Wednesday, November 28, 2007

St. George and the Blasphemy Dragon

In a sermon entitled "You Must Be Born Again: Why This Series and Where Are We Going ...", John Piper makes the fascinating statement that George Barna has blasphemed.

George Barna is America's Christian pollster. He has simultaneously supported the growth of the mega church by providing polling data while also writing books extremely skeptical of evangelical practices.

The reason that John Piper levies that charge of blasphemy against George Barna is because Barna has lumped a wide variety of people into the group that may be identified as "born again." Barna's polls have consistently found that there are no differences between those that are identified as born again and the rest of the world. Barna does not create the born again polling group by allowing them to self-identify. There are a number of questions that he asks that, per his definition, dilineates born-againdom.

Piper takes umbrage because he believes that Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit makes a difference in a person's life once they accept Christ. Per Piper's perspective, a saved individual is by definition a changed individual. Saved people cannot continue to live like the rest of the world because the power of an omnipotent God is working His sanctification in them.

Piper is right. When we tell the world that true Christians are not different from anyone else, we are telling the world a lie. If a person does not act like a redeemed person, they are not a redeemed person. Jesus gave us two standards for identifying Christians; profession of the truth and lifestyle. If either of these are missing, the person is not known by Christ.

It is a form of blasphemy to say that Jesus' work is not efficacious. Since only God can know the human heart, George will probably continue to fight the blasphemy dragon since his definition does not take into account the God prescribed human evaluations of truth and lifestyle.

I'll conclude by letting John Piper speak for himself:

In other words, in this research the term "born again" refers to people who say things. They say, "I have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s important to me." They say, "I believe that I will go to heaven when I die. I have confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior." Then the Barna Group takes them at their word, ascribes to them the infinitely important reality of the new birth, and then blasphemes that precious biblical reality by saying that regenerate hearts have no more victory over sin than unregenerate hearts.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Unforgiveable Sin and the Blasphemy Challenge

A wonderful pastor friend of mine wrote to me about the Blasphemy Challenge last week. The Blasphemy Challenge was a promotional activity sponsored by the Rational Response Squad, a new breed of militant atheists who are busy developing their perception that they are a martyr or under-privileged class.

If you have browsed through to look at some of the videos of those who have "renounced the Holy Spirit," your heart will no doubt be grieved. Thousands have taken the challenge and not-so-boldly, but ever-so-defiantly looked into their webcam to denounce the existence of God. Their ages vary from the pre-pubescent to the aged. Their socio-economic class ranges from the affluent atheist to the still dependent, stay-at-home computer geek. But they all feel proud of their moment to announce independence from the tyrant God.

Perhaps most tragic and laughable is that they are not accomplishing the unpardonable sin. Per most Biblical expositors that I have read, the unpardonable sin is to deny the works and person of God when he has personally manifested Himself. The specific scenario was when the Pharisees attributed a healing by Christ through the Holy Spirit to the work of Satan (Matthew 12:22-30). Confronted by the very person (Jesus) and works (the healing) of God, they refused to believe. When God was at his most persuasive through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees chose to cling to disbelief.

Those that participate in the Blasphemy Challenge have likely not had the opportunity to commit the unpardonable sin. Are they walking dangerously? Absolutely. However, I think that we will find many of these 'denouncers' with us in heaven after Christ beckons to them. Such was Paul at one time.

Note: I would welcome different perspectives on what constitutes the unpardonable sin.

A Theology of Abandonment

I heard a message last Wednesday from John MacArthur which he preached in May of 2007. The message had been recommended by a friend. While the content of the message was not shocking, it was rather shocking to hear a major pastor lay it on the line.

MacArthur announced that he believed that America has been abandoned by God. He then went on and developed an extremely compelling theology of abandonment using Romans 1 as the linchpin of his argument.

He noted that among all the nations that God had abandoned in the Bible, that America has surpassed all of them in the breadth of its iniquity.

There are certain practical and personal implications for Christians in the United States if God has abandoned us. How should we rear our children? What should we expect to happen to American media in the next ten years? Of the influences that currently shape us, how will these influences begin to falter? What is our role as proclaimers of the Gospel? Should we separate? How can we escape from inclusion in God's wrath? How do we help others to escape?

In ages past, heroes of Biblical proportions were faced with hard choices in light of God's abandonment of their cultures. We live in no less momentous times if MacArthur is right. For my part, I came to the same conclusion almost ten years ago.

While America has likely been abandoned, there is always an opportunity to forestall God's wrath.

Psalm 81:13-14

"If my people would but listen to me,
how quickly would I subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!"

Note: For a transcript of MacArthur's sermon, visit

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Apathetic to the Apocalypse

When Angel and I left the church where we had served in the assistant pastorate for several years, we began a multi-year odyssey that allowed us to survey several churches. The one common theme that seemed to unite all of these churches together was their total avoidance of eschatological themes or the doctrine of the end times.

