Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Theology through Majority

The way some Christians speak about the truth of their so-called theology or doctrine, one would think that the truth of a theological system was based on how many people adhered to that system!

Right off the bat, I would like to stress that I am what is called a "Reformed Charismatic." I do not really like the term charismatic, however, we have to live with it since it has become the term used by all. Read these articles to find out why I do not like that term! I would prefer to be called a Reformed non-Cessationist, but that would not make sense to many people out there!

Whenever there is some debate on the pros and cons of non-cessationism or that of cessationism, the non-cessationists (those that believe that the spiritual gifts continue today) would make the claim that they just had to be right, since it is growing faster across the world than the cessationists.

It is true that the charismatic/pentecostal branch of the church is growing faster than its cessationist cousin; yet, since when do we validate truth by the number of people that believe it?

Truth has no democratic process by which it can be validated. Something is either true, or it isn't!

When it comes to the truth of the Scriptures, no-one can claim their version of the truth as the real truth by the number of people holding to that truth!

A spiritual movement, no matter which one, must be scrutinized by its proper adherence to the Scriptures. And,... that adherence to the Scriptures MUST be according to correct principles of Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics).

Therefore, do not think that the Kingdom of God is run by democratic voting for systems of truth!

Truth comes from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My dictionary of words

The w-dictionary has moved and is now called the wictionary!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A slip of the tongue!

I was listening to a sermon last year at a prominent charismatic church in the city where I live.

In the sermon the pastor said the following:

"After all, God took a chance on us! Isn't it true? Jesus died for you and me and expressed His love with NO guarantee of a positive response from us. He didn't know what we would do! And many, many people reject His love. [He] still loved them."

Because I respect the pastor in this case, I wrote a letter to him querying him on the statement, "
He didn't know what we would do!" In his reply to my letter, he said:

"Thank you for raising your concern with me. I am positive that it must have been a slip of the tongue – I would like to affirm that I definitely believe in God’s foreknowledge. I share your concern to uphold the truth and endeavour to do so at all times."
This got me thinking about the so-called "slip of the tongue."

Preachers should take utmost care not to say things that they do not mean. A "slip of the tongue" could have dire consequences!

Basically, a "slip of the tongue," such as this, can be caused by many things, I guess. However, I want to look at three possible causes:

1. Lack of Theological Depth
lips" such as these most often happen to those who do not have the proper theological grounding or understanding. I agree that "slips" occur more frequently than we would like to admit. Yet, "slips" more frequently occur with subjects that we are not very proficient at.

Once we have mastered a subject, it becomes that much more difficult to experience lapses of thought regarding those subjects. On the other hand, these lapses may point to the fact that one hasn't reached a thorough understanding of the subject at hand.

Preachers should hardly ever experience such lapses, since they are supposed to be thoroughly grounded in the Word o
f God and they should have a strong understanding of theological constructs in the Bible! The problem with many charismatic preachers today is that they hardly ever have a solid theological foundation!

Quoting a couple of verses merely means that one has a good memory. Having a solid theological understanding of those verses; now that is what should be aimed at! Many of these preachamatics (charismatic preachers) are very good at quoting verses while preaching. Yet, very few of them actually have a Biblical understanding of the verses they quote.

I remember, way back in the mid-80s, when I was still into the Word-of-Faith heresy, I attended a conference at which Kenneth Copeland was speaking. One of the verses in his sermon was Amos 4:6, "'I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,' declares the LORD." Copeland used this verse to preach about how God would bless us if only we believed. We would be so blessed that we would even have clean teeth! Funny, this verse does not say that at all. In fact, God was chastising the Isrealites at the time by keeping food from them, and as a result their teeth were clean from not having anything to eat!

But, I digress!

One of the big problems among preachamatics, is that they are not interested in reading and studying theology. As a re
sult, they continue with their own brand of suspect theology.

Of course, a good place to start reading good theology, is with the prince of theologians himself, John Calvin. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is av
ailable free online. He has also written many commentaries which can also be found free online.

The problem with such a lack of theological depth, which cannot be denied, especially at this church where I heard this sermon, is that they sell the books and teaching videos/tapes of known heretics. They sell stuff by men such as T.D. Jakes (more on Jakes here) and Tommy Tenney who do not teach the Trinitarian God of the Bible! They further sell goods by many Word-of-Faith teachers such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Joyce Meyers, Fred Price, Charles Capps and Benny Hinn.

