Thursday, October 13, 2011



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.


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

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

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.


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.


* 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



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.

- 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.


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.

Thursday, September 1, 2011



Throughout the Western world since about the 1950s our culture has been getting progressively cruder. There used to be certain subjects, images and words which most people thought were unacceptable in public. What used to be found only in seedy magazines now appears on billboard advertising. In the old days, if a broadcaster swore on air, he would be fired immediately. There were always people who crossed such boundaries, but in polite company among professionals and especially in the church, certain things were out of bounds. If such things were ever spoken about or seen it would be in the context of the utmost care and caution.

The ‘Emerging Church’ is an attempt by Christian leaders to respond to our ‘Emerging Culture’, mostly by adapting Christianity to fit in with the direction of popular culture. There are different streams within this movement. One stream has focused on trying to accommodate Postmodern ideas. Another stream of the Emerging Church, calling itself ‘Emerging, but not Emergent’ however rejects Postmodernism as doctrinally unorthodox, but often follows the cultural trend towards crudeness.

Many Christians will at times say something, they realise later was a mistake, and may utter some embarrassed apology ‘I shouldn’t have said that’. But these Christian leaders are not embarrassed. Instead they have an idea that to be coarse is to be cool. That somehow they can win over today’s youth, if they can swear like them, talk about the same coarse movies and immoral actors they watch, and tell almost as crude jokes. They think those who disagree with such coarseness are legalistic and old fashioned. Some of these leaders come from overly strict ‘fundamentalist’ backgrounds and have taken a pendulum swing in the opposite direction. Other younger pastors have grown up with a crude culture and think it is acceptable for a Christian.

This ‘crude’ attitude then filters into all aspects of church life: trampling on what was formerly considered ‘holy ground’. Jokes and flippant statements about God and sexuality become acceptable in church. For example, a preacher thinks that if his congregation is a bit asleep, he can wake them up by cracking some joke with sexual undertones, making fun of spiritual things or using language formerly considered unacceptable in polite company.


Unconverted persons slip into church, telling crude jokes or behaving in a crude manner – but instead of being urged to holiness, the hyper ‘seeker sensitive’ evangelism strategy believes one needs to lower the standards in the church to accommodate such people. Particularly, in youth groups, unconverted people are welcomed in without needing to adapt to even outward Christian standards of holiness. This then lowers the standard of what acceptable for Christian youth as well. This is a very risky and unbiblical strategy of evangelism, more likely to corrupt the church than win sinners to Christ. Rather unbelievers should be attracted by young people charged with zeal for Christ and the message of the gospel.


While just about every glossy magazine offers ‘sex advice’, some pastors think they can sell Christianity by offering competing ‘sex advice’. While there may be some teaching on sex in the scriptures, this is usually given in very guarded and euphemistic language, for example 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. There are many good reasons for this. Sex is a sacred subject meant for the privacy of the marriage bedroom. Churches have a lot of unmarried people. Inappropriate talk on sex can provoke illegitimate desire. Keeping sex special means not talking about it everywhere else. Some other young ‘postmodern’ preachers don’t joke, but try to shock their congregations by using crude or sexually explicit words in church, which maybe make them seem more ‘hip with the culture’ than their young followers.

Related to such flippancy about sexuality with words is a casual attitude towards modesty with the body. Many youth part of this new church culture simply don’t see a problem with viewing nudity on television or movies – nor in this state of numbness about immodesty - with lewdly exposing themselves even when members of the opposite sex may see them. Please see my previous article on ‘nudity’ for a rebuttal of this view.


Similarly, jokes about God and spiritual things in church can easily stray into blasphemy. We are meant to reverence God – not make jokes about him. Granted, there may be a few ‘spiritual jokes’ which are legitimate, but one needs to be careful that such joking does not undermine the gravity of spiritual truth such as people’s eternal destiny in heaven or hell, the moral boundaries of sin or the person of God. People who make such jokes need to be very careful that they are not offending God in the process. But the new attitude is as though God doesn’t care, isn’t going to get offended and that any caution is equated to legalism. God can judge a church that doesn’t respect him in many ways, and the most common way is that the Holy Spirit simply withdraws.


One of the worlds most listened to preachers, considered an expert on reaching ‘youth culture’, is offering sexual advice on the internet – with the apparent philosophy that just about anything is permitted provided it is within marriage. And this crude and foolish advice on sexual experimentation in marriage is videoed in the context of an open church meeting. His web site links to other sites offering even more unwise sex advice.


The Bible says we should avoid coarseness: Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Yes, we can joke and be funny and tell jokes about all sorts of common things, but we should be careful not to joke about the holy and the unclean. The holy we are to respect and seek after. The unclean we are to detest, avoid and not dwell on. Neither the holy nor the unclean should be the subject of jokes.

Joking is often a way people break down barriers. In many contexts that is good and helpful. But we need some barriers. When people joke about sin, they undermine barriers to sin. When people joke about homosexuality or people having affairs, they increase the risks of such sin – and joking often provides a cover for the initial stages of sinful relationships.

While under the New Covenant we do have access to God through a new and living way Jesus has opened for us (Hebrews 10:20), God has provided a very specific route for us to meet with him – through identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus, by various means such as participation in holy communion, repentance of our specific sins and faith in his forgiveness and cleansing by his blood. That specific route does not mean that people who are unrepentant towards their sin and irreverent towards God can simply joke their way into intimacy with God. Such people deceive themselves. God is not meeting them at church.

