Jesus

Anglican clerics face split over homosexuality

The Church of England is convening a summit of 38 church leaders from across the world to ‘resolve’ issues over gay rights and same-sex marriage. A major split is in the making Biblically correct African leaders are expected to walk out if the rest side with the homosexual movements agenda.  For run of the mill evangelicals, like we in Truth Watch, this is a non-issue.  Debating homosexuality and its place in any Christian communion is an oxymoron.  Common or garden Christians like us and you are justifiably perplexed.  Why on earth does this need to be debated at all?  James 4:4 springs to mind: friendship with the world that defies the commands of God is enmity towards him.  To love God is to hate evil; period, no debate.  In Galatians 5:19 Paul is explicit: The acts of the sinful nature are obvious and anyone living by them cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

It is tiresome repeating the well known biblical facts about homosexuality ad nauseum.  At no point does the Bible refer to homosexuality favourably.  Everything said about it is negative and condemnatory.  It should therefore  be entirely unnecessary to debate this issue within any denomination.  Unfortunately, there have always been elements within the Church who vie with each other to distort God’s revelation.  Their gnostic arrogance has never known any bounds.  They have always stood condemned.

Homosexuality carries the death penalty under Old Testament law.  Jesus said he had not come to do away with the law (God’s moral commands) so homosexuality is still a sin.  We can argue over the death penalty, but homosexuality is sinful nevertheless.  Some say it is no worse a sin than any other.  That is true to the extent that if we commit any sin, under God’s perfectly holy watch, we effectively break all his commands.  But, some sins carried a heavier penalty under the OT code. God clearly regards some sins as more reprehensible than others.  Sexual sins pollute our bodies – the temple of God dwelling in us.  For this reason they carried heavier penalties.

The New Testament tells us homosexuals will not enter heaven and God uses homosexuality in Romans 1 to illustrate the lengths to which we humans will go when we deny and disobey God. Sodom and its sister cities were an earlier case in point and God destroyed them.

It seems that liberal theologians either read into Scripture what they want it to say, by completely distorting the plain meaning of the text, or they make some other broad claim. Their condemnation is assured. They often appeal to natural justice, or resort to the claim we are not to judge.  Either argument is illegitimate.  No Man-made call to justice can override God’s established standards.  God tells us to love him is to obey his commands.  True justice can only stem from God’s commands. We are also perfectly free to judge on matters on which God has already issued his judgment.  If we choose to ignore, or re-interpret any clear command, our love for God must be called into question and our right to speak on matters Christian is abrogated.  Likely as not, any ‘rank-holder’, in any Christian denomination, who plies the lie about homosexuality, is almost certainly not a Christian.  Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that anyone who flagrantly commits a sexual sin should be turfed out of fellowship until they had renounced and repented of the sin.  Homosexual advocating clerics are no different and must, due to their position be judged more strictly. Two courses of action are open to them; repent and be born again, or leave the Church.

Some argue homosexuals are born that way and resort to an unfounded claim to genetic propensity.  This is arrant biological nonsense, quite apart from the fact that no such genetic connection has been found.  Because homosexuals cannot reproduce any such gene would have long since passed out of the human genome.  Of course, it would never have been there in the first place, since to put it there God would have to have contradicted his commands.  God never makes mistakes.

Jesus prayed for unity in the Church.  When church leaders risk that unity over homosexuality, related to only a small percentage of the population (1-4%),  when the plain meaning of Scripture is clear, they are defying the will of God the Father and the Son.  Such people prefer the lie to the truth and the Holy Spirit is foreign to them.

Beatles Christianity -the ‘Emerging’ Church

So, what’s so dangerous about the emerging church, a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries? The full force of emerging church theology, a movement that claims to be Christian, visited two Truth Watch members the other day – in the form of a 60s-something couple from Alabama, USA. A conversation was sparked after reading the inscription on the back of the man’s tee-shirt – something to the effect that Jesus is a problem for organised religion. The couple soon proved the reverse of their tee-shirt wisdom. According to them there is no hell. Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church and hipster pastor, has obviously spread his poison far and wide. Everyone is going to heaven. Misquoting the “no one comes to the father” phrase in John 14:6 they insisted it meant ALL will be drawn to the Father, due to the boundless grace and love of Jesus. Apparently, God’s love is so far-reaching and all-embracing that sin is not an issue. No need for deliberate repentance. God must perform some totally unbiblical alchemy, as the unregenerate pass through the vale of death, to convert the sinful soul into one cleansed of all unrighteousness. What a revelation! All those Christian martyrs could have avoided torture and execution.

