Friday, September 29, 2006

More book reviews and book comparisons...

I have managed to finish book reviews of all the major books on the Purpose Driven paradigm. They are here as follows:

Redefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven movement by Bob DeWaay

Who's Driving the Purpose Driven Church? A Documentary on the Teachings of Rick Warren by James Sundquist

(E-book available as PDF here) In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity by Tamara Hartzell

Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church by Warren Smith

And here is a chart comparing the different books written so far on the Purpose Driven movement:

Criteria\ BooksRedefining ChristianityWho's Driving the Purpose Driven Church?In the Name of PurposeDeceived on PurposeDriven Away by Purpose
Author:Bob DeWaayJames SundquistTamara HartzellWarren SmithDaniel Chew
Ratings:
Scholarship:107 68Obviously, I don't rate my own book!
Information content: 10987
Spiritual content: 1087+9
Overall rating: 10878+
Strengths:
  • Exposes transformation of Christianity and the redefinition of the Church in the Purpose Driven Movement
  • Emphasize the importance of doctrine
  • Exposes dangers of psychology, especially those promoted in the Purpose Driven paradigm
  • Exposes the ecumenical, interfaith compromise which is infecting the churches through the Purpose Driven movement
  • Exposes the New Age teachings and tendencies in the PDL and the Purpose Driven Movement
  • Expose misusage, misquotation and usage of mistranslations of the Bible
  • Expose alteration of the Gospel in the Purpose Driven preaching
  • Expose Warren's Arminianism and thus the Arminianism present in the Purpose Driven movement
  • Expose the practical compromise in e.g. the irreverence towards God found in the Purpose Driven Movement due to their Armininism
  • Expose various other compromises in the Purpose Driven movement, including their unbiblical view of unity
  • Refutation of Abanes' Apology for Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement.

Book Review of Redefining Christianity by Pastor Bob DeWaay

Oh well, to balance off the negative review of the previous book, here is an excellent book by Pastor Bob DeWaay on the Purpose Driven movement entitled Redefining Christianity. I find his book especially good when it critiques the Purpose Driven movement. As a pastor, you can feel his love for the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ through this book, which concludes with a short letter written by him calling on Rick Warren to repent (which I seriously doubt he will). Anyway, for those who want to know more about the Purpose Driven movement, both critics and supporters alike, do get this book. If there is only one book you can get on this topic, this book is highly recommanded, of course together with my upcoiming book. (Sales pitch =P)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just for those who don't have an idea ...

For those sheltered folks out there, here is one window opening into the Christian world, in modern-day American Evangelism, where you can see and perhaps better comprehend the madness in this present age of which the wounded flock are coming out of. Meet Napervilles Baptist Church, the latest Disney church in town, with a series of sermons coming out on how to live the 'lives of great dreamers who dared to see beyond their present reality to reach their vision of a preferred future'. Almost all of these dreamers which they present, I would add, are non Christians.

Oh, and I would definitely recommand Slice of Laodicea for those who are interested to find out more about the things going on in contemporary Christendom.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Book Review of In the Name of Purpose by Tamara Hartzell

OK, I have finally done a book reivew of Tamara Hartzell's e-book In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity, which can be downloaded here, or, if you want to read it online in html format, you can go to her website here. It is highly recommanded, however, that you first read my book review of this book of hers here before you read the book itself.

Basically, this book by Tamara Hartzell is a critique of the entire purpose driven phenomenon. However, it has certain errors in it which render the book largely unsuitable for apologetic issues and instead it would function more of an informative value for those who are already better informed about the issues at hand.

Anyway, she does write some succint punchlines regarding the coming apostasy which is partly manifested in the purpose driven paradigm which I would like to share with you here.

Itching ears have turned everything upside down.

  • Lies are called truth, and truth is called error.
  • Heresy is called faith, and uncompromising faith in the truth is called heretical.
  • Claiming we can only know very little about God (a denial of the abundant knowledge of God revealed in His Word) is called humble, and being faithful to the revealed knowledge of God is called egocentric.
  • Learning “truths” of foolishness from the world is called wisdom and staying relevant, and following wisdom from God’s Word of truth is called quarrelsome and irrelevantly old-fashioned.
  • False prophets are called vision casters, and God’s watchmen (who speak God’s Word rather than a vision of their own heart and who warn of sin and judgment) are called false prophets, doomsday prophets, and neo-Pharisees.
  • Heretics are called recovering fundamentalists, and fundamentalists (those who believe in the fundamentals of the faith, i.e., that God said what He meant and meant what He said in His Holy Scriptures) are called false teachers.
  • Disobedience is called serving God, and obedience is called sin and elicits public rebuke from compromised pulpits.
  • Affirming the Body in its worldly disobedience is called building up, and admonishing the Body to live in holy obedience is called tearing down.
  • A gospel of works is called a gospel of faith, and living the true Christian faith is called elitism.
  • Ungodliness is called righteousness, and godliness is called legalism.
  • Living for self is called living for God, and living for God is called self-centered.
  • Worshipping God in relativism and the unholiness of the flesh is called faithfulness to Christ and becoming all things to all people, and worshipping God in truth and the beauty of holiness is called the last gasp of Christendom and aesthetic snobbery.
  • Unifying with the world is called fulfilling God’s Great Commandment of love, and faithfulness to God and His Word is called unloving divisiveness.
  • Quoting the world is called teaching, and quoting the Holy Scriptures is called your opinion.
  • Unbelievers are called Christians, and true Christians are called unchristian intolerants.
  • Putting community above Christ is called Christianity, and putting obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ above the local church is called Churchianity.
  • Humanistic teachings are called God-centered and not about you, and true theology of God is called self-centered dogmatism.
  • The word of man is called truth, and the Word of God is called metaphor and stories.
  • Learning “truth” from other faiths who follow false gods is called humility, and preferring to learn spiritual truth only from the faith given in the true God’s Holy Scriptures is called pride.
  • Believing that every different perspective of Jesus is right is called a celebration of Jesus and a celebration of mystery, and believing only in the Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in the Holy Scriptures is called mediocrity and narrow-mindedness (although meant as criticism, it is accurate -- the Lord Jesus Christ’s way of truth is called the narrow way for a reason).
  • Believing that everyone has the right to interpret Scripture, doctrine, and faith in their own way (which is relativism and places Scripture under the ‘authority’ of man) is called a celebration of diversity and humility, and believing that these things are not of private interpretation but set forth by God through His Holy Spirit as absolute truth is called intolerance and self-righteousness.
  • Denying the faith in favor of interfaith conversation and experience is called love and grace, and standing on the understandable certainty of the Lord Jesus Christ (i.e., believing the Word of God is true and contending for its truth) is called hatred and religious bigotry.
  • Interfaith unity is called a spiritual awakening, and faithfulness to the faith is called spiritual blindness.
  • The broad way is called a way of light and world service, and the narrow way is called a way of darkness and selfish individualism.
  • Unity with the broad way is called passion and holiness, and separating from the broad way is called fanaticism and cultism.
  • Uniting light and darkness is called the way of love and service and truth, and discerning the difference between light and darkness, truth and error, and right and wrong is called negative judgmentalism, heresy hunting, and a critical spirit.
  • (p. 15-17 in the PDF format)