In the past there was a debate on dress code at church. Some older folk thought you needed to wear a tie to church to show you respected God. This focus on externals is not relevant to worship unless it actually does reflect the attitude of the heart. But the words people say do let out what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34) and a coarse attitude towards sexuality, sin and the holy things of God does not reflect a right heart attitude.


* The Bible promotes modesty which applies to the display of our physical bodies and our wealth (1 Corinthians 12:22; 1 Timothy 2:9)

* The Bible gives numerous examples of people who fell under divine judgment for failing to show adequate respect to God in worship. Nathan and Abihu, priest (Numbers 3:4) and Uzzah (1 Chronicles 13:9) were struck dead. King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:19) was struck with a skin disease. These are lessons we should learn from not to do the same.

* Our Hollywood popular over-sexed and blasphemous media culture is seriously toxic to Christian holiness. We should not try to reintroduce the legalism of ‘all movies are of the devil’, but we must use wisdom in managing our exposure to toxic entertainment and sin – otherwise it will numb our boundaries. Pastors who feel they need to keep up with such popular toxic entertainment culture, put themselves at risk and also those who follow them.

* All historic revivals have taken place in the context of conviction of sin, fear and reverence for God and acknowledging the difference between the holy and the unclean. None have ever taken place in the context of joking about sin and the holy things of God. Such compromise with crudeness may fill churches with young people who like it and think their pastor is ‘cool’, but we cannot expect true revival in churches where such an attitude prevails.


If you haven’t encountered this problem. Good. You are probably blessed by being in a healthy church. But if your church or people in it are following any of this new trend of crudeness, please show this article to such people as well as your pastor and home group leaders. If however, your church continues with this trend, you may consider moving elsewhere.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Please support ChristianView Network financially,


12 August 2011


In the 1980s there was a revolution in church worship music unprecedented in 2000 years of church history. Prior to this date, worship song lyrics were almost all composed by pastors and the songs sung in church were selected by pastors. Martin Luther, for example, used song writing as a vehicle to promote reformation of the church and help people remember what he taught. But in the decades before the 1980s there had been a stagnation in worship music. Most churches were still mostly using songs with lyrics and tunes one or two hundred years old - as many also still used the King James Bible - which younger people had difficulty relating to. In the 1970s a few newer songs started drifting in along with the use of guitars instead of church organs - causing much controversy. One side thought guitars were of the devil, while some younger people felt the same about organs. In the 1980s, the old hymn books started to be thrown out and were replaced with up to date tunes and lyrics mostly composed by young musicians in their 20s with little theological training. Newer churches quickly embraced the change, while many older churches fought bitter 'worship wars' - sometimes having different services with different styles. By our decade most churches have made the shift to contemporary lyrics and tunes. Nevertheless, many complain we have lost something in the process. Most of the newer songs have a very narrow set of themes and lack the theological depth and breadth of the old hymns. Most focus on the personal emotional relationship of the worshipper with God. That is a valid Bible worship theme, but it is not the only valid Bible worship theme. The Psalms, our model for worship, have a much wider range of themes. At the same time, the Christian commercial music industry took control of church music. They promoted most whatever sold best rather than chosing songs for their scriptural educational quality as pastors tried to do before this. Young worship lyrics writers copied the styles of whatever sold best, producing more and more of the same narrow set of best selling popular themes. But are the Psalms popular themes? A lot of them are actually on very unpopular themes of repentance for sins of both individuals and the nation as a whole. Many are about the wrath of God and punishment of the wicked - not so popular today. But this is the spirtual food that people need, but are not always going to want to listen to as background music in their car. To their credit, some Christian musicians have taken old hymns and updated their tunes - creating a good combination of theological depth and popular style. The rising ideology of postmodernism has also favoured songs with a focus on personal emotional feelings for God and a neglect of other themes - such as the greatness of God and the wrath of God.

Why does this matter to Christian activism? Because worship music is an educator as much as preaching is an educator - and Christians with a narrow focus on emotional personal relationship with God will also likely have a narrow focus in their prayers and influence on society. Worship and service are indivisible. Service needs to flow out of our worship, just as Isaiah was motivated to preach an unpopular message to Israel (Isaiah 6) after a greater revelation of the holiness of God in worship.

In 1996, in frustration at the theological narrowness of the new worship lyrics, a group of the worlds most respected Bible scholars published "The Cambridge Declaration", calling for amongst other things a return to pastoral control of church music "Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness..."

But some will say, most of these theologians are from a traditional Reformed camp. Nevertheless, Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world's largest church in Korea, Pentecostal has expressed the same concern - and encouraged the singing of older hymns with modern songs to compensate their theological narrowness.

Unfortunately, the Christian music industry which controls most Christian music ignored this call - as did most pastors - who continued to surrender their authority over church worship lyrics to young mostly theologically uneducated church musicians who would thus attract youth to church. Christian radio tend to play songs based on popularity based on sales figures from the commercial music publishers and from listener requests rather than the need to select for theological breadth. Thus, the cultural update to worship music has continued and resulted in a theological narrowing and downgrade of worship music lyrics. Many of todays church youth only know the new lyric themes and don't know what they are missing.

