Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

Disney’s Palatable Philosophies a Concern

In Apologetics, Creator, Music, prayer on March 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

This past Friday night, we took our children to see Disney on Ice, and they absolutely loved it. Yet, I really began to listen to some of the songs that are not only Disney staples, but are now American standards–and I began to shake my head.

Hakuna Matata (Lion King). “It means no worries, all the rest of our days.”

The Lion King is a cinematic masterpiece. Clearly this one and Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight? are the two songs which gained a great deal of traction. Hakuna Matata, sung by Timon the meerkat and Pumbba the warthog, gives a “worry-free philosophy” that appeals not only to Simba but to many of us. It echoes the message of the 1989 Bobby McFerrin hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Three times in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to be anxious (worry), as does the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Timon and Pumbba advocated not worrying in order to avoid responsibilities. Jesus tells his followers not to worry because of a failure to trust God’s providence. For a Christian, worry is about not trusting God to work all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Granted, Timon and Pumbba’s advice is not heeded by Simba, who responds to the issue at hand—but many sing this song as a way to relieve stress.

“Let your conscience be your guide” (Jiminy Cricket).

This is rotten advice—but it’s especially bad when Christians use this logic believing it is sound advice in helping them in their walk with Christ. But our conscience is solely informed by our belief system. Muslims have a conscience when they miss one of their prayers. Mormons have a conscience if they drink caffeine, which goes against a tenet of their faith. Even Atheists have a conscience, when they go against their dictums as well.

Christians need to realize that our conscience is not equivalent to the voice of God. Our conscience merely reacts to what our heart and will hold most dear. And given that we are such sinful, fallen creatures whose consciences can be seared or to a lesser degree numbed, this is absolutely terrible advice.

Yet, Christians use this logic all the time: just follow your conscience. This was especially true in 1992-1993 when a subject came up before the Southern Baptist Convention about a certain civic organization (or should I say, religion) known as the Freemasons. Instead of coming out and taking a stand, here is what they said:

In light of the fact that many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, while others are compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination’s deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a
Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience.
Therefore, we exhort Southern Baptists to prayerfully and carefully evaluate Freemasonry in light of the Lordship of Christ, the teachings of the Scripture, and the findings of this report, as led by the Holy Spirit of God.

The holes in this are big enough to swim a blue whale through. My intention is not to say anything positive or negative in this about the Freemasons (I have addressed this elsewhere), but to show the logic of my beloved denomination. Our conscience must be directed by the authority of Scripture without any dilution or compromise–not by what we may personally believe–because we are flawed!

It’s scary when Jiminy Cricket starts informing our religious policies.

“When you wish upon a star…” (Jiminy Cricket).

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

A number of issues jump out. For one, wishing upon ‘a star.’ Taking our desires to the stars? This is nothing short of astrology! Even Wikipedia is helpful for a definition:

Astrology (from Greek ἄστρον, astron, “constellation, star”; and -λογία, -logia, “the study of”) is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details can provide useful information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters.

These ‘stars’ now have personalities (which is where the constellations’ personalities in general, and the Signs of the Zodiac in particular, come into play along with the reading of horoscopes) to which we may appeal. As a result, whatever desires we wish for toward this star will come to you! Yet, dear Christian, look at Hebrews 4:14-16:

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We do not appeal to things created for guidance, but to the Creator through Jesus Christ.

Secondly, the phrase “no request is too extreme” is disturbing. No request is too extreme? Granted, in the context of the movie, Pinocchio the marionette wishes to be a real boy! This is an extreme wish! But the song now stands on its own. As Christians, we realize we are fallen people and that our wishes may stem from our fallenness rather than what is right and true.

Thirdly, the personification of “fate” is disturbing. Again, we need a definition:

: the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny

“She” is “kind” and brings to “those who love their secret longing.” This nameless director of all things not only has attributes but perceives attributes in others. While the melody is very tender and, yes, catchy, the content of this song is very unbiblical.

