Archive | February 2017

(445) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: ETERNAL SECURITY

SAVED & SECURE

I can’t say that this topic is in hunt with the various other topics covered on this blog. Fifteen, twenty years ago, topics like ETERNAL SECURITY, PREDESTINATION, GIFT OF TONGUES, THE RAPTURE….etc., were some of the main discussion (debate) topics I grappled with in my personal understanding of Scripture as well as in discussion with other believers.  Today, the church (in general) has seemingly moved on to other topics such as MYSTICISM, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, HOMOSEXUALITY, as well as more defined topics such as – some would question of absolute truth?; can/should Christians swear?; becoming missional; becoming more ecumenical – focusing on similarities between Christianity and Roman Catholicism and even other religions….etc.

I can’t say that topics today present a biblical image of Christians walking closer to God than maybe a decade or two ago?  But just looking at this sampling of the topics, in my mind, one set is more rooted in Scripture while the other is more rooted in society and other beliefs.  Maybe it is just me?

That said, most Christians will still have to grabble, at some point in their walk, with the question of Eternal Security – also identified in a similar fashion by phrases such as “once saved, always saved”, “perseverance of the saints”..…etc.  While there are good people on both sides of the debate on this topic, church history has shown this topic to be a defining issue for some Christian groups.  None-the-less, it is an important topic to understand in our individual walk.  I believe, from several perspectives, it can be a very positive topic that encourages to go out in life to be used by God in all that we do.  Let’s start the discussion – 

DEFINITION

ETERNAL SECURITY =is the biblical doctrine that God guarantees our eternal salvation from beginning to end. Therefore, a saved person—someone who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation—can never lose that salvation. (i.e. “Once saved always saved).

Many Christians question that definition and don’t see or agree with the idea that they can know for sure that once they become believers, they can know that they are saved.  The line most will hear goes something like this – “If I can’t lose my salvation, what does it matter how I live?”

It is a logical question to ask.  If you think about it, this question really indicates a belief that salvation is somehow achieved or maintained by the saved person rather than given and guaranteed by the Savior.

The Bible talks about rewards and fellowship in our relationship with God.  

Although it’s possible to abuse His grace (Rom 6:1)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 

God doesn’t disown His children (John 6:35-40).  Take note of the language used – it is dogmatic, strong, to the point.  Words used such as “never”, “by no means”, “nothing”, “everlasting”, “I will”….etc.

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.  37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Still, there are consequences for disobeying God.  Even as Christians, we can experience His discipline and lose potential rewards (1 Cor. 3:10-15).  Yet, we are still saved.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Those are very powerful verses and very encouraging!

We can experience His discipline (Heb 12:3-11). We can lose potential rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15). We can be ashamed when He appears (1 John 2:28). And we can even be taken home “early” (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 11:27-30).  But these are different than saying we can lose our salvation. Simply stated, these verses don’t say we can lose our salvation.

Moreover, the greater the understanding and appreciation of God’s grace the greater the incentive to live faithfully for Him (Titus 2:11-14).

Scriptural Support

Church history shows that several passages have been debated on for hundreds of years.  In many cases, like I said previously, there are good people on both sides of the debate.  And both sides of the debate can point to Scripture to base their conclusions on.  I think that is important and I respect that aspect of the debate.  Instead of pride or argument, it should lead many of us to search the Scriptures even further to let God reveal His truth.

While I can’t say that I always believed in eternal security, I do think that the Bible clearly teaches it.  Scripture talks about salvation as follows:

  • accomplished for us by Christ (John 1:29; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 John 2:2)
  • a gift (Rom 5:15-18; 6:23)
  • by means of God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7)
  • conditioned on faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; 6:47; Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:16)
  • not of our works (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9)
  • a present possession (John 5:24; 6:47)
  • eternal (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-30; 11:26; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Tim 2:13)

It’s not a one time occurance but is woven throughout the Bible.  Ultimately the focus is not on us but on Christ and His provision for our sins.

I read this logic perspective from an article by Stan Nelson and thought there are some good points to extract –

Consider the following questions:

Does God know who will enter heaven? The answer is obviously, yes.

Is it possible that any of those He knows are going to enter heaven might not enter? No, that’s not possible. If He knows they’re going to enter, they must and will enter heaven.

If it’s certain they’re going to enter heaven, are they eternally secure? Yes.

Who are these eternally secure people? They’re believers—those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.

Are all believers eternally secure? Yes.

