THE SHACK And Its New Age Leaven – God In Everything?‏

By Warren Smith

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
- Galatians 5:9

The Shack is being described as a “Christian” novel and is currently ranked number one on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback fiction. Many believers are buying multiple copies and giving them to friends and family. The Shack reads as a true story, but is obviously allegorical fiction. The book conveys postmodern spiritual ideas and teachings that challenge biblical Christianity – all in the name of “God” and “Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” Author William P. Young’s alternative presentation of traditional Christianity has both inspired and outraged his many readers. All the while his book continues to fly off the shelves of local bookstores.

Much like New Age author James Redfield’s book The Celestine Prophecy, The Shack is a fictional vehicle for upending certain religious concepts and presenting contrary spiritual scenarios. Allegorical novels can be a clever way to present truth. They can also be used to present things that seem to be true but really are not. Some books like The Shack do both.

I was drawn into the New Age Movement years ago by books and lectures containing parabolic stories that were not unlike The Shack. They felt spiritually uplifting as they tackled tough issues and talked about God’s love and forgiveness. They seemed to provide me with what I spiritually needed as they gave me much needed hope and promise. Building on the credibility they achieved through their inspirational and emotive writings, my New Age authors and teachers would then go on to tell me that “God” was “in” everyone and everything.

I discovered that author William P. Young does exactly the same thing in The Shack. He moves through his very engaging and emotional story to eventually present this same New Age teaching that God is “in” everything.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me first provide some background material concerning this key New Age doctrine that “God is in everything.” A good place to start is with Eugene Peterson, the author of the controversial Bible paraphrase The Message. After all, Peterson’s enthusiastic endorsement of The Shack is featured right under the author’s name on the front cover.

Ironically, it was Peterson’s endorsement that caused me to be immediately suspicious of this high-profile, bestselling “Christian” book. Through his questionable paraphrasing of the Bible, Peterson had already aligned himself in a number of areas with New Age/New Spirituality teachings. One obvious example was where he translated a key verse in the Lord’s Prayer to read “as above, so below” rather than “in earth, as it is in heaven.” “As above, so below” was a term that I was very familiar with from my previous involvement in the New Age Movement. This esoteric saying has been an occult centerpiece for nearly five thousand years. It is alleged by New Age metaphysicians to be the key to all magic and all mysteries. It means that God is not only transcendent — “out there”— but He is also immanent — “in” everyone and everything.

But, as I found out just before abandoning the deceptive teachings of the New Age for the Truth of biblical Christianity, God is not “in” everyone and everything. The Bible makes it clear that man is not divine and that man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2, Hosea 11:9, John 2:24-25, etc.) In Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, I quoted the editors of the New Age Journal as they defined “as above, so below” in their book, As Above, So Below:

“’As above, so below, as below, so above.’ This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one.” (p. 32)

My concern about Peterson’s undiscerning use of “as above, so below” in the Lord’s Prayer was underscored when the 2006 bestseller, The Secret, showcased this same occult/New Age phrase. In fact, it was the introductory quote at the very beginning of the book. By immediately featuring “as above, so below” the author Rhonda Byrne was telling her readers in definite New Age language that “God is in everyone and everything.” Towards the end of the book, The Secret puts into more practical words what the author initially meant by introducing the immanent concept of “as above, so below.” On page 164 The Secret tells its readers—“You are God in a physical body.”

Most significantly, in his book The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age leader Benjamin Crème reveals that a New World Religion will be based on this foundational “as above, so below” teaching of immanence — this idea that God is “in” everyone and everything:

“But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent — outside of His creation — and also the concept of God immanent in all creation — in man and all creation.” (p. 88)

New Age matriarch Alice Bailey, in her book The Reappearance of the Christ, wrote:

“…a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and God Immanent within every form of life. “These are foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.” (p. 88) [link added]

In a November 9, 2003 Hour of Power sermon – just two months before he was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals – Crystal Cathedral minister Robert Schuller unabashedly aligned himself with this same New Age/New World Religion teaching. The man who claims to have mentored thousands of pastors, including Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, stated:

“You know in theology — pardon me for using a couple of big words — but in theology the God we believe in, this God of Abraham, is a transcendent God. But He is also an immanent God. Transcendent means up there, out there, above us all. But God is also an immanent God — immanence of God and the transcendence of God — but then you have a balanced perspective of God. The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics — the immanence of God…. Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being!”

But God is not in every single human being. God is not in everything. One of the many reasons I wrote Deceived on Purpose was because Rick Warren presented his readers with this same “God in everything” teaching. Quoting an obviously flawed New Century Bible translation of Ephesians 4:6, Rick Warren — whether he meant to or not — was teaching his millions of readers the foundational doctrine of the New World Religion. Describing God in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, he wrote:

“He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (p. 88)

Compounding the matter further, “immanence” has been taught as part of the Foundations class at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. An ill-defined reference to immanence on page 46 of the Saddleback Foundations Participants Guide plays right into the hands of the New Spirituality/New World Religion by stating:

“The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).”

