The No Goofy Zone Discernment Ministry

The No Goofy Zone is a discernment ministry for saved born again Christians and all who are seeking the truth.We expose non-biblical trends in the church. We are making material available to advance understanding of issue's which endanger Christianity. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit.

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Location: Piqua, Ohio, United States

Former drummer for Gary Lewis and The Playboys and The Coasters. Tim has also played with Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster, Darlene Zscech and Hillsongs, Jeff Fenholt, SteveCamp among others. Tim founded The Simply Agape Project in 2001 to get free Christian music to the troops. Recordings have been made with Tim, and friends Alex Acuna, Abe Laboriel SR, Justo Almario,Steve Camp , Jared Ming and some wonderful Independant Christian artists.The Somebody Brave CD also features words of encouragment to the soldiers from Pastors, Moms, Dads, and Lt Col Brian Birdwell a Pentegon 9/11 survivor Tim is married to Donna Wirth and has four children Alan 25,Steven 23, Brittany 22, Bethany 21. Tim has played in numerous churchs as well as shows on TBN. Tim has also performed on JCTV on the show Generation Worship featuring worship leader Jared Ming. Tim has a book published worldwide titled "Pass The Plate And Let Us Prey" (My Search For Black and White Christianity in a Gray Nation)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

To Comment or not to Comment that is the Question

As of late I have really been watching how people react and comment on blogs.
Ive also been watching those who censor comments (of course sometimes its good to censor or not allow comments on your blog).
My rule here is pretty simple.
Let me know who you are.
If you stand by what you say be willing to put your real name down.
I do not allow links to other sites within the comments.
I do allow when you sign in as a blogger a link that people can click on that goes to your site.
Understand I will also check out your link and warn people if need be.
I have had a swami trying to comment under the Christian yoga topic and link to his agenda on you tube.
I dont publish comments like that.
If you are commenting you need to use scripture to back up your point if you disagree.
Gods Word is really what counts here not what we think.
Dont quote the book of Mormon to me because I do not care what it states because it was not divinely inspired by God.
Also try to stay on topic.
I get more hits on my Chuck Smith JR articles than anything else.
But no one has addressed the fact that Chuck promotes contemplative.
Most comments are just what a nice guy Chuck is.
Thats all good and fine but what about the topic and what it addresses.
What do you agree or disagree with what it states.
I have also noticed some blogs are being labeled hate blogs because they disagree with what another blog or website states.
This is the same ammunition homosexuals are using to discredit what the Bible states about homosexuality labeling it hate speech.
Also comment using hard facts.
Recently I had a disagreement with a friend and brother in the Lord of mine.
He stated that I misrepresented Dan Kimballs views on the Labyrinth.
I asked why?
He stated that in a private phone call with Dan Kimball Dan stated he no longer endorses the Labyrinth.
If this is indeed true (and I have no doubt that Dan stated this to my good friend on the phone).
But if its true let Dan come out with a public statement that he no longer endorses the Labyrinth.
Dan has not to my knowledge done this.
And then Dan needs to retract his book "The Emerging Church" and make corrections on his new stand as well as retract and correct any articles out there which supported Dans past views on the Labyrinth.
You see it doesnt really matter what Dan states in private but what Dan is willing to do publicly to keep someone in the Body of Christ from stumbling using occult rituals like the Labyrinth.

Another trap some discernment ministries fall into is just allowing comments that agree or encourage them.
Not to say that there is anything wrong with encouragement.
The Bible tells us to encourage one another.
But if we are in error in scripture or in unChristlike delivery and set ourselves up on our own little island we are heading for trouble.
No accountability is a bad thing and will always head us down a slippery slope.
If you want to set your blog up for healthy debate I think sometimes that is a good thing.
I will shut down and not allow comment when people use bad language there is no room for that.

What happens when we sometimes allow comments (to our own little choir) and then disallow healthy Christlike debate we lose credibility at large.
Shutting comments on and off show a disturbing pattern sometimes.
If thats the way you want to roll perhaps not make your blog or website open to comments.
Maybe its best to make your site non interactive and information only.
And please watch the name calling when you post.
This further discredits you as well as the point you are trying to make.
Did Jesus sometimes use harsh language?
Yes He did to both his disciples as well as the religious folk of that day.
Maybe when we lead the perfect life He did perhaps then we have a right to be harsh because Jesus's judgement is and always will be perfect.
If you are judging according to scripture let the Word of God make your case through the Holy Spirit.
Dont call people names.
Tim Wirth

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word - Part 3

McMahon, T.A.
September 1, 2007
The previous two parts of this series (TBC, 2/07 , 3/07 ) made some observations that should be of great concern to those who consider themselves Bible-believing Christians. Paul warned that there would come a time when “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3,4) would give way to what “seemeth right unto a man” (Proverbs 14:12) in determining what is true. There will be apostate “teachers” who advance an experiential mode that panders to the lusts of the flesh, promoting self-serving “fables” or myths. Furthermore, these “deceitful workers” and lying “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13,15) would draw upon the teachings of “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul certainly had such teachers in mind as he warned the Ephesian elders that after his departing “grievous wolves” would enter among them and teach “perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20: 29,30). There is no doubt that these verses are being fulfilled in our day.

Although there are far too many examples of apostasy influencing the church today to cite in this brief series of articles, there is one spurious trend that encompasses nearly all of what the above verses address. It’s called the Emerging Church Movement (ECM). The ECM is a development among evangelicals that appears to have some worthwhile goals: 1) It professes to speak to today’s culture about the relevancy of Christianity and the value of the gospel of Jesus Christ; and 2) It desires to keep young evangelicals continuing in the faith. The movement involves a number of churches (mostly non-denominational), some supportive ministries and parachurch organizations, and the support of a number of prominent evangelical leaders and authors.

The ECM has no official organization or leadership, although some of its adherents have “emerged” as recognized leaders and spokesmen. For many of those helping to promote the movement, their motivation to “try something different” grew out of the frustration of their own very limited success in evangelizing and discipling young people. Some of the leaders were in seeker-sensitive and purpose-driven churches, and they saw firsthand that their church-growth marketing schemes were not effective for drawing those in their late teens, 20s, and early 30s. The main fare of most consumer-driven churches features contemporary music with shallow, repetitive choruses, topical 30-minutes-or-less sermons (mostly psychology-based), a host of social programs to attract the lost (and the fleshly nature of Christians), and “Bible studies” that address everything but the Bible (see “Consumer Christianity I & II”, TBC, 2/05 , 3/05 ). For a surprising number of young adults, that was a spiritual turnoff.

