Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Death of Saddam Hussein
...the satisfaction of justice and the sobriety of judgment

Saddam deserved to be executed. This was good, noble, honorable and just under God’s righteous laws (Roms. 13:1-7) for the numerous atrocities that he had committed against hundreds of thousands of his own people; and the world at large. He is receiving the due penalty for his actions—and they were without equivocation, humility, nor repentance unto the end… he reaped what he sowed.

I realize that this a time of conflicted emotions: on the one hand, we rightly rejoice that justice was measured and accomplished—something very rarely seen in our moral pluralistic, sentimental world today. On the other hand, it is not a time for celebration—for God does not delight in the death of the wicked.

Ezekiel 33:11 says,

“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?"
In this one verse we see both compassion and chastisement—the longing forbearance and mercy of God AND the certainty of impending judgment. “The wages of sin is death” (Roms. 6:23); and because it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18), He remains faithful to His Word, to His character, and to His judgments (Psalm 19:7-11). Because He is loving, He delights not in the death of the wicked; but because He is holy, sin cannot be tolerated and certain judgment must come.

A.W. Pink says these sobering words:
“The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No; while God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.
The Lord changes not (James 1:17-18); He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). He cannot be tempted (James 1:14-16); He is no respecter of persons (Roms. 2:11); and therefore, is faithful to Himself to carry out the certainty of eternal punishment against the faithless (2 Tim. 2:13). Strong words that pierce my own heart even as I write.

The Apostle Paul says,
Rom. 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Rom. 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
Rom. 2:8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
Rom. 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
Rom. 2:10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Rom. 2:11 For there is no partiality with God. (NASB)
Saddam was heaping wrath upon wrath in the day of wrath—a day which has now come to him. And we must remember, that apart from the grace of God beloved, that would be me or you.

God is sovereign; all things work for His glory according to His divine purposes and plans (Eph. 1:4-14). He is not swayed by political expediency, moral servitude, or virtues of our own design. He is holy and measures us all only by the standard and perfection of His holiness. That is why all our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags before Him (Is. 64:6). The wicked He uses to accomplish and bring to fruition His own eternal intentions. “The Potter” receives equal glory in fashioning both vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy from the same clay (Roms. 9:14, 18). He is just in the saving of some and in the condemnation of others (Roms 9:19-26).

And there is no injustice with God (Roms. 9:14).

But God “takes no delight” in Saddam’s death… Because at the moment of his last breath he entered everlasting perdition and now has knowledge of his torment; of the Lordship of Jesus Christ; the eternal plight of his sin; the futility of the Islamic faith; and has but tasted of God’s holy wrath—for one day, he will receive a physical body in which he will suffer and be tortured night and day forever and ever without relief or reprise by the wrath of a holy God. It is a punishment the weight of which no man can fathom in this life. Saddam has been under the wrath of God all of his life (John 3:36); but he now knows the realty of such divine anger. He is conscience; he is suffering; and he is eternally damned. All who reject Jesus Christ and His gospel are under God’s wrath—and there are no exceptions (John 14:6).

Once again listen to these penetrating words of A.W. Pink:
”Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character, or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is, "See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me" (Deut. 32:39-41). A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner: Psalm 7:11.

Now the wrath of God is as much a Divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, or mercy. It must be so, for there is no blemish whatever, not the slightest defect in the character of God; yet there would be if "wrath" were absent from Him! Indifference to sin is a moral blemish, and he who hates it not is a moral leper. How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His "severity" (Rom. 9:12) toward it? How could He who delights only in that which is pure and lovely, loathe and hate not that which is impure and vile? The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity, as imperatively and eternally requisite as Heaven is. Not only is there no imperfection in God, but there is no perfection in Him that is less perfect than another.

That Divine wrath is one of the perfections of God is not only evident from the considerations presented above, but is also clearly established by the express declarations of His own Word. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven" (Rom. 1:18).”
There is a real tension in this sobering political moment:
1. we are witnessing the birth of a new free government exercising capital punishment according to the rule of law judiciously for which we can all be thankful;

2. we can and must rejoice that in Saddam’s execution, for justice was carried out and God was honored in doing so; and

3. because God does not delight in the death of the wicked, then we must not either. Our emotions must be constrained by Scripture alone.
In the shadow of the execution of this iniquitous world tyrant, may the certainty of eternal judgment (absent of regeneration through Jesus Christ our Lord) be forefront in our minds and drive us to tell others about the gospel. As profoundly expressed by the Apostle Paul, may the burden for lost people weigh so heavy upon us, that we, out of the anguish of our own souls for their unregenerate state, would be willing to bear the yoke of our own damnation so that others might be saved (Roms. 9:3).

Beloved, our lives are a vapor (James 4:11); we live once, we die once, and then the judgment (Heb. 9:27). So may I entreat those who do not know Christ to flee… flee to Him; and "flee from the wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7). Do not harden your heart while “today is called today” (Heb. 3:-4) and it be too late for you as it is for Saddam. Do not be contented by thinking you have already fled to Christ. Make certain! Beg the Lord to search your heart and show you yourself. Test yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). And if not, repent of your sin, trust in Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone for the hope of the salvation of your souls (Roms. 3:21-26). Flee all other means to salvation whereby you may find some glory in your own works, deeds or religious practice. Come to the end of yourself--"deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him" (Matt. 16:24). "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Roms. 10:9-10).

May the love of God compel us to proclaim His gospel of grace to all in our world while we are still granted time on this earth to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. For even the day of our having to give an account to the Lord is closer than we think.

“Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Cor. 5:11a).

As the Day Draws Near,
2 Cor. 5:21

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tough Love for Evangelicalism
...revive us O Lord!

Plastinated, Profane, and Popular
The face of evangelicalism has been altered so dramatically that it looks "doctrinally disfigured" suffering from one too many "botox injections" of pragmaticism and ecumenism; with severe "soteriological 'nips and tucks'" that gifted "plastic surgeons" skilled with the scalpel of New Perspectivism, Inclusivism, Open Theism and Postmodernism have cut away so much of authentic gospel "tissue" that what's left is just a synthetic, artificial "message-manikin." The "religious legislative laser technicians" have almost burned away the aged wrinkles of faithfulness to God's Word trying to give a "new face of influence" through political co-belligerence--turning the body of Christ into just another lobbyist group, PAC or "Christocrat." Seminaries are having "theological lypo-suction" done at such alarming rates that even the doctrinal positions of TBN, by comparison, are looking deceptively... "orthodox." And "full body makeovers" of local churches are being done so effectively so as to not have to look like church, sound like church, act like church, be called a church, or function as a church that they could be featured on a special ecclesiatical episode of "The Swan."

All sardonic metaphor aside, here's the plain truth: the rule of faith is no longer considered the Scriptures, but experience; the goal of faith is no longer considered holiness, but personal happiness; the purpose of faith is no longer considered the glory of God, but being 'in conversation' with the culture; and the object of faith is no longer considered Christ, but self. In other words, 'Evangelical Christianity' is becoming completely unrecognizable.

All Men Are Like Grass...
This should only remind us that even the best of men, the most honorable of Christians, the most learned of theologians, the most faithful of pastors, the most sincere of artists, the most winsome of authors, the most insightful of scholars, and the most dedicated in their calling can stumble into grievous error and sin if constant care is not given to life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:12-16).

We are all vulnerable. We are all susceptible. We are all capable of doubting the Lord—like Thomas; denying the Lord—like Peter; disobeying the Lord—like David; and even deserting the Lord like Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:16-20) propagating gangrenous unsound doctrine and skewed beliefs if we fail to keep our lives accountable to and in line with the standard of God’s Word. Apart from the Lord’s restraining grace (Titus 2:12) we could all succumb to the most grievous of sins for our hearts our “desperately wicked and full of deceit” (Jer. 17:9). Even the Apostle Peter faltered for a season (Galatians 2:10-15) by preaching a false gospel because of his fear of the Circumcision (the Judaizers) which led him to preach a gospel of works righteousness—the very thing he was saved from; instead of a gospel of grace—the very thing he was saved by. In dealing with this concern, Dr. John MacArthur displays godly wisdom in saying, “bad theology will always lead to dirty living.” He is absolutely correct. When we fail to “tremble at God’s Word” (Isaiah 66:2); “hide it in our hearts” (Psalm 119:9-10); make it more “necessary than our daily food” (Job 23:10); and take it “as our song” for our pilgrim journey through this world (Psalm 119:54); then we open our minds to unsound doctrine and our lives to unsound living.