It is the common consensus of many of the most avant garde churches that studying prophecy is too divisive of an issue. If they do venture into this area, they do so only for immediate life application and dare not foray into any conjecture about future events.

I find this to be very disheartening. These leaders are robbing their people of the anticipation of future events. They are also robbing their flocks of the ultimate culmination of history -- the events that will more fully allow mankind to understand the entire scope of history within its context.

How can you avoid a book that promises a blessing for those that read and understand it? In Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." This passage intimates that we can actually understand the book of Revelation!

At times, the fear of prophetic writings is so great among churches that I actually fear for their spiritual descendents. There is a tendency among those that avoid prophecy to also allegorize Genesis 1-3. This seems to be in synch with 2 Peter 3:3-7 which ties together skepticism of the second coming with skepticism in creation and the flood (among unbelievers).

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come,
scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this
`coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has
since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long
ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and
by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and
destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for
fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

A strong understanding of God's Word can only be amplified by a complete understanding of prophecy. How can we rouse out of this apathy to the apocalypse?

Eric Harrington - Faithful Servant of the Week

A gentleman who leads a Bible study that I attend told us a story from his past week. Over the last month or so, he has been hunting for a deer and found great disappointment in not being able to bag a buck. During his time in nature, God had begun to talk to him about the things that would not dissapoint; the salvation of the Lord.

Eric decided to pray on the way to work one morning that God would give him something to do that would have an eternal, non-selfish purpose. God responded in a big way. Immediately upon arriving at work, Eric's boss asked him to help remodel a friend's home for $25/hour. Upon hearing of the opportunity, Eric saw the hand of God and told his boss that he would do it for free. God impressed upon him that he was working to earn five minutes to present the Gospel .

So, Eric worked on the weekend during the biggest Ohio State football game of the year. Working feverishly, Eric reminded himself that he was working to earn the opportunity to share his faith. He told God that he would do the work, but God would have to do the speaking. At the end of the work day, Eric nervously approached his boss and the owner of the house. God gave him the perfect message at the perfect opportunity. Eric started by talking about how how a carpenter much better than himself once died for Eric's sins.

There is something absolutely wonderful about being part of God's eternal plan. There is no other feeling like it. I applaud Eric Harrington this Thanksgiving week.

God challenges us to have faith enough during this holiday week to speak the truth of the Gospel to friends and family.

*I only post this story because Eric has no idea where my blog is. He is a great man who is growing in his faith. I'll keep him humble by keeping my fandom secret.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Abortion and the Democrats

I'm currently watching the entirety of the Democrat debate from Las Vegas on CNN's website.

The abortion question came up and the candidates were asked if they would support a litmus test for pro-abortion Supreme Court justices. One-by-one, the candidates waffled and stated that they would put forward Supreme Court nominees that "protected a right to privacy." They all assiduously avoided stating that they would make abortion (not privacy) their litmus test. Do words mean anything?

I am continually stunned that the ability to take a human life is shrouded in a right to privacy by politicians. The general abortion debate has long gone beyond whether or not abortion is the taking of a human life. Liberal ethicist are now coming out and supporting infanticide. Do you want to try out a child? Peter Singer of Princeton says he'd kill disabled babies if it were in the "best interests" of the family.

Several area pastors have decided that being a "single issue voter" is too divisive. They are beginning to embrace liberal politicians and unwittingly they are also beginning to embrace liberal theology. These pastors believe that world hunger, ecological issues and poverty should be the highest agenda items for the Church (Jim Wallis and his local friends).

I, for one, believe that abortion is an immense evil that will speed God's judgment. Is it a sin for the Church to ignore the hungry, imprisoned and hurting? Absolutely. But the mere existence of these injustices should not make us think that we must choose between the poor and the abortion issue.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Self-Indulgence and Profits of Sin

If those who profess Christ do not clean up their own house, unbelievers will continue to drag Christ through the muck. Take for instance, the recent self-indulgences of Eddie Long, pastor of a massive church in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • $350,000 luxury car.
  • $1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath mansion on 20 acres.
  • Between 1997 and 2000, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc. provided its founder with at least $3.07 million in salary, benefits and use of property.
  • In those same four years, the charity only made $3.1 million in other donations. It’s impossible to tell to whom those funds went as the records aren’t itemized, as required by the IRS. The four-person board responsible for overseeing the charity included both Long and his wife.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has opened a Senate investigation of various complaints levied against gross excess within mega-churches. Those being investigated include Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and Paula White.