All of this discussion about “God in everything” immanence is to explain why The Shack is such a deceptive book. It teaches this same heresy. This book ostensibly attempts to deal with the deeply sensitive issues surrounding the murder of a young child. Because of the author’s intensely personal story line, most readers become engaged with the book on a deep emotional level. However, the author’s use of poetic license to convey his highly subjective, and often unbiblical, spiritual views becomes increasingly problematic as the story line develops. This is most apparent when he uses the person of “Jesus” to suddenly introduce the foundational teaching of the New Spirituality/New World Religion — God is “in” everything. Using the New Age term “ground of being” to describe “God,” the “Jesus” of The Shack states:

“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things….” (p. 112)

This false teaching about a “God” who “dwells in, around, and through all things” is the kind of New Age leaven that left unchallenged could leaven the church into the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. And while many people have expressed a great deal of emotional attachment to The Shack and its characters — this leaven alone contaminates the whole book.

Clearly, the “Jesus” of The Shack is not Jesus Christ of the Bible. The apostle Paul chided the Corinthians and warned them that they were vulnerable and extremely susceptible to “another Jesus” and “another gospel” and “another spirit” that were not from God (2 Corinthians 11:4). In the Bible, the real Jesus Christ warned that spiritual deception would be a sign before His return. He further warned that there would be those who would even come in His name, pretending to be Him (Matthew 24:3-5;24).

Without ascribing any ill motive to William Young and his book The Shack, the author’s use of spiritual creativity seems to give a “Christian” assent to the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. His mixing of truth and error can become very confusing to readers, and God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).

Dr. Harry Ironside, pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948, emphasizes the fact that truth mixed with error results in “all error” — a direct refutation of the Emergent Church teaching to find “truth” wherever it may be found — including books like The Shack. Ironside wrote:

“Error is like leaven, of which we read, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.’ Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.” (quoted in The Berean Call, April 2008)

The Shack has touched the hearts and emotions of many people. While there are many other examples of the author’s unbiblical liberality, introducing the heretical New Age teaching that “God dwells in, and around, and through all things” is in and by itself enough to completely undermine any value the book might otherwise have for faithful believers. To allow yourself to get carried away by this story, while disregarding the book’s New Age/New Spirituality leaven, is to fall prey to the “truth-and-error” mixture that pervades The Shack. And as Dr. Ironside warned—“God hates such a mixture.”

Before Christians buy one more copy of this book, they need to come to terms with what this author is ultimately teaching and what it is they are passing along to their friends and fellow believers.

The Truth:

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
(1 Timothy 4:4)

Originally posted at herescope.blogspot.com

Did Papa Miss Out On Lectio Divina and Contemplative Prayer?

It seems that time does change things.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad.

My father, affectionately called ‘Papa’ by all eight of us, was a Nazarene minister in New England since the early 1960’s.  Before that, he was a minister back in the Cape Verde Islands, pastoring in almost all of the main islands.  He was a Roman Catholic as a young man.  He was born again in São Vicente in 1930 under the ministry of Pastor João Dias, the first Nazarene missionary to the islands, and quit his job in 1937 to work full time in the ministry.  He used to travel all over, often on muleback, sometimes in small jeeps, crossing the high hills and mountains to reach small far away towns to preach the gospel.  He was a passionate preacher.  He was plain spoken, and preached simple but powerful sermons on the forgiveness of Jesus Christ for our sins.  He spent much time translating many Wesleyan songs into Portuguese.  He had a beautiful tenor voice and was called “the singing pastor”.  He retired in the early 1980’s after pastoring the church in Rumford, RI, for over 10 years, and passed away in September of 2006.  And I can’t forget to mention his saint of a wife, Constanca, who passed away a few years before he did.  You can read a short bio on him here.

My father’s theology was very basic orthodox Christian doctrine.  He preached the gospel of repentance of sins and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and he preached holiness as something Christians should strive for.  He had only a few weapons in his arsenal in the battle against Satan: prayer, the Bible, and the power of the Holy Spirit in his lifebut that seemed to be all he needed.  His belief in the Bible as completely trustworthy in all things was without question. He was a prayer warrior. We often had regular prayer time in our home, and he would read from the scriptures, give us a lesson, and then we would get on our knees and spend time in prayer.  When I was in my teens, I remember hearing him pray at night or early in the morning, often for over an hour.  He prayed for everyone.  He always encouraged us to read the Bible every day.  It seemed that this simple preacher who preached so effectively to bring people to Christ, did not need any more than what he had: the Word of God, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to guide him.

So these are my questions: Did my father miss out on some vital things in all the years he served the Lord?  Could it be that he lacked some necessary tools that would have made him more complete as a Christian?  Is it possible that if he had some other tools in his possession, he would have been a better pastor, and would have served others more effectively?  Here is where lectio divina and other contemplative spirituality practices comes in.