Conclusion

We can put our abhorrent philosophies to nice and catchy melodies and plant seeds in hearts without the receivers being none the wiser. How much more in tenderhearted children (and adults) who see animation and think its harmless? We must not be like so many who say, “I only listen to the music, not the words.” For those of us who have been gripped by the Gospel, we must be careful of the schemes of the devil and of man, who work to have us be gripped by something else that will lead us astray.

Thoughts?

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Ban Religion!

In Apologetics, Atheism, church, Homosexuality on February 24, 2009 at 1:37 pm

In the early 1970s, John Lennon wrote a very popular song called “Imagine.”

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.

If one were to simply look at the world with secular eyes, a case could be made. In the name of religion, the Crusades occurred, slavery was tolerated in Great Britain and the United States (supposedly Christian nations) and even in the homes men misinterpreted the Bible to inflict a tyrannical rule over their wives, all the while claiming, “Woman, the Good Book says you’re gonna submit to me, so what I say goes, no matter what!” Some even used this logic to physically abuse their wives — again with what they deemed was a biblical warrant for such deviant behavior.

In the spirit of John Lennon, now comes Elton John on the scene making headlines with a recent interview made the comment, “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely.” He promotes the view that religion lacks compassion.

Apparently this mindset is quite en vogue, for Rosie O’Donnell on her newest gig, “The View,” noted that radical Christianity is as big a threat as radical Islam here in the United States. ” It should be noted as well that O’Donnell is a homosexual as well.

But back to John. In the midst of this article, he makes a very salient point that penetrations all of us who worship Christ as the Prince of Peace.

Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate. The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion?

Why aren’t they having a conclave? Why aren’t they coming together? I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts. Instead of more violence why isn’t there a meeting of religious leaders?” he said.

It must be said that having all the ‘religious leaders’ come together is a tall task, especially since so many hold to so many differing views on salvation, the nature of Christ, and other intricacies. So it is difficult, nay impossible, for all religions to come together in any spiritual enterprise (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

But what about the Christian leaders? What about the unity of those who hold to Christ and His Word? Are we becoming so spiritually minded that we forget Christ put us here as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) as a testimony to His good work on the cross and how those barriers of hostility may be broken down through Him (Ephesian 2:11-22)?

What Elton John and Rosie O’Donnell and others of their ilk have a problem with is the Bible’s view of homosexuality — and that we cannot change because Scripture says what it says. We cannot nor should not re-write the rule books no matter how loudly people yell. Plus, they yell we are being too exclusive in our views — yet they are being as exclusive in their views as we are — even more so, saying that whoever disagrees with them is wrong and needs to be corrected. Yet they add that we are the equivalent of those who are terrorists.

Maybe what should be banned is “bad” religion. I submit that true Christianity, when actually taught, believed, and practiced, will show that ‘religion’ can be good, but also beneficial. Not everyone will agree with us, but at least it will show the truth of Peter’s writings in the Scriptures:

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? [14] But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, [15] but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; [16] yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [17] For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil 1 Peter 3:13-17, ESV).

They may not like what we say or teach, but when Christ’s love permeates our thoughts, words, and actions, they will see the truth of God’s Word in our lives and be shamed for not embracing the same truth as well.

Even James tells us what true religions should be, and it looks good!

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. [27] Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:26-27, ESV).

Of course, the context of James’ passage comes from being ones who are not simply hearers of the Word, but doers as well (James 1:22).

So again, we should be as followers of Christ ones who ban bad and embrace true Christianity.

The world — even those antagonistic to the Scriptures — won’t help but take notice.

The Future of Evangelicalism (Hewitt Interviews Mohler)

In Apologetics, evangelicalism, Facebook on February 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Hugh Hewitt conducts an interview with Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary regarding the future of evangelicalism. You can read the transcript here.

I would like to bring out some important quotes from this interview. Hewitt asked Mohler if he was surprised by how evangelicals voted:

I was not surprised by the time we got there, Hugh. I am surprised somewhat given the big picture, looking over the last two or three years, if you just look at the Evangelical voting patterns in the years 2000, 2004, and then jump to 2008, clearly something happened. And I think the biggest explanation there is a generational change. I think we’re really looking at the fact that you’ve got a significant number of Evangelicals voting in 2008 who were in middle school or earlier than that in the year 2000, then in 2004. And clearly, there’s a new agenda here. There are some new interests, some new concerns, and this is a new challenge for us, I think.

