations of the scriptures and missions that encourage converts to stay in their old religion. People who encourage converts to stay in their old religion are not evangelicals and shouldn’t be allowed to masquerade as such. WHAT CAN WE DO: * Pray for Bible translation organizations to be faithful to the Word of God and remove postmodernists. * Only give money to Bible translation groups that are faithful to the Word of God. * Pray for the World Evangelical Alliance to be protected from postmodern infiltration. * Encourage your church and any mission sending organization not to support any ‘insider movement’ promoting missionaries (also often called by the code term ‘C5’). * Sign the petition against mistranslation of ‘father’ and ‘son’ in the Bible http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible * Study the articles on http://biblicalmissiology.org/ * If you want to train to be a missionary, chose where you train carefully and which organization you go with. * If you are a pastor, consider doing a sermon on the Fatherhood of God, Jesus as Son and what this Father-Son relationship means for us also. If so many evangelical leaders can’t see the importance of this issue – maybe there are some in your congregation who need this clarified.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New book: 'The way of Balaam' - How the Emerging Church links to Gnosticism



The Way of Balaam: False teachers and the re-appearance of ancient Gnostic beliefs

Why do some Christians pray to God as ‘mother’? Why do some Christians use labyrinths and mandalas? Why do some believe that different religions are all part of ‘one truth’? What do actively homosexual Bishops have in common with militant feminism, ‘interfaith’ worship, and the watering down of core doctrines of the faith? Are these trends mere signs of an aberrant but harmless spirituality or are they sinister and toxic to orthodox Christian faith and practice?

It has been said that Christian orthodoxy (correct belief and behaviour) is never more than one generation from extinction. In other words, as is emphasized many times in the New Testament, we must be on our guard against false teaching. This is because false teaching is a poison to the Christian Church. It undermines the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thereby bringing spiritual death to people in need of salvation. It subverts the truth revealed to us, and promotes ‘the lie’ – thereby colluding with the ‘father of lies’ himself.

Not least, false teaching brings the judgement of God upon Churches who allow it. I believe that the precipitous decline over the last 40 or 50 years in many of the Protestant denominations of North America and Britain is the direct result of the infiltration of unbiblical and in some cases outright heretical teachings. As an example, the Anglican Church of Canada declined 75% in attendance figures from 1961 to 2009; this is a church which embraces the belief that homosexual unions are good and normal, and perform ceremonies blessing them.

But what are these false teachings, and how do we recognize them? This is the main concern of my book, and I have tried to write it in language that everyone will understand. The issues are complex, but I believe they can be set out in a way that clarifies them. We need to know how to counter these false doctrines – it is not enough to quote a verse or two of the bible (correct though it is to base our responses on the Word) , we need to have a thorough and sound doctrinal understanding of what the Bible teaches.

Readers will perhaps have a question mark in their minds as to what Gnostic belief is and what it has to do with Christians today. As I explain in the book, Gnostic sects were among the first groups to twist the Christian gospel – they had a huge influence and led many astray into darkness in the times of the early church. They were groups that mixed Christian belief with the pagan religions of the Roman Empire, and eastern philosophies. Their teachings have reappeared from time to time in the history of the Christian church, but are reasserting their influence in our day and age, especially because of the impact of eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism in the West. They are subtle and once again will deceive many – but they can be recognized, and they can be countered.

The book chapter headings give an idea of the book contents, and so I list them below:

Introduction: The Way of Balaam and the implosion of the Western Church
1. The Quest.
2. Enter the goddess.
3. Gnostic Doctrines I: The primacy of experience; the nature of humankind; the problem with the world; the person of Jesus; the place of Holy Scripture.
4. Gnostic Doctrines II: Salvation through altered consciousness; the Resurrection; Mysteries that transform; Time and History.
5. The Coming Chaos.
6. Called to shine as lights in the darkness.

Many of the examples that I use in the book are taken from events that are occurring in mainline denominations, such as Anglican, Baptist, Reformed and Lutheran churches. However these false teachings are beginning to infiltrate large Free Evangelical and Charismatic/Pentecostal churches through the very influential leaders of the “Emergent Church” movement. Western culture has long abandoned its mooring in Christian thought and belief and the effect of this will be felt not only in North America, Britain and Europe, but throughout the world. Many prominent and respected Christian thinkers are warning us that we face the rise of a new world order that is totally pagan in its foundations and which will threaten the Christian Church in a way that has not been seen since the days of the Roman Empire. Not only is this new world order post- Christian, it is anti-Christian. Frederick Baue the Lutheran theologian tells us that what is coming is “a phase of western or world civilization that is innately religious but hostile to Christianity....or worse, a dominant but false church that brings all of its forces to bear against the truth of God’s Word”. If we are not prepared, if we do equip ourselves by seeking a deeper understanding of Christian truth and a deeper knowledge of our faith, we will be swept away by what is coming on the world. I hope that my book will go some way in helping people to gain that deeper understanding and so stand strong and be able to offer a sound and clear defence of their faith.

