Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Book: The Feminist Gospel (part 2)

[continued from my previous post here]

The process of 'Naming Self' as believed by the Feminists, as it can be seen in the previous post, is basically to define women autonomously from men. Through focusing on certain inequalities found in society at that time, they decided that they would instead rebel and create their own reality apart from who they think is the offender, men.

In this post, I would summarize the arguments put forward by Kassian herself against the entire idea of Naming itself, which would thus undercuts most of Feminism at its core.

Before starting, I would like to point out that these blind feminists seem to forget that men do define themselves with respect to women. After all, we all have mothers, some of us have sisters, and most of us have or will have wives, so pitting one half of the human race against another due to the presence of bitterness in their lives seem a very poor excuse for these women to destroy societal norms and God-ordained institutions through their rebellious ways.

Anyway, with regards to women's right (and in fact anyone's right) to name anything, here is what Kassian says about the matter:

... the basic premise of feminism as the self-appointed right to name the self, the world, and God. To this basic premise, Christians must say "no". It is not our right to names ourselves, the world, and the Creator. Rather, it is God's right to name Himself, the world, and the people He has created. God provides the only reliable measures for a true interpretation of reality. It is from Him — not psychology, sociology, anthropology or any other human science — that we gave a proper framework for understanding ourselves, our world, and God Himself. If we look to ourselves for the framework, as feminism does, we will undoubtedly distort the pattern.

...

We must begin by letting God name Himself. We can then move on to discover how God has ordered and names His creation and finally us — His people. (PDF p. 243)

Kassian then follows through by showing through Scripture that God has named Himself, He has named the world, and He has named men and women. To all this, I totally concur. This basic premise of Feminism, that women have the right to name themselves, is thus wrong, for BOTH men and women. Neither have a right to name anything except what God has given us to name. Just because men have rebelled and created their own reality apart from God before doesn't give women the right to do the same. For these women and feminist who call themselves 'enlightened', they sure do act like those whom the apostle mentioned in passages like Rom. 1:22-23.

In the next installment, let us look at the main factor facilitating the rise of feminism within conservative evangelical churches, followed by the proof-texts these so-called 'biblical feminists' muster to try to prove their egalitarian position.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Articles: Biblical Youth Ministry & 'Engaging the culture'

Here is an article which details how to do youth ministry, which is btw NOT to cater to their 'felt needs' nor to treat them like they are babies who would run away if you give them a 'hard' message.

On a related subject, here is an article on the whole idea of 'engaging the culture'.

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Book: The Feminist Gospel (part 1)

[continued from the introduction here]

The book by Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church, covers mainly the history and evolution of the contemporary Feminist movement, starting from around the 1950s-1960s to modern times. There are 4 parts or sections of this book. The first part covers the intial stage of Feminism whereby Feminists start naming themselves (i.e. claiming equality with men in terms of rights; claiming ontological independence from men as co-equals). The second section then goes on to the next stage of Feminist evolution as they name their own world, where they start to apply their theories into academia, with the creation of disciplines such as 'women studies' etc, supposedly to study certain subjects from an 'unbiased' point of view (without the supposed taint of male-centered analysis done throughout most of modern history). The third section concentrates on the ultimate area of Feminism, which is to bring their philosophy to bear on God Himself, feminizing God. Some feminists have even gone to the extent of 'transmutating' God into a 'Goddess', as they redefine God according to their distorted view of the world. Women-church soon also came into existence as a result of their feminization of God and theology. In the last section, Kassian does some analysis of Feminism as a whole, especially of the movement called 'Biblical Feminism'. This is not to suggest that she did not do any analysis throughout the other three-quarters of the book, but the analysis there is minimal, as she allows the feminists to speak for themselves.

Before we start looking at certain various issues, I would like to mention that the three categories of the aspects of Feminism as mentioned in this book are arbitrarily set by Kassian as she determines that the major issues in Feminism can be placed into these three categories. And historically, there is a general trend as shown in the order of the chapters; i.e. naming of self temporarily precedes the naming of the world which procedes the naming of God. However, such a trend does not in any way imply that somehow Feminism proceeds strictly along this order historically. In other words, there is a certain overlap between the events which are grouped in the different categories.

With that, let us look at the issue of 'Naming Self'.

'Naming Self', this is the name of the first section of the book, which details the issue of women struggling for equality on legitimate issues such as equal pay nad job opportunity, being treated fairly in legal matters etc. However, that was not the main issue which was under contention, although that was the visible manifestation earlier on. More intangible, however, was the subtle paradigm shift which occured, and which was manifested in the later emergence of the various aspects of the Feminist movement. To understand Feminism, therefore, one has to understand this paradigm shift, otherwise it is doubtful whether one can make sense of anything else in the movement.

To perhaps no one's surprise, this shift occurs at the philosophical arena. And in the source for this view can be already seen the fundamental flaw in Feminism — human autonomy (and rebellion), which we will discuss later. One of the main founders of modern Feminism is the French philosopher Simone deBeauvoir, the love interest of the Existentialist philsopher Jean-Paul Sartre (they were engaged in a fully consumated love affair) (PDF p. 16). Anyway, DeBeauvoir adopted Sartre's existentialism, which can be roughly defined as 'the individual is entirely free, and must therefore accept commitment and full respeonsibility for his acts and decisions in an uncertain and purposeless world' (p. 17). It is upon this existentialist philosophy that DeBeauvoir build her model for male-female interaction, and thus in part the foundation for feminist philosophy.

So what was it that DeBeauvoir came up with? In her book The Second Sex, DeBeauvoir wrote that:

(DeBeauvoir's primary thesis, as the title of the book suggest,) was that women as a group were assigned to second-class status in the world. Woman was "defined and differentiated with reference to man and not by reference to her" (Bold added). DeBeauvoir believed that the male sex comprised the prime measure by which the whole world — including women — were named and judged. Therefore, the world belonged to men. Women were the non-essential "other". DeBeauvoir argued: "... she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute — she is the Other."

...

DeBeauvoir argued that it was a "man's world." Women were forced by men to conform to a mold that men had created for their own benefit and pleasure. The model she named "the eternal femine". According to DeBeauvoir, it was a mold that caused women to be "frivolous, infantile, irresponsible and submissive." ... DeBeauvoir argued that the women of her time were not allowed or encouraged to do or become anything other than that which the eternal feminine dictated; they were trapped into a restrictive role of "K├╝che, Kirche, und Kinder": "Kitchen, church, and children" (Nazi Germany's official statement regarding the place of women). According to DeBeauvoir, women were to exist solely for the convenience and pleasure of men. (p. 17-18)

Of course, if she is correct in her analysis of the situation, then Feminism would be in some sense justified. After all, with such incendiary statements like "women ... exist solely for the convenience and pleasure of men", a strong reaction of indignation would be expected, espeically from women. However, besides all the fiery rhetoric, is there anything of real substance? We will look into this later on. At the moment, let us look more into the Feminist view.

... Women ... were autonomous beings with the need to "transcend" self, but this need was being suppressed by men. According to deBeauvoir, men has named and defined the world, and in so doing had identified all humanity as male, thus robbing women of autonomy.

....

According to deBeauvoir, the dilemma for women was in being denied the right to autonomy, and therefore the right to transcend and develop. She viewed the right as the essence of human existence (p. 18)

Another early Feminist write, Betty Friedan, who described the supposed female dilemma as the feminine mystique, wrote:

... self-fulfilment came from having a defined purpose and from shaping and contributing to the world in tangible and creative ways. Men could seek self-fulfilment, but women — curtailed by both conformity to the role of wife and mother, and the femine mystique — could not. This creates a dilemma. ... Friedan called this dilemma "a problem with no name" It was caused by women trying to adjust to an image that did not permit them to become what they could be. It was the growing despair of those who had forfeit their own existence. (p. 22)

Later on, this problem was named patriarchy, to 'signify the societal dominance of the male, and the inferiority and subservience of the female. Feminists saw patriarchy as the ultimate cause of women's discontent'. (p. 23). This of course, would lead to serious implications further on, which we shall see much later.