The Enemy Within
In the past few years evangelicalism has suffered greatly from this very neglect. It has been bombarded and inundated with an onslaught of aberrant and heretical teachings. They have subtley entered the church under the radar of personality, notoriety, celebrity, and seminary. Surprisingly, these threatenings are not coming from outside the church by secular theorists or philosophical sophists that despise Christianity and long to see its demise. Sadly, the leading voices undermining the very fabric and foundation of biblical Christianity today are other evangelicals—-many of whom we would consider our dear brothers in the Lord and mentors in our daily walk in Christ.

What is our response to such plight facing us? The Scriptures are lucid on this: we are all to be faithful Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) examining what anyone would say, teach or sing about the Christian faith, the character of God, the person of Christ, or His gospel by the truth of God's Word. Some in the church deem this as unloving, unkind and divisive--and I have always wondered why. Why is it unkind to hold the pastor to what he teaches? Why is it unloving to examine the latest book by a popular radio or TV Bible teacher and hold them accountable? Why is it divisive to measure the elders, the deacons, the Sunday School teachers, the missionaries, the Christian singers and authors according to the Divine standard of the Scriptures? Because in reality, there is nothing more loving, more kind, more unifying then holding its respective teachers to the authority of the Word of God--for they hold no authority outside of its truth--none.

The World Acts "Berean" - Why Won't the Church?
Let me illustrate. Political pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Peggy Noonan, Monica Crowley, Ann Coulter, Chris Matthews, etc. are faithful to examine and hold accountable Presidential candidates, government officials, congressional leaders even other journalists and reporters as to the claims they make, affirm and represent in all matters of law, policy, and decision making that affect the citizenry of our nation. The Better Business Bureau, and agencies of the sort, are constantly monitoring, examining and possibly investigating standards and practices of various vendors to insure consumer confidence in the goods they purchase and in who manufactures them. There are numerous “watch dog” groups in the fields of technology, travel industry, sports, etc. that are there to be “Bereans” to the betterment of our society and insure “fair play.” Even in the current "Basketbrawl" incident, we see the Commissioner and the NBA acting in responsible and lawful ways to avoid anymore felonius actions by either fans or players. In the medical community there are those same advocates holding high the standard of competency to bring peace of mind and shore up confidence as a patient/doctor relationships. Putting ones life in the hands of any doctor should require the highest testing to the most rigorous of standards the proper agencies have established before any surgery or even non-evasive treatment is given to any patient. That's just smart, safe and honorable to do so. Any any doctor not willing to submit to such standards should at the very least be suspended from any kind of medical practice until such adherence to and compliance with those standards can be shown.

The Evangelical Two-Step...
When it comes to matters of faith--matters of eternity, how much more as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should we examine, investigate, research, and study the claims of anyone who sets themselves up as a teacher of God's Word by word or song (including yours truly too) when they say they speak for God and represent His truth and gospel? This has always been a perplexing thing to me when it comes to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that some believers get so easily upset when well-intentioned, well-informed, well-meaning pastors, lay people, apologists, theologians and the like in the body of Christ seek to hold fast the faith of God’s Word by lovingly and truthfully holding accountable to its standard others that claim to speak for God? Why do some believers deem it “not nice” and a divisive thing to do so? It seems today in our postmodern capricious touchy-feely culture that more Christians would be committed to truth rather than “just being liked” or to a “surface superficial peace.” Listen, to fail to “guard the trust” (1 Tim. 6:20), “instruct in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9), and to “contend for the once for all delivered to the saints faith” (Jude 3) even if it means challenging other evangelical leaders, pastors, radio personalities, TV preachers, artists, etc. that we admire and hold in high esteem, because some don’t like to confront or would rather simply be nice and peaceful rather than truthful, is to be unfaithful to the Lord, unloving to our fellow believers, and unkind to a lost world. It is with brokenness of heart and sorrow of mind that this kind of article even needs to be written.

The ministry of the gospel has eternal importance—greater than any goods or services that consume our day ever could. We are to be “skilled workman, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), handling God’s Word as a trained surgeon for the health, growth, and purity of the body of Christ. The cutting away of diseased tissue may sting for awhile, but what joy comes when there is restoration of health. Though the Word of God brings conviction to our sinful souls, what joy there is when repentance of sin comes and reconciliation occurs. We are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15a); be “gentle towards all men” (2 Tim. 2:24); and “give no offense in anything so that the ministry would not be hindered” (2 Cor. 6:3). But at the same time, we must be more committed to truth than we are to simply “being nice”—what I call, “the tolerant disposition of post-modernism.” We must in the words of the prophet Joel, “sound the alarm.”

The Craftiness of Satan
This has always been the objective of Satan--distorting the Word of God. Ever since he deceived our first parents in the garden with the subtle words, "hath not God said?", his tactics remain unchanged. He doesn't want to fight the church--he wants to join it! He wants to infiltrate the church with error that attacks the very character of Christ, the nature of God, the veracity and sufficiency of the Word of God, and the gospel of soa fide. All of these men stated below need to do one thing: they need to repent of their error and deluding influence they have had on the church and return back to historical biblical Christianity once again.

Who Spiked the Living Water?
I won’t spend much time on these skewed teachings, but I do think it would be helpful for you to be aware of them so you may more effectively “guard the trust” in your church and personal lives. I have listed parenthetically next to the various titles of these teachings the leading voice in evangelicalism representing each of these ideologies and a brief definition of what those beliefs affirm. I realize that some of these names might shock you in the mentioning, while others will be obviously tragic.

The Great Need for Discernment
Read with a careful and discerning eye. In no particular order of importance, these hazardous influences are as follows:

1. Open Theism (Gregory Boyd) – this attacks the very character of God. Def.: That God is stunted in His omniscience. He doesn’t know the future; He is learning along with His creatures every day.

2. Inclusivism (Peter Kreeft) – this attacks the exclusivity of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in evangelism. Def.: This belief says the Lord grants special grace to those who have never heard and are ignorant of the gospel for salvation. Adherents to this belief say, if one is condemned solely because of their unbelief in Christ, then how could they be held responsible for that which they have never heard and had the opportunity to reject? Salvation would be granted to them by God because of ignorance. Under this injudicious logic, sending missionaries to them is counter poductive; it would be better if they died in their ignorance so as to be “saved”, then be brought God's law and the light of the gospel, reject it, and be “condemned.”

3. New Perspectivism (N.T. Wright) – this attacks and redefines the very heart of the gospel of sola fide. Def.: It denies the active and/or passive obedience of Christ in His substitutionary atonement on the cross. It also denies the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to every believer for salvation. It seeks to redefine the biblical view of justification by faith alone through historical revisionism in first century Judaism.

4. Political Activism (Rick Warren) – this attacks the very purpose and work of God for the church in the world. Def.: Trying to correct moral malady by political remedy; it also affirms a social ecumencial gospel where the cause or crisis becomes the new unity and mission for the church. It is treating the body of Christ as a political action committee or religious lobbyist. The great emphasis in their mantra is placed on political legislation and social reform, rather than regeneration. Theonomistic in nature, this belief fosters ecumenism; biblical truth, the gospel or sound doctrine aren't central or foundational in fighting the cultural wars. Patriotism is being equated with biblical Christianity.

5. Pragmaticism (Bill Hybels) – this attacks the very will of God in ministry.
Def.: Methodology over message; style over substance. It is the "anything that works" —"the ends justify the means" ideology. In this paradigm, "the audience, not the message, is sovereign."

