Category Archives: Christianity

An Evangelical Papacy?

I just wanted to sit down, watch some football, read the last in the Hunger Games series and enjoy a Sunday evening.

But the “evangelical leaders” (whoever they are) went and almost ruined my day.  Last night, just in time to make the announcement for Sunday morning, an anonymous group of “almost 170 conservative leaders” met in Houston, Texas and decided that Evangelicals are endorsing Rick Santorum as the Republican nominee for president.

I don’t know if I could have said it any better than Jim West at Zinglius Redivivus in a post entitled Endorsements by Clergy Are Meaningless (And Evil), but he was brief, and I want to expand on why this meeting and this action is so wrong.

The term “Evangelical” refers to a particular form of Christianity, ie, the Church.  Churches are not political entities, nor should they be.  Pastors should not “endorse” candidates, nor should they involve themselves in political activity.  Pastors and “churches” should hold themselves apart from the political enterprise.  Christians, as individuals, can and should involve themselves as free citizens in a free and democratic society.  And they should be guided by their convictions.  Their convictions are guided by the church.  But the direct involvement of the church/pastor muddies the waters and weakens the church.

These 170 or so “leaders” may not all be “pastors” but I venture to say that many of them are, and their intention is to “influence” the votes of the “evangelicals” by endorsing Santorum.  But they met anonymously, used the media power of organizations like Focus on the Family (James Dobson and  Jim Daly)  and the Family Research Council (Tony Perkins) presumed to “speak” for the church, albeit distancing that moniker in favor of the more general term “evangelical”.  These guys want to speak for the church, but represent no particular church and are not empowered by the leadership of any particular church.  It is no wonder, any church that would promote this sort of buffoonery has no business calling itself a church.

They met “in secret” and “anonymously.”  I have looked for  a listing of this group, it should be easy to find, but have been unsuccessful.  Should I not have the ability to find out who this group of leaders who is speaking for us “evangelicals”?  This sort of clandestine meeting is shameful.

Here is the most that should have happened. This group meets and hashes out their consensus and then Tony Perkins comes out and says, “Family Research Council endorses so and so”, “Focus on the Family” endorses so and so” or “Blank Church endorses so and so” or “Pastor Blank endorses so and so”. Why did they do it this way?  Why not have one of the “organizations” endorse?  The National Association of Evangelicals may have been represented, wouldn’t it have been more “official” if they presumed to speak for us?  Why didn’t they?  What they have done appears to be an end run around behavior that might threaten their tax exempt standing.

To sum it up in a word:  Pathetic.

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Please Call Me.

The tragic story of Bill Zeller has prompted this invitation.

Bill Zeller was a lost young man.  Abused at an early age, the effect of abuse haunted him and drove him to take his own life.  He left a long explanatory letter which is heartbreaking.  Read it but be prepared to be heart-broken.

If you are in this situation, if you are having thoughts of suicide – please don’t make the same mistake that Bill made. The mistake I am referring to is not his suicide, rather his belief that he had to keep his horror story to himself.  He didn’t feel he could trust anyone to keep his story confidential.  I have years of experience and a track record of confidence.  Please come talk to me.  If Bill could have found just one person to vent to, cry with and release his demon – he would be alive and maybe moving toward health today.

So call me, or someone like me.  It can be different.

Bill Zeller’s letter was haunting.  I have said that in 25 years of ministry I have never witnessed demonic possession.  This letter comes close.  His description of the perpetrator always lurking as a presence in his life, a presence he names “darkness” who controls his thoughts, emotions, demeanor and attitude is the equivalent of the demonic possession described in the Scriptures.  I am not saying he was possessed and needed an exorcism – I am saying that the power of this event and the control it had over this poor soul is what Jesus came to free us from.

It is so unfortunate that much of his demonic experience came in the form of fundamentalist parents and dysfunctional Christianity.

Here is the problem with our modern demonology:  when we talk about demons we picture the Exorcist (movie) or the new movie coming out now starring Anthony Hopkins called  “The Rite”.  Demonic activity is more often seen by this kind of human abuse of all that is true, good and ultimately godly.  The destructive effects of his rape, religious abuse culminated in the destruction of his life.  What a shame.

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Gospel Definition

In our men’s Bible Study we have been working on a definition fo the gospel that we can say comes purely from the book of Galatians.

