|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
All articles by Bro Need unless otherwise noted
Books, books, books
(Based upon an article by Gene Edward
Veith, World magazine, July/August, 2002.)
There is a song by Michael Card called, So Many Books, So Little Time. It is the way I, and most pastors, I am sure, feel many times. Evidently, others feel the same way, but the books they are reading leave a lot to be desired, for from the titles of the books, they will not promote genuine Christian growth.
The Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) posts on its website (cbaonline.org) its top selling titles in the evangelical book industry. World magazine wrote the following article based upon that book list.
CHRISTIANS ARE READING, EVEN while other Americans are just watching TV. Book sales overall are stagnant, but even The New York times took note that sales of Christian books are growing. Last year, for the first time, Christian titles from evangelical publishers topped the best seller lists in both fiction (the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jinkins, from Tyndale House) and nonfiction (The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson, from Multnomah).
Here in Front Royal, we regularly
hear an ad from a Christian bookstore in the DC area promoting
the Left Behind books. They open by saying that the series
is fiction, but then they say that if you want to know how the
world ends according to Scripture, you need to read the books.
Christina, our 17 year old, traveled by bus to Ohio to be with
her sister for a week. The woman who sat next to her was a Pentecostal,
and all she could talk about was how great the Left Behind
books, tapes and videos are. We are told that they are fiction,
and one might as well read Alice in Wonderland, for Left
Behind is as Scriptural as is Alice.
It is sad that there are "Christian" groups, including churches, who consider the Left Behind series legitimate Bible study material. The probable reason for allowing that heresy in their churches is because the people desire a good fluffy, fiction study where they do not have to get into serious doctrinal issues that might divide the people. Those living in the "Rapture world" as presented by the fiction series, Left Behind, are living in a make believe world. Again, they might as well study Allice in Wonderland in their churches. Preachers preach to the purse, many times in order to keep up the high mortgage payments.
The book store closes its ad with "You are what you read." If that is true, then American Christian Culture is in serious trouble, for they are make believe, fictional, fluffy, make-me-feel-good Christians. If it was not for the Lord's supernatural care and protection for His church, it would be reduced to a big mass of Cool Whipit tastes and looks good, but it cannot nourish the surrounding culture. And the surrounding culture is starving to death for a lack of nutritional Christianity.
By economic standards, Christian books have certainly penetrated the culture. The question remains: What are they saying about that culture? Are the books - and, more importantly, the Christians who read them - appeasing or transforming the culture? Or ignoring it altogether?
On the principle "you are what you read," the books that are most popular among Christians provide a snapshot of American Christianity. The issues that most concern them, the nature of their theology, and their engagement in the culture around them are all evident from the Christian bestseller lists (see p. 28.) ...
Theology does not fare nearly as well. Of the top 100 books, only four could be described as even popular theology. One of them, coming in as the 26th bestselling volume, is The Catechism of the Catholic Church. That evangelical bookstores would even carry a Roman Catholic book, much less its primary teaching text, is remarkable and a sign of how things have changed. Either evangelicals axe learning about Catholicism, or, far more likely, Catholics have started shopping in evangelical bookstores. (Ibid.)
In Lafayette, the Catholics owned
the book store that was driving all of the Protestant book stores
in the surrounding areas out of business. Carpenter's Son
bought the Christian book store in Crawfordsville, closed it,
and urged all the customers to bring their business to Lafayette,
about 30 minutes away. Being a Catholic bookstore, it promoted
many of the Catholic idols, relics and books. Protestants flock
to it, making it a very prosperous bookstore.
There are three books of apologetics, dealing with evidences for the faith and how to answer its critics. Those seem to be the only books that are focused on evangelism.
Of the top 100 books, only six are about the Bible. (This does not count an additional eight books on "God's Promises" or "Bible Promises," two series consisting of scriptural texts arranged topically and addressed to various issues and stations in life.)
One of the bestsellers (No. 78) purports to be an extrabiblical revelation based on a vision, something else unusual for Protestants, who, historically, have stressed that God's revelation is to be found exclusively in His Word. Mary Basxter's A Divine Revelation of Hell tells about a tour of that foul place given her by Jesus Himself, not as a work of symbolism, as in Dante, but as plain geographical fact, going into detail about what the place is like and how the damned are tormented. Ms. Baxter has also writen about her vision of heaven, but it is not nearly as popular and did not make the bestseller list.
Of these 100 most popular Christian books, only four are about Christ. The Holy Spirit rates two. Billy Graham's book about angels still made the list, though barely, coming in at No. 99.
Only one book is about the church, not counting the Catholic catechism. And that title, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick (No. 87) is about how the church needs to be changed.
