Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Joy to the world!
The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nelson Mandela was a Communist Terrorist

I haven't been keeping up on the Nelson Mandela story but this page from the website American Vision gives plenty of information about how the adulation of the man since his recent death is based on ignorance of what he really did. 

He was imprisoned for terrorist acts to which he pleaded guilty, acts that killed women and children, and terrible tortures.  Few seem to know that.  This page is mostly interviews with Peter Hammond, a South African missionary who protested Mandela's policies in office.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A weary word on Christian infighting

There seems to be an escalation of arguments between some Christian ministries these days that takes up an awful lot of time.  I've not been following most of it lately but first became aware of it because of the attacks on Jonathan Cahn over his book The Harbinger which I defended here for many months.  The last thing I posted on that subject was an interview of Cahn by Chris Rosebrough, someone I'd never heard of to that point.  I thought he did a very fair job of interviewing Cahn and bringing out the unfairness of the criticisms against him.  The ministries that attacked Cahn are very respectable ministries you don't really want to criticize in turn, but the attacks were so unfair you have to point out the unfairness.  And I personally believe you have to name the ministries or otherwise all you do is create confusion.

Then I more or less backed away from the controversies.  But it was Chris Rosebrough who hosted the debate between James White and Chris Pinto on his radio show on Wednesday, and looking up more on the debate at You Tube I found a program he did a couple months ago in which he was taking Pinto to task for slandering a friend of his, asking that Pinto apologize.

I don't want to get into all THIS either, but I listened to the first part of that radio show and felt that now Chris Rosebrough is the one being unfair.   He goes on at great length explaining how Chris Pinto had committed this sin of slander and I started getting impatient to hear the evidence.  Then when he played the audio in question it seemed to me he was completely misjudging Pinto's point.  I wish I had access to Pinto's whole show now but I don't, so this is based just on that part I heard.  Pinto described Rosebrough's friend as someone who had gone to Harvard Divinity School and then described Harvard Divinity School as where a certain professor who promoted Christian homosexuality had taught.  Rosebrough took that as insinuating that his friend was gay or supported gay Christianity but all Pinto was saying was that Harvard Divinity School is really not the kind of institution where a professing Christian should seek his education;  it's not the sort of institution where you could expect to get solid Biblical teaching.  I heard nothing more than that.  According to Rosebrough Pinto edited that part of the program afterward, but I didn't hear anything in it along the lines Rosebrough was suggesting anyway.  I couldn't listen past the first few minutes because Rosebrough was going on and on with this misjudgment and I got tired of it, so I hope I didn't miss something I needed to hear.

And now there is the debate between Pinto and White which has required me to be more aware than usual of how heated the Bible controversies can get.  And in this case Pinto is being accused quite offhandedly of being a conspiracy thinker.  As if he was jumping to conclusions from a lack of evidence, which is what that usually means, but in fact the conclusion of conspiracy is clearly based on the facts he's been researching.

I wish I could say Pinto had won the debate.  He did a very nice job of presenting his thinking and his research, but I have to conclude, as I titled my blog post on it at the Bible blog, that Truth lost the debate.  Truth just doesn't win debates these days.  That's just the way it is.  People who win debates are glib and scholarly, they demand certainty and don't have much patience with the kind of probing and inconclusiveness Pinto's research requires.   I concluded that the important issues involving the Bible versions come down to spiritual discernment and I agree with that more and more as I think about it.  That's a virtue that isn't usually evident in scholarly debate.  It isn't evident, period, in the defenders of the Westcott and Hort Greek texts or anything having to do with textual criticism or the modern Bibles.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Waking Up Among Wolves: The Antichrist Pt. 1: The Papacy

When I started this blog I had a few topics in mind I wanted to pursue, such as the woman's head covering of First Corinthians 11.  That and the Bible versions controversy quickly became big enough to get their own separate blogs.  As I was researching various subjects, such as by listening to sermons at Sermon Audio, the topic "Antichrist" kept popping out at me and eventually I decided that was going to be a topic here as well, but at first I didn't have a lot to say about it. 

I mostly had the Futurist idea in mind, that the Antichrist is to be a personality who emerges at the very end before the Lord returns, and I was aware of various candidates from false religions for that title, such as the Imam Mahdi expected by the Muslims, Maitreya expected by the Buddhists and pursued in a more universal form by Benjamin Creme, and the false Messiah expected by the Jews since they rejected the true Messiah, and so on. 

Unlike most Futurists, however, I did appreciate the Protestant Reformers' view of Antichrist as the papal system throughout all history and thought a particularly telling piece of evidence was the Latin title for the Pope that adds up to 666 through its Roman numerals: VICARIVS FILII DEI.  Nevertheless I had the Futurist attitude that the main thing was still the emergence of the major final Antichrist at the very end, which seems awfully close to a lot of us, and the papacy wasn't really an active agency in my mind.

Until I ran across some of Chris Pinto's films at You Tube.  Others, such as ex-priest Richard Bennett, also identify the papacy as Antichrist, but Pinto brings out the ongoing activity of the papacy as Antichrist down the centuries and into the present in a way nobody else I'd seen does.  He also made me aware of the active role of the Jesuits from their origin into the present.

This has had the effect of making the Antichrist himself come alive in a real and immediate way that I wasn't expecting at all.  It's quite startling. 

It's what I mean by the title "Waking Up Among Wolves."  It's like I've been asleep to all this except in the most intellectual abstract way and suddenly it has become quite real, almost "up close and personal."  And of course this latest Pope is almost frenetically pursuing a role that easily defines him as "That man of sin."  He may or may not be the last Pope as an old Catholic prophecy predicted, and even if he is he may not be THE Antichrist, who may be a political figure like Hitler, backed by the Pope, but the development of the qualities of the Antichrist is pretty startling.

Still a "watch and see" situation, only in my mind looming large as it never did before. Kind of like waking up surrounded by wolves.

===================================== Part Two:  Islam    

A Couple of Timely Shows from Jan Markell's Ministry

Here are a couple of recent radio shows from Jan Markell on the subjects that are her forte: current events, politics and spiritual breakdown in the Church.

On the program Entertaining Spirits Unaware Jan and guests discuss some attempts to domesticate the occult even in the Church or at least through a recent issue of Christianity Today.  Eric Barger, who writes on the occult, and Jill Martin Rische, daughter of the late Walter Martin, also a writer on the occult, are her guests.

I didn't know the occult was becoming a sort of fad in the Church. A real head-shaker. Some people really do sell their souls to Satan in exchange for worldly success. The version that is accepted in the Church, however, is more like a gullible blind acceptance of things like Harry Potter

And Christianity Today has been off the rails on a lot of subjects for a long time. I guess it makes sense this is where a deviation in direction would end up, in an inability to see the antichristian nature of ghosts and horror stories and magic etc.

The other show is about the government's invasion of privacy of citizens, and about the current situation concerning Iran: Deliver Us From Evil

Rivers of Living Water

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
I could spend a lot of time on these verses, but there's really only one simple message I want to convey: I think we ignore these promises of Jesus in a way that is depriving the Church of power these days. They have no doubt been misused, such as by the Charismatics, Pentecostals and others, but we don't have to fall into their theological systems to take them seriously. We don't need to know, for instance, whether they have anything to do with a separate "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" or not, all we really need to know is that Jesus promised this kind of power to His followers, to those who "believe on Him," and we don't have it.

"Rivers of living water" certainly implies the power to impart spiritual life to others. that is, salvation.   Don't you long for that power? We have the Holy Spirit if we believe, but we don't seem to have the Holy Spirit in this degree of power. Why not?

One thing that is often ignored by the Charismatics and others who claim to have such power is that "The Holy Spirit is given to them who obey." Yet they expect to have the power without bothering to obey, which is no doubt a big reason why all they are getting with their zealous exertions to possess it is counterfeits.

So maybe the reason NOBODY has this power these days is about lack of obedience. Something to think about.

Nevertheless I think we should be praying for this power, using Jesus' own words: Teach us what it means to have the river of living water from our bellies, so we may possess it;  teach us what it means to have the power to do those greater works so that we may do them, and above all teach us what it means to "believe on You" because obviously we aren't getting it or we'd have these powers.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The First Thanksgiving WAS What We've Been Traditionally Taught it Was, Contrary to the Revisionist History Concocted by Leftists


Just heard a Special Program on Pilgrim Radio, my local Christian radio, Remembering Pilgrims, created by Moody Radio.  It did a very nice job of dramatizing some of the events and interviewing experts to give basically the same information I've covered below. 

Wish it was available online somewhere so I could link to it but it doesn't seem to be.