6. Postmodernism and The Emergent Church (Brian McLaren) – this attacks the essentials of the faith. Def.: Objective, absolute truth is disregarded as too imposing, outdated, insensitive and too limiting. It seeks to redefine not only biblical terms, but the biblical truth those terms represent. Christianity in general, the church, and the Christian must be given a “spiritual make over” into something “new” to appeal to the complexities, concerns and ethics of our postmodern culture. The Emergent Church seeks a faith that is ever evolving. fluid, nondogmatic, liquid in message and methods; one that is mystical rather than wholly biblical. Here is the critical quesiton (according to D.A. Carson with whom I agree): Is this emerging church largely seeking to be reformed by the Word of God; or is it submerging into the very culture it longs to transcend? “Exegete the times" rather than the truth is preeminent here.

7. Sabellianism (T.D. Jakes) - this attacks the very nature of God.
Def.: An old but newly energized heresy resurfacing with a vengeance. This is the belief that there is no God-Head; it denies the existance of the Trinity - One Triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as co-equal, co-eternal, co-existing from all eternity in three persons. It is also called Modalism: the belief that God manifests Himself in three different ways at different times as father, son ,and spirit. It denies the Eternal Sonship of Christ and represents a different gospel to believe, and a different god to be worshipped than the God of the Bible.
I realize it is difficult and hard to read of some of these men above who many in the church today hold in high esteem. These are, though, disturbing times we live in beloved. We must come to firm resolve in our hearts and minds that biblical truth matters, the gospel matters, the nature and character of God matters, sound doctrine and theology matters, the church matters, biblical pastoral leadership matters, and ministering to lost people matter.

These essential things of the faith are under attack today; and what is unique to our day, is that the attack is not from without, but from within mainline evangelicalism. We need to stand firm, sound the alarm, take captive every thought in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:1-5), and do this without partiality. Loyalty to no man save Christ Jesus the Lord.

Acts 20:24 - "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pastor Rick Warren...
"I'm Always Happy to be a Back Channel for Peace."

I wrote an article a few weeks ago concerning some of Mr. Warren's social gospel agenda subtitled, "...when a pastor tries to be a politician." That same sentiment has been echoed in an excellent piece written by Bryan Preston for Michelle Malkin on her tremendous blog at

It is a legitimate thing to question Mr. Warren when he is acting more like a statesmen than a shepherd. On one hand, he claims the following:

"I'll go anywhere as long as I'm not muzzled. Now, if they put restrictions on what I say, that's a different issue. But I have a basic message that says you were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life isn't going to make sense. And if I [don't] get the opportunity to share that, then I don't go. I don't ever go into these places as a politician. I don't go in as a diplomat. I don't go in as trying to take a job that's not my job. But if I get an opportunity to go in and bring hope, encouragement, and the message of the good news, I'm going to do it." (emphasis added)

BUT, then on the other hand he says this,
"PASTOR RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, "THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE": I'm always happy to be a back channel for peace. (emphasis added).
As Mr. Preston brilliantly points out that phrase is nothing short of politics--
"It's possible that Warren thinks he's being a back channel for peace just by being an American and showing up in Pyongyang and Damascus and shaking hands with the monsters that rule there. But, isn't that engaging in diplomacy and politics?"

And that should be a concern that deserves all our attention.

Here is an important question for us all to ponder: where in the Word of God has the Lord given guidelines for any of his pastors to act like politicians, bartering the centrality of the cross, the gospel of sola fide, and the exclusivity and glory of Jesus Christ in order to be co-belligerent with nonbelievers to battle and/or cure cultural, societal maladies? The answer to that question is critical to understanding how a pastor biblically should function, confront, and be a voice for the gospel and the veracity of Scripture in a secular society. To paraphrase Luther, Mr. Warren's thoughts of Scripture, the pastorate, and a biblical model of ministry "are far too human."

Why didn't Mr. Warren call any of these "monsters" to repentance from their sin; to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives? You know why... politics won't allow what the gospel commands.

I would strongly encourage you to read Bryan Preston's insightful and lucid article.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Great Christmas Gift Idea for Your Favorite Emergent Pastor
have a "clean mouth" just like Mom would want

Say Merry Christmas by giving the gift that keeps on giving!
This is a special holiday gift pack for your favorite Emergent Pastor.
Help keep the pulpit speech clean, wholesome, edifying and seasoned with grace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Futility of Social Reformers:
...the moral elevation of the masses

'True knowledge of ourselves destroys self confidence." -author unknown

It is my deep conviction that the vital question most requiring to be raised today is this: Is man a totally and thoroughly depraved being by nature? Does he enter the world completely ruined and helpless, spiritually blind and dead in trespasses and sins? Or as contemporary pundits might suggest, is there just a God-size-hole in his heart that needs filling?

How we answer that question is vitally and will determine our views on many others. It is on the basis of this dark background [in light of the holiness, righteousness and perfection of God] that the whole Bible proceeds. Any attempt to modify or abate, repudiate or tone down the teaching of Scripture on the matter is fatal.

Put the question in another way: Is there any hope for man apart from his personal election by the Father, his particular redemption by the Son, and the supernatural operations of the Spirit within him? (cp, Eph. 1:4-14) Or, putting it in still another way: If man is a totally depraved being, can he possibly take the first step in the matter of his return to God?

"Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty" -John Calvin

"A mouse was caught by its tail in a trap the other day, and the poor creature went on eating the cheese. Many men are doing the same. They know that they are guilty, and they dread their punishment, but they go on nibbling at their beloved sins." -C.H. Spurgeon

“The scriptural makes evident the utter futility of the schemes of social reformers for "the moral elevation of the masses," the plans of politicians for the peace of the nations, and the ideologies of dreamers to usher in a golden age for this world. It is both pathetic and tragic to see many of our greatest men putting their faith in such chimeras. Divisions and discords, hatred and bloodshed, cannot be banished while human nature is what it is. But during the past century the steady trend of a deteriorating Christendom has been to underrate the evil of sin and overrate the moral capabilities of men. Instead of proclaiming the heinousness of sin, there has been a dwelling more upon its inconveniences, and the abasing portrayal of the lost condition of man as set forth in Holy Writ has been obscured if not obliterated by flattering disquisitions on human advancement. If the popular religion of the churches—including nine-tenths of what is termed "evangelical Christianity—be tested at this point, it will be found that it clashes directly with man's fallen, ruined and spiritually dead condition.

There is therefore a crying need today for sin to be viewed in the light of God's law and gospel, so that its exceeding sinfulness may be demonstrated, and the dark depths of human depravity exposed by the teaching of Holy Writ, that we may learn what is connoted by those fearful words "dead in trespasses and sins." The grand object of the Bible is to make God known to us, to portray man as he appears in the eyes of his Maker, and to show the relation of one to the other. It is therefore the business of His servants not only to declare the divine character and perfections, but also to delineate the original condition and apostasy of man, as well as the divine remedy for his ruin. Until we really behold the horror of the pit in which by nature we lie, we can never properly appreciate Christ's so-great salvation. In man's fallen condition we have the awful disease for which divine redemption is the only cure, and our estimation and valuation of the provisions of divine grace will necessarily be modified in proportion as we modify the need it was meant to meet.

... The end of the ministry of the Gospel is to bring sinners unto Christ. Their way to this end lies through the sense of their misery without Christ. The ingredients of this misery are our sinfulness, original and actual; the wrath of God, whereto sin has exposed us; and our impotency to free ourselves either from sin or wrath. That we may therefore promote this great end, we shall endeavour, as the Lord will assist, to lead you in this way, by the sense of misery, to Him who alone can deliver from it. Now the original of our misery being the corruption of our nature, or original sin, we thought fit to begin here, and therefore have pitched upon these words as very proper for our purpose: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." –A.W. Pink

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From The Crucible of Grace
...the molding of Christian character

It's 3:00am and I'm having a hard time sleeping tonight. My mind is racing with many thoughts that won't let me go. You see today, December 13th, marks six years that I have been divorced. It is a day of mixed thoughts and emotions; fond memories and lost dreams. On the one hand a very painful day filled with much introspection, sorrow, regret, unanswered questions, and tears. On the other, it is filled with grace, love, forgiveness, praise to the Lord for His sustaining hand, thanksgiving for my children, prayer, confession, and a deep, quiet joy in Christ. Though I cannot comprehend it all, I firmly believe that He is working all things for my good, for His glory, through His sovereign hand.