The approach to God that dominates the bestseller list is highly experiential (e.g., Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, No. 69). and highly relational (e.g., The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, No. 35). The Christian life tends to be depicted in terms of what we do, rather than what God has done. Thus, a number of the bestsellers dealing with God are "how-to books-in the words of the editorial descriptions, "how to find God's will through the power of the Spirit"; "how to know and do God's will"; "how to be constantly transformed by the Holy Spirit."
There is only one book directly about the gospel, that our salvation comes from being forgiven, thanks to God's grace through the work of Christ. From many of these spiritual "how-to" books, one could easily get the opposite impression, that salvation is by works after all.
Certainly, there is a tradition in historic Christianity of personal piety, and this too is reflected in the bestseller list. Nine of the bestsellers are prayer books or books about how to pray. Personal devotions make up over 10 percent of the list...
Still, the Christianity of the bestseller lists tends to be personal, private, and interior, with little attention to objective theology or to the church.
Ironically, many of these bestselling Christian books-around 20 percent by my reckoning-have almost nothing to do at all with Christianity. Even books classified as "inspirational," in fact, often have no, or very little and generalized, Christian content. They offer practical tips, folk wisdom, business advice, and sentimental anecdotes, but they are wholly secular. Offering platitudes, pop psychology, self-help, and positive thinking-but no law, no gospel-there is little with which a nonbeliever could disagree. ... (Ibid.)
Notice the trend in books is to make
the reader feel good and to feel more spiritual. The following
is from Death of the Church Victorious (p. 308):
The millenarians transformed the Holy Spirit's role from conquering the world for Christ, which had shaped American Christian Culture, to little more than a personal, mystical experience and influence. America's Christian message was changed accordingly. F.M. Ellis, a Baltimore Baptist minister, spoke at the 1890 Baltimore millenarian Bible conference on the Holy Spirit, of which Rev. Amzi Clarence Dixon was an organizer. (In 1910, Dixon became pastor of Spurgeon's London Tabernacle.) At the conclusion of a discussion on the Holy Spirit's role in the church, Ellis said,
Our best service towards the spiritualization of the church will be found, I am persuaded, in our becoming personally more spiritual. (Quoted from Roots of Fundamentalism, p. 178.)
And the "snowball" placed
in motion by Mr. Ellis has grown to where it now controls the
vast majority of churches and "Christian" publishing
You are what you read continued:
For example, here are the "Three Secrets to Success": "(1) Be willing to learn new things; (2) Be able to assimilate new information quickly; (3) Be able to get along with and work with other people." OK, the secrets are out! This series from Multnomah, like the various Chicken Soup books, has become a franchise of at least eight titles so far, including lists for caring families, simple living, and smart living. (Sounds like the "Character First" lessons, and some of Gothard's material.)
SO WHAT CAN THE CBA BESTSELLER list tell us about how Christians today are engaging their culture? ...
Has Christianity become merely a cultural religion that must change with the culture culture rules the church rather than the church ruling the culture? Has the church simply become an appeaser for modern "pop" culture? "Christian" books, including "Bibles", are now being written to reflect the non-Christian culture, both inside and outside of the church. The prevailing culture now condones, even exalts, sodomy, adultery and fornication, so "Christian" books are now calling on the church to accept these evils, if it will continue to exist. "Bishop Spong proposes `a new Christianity' which will merge `Christ with Antichrist...'"
Though "overt cultural appeasers appeal mainly to the theologians, academics and intellectuals," these are the ones "producing the next generation of pastors" in the schools supported by the "average churchgoer."
The one book about church that did make the bestseller list is one of a plethora of "how-to" books on church growth, and the essence of their message is that the church needs to change its ways to appeal to-or appease-the dominant culture.
Mr. Veith points out how the CBA bestseller
list shows us how those who consider themselves conservative have
assumed the unbeliever's culture. I must say, go into the average
churchhas it not now become more of an entertainment center than
a center of proclaiming God's word? Is the emphasis on the "Worship
leaders" or is it on the preaching and teaching of God's
(Bettie's late husband, Jeff Ethell, an ordained Baptist minister, was a very good and prolific writer, with 60 or so hard back books in print, and thousands of articles published in various aircraft magazines. He wrote exclusively about aircraft. One of his publishers urged him to write Christian books, telling him that was where the real money is found. [The publisher would not have published them.] However, Jeff said that he would not lower himself to write the kind of Christian fluff that would sell.)
Note this statement:
While modernists tended to oppose all religion in the name of scientific rationalism, postmodernists in their relativism and anti-rationalism are quite open to any kind of "spirituality." That is to say, they are fine with spirituality as long as it remains inside the believer's head and makes no claim to be objectively true and valid for everyone...
