Sunday, December 31, 2006

Article: Debating unto the glory of God

Here is an article on the topic of debating with respects to theological controversies and disagreements. Ever heard of these sentiments:

You are not going to convince anyone by debating.

When Christians argue, the whole Church suffers. They will know we are Christians by our love for each other, not by how well we beat each other up with the bible.

Oh well, seems like quite a lot of Christians need to be a little more thick-skinned nowadays, and follow the commands of Scripture rather than just trying to be 'nice', as if one's 'niceness' primarily determines whether someone will turn to Christ and/or embrace sound doctrine or not. And by the way, this is not promoting being 'nasty for Christ', but that we would not shy away from loving confrontation when it is called for.

[HT: Calvinist Gadfly]

On the heretic Dan Corner

I have just heard Gene Cook's radio program interview with Dan Corner of Evangelical Outreach. I cannot believe what I heard, or perhaps it is because I don't normally hang out with such people. Here is a nice cartoon on the website regarding Dan Corner and his ilk.

Straw man argumentation indeed! As you can hear from the radio interview, this modern-day Pelagian heretic denies the doctrine of Original Sin. Furthermore, he holds that Jesus' prayers, especially His High Priestly prayer in Jn. 17 are not answered, which make the role of Jesus as our great High Priest into a mockery (Heb. 9:11-28), and violates Scripture which states that Jesus' prayers and supplications are heard (Heb. 5:7).

With regards to his stand on 'conditional security of salvation', it can be seen firstly that he compartmentalizes various aspects of theology, as if the doctrine of 'Eternal security' can be seperated from the purpose of Christ' intercession to the Father on our behalf (Rom. 8: 34). Consistent with his denial of Original Sin, he claims that there are various degrees of sin, of which some sins do not deserve hellfire, quoting 1 Cor. 6:9-10 to illuistrate which sins when committed would made one lose his/her salvation. Such categorization of sins into 'sins that makes one lose salvation' and 'sins that do not make one lose salvation' violates Scripture which states that ALL and any sins deserve the wrath of God (Jas. 2:10; Rom. 3:23) in hellfire. This reeks of Roman Catholicism with its terminology of 'Venial sins' and 'Mortal sins'. Anyway, even using the 1 Cor. 6:9-10 criteria, together with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount exposition in Mt. 5-7, especially Mt. 5:21-30, can Dan Corner honestly say that he does not lust? I myself do not dare to make such a claim, knowing full well the depraved nature still inherent in me. Oh wait, he claims to have not lust. Oh well, I guess I am more sinful than him ...

Do hear Gene's conclusion though. It is a summary of a biblical analysis of Dan Corner's heretical theology.

Anyway, I pity Dan Corner. He has and can never have any assurance of salvation, contra to 1 Jn. 5:13. As a Pelgian heretic, he promotes a different gospel of 'legalism' and is under the anathema of God pronounced in the Scriptures (Gal. 1:8-9), being no different from the Judaizers of Paul's day. It is indeed a fearful thing to wake up to the wrath of God poured out against heretics! May God have mercy on him and bring him to salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

[Update: Here is James R. White's update on the issue here.]

[HT: Dr. James R. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries; Calvinist Gadfly]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Metamorphosis Student Conference

I am now in a camp organized by Campus Crusade for Christ — Metamorphosis Student Conference, for this entire week. God has been good so far, and I have in the last two days finished a 6-hour course on Christology by Amy Lau, one of the theologically trained staff here. Quite interesting.

Article: Why many of today's evangelical pastors are cult-like

This is a good article by Brannon Howse on the reality of the nature of many of today's church leaders in general, and the gullible sheep who follow them. May God save us from such leaders.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Regulative principle and baptism: The fallacy of total concept transfer

I have just realized I miss out one of the fallacies committed when I offered a rebuttal of Wenxian's post here and here. This is the logical fallacy of total concept transfer, in which the conclusions of a concept from one area is applied similarly onto another area en toto, without consideration of the differences between the two areas.

This logical fallacy belongs to the same class as the logical fallacies of equivocation and amphiboly, as all three fallacies are based on some type of equivocation. The fallacy of equivocation occurs when the meaning of one word used in two different contexts are equivocated, the fallacy of amphiboly occurs when the meaning of one phrase used in two different contexts are equivocated (or when one phrase can have two different meanings), and the fallacy of total concept transfer occurs when the meaning and application of one principle/ theory from one discipline/area is applied in the same manner (equivocated) to another discipline/area. The different fallacies are ilustrated as shown:

Fallacy of equivocation:

My wife drove me up the wall yesterday. Therefore, my wife can drive the car. (Equivocation of the word 'drive')

Fallacy of amphiboly:

I want to study ants in my car. (So is the person studying ants while he is in his car, or is the person studying ants which are found in his car? — Equivocation over the phrase 'study ants in my car')

Fallacy of total concept transfer:

Objective truth exists, since the statement 'there is objective truth' is either true or not true. If it is true, then objective truth exists; if it is not true, then it is objectively true that 'objective truth does not exist', which is a contradiction and thus absurd. (Consequentia mirabilis) Therefore, objective truth exists and relativism is wrong.

Now, I have tasted and am convinced that this cake is nice. Since there is objective truth, the fact that this cake is nice must be objectively true, and therefore no one can say that this cake is not nice without denying the truth.

OK, so what exactly is the fallacy committed in Wenxian's post? In that post, the principle of the regulative principle of worship, which is only linked to worship by the way, is taken out of its doctrinal context and applied in the same manner onto the doctrine of baptism. Worship and baptism are two different areas of the Christian life, and each of them have specific passages from Scripture addressing them both. As both of them are scriptural practices, the practice of both of them must be found within the pages of Scripture, and thus the principle of Sola Scriptura must be applied to the practice of both of them, as with any other practice which Christians do. The regulative principle, however, is something which is only liked with worship and therefore, to take this principle, rip it out of its biblical area of application, and applying it to baptism is to commit the fallacy of total concept transfer.

In closing, let me give one last example of the fallacy of total concept transfer, courtesy of Dr. James R. White as stated in his blog here:

Roman theology is Arian. Why? Because its man-centered sacramental system denies the Lordship of Christ, hence his deity, in providing perfect salvation for the elect. While the Scriptures emphasize Christ's ability, man-centered religious systems like Rome emphasize man's ability and reduce Christ to a mere helper, one who tries, but often fails, to accomplish His intentions. Since God cannot fail, and Rome presents a Savior who tries, but fails, to save, then Rome is Arian. (The fallacy is committed when one applies a concept in Christology and applies it to the area of Soteriology)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas special: Are you sure you really want to celebrate Christmas?

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, "I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. (Lk. 11:47-51) (Bold added)

Before I forget, Merry Christmas to one and all. In this holiday season, I would like to ask ourselves one important question: Are you sure you really want to celebrate Christmas?