    I really love this line, especially in light of the undermining of God's truth in certain circles: 'Quoting the world is called teaching, and quoting the Holy Scriptures is called your opinion'. Sadly, this is espoused by some people that I know who call themselves Christian, and Christian leaders at that!

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    A slight note on the 10 commandments

    Due to the massive amount of comments with regards to the Sabbath issue, I would like to first address the topic of the 10 commandments here. [Also, do transfer your comments on the Sabbath here.]

    Now, the question is asked (implicitly by Mark) whether the 10 commandments are binding on Christians today.

    To answer this question, perhaps it would help if we look at Jesus' view of the 10 commandments in Mt. 5:17-19, 19:16-22, 22:34-40, which would help us to see the role of the 10 commandments in the lives of Christians.

    Now, with regards to Mt. 5:17-19, it must be said that Jesus is primarily talking about the entirety of the Word of God especially in the OT when he said that not one iota, nor a dot will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (verse 17-18). From there however, Jesus goes specifically into the commandments of the Law, of which foremost are the 10 commandments, in verse 19, where he basically says that we are to obey the laws. Obviously, this is not talking about every aspect found in the Law of Moses, since the ceremonial laws has been fulfilled in Christ our eternal sacrifice (circa Acts 15. Heb. 8-10), but to the moral law, of which the 10 commandments are preeminent. This is especially stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith:

    The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator who gave it. Neither doth Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen, this obligation. — WCF Chapter XIX Of the law of God, Sentence V

    As such, we can see that Christ did not abrogate the moral law of which the 10 commandments are preeminent among them, and thus the 10 commandments are still binding on us Christians. [Actually, I think that it is better to say that, contra to the WCF, Jesus did not so much as abrogate the ceremonial laws but rather he fulfilled them in Himself, thus they are all fulfilled in Christ and we do not need to observe these laws.]

    In Mt.19:16-22, we are told of the rich young man who asked Jesus how to have eternal life. Jesus' answer was that to do that he would need to keep the commandments. Obviously, he didn't measure up to it, and neither do we. Therefore, the only way for us to have eternal life is through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in His atonement for our sins, thus through it we are counted as having obeyed the Law and to have thus 'merited' eternal life (the doctrine of double imputation). Notwithstanding this, we can see from this passage that Jesus did affirm the importance of the commandments even during His time. And since the ceremonial law is being fulfilled in Christ, Jesus is here affirming the importance of the moral law with the 10 commandments of preeminence among them, for all of us who would follow in His footsteps.

    In the last passage that we are going to see, Mt. 22:34-40, Jesus was asked by a lawyer what is the greatest commandment in the Law. Jesus replied with what we known as the Great Commandment, which is a twofold commandment which neatly summarizes the entire Law of which the 10 commandments are the preeminent. Therefore, through this, Jesus was still affirming the importance of the 10 commandments and of the moral law in general, and revealing to us the heart of all these moral laws in the Great Commandment, which are made for our good.

    Since this is so, the 10 commandments are still binding on us Christians, not as the standard by which we are to merit salvation by them, but as the loving laws of our God for our good, as with the rest of the moral laws. They are thus to function as the governing laws in the Kingdom of heaven for us His subjects.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Quotes from dear Rick...

    I have just recently read an e-book entitled In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity by Tamara Hertzell, an informed Christian laywoman, which is on the Purpose Driven paradigm. I would be doing a book review of it soon. Anyway, here are some troubling quotes from our *dear* Pst. Rick Warren. I am seriously considering an upgrade of his false teacher status...

    We believe we learn truth -- I've learned a lot from different religions. Because they all have a portion of the truth — Rick Warren[1]

    I have known many people who believe in the Messiah of Jesus, regardless of what religion they are, because they believe in him. It's about a relationship, not a religion. You've heard this many times. — Rick Warren [2]

    'I'm not talking about a religion this morning. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish? or you may have no religion at all. I'm not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion'[3].

    What do you all think of this?


    References:

    [1] Interview with Rick Warren, CNN Larry King Live, Aired November 22, 2004, Transcript,
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0411/22/lkl.01.html

    [2] Interview with Rick Warren, CNN Larry King Live, Aired December 2, 2005, Transcript,
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0512/02/lkl.01.html

    [3] Rick Warren, September 2005, United Nations, Interfaith Prayer Breakfast to 100 World Delegates

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    On the judging of heretics: The case of Ed Silvoso

    After looking at the Scriptures and seeing how we are to make righteous judgments, especially of heretics and false teachers [here, here and here], I would like to analyze my judgment of Ed Silvoso here.