Mr. Veith certainly hit the
nail on the head here Spirituality (that is Christianity, for
no other religion faces the opposition) is fine as long as it
remains in the believer's head, and makes no claim of absolute
and universal truth. (However, religions such as Islam face no
such scrutiny.) In other words, it is not religious freedom, but
religious toleration. Christianity is tolerate as long as it does
not require a change of lifestyle.
A "Christian" marriage is permitted, as long as the state is the one whose permission is sought. (See article by this writer on Coverture Marriage.) A church is permitted to operate as long as state permission is sought through Incorporation. (See Church Inc. by this writer.) Was not this the situation with Daniel?
It is interesting to note that the gospel message in Acts caused envy and conflict. However, it was not the message itself; it was the fact that the message changed lives, and caused people to depart from both the temple and idol worship. See Acts 13:45, 17:5 and 19:24, 25. (It was because of envy that the religious leaders delivered Christ, Mat. 27:18, Mk. 15:10.)
<en'-vi> ([ ha;n]qi , qin'ah]; [zh~lov, zelos], [ fqo>nov, phthonos]): "Envy," from Latin in, "against," and video, "to look," "to look with ill-will," etc., toward another, is an evil strongly condemned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is to be distinguished from jealousy. "We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another man's possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have" (Crabb's English Synonyms). (ISBE, sv. Envy.)
In other words, as long as the gospel does not change people, and the Left Behind gospel has no life changing power in it, for it is "Christian Fiction," the powers that be are unconcerned about the message. The message is not the problem. Everyone, except the Lord, is happy as long as the gospel remains internalized, and does not bother the surrounding "secular" society. The problem is the change that results from the message. When the gospel starts undermining those who have established themselves as gods, and it starts costing money for those who make their money from the idolatry, then there will be major persecution in the US.
One of the more obvious marks of a
Child of God is his love for the word of God. The child of God
will feel pressed to read and study the word of God. There will
be a hunger in the heart that can only be satisfied by reading
There are practical reasons for studying the word of God also:
Ephesians 4:14 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
In Ephesians 4, Paul identifies the various spiritual gifts that are given to individuals in the Gospel Church. The purpose of those gifts is to strengthen the believers in the Biblical faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, so they will not be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. In other words, so they will be firmly grounded in the faith.
Not only will a Christian desire to be in the word of God. Not only does a Christian need to be in the word of God for his own stability, but a Christian is commanded to study God's word. Without God's word, he has no firm foundation upon which to stand. (2 Tim. 2:14-18.)
Those who are not thoroughly grounded in the word of God are in very serious danger of being swept along with whatever doctrine sounds good or whatever doctrine appeals to the flesh. They are also in serious danger of disastrous compromise concerning their faith. That is to say, they do not know for themselves what is required of them by God. So they follow what others say about the word of God instead of finding out for themselves what God requires of them. (Acts 17:11.)
America is being paganized at an alarming rate. And, sad to say, it is being done not only with the approval of but many times with the help of those who say they believe the Bible.
I was an associate pastor in Louisiana for 7 years (1976-1983), just East of Bossier City, which is just across the Red River from Shreveport (Merrywoods Baptist Church, Haughton). Bossier City is the home of Barksdale Air Force Base, and we had a lot of AF men in our church. At that time, Barksdale was the home of a double wing of B-52s (bombers) and a double wing of KC 135s (tankers). For a time, we lived in the flight path; a loaded KC 135 taking off would literally rattle the windows of the house, as it passed right above the house.
Being a large AF base, there were a great number of AF personal living off base. Inter marriage between America Airmen and oriental women was a common sight, and we encountered some godly women among those wives. However, far more common were wives who retained their oriental culture, including their Buddhist faith. It was not unusual to go into a home and see a small statue of Buddha sitting in a corner and candles burning around that altar.
Christians should consider such an altar blatant paganism, but upon close examination, it appears that many Christians also have their pagan altar. (I also see "altars" built to Mary Maryiolatry)
Far too often, Christianity has devolved, even in "Bible Believing" and "King James Only" circles to little more than paganism, as the book that is called a "Bible" is considered by many little more than a talisman (charm) to keep evil away from the home. Though many professed Christians say they believe the Bible, those same people use it as though it were a cross hanging around their neck.
The following is from a section of NPR's Morning Edition (May 14, 2001), and it should cause great consternation, considering that the man they interviewed, Professor Brown, is a New Testament Theology teacher at Emory University's (United Methodist) Candler School of theology. The introduction of the program posted on NPR's (http://www.npr.org) web site reads:
The Bible In America (14.4 | 28.8) -- The Bible is the best-selling book of all time -- but fewer Americans are actually reading it. Host Bob Edwards speaks to biblical studies professor Michael Brown about the decline of biblical knowledge in America. (3:35) (Emp. added.)