If my father ever heard of lectio divina, he never told me about it, and I’m sure it was not told to any of my siblings as well.  It’s possible he knew about it.  After all, he used to be a Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholic history is steeped with the use of lectio divina.  So, what is lectio divina?

A full explanation of it can be found at my reformednazarene blog.  In summary, lectio divina is another form of contemplative prayer.  Contemplative prayer is a mystical prayer practice that leads one into the “silence” but in actuality leads away from God.  The purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. [1]

Back in the early 60’s and into the 80’s during my dad’s ministry, we never heard of lectio divina being promoted in the Nazarene denomination.  Now, all of a sudden, we are seeing practices such as lectio divina, centering prayer, and the use of prayer labyrinths, both in Nazarene universities (Trevecca Nazarene University for instance)  and in churches.  Contemplative spirituality courses, or spiritual formation,  are also now the rage.  Universities are now promoting new courses and majors for degrees to specialize as a Spiritual Director.  What is that? A spiritual director appears to mimic the role of an eastern religious guru who tries to affect the spirituality of others in either one-on-one or small group settings. [2]

I recently have been going back and forth with Bob Hunter, one of the administrators of the Facebook group that was created to oppose my Concerned Nazarenes Facebook group.  Here are a few quotes from his introductory piece on contemplative prayer (his quotes in bold, my comments in red)

Quote: “Contemplative spirituality is historically rooted in Christianity. The tradition reaches back to the desert Fathers who prayed the Church through many trials and much persecution.”
The Desert Fathers originated much of this, and my point is, so what?  Some historically rooted practices that have lasted hundreds of years doesn’t make them valid. (Several of the early church fathers were ‘off’ in some of their teachings as well.) These mystical works-based practices were rejected by the Protestant Reformation because they were not scripturally founded or based, but were the inventions of men trying to communicate with God in their own man-ordained method.

Quote: “The Biblical Basis for this practice is deeply rooted in the Psalms where King David clearly practiced a life of contemplative prayer.”
Not the way you imagine it, and not the way contemplative prayer is defined today, with it’s roots in transcendental meditation.  David always prayed to God intelligently, with his mind active and thinking, and in the manner in which Jesus taught us how to pray.  There is no basis in the Bible for praying in ways that are used today by contemplatives, which ultimately is to enter into a state of altered consciousness.

Quote: “Perhaps the book of Hebrews best describes the intent of contemplative prayer for the Christian: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Heb. 12:2″
This scripture passage says nothing close to what contemplatives practice today.  It is not a good reference at all and is taken out of context.

Quote: “David said, “Be still and know that I am God.” Contemplative prayer is Biblical because it is rooted deeply in the Psalms and reinforced throughout scripture through the act of meditation.”

“Be still” is the most used, and badly taken out of context scripture passage, as an excuse for contemplative prayer.  Anyone reading it in full context, especially the preceding verses, will understand that it means anything but contemplative prayer.  It is a call for us to “take it easy”, “don’t worry”, God is on control.  It is not a call to contemplative prayer practices that are rooted in Eastern mysticism. This is why we must read a passage in the context of the verses before and after, to get the full meaning of what it is saying.  This connection fails miserably for the contemplatives.

I could continue on, but the questions to end here are these: Why was my father not trained in these systems back in his time?  Was there a sudden enlightenment in the minds of seminary professors while reading the scriptures, that showed them that lectio divina was the new way to go if you want to be a complete Christian?  Was my father cheated out of this great opportunity to grow and learn as a Christian?  Why were our leaders so irresponsible, as to not introduce these practices to my father and so many other dedicated pastors and preachers?  The answer is, they were not irresponsible, because these practices have no foundation whatsoever in scripture!

So the fact of the matter is, they did not need these things.  In fact, did you know that prayer labyrinths can be traced back to ancient pagan religions, including Greek mythology?  Why are they being used by university students and churches then?  Why are contemplative prayer practices such as lectio divina being used, when they are essentially “Christianized” forms of Eastern mysticism, or transcendental meditation?  It does not matter that these things have a long history.  If they are not biblical, we should not welcome them.  If they are from pagan sources, we are warned against that in the Bible!

So my father did have all that he needed.  He had the Bible, which is sufficient in itself for all that we need for our salvation, and for our Christian living.  He lacked nothing for his life, because he had the Word of God to guide him.  That perfect book, to which is referred by such giants as John Wesley as a book that is an all sufficient and infallible Word of God.  So the challenges are these: Will the Church of the Nazarene continue to make a move towards introducing these practices and at least make a big announcement of it?  Will the leaders continue to slowly bring it in under the radar of most Nazarenes, a little at a time?  Or will we make a commitment go back to Biblical fundamentals, and trust only in Jesus, and the Word of God that is given through us in the Bible?  Which shall it be?  How many of you reading have never heard of lectio divina being used in the Nazarene church?  Or prayer labyrinths?  It’s all in the Nazarene denomination now, and the question is, how long will it be before it reaches you?  And if it does, do you really need it to become more of a Christian than you have been in the last 20 or 30 or even 70 years of your Christian life?