Hewitt later asked Mohler about his blogging and use of Facebook:

I Twitter all day long, and I’m on Facebook with thousands of friends that are mostly in that age cohort. You know, like one of my students said to me, if you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist. Now he meant that just as a word of help, in other words, to say we’re looking at a generation here for whom social media are the main means by which they communicate. This is their accountability. It used to be that people feel like they had to call everyone to stay in touch. Every once in a while, in prehistoric days, they might actually write a note, letter or a postcard. But these days, it’s all check the website, check what your friends are doing on Facebook, and make sure you’re keeping in touch.

Hewitt asked Mohler’s view on the Proposition 8 election result that upheld traditional marriage in the California constitution. Hewitt asked, “Is this the last victory for the pro-marriage agenda?

I’m definitely confirming that, but not…I wouldn’t put it in the fact they don’t care. I wouldn’t say that. I would say that what you have is a group of younger Evangelicals, and I disagree with them on this, Hugh, and they know it, a group of younger Evangelicals, many of whom simply don’t think that’s the right fight to fight. . . . And so it’s not that they don’t care. But you know, I was just talking to an Evangelical leader in Massachusetts who said look, he said my high school seniors have never known a time since they’ve been in high school or middle school that same sex marriage wasn’t legal in this state.

They touch on a wide array of issues that is well-worth the read.

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Apologetics: For Whom Is This Area of Study?

In Apologetics on February 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

When ministers begin to introduce the function of apologetics to their people, many (myself included) feel the need to make the obligatory joke that this is not the study of apologizing for what you believe. This is a study of defending what you believe and why you believe it (coming from the Greek apologia which means “in defense of”).

I began to think on the role that apologetics plays in the life of our church and culture. After reading 1 Cor. 2:9-15, I began to understanding the main beneficiaries of this area are.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
[10] these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. [11] For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. [13] And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
[14] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. [15] The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. [16] “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Notice verse 11: “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Trying to speak about the things of God to someone who does not have the Spirit of Christ in Him will fall on deaf ears. How do we receive the Spirit? When the Spirit moves on our hearts to repent and turn from sin, we surrender to Jesus Christ by faith in His death, burial and resurrection for our sins. Then we are no longer are own, but Christ reigns through the Holy Spirit. We now have a heart that is sensitive to the leading of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27), but we also now have a connection to God through the Spirit.

Given how the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is only through the indwelling Holy Spirit that anyone can “discern” (v. 14) the Scriptures. The natural person will not accept them, no matter how well-crafted those arguments are. “We have the mind of Christ” (v. 16), therefore Christians are able to receive the things of God in a right manner.

I say all this to say, the area of apologetics is not ultimately to convert non-believers, but to strengthen believers and to plant seeds in the hearts and minds of non-believers.

What think ye?

R.C. Sproul Interviews Ben Stein about Intelligent Design

In Apologetics, Evolution, Intelligent Design on March 26, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Click here to view. Approx. 27 minutes in length.

Do We See the Dignity of Jesus?

In Apologetics, Cults, Preaching, Roman Catholicism, SBC, Sermons on January 21, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Luke 3:21-38

We as Baptists are at a critical time. We are defined more by what we do than by what we believe. I come across this mindset quite a bit. Some say they do not want their doctrine to get in the way of the Christianity — as if the two are mutually exclusive. We grow quite content with the basics rather than drinking deep and meditating on God’s revealed Word to us.

Weekly, I read through the Western Recorder (our state Baptist newspaper). One day, I decided to respond to much of what I read in this manner. I mention this note not simply to draw attention to this, but share with you my desire as your pastor here. We need to remember who Jesus is and the mission which he sent us to accomplish. That we all agree with. But do we see the cruciality of knowing who He is and what He accomplished? For instance, when we see the Great Commission, do we see that Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18)? Well, who is this Jesus who possesses this authority? If we simply say, “He loves me and died for me” — that could apply to a U.S. soldier. So it’s more than that!