The text of the program is as follows (Bob Edwards' comments are without quotes, and the emphasis is mine):
Biblical references are part of everyday speech. An eye for an eye. David and Goliath. Forbidden fruit. But a growing number of people are not familiar with the sources of these references. A Gallop poll last year showed that fewer people are reading the Bible. Only 59% of those surveyed said they read the Bible occasionally. Down from 73% in the 1980s. Emory University ' s New Testament professor Michael Brown (whose grammar was not good, ed.) says people have been moving away from traditional religious practices.
"Since 60s, there has been a decrease and let's say a general cultural knowledge about the Bible and awareness of what actually is in the Bible. I think that even as Fundamentalism has grown in some places, actually reading the Bible has decreased. And so people know generally or they think they know generally what is in the Bible, but they don't know the specifics."
Though the number of professions of Christ and of Christians who say they believe the Bible is growing, knowledge about the Bible is decreasing. The lack of scriptural understanding is allowing false doctrines to flourish unhindered among " Bible Believers." This lack of knowledge of the word of God permits the many false prophets Christ warned about to prosper and deceive many. (Mat. 24:11.) It is all the counsel of God, the entire word of God, that keeps at bay the grievous wolves who shall arise from within the ranks of the Church. (Acts 20:26-30.) We are continually warned by the Holy Spirit that those who do not keep themselves Biblically informed are victims of the wolves and of the false teachers that are so rampant in the church.
[Bob Edwards again] Do you find that you have to stop assuming that your students know the basics about the bible and (chuckle) you have to go back to teaching that?
"Yes. I mean at one point, I thought that things like knowing the books of the Bible was a Sunday School type topic, that they would have covered that. But they don't even know that. So you have, you have to really teach them the basics how many books there are, what order they come in, how many gospels there are. I mean, there's some basic stuff people just don't know."
Here Mr. Brown is saying that basic facts such as how many books in the Bible and what books make up the Gospels must be taught to theology students. What are the churches teaching?
[Bob Edwards] They know about the Ark. They know about Eden.
"In general. But they haven't read the story. They know, you know, the general story about the Garden of Eden, but when you actually take them to Genesis, and they read it, they are surprised. There's a lot in the story they didn't know."
Remember, these are theology students, and it sounds as though they are getting the facts about the word of God from Hollywood movies, including the "Left Behind" series, and from TV specials such as "Noah's Ark." Their ideas about the word of God are not coming from the word of God.
[Bob Edwards] The Bible continues to be a big best seller, so how is it that ignorance of the Bible is in the increase?
"That's amazing, isn't it? (Laugh) Yea, people buy it. Apparently, they are buying it in droves. They just don't read it. In some ways, its kind of like a talisman (charm) for some people. They feel that if they have it in their house, that makes things better. But they don't read it. And when I used to teach undergraduates, I would come across a lot of Freshmen students, in particular, who brought their Bibles with them to school that grandmother, or their mother, somebody gave them a Bible as a graduation gift, and they, and they brought it with them, but they just didn't read it."
How many church goers do the same thing. They carry their Bibles to church, but at home, they have not spent over a few moments that past week reading it, let alone serious study. It is, many times, considered little more than a talisman.
[Bob Edwards] I was going to suggest that, that maybe all these Bibles are being bought as gifts (chuckle).
"Yea. (chuckle) I think that is what's going on."
Once upon a time, you could talk about this in public schools.
"You could. I wouldn't have a problem with teaching Bible in public schools if you had people who, who were credited first of all, and who didn't do it as a platform for evangelization, but just taught the Bible within its proper context. But the thing that scares me is that most of the times when it's, when it's proposed as an elective course in public schools or something like that, it's not for that reason. It's for the reason of evangelization. It's because people feel that, you know, the moral climate in the country is become so bad that we need to inject a little moral truth into our educational process. And that really kind of scares me."
Sad to say, many Christians absolutely refuse to consider the context of the passages they build their faith upon. Can we blame the pagans for pulling passages out of their context? How many parents who do not even read the Bible on their own want the Bible taught to their children in the schools, whether public, private or Christian? Can we expect God to honour such a double standard?
[Bob Edwards] There is beautiful literature there, but it can't be divorced from faith.
The only proper context of a passage tells a man how to please God. Also, has the ready acceptance of divorce in our culture resulted from divorcing Scripture from faith?
"Right. But I think that there are a number of ways to deal with that in, in a manner that's intellectually honest, and doesn't seek to cut off conversation, or to promote one particular cultural agenda over that of others. I mean, I started studying the Bible because I thought it was important to my, to my faith journey, and it has been. But I'm much less now inclined to quote the Bible and to use it as a source of authority in a theological agreement than I was when I first started this, because, like now, I realize a lot more about the Bible, in that it has a lot of limitations in its use in that regard."
