Wednesday, October 31, 2018

My History with Preaching with a Special Focus on John MacArthur

Right now I'm preaching through Acts on Sunday mornings, the second time for me.  Last Sunday, I finished the body of Peter's sermon in Acts 2.  Peter is a good example of preaching in Acts 2.  He was taught well by his Teacher.  Preachers should well consider what Peter did on the Day of Pentecost and how he did it.

My first sermon was in 1976, my Freshmen year in high school.  I knew I would be a preacher in 1977.  I wanted to preach.  There was no mystical, bright light, shudder blowing experience.  It was a desire.  It started with hearing preaching.

I became an enthusiast or devotee of preaching.  I took pages of notes on most sermons I heard.  I became convinced that that a true preacher, an actual preacher, preached what scripture said.  I enjoyed the analysis of different sermons or some that perhaps were only speeches.  I began to conclude what I liked and didn't like.  The liked became smaller and the didn't like became much bigger.  I was more discerning of a bad sermon.

When I was in high school through college, I heard preaching most days, most of the time more than once every day.  It wasn't until the end of college that I began to understand what right preaching was, and even now I'm far different as a preacher than I was then.  I had heard expository sermons, not many in college.  However, I started to listen to radio preachers.  Some of them did exposition of texts.

I was preparing to exegete.  I started Greek in high school, two years, majored in biblical languages in college, took languages all four years, kept them up in three years of graduate school.  I heard several preachers on the radio who also referred to original languages.  I heard J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Swindoll, D. James Kennedy, and John MacArthur.  I read W. A. Criswell, Warren Wiersbe, and Haddon Robinson.  I bought exegetical and expository commentaries.

My favorite of what I heard was John MacArthur.  I listened to him a lot.  I thought what MacArthur did was close to what preaching should be.  I didn't have all the same beliefs as him.  He wasn't strong enough as a preacher.  However, he had a lot of influence on me, because I wasn't hearing anyone else who preached like him.  I was very open minded to MacArthur.  He impacted me a lot, but I didn't follow him in my belief and in practice, just in the type of preaching a preacher should do.

What's different between what I did and do than MacArthur?  He has become more strong in his preaching through the years, but he doesn't make strong applications.  He does very little in the way of strong applications.  He leaves too much to the listener in the way of applying what the passages say.  He gives a good example of how to go about explaining what a passage says.  His process is good.  He would say, I believe, that he mainly leaves the application to the Holy Spirit, while I believe that the Holy Spirit Himself wants the preacher to make that application.  This is a major difference between evangelical preaching and separatist preaching.

MacArthur is not a separatist.  He has a wrong view on the church.  He has become more and more Calvinistic in all the years I have heard or read him.  He doesn't believe in the perfect preservation of scripture.  His church is worldly.

I ask myself if MacArthur overall has done more damage than good.  It's hard, because I think he has had a major good impact overall.  God has used him.  However, I think the bad has outweighed the good.  I attribute his numbers and his influence to compromise.  His permissiveness and lack of separation have allowed for a lot of the wrong belief and practice that even he himself is against.  He has produced weak people, men much weaker than himself, and with permission.  When Jesus said, by their fruits ye shall know them, he was speaking of the fruit of a teacher's work.  MacArthur's fruit is weakness.

I heard Swindoll often when I was young too, but I couldn't stick with listening to him.  He turned me off to him.  His emphasis was too much on the communication, the craft, and cleverness in preaching, not enough on the Word of God itself.

MacArthur was different than Swindoll.  He centered on the words of scripture.  I'm happy for all the good that has come through John MacArthur.  I'm thankful for what his preaching did for me.  If someone could take the good without the bad, he could be a help to them, like he was me.  I can't recommend him because of his bad influence.  I still read him myself, but I always put a strong disclaimer on him for reading of him by others.  Many times I wouldn't even mention him, because I was afraid of the result for someone who wasn't settled in his belief and practice.

I know someone could become stronger than what he was, if he started in some weaker form of evangelicalism to move toward the conservative evangelicalism of MacArthur.  However, in general, even though he is a good model for important aspects of the right kind of preaching of God's Word, people, who start stronger than MacArthur and then begin listening to him and follow in his path, will become weaker and weaker.  A lot of fundamentalists were at one time much stronger than they are today and they took their path leftward by listening to MacArthur.

The most important trait for a biblical preacher, I believe, is courage.  He has to preach and apply exactly what God says in His Word.  This includes following through in leading in the discipline of the practice of God's Word.  There are some unpopular parts to scripture and those have to be represented just like God expects and like the original authors meant when they wrote them.  The application can't be conformed to what will allow to keep the bigger crowd of people.  A preacher is not doing his job if he doesn't take the application and practice of the passage all the way to its end.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Judging Music (Part Two): Blurring the Distinction Between the Sacred and the Profane

Part One

Salvation distinguishes one thing from another.  Sanctification distinguishes one thing from another.  Righteousness distinguishes one thing from another.  Worship distinguishes one thing from another. Wisdom distinguishes one thing from another.  When distinctions are blurred, someone cannot distinguish one thing from another.  Sometimes it is as simple as who is God and who or what is not.

Qualities of God, heavenly things, in accordance with the divine, sacred ones, are laid out in God's Word.  The qualities of the world, the system set against God, the flesh, and the devil, profane ones, are different than those of God.  The qualities of God and the qualities of the world, the flesh, and the devil should be distinguished one from another.  Blurring the distinctions between the qualities of one from the other affect salvation, sanctification, righteousness, worship, and wisdom.

When it comes to judging music, what I hear is, you really can't tell the difference between the sacred and profane or there just is nothing sacred or profane.  That would be to say that music really can't be sexy, for instance, even though I don't know anyone who says music can't be sexy. One would think that if someone could judge music to be sexy, than one could judge more than that, even a lot, about musical style.

Because music does have message and meaning, music is used very often for movie scores or the soundtracks of movies, to state something obvious.  The message and the meaning isn't just neutral.  It can be immoral.  It can be moral.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that the world produces mainly immoral music.

The idea that art itself cannot be moral or immoral originates from the world.  For instance, the world might think its music is sexy, but that doesn't make the music itself immoral or the artist committing immorality  -- to the world.  This is moral relativism.  The world doesn't judge itself next to God or His Word.  It has its own standards of morality that are very flexible and adaptable.  It can call what it wants whatever it wishes.  Churches and church leaders have picked up on this practice.

On the other hand, there is a long record of significant historical figures saying that music itself is moral.  Both Plato and Aristotle, Greek philosophers, believed there was intrinsic moral or character qualities to music itself.  Plato wrote in his Republic:
[E]ducation in music is most sovereign, because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grace.
The actions of moral agents are either good or evil -- people can do good things (Lk 6:33; Rom 2:14-15) and sinful things (1 Jn 1:8).  Music is an action of moral agents, so it must be either moral or immoral, but it is easy to see through scriptural examples.  From purely instrumental music in 1 Samuel 16:23, "the evil spirit departed from [Saul]."

Even though music doesn't communicate like the spoken word, it does communicate.  Scripture implies that music communicates and people know it.

Acclaimed music critic at National Public Radio, Ann Powers writes in her 2017 book, Good Booty, a history of popular music in the United States:
Popular music's very form, its ebb and flow of excitement so closely resembling the libido, drew people to it as a way to speak what, according to propriety, couldn't be spoken.
In the journal, Soundrack, in 2011 Erik Hedling  of Lund University writes in his paper, Music, lust and modernity: Jazz in the films of Ingmar Bergman:
What is significant here is how jazz is employed to evoke feelings of alienation, lack of control and sexual threat, the latter particularly pertaining to the  women. . . . [One character who plays jazz] is made to personify the ‘wicked’ aspects of modernity: the moral decay of the big city, and the emotional emptiness and the undisguised and animal sexuality of jazz music.
When music, which communicates a message incongruous with the nature of God, is used in church or worship of God, it blurs the distinction between the sacred and profane.  What's happening?

People may not understand music.  They are deceived.  They could be lying too.  Maybe they're right and music is amoral.  The latter, I reject, so I'm left with deceived or lying.

If people are deceived, they are also deceived as to the nature of God.  They are giving God something not in His nature.  Whether someone is deceived or lying, God is still blasphemed.  People then are deceived as to the nature of God.  They don't know God.

The priestesses of the goddess Diana in Ephesus, like others in the history of false religion, worshiped their god with sexuality and ecstasy.  Turning worship into ecstasy is in fitting with that god and gods like that one.  The feeling they have fools them with an experience.  They correspond that experience to some genuine communion with God.