    As it can be seen in my review of Ed Silvoso's sermon during this year FOP (Festival of Praise), I judged Ed Silvoso to be a heretic and questioned his salvation. This is mainly based on his embrace of soteriological heresies, as the bad fruit it shows is the most obvious. The other errors with regards to Scripture if logically believed to its conclusion, constitute rank heresy. However, since the errors are not expanded on and they are implicitly deduced, I will be charitable and think that probably Silvoso may be inconsistent here.

    Applying the criteria of righteous judging of a heretic to the case of Ed Silvoso, we can first ascertain that what Ed Silvoso says is blatently heretical. From the review of his sermon, any unbiased person must admit this fact. As stated in my preliminary defence of my review of Silvoso's sermon, after researching into Silvoso's background, especially his involvement as a so-called 'Apostle to the marketplace' in the ICA (International Coalition of Apostles) which is part of the extreme charismatic Third Wave movement, I am especially convinced that he truly believe what he says he believes, and those catch-phrases and punchlines which he comes out with like "There are some cities where people will find it very hard to go to hell. They can go there if they want to, but they will have a heaven of a time to go there" are therefore not to be considered as hyperboles but as something he sincerely believes literally. I have given a bit about his background in my review of his sermon, but for the fuller picture, those who are interested should do their own research themselves.

    Therefore, we have established that Silvoso does indeed believe and teach blatent heresy. The only question to ask now is whether he is a Christian who is decieved, or a unsaved heretic.

    Now, to make such a judging is rather hard, since I do not know Silvoso well enough. Therefore, I do not make a concrete judgment like 'Silvoso is definitely not saved' or something to that effect. However, we can cast doubt on his salvation because the heresies he embraces are very serious. In fact, if he really believes in the logical conclusions of what he teaches, he can be judged to be unsaved! For example, he implicitly denies original sin and total depravity, implies that he preaches another gospel (of miracles without necessity of repentance), proclaims a heretical teaching of institutional redemption to list a few. Silvoso, by embracing such doctrines implicitly, is a step away from being revealed as an unsaved heretic, which would happen if he explicitly teach these false doctrines which he has so far only implicitly mention. For example, if Silvoso would openly deny original sin (or rather proclaim his semi-Pelagian understanding of original sin), then he would be exposed.

    But couldn't it be the case that Silvoso is deceived and is deceiving others but he is still a Christian? Technically speaking, embracing heresy implicitly does not tell whether the person is saved or not. However, since God preserves his children, as can be seen in my previous post (part 2), and thus do not allow them to be astray on such a fundamental doctrine for a long time before he 'hunts' his erring children down, the longer a person embraces heresy would show the person to have a higher probability of actually being an unsaved heretic. Since Silvoso has embraces his heresies for such a long time, the probability that he is not a believer is rather significant, thus his salvation can be doubted. For example of the length of embracing heresies, his liberation theology-tainted idea of the Gospel as people believing in a God who does miracles, without any idea of sin and repentance, was embraced by him already in the 1960s-1970s, while he was helping out with the Luis Palau crusades. His idea of institutional redemption was embraced by him rather recently, definitely before he was 'apointed' as an 'apostle to the marketplace'. For sure, he has embraced this heresy for at least 4 years, since his book on the subject entitled Anointed for Business was released on 2002.

    Since this is the case, my judgment of and casting doubt on Silvoso's salvation is justified. I rest my case here.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    On the judging of heretics (part 3)

    [continued from previous post]

    After looking through the various bad fruits upon which we can make righteous judgments, I would like to look at various objections here.

    One objection which could be made is the fact that though Scripture tells us to judge, the act of judging is reserved for the Church as a whole, and thus only the leaders and elders of the church could do such judging. To be sure, the leaders and elders of the church can and must judge and discern between true and false teachers, and between true Christians, erring Christians to be disciplined, and false Christians who are actually wolves in sheep clothing out to destroy the flock. However, the Scriptures also do ask 'normal' Christians to judge. The command to beware of false prophets was given by Jesus to the ordinary people of God at that time, and Jesus many times warn the disciples and even the people of the religious leaders of their day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. This is because of their false religiosity and self-righteousness, coming from their wrong interpretation of Scripture resulting to their adding of traditions which nulify the Word of God (Mt. 15:6). In the apostolic churches, the letters written by the apostles like Paul to the churches were to be read to the entire congregation (Acts 15:30-31, Col. 4:16). Since some of them contain admonitions against false teachers like for example 2 Cor. 11:1-15 which were to be read to the whole church, it can be seen that individual believers are also to judge and discern between the true Christians and the false Christians. The most explicit command relating to the church, as made up of individual members of the Body of Christ judging false teachers, was given by the apostle Paul to the church at Galatia in Gal. 3:1; 4:12-20, where Paul was pleading for the Galatians, individually and corporately, to stop listening to the Judaizers and return back to the pure Gospel of salvation by faith alone apart from the merits of obeying the Law.

    After dealing with this objection, another question which we need to deal with is the idea of backsliding. After all, if a person stops loving Christ, stops going to church, and perhaps may start believing in various heresies also, are they to be considered backsliders or heretics? To answer this question, we must know what backsliding is. Backsliding as a concept is not explicitly found in the Bible. Nevertheless, Christians have used it to describe other Christians who were formally growing strong (or not too strong) in the faith and then falling away.

    As a Reformed Christian, I subscribe to the biblical doctrine of the preservation of the saints, so a Christian who is truly a Christian will never fall away. However, not all who call themselves 'Christian' are truly Christians, with those coming out of us showing forth their true status as non-Christians (1 Jn. 2:19). Furthermore, as a Reformed Christian, I believe in the coupling of justification and santification, that ALL who are justified will be sanctified.

    Since such is the case, backsliding could be construed to be apostasy or just backsliding. In the case of truly not loving God and truly embracing serious heresy, that person has shown forth that he/she is a heretic and is not to be treated as a backsliding Christian. However, if a person does not seem to love God, but this could be due to experiences of some hurts and painful experiences, and that the person does not embrace serious heresy but instead appears indifferent to sound doctrine, then the person could be treated as a backslidden Christian who has lost his/her way and is thus to be ministered to in the hope that he turns back to God, which the elect do evantually. Ultimately, judging in such cases should be done on a case by case basis with much discretion by the leaders of the church after much prayer to God and ministry to the party concerned.