As it can be seen so far, the whole epistemological foundation of Feminism is either philosophy (DeBeauvoir — Existentialism) or Experience/ Emotion (Friedan and others). From a biblical point of view already, we can throw Feminism out, since it starts off not from the Bible but from the world's philosophy and experience, and we know what the Bible says about THAT (Col. 2:8; Jer. 17:9). Yes, there are so-called biblical feminists, which we shall look at later also, but it is my contention that they are not biblical in their Feminism. Having said that, the questions they do raise are legitimate (the practical ones, minus the rhetoric of course), but the answer they give is not in accordance with Scripture. The answer is in the biblical command regarding men and women under God in society, which I would cover at the end of this series. Suffice it is to say that the biblical answer to their questions is NOT Feminism or anything resembling it in any form.

As a preliminary counter against their points, I would just ask 'Upon what basis is existentialism right in the first place? Why is self-fulfilment the supreme good to be seeked, and thus women who are 'not self-fulfilled' are having a bad life?'

With this, let us analyze biblically the process of 'Naming Self' in Feminism — in fact, of naming anything.

[To be continued]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Article: The 'gospel' according to Satan

...subtitled: the urgent need for discernment in the Church

Here is an article by Steve Camp regarding Satan's strategy; which is not to destroy the Church visibly but to corrupt it from the inside out, and thus the need for discernment exists.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blogspotted

It seems that I was blogspotted by Elder Phil. R. Johnson of Grace Community Church and founder of Pyromaniacs here, although I aren't sure what to make of his comments. I also doubt whether anyone would be able to decipher anything much from that rant of mine.

Anyway, with regards to the issue of 'common grace' and the 'free offer of the Gospel', which Jenson brought up, I think I will deal with those issues soon.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Just stop and ... think? (Updated)

OK, where to start? We have a controversial video in our sights produced by Pastor Francis Chan of Cornerstone Communict Church in Southern California. First, we have this post by the iMonk, Michael Spencer. Then, we have a comment on it by Frank Turk at the Teampyro blog, here. Almost at the same time, Dr. James R. White reviewed it in the second half of his Dividing Line program, followed by noting Michael Spencer's selective hearing capacity with regards to this issue. In response to Steve Camp's initial objection to the video in the comment section, Frank Turk posted this in defence of it. Dan Philips then joined in the 'fun' here and here. Steve Camp joined in on the issue here and then here, and then followed up with a series on the cross of Christ. Dr. James White posted his last take on the issue here, which I mostly concur, if I would add. The disagreement got too heated at the Teampyro blog that Phil. Johnson suspended all discussion on the topic for a while, under threat of 'excommunication' from his blog. Following which, after 5 days, he posted his take on the issue, which I generally concur (with some slight disagreement). Dan Philips then sarcastically posted another blog post here on the topic, while Steve Camp posted this, which analyzed the reason given by Francis Chan himself and the producers for producing this video.

I am a late comer to this controversy since I came to knew about it via Dr. James White's blog at aomin.org, and only after it has developed to the point where I commented briefly on it. To put it bluntly, when I first saw the video, I was bored to death by it, and thus did not notice the objectionable parts until after others have pointed them out. After looking through the various posts and comments on the issue, especially since I do not frequent some of these blogs for lack of time, I am disgusted by the sheer amount of ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and a total lack of charity in most of the comments and some of the posts. I normally do not post on such videos because it is honestly a complete waste of time. Likewise, I do not comment in other blogs etc. unless I feel that there really is a need to do so. Obviously, some of these commenters have nothing better to do with their time! It is also disturbing to see so much energy being poured over this issue by certain people who act as though they have some axe to grind against Pst. Francis Chan personally.

There are two issues which I would like to concentrate on here.

First, for all involved in the controversy, STOP it! OK, so what if you are correct? Go and do something constructive! For those who have the same conviction as Steve Camp and me, since you know the exact proper way to proclaim the Gospel, what are you doing about it? Go and evangelize. Teach others how to do the same. Walk your talk, or forever hold your peace! If you really want to talk about the issue, do it without all of these attacks. Try talking about the fundamental issues raised WITHOUT mentioning Francis Chan or the video, for once.

Secondly, I think that the deeper issue before us is ultimately linked to the 'free offer of the Gospel' and 'God's desire to save everyone', which is very much linked with John Piper's soteriological system as I have mentioned a bit on in my earlier post. Piper's 'Two Wills of God' theory allows him and his 'followers' to make the sort of statements that Francis Chan (who is linked to Piper) makes in his video. As there isn't a name yet for Piper's soteriological theory that I am aware of, let's just arbitrarily named it 'pseudo-Amyraldism', since practically, Piper's theory functions the same manner as Amyraldism. As in Amyraldism, God desires to pay the sins for all men but did not actually do so since Man are born sinful (and thus only choose the elect for salvation), so in Piper's view, God desires the salvation of all men but He has another will which operate sometimes at variance with his first will. This is achieved by having the first will desiring the salvation of all while the other will only have some in mind and thus only bring to pass the salvation of the these people, the elect.

IMO, this is the fundamental problem with Piper, Chan and people who subscribe to such a theory. The effeminate degradation of an otherwise reasonable (not excellent) gospel appeal in Francis Chan's short video stems from such a flawed theology. I sincerely do not believe that Francis Chan intended to paint God as a desperate lover, especially looking at his background and his association with John Piper. Think about it, if you believe in Piper's theology, it would be entirely possible to tell a person that 'God loves you and have a wonderful plan for your life', without a regard to the idea that that may not be true since that person may not be of the elect. From this to the idea that God is crazy over you is just mere window dressing compared to the initial compromise. Given's Piper emphasis on Christian hedonism (which I think has a few problems), it doesn't surprise me that people like Chan would add unwarented emotive expression when describing the love of God so as to produce the 'God is crazy over you' statement in his video.

(Oh ya, this really shows the reason why theology matters, even for minor points such as the Infralapsarianism/ Supralapsarianism/ Amyraldism debate)

Addenum (May 17th 2009): An article which I have written relating to this topic can be found here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Article: Do you know Him?

Good article, especially for conservatives evangelicals and those who emphasize correct doctrines.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults - On the Seventh-Day Adventists (part 3)

[Continuing on from my previous posts here, here, here, here and here]

The Seventh Day Adventist doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and "Investigative Judgment" having being thus disproven, we will now look at the practical fallout of embracing such errors.

The doctrine of "Investigative Judgment" refers to the doctrine that Christ is now (after 1844) investigating the worthiness of believers to be saved. This is a grevious heresy of work-righteousness, by making the salvation of believers dependent on their obedience to the commands of God. Slice it any way you want, but it is still work-righteousness, and God through Paul anathemizes and condemns all who believe in such a doctrine to hell (Gal. 1:8-9). Let it be said that the error of the Judaizers in Galatia at that time was NOT that there were teaching salvation by works, but salvation by faith plus the doing of works to retain their salvation status, which is similar to what the Adventists teach. Yes, they do claim and preach that salvation is by grace and not by works (Questions on Doctrine, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957), but claiming as such does not mean anything, because the Judaizers can also subscribe to the same statement of salvation by grace and not by works, especially since the Adventist statement can be taken to mean that the intial aspect of salvation is by grace through faith apart from works (I.e. Works are to preserve salvation, not to gain salvation).

Closely associated with the Galatian heresy, such a teaching comes with a denial of the reality of the assurance of salvation and the denial of the preservation of the saints. Adventists thus can never be assured of their final salvation if they live consistently with their doctrines. This obviously contradicts Scripture at various places (E.g. Jn 6:37; Rom. 8:30; 1 Jn. 5:13), not to mention that it makes the atoning sacrifice of Christ a total mockery.

Another heretical fallout from the "Investigative Judgment" doctrine is a partial denial of God's foreknowledge, at least in the area of soteriology. This is because the only reason that Christ must investigates before the Final Judgment is only if he does not know or has limited knowledge of who is or is not saved. This is a altogether heretical notion which not even the most libertarian free-will subscribing evangelical would subscribe to. Even evangelical Arminians do not deny that God knows the future!

Due to the serious heretical fallout of these two unbiblical doctrines of the Adventists, Seventh Day Adventism is relegated to the status of a Christian-based cult.

