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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row
Difficulties of high-profile pastors may reorient movement—or reinforce it.
Bobby Ross Jr. | posted 1/15/2009 09:40AM

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/2.12.html

Some of the high-flying icons of the prosperity gospel—the belief that God rewards signs of faith with wealth, health, and happiness—have run into financial turbulence.

Not all of their troubles can be blamed on the nation’s economic crisis, say critics of the name-it-and-claim-it theology found in some charismatic churches.

“I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul,” said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. “God is shaking us.” Grady predicts the movement will look much different in a few years as it refocuses on evangelism and overcoming what he calls the distraction of “materialism, flashy self-promotion, and foolish carnality.” But Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches, is not so certain.

“Most clergy who preach a prosperity gospel would interpret for their congregation any conflict, scrutiny, or questioning as an attack of the Devil and proof that they are following God,” he said.

Among recent developments:

• In Fort Worth, Texas, a review board ruled December 7 that Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ $3.6 million jet did not have tax-exempt status. The ruling came after the ministry, whose 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion, refused to release the salaries of Copeland, his wife, and others.

• In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, a sheriff’s deputy served an eviction notice November 14 at Bishop Thomas Weeks III’s Global Destiny Church. Court documents indicate the bishop, the ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum, owed half a million dollars in back rent. The church has lost roughly half of its 3,400 members since Weeks and Bynum’s 2007 fight in a hotel parking lot, in which Weeks was accused of pushing, choking, and beating his then-wife.

• In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church—which once attracted 23,000 worshipers—has shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 they were divorcing. The church faces an uncertain future after the Evangelical Christian Credit Union began foreclosure proceedings November 4 and demanded repayment of a $12 million loan on the church’s property.

• In suburban Minneapolis on November 18, Living Word Christian Center pastor Mac Hammond won the first stage of a court battle with the Internal Revenue Service to keep his salary private. Yet in 2008, he was forced to put his private jet up for sale and cut Living Word’s hour-long television show in half to save money amid falling contributions.
Meanwhile, Copeland and the Whites are among six televangelists whose large organizations have been targeted in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into allegations of questionable spending and lax financial accountability. All six preach some form of the prosperity gospel.

Could followers of the prosperity gospel—encouraged by pastors to “sow a seed” of faith by spending money, often in the form of a donation to the pastors’ ministries—be turned off by the recent turmoil?

Craig Blomberg, author of a 2001 study of prosperity theology, said he expects the movement to “take a small hit among those who recognize that it can’t deliver on what it promises.”

But many followers could view the financial difficulties as consequences for sin and personal failings—from Weeks’s assault conviction to the Whites’ divorce—and determine to try that much harder to please God and prosper themselves, he suggested.

“Some may well interpret this as judgment on the leaders who have abused their positions or proved immoral in other respects,” said Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary. “And many may simply assume this is the time to call others and themselves to an even truer faith so that the ‘system will work’ as it is supposed to in their minds.”

In Grady’s view, the notion that “God blesses us so we can be a blessing” is biblical. What is needed, he believes, is a shift to a more selfless movement where people “realize that God wants to bless us so that we can feed the poor, lift up the broken, and transform society.

“We need that kind of prosperity,” he said, “and I think that is where things are going.”

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Is the Prosperity Gospel Financial Heresy?
By Mr. ToughMoneyLove | October 5, 2008

Mr. ToughMoneyLove tends to avoid mixing religion and personal finance for a variety of reasons. However, I am going to make a very brief exception to that policy this Sunday.

This week Time ran a story on the possible role of the “prosperity gospel” in the sub-prime mortgage mess that has played a significant role in the current economic crisis. I certainly don’t agree with the premise that God should be blamed for what has happened. But the article makes an interesting anecdotal review of how believers in the prosperity gospel could be led to accept that divine intervention would prevail over their lack of financial resources. According to the prosperity preacher, that belief is enough to put the believer in a home he or she cannot afford. I think we can all agree that there is no logic to that belief. On the other hand, religion is based on faith, not logic.

I submit that are two hard truth takeaways from this story. First, the “prosperity gospel” is really intended to bring economic prosperity to those who preach it, not to those who listen to it. Second, an all too common rationalization offered by broke people when they make yet another discretionary purchase is that they “deserve” that car or gadget or vacation. The prosperity gospel reinforces that misguided rationalization and gives it another dimension. Just as I believe that poor people are not being punished by God, I also believe that wealth on earth is not bestowed based on spiritual merit.

What do you think about the prosperity gospel as a contributor to current economic conditions?

http://toughmoneylove.com/2008/10/05/is-the-prosperity-gospel-financial-heresy/

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Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess
By David Van Biema Friday, Oct. 03, 2008

TIME.com

Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the Bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, the theology can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are “worthy of having more and doing more and being more.” In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade’s worth of ever easier credit acted like a drug in Prosperity’s bloodstream. “The economic boom ’90s and financial overextensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the Prosperity message,” he wrote recently on his personal blog as well as on the website Religion Dispatches. And not positively. “Narratives of how ‘God blessed me with my first house despite my credit’ were common. Sermons declaring ‘It’s your season to overflow’ supplanted messages of economic sobriety,” and “little attention was paid to … the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations.”

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that Prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and they are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants’ fortunes. Says Walton: “You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology.” But he predicts they will persevere, since God’s earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recent publicly posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God, near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation — it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on Scriptural promises of God. But the believer’s note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. “Last Sunday,” it read, “You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1,020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace.”

And pray that the credit market doesn’t tighten any further.

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1847053,00.html?cnn=yes

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Understanding Word-Faith Teaching
by Rob Bowman

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Once upon a time, long long ago, on a faraway planet, there lived a good God. . . . Because Jesus was recreated from a satanic being to an incarnation of God, you too can become an incarnation – as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth! And, as an incarnation of God, you can have unlimited health and unlimited wealth – a palace like the Taj Mahal with a Rolls Royce in your driveway. You are a little messiah running around on earth! All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.

Hank Hanegraaff (summarizing the Word-Faith teaching)

It seems our friends, the book writers, have invented an entirely new theology called the “born again Jesus” built upon a conglomeration of quotations taken from 6 or 7 ministers, pulled out of context and combined as though we all believed identically the same thing or were even speaking about the same subject when quoted (which, in some cases, we were not). And the reader is told we all believe this “born again Jesus” theology, believe exactly alike about it, and we’re all heretics. Yet I am diametrically opposed to some of the doctrines held by those who are quoted on the same page as me! Kenneth E. Hagin

He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13

If we are to evaluate the Word-Faith teaching, we first need to understand it. As Solomon counseled, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). We need to grasp the Word-Faith theology as a whole and understand how it all fits together from the perspective of the Word-Faith teachers if we are to make an intelligent decision as to whether it is biblical. Moreover, we need to look at the movement from all sides and consider it from every relevant angle in order to make our assessment as complete and balanced as possible. In this chapter I will set forth an agenda for such a complete assessment and then explain the Word-Faith teaching in order to make its basic message understandable.

The Roots, Shoots, and Fruits

A complete evaluation of any movement’s teachings requires that we look at three aspects of the teachings, which may be called the roots, shoots, and fruits of a doctrine.

Exposing the Roots
The roots of a doctrine are the sources or origins of the teachings. Did the ideas come from the Bible? Did they come from the biblically based teaching of a sound Christian teacher? Did they come from a source that is clearly cultic or non-Christian? Or did they come from a mixture of all three types of sources? If certain ideas can be traced to non-Christian or cultic roots, how were these ideas transferred?

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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An examination of the “roots” of a teaching is never sufficient by itself, because non-Christians, after all, can express truths and can have genuine insights. It is perfectly fine for a Christian teacher to “plunder the Egyptians” by taking over ideas or formulations found in non-Christian thought and putting them into a soundly Christian context. So we must be careful not to argue that a particular doctrine is false merely because a cultist or other non-Christian advocated it. In logic this is called the genetic fallacy – attempting to dismiss an idea on the basis of its genesis, or origin.

William DeArteaga, in his book defending the Word-Faith movement, claims that Daniel R. McConnell’s critique of the Word-Faith teaching commits the “genetic fallacy” by arguing that “Hagin derived his teachings from Kenyon, who in turn was associated with the Metaphysical movement.” DeArteaga calls this error “the pharisaical objection of origins,” referring to his belief that the Pharisees erred by rejecting any workings of the Spirit that contradicted their theology or which they could not explain. This is an odd theory: the Pharisees never criticized Jesus’ teachings for supposedly deriving from a suspect source (say, that Jesus got his ideas from the pagan Greeks). They did accuse him of having a demon (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20), but this is a “genetic” argument of a very different sort! Setting aside this strange reference to the Pharisees, DeArteaga’s criticism overlooks the fact that McConnell explicitly denies trying to discredit the Word-Faith teaching by a simple exposé of its origins:

The historical origins of the Faith movement are not enough, however, to justify the charge of cultism. That would be an example of theological guilt by mere historical association. To prove cultism requires that it be demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the beliefs and practices of the contemporary Faith movement (not just those of Kenyon) are both cultic and heretical.. . . The Faith movement is cubic not just because of where it comes from. but also because of what it teaches.

DeArteaga elsewhere shows that he does take the question of the origins of the Word-Faith teaching to be relevant. In answer to McConnell, he argues that Kenyon’s doctrines of revelation – knowledge and of the Christian life are not really Gnostic at all but are instead rooted in the theology of the apostle Paul.

If the genetic fallacy is to be avoided, then why examine the roots at all? There are two reasons for doing so. First, sometimes teachers will misrepresent the source of their teachings in order to exaggerate their own originality or because the true sources are a potential embarrassment to them. In some cases professing Christian teachers have been known to plagiarize whole sermons or books from various cultic or questionable sources. Obviously, if they pass off as new insights or revelations from God ideas that they actually lifted word for word from a non-Christian or cultic writer, this constitutes a serious problem. Exposing these teachers’ lack of honesty in this area serves its own purpose independent of evaluating the teachings themselves.

Here again, DeArteaga argues that McConnell has criticized Kenneth Hagin unjustly by accusing him of plagiarism. According to DeArteaga, “McConnell also accuses Hagin of passing off his theology as pure ‘revelation knowledge’ without any credits to human sources” (emphasis added). DeArteaga points to the preface of The Name of Jesus in which Hagin acknowledges drawing on Kenyon’s The Wonderful Name of Jesus as proof that McConnell is wrong. Yet McConnell himself quotes Hagin’s preface and comments, “This is one of the few candid, direct acknowledgments of Kenyon to appear in any of Hagin’s writings.” McConnell also observes that “Hagin demonstrates the ability to give credit where credit is due with regard to the sources that he drew on to develop a particular idea,” except concerning those sources from which he plagiarized extensively. His contention is simply that Hagin’s repeated, massive plagiarism of the writings of Kenyon, along with those of John A. MacMillan, demonstrate that Hagin’s claim to have learned the Word-Faith teaching directly from visitations and revelations from God is patently false. DeArteaga’s criticisms of McConnell in this matter are not cogent.

Second, identifying the source of someone’s questionable doctrines can aid us in pinpointing the real problems in those doctrines. If certain doctrinal errors have been taught before and have been answered by sound Christian teachers, then finding these antecedents can be very helpful in identifying and refuting the errors. Discovering the true roots of the Word-Faith teaching, once it is shown to be unbibilcal and damaging to authentic Christian faith, will then aid us in getting to the core of the problem. It will also enable us to be better on guard against similar errors in the future.

Again, we do not expose the roots of a doctrine to prove it false. We examine the roots to help us diagnose the problems and prescribe a cure.

Examining the Shoots
The second aspect of any doctrine is the substance or idea of the doctrine itself. This is what for convenience I call the shoots, though it would be more precise to talk about the trunk and branches. More technically, the shoots of a doctrine are the doctrine itself as a doctrine – what the doctrine says in theory and the arguments or reasons given in its support.

Most of the time, we identify a tree by its shoots. That is, we can usually tell what sort of a tree it is simply by looking at its overall appearance as shaped primarily by its trunk and branches. A quick glance at the shoots of a fir tree is enough to determine that it is not an oak.

Examining doctrines is often not as easy, of course, because doctrines are not tangible entities that can be perceived with a single glance. What we purpose to do in examining a doctrine, though, is not merely to identify it but also to evaluate its soundness and strength. When examining a tree, for example, we would check various branches to see if they are strong and well connected to the trunk. If there was some doubt about the health of the tree, we might cut through the bark to examine the interior of the wood. When examining a doctrine, we would test its soundness and strength by examining the reasoning used to support the conclusion and seeing if that reasoning is firmly based on the Bible.

Examining the shoots, then, comes down to comparing the contemporary teachings with the teachings of the Bible. The Word-Faith teachers tend to resist this kind of critical examination, offering various reasons why their teachings should not be critiqued. I have evaluated these objections to doctrinal discernment in Orthodoxy and Heresy. Here I will point out simply that this sort of study is strongly encouraged in the Bible itself (see Matt. 22:29; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). It is the basic method used by Christians throughout the centuries to test novel and controversial teachings as they have arisen in the church.

Looking at the Fruits
The third and final aspect of testing a doctrine is to look at its fruit. This test is perhaps the best known because of the words of Jesus regarding false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20). Unfortunately these words are among the most abused words in Scripture. They are all too commonly cited to prove that testing someone’s teachings by comparing them with Scripture is either unnecessary or illegitimate. Yet this claim is itself a doctrine that people try to prove by citing Scripture!

What Jesus says here is absolutely true: One can know a false prophet by his or her “fruits.” We need to ask, though, what is included, and what is not, in these fruits. One thing Jesus makes very clear in the context is that prophetic utterances and miracles are not included (Matt. 7:22). This is important because Word-Faith teachers and those who support them often point to stories of healings, apparent supernatural revelations, and other amazing incidents as proof that God has blessed their ministry. But Jesus specifically excludes such things from the “fruits” by which we would be able to tell a false prophet from a true one.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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On the other hand, Jesus does not discourage testing doctrines by comparing them with Scripture. Indeed, his focus is not on the truth or falsity of a particular doctrine but on the divine calling of a professed prophet. The purpose of the test is to tell apart true and false prophets, both of whom seem to speak in the name of the Lord (Matt. 7:21-22). The implication is that a true prophet must represent the Lord truly both in word and in action. Thus the point here is not that true prophets can say anything they want as long as their outward lives are good. Rather, it is that a prophet is false if his fruit is evil, no matter how good or true his words seem to be.

A short while later in the same passage, Jesus contrasts the wise person with the foolish person. The wise person acts on Jesus’ words, while the foolish person fails to do so (Matt. 7:24-27). The implication is that one may and should compare people’s actions to the words of Jesus to see whether their actions are wise or foolish.

One bad fruit that is always produced by false prophets is confusion and division. When false prophets come along and teach false doctrines or make false claims, it is their fault when confusion and division ensue. It is certainly not the fault of those who oppose their unbiblical teachings.

The sum of the matter is this. The test Jesus sets forth in Matthew 7 is intended to expose false prophets. It is not the only such test, but it is a valid and crucial test. It cannot be used to avoid responsibility to teach doctrine that is faithful to the same Bible in which this test appears. False and unsound doctrine always contradicts biblical doctrine and results in bad fruit.

On Defining the Word-Faith Teaching

Before explaining the Word-Faith teaching, I need to say some things about the approach taken here. In discussing this subject with advocates of the Word-Faith teaching and with its critics, I have learned that how one approaches the discussion virtually determines whether communication and understanding will ever take place.

Is There a “Word Faith Teaching”?
Some people object to any critique of the “Word-Faith teaching” on two grounds. First, it is sometimes said that the Word-Faith teachers are evangelists, healers, prophets, or pastors, not teachers or theologians, and that they should not be judged as if they were theologians. Second, it has been argued that the critics of the Word-Faith movement have created a straw-man “Word-Faith teaching” from statements taken out of context or shoe-horned into a theology that none of the Word-Faith teachers espouse. We are told that the Word-Faith teachers differ markedly on a number of doctrinal points, so that the doctrine attributed to them as a group is an artificial construct of the critics’ own imagination.

It is, of course, true that none of the Word-Faith teachers is a systematic theologian or even a methodical teacher whose theological “system” is easily encapsulated from his writings. This does not mean, however, that the Word-Faith leaders are not teachers. Whatever they may see as their primary calling, when they regularly present teaching on matters of Christian belief, they make themselves teachers. It is silly to say that individual – articles, and disseminate video and audiotapes of their messages on doctrinal topics are not teachers.

In any case, at least some of these men do claim to be teachers. Kenneth Hagin, who claims that his primary calling is to the ministry of a prophet, also claims to serve in the ministry of a teacher. Thus it is perfectly appropriate to hold the Word-Faith teachers to a higher standard of doctrinal accuracy than we do persons in ministry who do not presume to teach doctrine (James 3:1).

As for the second objection, it simply is not true that the Word-Faith teachers have no theological system. The lack of a formal Word-Faith “systematic theology” does not mean that there is no structural or thematic unity in their teaching. If a Word-Faith teacher’s teaching is at all coherent or consistent, it should be possible to systematize his teachings in order to bring out its coherence and essential ideas. If such systematization is not possible, it only goes to show that his teaching is chaotic and therefore that he is a poor teacher.

Kenneth Hagin has complained that the theology attributed to him and other Word-Faith teachers is an invention of the critics (see the quotation at the beginning of this chapter). Hagin’s objection has some justice, but the legitimate point he is making should not be exaggerated. There is a core of doctrinal teaching that makes the Word-Faith movement distinctive and identifiable, a core of teaching to which the Word-Faith televangelists generally subscribe and that sets them apart from other Christian traditions. I agree that some of the critics of the Word-Faith teachers have erred in superimposing on the Word-Faith movement a greater degree of unity than is actually there. But the error of this extreme does not justify the opposite extreme of denying any distinctive doctrinal unity in the movement.

In this chapter, then, I will attempt to state that core theology of the Word-Faith movement. It may be that some Word-Faith advocates will disagree somewhat with the way their doctrine is presented here, but I believe that overall this presentation of the Word-Faith theology is accurate and representative of their teachings.

How Shall the Word-Faith Teaching Be Defined?
It is easy to make the Word-Faith doctrine sound silly or absurd. Indeed, one can do so by just stringing together a number of the more colorful statements that have been made by Word-Faith teachers. When critics of the movement do this and then fill in the gaps with their own interpretative embellishments, the result is a caricature.

This is the problem, as I see it, with the way in which the Word-Faith teaching is represented in the section titled “Once Upon a Time . . .” in Hank Hanegraaff’s Christianity in Crisis. Hanegraaff himself makes the following admission in a prefatory note in very small print:

The following tale is a composite of the erroneous teachings of individuals like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others. While not all the Faith teachers hold to every aspect of this tale, they have all made substantial contributions to both the production and the proliferation of these aberrations and heresies. (emphasis added)
What Hanegraaff fails to acknowledge, unfortunately, is that none of the Word-Faith teachers “holds to every aspect of this tale.” The “composite” fails to represent accurately the views of any of the Word-Faith teachers, because none of them holds to the whole thing. Moreover, some of the elements of this “composite” are not held by any of the Word-Faith teachers but are Hanegraaff’s own imaginative and colorful additions. Hanegraaff describes the Word-Faith teachers’ God as hoping to get “lucky.” He describes the Jesus of the Word-Faith teaching as becoming “a satanic being” when he died. He claims that the Word-Faith teaching asserts that Christians can have “a palace like the Taj Mahal. . . . All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.” These descriptions, however, make the Word-Faith movement sound more akin to Eastern religions or the New Age movement than it really is. In truth none of the Word-Faith teachers ever talk this way.

This way of presenting the Word-Faith teaching, while it has shock value, unnecessarily offends those who embrace the Word-Faith teaching. Just as we would not want our beliefs to be misrepresented, we must be careful not to misrepresent the beliefs of those in the Word-Faith movement (Matt. 7:12). When they hear the views of their favorite televangelists being exaggerated or sensationalized, they use that to dismiss out of hand the many valid criticisms of the Word-Faith teaching that critics offer.

We must never lose sight of the fact that many persons do, after all, find in the Word-Faith doctrine a convincing and coherent message. I will therefore be presenting the teaching in such a form as I think a systematically minded advocate of the Word-Faith teaching might articulate it. What I have attempted to do here is to set forth the Word-Faith teaching in the best possible light, focusing on the most prominent and essential aspects of that teaching. This way, what is being refuted is not the worst possible representation of the teaching but the doctrine at its best.

I hasten to add that the more colorful and extreme ideas that have been taught by Word-Faith teachers are certainly, in and of themselves, fair targets for criticism. I will be critiquing some of them in this book. But these more outlandish ideas need to be placed fairly in the context of the Word-Faith teaching.

In order to be as fair to the Word-Faith movement as possible, I will base my exposition of its teaching solely on the words of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Since these two men are the undisputed leaders of the Word-Faith movement, any doctrine to which both of them subscribe may be safely regarded as part of the Word-Faith teaching. With one important exception, I have avoided mentioning in this summary any doctrine taught by only one, and not the other, of these two men. Persons who acknowledge Hagin or Copeland as teachers and who accept the general ideas of the Word-Faith teaching, even if they deviate in one or a few particulars, may also be regarded as part of the Word-Faith movement.

What follows, then, is a summary of the theology of the Word-Faith movement, including the doctrinal issues that will be explored later in this book.

Human Beings Are Spirits

Basic to the Word-Faith theology is a particular understanding of human nature as spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is more real than the physical, according to the Word-Faith teaching, and therefore the spirit is the real person. It is the spirit that is made in God’s image, allowing the Word-Faith teachers to conclude that human beings are exact duplicates of God, or little gods.

Furthermore, it is the spirit to which God communicates (not the mind), and the spirit that is supposed to control the soul and especially the body. The problem with the human race is that we are allowing our bodies to control our lives, or our reason to dictate to our spirits, rather than having our spirits take control over our whole beings. This is fundamental for the Word-Faith teachers, since in their view we should disbelieve our senses when they tell us we are sick or poor, and disbelieve our reason when it tells us that the Word-Faith teaching is illogical or false (see chapter 6).

God and Humanity

According to the Word-Faith teachers, God is much more like a man than Christians generally have supposed. God is a God of faith; he created the world by faith and accomplishes all that he desires by believing in his heart and speaking the word of faith, thereby bringing things into existence (see chapter 7).

There is another respect in which Word-Faith teaching makes God more like a man than is traditionally thought. Although God is in essence a spirit, the Word-Faith teachers hold that God, like human beings, is spirit, soul, and body – albeit a “spirit body” (see chapter 8).

Likewise, the Word-Faith teachers insist that human beings are much more like God than Christians have usually believed. Our creation in God’s image is interpreted to mean that we exist in God’s “class” as the same kind of being as God, though on a smaller scale (as “little gods”). Moreover, the purpose of the coming of Jesus was to restore humanity to godhood by creating a new race of humans who, like Jesus, would be God incarnate (see chapter 9).

Humanity’s potential as little gods was, according to the Word-Faith teaching, thwarted by the fall. Adam forfeited his status as the god of this world by obeying the devil and thereby making Satan the god of this world. In sinning, Adam gave Satan legal dominion over this world and passed Satan’s nature of death, with its corresponding symptoms of sickness and poverty, down to the rest of humanity (see chapter 10).