    In conclusion, I have proven from the Scriptures that Scripture does tell us to and even commands us to make righteous judgments, and that we should beware of false prophets, — to discern the true from the false teachers and prophets. I have also shown the criteria and the nature of the bad fruits used to evaluate and judge others, showing and explaining the way and method of judging peple to be heretics and unbelievers. Therefore, with this, we can learn how to make righteous judgments when the Lord requires us to do so, and thus bring glory to His name in the safeguarding of the purity of His bride, the Church.

    In the next installment, I would analyze my judgment of Ed Silvoso according to these Scriptural principles as mentioned here.

    On the judging of heretics (part 2)

    From the previous post, I have estalished that is is possible to know and in fact we are commanded to make righteous judgment and discern whether people are false teachers, and also whether they are saved. This is done through examining the fruits produced by them. Such fruits include:

  • teaching of false doctrines
  • lack of love for the Lord
  • preaching another 'gospel'
  • changing of the grace of God into licentiousness
  • Denial of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • I would like to go more in depth into each of these fruits.

    We can judge a person's teachings and his/her salvation through whether they teach false doctrines and whether they preach another gospel. This shows definitely that the act of teaching and preaching is a very serious affair, since the teaching of false doctrines would damn us. Note first of all that this teaching of false doctrines is something that happens consistently, that is when the people involved truly do believe in them and thus teach them. However, how are we to find out whether a person who teaches something truly believes in what he teaches, and does not do so honestly out of ignorance? We can discern what a person believes through exposing him/her to the truth, and then noticing the reaction of the person teaching serious errors. If the person is honestly ignorant, that person would immediately repent. If, however, that person remains defiant, and that happens for quite some time, we can know for sure that the person is truly a false teacher and is not saved at all. This can be seen in the biblical example of the Judaizers. Initially, in the Jerusalem council as mentioned in Acts 15:1-31, the early Judaizers were shown their errors in trying to force the new Gentile believers to observe the Mosaic ceremonial laws. Later on however, after quite some time, the apostle Paul, when writing against these same group of people, pronounced anathema on them for teaching that Gentile believers are to observe the Mosaic ceremonial laws. Thus, we can see that the same group of people (the Judaizers) were treated differently, the first time as erring brethren and later the second time as heretics.

    In the same way, when judging people who teach errors, we are to apply the same method of judging as taught by Scripture. For those who teach errors, we are to rebuke them and correct them in love through the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16), so that if they are truly saved, that they would repent of their sins. If, however, they persistently teach heresy, they are unsaved heretics and are to be regarded as such. If this standard seems rather harsh, then realize that the Scripture teaches that those who teach are to subjected to greater strictness in judgment (James 3:1). Reinforcing this concept, the Scriptures, echoing the fact that bad trees bear bad fruit, mention in Mt. 12:37 that 'by your words you will be justified, and by your words you would be condemned'. Since the context of this verse is with regards to knowing the trees by their fruits, this verse is an explicit declaration that through the fruits of our teaching others may discern and judge our fruits, and thus know the conditions of our standing and salvific status before God.

    Some people may object to the fact that since Man has free will and is naturally weak, couldn't a true believer be deceived into believing and teaching heresy? I don't see why this couldn't be the case, and Scripture tell of people like Job's friends Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite who spoke wrongly of God ( Job 42:7-9) yet they are most probably saved. However, since Scripture says that a good tree can never bear bad fruit, it is obvious that those who are saved can never teached wrong doctrines willfully in defiance of God. God would thus correct them and basically His Spirit would preserve us believers so that we would never be able to fall away so grieviously such that we produce bad fruits of teaching heresy definatly and persistently like the unsaved heretics. If it is needed, God will execute disciplinary measures against his children who are teaching heresies to 'break' them and bring them to repentance in Him. In the case of Job's friends, God rebuked them and they did repent of their errors.

    Now, we have been talking about people who preach and teach heresies. How about people who believe in them? Do different standards apply here?

    In the case of people who believe in heresies, it is harder to judge since most beliefs are not clearly stated or not stated in the first place. However, if a person voices his belief in heresies, then we can justly rebuke and correct the person if possible. If the person persistently voices his belief in heresies, then he could be treated the same way as those who teach those heresies, since this shows forth the bad fruit that he denies the Lord Jesus Christ by denying His truth. However, since people who believe in heresies do not often voice out their heretical beliefs, unless for the prupose of teaching them, it is normally not the case whereby someone will need to excommunicate a person for believing in heresies (at least I hope so). Similarly, a person's heretical beliefs will normally be found out ONLY when the person attempts to teach those beliefs to others.

    We will now look at the remaining bad fruits. Not loving the Lord is another fruit on par with denying the Lord Jesus Christ, insomuch as they could and most often are not seen visibly, and if such we cannot judge them. Since loving the Lord is by itself unprovable either way, as service rendered to the Lord could have ulterior motives involved, the only way that love for the Lord can be shown is in the person's walk with God through the doctrines he believe. We shall know them by their fruits, and thus we can judge a person's love for God if fruis are manifested which show forth their presence or their absence. Of course, such fruits are hard to discern, but when it comes down to certain concrete things like honoring God's truth and having passion for God, showing contempt for God's truth and embracing heresies, and showing hatred and contempt for God are definitely signs which point to the existence of bad fruits which are produced by bad trees.

    Finally, the bad fruit of changing the grace of God into licentiousness shows that those who live like the world, having the moral standards of the world, and engaging in the same type of moral debauchery, are not saved. The bad fruits of moral decadence and its attendent heresy of antinomianism shows forth that one doesn't know Christ. Therefore, anyone who lives a life of persistent sinfulness can be judged to be unsaved.