Christmas as a festival is meant to celebrate the incarnational birth of Jesus Christ, the God-man; 100% God and 100% Man, who came down to Earth to die as a propitiation for our sins, so that we can have fellowship with God once again. During His ministry, Jesus did various extraordinary things, and in this post, I would like us to concentrate on the above-mentioned passage, specifically the part in bold.

In the context of this passage, Jesus was pronouncing woes on the Pharisees and the scribes, because of their hypocrisy; for neglecting the weightier issues of the Law while focusing on the minor outward aspects of it. In the middle of all these woes, Jesus mentioned the following statement:

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.

Notice what Jesus said. Jesus said that the Pharisees are on the surface honoring the prophets of old (by building their tombs, and also especially in treating their writings as Scripture — the OT), but that they are actually consenting to the killing of God's prophets. In other words, the Pharisees are accused of consenting to the persecuting and killing of God's prophets (Acts 7:51-52), and after they are dead, to mourn and honor them. Such hypocrisy! For them, the saying holds true: A good prophet is a dead prophet.

What does this have to do with Christmas, you may ask. Well, do we treat Jesus the same way the Pharisees of old treat the prophets? As we celebrate Christmas; to celebrate the incarnational birth of our Savior and Lord 2000+ years ago, do we treat Him like how the Pharisees treated the ancient prophets — to say with our lips that we honor Him, to sing praises to His name, to even witness for Him, but NOT to obey His commands and teachings? Will we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord as how He has shown Himself in the Bible, including all the so-called 'offensive' parts? Have we 'sanitized' Jesus of all the rough-edges, such that He is so nice and comforting to us — a friend of sinners, instead of the friend of sinners who is the Truth who will call us to holiness in Him and thus more than likely offend us by telling us what parts of our lives are not pleasing to Him? If Jesus were to be among us now, do you think that we would still embrace Him even though He may rebuke us and chatise us for our sinfullness, and definitely offend all our sensibilities, like what he did to the Pharisees? Or are we going to be just like the Pharisees, who pay lip service to the prophets of God who came before them, since these prophets are now dead and thus cannot directly rebuke their waywardness?

Therefore, as we come together this holiday season to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us ponder in our hearts whether we really want to celebrate this festival. Duruing His time on this earth, He offended the sensibilites of all the religious people and even some of the common folk, which precipitated His death by the way (No one gets hated and crucified for no good reason). Are we sure we want such a man to rule over us, one who is not politically-correct, one who calls people to holiness and rebuke the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, one who is loving and is in fact Love, yet one who condemns the religious leaders to hell for blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:31-32)? Think and meditate on these things, and may we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ in every aspects of our lives this Christmas.

Prayer: Lord, even as we celebrate the incarnational birth of our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas, may you open our eyes to see Your Truth, and to see Your light. May we not try to tame Your Son Jesus Christ and reimagine Him according to our whims and fancy; our likes and dislikes, but to accept and honor Him as He truly is. Let us learn to accept Him as He is portrayed in the Bible, and let us remove all false perceptions of Him that we have ever embraced in our lives, so that He will once again have the preeminent position in our lives.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Reply to Wenxian on the orthodox & reformed doctrine of Infant Baptism (part 2)

[Continuing on with my rebuttal of Wenxian's post.]

3. Roman Catholicism is linked to protestants by the ritual with the same name. This is obvious. Insomuch as we explain ourselves to be different, to new believers, it does not seem so.

And the point is? I can just as easily point out the fact that Roman Catholicism practise adult baptism, and what does that prove? Certain charismatic word-faith churches practise believers' baptism only (In fact, most if not all charismatic and pentecostal churches do that), so does this prove that Baptist churches are therefore indistinguishable from the charismatic word-faith churches, since they are linked by the same practice with the same name? Of course not!

The fruits are also very much the same: a church filled to the brim with unbelievers, although we should not see things for the fruit alone.

Proof? The fact of the matter is that historically, historic Reformed churches in general fare rather well in terms of keeping the faith, at least no worse than baptist churches. Guess which denomination Rick Warren is from? The Southern Baptist Convention, which believes in believers' baptism only. Thus, this statement is manifestly not true.

A road back to rome...

Baptists are also involved in the ecumenical movement, of which the most prominent is Rick Warren.

4. Infant baptism provides false security to young believers and to their parents.

... who do not know what infant baptism is about! And if they are not taught, people who profess to be believers and are baptized as adults could also have a sense of false security with regards to their salvation. This is not limited to infant baptism alone!

Hence many, confused by the evil one or by other means, will take tha [sic the] baptism of the infant as the real thing: they will assume the child is saved and will be lax with their teachings with the child - after all, who is gonna render the child unsaved when the child is already baptised and 'saved'?

Similarly, how many people in nominal baptists churches are assured by the pastor that they are saved because they have at one time or another said the 'Sinner's prayer' (i.e. Decisional regeneration)? How many people who have only made a 'decision for Christ' in a baptist church continue to live in sin, because they believe in a twisted form of 'Once saved, always saved', and thus they can sin as much as they like since they are saved no matter what happens? False assurance of salvation and misunderstanding of doctrine does not only happens in paedobaptist churches; it is common to both!

But my point of contention is: why create an opportunity to create confusion? Why make understanding for the lay masses so much more difficult with all the convental (sic) theology and the far-fetched convenant (sic) of grace?

The doctrine of the Trinity could be said to similarly be 'an opportunity to create confusion', since it is not easy to understand. A Jehovah Witness could use this same form of reasoning against it, so this form of reasoning is moot. As I have said, it would be better to read up more before comments are made about concepts which are hardly grasped (covenental theology and the convenent of grace).

The method of inferrence for infant baptism, is most contradictory with sola scriptura. This is leaning closely to hypocrisy, because some are reformed but in this case they seem to ignore the principle of scripture only.

This is a serious charge, and I challenge you, Wenxian, and anyone for that matter to substantiate it. This only shows the ignorance of the person making the charge to anyone who reads this. Does anyone really wants to make the charge that the Reformers who loudly proclaim Sola Scriptura do not see this 'contradiction' with their doctrine of infant baptism? Who dares claim to be smarter than the Westminster divines, the multitude of Reformed pastors, evangelists and theologians of the Reformation and Puritan ages? If so, prove it! Even Baptist scholars worth their salt do not make this sort of charge against us! They may disagree with us, but nobody would say that we violate the principle of Sola Scriptura, for the simple reason that we derive the doctrine of Infant baptism from Scripture! Whether Infant baptism is implied in Scriptures is disputed between historic Reformed and Baptists, but the fact of the matter is that we believe and can show proof from Scripture for the doctrine of Infant baptism, and as such it is not a denial of Sola Scriptura (which includes all implications from Scripture as well). I have shown this in my previous refutations of the 'evidences' presented that infant baptism is not ruled out from consideration of these passages and the doctrine could in fact be probably derived from some of those scriptures quoted, so the Credo-/Paedo-baptist issue has nothing whatsoever to do with Sola Scriptura.