I believe that the Christian church today as never before needs believers that love the Lord Jesus and are committed to standing for the truth. My prayer is that my book will ignite a spark of renewed passion for the Lord among believers and a clearer understanding of His glorious Gospel.

“The Way of Balaam” is available from the following Bookshops:

Christian Connexion
and
Christian Book Discounters,

Or directly from the author: davedoveton@gmail.com price R120 + R10 postage


Rev Dave Doveton is an Anglican Priest, and serves in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth. He is the rector of the parishes of St Barnabas and St Philips, and also serves as the Anglican Dean of Studies of Stellenbosch Theological Seminary.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

COMBATING THE ‘RIGHT’ AND ‘LEFT WINGS’ OF CHURCH COMPROMISE

COMBATING THE ‘RIGHT’ AND ‘LEFT WINGS’ OF CHURCH COMPROMISE

Every now and then it is worth ‘zooming out’ and taking a wide lens perspective on what is happening to the church. The reality is that we are in the midst of a large scale international spiritual ‘down grade’. The culture is like a river flowing in full flood downstream. Unless one decides to actively swim upstream against the current, you, your family and your church will be swept along by it. In this context, all of us have to make the decision that Joshua did JOS 24:15 “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.". Further than that, we must be prepared to pay the price to stay faithful to the Lord – if that means, moving church, job, country, school or whatever.

Historically, spiritual downgrades have followed a pattern ‘Revival turns to passive spirituality to compromised spirituality to liberal unbelief (church without faith) and then if not reversed to extinction (abandonment of faith and church). I hear lots of talk about revival, but I don’t know any church in South Africa with a spiritual state anywhere close to revival. The best churches are mostly at ‘passive spirituality’ stage. In other words, they believe the truth, but the lost are not hearing it from many in the church. Most professing evangelical churches are compromised with their ‘idols’. Numerous churches that twenty years ago were at passive stage have moved to liberalism and man made religion. In another generation, such liberal churches will probably close their doors – as they have in Europe already.

THE ‘RIGHT’ AND ‘LEFT’ WINGS OF COMPROMISE

There are two main forces pulling evangelical churches into compromise. To simplify things, one could call them ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’.

RIGHT WING churches tend to be authoritarian, inward focused and centred around powerful charismatic personalities, and focused on building empires, ‘brands’, or tribes around those personalities. They are elitist, hierarchical although they would usually strongly deny this and in their extreme form, the top leader becomes a substitute for God – making decisions for unthinking followers – who profess to be biblical, but rely entirely on their leader to tell them what is biblical. The kingdom of God is substituted by the religious empire of the leader. Other Christian groups are treated as inferior and there is a desire to dominate them. Such empires will put on the best show on Sunday, but behind the scenes, they will bully, compromise and cover up sin to advance their fascist power structure. Anyone who questions anything is pushed out. Their beliefs vary dramatically, but all such groups are convinced their hierarchy are totally and unquestionably right – even if they change their beliefs over time. Usually there is some distinctive belief making them much more right than everyone else.

They do not follow a biblical pattern of governance and accountability. Usually, leaders of such groups don’t participate in unity initiatives unless they can see a benefit to gain power for themselves – and generally don’t care too much what the rest of the world thinks of them. Every now and then, some top leader goes too far and is exposed in a scandal. But usually, the successor continues a similar elitist pattern. Younger movements are prone to fall into this ‘right wing’ pattern’. More on ‘right wing’ churches problems at www.voiceofreform.blogspot.com

LEFT WING churches on the other hand tend to be desperate to get the approval of the surrounding culture. They will do whatever they can to get the approval of this culture in the mistaken belief that this will somehow help them to make Christianity attractive to the lost. Currently, the worldly culture is postmodern and so, such churches tend to be importing Postmodern culture into the church. Such churches tend to be much lower energy, laid back types without a controlling central leader. More on ‘left wing’ churches problems at www.emergingthreat.blogspot.com

Both ‘left’ and ‘right wing’ forms of compromise are a form of idolatry. Just different forms of idolatry. Churches all over are bleeding off the evangelical mainstream in one of these two unhealthy directions. But our focus should be on God, his glory and his kingdom – neither on the ‘right wing’ of great Christian leaders and movements or on the ‘left wing’ of the surrounding neo-pagan postmodern culture. In many ways, these ‘right’ and ‘left’ wings of evangelicalism have similar characteristics to the ‘right’ and ‘left’ wings of political movements – where the right is associated with nationalism, tribalism and populist leaders and the left is associated with unbounded liberty. But they do not necessarily support such right or left wing political movements.