Then you say, “Well, he died for my sins!” What qualifies him to do such a thing? “Because he died on the cross!” Why a cross? Many died on a cross — why was Jesus dying on a cross 2,000 years ago any big deal? The usual answer is, “So we could go to heaven!” But even in the Great Commission, Jesus exhorts us to teach those who would be disciples everything that he has commanded. My point is, the glory of Jesus is not that he simply put us on a mission, he wants us to know the One who commissions us.

1. See the divine dignity of Jesus.

Luke 3:21-22 tells us:

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, [22] and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22, ESV).

Notice that Jesus’ divinity is seen in a number of ways. First, the heavens opened up! That’s right — the clouds parted in a way that likely no filmmaker could reproduce. We see this happen in a number of other times in the Scriptures.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove. What was the purpose of this? When John the Baptist noted that Jesus would come along baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire, the fire represented the Word of God that has a two-fold function: it purges in judgment, but also reconciles by bringing peace. John Piper rightly puts it:

The dove suggests to Jesus purity, meekness, innocence. It was not majestic like the eagle or fierce like the hawk or flamboyant like the cardinal. It was simple, common, innocent, the kind of bird poor people could offer for a sacrifice.

Jesus called his disciples to minister in a rather interesting way. Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”(ESV). Various political administrations are marked by a certain propensity for aggression or non-aggression. If they tend to lean toward war and aggression, they are called hawks. If toward a more peaceful understand and an aversion to war, they are called doves. But do not mistake us saying that Jesus’ ministry in being marked by a dove means that he is weak. It means that he will be tender with the weak.

Then the Lord calls from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus is of the same substance as the Father, thus he is fully God. This is not the only time the Father calls out of heaven. He did so during Jesus’ transfiguration. God is showing His seal of approval on his Son.

Let me ask you, when you think of Jesus, what comes across your mind? Is he someone that may cramp your style? A cosmic killjoy who wants to take away your freedom and fun? Or maybe you have gotten past this, but look around and really wonder if Jesus lives up to the biblical billing? Do you see his meekness as weakness? Do you see his humility as someone who is a chump before the world? Make no mistake about this One. His power conquers death. His power conquers the very thing that separates us from God.

With this we also see…

2. … the human dignity of Jesus.

The fact that God would condescend to minister to us as a human being is such an amazing fact and feat, words can hardly describe this. In fact, in the early part of church history, the average Christian had a difficult time grasping how Jesus could be fully divine and fully human. IN Jesus’ time, they had an easy time seeing Jesus as a human (after all, he was standing right in front of them) but not as divine. In our day, the problem is the exact opposite — all divine, but too far removed from being human.

In Jesus’ time, they had a difficult time seeing him as holy God! Yet, that’s exactly what the Scriptures in general teach about Christ — and what this passage teaches us about him. Here we see the emphasis on his divinity with some of his humanity intertwined. Notice the humanity. Jesus was ‘baptized and was praying.’ These two things seem like very human things, doesn’t it? If Jesus is God, two questions arise: why did he need to be baptized, and why was he praying?

Why did Jesus have to be baptized? To many, this looks very undignified. If Jesus is truly God, and if he is King of kings and Lord of lords, why would he come to John, asking to be baptized by him? This baptism was a baptism of repentance. Was Jesus coming up and confessing some sin or shortcoming in his keeping of the law? It goes back to why Jesus came to begin with. Jesus came to save his people from their sins. In order to do this, Jesus needed to identify with his people. Remember from Galatians 4:4-7:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. [6] And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” [7] So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Look at this again. God sent forth his Son. In what way did he enter into the world? He was “born of a woman.” Under what conditions? He was “born under the law.” What was the result? “To redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” This explains what the Gospel of Matthew was referring to. Look with me at Matthew 3:13-17:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. [14] John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” [15] But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. [16] And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; [17] and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

So what was Jesus doing? Jesus was being undignified — at least as far as the world is concerned. How many dignitaries and famous people do you know who would condescend to merely speak or shake hands with and ‘ordinary’ person? Yet why would he do such a thing? He did this to identify with our situation so he may be able to be a worthy substitute in paying for our sins. Consider this passage from Romans 5:12-21:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— [13] for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. [14] Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

[15] But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. [16] And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. [17] If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

[18] Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [19] For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. [20] Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, [21] so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus came as a Second Adam to overpower the curse of sin in this world. The grace He brings is far superior than the bleakness and the devastation of the curse. And on a day to day level, let’s see why Jesus coming as a human is so important:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16, ESV).

