Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rick Warren shows lack of discernment

It happens to all of us. Somewhere along the line we meet people who claim to be Christians, and we accept that claim at face value. It usually happens to young Christians who have not studied the Bible enough to know what real Christians believe.

It happens to most of us. I remember, when I was but a young Christian with not much knowledge of others who claimed to be Christians, that I, together with my youth group here in South Africa, ran into the ZCCs (Zion Christian Church). To us it was very simple. "Look, it is a Christian church!" However,... these people have merged Christianity with their ancestor worship, and ended up with something that is not Christianity at all! How can you worship the ancestors and Christ together? That is an abomination. It is like worshipping the devil and Jesus while claiming that you are a Christian!

Now this is what I do not understand in Rick Warren's case. He wants mainline churches to reconcile with evangelical churches to stop their decline in membership.

According to Warren:
“100 years ago the phrase ‘social gospel’ first came out. Some people took that to mean only if we reform the social government and society and not personal faith in Christ Jesus – that is, if we make the world a better place – we don’t need personal redemption.”

Warren feels that the mainline churches went one way and evangelical churches went another. He continued:
“Who’s right? The fact is both are right. Somehow we got divided like Jesus didn’t care about society or members of society didn’t need Jesus. I think we need both.”

Warren's idea here is ignoratio elenchi. As "Seven of Nine" from Star Trek: Voyager would have said, "Irrelevant!" Warren's conclusion here is simply irrelevant. It may be right, but it is irrelevant. Sure, we need "personal redemption" and we need to be involved in society. However, Warren misses the point.

While speaking with the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Samuel T. Lloyd III, Warren said, “The reconciliation is that in a pluralistic world…we (Christians) need to be on the same team because we share the same savior.” This is where many in evangelicalism differ with Warren. It is this very belief of Warren's that make his statement above
ignoratio elenchi.

The fact is that among the mainline churches there is gross apostasy. They either deny all or some of the fundamentals of Christianity. From denying the virgin birth, to denying the death of Christ, to denying the resurrection of Christ, to denying that the Bible is the inerrant inspired Word of God, these people have walked away from what the Bible clearly teaches on almost every facet the Bible touches on, whether doctrinal or moral!

The fact is, contrary to what Mr. Warren has said, we do not "share the same savior." The fact is that these people cannot call themselves Christians when they deny the very faith they claim to hold onto.

Which brings me back to Rick Warren. Is this man so Biblically inept, that he will welcome anyone into the Christian fold? Who's next? The Mormons? The Jehovah's Witnesses? It seems to me that Warren wants to become all things to all people. Yet, contrary to the apostle Paul, it certainly is not to win some. He went to Iran... to pat Ahmedinejad on the back. He went to Jewish synagogues... to help them grow their membership. Now he goes to mainline churches... to reconcile with them. Based on what? That we have the same "savior." Think again!

How is that so many hold Warren in such high esteem (for some just below God Himself), yet he does not know why evangelicals parted ways with the mainline churches almost 100 years ago? Liberalism flooded what is now called the mainline churches. It came to be accepted in these churches to deny the fundamental doctrines of the faith and to basically become "social clubs" with the name of Christ somewhere close.

Evangelicalism did not part with mainline churches over something like community involvement. It was a doctrinal parting. The evangelical church continued with following the fundamentals of the faith and caring for the poor, etc. Several surveys over the years have concluded that evangelicals give and care more than mainline churches or the world do. Yet, people continue to hold onto the modern media caricature of evangelicals as uncaring. That is simply false!

Ingrid Schlueter wrote:
"Rick Warren’s presence in the pulpit of National Cathedral on January 27, and his call for 'reconciliation' with such churches should disgust every Christian who believes in the authority of Holy Scripture and who understands the critical importance of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. National Cathedral is a New Age pantheon to the gods of the world religions. That's why the church can feature goddess theology proponents teaching women how to dance in 'sacred circles', welcome the worship of Tibetan monks, teach Buddhist meditation techniques and introduce attendees to the Jewish Kabbalah. Where is Rick Warren's concern about the people who are on their way to hell in these churches that blaspheme the Lord Jesus Christ with goddess worship, homosexuality, a rejection of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement, a denial of the authority of Scripture, and the promotion of the doctrines of anti-Christ?"

The point is that Rick Warren does not seem to exercise any discernment. How can this man want to merge truth and heresy? Truth and apostasy?

To read more on the essentials or fundamentals of the faith, read "What is the Gospel? What is the foundation to the Gospel?"