For many years, Hugh Wetmore, a board member of ChristianView Network, former leader of the Evangelical Fellowship of South Africa has been emailing me worship songs he has composed on a broad range of themes. They have often been an encouragement and inspiration to me. Recently he has published these in a book "Lyrics to lift your life" which includes a very wide range of topics and theological depth. Each is indexed by topic. In addition to songs in the usual categories of the Life of Christ from His Incarnation to His Return and major Biblical Doctrines, less usual themes include: The Ten Commandments’, ‘Creation vs Evolution’, ‘Work’, ‘Protection while traveling internationally’, ‘Refugees’, ‘Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents’, ‘Xenophobia’, ‘21st Century Culture’ and ‘South African Context’. Songs about the human condition: ‘Loneliness’, ‘Stress’, ‘Poverty’ and ‘Hunger’ ~ in addition to the usual and necessary themes of ‘Lostness’ and ‘Repentance/Faith’, ‘The Church Growth Song”, “The Inside-Out Church”, “The Suffering Song” and “The Identity Song”.

"Lyrics to Lift your Life" is available (R80.00 + R8 pack+post) from the author-publisher, Hugh G Wetmore 109 Beacon Hill, 32 Roberts Rd, Pietermaritzburg 3201, South Africa. Tel/Fax +27(0)33 3429012. email: The songs are also available with musical score, as backing tracks and on audio mp3 CDs (as a set of 13 CDs). Why not order one for your church?

My hope is that some young talented musicians will take these broad and theologically deep lyrics and make them popular - and also follow Hugh's example in composing more worship songs of similar theological depth and breadth. An example of a song on a pro-life theme is given below - you can also sing it at your next pro-life protest against abortion and help save babies lives.

The 1980s church music revolution was good in that it brought a new generation of youth into the church with tunes they enjoyed, but problematic in that it narrowed the depth and breadth of their worship music and took authority over music away from pastors to the less biblically knowledgable young musicians and radio DJs. I don't want to slam the commercial Christian music industry. I appreciate them and my spiritual life has been hugely helped by commercially published music. I have a big collection of such music and listen to it all the time. We do however need to take action to broaden and deepen the theological content of and selection songs - and commercial popularity charts will not do that for us.

One of my personal worship solutions has been to rip my collection to mp3 and then create my own compilations of the best songs to listen to in my car, my private worship and on my mp3 player, which I believe include a more balanced selection. I also love the CDs with old hymns set to new tunes. So to the pastors out there - please don't be over awed by the popularity of certain music and by the greater musical ability of musicians in your congregation - the tunes are the musicians responsibility, but the choice of lyrics has a teaching function and thus is a pastoral responsibilty.

I would recommend also that every commercial music company and radio station employ a theologically educated pastor as a consultant to review their music lyric selection to ensure a breadth of theological themes. Possibly larger companies should have a theological review board to review the publishing selection and give feedback to songwriters. I would recommend every young songwriter who does not have a strong bible knowledge sends his songs for review to someone who does before publication. Let us promote a reformation of worship music to broaden the teaching content of music and put the selection of songs out of the hands of young musicians, commercial companies and young radio DJ's and back in the hands of pastors - who choose songs with lyrics to feed the flock a Biblically balanced diet.

And don't forget - Hugh Wetmore's "Lyrics to Lift your Life" song book is available (R80.00 + R8 pack+post) from the author-publisher, Hugh G Wetmore 109 Beacon Hill, 32 Roberts Rd, Pietermaritzburg 3201, South Africa. Tel/Fax +27(0)33 3429012. email:

Please forward this email to your pastor and music worship leader.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal



God of Justice, God of Love,
twin these virtues from above,
form them in this world below,
that all people soon will show
justice, love to all.

Justice for the innocent,
killed without their own consent,
taken from their mother’s womb,
taken from their cosy home,
justice is denied.

Love for helpless humankind,
all their rights now undermined.
Adult power is cruel and wild
When it’s used against a child ~
love evaporates.

God of Justice, God of Love,
You in Christ came from above.
Mary had the courage to
see her pregnancy right through ~
Loving Justice won!

Words: Hugh G Wetmore (c) 2003
Metre: 77775


ChristianView Network
Tel/fax: +2721 6854500
Mobile: +2782 6768966
Mail: Postnet 114, P/Bag X18, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa


Thursday, April 21, 2011


21 April 2011


This month, April 2011 both English and Xhosa speaking Christians face a crisis: Can we still trust our favourite Bible? Tomorrow, warehouses are set to release a revised 2011 translation of the popular New International Version.

Until this month, all Xhosa Bibles printed by the Bible society had a red edge. This morning, I watched a Xhosa man walk to the counter of a Christian bookshop and ask for a Bible. The shopkeeper offered him the new Xhosa Bible. He rejected it, asking for a red edged one. The shopkeeper showed him a red edged one to compare with - saying the two had the same text inside. The Xhosa man asked to buy the red one. When told it was not for sale, but only for comparison, the Xhosa man walked out of the shop. He trusted the red edged Bible he had always known and didn't trust the new plain one. The shopkeeper was angry with the Bible society at changing the rim colour, saying they had lost thousands of rands in sales this month.

