Archive | December 2016

(433) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: IS BUDDHISM COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIANITY?

IS BUDDHISM COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIANITY?

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Before you answer the title question, it is important to establish some context.  A popular trend today is to consider oneself both a Buddhist and a Christian.  The included picture is a cover from a book Jesus and Buddha, The Parallels Sayings written by Buddhist monk, Jack Kornfield and edited by Marcus Borg.  The late, Marcus Borg, the so-called progressive “Christian” scholar whose works go back to the Jesus Seminar and whose books can be seen in church libraries today as well as your local bookstore.  The book’s description is –

This beautifully designed gift edition of Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings is treasured for both its message and its presentation. The teachings — whether about love, wisdom, or materialism — of two great spiritual leaders from very different traditions guide readers along the same path. With 80 color photos and 20 color illustrations complementing the universal truths that these two proclaimed, this book is both an illuminating oracle of wisdom and a compelling anthology of the key beliefs of two great religions.

Borg states in the preface – “If the Buddha and Jesus were to meet, neither would try to convert the other- not because they would regard such an effort as hopeless, but because they would recognize each other.” 


This topic could easily be expanded to include other Eastern Religions including Eastern Mysticism, Hinduism, as well as Buddhism.  Our society is increasingly taking a very pluralistic and inclusive view of religion.

In America today, there continues to be increasing pressure to minimize or attempt to remove God from almost any public display or influence.  Yet, right under our noses, there is actually a growing influence of religious beliefs that are being accepted in both the religious community (i.e. Christianity, EMERGING CHURCH) but to a growing secular (music) and health-related sphere (alternative medicines, treatments, stress relief techniques…etc).   So much so, that today, we are being inundated with new words included in our vernacular (“yoga”, “karma”), alternative practices and treatments in so-called health-related fields, as well as new ways of viewing spiritual issues that we can see influencing all branches of Christianity including Evangelical Churches.  It is sometimes very subtle while other times very open to the point of desensitizing many to this influence.

With this context, it is important to understand the Truth and differences between Christianity and Buddhism.  Today, these differences are buried and people you work with, go to church with, books you read,…etc., minimize and actually hide the differences.  Luke Wayne writes this article titled – Is Buddhism Compatible with Christianity?   https://carm.org/is-buddhism-compatible-with-christianity

Is Buddhism Compatible with Christianity?

by Luke Wayne
4/11/2016

Buddhism and Christianity make mutually exclusive truth claims at nearly every essential point. There is simply no way to combine these two systems without completely redefining one or both of them. Since the 1960s, however, as Buddhism has made increasing inroads into western life and as American culture has become more and more pluralistic, one can increasingly find people who self-identify as being both Buddhist and Christian. The argument for this (when one is articulated at all) generally goes something like this: Buddhism (it is claimed) is simply agnostic on the issue of God. There is nothing (it is further claimed) inherently contrary to Christianity in Buddhist thought and practice, and so one can be devoted to the Christian God by following the Buddhist path to enlightenment. These claims are both entirely false, however, and the thus the conclusion that follows from them is also false.

Buddhist Agnosticism?

Historic Buddhism acknowledged the existence of a variety of gods and demigods above and beyond humanity, but taught that they were mortal creatures who were a part of the same cycle of death and rebirth as men and animals. They were a part of the Buddhist cosmos, but were not prescribed as objects of Buddhist devotion. They were bound in the world of suffering and needed enlightenment to realize nirvana just as men do.1 In regard to such gods, Buddhism can truly be agnostic. Many modern, western Buddhists reject the notion of such gods, and it does not in any way hinder them from being Buddhist. Such gods are not central to any Buddhist teaching, and it makes no difference to Buddhist doctrines whether or not they are there any more than the existence or nonexistence of a particular type of animal would. The gods are merely one of the varieties of beings suffering in the cycle of death and rebirth that Buddhism seeks liberation from.