In his book The Emerging Church (with contributions and endorsement by Rick Warren), Dan Kimball relates his own breakthrough in overcoming the frustrating experiences in trying to motivate the young people in the evangelical church where he was youth pastor. He tells about watching a concert on the youth-oriented MTV network late one night that was a candlelit, all-acoustic performance. Recognizing that MTV certainly knows its audience and the youth culture, he refashioned his church’s youth room into a subdued, “catacombish,” candlelit environment and had the worship band use acoustic guitars, forgoing their usual flashing light show and loud electric music. He was delighted by the reaction of one usually unresponsive teen who said, “I like this. This was really spiritual.”

That was an epiphany for Kimball. As he expanded the service with what he considered more “authentic Christian” elements and liturgy, it attracted hundreds, young and old alike. He is convinced he’s found what the church of today needs: “As the emerging church returns to a rawer and more vintage form of Christianity, we may see explosive growth much like the early church did.”

On the contrary, the “explosive growth” in the early church came from an approach that is almost nonexistent in the ECM. Peter’s confrontational address to the crowd on Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 is directly at odds with the modus operandi of the emergent leaders. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter’s preaching brought conviction of sin, repentance, and belief; 3,000 came to Christ that day. Kimball’s “vintage form of Christianity,” featuring rituals, ceremony, candles, incense, prayer stations, and images to create a spiritually experiential atmosphere for evangelicals is “vintage” only in the sense that it is an imitation of the later unbiblical Eastern Orthodox and medieval Roman Catholic liturgies. The early New Testament church knew nothing of this idolatrous and sense-oriented worship.

Ironically, emergent churches around the world, in their attempt to “reconstruct” the church, are passing each other like ships in the night. Kimball’s efforts at spiritual stimulation by introducing to young evangelicals the liturgical bells and smells of Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and high-church Episcopal and Presbyterian rituals, stands in contradiction to some European cathedrals and churches going emergent. Europeans are trying to revive their congregations, deadened by centuries of imagery and ritual, by covering their gothic interiors with decorated drapery, exchanging the organ and traditional hymns for electric guitars and contemporary choruses, and adding throw pillows for comfortable seating to create a seeker-friendly environment. These churches are abandoning the very things that are “spiritually” alluring to American emergent evangelicals. Regarding both sensual approaches, Scripture tells us, “the flesh profiteth nothing.”

In reading the works of the ECM leaders, we would agree with many of their criticisms of current Christianity. There is plenty to oppose as apostasy and the abandonment of the Word increases in Christendom. The ECM’s corrections, however, rather than having restorative value for the church, are just as contrary to the Scriptures. Even worse, they go far beyond subtly “weaning evangelicals off the Word” to rendering the Bible and its doctrines as the enemy when it comes to drawing the world in general and, specifically, our postmodern culture, to the love of Jesus.

The Emergent Church Movement claims to desire—above all things—to show the love and life of Christ to a culture that is distrustful of the Christianity it perceives as oppressive and absolutist. We’re assured by ECM writers that “numbers of postmoderns are attracted to Jesus but detest His church” and can therefore be reached by the emerging church approach. It professes to be more amenable to the culture, more viable in its practice of Christianity, and truer to what Jesus had in mind for His church on earth.

Admirable—but let’s see how true it is to the Scriptures. As Isaiah exhorted, “To the law and to the testimony [i.e., God’s Word]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” Isaiah 8:20).

First of all, one has to wonder what a postmodern—a person characterized chiefly by his or her general disdain for authority and absolutes, particularly those dealing with moral issues and religion—thinks about this “Jesus” to whom he or she is supposedly drawn. The critical question is “Jesus who?” Is it the biblical Jesus they like, the one who declared absolutely, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6)? What about the authoritarian Jesus, who announced, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (John 15:10)? His words weren’t referring only to the Ten Commandments but rather to every instruction He gave. Is that the Jesus a postmodern desires? What about the Jesus who gave mankind an ultimatum: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36)?

The biblical Jesus certainly does not accommodate postmodernism, which is one more example of humanity’s rebellion against its Creator. The good news is that Jesus offers deliverance from the delusion of postmodernism, as well as all the other man-centered isms: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). The bad news is that the emerging church approach attempts to accommodate Jesus and the Scriptures (actually “another Jesus” and a corrupted and emasculated Word) to our postmodern culture.

Although some regard the Emerging Church Movement as nothing more than a passing spiritual fad among young evangelicals, its potential for shipwrecking the faith of our next generation (should the Lord not yet return for His saints) is staggering. Here are just a few of the faith-destroying beliefs as espoused in the writings of the emergent leaders. First of all, foundational to the ECM is the subversion of the Bible. It’s akin to Satan’s scheme to destabilize Eve’s trust in what God commanded: “Yea, hath God said...?” (Genesis 3:1). They give lip service to the importance of God’s Word while undermining its inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency.

Rob Bell writes in Velvet Elvis, following 22 pages of weakening the authority of the Bible (making statements such as “It is possible to make the Bible say whatever we want it to, isn’t it?” and “With God being so massive and awe-inspiring and full of truth, why is his book capable of so much confusion?”): “[L]et’s make a group decision to drop once and for all the Bible-as-owner’s-manual metaphor [i.e., God’s specific instructions for mankind]. It’s terrible. It really is....We have to embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of experiencing the living God.”1 No! “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pt 1:21).

His view, common to most emergent writers, is that the key to the authority of Scripture is one’s interpretation, and that is most authoritative when the interpretation takes place in a community and validated by a “group decision”: “Community, community, community. Together with others, wrestling and searching and engaging the Bible as a group of people hungry to know God in order to follow God.”2

Although we find thousands of times throughout the Bible clear, direct, and absolute commands prefaced by phrases such as “Thus saith the Lord” and “The word of the Lord came to me,” we’re now told that understanding and obedience to what God said are subject to a community’s interpretation. Consequently, ECM churches disdain preaching and authoritative teaching, yet they delight in discussion, causing some to dump the pulpit in favor of a dialogue-led Starbucks environment. As the goals of the community change, we’re told the interpretation may also change.