Now, after showing forth the fallacious reasoning in these so-called evidences, some people may noticed that I have not as yet proven the doctrine of Infant baptism from the Scriptures. Yes, I have not done so, and that was not my intention. What I have intended to show is that these so-called evidences cannot be taken to prove or disprove infant baptism or credobaptism. The credo-baptist may be correct, and we wrong, but the proof must lie elsewhere, not in this type of superficial reading of the Scripture and fallacious reasoning. This is why I would ask people who are interested on the topic to read and think more before coming to their own position on the issue, and to think about the relation between the Old and New Covenents. Dr. James R. White, himself a Reformed Baptist, is moving in the correct direction when he defends his baptist position by looking at the relation between the Old and New Covenant. Whether he is right or not remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that his position at least engages the position correctly, unlike this type of superficial reasoning which has been refuted here.

P.S.: Since Wenxian came out from Anglicanism, I can probably understand a bit where he comes from, and thus his desire for a pure church is a mitigating factor in his case. But doctrine must be derived from the Scriptures, not from our personal preferences or previous church experiences.

PPS.: For especially Wenxian's benefit, and also since he does not allow comments on his blog on the topic anymore, the person whose website he learns the regulative principle of worship from, Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, is a former Reformed Baptist turned Presbyterian. Here is a page from his website on the topic of infant baptism. Also, looking at his last comment in reply to Vincent here, I would really ask him to exhibit more humility and stop acting so ... , for lack of a better term, juvenile. Stop condemning your borthers in Christ, for a start, by using less polemics and addressing the issue proper.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reply to Wenxian on the orthodox & reformed doctrine of Infant Baptism (part 1)

OK, this is not what I particularly want to do, but after talking to my brother Wenxian over the phone on the subject of credo- vs paedobaptism for more than one hour, and then reading his recent post on this topic, I feel I need to offer a rebuttal to his post on the subject. As I have mentioned before to him, I am not an expert on this doctrine, and I am personally amiacable to (Particular) Baptists and their distinctive doctrines. Not speaking for all or any other historic Reformed folks out there (as distinct from Reformed Baptist), but I am willing to let Christians hold on to their different views on this topic since in my opinion it is not that vital (as opposed to doctrines such as Calvinism). However, one thing which I do not like is straw man argumentation and the committing of various logical fallacies in argument. That is why I would and have advise anyone who wants to study the subject to read more into the subject, and form your own conclusion slowly and carefully. Also, since this is not that vital a doctrine, using polemics against the other party is NEITHER needed nor warrented, and whoever does so is inviting trouble; and I will make sure they will get the trouble they ask for.

In this and subsequent posts, therefore, I would analyze Wenxian's arguments against Infant Baptism and test them for logical consistency and Scriptural backing.

The first argument given against Infant Baptism is given as:

1) There is no real clear biblical command for infant baptism. This alone is sufficient.

This commits the logical fallacy of argument from silence. Just because there isn't an explicit command for Infant baptism doesn't imply that Infant Baptism is wrong. True, we need to follow Scripture and Scripture alone, but then Scripture alone includes not only the explicit commands of Scripture, but also the implicit commands of Scripture, and furthermore the application of Scripture. To see why this argument is fallacious, let's substitute the term 'infant baptism' for something else, like ... immersion only baptism, which is what Baptists practice. Show me one verse in Scripture whereby Jesus or the Apostles explicitly commands that baptism must be done only via immersion. You can't! It is the most implied in Scripture, not explicitly commanded.

As an aside, there is an assumption in this argument that baptism and infant baptism are two seperate distinct things, instead of them being overlapping entities. Infant baptism could very well be spoken of in the NT as being under the subset of baptism, and thus to infer from the fact that just because infant baptism is not mentioned specifically in the NT so it is not done nor commanded is fallacious.

While there are examples of households being baptised, there was no effort made to show that the households contain infants.

Judging by the prevalent Roman, Greek and Jewish cultures of that time, such information would definitely not be given unless there is something special about the infants. In fact, why should the infants be mentioned since they are not someone special and just part of the household, if there were any? This thus commits another fallacy of argument from silence. In fact, the texts indicating that entire households are baptized could be used as a strong text to support infant baptism, since in those ancient cultures, how many people are there who practise birth control methods etc during that time? Probably none, in fact! Most families then would have lots of children of various ages, and to suppose that they just decided to stop having children after a certain age is rather far-fetched.

With regards to the household issue, perhaps it would be good to look also at Acts. 2:39 where it is specifically stated that the promise is to ... the children of believers! Yes, it is stated after that that the promise it is to everyone to whom the Lord calls to Himself, but why the assumption that the children of believers are among those to whom the Lord does not call to Himself?

Faith marked the entry into the salvic (sic Salvific) promise in [the] OT.

No. Faith does not 'mark' the entry into the salvific promise in the OT. Faith is the pre-requisite, but it since it is unseen, it does not visibly mark the entry into the salvific promises. The visible mark of entry into the promises of the OT which are fulfiled in Jesus Christ is via circumcision (Gen. 17:10-14), since the promise was made to Israel as the visible Church of the OT. Of couse, only those of the elect in Israel would appropriate the promises by faith, but such faith is not exactly visible except in the obvious cases of certain people like the prophets and judges, and this we know through Scripture only. Just because one shows forth external piety does not show one is truly saved, just like the Pharisees and the Sadducees whom Jesus condemned (Lk. 11:39-52).

But now for paedobaptism, where is the command? Should not God make it clear if he wants us to do it? God is not stupid. If he wants something done, he will state it clearly so that we will have no excuse. The converse is true.

And who defines what is clear and what is not? If the command is in the OT, and the New Covenant does not abrogate the Old but instead it shows forth the true meaning of it, then the command is stil valid in some form. If one assumes the continuity of the Old and New Testaments, and the Old and New Covenants (which I do), then there will be some implications on whether something stated in the OT continues on in some fashion in the New Dispensation of Grace. Yes, if God commands us to do something, it will be clear. However, just because you can't discern something does not mean that thing is NOT clear! To object to infant baptism because you can't see it being commanded in Scripture has the same apologetic value as the Jehovah Witness who objects to the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ because he can't see it stated in Scripture.

in absense of the biblical warrant, we are in danger of instilling a human tradition and forcing people to do it.

As I have said, just because it is not stated explicitly does not imply that it is not stated in Scripture implicitly.

As mentioned by some of [m]y friends, they claim that paedobaptism is a liberty issue

Wenxian got that from me, or rather it was supposed to be from me, but no, this is NOT what I said. I said that I regard paedobaptism as an issue over which individual Christians should be allowed to have liberty to embrace or not (without using the H-word). It is not something which is on the level of eating meat or esteeming certain days etc (Rom. 14, 1 Cor. 8), but is regarding doctrine, and a rather important one at that. Due to the complexity of the issue, and the fact that it is important but not vital, individual Christians in my opinion should be allowed to have the liberty to decide which position they would like to embrace.

But the problem lies that since there is NO biblical warrant, they would be guilty of a great sin if they, in the name of Christ, were to force people to do things that God himself did not command. For they would be breaking the command in Exodus 20:7 when they misuse the Lord's name. In fact they are in danger of making God out to be a liar.