    In the next installment, I would look at various objections to the idea of judging heretics and their salvations, including a look at the idea of backsliding, and then I would return to my judgment of Ed Silvoso.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    On the judging of heretics (part 1)

    After my analysis and critique of Ed Silvoso's sermon during the Singapore FOP (Festival of Praise) 2006, a few people have raised the issue of my judging Silvoso to be a heretic and questioning his salvation. I would like to start addressing this issue here.

    Before I would go on any further, I would like to ask those who disagree with the whole concept of judging in the first place to read this first, as the premise that judgment is necessary for Christians is implied throughout this article.

    I would like to approach this issue by first showing that there are people who are wolves in sheep's skin and thus there are people who call themselves Christians but are actually not. Secondly, I would show that it is possible to know and in fact we are commanded to judge between Christians and these wolves in sheep's skin. Thirdly, we would look at how such a judgment can be made, and then forthly I would apply the criteria to my judgment of Ed Silvoso. All of this will be done through Scripture and Scripture alone.

    The first point is easily proved. The Scriptures clearly tell us that there will be wolves who will come in into the churches, and even some of these wolves would be indigenous; coming out from within the flocks in order to ravage the flock (Acts. 20:29-30, 1 Tim. 1:3-7, 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 1 Jn. 2:18-19. Jude 1:4). Jesus Himself warns us against wolves who would come in sheep's clothing (Mt. 7:15) to deceive us, even the elect (Mt. 24:24). Therefore, the presence of such people who would come as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15) is hereby proved. Since some of the wolves would come from within the church, there would be people who call themselves Christians who would come from within the Church, yet they are in fact wolves who would ravage the flock if they could do so.

    For the second point, it must be said that the Scriptures do tell us time and again to watch out for the wolves. In the passages quoted above, all of them involve the apostles and Jesus Himself warning against the false prophets. Now, such a warning would be useless unless one can identify who the wolves are, so that we can beware of them. To make it even more explicit, the apostle Paul in Rom. 16:17 tell us to mark out those who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine of Christ, which therefore prove to us that it is possible to know and in fact we are commanded to judge between Christians and the wolves in sheep's clothing.

    Now, so how exactly do we discern the sheep from the wolves; the saved from the unsaved and the deceivers? Well, since the Scriptures tell us to discern the sheep from the wolves, it will also provide to us the criteria by which we make our righteous judgments (Jn. 7:24).

    From the verses warning us against false prophets and false teachings, we can already see some of the criteria we can use. 1 Tim. 1:3-7, 6:3-5 tell us that the teachings of false doctrines constitue one of the criteria by which false prophets and false teachers are known. 1 Jn. 2:18-19 also show us that another criteria is that they leave the invisible Body of Christ by means of apostasy. From Jude 1:4, such false teachers and prophets change the grace of God into licentiousness. Furthermore, they deny the Lord Jesus Christ. In the passage of Mt. 7:15-20, Jesus summarized all the features of the false prophets and teachers by saying that they can be known by their fruits. Since a good tree bear good fruit and a bad tree bear bad fruit (v. 17), the presence of bad fruit signifies that the tree is a bad tree and not a good tree who 'happens' to 'mysteriously bear bad fruit' at one time.

    Further information regarding the nature of the bad fruit can be found in the usage of the word anathema (Gr. αναθεμα) in the Scriptures as proclaimed by the apostle Paul. From 1 Cor. 16:22, Paul pronounces anathema on people who do not love the Lord. Similarly, in Gal. 1:8-9, the apostle Paul proclaims anathema on those who preached a different 'gospel'. The word anathema when used on people pronounces a curse on them such that there are doomed to destruction, thus they cannot be saved. From this, therefore, we see that anyone who does not love the Lord and those who preach another 'gospel', for example a gospel of faith plus observance of the Law (i.e. the Judaizers) , are considered false teachers and are not saved.

    Now, looking at the Mt. 7 passage in detail and in context, we can see that Jesus is illustrating by means of contrast in the different passages (Mt. 7: 12-27) the difference between those who are saved and those who are not saved. Therefore, those who are analogous to bad trees which produce bad fruits are not saved also, consistent with the Scriptures whereby the apostle Paul wrote the inspired Scriptures saying that those who display the specific fruit of doctrinal error on not loving God and preaching another 'gospel' are not saved either.

    Since the Scriptures link the manifestation of the bad fruit in its various expressions to the idea that those who do so are false teachers and prophets and are not saved, it can be seen that those who can be seen to produce the bad fruits are definitely not saved at all! Therefore, true Christians can through assessing the fruits of another person discern whether the person is saved or not. Of course, this means that the person condemned must show forth bad fruits. Absence of fruit does not signify anything about the salvific state of the professing Christian concerned, only perhaps that the person is not abiding in Christ (Jn. 15:1-6), and thus he/she may have backslidden. If that is the case, that person is in danger of hellfire (Jn. 15:6) and if this continues on till his death, indicates that the person doesn't love Christ and placed him/herself under the anathema of 1 Cor. 16:22, thus that person wasn't a Christian in the first place (1 Jn. 2:19).

    Therefore, the fruits by which we can discern heretics and even judge the salvation of others are:

  • teaching of false doctrines
  • lack of love for the Lord
  • preaching a different 'gospel'
  • changing of the grace of God into licentiousness
  • Denial of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Having said all this, I would like to elaborate on each of these points in more detail in the next installment; to see what each of these criteria really mean, and how do we apply them in the judging of others in righteous judgment. I would also answer various objections, following which I would apply these concepts from Scripture to my own judgment of Ed Silvoso.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Fuller 'seminary' has really diversified!

    Well, the latest news from the neo-liberal Fuller (theological) seminary, the flagship of Neo-Evangelicalism of former years, is that the rainbow flag is now welcome to be flown there. Homosexuality is now allowed to be practiced validly for Christians, albeit after lots of 'qualifications' which include the need for these homosexuals to be 'monogamous' (of course!). Somehow, those rebels who call themselves the teachers of God's Word think that there can play semantics with God, by saying that homosexuality is a sin whereas 'couples' who engage in homosexuality are to be affirmed while they 'seek God's ideal for their lives'. Well, they can play all the word games they want, but they won't fool God, and they will be punished for their sins of approving the Sodomite abomination to be practised in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    [HT: Slice of Laodicea]

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Article: The prophetic calling of every believer

    Here is an interesting article by Pastor Bob DeWaay regarding the issue of biblical prophecy. I guess the article speaks for itself.