Jesus Christ

To correct the situation arising from the fall, God, according to Word-Faith theology, implemented a strategy for reclaiming dominion from the devil. The centerpiece of this strategy was his becoming a man. Although Word-Faith teachers affirm that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, their understanding of what this incarnation meant is in some respects highly unusual.

First, all Word-Faith teachers argue that Christians are just as much “incarnations of God” as was Jesus Christ. This implies that “incarnation” in Word-Faith teaching does not mean the same thing it means in traditional Christian usage. Much of what the Word-Faith teachers say suggests that in their view anyone who is indwelled by the Spirit is an incarnation.

Second, Word-Faith teachers are not altogether clear as to whether it was the preexistent, eternal Son of God who became incarnate. Some Word-Faith teachers, such as Hagin, seem to assume this traditional, biblical view. Others, though, notably Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, teach that the Word that became incarnate was God’s Word of promise that he would redeem humanity, and that this Word was “positively confessed” into personal existence by the Virgin Mary (see chapter 11).

The Word-Faith teachers also have a distinctive view of what Christ did to effect our salvation. In their view, what Jesus did that was unique was to die, not merely physically but spiritually as well (thus taking on himself Satan’s nature), and go to hell. There, they say, he was “born again,” rising from the dead with God’s nature (which, it is sometimes implied, he had lost in dying spiritually). By doing so, the Word-Faith teachers argue, Jesus paved the way for us to be born again and exhibit God’s nature in our lives (see chapter 12).

As has already been mentioned, the Word-Faith teachers tend to interpret the incarnation as the prototype of God’s Spirit dwelling in a human being. In this sense, they insist, Christians are as much an incarnation of God as was Jesus Christ. This lends support, in their view, to the claim that all Christians ought to be able to overcome difficulties in their lives and perform miracles in just the same way Jesus did. In principle any of us can do anything that Jesus did on earth (see chapter 13).

Faith, Prayer, and Confession

The distinctive ideas about God and man in Word-Faith theology are the basis for its views on faith and prayer. Faith is not only believing what God says but also believing that we have whatever we say. Prayer is not only speaking to God but also speaking to things and circumstances and commanding them to do as we say. This is the basis for the concept of positive and negative confession, the idea that what we believe and say, whether good or bad, will happen for us (see chapter 14).

On the basis of a positive confession – itself based on faith that we are divine spirits created and redeemed to rule our circumstances by speaking words of faith – Word-Faith theology says we are to obtain health and wealth. Since Christ died to free us from the curse of the law, reason the Word-Faith teachers, this must mean that Christians need no longer accept sickness or poverty in their lives. Christians ought to live in divine health and wealth as testimony to the power of God and as evidence that they are children of God (see chapter 15).

This is the Word-Faith theology to be studied in this book. For the most part, my focus will not be on the personalities who promote these views but on the biblical teachings that are relevant to evaluating the Word-Faith theology. However, in order to understand the teachings fully, we need to consider how they arose and know something about their sources. The next four chapters will deal with just these questions.

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Matthew 9:34 – But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,[4] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

John 7:20 – “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

John 8:48, 52 – The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” – At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.

John 10:20 – Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

Matthew 22:29 – Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Acts 17:11 – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Matthew 7:16, 20 – By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? – Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:21-22 – “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

James 3:1 – Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

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Taken from The Word-Faith Controversy by Rob Bowman. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright 2001. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company. You can purchase The Word-Faith Controversy for a total of $15 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172 .

http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar63.htm

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Word of Faith: Devastating Impact: Casualties

On a personal level, it seems that – in the long term especially – the WOF is devastating. It is devastating to the WOF believers because they have allowed themselves to be led astray and to be spiritually deceived. The presumption that God does not allow his own children to be deceived is obviously false, because in the Bible, Paul and John and Peter are constantly telling those early Christians to pay attention and to watch out that they would not be deceived – because the presumption is that it could happen, and in some cases was happening.

God has given us his Holy Word so that we can use it, and if we know it well, and if we use it often, and as our minds are renewed through the study of His Word, then When we know the teachings of the Bible, and how to defend our faith and identify false teachings, we are much less likely to be deceived.

But the impact of WOF for those who want to come out of it – is almost just as devastating for those who leave WOF (as it is for those who stayed), especially right after they have just left.

Where can a person go ? WHat Church would you send them to ? Who can they find to talk with, not only who will empathize, but who will actually offer them some seriously Biblical advice and genuine assistance ? And where do they start ?

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There are many thousands of walking casualties out there who have no idea how to respond to their WOF experiences: the first half seems to be those who thought that WOF was Christianity (Which it is not) – and who then have rejected Christianity because WOF did not work; the second half seems to be those who are Christians and realize that WOF does not work, and is wrong, and is misguided, but they do not have the practice nor enough spiritual understanding – to understand

1) where the problem is or 2) how to fix it and 3) how to go on from there. And the emotional consequences can be very heavy. For many of those involved, their friends and their Churches are still WOF. So they experience additional isolation from their friends, rather than support and comfort. This may be the price for also having friends not spiritually grounded, but that does not really help much either.

The solution should include books and authors that will talk about their own WOF experiences and help to highlight the contrast between 1) what the Bible says and teaches and 2) what the WOF teaches. All this can take a lot of time.

Another part of the solution seems to try to talk it out, work it out, write it out, and let it out, and to make these things part of the process of learning how to come to terms with WOF teachings and reject them, And THEN – replace those teachings with actual Biblical theology.

The “Soft” Cults

Changing your mind to change your master ?

It used to be that Cults were essentially those who operated using an environment of obvious mind-control, where a person was food-deprived, or sleep-deprived as part of their conditioning.

Cults today are much more sophisticated. Part of the dangers of the WOF movement is that its seduction is not so much what it does to you from the exterior – as much as it is what happens to the interior of the person, who has agreed to subject themselves to the same physical environment as the WOF Teacher.

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There are aspects of the WOF movement that resemble more the beauty and seduction of a “mass movement”, than they resemble the old cults or their methods. In fact, in some ways WOF movement is more dangerous because all of its impact is on the brain of the persons being affected.

They change you – by teaching you how to change your own consciousness.
They induce the atmosphere, but it takes the will and the cooperation of the person listening, existing there in that moment, and agreeing to “take it all in” and accept it – in order for them to have the impact that they do.

There are situations where a person can recognize faulty or wrong theology in a conversation in a Coffee place. Somehow, those same people are suddenly incapable of thinking of almost anything else – except to ACCEPT the experience which is offered, in the context of the WOF meetings.

One of the characteristics of God is that He does not require us to put our minds on hold, and experiences that are truly from Him 1) Agree with the Bible and 2) are Consistent with Biblical Teachings.

Its unfortunate to say this, but in many WOF meetings, it is insufficient to suggest that it is merely false teachings which takes place. I believe that in many of those meetings, demonic spirits are looking to control the audience and find people willing to accept the input of those Evil spirits. The Bible says that Satan comes as an Angel of Light. What better place for him to display this, than in the WOF meetings ?

I believe that increasingly – in the WOF meetings, the combination of the professional production, and the work of the Spiritual Enemies of the Cross are too powerful for those who are in the audience to not be affected by them.

We can all debate how long the impact of those meetings will be, but they must be long term: Because people coming out of WOF find it so hard to extricate themselves not only from having attended, but from the experiences that they were involved with.

====

In situations like that, I believe that it is important to recognize this for what it is: good old fashioned Spiritual Warfare. This is not the “demon of nail-biting” kind. It is rather simply the Devil making war on the saints, in order to attempt to paralyze us in as many ways as possible.

Praise God that there is a natural antidote called Prayer and Renewing of our Mind through reading the Bible.

Romans 12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is important to understand that we need to pray for

a) great wisdom and discernment,

b) to pray that we will understand what has happened,

c) to pray that we would understand Which part of our theology and teachings are wrong or have been changed and altered by Word of Faith.

Those of us who do not have a local church should pray that we would find one that has people inside with 1) great spiritual discernment and 2) great spiritual maturity – or that we would be able to find a group of Christian believers who are like that.

It is important to not Stay paralyzed. We do not mean a day or two. we are talking about weeks turning to months. It is important to recognize that God does not abandon us, (even though it can feel that way sometimes) and that He allows things in our lives which will make us stronger, but that there will be times when others hurt us and there will be times when we get burned, even by those who claim to be doing the work of God.

Often, what the Devil knows he may not be able to do anymore with deception, he may try to prevent us from serving Jesus Christ by Confusion or Paralysis. The only way to work out of those feelings is to try and process them, but not allow those bad feelings to become the basis by which we make our new everyday choices.

Bad things DO happen to Good people. And the fact is that although we like to think of ourselves as Good, we are really sinners saved by the Almighty Grace of a loving God. Having said that, it is important to know and remember that just because God lets us fall does NOT mean that He rejects us. On the contrary, God wants us to know Him better. We can never go faster than God, in His desire for our company, and in HIS desire for us to know Him better and continue to worship Him, in spirit and In Truth.

These times are exiting but they do bring some dark days. We know one of the reasons why things happen to us:

II Cor 1:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Just to be sure we dont miss it, it says that we have tribulation (Difficult & Hard times)

quote:

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Other Verses are also helpful:

I Thessalonians 15: 18
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober [minded].

we should remember what Paul said:

II Thessalonians 2:16
Now [may] our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and [e]stablish you in every good word and work.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_devastation_1.htm

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Capture of the Mind

One of the ways that WOF (Word of Faith) harms people is that it uses their own willingness to believe something which is false – against the person who is doing the “believing”.

Many of these people who are in WOF actually have been in this kind of stuff for their entire lives (some of the WOF teachers started back in the 1950s or before). But many of the people who are in WOF are NEW to the movement. Where did or do these people come from ?

Don’t they come from other churches ? Isn’t there some kind of implication that these churches – from which the WOF converts came – did Not teach people

1) how to rightly divide the Word of God or

2) how to study the Bible or

3) how to identify important doctrines in the Bible or

4) how to spot a cult or identify false teachers ???

We are not proposing that individual believers don’t have a choice, and don’t have a responsibility to educate themselves. Clearly they do, whether someone informs this of that or not, and they are {and will be} held responsible by God, for the doctrine that they believe. The Bible tells all of us to be on our guard and warns about Spiritual deception and also about the need to stay constantly in the Word (the Bible) So That …we will continue to grow spiritually.

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But having said that – the failure of the leaders and teachers in those local churches, would seem to be an indication of the spiritual weakness and sickness of the Church in general, that it would provide an “impression of safety and stability”, while seeming to encourage the Lack of Spiritual grounding and the Lack of development of Spiritual Maturity.

Thank God we should not leave it up to our churches, and that we can find others and good authors to help us grow spiritually. But it remains disappointing to see many people go to church but only find the confirmation of a lack of Biblically grounded and encouraging teaching.

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These implications seem to very serious. In many cases, the original independent local churches (around today) have almost entirely failed in their Biblical duty to educate and thoroughly ground the Christians who attend in the Bible, and especially the new Christians. But now the WOF [Word of Faith Movement] is becoming so large that it will likely continue to absorb those same former “local” churches and get many of those churches to adopt WOF theology and teachings.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_&_the_mind.htm

 

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JONI A TRUE AND FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN

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Joni Eareckson Tada & Word/Faith [Word of Faith]

A Personal Experience

On December 8, 1999, Joni Eareckson Tada was on the Bible Answer Man, and made the following devastating comments about Word-Faith teachings:

Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth Hagin or Benny Hinn – they’ve never called me and asked me to come on their program.

…I had read some portions of Scripture that seemed to indicate that if God’s Word abided in me, and I abided in Him, I could ask whatever I wished and the request would be fulfilled and my joy would be brighter.

I took that to mean that God wanted me healed. And my sister packed me into her station wagon and a couple of friends, and we drove down to the Washington DC arena and Kathryn Kuhlman swept on stage and praise choruses and testimonies and songs and all of us in the wheelchair section, we kind of like with baited breath were waiting and wondering, and nothing happened. In fact, the ushers came up to all of us in the wheelchair section, about 35 or 40 of us, and said, “Let’s escort you all out early so as not to create a traffic jam, and so there I was, Hank, number 15 in line of 35 people in wheelchairs or on crutches, waiting at the stadium elevator to go up to the parking lot, and we could still hear the distant strains of the organ and piano – Kathryn Kuhlman’s meeting was still going on – and I looked up and down this line of solemn-faced individuals and saw so much disappointment, and I thought “Something’s wrong with this picture.

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Either I wasn’t reading God right in His Word or God is not coming through on His promises.” And I knew that wasn’t true, and so Hank, it was that experience that drove me into God’s Word so deep I started reading people like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and Jeremiah Burrows and John Owen and Jonathan Edwards and other contemporary authors – Dr. John MacArthur, there’s so many. I really dove into God’s Word with both sleeves rolled up to understand the Lord’s perspective on healing and I can say now that I am so grateful for the wisdom of God.

…John 5 talks about where Jesus once visited the Pool of Bethesda, and among all these disabled people He touched and healed a man paralyzed on a straw mat for over 30 years. I remember I was in the dark at night. After my bible was closed I’d picture myself at that same pool. I would imagine me dressed in maybe a rough burlap coat lying on a straw mat, perhaps even near that man that Jesus healed, and I would plead with God in prayer, “Oh, Lord, do not pass me by.” I would even sing to Him that hymn, “Jesus, Jesus, hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” I would pray that, and yet I was never healed.

Well, as you know, years later, and I began to get my spiritual act together with the Lord Jesus and I realized He was using my affliction, my paralysis to push me up against a spiritual wall with my back, getting me to seriously consider His lordship in my life – years later – in fact, just last year my husband Ken and I had a chance to visit Jerusalem, and we chose to do the old city on a hot, dry, dusty day, midday, when we knew no tour buses would be around and we’d have the place pretty much to ourselves.

And Ken was pushing me in my wheelchair down the cobblestone streets and we arrived at the sheepgate, made a lefthand turn, and there, a couple of hundred yards down the path, it opened up into this grand old ruins of – my goodness, it’s the pool of Bethesda. Ken, I said, would you look at this. And although you could not make out the colonnades because the ruins were crumbling and tumbling, and there’s no water in the pool yet, the place was empty, and as I leaned against the guardrail with my elbow, Ken hopped the guardrail to jog down to the bottom of the pool to see if there was any water in one of the cisterns.

And while he was gone and the wind was warm and dry and the sun was hot, tears began cascading down my cheeks as I looked over this pool of Bethesda and I said, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how good of You to wait 30 years, almost as many years as that man laid on his straw mat, You waited this long to bring me to this place, a place where I imagined myself so many years ago, and I’m so grateful that You did not pass me by, because a ‘no’ answer to a request for healing has meant purged sin from my life, and it strengthened my commitment to you, Lord Jesus. It has forced me to depend on Your grace. It has bound me with other believers. It has produced discernment.

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It has disciplined my mind. It has taught me to spend my time wisely. It has given me a hope of heaven. Lord Jesus, You were so good in not healing me.” And I know there are many people listening now who wish to be free of their circumstances – they are looking for an escape hatch, or maybe a quick fix for their affliction, and they think they might find it in a divorce or they are pondering maybe with the idea of suicide, such as one caller mentioned earlier. Or they’re thinking that they’ll find it in pills or medication, or a healing service. But the 32 years that I’ve been in this wheelchair and being at the Pool of Bethesda last year, has taught me that suffering is that good sheepdog, always snapping at my heals and driving me into the arms of the Shepherd. For that, I am so grateful. I am so grateful.

God Is Not a Vending Machine

Who is Joni ?

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/joni’s_story.htm

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Spiritual Abuse Survey: Is YOUR church a safe place?

Take the survey from wickedshepherds.com and see!

cauction-when-awesome

Here is a questionnaire to determine just how healthy your church really is. To find out how well it ranks, answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

•Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks?

•Does the head of your church, along with the other “leaders”, use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers?

•Does the head of your church and his “fellow elders” appear to be intolerant or consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned?

•Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are “evil” or “defiling”; a “danger to your spiritual welfare”?

•Is leaving your church to join another church that “is not approved by the elders” equal to leaving God?

•Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion?

•At church, is there a sense of control, rather than support?

•Is there a relentless obsession of reminding the sheep of “who’s in authority”?

•Are you told not to ask questions as to why others have left? Are you told to accept the statements that the “elders” give you?

•Are books, tapes and CD’s, speakers, music, etc., carefully controlled to keep only the belief structure of your church before your mind?

•Is there is a relentless campaign to keep you around the activities of your church, expecting you to be at all the stated meetings, except if providentially hindered? And if you are absent, is your spirituality and dedication sometimes questioned?

•Is the concept ever so subtly present that, “when you please the “pastor”, God is pleased and when your “pastor” is not pleased with you, God is not pleased with you?

•Is there present, the breaking of even the closest family ties, to “guard” the flock?

•Is there the constant using of guilt and shame as tools of control?

•Is there present at your church the encouragement of the members to spy and report on each other, lest sin be found in the midst?

•Is there present at your church the dominant climate of fear in the group – fear of failing to keep one of the rules, and fear of being held up to public humiliation and rejection?

•At church, are the normal lines between what is private and what is public knowledge broken, and members confess the most personal, and the most minor sins, as the conscience is being surrendered to the “leadership”?

•Are many (if not all) of the results from voting at “congregational business meetings” announced as….. “it is unanimous!”?

•Is questioning condemned as “whispering, back- biting, vicious slander, gossip, nit picking, signs of a proud rebellious spirit, being disaffected and divisive?

•Are those who dissent publicly punished? Are their reputations murdered by veiled, or not so veiled “revelations” of “sins”; past and present, as confidentiality is broken for the benefit of the leaders?

•Is there a misplaced loyalty from Jesus and God onto the leadership, which is idolatry?

•Is there harsh preaching and full of condemnation for your failures and are you deliberately being kept wounded and off balance by the haranguing and condemnation from the pulpit?

•Is “Persevere or be damned” and “listen to YOUR elders; obey YOUR elders”; “submit to YOUR elders” preached over and over again?

•Is paranoia the “very air you breathe”? Paranoia of falling from grace; thinking for yourselves; breaking the many unspoken rules as well as the clearly spelled out expectations of the leader?

•Are you becoming paranoid – carefully watching your every word and even gesture, lest someone report your faults?

•Does a code of silence reign at your church? Is no one to divulge the business of the church, or the faults of the leadership?

•Do the spiritual leaders at your church seem to give you the impression that either covertly or overtly, they have the right to tell you how you should manage your own family; presuming that they know your own family better than you know yourself?

RESULTS

If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, your church is relatively healthy. If you answered “yes” to a quarter or more, your church is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to half or more, your church is very, very unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to three-quarters or more, your church is an authoritarian cult. 

http://endtimesdeception.com/?p=681

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There is NOW a rough draft of a preview show with Pastor John in which I use audio from his video on his site, available for your listening (click the LOGO above). To let you know what to expect. The full and finished show will be finished and released in a few days. I will have MY INTERVIEW with pastor John coming in 1-2 weeks.

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GUEST WISHLIST:

Scheduled: Guy Malone, John Edwards

Almost Scheduled: Peter Goodgame, Stan Deyo, Patrick Hering, David lowe, john Edwards, Michael heiser, Bill scnoebelen, Dave Ruffino, Jim Wilhelson, Joe Jordan, David Flynn
Wishful yet hopeful: Justin peters, Sandy Simpson, Rick Ross, biblical truth for Mormons, Mormon curtain, 20 truths about Mormonism, Keith and Lorrie Macgragor, and their Trinitarian friend, Ed Decker, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at peering into the darkness, PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at shatter the darkness, Christ White No Where to Run from Revere Radio Network and Revelation Radio, Ron Rhodes: Reasoning from the Scriptures ministries, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at Peering into the Darkness PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at Shatter the Darkness, Chris , James Spencer at Maze Ministry, Matt Slick at carm, Kirby Anderson Probe Ministries.

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more about “Dangers of Heresy, False Teaching, Oc…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

Responding to Heresy: Five Biblical Principles for Confronting Heresy

Are We Afraid to Even Mention It?

In a culture that has a hard time accepting the notion that there are objective, transcendent truths about the nature of God, it’s sometimes hard to take a stand for what we believe without offending someone. And more and more, offense is being taken WITHIN the Christian community. Relativism has entered the Church with a roar, and ‘doctrine’ has become a dirty word. Many current theologians and Christian writers have come to reject the idea that ANY established doctrine of Christianity is objectively true. For these thinkers who have been profoundly affected by the culture around them, we traditionalists dare not take a stand for what has been believed and accepted for two millennia. For these post modern theologians, no truth is fixed or objectively true for all of us. Everything is up for negotiation:

“…the doctrine of the Trinity is still on the table. Some people, it seems to me, would like for us to no longer debate certain ‘sacred’ doctrines — the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the nature of scripture, the nature of marriage etc. And these persons tend to get very jumpy when emergent-types discuss these ‘sacrae doctrinae’, especially in books and at conferences that are being taped. ‘This is dangerous,’ they say. I say it’s dangerous to stop talking about these things, and it leads to a hegemony among those who already control the seminaries, colleges, magazines, radio stations, conferences, publishing houses, and magazines. We (Emergent Village) will continue to debate such things” (Tony Jones, from his Theoblogy Blog entry, “De Trinitate” – emphasis in the original).

It’s interesting to note that the effort to seek and uphold the ancient, objective, Biblical truth that is now seen as ‘hegemony’ (the desire of those in authority to dominate and exercise control over others). The pursuit and defense of truth is being seen as oppressive, not by unbelievers, but by FELLOW believers!

The Fight for What is Right

Christians today seem to have forgotten how important truth was to Jesus and to the first believers. Many current thinkers actually feel like it is divisive for us to take a stand for truth at all, and they certainly don’t like it when they are publicly rebuked for holding a position that might be called ‘un-Biblical”. But let’s try to remember that both John the Baptist and Jesus were quick to point out the false teaching of those around them, and they did so with a pointed and biting manner. Take for example, John’s biting condemnation of the Pharisees he addressed on the shore of the Jordan River:

Matthew 3:7-9
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,’ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

That sounds pretty bold to me. John certainly had no problem calling people out for their beliefs. Was he being Godly? Was He following the Biblical Model? Well one thing is certain: he was behaving in a manner that was consistent with the Lord. Look at how Jesus addressed the same group:

Matthew 12:34
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

Both John and Jesus had no problem addressing false teaching and addressing false teachers. Perhaps there is something that we can learn about the importance of identifying what is true and addressing what is false.

Five Biblical Principles for Dealing with Heresy

Let’s look at several Biblical principles that can help us understand how we can and SHOULD address error. These are principles that are meant to guide Christians as they confront heresy. If we abide by these principles, no Christian brother or sister can ever accuse us of acting in an ungodly way. And conversely, if we see others refusing to abide by these principles, they are clearly not behaving as God would have them behave:

We Should Call Out the Teacher By Name!