Nelson goes on to state that:

Someone might answer that the believers whom God knows are going to enter heaven are eternally secure but maybe there are other believers who aren’t eternally secure.

But the Bible doesn’t classify believers into some who are eternally secure and some who aren’t (2 Tim 2:19). Salvation isn’t probation. If it were, the word saved couldn’t really be applied to someone until the probation was successfully completed (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). Neither is the giving of eternal salvation delayed until the end of earthly life. Everlasting life (which lasts forever) is a possession received as a gift at the time of faith in Christ (John 6:47). Those who don’t enter heaven simply never believed.

I like the phrase – SALVATION ISN’T PROBATION!  In His atoning sacrifice on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins—past, present, and future. (All sins committed after His crucifixion are future from it.) The Bible doesn’t list only those sins before salvation or only those sins after salvation which are covered. They are all covered. While we must come to Him by faith, He alone does the saving and He alone must get the glory (Rom 5:8-9; 1 Pet 2:24; Eph 2:8-9).

All who have trusted in Christ for salvation are eternally secure. If you’ve trusted Him to save you, He has and you’re saved, safe, and one of His forever! To deny this truth would be to say that it’s possible to have believed in Christ for eternal life and not received it (John 3:36). And that would be to disbelieve Him.

What is the GOOD NEWS?  Eternal security fits the fact that the gospel of salvation by grace through faith is good news (Rom 5:10-11). Conditional securitythe belief that I can lose my salvation because of something I do or don’t do—is depressing and inconsistent with the good news of the gospel.

If YOU are responsible for keeping yourself saved, in essence, you have added a WORK to the condition of salvation.  You have entered works along with faith which Paul says can’t be the case in Eph. 2:8-9.  If I must keep myself saved, can I ever be sure I’m safe? Can I ever know if I’m going to “make it”? No. In fact, under that system it’s certain that I can’t. How discouraging or prideful if one thinks his personal behavior is (and will remain) good enough to save him.

This is GOOD NEWS.  Christ has paid the price, God gives us and seals us with the Holy Spirit.  Our ability to be good enough to stay saved is NOT up to us. It is up to God!  God has already gave us His promise as stated in His word.  That is reassuring.

That is what should produce gratitude, humility and encourage us to go out and do good works according to God’s will. Eternal Security is a wonderful gift of God!

(444) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE FIVE TESTS OF FALSE DOCTRINE

FALSE DOCTRINE

Tim Challies wrote a recent article on the five tests of FALSE DOCTRINE. An important item that jumps out in the church today is the tendency to include practices from other religious beliefs that don’t originate from the Bible. It is commonly stated that these practices are not necessarily bad because Christians are not using them for religious purposes (i.e. YOGA) but for other purposes such as health, emotional well-being…etc. But, these other practices are syncretically combined with Christian practices with the excuse that it these new practices are similar to Christianity which in their mind justifies participation and use within the church (i.e. YOGAMYSTICISM, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, SPIRITUAL FORMATION….ETC.).  One important criteria to use in determining its faithfulness to God’s word is simply – does the concept originate in God’s word?  If not, be very careful indeed. Using EASTERN MYSTICAL and ANCIENT ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICISM practices fail to satisfy this criteria.  Scripture is clear on worshipping other gods and following after their beliefs and practices which run counter to God’s word. Unfortunately, within the church today, we see many people following after these latest popular trends in music, books, church growth….etc.

This is more critical to know today that perhaps any time in the past.                                                                                           

http://www.challies.com/articles/test-every-doctrine-test-every-teacher?utm_content=buffer304d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Five Tests of False Doctrine

T.D. Jakes says that God eternally exists in three manifestations, not three persons. Greg Boyd says God knows some aspects of the future, but that other future events are outside of his knowledge. Creflo Dollar says because we are created in the image of God, we are little gods. Mormonism says God revealed new scripture to Joseph Smith that supersedes the Bible. Roman Catholicism says we are justified by faith, but not by faith alone. This world is a murky madness of true and false. For every doctrine we know to be true, there seems to be a hundred pretenders.

No wonder, then, that John tells us to “test the spirits” and Paul says, “test everything” (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is our sacred responsibility to examine every doctrine to determine if it is true or false. But how can we distinguish sound doctrine from false? How can we distinguish teachers of truth from teachers of error? In our opening article, I said that putting a doctrine to the test is the best way to determine if it is true or false. As we test the doctrine, we learn our responsibility toward it: We either hold to it or we reject it. I am returning to those tests today to explain them in greater detail. They provide a grid that is useful for testing any doctrine.