The Christian God is not like this, however. When Christians speak of God, they are not speaking of a mortal, finite, suffering being like any other being. They are not speaking of a being in need of liberation from anything. They are not speaking of a being that is merely a part of the system of things. They are not speaking of a being that may or may not exist. They are speaking of an eternal, perfect, unchanging, all sufficient creator of everything that is and to whom we all owe our worship and answer to as our Judge and King. In this sense, Buddhism does not believe in God. Indeed, Buddhism cannot possibly allow for such a God’s existence.2Central to Buddhism is the impermanence of all things and the doctrine of no distinct and enduring self in existence.3 If there is anything eternal and unchanging, Buddhism is false. If, as Colossians 1:16-17 says, “all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” then one cannot say that all things are impermanent and do not hold together at all, or that there are no actual things. Anyone claiming to be both Buddhist and Christian must either radically alter Buddhist teaching on almost every possible subject, or else they must radically change what they mean by “God” to such a degree that it is no longer recognizable as anything remotely Christian.

Buddhist and Christian Teaching

Man: Buddhism teaches that personal self is an illusion. There is no “I” or “you” even now, and certainly no soul or spirit of man that transcends this physical life.4

Christianity teaches that men and women are created in the image of God and are distinct from and have dominion over other living things on the earth, (Genesis 1:26-28). The person developing in the womb is the same person all the days of their life (Psalm 139:13-16), there is conscious existence after death (Luke 16:19-31) and these same personal selves will rise again in the last day (Acts 24:15), some to eternal life and others to eternal condemnation, (John 5:28-29).

Sin: Buddhism teaches that there is no moral right and wrong. Good and evil are a false duality that the enlightened must overcome.5 Rightness and wrongness are merely subjective,6a distinction we make artificially out of convenience.7 Justice and injustice, Buddhism explains, are potentially dangerous concepts rooted in the false notion that there is a creator God who rules and judges us all.8

Christianity teaches that there is such a God, and that there is indeed objective right and wrong. Evil, or sin, is breaking the commands of God (1 John 3:4) and falling short of His standard (Romans 3:23). We have a duty not only to avoid evil, but to do what is good (Galatians 6:9-10) even to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). Indeed, knowing what is good and not doing it is itself evil (James 4:17). The concepts of righteousness and wickedness, good and evil, obedience and sin; these are quite central to everything that Christianity has to say.

Suffering: In Buddhism suffering comes from our illusion of being a personal self and our actions in accordance with that illusions.9 Because we think we exist as distinct and enduring selves separate from other things, we desire things and become attached to things that are in fact fleeting and illusory, and from this comes suffering. This means that it is not merely unhealthy or improper desires, but rather all personal desires that cause our suffering.10 Every volition, every act of the will, is karma and perpetuates “samsara”, or the cycle of death and rebirth.11 The Buddhist must learn to be free from all desires, no longer pursuing what is pleasant and avoiding what is painful or thinking of one experience as preferable to another.12He must cease to praise what is good or bemoan what is evil, abandoning all such duality.13This is the Buddhist freedom from suffering.

In Christianity, it is human evil and disobedience to God that first brought suffering and death into the world, (Romans 5:12). What man needs most is to be washed of his guilt and to turn from his sin. While Christians believe that selfish human desires are what lead us into temptation and sin (James 1:14) and that much suffering and strife come from wrong-headed desires that go unfulfilled (James 4:1-3), nevertheless there are also righteous desires that ought to be cultivated. There is blessing for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and we are to seek earnestly and consistently after the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). In the end, God will satisfy the righteous desires of those who are in Christ. He will bless them with eternal life and remove their suffering forever. (Revelation 21:3-4)

Salvation: Different Buddhist branches prescribe a variety of differing things in regard to the most effective path to enlightenment and to escape from the suffering of life and the cycle of death and rebirth. At minimum, however, all hold to the centrality of adherence to the eightfold path laid out by Buddha for one to escape the suffering cycle through self disciplined reshaping of one’s thoughts, views, speech, and actions.14 As one ceases from karmic action, personal desire, and the illusion of self-existence, one attains to enlightenment, realizes Nirvana, and thus transcends suffering and the cycle of rebirth.

