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(472) LECTIO DIVINA – Emerging Trends in the Church Today

LECTIO DIVINA – Part 1

What Is Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,“spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and provide special spiritual insights. The principles of lectio divina were expressed around the year 220 and later practiced by CATHOLIC MONKS, especially the MONASTIC rules of Sts. Pachomius, Augustine, Basil, and Benedict.

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The practice of lectio divina is currently very popular among CATHOLICS and GNOSTICS, and is gaining acceptance as an integral part of the devotional practices of the EMERGING CHURCH. Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2005 speech, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart.Lectio is also said to be adaptable for people of other faiths in reading their scripture—whether that be the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah, or the Koran. Non-Christians may simply make suitable modifications of the method to accommodate secular traditions. Further, the four principles of lectio divina can also be adapted to the four Jungian psychological principles of sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling.

The actual practice of lectio divina begins with a time of relaxation, making oneself comfortable and CLEARING the MIND of mundane thoughts and cares. Some lectio practitioners find it helpful to concentrate by beginning with DEEP CLEANSING BREATHS and REPEATING  a chosen phrase or word SEVERAL times to help FREE the MIND.. Then they follow four steps:

Lectio—Reading the Bible passage gently and slowly several times. The passage itself is not as important as the savoring of each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow speaks to the practitioner.

Meditatio—Reflecting on the text of the passage and thinking about how it applies to one’s own life. This is considered to be a very personal reading of the Scripture and very personal application.

Oratio—Responding to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is NOT primarily an INTELLECTUAL exercise, but is thought to be more of the beginning of a CONVERSATION with God.

Contemplatio—Listening to God. This is a FREEING of oneself from one’s own THOUGHTS, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God.

Naturally, the connection between Bible reading and prayer is one to be encouraged; they should always go together. However, the dangers inherent in this kind of practice, and its astonishing similarity to TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION  and other dangerous rituals, should be carefully considered. It has the potential to become a pursuit of MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE where the goal is to FREE the mind and empower oneself.

 

The Christian should use the Scriptures to pursue the knowledge of God, wisdom, and holiness through the objective meaning of the text with the aim of transforming the mind according to truth. God said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), not for lack of mystical, personal encounters with Him.

Those who take a supernatural approach to the text tend to disconnect it from its context and natural meaning and use it in a subjective, individualistic, experiential way for which it was never intended. Here is where lectio and GNOSTICISM share a similarity. Christian Gnosticism is the belief that one must have a “gnosis” (from Greek Gnosko, “to know”) or mystical, inner knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge. Naturally, the idea of having special knowledge is very appealing and makes the “knower” feel important and unique in that he/she has a special experience with God that no one else has. The “knower” believes that the masses are not in possession of spiritual knowledge and only the truly “enlightened” can experience God. Thus, the reintroduction of CONTEMPLATIVE or CENTERING PRAYER —a meditative practice that focuses on having a MYSTICAL experience with God—into the Church. Contemplative prayer is similar to the meditative exercises used in EASTERN RELIGIONS and NEW AGE CULTS  and has no basis whatsoever in the Bible, although the contemplative pray-ers do use the Bible as a starting point.

Further, the DANGERS inherent in OPENING our MINDS and LISTENING for voices should be obvious. The contemplative pray-ers are so eager to hear something—anything—that they can lose the objectivity needed to discern between God’s voice, their own thoughts, and the infiltration of demons into their minds. Satan and his minions are always eager for inroads into the minds of the unsuspecting, and to open our minds in such ways is to invite disaster. We must never forget that Satan is ever on the prowl, seeking to devour our souls (1 Peter 5:8) and can appear as an angel of light (2Corinthians 11:14), whispering his deception into our open and willing minds.

Finally, the attack on the sufficiency of Scripture is a clear distinctive of lectio divina. Where the Bible claims to be all we need to 

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live the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:16), lectio’s adherents deny that. Those who practice “conversational” prayers, seeking a special revelation from God, are asking Him to bypass what He has already revealed to mankind, as though He would now renege on all His promises concerning His eternal Word. Psalm 19:7–14 contains the definitive statement about the sufficiency of Scripture. It is “perfect, reviving the soul”; it is “right, rejoicing the heart”; it is “pure, enlightening the eyes”; it is “true” and “righteous altogether”; and it is “more desirable than gold.” If God meant all that He said in this psalm, there is no need for additional revelation, and to ask Him for one is to deny what He has already revealed.

The Old and New Testaments are words from God to be studied, meditated upon, prayed over, and memorized for the knowledge and objective meaning they contain and the authority from God they carry, and not for the mystical experience or feeling of personal power and inner peace they may stimulate. Sound knowledge comes first; then the lasting kind of experience and peace comes as a byproduct of knowing and communing with God rightly. As long as a person takes this view of the Bible and prayer, he/she is engaging in the same kind of meditation and prayer that Bible-believing followers of Christ have always commended.

Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

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(460.3) Spiritual Formation 2017.3 – Interpreting Key Passages in the Bible Used to Promote Contemplative Spirituality – EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY

Some of the key verses used to promote and defend CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY are usually taken out of context.  There are several contemporary authors/speakers who promote a Christian walk that moves further away from the Bible and prayer to a walk that looks INWARD and seeks to be drawn CLOSER to become UNIFIED with God in the DEEPEST part of our soul.  The problem is that Scripture discusses our sanctification and growth involving our dedication to God’s word and Biblical prayer – NOT in chasing after ancient mystical approaches that we find in the early church.   There are other religions that promote the idea of being unified with God by being unified with all of humanity – but Christianity is not it. To summarize – passages from the Bible are used to justify this seeking to be close to God in the DEEPEST part of the soul so that they can ultimately become unified with God.  But, the passages referred are usually taken out of context to arrive at their conclusion.

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In the following book, Relentless Spirituality: Embracing The Spiritual Disciplines of A.B. Simpson, by Dr. Gary Keisling illustrates a simple example of this.  The foreword was written by DALLAS WILLARD – a huge influence on the church accepting contemplative/spiritual formation.  

The book uses phraseology that quickly tips off the reader of the perspective that promotes a more mystical approach (e.g. SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES).

First, let me say that my intention is not to be critical of Keisling but rather, my review is focused on how Scripture is used to come up with relentless alternative interpretations of the Bible that may not be justified when those passages are looked at in context.

Keisling discusses the disciplines such as SILENCE and SOLITUDE.  He states that “both have complimentary roles in SPIRITUAL FORMATION”.  Solitude unfolds in two dimensions.  First, there is solitude that is in response to Jesus’ invitation: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV Mark 6:31) .

Now, look at that verse again and ask yourself what is actually being said in the passage.  In context, look at the entire chapter to get an understanding of the context of verse 31.  Again, ask yourself, how should verse 31 be interpreted?

Keisling states that – “Christ’s disciples were invited to join Jesus in doing something they had seen Him do in the past and would certainly see Him to again in the future.  It was an invitation………..to be alone and draw close to God.”

Hold the phone.  Was that the reasons stated in this passage of Scripture?  Read the passage again.  Read it from another translation – NKJV: “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”.  You can read in a number of both literal and dynamic translations and they say the same thing.

=> I would say that Jesus was inviting the disciples to literally “get some rest”.  Radical idea?  This passage doesn’t say or even imply that Jesus was calling them to engage in a Spiritual Discipline of drawing close to God.  Keisling states that we are to “draw close to the Presence of the Almighty.”  

He goes on to explain that “these steps of spiritual formation are an essential part of life in Christ”.  Really?  “These steps” are an essential part of our spiritual formation – yet Christiandom is just finding out about it now?

=> QUESTION: Where does the Bible instruct us to be in SILENCE and SOLITUDE with respect to our devotional life in our walk with Christ?

=> If you find a passage in the Bible, ask yourself first – are you interpreting the passage correctly?

=> Then ask yourself is the passage asking us to engage in SILENCE and SOLITUDE as a part of our normative walk in Christ?

In my opinion, the so-called disciplines of SILENCE and SOLITUDE find themselves to be silent in the Bible.  With the huge emphasis today on this topic, I think it very important to note that many look at early church traditions (that many consider being mystical) more so than look to see what Scripture actually says on these issues.  

There are other key passages that supporters of CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER take out of context making their case for Spiritual Formation. We will look at a few in the near future.

 

 

(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/

 

 

(426) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: DOES YOUR BIBLE COLLEGE/SEMINARY TEACH A LITERAL VIEW OF GENESIS?

If you think that sending your children to Bible college or seminary to study the Bible, or if you think that you would like to earn a degree in Theology or ministry….etc. is a biblically sound endeavor, you may be in for a big surprise when you realize that very few actually believe in a literal six-days of creation in the book of Genesis. 

The following is a list of “Creation Colleges”.

What is a Creation College?

The Christian colleges and seminaries referred to on this site are institutions whose presidents have affirmed in writing their personal agreement with the Tenets of Creation.

Cautious Evaluation Required

Affirmation of the Tenets of Creation by the school’s president is, of course, not a guarantee that all professors/textbooks/courses etc., take the same stand on God’s Word including Genesis but it is an important start for parents wanting a short list to research. Therefore we have provided an opportunity for each institution’s Academic Dean, Bible Department Chair, and/or Science Department Chair (or equivalent) to affirm their commitment to these foundational truths of God’s Word. However, because there are multiple professors within most Science and Bible departments,and because positions are often in flux, the student and/or parents should meet with the school directly and ask questions in a gracious manner.