I believe that there is biblical warrant for infant baptism. Anyway, what I would like to focus on here is the polemics which is used against us historic Reformed folks. As one of them myself, I find this type of polemical statements offensive and definitely not warranted, since this issue is NOT relating to heresies etc. There is a place for everything, including polemics and rhetoric, but one place where they shoudn't show up is in disagreements among brethren when the issue involved is not a soul-endangering one.

2. Infant baptism confuses the real church and the unsaved. Infant baptism is a confusing concept that seems to 'come into effect when a child confesses his faith'. This brings out many controversies. Firstly, at what age? who defines the age that makes the 'confession of faith' real and valid? Could the child be confused?

It 'does not come into effect when a child confesses his faith'! I said that it is validated as a true baptism when the child confesses his faith. With regards to the age issue, this is not something which is specific for paedobaptists. May I counter-question the credo-baptists: at what age can the child be considered suitable for adult baptism? Could the person be confused? Do you think certain baptist churches in the US who conduct children evangelism are correct? If these children confess Christ at such an evangelistic meeting, since they are supposed to be believers then (as they were not Christians beforehand), should they be admitted for believers' baptism? Think before you answer.

For credobaptism, the opposite of paedobaptism, God did define it. He defined in NT, unarguably, ALL baptism to be of people who confess faith, repent and believe. Age and sex no longer matter.

Just for the record, credobaptism is NOT the opposite of paedobaptism! We historic Reformed folks DO baptize adults on the same basis as credo-baptists do! And sorry, I disagree with the statement that all baptism in the NT is to be of people who confess faith, repent and believe. This commits the logical fallacy of petitio principii or begging the question, in which the conclusion is smuggled into the premises. There is NO passages in Scripture whereby baptism is said to be ONLY for those who can willingly confess their faith! Showing passages of people being baptized who do so does not prove that baptism is exclusively for those who do so. (i.e. 'If p, then q' does not imply that 'If not p, then not q'!)

What happens is that paedobaptism will create a church with many unbelievers who are baptised. This makes the baptism to NONbelievers less important that it should be, no matter how much we explain to them.

There are unbelievers in all churches! Jesus Himself said that in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mt. 13:24-30), and only at the Final Judgment would they be totally seperated. Is there any church anywhere who can claim that their membership is 100% regenerate? No! Even the most stringent criteria for membership does not preclude that heretics would arise from within the flock (Acts. 20:30), which occur even during the Apostolic Age. What makes anyone so sure that their membership criteria would weed out all the non-believers? How can anyone know the heart of any person to see whether that person is truly regenerate or not? We can only see the external; whether the person professes true doctrine and behave accordingly, but we can never know the heart. If there be a membership criteria which is able to remove the true unregenerate from the church, is is bound to create lots of false negatives (i.e. true believers who are shifted out using those same criteria - c.f.Mt. 13:29), which God forbids (Mt. 13:30)! Yes, we try to screen people so that only regenerate Christians are inside, and we throw out heretics who deny the faith, but that does not imply that we are to do more than Scripture allows us to, and attempting to read the heart of the person whom we are considering for membership is one of such practices which add to God's Word and in fact violates it (Ps. 44:21; Jer. 17:9).

That being said, do any Baptist churches dare to likewise proclaim that their membership is 100% regenerate, since they only baptize those who make a valid confession of faith and live according to it? I would hope not! In fact, one just has to look down church history to see that Baptist churches have apostasized before. How can that be if Baptist churches have 100% regenerate membership? Oviously, Baptist churches try to have 100% regenerate membership, and try to make sure that the people joining them are truly regenerate, but this process was and will never be foolproof.

Since such is the case, this objection to paedobaptism by saying that it would be filled with unbelievers is false. This could occur with Baptist churches as well! If one says that paedobaptism would give rise to a higher probability for the church to be filled with unbelievers, then that would be more valid. This obviously has happened to Presbyterian and Reformed churches before, where there is laziness in enforcing proper procedure and church discipline for children born to believers who are actually not born again. However, this problem is not unique to paedobaptist churches. Aren't Baptist churches also susceptible to the problem of a formerly admitted member who later apostasized? And how many Baptist churches actually practice church discipline against recalcitrant sinning members? And do Baptist churches sometimes practice more leniency when examining the membership application of the children of members, and especially the pastor's children? I rest my case.

The Lord does not want to do a repeat of Israel, where many were circumcised but many turn away.

Wrong. Verses to support your stand please.

If the Lord wanted a repeat, there would be no need for the NT baptism. The Lord does not 'change' terms for fun.

This is a misunderstanding of the relation between the Old and New Testament, and the Old and New Covenant. The changing of the terms is not because the Lord wanted to somehow make a church whereby all members in it are regenerate, but because the Old Covenant was in types and shadows, whereas all is clear in the New Covenant, therein the changes.

[to be continued]

(Note: All comments are to be posted on the second and concluding post)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reflections on The Nativity Story - (Warning: Spoiler)

Today, after doing some experiments in lab, I went out with my crusade friends to watch the movie The Nativity Story. I know there is some concern over the film, especially from people who are concerned over Hollywood's presentation of Jesus and their addition and possible alteration of Scriptural truths. Definitely, we should not let Hollywood define Christianity for us, nor Catholicism for that matter (in the Passion of the Christ movie).

Anyway, I decided to go and check it out critically, since it is a good time to get together with my friends also. Overall, it was a good movie and rather true to Scripture, with artistic license applied to a few minor details. However, I do have some bones to pick:

Firstly, the way the Magi were portrayed more like comedians rather than true wise men. The director took liberty in portraying the Magi as coming from ancient Persia, whereas the Bible only mentioned they were from the East (Mt. 2:1). Thirdly, and rather seriously, the Magi were portrayed as mystics who followed the 'star' to Bethelem, with the star actually being a supernatural light source (which was good), which however appeared only after the unique event of the alignment of three bright lights in the night sky; Jupiter, Venus, and some other star. Therefore, the Magi 'discovered' Jesus' birth through the combination of Scripture and astrology, which is definitely NOT a good thing to put in the film.

A slight alteration of the text of Scripture was also done in the Magi's offering of the gifts, where the gift of myrrh was being offered to Mary instead of Jesus (Mt. 2:11). The other two were all right, with gold being offered to Jesus as He is the 'King of kings' and frankincense offered to Him who is the 'Priest of priests'. Another slight alteration, or rather omission, was that the movie did not show the magi receiving the warning not to return to Herod in a dream from God, which Scripture mentioned (Mt. 2:12).

One addition to the film lay in the addition of the snakes in certain parts of the film. The Magi saw lots of snakes when they entered one of the cities in Judea, and during a stream crossing, a water snake tried to attack Mary and her donkey, precipitating a mini-crisis. Judging by the significance of the snake (Gen. 3), and its use in the Passion, I don't see the rationale behind the addition of the snake, as though it was cool to put such a scene in.