With this settled, let us look at Martin's defence of the Adventists as being a denomination within the pale of orthodoxy. As I have labeled the Adventists as being a cult solely based on their soteriology, Martin's defence of the Adventists against the charges of Calvinist Dr. Anthony Hoekema on this particular subject would be looked at.

Martin primarily defends the Adventists by maintaing that the Adventists believe that 'salvation comes only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ's sacrifice upon the cross' (p. 562). However, this only shows that Martin is not eligible to speak on this particular field, since this expression is not characteristic of true orthodox Christianity (it cannot prove orthodoxy), which believes in salvation by grace alone through faith alone, not just salvation by grace through faith. As I have shown above in the case of the Judaizers condemned by God through Paul, such a statement as subscribed and believed by the Adventists can be similarly believed by the Judaizers and thus that statement meant nothing at all! Judging by the Adventist' embrace of the error of "Investigative Judgment" shows that they are no different from the Judaizers. And this is not a Calvinism/ Arminianism difference, since in principal evangelical Arminianism also believes in salvation by grace alone through faith alone, though they redefine what grace alone mean, of course.

Martin carries on defending the Adventists by attempting to use the argumentation format of Reductio Ad Absurdum. This he does by stating that if Hoekema condemns the Adventists based on the ground of them being consistently Arminian and denying the perseverance of the saints, then why doesn't Hoekema applies the same logic to Seventh-Day Baptists, 'Pentecostals, Methodists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans and others who accept the same Arminian premises, though they have not carried them out to the literalism that the Adventists have in the investigative judgment?' (p. 562). Unfortunately for Martin, I'll bite the bullet for this one. Why shouldn't the other denominations be apostate too? Since the Word of God is the guide for our doctrine, then just because if it leads to a certain unfavourable conclusion, does that mean that we throw out the Truth because we don't LIKE the conclusion?! God forbid! This type of reasoning is illogical and does not honor the Word of God, which should be our supreme authority in all things, including whether any particular denomination is apostate or not.

Of course, I don't subscribe to the view that these other denominations are apostate, at least in general, with the exception of Seventh-Day Baptists since I do not know their views and thus I would withhold comment. The reason why this is so is seen in Martin's last sentence on that page which I had quoted earlier, which states that the other denominations did not carry them out to the same literalism that the Adventists have in their investigative judgment. This is precisely the reason why these denominations in general are not apostate. All of these denominations, however inconsistenly they are in their doctrines, believe in assurance of salvation and the perseverance of the saints, which they commonly call eternal security. Furthermore, the Anglican/Episcopal denomination have a Calvinistic confession in the 39 articles (although their clergy oftentimes do not believe it), the Lutherans have a semi-Calvinistic, monergistic confession of faith, the Methodists and Pentecostals have evangelical Arminian beliefs which, although Arminian, still keep vital Evangelical truths in logically inconsistent tension with Arminians beliefs. And this is precisely the reason why they are different from the Adventists, who allow their Arminian beliefs to mature to full consistentcy no different from the Remonstrant heretics who are condemned by the great Synod of Dordt.

In conclusion, I think that it has been proven that Seventh-Day Adventism is a Christian-based cult, and that Walter Martin was mistaken in his classification of the Adventists as a hetero-orthodox Christian denomination. With that said, let it be said that there are probably many true Christians within it, due to the Evangelicalization of the denomination with its adoption of more Evangelical language and the verbal softening of its stand on errant doctrines such as the "Sanctuary" and the "Investigative Judgment", as well as others like "Saturday Sabbath" etc. If the Seventh-Day Adventists were to one day desire to be recognized as truly Christians, let them throw away the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and the "Investigative Judgment", their insistence on Saturday Sabbath only and their inherent bent towards legalism. It would also be good if they would throw away the doctrines of soul-sleep and of annihilation too, and embrace the doctrines of grace while they are at it.

THE END

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults - On the Seventh-Day Adventists (part 2)

[Continuing on from my previous posts here, here, here and here]

In Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine, the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and the "Investigative Judgment" are perhaps the most serious errors in the sect.

The doctrine of the "Sanctuary" and the "Investigative Judgment" arose from the disappointment of the original Seventh Day Adventists in 1844 when Christ did not come back on the date which they have thought and calculated He would. As the Millerites (as they were then called) disbanded after their prophecy failed to come to pass, some of them tried to make sense of this disaster (of their own making, I would add). One such person by the name of Hiram Edson, suddenly had a 'revelation' of why the Millerite prediction failed; which soon became formulated into these two doctrines which are stated as follows:

... They [Millerites] has expected Christ to come to earth to cleanse the sanctuary, but the sanctuary was not the earth. It was located in heaven! Instead of coming to earth, therefore, Christ had passed from one "apartment" of the sanctuary into the other "apartment" to perform a closing work now known as the "investigative judgment". ... Edson himself really believed that Christ had passed from the "holy place" to the "most holy" place in the heavenly sanctuary. The Old Testament tabernacle was divided by a veil into two apartments, the holy place and the most holy place. In the most holy place was the Ark of the Covenant. Into this apartment the high priest went once a year to sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat to make atonement for the sins of the people. ...

Transferring this Old Testament ceremonial concept to the New Testament, and making an extremely literalistic interpretation of the book of Hebrews, Edson and Crosier formulated the doctrines of "the heavenly sanctuary" and "investigative judgment". These concepts are now understood to mean that in 1844 Christ entered the "second phase" of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, and ever since He has been reviewing the cases of believers to determine their worthiness for eternal life ["Investigative Judgment"]. Further, He will come forth from the "second apartment" or finish the "second phase" of His ministry in the sanctuary, to usher in judgment upon the world at His Great Second Advent. (p. 543)

As it can be seen in their recent official doctrinal position:

4. The time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, synchronizing with the preiod of proclaimation of the message of Revelation 14, is a time of investigative judgment; first, with reference to the dead, and second, with reference to the living. This investigative judgment determines who of the myriad sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation (1 Peter 4:17-18; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 14:6-7; Luke 20:35) (15)

7. It is our understanding that Christ, as High Priest, concludes His intercessory work in heaven ina work of judgment. He begins His great work of judgment in the investigative phase. At the conclusion of the investigation, the sentence of judgment is pronounced. Then as judge, Christ descends to execute or carry into effect that sentence... When God's sentence of judgment is consummated, the redeemed will be singing the song of Moses and the Lamb (422)

— Questions on Doctrine (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957), as quoted by Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults

For an even more up to date explanation of these doctrines, this is what the Adventists believe as stated on their website:

24. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary: There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Heb. 8:1-5; 4:14-16; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; 1:3; 2:16, 17; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:12.)

(taken from http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html on 18th Jan 2007)

From these passages, we can see that the definitions of the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and "Investigative Judgment" as defined by the Adventists themselves. We can also see that these doctrines started off not primarily arising from a consideration of Scripture but as an attempt to salvage what remains of the Millerite movement. If there is one thing to learn from this, it is that we should never to try to predict the date of the Lord's return, because we will never know it (Mt. 24:36). Also, since the doctrines arise from trying to rationalize away the failed prophecy given by William Miller, it seemed that these doctrines were created not so much because they are found in Scripture but more because some scriptural basis must be found to show that Miller's prediction was not wrong and yet also explaine away the fact that there was no second coming then in 1844. In other words, these two doctrines seemed to be made to 'save the disillusioned Millerites" from utter despair.

Regardless of such unfavorable historical baggage, these two doctrines must ultimately be judged by the Word of God upon which it is claimed that they are founded on, and it is to the Word that we now turn to.

The doctrine of the "Sanctuary" is based on a literalistic reading of the Old Testament ceremonial rites and rituals into the New Testament book in general and Hebrews in particular. Instead of the correct interpretation which has been held for Christians for centuries that the book of Hebrews is an exercise in contrast betwen the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and that the New Covenant priesthood of Christ is something which denotes the atoning sacrifice of Christ only, the Adventists read the entire book backwards. Instead of reading the Old Testament in light of the New, they read the Old into the New Testament, even to the details of the heavenly "Holy Place" being distinct from the heavenly "Most High" place. This technique places the Adventists already on very shaky ground for their doctrines, since it is written that the earthly high priests of the Old Covenant on earth serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb. 8:5). We should interpret what is the copy of and the shadow of anything using what is said to be clear of that thing, and thus the Old Covenant should be interpreted according to the New Covenant, and not the other way around.