Didn't get a Thanksgiving message together this year but maybe I can get a brief belated one up at least.  Chris Pinto did a message on the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims, demonstrating that they DID have a feast that included turkey and they DID share it with the peaceable friendly Indians who were their neighbors, contrary to some propaganda we've heard in recent years that says the Pilgrims didn't get along with the Indians and so on. 

Here's the link to his radio show page, where you can find his Thanksgiving show for November 27th over the next few days, until it rolls into his website where you have to subscribe to listen.

He begins by reading some psalms of Thanksgiving, for the first nine minutes or so, and then starts to get into the story of the first Pilgrims, how they had many tragedies and many died the first winter but how they had a good harvest the next year and that was the reason for the Thanksgiving celebration, which they planned to last three days.

Edward Winslow was the assistant governor to Bradford and wrote a report on the Thanksgiving celebration.  Pinto quotes from Winslow's account, which he wrote in a letter in December of the year of the celebration, which is published at the website Mayflower History dot com.  Winslow reports that they had a good harvest of wheat and Indian corn although some of their other crops hadn't done so well.  After they got in the harvest four men went out and brought back enough fowl to feed the company for a week.  They were joined by neighboring Indians including Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men, whom the Pilgrims entertained and feasted for the three days, after which the Indians went out and killed five deer, which they presented to the governor.

So there it is from an eyewitness at the time who participated in the feast, who ought to know.  So that those historians who emphasize the conflicts with the Indians that did occur but at different places and at other times are simply wrong to discount the story of the first Thanksgiving and the basis for our continuing to celebrate it. 

Twenty years later Governor Bradford wrote his History of Plymouth Plantation in which he also described the great plenty they enjoyed that second year although he doesn't describe the Thanksgiving feast itself.  He describes the abundance they enjoyed including fish and fowl along with a peck (two gallons) of meal per person per week, and mentions that they also had many wild turkeys.   Winslow doesn't mention the turkeys so we can thank Bradford for that piece of our historical lore that justifies our continuing way of celebrating the holiday. 

Pinto goes on to mention another historical document written by a visitor to the plantation, a William Hilton, who arrived on a ship called The Fortune soon after that first Thanksgiving.  He wrote home to England about... turkeys! AND reports that the neighboring Indians were "peaceable and friendly," which contradicts a lot of that revisionist history about the murderous white man who couldn't possibly have celebrated a friendly feast with the Indians.   Hilton also describes the abundance of natural foods in the land, from nuts and berries to fish and fowl and game, and also describes the people as genuinely godly Christians.

So is the traditional story of Thanksgiving vindicated.

Pinto then goes into a discussion of a website called The Kasama Project which promotes Communism and seeks a Communist takeover of America, and includes a page titled Native Blood:  The Myth of Thanksgiving, all about how the first white settlers wouldn't have invited Indians to a feast but only murdered them and stole their land from them, and about "the ruthless ways of capitalism"* ("unlike the Communists," Pinto goes on, who murdered over a hundred million people in the twentieth century alone). 

He mentions the Salem Witch Trials in relation to the idea that the white settlers were nothing but murderers (while of course the Communists are the peace lovers who murder the unborn along with anybody who objects to Communism when they are in power).  He says he got this information in the mail about how the Salem leaders had a day of fasting and contrition for that blot in their history.

Another website Pinto mentions is Pilgrim Hall dot org.

I might as well also include a link to my post on Thanksgiving from 2010 which also deals with the propaganda that seeks to denigrate this part of American history

*We need to be praying against Communism too.  Another subject I might do a post on if I can get to it is the Pope's recent denunciation of capitalism, which I heard Rush Limbaugh talked about on his show yesterday. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yearning for a True Holy Spirit Revival

Here's the link to the talks at the STRANGE FIRE CONFERENCE

When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" on July 8, 1741 to a congregation in Enfield, Connecticut, many were powerfully affected even to having visions of Hell over which they were being dangled, and this is said to have been the beginning of the Great Awakening that profoundly changed American life just before the Revolution.

Lately I've been thinking some of us could do with the experience of being dangled over the pit of Hell, and I'm including myself, most particularly myself. Speaking of "awakening," most of the Church needs to be awakened these days to a reality of our faith that few of us appreciate. This is apparent just in the condition of the world around us, the nations around us and the Church itself with its growing apostasies in all directions, plus our worldliness that can be seen in divorce statistics and such woeful things as addictions to pornography, about which I just heard an interview on Christian radio.

  I hope those who do have a powerful faith are exercising it in prayer on behalf of the rest of us. Or maybe I should say I hope there is such a thing as some who have such a powerful faith.

Well, I can report that I've been praying more myself, and I'm thankful that I'm able to do it. I've also been reading a lot of Andrew Murray (Absolute Surrender, The Spirit of Christ, Experiencing the Holy Spirit), hoping his exhortations and guidance to living in the power of the Holy Spirit might bring about the awakening I know I need personally if I'm going to be of use to anybody else.

Most genuine revivals begin with a powerful sense of personal sinfulness, which is what Edwards' famous sermon brought about in that Connecticut congregation, and that's what I'm hoping my own reading and prayer will do for me too. I pray for revival for the entire Church but I'd be very happy if God would revive me personally for starters.

 One thing I can report is that I'm heartily sick of myself, my so easily falling into sin, the flesh, self, worldliness, and the more I read and pray the more I feel that, which is painful of course, but has to be a good thing. There was a time when I couldn't read much of Murray, I'd just end up feeling "I can't possibly do that," (such as "absolute surrender" to God) even that I couldn't have the faith that what's impossible for me is possible with God, which he avidly preaches. But this time I'm believing it and hoping it will bear fruit.

Yes I know there is good reason not to pray or hope for revival in our time just because the Church IS in such bad shape. A W Tozer many years ago said revival could be a disaster with the Church in such a worldly condition. Leonard Ravenhill focused more on how the condition of the Church prevented us from having revival. If you go all the way back to Spurgeon you can find him preaching on how much the Church needs revival but that he'd rather have no revival at all than have a revival trumped up in the flesh or a revival aflame with "wildfire."  

Wildfire, or Strange Fire, is unfortunately what we've been getting through the Charismatics for some time now.   I've often avoided praying for revival because of all the counterfeit "revivals" we've seen over the last few decades, from the "Toronto Blessing" to "Brownsville" to the Todd Bentley demonic horror in Lakeland. So I hope instead for a new Protestant Reformation, and we certainly do need that, but at the same time I yearn for the TRUE power of God to come down and transform us as a doctrinal reformation may not do. Or would do much too slowly in our desperate times.

So now I'm again praying and hoping for a real revival, but it MUST start with me, I must personally be revived as we all must who hope for revival. The Strange Fire Conference got me moving in this direction, maybe by a circuitous route. I was convinced by it that the gifts of the Spirit that inaugurated the Church at Pentecost had ceased, and the best evidence of this to my mind is that the phenomena that are being called "the gifts" are nothing like the gifts in the New Testament Church, and most of them are outright counterfeits.  But at the same time the position of Cessationism can go too far in the direction of denying the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit among His people in all times. Those who join the Charismatic movement often do so because of the yearning for the felt presence of God to power our lives and power His work through the Church. It's a legitimate desire when too much of the Church depends only on correct doctrine and DOES feel "dead" as the Charismatics always complain about it.

HOWEVER, the Charismatic movement has NOT succeeded in bringing the true power of God into the Church, but sure has brought a lot of counterfeits of Holy Spirit power instead. The true power of God would dangle us over the pit of Hell until we realize our desperate need of Christ and then come to cling to Him with a new recognition of what this Christian life is really all about. Instead, the counterfeits bring us bogus "prophecies" and bogus "tongues" and bogus "healings" and bogus "apostles" and bogus "revivals."   AND along with all the bad doctrine and the counterfeit supernatural phenomena interestingly often comes a great tendency for Church leaders and members to fall into some of the grossest kinds of sin. Such as Todd Bentley did, such as others that could be named in relation to the Prophecy movement have done. Such as I myself have done too. It's scary and depressing how sin is always right there breathing down my neck. I'm plagued by it unless I pray constantly against it. 

Go hear African pastor Conrad Mbewe who preached at the Strange Fire Conference about the condition of Africa if you want to get an appreciation for the connection of false doctrine with sin. There the biggest churches preach what he says is really a version of African witchcraft mingled with Christian terminology, thanks to the preaching of the false Word-Faith gospel, and where sexual sin has become common among the PASTORS of such churches, who even take advantage of women in their congregations. Take notice: SIN is the fruit of these counterfeit "miracles" they all seek. We all too easily fall into THE FLESH, even if we are true Christians but maybe some of us should ask if we are truly Christians and I'm including myself.