The "intellectually honest" person will teach the Bible
in its true context that is, that there is only one Christian
Faith, one God and only one way to that God, and that is through
the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Eph. 4:3-6.) The
exclusiveness of Christianity makes it anathema to the
Humanist Manifesto II
ELEVENTH: The principle of moral equality must be furthered through elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. ...
We deplore racial, religious, ethnic, or class antagonisms. Although we believe in cultural diversity and encourage racial and ethnic pride, we reject separations which promote alienation and set people and groups against each other; we envision an integrated community where people have a maximum opportunity for free and voluntary association.
We are critical of sexism or sexual chauvinism -- male or female. We believe in equal rights for both women and men to fulfill their unique careers and potentialities as they see fit, free of invidious discrimination. (http://humanist.net/)
Professor Brown's problem, and the world's problem, with the Holy Scriptures is that it promotes "one particular cultural agenda over that of others" a teaching the unconverted find absolutely repugnant. By the way, what in the world is a "faith journey"?
Michael Brown is a professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Emory University's Candler's School of Theology (Atlanta, Ga, ed.). He's the author of What They Don't Tell You, a Survivor's Guide to Biblical Studies.
End of program.
According to the web site:
"Professor Brown's research interests include prayer in the ancient world, issues in Pauline theology, early Christian biblical interpretation, early North African Christianity, the Bible and modern culture, and methods and strategies for teaching the Bible. His current research focuses on early Christian interpretations of the Lord's Prayer. ? (From http://www.emory.edu/CANDLER/Brown.html.)
Candler School of Theology is grounded in the Christian faith and shaped by the Wesleyan tradition of evangelical piety, ecumenical openness, and social concern. Its mission is to educate--through scholarship, teaching, and service--faithful and creative leaders for the church's ministries in the world.
Candler School of Theology is a professional school of Emory University and one of thirteen official seminaries of the United Methodist Church. Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1914, the school became part of Emory when the university was chartered in 1915, occupying the first building on the Atlanta campus.
The theology school offers programs leading to master of divinity, master of theological studies, master of theology, and doctor of theology degrees. The school also provides continuing education opportunities for clergy, church professionals, and lay persons. (http://www.emory.edu/CANDLER/)
The new Christian paganism.
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. (1 Sam. 4:3.)
The Bible has been reduced to the same level as the Israelites did with the ark. "It will save us!" and the Lord delivered them to the Philistines. Completing His purpose with the ark in the hands of the Philistines, He Himself delivered the ark from the pagan hands. What will the Lord do here, as we let the Bible lie unopened in our homes?
Psalms 119:97 MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Do we love the word of God? Is it our meditation?
If we are depending on the preacher or upon our spouse to acquire scriptural knowledge for us, we will not receive anything.
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
2 Timothy 2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
For the past twenty odd years (and
some of them have been very odd), I have been writing and lecturing
about the tragedy, futility and sheer insanity of the broad evangelical
church in America. My doctoral dissertation, while on the surface
a treatise on the sociological effects of Puritan theology on
the formation of distinctive American cultural values, was in
reality an attempt to examine academically what I saw personally
every Sunday morning: the failure of modern American Evangelicalism.
My Great Miscalculation
Throughout this study, and all the years of ministering in various churches and organizations, I made a serious, but understandable miscalculation I assumed that the real problem was ignorance; i.e., that my poor brothers suffered from a truncated and distorted view of the Christian life. If only they could be exposed to a consistent, coherent and fully Biblical worldview, then they would abandon the irrelevant mush they had been fed all their lives and adopt a more Biblical form of the Faith! Personal lives would be transformed, families reformed, the church invigorated, and maybe, just maybe, God might grant us true reformation for the nation.
And, for the past fifteen years, I have tried to find ways around the buzzwords (tithing, money, pride, consistency, commandments, law, &c., ed.) that offend so many, to break down difficult intellectual concepts into bite-sized chunks that someone without a Ph.D. could understand, and to give people a taste for the ebb and flow of Christian history so they could get a "feel" for what our Reformed ancestors had accomplished. My hope was that once broad evangelical Christians discovered the power of a fully orbed Christian Faith, they would abandon their defeatist compromises with humanism and join the battle to restore Christian civilization.
And it seems, I failed as often as I succeeded. Oh, many people loved the academics, flocked to my lectures, and really seemed to love a complete Christian worldview, until they realized that something more than simply adopting a new theoretical paradigm was required. It seems that the minute that many "Christians" understood that this new worldview actually required them to change in one area or another, I went from being a hero to a bum! And lest anyone think this is just my problem, please sit down and talk with your favorite pastor, elder, writer or speaker. Repeatedly, the same message comes through: people not only hate, but will actively persecute, men who insist that we have to live in conformity with the Scriptures.