The claim that the ECM approach has not jettisoned sound doctrine is either a delusion or an outright deception. This becomes clear when one asks for a biblical position on an issue. Kristen Bell acknowledges in a Christianity Today emerging church article, “I grew up thinking that we figured out the Bible...that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means, and yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.”3 Brian McLaren, the most prominent of the emergent leaders, echoes Bell’s “doctrine” of avoidance regarding what the Bible says about homosexuality:

Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making [doctrinal] pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection.4
TBC has received numerous letters from parents and evangelical pastors who find their young people seeking out emergent churches for the “new” experiences, which they offer in abundance: religious art (primarily impressionistic images of “Jesus”), “biblical” films, rituals based upon Catholic/Orthodox liturgy, community, personal relationships, contemplative spirituality and mysticism (some include yoga), Bible dialogues, ecumenical interaction with “people of faith,” a social gospel, plans to save the planet, restore the kingdom, and so forth.

Regarding the seductive nature of such things, few evangelicals, young or old, have a defense. Too many function as biblical illiterates, meaning they know some things about the Bible and are capable of reading it but simply haven’t made any effort, outside of following along with their pastor’s teaching on Sundays. They are the spiritual con man’s delight.

Satan’s seduction of Eve began subtly, “Yea hath God said?” It was a confusion tactic, setting her up to believe his lie and reject what God had said: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” That was his punch line to destroy the human race. Eve fell for it; Adam went along.
One finds a strikingly similar approach in the writings of the ECM leaders in regard to destroying faith in the gospel: Brian McLaren leads with doubts about what God had said:

The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.5

He says elsewhere, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved?...None of us have arrived at orthodoxy.”

British emergent leader and Zondervan author Steve Chalke delivers the punch line that unabashedly rejects the essential gospel belief that Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind necessary to satisfy divine justice. Incredibly, he condemns that doctrine as a form of “cosmic child abuse” and a “twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.”6 This is where these emergent pied pipers, wittingly or unwittingly, are seductively leading our youth.

Hopefully, the above will move you to prayer and action regarding the biblical strengthening of your own children and the youth in your fellowship. If you need more motivation (this brief article allowed me to give you only the tip of the “emerging” iceberg), see our TBC Extra page
(p. 8) with multiple emergent leaders’ quotes helpfully compiled in Roger Oakland’s latest book Faith Undone: The emerging church...a new reformation or an end-time deception? TBC


1. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 044-45, 062-63.
2. Ibid., 053.
3. Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, November 2004, Vol 48, No 11, 36ff.
4. .
5. Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 134.
6. Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 182-83.

Weaning Evangelicals off the Word - Part 2

March 2007 Newsletter - T.A. McMahon

Last month, in part one of this series, we quoted the Apostle Paul speaking about how Christians would view doctrine in the time prior to the return of Christ for His church: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Obviously, biblical doctrine will not be looked upon favorably. The implication is that doctrine will be regarded as rather burdensome, something that Christians of the future won’t want to “endure.” Conforming to sound doctrine involves spiritual discipline, thoughtful diligence, and making choices based on God’s Word that go against the desires of the flesh.

What is sound doctrine? Very simply, it is the teachings of God, including His instructions, His precepts, His commandments—in short, it is every word that He says from Genesis to Revelation. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). Yet in the Last Days, many if not most Christians will not endure sound doctrine.
So what will be left? Apostasy—a form of Christianity that is a mere shell of what the Bible teaches. It will accommodate the lusts of the flesh under the guise of godliness, as Paul tells us in his second epistle to Timothy. Furthermore, there will be an ample supply of persuasive Christians around who will, wittingly or unwittingly, subtly and not so subtly (but nonetheless surely), subvert sound doctrine. And the process is already well underway.

As we pointed out in part one, Satan’s chief strategy in the seduction of mankind is to undermine, pervert, distort, corrupt, libel, denigrate, and deny the Scriptures by any and every means he can. The end product of his mission will be an apostate religion and church in which its adherents will worship and follow the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness whom Satan will empower. Fulfilling his mission involves a rather simple formula that was terribly effective in the Garden of Eden and throughout the Old Testament and Apostolic times. It has continued throughout church history right up to our present day: to induce humanity to deviate from and then ultimately reject what God has said. Adam and Eve were the first to succumb. An inherited sin nature made their offspring easier prey for the adversary, the devil, who goes about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

God continually declared to the Israelites that if they obeyed Him they would be blessed, and if they walked in disobedience they would suffer the devastating consequences of their sin: their separation from God, and God’s separation from them, the loss of righteous guidance and protection, and the various disciplinary actions of God, including being subjected to His wrath. Israel’s wilderness experiences in Exodus and through the cycles of rebellion and repentance in the book of Judges testify to the fact of God being true to His word and His warnings. Deuteronomy seems to be an exercise in redundancy as Moses again and again issues God’s instructions to the children of Israel and cautions them to carefully obey what He has commanded. It wasn’t just a matter of law, but of life: “And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Deuteronomy 32:46,47).

Samuel, the prophet and judge, echoes Moses’ exhortation more than three centuries later: “Serve the LORD with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain” (1 Samuel 12:20,21). Not only is turning from God a pursuit after vanity, something worthless, but the process itself is wickedness: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). Samuel’s inspired analogy underscores not only the evil of rebellion as it relates to idolatry but it provides insight that helps us recognize Satan’s inducements to disobedience that are prevalent in the church today.

Idolatry was the dominant issue. The children of Israel were commanded not to make graven images or gods of silver or gold (Exodus 20:3,4, 23). What was their reply? “All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). Yet days later, when Moses failed to return from Mount Sinai and fear set in, they turned from the words of God to what they supposed would better meet their emotional and spiritual “felt needs.” They fashioned a physical object to worship—a golden calf.

Although their act was unmitigated rebellion against God, let’s consider what very likely influenced their thinking. Their spiritual leader had disappeared. Panic gripped them. They were more comfortable with the physical forms of worship learned from the Egyptians than with instructions from an invisible God. Perhaps Aaron thought the best way to pacify the people was to give them something their physical senses could relate to—something experientially reassuring.

What’s wrong with taking a wholistic approach, i.e., meeting the needs of body, mind, and spirit? Wouldn’t their worship of a physical thing, as well as the spiritual stimulation of ritual, be “acceptable,” as long as it was directed toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Aaron must have thought so. He crafted a golden calf, built an altar, oversaw the liturgy, and dedicated the feast “unto the Lord.” The Israelites’ response was a precursor to the spirit of religious ecumenism and compromise, so prevalent in our day, which is also based upon lies: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4).

We urgently need a biblical understanding of what idolatry comprises. Old Testament examples and the admonitions against it are given by God. Why would they be relevant for us? Because the evangelical church today is following Aaron’s example! Most Christians would define idolatry as “whatever takes the place of God in our lives.” True. Yet, too often, that rather general answer fails to help us understand the ways and means by which idolatry works. Consequently, we may not have the discernment necessary to be on our guard against it.