The Archilles' heel of the Adventist's doctrine of their "Sanctuary" lies in their artificial distinction of the ministry of Christ as being intercessor in the first part of His ministry in the "Holy Place" of the heavenly sanctuary, and then after 1844, begin his work of judgment in the "Investigative Judgment" in the "Most Holy" place. If such a distinction and differentiation is disproved, the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and of the "Investigative Judgment" (which depends on the validity of the doctrine of the "Sanctuary") would be proven to be in error.

The first most obvious point to note in the book of Hebrews is obviously the lack of any differentiation of "apartments" in the heavenly sanctuary. The nearest thing to different "apartments" can be seen in Heb. 9: 1-10. However, they only dealt with the earthly rituals of the priests under the Old Covenant, not that of Jesus of the New Covenant. If one goes down the text even further, we can see the passage which destroys the entire Adventists' position:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12. Bold added)

Earlier in the text, it can be seen that only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and he does it by offering blood to atone for the his sins and the unintentional sins of others (v. 7). In the passage quoted above, Jesus is said to be the High Priest, and he entered into the holy places (plural), which could probably include the "Most Holy Place" if there is any. Most damaging to the Adventist position is that Jesus has offered His own blood, which do in fact signifies that He did entered the "Most Holy Place" apartment if it did existed as a seperate entity. However, as we have seen before, the Scriptures do not make such an artificial distinction but instead just use the more generic term "holy places", since Jesus went through both "holy places" in order to pay for the sins of His own. In fact, the fact that Jesus was said to secure an eternal redemption by His blood shows that the purpose of entering the holy places and the "Most Holy Place" in the heavenly tabernacle is linked to the doctrine of the Atonement. With this, the Adventist doctrine of the "Sanctuary" and of "Investigative Judgment" is demolished.

In the next and last post, I would show the serious errors which spring from these errant doctrines, which caused the Seventh Day Adventists to be justly labeled a cult.

Article: Why chemical evolution is impossible

Here is a short article by Dr. Duane Gish, Ph. D., of ICR (Institute of Creation Research), on why (chemical) evolution is impossible.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults - On the Seventh-Day Adventists (part 1)

[Continuing on from my previous posts here, here and here]

With regards to the Seventh-Day Adventists, Walter Martin took the position that they are not a cult, just merely unorthodox Christians. Martin attempts to prove his point through primarily looking at their theological statements, and historical writings, and then counter the various charges place against them by other apologists.

After looking through the entire appendix of his book The Kingdom of the Cults (pp. 535-628), I am of the conclusion that Martin has erred in his judgment of Seventh Day Adventism. However, I would agree with him that the current state of Seventh Day Adventism allows for evangelical Christians to remain in it, especially if they are not well versed in the doctrines of Seventh Day Adventism. In other words, I am of the opinion that the current state of Seventh Day Adventism allows for the possibility of a true Church of God to be found in it, despite the heresies of several Seventh Day Adventist distinctive doctrines. This is in part due to the evangelical language and clarification adopted by the Adventists in recent years, as Martin has shown.

In this Appendix, Martin goes through the history of the Adventists, then presented a rough outline of their theology, a look at their major prophetess Ellen G. White, answering some of the Adventists' critics, and then looking at some of what he feels to be legitimate problems with their doctrinal position.

With regards to their overall theological standpoint, Martin quotes from the Adventists' official teaching as found in the book Questions on Doctrine (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957). In it, he showed that the Adventists are orthodox in their view of Scripture, their view of Christ, the completeness and suffuciency of the Atonement unto salvation, in their insistence of their belief in salvation by grace alone through faith alone. However, he also did highlight the unorthodox doctrines of soul-sleep, of annihilation as opposed to eternal suffering, and of the perculiar Adventist doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and of the "Investigative Judgment", the "Scapegoat teaching" and of course their strict Sabbaterianism.

Before I interact fully with Martin's position, let me just say that I think that Martin has done a thorough job of researching and presenting the evidences regarding the Seventh Day Adventists. What I disagree with are the conclusions which he draws from his evidences. Also, I agree with him that some critics probably have misrepresented the Adventists in certain areas of doctrine. One example of such a misrepresentation is that Adventists believe that Jesus had 'bad blood' through heredity, which the Adventists actually reject though one of its earlier members had once embraced it. Another example is that it was said that Adventists believe that Satan is their sin-bearer, which they actually deny (the "Scapegoat teaching" which baiscally states that Satan would bear all the responsibilities, NOT penalty, for all men's sins). Even for their strict Sabbatarianism, they later clarify that they do not think that other non-Saturday Sabbath keepers are unbelievers, at least not yet. As a mitigating factor for their critics, the Adventists' loose usage of words and concepts do them no good and are most probably the cause of many of the misrepresentations. In other words, they partly have themselves to blame for the many misrepresentations of their views. Their denunciation of Christians who keep the Lord's Day as our Sabbath, especially as they are framed in the past, has not helped them either.

The reason why I have earlier said that there may be true Christians in Seventh Day Adventism is due mainly to the relaxation of their suspicion level and the adoption of more evangelical sounding language in their statement of faith as composed in recent times, which could thus allow for true Christians to remain in the Adventist churches, albiet someone who either is seriously confused or does not understand much of what Adventism actually teaches or implies. And to these errant teachings in Adventism we shall now look to.

With regards to the doctrines of soul-sleep (the doctrine that the soul sleeps until judgment day, instead of immediately being with the Lord) and of annihilation (the doctrine that the souls of the wicked would be destroyed in the second death; not suffer from eternal torment), Walter Martin himself has done a good job of demolishing those two errors. Notwithstanding these errors, Adventism cannot be proven to be a cult based on these two errors, only that they are unorthodox.

The main point of contention that orthodox Christianity has with the Adventists relates to their doctrine of salvation, with particular emphasis on their doctrine of the "Sanctuary" and of "Investigative Judgment". With Dr. Anthony Hoekema which Martin attempted to refute (pp. 561-564), I agree with Hoekema and against Martin that Adventism is a cult, based upon their soteriological maze which ultimately denies salvation and justification by grace alone through faith alone. Yes, they officially say that they believe that they are saved by grace apart from works (p. 554), but after making my way through the semantic jungle they have woven over their doctrine of salvation, pardon me if I don't accept their assertion at face value.

In the next installment, I would like to post more in depth into the issue at hand.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults (part 3)

[continuing on from my preious posts here and here]

Waltar Martin's concluding chapters in his book The Kingdom of the Cults are on Cult evangelism and the Road to recovery. Here are a couple of things I would like to comment on:

We see the strange, but just judgment of God upon the Christian church because of her lethargy in that He is allowing the forces of darkness [cults, other religions] to succeed ... while denying the source of light and life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ... Third, the average Christian knows what he believes, but is unable to articulate why he believes, insofar as being able to document the why of his belief from the Scriptures, which he frequently finds a frustrating and exasperating task. The clergy is often at fault in this respect because they do not emphasize the teaching ministry of the pulpit, but rather settle for an evangelistic emphasis with very little doctrinal depth.

...

... There must be something fundamentally wrong when important areas of doctrine such as these [doctrine of the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the relationship of grace and faith to works] are neglected or glossed over lightly. (p. 483)

The situation since Walter Martin's time has greatly worsened. Now, so-called 'Evangelicals' like Joel Osteen deny even the Lord Jesus Christ publicly and entertain the masses who come into his church. Rick Warren is too busy trying to be Mr. Nice Guy and sucker up to the rich and powerful in society while promoting his PEACE plan, while at the same time watering down the Gospel drastically and playing fast and loose with the Word of God. The seeker-sensitive mentality has infected the entire Evangelical movement and numbers become paramount, especially to the growing mega-churches. Those denominations that are more orthodox are probably wrecked by internal controversy (Norman Shepherd and Neo-legalism; KJV-Onlyism) to be useful for the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, they are too inward-looking and oftentimes may degenerate into a 'holy huddle'. Truly, Satan is having a field day with Christians running around in circles, fighting real and imaginery enemies, or worst still, succumbing to the enemy's design. And just when we require strong feeding on the Word of God so that we would not be 'tossed about by every wind of doctrine' (Eph. 4:14), we have... entertainment of the 'saints'. Disgusting!