But some of us ARE walking in the flesh even if we are true Christians, when we don't live in the TRUE power of God.

So this is why I'm seeking personal revival, and it's why I'm still hoping for revival for the Church at large too. We need the Holy Spirit of God to come down and dangle us all over the pit of Hell as TRUE doctrine is preached to us and the counterfeits are exposed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some Warnings Against the Bogus Bibles, Against the Bogus "health care plan," and Against the Bogus "Palestinian cause" plus Update on Jesuits

11/20 UPDATE:

Chris Pinto's radio show today is about Jesuit influence, particularly in Scotland. He quotes from J A Wylie's book on the history of Protestantism (It's listed at my Catholicism blog).   In passing he mentions a book about Vatican influence in Nazi Germany.  The book is available but so is this video Interview with John Cornwell about his book, Hitler's Pope.



After writing yesterday's post for the Bible Hoax blog I went back and listened again to Chris Pinto's radio show The Burning of the Bibles, which I'd linked in the previous post at that blog, because I remembered that it gives support to some of the claims I was making about Westcott and Hort's Bible revision of 1881.  It does, and it's an excellent outline of the whole Bible debacle that was hatched in the 19th century and has been creating chaos ever since, causing the English Bible to be brought into doubt.  Yes we're talking conspiracy.  The revision of 1881 was more of an attempt to destroy the King James Bible by people under the influence of the Vatican than it was any kind of legitimate revision.  This is what Chris Pinto has been repeatedly documenting for some time, and this particular radio show does a very nice job of outlining the whole story.

I started that blog based on the writings of John Burgon, a contemporary of Westcott and Hort's who saw their revision as an indefensible undermining of the Bible, which he called "poisoning the river of life," and wrote a series of critiques of the revision that became the monumental book The Revision Revised.   Although Burgon's name has been used by a King-James-Only organization, The Dean Burgon Society,  Burgon did not give King-James-Only arguments.  His effort was entirely to show the scholarly deficiencies of the 1881 revision, both in their substitution of corrupted Greek manuscripts for those underlying the King James, and in their mangling of the English translation itself by thousands of unnecessary changes, both against the instructions that had been given to the revising committee. 

What Chris Pinto does is show that there were very likely ulterior motives to their mutilation of the King James Bible, specifically in the use of the corrupted Greek manuscripts, and that these motives were most likely fostered under the influence of the Vatican.  The Vatican of course had, and still has, strong motives to bring down the Reformation, which had deposed it from its former power in Europe, of which the King James Bible was the crown jewel.

This particular radio show was inspired by an incident in which Catholic priests in America burned the King James Bible in the year 1834, as reported by the Protestant writer John Dowling, but Pinto doesn't get to that incident until late in the show because he gets sidetracked by the fact that the criticisms of the King James used by Catholic apologists as reported by Dowling are the same as those unwittingly given by supposedly Protestant Bible textual critics today.

The title of Dowling's book is The Burning of the Bibles:  Defense of the Protestant Version of the Scriptures Against the Attacks of Popish Apologists for the Champlain Bible Burners,  and Pinto says that the arguments Dowling describes as those of the Catholic apologists for the burning of the Bibles
...are arguments that are nearly identical to your textual critics in modern times, who don't realize that many of their arguments come from the Roman Catholic Church ...  even though these guys are professing Protestant evangelical, sometimes neo-Reformed...  the arguments they make about the Bible and its history...come from Roman Catholic apologists, and Jesuits and rationalists...who have made these arguments for hundreds of years.  And of course I believe that because Higher Criticism gained the upper hand in the 19th century, largely as a result of events surrounding the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, and because of the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, this is what led to the full-blown exploitation of unbelieving Higher Criticism in our colleges and universities...  and as a direct result of the Higher Critical arguments gaining the upper hand, what immediately happened after was the beginning of modern-day ecumenism...
This gets him into a discussion of how the revising committee of 1881 introduced the corrupted Greek manuscripts, but especially how their arguments came to dominate today's Bible scholarship. He says we have to understand that
...Westcott, Hort, Scrivener, all of these guys, were Anglo-Catholics... That's why they invited Cardinal John Henry Newman, who was the leader of the Oxford Movement, to come and sit on the committee with them.... Cardinal Newman, his entire purpose was to reclaim England for Rome.
The plot goes on thickening from there, through the work of Phillip Schaff who did the American version of the English revision, how Schaff kissed the feet of the Pope and how he was a keynote speaker at the ecumenical Parliament of World Religions of 1893 which included Buddhists and the satanic Theosophists Blavatsky and Annie Besant among the bogus "Christians" and so on and so forth. This is all within the first six minutes of the radio show, and it goes on from there until he finally gets back to Dowling's book in the middle of the second half of the show.   Listen and weep.  That's what happens to me when I hear this stuff.

What can I say.  I pray and hope that Chris Pinto's work might change the minds of some of those Protestant Christian spokesmen today who are committed to the modern Bible versions.  I pray for James White and Daniel Wallace and John MacArthur who are very influential Reformed Christian leaders who are unwittingly supporting these Vatican-inspired Bibles that are contributing to the destruction of Protestant Christendom.  Why?  Because they have put their trust in Bible scholars, some of whom were unbelievers, such as Bruce Metzger, and Jesuits.  If there is a lesson here from the Bible itself, it must be the many warnings to us to avoid the "wisdom of this world."  It's just another of the devil's strongholds we are to bring down through the spiritual weapons we have been given in the Word itself.

So I wanted to point back to that radio show today, hoping hoping hoping my voice joined with Chris Pinto's and others who are saying the same things might help turn the tide against the Antichrist Vatican's plots -- if it might by God's providence reach some open ears.

But Protestant Christendom is so far gone these days, so completely under God's judgment, so mutilated and dying, I wonder how much hope is there that the Lord might have mercy on us at this late hour.

There are so many fronts on which we need that mercy these days, the Bible versions are just one of them. 



I just heard a radio show Jan Markell hosted on Saturday, on two separate topics, Obamacare and Israel that constitute two such fronts, that was something like being punched twice in the stomach:  one, the second, was on The Planned Train Wreck of Obamacare, which suggests that this was never a legitimate health care plan, which many of us knew anyway, but a designed attack on American capitalism.

There's a whole lot that needs to be said about how capitalism is a specifically PROTESTANT system, that brought about the unprecedented prosperity of Protestant America, and how socialism is the economic system of the Vatican, whose work can be seen in the miserable poverty of Catholic nations.  This wasn't part of Jan Markell's show, but it's necessary background.  All this stuff was new to me over the last year, and I've hardly even touched on it in my blogs.  All I'm going to do here is say this much and hope others who are still in the dark about these things, as I was, will do the research.  I've listed many sources on such things at my Catholicism blog.  Check out the book Ecclesiastical Megalomania, which is available at The Trinity Foundation for some eye-opening revelations about Catholic economics.


The second punch in the stomach from Jan Markell's weekend radio show was on the fact that the growth of Reformed theology in American churches has contributed to the political abandonment of Israel in evangelical circles, in favor of supporting the "Palestinian" cause against Israel.  This is apparently due to the Reformed theology that says the Church has replaced Israel in God's plan, which I've discussed here before as in my opinion a misunderstanding of what scripture teaches.  I believe the Church is the fulfillment of God's plan that He began with believing Israel, not a replacement but a fulfillment, a continuation.  It isn't the result of God's rejection of Israel but the completion of His plan through the coming of the promised Messiah, which goes back to Eden.  Apparently some Reformed or Covenant theology sees it as a substitution instead of a fulfillment.  In either case it is true that earthly Israel is no longer God's people as only BELIEVING Israel is God's people and that's the Church. 

HOWEVER, we're also talking about spiritual Israel versus earthly Israel (or "Jacob") as I've looked at it -- and I could be wrong about this way of looking at it but it makes sense of some things for me.   Looking at it this way, there is no "replacement" of Israel at all.  Earthly Israel today is the playing out of Old Testament teaching as misunderstood by unbelieving Jews, but it makes no sense to me to take the Reformed view that God has utterly abandoned them, let alone to treat them as some kind of specially evil earthly nation.  God hasn't abandoned a single earthly nation on this planet, why would He abandon the Jews who represent His firstborn chosen people?  If only for the honor of His name among the peoples God is not going to abandon even apostate earthly Israel. 

We know from scripture that a time will come when a huge number of Jews will recognize their true Messiah, and we also know that Jesus is going to return to the Mount of Olives.  God hasn't abandoned that piece of real estate or the Jewish people even in their apostate condition.  And how can it be denied that they are THERE, on that land that God originally gave Abraham?  That couldn't happen without God's willing it.  Yes, that land was a type of a heavenly Promised Land that Abraham himself looked to, as so much of the Old Testament gives us types that point to Christ and our redemption through Him, but in earthly terms it still represents that promise God gave to him. 