Test 1: The Test of Origin

The first test is the test of origin. Sound doctrine originates with God; false doctrine originates with someone or something created by God. The Apostle Paul went to great lengths to convince the church in Galatia that the gospel he taught was not his own, but God’s. “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Even Jesus was clear that he taught only what God had instructed him to teach: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). True doctrine originates with the God who is true (Titus 1:2).

 

Just as true doctrine is marked by its divine origin, false doctrine is marked by its worldly origin. Paul warned the Colossian church to avoid doctrine that is “according to human precepts and teachings” and told Timothy that some would “depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (Colossians 2:22, 1 Timothy 4:1). It is this simple: Sound teaching originates with God and false teaching originates with men or demons. When it comes to doctrine, if man made it, then we should not hold it. God is the Father of truth and Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).

The test: Does this doctrine originate with God or has it been fabricated by someone or something else?

This leaves us with an obvious question: How can we know the origin of a doctrine? Sometimes its origin is obvious, but more often it is not. When we are uncertain, we can turn to our second test.

Test 2: The Test of Authority

The second test is the test of authority. Sound doctrine grounds its authority within the Bible; false doctrine grounds its authority outside the Bible. The Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible, sufficient, complete, and authoritative revelation of himself to humanity. Doctrines that originate in the mind of God are recorded in the Word of God. There is a clear and necessary correlation between origin and authority, between God and his Word.

We can think here of those noble Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They knew that all doctrines must be compared to God’s Word, his source of truth. Likewise, Paul praised the Thessalonians for their careful assessment and acceptance of his teaching because they understood its divine authority. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Sound doctrine originates in the mind of God and is recorded in his authoritative self-revelation, the Bible.

The test: Does this doctrine appeal to the Bible for its authority? Or does it appeal to another scripture or another mind?

But a concern remains, because two teachers may both claim the authority of the Bible while teaching very different things. How can we know whose interpretation is correct? This is where we turn to the third test.

Test 3: The Test of Consistency

The third test is the test of consistency. Sound doctrine is consistent with the whole of Scripture; false doctrine is inconsistent with some parts of Scripture. There is a sameness or familiarity to true doctrine and a strangeness or unfamiliarity to false doctrine. The man who wrote the letter to the Hebrews warned his congregation about “diverse and strange teachings,” while Paul warned Timothy about accepting “different doctrine” (Hebrews 13:9; 1 Timothy 1:3, 6:3). Both meant to emphasize that doctrine must always be compared to the established, accepted body of truth. Those who are knowledgeable about that body of truth will be in the best position to immediately identify and refute what is false.

This is tied to a key theological principle, “the analogy of faith,” which is often explained with the phrase “Scripture interprets Scripture.” If the Bible originates in the infallible mind of God, it must be consistent throughout. Because there can be no contradiction in the mind of God, there can be no contradiction in the revelation of God. What the Bible teaches in one place it cannot refute in another. Therefore, any true doctrine must be consistent with the whole of Scripture. Doctrine must never be treated in isolation, but always in light of a correct understanding of the entire Bible. Too many false teachers isolate verses or ideas that cannot withstand the scrutiny of the whole Book.

The test: Is this doctrine established or refuted by the entirety of Scripture?

Once we have tested doctrine and found it to be true, according to these three criteria, we can also see its soundness by its effects on us and those around us. That requires two more tests.

Test 4: The Test of Spiritual Growth

The fourth test is the test of spiritual growth. Sound doctrine is beneficial for spiritual health; false doctrine leads to spiritual weakness. After instructing Timothy, Paul told him, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained [“nourished”] in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). Timothy had trained himself in the Bible and Christian doctrine. He had nourished himself in the truths he had been exposed to since he was a child. And he had never stopped. Through this continual nourishment, this ongoing dining on the Word of God, he had grown spiritually healthy and strong. He had accumulated a thorough knowledge of God and his Word.  This is why Paul called him a “man of God” with “sincere faith” (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy’s constant nourishment in sound doctrine from the Word of God made him the man he was.

Sound doctrine makes spiritually healthy, mature, knowledgeable Christians. False doctrine makes spiritually unhealthy, immature, ignorant Christians who may be no Christians at all.

Test 5: The Test of Godly Living

The fifth test is the test of godly living. Sound doctrine has value for godly living, false doctrine leads to ungodly living. Truth never stands on its own, but always has implications in life. Doctrine is always meant to lead to doxology, worship, and purposeful living. “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” says Paul, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Scripture is not to be known in an abstract sense, but intimately. It is to inform not only our minds, but our hearts and hands as well.