It's not like the ecstasy of mystery Babylon cannot be incorporated into a church.  It occurred at Corinth.  They corrupted true spirituality, not able to distinguish between the Holy Spirit and fleshly lust.  Doctrines were affected. It started with inculcating the worship aspect of pagan religion into the church.  People didn't know they could have it both ways.  They can't, but they now think they can, because it has been accepted.

I've talked to many people who trust their sincerity and their feeling.  They don't know what love is.  They've replaced it with sentimentalism.  Instead of affection for God, they feel passion.  They think that is the Holy Spirit.  None of it is true, so it is a lie.  Their worship is a lie.  God is worshiped in truth.

The music of true worship distinguishes between the true God and false gods.  The music of true worship distinguishes between true love and sentimentality.  The music of true worship distinguishes between the church and the world.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Health Threats from Samaritan Ministries, part 3

Sadly, Samaritan Ministries continues its course of promoting quackery, New Age "medicine" that is dangerous to one's physical health and the Christian's relationship with God, and unbiblical falsehood in its newsletter.

The quack Gary Taubes is promoted in the October 2017 issue of Samaritan.  What are we supposed to believe?  "Obesity isn't caused by overeating[.] . . . Obesity doesn't cause diabetes and heart disease. . . . The fats in our diet aren't a problem (pg. 9).   People should watch against dangerous foods like even "a forkful of rice" and instead be "eating fat-rich foods" (pg. 15).  Such statements are false quackery, and Gary Taubes is a quack promoting misinformation.

In the February 2018 issue, one finds out that out from quack "doctor" Bruce Fife that "Coconut oil is now being used to treat everything from athlete's foot to AIDS and common colds to Crohn's disease" (pg. 12). One would be amazed, by reviewing past issues of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter, just how easy it allegedly is to cure AIDS--practically every quack remedy does it.  Furthermore, putting coconut oil on your skin will "promote weight loss; help protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many other degenerative diseases . . . strengthen the immune system; and improve digestion" (pg. 12).  So if one does not have the quack remedies from previous issues available that cure everything, just put some coconut oil on your skin and you will become slim, trim, and cancer free. (Furthermore, the article does not even have the disclaimer that everyone ignores about this nonsense not being medical advice.)

In the June 2018 issue, the dangerous quack David Brownstein is promoted again, promoting the gross inaccuracy that "over 95 percent of patients are suffering from iodine deficiency (pg. 10).  He says MSG is a "toxin" (pg. 11), although it really is a perfectly normal part of whole wheat bread that is not bad for you unless you are part of the 1% of the population with celiac disease, that one should eat lots of butter (pg. 11) and other foods that cause heart disease, and so on.

The September 2018 issue of Samaritan claims that skin cancer can be cured by eating a diet of 70-80% fat and 15-20% proteins (pgs. 4-5).  Eating such a diet will cure skin cancer about as often as howling at the full moon, and people with skin cancer will die and leave behind orphans and widows if they believe such things.  Furthermore, one must eat more salt (pg. 7), perhaps in order to die of heart disease instead of the uncured skin cancer.

The October 2018 promotes the ultimate in health and New Age quackery, homeopathy.  Drinking occult water--for that is what homeopathic "medicines" are, as there is not even a single molecule of anything other than water in a 30C homeopathic "remedy"--is alleged to prevent and cure influenza, vomiting, high temperature, etc.

The Samaritan Ministries newsletter is full of gross medical misinformation, New Age quackery, and simple nonsense.  Anyone who follows its recommendations is likely to die earlier than he would have otherwise and suffer a lower quality of life from uncured disease, both of which are elements of the righteous judgment of God on those who reject Him for the New Age.

Note: After writing the post above I received the November 2018 issue of the Samaritan newsletter, which gave the fantastically bad advice that one should eat lots of saturated fat instead of healthy things like grains.  Why? "it helps cell walls," so that "you [don't] end up with overly delicate skin cell walls, which makes skin more prone to sun damage" (Pg. 10).  Of course, anyone who has remembers even high school biology knows that people and animals do not have cell walls--only plants do.  People have cell membranes.  Oops.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Normalization of Aberrant Behavior Now in Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism

This is not part two of my post from Monday, where I will likely break down how music communicates for what someone called spiritual babes or adolescents.  This is related to part one though.
Here are two paragraphs from yesterday's Washington Times:
The Trump administration may soon spearhead efforts to define sex and gender according to biology. In a Department of Health and Human Services memo leaked to the New York Times, officials argue the federal government should adopt a definition of sex and gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” This move would essentially roll back changes the Obama administration made, which allowed folks to choose their identity and receive federal protections under Title IX. 
According to the memo, HHS proposes that a person’s sex be either male or female and match that of their genitals at birth. “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” the memo says.
I'm using these paragraphs as an example of the world's normalization of aberrant behavior.  This is behavior that at one time would have been (1) criminal, which turned to (2) psychological disorders, (3) socially unacceptable, then (5) tolerated, and finally to (4) normalized.  A Christian would have just titled this sinful or something like immoral, deviant, or reprobate.  Calling something a psychological disorder is one of the steps toward normalization.  When something has become normalized, the people who oppose begin with some to be targeted as if they have the disorders, are at least mocked as destructive to a "civil society."

For years, the cultural left in this country, which is closely akin to the overall left (and this is no accident), has put pressure on institutions and then society in general to accept and then even celebrate aberrant, strange, and depraved behavior.  It has used the school system, the media, and the Democrat party to do this.  The changes have infiltrated everywhere and some more stark, bold, and rebellious than other.  When this has become normalized, religious figures are supportive and then the church capitulates.

I'm 56 and I've noticed the changes in my lifetime occur like the following.  Someone pushes the boundary of social acceptability.  Opposition is shamed by the cultural left.  The cultural left picks up the formerly unacceptable practice as acceptable and in style, promoting the change.  More embrace it.  It becomes societally acceptable. Opposition is silenced through propaganda and finally legally. There are probably more steps in there, tinier ones to get to the end, but you get the picture.  The changes occur in fashion, literature, entertainment, recreation, education, and then entire institutional structures change, including the family and church.

Let me give you an example.  I never saw a particular style of dress among women until a moderately successful comedy movie, 13 Going on 30.  We didn't have television or go to movies, but I remember ads on public transportation in our metropolitan area on buses and billboards with a photo of the young actress, Jennifer Garner. Reading back on the film, it grossed 22 million in the first weekend, which is very successful as an opening.  Prominent in the advertising was the photo of Garner wearing a silky camisole, what was at that time only worn in private in the bedroom as lingerie.  In the movie, she wore it in public.  I remember seeing it and then thinking, "Wow, I can't believe that's being worn in public."

Shortly into the run of the movie, I started seeing women in public wearing camisoles, the same kind Garner wore in her movie.  I made the connection.  Maybe they had worn them before, but this was new to me.  Then women were wearing the camisole as a blouse with a lacy border hanging down over their waistline.  Usually they had something covering their arms, but you could see the camisole underneath.  As a man, the idea of the bedroom and sex came to mind when I would see it.  It wasn't just association.  It was a bedroom look, being worn in public, sometimes under a business coat to mix those two features of modern female life.  And finally women wore them in church.  Now it's normal for women to wear the camisole in public and in church.  Maybe that in particular is not in style anymore, but I still see it worn.  The Wikipedia article on camisole says that it started being worn as outerwear in 2000.

I never saw a man with a man or a woman with a woman -- at least I didn't know about it -- until I saw stories on NBC news, which attempted to justify the behavior with interviews and polls.  Then in 1980 CBS did a report called, Gay Power Gay Politics.  I never had seen anything like that and it shocked me.  I knew about homosexuality from the Bible, because of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and other passages. I didn't know it was happening in the United States.  Now we have same sex marriage.