Why is idolatry so critical? Let’s start with the obvious: The Bible defines idols as false gods (Psalm 96:5). They are items of deception and, even worse, the creations of men and devils. To worship them is delusion. The veneration itself often consists of debauchery and depravity, ritual activities completely given over to the physical senses. Idolatry involves materialism and experientialism, totally oriented toward the flesh. The so-called gods are physically represented and sensually worshiped. Most evangelicals know all this, but what many seem not to understand today is the nature of idolatry and how it subverts our worship of the true and living God.

The worship God desired from the Israelites, His people whom He set apart to receive His Messiah, stands in stark contrast to the religious endeavors of the heathen nations. Rather than giving them images, Moses spoke the words of God to them, and then he wrote the words in a Book. “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD...and he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people” (Exodus 24:4,7). He told them (then wrote it down) that the making of images to represent God is condemned: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5).

Why would God give such a command? Because no image that man could ever draw, engrave, paint, sculpt, fashion through any medium, or conjure up in his mind could truly represent Jehovah God. He is infinite (1 Kings 8:27). He is spirit (John 4:24). He is invisible (John 1:18). Even the God-prescribed places of worship were drastically different from their pagan counterparts. There was nothing physical to worship! The Holy of Holies within the tabernacle, and later in Solomon’s temple, contained not the image of God but the Word of God, represented by the Ark of the Covenant. Contained within the Ark was the Testimony of God, the second set of tablets written by God’s own hand (Deuteronomy 10:1,2). Again, by the design of God, the emphasis is on the Word.

God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity through words, not images. In like manner, worship must be through His Word, according to His Word.

No doubt He selected words because they are best suited to convey precisely what He wants mankind to know and to do. Words have definite meanings and can be interpreted objectively. Only words, spoken or written, can come close to accurately communicating attributes of our transcendent God and His divine nature. On the other hand, worship aroused by imagery is based upon the imagination rather than upon the teachings of Scripture. Religious images can at best only convey information in a symbolic and superficial way. Their interpretations are mostly subjective, experiential, and rely mainly upon the imagination of the observer. The message of the Bible, however, is not about aesthetic gratification but about our redemption; it’s not about our feelings but His truth, which images can never express but only oppose. Jesus prayed to His Father for His disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
The theology of the Bible is instructional. It is given in words so that man can understand it. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). The Bible encourages faith that is founded upon evidence, logic, and reason. No image-reliant belief system can make those claims, and when the people of the Book turn to religious imagery, they are abandoning reason and following idolatry. That happened to the Israelites throughout their history, including when they were instructed by God to make a bronze serpent as a symbol that ultimately pointed to Christ’s death on the Cross, in payment for the sins of the world. They later turned it into an object of idolatry and as a consequence God told them to destroy it (2 Kings 18:4).

Throughout its history, Christendom has likewise succumbed to idolatry through imagery and liturgical ritual. Roman Catholic tradition credits St. Veronica as having captured the image of Christ upon her veil, which supposedly became the source for later icons, paintings, and engravings of Jesus. St. Veronica continues to be venerated today when Catholics observe the ritual of the Stations of the Cross. Eastern Orthodoxy developed icons of Christ, Mary, and the Saints as devices for mystically transcending the temporal through imagery that enables one to “spiritually see” indescribable divinity. In the ninth century, the Russian Orthodox Church incorporated icons as a central part of their worship, including a form of divination known as “praying through the icons.” Again, this is religious rebellion, which the Scriptures tell us is as the sin of witchcraft.

The Emperor Constantine did much to introduce idolatrous imagery into Christianity in order to appease the multitudes of pagans he coerced into joining his newly favored religion of the realm. It was during the Middle Ages, however, that the Roman Catholic Church greatly increased its use of visual imagery. Religious statues, paintings, reliefs, the display of relics, as well as expanded liturgies with the use of luxurious vestments, incense, candles, and processions were increasingly emphasized to encourage the participation of the mostly illiterate population. Rather than educate the people, the Church of Rome fed them an experiential, visual theology that prolonged their ignorance of the Scriptures and bred superstition. By God’s grace, Gutenburg’s printing press in the fifteenth century and the Reformation in the sixteenth century were instrumental in helping to turn those who “protested” against the abuses of the Catholic Church back to the Bible.

Astonishingly, the evangelical church is progressively sliding into idolatry as it turns from the Word of God to visual imagery. A goal of the American Bible Society is to put the entire Bible on video to accommodate our visually oriented generation (which has little interest in reading). The Jesus Film, a dramatic representation of the Gospel of Luke, has been the staple of Campus Crusade’s overseas evangelical efforts. The very Catholic movie The Passion of the Christ became a runaway box-office hit, largely due to the overwhelming support it received from evangelicals. Biblically conservative mission organizations such as Gospel for Asia are using Mel Gibson’s Hollywood production as part of its outreach program. Millions of The Passion of the Christ DVDs were purchased by evangelical churches for their Sunday schools, Bible studies, and small group meetings.

Religious movies are on the rise (e.g., The Nativity Story, One Night with the King) as evangelicals “partner” with Hollywood and demonstrate that they are an eager and profitable market. One pastor, whose church bought out theaters for private showings of The Passion (which produced only “one conversion”) repented. He came under the conviction that rather than partnering with, his church was, in fact, “pimping for Hollywood.” As true as that may be, and as praiseworthy as his repentance was, if he doesn’t understand the serious nature (as explained above) of attempting to represent God’s Word in dramatic visual form, he is vulnerable to repeating the same error with visual idolatry.

This is not a blanket condemnation of the film/video medium, but films cannot be used to present the Scriptures visually without becoming idolatrous. Not only are the images historically false (they are conjured up from the imagination of a screenwriter or director) but they must also conform to the mechanics of the medium (acting, cinematography, art direction, lighting, music, sound effects, etc.), which are designed to manipulate the senses and the emotions for dramatic purposes (see Showtime for the Sheep?, a more detailed explanation).

Biblical movies are just one trend among dozens that are contributing to weaning evangelicals off the Word of God and producing biblically illiterate Christians. This is especially true regarding our visually oriented youth. In the final part of this series, we want to give more extensive examples of movements within evangelical Christianity that are aggressively turning our next generation away from the Scriptures and toward an idolatry of experientialism.