Paul charged Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine,” reminding him that such doctrine is “excellent and profitable for people” (3:8, 2:1). “What accords with” sound doctrine is its far-reaching implications, the duties that flow out of it. Thus, sound doctrine has value. It is profitable in teaching us to live as we ought to live. It equips us to do those things that are are good for our neighbor and that bring honor and glory to our God. Truth has not been grasped until it has been lived. Sound doctrine profits us by training us to live in a way that pleases God. False doctrine weakens us by training us to live in a way that dishonors God.

Evaluation: The Determination of Quality

At this point we simply take all of the evidence from the three tests and make a conclusion about the quality of the doctrine in question. Sound doctrine originates with God, is recorded in the Word of God, is consistent with the whole revelation of God, and leads to both spiritual health and godly living. False doctrine originates with men or demons, is foreign to the Word of God, is inconsistent with the whole revelation of God, and leads to spiritual weakness and ungodly living. It must pass all of the tests in order to be sound. If it fails one, it fails all of them. This word “sound” refers to health and appears often in the New Testament. For example, Paul instructed Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound [“healthy”] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). To Titus he said, “Teach what accords with sound [“healthy”] doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

The task of the doctor is to evaluate a patient to declare him fit or unfit. The patient is fit when his whole body is functioning properly, free of disease. The task of the Christian is to evaluate every doctrine to declare it fit or unfit. John Stott says it characteristically well: “Christian doctrine is healthy in the same way as the human body is healthy. For Christian doctrine resembles the human body. It is a coordinated system consisting of different parts which relate to one another and together constitute a harmonious whole. If therefore our theology is maimed (with bits missing) or diseased (with bits distorted), it is not ‘sound’ or ‘healthy’.” Doctrine that passes the three tests is sound doctrine. It is pure and undefiled, true according to God’s unfailing standard of truth.

The evaluation: Based on the evidence, is this doctrine sound or false?

Action: Determine Your Responsibility

Having thoroughly tested the doctrine and examined its effects, we are able to determine how to respond to it. Sound doctrine must be accepted and held fast; false doctrine must be denied and rejected. When Jesus spoke to the believers in Thyatira, he commended them for clinging to truth and told them to “hold fast what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25). Paul described the elder as a man who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

Our responsibility is clear: We must accept and hold fast to what is true, and we must deny and reject what is false. Likewise, the church must welcome those who teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who do not. If they do not heed correction, the church must reject them, removing them and their influence (1 Corinthians 5:9).

Conclusion

In summary, true doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), is grounded in the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility).

False doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), is not grounded in the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).

 

(443) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: Martian Scorsese’s Movie – Silence

SCORSESE’S MOVIE – SILENCE. 

While I haven’t seen the movie yet, the reviews so far for this much anticipated new Martin Scorsese’s movie presents it as an emotionally powerful movie with allusions of service and faithfulness by being……faithless. Yes, once you read this review that line will make more sense.

There are several positive reviews – I just read one by Ryan Duncan from Crosswalk.com.  There are a few negative reviews – for example – Esther O’Reilly of The Stream.  O’Reilly goes further by concluding that the movie is blasphemous.

The following article by C.H. Fisher goes a bit deeper reviewing the movie.  While I haven’t decided if I fully agree or disagree with any of the reviewers, what concerns me the most is the turn towards Buddhism through contemplative and ancient Roman Catholic mysticism. This is a serious concern because it takes the audience and points them away from Christianity and more towards Mysticism. It also is a reflection of how syncretic Christianity is becoming now as newer, alternative beliefs have creeped into the church.

Also of note, in the past Martin Scorsese produced “The Last Temptation of Christ”.  

Silence: movie promotes Contemplative Spirituality and sanctions apostasy

C.H. FISHER

“Silence” is the latest movie by Martin Scorsese, who also produced “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I have read several reviews by professing Christians who are recommending it without reservations. Additionally, the Dove Foundation awarded the movie 4 out of 5 doves. Charisma News asks, “Is Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Prophetic?” CBN also presented a rave review. Christianity Today entitled its review, “Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus.”

Another review in CT is entitled, “Silence Review: Hollywood’s Gift To The Church That Might Just Save Your Faith.” And what is the message of “Silence” that might save your life? The message of the movie is antithetical to true faith.