This is about the painful process of being conformed to the image of Jesus every day. I see so clearly that in my own righteous rags I am nothing but a "stranger to His holiness." But by His grace, clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ, I am accepted in the Beloved.

As I came across this powerful article of Thomas Hooker and read it once again, it pierced my heart and serves as a spiritual mirror in my walk in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is able to do so for most of the words are Scripture itself. It is humbling and encouraging to meditate on them, fix my mind on them, crave them, hide them in my heart, run to them, embrace them, treasure them, and consider them more necessary than my daily food.

My friend, Jerry Bridges, in his writings speaks much of what he calls a "grace-based sanctification." In particular, I so treasure his words in "Trusting God" on days like this. It is a gentle and constant reminder that we are not only saved by grace, but we are sanctified by grace as well (Titus 2:12); being daily conformed to the character and person of Jesus. It is a crucible of grace.

The Apostle Paul asks an important question of the believers in Galatia when saying, "Having begun in the Spirit, can [we] perfect ourselves in the flesh?" The answer clearly is no. We are not capable of growing in our walk with the Lord apart from grace. Therefore, as Romans 5:2 says, "we stand in grace..."

I don't know what this day marks any profound happening in your life or not; it might just be another ordinary day. But nonetheless for all of us, may it be a new day to say to the Lord this simple prayer, "make me more like Jesus."

In His Unfailing Love,
Eph. 4:31-32

The Character of a Sound Christian in 17 Marks
by Thomas Hooker

1. If you can mourn daily for your own corruptions and failings committed, yet so as to be thankful for the grace received.
Romans 7:24–25: “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord . . . So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

2. If you are grieved for the sins of the times and places wherein you live.
Ezekiel 9:4: “And the Lord said unto him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’”

Psalm 119:136: “Rivers of water run down mine eyes because men keep not Thy law.”

2 Peter 2:8: “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day, with their unlawful deeds.

3. If when you mourn for the sins of the times, you take heed that you are not infected with them.
Philippians 2:15: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Acts 20:40: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ ”

James 1:27: “Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

1 Peter 4:4: “Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.”

4. If you endeavor to get victory over your corruptions, and are daily more circumspect over your ways, and more fearful to fall in time to come.
1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway.”

Psalm 39:1: “I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked are before me.”

Job 40:5: “Once I have spoken, but I will not answer thee; yea twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Philippians 2:12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in mine absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Proverbs 28:14: “Happy is the man that feareth always.”

5. If you can chide your own heart for the coldness and dullness of it to good duties, and use all holy means for quickening it up afterwards.
Psalm 42:5: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquietted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.”

Psalm 57:8: “Awake, my glory, awake psaltery and harp. I myself will awake early.”

Isaiah 64:7: “And there is none that calleth on thy name that stirreth up themselves to take hold of thee.”
Judges 5:12: “Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake, utter a song. Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.”

6. If you can be patient under afflictions and better for afflictions.
Hebrews 12:5: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.”

Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.”

Psalm 119:67: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept Thy words.”

Jeremiah 5:3: “O Lord, are not Thine eyes upon the truth! Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved. Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

7. If your conversation is in heaven, that is, if your thoughts and the course of your life are heavenwards.
Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Hebrews 11:15: “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.”

8. If you delight to speak to God in your praises, and that God should speak to you in His Word.
Romans 8:26: “Likewise also the Spirit helpeth with our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

John 8:47: “He that is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.”

9. If you are as content to submit your heart and life to God’s Word in all things, even when it crosses you in your profits and pleasures, as you are content to come and hear it.
Isaiah 2:3: “And many people shall go and say, ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.”

Ezekiel 33:32: “And lo, Thou art to them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument, for they hear Thy words, but they do them not.”

10. If you can rely constantly by faith on the promises of God in Christ when you are in any strait or temptation, as well for your present provision and preservation in this life, as for your salvation in the life to come, abstaining from the use of any unlawful or unwarrantable practices.
Genesis 22:8: “And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering’; so they went both of them together.”

Exodus 14:13: “And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, what He will show to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever.’ ”

11. If you can find in your heart that you love God sincerely, although you could never love Him except that He loved you first.
1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Romans 5:5: “And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

12. If you can heartily love good Christians, and others who have helped you on to heaven; and, on the contrary, if you hate and avoid wicked and dissolute men, but most of all such as withdraw others from the faith or, by scandalous lives, have caused the faith to be blasphemed and evil spoken of.
1 John 3:14: “We know we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”

13. If there is a fight between the flesh and the Spirit.
Romans 7:23: “But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.”

Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things you would.”

14. If we long for the appearing of Christ.
Revelation 22:20: “He which testifies these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly.’ Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus.”

2 Timothy 4:8: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also that love His appearing.”

15. If you make conscience of secret sins which no eye sees, such as a hard heart, a secure and proud spirit; if you do not look to much to the matter of good duties as to the manner; if they are done in truth and sincerity; also if you apply both the promises and the threatenings to yourself in the Word of God, and love and admire grace more in others than in yourself, and hate sin in all, but mostly in yourself. You may take comfort from these if you can do them in a holy manner, namely:
1. With uprightness of heart
2. With continuance
3. With daily growth in the practice of them
And to this end two things must be practice:
1. Often examine, try, and search your heart and all your actions.
2. Often take account of your life concerning your progress in the course of godliness. For lack of this examination, many life and die as hypocrites, and do not know it, but suppose their case is good.
1 John 3:18: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth.”

1 Chronicles 29:17: “I know also my God that Thou triest the heart and hast pleasure in uprightness; as for me, in the uprightness of my heart, I have offered all these things.”

16. If you desire to keep no corruptions, or if your endeavors are constant in the use of all means against every corruption.
Colossians 3:5-10 "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

17. If you desire Christ for His holiness’ sake, which, if you do, then you will take all that comes with holiness, whether it is shame, disgrace, or persecution.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 "giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where in the World is the Church...
is Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB) really the answer? (part one)

Jesus is not a Republican; Jesus is not a Democrat; Jesus is not a Moderate. He is not to be trifled with for political purposes or to be used as someone's cultural ideological Spokesman. He is God of very God--God the Son; and will not share His glory with another. Do you think He is impressed with the trivial co-belligerent ways of political, social, moral alliances; or expanding public "Q" ratings for some of His pastors; or that access to the oval office by some of evangelicalism's champions means real impact for the gospe? Of course not.

God's focus is not primarily on the family, cultural morality, or a runaway judiciary as some would suggest,—but on His glory, His gospel, His Word and His church. It seems to some that "ministry" has become nothing more than a cultural idol and governmental intervention evangelicalism's new "golden calf." It is clear though that faithfulness to Christ and His gospel has feigned tremendously in recent years and that the church’s money and influence has been prostituted by some for what amounts to be personal cause, agenda and gain. The church has been treated like a lobbyist group and political action committee. Prohibiting filibusters rather than proclaiming the faith is the mode of the hour. "Persecuted for righteousness sake” has been reduced to mean the secular media disagrees with some evangelical leaders political, moral, cultural ideology and harsh names have been hurled. That's not being persecuted for righteousness sake; that's just politics. They're not suffering for standing for Christ and heralding His gospel of sola fide, sola gratia, or solus Christus. But for the less than heavenly goal of trying to promote and create a cultural morality absent of His gospel.