The Real Problem
I suspect that the real problem facing the American church is not a lack of intellectual ammunition, but rather something far deeper and more serious: a lack of regenerate hearts. It is quite possible that the reason why so many "Christians" hate and fear the truth, adopt deviant theology, practice heterodox ethics and mire themselves in subjective religious experiences, is because, at rock bottom, their hearts have never been regenerated.
Think with me for a moment. Social scientists have been studying the mechanics of "conversion" for well over a century. Men are converted all the time; cults and pagan groups "convert" men to their godless religions regularly. Other men "convert" to the Communist or Nazi parties, still others to various humanistic philosophies like Darwinism or Naturalism. Men regularly "convert" from a "religious" worldview to a "secular" one: according to some studies, about 70% or more broad evangelical Christian children will do so by the age of 25. One can scientifically study the process wherein a person undergoes a life-changing experience, adopts a new worldview and develops the values, beliefs and behaviors associated with it.
Social scientists, of course, rule out a priori the supernatural; therefore, they attempt to study genuine conversions by the same methodology as they do "naturalistic" ones. Therefore, few Christians have found much interest in examining their research studies because we assume, a priori, that God does supernaturally regenerate wicked hearts. Therefore, the naturalistic mechanics are simply irrelevant because only God can convert a sinner.
However, in effect, the Christian theologian, and the secular social scientist are both correct (from a certain perspective), because they are talking about two different things. Regeneration is a change of heart, while conversion, psychologically speaking, is simply a change of the mind.
Admittedly, conversion of the heart should result in the mind's being changed, or in Scriptural terms,"renewed" (cf. Eph 4.- 23). From the heart of a man flows every other aspect of His being. Therefore, if a man's heart is changed, so also should his beliefs, values and behaviors (cf. Eph 4.-18f . Therefore, we can and should speak about a "converted life." But there are conversions, and there are conversions!
In other words, you can change a man's mind, without necessarily changing his heart. Many wellknown, time-tested and effective means of changing a person's beliefs and behaviors have nothing to do with changing his inner nature; the Chinese proved that to Allied POW's during the Korean War. Numerous 10step programs out there do have a remarkable success record. Furthermore, over the past 150 years since the rise of revivalism, there has been a tremendous amount of practical experimentation going on inside the evangelical church to "sell" the gospel; i.e., to get men to make a profession of faith. Then, using principles of conformity behavior, modeling, etc., the church can then shape and mold a person's external behaviors to resemble some aspects of Biblical character.
Such a "convert" may well look much like the real thing on the outside. He is a person whose social habits will mirror those of his peers. He is likely to find great personal peace and comfort from his private religious experience. He will normally live a selfcontrolled and respectable life just so long as the social support structures remain to keep him on the "straight and narrow."
But, he is not really "converted," because his heart has not been changed. He still thinks from a godless and Christless presuppositional perspective. He does not really value the things of God, nor desire the things of God, because his heart is still spiritually dead. I acknowledge that, for the most part, such a man is better off than his self-consciously consistent pagan peers. He is apt to refrain from drunkenness, immorality and vice. He is likely to hold down a job and provide for his family. Often, he is a "nice" guy (which many people confuse with being godly). But the essence of his life is still his own subjective, religious experience, not submission to Almighty God.
The Reason from the Apostasy
Now, here is the hypothesis for investigation: what if over the past 150 years, especially since the great Baptist and Methodist revivals overturned the Reformed consensus in this country, legions of these unregenerate men have entered the church? Disguised as sheep, they are really goats. Would this not help greatly to understand the widespread apostasy so common in broad Evangelicalism? Think about this: in the opening decades of the twentieth century, every mainline denomination apostatized into heresy by adopting theological liberalism. How could so many different churches, from so many different backgrounds and theological perspectives, all go wrong within just a short time, unless their members were in fact largely unregenerate?
While we cannot read a man's heart, we can read his fruit; Jesus was quite specific here - bad trees produce bad fruit (Mt. 7-17-22). Good trees produce good fruit. Therefore, "by their fruits you will know them." And sadly, the modern American evangelical church has produced some fairly nasty fruit over the past 100 years. The most successful churches seem to be the ones most willing to compromise on Biblical truth by offering a "threat-free" gospel. Immorality runs rampant through many evangelical churches (quietly covered up or ignored by most evangelicals). Many, many, "Christians" hate and fear the Law of God with an unholy passion and are willing to lie, cheat, pervert justice, slander and destroy those with whom they disagree. Too many "Christian" men are spiritual wimps dominated by shrill, acerbic and vicious women, who tear churches apart with frightening regularity.