We serve a merciful God who can rescue a soul out of the darkest of circumstances but who will not support by His grace man’s religious ways and means in their attempts to serve Him. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). To the degree that we deviate from His way, we are lapsing into idolatry. As Jesus explained, “God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). TBC

New 3 part series from The Berean Call-Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word-Part 1

I am currently writing a new article about Rick Warren and the unbiblical purpose driven movement. This wonderful series of article from my friends and brothers in the Lord at The Berean Call ties in with my new article.
I would encourage you to visit the Berean Call which is still a solid source of biblical based information.
Here is part one of the 3 part series.

Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word-Part 1
McMahon, T.A.
February 1, 2007

February 2007 Newsletter - T.A. McMahon

Apostasy is rampant within the evangelical church today. At least that’s my perspective as one who has observed religious trends and developments for three decades. Before I present my specific concerns, let me define some terms. The use of the word “evangelical” in this article simply refers to those who would say that the Bible is their authority in all matters of faith and practice. “Apostasy” consists of those teachings and practices that are contrary to the Word of God yet seduce and deceive both professing Christians and true believers. “Biblical apostasy” is a falling away that will result in a false Christianity under the control of the Antichrist: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away...”(2 Thessalonians 2:3). Although the culmination of the Apostasy takes place after the Rapture of the church, various aspects of this apostate religion have and will continue to ensnare many believers throughout its development.

At a certain point in the future, there will be a total rejection of biblical Christianity, succeeded by the religion of the Antichrist; it will maintain a veneer of Christianity that will prove acceptable to all religions. This perversion of Christianity doesn’t just suddenly happen once the Antichrist appears. The deception process began long ago in the Garden of Eden with Satan’s seduction of Eve, and it is becoming more and more of a corrupting influence within Christianity as the time of the appearing of the false messiah, whom the entire world will worship (Revelation 13), draws near.Satan began his dialogue with Eve by planting seeds of doubt regarding what God had commanded: “Yea, hath God said...?” (Genesis 3:1). This opening line of the Adversary has been the basis ever since for his principal strategy in inducing rebellion against God. Its implications impugning the character of God and sanctioning the rationalizations of man seem endless: Why would God keep something good from you?; Is He really in charge?; Does He make the rules?; You misunderstood His commands; There are no absolutes; You need to consider what He says from your own perspective, and so forth. Eve, although reiterating God’s command for the most part, adds her own erroneous thought to what God actually said: “...neither shall ye touch it” (3:3).

This is what happens when dialogues take place regarding absolutes: the truth is either added to or subtracted from. Tragically, many Christians see nothing wrong with rewriting God’s Word. They are perfectly content with Bible versions that have done exactly that.

In response to Eve, Satan blatantly rejects God’s warning that death would result from sin: “You will not surely die.” Making God out to be a liar or dismissing Him altogether has always been Satan’s game. The Serpent then convinces Eve that obeying God’s command would rob her of enlightenment, godhood, and knowledge—and thus severely limit her potential: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (3:5).

Variations of these basic lies from the one who was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44) have successfully deceived humanity throughout history. “Yea, hath God said...?” (Satan’s direct attack upon God’s Word) has even led both professing and true Christians into the Apostasy.

Questioning or rejecting what God has said in the Scriptures is at the heart of instigating religious rebellion. The reasons should be obvious: 1) If the Bible cannot be trusted as God’s specific communication to mankind, then we are left with nothing more than man’s opinions and guesses about God and what He desires; 2) Finite humanity’s speculations about its infinite Creator are not only terribly erroneous—they are evil, because they are generated by man’s sinful, self-serving nature; 3) Even a true believer could be led into darkness without the light and lamp of God’s Word (Psalm 119:105).

Although the Bible has been under various attacks for centuries, the latest “Yea, hath God said...?” strategy may be the Serpent of Old’s most deadly. The process involves weaning evangelical Christians away from the knowledge of, an understanding of, and a dependence upon the Word of God. The objective is to produce biblically shallow Christians who are functionally illiterate regarding what the Bible teaches, and who therefore have no accurate basis for, or interest in, discerning biblical truth from error. By “functionally illiterate” I mean that such evangelicals know how to read, and they have Bibles (of some sort), but they rarely read them, preferring to get their biblical content from some other source.

Conditioned by a subversive weaning process, these biblically shallow Christians have little or no concern about doctrine. They major in the experiential, with their feelings almost exclusively determining what they believe. The Apostle Paul, speaking prophetically of the Last Days, seemed to have these specifically in mind: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Sensual “lusts” of the flesh and imagination are implied here.

A couple of decades ago, the extreme Charismatics and Pentecostals would have been the obvious reference point regarding Paul’s warning, given their obsession with healing, prosperity, and a spirituality energized by seeking after signs and wonders. Today, experiential Christianity has extended far beyond the bounds of what was considered a fringe evangelical element. It now pervades the entire church, including those denominations and movements once known for their conservative doctrinal views and biblical adherence. They have vigorously blocked the lying signs and wonders seduction at their front doors while opening wide their side entrances and youth rooms to the purveyors of the experiential in less obvious yet equally disastrous forms.
Before examples of today’s antibiblical experiential Christianity are presented, it needs to be understood that true Christianity is both doctrinal and experiential. It includes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that begins when one has understood the doctrine (i.e., biblical teaching) of salvation—the Gospel of Christ—and has accepted it by faith. When this happens, the Spirit of Christ indwells that person (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30, Romans 8:9). As one understands all that He did for us, true love for Jesus follows.

Then, as one grows in his relationship with Jesus through knowing and obeying the Scriptures, one’s affection for Him increases. Furthermore, as one matures in the faith, the fruit of the Spirit is increasingly manifested: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. These certainly involve the experiential. So what is the problem, then, with experiential Christianity?

The chief error today in the evangelical church is that experiences (feelings, emotions, passions, intuitions, etc.) have become the guide for entering into and attempting to establish true spirituality. Rather than subjective feelings and emotions being present as a result of one’s adherence to sound doctrine, they have become the judge of whether or not something is truly Christian. Instead of testing a teaching or practice or situation by the Word of God, the arbiter becomes “how one feels about it.” This puts the human imagination in the seat of judgment. That thought alone should provoke an emotion in the heart of every Bible-believing Christian: sheer horror! Doctrinally however, it’s even more frightening.