We simply MUST identify those who are teaching error. Paul certainly had no problem doing this and he instructed those who followed him to do the very same thing. In these passages written to Timothy in Paul’s ‘pastoral’ letter, note that Paul does NOT hesitate to name names. He PUBLICLY identifies false teachers and ungodly men so that others can be warned:

2 Timothy 4:9-10
Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica

2 Timothy 1:15
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

1 Timothy 1:18-20
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

We too are called to (1) Identify false ideas, and (2) Publicly expose those who are either living by or teaching others these ideas.

We Should Describe the Teaching!

We also need to be very articulate about WHAT it is that is false in the teaching of these false teachers. We need to take the time to describe the error. Paul also did this, even as he named the false teachers by name:

2 Timothy 2:16-18
But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.

We too are called to (1) Know the truth well enough to see the lie coming, and (2) Describe the lie to others so that they can be warned.

We Should Do All We Can to Silence the Teacher!

In some ways the first two principles seem rather defensive, particularly when compared to the next set of principles which are a bit more aggressive and proactive when dealing with error. Paul asked his followers to do their best to stop false teaching by SILENCING the false teachers and DENYING them a platform from which to teach!

Titus 1:10-11
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.

2 John 9-11
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

We too are called to (1) Understand how false teaching impacts believers and their families, (2) Recognize the worldly motives of false teachers, and then (3) Do all we can to silence these teachers and keep them from having the opportunity to spread the lie.

We Should Refute the Heresy!

But what do we do about those who have already gained a foothold in the Christian community teaching false ideas and doctrines? How are we to respond once the error has already started to permeate the Church? Paul tells his followers that they are to REFUTE the lies. They are to identify and demonstrate WHY the false teaching is false, and then REPLACE this false teaching with the truth, and they are to do this in an emphatic and strong manner:

Titus 1:7-9
Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Titus 1:13
This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith…

We too are called to (1) Identify doctrinal errors and describe their false nature, (2) Strongly correct teachers who teach this kind of error, and (3) Replace the errors by describing the Biblical truth of the orthodox Christian Worldview.

We Should Avoid Those Who Continue to Follow or Teach the Lies

Even though we may make a dedicated effort to identify, call out, and refute false teaching and false teachers, many may still decide to follow lies, particularly if some worldly desire can be satisfied by accepting a lie. How are we to live in regards to people who either teach falsely or live according to false views? Well, according to Paul, we are to avoid people like this:

Ephesians 5:11-14
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.

Romans 16:17-18
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

Titus 3:10-11
Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

We too are called to (1) Avoid those who have embraced false teaching, and (2) Warn and ultimately reject those who are false teachers. Paul is pretty clear about how we are to treat those who are living according to false teaching. We are not to try to make peace with or embrace this kind of person or teaching. God calls us to separate from people who say they are Christians, but are following false teaching. That’s pretty severe, but it is what God clearly calls us to do if we are to take the words of Scripture seriously.

The Truth Matters to God

It sure sounds like God is calling us to be very careful about the truth that the Bible teaches. It sure sounds like God is calling us to study the truth, then set careful boundaries around this truth so we will know when someone has crossed over a boundary into a lie or false teaching. It sure sounds like God is then calling us to deal strongly with those who are leading others astray. Why would God call us to be so harsh and judgmental? Why would God call us to take a stand for truth as if truth was NOT relative to the holder but existed objectively, transcending all of us?

God calls his children to study, understand and DEFEND the truth because the truth DOES matter to God. Faith, in and of itself, is not what God is looking for. We need to understand that. Faith is NOT, in and of itself, valuable or capable of saving us. It’s not enough to be sincere or intense. Faith, in and of itself, has no magic power. It’s faith in the TRUTH that matters to God. It’s faith that has been placed in the correct and true God of the universe that matters to God. That’s why God is so particular and calls us to have an accurate understanding of who God is. And that’s why God has called us to treat heresy very seriously.

http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/The_Biblical_Response_to_Heresy

Mormon Exaltation (eternal progression), Theosis, Apotheosis, and INTENTIONAL MORMON DECIET By Damon Whitsell

Spend some time researching Mormonism and you will eventually run into the Mormon argument that says, “early Christianity and eastern orthodoxy believe in Theosis so therefore Mormonism must be true Christianity”.

I had a Mormon that runs a blog @ http://mormonsarechristian.blogspot.com/ comment on a post at this blog.

After I unravel the deception in his comments, I will give you a link that shows MAC, (Mormons are Christian) already knew that what Mormons call “Theosis” is not what any Christian has ever called Theosis.

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Here is his comment

The Trinity:

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed’s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.” Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

Theosis

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods” Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest” Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Early Christian church leaders regarding theosis.

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I will gloss over MAC’s Trinity paragraph with just a few observations I don’t know any Christians that use 1John 5:7 as a proof text for the trinity.

Many of MAC’s trinity arguments are the same as ONENESS Pentecostals. Who was Jesus praying too and who was Jesus talking too?? That is simple. The Father. A proper understanding of “Tri-Unity” of the Godhead dispels this misunderstanding. While God is 1, He is also 3.

WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TAKE A MORMON FOR HIS WORD?
MAC says, “Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” “

MAC conveniently (and dishonestly) quotes the first sentence of the final paragraph of this dictionary entry. Here is the rest of the paragraph:

“Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history.”

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SO WHAT IS THEOSIS 

Actually MAC gives a pretty good definition of Theosis in saying that Theosis is “Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans”. Although a little ambiguous in that at first glance “divinization” would seem to mean “becoming a God”, it does not as the following reference will show. But the later part “narrowing the space between God and humans” is a real good definition.

BUT NOTICE The bait and switch technique, There is a vast difference in between “narrowing the space between” and “becoming” Gods,, as expressed in his “out of context“ Church Father quotes. . Lets look at these references.

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Theosis

 (“deification,” “divinization”) is the process of a worshiper becoming free of hamártía (“missing the mark”), being united with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in bodily resurrection. For Orthodox Christians, Théōsis (see 2 Pet. 1:4) is salvation. Théōsis assumes that humans from the beginning are made to share in the Life or Nature of the all-holy Trinity. Therefore, an infant or an adult worshiper is saved from the state of unholiness (hamartía — which is not to be confused with hamártēma “sin”) for participation in the Life (zōé, not simply bíos) of the Trinity — which is everlasting.

This is not to be confused with the heretical (apotheosis) (1) – “Deification in God’s Essence“, which is imparticipable.
(1) Apotheosis (from Greek “to deify”), deification or divinization is the glorification of an individual to a divine level. 
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Deification in MORMONISM
The doctrine of theosis or deification in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs significantly from the theosis of Orthodox Christianity. In Mormonism it is usually referred to as exaltation or eternal life. While the primary focus of Mormonism is on the atonement of Jesus Christ, the reason for the atonement is exaltation which goes beyond mere salvation. All men will be saved from sin and death, but only those who are sufficiently obedient and accept the atonement of Jesus Christ before the judgment will be exalted. One popular Mormon quote, coined by the early Mormon “disciple” Lorenzo Snow in 1837, is “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”[2] The teaching was taught first by Joseph Smith while pointing to John 5:19 of the New Testament, “God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-46).

Some Mormons also suggest that discussions of theosis by early Church Fathers show an early belief in the Mormon concept of deification, although they disagree with much of the other theology of the same Church fathers, most notably the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Mormons’ belief differs with the Orthodox belief in deification because the Latter-Day Saints believe that the core being of each individual, the “intelligence” which existed before becoming a spirit son or daughter, is uncreated or eternal. Orthodox deification always acknowledges a timeless Creator versus a finite creature who has been glorified by the grace of God. The Mormons are clear promoters of henotheism (2), and the Church Fathers have absolutely no commonality with their view.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

(2) Henotheism (Greek εἷς θεός heis theos “one god”) is a term coined by Max Müller, to mean devotion to a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities.[1]

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As we see from this ORTHODOXwiki reference, Mormon exaltation is not Christian Theosis but rather Apotheosis and Henotheism. Christian Theosis has to do with becoming more God like, NOT becoming God.

Theosis in the Eastern Orthodox and the protestant sense means to be sanctified, set apart and becoming “holy”. The protestant form of Theosis is expressed by saying that as Christians, we are saved by grace through faith, FROM BOTH the penalty of sin, and the power of sin. We simply do not have to be a slave to sin any longer and through adoption as sons, we may partake in the nature of God if we “walk in the Spirit”. This does not mean however that we become like God ontologically or in position. In contrast, when Jesus says he and His Father are ONE, he is saying he and the father are ONE BEING.

Theosis in eastern orthodox and the early church fathers view was,” salvation from unholiness by participation in the life of God.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis

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BUT WHAT ABOUT MAC’S QUOTES?? Don’t they show early church father believed in Theosis in the way Mormons do? NO THEY DO NOT.

MAC, other Mormons, and cult mebers in general will quote Pre-Nicene Church Fathers out of context to support their heretical doctrines.

MAC says “St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.”

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The statement by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God”, indicates the concept beautifully. II Peter 1:4 says that we have become ” . . . partakers of divine nature.” Athanasius amplifies the meaning of this verse when he says theosis is “becoming by grace what God is by nature” (De Incarnatione, I). What would otherwise seem absurd, that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy, has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis – it is not possible for any created being to become, ontologically, God or even another god.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

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CONVENIENTLY MAC fails to tell that Athanasius himself clarified this very thing in his third treatise against the Arians: “To become as the Father is impossible for us creatures.” http://www.archive.org/stream/selecttreatises00newmuoft/selecttreatises00newmuoft_djvu.txt

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So Then MAC quotes a few more Fathers. Lets see if his quoting is faithful to what the Fathers intent was, OR do Mormons intentionally use selective and targeted out of context quoting practices.? The responses to MAC’s quotations are in BLUE

The following quotes come from this post on this blog which contains many quotes showing church fathers did not believe Mormon doctrine.

Did The Early Church Believe Mormon Teac

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.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods”

Irenaeus Against Heresies, (A.D. 190) 1:10:1
For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them…
.
Ibid., 1:22:1
We hold, however, the rule of truth, according to which there is one almighty God, who formed all things through His Word, and fashioned and made all things which exist out of that which did not exist….
Ibid., 2:1:1
Nor is He moved by anyone; rather, freely and by His Word He made all things. For He alone is God, He alone is Lord, He alone is Creator, He alone is Father, He alone contains all and commands all to exist.
Ibid., 2:11:1

It is easy to demonstrate from the very words of the Lord that He acknowledges one Father, Creator of the world and Fashioner of man, who was proclaimed by the Law and by the Prophets; and that He knows no other, this being God over all.

Ibid., 2:30:9

Of His own accord and by His own power He made all things and arranged and perfected them; and His will is the substance of all things. He alone, then, is found to be God; He alone is omnipotent, who made all things; He alone is Father, who founded and formed all things, visible and invisible, sensible and insensate, heavenly and earthly, by the Word of His Power.

Ibid., 2:34:2

…let them learn that to be without beginning and without end, to be truly and always the same, and to remain ever without change, belongs to God alone, who is Lord of all. All things, however, which are from Him, all that have been made and which will be made, receive each their own beginning of existence; and inasmuch as they are not unbegotten, in this way they are inferior to Him who made them. They perdure, however, and continue through a length of ages, according to the will of God their Maker; for indeed, He makes them to be in the beginning, and afterwards gives them continuance.

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Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest”

Justin, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (A.D. 155), 5
For whatever things exist after God or will at anytime exist, have a corruptible nature, and are such as may be blotted out and no longer exist. God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, which is why He is God. Everything else after Him is produced and corruptible. 

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MAC next two quotes will be in red.

Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” 
I could not find any specific quotes of Clement on the nature of God BUT this wikipedia article will shed some light on MAC’s assertion that Clement taught men can become Gods.
Saint Clement of Alexandria 
He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and valued gnosis that with communion for all people could be held by common Christians specially chosen by God.[citation needed] He used the term “gnostic” for Christians who had attained the deeper teaching of the Logos.[1] He developed a Christian Platonism.[2] He presented the goal of Christian life as deification, identified both as Platonism’s assimilation into God and the biblical imitation of God.[1]

Like Origen, he arose from Alexandria’s Catechetical School and was well versed in pagan literature.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Alexandria 

Notice that Mormon and Christian differences on the concept of Theosis can be seen in these statements here. He presented the goal of Christian life as deification, identified both as Platonism’s assimilation into God and the biblical imitation of God.[1]

The idea of IMITATION, thus theosis, of God is biblical ,,,, verses, Plato’s’ idea of “assimilation INTO God” which is UNBIBLICAL and from PLATO. 

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The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988)

Well Quoting from a Gnostic Gospel just shows how desperate Mormons are to validate their heretical and damnable doctrine of exaltation. We have Greek manuscripts of the 4 gospels that go back to 50 – 60 ad. The Gospel of Thomas dates around 90 ad. My Mormon uncle liked the Davinci code very much. I guess MAN and all Mormons do.

As with the early church fathers, Mormons will accept what lines up with their preconceptions, But will deny the fundamental tenants of Gnosticism and the Gnostic gospels, just to try and say they are not the only ones who believe that men can become Gods. Actually all occultist think they can become God. Google “occult secret doctrine” and see that Satan has been telling the same old lie that he told in the garden, that men can become gods. BUT the occultist believe Genesis 3:22 and the Luciferian doctrine that occultist draw from it.

Gnostisism denies the reality of ALL MATTER and believe it is an illusion. According to Gnosticism, There are really no humans, mush less any man exalted to Godhood with a physical body that will have physical sex to populate his own physical planet.

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SO HERE IS THE INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE AGAINST MAC
Don’t be deceived into thinking he is the only Mormon to use intentional deception. I found this Mormon blogpost http://heartissuesforlds.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/reynolds-on-orthodox-theosis-at-the-nsdc-ii/ in which MAC has commented. Here is the Content of the post. KEEP IN MIND This is a Mormon blog. It shows MAC was lying intentionally.

Reynolds on Orthodox theosis at the NSDC II

October 25, 2008 by Todd Wood Reynolds per Aaron this afternoon, live from Utah:

“The Orthodox notion of theosis is not what some Mormons say it is. It historically refers to imitating God’s energies or becoming like the incarnate Christ, but explicitly reject the idea that we can become like God’s essence”

This is coming from a Mormon AND,,, THE VERY FIRST comment from a Mormon after that typically expresses the popular Mormon Notion. Johndh “I’m aware that the orthodox concept of theosis is different from mine. It doesn’t bug me.”

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MR, “Mormons are Christian” and all other Mormons, IT IS NOT ONLY YOUR DOCTRINE that offends Christians and cause us to say Mormons are not Christian. IT IS ALSO the underhanded tactics you all use in arguing your positions. MAC, you knew full well that the Mormon Concept of THEOSIS is NOT what church fathers believed. But Still yet you come to this blog to post your intentional deception.

As we say in the south SHAME ON YA’LL. =========================================================

Here are some related post on this blog.

Did The Early Church Believe Mormon Teac

Mormon Missionaries Instructed in the Ar

HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE?

Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults

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AMENDMENT TO THIS BLOG Since making this blog, the owner of the Mormon blog I referenced, contacted me to inform me that he is NOT A MORMON but rather a Baptist pastor. So I was wrong in the context of my statement that MAC deliberately used deception. Although this does slightly diminish the truthfulness of my statement. It does not change the fact that MAC was still propagating his false Mormon rhetoric of “early Christians believed in Theosis in the same way Mormons do”,,,, in light of the fact that he knew there is an answer for that in the content of the post in which he commented. .

The definitions from the OthrodoxWiki shows conclusively that Mormons do not practice Theosis,,,, but apotheosis and henotheism.

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Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults
by James Sire

In debating and discussions with non-Christians such as Mormons or atheist, I have found many areas of twisting of the Scriptures. In the book “Scripture Twisting,” James Sire has a chapter devoted to each of the methods, and I have seen them ALL used from time to time.

1. INACCURATE QUOTATION: A biblical text is referred to but is either not quoted in the way the text appears in any standard translation or is wrongly attributed. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, “Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.'” Whereas this text is found ONLY in Psalms.

2. TWISTED TRANSLATION: The biblical text is retranslated, not in accordance with sound Greek scholarship, to fit a preconceived teaching of a cult. Example: the Jehovah’s Witnesses translate John 1:1 as “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.”

3. BIBLICAL HOOK: A text of Scripture is quoted primarily as a device to grasp the attention of readers or listeners and then followed by a teaching which is so nonbiblical that it would appear far more dubious to most people had it not been preceded by a reference to Scripture. Example: Mormon missionaries quote James 1:5 which promises God’s wisdom to those who ask him and, then, follow this by explaining that when Joseph Smith did this he was given a revelation from which he concluded that God the Father has a body.

4. IGNORING THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: A text of Scripture is quoted but removed from the surrounding verses which form the immediate framework for its meaning. Example: Alan Watts quotes the first half of John 5:39 (“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life”), claiming that Jesus was challenging His listeners’ over emphasis of the Old Testament, but the remainder of the immediate context reads, “and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (verses 39-40), which shows that Jesus was upholding the value of the Old Testament as a testimony to Himself.

5. COLLAPSING CONTEXTS: Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary of the other(s). Example: The Mormons associate Jeremiah 1:5 with John 1:2,14 and thus imply that both verses talk about the premortal existence of all human beings; Jeremiah 1:5, however, speaks of God’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah (Not his premortal existence) and JOhn 1:2 refers to the pre-existence of God the Son and not to human beings in general.

6. OVERSPECIFICATION: A more detailed or specific conclusion than is legitimate is drawn from a biblical text. Example: The Mormon missionary manual quotes the parable of the virgins from Matthew 25:1-13 to document the concept that “mortality is a probationary period during which we prepare to meet God.” But the parable of the virgins could, and most probably does, mean something far less specific, for example, that human beings should be prepared at any time to meet God or to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

7. WORD PLAY: A word or phrase from a biblical translation is examined and interpreted as if the revelation had been given in that language. Example: mary Bake Eddy says the name Adam consist of two syllables, A DAM, which means an obstruction, in which case, Adam signifies “the obstacle which the serpent, sin, would impose between man and his Creator.”

8. THE FIGURATIVE FALLACY: Either (1) mistaking literal language for figurative language or (2)mistaking figurative language for literal language. Example of (1): Mary Baker Eddy interprets EVENING as “mistiness of mortal thought; weariness of mortal mind; obscured views; peace and rest.” Example of (2): The Mormon theologian james Talmage interprets the prophesy that “thou shalt be brought down and speak out of the ground” to mean that God’s Word would come to people from the Book of Mormon which was taken out of the ground at the hill of Cumorah.

9. SPECULATIVE READINGS OF PREDICTIVE PROPHESY: A predictive prophesy is too readily explained by the occurance of specific events, despite the fact that equally committed biblical scholars consider the interpretation highly dubious. Example: The stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph in Ezekiel 37:15- 23 are interpreted by the Mormons to mean the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

10. SAYING BUT NOT CITING: A writer says that the Bible says such and such but does not cite the specific text (which often indicates that there may be no such text at all). Example: A common phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is not found in the Bible.

11. SELECTIVE CITING: To substantiate a given argument, only a limited number of text is quoted: the total teaching of Scripture on that subject would lead to a conclusion different from that of the writer. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses critique the traditional Christian notion of the Trinity without considering the full text which scholars use to substantiate the concept.

12. INADEQUATE EVIDENCE: A hasty generalization is drawn from too little evidence. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that blood transfusion is nonbiblical, but the biblical data that they cite fails either to speak directly to the issue or to adequately substantiate their teaching.

13. CONFUSED DEFINITION: A biblical term is misunderstood in such a way that an essential biblical doctrine is distorted or rejected. Example: one of Edgar Cayce’s followers confuses the eastern doctrine of reincarnation with the biblical doctrine of being born again.

14. IGNORING ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS: A specific interpretation given to a biblical text or set of text which could well be, and often have been, interpreted in quite a different fashion, but these alternatives are not considered. Example: Erich von Daniken asks why in Genesis 1:26 God speaks in the plural (“us”), suggesting that this is an oblique reference to God’s being one of many astronauts and failing to consider alternative explanations that either God was speaking as “Heaven’s king accompanied by His heavenly host” or that the plural prefigures the doctrine of the Trinity expressed more explicitly in the New Testament.

15. THE OBVIOUS FALLACY: Words like OBVIOUSLY, UNDOUBTEDLY, CERTAINLY, ALL REASONABLE PEOPLE HOLD THAT and so forth are substituted for logical reasons. Example: Erich von daniken says, “Undoubtedly the Ark [of the Covenent] was electrically charged!”

16. VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION: Either (1) a cult writer a ssociates his or her teaching with those of figures accepted as authoritative by traditional Christians; (2) cult writings are likened to the Bible; or (3) cult literature imitates the form of the Bible writing such that it sounds like the Bible. Example of (1): Rick Chapman list 21 gurus, including Jesus Christ, St. Francis and St. Theresa, that “you can’t go wrong with.” Example of (2): Juan Mascaro in his introduction to the Upanishads cites the New Testament, the Gospels, Ecclesiastes and the Psalms, from which he quotes passages supposedly paralleling the Upanishads. Example of (3): The Mormon DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS interweaves phrases from the Gospel of John and maintains a superficial similarity to the Gospel such that it seems to be like the Bible.

17. ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION: Under the assumption that the Bible contains hidden, esoteric, meaning which is open only to those who are initiated into its secrets, the interpreter declares the significance of biblical passages without giving much, if any, explanation for his or her interpretation. Example: Mary Baker Eddy gives the meaning of the first phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as “Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious.”

18. SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: New revelation from post biblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority. Example: The Mormons supplement the Bible with the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

19. REJECTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: Either the Bible as a whole or texts from the Bible are examined and rejected because they do not square with other authorities – such as reason or revelation = do not appear to agree with them. Example:Archie Matson holds that the Bible contains contradictions and that Jesus himself rejected the authority of the Old Testament when he contrasted His own views with it on the Sermon on the Mount.

20. WORLD-VIEW CONFUSION: Scriptural statements, stories, commands or symbols which have a particular meaning or set of meanings when taken within the intellectual and broadly cultural framework of the Bible itself are lifted out of that context, placed within the frame of reference of another system and thus given a meaning that markedly differs from their intended meaning. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi interprets “Be still, and know that I am God” as meaning that each person should meditate and come to the realization that he is essentially Godhood itself.

NOTE:
This material comes from the appendix of James Sire’s Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults, and summarizes his indepth treatment of each of these points. This book should be part of every Christian’s library.

http://www.ovrlnd.com/Apologetics/scripturetwisting.html

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JOSEPH SMITH’S FIRST VISION AND THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING IT

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Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. It was the parting of the curtain to open this, the dispensation of the fulness [sic] of times. Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by, is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and his Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life. (Quote from LDS President Hinckley, at the world-wide General Conference on October 4, 1998 by the Church News, October 10, 1998, page 17.)

Contrary to the above statement, a study of the history of the early years of the LDS church reveals that during the first twelve years of their existence nobody knew anything at all about what is now known as “the official version” of the first vision, where God had supposedly talked with Joseph Smith. Instead Mormons were told that Joseph Smith’s first vision concerned an angel and the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. For that reason their focus was on the Book of Mormon. The “Messenger and Advocate,” the principle LDS publication during that period, never mentioned a first vision from God the Father and his Son.