2. Topical Preaching
Preachamatic at large!Another problem that can lead to a "slip of the tongue" is this incessant need in the modern church for topical preaching. I am not saying that topical preaching is bad all the time. The problem I have with churches where they only hear topical preaching is that they hardly ever get the whole counsel of God. Most topical preachers jump from verse to verse and as a result never show their people how the Scriptures fit together!

Another issue with topical preaching is that preachers using this method of preaching almost invariably think that they know the topic at hand well enough to preach off the cuff! Can you see the problem? This is exactly w
here the "slip of the tongue" comes in!

The best solution for this is to start preaching
expository sermons (preaching through a book of the Bible). Not that expository preaching is the be-all and end-all! This can be messed up too! Yet, this method of preaching demands more from the preacher. More study and more concentration! The preacher will then have to do proper hermeneutics on the book he is preaching through in order to teach the passage in question accurately.

But, I guess, that will be too much work for our preachamatics!

3. Insufficient Sermon Notes
Finally, as has been suggested before, most of these preachamatics are topical sermon pr
eachers. Since, as has also been suggested under point 2, these preachers are mostly into topical sermons, they have this over-confident attitude that they know the topic at hand very well, and as a result they have very short, to no sermon notes that they preach from.

It makes me wonder how they can preach the whole counsel of God at all!

They claim to flow with the Spirit! If they claim to be flowing with the Spirit, why do they have these "slips of the tongue?" Or, perhaps the Spirit has given them new revelation that should be added to the Bible? But, this is not what they claim! At least not the new revelation part!
The problem with many of these preachamatics is that they do claim to be led by the Spirit and so they have become so arrogant, and they treat the content of the very Word of God so flippantly, that they do not bother with preaching the whole counsel of God at all.

They would rather claim to be led by the Spirit and preach all kinds of nonsense (a "slip of the tongue"), than honour God by preaching His Word and only His Word.

If they really honoured God in their preaching, they would do everything in their power to ensure that they preach only the Word of God. That would mean spending hours before God in prayer and sermon preparation, studying the Word of God to e
nsure that the passage at hand is interpreted correctly. However, I guess hermeneutics is a lost art among the preachamatics! Further, proper notes will be taken to the pulpit to ensure that such a "slip of the tongue" does not occur.

Whose books are you selling?In conclusion, many of these charismatic churches that claim to be led by the Spirit of God allow the merchandise of heretics (such as those mentioned under point 1) to be sold in their bookstores. Why is the Spirit not telling them to get rid of the wolves in sheep's clothing from their midst? Is it perhaps, as I maintain, that they are not so-called led by the Spirit as much as they claim to be?

On this topic, of divining the leading of the Lord, it may be good to go over to the PyroManiacs to read the post by Dan Phillips called "Misreading God." Perhaps the preachamatics will say that Dan Phillips is wrong, because the spirit told them so!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Gospel: Diluted and non-Saving

  1. to make (a liquid) thinner or weaker by the addition of water or the like.
  2. to make fainter, as a color.
  3. to reduce the strength, force, or efficiency of by admixture. –verb (used without object)
  4. to become diluted. –adjective
  5. reduced in strength, as a chemical by admixture; weak: a dilute solution.

This is what the western, modern church is doing to the gospel. It is making the gospel weaker, fainter, inefficient and easy!

I was reading a post by the Calvinist Gadfly and thought to myself: "That is exactly what I want to say!"

The gospel that is preached today in many churches is more about self-help programs than the Biblical gospel itself! What can be heard in churches today are s
ermons like: "5 Steps to a happy marriage," "8 Steps to becoming a prayer warrior," "How to become a successful leader," "How to raise good children" and many more...

In my post, Reformation Needed Today, I wrote the following:

"The world around us is falling apart and still, many pastors want so much for people to like them in order to draw the crowds. In order for people to like them, these pastors must as a consequence get rid of all the offensive material in the gospel, and end up drawing the crowds with nothing but the elements of the world itself. In the end, what are these people getting saved towards? Definitely not the gospel and Jesus Christ! These preachers simply attract people to 'all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions,' which 'is not from the Father but is from the world' (1 Jn 2:16 ESV)."

