Posts Tagged ‘modern church’

As you look on the church landscape, youth are leaving the faith in droves. The modern church, overall, is struggling to reach the next generation with the gospel. What has happened? Whether for good or bad, men, for many years, have been inventing solutions or brainstorming ideas without fully relying upon the foundation of God’s Word. God, however, is greater than man, and as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways higher than ours and His thoughts than our thoughts (Is. 55:8-9). We have substituted the greater for the lesser – God’s wisdom for man’s ideas. Jesus said that he who hears His Word and does it, is like a man that built his house upon a rock, and when the storm came, it stood firm. On the other hand, he who rejects His Word, is like a man who built on the sand and when the storm came, the house fell (Matt. 7:24-25). Shouldn’t the church, as a whole, abandon the sandy ideas of man and shamelessly return to the firm rock of the Word of God? God’s Word sufficiently identifies how youth are to be reached. For more information on this issue, please see the film Divided, which is a documentary on age-segregated youth ministry in America. Watch it for free (for a limited time) at http://www.dividedthemovie.com. For an in-depth study, the book A Weed in the Church delves into the topic and more thoroughly handles the Scripture passages that address ministry to young people. For other details or to help spread the message, visit ‎http://alt.dividedthemovie.com/

Here are a couple of responses to the Harold Camping rapture debacle from 2 people I highly respect. I share these sentiments …..

From Kim Riddlebarger:

“Frankly, this whole Harold Camping mess ticks me off. Since I write and teach in the field of eschatology, people expect me to say something. Yet, I’m not sure many of you will appreciate my take on this. I’m not a happy “camper.”

I see this tragic episode as one gigantic mess, which God’s people will be cleaning up for years. I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him. Here’s why:

1). He’s done this before. 1994? anyone??? If Camping lives much longer (he’s 89), he’ll likely do this again. As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, “Of course he will. He likes it.” You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord’s return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention. Why else spend all that money on an “in your face” ad campaign with buses and billboards across the country? Camping likes the hubbub way too much. Since someone’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future behavior, if given the chance, Camping will do it again.

2). Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance. When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping’s response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches! (see Bob Godfrey’s account of this–Godfrey on Harold Camping). Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these). This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church. How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?

3). Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he’s a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic. Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians. Meanwhile, the “conservative” Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ’s return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so. Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture? Or champion “private interpretation” while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?

4). Someone has to say it — the man is a false teacher and a kook. My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) — such people are to be avoided. Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple. Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility. Non-Christians see him for what he is. Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds–when Scripture requires that we do so! Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived. But given the way the man handles God’s word, he is self-edvidently a kook. He has no business being labeled a “teacher.” And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.

5). The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3! Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition. This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man’s false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ’s, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not. This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.

This, then, is why it is so important to expose this man for who and what he is–a false prophet, a schismatic and a kook, lest anyone think that Jesus will not return when we least expect it, to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new.

And frankly, it is sad that so many Christians expect non-Christians to do our job for us.”

From Dr. James White:
On Open Letter to Harold Camping of Family Radio

Dear Mr. Camping:

In July of 2009 you and I engaged in a debate on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program concerning your teaching that the church age had ended and that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. I trust you recall our exchange. I am also aware that you have at least seen my book, Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and Christ’s Church Defended. I have been seeking to warn people about your teachings, sir, for about a decade. I know others have been warning the church about you longer than I.

Mr. Camping I am writing to seek your repentance and the most God-glorifying outcome of the debacle of your failed May 21, 2011 prophecy/teaching. I am not writing to engage in debate with you. The time for debate ended on May 22, 2011. It is now time for you to repent and seek to undo the massive damage you have done, first and foremost, to the cause of Christ.

Let me first list the items you need to repent of, openly and publicly (for you are a public person, and your teachings were disseminated all around the world).