Besides these concerns, the movie in general follows Scripture rather closely (and is thus not so 'exciting' as the Passion). Additionally, since the movie has been criticized by Catholics for being 'factually incorrect' since it does not promote their non-historical and heretical doctrines of the 'Immaculate Conception' and their version of the 'Virgin Birth', that by itself is a plus point for the movie. This movie is thus much better and more Scriptural than the Passion ever was.

This said, however, I would like to caution against using this movie as an evangelistic tool. Definitely, using sermons based on this movie rather than the actual biblical text is wrong, as it using 'evangelistic' tracts and materials based on or associated with it. Watching the movie with an non-believing friend is NOT a session in witnessing to him/her! Evangelism can only be done through the preaching of the Gospel which alone saves (Rom. 10: 14-17), and only preaching and witnessing in words is the medium by which God will bless our evangelistic efforts. Movies/ Skits, Music etc do NOT play a role whatsoever in evangelism, since it is not ordained by God for that end. Therefore, this, and any other movie for that matter, is not meant to be used for evangelism of any sort. Also, since discernment is always needed since Hollywood would always need to add material to the subject in order to make it long enough to become a film, such Christian-themed movies should not be watched by young Christians (both Christian children and those young in the faith).

For this, and similar themed movies, Christians are to treat it as like any other movie, with the only difference that this is a religious movie which require more discernment. By all means, if it is treated as such, Christians may watch those movies just like any other secular movies which are not immoral or ungodly in any way.

Some people may object that movies which show the face of our Lord Jesus Christ violate the second commandment of Scripture. Definitely, this is true, and we should thus ommit showing the face of Jesus, since although he is fully Man, he is also fully God. By this standard, this film is mostly ok, since the only time you will see Jesus is for a little while as a baby, and honestly almost all babies look alike (at least to me).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Book recommandation: The Feminist Gospel by Mary Kassian

I have just finished reading The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church by Mary A. Kassian, after finishing reading Warren Smith's Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel, which I had reviewed ealier. This book by Mary Kassian focuses on the evolution of contemporary Feminism and then evaluate it according to Scripture.

As I do not know much of the complex socialogical issues revolving around Feminism, I would therefore refrain from reviewing the entire book, only looking at some of the various issues which is within my capacity to review. Anyway, this book is found online here (which is where I found the book; I downloaded and printed it). Since it is being promoted by the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), I would assume that the research is properly done. Definitely, the book itself is very well researched with the author quoting various feminists to show the evolution and the direction of growth of Feminism. What I mean when I say that I assumed that the book is properly researched is whether the sources the author quotes to prop up her thesis are representative of Feminism as a movement. Since CBMW promotes Kassian's book, I would assume that it is.

As it stands, this book is well researched. As it covers the evolution of feminism and its impact on the Church, and the biblical response to Feminism, this book is highly recommanded for believers who want to find out more about Feminism but don't exactly have the time to read up mountains of material to do such a thing. Also, though this point is not stressed so much in the book, the idea of women pastors, elders etc is refuted in this book since they came about through the influence of Feminism.

For readers who may want a more updated bok (this book was published in 1992), you may be interested in getting the updated and revised book The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture, which is published in 2005 and can be found here.

In the next couple of posts, I would be reviewing and commenting on various sections in this book, which show the utter unbiblical and even nonsensical theory that is Feminism (be it secular, religious or biblical).

Book review of Reimagining Jesus Christ by Warren Smith

I had finished reading the book by Warren Smith entitled Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel, which can be found here. I had then reviewed the book here on my website. I would like to recommand this book to those who are interested to know more about the New Age movement and how it evolves and infiltrates society, and also in part those who call themselves churches.

Addenum: Here is an update for chapter 10 of the book of his, where he showed how Rick Warren is the conduit by which the New Age ideas are infiltrating the church.

Review of Rick Warren's sermon....

I have just finished my review of a sermon preached by Pastor Rick Warren during his July 2006 PDC (Purpose Driven Church) conference here in Singapore. It is available here in PDF format. Just an excerpt from my conclusion (Actually, it's my conclusion):

From this review of Pastor Warren’s message, many troubling signs can be seen. Warren’s promotion of the Neo-Apostolic heresy and his subtle hint of an embracing of Word-faith heresy are particularly disturbing. His revivalist tendencies reminiscent of the Pelagian arch-heretic Charles Grandison Finney, together with his neo-liberal socialist tendencies in promoting a new ‘evangelical’ social gospel exposes him as a false teacher. When one includes all the church splits he has indirectly caused by his Purpose Driven Church/Life and 40 Days of Purpose campaign, which implicates Warren of committing the Diotrephesian error (3 Jn. 9-10), there is very much cause for concern. One can only hope that the Church of Jesus Christ would open her eyes to the deception of this heretic and turn back to Christ alone.

With regards to Warren’s sincerity, it can clearly be seen that Warren seems to be passionate about serving God. At least in this sermon, Warren comes across partly as a humble servant of the Lord with God just blessing him with affluence and influence. He also did mention that he did not seek wealth, nor fame or influence, but God just gave them to him. Assuming he is what he has portrayed himself to be from this sermon, it is no wonder that many people who call themselves Evangelicals are fooled. As Christians who are called to be discerning, however, we are called by Christ to discern the fruits (Mt. 7:15-20) and not look on the surface at apparent piety. If discernment is properly and biblically exercised, even if Warren is sincere and means what he says, Warren, through his false teachings and beliefs and improper associations, could be seen to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Oh, he is sincere, but he is sincerely devoted NOT to Christ, but to a god of his own making; to a god whom he creates from reading the Bible through the lenses of his unbiblical worldview. He is serving that god, and NOT the true God of the Bible.

However, we do know from the words that he says elsewhere in secular interviews and speeches etc that Warren is not being true in his portrayal of himself in this sermon. On the one hand, he says that he says that he is not seeking fame and influence, yet if then, why should he be yearning to be the pastors of pastors, through setting up his website and the Purpose-driven network? Why is he championing the HIV/AIDS cause but not championing the cause of the unborn? Worse still, why is he not championing the best way to solve the HIV/ AIDS crisis, which is for sexual abstinence before marriage, marital fidelity, an end to homosexuality and all forms of deviant sexuality, no drug abuse and thus no sharing of needles? Why would he be toeing the liberal line on fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis, unless of cause that truly standing up for Christ in this manner would make him unpopular with the elites in society? So from all this, we can see that Rick Warren is indeed seeking fame contrary to what he says in his message. At the very least, he is ashamed of the Gospel, and Scripture does tell us what the punishment of God is upon those who do such things (Mk. 8:38; Lk. 9:26). Since he is supposed to be a pastor, such action of his is sufficient cause for him to be removed from the pulpit altogether.

In conclusion, we can see the various errors embraced by and being promoted by Rick Warren. Therefore, Rick Warren is to be marked as a heretic and avoided (Rom. 16:17) because of his embrace and promotion of various heresies, and treated as such if and until he repents of his heresies and sin of schism.