WHAT IS GOD LIKELY TO DO?

People don’t realize how serious the backsliding is and that God will judge it. In the past, when such periods of backsliding have happened, God has preserved a remnant of faithful people – who have often gone into exile. For example, in the 16th century, during the persecution of Mary Tudor in England where 300 evangelical leaders were burned at the stake, a church of English exiles gathered in Geneva under the leadership of John Knox. When religious freedom returned to England, they went back and seeded the Puritan revival. The same happened again a century later, during the English state church persecution of dissenters. One dissenting church fled to Holland under the leadership of John Smyth. When Smyth turned to believers baptism, the church split. One half went and founded America at Plymouth Plantation. The other half, returned to England and spawned the Baptist church revival movement. During the liberal downgrade in the early 20th century, Gresham Machen left Princeton Seminary and founded Westminster Seminary, which subsequently became a centre for the spread of Biblical worldview throughout the world. In such ways, God has usually formed a ‘Noah’s Ark’ to preserve the faithful few who will spawn the next revival or reformation move of God. The lesson we must learn is the extreme importance of faithfulness at any cost under persecution even if the faithful look very weak in exile – one day, God may use these weak few to re-seed the church in the whole nation with godly influence.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

* We must be prepared to pay the price to be faithful, whatever that is. Jesus warned us the cost of following him and in evil times we will be forced to surrender all to follow him.
* We must choose who we mix with carefully. Especially our pastors and leaders. Likewise who our children mix with. We are social animals and we mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking we can endlessly fend off temptations of social pressure.
* Put in safe boundaries against temptation.
* We must be careful not to let our love grow cold due to the increase of wickedness (Revelation 2; Matthew 24:12-13).
* Don’t be deceived by the substitute religiosity of the ‘right’ and ‘left’ wing.
* If you see your church falling for the ‘right wing’ or the ‘left wing’ errors, do what you can to steer it back to the central focus on God and his kingdom. If you can’t, then move to a church which is focused on God.
* Realise that we cannot expect the same type of ministry fruit during backslidden times as in revival times, but continue to be faithful and focus on the different roles required in such times – (such as the example of Elijah and Jeremiah – rather than Joshua).
* Remember the message of the scriptures and of history, that God does revive – continue to pray faithfully year after year and make ourselves available to God.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SENTIMENTALITY TRUMPS TRUTH?

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SENTIMENTALITY TRUMPS TRUTH?

As most Western churches slide deeper and deeper into postmodern thinking, more and more decisions are based on sentimentalism rather than truth - gradually this affects all aspects of church life. Officially, such evangelicals claim to believe what biblical Christians have always believed, except that when decisions are made feelings and relationships are put before objective truth. Trying to argue from the Bible with such people is very difficult because they will always affirm the Bible, but in practice feelings come first - before God and the Bible. Most of the time, they just ignore the Bible and statements of belief and follow their feelings and personal relationships. It is quite easy for anyone including me and you to make such a mistake, but increasingly this is becoming the norm rather than the exception - by people who really should know better. Let us consider some real examples.

* DIVORCE COUNSELLING: A wife comes to a pastor at a well known evangelical church and complains about all the faults of her husband, saying she wants divorce. She gets his sympathy. Then they have counselling as a couple. The husband says positive things about his wife. Officially, this church opposes divorce except where there is adultery (which was not the case). Nevertheless, instead of quoting the Bible or repeating the official position of the church on divorce, the pastor just gives relationship counselling - sympathising with the wife who talked to him first. Eventually the wife does divorce her husband and the pastor fails to speak up against it.

* HOMOSEXUALITY COUNSELLING: A generally mixed up young lesbian comes to a church counsellor for help. Instead of using the Bible to challenge the girl to repent of her sexual sin and to change, the counsellor just listens and affirms her (in accordance with the methods mostly taught at universities). The lesbian has found some clever arguments twisting the Bible to defend homosexuality on the internet and repeats these to the counsellor. Instead of saying that this is error, the counsellor just tells the girl how clever she is. When challenged, the counsellor claims she is opposed to homosexuality. Nevertheless, it is emotional feelings and not the Bible which come out in the counselling.

* CHURCH DISCIPLINE: A senior pastor commits adultery. He pleads for mercy and argues that public exposure will damage his marriage. His associate pastors, ignoring the Bible's standards on eldership and procedures for disciplining leaders (1 Timothy 5:20), feel sorry for him and decide not to inform the congregation. They give him private marriage counselling instead. Those doing the discipline ignore the Word of God and the numerous sheep who will be harmed by the ungodly pastor. They are blinded by personal relationship and feelings for the one they are close to. He does it again and the church backslides.