You need to repent of your abuse of the Bible, based upon claims of latter-day opening of understandings no one else has, allegedly, ever had, based upon the horrific misreading of the books of Revelation and Daniel. The Bible is not a code book, Mr. Camping, and it never has been. You have attacked the grammatical/historical means of honoring the intention and meaning of the original authors, and in so doing, have turned the Bible into your own private playground where you, and you alone, set the rules. You decided that certain numbers have certain meanings, and you alone decided which numbers could be added to others. You told your audiences that you were simply teaching the Bible, when you were doing nothing of the sort. Unless you honor the intention of the original authors, which means doing difficult exegetical work, studying languages and backgrounds, you have no business saying you are representing the Bible. This has been your primary error for decades on end, and I know I am not the first minister of the gospel to seek to correct you about this. Your utterly fallacious means of interpretation of the Bible has led to the mockery of the Christian faith all around the world, and you alone must repent for your willful rejection of the correction offered by many to you over the years.

You need to repent of your repeated date-setting, and your twisting of those Scriptures that plainly state that we do not now know, and will never know, the date of the coming of Christ, until it happens. You have been proven wrong multiple times now, and it is time for you to admit that you have been in error every single time you have argued that we can, in fact, know.

You must repent of your many unbiblical teachings, teachings which have grown out of your rebellion against Christ’s Church. First and foremost, you must repent of your attack upon the church. You must return to the church (I would suggest the local Christian Reformed Church from which you made your original defection) in repentance and seek to place yourself under their care, repenting for your schism. You must openly and publicly abjure your teaching that Satan rules in the churches, and that all ministers of the gospel since 1988 are, in fact, servants of Satan. You must call all listeners of Family Radio to return to their churches with repentant hearts. You must instruct them to seek to learn to read the Bible aright, to seek to interpret the Bible in light of its original meanings and intention, not as a secret, gnostic code-book.

You must likewise abjure and repent of the other false teachings you have been promulgating, including, but not limited to, such teachings as Jesus having died twice, your new annihilationism teaching, etc. You once held to mainly orthodox views, but, when you refused godly counsel and went out on your own, you planted the seeds of your own destruction, which have now sprouted, over night it seems, into the crop of condemnation you now rightly face.

You must likewise repent of the perversion of the gospel you have been teaching, wherein you have not only removed repentance and faith under the guise of “works” (neither are works, both are the gifts of God to His elect by His Spirit, but remain part and parcel of the gospel call), but you clearly, in these last days, added belief in your own May 21, 2011 teaching to the gospel itself, saying that those who did not believe this teaching would experience eternal torment. You have been preaching a false gospel, Mr. Camping, and you must repent for this.

The time for haggling and debating has passed, Mr. Camping. Your teaching has been disproven, and your only hope is to be found in complete repentance from your false teachings. I fear if you seek to rescue your reputation, you will end your life under the wrath of God. Your unwillingness to listen to counsel has already caused great damage to the cause of Christ. You have one final chance for redemption, sir. Do not remain stiff-necked. Repent and turn from your ways.

James White
Alpha and Omega Ministries

Some of these answers are just sad. I encourage you to go and listen to the audio of this episode to get the true vibe of what’s being said. At the end of each question the brothers at White Horse Inn explain (with scripture) what the correct answer is and why.

Approximately seventy people were interviewed for this survey at the 2010 International Christian
Retail and Sales convention in St. Louis, Missouri. The majority of the results were obtained by
questionnaire, and a limited number of individuals agreed to an “on air” recording of their
responses to these survey questions (broadcast date: Dec 19, 2010).

The most important task of the church today is the transformation of our culture.
15% Agree
81% Disagree
4% Unsure
Christians are not called to transform the culture, but rather to preach, baptize, and make disciples (Matt 28:19-20, 1Cor 1:20-25,
Gal 3:27, Acts 6:7; 14:21; 18:11, Col 3:16, 1Thes 4:11-12.

The most important way of converting non-Christians is preaching, along with the sacraments
of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
9% Agree
89% Disagree
2% Unsure
Jesus taught that we are to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). And Paul wrote that “it pleased god
through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1Cor 1:21; see also Rom 10:14-15, 2Tim 4:2, 1Cor 9:16).