Twice in the Book of Proverbs, in almost exactly the same terms, we are told, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). In other words, if a man goes by what he thinks or feels, independently of and in opposition to what God has declared, the consequences for him will only generate destruction. Death is separation, the spirit and soul from the body; moreover, the ways of death include separating man from the light of God’s truth. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Experientialism (what feels right to man) is a leaven working its way through the entire church as it undermines biblical truth. Today there are many infectious manifestations, with heavy emphasis upon the following: signs and wonders, faith-healing and prosperity, logos vs. rhema, the new apostles and prophets, kingdom-dominion, redeeming-the-culture missions, strategic spiritual warfare, inner-healing, 12-steps, Christian psychology, evangelical social-activism; ecumenism, church growth, purpose-driven, emerging church, contemplative/mysticism, church entertainment, contemporary worship, culturally accommodating Bible versions, and visually translated Bibles. All of these movements are in opposition to the clear teaching of God’s Word, yet multitudes follow them eagerly.

Although these diverse endeavors often overlap in terms of concepts and methods, they share a common trait: while giving lip service to the Scriptures, they all, whether through ignorance, self-delusion, or planned deceit, critically subvert its teachings. The way that seems right to a man—the way that feels right, produces numerical growth, seems more spiritual, moves one emotionally, appears to move God on one’s behalf, brings people together, makes people feel closer to God and better about themselves, is more positive, fills more pews, impresses the world, is not judgmental, etc.—that way is systematically eliminating any concern for sound doctrine in the church. This is experientialism in opposition to doctrine among evangelicals, and it has the church helping to usher in the Apostasy.

There is not enough space in this article to explain all the movements listed above. We have been writing about most of them for years. Many of them can be found by searching TBC’s website for related articles or the books we offer. Although they are connected at times by individuals, similar methodologies, or goals, the basic glue that essentially holds all of the movements together is the propensity for subjective experience over the written Word. All are working from this same unbiblical premise.

Extreme Charismatics and Pentecostals have a foundational teaching that God’s mode of communication today is to speak outside the Bible directly to His people, particularly through a new breed of apostles and prophets. This “new way” is called the rhema of God, a supposed contrast to logos, which is categorized as the old written form. One of it’s foremost leaders, C. Peter Wagner, claims that God is instructing the church in new ways of doing things through His modern prophets. Therefore, the Bible is of little or no value for judging what’s being promoted. This teaching is not only antibiblical but it has been the catalyst for the most spiritually spurious rituals of the last century, from the proliferation of false prophets to the so-called binding of territorial spirits to taking dominion over cities, countries, and ultimately the world “for the Lord.”

Hearing from and drawing experientially closer to God through techniques (e.g., occult visualization and meditation) is the practice of today’s evangelical contemplatives and mystics. Richard Foster and others have derived their so-called spiritual formation approach from Catholic “saints” and mystics. Foster created The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible to biblically support his mystical approach, yet its commentaries libel the Scriptures and demean sound doctrine. Foster introduced Eastern mystical techniques to the church decades ago in Celebration of Discipline (quickly adopted as mandatory reading for Campus Crusade leadership). Now his spiritual formation agenda is foundational to the Emerging Church, a widespread movement of 20-to-30-year-old evangelicals who are attracted to the sensual liturgies (candles, incense, chanting, vestments, rituals, statues, icons, etc.) of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as a supposed means of enhancing their spiritual formation.

Eugene Peterson, a contributor to The Renovaré Bible, has his own extremely popular Bible version (The Message). Experientialism through alleged poetic license is blatantly manifested throughout this humanistic and culturally acceptable perversion of God’s Word, which Rick Warren has done much to promote. Consider Matthew 16:25 in The Message: “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.” Try finding any hint of one’s “true self” in any other Bible translation of this verse! This is the leaven of psychotherapy (which is wholly experiential and subjective) that has permeated the church.

Although on guard against the biblical abuses of the Charismatics, even the most conservative evangelical churches have been seduced by the self-oriented and feelings-sensitive methodologies of psychology. Nothing in contemporary Christianity has raised the cry of “Yea, hath God said...?” in challenging what the Scriptures clearly teach as has so-called Christian psychology. From psychobabble-ized and Christianized 12-Steps programs (e.g., “Celebrate Recovery,” which Saddleback has spread into thousands of churches) to the occult-ridden inner-healing ministries (e.g., Elijah House of John and Paula Sandford) to the humanistic self-teachings of Focus on the Family, the psycho-spiritual leaven spreads unabated.

The seeker-sensitive church-growth movement has pushed experientialism (and its close kin, pragmatism) into overdrive through the power of marketing. Sound doctrine, necessarily, is left by the wayside while churches meet the “felt needs” of consumers who are targeted as potential Christians.

Conviction of sin doesn’t feel good, nor does it sell well. The wishful thinking of a purpose-driven church that would attract the lost by turning to the world’s methods has become a Titanic that has ignored warnings and jettisoned its compass of the doctrine of Christ. While the orchestra searches for a contemporary chorus replacement for “Nearer My God To Thee,” the vessel is sinking into the depths of compromise while dispensing temporal lifejackets to save the world from its problems. This is the way that seems right to the world and to an astounding number of those who profess to believe the Bible.

Ironically, our day is seeing more Christian media and entertainment, and more Bibles of every sort. Yet, the result is a corruption of God’s truth because there is no heart for sound biblical doctrine, especially since marketing departments are now leading the way! At best, the evangelical church in the U.S. reflects the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-17): rich and increased with experiential goods that can only yield shallow Christians; at worst, it has become a willing contributor to the end-times delusion.

Yet even in the face of so troubling a situation, we have reason to be both encouraged and fruitful, that is, if we will obey Paul’s inspired exhortation: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee [from the growing apostasy]” (1 Timothy 4:16). Let us pray for one another to that end.

Responce to Attack Dogs article from Christianity Today

A read a article a couple weeks ago titled "Attack Dogs of Christendom" from Christianity Today.
Here is that link.

Im no big fan of this magazine because of their lack of discernment but
this quote from the article struck me-

"Where is the gentleness, modesty, and wisdom with which we are supposed to shame those who mock and accuse the Body of Christ from outside?

Christians should set an example. By all means criticize fellow Christians if necessary, but do so with grace." end quote

Then I read this verse in the Bible-
2 Timothy 2:23-26
"But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient,
in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth
and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."

In the above mentioned article I think what was being referred to was a matter of style.
Yes lets point out error when need be but lets do it with humility and gentleness so the outcome will be that some may come to their senses because God has used us to wake them up.