[To combat the cults] Special commissions should therefore be appointed similar to that already sponsered by the World Council of Churches, so that Christian individuals, organizations, churches and denominations may pool their information and erect a systematic defense against cult proselytizing. Through conservatives and liberals may disagree theologically, they suffer from the inroads of the cults individually, and yearly the ranks of American cultism are swelled by former Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists, Congregationalists, etc., who attended both liberal and conservative church until they were converted by the cults. (p. 498)

The means to evangelize and combat adherents of the cults can be made readily available to all interested parties. It remains for Christians of both ecumenical and independent persuasion to agree to cooperate in the dimension of pertinent literature on this ever-growing field of mutual concern. (p. 502)

This is where I must part with Walter Martin. This is Evangelical Co-Belligerance against the cults, which suffers from the same problems as the more political variant. This is especially so since this are theological differences involved. You just don't fight fire by adding more oil into the mixture! The theological liberals, the Neo-Orthodox etc. are no different from the cults, except that they are more biblical than they (at least in some cases)! Since that is the case, I think that Martin's advice here is in error and should not be followed. If an alliance should be made, it should be limited only to individuals, denominations and churches that totally agree on the basics of the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

In the next and final issue, I would look at Martin's treatment of the subject of the Seventh-Day Adventists in his Appendix 2.

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults (part 2)

[continuing on from my previous post here]

In another chapter of Walter Martin's book The Kingdom of the Cults, on the cult of Unitarian Universalism, Waltar Martin outlined the history of the Unitarian Universalism (pp. 332-349), which is both fascinating and tragic.

Unitarian Universalism started off as Socinianism, named after the anti-Trinitarian heretic Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), who also denied the deity of Christ. As his heretial doctrines spread, it became known as Universalism in Transylvania, England, and evantually America. At that time, Universalism does not mean what it meant today i.e. that all people would be saved at the end, but the term then refers to the doctrine whereby Christ made Universal Atonement for the sins of all and everybody (one of the points of classic Arminianism, I would add). Universalism entered the English-speaking world with John Briddle (1615-1662), the Father of English Unitarianism, and America with William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), the Apostle of Americn Unitarianism.

As time progressed, the Unitarians started to undergo the process of 'doctrinal entropy'. Whereas before they claim to follow the Scriptures, the cult devolve with the enbracing of 19th century Transcendentalism developed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the embrace of pluralism. The embrace of humanism in the 20th century and New Age paganism in recent times have destroyed whatever 'Christian' distinctive they even once had.

Through all this, it can be seen the destructiveness of embracing of any errant doctrine. What one generation embraces, the next generation would attempt to smooth out the logical inconsistencies in the position taken by the preceding generation, normally in the direction of unorthodoxy. Just because a Christian can live a Christian life while being logically inconsistent does not mean that s/he should do so, for the next generation would grow further into unorthodoxy. As quoted by Martin, heterorthodox religious movements observe a kind of "second law of theological thermodynamics" (Alan W. Gomes, "Winds of Change in the Worldwide Church of God: With Special Emphasis on the Doctrine of the Trinity," Presbyterian 20:2 (1994): 91). And this is the worry I have for the Singapore churches as well. Many Singaporeans are happily living as evangelical 'Calminians'. However, what is the direction the next generation of Christians would go? By Man's own fallen nature, the tendency would be to slide into full-fledged Arminianism, followed by ... perhaps Arianism and then Socinianism (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The "Downgrade" Controversy, Pilgrim Publications, Pasadema, Texas). By degrading and ignoring doctrine, Singapore Christians would be a ripe harvest for the enemy of our souls to plant his seed of heresy and destruction, which he has already done so in the form of the Word-faith heresy, the Neo-apostolic heresy, the Seeker-sensitive/Purpose Driven paradigm, the 'Emerging church' heresy, and the fusion of business and church. May God have mercy on us all.

[to be continued]

Book: The Kingdom of the Cults

I have just finished reading Walter Martin's magnum opus The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition 2003) recently. Overall, this book is very informative, as it provides historical facts, theological distinctives and biblical refutations of the various overt biblical cults like Jehovah's Witness, Mormonism, Christian Science, Spiritism, Theosophy, Baha'i, Unitarian Universalism, Scientology, Unification Church aka Moonies, New Age, and some of the major religions of the world like Buddhism and Islam. It then goes on to analyze the growth of the cults in America and the rest of the world, and the various ways to evangelize cultists. In the Appendices, it studies the Worldwide Church of God as it evolves from a cult to comparative orthodoxy, analyzes the Seventh-Day Adventists, and then touches a bit on the esoteric cults of Swedenborgianism and Rosicrucianism.

In this and subsequent articles, I would like to analyze some areas of the book and comment on them.

First of all, with regards to feminism and the rise of women clergy, here is what Walter Martin mentioned in a chapter on Theosophy:

It is one of the strange historical percularities of the saga of cultism that some cults were either started by women or were influences in a major way by the allegedly weaker sex: Christian Science, Mary Bakker Eddy; the Unity Schol of Christianity, Myrtle Fillmore; Spiritism, the Fox sisters; Jehovah's Witness, Marie Russel; Theosophy, Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant; the Peace Mission Movement (Father Divine), Sister Penny and Faithful Mary (Viola Wilson) (p. 284)

It should be remembered that the apostle Paul enjoined the Christian church to forbid women to ursurp authority over tha male head, and leadership roles should more properly be filled with men where available to meet this need:

Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a women to teach, nor to ursurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the women being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

It can be clearly seen from the study of non-Christian cults, ancienct and modern, that the female teaching ministry has graphically fulfilled what Paul anticipated in his day by divine revelation, and brought in its wake, as history tells us, confusion, division, and strife. This is true from Johanna Southcutt to Mary Baker Eddy to Helena Blavatsky and the Fox sisters, all of whom were living proof of the validity of our Lord's declaration that "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14b). (p. 286)

I concur. Women are not allowed, by God's express decree, to officially teach in church, and definitely not exercise authority. Therefore, women pastors, elders and deacons are definitely violating Scripture. In fact, in my opinion formed from looking at the development of the Church in the last 50 years, the inclusion of more women in the teaching and pastoral ministry has only worsened the problems in the Evangelical church as a whole, by feminising theology (i.e. the lovesick god of Arminianism) and allowing all kinds of heresy to surface without the exercise of church discipline against the heretics.

The crux of the Gospel...

With regards to the issues raised in the previous post, I would like to post regarding what is the crux of the Gospel. Many modern-day evangelicals, if pressed on the issue, would quote Jn. 3:16 to that effect:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

However, is that the crux of the Gospel? Definitely, it is part of the Gospel but is it the crux of it? I would propose that it is not, and that by supposing that this verse shows the crux of the Gospel, and making the love of God the foundation upon which the Gospel stand, we arrive at the sorry state that is modern-day Evangelicalism and its effeminate skewed 'gospel'.

This, then is the crux of the Gospel:

but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we we saved by His life. — Rom. 5:8-10

Notice the entire theo-centricity of the Gospel message here, instead of the anthropocentric message conveyed by Jn. 3:16 when ripped out of context by the Neo-Evangelicals. From this, we can see the full Gospel message clearly:


"'... but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners"

The love of God does not operate in a vacuum. It being extended to sinners is due to God's mercy, not because we are naturally lovable. As such, the love of God extended to sinners is not the primary work of God. God is Love, yes, yet because of our sins, our sins have subjected ourselves to the wrath of God. Therefore, even though God is Love, Hs is still Love even if the entire human race is thrown into hell for our sins. God's love for us is therefore logically dependent on His mercy towards Man, which is logically dependent in turn upon the Sovereignty of God. It is thus an exercise of God's Sovereignty that He has mercy on His people, and thus love them by sending His Son to die on the Cross for us. Since this is the case, we should be thankful for the Sovereignty of God. Contrary to what modern Neo-Evangelicalism teaches, the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God should be a source of confort for us. Because God is Sovereign, He loves sinners like us, and without God being sovereign, we should not expect Him to love nor save anyone of us.