We all want a Bible translation we can trust. Most of us are not Bible scholars, but we all want a translation we can both trust and understand. We want a translation that isn't biased with some particular groups theological opinion, but just simply translates what it says in the original. That was the reason why in the 1970s, the International Bible Society set about the project of the New International Version. By including scholars from countries all over the world and from the widest ever spectrum of denominations, they hoped to debate and agree on a translation that would remove cultural and theological translation bias. The resulting New International Version (NIV) became and remained the worlds most popular Bible among English speaking Evangelicals, also bringing enormous profits to its publisher Zondervan. Minor corrections were made to the translation in 1984. In 1987, Zondervan, the leading Evangelical publisher was bought by Harper Collins, a secular publisher. At first, nothing changed. At first, Zondervan continued to publish only orthodox conservative evangelical books.

In 1997, however, Christian leaders and theologians were distressed to hear that a politically correct/'gender neutral'/feminist update translation was being planned for the NIV. James Dobson, concerned about the implications for the family, convened a meeting between the team responsible for the NIV (the International Bible society, the Committee on Bible Translation, and Zondervan). Concerned theologians present included John Piper, Wayne Grudem and RC Sproul. At the meeting, the NIV team promised to scrap plans for a 'gender neutral' update to the NIV. (See The whole group then agreed to a set of principles called the 'Colorado Springs Guidelines' for translation of gender in the Bible. These principles were then endorsed by a further list of Christian leaders who read like a 'whos who' of American Christian leaders of the time. ( ) The principles in plain English are that we should translate what it says in the original and not try to change that.

Nevertheless, the NIV team then broke this promise by continuing to secretly re-translate the NIV into 'gender neutral' language. When they had finished, just before the publication of the update version called Todays New International Version (TNIV) in 2002, they then sent a letter to those in the original meeting to say that they had changed their minds. The Christian public were not impressed. Hardly anyone bought the TNIV and it flopped. The public continued to demand the original authentically translated 1984 NIV. Angry Christians posted back their copies of the NIV to Zondervan in protest.

At the same time, the neo-liberal postmodern Emerging Church movement rose to prominence. The new Zondervan leadership, lacking the spiritual and Biblical motivation of their pious founder Mr Zondervan, began publishing numerous postmodern books. Much of the evangelical public, trusting the Zondervan label bought these books and thought they were Biblical. But under secular ownership, Zondervan abandoned its faithfulness to the Bible and deceived hundreds of thousands of Christians by publishing postmodern authors like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, and Doug Pagitt under an evangelical imprint.

Theological scholars attacked the false-translations in the TNIV. One of the problems was that in many places singulars were changed to plurals to avoid giving the gender. For example,'him' became 'them'. This pluralisation detracted from the element of personal relationship of us and God. The NIV team, then responded to this criticism, by re-editing the TNIV to change many of the most offensive mis-translations in a new version called the '2011 NIV'. So now for example, with the well know verse Revelation 3:20, in the current (1984) NIV, Jesus says: "... If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."; in the 2011 NIV, Jesus says: "...If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

Anyone who reads the current NIV can see that this sentence is 'masculine general' i.e. meant to refer to both men and women. But in other cases it is debatable and the meanings are subtle. For example, in many places the masculine assumes male leadership in the church, something that feminists evidently don't like. So, for example in James 3, while the 1984 NIV says "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers...", 2011 NIV says "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers..."

In other places, the Old Testament refers to the 'Son of Man' or the 'righteous man' alluding to Christ. Surely the reader should be allowed to decide for himself what it means and not have this meaning edited out by a feminist translator? Theologian Wayne Grudem explains these issues in more detail in

Have you every been irritated with someone trying to 'politically correct' you? How does the NIV team find the audacity to try to 'politically correct' Jesus Christ? Should we not rather listen to Jesus words and on this basis question the whole ideology of political correctness? Should we not rather be outraged that the NIV team are trying to politically correct God's Word?

Scholars are still studying the 2011 NIV to see exactly how many translation errors have been retained from the TNIV and how many have been corrected, but it is clear that it is full of errors . Initial studies show the 2011 NIV is much more similar to the error filled TNIV than the authentic 1984 NIV. Statistically, about a third of the verses are identical to the TNIV, but different to the 1984 NIV.

You can compare the two yourself online at In places, such as Genesis 1:27, the 2011 NIV compromises by changing 'man' to 'mankind' which the feminists would probably still not like. In Psalm 1:1, it changes 'Blessed is the man...' to 'Blessed is the one...' On the term 'Son of man', the 2011 NIV compromises by translating sometimes correctly as 'Son of man' and sometimes incorrectly as 'human being'. But then the meaning of allusion to Christ is sometimes lost. So sometimes the 2011 version translates accurately and sometimes gender neutral. But why should Bible translators decide what gender references reach the public and what gets edited out? Surely we have a right to decide for ourselves how the meaning should be interpreted (i.e. is it masculine general or is it gender specific)?

But apart from being plain inaccurate translation, I argue this is another part of a broad scale attempt to remove gender distinctives from our society - as if gender was meaningless and didn't matter. That is the underlying logic behind foolish decisions like legalising same-sex marriage and sending women soldiers with men into military combat situations in Iraq. This feminist ideology is also undermining male leadership in the family and the church. The Word of God is the light and sword we have correct such foolishness. But now the 'gender-neutral' Bible translators are trying to darken the light of the Word of God with their 'political correctness'. Will the Word of God be a light to the world or will worldly ideology be allowed to edit the Word of God?