Some posts on the importance of truth and doctrine:
Without truth - empty, heartless gestures to God
The Relevancy of Doctrine
The Gospel: Diluted and non-Saving
Is the preacher a "reliable carrier" of God's truth?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Churches may as well close their doors

Phil Magnan, President of Biblical Family Advocates, has written an open letter to churches and their pastors called, "If Churches Cannot Preach Against Abortion, They Should Just Close Their Doors." It is on the front page of their website and can also be read at ChristianNewsWire.

It is a stinging rebuke aimed at churches who do not speak out against abortion openly.

I am inclined to agree with Magnan. When I look at the churches in South Africa, I see a group that is so disinclined to speak out on the issues of the day, that they will harbour murderers or those who agree with murder in their churches!

That is the bottom line! Why can churches so easily speak against fornication, adultery and other gross sins (if they do at all), yet when it comes to abortion, they are silent.

It is this very silence that condemns them!

Mat 25:34-46 (34) Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' (40) And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (41) "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (42) For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, (43) I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' (44) Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' (45) Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

The interesting thing about this discourse is that Jesus made it clear, that when we do justice unto others, we do it unto Him. When did we welcome, clothe or visit Jesus? Jesus' answer is, "
as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

On the other hand, when we neglect to do justice unto others, the question can be stated, "Lord, when did we not do justice unto you?" Then Jesus answers, "
as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

It is NOT good enough for churches to say that they are doing something in the background. The time for Secret Service operations is over. The time for a full frontal attack is here.

The enemy is destroying millions of the unborn every year (more than 50,000/year in South Africa), yet the church is satisfied with its silence.


Churches are happy to have their little prayer huddles, their exciting relevant services, their three-points-to-a-successful-life or how-to-hear-from-God sermons, but in the meantime babies are being slaughtered daily; yet, for these churches, God has not spoken on the issue to them in their prayer huddles at all! I guess, if God does not speak to them personally from the blue yonder, then they do not move.

However, it seems that when the Bible speaks, their spiritual ears are shut!

From those who have more, more will be expected!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Charismatic pastor to divorce again?

Evangelical church on downward spiral

The Evangelical church continues its downward spiral, even here in South Africa. Those in other countries, like America, must not think that only the evangelical church in America is losing its grip on what is right and true. No, it is happening all over the world to the evangelical church!

Ray McCauley, pastor of one of South Africa's largest churches--Rhema, divorced from his wife Lyndie in 2000. Just a year after that he married another woman, Zelda Ireland, a former model. This was Ireland's third marriage!

Now, it seems, this marriage is in trouble too!

What is going on in this case is not clear yet. However, it seems that Ray McCauley dug this hole for himself. As a so-called "man of God," he should have known what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. It took him just a year after divorcing his first wife, to marry his second wife.

He made crucial mistakes in marrying this woman. Let's look at the practical first. The alarm bells should have been ringing exceedingly loud in his ears. First of all, she had been married twice before. Did he not think that the only common denominator in her first two failed marriages was her? There were two failed marriages, and she was involved in both of them! Second, she has three children of her own, all from different fathers. Last, if my calculations are correct, based on the ages of the children given by the Sunday Times, and the amount of years she was one of his congregants, she had both of her divorces and at least one illegitimate child while she was a member if his church! Strike Three!

Biblically, he had no recourse for marrying this woman. The Bible is clear on the issue of divorce and remarriage.

One does not have to read far into the New Testament to run into the subject of divorce. Jesus said, "whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." (Mt 19:9) Naturally, the one who has gone through divorce and the one contemplating divorce will look for all kinds of excuses to justify their divorce.

However, the case is clear against those that divorce. "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." (Mt 19:8) Jesus set the parameters within which divorce could take place. Except for sexual immorality, divorce would be a no-no. Paul adds one more parameter for divorce. When the spouse is an unbeliever and wants a divorce, "the brother or sister is not enslaved." (1 Cor 7:15) But, notice how Paul frames his argument. The believer should never seek the divorce. While the unbeliever wants to remain in the marriage, the believer should remain married to the unbeliever. The believer is only freed from the covenant of the marriage when the unbeliever seeks the divorce.

So, the Bible is very clear about the issue of adultery. It is when a married person has sex with someone he is not married to. When someone remarries, they commit adultery. Unless of course the divorce was as a result of the previous spouse committing sexual immorality, or an unbelieving spouse that wanted the divorce.