    Coming out a New Apostolic, Purpose-Driven background, I really like this phrase:

    Despising prophecy is the refusal to allow the Lord's flock to bring the authority of Scripture to bear on one another and church leaders. This happens, for example, when a church member hears false teaching coming from the pulpit, does Biblical research to bring out valid implications, goes to the pastor and proves that the pastor has promoted what is false and the pastor refuses to defend his own teaching or listen to the evidence of the church member. The pastor has despised the prophecy of the member and claimed the right to give false prophecy from the pulpit and then furthered the sin by refusing to allow his own prophecy to be judged.

    Enough said!

    James 1: On trials and widsom

    I would just like to share the summary notes of a Bible study with all of you, which I have recently done with my disciples. Here it is:


    Passage: James 1:1-8

    Greetings

  • James is a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (v.1)
  • Trials

  • We are to be joyful in our trials (v. 2)
    • Consider it joy, meaning that naturally we are not joyful when we face these trials
    • Trials… of various kinds, meaning in all types of trials, even those we didn’t ask for or cause us much pain, suffering and heartaches
  • Why should we be joyful?
    • Because these trials produce maturity and growth in Christ-likeness (v. 3 & 4); being purified as gold passing through the fire (1 Peter 1:6-7).
    • Christians are disciplined by God the Father for our own good (Heb. 12:7-11). If we do anything wrong, God chastises us in love. All of these may involve trials of various kinds. Non-Christians, however, are punished by God in His wrath.
      • Since this is so, any trials we face are given to us from the Father’s loving hand to conform us more and more like Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
    • This is manifested in a growing in steadfastness (endurance and tenacity in following Christ) which will move us towards being perfect (sanctified and holy) and complete (being fully sanctified and holy before God).
    • Note: the end result of perfect sanctification is never attainable in this life (Rom. 8:23, 1 Jn. 1:8), but we are to strive towards it. God uses trials for such a purpose.

    Wisdom from God

  • Wisdom ≠ Knowledge
  • Wisdom = the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting
  • Wisdom is needed
  • Wisdom comes from God (v. 5) and thus we are to ask God for it.
    • God promises that He will give us wisdom if we ask of it, NOTE: not knowledge
  • However, we must not doubt God (v. 6) if we want it.
  • Those who doubt are double-minded.
    • They have no faith in God, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Article: Because He is God

    This is a short write-up on the practical impact of who God is if consistently believed in our lives [which goes to show that doctrine matters ...]:

    [Taken from the Calvinist Gadfly. Written by Steve Camp.]

    Because He is God, He must be reckoned with. Because He is God, He must not be trifled with. Because He is God, we must love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength-and love our neighbor as ourselves. Because He is God, we ought to worship Him in spirit and truth. Because He is God, we esteem Him with an undivided heart as First Love. Because He is God, we must approach Him clothed in contrition and we tremble at His Word. Because He is God, we give Him the preeminence in all things.

    Because He is God, he has given us His grace instead of His wrath; His love instead of His enmity; His mercy instead of His justice; joy unspeakable in glory instead of torment in hell for perpetuity. Because He is God, I have no right to myself. Because He is God, I must walk in love, and love others, as Christ loved me and gave Himself for me. Because He is God, I must be willing to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven me. Because He is God, we love the brethren. Because He is God, I cannot harbor anger, wrath, clamor, bitterness, and malice in my heart toward another. Because He is God, I must turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and give someone my cloak if they want my coat too. Because He is God, I must be willing to suffer the loss of all things, to gain everything. Because He is God, I can rest in the surety that He is orchestrating all things for our good and His glory. Because He is God, I cannot repay evil for evil, wrong for wrong, hurt for hurt. Because He is God, we may rejoice when our hearts are breaking and our world has been shaken. Because He is God, our trials are blessings-invited guests and not strangers.

    Because He is God, we keep our vows to our spouse even when he or she seems unlovable, unapproachable, unteachable, or uncaring. Because He is God, we train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Because He is God, we cannot take another to court and sue for reparations. Because He is God, we have the right to be wronged. Because He is God, we love His Word more than daily food. Because He is God, pastors should preach the Word of God instead of being clever raconteurs. Because He is God, the church must discipline sin and not wink at it. Because He is God, I cannot cherish my sin, but must daily repent of it. Because He is God, I’ve made a covenant with my eyes. Because He is God, I must guard my heart. Because He is God, I must not be motivated by mans applause, but by His “well done.” Because He is God, we cannot become unequally yoked with an unbeliever in any spiritual ministry or enterprise. Because He is God, all our possessions are for the Master’s use-they are not ours; they belong to Him. Because He is God, we must deny ourselves, daily take up our cross and follow Him.

    To do all to His glory, according to His divine purpose, under the authority of His Word, to seek His will more than earthly reward, to embrace the fellowship of His sufferings rather than the pleasures of this world even for a season, to live self-sacrificially in unreciprocated love and service to others — to do all this for no other reason than… because He is God!

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    A verse to consider ...

    I would like to look soon at the issue which was raised the last time during my analysis and critique of Ed Silvoso's FOP sermion, regarding the judging of a person to be a heretic and/or a unbliever. I wouldn't start now as yet, but just to give a verse for us to consider for the moment:

    for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Mt. 12:37)

    That's all for now.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Blogging pace update

    As much as I love devoting more time to the study of God's Word and the exposure of pseudo-Evangelicalism, work needs to be done. Therefore, blogging will be (and has lately been) less frequent now, as work starts to pile up. Interested viewers may look at the latest entry at my other blog to see what a slightly busier than normal day looks for me.

    Secular newspaper exposes Warren's schisms [Update!]