Now the counter-argument is that this helps understanding. For a long time we have accepted certain edits forced by cultural knowledge. For example, the Sudanese Bible translates 'white as snow' as 'white as cotton', since the Sudanse mostly don't know what snow is but do know what cotton is - and there is no known special meaning connected here with snow that is lost. But does this gender neutral translation actually help understanding or is this just pandering to feminism?

But political interference in Bible translation isn't new. In fact the much loved King James Version was also interfered with by the non-Christian, homosexual King James who wanted to promote hierachical authority which he felt would be easier to control than the decentralised Puritan congregations who used the Geneva Bible. "Further, the King gave the translators instructions designed to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England. Certain Greek and Hebrew words were to be translated in a manner that reflected the traditional usage of the church. For example, old ecclesiastical words such as the word "church" were to be retained and not to be translated as "congregation". The new translation would reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and traditional beliefs about ordained clergy."

Whatever the translation and the era, we ordinary readers want a version that faithfully translates what the original says and doesn't try to push a political agenda. That is what the original NIV set out to do but the 2011 NIV sadly fails to do.

Thankfully, the NIV team has not changed any of the references to God as masculine, but other postmodern translators are busy working on a mis-translation that would change that too. The arguments used to defend the gender neutral translation could be used to defend that too. Will the NIV follow in another decade or two?

When Zondervan brought out the TNIV, the continued to publish the 1984 NIV. The Christian public rejected the TNIV and kept buying the real 1984 NIV. But now Zondervan is planning to stop publishing the current NIV. That means those of us who like the translation won't be able to buy it any more.

Today, I went and bought an extra copy of the current 1984 NIV, in case I won't be able to get it in future. In South Africa, the NIV distributors are Lux Verbi. Again, the same problem with Zondervan. Lux Verbi, which used to be the publishing arm of the Dutch Reformed Church, is now part of Naspers, a secular publisher. This is a dangerous situation. Naspers also publishes soft porn magazines Mens Health and FHM and owns Multichoice which was not long ago wanting to offer a porn channel on DSTV. How can the same company be publishing both the Word of God and porn? It would be helpful if some wealthy Christians were to buy back these Christian publishers Lux Verbi and Zondervan and put control back in Christian hands.

So, South African Xhosa readers can be reassured, they can still trust the Bible Society's Xhosa Bible even though it doesn't have a red edge, but bad news for English readers, the 2011 NIV is not the same as the 1984 NIV. Pastors should warn their churches, that the 2011 NIV is not reliable as was the 1984 NIV but not as bad as the TNIV. If the NIV stops publishing the 1984 NIV, you can instead buy the New King James Version, the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Version which are also reliable translations. Hopefully, if the NIV loses market share to these versions, the loss of profit will motivate the now secular-owned Zondervan to start publishing the real 1984 NIV again.

But no, I am not anti-the NIV. I love the NIV. I recommend the 1984 NIV. I read it every day and plan to continue. I hope it will continue to be published.

Please write and complain to Zondervan and Lux Verbi saying we want them to keep publishing the 1984 NIV and drop the 2011 NIV.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal

Friday, February 25, 2011


25 February 2010


Today, Christians around the world are giving thanks for the reported release of Said Musa, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity who had been sentenced to death unless he re-converted back to Islam. Turning to Christ in a country dominated by another religion is not safe. While at the University of Cape Town, I often shared the gospel with other students. Usually if they believed the gospel presentation, they would convert. If they did not, they would not convert. On one occasion, however, a Muslim student who we will call Achmed, listened closely as I read the scriptures on salvation, and after I read each he said that he believed it. So, when I had finished, I asked him whether he would like to receive Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord. "No" he replied. "Why?" I asked? "Because my family will disown me" he replied. So Achmed walked away from the gospel. Pained at this rejection of Christ, I called together some Christian friends to pray for Achmed's salvation. But before I could pray, one of them objected that he could not agree to pray. "Do you realise what will happen to him if he converts? Is it right to pray for someone to be thrown out of their family?" He asked. My confused Christian friend would not agree to pray for Achmed's salvation. What eventually happened to Achmed I don't know. I hope he eventually chose to follow Christ. But the cost of turning to Christ in some communities is not just the embarrassment of being called a 'Jesus freak'. It could cost your life or your family. Around the same time, Jewish student I knew who converted was thrown out of his home and went to stay with a Christian family. Many others have similar stories.

The question is: Is there an easier way? Do people from such backgrounds have to pay such a price? Can we get around such problems? For some time, postmodern Emerging Church leaders such as Brian McLaren have been promoting the idea that you can follow Christ and continue following another religion. For example, you can be a 'Muslim follower of Jesus' or a 'Buddhist follower of Christ'. We were used to crazy unbiblical ideas being suggested by McLaren and his postmodern pals and so most of us did not register too much surprise.