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Tenets of Creation

I
We affirm that the scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
We deny that the doctrines of Creator and Creation can ultimately be divorced from the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the teachings of Genesis are foundational to the gospel and indeed to all Biblical doctrines (directly or indirectly).
II
We affirm that the 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God and that the Bible is the only book inspired by God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything that it teaches.
We deny that the Bible’s authority is limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes and we deny the exclusion of its authority from its assertions related to such fields as history and all scientific disciplines.
III
We affirm that the final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Scripture must be compared with Scripture to obtain the correct interpretation of a particular text, and clear Scriptures must be used to interpret ambiguous texts, not vice versa. We affirm that the special revelation of infallible and inerrant Scripture must be used to correctly interpret the general revelation of the cursed Creation.
We deny that uninspired sources of truth-claims (i.e., history, archeology, science, etc.) can be used to interpret the Scriptures to mean something other than the meaning obtained by classical historical-grammatical exegesis.
IV
We affirm that no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history, archeology and science, can be considered valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. We also affirm that the evidence from such fields of inquiry is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
We deny that scientific “evidence” used to “prove” millions of years is objective fact and not heavily influenced by naturalistic presuppositions.
V
We affirm that the account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.
We deny that Genesis 1–11 is myth, saga, or any other type of non-historical literature. We also deny that it is a parable or prophetic vision. It therefore should be interpreted with the same care for literal accuracy as other historical narrative sections of Scripture.
VI
We affirm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, enabling us to arrive at an approximate date of creation of the whole universe. We affirm that mankind is essentially as old as the whole creation. While some disagreement exists between young-earth creationists over whether or not these are strict, gap-less genealogies (i.e., no missing names between Adam and Noah and Noah and Abraham), we affirm that Genesis points to a date of creation between about 6,000–10,000 years ago.
We deny that millions of years of history occurred before Adam and Eve. Therefore we deny that the geological record of strata and fossils corresponds to long geological ages before man. We also deny the Big Bang and any other naturalistic theory of the origin and history of the universe. We further deny that the radiometric dating methods, which are claimed to give dates of millions of years, are trustworthy and can be used to overthrow or disregard the Biblical teaching on the age of the creation.
VII
We affirm that the days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation. We also affirm that the entire universe including, but not limited to, the earth, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and Adam and Eve were created in six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation.
We deny that the days of creation are symbolic of long ages or that millions of years can be placed between the days or before the six days of creation.
VIII
We affirm that the various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct, supernatural, creative acts of God. We infer from the Bible that the living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within a particular original created kind. Only relatively limited biological changes have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.
We deny that there has ever been any evolutionary change from one of the original created kinds into a different kind (e.g., reptile to bird, ape to man, etc.).
IX
We affirm the supernatural creation of Adam from dust and the supernatural creation of Eve from Adam’s rib on the sixth day of Creation.
We deny that Adam was in any way made from a pre-existing hominid (or any other living creature).
X
We affirm that the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin is a literal historical account and that the Fall had cosmic consequences. We also affirm that both physical and spiritual death and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin. We further affirm that this historical Fall is the reason for the necessity of salvation for mankind through the redemptive work of the “last Adam, ” Jesus Christ.
We deny that the account of the Fall was mythical, figurative, or otherwise largely symbolic. We deny that the judgment of God at the Fall resulted only in the spiritual death of man or only consequences for man but not for the rest of animate and inanimate creation. We, therefore, also deny that millions of years of death, disease, violence, and extinction occurred in the animal world before the Fall.
XI
We affirm that the great Flood described in Genesis 6–9 was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and extremely catastrophic in its effect. As such, it produced most (but not all) of the geological record of thousands of meters of strata and fossils that we see on the earth’s surface today.
We deny that Noah’s Flood was limited to a localized region. We also deny that the Flood was so peaceful that it left no abiding geological evidence.
XII
We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve and that as such all people equally bear the image of God, their Maker. We,therefore, affirm that there is only one race of human beings and that the various people groups arose as a result of God’s supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dispersion of the people by families.
We deny that the so-called “races” have different origins and that any one “race” is superior to any other.

Updated: October 28, 2015

 

Genesis—the seedbed of all Christian doctrine

Bible genesis

Photo sxc.hu

by

26 April 2007

Everything in the Bible is inseparably bound up with its first book, Genesis. This is because Genesis gives us the origin and initial explanation of all major biblical doctrines.

Obviously not everything that God took 66 books of the Bible to tell us over some 15 centuries is contained in just the first book. There is a progress of doctrine throughout the Bible. From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, we learn more about God, ourselves, sin, redemption, etc. with each successive book.1,2 All the major doctrines of the Bible are like rivers that become deeper and broader as they flow from the initial watershed of Genesis.

We will examine the major Christian doctrines and their connection with Genesis.

1. About God (theology)

Genesis tells us about God, not just as the Creator, as seen in chapter 1, but also as the One who has a plan and purpose for mankind, that is, for us. This plan and purpose involves our living in a relationship of obedience to God (as well as of trust and love for Him). Thus God is seen as Lawgiver in His command to Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). Then God is seen as Judge following Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3), as well as in His judgment at the Flood, at Babel, and on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis chapters 6–9, 11, 19). God is also seen as Saviour, prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and then in action in His saving Noah and his family from the judgment of the Flood, and Lot and his daughters from the judgment on Sodom (Genesis 18,19).