In Christianity, salvation is the forgiveness of sins and bodily resurrection unto eternal life with God. This is not earned or merited, but is the gracious gift of God received by us through repentance and faith. (John 3:16-21)

Eternity: The Buddhist hope is for the realization of Nirvana. Nirvana means to blow out or extinguish, like a flame deprived of air or exhausting its fuel.15 It is not the extinguishing of one’s personal existence, since Buddhism insists there never was any personal existence to extinguish, but rather the extinguishing of the illusion of personal existence.16 It is an end to desire, longing, craving, or the idea of oneself as a distinct and separate thing.17 It is not a place that one enters or a state one acquires. It is simpy the realization of what is already the ultimate reality. Rebirth is then at an end, suffering ceases, desires are done away with, and all simply “is”.

The Christian eternity could not be more opposite. Personal existence continues for all, some to everlasting life and others to everlasting judgment, (John 5:28-29) Those who are saved from their sins in Jesus Christ have eternal bodily life without pain or suffering in the very presence of God, (Revelation 21:3-4). Those who remain in the guilt of their sins are punished for their evil forever in hell, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night,” (Revelation 14:11).

Conclusion

This mere sampling from some of the most central teachings of Buddhism and Christianity is by no means exhaustive of the differences, but should suffice to show that these two religions are utterly incompatible. Indeed, it would be difficult to conceive of two belief systems that more fundamentally disagreed on even the most basic concepts of foundational truth. Any professing Christian seeking to embrace the philosophy of Buddha is necessarily also seeking to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is no trifling matter.

  • 1.Keith Yandell and Harold Netland, “Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal” (IVP Academic, 2009) 21
  • 2.Keith Yandell and Harold Netland, “Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal” (IVP Academic, 2009) 183-184
  • 3.“The Teaching of Buddha” (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966) 298
  • 4.Walpola Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada” (Grove Press, 2007) Kindle Edition, Chapter 6
  • 5.“The Teaching of Buddha” (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966) 62
  • 6.Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” (Broadway Books, 1998) 56
  • 7.“The Teaching of Buddha” (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966) 53
  • 8.Walpola Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada” (Grove Press, 2007) Kindle Edition, Chapter 6
  • 9.Rodney Smith, “Stepping Out of Self Deception” (Shambhala Publications, 2010) 4
  • 10.Keith Yandell and Harold Netland, “Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal” (IVP Academic, 2009) 16
  • 11.Walpola Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada” (Grove Press, 2007) Kindle Edition, Chapter 3
  • 12.Rodney Smith, “Stepping Out of Self Deception” (Shambhala Publications, 2010) 6
  • 13.“The Teaching of Buddha” (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966) 62
  • 14.Walpola Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada” (Grove Press, 2007) Kindle Edition, Chapter 5
  • 15.Houston Smith and Philip Novak “Buddhism: A Concise Introduction” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2003) 51
  • 16.Walpola Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada” (Grove Press, 2007) Kindle Edition, Chapter 4
  • 17.Keith Yandell and Harold Netland, “Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal” (IVP Academic, 2009) 23-24

 

This article comes from a series of article which can be found at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) website https://carm.org/buddhism.

Previous blog articles on Marcus Borg:

https://irondukeblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/eastern-mysticism-religions-in-your-church-today/

https://irondukeblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/borg-resistance-is-futile/

 

 

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(432) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE POPE & GALILEO

THE POPE & GALILEO

Pope Francis reportedly said the ‘theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real’ and ‘evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation.’   The problem is that Scripture says something much different and the science is lacking, to say the least. 

The Galileo ‘twist’

by , M.Sc.(Hons)

Galileo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei

Creationists are often accused (by Christians opposed to their view) of making the same mistake as the Roman Catholic Church did at the time of Galileo. Then, the institutional Church insisted that the Bible taught that the sun went around the earth. After it was shown by Galileo that the opposite was true, believers found that they could comfortably accommodate this new fact, without any problem to their belief in the Bible. However, the historical events surrounding Galileo should be a warning to theistic evolutionists and long-agers, not to the Genesis creation movement. 