I know what my choice is.  I pray that at General Assembly, that the leadership will say, in a loud voice, that we will dedicate ourselves to going back to the very same Biblical basics that Rev. Ilidio Silva firmly believed in, trusted, and lived by, and nothing else.

We need to be taught and fed the Bread of Life to grow in Christian maturity, not led down man-made paths to mystic experiences in which God has never ordained.

Naz Net And The New Emerging Spirituality‏

  • UPDATE, May 20, 4pm: Introduction to the DVD Warning About The Emergent Church in the Nazarene Denomination,  now can be seen at Psalm 11:3 blog
    Also, a clip from Gary Gilley from the DVD is also here

Naz Net and the new Emerging Spirituality‏

From brother Tim over at Nazarene Psalm 11:3

Naz Net is an internet community for Nazarenes. Let me first say there are a lot of good folks there as in many web communities. I do not wish to attack the community at large but take to task some comments I found there on a thread I posted on.
But I have also found Naz Net to be a vehicle for Emergent heresy within the Nazarene community hence this warning.

I found this comment here by Dennis Bratcher, a professor from the liberal Point Loma Nazarene University.

Here is the comment:
“Third, I read nowhere in any of Scripture that anyone has been or will be cast into hell because they believed the wrong thing. That is a total rationalistic misconception of the nature of God and what grace is about. We are not saved, or condemned, based on what we believe. We are saved by grace, through Faith, and it is not dependent on our own doing, on what theory of the Atonement to which we subscribe, which theory of inspiration we hold, or to which denomination we belong. And for that, we are all thankful!”

The two following comments were follow ups to Dennis Bratcher’s post:
“Thanks for your clear concise post Dennis, praise God we are not saved by right belief, that is grace indeed. If we were there would a very empty heaven.”
“The world is totally fed up with Christians who have been arguing about doctrine for 2 millennia but have rarely shown the love of Christ. My suggestion is that for the next 2000 years, we do it differently. We rarely discuss doctrine and focus on living like Him. Let’s see what 2000 years of that will do.”
“Belief in Jesus, the Living Word of God. Not His gospel, not our doctrine, … not our understanding.” end quotes

My comments: Wow this, folk’s, is heresy. How you can you believe in Jesus but not believe in His gospel? The Good News of Jesus is the gospel and who so ever believes in Him will be saved. You cannot separate belief in Jesus apart from His gospel. Many would profess to believing in Jesus. Even the demons believe in Jesus and shudder. Many cults and false religions believe in Jesus but its a belief in a different Jesus and a different gospel which will save no one.

Right belief is essential to salvation or else that would lead to the belief that everyone is saved ie.. Universalism.
I know that the  gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in scripture is correct, while at the same time allowing people to not believe it. Faith requires that people have liberty not to believe.
And agreed, we are saved by faith, but faith comes by what?
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

  • Romans 10:1717 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

So what Dennis is stating is that belief does not come into play because of faith.
That’s not what the scriptures teaches.
You need to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

Romans 10:14-15

  • 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
    How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
    Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
1 Thess 2:13
  • 13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.


Hebrews 11:6

  • 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.


Heb 10:39

  • 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Belief and faith walk hand in hand. You need to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ which in itself is sound doctrine.

1 John 5:10

  • 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.


I could quote many other verses as well, too numerous to list.
Believing in sound doctrine is not some sort of gnostic or intellectual belief (as some in Naz Net would have you believe).
You are lead into sound doctrine and truth by the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13

  • 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.


John 16:8-10

  • 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;


There is that word believe again.
Now whether you will heed the Holy Spirit or grieve Him and not believe is up to you.
Are we to be surprised at what is happening?
No of course not because the scriptures have already addressed folks like some at Naz Net here in scripture.

2 Tim 4:3-4

  • 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.


According to scripture we are to ignore people like Dennis and Hans among others who promote heresy.

Titus 1:14-16

  • 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

I spent some time on reviewing the final cut of the DVD we will be distributing in June 2009. The thing that really made my jaw drop was Dennis Bratcher and others on Naz Net are sounding more like Ekhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey (even though they may deny this).
Their statements and views are running in lock step with the new age agenda of Oprah Winfrey and Elkhart Tolle.
We will go into this on the DVD.

I would not want to end this article without sharing the true gospel of Jesus Christ with all.
Believe in the gospel and have faith that what God wrote in scriptures is true and you will be saved.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is: admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior Romans 3:23-26 I believe that both belief and faith are at work here.
Believe in the actual facts of the gospel 1 Cor 15:1-8
Jesus died to pay for our sins Romans 5:6-8
Jesus rose from the dead to show that payment was accepted 2 Cor 5:21
Then trusting on Gods provision Romans 10:9-11
Can Dennis and his comrades even see their error anymore?
I really hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will wake these folks up.
We also need to consider what the scriptures state that there is a time that God will send a great delusion.