The Women’s Home Journal in 1921 entitled, “Does Jazz Put The Sin In Syncopation?” said:
Jazz originally was the accompaniment of the voodoo dancer, stimulating the half-crazed barbarian to the vilest deeds. The weird chant, accompanied by the syncopated rhythm of the voodoo invokers, has also been employed by other barbaric people to stimulate brutality and sensuality. That it has a demoralizing effect upon the human brain has been demonstrated by many scientists.
A reading appreciation text at the University of Texas in 1922 reads:
We feel that the League is presenting an opportunity to member schools to do a great work in combating the immoral music which is now so popular at least insofar as the rising generation is concerned.  From the days of ancient Greece to the present time educators have recognized the high educational value of the right kind of music.  Emphasizing this point the editor of the Tacoma Washington Ledger says: 
"In this day of jazz and the abomination of sound which passes for music, anything that will lead youth to know and consider the worth while things that the great masters have handed down is to be commended.  To know good music, real music, is to love it, and where there is love of music, there is always promise of good morals, good citizenship, for love of the true and beautiful, makes for better men and women and a better world in which to live."
The Etude Music Magazine in 1922 stated.
There can be no question that some kinds of music stimulate irregular desires and therefore must be considered immoral in their tendency.
Christian Nation in 1903 said:
According to the Cumberland Presbyterian a college professor of that state is reported as saying that many of the gospel hymns of today are immoral explaining that he does not mean the words but the music. I include in the list of immoral songs six waltzes, two two-steps, and seventeen polkas. I do not think that words set to such music are inspiring or suitable for religious exercises.
California has normalized indolence, indigence, and derangement.  Any one of us should, and I believe do, even if you won't admit it, look at this and easily discern it as depraved and unacceptable.  It isn't normal.  It shouldn't be normal, and yet it is.  It happens because people won't even say what it is, at least out loud and with a necessary disapproving manner.  Disapproval is disapproved.

In 1978, Californians put Proposition 6, what was called the Briggs Amendment, on the state ballot and a strong majority of Californians approved it.  I was in 11th grade unaware of its existence.  It banned gays and lesbians from teaching in the public school.  On youtube, you can watch San Francisco citizens from that time period being asked by disapproving journalists if they support it, and you can see the fear in their faces.  This is the first phase in making the aberrant normative.

At the time, Anita Bryant was crossing the country for opposition and during a televised interview, someone violently slammed a pie in her face.  She wept and prayed for the man.  Bryant was savaged by the educational, media, and establishment elite.  Proposition 6 lost.  Even Ronald Reagan opposed it.  The tide had changed in America.

Music changed very little until the inception of modernism.  In the United States a large majority of people knew what they heard in the music emerging from that period was starkly different than a premodern transcendental view of beauty.  Above I included reactions to what they heard in jazz.  They knew it was immoral music -- not the words, the music.

People knew something was wrong like someone would know that something is wrong with the bum on the streets.  You don't have to give a chapter and verse.  You can judge it as wrong, applying biblical principles.

Rock music is trash.  All the popular music that proceeded from jazz is garbage.  It's worse than that, but someone can tell that it's wrong and that it is immoral.  It is the soundtrack of this world that will disappear when the Lord Jesus Christ destroys religious and political Babylon.  Those tunes will be no more.  This aberrant music is perverse to normalize it for a society, let alone a church.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Judging Music: You Can and Should, Here's How

I wrote a book on music in 1996:  Sound Music or Sounding Brass.  Below is not an excerpt.

The Academy of Awards announced it will no longer judge best actor or actress, because no one can know how to judge acting.  Furthermore, the Academy testified that there is no means to differentiate good acting from bad acting.  And no, that hasn't happened.  People do know in the important judgment of movies whether something is well acted.  People don't doubt that they know when they see something cheesy or what seems fake.  Good acting is good acting, but some is better or more difficult than other.  People, and especially Christians, can judge music too, especially compared to acting.

In many a discussion about or in commentary below posts about music, people question the criteria for and the ability to judge music.  Very often they either feign the throwing up of their hands or they really mean that they can't know.  They don't know how to judge what's good or bad.  They can't go any further than saying that musical style is personal taste or preference only, there is no objective means of judging between the good and the bad.

People say that they think there is good and bad music, exempt from the words, but they don't have an explanation for the standard.  They would say it's not like judging something that you might do, which comes with a clear standard.  Scripture never says that this or that particular music is bad.  This difficulty then moves music into the category -- to them -- of Christian liberty.  They may prefer a certain music, but they don't have the authority to say that some musical style is wrong.

Here are some quotes expressing the above in a recent discussion in the comment section:
I have yet to see something that makes very clear biblical judgment of the music itself possible.  And, I'm fairly convinced it's not a solvable problem (in general). . . . Absent a clear standard from scripture, that's the very definition of a Romans 14 issue. 
I too agree that music apart from lyrics has moral value. I  just want . . . someone to tell me how to determine that value in a subjective way and not by answering my question with more questions.   Please. Anyone?  I sincerely am looking for simple answers to apply to making music choices. I've been looking for a long time. . . . . I decided to walk away from the confusing admonitions of others and be content with having a good conscience before God until I get some clearer instruction. 
Personally, I'd never allow rap or rock in a worship service. But, I have no objective basis for that - it's my own subjective opinion. 
That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.  When you can offer a clear, objective standard to determine this, please let me know.  Otherwise, it pretty much boils down to whatever I say it is. 
Is all music of equal quality?  Not in my opinion.  Is all music helpful and edifying?  Not in my opinion.  I think we both agree in general that music itself, apart from the words, can be sinful, or at least come pretty close to that category.  But how to define that objectively?  I don't know.  How to define that Scripturally?  I don't know.  And because I can't do so, I shy away from imposing my opinions upon others. 
I'm not saying music doesn't communicate on its own, but I've yet to hear a plausible way to tell clear truth or error from notes and rhythms. 
I've yet to hear a good, scripturally-based objective reason for choosing not to use music. 
And then you've got comments like this:
Given that the Scripture says nothing about time signature, whether music is on or off beat, major or minor keys, or structure of music, I'm going to go out on a limb keep my feet firmly attached to the ground and suggest that no reasonable interpretation of Scripture could endorse, or reject, any genre of music, any particular instrument, or any particular singing technique.  The closest we can come to a Biblical description or prescription of music is found in Psalms 149 and 150, where Scripture clearly references and recommends percussive instruments and dance as something God wanted Israel to do.  
Not holding my breath for the cultural fundamentalists to interpret those Psalms as written, to put it mildly. 
These were made by five or six different people, but they are the same, most common argument for the amorality of music.  "Music isn't amoral, but I don't have an objective basis for saying it is moral, so I have to treat it like it is amoral."  They say uncertainty is the major basis for the amorality of music.  Another word for uncertainty is doubtful, as in doubtful disputations of Romans 14.  If it isn't certain, then it is a matter of liberty.

A corollary to above for amorality of music, and, therefore, not judging musical style is that there isn't a specific verse against any particular musical style.  If a person judges something with no scriptural basis, he's adding to scripture, which violates sola scriptura, someone might say.  In fact, not judging, using scripture, breaches sola scriptura.

What is the scriptural, objective, certain standard for judging music or musical style?  Can someone, so should someone, judge musical style?  Does scripture require judging music?


I've talked about this before, but most application of scripture, which is called wisdom or prudence (Eph 1:8), to which God saves us, requires the utilization of a second term.  It works like the following:
First Term:  Scripture prohibits corrupt communication.
Second Term:  Four letter words are corrupt communication.
Conclusion (or application of first term):  Scripture prohibits four letter words.
What if I used a particular heinous four letter word through this post to spice it up, show anger or passion?  When you said that I used corrupt communication, I retorted with almost any of the above comments against scripture saying anything about music.  The four letter words are not supplied.  Some might say that the judgment against a particular four letter word then is subjective.  Someone saying, "it isn't objective," isn't objective.  What is subjective is deciding yourself what you want to be corrupt and what you don't want to be corrupt.  Just because you say it isn't corrupt, because there is no list of four letter words, doesn't mean it isn't corrupt.  You are still going to be judged by God.


The problem here one of fear on the part of those required to apply scripture.  I heard someone recently use the terminology, "first mover problem."  You've got a terrorist threatening a whole airplane with a knife.  You've got an evil dictator threatening a whole country.  A small number of people can intimidate a much larger group because of a "first mover problem."  The first mover might die, and he's got to be motivated by someone or something greater than himself to move.

In this case, the first move is saying that certain music is corrupt.  People will be upset if they lose their carnal, worldly, entertaining, pleasurable activity.  They often become angry, like a dog that has its food taken back.  The first mover sees himself excluded, looking silly or whatever temporal motive is there.  It's not just this issue where there are first mover problems, but many different applications of scripture, including what people have diminished by calling them "cultural issues."  They have deemed the cultural issues of either greater uncertainty or lesser importance to "doctrinal issues," like the Trinity, even though scripture doesn't treat non-doctrinal issues as uncertain or lesser.