 Galileo Galilei

The background

Over two millennia ago, Aristotle (384–322 BC) taught that the earth was the centre of a ‘perfect’ universe in which the movements of the stars were circular and never ending.

Ptolemy (AD 2nd century) expanded these ideas into what became known as the Ptolemaic system (see box).

Then in the 16th century, Copernicus (1473–1543) postulated as a better explanation that the earth and planets revolved around the sun.1,2

In the 17th century, Galileo (1564–1642), with his telescope, was able to carry out repeated and repeatable observations which refuted Aristotle and Ptolemy, and supported Copernicus. For example, he observed that the sun had spots which moved across its surface, showing that the sun was not ‘perfect’ and it itself rotated; he observed the phases of Venus, showing that Venus must orbit the sun; and he discovered four moons that revolve around Jupiter, not the Earth, showing that the Earth was not the centre of everything. In 1618, he observed three comets pass effortlessly through Ptolemy’s crystalline spheres (in which the planets and stars supposedly moved around the Earth), showing that these spheres must be imaginary.

The HELIOCENTRIC  (from Greek helios = sun) or Copernican system opposed the views of the astronomer-philosophers of the day, who earned their livelihood by teaching Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so were biased against change. They therefore either ignored, ridiculed, destroyed, or hostilely opposed Galileo’s writings. Many Church leaders allowed themselves to be persuaded by the Aristotelians at the universities that the GEOCENTRIC  (earth-centred) system was taught in Scripture and that Galileo was contradicting the Bible. They therefore bitterly opposed Galileo to the extent of forcing him on pain of death to repudiate his findings.

This was because:

  1. The Church leaders had accepted as dogma the belief system of the pagan (i.e. non-Christian) philosophers, Aristotle and Ptolemy, which had become the worldview of the then scientific establishment. The result was that Church leaders were using the KNOWLEDGE OF THE DAY to interpret SCRIPTURE, instead of using the Bible to evaluate the knowledge of the day.
  2. They clung to the ‘majority opinion’ about the universe and rejected the ‘minority view’ of Copernicus and Galileo, even after Galileo had presented indisputable evidence based on repeatable scientific observations that the majority was wrong.
  3. They picked out a few verses from the Bible which they thought said that the sun moved around the earth, but they failed to realize that Bible texts must be understood in terms of what the author intended to convey. Thus, when Moses wrote of the ‘risen’ sun (Genesis 19:23) and sun ‘set’ (Genesis 28:11), his purpose was not to formulate an astronomical dictum. Rather he, by God’s spirit, was using the language of appearance so that his readers would easily understand what time of day he was talking about.3 And it is perfectly valid in physics to describe motion relative to the most convenient reference frame, which in this case is the earth. See the sub-article Sunspots, Galileo and heliocentrism.

This plain meaning (the time of day) is perfectly satisfied by the language of appearance and does not demand the secondary deduction that it is the sun itself which moves. Indeed, this is exactly the same thing that scientists do today in weather reports when they give the times of ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’. They are using the language of appearance, and using the earth as the reference frame. A convenient figure of speech does not invalidate science; nor does it invalidate the Bible.

Likewise verses such as Psalm 19:6 and 93:1, which the writer(s) clearly meant to be poetic expressions, were given a literal meaning.4,5

Today

Today we live in a world where most of the scientific establishment is heavily biased in favour of naturalism (the belief that everything can be explained by natural causes) and long ages. The scientific establishment propagates this belief system by claiming that everything in the universe originated in a big bang, and that all things are the result of evolution over billions of years. Indeed, many astronomers, scientists and teachers today have built their careers and earn their livelihood by teaching these theories.

However, these ideas, like Ptolemy’s, although ingenious and possibly plausible to atheists, are loaded with complications and contradictions, and are simply wrong.6

At the same time there is a minority of scientists, the creationists, who hold the opposing view that the Bible provides a better explanation of how the universe and life came into existence—created directly by God—and that the evidence from design, the fossil record, information theory, etc., is what one would expect if this is so. All such evidence, like Galileo’s, is ignored, ridiculed, concealed, or hostilely opposed by the establishment.