All that has changed this month, February 2011, with two shocking publications muddying the water of mainstream Evangelicalism. First, the Lausanne III 'Call to Action' (Part 2C,section4) reads "So called ‘insider movements’ are to be found within several religions. These are groups of people who are now following Jesus as their God and Saviour. They meet together in small groups for fellowship, teaching, worship and prayer centred around Jesus and the Bible while continuing to live socially and culturally within their birth communities, including some elements of its religious observance..." The Lausanne statement continues with a convoluted statement which acknowledges differences of opinion, but legitimises 'insider movements'. It downplays the risk of syncretism and portrays this postmodern trend as something that God is doing and discourages speaking against it. It fudges the issue of 'culture' versus 'religious observance'. What elements of 'religious observance' are acceptable and which are not is not properly defined. Lausanne III quotes scripture out of context in an attempt to justify such compromise by paralleling it with the Jerusalem council decision not to impose the whole Jewish law of Moses on Gentiles (Acts 15:19). The 'Insider movement' and the Lausanne statement, however is doing something quite different in accommodating continued non-Christian 'religious observance' that God has not commanded either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. While at first glance the Lausanne statement may appear neutral towards the insider movement, it really benefits an aberrant movement and protects it against opposition.

The statement is problematic in that it attempts to synthesise the views of two opposite camps in the Lausanne III discussion, which was actually divided on the issue. These opposite views can't be reconciled. You have to choose one or the other - and the drafting committee of this statement should not have tried to unite opposite views that can't actually be united. A tragic compromise with postmodernism in a mostly helpful document. Sadly it is not consistent with the excellent stand the same document takes against Postmodernism in (Part 2A, section2). It is also contradicts the Biblical teaching theme of the Lausanne III congress, presented by John Piper on the body of Christ based on the book of Ephesians.

Most Biblical Christians were asleep when postmodernists began inserting words like 'sexual orientation' and 'reproductive choice' into public policy documents. Today we pay the price as we see these words used to promote homosexual rights and abortion. In the same way, 'Insider movement' is a 'code word' for the postmodern missionary strategy which means a lot more than it seems to say.

What do they mean by 'religious observance'? Probably many of those who consented to the Lausanne III Call to action statement would take a conservative narrow interpretation such as Messianic Jews observing Jewish religious holidays. But we already know that postmodernists are taking a wide interpretation of it. Many such 'Insider movement' members for example believe in the prophethood of Mohammed, the authority of the Quran, live in obedience to Islamic law and make pilgrimage to Mecca, affirm the creeds of Islam and worship at Mosque. They just read the Bible and claim to follow Jesus as well. Some reinterpret Bible passages about Ishmael as giving legitimacy to Islam. Some downplay and evade Jesus being the Son of God. Certain 'insider' Jews deny they are Christians or part of the Christian church, but say they follow Jesus. These are radical shifts. This narrow meaning and broad meaning confusion is what happened with the postmodern words 'sexual orientation' and 'reproductive choice' remember? When first debated people didn't think it meant much, but there was a very big postmodern agenda being pushed through those few words.

In the 1920's most of the protestant missions organisations were hijacked by liberalism and money donated for the gospel got diverted to the promotion of general good works to help humanity, which left out Christ. Now the Postmodernists attempt to divert missionary effort to a new strategy which accommodates the religious culture of the target group to the point of distorting the gospel. World Missions is being undermined from within by hijacking of the structures of mainstream evangelicalism by postmodernism.

If this sounds alarmist, read the cover article in the February 2011 issue of the American Christianity Today 'The Son and the Crescent'. Postmodernists have published a new Bible translation for Muslims, which edits out the fact that Jesus is the Son of God on the basis that this offends Muslims! It translates 'Son of God' rather as "the Beloved Son who comes (or originates) from God." They claim Muslims prefer this version. That is not the point. The point is whether this is the true Word of God. No! It is not. It is dodging a central teaching of the Christian faith. It is undermining Christ's divinity. Every male in the world is a 'son' of someone. 'Come from God' can be taken in a metaphorical sense to be any prophet who is sent by God (and Muslims don't dispute that Jesus was a prophet). This is not just false teaching twisting scripture. They are actually publishing a false Bible and claiming it is a true one. It is plain fraud. Christianity Today has been publishing postmodern leaning articles for a while, but in writing a favourable article about this new fraudulent postmodern Bible, they take a tragic step into endorsing heresy. We can't just take an innocent 'conservative', 'narrow' interpretation of religious observance in Lausanne III - when the postmodern 'insider movement' is already showing its hand with this blatant blasphemy. Such a soft statement opens the door for compromise and heresy and that door needs to be closed.

This is no longer just an intellectual debate. What is at stake is the truth of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the definition of a Christian, the future and unity of evangelicalism, the orthodoxy of our largest evangelical institutions and the future of missions.


* Acceptance of the 'insider movement' opens the door for converts from all sorts of religious beliefs to continue practicing their old religion. There is already a problem in the Western culture, with confused postmodern converts e.g. from the New Age movement wanting to blend Christianity with New Age practices. This compromise will make such practices easier.

* An academic theory of missions has been developed at Fuller Seminary which rates the scale of cultural adaptation on a scale of 1-5. One means mild accommodation of the culture, while ‘5’ means ‘insider movement’ and functioning basically inside the structures of another religion. This theory has given the new movement some credibility. Nevertheless, it is argued that the ‘Insider movement’ is going much too far in accommodating culture.