2 Thess 2:11-12

  • “11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

What Oprah and Tolle are teaching and preaching are very much in agreement with what The Emergent Church teaches and practices, Brian McLaren, and a lot of what is being promoted at the Naz Net community. All these folks are a lot closer in belief  than perhaps they would tend to acknowledge.

The point here is they are very far apart from biblical Christianity that agrees with what the scriptures teach.

Tim Wirth

What About Logic? (and Protecting Life)

My friend Fonso (I call him my apologetics mentor) sent me this commentary and I got his permission to post it.  He addresses a topic that is always close to my heart and that I believe should be at the top of a Christian’s priority list in the world of politics and elections.

What About Logic?

Logic plays an important part in our lives and it is most often defined as “the laws of thought,” “the rules of right reasoning”, “the principles of valid argumentation,” or as Aristotle put it “Logic is the study of correct reasoning.”With that in mind, I would like to dwell on the behavior of many of my friends, family, and acquaintances that need the use of correct reasoning.

A few weeks ago there was a story in the news about a mother and her daughter walking in their neighborhood when they heard sounds of what seemed to be of a baby coming from the trash can. They immediately investigated only to find that the sounds were coming from two little puppies not more than a few hours old, placed in a plastic bag and thrown in the trash. I immediately thought of the cruelty of the person capable of such a deed. The puppies could’ve very well been given to the proper authorities, with very little effort and that would certainly resolve the problem. At this time, my mind wandered to situations where newborn babies are abandoned after a botched abortion and left to die without any care given. Using the logic Aristotle was talking about; I had to conclude that if the person that left the puppies to die in a trash can was a horrible person than it follows that a person that leaves a baby to die is an even more horrible person, because I am one who believes that a human life is infinitesimally more valuable than any animal.

I began thinking of using the puppies’ story to solicit the use of logic from my friends and family. I retold the story and asked questions such as these:

“What do you think of the person who left the puppies in the trash can?

What should be done to such a person?

The answers were inevitably that the person was evil and should be punished. At this point in the conversation I introduced the baby born alive after a botched abortion.

“What do you think of the person who is in favor of letting the baby die?

What should be done to such a person?

Feeling trapped by logic, the answers had to demonstrate at least an equal outrage lest they be called unreasonable or hypocritical. Hence the call for punishment to such a horrible person. Isn’t it funny that all of the ones that the questions were directed to voted for Barack Obama, a man who voted four times to let the baby die without care in case of a botched abortion while in the Chicago Senate. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act was brought to the Senate floor in Chicago four different times and the only senator that argued against its implementation was then Senator Obama utilizing the following reasoning: if we give recognition to a premature baby it will only, further down the road, affect the right to abortion.

And I ask. My friends, where is the logic? How can you call one a horrible person and not the other?

Recently a brother of mine and a friend were engaged in a friendly chat about the virtues of President Obama when another friend of mine approached them and asked them to explain what do they hear when they go to church. They were both avid church goers and wondered about the meaning of such a question. To which my friend replied in such a manner: in my world, Christianity is incompatible with abortion. It’s illogical to be a Christian that believes that life comes from God and humans are created in His image and then be enthralled by someone who supports abortion on demand in its most horrible form, a last trimester partial birth abortion or even worse, if that’s possible, allowing a baby born alive to die unattended.

And I ask. My friends, where is the logic? How can you be for one and at the same time be for another who is totally opposed?

I have siblings that adore the moral values of my late father. He was adamantly opposed to abortion and homosexuality was unthinkable in his views. And I’m certain that most of those reading this will also agree with me that this is the case in relation to their fathers. But, in my siblings’ case, while adoring the values of my father they eagerly support politicians in the Democrat Party that have as their platform abortion on demand and homosexual marriage.

And I ask. My friends, where is the logic? How can you love the values of your father and then choose to follow someone who believes the opposite?

We have a nation that in 200 years became the most powerful nation in the world. It climbed to the top using the principles of free market and capitalism. It created the largest middle class in the world. It has the least number of poor people in the world. People from all over the world risk their lives to come here and live the American Dream. It floods the world with its technology, medical discoveries, and all around good will and charity. It has liberated millions and stood for freedom throughout the globe.

Yet, there are those that want to make it like another European nation which despite their thousands of years of existence does not even come close to this nation.

And I ask. My friends, where is the logic? How can you see something valuable in front of you and yet desire to trade it for something infinitely inferior?

Finally, there’s a real seriousness in calling ourselves Christians. When we do that we claim to identify with the Christ and His teachings. And who is this Christ? Jesus of Nazareth.