AND historically speaking God has clearly supported the nation of Israel miraculously against many of the attacks by her Arab neighbors since she became a nation in 1948.  There is no doubt in my mind that Israel, for all her unbelief, is still under God's protection and still figures in God's plan for the finale of Planet Earth.  AT THE SAME TIME there is also no doubt in my mind that earthly Israel is under God's judgment for their apostasy and rejection of their Messiah, which can certainly be seen in their being surrounded by implacable enemies.  Only God could juggle these two facts but that's what He's doing.

Theologically it makes no sense to treat Israel as if it doesn't exist or isn't in fact back on that particular piece of land given to them, but it's also political and historical blindness to take up the "Palestinian" cause against Israel.  Surely the Palestinians are a miserable people we need to pray for, but they are the pawns of their Israel-hating leaders who invented the whole idea of a "Palestinian people" in the first place to be a thorn in the side of Israel. 

There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.  The area known as Palestine was almost barren of population when the Jews began to settle it.  It had no official name, it had no government, it had no "people."  Mark Twain wrote a description of the land as a wilderness on his visit there in the late 19th century.  The accusation that the Jews stole the land from a "Palestinian people" is just bogus.  They bought whatever land was owned by the few who owned it, but the over five million people who today take the name of "Palestinians" are the descendants of citizens of all the surrounding Arab nations who originally came to the area to work for the Jews as their nation was being built up.  When the first Arab attack on Israel was planned, the Arabs living in Israel were warned to flee the country to protect themselves.  They became the "Palestinian" refugees whose refugee status was then blamed on Israel although it came about through the Arab warning of the imminent attack.

Over the decades attempts to bring peace to the region between Israel and the "Palestinians" have included many generous concessions by Israel to form a Palestinian State, that were nevertheless rejected by the "Palestinians," over and over and over, and yet the reason for this continues to go unrecognized by most of the world:  the refusal to accept any compromise whatever with the nation the Arabs want not to exist at all, and which their maps show as not existing at all.  There is NO peace plan that will ever work for this reason.   America has been right all these decades to support Israel, but the ridiculous "peace plans" we've tried to foist on the region show a basic blindness to the true political situation.

The "Palestinian" cause has been invented entirely as a ruse to give Israel a bad reputation in the eyes of the world and ultimately to eliminate the nation from the planet altogether as many Arab leaders have so often made clear is their desire.   There is a book which details this plot through historical facts and quotes that is available at Amazon,  Philistine: The Great Deception, by Ramon Bennett, which I got from the ministry of The Berean Call back before 9/11. 

Whatever your theology, the historical facts ought to tell you that supporting the "Palestinian cause" which is founded on devious Arab plots against Israel, is not the side to be on.

We need a new Protestant Reformation.    

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Strange Fire: Sorting Out the Issues, Part 5: In Spirit and in Truth: Disagreeing with John MacArthur

Much as I applaud the Strange Fire Conference and hope its influence will grow, I do want to clarify some points where I still differ with them.  I'll say up front that I'm open to being corrected on these points as well, if it should work out that way.

Although the speakers were very careful to affirm that the Holy Spirit is at work today in the Church and our individual lives, I've always believed and still do that there are authentic experiences of God that Cessationists don't recognize, often wrongly calling them "mystical" (in the sense they use that word that I don't think is always appropriate).   

When John MacArthur says "praying in the spirit" is simply praying with all our human faculties, I have to wonder why, if that is so, Paul made the distinction between that and praying with the mind, or "the understanding" as the KJV has it:
1 Cor 14:15, in KJV "with the spirit and with the understanding also"
--which certainly implies that the spirit is something separate from the mind and not understandable or graspable with the mind.

And why would John the Apostle, the author of Revelation, bother to say he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" if the involvement of all our human faculties is all it means to be "in the Spirit."  

"Spirit" is capitalized in the KJV here, and also in Ephesians 6:18  where we are commanded to pray "in the Spirit" ourselves, so it's not some special mental state that only John was expected to experience.

The Greek word for "spirit" AND for "Spirit" -- the distinction was decided on by the KJV translators -- is the same word:  "pneuma" which literally means "breath."

"Mind" and "understanding" are translated from the Greek word "nous." 

The Greek word the KJV translated "soul" is "psyche," which we recognize as the root of "psychology." "Soul" or "psyche" includes both the emotions and the mind according to an online dictionary, but "nous" is just "mind."  

But "spirit" is something else.  "Spirit" and "soul" are clearly not the same word, and the fact that they are not treated as synonymous in scripture certainly implies that they refer to distinctly different human faculties.

MacArthur has the same idea of worshiping "in spirit and in truth," as he said in Part 2 of the Challies interview:
True worship takes place in spirit and truth (John 4:24), meaning it involves both the emotions and the mind.
Again he treats "spirit" as synonymous with "soul" or "psyche," but this isn't correct:  it is "psyche" and not "pneuma" which is the seat of emotions and mind.

I'm aware that John Owen, the great Puritan, also ignored the difference between "soul" and "spirit," and spoke of "body and soul" as the totality of human nature.  I don't know if a defense of this has ever been given.  Like Owen, MacArthur also insists on the understanding of human nature as made up of body and soul, against the views of some teachers that we are tripartite:  body, soul and spirit -- at least those who have been born again are tripartite, the spirit that was previously dormant or "dead" in the fallen nature having been quickened. 

There is scripture for this: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 distinguishes the three parts, and Hebrews 4:12 emphasizes the difference between soul and spirit by speaking of "dividing" them "asunder:" 

1 Thess 5:23 
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.''

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
At the Blue Letter Bible site, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary on this verse acknowledges this tripartite human nature:
All three, spirit, soul, and body, each in its due place, constitute man "entire."  The "spirit" links man with the higher intelligences of heaven, and is that highest part of man which is receptive of the quickening Holy Spirit ( 1Cr 15:47 ). In the unspiritual, the spirit is so sunk under the lower animal soul (which it ought to keep under) that such are termed "animal" (English Version. "sensual," having merely the body of organized matter, and the soul the immaterial animating essence), having not the Spirit. The unbeliever shall rise with an animal (soul-animated) body, but not like the believer with a spiritual (spirit-endued) body like Christ's (Rom. 8:11
This is in keeping with Penn-Lewis and Nee's understanding and both of them develop the idea at great length.
Matthew Henry's Commentary quotes the passage but only as a description of the "whole man," and doesn't go into detail.

While Charismatics and Pentecostals are likely to agree with the interpretation of the tripartite human nature, there is no necessary connection with the "gifts of the Spirit," and it also has to be acknowledged that it's possible for anything of the "spirit" to be counterfeited just as the gifts are counterfeited.  The great danger is ALWAYS the failure of Biblical discernment. 

Those who share this interpretation are likely also to believe in a special separate "Baptism in the Holy Spirit."  I've never had a clear idea of this concept except that those who hold it must have had some kind of special experience they are describing, whether they are understanding it rightly or not.

Obviously there is much more to discuss about this.

Strange Fire Side Trip: Interview with Michael Brown

So I did hear Michael Brown interviewed on Pilgrim Radio today.   The program will be repeated tonight at 9:30 PM Pacific Standard Time.

This constant refrain about how John MacArthur tarred all charismatics with the same brush when it's really only a few rotten apples that are the problem just doesn't deal with the issues the Strange Fire Conference sought to raise. 

It isn't about people, it's about DOCTRINE, BASIC doctrine, the doctrine that makes a Charismatic a Charismatic, the doctrine of the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit.  The rotten apples are a huge problem but their rottenness is really the natural fruit of the basic bad doctrine. 

Brown also thinks that the fact that some very respected teachers have believed in the gifts, such as A W Tozer and Oswald Chambers, is some kind of answer to the Conference.  But it doesn't have anything to do with who believes in it.  It's about DOCTRINE.  The Conference people have many times acknowledged that there are true Christians among them, but that they are simply mistaken.   It's about DOCTRINE. 

Brown thinks the gifts continue because scripture doesn't say they didn't;  MacArthur thinks the gifts stopped because he finds that implied in scripture. 

But there's also the question of exactly what is meant by the gifts of the Spirit.   Brown thinks the phenomena that are called the gifts of the Spirit today really are the gifts of the Spirit even though they are nothing like the gifts of the Spirit as described in the New Testament.  MacArthur and Company point out that if they aren't the same then they aren't the gifts of the Spirit.  