Here is what we came up with:

The true gospel* is the fulfillment of Gods promise to Abraham to justify all nations** through faith in Jesus Christ*** and live by faith having received the Holy Spirit.****

* There is one true gospel ref. Gal. 1:6-12
** Gods promise to Abraham ref. Gal. 3:1-8
*** We are justified through faith in Jesus Christ ref. Gal. 2:15-21
**** We Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit into our hearts Gal 4:6,7
Thanks to Ryan for his editing work on the statement

Here are some important other emphases in Galatians with regard to the gospel:

  • Paul received the gospel as a result of a revelation of Jesus Christ, apart from human agency.
  • The gospel applies to the Jew and the Gentile (& excludes circumcision as a component of the gospel for both)
  • We are justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law.
  • We live by faith in the the Son of God
  • The receiving of the Holy Spirit (beginning with the Holy Spirit) is by hearing with faith, not by works of the law
  • The promises made to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ
  • The gospel has to do with making slaves into sons by redemption and adoption.
  • The gospel is based on Christ’s work, not mine.  All boasting is in the cross.

Here is an interesting article in light of our study from Andreas Kostenburger entitled, “What is the Gospel? Five Observations”.  The link will actually take you to the blog you will have to scroll down to the post from February 3, 2010.  For some reason the link to the article itself doesn’t work.

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Resurrection Resources

In light of the upcoming Easter holiday here is some excellent resource material for your listening and reading enjoyment with regard to the resurrection of Jesus.

Christian apologist Gary Habermas who teaches at Liberty University is a lifelong student and author with regard to the resurrection.  He has written 27+ books, most on the resurrection, some of which are offered in whole or part on his website as free downloads.  Check him out here:  GaryHabermas.com

Dr. Habermas also was interview by Justin Brierly of the Unbelievable Radio show which you can listen to here: Gary Habermas on Unbelievable Radio

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I Love Mexicans

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

This marvelous prayer is from Ephesians 3:13-21.

I never understood how enlightened Christians could entertain racism, latently or blatantly.  In Southern California, racism is often directed towards Mexicans.  I love Mexicans.  I abhor racism.  It is completely un-Christian. Here is what the passage from Ephesians tells us:

Every family in heaven and earth derives its name from the Father

Is there a preferred nation to God?  The answer to that question is no.  This may anger dispensationalists, but there is no longer an elect nation.  This may anger patriots, but God loves Mexico as much as He loves the USA.  Much of the emphasis on the word “all” in the New Testament is not an emphasis on individual “all”, but corporate “all”; all with reference to all the nations as opposed to one elect nation.

And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

By Your Blood you ransomed people from every….

TRIBE, LANGUAGE, PEOPLE AND NATION

What a great portrait of the fullness of the church.  The picture in heaven includes Mexicans.  Some of them are illegals.  Jesus died for the nations, our heart must love the nations because Jesus had a focus and purpose in his death and life and kingdom which CENTERED on the nations.

I love Mexicans, maybe more than Canadians.  They are our neighbors, we view them as the modern American equivalent of the Samaritans.  Many of you need to repent.

Here is a great interview with President Vicente Fox at Westmont College.

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Unbelievable? Radio Programme

I am always looking for good listening, especially because there is so much bad listening on contemporary Christian radio. Much of what is available on the radio is either so poor theologically or so argumentative and vitriolic that when you find something collegial, engaging and easy to listen to, it is worth noting. So it is with the “Unbelievable?” Radio Programme with host Justin Brierly. It airs in the UK, don’t let the British accent fool you, these guys are really sharp even though they misspell “programme”, silly Brits.

The program (notice the economy of letters in the US spelling) I listened to featured noted skeptic author Michael Shermer and a Scottish pastor named David Robertson entitled “Is Christianity Good for Society”.  You can listen to the program here, or subscribe to the RSS feed/netcast here.

David Robertson is my new hero.  He is well spoken, sharp and really takes Shermer to task for making statements that he cannot back up with facts.  I really enjoyed this broadcast.  I will be listening to other shows on Eschatology, Science, atheism, divorce, with a great lineup of guests.  Looks top notch and worth downloading to your mp3 player.

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We Three Kings


We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Pray’r and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Despite the opening misnomer (We three magi just doesn’t cut it…) and the speculation about the number of of them (we are never told, we are only told they brought three gifts), this song is a tremendous compilation of the Christmas story merged with the ultimate purpose of Christ’s incarnation:  Kingdom, death/sacrifice, resurrection.

The mention of the gifts is a connection to the Old Testament and the practices of bringing gifts to a king by visiting kings.  In Psalm 72 we read of the kings of Sheba and Seba bringing gifts to the righteous King of Israel:

Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
And let all kings bow down before him,
All nations serve him,
So may he live, and may the gold of Sheba be given to him

In Isaiah 60:

Arise shine; for your light has come…
The wealth of nations will come to you
All those from Sheba will come
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.

These gifts signify the mission of the magi:  They have come to worship the King.

I love this video, recording is not the best but you can tell it was good.  My favorite part is that the singers names are Amr Abdel Salam, Hany Fakhry and Sherif El Dabaa…close to the heritage of the original (probably Persian) magi.

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