If you identify with Him, His teachings become yours and makes you the person that you are. It is asinine to pick and choose what satisfies you as if at a buffet table. We need to indulge ourselves in everything displayed at the table. When we claim to be His followers we need to have the fortitude to stand for His views and put aside the politically correct stance of the day. Truth does not change and is absolute and not relative. How can I affirm this with certainty? Because truth is a person and not an abstract idea. Jesus Himself said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

The danger in calling ourselves Christians and yet pal around with the world is found in Matthew 7: 22 and 23.  “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Notice that the people that are saying Lord, Lord have done many religious things in His name, therefore this applies to many that observe religious rituals and frequent churches, but yet never made a serious commitment to be a true follower of Christ. The reply from Christ contains the most dreadful words befalling upon a person who thinks that by merely being religious or believing they are “good” is enough to save them. If being “good” could ever save a person please tell me (I’m going to once again use logic) why did Jesus ever come to this Earth and subject Himself to such horrible treatment and Death?

If you believe that by voting for the people that promise to give you everything and solve all your economic problems but yet disregard the righteousness of God is the right thing to do, you are only falling into another trap. You are switching the object of your faith – from God to the Government. When you do that, you have replaced Him with an idol, thus breaking the first commandment. He is the One who said that he’ll take care of us, clothe us and feed us. Therefore when it concerns the economy He asks us to trust in Him, but when it concerns righteousness He wants us to stand in the gap and fight against the tide of evil that inundates the earth. Where do you stand?

As for me and my house, we will trust in the Lord! Just using some logic.

Ildefonso Vasconcelos

It’s No Time To Compromise

I’ve been on an interesting journey in my life, in the past seven months now.  Sometimes it feels like two years, but my wife reminds me now and then that I only started my blog in January, and my email list perhaps in October. One of the surprises I found along the way was the amazing knack of many emergents on the internet blogs, many of them pastors themselves, to always argue with me at length over and over, and never support their positions with scriptural authority!

I stumbled upon this disease known as emergent theology, armed with its contemplative practices (a pagan, mystical, transcendental pretending-to-be-Christian meditation), and the undergirding of its main objective, to subvert the power and authority of the infallible, inerrant Word of God.  I knew I was in for a battle if I opposed it.

But we Christians are assured of who the victor is in this great battle with Satan’s forces, which has been going on since he rebelled against God and proclaimed he would be equal to God.  He started this battle in the garden of Eden, when he used his wiles to suggest to Eve that God said something other than what he meant.  You see, Satan is not dumb, although he is clearly not omnipotent as God is.  But he uses our weaknesses, our infatuation with our own intellect and reasoning, our pride shall we say, to subvert God’s Word, and therefore, cause us to become blind to our own egos.  Thus we fall into the trap, and Satan has now convinced us to just do what we feel is most comfortable and most immediately gratifying, not realizing until later, that we have chosen a path of compromise and inevitable destruction.  Why does this happen, even to the most seasoned Christians?  Note what 2 Corinthians 11 says here:

  • “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.”

Satan is not going to hit us over the head and say to us, “this is heresy, and I want you to reject Christ, and follow me into the place of everlasting torment.”  Even the newest Christians would immediately reject him.   Rather, he tries to get to us by using a lot of good stuff, inserting his poison in very small, unnoticeable amounts.  It’s like putting arsenic in a bowl of soup.  A little at a time over a period of months, and for a while you enjoy the soup and can’t wait for the next bowl.  But over time, you seem to be getting weak and not feeling up to par.  But you keep eating that good tasting bowl of soup, maybe even more, never realizing that’s what the problem is.  Next thing you know, you’re dead.  In this case, we are talking about spiritual death.  You become deadened to the practices of the world, mistaking them for what you think is God’s way, but it really is Satan’s way.  How does this happen?

  • The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.  2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

A powerful delusion is what it is, because as I see all this apostasy happening, and I see who is falling for it, I wonder to myself over and over: how?  How can people be so blind, many of them learned scholars and seasoned Christians,  as to accept what is clearly not biblical?  And how can such Christians put such doubt in God’s infallible Word?  It is clearly the work of Satan and his minions in this world. But the most mystifying question is this, “how can Christians who see this for what it is, be so indifferent, so apathetic to a problem which will send many straight to the pit of hell, all along believing that they are worshiping and believing in the true Jesus?”
Is it compromise?  Is it a desire to avoid conflict?  A need to avoid “division?”  A desire for “unity?”  If so, I ask, what is more important, to avoid conflict and have a false, temporary unity which will crumble later, or standing as an uncompromising, conquering warrior for the truth of God’s Word?

I listened the other day to a great sermon by David Legge, an evangelist, preacher and Bible teacher from Belfast, Northern Ireland., titled “Warfare”. He preached on putting on the full armor of God.  He says some sobering things, like “the sad fact is that many have retired from the battlefield.” And “it strikes me that many do not even know that there’s a battle on.”