Oh, and just to add one more point for the sake of fellow Christians, if you really care about Rick Warren, encouraging him in his apostasy is the more hateful thing you are doing to him, since he will continue to be convinced he is right. The most loving thing anyone can do for Rick Warren now would be to rebuke him for his errors and hand him over to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5), in the hope that God would break him and turn him back to Christ in repentance for his many heresies, like what God has done in the immoral man who repented (2 Cor. 2:5-8) after being given over to Satan previously. Since such is the case, and since many undiscerning Christians are supporting and even defending Rick Warren, Warren supporters are actually guilty of hating Rick Warren and allowing, and even facilitating him to slide into perdition.

Oh, and I have just recently seen that Issues Etc has recently came up with a sermon review of a sermon Rick Warren recently preached in his church defending the entire purpose driven enterprise against his critics. You can hear it here.

[HT: Slice of Laodicea]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Great "Therefore" of The Resurrection: Excerpts from Piper's book 'A Godward Life' 4/4

Here is the last article I would like to share with all of us, which I feel is very important. The article is entitled The Great "Therefore" of the The Resurrection: Pondering the Consequences of Ideas.

Victor Frankl was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau during the Second World War. As a Jewish professor of neurology and psychiatry he became world renowed for his book, Man's Search for Meaning, which sold more than eight million copies. In it he unfolds the essence of his philosophy that came to be called Logotherapy — namely; that the most fundamental human motive is to find meaning in life. He observed in the horrors of the camps that man can endure almost any "how" of life if he has a "why", but there is a less well-known quote that may be just as profound: "I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."

In other words, ideas have consequences that bless or destroy. People's behavior — good and bad — does not come from nowhere. It comes from prevailing views of reality that take root in the mind and bring forth good or evil. This is why some of us put such a high premium on teaching. It is why we preach the way we do and care so deeply about issues of truth. (Bold added)

One of the ways that the Bible makes plain the truth that ideas have practical consequences is by saying things like, "Whatever was written in earlier times was written... that... we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). The ideas presented in the Scriptures produce the practical consequence of hope. Again, Paul says, "The goal od our instruction is love" (1 Timothy 1:5). The imparting of ideas by "instruction" is meant to produce love. Hope and love do not come from nowhere. They grow out of ideas — views of reality — revealed in the Scriptures and applied in the power of God's Spirit.

Another way the Scriptures show us that ideas have consequences is by using the word "therefore" (1,039 times in the NASB). For example, "Therefore having being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). "Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow" (Matthew 6:34). "Therefore, do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31). "Therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you" (Matthew 7:12). "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore (Romans 14:13). "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body" (Romans 6:12). "Therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthains 6:20). "Therefore whether we love or die, we are the Lord's " (Romans 14:8).

Every one of these great "therefores" flows from a view of reality. If we want to live in the power of these great practical "therefore", we must be gripped by the ideas — the views of reality — that go before them and support them.

One of the most important ideas in the universe is found in 1 Corinthains 15:51-58 — the resurrection and a precious "therefore" that flows from it: "Behold, I tell you a mystery, we will not be asleep, but we will be changed, in a moment, in the twinking of an eye, at the last trumpet... 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

The greatest vision of reality — the greatest idea — is Christ triumphant over sin, guilt death, and hell. O to be utterly gripped and guided by this great ground of steadfastness!

The END!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Strong Meat for the Muscle of Missions: Excerpts from Piper's book 'A Godward Life' 3/4

Here is the third article I would like to share with all of us which I think is quite interesting. It has been said by certain ignorant people that Calvinism is anti-Evangelism; that belief in Sovereign Grace and Election reduces or even removes zeal for evangelism. Of course, that is total nonsense. There are just as many, if not more, Arminians who couldn't care less about evangelism than there are people who claim to be Reformed who similarly do so. Anyway, besides the theological aspect, this article by Piper shows the doctrines of grace put into practice into the work of missions in evangelism — in the life of Adoniram Judson. The third article is thus entitled 'Strong Meat for the Muscle of Missions: Thoughts on the Ministry of Adoniram Judson'.

More and more I am persuaded that a deep and lasting missions movement will need a deeply rooted doctrine of salvation. On vacation I read some of the memoirs of Adoniram Judson, You recall he was a Congregationalist-turned-Baptist who went to Burma in 1812 and didn't come home for thiry-three years.

Courtney Anderson tells the thrilling and romantic story in To the Golden Shore, but like so many missionary biographers, Anderson seems not to know what made Judson tick. It's the memoirs that let you see the theological roots. We are so theologically superficial today we can't even imagine how passionately doctrinal these early missionaries were.

What made Judson tick, very simply, was a white-hot evnagelical commitment to the sovereignty of grace (a burning, humble, worshipful, missionary love called "Calvinism"). He wrote a Burmese lithurgy and creed that included the following statements: "God, originally knowing that mankind would fall and be ruined, did, of His (sic) mercy, select some of the race, and give them to His (sic) Son, to save from sin and hell... The God... who sends the Holy Spirit to enable those to become disciples who were chosen before the world was, and given to the Son, we worship."

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question Twenty, goes right to the heart of Judson's faith and ignites the fuse of missions.

Question: Did God leave all Mankind (sic) to perish in the condemnation of sin and misery?

Answer: God, out of His (sic) mere good pleasure, from all eternity, having chosen a people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the condition of sin and misery, and to bring them into a condition of salvation by a Redeemer. (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessaloninans 2:13; Romans 8:29-30; 5:21; 9:11-12; 11:5-7; Acts 13:48; Jeremiah 31:33)

The term 'covenant of grace' is filled with sweet and precious hope. It refers to the free decision and oath of God to employ all His (sic) omnipotence, wisdom, and love to rescue His (sic) people from sin and misery. It is wholly initiated and carried through by God.. It cannot fail. "I will make an everlasting covonant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good, and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me" (Jeremiah 32:40)

The covenant of grace is valid for all who believe. Whosoever will may come and enjoy this salvation. And, since this "willing" is a work of God's sovereign grace (Ephesians 2:5-8), those who belive and come are the elect — "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). The covenant was sealed in the heart of God before the world was (2 Timothy 1:9).

This covenant of grace is the cry of victory over all the battle strife in missions. The grace of God will triumph. He is covenant-bound, oath-bound to save all those who are foreordained to eternal life from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation (Acts 13:48; Revelation 5:9). "Jesus [died] for the nation [of Jews], and not for the nation only, but [to] gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (John 11:51-52). The battle cry of missions is, "[The Lord has] other sheep, which are not of this fold; [He] must [covenant-bound!] bring them also, and they will [sovereign grace!] hear [His] voice" (John 10:16).

Adoniram Judson preached one sermon in English while in Burma. His text was John 10:1-18. What was his point? "Though enclosed in the Saviour's electing love, [His sheep] may still be wandering on the dark moutains of sin." So the missionary must cry out to all with the message of salvation in order that, as Judson says, the "invitation of mercy and love, which will penetrate the ears and hearts of the elect only," may be made effectual.