And if they aren't the gifts of the Spirit then they are either produced by the flesh or by demons.  Which is what one would expect if the gifts DID cease:  you wouldn't be getting the gifts but some kind of counterfeit.

And if they are produced by the flesh or demons then they are leading millions of Christians astray one way or another.

This IS a big deal.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Strange Fire: Sorting Out the Issues Part 4: Lists and Assessments, Visions, Tongues, Healings

Thought I'd try to list the main problems with Charismatica as I've come to see them, as brought out by the Strange Fire Conference :
  • Dishonoring / insulting the Holy Spirit by imputing either fleshly or demonic phenomena to Him;
  • Profaning worship, which is what "strange fire" means (see Leviticus 10:1) by various antics designed to conjure up counterfeit phenomena that have nothing to do with worship as defined by the Bible;
  • Misleading people by a false gospel into a false salvation, all over the world;
  • Defrauding people by promises of prosperity or miraculous healing in the name of Christ, all over the world;
  • By mistaking counterfeits for the gifts of the Spirit, either encouraging the development of psychic powers ("soul power" which has demonic implications), or outright demonic possession or at least oppression of people who either wrongly think they are Christians or ARE Christians (I'm not sure MacArthur is right that a Christian can't be demonized).  
These are obviously not minor or secondary issues, but so far, with the rare exception of the Pentecostal pastor I quote a couple posts back, Charismatics continue to accuse the Strange Fire Conference of unfairly criticizing fellow Christians about trivial matters, dividing the true body of Christ, and even being the heretics themselves.  But if these things I've listed are true,  Christians need to recognize that fact and leave the movement.

In Part 2 of the interview at Challies' blog, MacArthur defines his main objective this way:
Rather than initiating another conference, I am more interested in sparking a movement committed to reclaiming the honor of the Holy Spirit. And I would be glad to stand with these men in that effort, for the glory of Christ and the good of His church.
Here are some more topics touched on in the MacArthur interview as he answers questions and objections posed to him:

Do I believe that people in the Muslim world are actually seeing Jesus Christ? No, I do not. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that he was “the last of all” to see the risen Christ. So, I believe that precludes anyone outside of those listed in 1 Corinthians 15 of being able to claim legitimate visions of the resurrected Savior.

(The apostle John, of course, was one of those included in 1 Corinthians 15.  Accordingly, I don’t believe the book of Revelation sets a precedent for believers to expect genuine visions of Jesus to occur throughout church history.)

Furthermore, it is important to note that these individuals are still unbelievers when they reportedly have these experiences. Consequently, these experiences (whatever they are reported to be) cannot constitute examples of the charismatic gifts having continued, since spiritual gifts are only given to believers (1 Cor. 12:7)—and these people do not come to saving faith until later.

Finally, the New Testament clearly states that the way in which the gospel is spread in this age is through preaching. As Paul explains in Romans 10:14–15, unbelievers will not hear the gospel unless missionaries go to them proclaiming the good news of salvation.
He refers us to this blog  concerning the claims of Muslims being brought to salvation through visions, and to this one.

These blogs discuss the gullibility of Christians in believing uncritically whatever is reported of such miraculous events and show how the claims of visions fail by the Biblical standard, which says people come to faith through the preaching of the gospel, which leaves out visions.  They also discuss the validity of other charismatic claims, and the second blog has a link to another article at the first blog that discusses the claims to Muslim salvations through visions even more thoroughly.

I'm reminded of the book that may have been the first of this trend of Muslims coming to salvation through visions of Christ, I Dared to Call Him Father, written in 1978 by Bilquis Sheikh, which recounts her visions and dreams, including at least one of Jesus Himself, by which she came to the gospel completely on her own.  She even baptized herself in her own bathtub with nobody else present.

Then recently Ravi Zacharias on the radio mentioned a friend of his who when he was dying had a vision of Jesus coming into his bedroom and holding his hand, and Ravi raised no question about it, even said how Jesus knew that's just what his friend needed at that moment.

If these visions are not from God, what is their source?  Visions of Jesus can't be "Soul Power," something our own human powers could accomplish, nor even the "miraculous" powers Nee says were originally given to Adam.  What does that leave?  Well, it leaves Satan and his demons, right?  What else? 

SO:  If it's from Satan and his demons, that ought to be recognized as no mere secondary matter, right?  Not something to celebrate as Christians so often do.  How alarmed should we be about this?  Pretty alarmed, wouldn't you say? 


I've already brought up tongues in another context but MacArthur also discusses it:
In terms of potential dangers, I do believe that modern tongues is an unsafe spiritual practice. True worship takes place in spirit and truth (John 4:24), meaning it involves both the emotions and the mind. By contrast, a worship practice that empties the mind or consists of vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) has more in common with pagan religion than true worship. The fact that modern glossolalia parallels pagan religious rites should serve as a major warning of the dangers inherent in this unbiblical practice...

A lot of the interpretative issues in Acts and 1 Corinthians 12–14 become clear by simply applying the basic rules of hermeneutics. For example, one of the most fundamental principles of Bible interpretation is that Scripture interprets Scripture, and that the clearer passage ought to be used to interpret the less clear passage. Regarding tongues, Acts 2 is explicit that the gift of tongues produced real human languages. When we allow the clearer passage of Acts 2 to govern our interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12–14, we can make a strong case that the tongues of 1 Corinthians were also real human languages. That simple observation undermines the modern charismatic practice of vocalizing irrational speech...
Phil Johnson also wrote a post today on the GTY blog specifically on tongues.

OK, then:  Either the practice of charismatic "tongues" is "Soul Power" which I've discussed here before, a misuse of a natural human ability that was given to Adam but distorted by the Fall and therefore not to be exercised but suppressed; 

OR those who speak these "tongues" are at least partially demon-possessed.  That is, the devil somehow has access to the tongue.  This is no minor matter.     

Seems to me this implication will eventually need to be discussed by those in the thick of these issues.

Claims to healings were mentioned at the above-linked blogs, and were discussed at the Strange Fire Conference, but didn't come up in John MacArthur's interview.

The problem with the claims to miraculous healings you hear all the time in Christian circles is that there's NEVER any evidence given for them.  You're supposed to just believe the reports, but the reports may be many times removed from the event and the event may look nothing like the report you heard if you can ever get any kind of real information about it.  And besides, once you've become aware of the great number of claims that are either self deceptions or frauds, nobody's reports should be taken at face value.  Somebody is very very convinced that a family member was suddenly and miraculously healed of bursitis when the elders prayed for her, and that COULD be true of course, since they were praying according to the Biblical instruction, but still it makes you want to know details that you'll never find out from people who simply take such things without questioning them.  It's as if faith can only exist for such Christians if there ISN'T evidence.

Some charismatics seem to equate the idea of faith more with things like having faith in miraculous healings than faith in the word of God as such or faith in Christ as our Savior.  If you can't hold onto a prayer for a miraculous healing then you might as well regard yourself as lacking in faith, period.  Some see miraculous healings as practically essential for winning people to Christ, at least as the best possible kind of witness.  I'd say that's a pretty puny idea of faith but that doesn't win me any points with those of that opinion.  Nor does answering that it's the same as walking by sight rather than by faith.  No, holding on to a prayer for a miraculous healing forever and ever if necessary is some Christians' idea of true faith. 

You may hear of people who finally give in to medical solutions to serious physical problems after many years of praying for a miraculous healing, but who then feel almost like they committed a sin by doing that.  I know of one person who scheduled surgery only to get the strong sense that she was finally to be healed miraculously which led her to cancel the surgery.  Months went by and she was not healed, so she rescheduled the surgery.  But that hasn't changed her mind about expecting a miraculous healing.  Those of this persuasion may also believe the gospel promises to take care of us financially, which is a version of the Prosperity gospel, or health-and-wealth gospel.  They can get very impatient with Christians who are suffering financially, because of their supposed lack of faith.  (Didn't Jesus say "the poor you'll always have with you?"  Well, that's explained as people who lack faith I guess, they will always be with us).   This version of the gospel usually means the person watches TBN.   I don't know if TBN promotes this or not but I remember being startled to hear from a regular TBN viewer the very carnal interpretation of "the abundant life" Jesus promises us, as if it means having all the comforts of this life, rather than the spiritual life and power in Christ.   

How many of the claimed miraculous healings are INDISPUTABLY of God?  I personally don't know of a single one.  The evidence always comes out against the claims or isn't forthcoming at all.

How many of the claimed visions of Jesus Christ are of God?  Well, none of them are, if MacArthur's biblical evidence is correct.

And I don't know of a single proven instance of a charismatic tongue being an actual language.  And again, if MacArthur's biblical reasoning is correct, they are all not from God.