America is a pagan nation, beloved; it has been for many generations. We live in a fallen world and, therefore, a crumbling society. The esteem of Biblical truth has been rapidly on the decline for years now and we are beginning to see the evidence of what neglect of the truth of God has produced. Even within the local church the authority of Scripture, justification by faith alone, the transcendence and holiness of God, "His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity" (Pink) are seldom preached; repentance from sin is barely mentioned and church discipline is all but deemed an archaic past remembrance of a more Puritan, simple naïve time.

Today sin is called sickness; disobedience is called disease; and adultery is called addiction—or has been reduced to being “extra-curricular activity” for the politicians. We are truly reaping what we have sown. Instead of calling people to the standard of Christlikeness and obedience to the Word of God as the cure, substitute means of sanctification are being offered. For example, sexaholic classes are now presented as legitimate in dealing with infidelity. A “therapeutic theology” has replaced shepherding and discipleship by pastors and elders who frankly are too busy, too preoccupied with other church matters, or don’t believe biblically that they are to faithfully “shepherd the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:1-4). Under an accelerated cultural flood of malevolence and the inability to confront it effectively, evangelicalism has developed a proclivity in the political arena—seen as the last bastion of hope that will curb the tide of moral decay. Co-belligerence found a voice, not out careful exegetical study of biblical truth, but out of desperation. However, fighting spiritual battles with carnal “weaponry” is ineffectual and an effort in futility in the battle of men’s souls (cp, 2 Cor. 10:1-5).

Politics: The Art of Compromise
Many theologically/doctrinally astute pastors, seminary presidents, and Para-church leaders believe it is through these political, legislative channels that “the resolve will come.” I profoundly disagree. Ingrained in the very fabric of the political genus is compromise—it is incumbent it be so. The Potomac-two-step is required learning for successful longevity in Caesar’s world. Biblically though, this just don’t wash. These are not men and women who live principled lives; but are purchasable for the right amount of political capital which election affords them. The “Rule of Law” no longer carries devotion to the Constitution, constitutional process, truth, or even the framers objectives. It is, “let’s make a deal” that governs our great land. If you think my assessment is over the top consider yesterday’s self appointed sub-Senatorial moderates against the “constitutional (nuclear) option” that Senator Frist was going to invoke today in resolving what Dick Morris calls “the virtual filibuster” staged by “Pinky” Reid and company. However, weak Senators, motivated by the expedient rather than the essential, with a weak resolve of “avoid democratic discord at all costs for it might hurt us with our individual constituencies for reelection” mentality, finally caved to pathetic compromise. “Lawyers…” (What did Shakespeare say?) Subjectivism is the acceptable absolute in postmodern politics.

As a Protestant Reformed Christian (I refuse to be known as an evangelical anymore) I believe that the cure for the moral suasion of our day is the proclamation of the gospel, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and then living in obedience to its truth by the grace and indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-21). Life transformation beloved—not political legislation—is the great need of the hour.

Hollow Christianity—The Mask of Religion
Dr. John MacArthur so aptly points out, “We want to say we're Christians, we just don't want to commit to what Christianity is. Our Christianity has become hollow. We are clearly pagan but we wear the mask of religion. Our nation is now affirming through its leaders, through its congresses, its legislative bodies, its courts and its judges a distinctively anti?Christian agenda. Anything and everything that is distinctively Christian is being swept away under the aegis of equal rights, moral freedom. And as believers, frankly we tend to resent this.”

This issue of how Christians are to be living in a worldly society can be a difficult one when you get lost in the fog of political pragmatics by trying to whitewash an unbelieving world with the veneer of “Christian morality” absent of the transforming power of the gospel of grace. The Scriptures know nothing of this kind of benign moral righteousness. However, when you approach the Word of God for the solution, the answers are unmistakably clear. In this important and critical hour we must be willing to ask the hard uneasy questions of each other even to the point of openly challenging each other to the veracity of the answers. This is not a day to succumb to simply being “nice” but to being truthful! We must not only ask how are we to live in a pagan world and function as believers in an unapologetic secularized society, but also how are we to combat the moral battles that are enraging around us and still remain consistent to God’s Word and honoring to the Lord for His name sake in our methods and alliances.

Cultural Morality or Evangelism?
Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB), is truly an American phenomenon and only an American phenomenon. Regrettably, the legacy of the early years of the 21st Century will read how evangelicals adopted a prejudiced political strategery equating a one-to-one corollary between conservative social activism with biblical Christianity. To this kind of politicized church, the church of Laodicea, we must say repent from your sin, return to Christ, remain in His Word and reform your ways. “For you say, I am rich. I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Dr. John MacArthur, again, echoes my heart’s burden and cry on this issue: “I hear a lot of talk today about the church impacting culture… But frankly, folks, that's not our goal. That is not our goal. It sounds like a noble goal and I'm sure there are people who can see certain noble aspects of it and there may be some. But our goal is not to impact our culture by changing their moral values. Our goal is not to impact our culture by creating traditional values, family values through legislation or judicial process. Our goal is not to make sure that the United States of America adheres to a national policy that equates to biblical morality. That is not our goal. We are not involved in altering social morality. We are not involved in upgrading cultural conduct. We are interested in people becoming saved. That is our only agenda. If we're going to change our culture we're going to change it from the inside out.

You see, the church has one mission, we are a nation of priests. And a priest had one simple function, to bring people to God, to usher them into His presence. It is the only thing we are in the world to do. Frankly, if people die in a communist government or a democracy, it really doesn't matter if they end up in hell. If they die under a tyrant or a benevolent dictator, it doesn't matter if they end up in hell. If they die believing that homosexuality is wrong or believing that homosexuality is right and end up in hell, it doesn't matter. If they die as a policeman or a prostitute without Christ, they're going to end up in the same place. Whether they die moral or immoral will make no difference in their eternity. Whether they stood on the side of the street with the pro?abortion rights group and screamed for legalizing and maintaining legal abortions, or on the other side of the street against abortion and screamed to stop the killing, if they didn't know Christ they're going to end up in the same place. Right? That isn't the issue, the issue is salvation...the issue is salvation. And the sad reality is that when the church gets a moralizing, politicizing bent it usually has a negative impact on its evangelization mission because then it makes the people hostile to the current system and they become the enemies of the society rather than the compassionate friend.”

Let us press on then, beloved, to see how the Lord gave Paul clear instruction for young Titus facing a difficult culture and society on the island of Crete. The Apostle Paul answers the Evangelical Co-Belligerent dilemma completely in Titus 3:1-8. Four key things he instructs Christians learning to live in a pagan society: 1. recognize your duty; 2. remember your depravity; 3. rejoice in your deliverance; and 4. render good deeds.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Open Letter to Pastors and Christian Leaders
...are we playing politics with God?

Dear Co-laborers in the Lord Jesus Christ:

In the wake of the "Obamanation" and ecumenical co-belligerent social gospel that we all witnessed by Rick Warren at his well-intentioned AIDS conference this past week, I offer you the following.

Matthew Mead, one of my favorite and most poignant Puritan authors, powerfully says, "repent not because you are moral or civil; repent because you're no better than moral or civil."

Those words pierce like an arrow in the heart of politicizing the local church to try and win the cultural wars. Many in the Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB) camp casually suggest that we should partner with anyone who we may find affinity on an agreed social cause; and in doing so may win the day over the moral maladies and cultural crisis' that plague our world. This "partnership" is without foundation on the truth of God's Word, the person or gospel of Jesus Christ, or His people. Some will even twist our Lord's command to "love your neighbor as yourself" to mean, join hands with your neighbor regardless of who they may be or what they believe to proof-text a "people of faith morality" in our world, absent of the gospel, to conquer the ills of society around the globe. Furthermore, this veneer of spirituality (for the emphasis has been engaging the church on social reform--not on proclaiming, applying and living out the gospel of Jesus Christ) is so the global society is exposed to what is right, pure, moral and good; and therefore, thus producing a more congenial and affable global community in which to live. This is absolutely fool-hearty beloved. We live in a fallen world (Romans 3:10-18)) and America is a pagan nation in need not of political-social-cultural-moral reform, but regeneration through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, in order for ECBers to do this, they must not call "all men everywhere to repent", but create alliances with those same unsaved individuals to establish this "moral cultural family values of acceptable rightness" (with approval by the general populace) that adds to the betterment of all in society. This is the sad and misguided "end all" of co-belligerent thinking and philosophy. The problem for believers in adopting this kind of political strategery in fighting cultural moral slippage, is that it forces the church to reprioritize its mission from "go into all the world and make disciples" to "go into all the world and strong arm politicians so that we can create through the legislative process a surface only pseudo-moral righteousness absent of the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ to stay off the tide of moral decay in our nation."