Let me suggest that these people are not Christians, no matter how "orthodox" their profession may be. They are pod people, like in those cheesy old 50's movies, where aliens look like, talk like and act like human beings, but are really something nasty and sinister. They are among us, they fellowship with us, sometimes they preach from our pulpits, teach in our seminaries and serve on our elder boards. And the pod people threaten the stability, prosperity and future of the church.
I would argue that the key to spotting pod people is whether they really love and obey God's Law (cf. Jn 1-4.-15, 21, 1 Jn 3:24, etc.). For example, social pressure may keep a man from adultery, theft or murder; but how about those sins that are almost universally practiced in the average church? What about those who gossip, slander, backbite, whisper and bear false witness? Scripture says that they are just as likely to be pod people, as the humanist, the fornicator and the apostate (cf. Rom. 1:28-32, 2 Tim. 3:1-5, etc.). Of course, all Christians sin, but if the Spirit of God has regenerated a person's heart, then he will repent of that sin. He will not justify, rationalize or deny; he will repent and take the proper corrective action. But these sins go unrebuked, every day, in churches all across America.
And thus, the pod people continue to tear apart the Church of Christ with lies, slander, innuendo, creating divisions, factions and schisms. We are so busy dealing with the mess they make of the church that we have no time left for evangelism, discipleship, restoring marriages and families, and doing the work of the ministry. If the church is to survive, flourish and disciple the nations, we will have to start by cleaning out the pod people.
Rev. Brian M. Abshire, (B.A., M.A., Th.M., Ph.d.) © Chalcedon report, April 2002. Used by permission.
Here we are in Northern Virginia,
just South of Winchester, and about 60 miles from Washington DC.
I sure do not like being this close to DC, but this is where the
Lord has provided the place for us to live at this time. I was
asked how I liked Virginia, and I told them that the South was
right (in its fight for states' rights), and it was good to be
where they were right. However, I am finding that now Virginia
is a leader in the sacrificing of those rights, as everything
that is not already controlled is being attacked with great vigor
to be brought under central government control.
There are several good and well known men around here, including Lloyd Sprinkle in Harrisonburg, about an hour south of us (Sprinkle Publications) and William Einwechter up in Hopeland, PA, about 3 hours North of us. Both are strong "Reformed Baptists."
Bettie is homeschooling Christina, who fell quite a bit behind in her education over the past few tumultuous years. Lord willing, we plan to attend homeschooling conferences this coming spring with our material.
The area here is about as beautiful as any area can be. We can watch the sun rise over the North end of the Blue Ridge mountains, and watch the cars go around the Blue Ridge parkway from our breakfast table. Our particular location is not crowded with houses yet, but probably will not be many years hence. A man who owns a earth moving company bought all the property from a few hundred yards back of our property to the Shenandoah River (South fork, about a mile), and intends to keep it all in farm groundsort of as a hobby.
Here are a few pictures of our location looking from
Skyline Drive over our house. The location from where the pictures
were taken is about four miles from the North entrance. The house
the Lord has provided for the three of us is much larger than
we need, but there is reason for us being here in both this location
outside of DC and for being in this large house. As other home
owners know, the property tax (which is quite high because we
are within commuting distance of DC, where prices are extremely
high [not like the West Coast, however]) and utilities will remind
us of the high cost of living in this area, and keep us dependant
upon Him to supply all our needs.
Christina was able to speak for the first time to a group of young people over in Portsmouth, VA about her experience in Brazil. They were interested in emphasizing missions, so they invited Bettie, who was raised on the mission field, and Christina to tell them about a different culture, and how the Lord can and does work in those areas.
We can offer both paper and hard copy for a 30% discount, plus $5.00 shipping. (Paper, 17.50 + 5=22.50 ea.) It can be ordered from The Biblical Examiner, PO Box 81, Bentonville VA 22610, Or you can order it from Christian Literature World also with a 30% discount. I don't know what they will charge for postage, but it will probably be $5.00. PO Box 4908, Lafayette IN 47903 It can be ordered from Amazon.com also. Note: Amazon supports pedophilia, offering for sale "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers", by David L. Riegel. (See <http://www.afajournal.org/cover/culture_1.asp>) Maybe tell Amazon you would order from them if they did not promote pedophilia. I don't know yet when the hard back will be out.
If you want a signed copy, let me
The book would make good Christmas gifts.
Check our web site.
I have put together some small booklets
for homeschool meetings. They are made up of various articles
which have appeared in past Examiners that should be of
interest to homeschoolers. They are laser printouts, and saddle
stitched or spiral bound. They are available for a donation. I
have listed what is suggested - SD.