So Jesus never really needed to die on the cross. It was, according to these emergent disciples, just a useful device to get the Jews on side. By getting the scriptural record wrong again they were adamant Jesus had to die on the cross because no Jew would accept him otherwise. You see, Jews insist there can be no redemption without the shedding of blood, so Jesus had to shed his blood, just for them. The fact that it was God, not the Jews, who mandated the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins, had been completely missed by his couple. Another contradiction also manifest itself. The Alabamians argued when Jesus said on the cross that it was finished he meant all sin was done away with so all would be welcomed into his kingdom. Oh, don’t forget the eldership issue. Male eldership is rank misogyny. See our women in leadership article.

All of this is little more than Beatles ‘Christianity’ – “all you need is love, love: love is all you need”. Now, of course, God is love, but it is a love infused with holiness so he cannot countenance sin in his kingdom. Our false evangelists of their new religion insisted love and relationship is the Alpha and Omega – no strings attached. Never-mind, for instance, that God tells us we must prove our love is real by obeying his commands. This is apparently an inconvenient truth best ignored.  If ignorance doesn’t work then just redefine God’s commands to mean the opposite of their plain meaning.

No one can be received into God’s kingdom unless they are regenerate; having confessed their sin, asked for repentance and by faith received that saving grace that expunges sin. The Roman’s 10:9 faith-based transformation must occur in this act of repentance, otherwise there is no born again transaction and without that there is no salvation. Emerging theology denies all of this when it insists all are saved. This false theology had reached the zenith of its obstinate apostasy in this couple. The fear of God and his holiness has well and truly been lost. By re-branding God’s love, grace and mercy as a free pass for all-comers, Beatles Christianity must come seriously close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

On the day of judgement will Jesus look on this poor American couple and say, depart from me, I never knew you? The emergent gurus are convincing otherwise faithful Christians that they can break the second commandment and mould a god in a man-made image that would have unrepentant multitudes in God’s holy kingdom. It is hard to imagine idolatry more perverse than this. Jesus warned that he will turn many away with his ‘go, I never knew you’. In this one phrase Jesus confirms the heresy in the all-are-saved dogma. If it were true then Jesus would not be turning anyone away. If he rejects many who think they know him by what means could he possibly accept those who never claimed to know him or actively rejected him? False emergent teachers have successfully blinded their followers to this obvious fact. The western Church is facing a full blown gnostic challenge that inoculates emerging church adherents against truth. Sadly, the western Church is unprepared for this assault. There is little doubt a very public schism must come between true believers and the emerging heresy.

Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus a Theological Flop

On the 3rd April 2015, Good Friday,  Killing Jesus, the movie from Bill O’Reilly’s best seller of the same name screened on Discovery Chanel.  If a church bell chimed every time the script dropped a clanger the poor bell-ringer would have eventually dropped from exhaustion.  O’Reilly, a catholic, fronts Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, the top rated cable news show for the last 16 years – and counting.  Books are also published under his name, with the profits going to charity.  They generally sell really well so there must be a number of charities doing well from Bill’s efforts.

When he chose to do a book on Jesus it was almost a foregone conclusion that it would barely cover the essentials of Jesus’ ministry.  If the film version is anything to go by the prediction proved to be right.  What a travesty the movie is.  Without going into a blow by blow account lets deal with the main problems.

First up, the adult Jesus had to be convinced he was the Messiah, when in fact the Bible narrative confirms Jesus knew who he was from a young age.  At age 12 he was in the synagogues teaching and proclaiming he was the Messiah as foretold in Isaiah 61.  Next there were the miracles.  They confirmed Jesus was the Son of God, but they hardly get a look in in Killing Jesus.  One exorcism is depicted, but it would hardly rank as a miraculous event. There is no command given to the demon to go, no prayer, only some baleful looks into space that were supposed to pass for something vaguely mysterious.  Jesus is even shown as a little surprised when the boy returns to normal.

John the Baptist is given something resembling a star billing as he works on Jesus to start being the Messiah. This, of course, is completely a-biblical.  When John baptises Jesus Christians who know their Bible, even at a basic level, would have been waiting to here God the Father’s pronouncement that he was pleased with his son.  No, that was all missing too. In fact throughout the movie God hardly gets a look in. John is shown as the premier religious leader whom Jesus publicly defends, once John is arrested.  The sense of it is that Jesus was just filling in after John had gone.  The whole nature, purpose  and meaning of the Messiah is almost entirely missing because Jesus’ central connection to universal salvation for all who believe is never explained.  Instead he is made out to be more of a champion for Jewishness and a rabble-rouser who is able to raise a following after John’s arrest.  When Jesus tells the high priest he is indeed the Son of God the story writers have Caiaphas misquote Jesus, by denouncing him as prophet and not as the Messiah.  Once again the deity of the Christ is reduced.  He is merely denounced as a prophet.  Hardly a reason to have him crucified.