    Well, it seems that finally someone dares to write on the severe damage being done by the Purpose Driven paradigm founded by Rick Warren. It is a shame that it requires a secular reporter in a secular newspaper to expose the numerous splits and schisms that Rick Warren is responsible for. Ms. Suzanne Sataline of the Wall Street Journal has written an article entitled Veneration Gap — A Popular Strategy for Church Growth Splits Congregants which can be accessed here. Pity it does not go into the real reasons behind the split, which is the adoption of anthropocentric practices, embracing of various heresies, and of course chasing out the flock of God by demonizing them as 'purpose driven resistors'. Oh, by the way, I haven't really read up much on Dan Southerland, but if what is I have heard about him so far is correct, guess what is his crime before God?

    Answer: Schism, the Diotrephesian error (3 Jn. 9-10). May God have mercy on his soul for the acts he and Warren are doing against the flock of God and grant them repentance unto eternal life.

    UPDATE: Read Paul Proctor's comments on the article here. As he has said, the only question left is 'Where does the church go from here? Down on her knees to confess and repent or back to the bushes for more fig leaves?' I hope I am wrong.

    [HT: Apprising Ministries, Slice of Laodicea]

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    The Word of God vs. Bruce the heretic

    Well, after finishing the Sola Scriptura series of posts, I would now like to briefly go through and refute the blatant heresies of the God-hater Bruce or 666 888. I have made some preliminary comments here and now I would continue my refutation of the stuff muttered by this guy. Since I have proved the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, I will operate from this as an axiom to 'deconstruct' Bruce's teachings.

    As can be seen from a glance at his blogs, Bruce denies Sola Scriptura. Judging from his usage of extra-biblical teachings of 'masters' and pseudepigrapha books like the book of Enoch, he denies the sufficiency of Scripture and posits an open canon, whereby of course he is the authority (or perhaps he and his so-called masters are) in determining what books should have made it into the Bible. He denies also the perspicuity of Scripture, and most importantly he consistently denies the authority of Scripture.

    When one looks through the material presented on his blogs, one is really hard-pressed to find anything of substance. All one finds is speculations, heresies, and more heresies. I would therefore just look at the few arguments he offer from Scripture to attack the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and then deconstruct Bruce's entire worldview.

    One verse which Bruce used to attempt to disprove Sola Scriptura in the aspect of the sufficiency of Scripture and the Canon of Scripture is Jn. 16:12, from a quote he ascribed to Dr. Steiner[1]. This is what Dr. Steiner supposedly wrote:

    "By realizing that Christianity will bring forth from its depths an increasing flow of new and more living creations, we enhance its greatness. Those who are always saying: ‘That is not in the Bible, that is not true Christianity and those who maintain that it is, are heretics’, must be reminded that Christ also said: ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now’. He did not say this in order to indicate that He wished to withhold anything from men, but that from epoch to epoch He would bring them new revelations. And this He will do through those who are willing to understand Him. Those who deny that there can be new revelations do not understand the Bible, neither do they understand Christianity. For they have no ears for what is implied in the admonition given by Christ: ‘I have still much to say to you — but prepare yourselves in order that you may be able to bear it and understand it.’

    "The true Christians of the future will be those who are willing to hear what the Christians who were contemporaries of Christ were not yet able to bear. Those who allow Christ's Grace to flow into their hearts in ever increasing abundance — they will be the true Christians. The ‘hard of heart’ will resist this Grace, saying: Go back to the Bible, to the literal text of the Bible, for that alone is true. This is a disavowal of the words which in Christianity itself kindle light, words which we will take into our hearts: ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.’ Good it will be for men when they can bear more and more in this sense: for thereby they prepare themselves for the ascent into the spiritual heights. And to these spiritual heights Christianity leads the way."- Conceptions of Original Sin & Grace

    Now, looking at this section, one can immediately sees the absolute rubbish written by this unregenerate heretic Dr. Steiner. He said that people who deny new revelations 'do not understand the Bible, nor do they understand Christianity'. I would counter that it is Steiner himself who does not understand the Bible, nor understand Christianity. Having the spirit of antichrist, he places his own reasoning above what the Scriptures teaches. His statements are totally illogical. This is because even if what he says is true, Scripture still is revelation and new revelation cannot contradict the old revelation, because by so doing the old revelation ceases to be revelation at all. So therefore, if the Scriptures are still revelation, then it is proper and right to measure new revelations according to Scripture (the 'old revelations'). Anyway, how does one discern the new revelations as distinct from counterfeit revelations, according to Bruce and Steiner? They can't, unless they operate from the standpoint of the authority of their 'masters' and their own intellect, but we will cover that later.

    With this, let us look at the verse Jn. 16:12 in context. This verse is in the passage where Jesus is talking about the Paraclete, the coming Holy Spirit, who will come and fill the Disciples when Jesus is gone, which has started to occur on the Day of Pentecost as reported in Acts 2. Before Jesus went to the Cross, he mentioned in verse 7 that He must go to the Cross and then the Holy Spirit would come, otherwise the Holy Spirit wouldn't come. This is thus the context in which the verse Jn. 16:12 is in.

    Now, so what does this verse mean? It means that there are things that the disciples will not be able to understand which Jesus would like to tell them. However, it cannot mean what Bruce and Steiner would like it to mean since this verse is followed by verse 13, which states:

    When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, ... (Jn. 16:13a)

    Thus, we can see that verse 13 is telling us that when the Holy Spirit comes, which he intially did at Pentecost, he will guide the disciples into ALL the truth, not some of the truth, but all. Read in context, verse 12 and 13 present a strong case for the necessity of the Holy Spirit in enabling us to interpret the Scripture properly. Verse 12 states that the disciples cannot bear to hear them; cannot understand the truths which Jesus would want to tell them. Conversely, verse 13 presents the solution to this problem with Jesus promising the disciples that they would be able to understand all truth, which Jesus would want them to know, when the Holy Spirit comes and illuminate their minds so as to lead them into all truths. Therefore, Jn. 16:12 is far from promoting what Steiner and Bruce would want it to say. This verse is wrenched out of context and forced to say something which it does not mean.