Gadfly wrote it much more succinct than I did: "What you win them with is what you win them to."

The point is, if you preach a diluted, weak gospel, devoid of the truth of the Biblical gospel, then your converts will be
diluted, weak, devoid of the truth.

The fact that preachers think they could preach a watered down gospel in order to get people, show 3 things at least:
  1. The preacher does not believe in the God of the Bible.
  2. The preacher is concerned with the numbers of the church more than with the real salvation of the people in the church.
  3. The preacher is concerned with the size of his salary.
Imagine the gospel Jesus preached! How horrific His gospel is according to the experts of today! With all the psycho-analytical-babble today, it is recommended that we stroke people's egos and not to condemn them. We are supposed to soften them up until they are ready to accept what we say!

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, [26] "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. [27] Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luk 14:25-27)

Perhaps Jesus did not know of the psychological advances made since Freud and Jung?! Or, maybe, just maybe, He gave us an example of how to preach the gospel! Yet, when many modern preachers deliver their sermons, they appeal to what Gadfly calls "creaturely-centeredness." It is this self-centered gospel that leads its adherents to believe that they could manipulate God like some pagan god with the correct mantras and rituals. This gospel contains no sense of self-denial!

What these preachers do is to give good advice toward self-help and self-esteem programs. However, it leads to deception and in the end, I am sad to say, no-one is saved! If people are won over by self-help and self-esteem programs, that would be what their salvation turns out to be. This is not the salvation promised by Jesus!

The modern church has made the gospel all about us. It is for that reason that many people see their own testimonies as the gospel itself. They have forgotten that the gospel is about the One that made salvation available. It is for this very reason that when preachers dilute the gospel that they once again show their unbelief in the very One that provided the gospel!

Maybe next time we think about the power of the gospel we should rather think about the power to take up our cross than think about some self-centered reason why we should have more in this life to make us feel better!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Top 10 Irish Calvinist posts

The Irish Calvinist lists his 10 most visited blog posts of 2006.

His post is called "Top Blog Posts of 2006."

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, January 08, 2007

Give and Take

"God gives and Satan takes away!"

I am sure you heard that before. Of course, it is true!

You do not believe me? Well, just ask the myriads of so-called evangelicals who teach that almost every Sunday in church!

There are so many preachers claiming to be evangelical, that teach their people from the pulpit that God is not sovereign! They will teach that God gives us all the good things in life, but Satan comes to take it all away!

However, we read about Job saying, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away..."

Of course, these preachers will immediately reply by saying, "Yea! But that is what Job said, not what God said!"

The fact is that in this passage of Job 1, verse 22 clearly says, "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong."

Reading about this first tragedy in Job's life, one is immediately faced with the question of God's sovereignty!

What did Satan tell God about where he had come from? "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." (v7)

What amazes me is God's answer to Satan's "coming and going" on the earth! "Have you considered my servant Job...?" What was Satan doing on the earth, "coming and going?" "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Pet 5:8) This is what Satan does while he is "coming and going" on the earth. Seeking "someone to devour!" The Lord knew about this. He knew that Satan was looking for someone to devour!

Yet, it was the Lord who asked Satan to consider Job. Did the Lord ask Satan to consider Job simply to think about Job? Or, did God ask Satan to consider Job as his next subject for testing and "devouring?"

The fact is that God gave Satan his limits in his attack upon Job. (v12) In one day, Job lost all his children, his servants and all his livestock. That is a tragedy beyond imagination!

Of course, if this happened to the modern evangelical, who would be blamed for the tragedy? Satan, of course! As if God was totally unable to limit Satan's actions!

Yet, Job understood God's sovereignty when he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (v21)

Job knew that God is the Almighty Sovereign of the universe and nothing, but nothing, could happen on this planet without God's signature on the triplicate application! In fact, it is God Himself who suggested Job to Satan. Why would it be any different for you and me?

The problem is that many today think of God and Satan as co-equals! Sometimes they even include themselves as God's co-equal! They do not understand, nor believe that God is sovereign and that ALL comes to pass by God's sovereign decree!

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