But we are in the middle of spiritual warfare.  And it is getting more dangerous daily. As Rev. Legge* pointed out, there are at least three kinds of soldiers in this battle.  One is the cowardly soldier, who shrinks away from the battlefield in fear and uncertainty, not relying on Him who has already declared victory by the power of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  The cowardly soldier instead looks at the situation through his own imperfect eyes and his human reasoning, thinking that this is hopeless, and what can we do?  And his answer is usually, “it is too much for me, I can’t do anything about it, let’s just compromise.”

Rev. Legge then talks about a second kind of soldier, one who is badly bruised from the battle. He therefore is weakened because perhaps he did not put on the whole armor of God.

I like the third kind of soldier he mentions, the conqueror, the one who fights on because he knows he is not fighting to prevent a loss, but rather he is fighting with full confidence because he knows the full assurance of God’s victory!  It is inevitable, we just don’t know exactly what is completely involved in God’s master strategy, but we know the victory is guaranteed!  This soldier has put on the whole armor of God.  You know…

  • Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Ephesians 6:14-17

So for those who have tried to talk me and many others into “taking it easy”, “slow down”; thanks for the advice, but there is to be none of that around here when we are in the middle of spiritual warfare like this.  The souls of many are at stake, especially young people in the universities who are listening to the heretical teachings of men like Brian McLaren, who says that “the cross is false advertising”.  To those who have said that we are causing division or causing people to walk away from the faith, please know this, that the only division being caused is by the false teachers who have brought this heresy into our midst.  And the Lord has clearly commanded us to “note those who cause divisions” and “have nothing to do with them.”

  • I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. Romans 16:17

So there are decisions to be made.  Let’s just not stand on the fence, wavering in the wind, worrying about what will happen, or what people will think.  Make a decision, if you are against this heresy that has come upon us, then jump fully into the battle without compromise.  You cannot compromise truth, even for the sake of your best friend, husband, wife, child, no one at all.  But make sure you have put on the full armor of God, otherwise the weak spots will be penetrated by Satan, and it could prove fatal.

I urge you to stand firm, and guard yourself, as it says in 1 Timothy 4:16…

  • Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

* Pastor Legge’s entire sermon can be read or listened to at his website, Preach The Word.

MAY THE LORD SEND HIS SPECIALISTS SOON

Brothers and sisters,
It is my prayer that the Lord will send His specialist to wake Christians all across the land and spark a revival, and return to true biblical principles that were once for all delivered to us.  Our Christian body, throughout all denominations, is suffering from a serious disease called emergent theology, mixed with unbiblical mystical practices and a challenge to God’s inerrant Word, and I am praying that God sends a special person soon, perhaps at the General Assembly in Orlando, to wake up people and start a serious revival that brings many back to the true living God and the true gospel.

This by Ken Silva pastor-teacher on May 9, 2009 from Apprising Ministries

As one who holds to the doctrines of grace I don’t agree with everything evangelist Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) taught, but I did have the privilege of conversing with this man of God through the mail.
Even so, Ravenhill’s preaching still stands head and shoulders above the weak-kneed man-lovers blathering on in far too many evangelical playpens churches today.

In the foreword to a very good little book by Leonard Ravenhill called Why Revival Tarries his friend A.W. Tozer wrote:

Great industrial concerns have in their employ men who are needed only when there is a breakdown somewhere. When something goes wrong with the machinery, these men spring into action to locate and remove the trouble and get the machinery rolling again. For these men a smoothly operating system has no interest. They are specialists concerned with trouble and how to find and correct it.

In the Kingdom of God things are not too different. God had always had His specialists whose chief concern has been the moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove, rebuke, and exhort in the name of God and righteousness.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary Old Testament priests or New Testament pastors and teachers could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the Church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.

Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew Who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart.

Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the Church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountaintop, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and warn the people who are being led astray by him.

Such a man as this is not an easy companion. The professional evangelist who leaves the wrought-up meeting as soon as it ends to hurry over to the most expensive restaurant to feast and crack jokes with his sponsors will find this man something of an embarrassment, for he cannot turn off the burden of the Holy Ghost as one would turn off a faucet. He insists upon being a Christian all the time, everywhere; and again, that marks him out as different.

Lord, if we won’t stand for You in this gelatinous generation, then for Your glory bypass us and raise up a people for Yourself who will let You pour them out as living sacrifices…

Open Theism and “Christian” Evolution At Eastern Nazarene College?

I am not a theologian.  I am simply a Christian whose highest degree is an MS in physical education, hardly a qualification that will get me into the theology department in any school.  I have a hard time dealing with lofty theological constructs, and really need to focus when I listen to lectures that are very heady.  But I can muddle through them if I really try.  And so I did last Thursday night, April 30.  The occasion was a lecture at Eastern Nazarene College by one of the major proponents of Open Theism, Dr. Thomas Oord of Northwest Nazarene University.  I had the pleasure of meeting him that night, and we chatted for  a few minutes.  No debate, just a few pleasantries, and he already knows my position on some of his views.  I drove up to hear him, because most of the time I am reading up on someone’s views, but I rarely get the chance to hear them live, on meet them in person.