There are presently nine known different versions of Joseph Smith’s first vision. And these are not minor variations of the same basic story that could be explained away. They are different stories. The differences include his age at the time, where he was when he had the vision, how many beings he saw, whether they were angels or deity, and what was actually said to him. Moreover, one of the versions that was written in his own handwriting contradicts the official version featured in the Pearl of Great Price. Evidence reveals that he changed his story radically each time he retold it, until it finally evolved to what the LDS now calls the “official version.”

The fact that he couldn’t stick to the same basic story indicates that he wasn’t telling the truth. If he’d genuinely had this incredible vision, it would have been indelibly printed on his mind. For instance, he wouldn’t have been confused as to whether it was a single angel who had appeared to him or whether both God the Father and His Son had appeared to him together, and so on. Nor would he have been confused as to whether he’d had the vision in his bedroom or in a grove.

Although some of the earlier versions of his first vision were known by the early LDS church, Mormon literature reveals that up until 1838, eighteen years after the event was supposed to have taken place, not a single soul had heard of the official version that they believe in today. It was news to everyone. Not even Smith’s own family had heard of it. We know that the story he told his mother bore little resemblance to it.

Most Mormons are unaware of the fact that for the first twelve years of their church’s existence, i.e. right up until twenty-two years after his supposed first vision, Joseph Smith led the LDS in the worship of the trinitarian deity. Then on the strength of his newly revealed vision (that was supposed to have happened twenty-two years before), he persuaded them to abandon his previous teachings in favour of his revolutionary, man-centred doctrine of eternal progression, that described God as being a man of flesh and bone, who had once needed salvation from sin. His latest version of the controversial vision fitted his new doctrines as if it had been tailor-made for them. But, as previously mentioned, it is invalidated by an earlier, completely different story, recorded in his own handwriting.

In the official version of his first vision Smith says that he’d had no idea that all of the religious sects were wrong. But in the earlier version written in his own handwriting in 1832, he maintained that he’d been an avid reader of the Bible from the age of twelve, and that by the time he’d reached fifteen years of age he’d come to understand, solely through his own studies of the scriptures, that all the Christian denominations were wrong. Furthermore, he only mentioned one being appearing to him, who identified Himself as the Lord who was crucified, in other words, Christ. (c/f “The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith” by Dean C. Jessee, Salt Lake Deseret Books, page 14).

His mother traces the origin of Mormonism to a visit to his bedroom by an angel, who told him that none of the churches were true. (First draft of Lucy Smith’s History, page 46, LDS Church Archives).

Yet another differing version was published in 1834-35 in the periodical, “Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate,” Volume 1, pages 42, and 78-79, that was written by his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, assisted by Joseph Smith. This indicates that Smith had dictated it to Cowdery as he wrote it down, which was the way they had worked. It tells of a revival in 1823 that caused the then 17 year old Joseph to become concerned about religion. He wanted to know for himself the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion and prayed that if a supreme being did exist, he would have an assurance of being accepted by him and a manifestation that his sins were forgiven. He said it was then that he had his “first vision,” when an angel appeared to him in his bedroom to tell him that his sins were forgiven. But this account has nothing in common with the official version.

JOSEPH SMITH, THE MAN

It is a well recorded fact that Joseph Smith came from a family of occultists and that he was deeply involved in both the occult and spiritism. He was a persuasive orator and was also a known confidence trickster. Before his LDS days he would convince his victims that for a cash consideration he would be able to divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure through the use of an occultic peep stone. But the hidden treasure never ever materialized.

Because of complaints about his fraudulent activities he was formally charged and found guilty in a court of law. The relevant court records are still in existence. There are also affidavits that confirm his dubious ways of earning a living, as well as his involvement in the occult. The LDS’s excuses that these records are all counterfeits, and that everybody keeps on making up lies about their prophet and founder because the true church is always persecuted, just do not hold water.

THE METHODIST CHURCH

In his official version of his first vision, Joseph Smith maintains that he was persecuted by all the churches in his area because of his claim to have had this vision. However, Orsemus Turner, an apprentice printer in Palmyra until 1822, had belonged to the same juvenile debating club that Smith had frequented. He recalled that “after catching a spark of Methodism, Joseph became a very passable exhorter in evening meetings” (History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, 1851, page 214).

Furthermore, in June, 1828, eight years after he had maintained that God had told him in this first vision that he should not join any of the churches because they were all wrong and that their teachings were an abomination in His sight, he nevertheless joined the probationary class of the Methodist Church.

At this stage the subject of his bad reputation was raised by one of the church members. The Minister had a talk to him, pointing out that his questionable way of earning a living and his involvement in the occult were contrary to what the church stood for. Nevertheless they were prepared to keep him in membership provided he confessed his misdemeanours, repented and promised to reform. He was given the choice of either appearing before a committee to clarify his intentions, or of formally requesting that his name be removed from their membership list. He asked for his name to be taken off their list.

It is quite clear from the above that he was not persecuted by the churches of the day. Instead, the opposite was the truth. He deliberately and voluntarily separated himself from the Christian churches for the sole reason that he was unwilling to give up the unethical type of lifestyle to which he was so strongly drawn.

Smith’s participation in their mid week evening meetings and his joining the Methodist church utterly destroys the validity of his so-called first vision that he claimed to have had eight years previously. Furthermore, it leaves us with the firm conviction that his story of having had a vision was just another one of his many deceptions.

As a matter of interest, he never did give up his old practices. It is common knowledge that he used the same occultic seer stone that he had used in his treasure seeking scams to enable himself to write the Book of Mormon, as well as to receive so-called “revelations from God” during the time that he was leading the church. Furthermore, when he died he had an occultic talisman coin in his pocket, which was claimed by his mother as he’d always carried it on his person and she wanted to keep it in remembrance of him.

Mormons need to bear in mind that the Bible groups the occult in the same category as witchcraft, spiritism and idolatry, as they are all influenced by deceiving spirits.

PERSECUTION

The following is an extract from Smith’s History in the Pearl of Great Price, written approximately twenty years or so after the supposed events:
“I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects, all united to persecute me.” Joseph Smith – History 1:22).

Common sense tells us that if a mere boy had been persecuted as bitterly as he claims he had been for having had a vision from God, the local newspapers would have made some mention of it at the time. It’s the sort of thing that the press thrives upon. But there is no record anywhere, not even in Mormon publications, either of this supposed vision or of any persecution arising because of it. Nor is there any evidence whatsoever that Smith had ever related the official version of his first vision to anyone at all, not even to his nearest and dearest.

The LDS publications, “Dialogue,” Autumn 1966, pages 30-31 and “Saints’ Herald,” June 29, 1959, page 21 both confirm that there had been no knowledge of the official version of his first vision until eighteen years later. Furthermore, pages 30-34 of “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,” Autumn 1966, reveal that the general church membership did not receive any information about it until the 1840’s, a full twenty years after the supposed event.

LDS STATEMENTS ABOUT THE FIRST VISION

Mormon Apostle Hugh B. Brown declared:
“The First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith constitutes the groundwork of the Church which was later organized. If this First Vision was but a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination, then the Mormon Church is what its detractors declare it to be — a wicked and deliberate imposture” (“The Abundant Life,” pages 310-311). (Italics inserted by author.)

LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith stated:
“Mormonism as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an imposter cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures. ” (LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, 1954, page 188. (The author’s italics)

But Joseph Smith’s many, varying versions of his first vision are filled with contradictions and his doctrines do not stand up to the light of God’s Holy Word, the Bible. Furthermore, Mormonism itself is full of contradictions, i.e. the Book of Mormon contradicts Smith’s revelations in Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the Pearl of Great Price, and they all contradict the Bible. Also, Smith taught Mormons to worship two different Gods at different periods in their history. They worshipped the eternal spirit God of the trinitarian deity for the first twelve years, yet today they ridicule that teaching and worship an exclusively Mormon God of flesh and bone, who was once a sinner. If that isn’t a contradiction, then what is it? Furthermore, Smith’s Book of Abraham has been unanimously declared to be fraudulent by every Egyptologists who has examined it. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. How much more evidence is necessary?

The following links will take you to articles discussing Joseph Smith’s false prophecies, the various Gods worshipped by the LDS during their early history, and his fraudulent “Book of Abraham”:

Joseph Smith, the Latter-day False Prophet

The Mormon Gods, Past and Present

The Book of Abraham and its Rejection by Egyptologists

Copyright 2007, by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/1vis.html

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Top Ex-Scientologist says “I’d have killed for the Cruise CULT” 

By DAVID LOWE
Published: 03 Nov 2008

A TOP Scientologist who escaped the cult has given the most explosive insight yet into the shady “celebrity religion”.

A-list followers including Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta believe their faith is the secret of their success.

But for John Duignan it cost him everything and everyone he held dear after he become a leading figure in the church’s British branch.

John says he was so brainwashed that he would have killed for Scientology.

And he claims another member was driven to a suicide bid when she was “rehabilitated” after trying to leave.

John tells of his nightmare in his book.

His hell began in 1985 when he was approached in the street by a pretty girl who offered him a free personality test.

John — who had never heard of Scientology — was 22 and living in Stuttgart with his German girlfriend but their relationship was on the rocks. Depressed and lonely, he accepted.

John, now 45, says: “The test is a clever recruitment device because it appeals to people who are searching for something. I was unhappy and latched on to the prospect of gaining confidence. I probably needed proper psychological counselling but I got nothing of the sort. The result of my initial test was Urgent Action Required.

“These friendly people seemed to have the answer in Scientology and I surrendered myself to it.”

In the following weeks, John was grounded in the Scientology doctrine.

The movement was founded in 1952 by an American sci-fi writer, the late L Ron Hubbard.

He claimed humans are really spiritual beings called Thetans which have lived for trillions of years and are constantly reincarnating.

Followers believe that through past life recall therapy they can enrich their understanding and souls.

Under a regime of sleep deprivation, brainwashing and so-called counselling, John gave up his mind to the bizarre teachings.

He says: “On one occasion I sat on the floor while others shouted in my face and flicked things into my eyes.

“It went on for hours. I wasn’t allowed to react or blink. You’re suppressing your natural reactions and that helps Scientology creep in to take over your mind.”

John quickly became fanatical about his new-found faith.

He says: “I saw myself as a soldier for Scientology. I believed it was the only route out of oblivion for mankind.

“The doctrine teaches a human’s body doesn’t matter because it is the Thetan, or soul, which survives.

“If I’d been told someone had to be eliminated because they were a threat to Scientology I could have justified the killing. They’d just lose their body, which isn’t needed.”

When it was suggested John might train to become a church staff member, he jumped at the chance.

He signed up for an “advancement course”, where he endured constant “auditing” sessions, being grilled on every aspect of his life.

John says: “I was hooked up to a Scientology machine called an E-meter. It has a swinging needle and believers think it shows hang-ups or concerns.

“Your goal is to achieve no movement of the needle and a state of “Clear”. That’s when you’re ready to receive the secrets of the universe.

“By now I had cut all ties with friends and family. I was trying to take Scientology doctrine on board but it felt as if my mind was being repeatedly hit with a hammer.”

John persevered, and three months after his personality test he received a call from Scientology Missions International in Los Angeles.

They wanted him to join the church’s 3,000-strong elite core, Sea Org, which oversees recruitment and its other big international interests.

For John it was his ticket to the Scientology big-time.

He says: “As a Sea Org member I’d get to wear a special uniform and be highly respected by other Scientologists. We were told other members would bow to us. Suddenly I felt important.”

But when John arrived at the cult’s headquarters in LA, conditions were not what he’d imagined.

He says: “We were expected to work, eat and sleep Scientology with every minute of the day scheduled, from 7am until lights out at 11pm.”

The harsh conditions John endured were in stark contrast to the luxury enjoyed by stars at the glittering Scientology Celebrity Centre down the road.

L Ron Hubbard believed the church should have famous names as the church’s public face.

John says: “The centre is beautiful. I loved it when I worked there in the garden. Once I spoke to Kirstie Alley on the phone about a rally we were organising. I also saw John Travolta a couple of times.

“But interaction with celebrities wasn’t encouraged. They arrived through a special celebrity entrance and were taken to exclusive suites for auditing sessions.”

After the Sea Org bootcamp John was posted to Scientology’s UK HQ, Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

Here he spent almost two decades devoting his life to the cult — until a bizarre encounter with Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise made John begin to question his faith.

He says: “In 2004 Tom was welcomed to the annual International Association Of Scientologists Gala Ball as the Most Dedicated follower.

“I was working in the grounds and Tom came out wearing a bad fake beard. It was pathetic.

“Scientologists look upon Tom Cruise as one of their best assets, but it was him who made me think twice about the cult.

“I was earning £15 a week, doing my best to spread the word. I had no privacy or time to relax and was afraid or stressed all the time.

“Yet I wasn’t as dedicated as Cruise? It hurt.”

Two years later John made his escape bid.

He says he knew he would be hunted by the sect’s intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA).

John says: “Members who try to leave Scientology are subjected to the Rehabilitation Project Force.

“This uses military tactics and are feared. A friend, Alice, was put through rehabilitation. At 19 she was subjected to daily interrogations for six months.

“One afternoon Alice swallowed a tin of paint thinner and jumped from a 15ft roof.

“The whole thing was hushed up. Alice is now crippled.”

Despite the risks, John told his superiors he needed to visit a sick relative in Ireland, then he fled to a hotel in Birmingham where he hid for a week.

He says officers were sent after him and even staked out relatives.

In a bid to lure them away he made sure he was sighted near the Birmingham Scientology office.

Then he fled to Dublin when he knew the officers had been recalled to England.

John is now rebuilding his life in his native Co Cork. He says: “I gained nothing. I still bear the scars of my time in the church.

“But I’m now studying for an arts degree, getting to know my family and putting the past behind me.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/article1881317.ece

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The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine

By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors

I’ve been receiving an increased volume of e-mail lately from proponents of “sinless perfection” doctrine in response to my article, “Can We Live Sin Free?” None of these supposedly sinless folks offer any argumentation from the Bible, since the doctrine they espouse can’t be found there, but yet they seem quite concerned that I’m doing terrible things to peoples’ Christian walk in maintaining that humans never attain sinless perfection. I am, according to one writer, “an agent of Satan” holding back the true believers in Christ, and should “seek God and be taught of Him.”

Obviously, another article on this is required, since the first, although quite laden with Biblical facts on the matter, does not dissuade these people from e-mailing me to label me a heretic, unknowledgeable, and “Satan’s agent.” So, I offer these facts about people who advocate “sinless perfection.”

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Believe the Bible.

James writes, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). So, is James not saying here that a man can indeed be perfect? No, because only a few verses later, he comments, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

There are two things about sinless perfection to be drawn from James’ comments. First off, James is stating that no man can tame even the tongue to the point of perfection, let alone his whole body. Advocates of sinless perfection are calling James a liar and are calling the Scripture a lie in this instance.

The second thing to note is that James is using the example of a man being perfect as a ridiculous impossibility in his writing. He is stating that all men stumble in their words, and he says anyone who claims otherwise is claiming something as ridiculous as personal sinless perfection. Advocates of sinless perfection actually believe the very thing that James cites as a ridiculous, impossible example.

Certainly we should strive to tame the tongue. We should do the best we possibly can in all areas of life. But it is unrealistic to expect perfection when the Bible itself plainly says such perfection is impossible.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Have the Same Religion as the Early Church

Look carefully at the first part of James 3:2. It says, “For we all stumble in many things.” The “we” here refers to Christians. James is identifying himself with “all” the Christians he writes to, stating directly that neither he, nor they, are perfect. “We all stumble in many things.” Since advocates of sinless perfection do not believe they stumble in anything, they disassociate themselves from James—and they are therefore not a part of the Christian religion. James was inarguably a part of the Christian religion, but advocates of sinless perfection refuse to be included in James’ comments toward all Christians, including himself.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Are Spiritually Dead.

People who think they are sinless are obviously experiencing no conviction for sin whatsoever. They believe themselves to be perfect in every way and incapable of sinning. Scripture has already demonstrated that people who do not believe they are sinning are mistaken. In fact, Scripture paints a bleak picture for anyone who is under the delusion that they are without sin.

1John 1:8 states simply, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” People who are oblivious to the fact that they still have sin do not have the Spirit of truth within them. There is no light shining to expose the darkness of their souls.

There is sin in everyone, but how can we explain that a subculture within Christendom, the “sinless perfection” crowd, feels no conviction for the sin they have whatsoever? It is easily explained. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”

The Holy Spirit convicts the real children of God for their sins. But fakes, even if they do not realize they are fakes, receive no conviction because, since they are not God’s sons, God does not discipline them.

Two points here point definitively to a condition of spiritual death for people who believe in sinless perfection. First, the truth does not reside in people who say they have no sin. Second, people who never feel conviction for their sins have never been adopted by the Father; they may think they are sons, but they are not.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Refuse to Repent of Present Sin.

1John 1:8-10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

The very act of claiming to be sinless is a sin in itself, as this Scripture so ably demonstrates. A person claiming not to have sin deceives himself or herself, and in effect calls Christ a liar.

Being cleared of sin is so simple! All we have to do is confess that we have sinned, and our sin is forgiven and we are cleansed of our unrighteousness. The problem is, a person who considers himself or herself to be sinless cannot confess sin. To confess sinning would run contrary to their belief that they have sinless perfection. So, because they will not admit that they are indeed sinners, they cannot have the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is for Sinners, Not for the Sinless.

Jesus said it so well: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). And yet, the Bible says no one is righteous: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one;’” (Romans 3:10). So what did Jesus mean? He meant He did not come for people who claimed to be righteous, He came for those who knew they were sinners. He did not come for the self-righteous; He came for those who would repent, knowing that they needed Him.

Some correspondents have accused me of encouraging Christians to keep on sinning since they cannot be “perfect” and “sinless.” It isn’t my aim to make people sin, but it is my aim to make people recognize reality: they will never be perfect as long as they have a “flesh” component. Unless people will confess this, they have no need of Jesus—and will not get to have Him.

The Struggle is the Proof of Salvation.

When we are saved, a battle begins between our saved soul and our unsaved body. Paul writes of this battle that continues within us even after our salvation, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 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. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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” (Romans 7:18-25).

As long as any person has flesh, that flesh will be serving sin. It will always be warring against the spiritual mind. We will be delivered from this sin completely only when we are delivered from “this body of death.” It is only at that point that the Christian is “completely sanctified.”

The absence of this struggle between body and soul means that the body has won and the soul is actually given over to sinfulness. The flesh does not become justified! So if the struggle between body and soul ends, it can only be because the flesh has won.

Closing Words.

Those who think they have attained “sinless perfection” are the most unfortunate of us all. Not only do they remain sinners, contrary to their claim, but because they refuse to admit their sinfulness, they cannot avail themselves of Jesus Christ through repentance, to forgive them and to help them do better.

The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine is Copyright © 2001 by Compass Distributors.

All Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.), 1982

http://www.compassdistributors.ca/topics/sinless.htm

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AUDIO SERMON: 

What Mormons won’t tell you at your door

by Keith and Lorrie Macgregor of Macgregor ministries.

I got this sermon from Sermonaudio.com several years ago but it is no longer available there. So I decided to upload it to share it out and include it in this post. You can listen to the sermon by clicking the PLAY button on the gray bar above. OR you can right click this link, and “save target as” to  DOWNLOAD THE SERMON HERE

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Documentation for many of these statments can be found at www.mrm.org

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe your Church is wrong, your Christian creeds are abomination to God, and you pastor or Priest is a hireling of Satan.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there is salvation only in their church; and all others are wrong.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that those who have been through their temples are wearing secret underwear to protect themselves from “evil”. This “evil” includes non- Mormons like you.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU about their secret temple rites at all. If they did, you would spot them as non-Christians immediately.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they think “familiar spirits” are good, and that their Book of Mormon has a “familiar spirit”. Leviticus 19;31 says familiar spirits defile one, and are to be avoided at all costs.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that women receive salvation only through their Mormon husbands, and must remain pregnant for all eternity.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they intend to be gods themselves some day, and are helping to earn their exaltation to godhood by talking to you.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they intend to have many wives in heaven, carrying on multiple sex relations throughout eternity, until they have enough children to populate their own earth, so they can be “Heavenly Father” over their own planet!

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that you were once a spirit-child of their heavenly father, and one of his numerous wives before you were born on earth.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the Virgin Mary really wasn’t a virgin at all but had sex relations with their heavenly father to produce the Mormon version of Jesus Christ

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe Jesus had at least three wives and children while he was on this earth.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the “heavenly father” they ask you to pray to with them, is really an exalted man that lives on a planet near the star base Kolob, and is not the Heavenly Father of the Bible at all.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Jesus was really Lucifer’s brother in the spirit world, and it was only due to a “heavenly council” vote that Jesus became our redeemer instead of Satan!!

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there are over one hundred divisions in Mormonism. They conveniently “forget” this while criticizing the many denominations within the body of Christ

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that all their so- called scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and even their official “Mormon Doctrine” statements contradict each other on MAJOR doctrinal points. The King James Bible is likewise contradicted.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the reason the Book of Mormon has no maps is because there is not one scrap of archaeological evidence to support it!

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the state of Utah, which is predominately Mormon, has a higher than the national average of wife-beating, child abuse, and teenage suicide.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their prophet Joseph Smith was heavily involved in the occult when he founded Mormonism.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that they encourage visitations from dead relatives from the “spirit world”, a practice forbidden in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 18:10- 12.)

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there are many accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision besides he one they present to you, and all are different

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their secret temple oaths are based on the Scottish Rite Masons.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that for years they considered the Negro race inferior, and even one drop of Negro blood prevented a person from entering their temple.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they expect Christ to return to their temple in Missouri, but they haven’t built the temple He’s supposed to return to, because they don’t own the property. (It is owned by the “Temple Lot Mormons” who have plans o of their own, and won’t let the Salt Lake City group buy it).

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they consider the Bible to be untrustworthy and full of errors.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Jesus’ death on the cross only partially saves the believer.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that according to Anton Lavey’s Satanic Bible, the demon god of the living dead is called “Mormo”. Is it just a coincidence that the Mormons are so concerned with the dead?

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that on their Salt Lake City Temple they prominently display an upside-down star which is a Satanic symbol known as the Goat’s head.. Why?

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe the Archangel Michael came down to earth with several of his celestial wives, and became Adam in the garden of Eden.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that they believe the angel Gabriel came down to earth and became Noah in the days of the flood.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied falsely many times. For example, he foretold the second coming of Christ for 1891. The Bible teaches that one false prophecy puts a prophet under death sentence. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their Prophet Joseph Smith did not die as a martyr as they claim, but was killed during a gun battle in which he himself killed two men and wounded a third.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU about the Mountain Meadows Massacre in which they brutally murdered an innocent wagon train of settlers, of over one hundred men, women, and most of the children, traveling through Utah.

MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Joseph Smith taught that there were inhabitants on the moon, and Brigham Young taught there were inhabitants on the sun as well! 

WHY WON’T MORMONS TELL YOU THESE THINGS?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, are well aware that if these facts were known to the convert prior to baptism, they would have very few converts! The Missionaries are well trained to keep most of these facts from their potential converts.