The title of Lumindeo’s review of the movie is, “Silence—A Christian’s Contemplative Guide.” [1] In the “About” section of the Lumindeo website it is described as “a network created by and for passionate followers of Jesus Christ.” If Lumindeo consists of passionate followers of Jesus Christ, why don’t they know that Christianity never grew in apostasy, but always in persecution and martyrdom?

Crosswalk likewise implies that it is a Christian-themed film with the statement, “Theologians, look no further: this movie is jam-packed with spiritual themes.” [2] Spiritual themes, perhaps, but Christian themes? Not by any stretch. Crosswalk reveals a misunderstanding of true Christianity in the following statement.

“The Christians in the film are Jesuit Catholics…”

The truth is that “Silence” is not a Christian film. It was not produced by a demonstrable Christian and has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. National Catholic Reporter declares the movie as, “Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ is his most Catholic film.”[3] I agree with that assessment. “Silence” is Roman Catholicism presented as true Christianity.

The major theme in “Silence” is about renouncing Christ when threatened by martyrdom. In fact, the apostate Father Ferreira urges the Jesuit Rodrigues to apostatize by insisting, “If Christ were here He would have acted. Apostatized. For their sake. Christ would certainly have done at least that to help men.”

In fact, Rodrigues is overtly presented as a “Christ” in the film and the people worshipped him. When he apostatized, it was to the people as if Christ had apostatized.

Furthermore, Ferreira’s statement is a heretical interpretation of Christ’s mission. Christ declared that He came to die for our sins. His sacrifice was to deliver us from the penalty of sin, death, and to provide for us eternal life. If we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. (Matthew 10:33)

Rodrigues hears a supernatural voice, presumably Christ, who tells him to apostatize. The voice says, “Come ahead now. It’s all right. Step on Me. I understand your pain. I was born into this world to share men’s pain. I carried this cross for your pain. Step.”

Rodrigues obeys the voice, steps on the fumie, and goes on to denounce Christianity. That iniquitous deed was followed by an apparent conversion to Buddhism. (Thomas Merton, the priest who introduced Contemplative Spirituality, also called The Silence, into Roman Catholicism, likewise became a Buddhist-sympathizing Catholic.)

The supernatural voice presented an extra-biblical revelation, which is actually heresy. God’s word declares that trampling on Christ is egregious and punishable by God.

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” – Hebrews 10:29

Additionally, Christ did not come to “share men’s pain,” but to bear our sin and pay the penalty for it. Trampling on Christ is despising His sacrifice and rejecting His grace. Christ declared that no one can be His disciple unless they take up their cross and follow Him. A cross is to die on. “Silence” violates everything Christ taught about discipleship.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:25

In my opinion, the blood of the martyrs will cry out against Martin Scorsese and everyone involved in this film on the Day of Judgment.

“Silence” is also a spiritually seductive lure into Contemplative Spirituality. Throughout the movie there are poignant references to God’s silence. Rodrigues prays, but God does not answer. At one point he declares, “Despair is the greatest sin, but in the mystery of Your silence, it crowds my heart.”

In another scene Rodrigues ponders silently, “Lord, I feel the weight of their fate. Those who have died. Those who will die. Like the weight of Your silence.”

Makoto Fujimura, the cultural and special adviser to Scorsese during the film, stated, “…the film is not about the silence of God, but God’s voice in silence.”

Near the end of the movie the supernatural voice is heard again and declares, “I suffered beside you. I was never silent.”

Rodrigues, now a Buddhist, replies, “It was in the silence that I heard your voice.” In my opinion it is an unadulterated suggestion that as a Buddhist he heard Christ in The Silence.   He never heard Christ as a professing Christian until right before he stepped on the fumie.

Scorsese said at the screening of Silence,My way into spirituality happens to be Roman Catholicism.”   Of course, Roman Catholic spirituality is “the Silence” or contemplative spirituality. Consider Scorsese’s understanding of Christianity in his response to the following question. “The Last Temptation of Christ’ and ‘Silence’ — in your art and mind where do these two films find each other?”

“… But for myself, as a believer, unbeliever, doubter, have faith, not have faith, go through life, making mistakes, I don’t know.

 “Because when [Fr. Rodrigues] does apostatize, he gives up anything he’s proud of and he’s got nothing left except service, except compassion. So, he gives up his religion, he gives up his faith in order to gain his faith. Wow. How do you do that? That’s amazing. Could you do that?” – Martin Scorsese

I would answer Scorsese with an emphatic “No, you cannot give up faith to gain faith.” However, he goes on and produces the movie with the theme of abandoning faith to gain faith. Scorsese portrays the “service and compassion” of the apostate Jesuit as refined and elevated. The clear message is that committing apostasy and converting to Buddhism to avoid martyrdom is spiritually superior to faithful-unto-death Christianity. How does that compare to the martyrs in Revelation?