While I've heard of some supposed predictions by "prophets" coming true, I haven't actually seen any of these claims proved either.

And again, none of these miraculous claims are anything like those reported in the New Testament anyway.  The "prophecies" are more like psychic readings, and nobody claims infallibility for them as the Bible requires;  the "healings" are never provable and are usually limited to minor things like bursitis anyway;  the "tongues" are not a known language.  And so on. 

When I think back on my own experience as a fairly new Christian in the charismatic movement, what stands out for me is not any particular failed claim to the miraculous but the undermining of my fledgling discernment, the confusion I experienced with the nagging anxiety that some of the phenomena I'd been witnessing were just not right somehow, that the rationalizations weren't holding up, while I was being told it was all of God and I shouldn't question it.

This is what I consider to be the biggest offense of the Charismatic movement from my own personal point of view.   Of course God ordained my experience and He has His reasons for it all, but it seems to me the Charismatic movement is just about as big an Antichrist cultic snare as the Roman Catholic Church and as dangerous, preventing genuine salvations in many cases, perhaps even being a source of demon possession.

The first clear problem I saw was when my little charismatic group prayed for the Pope and that was an eye-opener, the first step onto solid ground outside the charmed circle.  Then I prayed for light on various "prophecies" and some other rather strange goings-on that had been bothering me, which I then began to see by the light of the Bible, and that pushed me over the edge and out of the movement.  Still, despite being MOSTLY freed from it I've never felt I was COMPLETELY freed from it.

So for me the anxiety and uncertainty I've gone through trying to understand all this over my entire Christian life is a big enough reason to describe the movement as dangerous.  It takes a huge toll on the Christian life.  It makes me think of Daniel 7:25, about the Devil wearing out the saints.   Being unable to resolve some of the questions leaves one in an uncomfortable state of inner conflict. 

I know many have taken up sides on these things and don't experience the sort of conflict I've experienced, but I've got to say it seems to me they should because the conflict concerns what the Bible says;  it's not a personal matter.

Strange Fire: Sorting Out the Issues, Part 1: John MacArthur Answers His Critics

(sorry, don't know how these got out of order.  If I'm up to it I'll switch them around later)

In a two-part interview by a Reformed blogger who invited him to answer various criticisms of the Strange Fire Conference, John MacArthur Answers His Critics, Part 1 and Part 2 , John MacArthur says he considers this a "vital issue" that needed a strong statement as a "trumpet blast," a wake-up call to a complacent and ambivalent Church.
Because the honor of the Holy Spirit is at stake, we were convinced that we could not remain silent...

The charismatic quest for extrabiblical revelation, subjective impressions, ecstatic experiences, and so on, represents a massive danger to the church. Error is still error, even if there are true believers who embrace and espouse it...

The reality is that the gospel being proclaimed and believed by the majority of charismatics around the world is not the biblical gospel...

[It] breaks my heart to think that hundreds of millions of souls are being caught up into a movement where they are being seduced by false forms of the gospel.
   In Part 2 he continues:
Now someone might ask, “But isn’t this a secondary issue?” I would respond by asking, “Is the true understanding of the dignity of the Holy Spirit a secondary issue?” That’s a frightening notion, since the worship of the true God in the true way is our highest priority. And this issue has dramatic implications both for how we view God and for how we worship Him...

[Most objections don't]... take into account both the severity and the ubiquity of the charismatic error on the global level. Errant pneumatology is not ancillary to the charismatic movement. It is the very thing that defines it. And when an entire movement is defined by a heterodox theology that threatens the purity of the church by tolerating and even promoting false forms of the gospel, it must be boldly confronted...
These are strong statements, but for the most part the Continuationists or Charismatics have been reacting against the very idea of criticizing "another branch of the Church" and denigrating the Conference as focusing on secondary issues to no good purpose, rather than addressing the actual arguments presented at the Conference.

Personal communications on it I've received from Continuationists have ranged from a disgusted objection to "such a trivial concern," calling it "just another doctrinal conference that divides Christians when we need so desperately to be unified against the evils we are facing," which unfortunately included a refusal to listen to any of it; to a lengthy denunciation of the Conference full of Bible quotes condemning the presenters as heretics, also without having heard any of it. 

To these Charismatics there is no point in addressing the issues, it doesn't even occur to them.  They believe they already know the issues, and criticism of the Charismatic movement is not something to discuss but something to denounce, period.  So far the trumpet blast hasn't gotten through to them.

Well, IS it a "massive danger to the church" or just a trivial secondary matter it would be better to let lie for the sake of unity, or even a heresy itself to challenge it?  ARE people being "seduced by false forms of the gospel" through the Charismatic movement?

As I've already said in other posts, I think the Conference made its case, that it is a great danger, which justifies holding such a Conference, and justifies further attempts to get it across to Christians who have been taking it for granted. 

However, it's important that the critics get it right, and what MacArthur calls a "quest for extrabiblical revelation, subjective impressions and ecstatic experiences" misrepresents what the Charismatics believe they are doing.  As I say in my previous post, Charismatics do believe they base their belief in the continuation of the "gifts of the Spirit" on the Bible so that it is not a matter of personal seeking of revelations or impressions or experiences but of being open to what the Holy Spirit brings to their spirit.  Getting this right is crucial if the debate is going to make any headway.

Strange Fire: Sorting Out the Issues, Part 3: The Source of the Charismatic "GIfts"

Having said that I think it's important to characterize the Charismatics' beliefs in their own terms, as the Holy Spirit's speaking through the human spirit, if the Strange Fire Conference is right that is not at all what is going on.  However, I'm still not sure it's right to characterize the actuality as promoting extrabiblical revelations, seeking subjective impressions and ecstatic experiences as John MacArthur put it. 

I think this glosses over the fact that these things are usually experienced as just happening to the person without being asked for, and because that is the way they occur and because the recipient believes he or she is a saved Christian the question of their source just doesn't come up.  Or if it does it is immediately squelched by the constant refrain that it is dangerous to doubt the Holy Spirit.  That this attitude amounts to a mental bondage as tyrannical as that of any cult or dictatorship also doesn't occur.

In any case, if you insist on characterizing these phenomena in terms of subjective mental states you are going to miss the whole point, and miss an opportunity to make Charismatics aware of the problem you want to get across to them.


I'm glad to see the Pentecostal pastor I quoted in the previous post agreeing with John MacArthur about the Prosperity Gospel, and that's a big start, but he remains a Continuationist nevertheless, in opposition to MacArthur, while the Strange Fire Conference ultimately aims at the root of the whole thing, at the very idea that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit continue today.

And that gets us into the fundamental Pentecostal and Charismatic claims of miraculous healings from God, of genuine visions from God, of genuine prophecies from God, of a genuine gift of tongues from God. of a Baptism in the Holy Spirit that is separate from being born again, and so on. 

[Just heard on Pilgrim Radio an interview with Phil Johnson of the Conference, and tomorrow at the same time there will be an interview with Michael Brown for the Charismatic side, on the program His People. The program airs in Pacific Standard Time at 2:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 9:30 PM and can be heard online.]


On the radio show I just mentioned, Phil Johnson just described the phenomena claimed by Charismatics to be from the Holy Spirit to be in fact "learned behavior," and I've got to disagree with that quite sharply. 

I don't know if possibly some of it is, but I can guarantee you I never "learned" to "speak in tongues," it just happened to me one day while I was praying out loud during the few years I was in a charismatic church and a charismatic organization as well.  A whole stream of unfamiliar sounds came out of my mouth absolutely unbidden.  I don't remember what I was praying about but I wasn't even thinking about the gift of tongues, let alone asking for it, though I think I had asked for it from time to time before that.  At first I was elated -- Wow, it's true and I got the gift.  It turned out to be easy to just walk around letting my mouth produce those foreign sounds.  There was a definite pattern to them with repeating "words."  Sometimes they seemed to come out with an unidentifiable foreign accent too, even more oddly many different accents.  I even sang them.  It began to hit me as very odd that the tunes I was singing them to were nursery rhymes like Hickory Dickory Dock and Three Blind Mice and the tune Reuben Reuben.  This did bother me, I didn't know what to make of it, but I wasn't producing those sounds myself in any sense, they were being automatically produced as I simply opened my mouth and allowed them to come out.   I couldn't have imitated them consciously if I'd tried, though by now I can imitate many of them.  Years later I read that at least one other person quit the charismatic movement when he found his own "gift of tongues" coming out to the tune of a nursery rhyme.   Smart man.  I dragged on with mine for a few more years, very ambivalent about it but unable to get rid of it; and occasionally I discover it's still there though I try to suppress it.