It’s more important to “be the gospel” to to others, rather than to preach to them.
69% Agree
23% Disagree
8% Unsure
We cannot be the gospel. The gospel is the good news about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1Cor 15:1-5). Though we
may do good works to win the respect of outsiders (Col. 4:5, 1Thes 4:12, 1Tim 3:7), these good works are not “the gospel.” The
Christian gospel, because it is a completed act in history, is something that must be proclaimed: Acts 5:42; 6:2; 8:12; 8:35;
13:48-49; 14:21, Rom 10:14-15, 1Pet 1:12, 1Tim 4:13, 2Tim 2:8, Col 1:23.

The most important thing we need to communicate to our kids is that God is always there
when we need him.
27% Agree
73% Disagree
This is one of the principle tenants of what Christian Smith calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” The most important thing Christians
should communicate to their children is the Christian gospel: Rom 1:16-17, 1Cor 1:18-25, 1Cor 15:1-5, Phil 3:8-16.

Christians should see the church as a resource provider, and themselves as self-feeders
who make use of those resources.
30% Agree
60% Disagree
10% Unsure
Pastors and elders are called to shepherd the people of God, to feed the sheep, etc. Christians themselves are called to take
personal responsibility for their own growth and maturity, but this should not be done without pastoral oversight: John 21:15-17,
Eph 4:11, Heb 13:17, 1Pet 5:1-3, 1Tim 4:16.

Getting saved has nothing to do with joining a church.
92% Agree
8% Disagree
We are saved by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. However, in the New Testament believers express
their faith in the context of a local church where the word is preached, the sacraments are administered, and where elders disciple
those entrusted to their care, and exercise discipline when necessary: Acts 2:40-47, Heb 10:25; 13:17, 1Pet 5:1-3, 1Tim 4:16.

Spiritual disciplines and regular church attendance are essential ingredients to becoming right
with God.
38% Agree
54% Disagree
8% Unsure
We are made right with God solely by the work of Christ. Christ lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should
have died, and this right standing before God is credited to us by faith alone. Attending church or living consistently with one’s
profession of faith is not an essential ingredient to justification, but rather a fruit of it: Rom 4:4-5, 1Cor 1:30, Rom 12:1-2.

In making disciples, spiritual disciplines and/or personal devotions are more important than
weekly church attendance.
51% Agree
37% Disagree
12% Unsure
New Testament spirituality is primarily centered around the regular gathering of believers under teachers and pastors and elders for
the discipleship new converts, the preaching of the word for general edification, and the administration of the sacraments: Eph 4:11,
Heb 13:17, 1Pet 5:1-3, 1Tim 4:16; 5:17, Tit 1:6-9, Acts 2:28, 1Cor 11:23-32.

We live in an entertainment oriented culture, and so in order to make God relevant, we should
make churches more upbeat, amusing and entertaining.
25% Agree
71% Disagree
4% Unsure
According to the book of Exodus, the people of Israel were in an upbeat mood and were very entertained during the worship of the
golden calf (Ex 32:17-20). Therefore, we should not worship God in a way that feels good to us, or seems right in our own eyes.
Rather, our worship must be biblically based. Heb 12:28-29 says that Christians must “worship God acceptably with reverence and
awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (see also Gen 4:1-5, Is 1:12-18, John 4:21-24). In particular, we need to be careful about the
temptation of amusement. To “muse” means to think or reflect about something. A-musement literally means to be distracted from
thinking. But our worship must be thoughtful, and reflective as we are to let the “word of Christ dwell in us richly” (Col 3:16).