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” – Revelation 12:11

In summation, “Silence” is nearly 3 hours of very powerful emotional manipulation. The movie presents such a horrendously evil view of the Japanese Inquisitor that the Jesuit Rodrigues appears saintly by comparison. However, the idea of authentic Christian Jesuits is as oxymoronic as the concept of biblically validated Roman Catholicism. I believe the only good value of the movie is that it reveals the complete failure of Roman Catholicism when the religion masquerades as Christianity.

The dangers of the movie are first its heterodoxy that one can apostatize to avoid martyrdom and remain a child of God. An equal danger is the obvious allure of Contemplative Spirituality. This diabolical movie may prepare innumerable anemic professing Christians to compromise their faith under the pressure of persecution. However, it may also be a vehicle to carrying them into mystical experimentation with Contemplative Spirituality.

The potential of “Silence” to deceive millions of weak professing Christians is feasible. Could this be part of the “lying signs and wonders show” that the Apostle Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians?

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

[1] http://www.lumindeo.org/uncategorized/silence-christians-contemplative-guide/

[2] http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/movies/silence-movie-review.html

[3] https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/scorseses-silence-his-most-catholic-film

(442) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS ARE INEFFECTIVE & UNPERSUASIVE

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Why Progressive Christians Are Ineffective and Unpersuasive

Feb 3, 2017 | 10:04 AM

(PHOTO: SOJOURNERS/BRANDON HOOK)  Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, holding up a “Poverty and Justice Bible” at the “Faithful Filibuster” protest, Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, 2013.

One of the most fascinating speeches in the Bible happens in Acts 5 with Jewish Pharisee Gamaliel addressing the Sanhedrin. He warns them that if the message being preached by the Apostles of Jesus was of man, it would fail. But if it was from God, it couldn’t be stopped.

It was of God, and it wasn’t stopped.

I find that passage particularly relevant today within American Christendom.

There is a reason that liberal Christian movements like those championed by Jim Wallis, Rachel Held Evans, Shane Claiborne and others are so ineffective and unpersuasive in American culture. Rather than seeking to glorify and build the Kingdom of God, they regularly appropriate the language of Scripture to advocate for earthly, largely political causes that never address the principal need of humanity: redemption from sin.

For instance, preaching the words of Scripture when it comes to our nation’s policy towards refugees is admirable (provided it is done in context) only if you don’t ignore, downplay, or reject the counsel of Scripture when it comes to policy regarding abortion, marriage, and human sexuality. So-called progressive Christians have long chastised their conservative brethren for cherry-picking Scripture to support certain political causes. And to the extent that conservatives have done that, it has been to our detriment.

One need only walk through the graveyard of the “Religious Right” for confirmation of that reality. The Religious Right did not fall apart because it sought to apply the truth of the Bible to politics. It was when it tied the message of the Gospel to a political agenda. Before long, the Republican Party became an idol, and its success was seen as the most effective way to advance righteousness in the land. The Religious Right ceased to be about God, and thus it ceased to be.

But the same is happening with the Progressive Christianity of Wallis, Evans, Claiborne, Brian McLaren, and Tony Campolo that so desperately wants to be a formidable political force in America. In an effort to become such, they use the Bible as a weapon not against the sin and unrighteousness that plagues humanity, but against those who don’t share their politics.

Loving like Jesus means caring about what He cared about, wanting what He wanted, acting like He acted. And any rational reading of Scripture reveals that Jesus always cared first about the spiritual health of the individual, second about their physical health. Healing the physical was His way of demonstrating He had authority to heal the spiritual — which was far more important.

Progressive Christians who focus only on physical poverty while ignoring spiritual poverty are not contending for the faith. They are a political movement that finds themselves in a flesh-driven struggle for power rather than a spirit-driven struggle for Kingdom building. They mistake seeking social “justice” for the poor with seeking eternal justification for the sinner. That is a tragic confusion.

Take Sojourners Magazine, headed by Jim Wallis (and historically associated with the shocking promotion of misery-spreading communism in Central America), which recently ran a piece describing how American Christianity had failed because it, “looked nothing like Jesus.”

Now, on the surface, one need only view the opulent auditoriums and crystal palaces of some of the country’s largest churches to recognize that there is certainly some truth to that assessment. But at the same time the progressive Christians at Sojourners are promoting that narrative, they are simultaneously running glowing accounts and magnanimous reporting about the “Women’s March” in Washington, D.C. the day after the inauguration.