As of late many in the discernment ministries have become very harsh and bitter.
What name calling does is turn people off to the very truth about error you seek to expose.
I know I've done it as well.
Your words can come back to haunt you and in these days of the Internet its harder to get rid of what you have stated than you would think.
I was recently on Richard Abanes website and I saw his rumour control link and then had to come face to face with the many stupid unChristlike things I have said in the past.
What happens is unChristlike name calling takes away from the truth you are proclaiming.
And then you have your small crowd of yes and ameners as the only one's to preach to.
And that is preaching to the choir and it really does not do anything for the Body of Christ at large.
Discernment ministries can also be mean and unChristlike to their own ranks.
I could give you some examples of that but whats the point.
I find that ones personal life will often affect ones writing so with a dedication to our readers we really owe it to them to examine ourselves daily.
2 Cor 13:5"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ––unless indeed you are disqualified."
Sometimes we need to take five and really read what we have written.
And at times apologize for being out of line.
Lets not take pot shots at Dan Kimbals hair or love of Brian Seltzer music but instead focus on the occult rituals Dan promotes in his book and articles such as the labyrinth.
Scripture teaches us to be patient with difficult people.
Do we do that or do we just use our personal websites and blogs to blast others.
I also understand that people see whats going on and want to passionately respond to the affects that things like Purpose Driven has had on family and friends.
For me I have personally witnessed many fall into the unbiblical snare that has been cast by people such as Rick Warren and Hybels as well.
Its very difficult to not to launch out on this heresy.
But we owe it to our readers to just state the facts on whats being taught (with a sense of urgency).
And then compare it to what scripture teaches.
Then people need to decide for themselves.
We also need to keep in mind that I believe we are in the time of the great falling away mentioned in scripture in 2 Thess 2:3.
So we should not be surprised when Rick Warrens man made programs work and fill seats and make profit for the businessmen who now rum our churches.
We should also not be surprised that after countless warnings and exposes people still send Benny Hinn money.
Robert Titlon and Peter Popoff are back with a host of other false teachers.
And sadly Jim Baker is back to selling stuff on TV after repenting of all the same actions.
Again keep in mind this verse and search the Scriptures in everything that is taught to see if its true.
I was personally heart broken when I saw that another church I used to go to has caved into the Purpose Driven program which will be launching again at the end of this month.
Rick Warren has been very successful in taking the Holy Spirit out of the equation with his programs and its fruit is that of a weakened Christianity.
Another church in town to my surprise ran the Purpose Driven Life program which surprised me because this was a independent fundamental Baptist church.
They now have a program where if you attend on a regular basis and bring friends you earn points and have a chance to win 50.00 dollars.
Paying people to come to your church what a sad day for this church indeed.
Sad to see the fruit of Rick Warren and others who choose to follow the broad road.
There will be a day where there will be no turning back and you will remain deceived.
So for all the discernment ministries evaluate your style of writing so that it will be effective in aiding the Body of Christ in this time of great deception.

Recently Ingrid Schulter's website "Slice of Laodecia" has shut down for whatever reason.
My hope for Ingrid is that she will stand back and take a good look at herself and her writing as well as her often unChristlike attitude toward others in her writing. I also pray that God heals whatever problem is really bothering her to affect her writing and communication with others.

2 Thess 2:3-12
"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New articles to come based on my responce to Attack Dogs of Christendom

Ive been working on some articles addressing the recent Christianity Today article.

More to come.


Contextual Theology - Falling From Truth Through the Emerging Church

great new article by Roger Oakland-

Source: Understand the Times with Roger Oakland

by Roger Oakland

In order for the emerging church to succeed, the Bible has to be looked at through entirely different glasses, and Christianity needs to be open to a new type of faith. Brian McLaren calls this new faith a "generous orthodoxy."1 While such an orthodoxy allows a smorgasbord of ideas to be proclaimed in the name of Christ, many of these ideas are actually forbidden and rejected by Scripture.

Pagitt believes that he is part of a cutting-edge response to the new postmodern world. It's a response he and others see as completely unique, never having been tried before in the history of man. Pagitt states:

It seems to me that our post-industrial times require us to ask new questions-questions that people 100 years ago would have never thought of asking. Could it be that our answers will move us to re-imagine the way of Christianity in our world? Perhaps we as Christians today are not only to consider what it means to be a 21st century church, but also and perhaps more importantly-what it means to have a 21st century faith.2
Many people I meet at conferences who come from a wide variety of church backgrounds tell me the church they have been attending for years has radically changed. Their pastor no longer teaches the Bible. Instead, the Sunday morning service is a skit or a series of stories. The Bible seems to have become the forbidden book. While there are pastors who do still teach the Bible, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Emergent leaders often say the message remains the same, but our methods must change if we are going to be relevant to our generation. The measure of success for many pastors today is how many are coming, rather than how many are listening and obeying what God has said in His Word. Let's consider how Doug Pagitt uses the Bible in his own church. He states:
At Solomon's Porch, sermons are not primarily about my extracting truth from the Bible to apply to people's lives. In many ways the sermon is less a lecture or motivational speech than it is an act of poetry-of putting words around people's experiences to allow them to find deeper connection in their lives... So our sermons are not lessons that precisely define belief so much as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas and participation.3

What Pagitt is describing is a contextual theology; that is, don't use the Bible as a means of theology or measuring rod of truth and standards by which to live; and rather than have the Bible mold the Christian's life, let the Christian's life mold the Bible. That's what Pagitt calls "putting words around people's experiences." As this idea is developed, emerging proponents have to move away from Bible teachings and draw into a dialectic approach. That way, instead of just one person preaching truth or teaching biblical doctrine, everyone can have a say and thus come to a consensus of what the Bible might be saying. Pagitt explains:
To move beyond this passive approach to faith, we've tried to create a community that's more like a potluck: people eat and they also bring something for others. Our belief is built when all of us engage our hopes, dreams, ideas and understandings with the story of God as it unfolds through history and through us.4
You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology (1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:
... a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.5
In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing-other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, "Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology."6 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.

Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:
Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture.7
These "churches in the West" Flemming considers "most promising" are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans' model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church's dilemma. He states:

Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth ... we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.8
There's good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God's Word must change. But, on the contrary, it's people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God's Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.

While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as Pagitt suggests), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered-rather it alters the reader's heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people's experiences as emergents suggest.

The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man's perspective and not God's revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one's spiritual life-the results can lead to terrible deception.

Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn't just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change ... it's the message itself they are changing:
It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, "We're not changing the message; we're only changing the medium." This claim is probably less than honest ... in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that's received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this....9
While reaching today's generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to
His Word. Scripture commands us to "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ.... reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom;
like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic.(From Faith Undone, pp. 42-45.)

1. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,
2. Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, op. cit., pp. 17, 19.
3. Ibid., p. 166.
4. Doug Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, op. cit., p. 167.
5. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis
Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000,
ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.
6. Paul L. Lehmann, "Contextual Theology" (Theology Today, Princeton
Theological Seminary, 1972,
7. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.
8. Ibid, pp. 14-15.
9. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side, op. cit., p. 68.