As the Creator of all things, God has the absolute right to rule over all things, and He exercises this authority in the world—demonstrating His sovereignty. This is seen in Genesis in four outstanding events: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and Babel. It is also seen in God’s choice, call and direction of four outstanding people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

The Trinity can be seen in Genesis.3 The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, in Genesis chapter 1 is plural.4 In Genesis 1:26, God says, ‘Let us make man in our image … .’ The Spirit of God is mentioned ‘hovering over the waters’ inGenesis 1:2. Christ is mentioned prophetically as the ‘seed of the woman’ in Genesis 3:15.5 This passage also prophesies the virginal conception of Christ—that is why He is the seed of the woman, in contrast to the usual biblical pattern of listing only fathers in genealogies. Adam, the Ark, Melchizedek, Isaac, and Joseph, are all commonly regarded as ‘types of Christ’.6,7

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we also see two very important things about God—attributes that atheists have tried to demolish with spurious arguments. The first is God’s omniscience/omnipotence in that everything that God did He got right the very first time. Contrary to Carl Sagan’s claim that God is a ‘sloppy manufacturer’,8 in everything that God created there was no experimentation, no trial and error, no ‘Oops’! The second is that everything that God created was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Contrary to the criticism of David Attenborough, concerning a parasitic worm that lives in the eyeballs of children in Africa,9 (see Why doesn’t Sir David Attenborough give credit to God?) everything that God created demonstrated the goodness of God. In the world before sin had entered there was no death, no suffering, no disease, no carnivory, no detriment, and no lack of any good thing.

2. About us—mankind (anthropology)

The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, appear in Genesis as special creations of God—Adam made from the dust, Eve from Adam’s rib—both made by God in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Therefore we are not evolved animals, or mere agglomerations of chemicals, but beings with a spiritual or God-conscious nature.

Eve was created to be a ‘companion’ for Adam (Genesis 2:20–22). From this follows the doctrine of marriage(Genesis 2:24–25—confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6), as the union of one man and one woman for life (not of the union of two men or of two women, or something else). Clearly, also, the whole human race is descended from a single pair (Genesis 3:20).

3. About sin (hamartiology)

With the first man came the first sin—seen in Genesis as violation of the law of God (Genesis 3:6–11), and as depravity both imputed and imparted to the whole human race (cf. Genesis 4:8; 6:5). When God created Adam and Eve, they had the ability not to sin, as well as being able to sin. When they chose to reject God’s rule over them, they and mankind lost the ability not to sin; instead we have an innate sinful nature.10 The first sin brought the first guilt(Genesis 3:8).

The first sin also brought the first judgment (Genesis 3:14–19). There would be enmity between Satan’s seed (unbelievers and possibly demons) and the woman’s seed (believers but specifically Christ). Women and men would suffer in their respective roles. All humanity would now be subject to death.

4. About salvation (soteriology)

The Bible teaches that God in His mercy and grace forgives our sin, but only when the penalty is paid by a substitutionary sacrifice. Thus God has provided salvation from the guilt, the power, the eternal penalty, and ultimately the presence of sin, by means of the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The enactment and fulfilment of this salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is not seen until the Gospels; however, the prediction and promise of what was to come is first seen in the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

 

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen inGenesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

 

Further, this Seed is a descendant of the first man Adam (Luke 3:38), and is called ‘the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is essential, because Isaiah spoke of this coming Saviour as literally the ‘Kinsman-Redeemer’, i.e. one who is related by blood to those he redeems (Isa. 59:20, which uses the same Hebrew word גואל (gôēl) as is used to describe Boaz in relation to Naomi in Ruth 2:20, 3:1–4:17). The Book of Hebrews also explains how Jesus took upon Himself the nature of a man to save mankind, but not angels (Heb. 2:11–18). This vital kinsman-redeemer concept is sourced in Genesis.

The beginning of the Jewish nation within which the Messiah would be born, die and rise from the dead is seen in the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:19;49:10).

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen in Genesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

5. About angels (angelology)

Just when God created the angels is not mentioned in the Bible, but it was probably before He created the earth (Genesis 1:1), or at least before the dry land appeared (Gen. 1:9), because according to Job 38:4–7, when God laid the foundations of the earth ‘the sons of God shouted for joy’11—see also Where do the angels fit in?

As God is not the author of evil, and because He pronounced His whole creation to be ‘very good’ at the end of Day 6 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:31), we take it that the being we now call Satan had not fallen into sin at that time.

In Genesis 3:1–14 we read the first reference to this being who slanders God and who tempted Eve to rebel against God, and whose ultimate destiny is foretold by God (Genesis 3:15). Elsewhere in the Bible we learn that the name of this creature is Satan, which means ‘slanderer’ (cf.Revelation 12:9; 20:2).12

The first reference to good angels is in Genesis 3:24 where cherubim are placed in the Garden of Eden by God to guard the way to the tree of life.

6. About the Church (ecclesiology)

The doctrine of the Church is revealed in the New Testament. It is one of the things that the Apostle Paul calls a mystery, meaning a previously unrevealed truth, now divulged. However, the very fact that Paul calls the Church the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23–32) brings us back to the first divinely-ordained husband-wife relationship, in Genesis 2:24.

Also the church is surely foreshadowed in Genesis, with Abraham being called out to form (through his descendants) the nation of Israel, which God blessed and was also to be a blessing to all people on earth (Genesis 12:1–3).13 This blessing culminated in a unique Seed of Abraham, Jesus Himself (Galatians 3:16), who was to be the source of blessing to all the nations (Galatians 3:14). Paul tells us, ‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). Those who belong to Christ are His true Church.