So to MacArthur and Johnson and Company I have to say No No No, you are not going to get anywhere characterizing these productions of the mind and mouth that Charismatics experience as mere learned behavior or intuitions of any ordinary sort.   I'm not going to say there aren't any frauds but I know for a fact that these things can be produced apart from any normal mental process.   Michael Brown said on one of his shows that he "prays in tongues."  Well, from my experience it's quite possible to carry on for a long time producing these alien sounds and I suppose someone, taking his cue from a misread Bible verse or two, could assume they are "prayer."  My supposition is that they are about as far from prayer or worship as you can get, but the automatic nature of them may be enough to persuade a Charismatic believer otherwise. 

And if Cessationists don't recognize this they aren't going to persuade any Charismatics.

For this sort of phenomenon those are really the only two options.  Eventually I want to do a more thorough discussion of "soul power,"  which comes from a Continuationist corner of the Church although today's Charismatics haven't given it any thought that I know of.  The Strange Fire people are not likely to accept much of it either, although in many ways it supports their criticisms of the Charismatic movement.  

The idea is that there are "miraculous" powers that were given to Adam but lost at the fall, or at least "buried in the flesh" as Watchman Nee puts it, that can be revived under certain circumstances (such as repetitive singing of choruses).  He thinks they are probably discovered by people through promptings by the evil spirits.  They include such "parapsychological" or "paranormal" phenomena as psychic powers, clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis and that sort of thing.  Psychic powers can imitate prophecy.  Nee says healings of a certain sort are even possible through these powers, a sort of mind-over-matter thing such as Christian Science preaches and some Hindus and others practice.

This kind of thing would explain the kind of phenomena that are being exercised in the Charismatic movement, the "prophecies" and the "healings" and probably also the tongues speaking.  Some at Strange Fire did mention "psychic" phenomena as a possible explanation.  Nee also discussed the so-called "holy laughter" that was a major element in the supposed "revival" called the Toronto Blessing, that he'd witnessed in China before 1933 when he wrote the book describing these things.  How this automatic laughter relates to soul power isn't clear but Nee recognized it as a counterfeit phenomenon that did not come from God.   Nee, and Jessie Penn Lewis whose work he built on, accepted the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit but he also recognized a very large number of counterfeits of those gifts that were being expressed at the same time, something we don't hear recognized by today's charismatics who seem uncritically to accept anything that calls itself prophetic or miraculous. 

In his interview about his critics, John MacArthur goes on to such subjects as visions and tongues, which also need to be discussed as something other than ordinary human phenomena. That will be the next post.

Strange Fire: Sorting Out the Issues Part 2: A Pentecostal Pastor Agrees with much of the Strange Fire Conference

In Part 2 of his interview to answer his critics, John MacArthur gives a link to a blog by a Pentecostal minister   who agrees in general with the Strange Fire Conference (this is a great article).  As MacArthur says, this is the sort of response he was hoping to get:

I’m around average Pentecostals in my congregation and campus ministry. I’m not constantly around denominational leaders or scholars. And among most congregants the likes of Osteen, Meyer, Copeland, and Shuttlesworth are incredibly popular.

I’ve heard demands for MacArthur to evaluate us by looking at French Arrington or Stanley Horton. To be completely honest, my congregants have no clue who those men are (apart from perhaps a vague familiarity established by sermon references). My congregants do know who Kenneth Hagin is, or who T.D. Jakes is. I don’t think MacArthur’s concern is primarily with the Pentecostals who hold Horton in high esteem. It’s with the congregants who hold Jakes and Copeland in high esteem, and given that priority, MacArthur’s approach makes more sense.

MacArthur wasn’t looking to spark a debate in peer-reviewed literature. He was looking to engage at the popular level, and he has been wildly successful at this. It’s the popular level where the false teachers and excesses are often a problem, and it makes sense to aim there.

It should also be noted that TBN is exported to other countries. They broadcast all over the world. They broadcast to Christians who don’t have the benefit of owning their own Bibles. The incredible damage of Prosperity teaching in world missions must be carefully observed.
INCREDIBLE DAMAGE OF PROSPERITY TEACHING IN WORLD MISSIONS.  Nobody else on the Continuationist side has said such a thing that I know of.  And he concludes with this:
We Pentecostals and Charismatics needed to be offended, I’m afraid it may be the only thing that will make us think critically and Biblically about ourselves as a movement. And for this offense I want to thank John MacArthur and the participants in the Strange Fire Conference. The most hurtful thing about that conference is not the broad generalizations, sweeping condemnations, or lack of distinctions. For me as a Pentecostal the most hurtful thing about the Strange Fire Conference is my knowledge that far too many of the criticisms are true.
Right.  We can all read the books by the pastors and theologians but it's our friends in the congregations we hear from most, and although I'm no longer part of the charismatic movement I do still have friends who are.   Some are into the Prosperity Gospel or at least into the related idea that miraculous healings are promised to us if we ask for them.  They can quote the Bible on this. 

I may say more about this later but it seemed important for now to let this Pentecostal pastor be heard.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reframing the Cessationist/Continuationist Debate: Let's get the arguments on both sides of this straight.

I've listened to just a few minutes of Michael Brown's radio show for today, Do You Have a Kundalini Spirit? and I'm already frustrated with the way they are characterizing the Strange Fire Conference arguments.  He's got a Reformed Cessationist on as guest, John B. Carpenter, who wrote an article on the Conference in the Christian Post yesterday, Recovering From Strange and Friendly Fire. They just got through characterizing the Cessationist position pretty much as Carpenter characterizes it in his article:
The argument for cessationism is simple: the "revelatory gifts" of the New Testament were for the purpose of revealing scripture and since that is now done, we don't need those gifts. So they've ceased.
Yes, that's a simple enough statement of the Cessationist position, but how that position was defended at the Conference is not how it was characterized on the radio program.  Both on the program and in Carpenter's article, the appeal is made to 1 Corinthians 13 as supposedly saying that the gifts will cease "when the perfect comes" understood to mean "when the canon is established," which is NOT any argument that I heard at the Conference, or if it was it went in one ear and out the other.  I'd heard that sort of argument for years and it never convinced me that the gifts have ceased and I'm not at all surprised it doesn't convince anyone else.  But that was NOT the argument that DID convince me that I heard at the Conference and it makes me wonder if this long after the Conference neither Brown nor Carpenter has actually HEARD the arguments made there.

They also say that since there is no direct explicit statement in the Bible to support the claim that the gifts have ceased that the claim to base it on the Bible completely fails.  This is another old and dead argument. 

In fact Michael Brown said he's writing a chapter for his book, Authentic Fire, which he's writing in answer to the Conference, titled "Sola Scriptura and Therefore Not a Cessationist."  And I've got to say that really finally does get us to the central issues in this debate because Charismatics / Continuationists DO believe they get their doctrine of the ongoing supernatural gifts from the Bible, and that probably should have been emphasized more at the Conference, and to my mind it is now the main point Cessationists need to address.  That is, how can you think people could be asking for the Holy Spirit, as Charismatics do, or "for everything You have for me," and get a counterfeit, when scripture promises that God will not give you a stone when you ask for bread?  This IS central to this argument.

But again, the Conference DID convince me on BIBLICAL grounds that the gifts have ceased, and NOT on the grounds as described by Brown and Carpenter.

The main argument was that throughout scripture, and in certain very specific statements in the New Testament, the supernatural or miraculous gifts that were PERFORMED BY PARTICULAR PERSONS were given to authenticate that person as God's messenger or his message as from God.   That was the purpose of the miracles done by Moses and by Elijah and by Jesus Christ.  Scripture IS very clear about that.

And THAT is what you have to answer, Charismatics, that plus the supporting facts:
  • that the charismatic gifts are not at all like the apostolic gifts,
  • that various Christian theologians down the centuries argued that the gifts had ceased,
Again, that is what needs to be answered, not all the tired old arguments that were not defended at the Conference.   

But I'd add that the acceptance of the gifts for today is a NEW thing, hardly older than a century, which does not speak much in its favor.  It can be rationalized away, but not very effectively after the historical facts are understood.

Update:  Thought I was going to go back and hear more of that radio show but this debate has gone on in new directions since then. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Again I Point to the Work of Chris Pinto in calling down the Roman Church as the Antichrist Plotter of Plots.

A friend listened to Chris Pinto's radio show on The Final Antichrist that I linked at my Catholicism blog yesterday and was fascinated and edified by it, which encourages me to continue to give Chris Pinto's work top billing at my blogs.  My friend was lamenting about how stupid we all are about history, which we may find out by listening to Chris Pinto for one. 