What temptations has Jesus faced? All of them. Think of how you are tempted — things in which you would be mortified to see the light of day . Things that you afraid to even mention in your prayers to God. Please know that our Great High Priest (the only priest I need in this life and the next) not only intercedes for us, but also understands our issues. We can approach Him through the Gospel and find sanctifying help whenever the need arises — and that need constantly arises.

Conclusion

In reference to the letter I wrote to the Western Recorder, a reader left a comment that I thought was particularly enlightening. Her name is Wendy Duncan who authored a book entitled, “I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult.”

Hi Bro Matt,

Thank you for responding to the letter in the Kentucky State Baptist paper. As a former Southern Baptist with a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I am one of those who “strayed” to a cult. It was a Bible-based cult with a masterful and manipulative cult leader and like several other former Baptists who were involved in this cult, I got hooked. Interestingly, one of the cult members worked for our state Baptist paper.

When I was in seminary I took a course on cults and the emphasis was on the teachings and doctrines of the various cults. Before joining this particular cult, I did my research. I reviewed their doctrinal statement and it could have passed for any mainstream Christian group. I also called several cult awareness ministries to see if this group was included in their list of cults and was told it was not.

I ended up staying in this cult for over seven years before leaving. One of my last conversations with the cult leader was most telling. I said (shouted), “Your voice is so loud, Ole, that I can’t hear God’s anymore.”

After leaving the cult, my husband, who had been a member for twenty years, and I, struggled to regain our relationship with God. The first year after leaving was one of the worst periods of my life, but with God’s grace, we are managing to hang on to our faith. We joined a liturgical church (cult experts recommend going to a church completely different than the cult experience) and are slowly making our way back to a strong relationship with Christ.

Although now I see that the doctrine that this cult taught was heretical, the teachings were only one thing that was problematic. I think it is important that we teach the church and especially our young people, the other signs of a cult, as well as how they recruit and why they appeal to individuals.

The largest number of cults in our society today is Bible-based cults. Thank you for addressing this issue. I pray you will continue to grow your church in these areas and teach your members how to minister to those who leave cults.

My desire is that you are so gripped by the Gospel, you would never find yourself becoming fodder for Bible-based cults who hijack our terminology, but redefine those same terms. Chase hard after God to see what His will is and to understand what his Word says. Let’s not be a mile wide and an inch deep. Let’s explore the depths of Christ as found in His Word!

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The Church Needs Creeds and Deeds

In Apologetics, Culture, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Missions, News, Preaching, Religious Organizations, SBC, Theology on January 8, 2008 at 8:59 am

Recently, in response to a letter submitted to our Kentucky state Baptist paper‘s Baptist Forum section that seemed to say “No creed but the Bible,” I felt the need to respond to this mindset. Given how many Southern Baptists are straying to other cults such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the lack of biblical depth they possess, I wrote the following.

I am saddened and stunned at the outcry of those who lament how Southern Baptists seek to clarify doctrinal issues concerning the Scriptures, God, Christ, the church, and family. And yet all of us show the same type of shock when we see that of all the denominations from which the cults steal their sheep, Southern Baptist are their primary source of growth. Why is this?

It is because we Southern Baptists define ourselves more by what we do than by what we believe. Look back over older Western Recorder editions: they spent more time teaching what the Scriptures say rather than talking about missions and church growth almost to the exclusion of doctrinal beliefs. In fact, when Southern Baptists take a stand, they are derided as uncaring, academic, and divisive.

I am all for loving Jesus, but I believe creeds are just as valuable as the deeds. Both must be present — both the content of Scripture as well as the fruit of obedience to the Scriptures. I am for loving the Jesus of the Bible who has clear attributes and had a clear mission for His people. Until Southern Baptist rigorously study who Jesus is, what He has done, what the implications are for us who claim to be Christ-followers, what he expects from His Church and its individual members, we will continue to be fodder for those who deny the faith as we will cease to grow in any significant and spiritual way. Numbers are not the only way to grow a church — we need to be sure there are enough faithful in the church already as well!