The first mover problem has spread to many other cultural issues, including calling a boy a boy and a girl a girl, even using gender specific pronouns.  It also might by saying you think evolution is a lie.  You don't want to stand out by saying whatever it is that runs counter to convention.  It usually is accompanied by ridicule.  When most everyone who professed to be a Christian went the complete opposite direction, people joined the opposition to certain musical style and with complete certainty.  Someone didn't need to make the first move.  Now you will suffer for rising against what's easy to support, that is, unmitigated musical style.


The strange woman wore the attire of a harlot (Proverbs 7:10).  If I said, don't dress like a prostitute, no verse tells us what a prostitute dresses like.  It requires a second term.  We know how a prostitute dresses.  More women now dress like prostitutes, including many professing Christian ones, because of the same unwillingness to apply scripture.

Let's say that  a parent said to his child, "Get that look off your face -- it's disrespectful."  The child answered, "What verse says my look is a bad look or disrespectful, because that just seems disrespectful?"  Can no one know what is the 'eye that mocks his father' is?  Scripture assumes we can judge disrespect.  When people ask if there's anything sacred any more, it relates to this subject matter.  A culture that will not put any difference between that which is common or profane and that which is sacred, can't love or respect or worship God.

Children learn A-B-C on a line of letters.  They can get it.  It takes recognition of meaning.  People know meaning.  They fit music to scenes based on an understanding of meaning.  It's basic like A-B-C.  Those who refuse to judge are willful.  They can say, "I didn't get it or understand it," and God won't excuse it.  It is first grade understanding. They are playing games.  Scripture and history show that people play these type of games, and call them arguments.  God is not mocked.

The Bible has a lot of verses that would prohibit certain musical style as worship and then some of the same verses prohibit for Christians musical styles on their musical play list.  For this post, I'm just introducing them.  Everything else in this post has been necessary.

  1. Fleshly Lust (1 Peter 2:11)
  2. Worldly Lust (Titus 2:12)
  3. Conformed to this World (Romans 12:2)
  4. Provision for the Flesh (Romans 13:14)
  5. Profaning the Name of God (Leviticus 18:21)
  6. Fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts (1 Peter 1:14)
  7. Ecstatic (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
  8. Sensual (James 3:15)
  1. Reverence (Leviticus 19:30, many others)
  2. Solemnity (Leviticus 23:36, many others) [the opposite of reverent and solemn are superficial, foolish, thoughtless, vapid, flippant, trivial, etc.]
  3. Holy (Romans 12:1)
  4. Spiritual (John 4:23-24)
  5. Lovely (Philippians 4:8) [the opposite is unlovely or ugly]
  6. Gender Distinct (1 Corinthians 6:9)
All of these can be judged or they wouldn't be in scripture.  God will judge us for doing what He said, and He wouldn't judge us for something we could not be sure to understand.  I'm not saying that this list is an exhaustive list, but it is certainly enough to start with.  We should assume that we can know and know what these are.  In future posts, I will make brief application of them to music.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Word of Truth Conference Line-Up 2018

The Word of Truth Conference  at Bethel Baptist Church in El Sobrante, California is November 7-11, Wednesday to Sunday, this year, 2018.  The theme as it has been the previous three years is the gospel.  This is our last year with that theme.  We will prepare, Lord-willing, to write and publish a book on the gospel, as we did for the first four years on ecclesiastical separation.  I would estimate that this will take one or two years before it's out.  We'll keep you updated.

From the first four years, we published A Pure Church (you can get here or here).  From the second three years, we have not yet published a book on apostasy, but we will likely put together an e-book in years to come, that someone can download and then print if he wants it on paper.  The title of that series of conferences was I-Magination.

As usual, the evening will be preaching that is open to whatever particular text of scripture.  We want exposition of God's Word.  In the mornings are sessions that will be chapters in the book.  On Sunday afternoon is our annual panel discussion on the subject matter of the conference with speakers or pastors from the conference.  Here's the schedule.

7:00pm -- Chris Teale
7:50pm -- Bobby Mitchell

9:30am -- Passages That Teach Salvation and Passages That Are Not Teaching Salvation—
                 John 15:1-8 -- James Bronsveld
10:05am -- Passages That Teach Salvation and Passages That Are Not Teaching Salvation—
                 Philippians 3 -- Bobby Mitchell
11:10am -- Passages That Teach Salvation and Passages That Are Not Teaching Salvation—
                  Luke 18:18-30 -- Kent Brandenburg
11:45am -- The Meaning of Faith (Commitment) -- Thomas Ross

7:00pm -- James Bronsveld
7:50pm -- Bobby Mitchell

9:30am -- The Extent of Faith (Intellectual, Volitional, Emotional) -- Thomas Ross
10:45am -- Repentance in the New Testament -- James Bronsveld
11:30am (3rd and 4th Sessions) -- 3rd, Lord -- 4th, What's Not Enough -- Kent Brandenburg

7:00pm -- Bobby Mitchell

9:30am -- The Effect of Salvation:  Nature -- Kent Brandenburg
10:05am -- The Effect of Salvation:  Sanctification -- David Sutton
11:10am -- The Effect of Salvation:  Endurance -- Chris Teale
11:50am -- Unbiblical Methods of Evangelism -- Bobby Mitchell

9:45am -- The Effect of Salvation: Marks or Tests of Salvation -- Thomas Ross
11:00am -- Regular Series through the Book of Acts -- Kent Brandenburg

2:30pm -- Panel Discussion

Friday, October 19, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Rise of American and Continental Pentecostalism I, Part 17 of 22

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Delusion of the Fundamental of the Faith: Relating It To Rocky Top at Bob Jones University

Back in the day, I sat in Baptist Polity class (we had that where I went to college), and I remember then Dr. Weeks (what we called our instructor) bringing up the fundamental pie.  He drew a circle with five pie slices on it and for each piece, because my pie was too small to start, I drew a line with an arrow to the inside of each slice and wrote out each of the "fundamentals" in each one.  It's something I never questioned at the time, because that was typical, accepting without question. After that I proceeded to memorize the pie, including drawing the pie.  Later it occurred to me, "Why is it a pie?"  Why not just a list with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 fundamentals?  That would be the list of fundamentals, instead of a pie.

I have revisited the pie in my mind, and maybe it's a pie because each piece is part of a whole.  There are five, get that, five, fundamentals.  Not four.  Not six.  Not ten or twelve.  Five.  Making up pie for a nice tidy pie chart.  The 9 Marks guys have to be shaking their head at the number five.  Nine is it.  I'm now saying, Nope.  I don't even know why it is five.  It does remind me of the argument the Pharisees had about what the was the greatest of the laws.  Their discussion.  Pharisees.  Jesus could reduce the whole law down into two parts, because you could put all the laws into to two categories, two legitimate ones as spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself.

Today we return to the Pharisaaical attitude of numbering the fundamentals for, I believe and believe I can prove, many of the same reasons as the Pharisees.  You reduce everything down to a few number because you're not prepared to have more than that.  You can hold together, maybe, a coalition with the number five, even if it does deny literal twenty-four creation or baptism by immersion for believers only.  Is God pleased with five?  Does God want five?  Does God even want us making up lists of fundamentals?  I'm saying, no.  Take seriously everything that He said.  Listing fundamentals is a basis for not doing that.

When men start making up a list of fundamentals, you should think that a major premise of such a list is making room for not doing something that didn't make the list.  God didn't make the list.  He exterminated Ananias and Sapphira for something not on the list and killed Nadab and Abihu for something not on the list.  That's more like how God thinks.  He killed numbers of people for the numbering of people.

What got my attention on this -- again -- is another "fundamentalist" bringing fundamentals up as a bogus argument.  I've got three words now I can use every time that someone says something isn't a fundamental as an argument for pandering or capitulation or obfuscation or just plain disobedience, sometimes out of cowardice:  same. sex. marriage. In a nicer way, maybe it's just deceit or ignorance.  Delusion is defined as the misleading of the mind.  The Greek word translated "delusion" in the New Testament (plane, basis for the word "planet") is most often translated "error," and the portrayal of the Greek word is something wandering off the beaten path.

The recent president of Bob Jones University, Steve Pettit, played Rocky Top with a professing Christian musical groupSharperIron linked to this occurrence and a long discussion ensued (at 62 comments at this writing [there will be more]).  Many questions could be asked about Pettit's activity with the knowledge that he represents this fundamentalist institution in the most obvious way with its long, long time stand and standards on music, both for worship and personal listening, the latter as a matter of Christian living.  People should ask and in public, since it is public.