* DOCTRINAL DISPUTES:
- A false teacher, Graeme Codrington publishes an article teaching the heresy that it is acceptable for a Christian to practice homosexuality. Biblical Baptists strongly speak up against this. The denomination condemns the false teaching and takes steps to ensure such views are not published again. Nevertheless, postmodern pastors say they disagree with the false teaching but instead of speaking up against it, they attack the Biblical Christians saying that they have hurt the feelings of the false teacher and those who published the false teaching.
- This is also what happened when postmodernist Rob Bell published his infamous book on hell 'Love Wins', claiming that everyone would get a second change to go to heaven after death. Bell argues from sentimentality that God would never do something so nasty as send someone to eternal punishment. Brian McLaren doesn't defend Rob Bells logic, but just continues the sentimental argument that Rob Bell is his friend and that he has a duty to protect his friend and tries to throw doubt on the logical arguments of Albert Mohler against this.

* WHISTLEBLOWING A SCANDAL: There is a scandal in a church. Someone attempts to bring the truth to the congregation following Matthew 18 process. Nevertheless, the church authorities, re-frame the scandal as a personal relational issue. They ignore the scandal and say that the whistleblower must now reconcile with those he is exposing. When the whistleblower continues to blow the whistle, he is victimised for failing to reconciled.

* LEWDNESS: A professing Christian publishes a lewd photograph on the internet. A Biblical Christian asks him to remove it. A postmodern pastor, instead of supporting the biblical Christian and telling the publisher that this was wrong, instead complains that the Biblical Christian has now caused emotional upset and harmed relationship. Thus by this new feelings-based interpretation, the pro-moral person is the one mostly in the wrong.

* ABORTION: Instead of considering issues like the teaching of the Bible and the Sanctity of human life as it relates to abortion, postmodern Christians look at it from a feelings angle. They don't know the feelings of the unborn child - so that is ignored. They consider the feelings of the woman with an unwanted pregnancy and the feelings of the secular media. From this angle, pro-life protesters are hurting the feelings of women who have had abortions or are considering killing their babies. Do they win the fight on grounds of logic? No. On logic they would lose, but on sentimentality - the person who is seen trumps the person who is unseen. Given the sentimental thinking of the public, pro-lifers respond by trying to profile cute pictures of the unborn in the womb - to pull back some public sympathy - or use harsh pictures of aborted babies. Then they are attacked by the other side for being too harsh. Nevertheless, logic, truth and the Bible have been thrown to the wind and sidelined out of the debate.

A slogan used to promote this attitude is 'Follow your heart and not your head'. It is not in the Bible. Its plain foolish and unbiblical. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).

And one could give a hundred more examples following the same pattern. If your church is not very focused on Biblical truth, probably you will also find this kind of thing going on behind the scenes.

The problem with all of these examples is that the people just evade argument based on truth and the Bible as a standard for truth - while concentrating on feelings and immediate personal relationships. The result is favouritism (forbidden by James 2), where there is no objective justice or investigation of the truth. Those who have personal relationships with powerful people are favoured and those who don't lose out. The Bible is sidelined in favour of personal feelings.

This is not a minor trend or the action of a few postmodernist extremists. Most of the evangelical church has already gone this way, even if it is officially still evangelical. Only a minority are resisting it.

Really such an approach does not help personal emotions or relationships except in the very short term. In the long term, relationships and feelings are trashed on a large scale due to ignoring the teaching of the Bible, God's judgement and the natural result of cause and effect.

WORLD WAR TWO IS DIFFERENT

To win a war, one has to recognise the tactics being used by the enemy. After World War One, which was fought mostly in trenches, France prepared a line of defences against a future similar war. There never was another similar war. World War Two was different. Armoured tanks over-ran Frances Maginot Line defences in days. They were useless. In the same way, the battle for the Bible has changed. We cannot fight it the way it was fought in the last generation. We will lose if we try. We have to see the opposition is using different tactics. So many are claiming to be biblical Christians, while they are actually 'feelings-based' rather than 'Bible-based'. We have to recognise these tactics, recognise the enemy pretending to be biblical, expose them and fight back.

Postmodernists are mostly refusing to engage in logical debate based on the Bible. When cornered as obviously unbiblical, they just argue the other side is causing relational and emotional pain. The reality is that the fight for truth always has and always will cause pain. We can try our best to minimise this, but unless we want to just give up and lose the fight, there will always be pain in such conflicts.

'Feelings-based' Christians leaders who claim to be biblical need to be steered back to the Bible. Those who won't change need to be weeded out of Christian leadership. Lets remind people to follow the Bible first and feelings after that.