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We Need to Study God’s Word — And God’s People — In Our Preaching

In Apologetics, Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on November 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

eku.jpgTonight, I’ll be speaking to the Campus Crusade students on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. I would appreciate your prayers. It is a rush, really, to see over 250 students come on a Thursday night to fellowship with God’s people and hear God’s Word. Adam Dixon is the new leader of the EKUCRU, so please keep Adam in your prayers.

A number of these college students come to Boone’s Creek — and I must say they have really helped my preaching. College students are inundated with so many philosophical, spiritual, and social worldviews that we preachers need to be aware of these issues and speak directly to them from a biblical perspective. I’m becoming more and more convinced that we must know and study our people as well as know and study the Word. Graham Johnston, in his book Preaching to a Postmodern World, notes that we cannot expect that our regular church listeners “subscribe to a Christian worldview” (p. 14). Listen to this quote:

When the speaker demonstrates an understanding of contemporary concerns and issues as well as the pressures to reject a biblical worldview, listeners will sense a personal interest. Listeners today will have their antenna up, looking for the speaker’s personal agenda or angle. Is the speaker’s desire to wield influence or chalk up another notch on the response list? When compassion and mercy flow from the messenger, people may walk away having listened and be unwilling to embrace the message and yet still maintain an openness because they perceived genuine concern (p. 69).

Having been preaching for five years and in ministry for fifteen, I’m just now starting to understand that we must love the truth and love our doctrine as well as love our people (hmm, Ephesians 4:15 still applies, yes?).   Some have said that we evangelicals care more about the Bible than we do people.  While the Bible is certainly our authority, we must remember why God left us here — as a salt-and-light witness to those around us (Matthew 5:13-16).

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. [14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I do not think that this sermon for tonight will be recorded, but I’ll try and fill you in as best as I can.

We Need to Study God’s Word — And God’s People — In Our Preaching

In Apologetics, Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on November 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

eku.jpgTonight, I’ll be speaking to the Campus Crusade students on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. I would appreciate your prayers. It is a rush, really, to see over 250 students come on a Thursday night to fellowship with God’s people and hear God’s Word. Adam Dixon is the new leader of the EKUCRU, so please keep Adam in your prayers.

A number of these college students come to Boone’s Creek — and I must say they have really helped my preaching. College students are inundated with so many philosophical, spiritual, and social worldviews that we preachers need to be aware of these issues and speak directly to them from a biblical perspective. I’m becoming more and more convinced that we must know and study our people as well as know and study the Word. Graham Johnston, in his book Preaching to a Postmodern World, notes that we cannot expect that our regular church listeners “subscribe to a Christian worldview” (p. 14). Listen to this quote:

When the speaker demonstrates an understanding of contemporary concerns and issues as well as the pressures to reject a biblical worldview, listeners will sense a personal interest. Listeners today will have their antenna up, looking for the speaker’s personal agenda or angle. Is the speaker’s desire to wield influence or chalk up another notch on the response list? When compassion and mercy flow from the messenger, people may walk away having listened and be unwilling to embrace the message and yet still maintain an openness because they perceived genuine concern (p. 69).

Having been preaching for five years and in ministry for fifteen, I’m just now starting to understand that we must love the truth and love our doctrine as well as love our people (hmm, Ephesians 4:15 still applies, yes?).   Some have said that we evangelicals care more about the Bible than we do people.  While the Bible is certainly our authority, we must remember why God left us here — as a salt-and-light witness to those around us (Matthew 5:13-16).

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. [14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I do not think that this sermon for tonight will be recorded, but I’ll try and fill you in as best as I can.

Tim Keller Has a New Book Coming Out

In Apologetics on August 28, 2007 at 10:56 pm

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

To say I’m eager for this book to come out would be an understatement.  Plus, Keller writes this book for unbelieversMark Combs had an excellent idea of reading this book with someone you know who is a skeptic to the faith. 

(HT:  Mark Combs/Justin Taylor)

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