Dr. Oord’s lecture was concerning “Creation and Providence in A World of Good and Evil”.  At the beginning of the lecture, he stated that he believed that evolution was compatible with Christianity.  Red flag already. That is a troubling statement, and yet it is something being taught by some Nazarene university professors.  Evolution contradicts the Biblical, historical account of the creation, and either one is false, or the other.  I choose to believe the Bible.  Dr. Oord also admits he is not a biblical inerrantist (that the Bible is without error), and that is a non-starter with me that I have had with emergent thinkers.  I cannot have a “conversation” with people who support the emergent church movement when they cannot start from the premise that the Bible is without error.  (We are talking about the original manuscripts).  Unless I am mistaken, Dr. Oord is a pretty strong supporter of the emergent church movement.
During question and answers, I made sure everyone knew that I  was clearly a Biblical inerrantist.  Then I pointed out to Dr. Oord how Romans 5:12 helps to answer the question of why there is evil and death in the world.  The scripture says:

  • Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  Romans 5:12-14

I cannot remember the exact answer Dr. Oord gave, but at the end of it, he said something that  essentially pointed out that we disagreed on this.  He said also, “I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.”   I failed to followup with another question for clarification, but it was later I realized that Dr. Oord probably does not even believe Adam and Eve existed, since he believes that evolution is compatible with Christianity.  If so, there was no Adam and Eve!  Believing in evolution destroys the biblical account, as well as many others.  So the two cannot be compatible.  You can believe evolution, or believe the Bible account of creation, and believe what Romans 5 says, that sin and death came through Adam, NOT evolution.
So let me make this clear as to where I  stand on the theology of open theism.  It is a denial, however subtle, of the total sovereignty of God. Nothing more, nothing less.

To think that God may not only know the whole future, as they believe, but that He is susceptible to making mistakes and learning from them, is at best a grossly mistaken error, and at worst, a heretical teaching.  So my concern is this: why is Dr. Oord, who seems to be a very nice guy, being asked to speak at Eastern Nazarene College?

To answer the question of why is he speaking at ENC, you need not look any further than ENC for the answer. In 2007, an Open Theology and Science Conference was held at Eastern Nazarene College in June 2007.
As a followup, last April of 2008, ENC had a registration page for an Open Theism and Science Conference at Azuza Pacific University.  On their “What Is?” page, this is how they defined Open Theology:

Open Theology Affirms That

  • 1) God and creatures enjoy mutually-influencing relations,
    2) the future is open and God does not fully know or settle it
    , and
    3) love is uniquely exemplified by God and is the human ethical imperative

I am particularly troubled by #2.  “God does not fully know the future?” The others will need further explanation as to what they may mean fully.
Keynote speakers at that conference included Dr. Gregory Boyd, a leading proponent of Open Theism.  Also scheduled to speak were Dr. Oord himself, Dean Blevins of Nazarene Theological Seminary, Michael Lodahl, whose writings I had to refute in a “conversation” with a pastor who might himself be an Open Theist; and Clark Pinnock, another highly acclaimed Open Theist.  Finally, one of the directors of the conference is Dr. Karl Giberson, professor of science and religion at ENC, whose books include Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.

So the question above seems to have been answered.  It seems that at least some administrators at ENC have no problem inviting Open Theists to speak at their campus, and have no problem advertising conferences which openly promote Open Theism.  It would probably be logical to assume that Northwest Nazarene University also has no problem with having a full time professor who teaches this theology.  One of the answers I could not get from attending on Thursday night was, why do the powers that be at ENC invite these speakers to their campus, unless they believe the same theology?  If so, that is again very troubling. My oldest son is only seven, but if he was close to college age, I would be asking questions as to what theological beliefs are being taught at any university he might attend.  I would want my child to attend a Christian school that is firmly planted on solid Biblical ground.  I would certainly never send him to any school which promotes emergent theology, contemplative spirituality practices, or which challenges the authority of the scriptures.

If you have a child soon to be considering going to ENC, or a child who is there now, you may want to give a call or a visit to the theology department at ENC and ask some questions.  Perhaps even write a letter to the President of the College, Dr. Corlis McGee, to see where she stands on this issue.  It is an important enough issue to ask questions and get answers.

If you are comfortable with the idea that God may not know everything, and that God also is susceptible to making mistakes, then there is nothing to worry about.  But if you are concerned, then one question is this: how many “young skulls full of mush”, as a talk show host affectionately describes young, impressionable youth, will be deceived into believing this very erroneous belief, and I believe, a heretical view of God.

For one of the many refutations of this heretical view, see the article Does The Bible Affirm Open Theism by John M. Frame

For extensive resources on this topic, go to the monergism.com website for a list of links to various articles.