Baptistic Reconstructionism?
Some are content with unsaved people staying unsaved just as long as they can live as "moral" while remaining unsaved, then the bane and the blight of what seems to now be a movement of "Baptistic Reconstructionism" - being focused on social reform absent of the gospel of regeneration -- is unbiblical. The proponents of ECB deny this claim of course--but the proof is in the proclamation.

They say they are for the gospel and for cultural impact too; but strangely we never, and I do mean never, hear them herald the gospel to the unregenerate while doing an interview with Larry King, Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews. But, they are unashamed and unembarrassed to champion boldly a political social moral cause affecting society at large--and doing this with those who do not know the Lord (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). Why are their tongues silent about Christ and His truth? Why are they not as bold as lions with the gospel of Jesus Christ as they are in their call to social renewal for a better societal morality? Are they ashamed of the gospel or do they really not have confidence in its transforming and sanctifying power in the life of the believer that will be a witness of Christ in all areas of daily life? (cp, Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 2:11-14).

An Unlikely Evangelical Co-Belligerent
The roots of the this kind of thinking we can, in part, trace back to a brother of profound mind and contribution to the cause of Christ--Dr. Carl F. H. Henry. Though doctrinally astute, he confusingly said the following in an interview with Dr. Russell Moore, of The Henry Institute, just a few years ago shortly before his home-going: "The mission of the church is to embrace both evangelism and cultural impact. To neglect either one is catastrophic. This is the lesson of both Protestant liberalism and fundamentalism.."

This is problematic for two key reasons:

1.) There are no Scriptural texts which says that the mission of the church is for cultural impact--NONE. This denies the authority of sola Scriptura and renders Protestants no better than the Romanists.

2.) The 'lesson" is neither the polarized extremes of Protestant liberalism (a social gospel) nor fundementalism (an isolated gospel). The lesson is: what is biblical Christianity and what does the Lord command His church to do and be for His glory while on this earth? How does He instruct us to live in a pagan society? And what partnerships and/or alliances does the Lord condone in our desire to see real change come to the world around us? (See Titus 3:1-8 for clear answers to these questions).
All ECB adherents at this point theologically/biblically stutter; for to speak clearly from the Word of God about these matters leaves them silent.

Again, as brilliant and significant a Christian thinker and writer as Dr. Henry was, he severely missed the mark here. Never once, as far as I know, did he qualify his assertions biblically. No one is above the scrutiny, standard, plumbline and authority of God's holy Word (Acts 17:9-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psalm 19:7-10; 1 Tim. 6:1-6).

There can be no real "cultural impact" apart from the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord; the living out of that regenerated life in Christ (Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:8); being "salt and light" to a fallen world (Matt. 5:13-20); to the times in which God has sovereignly placed us (Romans 9); to be used for His glory and for His purposes (2 Tim. 1:10-17ff; 2:20ff); according to the power of the Spirit and strengthened in the grace which is in Jesus Christ our Lord (Roms. 15:13; 2 Tim. 2:1).

Where Have all The Evangelists Gone?
So then why are gifted men of God trading their voices for the gospel to the triviality of cultural issues? Why bring an unbiblical emphasis on what is temporal rather than what is eternal?

I truly believe that we are on The New Downgrade because of this unhealthy, imbalanced, Evangelical Co-Belligerence that is lacking of any biblical authority whatsoever (Justice Sunday marked its beginning). I can say this with certainty; for any of its architects and lucid champions have never presented any biblical foundation whatsoever, for its existence and functionality. And these are not men who are slight of mind and lax in their theological acumen; but those who have proven in the past to be gifted preachers of God's Word. However, on this issue, all that our brothers offer us is a deafening silence from the pages of Scripture.

It is dangerous, brothers, to play politics with God and even unwittingly deny Sola Scriptura for the pragmatic purpose of cultural impact, political reform, or trying to claim a "Christianized" new morality to push back the depraved actions of unregenerate people--and once again, absent of the gospel (Eph. 2:1-5). Evangelical Co-Belligerence is culturally impotent in dealing with the depraved hearts, minds and souls of a pagan world. Satan is pleased when any discourse designed for Christ and His gospel is turned into a political rally to pacify unsaved people in their sin while at the same time creating a superficial morality that is not based upon the salvific work of Christ alone! The tragic result is unredeemed people are left to feel comfortable and safe in a “Christian morality” -- yet, they are still lost, still dead in their sins, still sons of disobedience, still drowning in their depravity, and still left hopelessly incarcerated under the eternal punishment of God’s holy wrath (John 3:36).

A Plea and a Prayer
Oh my dear brothers, may we champion His truth and His gospel; may we never be ashamed of its transforming power to quicken the dead soul to eternal life; may we go to a lost world not arguing politics, but proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Cor. 4:5); and may we say with the Apostle Paul, "woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."

In closing, here is a powerful prayer by A.W. Tozer that he prayed at the beginning of his ministry. by God's grace, may the truth of these words reignite our hearts with uncompromised devotion for the Lord, His Word, His gospel, His church and for a lost world.

The Prayer of a Minor Prophet
"O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou hast called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou hast stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou hast said, 'I knew thee - I ordained thee - I sanctified thee,' and Thou hast also said, 'Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.' Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done. Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou wilt honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus loose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offerings.

Help me to remember that I am prophet not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to the crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or, if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And, if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen."

Let Us Take Heaven by Storm...
His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,
Steve Camp
Galatians 1:6-10

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The New ECT
...the Evangelical Culture of Tolerance

With the passing of John Paul II occurred there has emerged an avalanche of praise for the pontiff from almost every facet of evangelicalism for his culture of life convictions. I do understand, as a Christian, that under God’s common grace we can thank the Lord for anyone in society who favors the family, protects unborn children, stands up for the right to life for the elderly and mentally handicapped, battles Communism and desires to uphold morality (what a difference from Barack Obama's liberal agenda). We all can agree with those things—Christian or not. But as good as those things are in terms of human dignity, rights and civility, none of those things define nor support rightly the gospel of Jesus Christ. I.e. someone may be a good moral person by human standards, a religious leader of sorts, but have no hope of eternal life because of rejecting the true gospel of grace. As the Apostle has said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” and that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

In today’s politically correct climate, evangelical leaders have capitulated “to the new social gospel” of moral values and neo-conservative political convictions. It is the now acceptable common ground for “ministry” to the culture (work together at all costs as long as there is solidarity on an agreed upon cultural malady in need of reform), but yielding fruit not worthy of the gospel. Temporal urgencies have eclipsed the eternal importance of men’s souls. Political capital is the new currency that evangelicals are craving to earn, inherit, lottery, and spend.

Embracing John Paul’s “Gospel of Life” is fine humanitarily, but it now seems to be the new qualifier for the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. Question for you: has political activism become the new common ground to which evangelicals are willing to ignore blatant differences on the gospel and become unequally yoked with unbelievers in fighting the culture wars that clearly have denied salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone? I call this sea change, “The New ECT – The Evangelical Culture of Tolerance.”

To further illustrate the point, could you imagine Martin Luther under the reign of Pope Leo X saying,

“I know that an edict has been issued against me for burning the Papal Bull calling for my excommunication and execution; but listen, the Pope is such a nice man who stands for family values and a culture of life.”
This is unthinkable! Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and the other apostles would have never entertained such frivolous thinking.