I know that this should not be considered a good quality of me, but I am very able at ridicule.  By testimony of others, I have been often judged to be quick-witted.  Well crafted mocking comments come to my mind.  I think they are best left unsaid and tamped down.  A high percentage of the commentary at SharperIron toward any criticism of Pettit was ridicule by some that think they're good at it and that it must be a good way to deal with criticism, their mockery.  That isn't a fundamental either in the fundamentalist pie, that is, whether it is right or wrong to mock critics.

A lot of mockery or ridicule occurs at SharperIron with almost no moderation.  It's typical everywhere, not just there.  Much of it continues there because it isn't moderated for whatever reason.  I see it as either a fear of a mob, the desire to be one of the cool guys, or the tendency to capitulate to the left.  The targets are deemed, it seems, worth the ridicule and in this case they are advocates of traditional or conservative music.  I think it would be better for them if they could be put in their place by defenders.  Answering them in kind wouldn't be allowed, so they continue on with their unfettered scoffing. The scoffers are actually low hanging fruit themselves with their unmoderated attempts to diminish critics with this method.  If that's the way things are there, more power to them.  I don't think it is the right or even best way to deal with criticism.  It is the best a mocker can do, very much like the apostates in 2 Peter 2-3.

I want to get back to the idea of "fundamentals," but first playing Rocky Top or even the place of blue grass among Christians.  The song Rocky Top expresses the virtues of wild fornication and desperate drunkenness, enjoyed and without judgment.  Someone might say, "It's just fun; let it go."  Meats for the belly and belly for meats.  If you watched, you saw singers and instrumentalists participating with great support and gusto.  They loved it (1 John 2:15-17).  It's one thing to be attracted to it because it titillates the flesh, but another thing to push and promote it. If this is a Christian liberty, as some people judge it to be, which I don't believe it is, even then it violates many of the limitations Paul requires of liberty in 1 Corinthians 6-10.

The big argument about judging such activity, which scripture says to judge and you should judge if you take the biblical and historical view of sola scriptura, is that it isn't worth judging and that it isn't a fundamental worth separating over.  They are really both the same argument.  Something isn't worth judging because it isn't a fundamental.

Scripture says everything is worth judging and God kills people for violating things not on the list of fundamentals.  It's a replay of the practice of the Pharisees, ranking truth as a basis for what will be tolerated and what won't.  It's not how God operates.  It isn't following Christ.  He doesn't do it.  It's also an attack on the perspecuity of scripture and the biblical understanding of unity (1 Cor 1:10).  Unity isn't disregarding biblical teaching to maintain a coalition.  I know they would say they aren't doing that, but the denial rings hollow -- they are in fact doing that.

Someone in the comment section of SharperIron, G. N. Barkman, a pastor who is a regular contributor there, writes in two separate comments (here and here):
Fundamentalism, historically speaking, is about defending the fundamentals of the Christian faith against those who attack and erode them.  In the "old" days, the attackers were called Modernists and Liberals.  Now, they are just as likely to be called Evangelicals.  Along the way, cultural issues began to take their place as part of the definition of Fundamentalism.  That, in my opinion, is when things began to go off course.  Cultural issues are, for the most part, too subjective to defend or decry Biblically.  I have my opinions and preferences, and you have yours.  I will not break fellowship with you over yours, and expect you to do the same with me.  Liking or not liking a particular style of music is not a fundamental of the faith.  Let's keep God's Word central, and allow Christian liberty where clear Bible doctrine is not the issue. 
But back to the original premise.  Do you consider music styles a fundamental of the Christian faith?  How many other fundamentals do you include?  I believe that when everything becomes a fundamental, nothing is a fundamental.  The word "fundamental" indicates something of greatest importance.  If everything is equally important, nothing is of greater significance.
Barkman barks up the wrong tree.  Protecting fundamentals is a delusion, not intended to protect truth itself.  There are no "fundamentals."  Where is this list?  I get the original idea, meant to gain a widespread defense of Christianity against liberalism, to attempt to salvage something.  I don't agree with it.  I just get it.  But it's taken on a shape of its own, mutating into deformity.  Fundamentalism is nothing scriptural to defend.  Defend scripture.  Defend truth.  Defend Jesus.  Defend the church.  Fundamentalism at the most was a means to an end, an unscriptural means that led to a less than scriptural end.  No one should be satisfied with it.

You can read the comments and there's no scriptural basis.  He leaves himself some deniability with "for the most part," which I'm assuming is to deny things like same sex marriage and smoking crack pipes.  Those are not fundamentals though and so the list expands and then you see truth as subjective, just conventional thinking.  It's true because you cobble enough support for it to be true.  Every Christian was against rock music at one time.  Every Christian was against shorts on women. Now it's no longer conventional, so it's only a preference.  We've already arrived at effeminate male behavior, rampant in churches today.  God expects different from us.

The "fundamental" is now a tool for capitulation and pandering.  Rocky Top panders.  People who support it are pandering.  They want approval.  It's the days of Noah, marrying and giving in marriage.  Just move along, nothing to look at.  Five things are worth looking at.

Read the first chapter of Ephesians.  The purpose of salvation, the reason we were chosen, what we read in the first three and half verses are "that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (v. 4b).  Being holy and without blame in love aren't fundamentals.  The adoption as children to Jesus and the redemption through Christ's blood abound toward "all wisdom and prudence" (vv. 5-8).  In other words, true doctrine, what might be "fundamentals," you know, what you're really supposed to be parking on, are there to produce the right application of the knowledge of His will (v. 9), which is "wisdom" and then thinking straight, which is "prudence."

Holy living, living without blame, loving behavior, the right application of knowledge, and thinking straight are tied to "the fundamentals."  They are the purpose.  If you have "bad music" and "wrong dress" and all these cultural issues, that's part of not knowing and doing the will of God, which necessarily proceeds from right doctrine.  The first three chapters of Ephesians, the doctrine, are about the last three chapters of Ephesians, the practice.

Paul ends 1 Corinthians in v. 22, saying this:  "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha."  It seems loving Jesus is a fundamental.  Yet, it isn't on the list or in the pie.  Can you love Him by singing to Him like He's your boyfriend or girlfriend?  Barkman would say that's not a fundamental and its a cultural issue, so it's impossible to judge.  You have to know what love is to love.  If love is actually lust, so someone isn't loving the Lord Jesus Christ, then that's Anathema Maranatha.  A curse is on that person.  Churches are full of a lack of affection for Jesus Christ.  They have passion produced by ecstatic experiences, choreographed by rhythm and syncopation, other atmospherics and instrumentation and suggestion.  It isn't reverence and sobriety required by God from those who worship Him and love Him.

Dismissing the cultural issues as preferences is not prudent or wise.  Christians are here to say "no" to Rocky Top.  The world isn't going to do it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Critique: Worship Wars by Robert Bakss, pt. 3

Intro   Part One   Part Two

Bakss begins his second chapter, "Predicament with Worship Music:  Who Really Wins the War?", decrying theological and spiritual battles fought through the history of Christianity.  The point implied is the very existence of these battles was bad.  Fighting over things in Christianity is bad, and the worship wars is just another latest sad chapter.  Then Bakss provided what he said was a quote from an American newspaper in 1723 criticizing Isaac Watts music:
There are several reasons for opposing it: It’s too new. It’s too worldly, even blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style and because there are so many new songs you can’t learn them all. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances, making people act disorderly. The preceding generation got along without out.
Bakss took the paragraph from a blog, which I couldn't find, so I googled it and found the same quote ten other times online, all used by CCM advocates in the same way Bakss did  and in several instances the surrounding wording verbatim (note: plagiarism).  Furthermore, does anyone really think it was (1) in an American newspaper in 1723 or (2) even written in 1723?  No one wrote that way, the way the "quote" is written, in 1723.  Someone's got to think his readers are morons to accept that quote as historic evidence.  I am sure it is a quote of a quote of a quote of a quote or maybe even more, but the original writer wasn't quoting from a 1723 newspaper.

Isaac Watts, of course, was English and is buried in England.  He never came to America.  He is buried in England at the Bun Hill Non-conformist Cemetery in London.  No one was making the kind of commentary in 1723 about anything, let alone Isaac Watts's hymns.  The first British American newspaper itself started in 1704, the Boston News-Letter.  No one should take this kind of argument seriously. You've read material from 1723 and it does not read like anything anyone wrote in that supposed quote.  The premise itself then is a lie.  I've read the same argument elsewhere and it is a superficial, fallacious invention.  Someone who makes it doesn't really care about aesthetics and the meaning of style.