* 'Insider movement' believers in many cases are trying to follow Christ without joining the church. But the church is the body of Christ. Jesus did not die to give us a 'Muslim body' and a 'Buddhist body'. There is only one body and we should all be so grateful to belong to it. It creates multiple identities of different types of Christian. There is only one body in Christ (Ephesians 4:4) and our identity should be in this body and not in a former religion.

* Postmodern 'Insider missionaries' claim to have great success and large numbers of conversions to justify their new strategy. Orthodox evangelical missionaries dispute this claim. In many cases, they say that those 'Insider missionaries' count as converts are not true believers but are just interested Muslims who have never even being challenged properly to convert.

* Many of us are familiar with the Messianic Jewish movement. That is people who are Jewish by race but believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. I am such a Messianic Jew. Some Messianic Jews form congregations which meet on Fridays and celebrate Jewish holidays. Is this wrong? No. There is nothing in the Bible against it. But some of these people take this to an extreme and say that they are not Christians at all, but Jews. They don't identify at all with the rest of the body of Christ and keep their identity totally Jewish - and separate from Gentile Christians. That is not biblical. It is wrong. Our identity in Christ and the wider body of Christ, the church must come first before our culture. This latter group of extremists are part of the 'Insider movement'. That was a development which the apostle Paul viciously attacked in the book of Galatians (2:12-13). Paul had no issue with limited accommodation of Jewish culture to help win people to Christ (e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:20) but he had a major issue with taking on the symbols of that religion to avoid persecution (Galatians 6:12).

* Baptism is meant as a public marker to separate the new convert from his old religious belief. This has always caused massive controversy throughout the world and sparked major persecution. It symbolises death to the old life and a resurrection into the new. Baptism was Jesus idea - not ours. A Christian is a new man. You can't get more different than that. We must accept this is a central part of our faith and it will offend many of the old religion.

* The 'Insider movement' and the Lausanne statement's condoning of it threaten the definition of Christianity. Evangelicalism was a narrow subset of the broader visible institutional church. It for example excluded the Chinese state controlled 'Three self church', the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Liberal protestant denominations. But so called 'insiders' who continue substantially as part of other religious beliefs and in many cases don't even identify themselves was Christians. It blurs the boundaries and rubbishes the point of a limited Statement of faith.

* Even orthodox evangelical churches struggle with the problem of unbelieving churchgoers who outwardly profess Christianity but are not true followers of Christ. Taking away the outward boundary markers of Christianity will make this question even harder to determine.

* This movement is diverting resources away from gospel centred missions and in places spreading a false and heretical Bible. It needs to be stopped.

* The 'insider strategy' of trying to lead Muslims to Christ by quoting them verses from the Quran implicitly gives the Quran authority. If one does not believe the Quran is from God then is this not misleading and deceptive and likely to confuse the new convert?

* There is always the risk that those who are trying to reach out to a particular other group of people reach too far and then start to accept some of the false beliefs of that other group. They start off with misleading advertising and then start to believe their own advertising. This also happens for example in the pro-life movement with people trying to reach out to those considering abortion or feminists or whatever. They can start of using the rhetoric of the other side then end up compromising their own beliefs and eventually deny that they themselves are pro-life. We are influenced by the people around us which is why God has given us the institution of the church to protect us.


* Historically, there have been times when whole Christian communities have been forced to convert to Islam or face death or some other severe penalty. Tragically many did compromise and agree to become outward Muslims by saying a Muslim creed, while continuing quietly to practice Christianity. Those communities have vanished because their children have abandoned Christianity altogether to become real Muslims. The same is likely to happen to the children of 'Insider Muslims'.

* The Israeli secret service attempted to infiltrate the Muslim community by sending Jewish spies to train as Imams. The strategy backfired, when many of these Imam's succumbed to social pressure to marry and raised Muslim children. This caused massive confusion and heartache for all. The lesson is that social pressure in such communities is enormous and confusions of identity are very painful.

* There is no time ever in the history of the Church when so-called 'insider movements' have been accepted as a part of orthodox mainstream biblical Christianity. Insiders claim and the Lausanne III statement implies that God is now doing something new which we should accept. If this is such a good idea, then why did God wait 2000 years to reveal this new idea to the church? And why has respected orthodox Bible believing theologian or Statement of faith ever seen Biblical justification for it before? Answer: Because it is unbiblical.

* Syncretism (mixing of religions) has been a major problem throughout the whole history of the Bible and of Christian missions. The Lausanne III statement foolishly downplays that danger. We have to fight to keep Christianity pure. It is not going to stay that way by default. In South Africa we have millions of so-called 'Zionist' Christians who mix witchcraft and belief in ancestors with Christianity. This is not biblical. And it is a constant battle for mainstream denominations throughout Africa to stop such mixing of beliefs. The same is found in South America, where local ancient pagan gods were just adapted to become catholic saints and still worshipped in the same way they always had been. Ancient Israel had to battle with the influence of Canaanite idols throughout their history. It is not helpful for Lausanne III to issue a statement downplaying this danger. A risk is that the current postmodern missionary strategy of reaching Islam will spawn a new hybrid religion of 'Chrislam'.


The Lausanne III statement is counter-productive in dealing with a new postmodern "insider movement' strategy of missions. It threatens the definition of Christianity. The Lausanne III drafting committee should withdraw this clause. Biblical missiologists and theologians need to apply their minds to this issue and come up with a more biblical statement response. The blog, is starting this process.