7. About the last things (eschatology)

The principal aspects of what are called ‘the last things’ are the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the future resurrection(s) of the dead, the judgment of all mankind, and the final state of the redeemed and of the wicked.14

By their very nature (being the last things) we would not expect these matters to be detailed in Genesis. However, they are the outworking of God’s ultimate plan and purpose for mankind, the earth, and the universe. He purposed to provide an eternal ‘bride’ for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from redeemed humanity, and He set this plan into action when He created the heavens and the earth, and mankind, as recorded in Genesis chapter 1.

What we see in Genesis is God beginning the process which will ultimately bring about this purpose—a plan which was in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20).

Also, while the ‘last things’ are not detailed in Genesis, the places where they are detailed make no sense without it. In the Eternal State, there will once again be no death or suffering of any sort, as Revelation 21:4 says—and the reason is that ‘there shall be no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3). There will also be a return to an Eden-like state with a return of the Tree of Life (v. 2) and to a state like Days 1–3 of Creation Week where God provided light without the sun and moon (v. 5, cf. Genesis 1:16–19).

Conclusion

All major Christian doctrines have their source, directly or indirectly, in the book of Genesis. Preachers, missionaries and theologians who fail to see this have lost the foundation for what they teach. Conversely, those who do see this have the God-given proper basis for all their Christian witnessing, preaching, counselling, and teaching.

 

The Importance of Creation in Evangelism

by

Published: 26 April 2016 (GMT+10)
eah-launch

 

The pastor realized that dealing with evolutionary misinformation is not an optional extra, but something that must happen ‘up front’ when doing evangelism in China.

A thriving church in Japan

After a visit to Japan in December 2013, I reported that I was greatly encouraged. I saw the effects of 10 years of creation evangelism in Okinawa. After I had presented a message about creation evangelism on a Sunday morning 10 years previously, the pastor of Naha Baptist Church said, “This message must be taken to the whole of Japan.”

He had recognized how fundamental this was to the penetration of the Gospel in Japan. I also remember an elder, who was having lunch with us, admitting that he had had a wrong view of Genesis; he just thought it was stories, not real. He repented of that view in front of the senior pastor and me (this is a difficult thing for anyone to do, but particularly so in the ‘face saving’ culture that is strong in Japan). This was very moving.

That church had grown substantially in the decade since then. It had gone onto much larger premises and now had a pastoral team and many members actively involved in outreach. It was continuing to grow, using creation apologetics as a central part of the church’s strategy. Other churches in Okinawa were looking to this church for leadership in how to evangelize.

A network of pastors had been established to further the growth of the Gospel in Japan via creation evangelism. This was happening in a country notorious for being the ‘graveyard of missionaries’. Churches have been established from new converts and are growing. But these churches were not the product of missionaries from outside, but resulted from creation apologetics being used by local pastors and church members to reach their fellow citizens with the Gospel.

One of the reasons that missionaries from ‘The West’ have been so ineffective in Japan is that they generally eschew creation apologetics. They have been largely trained in seminaries where the historicity of Genesis is downplayed (a ‘side issue’) or even opposed. In 2002, a young missionary from one of the largest foreign missionary organisations working in Japan contacted us with a view to one of us visiting Japan to train the missionaries in creation apologetics. We began making arrangements for me to go and do this, but then the young missionary told us that those above him in the organisation had vetoed the idea, much to his disappointment.

Why does creation evangelism ‘work’ in China and Japan?

The people in China and Japan are indoctrinated in an evolutionary worldview in the education system. They hear nothing else. They have taken on board how everything came into existence by purely natural processes over billions of years from the big bang until now. There is ‘no evidence’ for divine creation and therefore no evidence for a supernatural Creator Who rules over everything and to whom we are accountable. The preaching of the Gospel that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day for our salvation (1 Cor. 15) makes absolutely no sense to such a mindset; it is “foolishness to the gentiles”.

boy-bible

Many people are receptive, however, when the Bible is taught from the beginning to establish God as the Creator of all first! How can people understand their need for forgiveness, and a saviour, if they have little concept that God created them, so that they are accountable to Him? Who will judge them for their sin if there is no Creator-God to whom they will be held accountable? How can they trust the Bible on salvation if they can’t trust its history in Genesis, so foundational to the Gospel, of how sin and death entered the world? Also, if Genesis is ‘just stories’, then why not the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

Preaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection in isolation sees little fruit. Didn’t Jesus say, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31). You can’t preach the Gospel effectively in the context of disbelief regarding the rest of the Bible, and especially ‘Moses’ (Genesis, etc.). Therein lies the foundational knowledge of creation, rebellion (the origin of sin and death) and the need for salvation.

In Japan, modern Shintoism and Zen Buddhism reinforce the Creator-less worldview. Furthermore, Shintoism today has millions of ancestral ‘gods’, depreciating any notion of Jesus being the unique Son of God.

The apostolic preaching to gentiles

This in nothing new because it’s actually the biblical method. In Acts 17 the apostle Paul, speaking to people in Athens who had little idea of a supreme ruling Creator-God, began at that point in presenting the Gospel to them. Paul introduced the only true God (of the Bible) to them as the ‘unknown God’ of whom they seemed to have only some vague notion.