Tragically, many Mormons may not even be fully aware of the doctrines and history of their own church. Every statement on this tract is true. Mormons are encouraged to check out their own publications for documentation of the above. After all, if the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has the truth, it can stand any amount of investigation.

Please do not be afraid to investigate. We are not Ex-Mormons, but Christians defending the Christian Church and its beliefs.

Excellent documentation etc. can be found in the Mormon Ministry web sites from our link page.

http://mmoutreach.org/mormon/articles/facts_mormon_wont_tell.htm

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Eight reasons why we need apologetics

 
There are several reasons why we need apologetics. The first and most obvious is because we are commanded to defend the faith: 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

Second, we need apologetics because it helps Christians know their faith. This is something that is sadly lacking among believers. Most don’t know much about their faith, let alone be able to describe the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, His physical resurrection, or even be able to tell the difference between justification and sanctification. Apologetics helps to define and defend what the truth of the gospel is.

Third, apologetics is an attempt to keep people out of hell. God takes sin very seriously, and He will punish those who have rebelled against Him and are not covered in the blood of Christ. As Christians, we should be motivated to present the truth of salvation in Jesus. We should not sit idly by and ignore the dilemma of the unbeliever. We need to tell them that sin is real because God is real, and that breaking God’s law has a consequence. Since we have all sinned, we cannot keep God’s Law perfectly. Also, we cannot undo the offense to an infinitely holy God because we are not infinite or holy, so the only thing left for us is to fall under the judgment of God. But God has provided a way for us to escape that judgment. That is why God became man in Jesus. He claimed to be God, (John 8:24,58; compare with Exodus 3:14). Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, (1 Pet. 2:24). By trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we will be spared from the rightful judgment of God upon the sinner. Salvation is not found in Buddhism, Islam, relativism, or in one’s self. It is only found in Jesus and we need to not only defend God’s word and truth, but also to present the gospel to all people so they can escape the judgment to come.

Fourth, we need apologetics to counter the bad image that Christianity has received in the media and in culture. Televangelists and their scandals, both sexually and monetarily, are a disgrace to Christianity. The Catholic church hasn’t helped with its scandals involving priests. On top of that, a media is very biased against Christianity and you will see negative opinions of Christianity promoted everywhere.

Fifth, we need apologetics because there is a constant threat of apostasy in the visible Christian church. Such is the case with the Metropolitan Community Church denomination, which openly advocates the support of homosexuality in violation of scripture (Rom. 1:18-32). Also, as of 2002, the Evangelical Lutheran church is in risk of apostasy by entertaining the idea of accepting homosexual relationships into church. “The United Church of Christ set up a $500,000 scholarship fund for gay and lesbian seminarians Friday and urged wider acceptance of homosexuals by other denominations.” (United Church Makes Gay Scholarship, CLEVELAND, June 16, 2000, AP Online via COMTEX). Or “The supreme court of the United Methodist Church was asked Thursday to reconsider the denomination’s ban on gay clergy. (Church court of United Methodists asked to decide on gay clergy ban, NASHVILLE, Tennessee, Oct. 25, 2001, AP WorldStream via COMTEX). Such examples are demonstrations of the incredible need for defending biblical truth within those churches that claim to be Christian.

Sixth, another reason we need apologetics is because of the many false teachings out there. Mormonism teaches that God used to be a man on another world, that he brought one of his goddess wives with him to this world, that they produce spirit offspring that are born into human babies, and that you have the potential of becoming a god of your own world. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that there is no Trinity, that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, that there is no hell, and that only 144,000 people will go to heaven. Atheism denies God’s existence, openly attacks Christianity and is gaining ground in public life and schools. Islam teaches that Jesus was not God in flesh, that Jesus did not rise from the dead, and that He did not atone for our sins. It teaches that salvation is partly based on one’s works and partly based on Allah’s grace. It teaches that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel (Surah 2:97; 16:102); that Jinn are unseen beings, created (51:56) from fire (15:27; 55:15); and that Muhammed was greater than Jesus. Even within the Christian church, there are false teachings. We can see that from both within the Christian church and from outside of it, false teachings are bombarding believers (and non believers) all over the world.

Seventh, the rise of immorality in America is a threat not only to society but also to Christianity. This is a serious issue because an immoral society cannot last long. The Barna Research group statistics show that 64% of adults and 83% of teenagers said moral truth depends on the situation that you are in. 19% of the adult population believes that “the whole idea of sin is outdated.” 51% believe that “if a person is generally good, or does enough good, he will earn a place in Heaven.”

When a society’s morals fail, the society fails. Just look at history and think of Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece or present day Enron, Watergate, and White House interns. Immorality seeps down into all areas of our culture. Consider this: In the New York Times, online, of May 12, 2002, in the article “With Games of Havoc, Men Will Be Boys,” the author, Warren St. John, interviews some players of what he says is a very popular video game. One young man says, “What I like to do is get in the car and drive around and do drive-by shootings. You can haul someone out of their car and beat on them and steal their money and their car. It’s kind of amusing that you have that ability.” …. A publicist from Long Island says the game’s allure comes down to “just going on killing sprees.” Not all video games are violent, but the fact that it is so popular and that the youth are being trained up by them is very disturbing.

I am not advocating a theocratic socio-political rule administered by stern Christians wearing black-and-white outfits and tall hats. But these kinds of social trends are disturbing, and they reflect a moral decline in America, where what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good. God tells us in Phil. 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. We cannot ignore God’s word without a consequence.

The eighth reason we need apologetics is because schools are not friendly to Christianity. My own experience in non-Christian schools was a strong awakening to the unprovoked hostility that exists in school, where the philosophy teachers, history teacher, and even the art teacher all took shots at Christianity. Don Feder in the Conservative Chronicle, in his article of Sept. 22, 1993, titled “Fighting Censorship, PAW Does it Its Way,” said that in some junior high libraries, book titles included The Joy of Gay Sex and How to Make Love to a Single Woman. There is an impressions series for grades one to six which promote the New Age and the occult; a controversial drug education program called Quest, which tells students that they alone can decide whether or not it’s OK to use drugs; as well as texts that direct students to fantasize about suicide, attack religion and undermine family authority. Following is an email I received that represents the hostility of secular schools.

Our daughter had acquired an atheist’s heart since leaving home and attending college. It seems that the books in college breed atheists, because they are full of the philosophy of anti-God thinking. She has been in college for four years now, and one of the last times we had a chance to talk to her, she said that she doesn’t think about sin, or heaven, or hell anymore because, according to her, they do not exist. She said that when she was young and asked the Lord to come into her heart, she did not know what she was doing because children do what they are told.

The fact is that Christianity is under attack in the world and we need to fight the good fight of the faith without shrinking back. We need apologetics to give rational, intelligent, and relevant explanations of Christian viability to the critics and the prejudiced who would seek to undermine the teachings of our Lord Jesus.

If there was ever a time that apologetics is needed, it is now.

http://www.carm.org/apologetics/need.htm

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Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard: A Legacy of Hate and Intolerance
by Lilly von Marcab
Friday Oct 31st, 2008 9:33 PM

The Scientology cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was a white American middle-class male who grew up in the early 20th century. It is not surprising, then, to learn that he was a racist and homophobe, and that there are many examples of these sentiments in his written and recorded works. What is surprising is that in the year 2008, the Scientology cult continues openly to embrace Hubbard’s extremely offensive statements, and refuses to make even the smallest gesture to repudiate or reject Hubbard’s

Instead, in a tacit approval, Hubbard’s many books and recorded lectures in which these passages occur are re-published year after year after year, without any clarification, comment or footnote. Indeed, no individual Scientologist will personally reject these views, at least not in any public forum. To do so could earn him or her some time with the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), Scientology’s internal corrections and re-education system.

According to one of the thousands of Scientology web sites:

“The Scripture of the Scientology religion consists of the writings and recorded spoken words of L. Ron Hubbard on the subjects of Dianetics and Scientology. This Scripture includes more than half a million written pages, over 3,000 tape-recorded lectures and some 100 films….This Scripture is the sole source of all doctrine regarding the religion of Scientology and it is an inherent principle of the religion that only by exactly following the path it outlines can mankind achieve spiritual salvation. This concept of orthodoxy in religious practice is fundamental to Scientology. Thus, any attempt to alter or misrepresent the Scripture is regarded as a most severe breach of ecclesiastical ethics.”

Thus, it is simply not permitted to alter, modify, or update Hubbard’s work in any way (although the cult’s current leader, David Miscavige, has made many subtle changes). In fact, it is official policy that members must “exactly follow Hubbard’s path.” Still, even with the “scriptures” remaining relatively intact, this does not explain why the cult will not make a clear statement of its position on Hubbard’s extreme views, nor why it will not stop re-publishing them.

Here are a few examples of Hubbard’s views on people who did not fit into his scheme of things:

Hubbard spent a little time in southern Africa:

The South African native is probably the one impossible person to train in the entire world — he is probably impossible by any human standard. – Hubbard, PAB No. 119, 1 September 1957, as published in Level 0 PABS (c.1968, The American St. Hill Organization).

As long as a white foreman is there, they will prevent soil erosion; but the moment that a white foreman turns his back — boo! There goes the whole program. And you finally get up to the point of where he’s [native] supposed to take care of something, a lesson which has never been taught to the native of South Africa. – Hubbard, 15th ACC (Power of Simplicity) lecture “Education: Point of Agreement”, 30 Oct 1956.

The insanity rate per capita in South Africa is appalling. …it is easily seen that a primary requisite in any programme of the rehabilitation of the Bantu in South Africa would be mental health – Hubbard, HCOB April 1960, “The Scientific Treatment of the Insane”

[Y]ou’ll find in Africans a fantastic amount of heavy space opera and so on, going on … which makes the colored African very, very interesting to process because he doesn’t know why he goes through all these dances … and why he feels so barbarous ….– Hubbard, 1st Melbourne ACC, lecture “Principal Incidents on the Track”, 27 November 1959.

They took people who were totally dedicated to certain tribal procedures … and said, “You’re free.” And they said, “Free. Free? Free. Ah! You mean there’s no police anymore.” Boom! Boom! – Hubbard, State of Man Congress, Opening lecture, 1 January 1960.

…the Zulu is only outside the bars of a madhouse because there are no madhouses provided by his tribe. … primitives are far more aberrated than civilized peoples. Their savageness, their unprogressiveness, their incidence of illness … – Hubbard, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

Illiterate cultures do not survive and they are not very high. The natives of the tribe of the Bugga Bugga Booga Boogas down in Lower Bugga Wugga Booga Woog are mostly no longer with us, or they are around waving red flags today and revolting against their central government. And they didn’t learn fast. Their literacy was not up to absorbing culture rapidly. They’ve been very happily down amongst the bong-bong trees, you know, dancing up and down amongst the bong-bong trees, and the highest level of their interest and so forth was their own back yard. – Hubbard, The Study Tapes, “Study: Evaluation and Information”, lecture given on 11 August 1964

African-Americans:

Actually, have you ever noticed how a Negro, in particular down south, where they’re pretty close to the soil, personifies MEST? The gatepost and the wagon and the whip and anything around there—a hat. They talk to them, you know. “What’sa mattuh wi’ you hat?” They imbue them with personality. – Hubbard, Therapy section of Technique 80 (“Route to Infinity” tapes), Part I, a lecture given on 21 May 1952

Gays and Lesbians:

(In his book “Science of Survival,: Hubbard establishes a “tone scale,” ranging from -3 to +4, for classifying categories of people and evaluating human behavior. “Perverts,” as he classified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, fall at 1.1 on Hubbard’s scale. He considered them to be extremely dangerous to society.)

“The sexual pervert (and by this term Dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation in dynamic two [sexuality and procreation] such as homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual sadism, etc., and all down the catalog of Ellis and Krafft-Ebing) is actually quite ill physically.” -Hubbard, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”

“At 1.1 on the tone scale we enter the area of the most vicious reversal of the second dynamic. Here we have promiscuity, perversion, sadism, and irregular practices…. People on this level on the second dynamic are intensely dangerous in the society, since aberration is contagious. A society which reaches this level is on its way out of history, as went the Greeks, as went the Romans, as goes modern European and American culture. Here is a flaming danger signal which must be heeded if a race is to go forward…. The person may claim to love others and to have the good of others as his foremost interest; yet, at the same moment, he works, unconsciously or otherwise, to injure or destroy the lives and reputations of people and also to destroy property… No social order which desires to survive dates overlook its stratum 1.1’s. No social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst…. Such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized; for here is the level of the contagion of immorality, and the destruction of ethics.,,, The only answers would seem to be the permanent quarantine of such persons from society to avoid the contagion of their insanities and the general turbulence which they bring to any order, thus forcing it lower on the scale, or processing such persons until they have attained a level on the tone scale which gives them value” – Hubbard, “Science of Survival”

Critics:

“Show me any person who is critical of us and I’ll show you crimes and intended crimes that would stand a magistrate’s hair on end.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, 4 April 1965

“Somebody some day will say “this is illegal.” By then be sure the orgs [Scientology organizations] say what is legal or not.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 4 January 1966, “LRH Relationship to Orgs”

“If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 15 August 1960, Dept. of Govt. Affairs

“The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.” – Hubbard, A MANUAL ON THE DISSEMINATION OF MATERIAL, 1955

“ENEMY SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 18 October 1967

“A truly Suppressive Person or group has no rights of any kind and actions taken against them are not punishable.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 1 March 1965, HCO (Division 1) “Ethics, Suppressive Acts, Suppression of Scientology and Scientologists”

“Now, get this as a technical fact, not a hopeful idea. Every time we have investigated the background of a critic of Scientology, we have found crimes for which that person or group could be imprisoned under existing law. We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, 5 November 1967, “Critics of Scientology”

“This is the correct procedure: Spot who is attacking us. Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press. Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 25 February 1966

Mental health professionals:

“The names and connections, at this time, of the bitterly opposing enemy are: 1. Psychiatry and psychology (not medicine). 2. The heads of news media who are also directors of psychiatric front groups. 3. A few key political figures in the fields of “mental health” and education. 4. A decline of monetary stability caused by the current planning of bankers who are also directors of psychiatric front organizations [that] would make us unable to function.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 16 February 1969, “TARGETS, DEFENSE”

“A psychiatrist today has the power to (1) take a fancy to a woman (2) lead her to take wild treatment as a joke (3) drug and shock her to temporary insanity (4) incarnate [sic] her (5) use her sexually (6) sterilise her to prevent conception (7) kill her by a brain operation to prevent disclosure. And all with no fear of reprisal. Yet it is rape and murder. We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one. This is Project Psychiatry. We will remove them.” – Hubbard, Sec ED, Office of LRH, Confidential, 22 February 1966, “Project Psychiatry”

“Psychiatry” and “psychiatrist” are easily redefined to mean “an anti-social enemy of the people.” This takes the kill crazy psychiatrist off the preferred list of professions…The redefinition of words is done by associating different emotions and symbols with the word than were intended…Scientologists are redefining “doctor”, “Psychiatry” and “psychology” to mean “undesirable antisocial elements”…The way to redefine a word is to get the new definition repeated as often as possible. Thus it is necessary to redefine medicine, psychiatry and psychology downward and define Dianetics and Scientology upwards. This, so far as words are concerned, is the public opinion battle for belief in your definitions, and not those of the opposition. A consistent, repeated effort is the key to any success with this technique of propaganda.” – Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 5 October 1971, PR Series 12, “Propaganda by Redefinition of Words”

Beggars:

“A Venezuelan dictator once decided to stop leprosy. He saw that most lepers in his country were also beggars. By the simple expedient of collecting and destroying all the beggars in Venezuela an end was put to leprosy in that country.” – Hubbard, ‘Science of Survival”

Other people “low on the tone scale”:

“Unfortunately, it is all too often true that suppressors to a creative action must be removed before construction and creation takes place. Any person very high on the Tone Scale may level destruction toward a suppressor.” – Hubbard, “Science of Survival”

“The sudden and abrupt deletion of all individuals occupying the lower bands of the Tone Scale from the social order would result in an almost instant rise in the cultural tone and would interrupt the dwindling spiral into which any society may have entered.” – Hubbard, “Science of Survival”

“There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the Tone Scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the Tone Scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow.” – Hubbard, “Science of Survival”

But now it’s 2008

Why won’t modern Scientology refute, repudiate or reject these ideas? Why not an admission that Hubbard was wrong and insane? Individual Scientologists will not address this question. They will only change the subject, and insist that plenty of happy gays, people of African heritage, and other kinds of “minorities” can be found in Scientology; there is no policy against them; Hubbard was just a man of his times; criticism of this kind is pure bigotry; etc. etc. etc. They will attack the writer of the article and the writers of comments in support of the article; they will attack all critics of Scientology as obsessed losers in the pay of evil psychiatrists; they will attack everything Hubbard said they should attack in such situations; but they will NOT answer any of these questions: Does Scientology reject Hubbard’s statements? Should Scientology reject Hubbard’s statements? Do you, personally, reject Hubbard’s statements?

They just can’t bring themselves to answer these questions. Try asking a Scientologist for a simple “Yes” or “No” to any of those questions. They won’t oblige.

Thousands of people around the world are currently engaged in activism to make Scientology accountable for its human rights abuses, fraud, and many other forms of criminality. To join them, please visit http://www.xenu-directory.net http://www.youfoundthecard.com, and http://forums.whyweprotest.net

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/10/31/18547684.php

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WHAT DO THEY THINK OF CHRIST?

AETHERIUS SOCIETY – UFO group messages from “Master Jesus” in outer space.

AHMADIYYA MOVEMENT – (Islam) Jesus a prophet only.

ALAMO CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION -Correct doctrine on Jesus but cultish in their denunciation of other Christians.

AMORC – (See Rosicrucianism)

ANANDA MARGA YOGA SOCIETY – Founder Maha-Guru is an incarnation of God.

ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY – Jesus just man until age 30, and then received “Christ Essence”.

ARICA INSTITUTE INC. – “Christ cannot be God”.

ARMSTRONGISM (WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD)- Since death of H.W.Armstrong in a state of doctrinal changes. Church split with new groups forming. See Philadelphia Church.

ASSEMBLIES OF YAHWEH – Denies Trinity.

ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ENLIGHTENMENT (EDGAR CAYCE) – A portion of God called Soul reincarnated eventually as Christ.

ASTARA – Speak of “Cosmic Christ”. Deny His eternal nature.

BABA RAM DASS (HANUMAN FOUNDATION) – Disciples encouraged to acknowledge their inner divinity and oneness with universal deity. Hinduistic.

THE BAHA’I FAITH – Christ one of the 9 great manifestations of divinity. Baha’u’allah greater.

BAWA MUHAIYADDEEN FELOWSHIP- Man becomes God.

BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH- (See Rajneesh Meditation Centers.)

BLACK MUSLIM- Jesus was black and only a prophet. Allah incarnate is Wallace Ford.

BRANHAMISM – Jesus created, not eternal.

BROTHER JULIUS – Believes he is incarnation of Jesus.

BUBBA FREE JOHN (DAWN HORSE FELLOWSHIP; FREE PRIMATIVE CHURCH OF DIVINE COMMUNION; FREE COMMUNITY ORDER; LAUGHING MAN INST.) – Claims he is incarnation of God; a guru to be worshipped; equal with Christ.

BUDDHISM – Christ not recognized as Deity. Zen Buddhism also does not affirm the existence of the living God.

CABALA (KABBALAH) – Doctrine of Deity recognizes only two deities-the hidden god; the infinite great divine Nothing; and the dynamic god of religious experience. Mystical.

CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL AWARENESS – (CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL ALLIANCE) – Jesus a man who reached “Christ-consciousness”.

CHILDREN OF GOD (FAMILY OF LOVE) – Began fundamentalist but degenerated into Occult.

CHRISTADELPHIANS – Jesus did not exist before birth to Mary. Not God.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE -Christ is a Divine Idea and his blood doesn’t cleanse us.

CHURCH OF ARMAGEDDON (LOVE FAMILY) – Follow prophet “Love Israel”. Use Yoga & drugs.

CHURCH OF GOD INTERNATIONAL)(Garner Ted Armstrong) follows original teachings of Herbert W Armstrong. Denies Trinity, God is a family.

CHURCH OF BIBLE UNDERSTANDING (FOREVER FAMILY)- Founder Traill is one true access to bible understanding; denies Trinity.

THE CHURCH OF GOD INTERNATIONAL -(See Armstrongism.)

CHURCH OF THE LIVING WORD (THE WALK) – Followers become the Living Word (Christ) to the world.

CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT (SUMMIT INT.; SUMMIT LIGHTHOUSE) – Jesus a man with Christ-consciousness within him.

COONEYITES (TWO BY TWOS) -Jesus inherited Adam’s fallen sin nature and did not finish His earthly mission, but they are doing so.

DAWN BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOC. (FRANK AND ERNEST) – Jesus created; not God. Deny Trinity.

DIANETICS – (See Scientology)

DHYANA-MA-NDIRAM – Jesus one of many reincarnations of God.

DIVINE LIGHT M ISSION OF GURU MAHARAJ JI – Followers believe their Guru is Christ come again.

ECKANKAR (THE ANCIENT ART OF SOUL TRAVEL) – Christ is “god as all men are god”.

EMISSARIES OF DIVINE LIGHT (ONTOLOGISTS) – Do not accept the atoning work of Christ; Mystical.

ESALEN INSTITUTE – “Human Potential” movement; Mystical.

EST (ERHARD SEMINAR TRAININGS) THE FORUM) – Teach that each person is a god himself.

ETERNAL FLAME – Chas. Paul Brown, the leader, claims to be the very body and blood of Christ.

FAMILY OF LOVE – (See Children of God)

THE FARM – Jesus a man indwelt by Christ-consciousness.

FINDHORN FOUNDATION UNIVERSITY OF LIGHT – Separate Jesus and Christ. Appear to be pantheistic and believe in plant spirits.

FOREVER FAMILY – (See Church of Bible Understanding)THE FORUM- (see est)

THE FOUNDATION FAITH OF THE MILLENNIUM- Deny deity of Christ, only a prophet.

FOUNDATION OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (ROY MASTERS) – Neglects Christ or mentions him in a negative context.

FRANK & ERNEST – (See Dawn Bible Students Assoc.)

FREE MASONRY – Jesus a man like us.

HARE KRISHNA (ISKON) – Jesus one of their gurus, but Hare Krishna is their God.

HINDUISM – No need of a personal savior; each one attains to becoming “a god” or attaining “cosmic consciousness”.

THE HOLY ORDER OF MANS – Jesus a man indwelt by Christ consciousness.”

“I AM” MOVEMENT – Jesus one of many ascended masters.

IGLESIA NI CRISTO – Jesus a great savior, but not true God.

INNER PEACE MOVEMENT – Jesus a man who reached “Christ-consciousness”. God is impersonal.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF CHRIST (THE JAMILIANS) – Christ came again in the form of Jamil Sean Savoy (Born 1959, died 1962). Christ a “universal force” to be experienced but not worshipped.

ISKON – (See Hare Krishna)

ISLAM – Jesus a prophet of Allah who was superceded by Muhammed.