Watts's music wasn't new music, rejected then accepted, followed by one generation after another of new music, rejected than accepted, so that the music used in churches was already rejected.  Bakss's CCM is not just the latest iteration of Isaac Watts.  Worship wars have existed generation after generation, but the wars themselves are not the problem.  Bakss strategy is to make warring over worship style a problem.

Since music itself is amoral according to Bakss, any judgment of musical style he would contend is "strife," a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20.  The music itself isn't fleshly in his assessment. It's the war that is fleshly, because it is "strife."  The Greek word translated "strife" is selfish ambition, essentially striving for some greater position for one's self.  The warring in worship war attempts in a godly manner to eradicate from the church worldly, fleshly music that doesn't worship God.  It is concerned with the honor and glory of God, not given through fleshly, worldly, profane worship style, which can be judged as such.

Bakss further argues that the warring itself is about "us" and "our personal preferences."  About this, he quotes Chuck Swindoll as an authority, Swindoll contending as one might expect him, that what's important is the essence of worship, an internalized adoration, and not the expression of worship, the outward forms, which might vary.  He doesn't provide a basis either for the neutrality of outward forms or the equality of the various cultures that use different forms.  Bakss writes:
If you were to ask the Lord what kind of worship fires Him up, God would always come back with the same answer He gave to the woman at the well in Samaria.
God isn't "fired up" by our music.  He isn't waiting in His holy place to be affected by our passions, hoping that His worshipers might fire Him up.  God is impassible.  He is not subject to like passions as we are.

Jesus' teaching to the Samaritan woman, Bakss says, was not a perversion of place or pattern of worship, but the Person.   With no proof, he asserts that worship in spirit is the subjective side of worship and the worship in truth is the objective side.  You won't get that out of the passage.  From that he then concludes that "God is not so much interested in the style of worship as He is the worshipper."  The latter doesn't proceed from the former, but He elaborates:
There is sometimes such an emphasis on Bible knowledge (truth) that we are in danger of ignoring, or even opposing personal spiritual experience.
Scripture isn't sufficient for worship, Bakss is saying that Jesus wants the contribution of personal spiritual experience.  Paul said "the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).  Jesus said His Words were spirit and life (John 6:63).  Spirit isn't subjective and Word objective.  Spirit conforms to a Divine standard as much as Truth does.  Musical style should be judged by the Word of God too and not by some subjective or personal experience.

Then Bakss connotes spirit with "emotions" so that spiritual music was emotional music.  If someone was spiritual, he wasn't hiding his emotions.  On this point, emotions don't proceed from something spiritual.  They are tied more closely with the physical, which is why you cry when you are tired or when you hit your thumb with a hammer.  How we feel about God does matter.  The right feelings proceed from the right feelings, not vice versa. This was a major assertion of Jonathan Edwards in his Religious Affections.  There is a right feeling about God that comes from the right thinking about God, true thinking, not from passions that start with the body.

Bakss parallels music without necessary emotion as "formalism."  Formalism can come in a great many "forms."  Jesus pointed out two different extremes of false worship forms in John 4, the Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim and the Jews in Jerusalem.  Both choreographed their adherents to something neither true or spiritual.  Neither were scriptural or sincere.  Bakss is essentially calling for Samaritan form and the rejection of the Judaistic form.

Fleshly, worldly music gives people a feeling that they interpret as the Holy Spirit.  It is manipulated.  A form is chosen that feels good, based on personal taste, and with the addition of ecstatic experience, which is very deceitful in corruption of true spirituality.  This is ecstasy and mysticism.  This is manipulating experience that Bakss calls the subjective side.

A few sentences from the end of the chapter Bakss writes:
Led by the Spirit, we have the right, even the responsibility, to express our praise to God in the manner that best reflects our individual personalities and cultures.
Bakss is calling for a subjective "leading of the Spirit" common in Charismaticism and revivalism, against the meaning of "led by the Spirit" in the New Testament.  The leading of the Holy Spirit is the same for every believer.  He leads through the Word of God.  This is something Bakss would call formalism, because it is just scripture, bereft of personal, subjective experiences, which people covet like a sign or a wonder.

Worship and praise should reflect what God says in His Word that He wants, not in our individual personalities or cultures.  Just the opposite, our reasonable worship should not conform to the world or our own desires.  We should look to scripture to find what God wants from us.  He does say and we can know from scripture.

Overall, chapter 2 for Bakss goes all different directions in an incongruous way.  What he wants his adherents to think is that music can't be judged, that judging it or warring against certain music is bad.  Give God about whatever you want, because all of it is just personal preference.  These premises are not true, but they are also the recipe for rampant false spirituality and worship in the church.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Roman Catholic "Church": Now Controlled by Modernists and Sodomites?

Homosexuals and theological liberals very possibly now control the Roman Catholic "Church," something that has serious implications worldwide for the spread of Christ's true gospel.  (Learn about the true gospel, and compare it to the teachings of Roman Catholicism, by clicking here.)

The Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965 opened the way for theological liberalism to infest Roman Catholicism.  The leading Catholic Bible commentaries today reject the inerrancy of Scripture, and the authors of such works retain their employment in Catholic institutions. While Rome's addition of the Apocrypha to the Bible makes opposition to inerrancy almost a necessity, since the Apocrypha contains grievous and obvious factual errors, unlike the 66 canonical Books of Scripture, many Christians are unaware of the fact that the leadership of Roman Catholicism does not defend the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture.  Nor does modern Roman Catholicism follow the Council of Trent and condemn every non-Catholic to hell--on the contrary, in this post-Vatican II world practically everyone is going to heaven (while Trent, somehow, is still an infallible Roman Catholic council).

In the United States, most Roman Catholics do not care about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, but one should not assume that Catholics who do care will actually hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, or think that their religion is right while everyone else is lost.  Such positions, while  they are traditional Catholicism, are no longer the positions of the Roman Catholic religion.  The one-world religion the Apostle John described as centered in Rome is not the hard-nosed Roman Catholicism of Trent that professed belief in an inerrant Bible and even exalted Latin over Greek and Hebrew.  It is the ecumenical, non-judgmental Roman Catholicism that does not take a strong stand for just about anything.  That is the way Catholicism is going, and that view is filtering down to the people in the pew.

Furthermore, since Roman Catholic clergy are allegedly "celibate," for decades sodomites who promise (wink and nod here) to be celibate have been allowed to become Catholic clergy.  This has resulted in a huge number of Catholic clergy who are sodomites.  The Roman Catholic "child abuse" scandal is mainly homosexual priests committing abominations with teenage boys--but it is called "child abuse" so that the pro-sodomy media does not need to point out the homosexual reality.  Catholic sources estimate that the percentage of truly celibate priests is under 50%, and many of these non-celibate priests, bishops, archbishops, and so-on up the line are sodomites.

There is good evidence that the election of Pope Francis constituted a tipping point--the pro-sodomy faction in the Roman Catholic "church" now has a Pope that is on their side.  Since the Pope appoints the cardinals who choose the next Pope, and Pope Francis has been busy appointing away, the very top of the Roman Catholic religion, the very top that controls everything else, now is likely in the control, not only of theological liberalism, but of the  "gay lobby" that Pope Benedict XVI was unable or unwilling to purge from the Vatican, and which now is in control following the election of Pope Francis.

The control of Roman Catholicism, not only by theological liberals, but also by sodomites and the aiders and abetters of sodomy, will radically change the nature of Roman Catholicism in coming years, if Christ does not return first.  Rome is a giant and unwieldy institution, and change takes time to trickle down, but it eventually does.

Even now, and all the more as time goes on, the Christian should NOT assume that the Roman Catholics to whom he speaks are confused about the gospel, but at least believe the Bible is the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead, Biblical moral prohibitions on things like sodomy are binding (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1), etc.  Some of them do, but many of them do not, and that percentage is highly likely to continue to increase. If a Christian gets to evangelize a Roman Catholic priest, he should, in addition to dealing with Rome's false gospel, deal with the immorality that a high percentage of priests are involved in.  Furthermore, he should prepare for Rome to move ever-further into a non-judgmental, all-religions-are-true direction, and recognize that Rome's rejection of the Bible's teaching that bishops should marry (1 Timothy 3), Rome's rejection of the Bible's teaching that forbidding to marry is a doctrine of devils (1 Timothy 4:1-3), and Rome's permitting sodomites to enter a priesthood and a religious hierarchy is abominable--as, indeed, religious hierarchy and Rome's priesthood are on their own, even without regard to the abomination of sodomy.  However, this last abomination has now so corrupted Roman Catholicism that the pro-sodomy "lavender mafia" now is in control of Rome's hierarchy--not according to a few wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, but according to sober historians and many Roman Catholic scholars and historians themselves (see, e. g., the links in this post).