On October 16, 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were being burned at the stake under the ruthless hand of “Bloody Mary” because of their failure to affirm the heretical doctrine of transubstantiation (the false Romanist teaching that claims the communion wafer and the wine actually turn into the physical body and blood of Christ.) When the flames became intense and much of their lower extremities had been burned away, Ridley began to scream for mercy. Latimer, also in tremendous pain, called out to his friend and said these now infamous words, “Mr. Ridley, play the man; for today we begin to live as Christians. May we ignite a flame that will spread throughout all of England that can never be quenched.”

When will some of our most popular and well respected evangelical leaders “play the man.” We need to say to them in undiminished tones, “Play the man; follow Christ; the cross waves higher than the flag; today let’s begin to live as Christians; let’s ignite a flame that will sweep through America and never be burned out; let’s not love our lives even unto death; PLAY THE MAN!”

Here are some of the disappointing statements made by some of our most popular and listened to leadership in Christianity. They don’t speak for me any longer… do they speak for you?

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship:
“As Baptist Christians we give thanks to God for the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II. His devotion to Jesus Christ has inspired and challenged multitudes....In this hour of loss, those of us in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship offer our prayers for our sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church. We also offer our hand of Christian fellowship in serving Christ’s Kingdom.”

Pat Robertson (CBN Founder and 700 Club Host):
"I am deeply grieved as a great man passes from this world to his much deserved eternal reward. John Paul II has been the most beloved religious leader of our age – far surpassing in popular admiration the leader of any faith. He has been a man of great warmth, profound understanding, deep spirituality, and indefatigable vigor... He has been a steady bridge in the transition of Eastern Europe from communism to freedom. His personal magnetism brought together all Christians in new bonds of understanding. I pray for the Cardinals of the Catholic Church that they might have God-given wisdom in selecting the successor to this great man. Their task will not be easy, but with God all things are possible."

Billy Graham:
"It was my privilege to meet with him at the Vatican on various occasions, and I will always remember his personal warmth to me and his deep interest in our ministry. In his own way, he saw himself as an evangelist, traveling far more than any other Pope to rally the faithful and call non-believers to commitment. He was convinced that the complex problems of our world are ultimately moral and spiritual in nature, and only Christ can set us free from the shackles of sin and greed and violence. His courage and perseverance in the face of advancing age and illness were an inspiration to millions - including me. Pope John Paul II is 'the world's greatest evangelist. I've found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics."

Franklin Graham:
“The world, and not just the Catholic world, has lost a leader and a servant like few it has ever seen. Pope John Paul II modeled faith, courage and forgiveness."

Wheaton College's Former Professor, Mark Noll (who now teaches at Notre Dame):
“evangelicals had doctrinal differences with John Paul II, like the pope's Marian devotion. But the pope's theology as articulated in his encyclicals and pronouncements were deep and biblical. People who've taken the time to read these should come away impressed with his classically orthodox Christian stance."

Dr. James Dobson:
“Today's passing of Pope John Paul II is an immeasurable loss — not only to our friends of the Roman Catholic faith, but to the entire world. We found common cause with him and with the 'culture of life' he espoused so eloquently; the legacy he left us is to be cherished. While we grieve the profound loss of this remarkable man, we celebrate his life, his ministry, and his undeniable impact on the world. During his time as leader of the Catholic Church, he embodied the belief that freedom is a gift from God that should not be infringed by any government; that all life is precious and should be protected; and that dying is part of living and should not be feared nor hastened artificially. Pope John Paul was an uncompromising voice on the sanctity of life—in fact, his was one of the greatest contributions of the 20th century to that cause. The 'culture of life' will forever be indebted to the man who championed the value of all human life, even to his last breath."

Mark Bailey (President, Dallas Theological Seminary):
When posited the question "does the Pope have a place in eternity?" - he responded by saying, “Some people can find themselves part of a tradition that holds to certain doctrine, but they themselves have come to a personal faith in Christ and are dependent only on Christ for their salvation through what he did on the Cross. Our prayer, obviously, is that this pope had come to that conclusion. And the next pope, we would hope, will place the authority in Scripture and will see the exclusivity of Jesus as the only possibility of salvation, and that the death of Christ and not our works is the absolute provision given by a gracious God for our sin.” (This is a very naive position for a seminary president to hold. To clarify, no one can embrace the traditions and truth claims of Romanism and at the same time have a genuine personal faith in Christ Jesus for salvation. Those are two mutually exclusive conflicting worlds that have nothing in common (cf, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).

The Evangelical Alliance:
“Still, on issues of how we relate to each other as humans—issues of politics, social justices, life ethics peace, ecology, governmental structures, forgiveness, evangelization—evangelicals and Pope John Paul II stood united. Evangelical Alliance recognizes that John Paul was committed, as we are, to creedal Christianity. As such, in many instances he offered a welcome corrective to the forces of skepticism, secularism, and theological liberalism, which threaten to undermine both the integrity of the church and the effectiveness of its mission in the world.”

Charles Colson:
“In the last weeks and months of his life, the Pope sent a message, even when he couldn’t speak, about his greatest contribution: that is, advancing the “Gospel of Life.” In his encyclical by that same name, he described the way that “cultural, economic and political currents . . . encourage an [excessive concern] with efficiency.” The pope was a prophet. Just look at the recent FOX poll that found a majority of Americans regarded the removal of Terri Shiavo’s feeding tube as an “act of mercy.” In this, as in so many other things, John Paul II saw the handwriting on the wall and was able to tell us what it said.”

Fred Barnes (Executive Editor, The Weekly Standard, and an evangelical Episcopalian)
“He was the world's greatest defender of orthodox, Bible-based Christianity. … Important differences remained between Protestants and Catholics, but John Paul II made them seem small. He was pro-life, pro-family, anti-totalitarian, and quite a lot more that conservative evangelicals identified with. … John Paul was bold and unswerving in proclaiming salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. He did this all over the world, despite declining health and personal risk. … Catholics have lost a great and wonderful leader. And so have evangelicals.”

Timothy George (Is Dean of Beeson Divinity School, says Pope John Paul II authored theological masterpieces that will be studied for centuries, and fostered a climate that led to historic Catholic-evangelical dialogue. George spoke with CT assistant editor Collin Hansen):
"Billy Graham made the comment that the pope was the most significant Christian leader in the last hundred years. I think he's absolutely right. And what the pope has been able to do is offer a visible, articulate, winsome, attractive, embracing face to world Christianity. The only other person I think that you would say is anywhere close to the pope in influence would be Billy Graham. And many of the same things that we would say of the pope you'd say of Billy Graham. From an evangelical base he's tried to reach out and be embracing and yet be faithful to the gospel. And you put those two together, Billy Graham and the pope, you have there the winsome, visible face of world Christianity in the last half century.

This is the first pope that most evangelicals have actually known who he was. Almost anybody in the world who is semi-intelligent now knows the face of John Paul II, and they know he's the pope. If you had asked people in 1965, Who is the pope, they wouldn't know and probably wouldn't care. John Paul II has become a world figure and certainly within the Christian world in a way that evangelicals know him, appreciate his stand on many, many issues, resonate with his piety and spirituality, and know he's a man of prayer and deep faith—even though we can't follow him all the way into his Marian devotion. There's still a resonance there that connects to evangelicals in a way that no other pope has."

All of these statements made from the above evangelical leadership was for the one who denied the gospel of sola fide, rejected solus Christus, embraced the fifth Marian Dogma (co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix) the treasury of merit (and not the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ); prayers for the dead; penance; papal infallibility; denied sola Scriptura; preached Purgatorial cleansing; and upheld faith + works, grace + merit, Christ + a Roman surrogate church for salvation.

Warren isn't far behind... Where do you stand?