If we desire to see the lifes of Adoniram Judson, William Carey, John Paton, Henry Martyn, and Alexander Duff rise up among us again, let us drink from the same strong doctrine that mastered them for the cause of missions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

An Amazing Means of Change - Excerpts from Piper's book 'A Godward Life' 2/4

Here is the second of the four articles from Piper's book that I would like to share with all of us. The second article is entitled An Amazing (Unused?) Means of Change — Considerations on the Power of Considering.

One of the most remarkable capacities of the human mind is the capacity to direct its attention to something it chooses. We can pause and say to our minds, "Think about this and not that." We can focus our attention on an idea, a problem, or a hope.

It is an amazing power. I doubt that animals have it. They are probably not self-reflective, but rather governed by impulse and instinct. Humans have the amazing ability to think about thinking and to choose to dwell on an object of thought.

This is a gift of God part of His (sic) image in us. It is an immensensely powerful means of becominmg what we ought to be. Have you been neglecting this great weapon in the arsenal of your war against sin? The Bible calls us again and again to use this remarkable gift. Let's take it out, polish it, and put it to use.

For example, Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, "Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."

This is stunning. What you set your mind on determines whether the issue is life or death!

We have become too passive in our pursuit of change, wholeness and peace. In our therapeutic age we have fallen into the passive mind-set of simply "talking through our problems" or "dealing with our issues" or "discovering the roots of our brokenness in our family of origin." As helpful as these may be from time to time, I think we tend to slip into a passive way of thinking about change — that change may simply happen to me one of these days as I talk through my problems.

I see a much more aggressive, nonpassive approach to change in the New Testament. Namely, "Set your mind..." "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2). "Enemies of the cross," Paul says, "set their minds on earthly things" (Philippians 3:18-19). "Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh" (Romans 8:5)

Our emotions are governed in large measure by what we "consider" — what we dwell on with our minds . For example, Jesus told us to overcome the emotion of anxiety by what we consider: "Do not be anxious... Consider the ravens ... Consider the lilies" (Luke 12:22, 24, 27).

The mind is the window of the heart. If we let our minds constantly dwell on the dark, the heart will feel dark. If we open the window of our mind to the light, the heart will feel the light.

This is what Paul meant in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Above all, this great capacity of our minds to focus and consider is meant for considering Jesus: "Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus... Consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 3:1; 12:3).

This is the path toward change. We are called to take it and not wait passively while our minds are drawn with all kinds of passions that wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). It is when we focus our minds on the glory of Christ that we are transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Take this moment to resolve that you will be intentiontal about what your minds considers. It will dwell on something, and what it dwells on, it becomes like.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Reflection on blog posts...

In the process of categorizing my blog posts into various categories, I have managed to get a overview of all the 180 blog posts I have done so far, and thus able to see in a sense my growth and walk with God in the past year or so. I would like to take the opportunity to thank God for all the good things he has done for me. Despite the pain and suffering I went through intially when I left my former church, God has always been there for me; His unseen hand always guiding me and leading me in the paths of righteousness and growth in Him. Oh ya, and such is a fitting way to celebrate the first aniversary of my blog :P, to thank God for all the things He has brought me through and allowed me to go through.

To my Lord and King, I thank You for all these gifts of Yours and Your loving tender guidance and grace. Truly, it is only by Your grace that I am able to stand firm in your truth in the courts of the ungodly. Such great love and compassion and grace! They are unmeasurable. O Lord, were You to treat us as our deeds deserve, we would perish. But yet, You condescend and stoop to save us by sending Your son Jesus Christ to die for us, so that we might become the children of God, to be holy and pleasing in Your sight. Not because of what we have done, but because of the work of Your son Jesus Christ in purchasing salvation for us Your people. Oh, Lord, the injustice of it all, and yet all the more glorious; that You died for sins You did not commit and we get to receive the gift of eternal life which we are incapable of even deserving to get. Oh Father, grant us the grace to daily turn to You, grant us the love for You and to obey Your Word. Thank You for all the glorious deeds You have done for me despite my unloveliness and hard-heartedness against You, my Lord and King.

Oh Lord, and may it be within Your pleasure, O Great God of Creation and Sovereign Ruler of all, to grant to Your Church grace to persevere in Your truth, to persevere in knowing You, to proclaim Your great name among the heathen. May we be obedient to Your truth, that Your Bride would be pure and undefiled of all heresies and compromise. May we be ever zealous for Your name, and for Your glory. Give us the passion to proclaim Your name in whatever we do, to everyone around us, and that You may use us as Your instruments to acheive the salvation of Your elect. Help us to stay strong in You. O Lord, even as the days grow ever darker still, and apostasy is every increasing. Give us the strength to persevere, and to continue shining for You. O Lord, we pray that You will draw Your people out of the apostasizing 'churches'; we pray that You will bring many people from the compromising churches back to You and the pure standard of Your Word. O Lord, have mercy on Your people, and bring them out from these compromised churches. Expose them, so that these 'churches' would stop ensnaring Your people. Expose them for who they are — imposters, charlatans and heretics (wolves), so that we would not follow them and would follow You alone, the only true loving and gracious God.

O Father, you know the needs of our land. You know the troublers who are disturbing the flock. Expose them for who they are, and bring swift retribution against them for the damage they have done to your flock. Punish their wickedness! May they be put to shame! If You are so willing, open the eyes of the churches in Singapore to the various deceptions they are bound to. Open their eyes to see the crafty web of deception spun by the heretic Rick Warren. O Lord, by ourselves we can do nothing, but by Your strength we can do everything. O Lord, move among us. May You have mercy on us the visible Church. Relent from Your fierce anger, O Father, which we have incurred by our constant rebellion against You. Send forth the convicting power of Your Holy Spirit to turn our hearts back to You again, that we may turn from our useless idols and turn to You alone. Grant us repentance, that we may turn back to our first love and be Your pure Bride again. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Switching to Blogger beta

I am now switching to Blogger beta, so the blog may be a bit disorganized at first, especially the blog posts' categories. Categorizing 180 posts is definitely hard work...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Prayer and Predestination - Excerpts from John Piper's book 'A Godward Life' 1/4

I have finished reading this book by Pastor John Piper entitled A Goward Life sometime back. I would thus like to share with all of us some of the articles from this book (4 out of 120). I hope they would of use in the edification of the saints.

The first article is entitled Prayer and Predestination. Here goes:

Prayerless: I understanding that you believe in the providence of God. Is that right?

Prayerful: Yes.

Prayerless: Does that mean you believe, like the Heiderberg Catechism says, that nothing comes about by chance, but only by God's design and plan?

Prayerful: Yes, I believe that's what the Bible teaches. Job prays, "No purpose of Yours can be thwarted" (42:2). There are lots of texts like that.

Prayerless: Then why do you pray?

Prayerful: I don't see the problem. Why shouldn't we pray?

Prayerless: Well, if God ordains and controls everything, then what he plans from old will come to pass, right?

Prayerful: Yes.

Prayerless: So it's going to come to pass whether you pray or not, right?