This article or excerpt was posted on July 23, 2007@ 10:50 am .

Category: * Contemplative

Hot Off The Press

From my friend and brother in the Lord Bud Press-

Excuses: Compromise in Disguise

There is nothing humorous about playing nicer than God

by Bud Press, Director

Christian Research Service

August 16, 2007

A Christian walked into a crowded Christian bookstore. As he browsed the many shelves of books and materials, to his amazement he noticed a copy of The Book of Mormon resting on a shelf at the very back of the bookstore.

The Christian brought the Mormon publication to the attention of the bookstore manager and kindly asked, Why is this book in your Christian bookstore? Are you aware that Mormonism is a cult?

Having dealt with similar questions many times in the past, the manager whispered, Yes, I know Mormonism is a cult and I disagree with it totally, but I carry reading materials that appeal to the interests of a wide variety of customers. It pays the bills.

The Christian said, If you know Mormonism is a cult and you totally disagree with it, why are you advertising and promoting Mormonism in your Christian bookstore?

Agitated by the Christian's persistence, the manager raised his voice and exclaimed, Look! I totally disagree with Mormonism! I am not advertising and promoting Mormonism! I am just making Mormon reading materials available to my customers!

In a calm voice the Christian replied, The Book of Mormon is a lie, and it leads people to a false Jesus, gospel, and spirit. Let's see what God has to say. Are you familiar with Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-4?

The bookstore manager walked away and turned his attention to another customer.

With the manager's words ringing in his ears, the Christian walked out of the bookstore scratching his head in disbelief, and vowed never to return.

To recap, The Book of Mormon was publicly displayed in the Christian bookstore not by accident, but purposely, for customers to see, read, and purchase. Yet the manager maintained he was not advertising and promoting Mormonism.

Instead of humbling himself, repenting, thanking the Christian, and removing the Book of Mormon immediately and forever, the manager used excuses, became defensive, and chose to compromise the faith and endanger the spiritual welfare of his customers.

In the above encounter, take note of how the manager used carefully chosen words to artfully dodge his way around the issue of advertising and promoting:

"I am not advertising and promoting Mormonism! I am just making Mormon reading materials available to my customers!"

The manager believed it and wanted the Christian to believe it. As far as the manager was concerned, he was justified, despite what God's word says:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

When caught red-handed, bank robbers try to artfully dodge their way around the main issue too, saying, I didn't rob the bank! I just asked for some money!

Artful dodging doesn't work on police detectives, and it shouldn't work on Christians.

Playing nicer than God

Speaking of excuses, along with the influx of non-Christian authors and books, there are a wide variety of excuses that some (but not all) online and walk-in bookstore employees have used to justify the advertisement, promotion, and sale of known non-Christian books and materials:

· You can't please everybody. If I remove all the books everybody complained about we would have to shut down.

· Our customers have different tastes and preferences, and we try to appeal to what they want. Besides, every author isn't right on everything.

· Our bookstores are autonomous and independent. They decide what they want to carry on their shelves.

· I don't agree with this author, but her books help keep our doors open.

· I know there's a lot of garbage out there, but I can't control what comes in to my bookstore.

· I have bills to pay. Contact our main office and complain to them.

· I tell customers the author of this book is a false teacher. But if I don't carry the book in my store they will just go somewhere else to buy it.

· I know this author has some false teachings, but he does so much good and is leading a lot of people to the Lord.

· I took this book off the shelf and complained to my manager, but he put it back on the shelf the next day. What else am I supposed to do?

· We don't display this author's books in our bookstore. We keep them underneath the sales counter. If anyone asks for it we sell it to them quietly.

· I know I should warn my customers about this author, but I don't want to offend them and lose a sale.

· You've made a really big mistake! We don't carry X-rated stuff in our online bookstore! If we did I would know about it!

· If I refuse to sell this book my manager will fire me.

· We've tried to block this author and book from our online database, but it keeps showing up in a search.

· We deal with thousands of books. We can't catch everything.

· I have talked to the manager at our local Christian bookstore and given her a lot of information about this author, but she refuses to listen.

· If I don't stock this book in my store my customers will go buy it at the secular bookstore in the mall! I can't afford to lose a sale!!

· I have never heard this author teach anything false. I watch him on TV all the time. Everybody makes mistakes. You should be ashamed of yourself. You need to stop attacking anointed men of God!

· This author is in our database from our main headquarters. We only carry Christian authors, so he must be a Christian.

· We don't carry this author in our bookstore because he's too controversial, but we can order his books online.

While the above excuses are paraphrases of past conversations Christian Research Service has had with online and walk-in Christian bookstore employees, and while the excuses may seem comical to some, there is nothing humorous about compromising the faith, playing nicer than God, and toying around with a believer's spiritual welfare. This is serious business, and the lives of those whom Jesus Christ died for hang in the balance.

It has been said many times and bears repeating: non-Christian authors will not only shipwreck the faith of a believer, they will drive the unsaved deeper and deeper into sin and further away from God. Where a person will spend eternity is primary.

No Christian in their right mind would knowingly give an unsaved person The Book of Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness New World Translation to read and study, then tell them to "pick-out the good stuff and reject the bad" at the same time.

Knowingly causing Christians to stumble, and knowingly driving the unsaved deeper into sin would be a terrible legacy to live with.

Misplaced priorities

In Mark 12:28-30, a scribe asked Jesus, What commandment is the foremost of all? Jesus answered the scribe and said, The foremost is HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (NASB).

From the very words of the Master, Christians are to love the Lord with every aspect of their being, and give Him top priority in their lives. This is not a simple request but a command from God Himself in human form.

But when Christians fail to give Jesus Christ top priority in their lives, sin enters in which, in turn, opens the door to compromise, deception, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5; NASB)

Compromise, deception, dishonesty, and hypocrisy are at an all-time high. And because Christians aren't immune to sin, it is imperative that they test and examine themselves daily to see if they are in the faith, and to see where their priorities are. If their first priority isn't Jesus Christ, then their priorities are misplaced, and repentance is in order.

God says what He means and means what He says. Playing nicer than God is compromise in disguise.

Find additional articles and news releases on the Christian bookstore industry at

Bud Press is the Director of Christian Research Service and a Christian Investigative Researcher. Christian Research Service is a discernment ministry that provides information, documentation and referral on a wide variety of issues to the body of Christ and the Christian news media worldwide.

© Christian Research Service 2007

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