"... Christ died for us"

This is the good news for all Christians. That even though we deserve death, Christ as our propitiation suffered, bled and died for us, that we can be reconciled to God. Not that Christ make salvation possible (and then we must finish the work of salvation through our works), but that He paid its full cost, purchasing actual salvation for all who are His.

"...we have now been justified by His blood"

The doctrine of Justification is vital for the presentation of the Gospel. Any distortion in this doctrine would render the Gospel ineffective and destroy the salvation of all who believe in its distortion. To know that all our sins are placed on Christ, that we are free from the bondage of Sin, and from the punishment due to us, is the glorious freedom given and owned by true Christians. That we are counted righteous and thus deserving of eternal life NOT because of our works, NOT because of our emotions, NOT because of anything whatsoever we have or will do, BUT solely because our sins are imputed (transferred) to Christ as our sin-bearer is THE GOSPEL. Whoever denies this fact is a heretic and is not saved, deserving the eternal condemnation of God through Christ Jesus our Lord (Gal. 1:8-9). This is therefore why Roman Catholicism cannot be considered as a Christian denomination, because they deny this cardinal doctrine of the faith.

"... by His blood"

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22). The doctrines of the Atonement is intricately linked to the Gospel, and thus to divorce the two and only talk about the love of God is simply nonsensical.

"...therefore, ... , much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God"

Because we have been counted as righteous even while we are not yet righteous, we have been saved from eternal damnation and God's wrath is no more on us. We can therefore have fellowship with God once again.

"...the wrath of God"

Without knowing that they are under the wrath of God as guilty sinners deserving eternal hellfire, there is no Gospel message. Whosoever preaches the love of God without stressing the lostness and sinfulness of Man under the eternal wrath of God does not preach the full Gospel, for Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Lk. 5:31-32)

"...we were enemies "

Stressing further on our former state of affairs, the Apostle Paul pressed home the point that we were enemies of God. We hated God with a passion, and we did not desire God. All non-believers are still in that state, and thus to say that there are 'seekers' who love God but are not Christians, unless they have been convicted of the Holy Spirit, is totally rubbish. All non-believers are haters of God, and we must remember that even as we proclaim the message of the Gospel to them.

"...For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God"

Christ bring us to Himself while we still hated Him. Do not for once think that you choose Christ because you are a good person who wants to know God. You, and all of us, were God-haters and did not desire Him. Yet God through the Holy Spirit calls us to Himself and regenerated our soul, making us desire Him and giving us the faith to respond to Him. Salvation is of God from beginning to end.

"...reconciled to God ... much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we we saved by His life"

The basis of our fellowship with God is the doctrine of the Atonement of Christ. Through this work done by Christ, we the God-haters were changed to love Him. Furthermore, we are given the gift of eternal life of which we do not deserve even a small part of.


From these verses, we should be thankful of the love of God being shown towards us; not the sentimental, syruppy unbiblical love of the Neo-Evangelical 'gospel', but the glorious Gospel that proclaims salvation to all who will repent and turn to Christ; the Gospel of the autonomous, Sovereign love of God that saves us despite and in spite of ourselves.

An example of a skewed 'gospel'

Oh well, Dr. James R. White has provided a commentary on the skewed 'gospel' being proclaimed in much of Evangelicalism today, which is focused ONLY on the statement 'God loves you' fullstop and is thus no gospel at all. This, in Dr. White's own words, is the Gospel, which I agree:

The gospel is not a bare "offer" to all people to accept God's love in Jesus: it is first a command to repent and turn, and then it is in fact a wide and broad and glorious proclamation that the love of God in Christ Jesus is freely experienced by all, Jew and Gentile, who in faith turn to Christ! But that does not mean you have to reduce the sovereign Creator to a suitor begging for acceptance by the almighty rebel!

Anyway, this article by Dr. White is also with regards to Michael Spencer aka the Internet Monk, with regards to his article here in response to a rather anthropocentric video put up by Pastor Francis Chan of Cornerstone Community Church, here. Looks like the controversy over the 'free offer of the Gospel' and the method of presenting the Gospel continues. As an aside, this is one of the points of contention I have with Pastor John Piper's version of Calvinism and his strange 'two wills of God' theory (which in my opinion is closer to Amyraldianism than true Calvinism).

Announcement: Book ready for order (prices)

Finally, I have a price! Anyone in Singapore who (advance) order copies of the book before 1st February from me would be able to get the book for SGD14 only, following which the price would be pegged to the price sold by retailers. Do email me to place your order now.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Revisiting the Anabaptists

Here is an article from Dr. C. Matthew McMahon regarding the group known historically as 'Anabaptists'. It can be seen that the Anabaptists are a schismatic group at that time, rebelling against authority and thinking that they alone are the true church. Of course, it didn't help that at least some of them deny Sola Scriptura and believed in their own dreams and visions rather than the Scriptures.

Anyway, do read the arguments that the Anabaptists tried to use to prove some of their points, and noticed how they are countered. Such arguments are still used nowadays and truly 'there is nothing new under the sun' (Ecc. 1:9). As an aside, there is nothing good about the Anabaptists, so even if you are a baptist, you should disown such schismatics at best (and heretics as worst) as your forefathers in the faith.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Article: Who cares if TD Jakes denies the Trinity

An excellent article on why we should not 'get along' with heretics in general and T.D. Jakes in particular, much less ally ourselves with them in ministry! It is indeed a sad state for evangelicals that we have such stupid and rebellious 'shepherds' in leadership who are leading the sheep to the slaughter, and the worst part is: the people of God love it so! (Jer. 5:31). How else can the apathy in the land be explained?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Article on repentance

Here is a good article regarding repentance. Very practical. May God help us to repent of our sins continually.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Reflection: 2004 PDYM Conference - part 2

After posting my then reflections on the PDYM conference 2004, I would like to analyze the PDYM material, which is basically taken from the PDYM book.

The conference material follows Rick Warren's propensity for playing scripture roulette; by using various 'translations' to support their conclusions, including the Message 'paraphrase'. It does start off well, however, by telling us to depend on God's power (p. 6) and that God will only use those whose hearts are pure (p. 8). However, after that, it follows typical Warrenese with the 5 purposes of the youth ministry (Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship, Discipleship), which is said to be based on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (p. 13). Also, it introduces the concept of levels of spiritual commitment (Community, Crowd, Congregation, Committed, Core). Following that classification, the material teaches one how to reach community students, keep crowd students, nurture congregation students, prepare committed students and challenge core students.

Throughout the material, the PD propensity to treat worship as if the worship service was made for unbelievers can be seen (p. 29-32). In fact, the whole idea of 'worship evangelism' is promoted (p.29-30), which is totally unbiblical. The proof-text that they tried to use to prove the idea of 'worship evangelism' was the incident at Pentecost in Acts 2. However, that is plain nonsensical since there was no coporate worship in Acts 2, and the reason why they turned to Christ was not because of the pouring out of the Spirit resulting in tongue-speaking, but because of Peter's sermon (Acts 2:37a — Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart...)! Further on, Warren's usage of psychology can be seen in the SHAPE tool (p. 42).

Finally, to put it all together, the PDYM conference decided to focus on how to make change a reality. It warns of people who will resist the changes and the necessity (and how) to get the support of influential people so that the changes can be pushed through. At that moment, I didn't think much of it and was supportive of the strategy since 'we are doing God's work after all'. On hindsight, I realize that I was being sold a pack of lies from the depths of hell itself on how to play politics so as to transition churches to become purpose driven and drive out those who have discernment to see where this is going. The ostracism process would be one I would experience later as I started to research more in depth into the PDL around the turn of 2004-2005 and then become convinced of the serious errors in the entire PD paradigm.

In conclusion, with regards to the PDYM, it can be see that it suffers from Warren's propensity to use various translations as he sees fit. It subtly distorts the biblical purposes for the church in general and youth ministry in particular to fit into the PD paradigm. It teaches youth workers and pastors to play politics in order to bring about changes, all in the name of serving God and building the Church, of course. Last, but not least, it produces bad fruit (Mt. 7:15-20 ; 12:33) which is partly due to its overemphasis on (their idea of) evangelism, and discernable from its abysmal record in keeping students who have graduated from the youth ministry in the church.