And once again many Church leaders have allowed themselves to be persuaded by the ‘science’ taught at the universities; they get around the atheistic part by telling all that the big bang, billions of years, and evolution are all compatible with Scripture. This inevitably leads them to oppose the minority (creationist) view.

This is because:

  1. Such Church leaders have accepted as dogma the belief system and philosophies of non-Christian (i.e. pagan) scientists, like Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, et al. Thus, like their 17th century predecessors, they are using the ‘knowledge’ of the day to interpret Scripture, instead of using the Bible to evaluate the knowledge of the day.
  2. They cling to the majority opinion and reject the minority view, despite the fact that there are many observations that uphold a young age and speak against an old age of the earth and universe,7 and there is no experiment that any evolutionist has ever done (much less a repeatable one) either to observe or to confirm the theory of evolution.
  3. They explain away the Genesis record of creation as myth or they introduce long ages into the account, but they fail to realise that Genesis, too, must be understood in terms of what the author intended to convey. Thus, a plain reading of the text shows that Moses’ purpose was not to set down a collection of myths or camp-fire stories, as is often claimed; nor are the days of Genesis 1 meant to be a metaphor for something else like long ages, or a simplistic way of explaining billions of years to a primitive culture.8 Rather, the text shows that Moses wrote Genesis as a literal account of the history of the world from the beginning of creation to the arrival of the Hebrews in Egypt.

This is an interesting ‘twist’ on the Galileo situation. Back then, the Church leaders said that Bible verses which were written in poetic format and meant to be poetry should be taken literally; today they are saying that Bible passages which were written as prose and meant to be literal history should be taken as poetry!

The real lesson

No, creationists are not making the same mistake as the the Church did in the 17th century, i.e. claiming that the Bible says something which is contrary to fact. But the Church, by and large, still is! The Church has not learnt the lesson of history and still insists on taking a popular worldview as its authority, instead of upholding the Bible and allowing it to be its own interpreter.

Although the Church leaders of Galileo’s day mistakenly thought that the Bible supported a geocentric system, there was nothing intrinsically atheistic in the notion that the earth moved. Furthermore there are no other doctrines that depend on the relative motions of the earth and the sun.

By contrast, the theory of evolution is an atheistic explanation of origins and is the justification for the anti-God system of secular humanism which pervades society today. It also makes God the author of death and suffering.

Furthermore Christians who do not accept the Genesis account as literal history and the days of Genesis as literal earth days need to explain away a host of other Bible passages and doctrines, e.g. the green plants being the food of the animals before the Fall (Genesis 1:30), the Sabbath Commandment (Exodus 20:9–11), Jesus’ teaching that God made man and woman ‘at the beginning’ (Matthew 19:4), Jesus’ teaching about marriage based on a literal first man and woman (Matthew 19:3–9), Paul’s exposition of the Gospel based on the fact that Adam was literally the first man (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15), etc.

Thus the lesson from Galileo is not that the Church should not oppose the theory of evolution, but rather that it should, because science has not proven evolution; rather evolution is contrary to proven science and opposes the plain Word of God.

The Ptolemaic System

The Ptolemaic System

According to Ptolemy, the sun, moon, planets, and stars all revolved around a fixed earth in a series of hollow, inter-nesting, crystalline spheres. This is called a geocentric or earth-centred system, and is known as the Ptolemaic system.

There were some problems which Ptolemy’s geocentric system did not fully explain, notably the to-and-fro motion of the planets across the sky, as seen from the earth. He therefore postulated a number of mechanisms that were ingenious and initially plausible, but ultimately impossibly complicated and scientifically wrong. For example, each planet was said to move in its own small curve called an epicycle, while all the epicycles moved around the earth in larger circles called deferents. Return to text.