If you are reading this and you are a Roman Catholic, please read "Bible Truths for Catholic Friends" here, so you may come to know and serve God and be certain to live with Him forever (1 John 5:13).

If you are reading this and you are involved in homosexuality, please read "Truth for Gay Friends" here.  The Lord Jesus Christ loved you and died for your sins on the cross, and He will save you if you will repent.

The widespread practice of sodomy in Roman Catholicism lends yet one more justification for the Apostle John's inspired description of Catholicism as "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" (Revelation 17:5).


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Perversion of Justice

The Bible establishes the meaning of justice through the usage of the word, related words, and then an explanation of a justice system laid out by God for Israel.  The American system of justice is based upon what the Old Testament teaches.  It's been called a Judeo-Christian ethic, ethic being a representation of what's right.  Others have argued for the same meaning from a position of natural law, asserting justice from Newton's law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  They argued that they could justify an identical position of justice from nature, separate from the Bible, yet compatible.

A right understanding of justice buttresses the gospel.  God is just.  He defines justice.  God gives the laws for His creation.  The just, the right, is found in God's laws, and He requires their adherence, because of His nature.  He expects justice of His created beings.  He alone is righteous.  His laws are right and God is lawgiver and judge.  His nature also demands justice for the breaking of His laws.

God's justice requires punishment for sin.  The penalty of sin is death.  Jesus paid that penalty.  He died for us.  Everyone deserves the penalty, because all have sinned.

Justice is represented by scales in scripture and people have understood the scales of justice, which is a balance beam sitting on an apex.  Very often doctor's scales still operate on this principle.  In the idea of justice is equality.  The penalty matches the crime:  life for a life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.  The punishment on one side of the scale equals the violation on the other side of the scale.  People can be cheated in commerce in an unjust trade by tricking the scale.

You have heard the description of putting a thumb on the scale.  This is to make things not equal and, therefore, not just.  In scripture, this brings in the idea of weights and balances.  "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight" (Proverbs 11:1).  Justice requires just compensation.  Someone gets what he worked for and receives what he paid for.

Within the definition of justice in the Bible is impartiality.  Partiality means unequal treatment, which is injustice.  Impartiality is a principle of justice, because partiality is an origin or source of wrong judgment.  Scripture presents varied motivations for partiality, but the biggest is economic.  Race is another.  Very often race and economics are related and a mixture of evil partiality.  The motivations are sources of bias or prejudice, leading to injustice.  Rich people might have the resources to bribe the judge, affecting his partiality. The blindfold was the component of lady justice to portray impartiality and hence the motto, justice is blind.


What I'm writing here is the truth about justice, but just like different views about everything have arisen in a sin-cursed world, so have wrong ones about justice.  If someone wanted to attack or break down the plan and will of God, toward the top of his list he might corrupt the right thinking about justice.  God opposes this through the Bible and history and calls for repentance of perversion of justice.

The biggest corruption of biblical justice foisted upon humanity by ungodly men, which brings with it multiple varied destructive results, focuses on equal consequences and reparation, the assertion that everyone deserves the same outcome.  This says in essence, don't judge.  In this false thinking, which veers from scripture, differing outcomes assume injustice done, resolved by redistribution as a form of reparation.  The poor are presumed victims of a crime perpetrated by a class of people.  Someone gets a job, a school enrollment, or pay based upon a class to which he or she belongs.

When the aim of justice are victims and the solution restoration, who pays?  Who is guilty of the mistreatment?  Justice isn't done here, because a whole class of people is judged as guilty in direct violation of scriptural impartiality.  The Bible refutes this premise.

The blind man wasn't blind because of his parents (John 9:3).  The children's teeth are not set on edge because their parents ate sour grapes (Jeremiah 31:29).  The curse of one generation of people are not carried on to their children (Exodus 20:5-6), even as seen in the children of the Israelites who left Egypt entered the land, when their parents did not.  God argued in the last verse of Jonah (4:11) that the children of the Ninevites were not guilty of their crimes and they deserved sparing.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20-24).  Soul, singular.  Justice is individual, not by class.  Individuals will stand before God alone and each judged for his own sins, not those of a country, class, or clan.

As examples, all whites are guilty for slavery.  All men are guilty for sexual assault.  All white men are guilty of about everything that is wrong.

When justice is based upon equal outcomes for everyone, then what is right is also what is judged to have the best consequences for everyone.  This justifies taking something from someone to give it to someone else.  Poverty proceeds from the advantage of one group or class over another.  That class is punished as a group by taking from it and giving it to another.


Scripture teaches equality.  Everyone is made in the image of God.  The founding fathers of the United States believed in it.  However, when they said that "all men are created equal," they didn't think that everyone was equal physically, intellectually, or in other abilities.  They advocated scriptural equality, that is, men were equal in intrinsic value.  Men were all worth the same.

The view of equality I'm describing is a necessity for justice.  If an individual doesn't work, he still has equal inherent value with those who do work.  However, he deserves a different outcome or consequences for not working than those who do not work.  He's not a victim. It would be unjust to take from those who have worked and give to the one who hasn't worked to create an equal outcome.

Justice doesn't guarantee equal outcomes.  It doesn't even guarantee equal opportunity.  Justice does guarantee certain rights, ones ordained by God.  Someone can grow up in a just society and have less opportunity than someone who does in another just society.  Again, America's founding fathers proposed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  They didn't include property, but one could assume that property rights were found in liberty and pursuit of happiness, which could be expressed in free enterprise, the right to keep what you earn.  If everyone is treated of equal value, that is sufficient equality of opportunity.

Justice requires the same rules for everyone, a principle enshrined in English justice since the Magna Carta.  It also expects impartial and equal enactment of justice, justice done in a just manner.  It requires witness or corroboration of an accusation of a violation of the law.  Someone cannot be convicted and punished without proof.

The terminology "kangaroo court" traces to the idea of jumping to a conclusion without proper evidence, making a large leap like a kangaroo.  Convicting someone without sufficient evidence and without the presumption of innocence (impartiality) is unjust.  This practice very often proceeds from the perversion of equal outcomes.

A woman is right because she's a woman.  A man is guilty because he's a man.  A person of a particular race is innocent because he's of that particular race.  Instead of individuals being judged for individual wrong, entire classes are judged, which is by nature partiality.  This is not justice.  It is a perversion of justice.  It only gets worse from there.


Justice doesn't deal with outcome.  It deals with the act.  Someone pays for something he's done wrong and justice is done.  Whether he changes or not, he deserves a penalty for his sin.  When people are punished for doing wrong, it helps them understand the justice of God.  They see they aren't right with God, that He will judge them for their sins, and that they need a Savior.  Consequences in the next life, the eternal, are much greater than those in the present.

When I preach the gospel, I always talk about justice.  Until someone sees he is guilty of crimes against God and deserving of punishment, he won't see his need of a Savior.  The gospel is good news.  The good news is that he can be saved from the penalty of sin.  Someone has paid the penalty for his sin and he can be saved.

Each person is responsible for his own sins.  He won't be punished for those of his parents or for the hypothetical sins of a class to which he belongs.  His own understanding of his own salvation depends on his having a right, true, and accurate comprehension of justice.  The perversion of justice muddles the knowledge necessary for someone to be saved.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Church Decrease Movement (CDM): Faithful Numerical Church Decrease

Numerical growth of a church isn't hard. Most of the people I've met who see swift numerical growth aren't either smart or knowledgeable. They haven't discovered some secret.  They shouldn't be rewarded, as they very often are.  Churches with big numbers are the most emulated in the United States. Their tactics are also the most likely to be sent to foreign countries.  The most notable standard for success is still size.

Before I left graduate school, the dean of academic affairs at the college from which I graduated told me to go out there to California and outgrow, essentially beat, Jack Trieber.  I remember the moment, and I smiled and didn't answer.  I had an early conflict within between perceived success and what I knew scripture taught.  It was in my nature to compete and win something, to be bigger than everyone else, to do something better than everyone else.  What was winning though?  Do we win in this lifetime or the next?  What did scripture say?