Reflection: 2004 PDYM Conference - part 1

I would just like to share my reflection (then) on the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry Conference held on the 13-15 May 2004, which was based on the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry (PDYM) book (part of the Purpose Driven family). I had attended the conference while I was still ignorant of the entire Purpose Driven paradigm, and while I was still a youth cell leader then at my former church. Also, I would later like to analyze the materials used in that conference, which I still have in my possession.

This conference was organized by the CAC Board of Youth Ministries, Bukit Panjang Methodist and Paya Lebar Methodist Church, and was held at the premises of Paya Lebar Methodist Church. At that time, at least some of the Methodist churches had started to adopt the Purpose Driven (PD) paradigm into their churches, and word was that it was successful in reviving dead congregations, thus the PDYM conference was held to enable other churches to have vibrant youth ministries. To make it even more attractive and better run, staff from Calvary Baptist Church in Bellflower, CA, USA, where the PDYM concept was successfully introduced, came over to conduct the conference.

As someone who at that time has just recently embraced the doctrines of grace and didn't know a lot about the things of God, I had little discernment to discern correct teaching from wrong teaching, and definitely not any possible twisting of Scripture. Also, I didn't know much about the PD paradigm then, except by reputation. Therefore, I found nothing wrong with whatever they were teaching the few of us youth cell leaders during that time. However, the Holy Spirit convicted me there was something amiss, but I couldn't put a finger as to what was the exact problem. The only thing I managed to figure out was that the whole process seemed to be utilitarian; where people are treated not as people but as 'goals', 'objectives', 'statistics'. There also doesn't seem to be that there was anything there beyond just bringing people into church by any means, build them up and teach them to bring more people into the church (their idea of evangelism), without proper bible study whatsoever. And the whole process sounds so mechanical and program centered to me then too.

During the last day of the conference, I decided to pose a question to one of the American staff regarding the way the entire process (the baseball diamond process of building people up in the '5 purposes' and for ministry, via Class 101, 201, 301, 401) was done, regarding whether she thinks that the end justifies the means (utilitarianism). I asked that question since various things the team was introducing (like catering to the 'unchurched') etc doesn't sound right but were promoted as the means whereby we can do evangelism (the ends) effectively. Her response was surprising, as she didn't understand what I was asking, and when I clarified with her, she sidestepped the question entirely, and I didn't press the point further out of politeness. Anyway, sharing from their experiences, we came to know that they had a problem keeping quite a fair number of their 'converts', who decided after they had gone to college/university that they have 'graduated' from youth ministry and church. By their own admission, therefore, their model doesn't seem to be producing true followers of Jesus Christ, only producing lots of artificial statistical growth in their youth ministry. This disturbs me greatly, although I didn't pursue it further then, as there definitely is something amiss with a youth ministry that promotes itself as being THE way to do youth ministry, having lots of numerical converts, but not being able to translate those 'converts' into true followers of Jesus Christ.

With that said, I would like to go on to the next part: the analysis of the PDYM conference material.

[to be continued]

Song: My Lord, I did not choose You

Here is a nice and doctrinally sound hymn.

My Lord, I did not choose You

1:

D
My Lord, I did not choose You,
         G                 A2    D
For that could never be;
My heart would still refuse You,
         G                 A2      D
Had You not chosen me.
         G                                 D
You took the sin that stained me,
           A                                        A7
You cleansed me, made me new;
       D                            G
Of old You have ordained me,
          D              A7       D
That I should live in You.

2:

Unless Your grace had called me
And taught my op’ning mind,
The world would have enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart knows none above You;
For Your rich grace I thirst;
I know that if I love You,
You must have loved me first.

[HT: Calvinist Gadfly]

Book: Driven Away by Purpose (2nd Ed.) - Online retail...

OK, after a few weeks, I sortof had a price quote for my book. However, after much delibration, I decided to try to get a 'second opinion'.

Since the price is not fixed yet, I would not be selling the book yet. However, for those who really want to get one, and for those NOT in Singapore, you can buy the book at the following outlets:

  • Xulon Press (Especially for those in US and perhaps Canada)

  • Amazon.com

  • Barnes & Nobles.com

  • Libreriauniversitaria.it (Perhaps for those in Italy)

  • Friday, January 05, 2007

    Rick Warren: A Back-Channel for PEACE?

    Here is a good article which analyzes more in depth on Warren's Purpose-Driven meddling in politics.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Metamorphosis: Reflections 4

    [continuing on from my previous reflections here, here and here]

    As stated in the preious reflection, I would like to go on with the topic of worship during Metamorphosis.

    Now, with regards to worship, I think I must first put it forth plainly that I have charismatic influences, as I have shared it in my previous post. That, however, does not mean that I am necessarily pro-CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) or anti-CCM because of my various experiences (I am a CCM-trained musician and worship leader, btw).

    In this, I would not be posting an extensive study on the propriety, or lack thereof, of utilizing CCM in worship services. This is at the moment something which I feel is out of my league. However, I do want to make a couple of points here.

    First of all, I think most of conservative Christianity needs to evalute what it calls worship. It is no point worshipping Christ if the words are not even understood. For instance, I visited a church which sings only Psalms in the KJV before, and I might as well be speaking in a different tongue; I can't understand half of what I am singing. What is the point of worshipping God with lyrics so archaic that I cannot understand half of what I am singing? Secondly, when you sing, can the song connect with what you believe and what you desire? In other words, can you worship God with that particular psalm/hymn/song? This is not only limited to conservative Christianity by the way. For the more charismatic-leaning Christians, what's the point of singing songs to dedicate your life to God, to surrender to Him, when you don't mean even a word of what you have just sung? Aren't you just being hypocritical by doing so? Also, for those who use CCM, what's the point of worshipping God? Is it meant to make you feel good; to give you an emotional high? Are you making the worship service into one gigantic rock concert for you to worship yourself? Think about it.

    Anyway, yes, CCM was used extensively throughout the Metamorphosis Student Conference (Anyway, they know nothing else). As for me, I have nothing against using CCM in worship in general provided the lyrics are biblical and they are used properly; i.e. no extra sound and light effects, dancing, showing off of musical talents etc. Certainly, there is a place for dancing, but not in coporate worship, which is subjected to the regulative principle found in Scripture.

    Speaking of the regulative principle, the regulative principle basically states that worship is to be practised according to principles found in the Scripture and nothing else. In other words, worship is to be only according to what is prescribed and not directed according to what is disallowed. For me, I see the principles primarily as found in Jn. 4:23-24, among others. Therefore, as long as something does not violates those principles, it is OK. As such, I do not think that CCM by default violates the regulative principle of worship, as long as it obeys those principles it is OK.

    Feel free to comment.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    My Charismatic forray

    I would just like to share my foray into the Charismatic scene.

    I was born into and attended a traditional Presbyterian church. As a child, I was infant baptized and attended church with my entire family. However, I didn't know much of who God is. When I was still relatively young, in 1994, there was a church split and half of the congregation left. Being young at that time, I didn't know what was going on, only knowing later that a senior church elder and his wife had objected to my then Senior Pastor's introduction of Vineyard Music into the church. My then Senior Pastor, Rev. Keith Lai, was defiant and insisted that he was right in doing so, causing a split in the church.

    Over time, my former church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, has transited from a traditional conservative church to one that uses slightly more contemporary songs, although not as contemporary as what some of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches were using. In 1997, there was a church camp organized in June in which I was forced to go against my will, and it was during that camp in which the Holy Spirit regenerated me. That camp, however, was a Charismatic one, in that the theme was on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, with an emphasis on the ‘exotic’ gifts of tongues etc, with people being ‘slain in the Spirit’ etc. After that camp, I started to get serious about my Christian walk and desired to know and grow in Christ. However, there was nobody to help me, and I was basically stunted in my growth.