The missionary organization New Tribes Mission practises such ‘creation evangelism’ with unreached tribal groups. Many such groups have some recollection of a supreme creator, but it is distorted, often being mixed up with animistic ideas (territorial spirits). So beginning at the beginning lays a foundation for understanding why Jesus came and what His death and resurrection mean.

What of the once-Christian ‘West’?

How different are the once-Christian countries of Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., and Western Europe compared to China and Japan, or the people of Athens in New Testament times, or tribal people, for that matter? How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

The evolutionary worldview has been taught in educational institutions to the exclusion of all else, increasingly so, since the 1960s. This has been reinforced by such things as nature ‘documentaries’ on television, interpretive signs at national parks, and newspaper reports of the latest ‘ape-man’. And then there are articles in women’s magazines about how bad behaviour, such as promiscuity, is due to our evolutionary ‘ape ancestry’, or how our diet should mimic some imagined primitive diet of our primate ancestors. Even sci-fi movies have evolution producing X-men and the like, or aliens having evolved ‘out there’ somewhere in the cosmos. At every turn the idea is reinforced to the point that it is now the prevailing worldview in countries that once believed the Bible’s history.

How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

Universities have drifted more and more into secularism (God-lessness). That’s where our school teachers get their qualifications. And now we have significant and increasing numbers of high schoolers claiming to be ‘atheist’. In several western European countries, more than half the people now say that they are atheist. Even those who would not wear the label atheist still by-and-large think ‘secular’ (God-less). That is, the Bible’s historical accounts—if they know anything of them at all—are nothing but quaint myths from yesteryear. In their groupthink the reality is as they have been indoctrinated in the education system—evolution over billions of years.

In some places, such as Northern Ireland and the south of the USA, there is a remnant tradition of church going and many people still have notions of God as Creator and ruler of the universe. However, even in these regions the institutions of ‘higher education’ are thoroughly secularized and more and more secularized teachers are being pushed into the schools, teachers who do not share the attitudes of the parents of those they are educating, causing an exodus of Christian youth in these once strongholds of the faith. The churches in these areas need to get on board with creation apologetics to arrest the slide into the abyss of secular depravity so obvious elsewhere. There is nothing in the ‘genes’ of the people who live in such areas that will protect them from the secular onslaught.

A statement from a ‘liberal’ academic in north America spells out the problem: “The children of red [conservative / Christian] states will seek a higher education,” he explains, “and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind.”

Then what? He proudly claims: “And then they are all mine.”1

So, ‘creation evangelism’ is relevant just about everywhere today.

From the list of Bible Institutes, Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries, here is a sampling –

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The full list can be seen here –

https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/campaign/creation-colleges/creationcolleges_printable.pdf

Unfortunately, as many Bible institutions, colleges and seminaries there are in the United States, the list of “Creation Colleges” is comparatively small.  

https://answersingenesis.org/colleges/

(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

The “Christian Left“, for lack of a better name, seems to be very handy in coming out against historic Evangelicalism.  While not looking to specifically include politics in our discussion, it’s really a false dichotomy to exclude it outright because much of our faith get’s lived out every day in what we call – “politics”.  This Presidential election appears to be no different with groups such as RED LETTER CHRISTIANS with TONY CAMPOLO and folks like JIM WALLIS, and JEN HATMAKER to name a few.

Common themes such as ABORTION and HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (and today, various other GENDER issues) are used to clobber Evangelical Christians during every election by both the secular society and other Christians (Progressives, Liberal, Left-Leaning, Emerging, Missional….etc.).  I think it needs to be said very clearly that Christians should not retreat from the ABORTION, HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE debate.  If Evangelicals (and to differing degrees Roman Catholics) don’t raise these issues, NOBODY else will.  This issues inolve important aspects of the life that God has given us.  Scripture speaks clearly on the importance of families, life, relationship…..etc.  Instead of cowering when Millenial Christians or Emerging Church Christians proudly criticize Evangelicals for holding to these views on these hot-button issues, we should remind folks of how important these issue are in God’s eyes.  We should be more concerned with that as opposed to wanting favor from society by becoming more like society instead of changing society.

In an interview with CP, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy said the RED LETTER CHRISTIANS movement’s interpretative reasoning was “destructive and dangerous because it implies the whole of Scripture is less than reliable and that modern individuals in one culture can singularly reinterpret or reject historic Christian ethical teaching without counsel of universal Church.”

“So a few words from Jesus supposedly mandate unlimited welfare state, opposition to military, gun abolition, etc.,” said Tooley. “Meanwhile, too often historic Church teachings about abortion on homosexuality are dismissed because Jesus did not specifically address it. But Jesus did talk about marriage – but evidently not enough to convince liberals.  Jesus didn’t talk about incest but does that make incest ok?  Of course not.

Another example of the Christian Left includes a recent interview between Christian author, public speaker and reality-TV personality JEN HATMAKER and Religion News Services discussing her perspective on the 2016 presidential election, included a discussion of her views on homosexuality, abortion, and Black Lives Matter with the implied connection to what so-called  “Evangelicals” believe today.

Derryck Green of Juicy Ecumenism makes several good points in summarizing her views.  Some of Green’s main points include several important observation about how those who associate with the Christian Left can characterize political discussions.  It is important to realize these characteristics because many Christians (especially among young adults) fall for their reasoning without realizing the contradictions inherent to their points as well as the opposite view taken by most Evangelicals before them.

With regard to the Presidential election, Green identifies problems with both major party candidates.  Green goes on to say that “there is very little internal disagreement about the moral conflict of supporting Hillary Clinton in light of her repeated and predictable tendency of systematic corruption and dishonesty. Many on the Christian Left have simply rationalized and compartmentalized Clinton’s unrestricted character flaws- not so much as the lesser of two evils (though there is some of that)- as a political and moral obligation to support her. By default, they also support other progressive social policies of the Left.”

In the interview with HATMAKER —it is not difficult to realize that there are many half-truths and straw man positions— Hatmaker began by addressing and glossing over Hillary Clinton’s wretched character, admitting that she’s still open to voting for Clinton come November.  She criticizes Donald Trump’s behavior as unfit for the presidency.  

But she quickly goes on to overgeneralize those who support Donald Trump – describing them as anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalists and white supremacists. This is just a regurgitation by those on the Left to denigrate those who support Trump and deceive those who are undecided.  It’s not that there are those who support these beliefs within the Trump camp, but let’s remember that there are those who hold to many different kinds of controversial beliefs in both the Clinton and Grump camps. This election, more so than others, has seen an explosion of biased coverage and ad-hominem attacks by many – especially by those on the Left.

Green states that  – “I think it’s a mistake to dismiss and unfairly generalize those, Christians included, who reject this kind of disgraceful racial populism, but still maintain support for Donald Trump.

Hatmaker then discussed her free-thinking views on gay marriage and LGBT community. For most of us,  it’s not surprising what she believes with respect to this issue. She says,”

Any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends… Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.

Green rightly concludes that it’s not about choosing whom to love. “That has never been the issue. People are free to choose whom to love without restriction.  It’s about reinventing marriage as a social justice concept.  Moreover, marriage isn’t a “civil right,” or a “liberty,” nor is it found in the Constitution. No one, gay or straight, had the “right” to marry until the Supreme Court created one specifically for gays and lesbians……And what about the civil rights of Christians who’ve experienced discrimination because of this newfound LGBTQIA “right”?”

Hatmaker follows that approach with the Supreme court.  She wants the church to accommodate gay/lesbian Christians with special considerations but the contradiction arises that the church doesn’t treat other people and issues in the same fashion.  For some reason, the church today has bought into either being convinced or being accommodating or being intimidated into catering to gay/lesbian issues. Should we as Christians excuse sin, twist our theology and blatantly go against God’s word and his design for marriage in order to exhibit religious compassion to the gay/lesbian community?  “Like many other groups the church is defined by orthodoxy, designated by what it believes just as it’s defined by what it doesn’t.”

Hatmaker goes on to explain her understanding of what it means to be pro-life.  Oh boy, hang on to your hats.  

She states that “my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion… pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic… has expanded.” (ya think?)

“There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby.” (really?)

Green rightly concludes that Hatmaker is using caricatures that are commonly used as an artificial talking point of the Left to deliberately malign Christians unfairly.  This discredits her.  She uses the artificial talking points from the left.

Hatmaker uses the superficial talking points of the Left to malign and deride fellow religious pro-lifers. It’s inappropriate, especially for a Christian.  Green asks – “Additionally, what pro-lifer/anti-abortion Christian is against helping poor single moms? Or supporting programs to help those in need (rather than grifters who seek personal gain through exploitation)? Jen Hatmaker lied about pro-life anti-abortion Christians presumably because they disagree with an expansive and corrupt welfare state that encourages dependency and compromises human dignity.”

Greem states – “A question raised is what does being “pro-refugee” mean? Sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything because Hatmaker doesn’t define it in real terms.  Same with her being “pro-Muslim”? What does that mean, exactly? Supporting all Muslims, even the ones who believe it’s Allah’s will to maim and kill nonbelievers and all those who refuse to submit to specific religious convictions?”

Hatmaker finishes by highlighting her racial justice cred, saying she supports Black Lives Matter based on “evidence and documented research.” She also voices concern over the potential (inevitable) treatment of her adopted black son by police in the future.

Green concludes –

“The church is AWOL on racial unity and reconciliation and it has outsourced its moral obligation to lead onto racial and social justice warriors. But no Christian should support Black Lives Matter. Period. It’s a movement methodically based on lies and deliberately diverts attention away from more pressing issues that would actually establish that black lives matter.”  As for evidence and research, both completely undermine the foundation Black Lives Matter is built on. And she would know this if she actually looked it up rather than trying to be right on all the right issues.

These positions are intellectually dishonest and intensely foolish. I’m not sure what happened to Jen Hatmaker but this exemplifies the shameful quality of thought on the Religious Left. Religious Progressives should follow the lead of their evangelical brethren and divorce themselves from progressive politics to salvage what’s left of their credibility.”

There is much disagreement today in both the political arena and within Evangelicalism.  We can’t ignore the political issues at our doorstep with our responsibility to participate in our free country that his contributed so much to spreading the Gospel around the world.  But the heart of these issues of contention are spiritual and not just political. As some move away from the Great Commission to carry out their version of what is basically the “social Gospel”, we risk moving away from one of the last command given by Jesus while on the earth.  His commandment was given to Christians in the NT Church – “go out and make disciples”.  Moving away from what Jesus commanded us to do can happen by denigrating the authority of God’s word. Once we do that, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, the church will continue to slide further away from God, the further we move away from God’s word.

(409) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: HILLSONG’S NAKED COWBOY

(409) HILLSONG’S ‘NAKED COWBOY’ AT WOMEN’S CONFERENCE

Hillsong NYC Youth Leader Appears as ‘Naked Cowboy’ Reportedly for Women’s Conference

NEW YORK — Concerns are being raised after the youth leader at Hillsong NYC appeared as the “naked cowboy” at a recent women’s conference.

Hillsong’s Colour Conference was held on May 6 and 7 in Madison Square Garden with ticket prices set at $209.50 a person in advance and $219.50 at the door.

“Colour seeks to ‘gather, equip and mobilize’ women of all age, background and culture in the belief that together we can and will make the world a better place,” a description of the event reads. “Our team labor to create an atmosphere that will refresh heart and soul, and inspire transformation. Our desire is that worship, creativity and the presentation of God’s Word (the Bible) will honor the King of heaven and cause faith to rise, enabling the enormous potential within to become reality.”

 

But online video footage of the event shows members of Hillsong NYC engaging in patriotic shout-outs and performing the song “New York, New York” surrounded by firemen, a costumed statue of liberty, Broadway dancers—and a look-alike of the city’s notorious “Naked Cowboy.”

 

The “Naked Cowboy,” dressed in only his underwear and a cowboy hat, moves to the front of the stage at one point and blows kisses to the cheering, flag-waving crowd. Hillsong NYC leader Carl Lentz is believed to be seen in the footage, as well as Bobbie Houston and her son Ben Houston, who leads Hillsong Los Angeles.

At first, the identity of the “Naked Cowboy” was a mystery to outsiders who viewed the online footage, but one Instagram user named Kelly Amber soon posted a snapshot of the event online, writing “light and shade #colour conf.” She also tagged Ben Houston and Hillsong NYC youth leader Diego Simila in the photograph.

Followers began chiming in, “Is that Diego with his shirt off?” “His shirt wasn’t the only thing missing!

Simila has served as the youth leader at Hillsong NYC since 2010. A former model, Simila sports his last name tattooed in large script across his chest, which can be seen in the video footage.

According to an online video featuring Simila preaching at LifePointe Church in Olathe, Kansas last year, Simila was formerly a part of a boy band in California, but believed that God had called him to leave it all and attend Bible college at Hillsong Sydney. After graduating, he moved back to California where he worked as a model, until he then felt led to move to New York City.

“He lived homeless there for about three weeks and he was just jumping from couch to couch. But he was faithful, and all of a sudden in a short, short time, he winds up being asked, being told to be the Youth Pastor of Hillsong New York City, started in 2010,” LifePointe leader Patrick Norris explains to the congregation.

But some find it inappropriate to have a youth minister appear as the “naked cowboy” and parade himself in his underwear at a women’s conference presented by a professing Christian church.

“I usually don’t expect to see a near-naked cowboy gyrating from the stage of a Christian women’s conference. Nor would I see and hear thousands of Christian females applauding and squealing in delight, and spurring on the performance. Indeed if I were of the world, I’d expect these sights and sounds to come from a giant bachelorette party at a strip club,” wrote Amy Spreeman of Berean Research.

Hillsong continues to astound by their complete and utter disregard for how scripture instructs Christians to conduct their lives in this present evil age,” also commented the blog Pirate Christian. “First they brought us sleezy Silent Night. Then they had the sexual pervert Austin Powers appear at their women’s conference in London and now they’ve had The Naked Cowboy appear at their women’s conference in New York. We fear to see what they have in store for their next conference.”

Hillsong’s contact information is not posted online and therefore none could be reached for comment.

HILLSONG CHURCH RACES TOWARDS APOSTASY?

Hillsong Church ‘Silent Night’ Performance

Take a look at this recent video from Hillsong Church performing “Silent Night”.  Do you think it was ok to do or was it blasphemous or just poor taste?

Some call it blasphemous and part of a trend leading to apostasy.

When drawing conclusions, think about relevant passages from the Bible which may give us direction on how to react to this video.  Also, consider the audience – those at the performance as well as those who view it on youtube.

Without drawing too many conclusions, my initial reaction is that I am very uncomfortable in viewing this – it doesn’t sit well with me on so many levels.  To balance this perspective out, I tend to be a bit slow to criticize worship and Christian music in general because no matter how fundamental you are in your theological interpretation, there is a level of subjectivity in all music that lends itself to different interpretations by different people.

That said, there seems to be an increasing frequency of criticism towards Hillsong Church for producing videos/music that some would consider as being inappropriate from a biblical perspective.

I am not ready to call Hillsong blasphemous – I just don’t know enough about their theology and their previous compositions.  But, from what I see and hear, I find it very disturbing that they performed this classic piece in a very secular and some may say offensive way.

What are your thoughts after watching this video on “Silent Night”?  How should Christians react to this?