Please register your objection to the Lausanne III Cape Town Commitment (Part 2C,section4) paragraph on 'insider movements' at: and ask them to withdraw it.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal


Christianity Today Magazine spreads confusion on the doctrine of the Son of God.

Lausanne 'Call to Action' text on the insider movement.

Afghan convert to Christ released

Recommended resource on the insider movement:


For those who read my previous article on the Lausanne III Congress,, I am sorry, on publication, I looked for the section on Postmodernism and was encouraged by it, while skim reading the rest of the document which is in this instance self-contradictory. Most of the document is very good and helpful but there are problems and I believe this is the most serious. The Lausanne III Call to Action is a very long document in contrast to the much shorter Lausanne I & II documents. The longer the document, the harder it is for everyone to check it carefully for problems. After seeing this problem, I took time to research the issue and discuss with others before responding with this article, which is the reason for the delayed response. I wish I could wholeheartedly endorse the Lausanne III Call to Action. Unfortunately I cannot. To be silent I believe I would be an unfaithful watchman (Isaiah 56:10). However unpopular it might make me, I must sound an alarm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011



This week, the Lausanne Congress released the final version of 'The Cape Town Commitment: Call to action' The first part (previously released) is a general evangelical Statement of Faith. The second part (released this week) is a call to action based on the discussions leading up to and during the Lausanne Congress held in Cape Town in October 2010. What is significant is that the first article explicitly speaks up against Postmodernism as follows:

"Cultural and religious plurality is a fact and Christians in Asia, for example, have lived with it for centuries. Different religions each affirm that theirs is the way of truth. Most will seek to respect competing truth claims of other faiths and live alongside them. However postmodern, relativist pluralism is different. Its ideology allows for no absolute or universal truth. While tolerating truth claims, it views them as no more than cultural constructs. (This position is logically self-destroying for it affirms as a single absolute truth that there is no single absolute truth.) Such pluralism asserts ‘tolerance’ as an ultimate value, but it can take oppressive forms in countries where secularism or aggressive atheism govern the public arena.

A) We long to see greater commitment to the hard work of robust apologetics. This must be at two levels.
1. We need to identify, equip and pray for those who can engage at the highest intellectual and public level in arguing for and defending biblical truth in the public arena.
2. We urge Church leaders and pastors to equip all believers with the courage and the tools to relate the truth with prophetic relevance to everyday public conversation, and so to engage every aspect of the culture we live in."


* Firstly, because Evangelical Christianity has been under severe and sustained attack from those who wish to compromise and synthesize Christianity with Postmodernism (called the Emerging Church movement) instead of fighting back against it. Some of our largest Evangelical institutions including for example Zondervan Publishers, many denominations and seminaries have been compromising. These compromisers threaten to destroy the very definition of Biblical evangelical Christianity.

* Secondly, because the Lausanne Congress is the single largest and most influential institution in Evangelical Christianity in the world today. Unlike many other institutions which misleadingly claim the title 'international', it has representatives from all over the world (except for those under persecution whose governments prevented their citizens from participating).

* Thirdly, because the statement is explicit. Unlike many other public statements, it does not beat about the bush. Postmodernism is identified as false, illogical, misleading, a negative influence a threat to Evangelical Christianity and religious freedom.

* Fourthly, because it proposes sensible measures for churches to fight back against postmodernism by identifying, equipping and praying for leaders who can argue against it in the public arena and in educating all believers with the skills to debate against it. ('Apologetics' means defending the gospel against attack). In this context it means defending the truth against the false teaching of Postmodernism.

* Fifthly, because combating Postmodernism in the church in the Western World will greatly assist the forward progress of world evangelism (the principal goal of the Lausanne Congress) and the persecuted church. Read why here: (This article I submitted to the planning sessions of the Lausanne Congress in 2008, encouraging them to make a statement against postmodernism - which is what they have done).

* Sixthly, because they put the call to action to defend the truth against Postmodernism first in the practical part of the document their 'call to action', recognising the central importance of the fight against Postmodernism to the defence and advance of Christianity in the Western World.

* Seventh, because it affirms the definition of Evangelicalism and draws a new boundary. Mainline evangelical Protestantism in the Western World has been destroyed through compromise and accommodation of the ideology of Modernist liberalism. Evangelical Protestantism was then renamed 'Evangelicalism' by those who wanted a description of their beliefs that had real meaning. The meaning of Evangelicalism was being eroded by accommodation of Postmodern liberalism. Old statements faith were not capturing this issue. Now the boundaries have been redrawn to exclude Postmodernism.

Let us build on this victory and see that the 'Lausanne Congress Cape Town Call to Action' against Postmodernism is heeded on the ground!


* Please give this to your pastor and the elders of your church or the leader of your Christian organisation. Forward it by email or print out this email and give it to him. Encourage him to implement this recommendation and educate his congregation against Postmodernism. He can find resources to do so at:
* Thank God for this great victory!
* Pray for any Christian institutions you may be a member of that they will be protected from Postmodern influence.
* Encourage your church and any institution you are a part of to publicise the above clause from the Lausanne Call to Action. Read it out in church or at your leaders meeting.

Let us heed this call and defend the church against Postmodernism.

Post your comments here:

Yours sincerely

Philip Rosenthal