    In 1998, I was invited to go for the Festival of Praise (FOP), which is the most Charismatic mass non-denominational event in Singapore (and still is). Being used to dead worship in my former church, it was a refreshing experience to experience lively worship for once (by Hillsongs Australia), and as such I was ‘hooked’. From my viewpoint then, this brand of Christianity is authentic, unlike the dead worship that was going on in my former church. From then on, I bought the music CDs, and immersed myself into that ‘Christian’ subculture. In my former church also, changes were coming. The other youths from my church were soon going to the FOP as well, and basically no youths like the dead worship which they can’t connect to. Being involved in the youth music ministry at that time, we used some of the ‘less staid’ music at that time as compared to those used in the main adult service. It was only a matter of time before someone would decide to introduce the ultimate ‘happening’ worship music – Hillsongs, into the worship service; first the youth, and then the adult services.

    Being in a, in all but name only, Charismatic church which places heavy emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I was intrigued by these gifts, especially the sign gifts. They seem to me to enable one to be spiritual and mature, and I as such I desire those gifts, although I did not receive any of them. All these manifestations of spirituality seemed to me that those people somehow ‘got it’ spiritually. At that time also, I was somehow introduced to the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR), with the ‘apostles’ C. Peter Wagner, ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs etc, especially when my then church participated in the 40 days of prayer and fasting before National Day, which I participated heavily in also. I also subscribed to news from Joel News International, a Neo-Apostolic, Dominionist website which features lots of accounts of miracles of various kinds (i.e. healing of the sick, raising the dead etc.), and even passed on their news to my youth group then.

    However, there was still a serious problem. Obviously, I did not receive any of these gifts of the Spirit, and I didn’t get ‘slain in the Spirit’ either, no matter how receptive I thought I was to the Holy Spirit. My walk with God was in a shambles, as I struggled to continue to do my Quiet Time (QT) and reading of the Bible which I had started off well with after my conversion in 1997. I felt empty and hollow inside. The hollower I felt, the more I seek those gifts, but they were not forthcoming. I was reading Christian books on various topics also, and taking my mind off to other matters like Apologetics helped to ease my emptiness. With such a situation, I entered National Service (NS) in the year 2000, and the circumstances there obviously do not help matters. Soon, I decided to read books like Tommy Tenney’s The God Catchers, which doesn’t help either.

    One day in early 2003, out of curiosity, while I was in SKS bookstore, I saw a book by Robert Reymond entitled A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Being inquisitive, I bought the book and decided to read it. Suffice it is to say that this was my introduction to Reformed Theology and I was offended by the explicit Calvinism found in that book, which I could easily see even though I did not understand nearly 80% of the book then. Having no way of countering the author’s views supported from the Scriptures, I consulted my then young adult pastor but he was no help (although he was supposed to be a Presbyterian pastor). However, God slowly opened my mind to the Scriptures regarding this topic. Slowly by slowly, I started to embrace this doctrinal system which I was initially very hostile to, having accepted it finally by the end of 2003 after I have entered university.

    As I have stated in my autobiography, this acceptance of the doctrines of grace transformed my life and my entire outlook. Slowly, I started to be free. As I begin to read the Scripture for myself again, I slowly rejected most of the Charismatic things I had embraced before as what they truly are: heresy and utter nonsense. Slowly, I am liberated from the bondages imposed by Charismatism and free to follow Christ in the proper way prescribed by Scripture, not the chasing after mirages of ‘sign gifts’, ‘miracles’ and ‘tongues’.

    Metamorphosis: Reflections 3

    [continuing on from my previous reflections here and here]

    During the Metamorphosis student conference, there are a couple of things I would like to comment on — the Prayer Labyrinth and the Worship.

    The Prayer Labyrinth is basically an interactive place where people can come to spend some time in prayer and solitude with the Lord and His Word. At least, that is what it was made out to be. It was featured in the first two Metamorpohosis which I attended, of which I went for it as I was ignorant at that time for what it stood for, and it made a cameback this year.

    The Prayer Labyrinth has its roots in the occult, as documented here and here. This is indeed highly disturbing. Having gone through the labyrinth before in my ignorance, I roughly know how an 'evangelical' labyrinth is laid out. With regards to this Metamorphosis's labyrinth, I deliberated and ultimately decided not to go, even though the labyrinth was said to be 'Christianized' and the various stations inside it were based on the book of Psalms. Since the labyrinth was supposed to be 'Christianized', the issue that I had to consider was whether you can 'gut' paganism out of the labyrinth, and also the occultic association the labyrinth has. From the association the labyrinth has with the occult, and especially since it was stated explicitly in the introduction of its link with the ancient occultic tradition of 'contemplative prayer', I have decided not to go, since I am not going to give any credibility to practices with heretical connotations, regardless of how biblical the activity may actually be. Anyway, the other question which concerns us is whether you can 'Christianize' such an occult practice in the first place.

    Judging from my two previous labyrinth trips, and comparing those with the labyrinths as they are described in other websites, especially liberal church websites, it can be seen that 'evangelical' labyrinths are basically made up of stations utilizing some of the visualization techniques commonly used for most labyrinths PLUS the use of Scripture; removing occultic practices while retaining some of its fundamental methodology. It is thus syncretist and as such not biblical. No doubt that most of the material used is biblical, and the motive behind its setting up is pure, but the fact of the matter is that we are not to unite Christ and Belial (2 Cor. 6:14-18) in any way, which includes methodology as well, especially since such a method is not commanded in Scripture.

    Now, I know that some Evangelicals may have been blessed by the Labyrinth, and I was too during those years when I went (2003, 2004). However, that does not make the practice correct. God, in His mercy, may bless us as we strive to spend time with Him, and anytime we read His Word we will be blessed if we are His, even though our methodology may not be correct. That said, it is sad that such practices are condoned. It is my hope that such a practice is done out of ignorance, and as such, should be discontinued. Instead of having a prayer labyrinth, why not just use the room, break it up into cubicles for the various stations where we can individually silently pray and read and meditate on God's Word, and as such be blessed? I would guess such an alternative would keep the spirit behind the motive for having such a practice in the first place, and also be biblical and edifying to the saints.

    [to be continued]

    Metamorphosis: Reflections 2

    [Continuing from my previous reflection]

    Besides the various workshops that we attended during the Metamorphosis Student Conference, we listened to a couple of talks and sermons throughout the conference given by various people and have a fun time fellowshipping with one another.

    With regards to the messages and sermons given, let's just say that as messages, they were fine. They were given to impart the visions of Campus Crusade, which is encapsulated in the statement 'Movement everywhere, so that every student knows someone who truly follows Jesus'. Definitely, such a goal is noble indeed, and all Christians are to strive to be witnesses for Christ whenever and wherever we are, not just only for 'elite Christians' or Christians with the gift of Evangelism. We are each called to be witnessed for Christ in our own respective areas, and to bring glory to Him who is our Savior and Lord, even Christ.

    Viewed that way, the messages and sermons given were fine, except perhaps sometimes a little less emphasis on Campus Crusade itself would be good.

    During one of the morning session, a speaker, Dr. Mah Yeoh Beng, spoke regarding the passage of Lk. 14:25-33, on the cost of discipleship. Now, I have heard this passage many times, and I gladly proclaim the supreme Lordship of Christ over every aspect of our lives. As Christians, we forfeit any rights and priviledges we have, in service unto the Lord our God who gave His all for us. However, this is easier said than done. It is easy to serve the Lord and sacrifice unto Him when it costs us little. And definitely, short-term sacrifice is much easier to make than that which costs us our entire life. For me, I have been struggling over my future; over what I would like to do for my future. Although I have heard the call to go full-time, I ignored it, although I was open to serving God in some capacity. Definitely, I feared for whether I could have enough money to live on etc, especially since I knew that my stand would be an unpopular one. After all, if at least half of those who call themselves Evangelical would oppose you (especially since I am against Warrenism and Neo-Evangelicalism among others), wouldn't you worry about things like finances? This is especially so for me since I am the oldest in my family, and a guy (which means that I am responsible next time for supporting my parents and my future family). Anyway, I decided to entrust all of these worries unto the Lord, and thus I commit myself to going full-time sometime in the future, though not necessarily in the near-future, as the Lord leads.

    [to be continued]