Semper Fidelis,
Steven Camp
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Broke "Saddleback" Mountain
...when a pastor tries to be a politician

Rick Warren seems like a compassionate man; but one who is a late-comer to this issue of AIDS. He said on an interview with FOXNEWS this past week that the first priority was to "break the silence of the church on AIDS." I beg your pardon Mr. Warren, but there have been many churches over for the past 20+ years without fanfare, PR and national media attention have faithfully served the Lord and those that are HIV positive in very sacrificial and profound ways. It is good that Rick and Saddleback have finally broken the silence and are getting involved on this issue.

But in all honesty, one must logically ask why now? I mean, where has he been all those years when people were dying with AIDS? I can only think in part that this is now due because of his PDL fame and subsequent wealth derived thereof, that he has to have somewhere to use and justify the tens of millions of dollars he has made from "being in the ministry." Thus... his fascination with social causes.

Mr. Warren is being promoted, positioned and perceived, mostly by his own public relations machine, as a global leader in fighting HIV infection. However, rather than using his "Q" to drive him deeper into pastoral ministry (i.e. prayer, biblical exposition, the discipleship of God's people, and the proclamation of the gospel of sola fide) he has turned to social causes: global warming, getting rid of poverty, bringing his P.E.A.C.E. plan to Syria, and now of course... AIDS.

The Latest Promoter of ECB - Evangelical Co-Belligerenece
A familiar proverb says, "a man is known by the friends he keeps..." And while Rick's passion for hurting people is commendable, it's the strange bedfellows he "partners" with that is disturbing. This again seems like a very superficial thing to him. The only plumbline he uses to determine whom he aligns himself with is uninimity on a cause--not on Christ, not on biblical truth, not on moral principle, but solely on a cause. And remember, this is a pastor. In this case the issue is AIDS.

Rick himself has clearly communicated that he will join with anyone to fight AIDS. Really? Let's test that axiom: would he partner with Planned Parenthood for example, or NAMBLA, Larry Flint of Hustler Magazine, or the Columbia drug-lords perhaps (after all they are well financed and globally networked) to help fight global HIV infection? Of course not. The principle taken to its logical conclusion doesn't pan out though. IOW, this is just another example of "cultural sentimentalism" run-a-muck. It is what I have coined as: ECB - Evangelical Co-Belligerence. Here is Rick on Hannity and Colmes a few days ago describing his new found co-belligerence.

The cross of the social gospel is pleasant, inclusive, ecumenical, politically correct, and inoffensive to the unregenerate; contrary to the cross of Christ.

His Definition of C.H.U.R.C.H. 'Purposely' Leaves out Christ
Look at how Rick wants to redefine what the church should be in response to this health crisis:

Unique from every other conference on AIDS, attendees of the Global Summit on AIDS & the Church will explore six ways any church, regardless of size, can minister to people living with HIV/AIDS using the acrostic C.H.U.R.C.H.: Care for and support the sick; Handle testing and counseling; Unleash volunteers; Remove the stigma; Champion healthy behavior; and Help with nutrition and medications.
I have an alternative meaning on how the church can effectively minister to those who have AIDS:
C - Christ. He alone is head of the church and is to be reverenced and worshipped as the only true Lord of all (Col. 1:18)
H - Holiness. The lifestyle of true faith; the fruit of genuine salvation (2 Cor. 5:17)
U - Unity. The body of Christ living out the one-anothers that effect all of life in every area of faith and community (Acts 2:42ff)
R - Regeneration. Proclaiming the gospel -evangelism; calling all men everywhere to repent of their sins and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives to escape the wrath to come (Titus 3:4-7)
C - Care and Compassion. Love your neighbor as yourself. Serve through "hands on" practical means (Matt. 22:39)
H - Hope. Though there is no cure for H-I-V, but there is for S-I-N in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Dying people need hope and there is no greater hope than what is found in Jesus (1 John 2:28-3:3)
Care for peoples daily needs? - absolutely, yes. But not at the expense of the eternal being compromised, ignored, politicized, or blurred.

Rodney King Theology--With a Twist
Mr. Warren's bleeding heart, politically correct, postmodern, moral pluralistic, neo-evangelical rhetoric adopted form the Rodney School of Theology - "can't we all just get along" [and all work together] - plays well with people like Bono, Gates, Obama, Dybul. But even under surface scrutiny, it lacks the biblical teeth, footing, theology, and courage to be taken anymore seriously than what it is: just another liberal social gospel in different rags.

Divorce biblical truth from love, and you get empty-headed sentimentality. Divorce love from biblical truth, and you get cold hearted-orthodoxy. Marry biblical truth and love, and you get real ministry. Rick has conveniently cut biblical truth out of the equation and has embraced anyone (preferrably with a name that can draw a crowd) who shares his same passion for the same issue. For a politician this is understandable and condoned; for a pastor, this is preposterous and compromise.

Welcome, to Broke "Saddleback" Mountain:

Below you will find an excellent running report from Joseph Farah and WorldNet Daily about Rick Warren, and his trip to Syria, his conference on AIDS, and his partnership with PBA advocate Barack Obama that will greatly inform you. I have also included a link to the transcript of Barack's speech he made yesterday at Rick's conference.

Transcript of Barack Obama's speech.
Friday, December 1, 2006 - Here's a riveting snippet of Barack's speech: "I took my own trip to Africa a few months ago. As I’m sure Rick and Kay would agree, it’s an experience that stays with you for quite some time."

The purpose-driven lie
Thursday, November 16, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- For a long time I've held off criticizing mega-church leader Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life," even though I have been sorely tempted. When he joined up with now-disgraced National Association of Evangelica ...

Why is Obama's evil in Rick Warren's pulpit?
Friday, November 17, 2006 by Kevin McCullough Rick Warren, the best selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and senior teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in California, has invited Sen. Barack Obama to speak to the congregation of the faithful on Dec. 1, 2006. In doing so, he has joined himself with one of the smoothest politicians of our times, and also one whose wickedness in worldview contradicts nearly every tenet of the Christian faith that Warren professes.

Megapastor Rick Warren's Damascus Road experience
Monday, November 20, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- WASHINGTON – Rick Warren, the superstar mega-church pastor and bestselling author of ''The Purpose Driven Life,'' had a Damascus Road experience last week – and like Saul of Tarsus, one of the after-effects appears to be blindness. Warren ...

Rick Warren disciples: Where are you?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- Millions and millions of people have purchased his books. His California church attracts thousands every Sunday. He seems to be the go-to guy whenever the establishment, ultra-secular press wants to quote an evangelical leader they l ...

Calling Rick Warren!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- Rick Warren just toured Syria last week where he announced that terrorist haven, that police state, that bastion of hate, anti-Christian persecution and anti-Semitism is really not so bad. I ...

Rick Warren on Syria: 'A moderate country'
Sunday, November 26, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- I am much obliged to Bruce Delay, a talk-show host at KFAQ 1170 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for downloading the audio version of Rick Warren's YouTube video, recorded while in Syria. Now, keep in ...

Warren defender: Change the subject
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- New Age leader Marianne Williamson has come to the aid of "The Purpose-Driven Life" author Rick Warren, under fire from me for statements he made during his recent visit to Syria.

Rick Warren says he's sorry
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 by Joseph Farah -- I received the following apology from Rick Warren Sunday night: It is evident from your columns and e-mails to others that I hurt, angered and offended you personally by what I said in a second e-mail to you. I am truly sorry ...

Saddleback says church can't handle AIDS crisis alone. Justifies summit conference featuring pro-abortion senator
Thursday, November 30, 2006 WND News -- Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, disagrees with Sen. Barack Obama's strong support for abortion, and has told him so in a public meeting, but still will allow him to address an AIDS conference at the church because getting different parts of society working together on the problem is so important, the church said in a statement.

Rick Warren shows Syria video in church. Pastor says clip was pulled from 12 hours of tapes after denying shooting on trip
Friday, December 1, 2006 WND News -- Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren showed a brief video clip of his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad to his mega-congregation after telling WND no recording was done on his controversial trip to the terrorist-sponsoring nation. Some members of Saddleback Church say they are distressed by this as well as Warren's comments that Syria is a "moderate" country.