JAINISM – Deny existence of Creator. Non-theistic humanists.

JAMILIANS – See International Community of Christ)

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY) – Jesus created as Archangel Michael/lesser god; became only a good man, died, ceased to exist, re-created as Michael again in heaven. Not God. Deny Trinity.

KABALARIANS – Speak of “Christ Principle” born within every individual. (See Cabala)

KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA-Disciples worship him as incarnation of God without his approval.

LATTER DAY SAINTS – (See Mormons)

LAYMEN’S HOME MISSIONARY MOVEMENT – Christ is not God.

LIFESPRING – Similar to EST.

LOVE FAMILY- (See Church of Armageddon)

MAHIKARI – Both Jesus and Buddha are regarded as refined spiritual beings able to radiate true light in their day.

MEGIDDO MISSION – Jesus wholly human in his nature.

THE MIND SCIENCES – God is a principle.

MOONIES (THE UNIFICATION CHURCH; THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSOC.; HOLY SPIRIT ASSOC. FOR THE UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY; THE UNIFIED FAMILY; INTERNATIONAL ONE WORLD CRUSADE; INTERFAITH ENDEAVOR; ETC. ETC.) – Christ failed in His earthly mission leaving Rev. Moon to finish the task. Many believe Moon to be “Lord of the Second Advent.”

MORMONS (THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS) – Jesus was born in heaven as the spirit child of Elohim (Heavenly Father) by one of his wives, and Jesus’ brother was Lucifer, who became Satan. Jesus one of many gods.

MUKTANANDA PARAMAHANSA (SHREE GURUDEV SIDDHA YOGA ASHRAM) – Each person strives for his own “God-realization”.

NEO-GNOSTICISM – Jesus one who possessed a “higher consciousness”. Did not die for man’s sins.

NEW AGE MOVEMENT – Promises to produce “Messiah” out of a coalition of cult/occult groups.

NICHIREN SHOSHU SOKA GAKKAI – True God replaced by Gautama Buddha and Nichiren. Bible replaced.

ONTOLOGISTS – (See Emmissaries of Divine Light) Spirit.

PENITENTES (BROTHER OF OUR FATHER JESUS) – Atonement comes by personal bloodshed rather than Christ’s death and suffering.

PEACE MISSION MOVEMENT- Sometimes states that Jesus is God, but leader George Baker has also claimed to be God and Holy Spirit.

PEOPLES TEMPLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH -Jim Jones considered himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and led over 900 followers to their deaths.

PHILADELPHIA CHURCH – Recently formed breakaway group from World Wide Church of God. Carries on with old Armstrongism teachings. Denies Trinity, God is a Family.

PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT – Jesus a man.

PSYCHIANA – Jesus a human life acting out the God-power.

RADHA SOAMI SOCIETY – Jesus one of many lords.

RAJNEESH MEDITATION CENTERS (ORANGE PEOPLE) – God is not a person. Existence is without cause.

REORGANIZED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS – Jesus Christ existed with God in the beginning, sharing in creation.

REV. IKE (FREDERICK EIKERENKOETTER) – Deity is “the presence of God in you”. There are no literal, spiritual realities.

ROSICRUCIANISM (ROSICRUCI ; AMORC) – Reincarnated man is a manifestation of the cosmic Christ.

RUHANI SATSANG – Jesus Christ essentially a man of the East.

SANATANA DHARMA FOUNDATION – Jesus is a man who achieved a divine state through meditation.

SATHYA SAI BABA – Claims to be Christ and has achieved “God-realization”.

SCIENTOLOGY – All are gods including Christ.

SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP – Separates Jesus and Christ. Jesus was indwelt by “Christ-consciousness”.

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM -Believe Jesus is God but also that he is Michael. Christ did not complete atonement at Calvary.

SHREE GURU DEV SIDDHA YOGA ASHRAM – Believes leader is God.

SIKHISM – If a person works his way to salvation he is absorbed into the formless God.

SILVA MIND CONTROL -Seek oneness with pantheistic deity; speak of “Christ awareness”.

SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL FOUNDATION – Their leader, Sai Baba, is Jesus Christ who was returned. Man forgets he is God.

SPIRITUAL FRONTIERS FELLOWSHIP – Jesus the man died but Christ lived. Uses seances.

SPIRITUALISTS – Jesus was a Jewish medium.

SRI CHINMOY CENTERS – God is seen as consciousness and light. Divinity is within.

STILL POINT INSTITUTE – Christ is an evolutive god, a cosmic Christ.

SUBUD (GURDJIEFF; RENAISSANCE FELLOWSHIP OF FRIENDS) – God is a “great life force” flowing through everything and is felt by inner vibrations. Impersonal.

SUFISM – God-consciousness by whirling dancing.

SUFISM REORIENTED INC. – Meher Baba claimed to be Christ incarnate.

SUMMIT LIGHTHOUSE (SUMMI NTERNATIONAL) (See Church Universal and Triumphant)

SWAMI KRIYANANDA – Followers seek God-realization; Hinduistic.

SWAMI RAMI (HIMALAYAN INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF YOGA SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY) Combines Indian religious philosophy with psychological therapeutic techniques.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA (VEDANTA SOCIETY) – Mystical Hinduism; Ramakrishna worthy of same devotion as Christ.

SWEDENBORGISM – Calls Jesus god but denies the personality of the Holy Spirit.

TAOISM – Worships creator-principle of the Tao (“The Force”) Ignores Christ.

THEOSOPHY – Christ is the reincarnation of the world’s soul.

THE 3 HO FOUNDATION (YOGI BHAJAN; SIKH FOUNDATION) – God is cosmic consciousness. Pantheistic.

T.M. (TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION) – Christ is a prophet. Mankind can meditate into God-awareness without a mediator.

THE UNIFICATION CHURCH – (See Moonies)

UNITY (UNITY SCHOOL OF CHRISTIANITY) – Jesus was a perfect man indwelt by the Christ consciousness present in everybody.

UNITARIANS (UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOC.) – Jesus extraordinarily good man only.

UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH – Denies Trinity.

URANTIA – Jesus a “Creator Son” called “Michael”.

THE WALK – (See Church of the Living Word)

THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY – (See Jehovah’s Witnesses)

THE WAY INTERNATIONAL – Jesus is not God.

WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD – (See Armstrongism)

YOGA – A series of exercises designed to align your body to absorb the cosmic force.

ANANDA MARGA YOGA – Jesus is considered God, but you, too, will become God.

INTEGRAL YOGA INSTITUTE – God has no name, no form, no place. Evil is also God.

SIVANANDA YOGA VENDENTA CENTERS – God (or Christ) is not a person or spirit, but consciousness.

TANTRIC YOGA – Achieving God realization by sexual means.

ZOROASTRIANISM – Does not recognize personal God.

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Not all religions are Christian.
There is a difference.

The Gospel message of Salvation is clear:

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

No one comes to the Father except through Him.

http://mmoutreach.org/other_cults/articles/what_do_they_think_of_christ.htm

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Is God a Mormon? What the Bible says about God’s nature by Mark Grote

The question of “Is God a Mormon,” just occured to me while I was writing this examination of the nature of God. I was wondering to myself how Mormons could get so far off about the nature of God. Just then, it occured to me that God would have to be a Mormon, and would certainly endorse Mormonism, if Mormons are to be considered correct. But are they?

This much we do know. As much as Mormons say they are set apart as the “true Church” they are actually like every other faith on the planet except Christianity. Some Mormons say they are Christians but miss the central concept of God’s nature, essence and most of all, the deity of Christ. That concept is that Jesus is God. As Mormons yammer on about being set apart, they are very much like everyone else in holding a view that Jesus is not the ultimate authority or the author of all things. So then, who is? How can you be set apart when you hold exactly the same view of Jesus as every other faith–that He is less than God?

Rather than argue with opinions, I thought I would try the novel concept of ‘study’ and see if scripture means anything to Mormons. Examining and drawing out what is in the bible and not trying to read into scripture but literally go to the word of God and see what it says about God.

So with that, to the question at hand…what is the nature of God? Who is He? Are Mormons correct that he is one of many Gods and the literal creator of Jesus or is He part of the trinity, a view that Mormons so adamently attack?

First of all, we have to come to a common understanding about what we mean by the “nature of God.” What I mean in this is quite literal. What is God? Who is God? Where is God? The Bible says that God has always existed (Gen. 1:1) for all eternity to all eternity, from everlasting past to everlasting future, forever and ever, from before time to after time, and who is without beginning and without end, (Psalm 41:13, 90:2, 102:25-27 and Romans 1:22-23). The word Eternal, means ( e = no, tern = time; no time). I have separate thoughts of Jesus as well, but for now will wait to disuss that even if He applies.

I believe it is sufficient to say that the God of classical Christian theism is at least (1) personal and incorporeal (without physical parts), (2) the Creator and Sustainer of everything else that exists, (3) omnipotent (all-powerful), (4) omniscient (all-knowing), (5) omnipresent (everywhere present), (6) immutable (unchanging) and eternal, and (7) necessary and the only God.

Let us now briefly look at each of these attributes.

1. Personal and Incorporeal. According to Christian theism, God is a personal being who has all the attributes that we may expect from a perfect person: self-consciousness, the ability to reason, know, love, communicate, and so forth. This is clearly how God is described in the Scriptures (e.g., Gen. 17:11; Exod. 3:14; Jer. 29:11).

God is also incorporeal. Unlike humans, God is not uniquely associated with one physical entity (i.e., a body). This is why the Bible refers to God as Spirit (John 4:24).

2. The Creator and Sustainer of Everything Else that Exists. In classical theism, all reality is contingent on God — that is, all reality has come into existence and continues to exist because of Him. Unlike a god who forms the universe out of preexistent matter, the God of classical theism created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Consequently, it is on God alone that everything in the universe depends for its existence (see Acts 17:25; Col. 1:16, 17; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 4:11).

3. Omnipotent. God is also said to be omnipotent or all-powerful. This should be understood to mean that God can do anything that is (1) logically possible or impossible (see below), and (2) consistent with being a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator.

Concerning the latter, these attributes are not limitations of God’s power, but perfections. They are attributes at their infinitely highest level, which are essential to God’s nature. For example, since God is perfect, He cannot sin; because He is personal, He is incapable of making Himself impersonal; because He is omniscient, He cannot forget. All this is supported by the Bible when its writers assert that God cannot sin (Mark 10:18; Heb. 6:18), cease to exist (Exod. 3:14; Mal. 3:6), or fail to know something (Job 28:24; Ps. 139:17-18; Isa. 46:10a). Since God is a perfect person, it is necessarily the case that He is incapable of acting in a less than perfect way — which would include sinning, ceasing to exist, and being ignorant.

Also counted among the things that are logically impossible for God to do or create are those imperfect acts mentioned above which a wholly perfect and immutable being cannot do — such as sin, lack omniscience, and/or cease to exist. Since God is a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator, it follows that any act inconsistent with these attributes would be necessarily (or logically) impossible for God to perform.

4. Omniscient. God is all-knowing, and His all-knowingness encompasses the past, present, and future. Concerning God’s unfathomable knowledge, the psalmist writes: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Ps. 139:17,18). Elsewhere he writes, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (147:5). The author of Job writes of God: “For he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:24). Scripture also teaches that God has total knowledge of the past (Isa. 41:22). Concerning the future, God says: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,'” (Isa. 46:10). Elsewhere Isaiah quotes God as saying that knowledge (not opinion or highly probable guesses) of the future is essential for deity (Isa. 41:21-24), something that distinguished God from the many false gods of Isaiah’s day.

5. Omnipresent. Logically following from God’s omniscience, incorporeality, omnipotence, and role as creator and sustainer of the universe is His omnipresence. Since Christians believe God is not limited by a temporal body, He knows everything immediately without benefit of sensory organs, and sustains the existence of all that exists, it follows that He is in some sense present everywhere. Certainly it is the Bible’s explicit teaching that God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:3-10, 1 Kings 8:27, Jer. 23:23-24, Acts 17:24-27, Matt 18:20)

6. Immutable and Eternal. When a Christian says that God is immutable and eternal, he or she is saying that God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; Isa. 46:10b) and has always existed as God throughout all eternity which is consistent with the following scriptural references (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 43:12b, 13; 57:15a; Rom. 1:20a; 1 Tim. 1:17). There never was a time when God was not God.

Although God certainly seems to change in response to how His creatures behave — such as in the case of the repenting Ninevites — His nature remains the same. No matter how the Ninevites would have responded to Jonah’s preaching, God’s unchanging righteousness would have remained the same: He is merciful to the repentant and punishes the unrepentant. Hence, a God who is responsive to His creatures is certainly consistent with, and seems to be entailed in, an unchanging nature that is necessarily personal.

7. Necessary and the ONE and Only True God. The Bible teaches that although humans at times worship some beings as if these beings really were gods (1 Cor. 8:4-6), there is only one true and living God by nature (Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 21, 22; Jer. 10:10; Gal. 4:8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9). And since the God of the Bible possesses all power (see above), there cannot be any other God, for this would mean that two beings possess all power. That, of course, is patently absurd, since if a being possesses all of everything (in this case, power) there is, by definition, nothing left for anyone else.

Moreover, since everything that exists depends on God, and God is unchanging and eternal, it follows that God cannot not exist. In other words, He is a necessary being, whereas without Him, everything else would not exist.

You may have noticed that I am not citing only single verses in any one of these sections. There is a pattern of several verses thoughout the bible that support my positions and I have provided 56 verses that speak to God’s nature and attributes. This is not a doctrine born out of single verse, nor am I asking you to read a symbolic phrase in the bible and come the same conclusion that I do. I am citing specific verses in specific contexts that say for instance, “God is spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). Now from where I come from, that’s truth. But it’s only one verse. What if we don’t have it right? Well, the Bible says that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that the Bible IS the Word of God. So, therefore, if we examine other scripture and find the it to be consistent with “God is spirit” we can probably put that one in the column for truth. I cannot understate this point: I went beyond that single verse and found other scriptures to support that verse’s context, that God is omnipresent, consistent with Him being “spirit.” I challenge you to do the same showing that “God is a God of flesh and bones, or God has a body.” I also challenge you to present a pattern where we see this theme woven throughout scripture, for it is my contention that Joseph Smith and Mormon leaders since his time, make doctrines out of a single verse or “read out” of scripture from a single verse what they want to see to support their doctrine. (see baptisms for the dead as one such example). I realize that I am placing a high standard on our process…but honestly speaking, does where we spend our eternity deserve anything less?

Finally my questions to you are this? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God was once a mere mortal man and that he was not always a God? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God is married. And finally, where in the bible and the Book of Mormon does it say that God has a body of flesh and bones as clearly as John 4:24 says, “God is spirit”? And yet, it is Christians who are supposed to be giving life to doctrines that are not in the bible? I don’t think so.

So far, I have never met a Mormon who can answers these questions without reading into scripture and/or taking it out of context. I also cannot seem to find Mormons presenting a pattern of scripture that supports their positions.

Nevertheless, I welcome the exchange anytime. If a Mormon can prove otherwise, using scripture, I will listen. Until that time, I’m sticking with the bible. All other so called “truths” are fraught with danger.

http://www.lifeafter.org/Is_God_Mormon.asp

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A Few Troublesome Questions
by Kathleen Baldwin

Have you ever had a niggling question? One that plagues you for years. As a Mormon I had a few. When I became a Christian those questions and inconsistencies went away. However, I’d like to share some of them with you because they are still relevant questions for anyone still in the LDS Church.

1. If God was once a man like us, lived righteously, married, died and became a God, who was His God? Who was God before Him? Who was the very first God? Where did He come from? And how come He didn’t have to be a man first?

2. Why are children sealed to their parents? If they do things right, and make it to the Celestial Kingdom, aren’t they going to go off and be Gods someplace else? Is it just so that parents and children can visit each other? If so, can’t they visit each other without being sealed? After all, they’ll all be Gods, right? or can’t God do that–visit His children?

3. Speaking of fathers and children, why won’t God, the Father, visit His children in the Terrestrial Kingdom? Doesn’t He love them? These are supposedly the millions of devoted church goers, Christians and Mormons, who lived good lives but didn’t quite cut the mustard. Don’t they count? Sure, it’s a nice place, but why won’t He visit?

4. If the temple and its ceremonies were revealed to Joseph Smith by God, why is it so different from the temple and its ceremonies as revealed to Solomon? Or the tabernacle and ceremonies as they were revealed to Moses? God gave very detailed instructions to Moses and Solomon. How come LDS temple layouts aren’t like those? Why are the ceremonies so different? How come the details aren’t similar? For instance, God commanded Moses to make the veil in Exodus five layers thick, woven of blue and purple and scarlet. The LDS temple veils are made of normal white cloth, available for purchase in almost any material store. Doesn’t the LDS Church teach that God revealed the temple as it had originally been established?

5. While we are on the subject of the veil, that thick veil tore in half when Jesus Christ completed His sacrifice. God opened the Holy of Holies. He exposed it to mankind. We were given access to the throne of God, the mercy seat. Why did Joseph Smith hang up a new barrier (veil) between God and man?

6. Now that the government is so liberal, gays are being married, etc., shouldn’t the LDS Church be trying to legalize polygamy? They teach that it is part of the “new and everlasting covenant of eternal marriage.” Shouldn’t they be pushing for the right to exercise their religious freedom? Or would that be a politically incorrect move? Why would they care about social acceptance if it meant compromising their beliefs?

Questions are good things. They make people think. Try asking your friend some ‘to the point’ questions. Maybe when he or she goes searching for the answers she’ll find the truth.

I constantly thank God for answering my questions with the true Gospel–the good news. God is truth, and His ways are never convoluted. May He bless you and your LDS friends with the peace that comes from only Him.

http://www.answeringlds.org/index.html?insTroubleQuestions.html

 

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HERESIES: THEN AND NOW
By Jason Barker

In 2 Peter 2:1–2, the apostle states, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

The apostle accurately observed the spread of heresy in the first–century church, and his warning that false teachers would continue to arise can easily be seen in the growth of cults and pseudo–Christian religions in our time. Interestingly, the heresies that are popular today are simply variations of the same heresies that have arisen throughout the history of the Church. This article will briefly examine some of the most influential of these heresies, will list scriptures that refute the heresy, and will list some of the modern groups that continue to promote the heresies.

Judaizers — 1st Century Judaizers, or the Judaizing movements, is not a condemnation of Judaism or ethnic Jews. Instead, it has historically been the label for those who attempt to make observing the Mosaic Law a requirement for Christianity and salvation. The book of Acts refers to such people as “they of the circumcision” (Acts 10:45; 11:2), and the council at Jerusalem decisively ruled against them (Acts 15:23–29).

Despite this biblical ruling, Judaizing movements continue to grow in our time. These movements require such things as strict observance of the Sabbath on Saturday, mandatory tithing, observance of the Jewish feasts, and other regulations in order for a Christian to earn salvation.

Scriptural Refutation: Romans 3:24–28.

Modern Groups: Seventh-Day Adventists; followers of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Gnosticism — 1st and 2nd Centuries The Gnostics promoted three basic teachings: 1) matter is evil, and thus Jesus only appeared to be a man; 2) because the Bible teaches that God created matter, the God of the Old Testament Jews is an evil deity who is distinct from the New Testament God, Jesus Christ; and 3) ultimate Truth is a mystery that is available only to those who are initiated into the secret teachings and practices of the Gnostic groups.

Gnosticism has become popular in the latter half of the 20th century with the 1945 Egyptian discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of Gnostic writings. One of the most influential books in modern Gnosticism has been Elaine Pagel’s The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of the Nag Hammadi documents. Modern Gnosticism is commonly found in syncretistic groups, which teach that Truth can be found by combining the beliefs and practices of numerous religions.

Scriptural Refutation: Genesis 1:4, 10, 18, 21, 25, 27; John 10:30; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 1 John 1:1.

Modern Groups: Primarily found in the New Age Movement.

Docetism — 1st – 4th Centuries The name is taken from the Greek word dokein = to seem. The docetics believed that the seeming humanity of Christ, particularly his suffering, were imaginary. They taught that the divine God cannot suffer, and thus, since Christ is divine, his suffering was an illusion to teach humans a valuable lesson about the illusion of matter. Docetism was an integral part of Gnosticism. The heresy was a major impetus for the Chalcedonian Definition of 451, which describes that Christ is one person with two natures: human and divine.

The heresy continues among modern groups that deny the reality of suffering.

Scriptural Refutation: John 1:1–3, 14; Philippians 2:6–8.

Modern Groups: Christian Science, Mind Sciences, the New Age Movement.

Origenism — 3rd Century The career of Origen is one of the more unusual in Christian history. He dedicated himself to defending attacks on Christianity from paganism, Judaism, and Christian heresies. His apologetic book, Against Celsus, remains a classic piece of Christian literature.

Despite his defense of orthodoxy, Origen developed several heretical doctrines that were eventually condemned in 553. His most notable deviant teachings involve the preexistence of human souls, the subordination of the Son to the Father, and universalism. Few groups currently adopt all of Origen’s teachings. Nonetheless, groups influenced by Joseph Smith believe in both the preexistence of souls and the essential subordination of the Son to the Father, and many other groups believe in both the preexistence of souls (usually in the form of reincarnation) and universalism.

Scriptural Refutation: Hebrews 9:27; John 10:30; Matthew 7:13–23; 8:11–12.

Modern Groups: Mormons, Liberal Christianity.

Dynamic Monarchianism / Sabellianism — 3rd Century Although the heresy was first taught in 190 by Theodotus of Byzantium, monarchianism was most notably promoted by Sabellius in the third century. Monarchianism denies the Trinity by teaching that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate persons. Instead, the monotheistic God (called a monad) progressively revealed Himself as the creator and lawgiver through the “office” of Father, as the redeemer through the office of Son, and as the source of grace through the office of Spirit.

Scriptural Refutation: John 3:16; 17:22–23; 1 John 5:7–14.

Modern Groups: Oneness Pentecostals.

Arianism — 4th Century Perhaps the most significant heresy faced by the Church, Arianism (named after Arius) taught that, as the Son of God, Christ was created by God the Father. Arius thus denied the Trinity by teaching that Jesus is less than fully divine. This heresy became extremely widespread, even being promoted by many bishops. It was condemned at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (which proclaimed that Christ is fully divine), and at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 (which proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is divine). Arianism remains one of the most common heresies to afflict the Church. Almost all pseudo–Christian groups deny the full deity of Christ.

Scriptural Refutation: John 10:30; 1 John 5:7.

Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church.

Pelagianism — 5th Century Pelagius, a Welsh monk, taught that humanity does not inherit original sin, and that salvation is earned by following the example of Christ. Grace is not necessary; instead, humans overcome the sin they gradually develop by using God’s grace to assist them in perfecting themselves and thus earning salvation.

This heresy, along with Arianism, is endemic to almost all modern pseudo–Christian groups.

Scriptural Refutation: Romans 3:24–26; 5:11–21.

Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, followers of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Nestorianism and Mono-physitism — 5th Century Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, taught that Mary bore only Jesus’ human nature in her womb, thus implicitly teaching that Christ was not divine while on earth. In an overreaction to Nestorius, the Monophysites taught that Christ was one person with his humanity and divinity fused into a single nature (the Greek roots of the word monophysite are mono = one, and physis = nature), thus implicitly teaching that Christ was neither fully human nor fully divine.

Nestorianism is implicit in those groups who deny the reality of matter. One of the most common forms of the monophysite heresy can be found in the New Age Movement, where many believe that Jesus was a man who developed his “Christ consciousness” and thus fully achieved his divinity.

Scriptural Refutation: Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:6–8.

Modern Groups: the New Age Movement, Christian Science.

Conclusion

Heresy is not new to the Church. The book of Colossians is Paul’s response to the syncretistic heresies present in the 1st century church in Colossae. Colossians 1:15–20, known as the “Christ Hymn,” is one of the best responses to the heresies that attack the deity and work of Christ.

Christians are commanded by God to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). One of the most effective ways to contend for the faith is to know the various ways in which the faith is attacked, and to know the biblical response to these attacks.

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/heresiesthenandnow.htm

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Trinity…equal or hierarchal?

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1. Given that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is there a hierarchy in the Trinity?

 
The short answer is “yes” and “no.” Consider the biblical evidence.

 
Yes – there is a hierarchy in relationship within the Trinity.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is recognized honored as the One with Fatherhood.

Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ” Jesus is recognized as being the Son with the appearance of coming after the Father and with unique characteristics: part man and fully God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Thus the Holy Spirit knows and understands the thoughts and depths of God. And Jesus tells us in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

The Father sent the Son whose purpose was to reveal the Father. The Son sent the Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the Son.

NO- no hierarchy exists in nature within the Trinity despite the different functional roles that They play.

Creation. Each personality of the Trinity created the world.

God the Father
Psalm 102:25, “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” 

Creation of man. Each personality of the Trinity created man.

God the Father
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The Incarnation. The power of God, ministered through the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and God the Father attested to His Son.

Matthew 3:15-16, “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”

Death of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the death of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Resurrection of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the resurrection.


God the Father

Acts 3:26, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

Jesus Christ the Son
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Provision of Our Redemption. Each personality of the Trinity is brought together in providing for man’s eternal salvation.

God the Father chose us for salvation, Jesus Christ the Son was the offering to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit set us apart.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

Indwelling Believers. Both Jesus and God the Father dwell within Believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

The Great Commission. The name of each distinct personality of the Trinity is invoked at baptism; but note that they are declared in one name.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/4Trinity/DeityEqualOrHierarchal.aspx

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Archaeology & the Book of Mormon

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In the last part in this series, we saw that the Bible is reliable, being textually pure and verifiably accurate in many places. Therefore, the Mormon can have confidence that the Bible is the Word of God and that it can be accurately translated. In this chapter we will examine the Book of Mormon to see how it holds up to the historical test. The Mormons at your door will tell you that many findings within archaeology have confirmed the Book of Mormon time and time again. Is this true? What does the historical data we have tell us about the events recorded in the Book of Mormon?

1. There is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

A. What Mormon archeologists say.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department of professional archeologists who are dedicated to archaeology as it pertains to the Book of Mormon. These professionals, who are practicing Mormons, are to be applauded for their honesty. What many of them have to say will be a shock to the lay Mormon who is unaware that archaeology and the Book of Mormon are at odds with one another. The lay Mormon is told by the Mormon Church that archaeology continues to confirm the Book of Mormon, while Mormon scholars, who actually study archaeology for a living, have something quite different to say.

“[It appears that the Book of Mormon] had no place in the New World whatsoever…. [It] just doesn’t seem to fit anything … in anthropology [or] history…. It seems misplaced” (endnote 20, continuing from endnote 19 in Part 2).

“The first myth that we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists. Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilettante on the peripheries of American archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists regardless of their education, and a Department of Archaeology at BYU devoted to the production of Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that Book of Mormon archaeology really exists” (endnote 21).

“What I would say to you is there is no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon. You can look all you want. And there’s been a lot of speculation about it. There’ve been books written by Mormon scholars saying that ‘this event took place here’ or ‘this event took place here.’ But that’s entirely speculative. There is absolutely no archeological evidence that you can tie directly to events that took place” (endnote 22).

“Now, I’m an archeologist, and I work in Mexico where some people think that the events occurred. So a lot of Mormons ask me every week if I find any evidence. And I tell them, ‘No.’ … [T]he question of how to translate what the Book says in terms of real evidence that we can grab in our hands, archeologically, is still a huge problem” (endnote 23).

Keep in mind that all of these are practicing Mormons who are professional Book of Mormon archeologists!

B. What non-Mormon archeologists say.

Earlier we read from the Smithsonian Institution’s statement “The Bible as History.” We saw that archaeology confirms much of the Bible and that professional archeologists use the Bible in their work. The Smithsonian also has a “STATEMENT REGARDING THE BOOK OF MORMON.” This statement can be requested at the same address. Every one of the statements are damaging to the reliability of the Book of Mormon. Here is the first of eight statements: “The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”

In 1989, Michael Ammons wrote to the National Geographic Society requesting information on the Book of Mormon and archaeology. The Society replied in a letter dated April 26, 1989:

“Neither the Society nor any other institution of equal prestige has ever used the Book of Mormon in locating archaeological sites. Although many Mormon sources claim that the Book of Mormon has been substantiated by archaeological findings, this claim has not been verified scientifically.”

Also in 1989, Linda Hansen wrote to the Department of Archaeology at Boston University with a similar request. In a reply letter dated April 5, 1989, Julie Hansen of the department responded:

“The Archaeological Institute of America has never used the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide in locating historic ruins on the Western Hemisphere…. Over the past 30 years The New World Archaeological Foundation, located at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has conducted numerous scientific excavations in Mesoamerica, originally with a view to confirming the claims in the Book of Mormon. They have discovered no evidence that supports the Book of Mormon in any way. Nonetheless, they have published in full detail the results of their excavations in Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, Volumes 1-55, 1959 and following…. They are accepted by the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society of American Archaeologists as legitimate scientific investigations and the New World Archaeological Foundation is to be commended for publishing the results of their work that essentially refutes the basic beliefs of the Mormon Church on which the Foundation is based” (endnote 24).

Therefore, there is a consensus from professional archaeologists, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, that there is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

2. The lack of archaeological evidence is sometimes damaging.

A) The Book of Mormon claims that the ancient inhabitants spoke and wrote in “Reformed Egyptian” and Hebrew (endnote 25). If this were the case, we would expect to find artifacts with writings in these languages. However, the Smithsonian’s eighth statement regarding the Book of Mormon says:

“Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.”

B) The Book of Mormon states that the two peoples mentioned (Nephites and Lamanites) had Jewish beliefs that became Christian when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. However, there is no evidence that the ancient inhabitants in the Americas had either Jewish or Christian beliefs.

C) Hill Cumorah is located in New York, southeast of Rochester. Joseph Smith claimed that when Moroni appeared to him, he was told that Moroni’s father, Mormon, buried the gold plates upon which the Book of Mormon was based on the hill Cumorah just before the great final battle there (Mormon 6:6). In the Pearl of Great Price, Smith writes that the day after his second vision, he went to a large hill outside of the village where his family lived (the hill Cumorah) and found the gold plates (endnote 26). This identifies the hill where Smith dug up the plates as the same hill where Mormon buried them and where the great battle took place. In Mormon 6:10-15, it is claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were killed on or near the hill Cumorah during that final battle. It says that “their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.

To help you understand the magnitude of casualties at hill Cumorah, let us consider another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, 55,000 soldiers were wounded, including 6,000 of them killed on the battlefield and 4,000 more whose wounds were mortal. Eyewitnesses said that there was so much blood from the dead and injured that there were parts of the battlefield that seemed like streams of blood. So many men and horses died that all could not be buried at once and many corpses were left on the battlefield until a few days later when others were hired to do the task.

If 6,000 men died on the battlefield at Gettysburg, what would a battlefield look like with hundreds of thousands dead? Since they were left unburied at hill Cumorah, wouldn’t there be some artifacts made of metal and stone? Bullets by the thousands are found at Gettysburg. Nothing, however, has been found at hill Cumorah.

University of Rochester paleontologist and stratigrapher Carl Brett has worked in the Palmyra, N.Y, area where hill Cumorah is located and is familiar with the hill and its geologic conditions. He says that if hundreds of thousands were slaughtered at the hill and not buried, there would still be skeletal remains on the surface today, even after 1,600 years. Scavengers and weather conditions would account for why much is gone, but there would still be quite enough left to look at. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would also be easily found (endnote 27). But nothing has ever been found at hill Cumorah.

3. Attempts by Mormons to answer the archeological problem fail.

During a series of conversations I once had with a Mormon friend and some Mormon missionaries, I turned to them in the first meeting and said that one objection I had to Mormonism was that there is no archaeological evidence to support the stories in the Book of Mormon. One of the missionaries smiled confidently and claimed there was a lot of evidence from archaeology to support the historical truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I asked him to show me some. He said he did not have any information with him but would bring some to our next meeting. He did. Needless to say he was shocked when I quoted the Mormon scholars below who refuted the very materials he had in hand!

“Few of the writings they have produced are of genuine consequence in archaeological terms. Some are clearly on the oddball fringe; others have credible qualifications. Two of the most prolific are Professor Hugh Nibley and Milton R. Hunter; however, they are not qualified to handle the archaeological materials their works often involve” (endnote 28).

“Those volumes which most flagrantly ignore time and space and most radically distort, misinterpret, or ignore portions of the archaeological evidence are the popular Farnsworth volumes. Also inadequate, from a professional archaeologist’s point of view, are the well intentioned volumes by Milton R. Hunter and a number of smaller pamphlets and works by various authors…. New World Old World comparisons have been less popular but fraught with problems. The best known examples are the two volumes by Nibley which suffer from an overdose of Old Worlditis…. He does not know New World culture history well, and his writing ignores the considerable indigenous elements in favor of exclusively Old World patterns” (endnote 29).

“In situations where sources of religious and secular authority conflict with each other, a Latter-day Saint sometimes finds himself in a quandary. He has been assured by a folklore transmitted in lessons, talks and church literature that archaeologists (usually Gentiles) are steadily proving the Book of Mormon authentic, while through his formal education and secular literature he has become aware that in actuality the experts seem to contradict the scripture” (endnote 30).

“Science does not arrive at its conclusions by syllogism, and no people on earth deplore proof demonstration by syllogism more loudly than real archaeologists do. Yet, Mr. Jakeman’s study is nothing but an elaborate syllogistic stew. The only clear and positive thing about the whole study is the objective the author is determined to reach” (endnote 31).

Again, every one of the above are practicing Mormons. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, BYU is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department dedicated to Book of Mormon archaeology. According to BYU anthropologist John Clark, virtually all of the professional archaeologists there admit that archaeological finds which specifically tie the past to events in the Book of Mormon are missing. These practicing Mormons call books and their authors that list sensational findings not qualified, inadequate, and speculative.

Some Mormons will respond that these archeologists do not represent the official church position, so their opinions are not credible. But why trivialize and dismiss the findings of the overwhelming consensus of practicing Mormons who are professional archaeologists, yet accept, without question, the official Mormon Church position? Could it be that the ground’s silence is indicative of a Mormon Church position that is false? After all, if it is false, silence from archaeology is precisely what we might expect to find.

It is fair to mention that professional Mormon archaeologists claim there is general confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology, citing peoples existing where it is thought Book of Mormon peoples may have existed. This general confirmation, however, does not show that the Mormon picture of history is true. These same archaeologists (Johnson, Clark) admit that conclusions regarding the findings are pure speculation. The issue is not, “Did people exist in the Americas between 600 B.C. through A.D. 400?” We know that they did. The issue is, “Can we identify these civilizations as the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon?” And the answer from virtually all professional Mormon and non-Mormon archaeologists alike is no.

In the last part of this series we saw that the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in our possession today allow us to have an accurate translation of the Bible. Therefore, even by Mormon standards, we can be confident that we have the Word of God. We also saw that secular history has attested to the accuracy of the Bible so that we can know with certainty that many of the events recorded in it took place. Unfortunately, the Mormon cannot have this same confidence when it comes to the Book of Mormon. Archaeology and secular history are silent when asked if the events took place. Not only is this silence disturbing to professional Mormon archaeologists, but it is evidence against Mormonism when no artifacts turn up in areas which should be abundant with relics such as the hill Cumorah. However, as damaging as these may be, Mormonism’s greatest challenge concerns another one of their scriptures, the Book of Abraham, which will be the subject of the next part in this series.
–30–
Mike Licona is the director of apologetics & interfaith evangelism at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

ENDNOTES

20 Dr. Ray Metheny, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. Address at the Sixth Annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, Salt Lake City, 8/25/84.

21 Dr. Dee Green, Former Editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter “Book of Mormon Archaeology: The Myths and the Alternatives,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), pp. 77-78.

22 Dr. David Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/23/97.

23 Dr. John Clark, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/25/97.

24 Copies of the reply letters from the National Geographic Society and Boston University were provided by Jim and Judy Robertson of Concerned Christians.

25 Mosiah 1:4; Mormon 9:32-33. Also see Joseph Smith. History 1:64.

26 Joseph Smith. History, verses 51-52. Hill Cumorah is located in Manchester, N.Y., about 25 miles east of Rochester. Smith lived in Palmyra, about five miles away from the hill.

27 A personal telephone conversation on September 8, 1997.

28 John L. Sorenson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Sociology, BYU. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1, No. 1 (Spring 1966), pp. 145-246.

29 Dee Green, General Officer, Univ. Archaeological Society. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 74.

30 John L. Sorenson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 81.

31 Dr. Hugh Nibley, quoted by Dee Green. Book of Mormon Archaeology, p. 75.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=27018

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HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE?

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by Wesley P. Walters

As different as para-Christian groups or cults are from each other, most have one thing in common: they hate the biblical teaching of the Trinity. They want their God to be simplistic, uncomplicated, and less complex than the world He created. They want a God reduced to terms they can get their finite minds around.

Modern advances in science have shown that the created world is an extremely complex mechanism. Those who work in nuclear physics or molecular biology are continually discovering the complexity of the world God has created.

In fact, some complex, seemingly contradictory data has yet to be fitted into a rational system that explains the relationships. A simple thing like “light” is known to move like “waves” yet strike like “particles.” Atomic physicists are still struggling to put together a theory that can fully explain this apparent contradiction.

Those who work in the complex mathematical equations of quantum mechanics are told by their instructors that “If you think that you really understand quantum mechanics and how it applies to reality, that proves you do not understand it.” One of the basic theorems is that if the speed of a particle is known, then its location can not be known, and the more accurately you know its location, the less accurately you know its speed. This does not seem very logical to the average person, but it works very well in atomic physics, in which scientists get very close to the essence of matter.

Thus, while scientists are continually learning more about how complex and even apparently contradictory the world of created reality is, cults that reject the complexity of the God who made this reality are proliferating. They, along with Moslems and modern Jews, taunt Christians, saying: “How can there be just one God, and yet the Father be God, the Son be God and the Holy Spirit be God? Is He the Son of Himself and the Father of both?”

Even though Christ Himself taught that the name [singular] of God in which we baptize is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), all cults falsely assert that the doctrine of the Trinity is a teaching that grew out of fourth century paganism. So unified are the cults in this assertion that they appear to be using the same erroneous Church history book and parroting one another.

The truth is that by the time of Christ, the first century A.D., the Jews themselves, on the basis of the Old Testament, were coming to an understanding of the complexity of Yahweh.

The Teachings of The Targums

When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity 450 years before the birth of Jesus, they had adopted Aramaic as their native language. Although it is a dialect of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic is about as different from it as modern Italian is from its classical Latin ancestor. Consequently, during the first and early second centuries A.D., Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament were made.

These translations, called Targums, were The Living Bibles of their day, an interpretive paraphrase of Scripture. They help us see how these first-century Jews understood their Old Testament.

One of the striking things these Targums show is that first century Jews had come to understand the phrase “the Word of God” as referring to a divine entity within God Himself, yet distinguishable at times from God. J.W. Etheridge, in the introduction to his translations of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, has given us a number of examples of this Jewish understanding of the term, “the Word” (Aramaic: Memra).

In Genesis 18:1, where the Hebrew Bible says Yahweh (Jehovah) appeared to Abraham, the Targum says, “The Word of the Lord appeared to Abraham.” Further on, where the Hebrew reports “Yahweh rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven,” the Targum states that “the Word of the Lord sent down upon them sulphur and fire from the presence of the Lord out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24)

In Genesis 16, when Hagar sees “the Angel of the Lord,” the Targum says she saw “the Word of the Lord.” After seeing this “Word” (Memra) she says, “Here has been revealed the glory of the Shekineh of the Lord.” Then, according to the Jerusalem Targum, “Hagar returned thanks and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, who had appeared to her.” Thus the Word not only is regard- ed as the presence of deity, but is in some manner personally distinguishable from the Lord.

In Genesis 28:20 the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me… then Yahweh will be my God” with the words, “If the Word of the Lord will be my help… the Word of the Lord shall be my God.” Again, the Angel of Yahweh who spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) is designated by the Jerusalem Targum as “the Word of the Lord.”

The distinct personality of this Divine Word is seen pointedly in Jonathan’s Targum of Isaiah 63:7-10. There, where the Hebrew text speaks of Yahweh being their Savior, the Targum reads, “the Word (Memra) was their Redeemer.” (vs. 8) When the Israelites continued to disobey, then “His Word (Memra) became their enemy, and fought against them” — an action ascribed to Yahweh in the Hebrew text. Again in Isaiah 45:22 the Targum of Jonathan exhorts, “Look unto My Word and be saved.”

While this personalizing of the Word was being expressed in Palestine in the Targums of Jesus’ day, Philo, an Egyptian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, was expressing similar thoughts in even more distinct words. In his essay “On the Creation,” Philo states that man was not made in the image of some creature, but in the image of God’s own uncreated Word. He wrote: “for the Creator, we know, employed for its making no pattern taken from among created things, but solely, as I have said, His own Word.”

Philo continues: “Man was made a likeness and imitation of the Word, when the Divine Breath was breathed into his face. (“On the Creation,” XLVIII: 139, Loeb Edition I, pp. 110-111)

In his work on Noah, Philo again expresses the teaching that man is made by “the First Cause” (that is, God) in the image of “the Eternal Word:” “Our great Moses likened the fashion of the rea- sonable soul to no created thing, but averred it to be a genuine coinage of that dread Spirit, the Divine and Invisible One, signed and impressed by the seal of God, the stamp of which is the Eternal Word.”

He continues: “…man has been made after the Image of God (Genesis 1:27), not however after the image of anything created… man’s soul having been made after the image of the Archetype, the Word of the First Cause.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:18-20, Loeb III, pp. 222-223)

Thus, the eternal Word is in some sense distinguishable from God, and yet at the same time is, like God, uncreated, rational and the bearer of the divine image. This comes very close to the teaching of the New Testament that the Word was distinguishable from God, and yet was God. As John 1:1 expresses it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It also appears similar to Paul’s teaching that the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); and the writer of Hebrews statement that the Son “is the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Philo, however, goes further. He says that God is the king and shepherd of all creation, but rules and controls it through his eternally existing Word, whom Philo calls God’s “First-born Son.”

His “hallowed flock” of created things God directs by his divine laws, setting over it His true Word and first-born son, who shall take upon Him its government like some viceroy of a great king. (“On Husbandry,” I:51, Loeb III, pp. 134-135)

Philo has God expressing Himself in this manner: “I alone… sustained the Universe to rest firm and sure upon the Mighty Word, who is My viceroy.” (“On Dreams,” I:241, Loeb V, pp. 424- 425)

Therefore this eternal Word, God’s first-born Son, is the upholder of the whole creation, “the everlasting Word of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the Whole. He it is, who extending Himself from the midst to its utmost bounds… keeps up through all its length Nature’s unvanquished course, combining and compacting all its parts. For the Father who begat Him constituted His Word such a Bond of the Universe as nothing can break.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:8-9, Loeb III, pp. 216-217)

This reflects the same thought that Paul expressed about the Son as being the one “in whom all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) It also reminds also reminds us of Hebrews 1:3, which depicts the Son as “sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”

Philo continues his discussion of the Word by maintaining that to those incapable of seeing the supreme cause, God Himself, He appears to them in the form of His Angel, the Word: “For just as those who are unable to see the sun itself, see the gleam of the parahelion and take it for the sun, and take the halo round the moon for that luminary itself, so some regard the image of God, His Angel, the Word, as His very self.” (“On Dreams,” I:239, Loeb V, pp. 422-423) This sounds very similar to the teaching tha t the Son is “the radiance (or outshining) of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3), the only part of God’s nature that people are allowed to see. This is true because “no one has ever seen God,” but “the only begotten God… He has made Him known.” (John 1:18) Thus, Jesus, the Son, can say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Philo further explained that God, being light, is “the archetype of every other light.” As such He is “prior to and high above every archetype.” Thus He holds the position of “a model of a model,” that is, He is the model for His Word, which Word becomes the model for creation. The Word, therefore, contains all the qualities of God. As Philo expressed it, “the model or pattern was the Word which contained all His fullness — light, in fact.” (“On Dreams,” I:75, Loeb V, pp. 336-337) Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote that in the Son all God’s fullness dwells. (Colossians 1:19; 2:9)

To Philo, therefore, the Word of God is the eternal, uncreated Word containing all the fullness of God and bearing His image. That divine image which the Word bears is the image in which man was created. The Word is further the sustainer, upholder and ruler of the world, carrying on the governing of all things, as God’s viceroy, and containing all God’s fullness.

While the Word is not a created thing and carries on all the functions of God, Philo is clear that there are not two gods — although he does not attempt to explain how this can be. Philo’s teaching is, therefore, very close to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Philo reached his conclusions without the aid of the New Testament and certainly without deriving his ideas from pagan notions of deity. The Old Testament teaching that the Angel of Yahweh is really the presence of Yahweh Himself seems to have strongly influenced Philo’s ideas.

To relegate the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, to a fourth- century adaptation of paganism is to ignore the conclusions that several Jewish theologians and teachers had reached four centuries earlier, from God’s revelations given to Israel before the time of the coming of Christ. At the very time that the Word was becoming flesh (John 1:1, 14), Jewish writers were already beginning to see that God’s Word could in some way be distinguished from God the Father Himself, yet have all the fullness of God contained in Him.

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Acts 2:38   Satan’s Favorite Bible Verse!  By James L. Melton

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups. One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature. The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved. So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation. While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation. The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.” The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all! (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation. Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse. In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls! Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38.

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

The Truth about Acts 2:38

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2. In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth. In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37. So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word. The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption. It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.” That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins. However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Jesus made this man clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.” Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13! It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing. If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.” Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah? No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38. The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor. Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew. In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1). A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present. Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals. No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37) Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?” Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do. It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation. Isaiah 66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The “nation” is Israel! Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation. The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

This is clear from what follows Acts 7. In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism). In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism). In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism). Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7? Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60). The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth.

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it. Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters! If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else? Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us? Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38? Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me? One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer. Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, ” . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water. Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out? Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation.