Kids are easily bored with content oriented lessons, so youth workers need to regularly
attract them with new and exciting things.
59% Agree
32% Disagree
9% Unsure
There is a great deal of content to the Christian religion that must be passed on to the next generation. Compared with previous
eras, most of today’s Christian youth would likely qualify as biblically illiterate. Wrestling with the meaning of Exodus or Isaiah may
be less exciting than other youth activities, and therefore may be perceived as boring, but to avoid passing on the content of
Scripture on that basis is simply a sign of worldliness and unfaithfulness. Christians are called to make disciples of all nations, and
this includes the discipleship of their own children: Deut 6:4, Prov 1:1-9; 22:6, 1Cor 14:20, Eph 4:14; 6:1-4, 2Tim 3:14-15, Heb
5:11-14, 2John 4.

I had heard about this book through twitter and facebook post and hadn’t really given much thought to it. Trevin’s review has sparked my interest enough to motivate myself to check it out. Here are Trevin’s thoughts ………………

Ever wonder how a committed unbeliever would feel in your church service?

Have you ever given thought to how evangelicals are viewed by those outside the church?

How many of your friends disagree with you politically? Theologically?

In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church (Metropolitan, 2010) tells the story of Gina Welch. The book gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Thomas Road Baptist Church (the church Jerry Falwell pastored) through the eyes of an atheistic, secularist, liberal young woman.

Welch faked a conversion experience, got baptized, and spent two years at Thomas Road. (She even participated in evangelism on a mission trip.) During this time, she kept a detailed journal of her experience, which she has now turned into a book that chronicles her journey into evangelical America.

If you’re like me, your first reaction upon hearing about a book like this is to roll your eyes and think, Oh great! An exposé of evangelicals from someone who deliberately engaged in deceptive practices in order to show up evangelical hypocrisy. That was my initial reaction. But after reading a number of reviews, I was intrigued enough to pick up the book. I was pleasantly surprised by Welch’s portrayal of evangelicals, and I was riveted by her account. While I abhor the deceit that grounds this book, I recommend that evangelicals read it for a number of reasons. READ THE REST HERE

Mr. Wax also had the opportunity to interview Gina Welch….. Read that here

The thought that has consumed me since reading these articles (and I assume will increase after reading the book), is what would she have written had she picked my church? What would she see, what would be her view of not only Christians but more importantly how would she view Jesus? My initial thoughts are we cannot base an overall general opinion of Christianity by visiting one local body of believers can we? I’m sure this happens all the time, hence the decline of church attendance and memberships in recent years. My hope and prayer is that when people visit our church or any church for that matter, they don’t see us, they see Jesus.  

More to come……

According to this article from the Christian Science Monitor, I would say yes.

Welcome to the austere – and increasingly embraced – message of Calvinism. Five centuries ago, John Calvin’s teachings reconceived Christianity; midwifed Western ideas about capitalism, democracy, and religious liberty; and nursed the Puritan values that later cast the character of America.

Today, his theology is making a surprising comeback, challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order religion, Calvinism’s unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young.

Twenty-something followers in the Presbyterian, Anglican, and independent evangelical churches are rallying around Calvinist, or Reformed, teaching. In the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant body, at least 10 percent of its pastors identify as Calvinist, while more than one-third of recent seminary graduates do.

New Calvinism draws legions to the sermons of preachers like John Piper of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Here at CHBC, the pews and even rooms in the basement are filled each Sunday, mostly with young professionals. Since senior pastor Mark Dever brought Calvinist preaching here 16 years ago, the church has grown sevenfold. Today it is bursting at the stained-glass windows.

Yet the movement’s biggest impact may not be in the pews. It’s in publishing circles and on Christian blogs, in divinity schools and at conferences like “Together for the Gospel,” where the rock stars of Reformed theology explore such topics as “The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability.”

“There is a very clear resurgence of Calvinism,” says Steven Lemke, provost and a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The renewed interest arrives at a crucial inflection point for American religion. After reviewing a landmark opinion survey last year that showed a precipitous decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Christian, Newsweek declared ominously that we may be witnessing “the end of Christian America.”  Read the rest here

I saw this posted over on Facebook…….

be challenged.