[Ed. notes:

  • The article by Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, The Galileo Affair: history or heroic hagiography, Journal of Creation14(1):91–100, 2000, shows that ‘Contrary to legend, Galileo and the Copernican system were well regarded by church officials. Galileo was the victim of his own arrogance, the envy of his colleagues, and the politics of Pope Urban VIII. He was not accused of criticising the Bible, but disobeying a papal decree.’
  • See also Dr Danny Faulkner’s article Geocentrism and Creation and other articles under Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A]
 

References and notes

  1. His book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published in 1543, challenged Aristotle’s (and thus also at that time the Church’s) teaching that the earth was the centre of all change and decay, and that around it were the changeless heavens. Return to text.
  2. In the Copernican system the earth and planets circle the sun, with the earth taking one year to do so; in the Ptolemaic system the sun, planets, and stars are all required to circle the earth every 24 hours. A huge problem with the latter system is that the nearest star, Proximus Centauri (also known as Alpha Centauri C), is 4.3 light years away, so that if this star circled the earth every 24 hours, its speed would need to be nearly 10,000 times the speed of light (and much greater speeds would be needed for the more distant stars). Return to text.
  3. Similarly, Joshua was using the language of appearance in Joshua 10:12–13. For a discussion on this miracle, see my article Joshua’s long day: Did it really happen—and how? Creation 19(3):35–37, June–August, 1997. Return to text.
  4. Psalm 19:4–6 metaphorically describes the sun as coming forth from a tent in the heavens, and also personifies the sun both as a bridegroom and as a strong man running a race. One would have thought that even the inflexible literalists of Galileo’s day might have allowed the writer of this Psalm to have meant it to have had a poetical meaning. Return to text.
  5. In Psalm 93:1, the phrase ‘the world also is established, that it cannot be moved’ needs to be read alongside v. 2, ‘[God’s] throne is established of old’, where the same Hebrew word [kown = ‘established’] is used and has the meaning ‘set up’, ‘stable’, ‘secure’, ‘enduring’, ‘confirmed’, etc., not ‘immobile’ or ‘stationary’. Likewise the Hebrew word for ‘moved’ (v.1) is used in Psalm 16:8, ‘I shall not be moved’, meaning that the writer would not stray from the path of the Lord, not that he was rooted to any one spot. Return to text.
  6. For example, the exponents of the big bang fail to say where the energy originally came from, where the laws of science came from, and what it was that ‘quantum fluctuated’ before there was anything there to fluctuate, and so on—see What about the big bang? and If God created the universe, then who created God?. Molecules-to-man evolution is contrary to the principles of thermodynamics, as well as to the law of biogenesis (life comes only from life), the fossil record, and much more. Return to text.
  7. See, for example, John Morris, The Young Earth, Master Books, Arizona, 1994, and Evidence for a young world by Russell Humphreys. Return to text.
  8. Top-flight Hebrew academics, e.g. Professor James Barr of the University of Oxford, are unanimous that the plain meaning that the Hebrew text is intended to convey is that ‘creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience’. (See Six days? Honestly!) Return to text.

(431) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: HILLSONG & THE NAKED SANTA

Hillsong’s Naked Cowboy is Back — Except Now it’s Naked Santa!

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. –2 Timothy 4:3-4

Pulpit and Pen’s Jeff Maples reports on Hillsong’s wild world of deviancy – 

diego_santa-1http://pulpitandpen.org/2016/12/21/hillsongs-naked-cowboy-is-back-except-now-its-naked-santa/

Hillsong’s Naked Cowboy is Back — Except Now it’s Naked Santa!
BY JEFF MAPLES · DECEMBER 21, 2016

Earlier this year Pulpit & Pen brought you the story of Hillsong, NYC’s youth pastor, Diego Simila, who posed as the infamous “Naked Cowboy” at a Hillsong women’s conference. There were also other more than questionable appearances of debauched characters at various other Hillsong conferences during that time, including the sex pervert, Austin Powers, who showed up at the London conference. Hillsong received quite a bit of backlash for these lewd acts of moral degeneracy including from Montanist apologist and noted Hillsong defender, Michael Brown.

As if these salacious acts weren’t enough to turn any biblically-minded Christian away from the perversion of the Bride of Christ that is Hillsong, Diego Simila is back–posing once again in an obscene display of lasciviousness, as a nearly-naked Santa.