Prayerful: That depends on whether God ordained for it to come to pass in answer to prayer. If God predestined that something happen in anser to prayer, it won't happen without prayer.

Prayerless: Wait a minute, this is confusing. Are you saying that every answer to prayer is predestined?

Prayerful: Yes, it is. It's predestined as an answer to prayer.

Prayerless: So, if the prayer doesn't happen, the answer doesn't happen?

Prayerful: That's right.

Prayerless: So the event is contingent on our praying for it to happen?

Prayerful: Yes, I take it that by contingent you mean prayer is a real reason that the event happens, and without the prayer the event would not happen.

Prayerless: Yes, that's what I mean. But how can an event be contingent on my prayer and still be eternally fixed and predestined by God?

Prayerful: Because your prayer is as fixed as the predestined answer.

Prayerless: Explain.

Prayerful: It's not complicated. God providentially ordains all events. God never ordains an event without a cause. The cause is also an event. Therefore the cause is also foreordained. So you canot say that the event will happen if the cause doesn't because God has ordained otherwise. The event will happen is the cause happens.

Prayerless: So when you are saying that answer to prayer are always ordained as effects of prayer, which is one of the causes, and that God predestined the answer only as an effect of the cause.

Prayerful: That's right. Since both the cause and the effect are ordained together, you can't say that the effect will happen even if the cause doesn't, because God doesn't ordain effects without causes.

Prayerless: Can you give me some examples?

Prayerful: Sure. If God predestines that I die of a bullet wound, then I wil not die if no bullet is fired. If God predestines that I be healed by surgery, then if there is not surgery, I will not be healed. If God predestines heat to fill my home by a fire in the furnace, then if there is no fire, there will be no heat. Would you say, "Since God predestines that the sun be bright, it will be bright whether there is fire in the sun or not"?

Prayerless: No.

Prayerful: I agree. Why not?

Prayerless: Because the brightness of the sun comes from the fire.

Prayerfull: Right. That the way I think about answers to prayer. They are the brightness and prayer is the fire. God has establised the universe so that in large measure it runs by prayer, the same way he has established brightness so that in large measure it happens by fire. Doesn't that make sense?

Prayerless: I think it does.

Prayerful: Then let's stop thinking up problems and go with what the Scriptures say: "Ask, and you will receive" (sic Jn. 16:24a), and "You do not have, because you do not ask" (sic James 4:2ff)

Monday, December 04, 2006

More Purpose Driven deception...

OK, I know most of my readers are sick of Rick Warren and Purpose Driven by now, and so am I. Anyway, I have just heard a 'sermon' by 'Pope' Rick which Singapore Campus Crusade distributed to her supporters. So before I leave Warren to his delusions of grandeur, I will be reviewing this 'sermon' of his, plus post my position paper on the Purpose Driven paradigm. Anyway, I would really need to thank Campus Crusade for giving me this piece of ammo. I now possess a significant piece of hard evidence to prove many of the allegations that I have heard of but had not have the proof to make — until now.

FYI: As a side note, I can see why many people are so easily deceived by that heretic. He uses Christian terminoloy that is very familiar to those who are in Neo-Evangelism. Also, after being fed chariamaniac cum seeker sensitive diluted porridge for so long, most Christians don't have the ability to discern anything at all. They thus become the sad fulfilment of Eph. 4:14. May God have mercy on His Church.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Abortion: Sacrificing to Molech

They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jer. 32:35 -ESV)

I was sortof meditating on the idea of Molech sacrifice one of these days when the Holy Spirit showed me something I would like to share with all of us from this passage.

Molech worship is an abomination unto the Lord which originated from the Ammonites. One of the rituals connected to Molech worship is the sacrificing of children unto the Ammonite god Molech, as an expression of their devotion to him. When Israel fell into idolatry, which incidentally if you read the OT sadly happens most of the time in their national history, one of the gods they worship is Molech, and thus they offer up their sons and daughters as human sacrifices to it. Such a practice is an utter abomination unto the Lord, as children are a gift from the Lord (Ps. 127:3), and especially so for Covenant children being given to Christian families. Thus, sacrificing their children to Molech, besides breaking the first and second commandments, is firstly a violation of the sixth commandment against murder (Ex. 20:13). Secondly, it is taking God's good gifts and offering those gifts of God up as sacrifices to worthless, lifeless idols. For covenant children, this is also taking away what rightfully belongs to God (which is theft), especially if he is the firstborn son (Ex. 22:29; Num. 18:15). Molech worship is so detested by God that he warned Israel very sternly against it in Lev. 18:21 & 20:2-5, where Molech worship through children sacrifice is described as a profanation of God's name, and the punishment for Molech worship is DEATH!

In today's context, what is the Molech worship which is present in our day? Surely there is nobody performing human sacrifices, and especially child sacrifices, now? Such a babaric practice surely can't exist in our civilized world, can it?

I would suggest to you that abortion is one of the modern day Molech worship that we so-called civilized people are guilty of. In place of a physical idol of Molech, we worship at the Molechs of choice and of pleasure (e.g. women's choice and pleasure in sin). As a culture and as the human race, we worship at the altars of humanism, in putting ourselves as the final determinator of what is correct or wrong. To this 'Molech', we sacrifice our children, for our own god's benefit (which is ourselves).

As with the Molech worship practiced by the Ammonites and apostate Israel, this modern form of Molech worship thorugh abortion is just as abominable and detestable to the Lord. This is especially so for Christians, since those who abort are aborting their covenant children. Because of all this, the wrath of God is being stored up (Rom. 2:5) against us and our culture who practice such an abomination. America and Europe has murdered millions of their children, and Singapore thousands. All of these nations rightly deserve the wrath of God to break upon us in terrible and righteous judgments for the abominable and detestable things we are doing in the sight of God. If there would be a tsunami now and Singapore was wiped out, we are getting only what we deserve and absolutely NO ONE has the right to question God why he so judges us. In fact, when natural disasters happen, we should not question why God allows natural disasters, but we should thank God that He only sends a few every year, for our nations and societies deserve annihilation for our sins and abominations, like what God did to adulterous Israel and Judah, wiping out their inhibitants with such calamity that they became an object of scorn, cursing, horror and reproach among the nations where the few survivors are scattered (Jer. 29:18).

And where are the church leaders preaching against abortion, especially in Singapore? Where are the pastors to be found which call abortion for what it is, and call on the offenders, and all Man everywhere, to repentance in Christ? Or are the Singapore church leaders by and large too scared to preach against this detestable sin? Why aren't we as Christians standing up for the helpless and defend them publicly? Are we so afraid of being scorned by Man that we are willing to overlook the murder of babies? Instead, the church leaders in Singapore are on rather good terms with the establishment, and in fact there are a lot of powerful Christians in government etc. What are they doing to protect the lives of the unborn? God will demand from them an accounting for the blood on their hands, for they have not protected the weak and the poor (Ps. 82:2-4), but instead through not objecting, they are strengthening the hand of the wicked.

If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech. (Lev. 20:4-5)