My Uncle Clyde recently sent out a list of the private planes owned by these mega-wealthy pastors (International Pentecostal Church of Christ E-Date):
  • Paula White - Hawker-Siddeley "Jet Dragon"
  • Jesse Duplantis, Jerry Savelle, Mark Bishop - Each have a Cessna Citation 500 ringing in at $1.25 million each.
  • Fred Price, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn - Each have a Grumman Gulfstream II. With a two-man crew and 19 passengers, these cruise at 581 mph with a range of 4,275 miles. Used, they're worth about $4.5 million each.
  • Paul Crouch - Bombardier Challenger 604. Carrying a crew of two plus 19 passengers, she cruises at 529 mph with a range of 3,860 miles. She's valued at $16.5 million, not including Paul's "special interior remodeling."
  • The late Ken Hagin - Challenger 601valued at $6 million.
  • Joyce Meyer - Challenger 600, $4.5 million.
  • Kenneth Copeland - Cessna Citation 550 Bravo ($3.4 million), a Grumman Gulfstream II ($4.5 million), a Cessna Golden Eagle, and a Beech E-55, a lesser aircraft and his own airport. Copeland said that God wanted him and Gloria to each have their own Cessna Citation Ten super-jets at $20 million each.

All of these names have resurfaced again-and-again as people who have taken the widows last mite in order to live a life of self-indulgent luxury.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Atlanta Journal
Religion News Blog

Hero Nominations

I had the pleasure last Sunday of preaching a sermon on heroes from Hebrews 11 and 12. Among the notables that I expounded on, I included Martin Luther, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, D. James Kennedy and many other men of faith from the near past. Among my local heroes, I spoke about Jerry Poff and Allen McClellan, local pastors.

Who are your heroes? Leave a comment concerning your hero and I will be selecting three individuals to receive a free copy of "Revolution in World Missions" by K.P. Yohannan. The drawing will take place on November 19th.

Atheists as the New Gays

Richard Dawkins and others of his ilk have proposed that atheists should create a movement similar to the civil rights movement for gays. Believing that atheists are a persecuted class, Dawkins has even proposed that atheists should adopt a new name, much like the homosexuals gravitated to the more positive name "gay" as part of their political agenda.

Dawkins proposed new name is "brights". Of course, this implies that everyone else that disagrees is a dullard. Hard to see how this will not backfire for poor Dawkins.

When have you last seen a martyr for the cause of atheism? When has an atheist been denied tenure for his beliefs? When has an atheist had a burning cross planted on his lawn? Did Nero, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao target atheists? When did you last see someone dying for nothing or for someone who wasn't there?

For an article by Dinesh D'Souza on this topic visit Town Hall.

Atheist of the Week

Richard Dawkins, our Atheist of the Week (or two weeks), has been ducking a debate with Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative scholar.

Dawkin's rather inane video may be viewed at Youtube. If you would like to see Dawkins debate Dinesh, write an e-mail of encouragement to Dawkins at Dinesh has promised to forward these letters onward to the recalcitrant Dawkins.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Novelty and Mechanics: Building the Church

There has been considerable fascination in the Christian culture with chasing fads and finding new novel concepts. Church leaders are the target of thousands of marketing campaigns, leadership models, avant garde Bible study curricula, trendy videos and vision casting techniques.

All of these mechanisms promise Church leaders growing congregations, health, vitality and a spiritual revolution.

When did God call pastors to resort to novelty? When did mechanics and methodology take over the Church of Christ? Does our current pre-occupation with revolutionary ideas and methodologies show that we trust the power of God's word or the power of human ingenuity?

Cults build big groups using mere methods. I want to know how to participate in building the Kingdom of God. Why should Saddleback, Mars Hill and Willowcreek be our models?

God did not call us to novelty, but to preaching the old, time honored, time proven message of the Gospel -- the message once for all entrusted to the saints by the apostles (Jude 1:3). God builds the house, not the ideas of men (Psalm 127:1).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Episcopalian Courage

Katharine Schori, the current head of the Episcopalian church, was an early supporter of the election of the first openly homosexual bishop in New Hampshire. She is now using her clout to crush the Episcopal diocese in Pittsburgh which is moving to leave the Episcopal Church over the homosexual clergy issue. Threatening all kinds of vengeance, Schori has promised in a letter to levy a civil suit against Pittsburgh's bishop, Robert Duncan.

Her goal is simple. If they lose the Pittsburgh people over the homosexuality issue, they will keep the property through legal entanglements.

Here is Robert Duncan's response:

1st November, A.D. 2007
The Feast of All Saints

The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori
Episcopal Church Center
New York, New York

Dear Katharine,

Here I stand. I can do no other. I will neither compromise the Faith once delivered to the saints, nor will I abandon the sheep who elected me to protect them.

Pax et bonum in Christ Jesus our Lord,

+Bob Pittsburgh

Praise God for this man! In his time of trial, e-mail Duncan at to show your support. May the Episcopal union be sundered if it be for the cause of Christ.

For more on Robert Duncan, visit
To site the letter directly, go to
To read about Katharine Shori's gambit, visit