On Esther Houston’s (wife of NYC Worship Leader, Joel Houston) Instagram site (click with caution), you’ll find the following festival of flesh.

This comes as no surprise since Hillsong is known for its debauchery and trashy performances, watered down gospel, and compromise on nearly everything Christians stand for. Several weeks ago, Joel Houston, son of Hillsong CEO, Brian Houston, posted on Twitter that he found Jen Hatmaker’s affirmation of gay marriage “refreshing.” In 2015, the same NY-based branch of Hillsong put on what many dubbed Hillsong’s Sleazy Silent Night, where a woman was paraded on stage in a seductive manner wearing provocative clothing. Carl Lentz, lead pastor of Hillsong NYC, was recently interviewed on Oprah’s television show where Lentz denied that you must be a Christian to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Lentz’ church also had two openly gay members of his congregation serving in the choir–one as the choir director.

All of this anti-Christian, anti-gospel vulgarity and compromise for the sake of pleasing man instead of God is what makes Hillsong famous. It’s no wonder SBTS president, Al Mohler says that Hillsong is “a prosperity movement for the millennials, in which the polyester and middle-class associations of Oral Roberts have given way to ripped jeans and sophisticated rock music…What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.”

The rest of the article is at http://pulpitandpen.org/2016/12/21/hillsongs-naked-cowboy-is-back-except-now-its-naked-santa/

 

 

(430) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: JOHN MACARTHUR – SPIRITUAL FORMATION & CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER (Part 2)

IronDukeblog

JOHN MACARTHUR’S VIEW ON SPIRITUAL FORMATION –
A FOLLOW-UP TO HIS VIDEO FROM PART 1

Monday, September 10, 2012

It’s possible—perhaps even likely—that you’ve never heard the phrase spiritual formationbefore. It’s the kind of terminology that’s often sequestered in academic circles. But in recent years, the concepts and practices of spiritual formation have gained popularity in the church and brought related issues to the forefront for many believers.

If the emails we receive at Grace to You are any indication of the overall direction of the church, the popularity of spiritual formation has exploded in the last several months. Weekly—sometimes daily—we hear from men and women wrestling with difficult questions about the disciplines and practices of spiritual formation. They’re struggling to reconcile what they’re reading and hearing with the Word of God.

The topic has even come up in some of John MacArthur’s recent Q&A’s, so I…

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(430) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: JOHN MACARTHUR – SPIRITUAL FORMATION & CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER (Part 2)

JOHN MACARTHUR’S VIEW ON SPIRITUAL FORMATION –
A FOLLOW-UP TO HIS VIDEO FROM PART 1

Monday, September 10, 2012

 

It’s possible—perhaps even likely—that you’ve never heard the phrase spiritual formation before. It’s the kind of terminology that’s often sequestered in academic circles. But in recent years, the concepts and practices of spiritual formation have gained popularity in the church and brought related issues to the forefront for many believers.

If the emails we receive at Grace to You are any indication of the overall direction of the church, the popularity of spiritual formation has exploded in the last several months. Weekly—sometimes daily—we hear from men and women wrestling with difficult questions about the disciplines and practices of spiritual formation. They’re struggling to reconcile what they’re reading and hearing with the Word of God.

The topic has even come up in some of John MacArthur’s recent Q&A’s, so I know it’s on the minds of many believers and raising questions in congregations around the world.

Even forming a basic definition of spiritual formation is no simple feat. It’s a fluid concept, with a wide range of accepted meanings and applications.

In broad terms, SPIRITUAL FORMATION is the process of spiritual shaping and growth. Sending your children to a Christian school would fall under the wide canopy of spiritual formation. The same could be said of any education tied to a specific religion—Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim schools all contribute to the spiritual formation of their students.

However, in Christian circles, spiritual formation refers to more than mere academic instruction. Most often, it’s a reference to the dynamic means of sanctification. It deals with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and the various methods He uses to bring about spiritual growth in our lives.