    Next, we will look at another place where Bruce tried to refute Sol aScriptura, in the aspect of the perspicuity of Scripture. To this effect, he quotes 2 Cor. 3:6, 14; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Peter 3:16; Dan. 12:4; Col. 2:2-3[2].

    Let us ignore Col. 2:2-3, since it apprently escapes Bruce that this verse is totally irrelevant to Sola Scriptura. Bible-believing Christians do believe that all the wisdom and knowledge is found in Christ, and we further assert that Christ has made this knowledge to be found in the Bible (Deut. 29:29). Similarly, I don't see what Bruce is getting at by quoting Dan. 12:4, since this even more obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with Sola Scriptura. The whole topic of the prophet Daniel's vision in this part of Scripture is regarding prophecy proper, not anything with regards to the Scripture proper, thus the entire verse and context is totally irrelevant here.

    The only thing 2 Peter 3:16 says is that some things in Scripture (in this case some of Paul's writings) are more difficult to understand than others, which I have mentioned in my article under the section of the perspicuity of Scripture. However, to extrpolate from some Scriptures being harder to understand to some Scripture being impossible to understand through ordinary means is a huge logical fallacy. Hard ≠ Impossible! Similarly, a thing which is hard to understand does not necessarily mean that it requires esoteric means to understand, which is another big logical fallacy. By way of analogy, it is hard to understand why somebody would commit suicide, but then to say that one must study psychology and get a pHD in it in order to understand why such a person do such a thing, otherwise one cannot do so, is ridiculous and fallacious. Bruce's case is thus logically flawed.

    Looking at 1 Cor. 2:14, we can see that Bruce here is grasping for straws. This passage is talking about the centrality and necessity of the Holy Spirit in the interpretation of spiritual truths. Nowhere does it support Bruce's ridiculous paraphrase of this verse:

    But the natural man [who interprets literally] receiveth not [cannot understand] the things of the Spirit of God: [the things written by the Spirit of God in the scriptures] for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [because they are only understood spiritually.] - 1 Co 2:14

    The problem for Bruce is that the idea of interpreting the Scriptures literally being equated with the natural or carnal man is NOT found in Scriptures and definitely not in the Scriptures themselves! This passage is saying that only those who can be born again, regenerated by God and transformed by Him can understand the Scriptures, whereas all others like Bruce who are carnal do not understand the Scripture, for they are foolishness to him. Instead, they constantly undermine Scripture and distort it, which the apostle Peter mention, to their own destruction (2 Tim. 3:16).

    Bruce's eisegesis does not stop there. He misquotes the verse 2 Cor. 3:6 in an attempt to contrast the literal interpretation of Scripture (which he termed analogous to the 'letter' mentioned in the verse which killed) and his esoteric way of interpretation, which he termed analogous to the spirit which gives life). However, this verse is agains wrenched out of context to say things which it was never meant to say. This passage in context is contrasting the Law of the Old Testament with the Grace which comes from God; it is saying that the Law of Moses brings death while the Spirit of God gives life, echoing the writings of Paul in Rom. 7:7- 8:11 (not that the Law is sin, but that through the Law Man is shown to be sinful and thus placed under condemnation) This has nothing whatsoever to do with the interpretation of Scripture whatsoever!

    Let us finish off this section by looking at the nonsense he says in his welcome message:

    'The Bible thumper is, unknowingly, commiting the sin of idolatry. Yes indeed, they worship the graven image in print and paper rather than the Living God. They will even tell you that the Bible in inerrant. What nonsense! Only Father God is Perfect.'[3]

    This is what I have mentioned in my Sola Scriptura article regarding the ridiculous charge of 'bibliolatry':

    If the Bible is truly the Word of God, and the words therein are God-breathed, then what the Bible says is what God says. Since that is the case, believing the Bible and following its precepts is the same as following God. These people therefore blaspheme God by implying that to obeying Him and to treat His words with reverence is idolatry.

    Therefore, since Scripture itself has said it is authoritative and it is the way that we can know God, Bruce is guilty of idolatry. He has made an idol of his own intellect, and of his 'masters'. And to this we shall now turn to.

    From a look at Bruce's blogs, one can discern his liberal worldview and presuppostions. The problem with Bruce's use of all these external authorities is that why should I trust all these authorities which he trust? Upon what basis are they to be treated as though they are teaching truth? The only reasons Bruce could possibly give me is that either his 'christ' tolds him or that it is reasonable to do so (rationalism). Both of these reasons are totally fallacious. The first one is unverifiable and suspect, as any Tom, Dick and Harry could say that. The second reason is denied since I reject the idea of something which is just 'obvious' in and of itself to everyone out there. It definitely does not seem reasonable to me, anyway.

    In the final analysis, Bruce's position is totally intellectually and spiritually bankrupt, since his positions are based on the shifting sands of human intellect and opinions. None of them can be based on Scripture alone and must depend on other sources, which have questonable authority. This includes Bruce's unbiblical belief in reincarnation and his denial of Original sin and General Revelation. Also, just because a person has a pHD or ThD is irrelevant as to that person's authority in spiritual knowledge, which 1 Cor. 1: 21 says. Therefore, Bruce's position is reduced to just an ipsit dixit, whereas the Scriptural position of Sola Scriptura stand strong amidst the attacks of heretics forever. Gloria in excelsis Deo. Soli Deo Gloria.


    References:

    [1] I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot hear them now (http://christianreincarnation.blogspot.com/2006/06/i-have-yet-many-things-to-say-unto-you.html)

    [2] Bible Literalism (http://christianreincarnation.blogspot.com/2006/06/biblical-literalism.html)

    [3] Welcome (http://christianreincarnation.blogspot.com/2006/06/welcome.html)

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Article: Sola Scriptura

    OK, I have just managed to compile all the blog posts on the subject of Sola Scriptura into an .html document, edit it for spelling errors, and then upload it into my website here. This is for those who are irritated by some of the spelling errors that are found on my blog posts, and for those who do not like to look at multiple webpages in order to read a single article.