So I thought I'd edit my answer to him for the sake of anybody reading this.   I do my blogs in the hope of being useful to the Church, after all, which is up to God of course and I don't get much notice out here in Cyberboonieville but that's no reason to stop.  So here's some stuff as I laid it out for my friend, that I've learned through Chris Pinto's work, through his documentary films and his radio shows and articles.

One reason we're all so stupid about history is that Jesuits have rewritten many of our history books to obscure and downplay the role of the Vatican in all their evil doings, from the Inquisition to attempts to assassinate the leaders of nations, even the whole English government at one time (The Gunpowder Plot), to their work to take the American continent for the Pope (recognized by the first Protestant settlers, as described in Bradford and Winthrop's writings), to their role in the assassination of Lincoln (sources are Charles Chiniquy and Paul Serup), to their influence on the Bible manuscript and translation committees, including their forgeries of "ancient manuscripts" designed to discredit the King James Bible, which used to be common knowledge, and much more, all of which I learned through Chris Pinto's ministry.

He is not a scholar, but a guy who used to want to be an actor and now makes documentary films, but he's got the instincts of a historian and collects all kinds of old books with all this information in them that has been suppressed over the last century or so.  I've linked to many of them in the right margin of my Catholicism blog.  I don't know of anybody else who is doing anything comparable that could be of so much benefit to the Church and I pray for him, that the knowledge he has been trying to get out would be picked up by the Church at large so we won't have to remain stupid about who our enemies are.

Right now if you research any of these topics you'll find you are directed to a lot of Catholic revisionism and disinformation.  If you love the idea of the Pope ruling the world through a reestablished Holy Roman Empire along with a new Inquisition, which we believe would in fact be fulfillment of prophecy, then choose the Catholic sources.  But if you love the idea of truth and freedom you might consider finding out what Chris Pinto has to say and put off the fulfillment of prophecy for another season.

Both Pinto and my friend are ex-Catholics by the way, and it is always necessary to say that in attacking the RCC nobody is attacking Catholics as such, who don't know anything about this history but need to learn it so they can escape the clutches of the Vatican, which is what the Reformers and their followers did.  The Vatican is still working strenuously but stealthily behind the scenes to bring down the Protestant Reformation, and making quite a bit of headway, too, judging from the signs of the times. 

I hope many will be inspired to learn what Chris Pinto has been bringing to our attention and do their own deep study of all of it.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Getting Free of the Deceptions of Charismatica

After watching and rewatching the Strange Fire Conference it's been growing on me how amazing and deplorable it is that so many Christians can't discern the falseness of Charismatic phenomena, and I'm certainly including myself in that judgment.   After much prayer I had come to reject most of the phenomena I'd encountered in my Charismatic phase, and left the whole movement after a couple of years of involvement, but I still had some doubts and reservations I shouldn't have had. 

When John MacArthur at the Conference simply flatly denounced the movement as insulting to God and the Holy Spirit and in essence apologized to the Lord for anyone's ever mistaking the bizarre phenomena as coming from Him, it hit me how right he was and how we should ALL recognize that.  And why don't we?  Are we deceived Christians or are we Christians at all?  Even that is often not clear.  How many of us may even be demon-oppressed (or possessed) because of our involvement?

I had felt hopeless about ever settling the questions I had for years, a couple of decades really, having given up on being able to determine for sure whether there was anything of God in the movement or not. 

Some of us originally got involved in the movement because of personal experiences of our own that we attributed to God.  And some of the experiences may truly HAVE been of God.  Having had such experiences we are drawn to the movement because it majors on personal experience.  I know of people who feel they found the "truth" in a charismatic church, found a real relationship with God.  They love the enthusiasm, the emotion, whereas their previous experience of church had been "dead" and boring.

My very first experience of a church service, being taken there by a friend after coming to belief through reading, was in a Foursquare charismatic church.  I actually didn't like many things about it because my reading had led me to a reverence and adoration of God rather than the emotional enthusiasms I saw in the church, but I had no reliable way of judging at that time, being a new Christian and then for some period being around only charismatics.  I'd also become involved in occultic practices during my reading period, and that was no doubt exerting a strong influence on me too despite efforts to reject it.  Later, in another town, the first church I attended by my own choice was a Presbyterian church, and it took me a while to realize that it was a "liberal" church, that is, it wasn't true to the Bible.  So I left there and went to another Foursquare church.  Then I joined a charismatic "parachurch" organization.  All that lasted for a couple of years until I finally made my way to a Reformed church which was new in town at that time.  The preaching there was excellent, but I still had my reservations about the charismatic phenomena.  And even now, despite the effect of the Strange Fire Conference, I may still be deceived in some ways I have yet to discover.

I am writing all this with a view to getting across something about the hold these things have on people.  I have no doubt any more that the movement is satanic in its essence, yet I met many there I consider to be true Christians, and now I'm pondering how hard it is to get free of it.  It must be somewhat similar to a Catholic's bondage to the RCC, or a Mormon's bondage to their "church."

I was still involved in the Charismatic movement when the "Toronto Blessing" broke out and my first take on it was that it had to be a counterfeit.  Nevertheless, being surrounded by charismatics who were constantly warning against imputing satanic influence to a work of God I was kept in a state of suspended judgment about it.  That constant refrain about attributing God's work to Satan has a powerful effect, it's one of the devil's most effective strategies.  Few of us have enough of a grasp of the Bible to cut through that worry with certainty, and even praying for light as I did (and receiving a great deal of light in answer) didn't fully release me from my doubts.

Until the Strange Fire Conference I hadn't thought about the Toronto Blessing for years, but in the last few days I decided to learn something about it.  All I remembered was that it was known as the "laughing revival."  I watched a film about it at You Tube that presents it in a very positive light.  Very little of the more controversial phenomena the revival is known for was shown, very little of the laughter, very little of the jerking.  Instead it focused mostly on people's claims to have been emotionally healed of past "hurts," to have had bad marriages repaired, and a few claimed physical healings as well.   Much of this "healing" went on during the periods when they were out cold on the floor.

How difficult it is to find fault with such nice normal people as were interviewed for this film, nice people who had such nice experiences, who testify to having had their lives changed by this "revival," and to "loving Jesus more" as well as loving people more.

After I saw it I had to sit and think and pray for a while to get my head straight about it.  The main thing that became evident to me was that all the focus was on psychological or fleshly results, people "getting their lives back," now having happy marriages or happier lives; and they were all thanking God for this.  But this is a far cry from the teachings of Jesus, who tells us to LOSE our lives, not gain them, who tells us to take up our cross (consider ourselves dead to this world), die to ourselves daily and so on.    None of that was in evidence, nor a single word about sin and how we are sinners in need of salvation, nor anything of the gospel itself of salvation through Christ's death in our place,  In short there was nothing Christian about this "revival" at all from what was shown in that film.

 This topic takes me back to the idea of "soul power" which I've posted on a few times.  I've always liked the "holiness" writers like Watchman Nee, which is probably one major reason I haven't been able to completely free myself from the spell of charismatica, since he and others in the Holiness camp accept the charismatic idea of the continuation of the spiritual gifts.  Now that I believe he was deceived about that it helps.

However, since he does accept the gifts for today you might think more charismatics would refer to his writings for support, but I haven't found that to be the case.  If they did they'd have to notice that he denounced "holy laughter" all the way back in 1933 when it was occurring in churches in China.  Unlike other supernatural phenomena he considered to be possibly authentic, requiring discernment to tell the authentic from the counterfeit, "holy laughter" he considered to be nothing but counterfeit [pp. 71-4, Latent Power of the Soul], so if charismatics had taken him seriously during the Toronto Blessing they'd have to have rejected that particular manifestation for sure.

And really, again it seems to me that we all ought to see such laughter as counterfeit, just the tone of it is a violation of the Biblical revelation of the character of God, so again I'm amazed at us that we hesitate on such a point as this.  The devil's manipulations are powerful, the fear of offending God by rejecting such phenomena for instance, when in reality we offend Him by accepting such things.

Nee also writes, in Latent Power of the Soul, that the devil can counterfeit all kinds of things that we'd never suspect to be counterfeits, such as "false repentance, false salvation, false regeneration, false revival, false joy ..." [p. 41]

We need all the help we can get from something like the Strange Fire Conference, to set us free from these things.

Here's a link to a page of articles exposing the errors of the Toronto Blessing:
Testimonies and Analyses of the Toronto Blessing

Interesting: I've read quite a few of those articles by now and what's particularly interesting to me is that while many of them identify the revival as the work of evil spirits they don't give up their belief in the charismatic gifts for today. This is a pretty common position these days, to see such things as merely excesses or deviations, but it seems to me now that they are the natural logical extension of belief in the gifts, or any false belief in supernatural occurrences, which gives ground to evil spirits.