This was a gathering that specifically barred many Christians, atheists, Jews, men, women and minorities for their biblically-consistent view that abortion dehumanizes innocent children. Is that the inclusivity of Jesus that Sojourners touts so often?

And speaking of looking “nothing like Jesus,” does the Wallis operation contend that

1. March organizer Linda Sarsour, who infamously attacked a fierce defender of Islamic women seeking freedom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered through Islamic female genital mutilation as a five year old, but Women’s March organizer Sarsour growled that she would take Ali’s “vagina away,”

2. Grotesque signs stating “P**** Power,” “Viva la Vulva,” “P**** Grabs Back,” “Abort Mike Pence,”

3. Placards depicting Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in perverse sexual acts,

4. The caustic rhetoric and militant feminism of Ashley Judd that manifested in a profane and coarse rant that was antithetical to the Biblical admonition of Ephesians 5,

5. Giant models of bloody tampons,

6. Posters adorned with explicitly anti-Biblical statements like, “I didn’t come from your rib – you came from my vagina,”

7. Featured speakers like Donna Hylton who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, anal rape with a three foot steel pole, torture, and eventual murder of a 62-year old man…

… is what progressive Christianity sees as the face of Christ?

Condemning the vulgarity of President Trump is meaningful Christian conduct (I did it in strong terms right here). Appealing to decency and respect for women is a powerful witness to the truth of Scripture. But lauding condemnation done with equal, and in some cases more disgusting vulgarity destroys that witness.

Yet that is what the Christian Left did, as evidenced on the pages of Sojourners and this Biblically offensive Facebook post from Rachel Evans:

“Seeing hundreds of thousands of pink pussy hats today reminded me of Luke 12:3: ‘Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.’ Our new president is feelin’ that one today. J”

The passage she cites is actually Jesus warning His disciples about hypocrisy — the very offense Evans commits in a post meant to condemn Trump’s crudeness while applauding it in others.

And this is the enduring problem with these liberal Christian movements. Whether flying under the banner of “social justice” or “emergent church,” the Christian Left is nothing more than what they hated in the Religious Right: political activists selectively hijacking particular words of the Divine in vanity and political approbation.

Until that changes, they will remain a movement of man, not the cross. Gamaliel tells us how that story ends.

Peter Heck is a speaker, author and teacher. Follow him @peterheck, email peter@peterheck.com or visit www.peterheck.com.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-progressive-christians-ineffective-unpersuasive-174006/#wCwScgeujfsS7jSH.99

(441) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: RICHARD ROHR “ONED” WITH GOD

RICHARD ROHR: “ONED” WITH GOD

In our continued look at what is occurring within Evangelical churches today, I continue to learn new things about the mixing of Christianity with Eastern Religions and Philosophies.  Much of this new to me and the learuntitled-copyning process continues to develop. (photo from Richard Rohr’s website)

With that in mind, we have been looking at some of the following related themes commonly found in the church today (e.g. Emerging Church) within many Evangelical sources –

mysticism, Eastern Religious beliefs, the unity of everyone, postmodernism principles such as redefining “what is truth”, contemplative prayer practices, experience over Scripture, tradition over Scripture, ancient and early church teaching over Scripture (see a common theme?), alternate and new teachings over well-established historical teachings, ….etc.  

Here is an article posting from Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation (cac.org) which discusses being “Oned with God” relating to Dualist and Nondual Thinking. See how much of the above characteristics you find that are in this article.  Also take note how an Evangelical institution like Nyack (C&MA) is exposing students to this type of teaching. Ultimately, take note of how these issues differ from God’s word.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind, the following article is one in which I don’t recommend. It is included here to demonstrate a deviation from the Bible and views commonly held within Evangelical churches today.  Follow-on articles will continue to define and break down the teachings of these concepts (e.g. dualist and non-dual principles).

Oned with God

Dualistic and Nondual Thinking

Oned with God
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Over the next few days I’d like to share insights from my fellow CAC faculty members, Cynthia Bourgeault and James Finley. I trust Cynthia and Jim because they are truly grounded in the Christian AND wider wisdom TRADITION, Scripture, and their OWN authentic EXPERIENCE. They are part of the vibrant movement that is REBUILDING CHRISTIANITY from the bottom up, reclaiming long-forgotten or misunderstood teachings and practices.