The book/movie’s Catholic influence comes out in two obvious ways.  First of all, Mary is given a larger role than any biblical narrative gives her.  There is little evidence beyond the water into wine miracle (not shown in the movie) that Mary played any central role in Jesus ministry, but it is depicted otherwise in the movie.  At one point he looks to Mary and says, “the pain of absence has been terrible.” There is no record of Jesus saying this in the gospels.  It is simply added to convey a sense that Jesus as somehow dependent on Mary.  Then we have the post-crucifixion period.  We never see the resurrected Jesus!  The actual resurrection and its significance is brushed over, like the miracles and the gospel itself. We are left at the end of the movie with Peter in his boat praying for a net-full of fish and then gazing into the heavens in wonder as the fish come.  This and an earlier miss-application of Jesus’ reference to Peter and the rock upon which his Church would be built was an obvious allusion to the Catholic claim to a papal, vicar of Christ, line of succession from Peter.

From a properly Christian perspective Killing Jesus is a very poor presentation of Jesus’ significance.  His deity and his purpose are hardly touched on.  The non-Christian is likely to think Jesus was just a motivated factional leader and some sort of prophet, assuming they even know what the word signifies.  The true Christian just feels cheated and indignant.  At best the movie illustrates the extent to which the meaning of Christ Jesus amongst us 2000 years ago has been lost or ignored.

If this movie reflects the tenor of his book then O’Reilly has done the cause of Christ a disservice, and backhanded the gospel. If people are taking the book and the movie seriously they are truly deluded, or ignorant of the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship evangelism fails the western Church

Despite decades of pushing friendship evangelism the western Church has not seen much growth.  In fact the reverse is true.  Acceptance of Christianity, especially amongst youth  continues to shrink in the face of a concerted anti-Christian campaign, as Barna research (Read U Turn by George Barna) proves.  Church leaders have consigned the Church to a modern wilderness by refusing to confront secularisms drive to marginalise Christianity while simultaneously adopting management marketing principles to recruit church goers, rather than to disciple true believers.  There has been an escalation of commitment to seeker-friendly friendship evangelism by leaders, especially through the emergent church movement and the mega-church influence of Rick Warren’s purpose driven me-ism and Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek. This escalation has continued in the face of abundant evidence that it is failing to produce true followers of Jesus Christ.  Barna catalogues this failure with plentiful statistical evidence in U Turn. In a 2014 article on this issue Truth Watch explains why friendship evangelism is failing to live up to expectations.  The issue we cover include presenting the real Jesus, developing a comprehensive Christian world view, the importance of apologetics, the law to grace method of evangelism, the church’s defencelessness and the church’s teaching treadmill.  All is explained in the article.

Lukewarm Christians are therapeutic deists!

Revelation 3:16 is a dire warning that Jesus Christ loathes the lukewarm profession and practice of Christianity and will reject (vomit out – NKJV) those who think they can maintain faith in both a Christian and a secular world view. Having a foot in both camps is also rejected in Matthew 6:24 – you cannot serve two masters. In Psalm 119:113 it talks of hating the double-minded, while in James 1:8 and 4:8 the double minded are called to repentance from their unstable ways. The message is clear; either be born again and commit yourself wholeheartedly to the cause of Christ, or get away! God will tell such people he never knew them (Matthew 7:23).

In John Gill’s commentary on Rev. 3:16 he explains the passage like this: “A lukewarm professor is one that serves God and mammon; that halts between two opinions, and knows not what religion is best, and cares little for any, yet keeps in a round of duty, though indifferent to it, and contents himself with it; and is un concerned about the life and power of godliness, and takes up with the external form of it; and has no thought about the glory of God, the interest of Christ and truth… wherefore it was very loathsome to Christ, hence he threatens: I will spew thee out of my mouth; this shows how nauseous lukewarmness is to Christ…”

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, following a national study of religion and youth, have recently come up with a new definition of Christian youth and their parents. Spokesman Dr Albert Mohler concluded many Christians reduce God to a deity that solves their problems and makes them happy. According to Dr Mohler God, for these people, is little more than a “divine butler”, or “cosmic therapist”. As Mohler correctly observes (paraphrased) the sovereignty of God is replaced with the sovereignty of self. (from: Forbidden Gates (2010), by Thomas and Nita Horn).

The study led to a book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (2005) by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton. In it they describe these lukewarm Christians as ‘moralistic therapeutic deists’. They believe in several moral statutes not exclusive to any of the major world religions. It is this combination of beliefs that they label moralistic. Therapeutic Deism is characterised by these beliefs:

  • A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  • God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  • The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  • God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  • Good people go to heaven when they die.

This is Christianity with its heart and soul removed. Sin, righteousness, repentance, atonement, holiness and sanctification are missing. It is not about ‘a god’, but the God. God expects people to be holy and act justly, in obedience to his commands. Good people do not go to heaven – only those who are ‘saved’, by accepting through repentance the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, will get there. God must be part of the whole of life; he should transform our minds and our actions. Christianity is the only true faith, because Jesus Christ is the only way to the one true God. Without these things you are left with a hollow, false gospel. No wonder lukewarmness makes Jesus Christ so angry.  

Unbelievers should tremble

If you are an unbeliever and want to know how Christians become Christians go to our Articles menu and open, An Appeal to Unbelievers.  We start by identifying the most likely reasons you have chosen to justify being ‘unsaved’.  Then we briefly describe why those reasons  are errors in fact and logic. We provide you with references to go to for further information.  We don’t make it easy for you.  If you want to discover why your reasons for falsely believing your atheism are unjustified you will have to do some work.  However, if you find the basic critique of your unbelief convincing enough, we also explain the ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ.  In other words we give you the steps you need to take to become a Christian.   Yes, all those well known words are in the article – evolution, hell, sin, evil, the Bible and God, of course.

Church Leaders fail Christian Youth

In 2005, while living in the UK, a Truth Watch member spent a day in London with other para-church ministry leaders (he was with OM UK at the time) reviewing a study commissioned by Campus Crusade for Christ. The study repeated similar work done seven years earlier. Over a thousand young people aged 11-17 were polled to gauge their Christian awareness and understanding. The most stunning finding concerned their understanding of salvation. The numbers believing they would go to heaven by accepting Jesus Christ as their saviour had dipped sharply over just seven years from 66% to only 28%. Confusion also surrounded their understanding of Christianity. For example:

• Only 58% believed Jesus rose from the dead.
• 35% believed all religions led to God.
• Only 45% believed the Bible was accurate in all its teachings and only 33% believed judgement by God followed death.
• Less than 40% said they looked to the Bible for moral guidance.

In 2010 Peter Brieley, the respected Christian researcher in the UK told attendees at the Pentecost Festival that by 2020 the numbers going to Church is projected to drop from 3.5 million (in 2010) to 2.3 million. He said the drop in attendance is due to less evangelism. “The loss of young people is especially serious. In the 2020s, many churchgoers will die out,” he warned. With 59 per cent of all churches in England having no members between the ages of 15 and 19 Brieley said it was becoming as important for the church to keep young people already in the church as it was to reach new young people outside the Church. While 60 per cent of British people are not in the church, that figure rises to around 80% among the under-15s and around 75% per cent among 15 to 29-year-olds (reported in Christian Today, May 2010).

American pollster George Barna has reported only 15% of those who attend churches in the USA rank their faith as their top priority. Less than half (41%) of over 6,000 adults surveyed in 2001 believed that the Bible was trustworthy. Fifty-seven percent of Baptists believed works plays a part in salvation and 47% believe Jesus was not sinless. Little wonder that Barna has discovered (2006) that of the 38% of Americans who called themselves evangelical only 8% actually fitted the doctrinal criteria. These alarming statistics all point to a Church in the West that has veered off the narrow road. The most poignant figures to come out of the USA relate to the haemorrhaging of young people from the Church. According to Dr Noble of Summit Ministries a massive 80% of young southern Baptists leave that denomination, with some returning in later life. Across all denominations the figure is believed to be around 65%. Young people, raised in the Church, who go to university, also leave the Church in droves and many never return.

These statistics point to a manifest and inter-generational failure of Church leadership that has left the churches full of effete Christians, with a poor understanding of doctrine, history and effective Christian evangelistic engagement and apologetics. Why remain in a Church that stands for very little and is happy to compromise on doctrine to fit into the secular world. When the Church is so much like the world youth see little reason to stay in it. There is no strong conviction that Christians have a higher calling on their lives and only a poorly conceived understanding of a larger Christian cause in a post Christian Western world. Truth Watch sees no reason to doubt that the trends revealed by Barna and Brieley are to be found in New Zealand as well. The failure of leadership and the flagrant disregard for correct doctrine is killing the Church by robbing it of its next generation.