When I got started in California, there were dueling intentions for me, perhaps three different ones that clashed with each other.  One, I wanted to see people saved.  I wanted them really to be saved, although it may have been in actuality to see lots of professions of faith. Two, I desired to see quick growth.  It was my goal to become self-supporting by the first year and quit my job.  My wife and I didn't come to California with even half support, perhaps less than 25% of even what was required to live in the most expensive housing market and the hardest place in the country.  The support we received helped us, but it wasn't close to what we needed.  I never went on deputation.  I preached at a few churches and a few supported us, but it was never my intention to get support first.  I was coming to California and didn't need it.  Third, I wanted to preach the Bible, expositional preaching, and the latter was more important than the other two.  It was also the enemy of the other two as time progressed.

My wife and I arrived in California in August 1987, me 25 and her 23, and our first service was October 18 that year.  We came without a stick of furniture and almost no money.  I remember early on, in the first few months, having about three hundred dollars in the bank and being conned out of it by a "preacher" whose "car broke down" on his way to a funeral.  I was not a big city boy.  I didn't think we grew quickly.  I was expecting something faster.  However, we grew fast enough that I could quit my job by January.   My wife still worked at a bank.  We were self-supporting after a year and a half.

After about three years, we were averaging about 175 a week with a big day of 330.  How did we do it?  Promotion.  Big days.  Give-aways.  Exciting jr. church.  We had a Spanish group of about 70.  In the summer, we had what we called a neighborhood kids crusade and over 500 different children came in for the week.  We put on what I labeled the mother of all puppet shows with every day a cliff hanger.  It's easy for people, workers, to be motivated by numbers.  They see it as an indication that God is working and they are succeeding.  They'll keep doing this "work," because it is easy.  You offer people something tangible and temporal and they come.

One favorite story was buying a 25 passenger shuttle bus from gypsies.  I literally went to a home with a large palm of a hand on a sign out front, made the payment in cash, after which I was invited to a pig roast.  I walked out back with the gypsies and they had a very large pig, head and all, in their backyard turning on a large home made spit.  This was right in town in the city and I'm sure it was illegal to have a large fire in your backyard even to roast a pig.  I did not have my palm read.

Again, I'm saying it wasn't hard to do what I was doing except for one thing.  I knew it was wrong.  I didn't know it at first, but I felt guilty most of the time in everything that we did, attempting to motivate people with what we were using.  I was following the examples I had been given.  I wasn't even pedal to the metal on these strategies.  I could have done far more than I was doing.  I knew others were.  What held me back was the guilt.  I tried to tamp it down, justifying it by the fact that many others were doing it and doing more.  It was bringing "results."  Several people encouraged me to do more and were happy with what we were doing.

As all the above was happening, I was also preaching through books.  In Sunday School, I taught through scripture.  On Sunday morning I preached through John and then Acts.  I didn't see these as the methods of Jesus.  They clashed with what Jesus did.  This was not good for the people in the church.

The key for a "Spanish ministry" was having everything in Spanish (of course), allowing it to be separate from the English, and providing a lot of social opportunities, meals especially.  Many of the Spanish couples were not members.  They couldn't join.  They weren't married.  They were living together because getting married would bring in the government.  Some of them wanted to be baptized and join anyway without being married, but I wouldn't allow for that.  I took a "stand" there.  There was no intention of almost any of them to integrate with the English.  Except for one or two of them, they had zero motivation to evangelize the people of the United States, except for people in the country like they were.  Their children were growing up in homes that did not speak English, but they were learning it in the public school, causing a kind of division between the parents and the children -- two different cultures.

We had about 15-20 deaf.  The key for the deaf was constant pandering, keeping them busy with activities, and food again.  They didn't want to come if you didn't have something for them, so you just always had something for them.

A lot of what I led with church growth conflicted with biblical methods, the teaching of Jesus and the apostles, and biblical evangelism.  Even if I believed in a true gospel, the way I did things wasn't lined up with the gospel of the New Testament, which is the only gospel.  In many instances, I would preach passages that did not line up with what we were doing to get bigger.  We were, however, seeing a lot of professions of faith, and many would have said God was working through these means.

I had a mix of biblical and unbiblical practices.  I was convinced of discipleship, believed the Great Commission was making disciples.  I wrote a thirty week discipleship.  We started attempting to take every new "convert" through the thirty weeks.  I taught a 25 week parenting course that was ongoing.  I wanted true conversion and was constantly tweaking personal evangelism to fit a scriptural model.  My preaching became more and more dense exegesis of the Bible.

I never decided to get smaller.  I would, however, conform our belief and practice to what I was preaching from scripture.  I allowed exposition of the Bible to change our church.  Every change decreased our numbers.  The goal was to honor God with faithfulness to His Word.  Success was to conform everything to God's Word.  Our church changed and got smaller and smaller.  In fact, the actual church didn't get smaller by what we did.  Our church never was very big when we tried to get big.  We had a lot of people, but the church wasn't big.  Our church, the actual church, is bigger now.  Our expectations changed.

We do more evangelism now than we did before.  Our goal is to preach the gospel, thorough and accurate.  We want to do it a lot and everywhere, and we do.  So now we have around 70-80 people when everyone is in town and healthy.  We don't count.  We know who the people are.  If we count, that's where it is.  I understand that I'm not a success.  I would be if we kept on the former path.  Not really a success, but considered to be one.

Understand this:  we do more ministry now than we ever have.  A true gospel is preached more.  More actual discipleship occurs.  More biblical worship takes place.  We are a greater success, even though the trajectory we took has led me not to be a success.

When I look at the churches that do what we did a long time ago and even worse today, I understand that they get credit for doing these things.  People want to know their secret.  They look to them for ideas for how to make their church bigger.  I'm disgusted by what I see.  I understand the damage their techniques cause.  I said it wasn't hard to do what they do.  It isn't, but at the same time it is impossible.  How do they look at themselves in the mirror, knowing what they are doing?  I don't get it.  The lack of discernment is astounding.  How can they be saved?  I don't think they are.  We at least do not regard them as saved people.

In every sector of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, even among unaffiliated churches, the size of the church is the most accepted and practiced criteria for success.  The leaders of the largest churches get the most mention among others and have the most influence.  It is easy to see.  Men have a difficult time criticizing them for what they do, because they don't want to get out of favor with them.  Those churches also very often have the biggest or most buildings and the most money.  Even among the conservative evangelicals, size is what is rewarded.  You have to be a kind of success that even the world would say is successful.  They do not, I repeat, do not promote men with small churches.  A man with a small church is not a success.

Young men know that success is getting big and this is true everywhere.  Something is wrong with you or you are doing something wrong if your church is small.  Men know this.  It then affects the way that men practice, and, therefore, believe.  You are better if you are big.  You are less significant and somewhat a failure if you are small.  Again, men know this.  This affects everything.  It needs to stop.  The idea needs to be torched.  The truth is the truth.  The truth itself is success.  Conforming to it is success.  We have less conforming to the truth and sadly, because conforming to the truth isn't rewarded by the leaders in America of every segment of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

Even among the people that would say size is not the right evaluation of success for church, they still promote size.  They contradict themselves.  They say that size shows superior giftedness.  I've seen it again and again.  And then the proof is in what occurs then.  The men of the bigger churches are considered better.  I can tell you that when my church was bigger, there was more widespread acknowledgement of my success.  It couldn't immunize me for my guilt.  It couldn't convince me that what I was doing, had been doing, was biblical.  I also have known that the more popular you are, because of size, brings a kind of credibility when you say something.  You can say the truth and it is ignored.  You can say an untruth and it gets attention, if you have widespread influence especially because of your compromise.

People pay attention to those who have a big following, even if what they are saying is crazy.  Even the more conservative evangelicals give credence to the one who has seen bigger success, very often through compromise.  There are numerous examples of this.  If kooks criticize them, they deal with it, because the kook has a following.  If the small pastor criticizes them, they ignore it, even if it is the truth.  The truth doesn't matter.  Size matters.

We need a movement of church decrease.  Like Paul, men need to count what they are doing and what they have done as dung.  Believe God.  Obey God.  Depend on Him.  Look to God for relevance.  Or accept that you are not relevant, but that biblical success is actually success.

Do I think a movement of church decrease will occur?  Churches will decrease, mainly because of apostasy, something like we see has already occurred in the United Kingdom.  Much of the apostasy has already started in the United States as manifested by acceptance of same-sex marriage and then the embrace of "social justice."  Among revivalists, there is an increasing "emergent" flavor or worse.  Effeminate men are rampant and not confronted.  When they are confronted, those confronting are rebuked by millennial mobs, pandering parents, and clueless women.

What we need is strength.  We need solid scriptural teaching.  We need courage.  We need men.  I don't think we'll get it.  Maybe you can prove me wrong.