Coming back to Ray McCauley and Zelda. I do not know the circumstances of her two divorces, but chances are (I am merely speculating here) that at least one of her divorces was an unBiblical divorce, according to Jesus and Paul. From my knowledge of Ray and Lyndie's divorce, it certainly was an unBiblical divorce. Neither of them (according to their own testimonies) is an unbeliever. Further, according to my knowledge, neither of them committed sexual immorality. Therefore, their divorce was unBiblical and certainly was not sanctioned by Jesus or Paul.

As a result, Ray McCauley is in an adulterous relationship with Zelda McCauley (nee Ireland) according to Matthew 19. Incredibly, here is a man, head of the largest charismatic church in South Africa, and also the head of the IFCC (International Fellowship of Christian Churches), in an adulterous relationship!

Apart from McCauley's marital woes, in 1996, he decided to move away from Johannesburg where his church is. He did not move into the next town to still be close to his church. No, that would be too simple! He moved 600Km (375mi) away to Umhlanga, on the north coast of Kwazulu-Natal, about 20Km north of Durban! How in the world can a man be a pastor to a church in any way when he lives 600Km from his church. Isn't it just too convenient? He just does not have to do the work of a pastor! He only has to preach. And the money comes rolling in!

The last point I want to make about Ray McCauley is that he is part of the Word-of-Faith (WOF) clan. I have written about WOF before in a series called "Heresies in the church," and it is such a serious error that I believe it to be heresy. The fact is that preachers that teach these heresies, like McCauley, Joyce Meyers and others, have been accepted large scale into the evangelical church and scores of evangelical book stores.

The fact is, the evangelical church does not have the backbone to call a spade a spade, and will therefore not call preachers like this heretics. And if they will not call them heretics, why would they bother with holding McCauley accountable for his adulterous marriage?

The evangelical church is indeed on a downward spiral!

29 January 2010 - Although the divorce did not happen at the time of this post, it is now 2 years later, and it seems like it is definitely going to happen!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Will the evangelical church stand up to die for its faith?

We are told several times in the New Testament that Christians will suffer for their faith. However, if we listen to the evangelical church today, it would seem that God's curse would be upon us if we do suffer for our faith.

This, however, is not how the early church (or the New Testament) viewed it.

"'Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil—only let me get to Jesus Christ!' Hardly the stuff of Sunday morning conversation in the 21st century. Ignatius, a bishop in Antioch, wrote these words in a letter to the Roman church in the early second century. He had been arrested for being a Christian and knew that a grisly death probably lay before him. Yet he looked forward to it almost joyfully."

Read about persecution of the early church here.

For a more complete account of Christian persecution into the 1800s, read FOXE's BOOK of MARTYRS online.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How will your Christianity impact the U.S. presidential debate?

In many cases, the content of presidential debates are controlled by media pundits, news casts and more, but not by those who need to vote for the new president.

Chuck Colson wrote:

"For the next 10 months, presidential candidates will be telling us how they plan to make the world a safer place for Americans. Now, that’s good, of course, but there are other people whose safety American Christians ought to be concerned about: that is, Christians suffering for their faith around the world."


"You probably will not hear this issue brought up at a presidential debate. That is why American Christians have to make the mistreatment of their brethren an issue in this year’s elections."

Read more here.

NBC portrays Christians as violent

NBC, being out of touch with reality (it is only a TV station you know), thinks that Christians are violent and unenlightened.

Read here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 Puritan Reading Challenge

Timmy Brister has come up with a reading challenge for all of us. His challenge is to read one Puritan book per month during 2008. These are not just any Puritan books, but a specific list. This list can be viewed at Reformation Heritage Books.

I know what you are thinking, that's if you are thinking like I used to think about 10+ years ago. "These are all old books written by a bunch of dead guys!"

C.S. Lewis, wrote a very insightful introduction to the book of one of those old dead guys. He wrote this forward to Athanasius' On the Incarnation.

This is what he wrote:
"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about "isms" and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire."

He also wrote:
"Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o'clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. Remarks which seem to you very ordinary will produce laughter or irritation and you will not see why—the reason, of course, being that the earlier stages of the conversation have given them a special point. In the same way sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed at some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity ("mere Christianity" as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones."

So, I would like to challenge my readers to take up
Timmy Brister's challenge to read the Puritans.

If you are from South Africa like I am, you might try Augustine Bookroom for all those books. I have checked their catalogue, and they indeed have it in their catalogue.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Theology affects your prayer life

I have believed, for long now, that what we believe will affect our prayer lives. If that belief is not solidly grounded in the Bible, then our theology will be full of errors, or perhaps even heresies.

If we approach God, without the solid backing of what His Word says about Him, then our prayer lives could be ruined.

Joe Thom wrote an article on exactly this called The Secret to a Better Prayer Life.

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