Today Cynthia clarifies the various meanings of nondual consciousness:

If you find yourself a bit confused about what nonduality actually means, you’re not alone. A good deal of the confusion originates in the fact that the term nonduality is not a part of the innate vocabulary of the Christian spiritual tradition. It’s a “LOAN word”: a term IMPORTED from EASTERN RELIGIONS, which first became widely popular in the West during the second half of the twentieth century. A good deal of the confusion has emerged as folks have tried to discover what, if anything, in our Western Christian experience most closely corresponds to what the East is intending by nondual.

Within the Christian tradition, nonduality is sometimes described as nonpolarization or the capacity to be open, inclusive, and tolerant of paradox. This is an enormously practical understanding and a fundamental prerequisite for any kind of skillful prophetic work in today’s pluralistic culture. However, many schemas for the stages of development suggest that the capacity to tolerate ambiguity emerges long before the actual nondual or unitive stage is reached.

Another popular approach is to equate NONDUALITY with a MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE. By definition, ALL MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE is nondual: the classic descriptions of mystical experience inevitably feature that brief, overpowering sense of the BOUNDARIES DISSOLVING and finding oneself AT ONE WITH EVERYTHING. The problem, however, is that most mystical experiences are temporary. And since these mystical experiences are by definition ec-static (i.e., taking one outside oneself), they tend to create the impression that nondual is by nature blissful, exotic, or an “altered state of consciousness”—all of the above being categories that betray an “experience/experiencer” dichotomy still firmly in the driver’s seat—and hence, alas, no nondual attainment.

The third major approach is to see nondual as basically the same as what Christian tradition has classically known as “the UNITIVE state,” the highest level of spiritual attainment according to the traditional map of purgative, illuminative, and unitive. Both Eastern and Western traditions hint at a permanent, irreversible shift in the seat of selfhood and in the perception that flows out from this new identity. The former sense of self dissolves, and in its place there arises a capacity to live a flowing, unboundaried life in which the person becomes “ONED” with God (as Julian of Norwich famously expressed it) and oned with ONE’S NEIGHBOR. However, in the East, the experience tends to be monistic: one discovers one’s own deepest essence and nature as identical with that Oneness—“I am that.” In the West, the unitive state is looked upon as relational: a mystical marriage, in which one is fully joined to God in love, subsumed in God through that love—but one does not become God. In the Western Christian tradition, nondual realization is always one of union (“two become one”), not identity.

Gateway to Silence:
We are oned in love.

Reference:
Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice (Shambhala: 2016), 43-47.

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Dr. Danaher publishes essay in Oneing

Posted by Fernando.Arzola on Wednesday October 29, 2014

1995Dr. James Danaher, Professor of Philosophy, publishes “Transgression” in Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy (Vol 2, No 1), a bi-annual literary journal of the Rohr Institute.

Richard Rohr, in his introduction to this edition of Oneing, states: “It seems that we must fail, and even ‘transgress,’ and then desire mercy and love because of that very transgression.”

The paradox is that transgression is a necessary part of the transformative process. Transgression can be “sin” that separates us from the Divine in ourselves and in others, preventing us from entering into the flow of relationship…. At other times, what may be perceived as transgression is the necessary movement across false boundaries that keep us from God. Until we experience the pain of separation from Divine Reality, we often don’t do the necessary work to move beyond our small narcissistic selves into the much larger reality of a Truth that frees and transforms us.

This issue of Oneing includes original articles by RICHARD ROHR, ROB BELL, CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT, JAMES DANAHER, Russ Hudson, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Bill Plotkin, Robert Sardello, Avideh Shashaani, and others.

=> A reference to Richard Rohr’s website (cac.org) takes the reader from Nyack’s site to Rohr’s site for more information: http://store.cac.org/Oneing-Transgression_p_343.html

The next posting in this serious, we will look at what is meant by dual and non-dual teachings as well as other items brought up in this article which may be more closely associated with Eastern Teachings. This current posting was more to show the relationships creeping into the church with teachings more closely aligned with ancient Roman Catholicism and Eastern Religious views.

=> For now, listen to John MacArthur’s view on these issues mysticism and looking deep inside of you for truth instead of the Bible…etc., popping up in churches, seminaries, Christian colleges (e.g. Nyack) across Evangelicalism:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTEm9NI17Do

 

=> Another view by John Piper on the problems with mysticism in the church and in Bible colleges today – things that get him “ticked” on what is happening within the church today.  Piper’s response is a bit convoluted and he wanders from time to time on what exactly he means, but he does drive home similar point in this video clip: