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(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.

college-sign-copy

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/

(417) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: WHAT’S IN A WORD: “MISSIONS”

(417) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY:  WHAT’S IN A WORD: “MISSIONS” (What is “Missional”)

“If everything is missions then nothing is missions.” [Stephen Neill]

Over the last decade (or so) especially, there has been various church growth  trends and strategies affecting the direction of the church.  A more recent trend, popularly called the “Emerging Church” (or “Emergent”) has taken hold churches of various backgrounds ranging from more liturgical to more independent to young adults and Millenials….etc.  While these newer trends share many of the same characteristics, there is no one unified body of beliefs that identifies them. In many cases, it is not uncommon to find these groups starting out with noble goals of engaging a changing culture.  In practical terms, this can include a goal of attracting those within a changing society by offering change in the way the church is conducted.  Change can include a change of focus, emphasis, doctrine, roles, definitions, purpose…etc.

One aspect of this is seen today by how some utilize the word “missions“.  Some today will attach a new meaning of the word to represent something different than either what the Bible clearly teaches or from a historical point of view from what the church has taught in the past.

The following is a sermon by Pastor Rock Dillaman from Allegheny Center Alliance Church on October 16, 2016.  He looks at the word “mission” and shows how it’s meaning today is being changed by others within the church.  What are the ramifications for doing this?  Why is this issue important to the church today?  

The sermon is titled – “What’s in a Word?”

The  sermon video can be seen here on October 16, 2016 – http://www.acac.net/index.cfm/PageID/859/index.html#

Sermon Notes:

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

1. Words by themselves are just empty suitcases; their power comes from the meaning packed into them.

2. Satan continually seeks to corrupt the meaning of God’s words and distort God’s definitions.

3. Satan attacks the meaning of God’s words in the minds of God’s saints. We’re called to the continual renewing of our minds because our minds are continually under attack. (Romans 12:2)

4. Satan seeks to distort the meaning of the word “missions” so the church isn’t clear about its mission.

5. “Missions” is the activity of set apart messengers sent out to other cultures for the purpose of communicating God’s truth to people who’ve never heard it.

6. “If everything is missions then nothing is missions.” [Stephen Neill]

7. A specific task can be lost in a generalized command.

8. “Missions” needs to be specific or the specifics of mission may be lost altogether.

9. “Missions” involves people who have been set apart by the Holy Spirit.

10. “Missions” involves people who have been sent out beyond the immediate boundaries of the local church. It introduces God’s kingdom in places where it’s currently unknown. (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 13:2-4)

11. Outreach is the church making an impact where it is. “Missions” is the church making an impact by going where it isn’t.

12. The work of mission is not only hindered by vague definitions; it’s hindered by false dichotomies.

(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.

(415) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: The New Age & Bill Johnson – IHOP, Bethel Church, NAR

The New Age & Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP), Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)…..etc.

These are names that I am hearing more and more frequently.  To be honest, the first picture that comes to my mind when I hear the word IHOP is PANCAKES.  But, as much as I love pancakes, that is not the topic we are talking about here. Specifically, IHOP is the International House of Prayer.  

Pancakes.pngMany Evangelical leaders are tripping over thebill_johnson_0mselves to associate with major youth events  which are very popular in the Christian world. These mass youth rallies were developed over the course of several decades by Mike Bickle’s IHOP (International House of Prayer) movement, which is interconnected to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). IHOP and the NAR share both personnel and doctrine, with roots that go back into the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God.  In a previous posting, I shared the “Naked Cowboy” which displayed a questionable performance by the worship team Hillsong which shares similar paths with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

–> https://irondukeblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/409-emerging-trends-in-the-church-today-hillsongs-naked-cowboy/

My goal is to do a series of posts on these groups.  For now, I just want to highlight a common issue of New Age teaching that is creeping into churches such as Bethel Church. I want to refrain from passing judgment on other areas relating to signs and wonders, spiritual gifts….etc., but focus on the influence of the New Age on people like Bill JohnsonBethel Church, NAR...etc. It is important to understand their teachings with these New Age influences are being used by many churches across the country. In addition to my comments, several sources will be used including several footnotes in this posting from the article by “The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson” by John Lanagan.  I also want to stress that my main concern is the mixing of New Age in with Christian teaching which I would think is a major problem with these groups – a problem that you and I should be concerned about.  While you can draw your own conclusions, I am not trying to say all is bad fruit from these groups.  I haven’t done enough research to make that decision – there are plenty of other organizations that do that type of thing if you are interested.

Let’s start with some background.  In Redding, California, Bethel Church has become one of the largest evangelical churches in North America. Many people from around the world travel to Redding to attend the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, and C. Peter Wagner (“founder” of the New Apostolic Reformation movement) has called Bethel’s senior pastor, Bill Johnson, an “apostle.”  This article combines several articles along with comments from me –                

Given that title with claims on the church website that Bethel has a “global impact as a revival resource and equipping center,” it is expedient and responsible to examine Johnson and determine if he is indeed an apostle sent from God to the body of Christ.

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The Physics of Heaven, a recent book Bill Johnson contributed to, and his personal assistant co-authored, reveals a very different picture than that of the apostles described in the Bible. It appears that rather than an apostle of God, Bill Johnson may be poised to serve as the vehicle that carries the New Age and quantum spirituality deep into the Body of Christ.

At that time I could not find a single Christian leader who shared a similar interest in finding out if there were truths hidden in the New Age. Now we are beginning to hear more and more revelation that is in line with what New Agers have been saying all along and we are hearing more and more teaching about Christians “taking back truths” from the New Age that really belong to citizens of the Kingdom of God.1—Ellyn Davis, co-author, The Physics of Heaven

Being drawn to New Age ideas is not something new to Bethel’s leader. In a 2006 book titled Dreaming with God, Johnson writes, when referring to a practice associated with the New Age:

Many prominent pastors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear by assuming that because the New Age promotes it, its origins must be from the devil. I find that form of reasoning weak at best. If we follow that line of thought we will continue to give the devil the tools that God has given us for success in life and ministry.3

Stop and think about what is being said here: “the tools that God has given us” somehow ended up in the New Age? How did that happen? And which tools is he talking about? Why would a professing Christian say something like this? New Age teaching is in total opposition to the Word of God. To suggest that New Age practices are really just hijacked Christian truths is utterly absurd.

Research analyst Ray Yungen explains the basis of New Age thought:

Everything that exists, seen or unseen, is made up of energy—tiny particles of vibrating energy, atoms, molecules, protons, etc. All is energy. That energy, they believe, is God, and therefore, all is God. They believe that since we are all part of this “God-energy,” then we, too, are God. God is not seen as a Being that dwells in heaven, but as the universe itself.4

I’ve heard Dr. Oz talk about these energies on his television show as he combines New Age with Eastern Mysticism while his audience ingests his reasoning because he is a medical doctor.  Bill Johnson and Bethel Church exert significant influence in the body of Christ. And whatever path Bethel and its leaders travel is the path on which many will follow. We need to pay attention to what is happening here, using discernment and godly wisdom.

In addition to Johnson’s own contribution to the book (one full chapter), his personal assistant, Judy Franklin, is a co-author; and the foreword of The Physics of Heaven is written by Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate leader at Bethel. Vallotton lauds the contributors as “seers.”5 Banning Liebscher, Director of Bethel’s Jesus Culture, adds his praise.6 Bill Johnson’s wife, Beni Johnson, also has a chapter in the book. With all that, The Physics of Heaven undeniably has the approval of Bethel’s leaders.

So what does The Physics of Heaven reveal?

The Next Move of God?
Ellyn Davis, one of the authors of The Physics of Heaven, says this:

[The contributors of the book] all agree that the next move of God will cause a shift at the deepest level of who we are—perhaps the very “vibrational level” that the New Age movement has been exploring. They also all agree that there are precious truths hidden in the New Age that belong to us as Christians and need to be extracted from the worthless.7

Contributor Jonathan Welton adds:

I have found throughout Scripture at least 75 examples of things that the New Age has counterfeited, such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. These actually belong to the church, but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged.8

Welton believes:

We need to begin to use [New Age] counterfeits as signposts. Every time a counterfeit shows up, take it as the Lord presenting you with an opportunity to reclaim . . . the Church’s stolen property.9

This is like taking a bottle with a “Poison!” warning on it and re-labeling it, “Honey.” Contemplative prayer, which is essentially Eastern/New Age meditation disguised with Christian terminology, entered the church in just this manner.

Co-author Ellyn Davis asserts:

It wasn’t that I wanted to become a New Ager, I just wanted to find out if maybe they had uncovered some truths the church hadn’t.10

Davis then attempts to justify her position by claiming much of what she found “embodied biblical principles” and “could be backed up by Scripture.”11

In contrast to such a mindset, Scripture exhorts us:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

Compare Davis’ desire to sample New Age wisdom with the resolve of the newly saved Christians in Acts 19: These saints separated themselves from the occult; they did not peruse their occultic literature one last time in case there were some “truths” there. The unholy books were gathered and set on fire:

Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:19)

The action taken by these bold new believers caused the Gospel to spread.

So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:20)

Lacking basic discernment about involvement with the New Age, co-author Davis, the Bethel Redding contingent, and the other contributors have rendered a great disservice to the Body of Christ. The Bethel contributors, in particular, can potentially do the most damage because of their popularity and high visibility.

Bill Johnson’s view of Scripture may give us a clue as to how he ended up being attracted to extra-biblical leanings. According to Johnson:

Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know.12

This is dangerous thinking. The Bible is our map. To go “beyond what we know” is to go beyond the parameters of Scripture.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:103-105)

The Physics of Heaven, whether intentionally or unintentionally, serves to illustrate how the false church will form—or, more accurately, how it is forming. New Age practices will increasingly be welcomed into the Body of Christ. These practices will be presented as redeemed or Christian in origin. The church will be subverted—turned toward Eastern/New Age/Quantum mysticism. Language, terms, and trappings may even remain essentially “Christian”—but acceptance of the biblical Christ will diminish.

1. Ellyn Davis, The Physics of Heaven (Crossville, TN: Double Portion Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2013), Kindle location: 405.

2. Bethel Redding website, http://bethelredding.com/about.

3. Bill Johnson, Dreaming With God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2006), p. 86.

4. Ray Yungen, For Many Shall Come In My Name (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 17.

5. Kris Vallotton, The Physics of Heaven, op. cit., Kindle location: 96.

6. Ibid., Banning Liebscher, Kindle location: 85.

7. Ibid., Ellyn Davis, Kindle location: 447.

8. Ibid., Jonathan Welton, Kindle location: 808.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid., Ellyn Davis, Kindle location: 392.

11. Ibid.

12. Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles(Shippensburg, PA., Destiny Image Publishers Inc., 2003, Kindle edition), p. 1113.

13. Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Crosswise Blog, http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/kenosis-christology-and-bill-johnson-part-ii.

(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.

A NEW VERSION OF THE BIBLE – ‘THE PASSION TRANSLATION’

(360) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – THE PASSION TRANSLATION, THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE

Over the last couple of years, installments of a new translation of the Bible called ‘The Passion Translation‘ has emerged with roots tied in with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.   Until recently, I have not been too familiar with the movement, by name – I knew of several preachers in the movement for years through their books and even visited some of them when they preached at local churches years ago. But the movement, similar to the ’emerging church’ movement is made up of loosely affiliated (as opposed to a denomination with statements of beliefs….etc.) people and churches throughout the country.

Again, while there is a spectrum of beliefs, some of the beliefs and practices commonly associated with the movement include themes such as ‘God is always doing a new thing’ with a focus on the ‘current move of God’ (as opposed to what has happened in the past). The movement is led by apostles and prophets – many of whom claim that they have the God-given authority, divine strategies, and miraculous powers needed to advance God’s earthly kingdom so that Christ can return.  Some offer people a choice – if you do submit to their leadership, then you too will work mighty miracles.  If you do not submit to their leadership then, at a minimum, you will miss out on God’s end-time plans.    NAR associated groups have been growing rapidly starting back in the 1980s and 1990s.  Names of people associated with NAR include –  C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, Cindy Jacobs, Mike Bickle, Mark Chironna, Kim Clement.…etc. to name a few.   Organizations include INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PRAYER (IHOP) and  BETHEL CHURCH.  

At this point, I take a neutral position on the teaching originating by those in this group – I just don’t know enough about this topic (yet) to have a conclusion.  We will continue to focus on this topic in the near future to learn as much as we can about their influence.  Let us first start with what I consider a very serious concern and that is a translation of the Bible by one of the prophets in the group.  Some have identified places in their translation where the meaning has been changed from what is found in the Greek translations of the Bible.  These changes don’t seem random but rather the new translation fits in well with some of the peculiar doctrine associated with NAR.  If this is true, changing God’s word could have serious repercussions not only those involved in translating this new version of Scripture but also those who end up reading this translation of the Bible.  Here is an article by Holly Pivec discussing this newer translation –

A New NAR Bible  – ‘The Passion Translation’

April 26th, 2013

By Holly Pivec

Part 1: Beware: An NAR apostle has come out with his own NAR translation of the Bible, called “The Passion Translation.”

Apostle Brian Simmons, of Stairway Ministries, is the lone translator of this “groundbreaking” project. To date, he has released four installments of his new translation:

Next in line is Proverbs, Wisdom From Above, due out in Fall 2013.

Simmons’ translation is endorsed by influential NAR leaders including apostle Che Ahn (Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, USA), prophet James Goll (Encounters Network) and apostle Katherine Ruonala (Glory City Church in Brisbane, Australia).

Simmons claims he undertook this work because he saw a need for a more emotionally passionate translation of the Bible that speaks to the heart. He believes the leading translations of the Bible speak mainly to the mind and don’t adequately capture God’s passion. He describes his translation like this:

The Passion Translation Project is a groundbreaking attempt to re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader. God longs to have His Word expressed in every language in a way that would unlock the ‘passion’ of His heart. The goal of this work is to trigger inside of every English speaker an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible as it is unfiltered by religious jargon – unfolding the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the language of love, the language of the heart. Accurate to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, but passionately powerful in a contemporary form.

So, what’s the problem with his “passionately powerful” translation?

Simmons has taken verses of Scripture that have nothing to do with NAR teachings or practices and reworded them so they appear to support those very teachings and practices , such as  “prophetic singing,” the “transference of an anointing,”  and the issuing of “apostolic decrees.” In other words, despite his claim to unveil the truth of the Bible “unfiltered by religious jargon,” he’s actually exploiting his audience’s ignorance of sound textual criticism to smuggle in a heterodox theology along with a good measure of NAR jargon.

The bottom line? He’s changing God’s Word–a serious offense to God. I will look at specific verses he has changed in my next post.

But, for now, I want to point out that this translation is potentially one of the most disturbing developments in the NAR movement. Simmons is following in the footsteps of the major cults of Christianity who have released their own translations of the Bible, including the New World Translationused by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Joseph Smith Translation used by some groups of Mormons.

By creating a new NAR translation of the Bible, Simmons is shaping the way a generation of NAR followers will read and understand Scripture–and also creating a divide between those who use the NAR translation and those who don’t.

It remains to be seen how many NAR people will make the switch to this NAR translation of the

Bible. If a lot of them do switch Bibles, then The Passion Translation could truly–as its advertisements say–”impact the Church for years to come.”

A New NAR Bible (Part 2)–Drastic Differences

May 3rd, 2013

Apostle Brian Simmons and wife, Candice

 In my last post, I wrote about a new translation of the Bible called “The Passion Translation”–released by New Apostolic Reformation(NAR) apostle Brian Simmons.

In this post, I will show you three of the verses Simmons has drastically changed in his new translation to make it look like the Bible promotes NAR teachings. I will contrast Simmons’ translation of the Bible with the standard English translations.

Galatians 6:6

Standard English Translations

The teaching being promoted: Church members should take care of the financial and other material needs of their spiritual leaders.

The Passion Translation

  • And those who are taught the Word will receive an impartation from their teacher; a transference of anointing takes place between them.

The NAR teaching being promoted: The divine authority to minister with a specific miraculous gift–such as the gift of prophesying or healing people–can be imparted or transferred from church leaders to their followers.

Philippians 1:1-2

Standard English Translations

  • Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (New International Version)
  • Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (New King James Version)
  • Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (English Standard Version)

The teaching being promoted: Actually, there is no explicit teaching in this verse. Rather, this is simply a salutation from the apostle Paul and Timothy at the beginning of a letter Paul wrote to the Christians living in Philippi. “Grace” and “peace” was a standard Christian greeting in the early church.

The Passion Translation

  • Dear Friends in Philippi, My name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son, Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One. We write this letter to all His devoted followers in your city, including your pastors, and to all the servant-leaders of the church. We decree over your lives the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace that flow from God our wonderful Father, and our Anointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

The NAR teaching being promoted: Apostles can issue “decrees,” which are authoritative proclamations that release God’s power. In other words, a decree is not a request for God to do something, but a declaration that He will do so because the apostle has been given the authority to release God’s power.

2 Timothy 4:2

Standard English Translations

  • Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (New International Version)
  • Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (New King James Version)
  • preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (English Standard Version)

The teaching being promoted: Preach the Word of God at all times–whether it is convenient or not–and do so with great patience.

The Passion Translation

  • proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit— with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.

The NAR teaching being promoted: Preach the Word of God at all times–whether it is convenient or not–and do so in the “full outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and with patience. Notice how Simmons has inserted the part about the “full outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” which cannot be found in any of the other translations. Yet what does he mean by “full outpouring of the Holy Spirit?” Frankly, his meaning can be hard to pin down. But I believe that Simmons, as an NAR leader, does not want to emphasize the written Scripture alone, so he felt a need to insert something that would also allow for new revelation from the Holy Spirit outside of Scripture.

Drastically Different

I hope it is clear from these simple comparisons of verses that Simmons has changed not just a few words, but their entire meanings. But how did Simmons arrive at such drastically different interpretations? I’ll address this question in my next post.

A New NAR Bible (Part 3): Where’s the Manuscript Evidence? May 10th, 2013

A fragment of a Greek manuscript of the Gospel of John that dates to the second century. This fragment is housed at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.

In my last two posts (Part 1 and Part 2), I wrote about a new NAR translation of the Bible, called The Passion Translation, which features drastically changed verses of Scripture. See three of those changed verses here.

In this post, I show how the translator of this NARBible, apostle Brian Simmons, attempts to justify his changes to Scripture.

In short, Simmons claims that the vast differences in meaning are the result of his decision to translate many verses from Aramaic manuscripts–not Greek manuscripts.  (Yet, I must mention that even those verses he claims to translate from the Greek are still drastically different.)

Simmons said the reason he decided to translate from the Aramaic is because new discoveries have revealed that the New Testament was originally written in the Aramaic language, not Greek.

Here is what Simmons says, in his own words.

“For centuries, it has been believed that the New Testament was first written in Greek. … Some scholars now lean increasingly towards the thought that Aramaic and Hebrew texts of the New Testament are the original manuscripts, and that many of the Greek texts are copies, and a second generation from the originals! This is radically changing translation concepts, and will result in many new translations of the New Testament based on Aramaic.” [Excerpted from “Translator’s Introduction” to Letters from Heaven by the Apostle Paul, the fourth installment of The Passion Translation]

Astounding Claims

These are astounding claims. If what Simmons says is true, then that would mean that all the standard English Bible translations–including the King James Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version–are not based on the earliest and most trustworthy manuscripts and should be replaced by new, more reliable translations, such as Simmons’Passion Translation.

But don’t throw out your Bible yet. There is simply no evidence to support Simmons’ claims.

Contrary to what he says, the vast majority of scholars continue to believe the original manuscripts of the New Testament were written in Greek. Why do they believe this? It’s simple: the manuscript evidence.

The Manuscript Evidence–Or Lack Thereof

For starters, there are fragments of New Testament manuscripts written in Greek that date back to the second century. And a recent discovery of a Greek fragment of Mark’s Gospel may well date back to the first century!

In contrast to these very early manuscripts written in Greek, the earliest surviving Aramaic manuscript of the New Testament–called the “Peshitta”–is from the fifth century.

In light of the lack of Aramaic manuscripts prior to the fifth century–and the abundance of much earlier Greek manuscripts– it’s a huge stretch for Simmons to claim that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic.

Beyond the lack of manuscript evidence itself, there are a lot of other significant problems with Simmons’ claims that Aramaic is the original language of the New Testament. Read about those problems here.

Rehashed Theory

But his claims are not new. They have also been promoted by the Nestorian Church and some Seventh-Day Adventists. Yet, Simmons has taken a baseless theory and rehashed it–hoping to sell it (and his new translation)–to a new audience of NAR followers.

The thing that disturbs me most about Simmons’ claims is his willingness to discredit all the widely accepted Bible translations merely so he can tout his personal translation. By implying that all the standard English Bible translations are unreliable–translations that are, in fact, based on ancient and reliable manuscripts–he is undermining NAR followers’ confidence in those translations. In effect, he is undermining their confidence in God’s Word.

A New NAR Bible (Part 4): The Passion Translation vs. the English Standard Version

May 17th, 2013

In my past three posts (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), I looked closely at a new translation of the Bible called “The Passion Translation,” produced by NAR apostle Brian Simmons. I showed why it is not a trustworthy translation.

In this post, I will show four things to look for in a trustworthy translation. To illustrate those characteristics, I will contrast the The Passion Translation with another newer translation, theEnglish Standard Version (ESV).

Four Characteristics of a Trustworthy Translation

A trustworthy translation is produced by a team of translators. Unlike The Passion Translation, which was produced by a lone individual, the ESV was produced by more than 100 Bible scholars–an international team from many denominations. Why is team translation work important? It provides checks and balances to make sure that the translation is accurate and doesn’t reflect the pet theological views of just one person or only a certain group of Christians.

A trustworthy translation is produced by reputable scholars. Apostle Simmons’ single credential–other than the fact that he claims to be an apostle–is that he assisted in a translation project of the New Testament for an indigenous people group in Panama. But he apparently has no formal academic training–only the on-the-job training he received during his eight-year stint in Panama working with New Tribes Mission.

In contrast, the translators behind the ESV are leading Bible scholars with the highest academic credentials awarded from respected seminaries and universities.

A trustworthy translation is produced from early manuscripts. Much of The Passion Translationwas translated from Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament that date to the fifth century. I wrote about this in my last post. In contrast, the ESV was translated primarily from Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that were written centuries earlier. The reason the date of the manuscripts is so important is this: the closer a manuscript is to the original documents means there was less time for its text to be changed or for copyist errors to creep in. Think of the “telephone game“: the more people who transmit the message, the more it changes.

A trustworthy translation is transparent. In the “Translator’s Introduction” to Letters From Heaven, apostle Brian Simmons makes a number of bold claims without offering any way to verify the truth of his claims. For example, he claims that “many new discoveries” have been made that indicate that the original documents of the New Testament were actually written in Aramaic, not Greek. Yet, he does not identify a single discovery. So how can one know that what he says about those discoveries is true?

As another example, Simmons claims that “some scholars” are starting to believe that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Yet, he does not identify who these scholars are. So, how can one know that they are legitimate scholars?

As a third example, he never identifies the specific manuscripts he translated from. So how can one know if he used reliable manuscripts?

In contrast to Simmons’ lack of transparency, the translators behind the ESV lay all their cards on the table–thus, their work can be verified. The ESV Web site provides a complete list of the scholars who contributed to the ESV translation and identifies, by name, the specific manuscripts that were used for their translation work.

Other Trustworthy Translations

Some other trustworthy translations of the Bible that shares these four characteristics include the New International Version (NIV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

You can find out if the translation you use shares these characteristics by looking at the opening pages of your Bible. The “Preface” or “Introduction” will generally explain how the translation work was undertaken–including how many scholars did the work, who those scholars were, and if their work was based on early manuscripts.

– By Holly Pivec