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use. Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy. All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults. Baptism saves no one. It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38). Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism. The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him (Luke 23:42-43), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water. In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water. By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25). Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone? Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Why not right now?

Copyright © 2000 James L. Melton

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Exposing Doctrinal Errors: Heresy Hunting or Biblical Mandate?

Well, I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, that Christians are simply supposed to love one another and be united together in faith. Should we, therefore, regard as divisive those Christians who speak out against teachings in the church which are clearly unbiblical?

I can tell you firsthand that it is no joy to be labeled a “heresy-hunter.” Yet, as Paul instructed Timothy, we are to zealously guard the purity of the message God has entrusted to us, and for good reason (1 Tim 1:18-19; 6:20; 2 Tim. 4:2-5).

We read in such passages as Acts chapter 20, and 2 Peter chapter 2, that false teachers will arise, bringing with them destructive heresies, distorting the truth and destroying the faith of some. Moreover, it is clear that these teachers will come not only from outside the church, but also from within the body of Christ as well.

It is therefore imperative that we test all things by Scripture (1 Thes. 5:21). It was in this spirit that the Bereans examined the words of the Apostle Paul, for which they were reckoned as noble in character (Acts 17:11).

Indeed, not only can the Bible be used for preaching, teaching and encouragement, but, it is equally valuable for correcting and rebuking (2 Tim. 4:2). As a matter of fact, we as Christians are held accountable for proclaiming the whole will of God, warning others of false teachings. (Acts 20:26-28; cf. Ezek. 33:7-9; 34:1-10).

This is not merely a suggestion, it is, in fact, a divine mandate. Of course if heresies are coming from teachers within the church, we ought to try and approach them first with our concerns. Should that fail to resolve the problem, we are told in Matthew 18 to expose their errors to the church; and if need be, divulge their names. (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 4:14-15; 3 John 9-10).

We would, therefore, do well to heed Scripture’s explicit warnings to be on guard for false teachings (Rom. 16:17-18; cf. 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 4:16; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; Titus 1:9; 2:1), and to point them out to brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Tim. 4:6). It is not my practice to make an issue out of peripheral matters on which honest Christians can differ.

However, we are committed to exposing those who would compromise the essential doctrines of the historic Christian faith. Remember, controversy for the sake of controversy is sin. But controversy for the sake of the truth is a divine command.

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“THE GRACE OF GOD”


“…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ”
-Ephesians 2:8

CONSIDER AFRESH the often asked question on the above text: “What is referred to by the last phrase, “it is the gift of God?” Does the apostle teach that grace is the gift of God, or does he say it is salvation, or perhaps that faith is the gift of God?

Look first at the word ‘grace.’ Aside from the Apostle James’ reference to a flower’s vanished glory, both ‘grace’ and ‘favor’ in the New Testament King James Version are always a translation of the same Greek word, charis (khar’ece, Strong #5485). Its first definition in Strong’s Greek Lexicon is “graciousness,…of manner or act.” And it is of interest to note that Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary puts as its first definition of grace, “unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification.” So grace is favor, “unmerited favor.”

Salvation by Grace

Grace is, therefore, God’s unmerited favor – His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace has heen in the form of a gift. We think the apostle meant that salvation is “the gift of God,” or, as emphatically put in the Greek, “of God is it the gift.” Salvation is not our achievement, but it is a gift from God. That truth is made stronger by contrast. It is ‘not of ourselves’ and “not of works.” Salvation is indeed the most extraordinary expression of God’s grace.

Salvation is of divine origin. But it is not anything that God was bound to arrange by the necessity of His nature. It is the result of His gracious will. Had it not been for His good pleasure, salvation would never have come. “By grace are ye saved.” The Greek grammar denotes not the act of being saved, but the fact of having been saved. God’s grace rather than human merit is the source of the whole arrangement. We are saved gratuitously. Salvation is a gift; it is not earned.

Faith

But what about faith? We inquire into this because, other than the clearly stated gift of miraculously-conferred faith (1 Cor. 12:9), some suggest that it is faith which “is the gift of God.” Certainly faith is a received quality. It is among blessings which answer to Paul’s rhetorical question, “what has thou that thou didst not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7) But the elements of character which please God, among which is faith, as well as the temporal possessions and necessities held by Jesus’ disciples, are generally attained through conscious effort. They are ‘received’ through our cooperation amidst God’s overruling providences.

Faith, wherever present, exists in the mind, and it is generated by the holy spirit’s influence of light and peace. Faith, in common with every other Christian virtue, exists in the heart that has responded to spiritual influences. Paul wrote that “all [men] have not faith.” (2 Thes. 3:2) That does not suggest, however, that those who have faith received it as “the gift of God” as though an answer to our question. It is one’s own mind and being that believes. It is not possible for God to believe for man, and convey that belief as a gift. The apostle wrote, rather, that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. “-Rom. 10:17

Paul understood that faith is built and constructed; it grows and enlarges. He encouraged believers to increase in faith: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” (2 Thes. 1:3) ‘Soundness of faith’ comes through hearing, thinking, learning and trusting, and sometimes by victory following rebuke.-Titus 1:13

Salvation through Faith

Salvation is not of ourselves (as seen foregoing). We are saved by grace. The salvation comes through faith in God’s revealed purpose in His Son who died for all. Nothing aside from faith would enable our receiving of the gift of salvation. We of the human family were justly condemned to death for sin and disobedience. Those who break God’s righteous law have no standing before Him in their own righteousness. Inasmuch as “there is none righteous, no, not one,” all need God’s grace and favor.

None in the human family has a vantage point or place of approach from which to require or demand God’s blessing. God Himself needed to make the first move in the rescue of man. And He did. After the first human pair entered the broad road leading into death, the LORD God made a promise intimating the eventual recovery of mankind from Satan’s influence. And God is specially pleased with those who believe, even though few respond to His promises. Those who do respond to God’s revealed will are greatly blessed. One of those was Noah. The word ‘grace’ is first used in Scripture in regard to him. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:8) The faith of Noah in God’s promises saved him and his family from death in the flood.

But now that Jesus has laid down his human life in sacrifice as an atonement for sin, those who follow on in faith in the steps of their heaven-sent Redeemer receive eternal-life salvation. Such faith makes all things new: those far off are brought nigh, they pass from death to life, from disobedience to sonship, from evil conduct to good works, from fleshly desires to spiritual fellowship, from children of wrath to sitting in the heavenlies. Those improved relationships are described by the Apostle Paul:

‘And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince ofthe power of the air, ofthe spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches in His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh,…were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers in the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. “-Eph. 2:1-13 NASB

The Way of Salvation

Sin, death, and accompanying sorrows have through the ages, as today, prompted many to inquire into God’s saving grace. Our recognition of God’s blessing leads to confession of sins and shortcomings, and true heart belief. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. ” (Acts 16:31) That answer of Paul to the fearful prison keeper is still true. None need fear to put trust in Jesus. He purchased all mankind with His own precious blood. He has received all power in heaven and in earth. Salvation is free to all who trust in Him and continue following on in faith. All devoted believers have authority to speak on behalf of Christ. We say in Christ’s stead to the sincere and honest hearted, “be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20) Our commission is to direct the sin-weary and heavy-laden to the Savior of all men!

Jesus clearly taught that salvation comes through faith. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.” (John 5:24 NASB) Faith is taking God at His word, as Paul wrote: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. “-Rom. 10:17 NASB

This is truth beyond doubting! We are saved by grace, through faith, through believing the Word of truth. The gospel promises salvation, full and free. God’s loving mercy is the “good news” message to the sin-sick and weary-salvation offered freely to all, without money and without price.-Isa. 55:1-3

A living and active love for God expands with one’s enlarging appreciation of His unmerited favor in the great salvation. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) And when we come to love God and our Lord Jesus, we come to love those who are of the same mind. We grow in loving sympathy for our brethren in their fight of faith. And we come to love all mankind, so loved by God as to send His only begotten Son to suffer cruel death, the price of human redemption.

Gifts from God

Jesus was sent to “save his people from their sins. ” (Mat. 1:21) He came to save from death, which is caused by sin. The saved thus have eternal life. “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He that hath [belief in] the Son hath life; and he that hath not [belief in] the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11,12) By God’s grace, salvation life is free as a gift through faith.

Again and again Gods gift was affirmed. By Jesus to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3 16

Again by Jesus to the woman: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:14

By Paul to the Corinthians: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable [indescribable NASB] gift.” – 2 Cor 9:15

Again by Paul to the Romans: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom.6.23

“The Grace of God”

What a nice expression – “the grace of God.” It prompts pleasant and peaceful thoughts about our Father, the great Creator But Paul’s use of “the grace of God” phrase in Titus 2:11 appears to be with a specific purpose There the expression refers to the Savior of mankind. That four word phrase “the grace of God is a synonym for Jesus: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” (RSV) How beautiful! The sequence of phrases puts in good perspective the reality of His manifestation. He is the gift of God’s grace by which all men may be saved. How wonderful to know it! “The grace of God has appeared!”

Paul wrote a similarly-identifying phrase. Its words are specific too – “the goodness and loving kindness of God.” The context shows that those words refer to Jesus. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared [“God our Savior” – a reference to the Father, of which more to be said later], he [God] saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the holy spirit which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savio.” (Titus 3:4-6 RSV) “The goodness and loving kindness of God” another synonym for Jesus, a companion phrase to that in Titus 2:11 – “the grace of God.”

The Apostle in Hebrews 2:9 attributes salvation from death to God’s grace: “…we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death… that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” The thought is that Jesus experienced death so that every man who dies need not stay dead for ever. Indeed what grace…from “the God of all grace.” -1 Pet. 5:10

Paul also shows that “the grace of that one man Jesus Christ” in conjunction with or united with “the grace of God” provided the free gift. This in Rom. 5:15,16 (RSV): “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.” The twin thoughts which attach to the words “the free gift” relate as cause and effect. The first thought is of Jesus – given in death as man’s ransom. The second thought is the benefit of that ransom conferred upon all who really believe on Jesus – justification with its accompanying salvation.

“God Our Savior”

It is generally acknowledged by commentators that the words “God our Savior” noted above in “the kindness of God our Savior” refer to God himself, not to His Son Jesus. The same three-word phrase was spoken in prayer by Mary of the almighty God and heavenly Father (Luke 1:46-48), and written by Jude in verse 25 of his epistle, and three times by Paul (Titus 2:10, 3:4, 1 Tim: 1:1, 2:3). Aware that God is the architect and all-wise planner of salvation and its process, they all acknowledge the Father as “God our Savior.” He is the one God Who has been from everlasting and Who shall be unto everlasting, and Who enlisted the faithful service of His beloved Son.

Grace for Grace

Jesus’ disciples perceived that He who walked among them was indeed “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) He always reflected God’s favor. Fellowship with His Father was never interrupted. Being now perfected in the heavenlies, completed by the things which he suffered, having demonstrated faultless obedience despite temptation and accusations of blasphemy, Jesus sends forth of His fulness as His blessing upon believers.

The Apostle John affirmed himself as one of those so greatly blessed.

“For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:16,17, NASB

“Grace for grace”(KJV)…just what does that mean? Surely not that the grace of the old covenant is replaced by that of the new administration. Grace interchanging with grace is meant; grace replaced by fuller grace; greater depths to our spiritual relationship and fellowship; greater measures of spiritual understanding, sustenance and strength; continual impressions of received favor, new grace coming upon and superseding that formerly received. This becomes true in our individual experience. Grace is enjoyed in proportion to our growth in appreciation for God’s favor channeled through our Redeemer. And that all comes because of and out of His fulness.

“For out of His fulness (abundance) we all received – all had a share and we were all supplied with – one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped! upon gift. For while the Law was given through Moses, grace – unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual bless- ing – and truth came through Jesus Christ. ” – John 1:16,17, Amplified Version

God’s Riches

It is God’s richness in grace which provided the plan for deliverance from disobedience, sin and death. Paul gave that truth prominent place in Ephesians for our close consideration.

‘He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His [God’s] grace. ” – Eph. 1:5-7 NASB

Without God’s grace, death would mean extinction for all members of the condemned intelligent creation. God has freely wrought His grace to our forgiveness and to our inheritance of eternal life. It was all in view from early time. God predestined sonship for all repentant trespassers who will avail themselves of His gracious provision of salvation.

Paul emphasized again to the Ephesians God’s promised riches of grace to the redeemed. “In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches ofHis grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Eph. 2:7 NASB

Paul also used the delightful phrase, “the grace of God” early in Colossians. And again it seems to be another direct reference to Jesus. “You previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” – Col. 1:5,6 NASB

There was a time with each of us, as with the Colossians, when we did not know “the grace of God in truth.” They, perhaps as we, may have only heard of Jesus, knowing little about Him, His origin, His purpose, and the hope of the life that centers in Him. But a time came when we did know about God’s great grace. Such was the happy experience of those Colossians. Paul took their minds back to the time – when they heard, knew, and believed as truth the words about “the grace of God.” “In the word of truth, the gospel” … “since the day ye heard, and knew the grace of God in truth.” He mixed, merged and repeated words that pertain to salvation…truth, gospel, the grace of God, hearing. Again Paul intentionally put in focus the important aspects of salvation which are supplied through God’s riches by Christ Jesus our Lord, the living example of divine grace.

Quotations from King James Version except as indicated
RSV – Revised Standard Version
NASB-New American Standard Bible

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What Grace Is

The true grace of God is God’s work in His Son Jesus Christ. We have an indication of this in John 1:17.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

This does not mean that there was no grace under Moses, or that there was no truth under Moses. Nor does it mean that there is no law under Jesus Christ. We have already seen that grace is not license.

Paul says that he was not without law to God, but under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21).

Yet in some way, John is contrasting law — as characteristic of the Old system — to grace — as characteristic of Jesus Christ. What is God’s true grace? It came by Jesus Christ. In some sense, it is peculiar to Jesus Christ and his work. Grace will be found in relation to the Son of God himself –the Son who became flesh and dwelt among us. He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Peter says that it was prophesied in advance that Christ would bring this grace to mankind, and that this grace would be our salvation.

As to this SALVATION, the PROPHETS who prophesied of THE GRACE THAT WOULD COME TO YOU made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Pet. 1:10-11).

God’s true grace would come by Jesus Christ. The prophets had an inkling of this, but they did not see it clearly. John says that grace did come by Jesus Christ, who was God in human flesh. Peter says that the Spirit of Christ testified to the prophets of someone, at some time, who would bring grace to God’s people — grace that would result in their salvation, or right standing with God. We know, looking back, that they spoke of Christ. They did not know the details but “made careful search and inquiry” as to who this Savior was and when he would come.

Jesus Became A Man

How did God’s grace involve Christ? What was involved in God’s grace? It visibly began when God became incarnate to become a man in Jesus Christ. Paul says:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9) .

Grace began when Jesus left heaven — with all its riches — to become a man. He became poor FOR OUR SAKE, that we might become RICH. Grace means, in the first place, that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. He became one of us. Jesus came for the purpose of keeping God’s will perfectly in a human body — that is why he was given a body in the first place.

Therefore, when he comes into the world, he says, “Sacrifice and offering thou hadst not desired, but a body thou hast prepared for me. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said [putting these words in the mouth of Jesus], `Behold I have come’ (in the roll of the book it is written of me), `to DO THY WILL, O GOD'” (Heb. 10:5-7).

God had never wanted animal sacrifices or sin offerings above all else. He had simply wanted people to carry out his will! But even the most pious and faithful Jew had always failed to do God’s will (because that is what we have seen to be the universal state of fallen humans), and had to offer sacrifices for sin instead. Jesus did not come to offer more animal sacrifices. He came to do what God had always wanted but what no person had ever yet done: TO DO THE WILL OF GOD! As a MAN, He would do what NO OTHER had done. God gave Jesus a body for that purpose. He came to do the will of God. Not only that, He DID the will of God perfectly in his human body. Jesus then offered that body for OUR sins.

We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . For by one offering he has perfected for all time [or completely] those who are sanctified (Heb. 10:10, 14).

The grace of God means — first — that Jesus became a man. He was one of us. As a man he kept God’s will perfectly. Then he offered his body to God — he presented to God what God had always wanted — a human life perfectly in accord with his will for man. Grace means, in the second place, that Jesus died for sins — though he himself had none.

Jesus Swapped Places With Us

In dying when he personally had never sinned, Jesus paid the price for OUR sins — and those of every person who will finally be saved throughout all the world! Remember our two eternal principles: God demands death for sin; fallen humans always sin. Here we see how the two truths are reconciled for our salvation. Jesus died for our sins! HE TOOK OUR PLACE. God does not overlook sin — a monumental price is paid for it — the perfect life of the Son of God! The only man who ever did what God wanted died for those who never had. Here is the grace of God! It is not a cheap grace — it cost the life of the Son of God. He died in our place.

Paul tells us this same thing in Second Corinthians, chapter five:

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation. . . . He made him who knew no sin [Jesus Christ] to BE SIN ON OUR BEHALF, that we might become THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in him. And working together with him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 5:19-6:1).

This story becomes more wondrous all the time! Jesus not only took OUR place; He gives us HIS. He was made SIN for us, that we might be made THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in him. The grace of God is that Jesus became a man — a representative man who took our place. In a human body, Jesus lived a perfect life which God counts for us, then died the death which, for our sins, we deserved to die.

Peter tells us this in other words:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed (1 Pet. 2:24).

Jesus did not stay in the grave. God raised him from the dead — and that, too, was for our sake!

Now not for [Abraham’s] sake only was it written, that “[his faith] was reckoned to him [for righteousness],” but for our sake also, to whom [faith] will be reckoned, as those who believe in him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, him who was delivered up because of OUR transgressions, and was raised because of OUR justification. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into THIS GRACE IN WHICH WE STAND; and we exult in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 4:23-5:2).
Jesus died for our sins. If God did not have to deal with our sins, Jesus would not have died. If we ever wonder whether we are sinners, we need look only at the cross of Jesus Christ and we see that we are. He was on that cross “because of our transgressions.”

But Jesus was raised again “because of our justification.” His resurrection demonstrated to the entire watching universe that God loves sinners and that, in Jesus, he has saved those who do not reject his grace, those of every nation and time and place in whom God sees the faith of Abraham. If we ever wonder whether we are forgiven, we need look only by faith at that empty tomb where Jesus was once buried. If we think of Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins, we may also think of Jesus’ resurrection as God’s guaranteed and irrevocable receipt.

Here is the grace of God! It is a great swap-out! It comes through Jesus Christ. In Jesus of Nazareth, the God of the universe became man — made in the likeness of man — came to be like sinful flesh. He was actually and really one of us, though he was still deity. But, unlike us, Jesus did not sin.

Instead he did the will of God perfectly in his human body. Then the only sinless man who ever lived died a cruel death for sinners like you and me who will never deserve anything else than death.

Here is the grace of God. And here is why JESUS CHRIST is the very heart and soul, the center and circumference, of the New Testament. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the first and the last. He is our peace, our justification, our holiness. We owe everything to Him.

Grace Is Received By True Faith

Paul says in Romans, chapter five, that we are justified by faith (v. 1). Faith means trusting God to love us, because of what he did in Jesus Christ, and entrusting ourselves wholeheartedly to that divine love. Salvation is by grace — we do not deserve God’s favor toward us and we can never earn it. We access this grace by faith, which means that we must always look outside ourselves for our salvation (2 Tim. 1:12).

We cannot perform the work which results in our salvation, for Jesus has already done that, once for all time. We cannot add to that finished work, or improve on it. We can only trust God to be gracious to us as he promises in Christ. If we picture grace as the room of God’s favor, we may think of faith as the door into that room (Rom. 5:1-2).

God accepts us because of Christ’s work on our behalf. We enjoy that grace by accepting it as fact, trusting it as sufficient, and throwing ourselves on it in total and eternal abandon, to become servants of righteousness and true holiness in Christ. We do not earn God’s favor. We can not ever please Him enough to be given His blessings. We certainly could never pay for our own sins and be saved. But in Christ God has brought together the justice that is his nature and the weakness that is ours: Christ became a man and took our place.

God’s grace deals with the weakness of our flesh because salvation does not depend on our weak flesh — Jesus has earned it for us already! It also takes into account God’s holiness, because sin is punished — by the death of God’s sinless Son! And so Paul can say to the Ephesian Christians:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

License perverts grace, and does not satisfy God’s requirement of perfect obedience to his will. Legalism thwarts and frustrates God’s grace, and does not provide for the weakness of fallen humankind. Salvation by grace — true grace in Jesus Christ — reckons with God’s holiness and with our sinfulness and weakness. The perfect, finished work of Jesus Christ satisfies God’s holiness and provides for our sinfulness. In Jesus Christ, the holy God accepts and forgives his sinful human creatures (Eph. 1:7).

One With Christ

We are saved because we are one with Christ — and he has both offered a perfect life and died for our sins. We are one with Christ on the basis of faith, in the beginning and throughout life. True faith will seek to please him. Yet it is not legalism. There is a vast difference between law-keeping and law-depending. We will want to do God’s will, yet we never will trust in our own performance for our salvation. We glory only in the cross of Christ.

Any system, any concept of Christianity, any “ism,” any movement, which makes salvation dependent on our own ability to please God destroys and invalidates the work of Christ. If we could have been saved because of our own performance then Christ died in vain. If people could be saved by keeping the rules, Christ could have stayed in heaven — God’s people had possessed perfect rules for centuries. The weakness of the Old Testament was the weakness of man. That is the same weakness of any system which depends on us.

It is one thing to seek God’s will in a matter because we love him and want to please him. It is another thing altogether to approach that same matter with the idea that our salvation depends on our own good performance or merit. This attitude is legalism, and it will always lead to pride (insofar as we are successful) or to despair and hopelessness (insofar as we fail).

It is right and proper to seek to please God as thoroughly and exactly and precisely as possible. Any true believer will want to do that, and anyone who does not want to do that is not a true believer. But it is a far different matter to create a system, to formulate a creed, or to devise an elaborate set of rules, and then DEPEND ON OUR OWN KEEPING OF THOSE THINGS FOR OUR SALVATION.

Let us seek to please God. That is what true faith will always do. Let us ask God for forgiveness when we fall. That is what true faith will always do. Let us rejoice in the work of Christ on our behalf. Let us glory in the cross of Christ. Let us say — first, last, and always — “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” And — in Christ — we know that he always will!

I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that THIS IS THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD. Stand firm in it! . . . Peace be to you all who are in Christ (1 Pet. 5:12, 14).

A Personal Question

Are YOU standing in God’s true grace? Are you enjoying peace with God by trusting in his saving kindness shown in Jesus Christ? If you do believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son; if you do trust His perfect life and atoning death for your salvation; if you do rely on Him and intend to please Him as long as you live and as best you are able in all things — then do not delay acting on that faith!

Express with your mouth and your action the faith that is in your heart.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved (Rom. 10:9)

Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on [Jesus’] name (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-27).

Of [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that through his name every one who believes in him has received forgiveness of sins. . . . And [Peter] ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43, 47).
And then, as long as you live, continue to walk by the same faith –trusting, relying and obeying — living in the TRUE GRACE OF GOD!

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