It’s at this point things can become confusing. On one hand, there are the time-tested, practical Christian disciplines we’re all familiar with—things like personal and corporate Bible study, worship, prayer, discipleship, and service.

On the other hand, many of the leading voices in the spiritual formation movement stress the need for more INTUITIVE interpretations of spirituality. They encourage believers to incorporate a wide variety of EXTRABIBLICAL spiritual practices, such as CONTEMPLATIVE prayer, SILENCE, meditation, creative expression, and YOGA. In fact, some of the most popular methods of spiritual formation have been lifted from CATHOLICISM, NEW AGE MYSTICISM, or other religions and rebranded with biblical-sounding terminology.

But any kind of SUBJECTIVE spirituality that draws your focus away from the Lord and His truth can have disastrous results, derailing your spiritual growth and cutting you off from God’s plan for your sanctification.

All true spiritual growth starts with the preeminent role of God’s Word in the lives of His people. But is Scripture alone enough for spiritual maturity?

That’s where we’ll pick it up next time.

Grace to You

https://www.gty.org/blog/B120910/what-is-spiritual-formation-and-why-does-it-matter?Term=spiritual%20formation

(429) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: JOHN MACARTHUR – SPIRITUAL FORMATION & CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

bible-11JOHN MACARTHUR: SPIRITUAL FORMATION & CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

I respect John MacArthur’s approach to teaching the Bible to equip saints to live a life dedicated to God.  I don’t agree with him on every subject – Calvinism, Spiritual Gifts, Politics…..etc.  But, again, his approach in actually viewing the Bible as God’s word (radical, isn’t it) is refreshing to hear and is becoming a rarity in mainstream Evangelicalism today.

In the following video, he brings up some concerns about the latest trends roaring through Christian churches today – CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES, YOGA...etc. 

  • MacArthur states that it is “a lot of bunk……it is intuitive spirituality…..nonsense, but they throw Bible words at it….it is mysticism…”.
  • Dangerous aspect is mysticism – “Assumes spiritual truth is somewhere inside of you intuitively” – but that is not true. It is outside of you (i.e. God’s word – the Bible) – external to our minds. We find truth in God’s word, not somewhere hidden inside of us.   
  • Spiritual Formation – churches offering dance classes to learn to get into the rhythm. 
  • Dallas Willard & Richard confuse people because they use the name of Jesus and they talk about God and they use Bible verses”….etc.
  • Deconstructing this type of teaching is important
  • It is embedded itself in Christian colleges, organizations, churches….etc.

(428) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: ANDY STANLEY – DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST?

ANDY STANLEY: Says He Doesn’t Care About the Birth of Christ

http://pulpitandpen.org/2016/12/07/andy-stanley-says-he-doesnt-care-about-the-birth-of-christ/

Not too long ago, Andy Stanley explicitly denied the authority of Scripture and implicitly denied the infallibility of Scripture. He claimed that the foundation of Christianity was not the Bible, and suggested that the Bible contains historical inaccuracies and even called it indefensible (More can be read about this here). This past week, he opened up his sermon by saying,

“If somebody can predict their own death and then their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”

The birth of Christ is a pretty big part of Christianity. In fact, it is crucial to the Gospel. Had Jesus not been born, then He would not have lived a perfect human life and He would not have died His atoning death on the Cross. If the Incarnation did not happen, Jesus would not be fully God and fully man. If the Virgin Birth did not happen, then prophecy would have failed and Jesus would be tainted by Original Sin. The whole nativity is a crucial part of Christianity. However, Stanley continued,

“Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the Birth of Jesus.”

If this were the case, the Bible would not have bothered to explain His birth. This devaluing of Jesus’s birth and its impact on Christianity is a result of his low view of Scripture and its authority. While Stanley claims that Christianity hinges on the resurrection and not the birth (Which is a false dichotomy), he fails to recognize that the Resurrection would not have happened without the birth. Neither would the death, the atonement, or the forgiveness of sins.

On the Pulpit and Pen sight that this article comes from, the following video by Andy Stanley in his own words – 

https://vid.me/ezi5

 

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