I have put together some small booklets for homeschool meetings. They are made up of various articles which have appeared in past Examiners that should be of interest to homeschoolers. They are laser printouts, and saddle stitched or spiral bound. They are available for a donation. I have listed what is suggested - SD.
8 ½ x 11 booklets, SD, $4 post paid.
Biblical Instructions to WOMEN & YOUNG LADIES.
Containing: 1) Instructions for a Godly Young Lady 2) Teaching Daughters to Blaspheme God 3) Marriage & Deceit 4) Sex Education 5) Women's Empowerment Movements 6) Feminization of America 7) The Value of a Woman
Concerning BILL GOTHARD
Containing: 1) Character Counts Examined (As used in the public schools to develop "character without God.") 2) Character First defended by Gothard 3) Character First, a workers view 4) Gothard's Homeschool Program
As seen by a pastor-parent 5) Law Resource F (Booklet 54, Gothard's Theology of Civil Government Examined.)
Articles by Dr Paul Cates, as appeared in The Biblical Examiner
1) Welcome to Homeschooling 2) Principles and Practices of Teaching Reading 3) What Can Children Learn & When 4) 12 Teaching Guidelines for Basic Psycholinguistic Skills 5) Developing the Total Child 6) What Every Home Schooling Parent Needs to Know about ADD 7) Dyslexia 8) Psychology: Psychiatry & Special, Education to the rescue?, Psychology Redefines Religion, Is Psychology a Science? 9) What's Wrong with Outcome-Based Education? 10) The Education Bloc, or Who Controls Government Education? 11) Why Home-Schooling is Important for America (by Samuel L. Blumenfeld)
Smaller Booklets, SD, $3 post paid.
MEN & RESPONSIBILITY
Containing: 1) Men & Responsibility 2) The Effeminate Male 3) Clement of Alexandria, 193 AD 4) The Virtuous Man, Job 29-31 5) Defend the faith, A call for young men to join the battle for God's Kingdom on earth
WAR AGAINST THE FAMILY
Containing: 1) War Against the Family (The strengthened state, Lev. 18) 2) Teaching Daughters to Blaspheme (Titus 2:3) 3) Family Law (Behind closed doors)
Containing: 1) Sex Education 2) Marriage & Deceit 3) License? Contract? Coverture? 4) My Marriage 5) Divorce 6) Homosexuality
THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE SENT CHANGE OF ADDRESS FORMS.
But to the rest, I need your help with addresses. It now costs us 70 ¢ for each return. Also, the PO, though their rates keep increasing, will not notify us of 911 address changes. I have been told that the address changes are not of the PO's doings, and they are not paid to notify the mailers, so they don't. Please notify us of your address changes if you want to continue to receive these papers.
The Destruction of Jerusalem by Peter Holford, 69 pg paper back. This book can be ordered from The Biblical Examiner, $6.00, plus $1.00 postage.
Thank you for your letters and for
The Biblical Examiner, as always good.
We are, as you state, under God's judgment hence our socialism, etc. Our efforts must be to revive and develop a strong Christian faith. We have the numbers but not the faith. If all who profess to believe the Bible from cover to cover really did, we would have a Christian country. Protests, dropping out, etc, will not do the job. RJ Rushdoony, 12/1993.
Thank you for your ministry to our family through TBE. I would like to request a copy of Jeff Pollard's booklet on modesty.
Sincerely Debbie Parker, Woodstock GA. 30189
Dear Brother Need,
I trust everything is going well with you. I hope the enclosed will help in your ministry. It is not much, but we as a church are going to try to send some as we can.
We would like to put a picture or something of you on our missions board, if you could send something. If you want to just e-mail, I can print it out.
Rob Cosby, Branded For Christ Baptist Church. Pearce AZ.
(Would you please consider supporting The Biblical Examiner. Ed.)
Subject: My Gratitude & Prayer Requests Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2002 07:04:40 -0700 (PDT) From: Ronald Jacutin To: email@example.com
Dear Friends in Baptist Examiner,
Thank you so much for your ministry. Thanks for the sacrifice and effort of Pastor Need in managing this ministry. It is a big help for us in the Fareast. The Lord's people truly need this kind of material for edification and more and deeper education of the genuine doctrines of grace. It is my prayer that God will richly bless this ministry and become a strong withness both in the world of Internet and in regular mail. Hope and pray that God is merciful to you and all your needs. At this time the only way we can contribute to your ministry is our prayers. I received the Issue Summer-August 2002. Thank you for this issue, especially you included the Calvinism Vs. Arminian issue. Please keep up the good work. God bless you richly.
Remain unworthy gospel servant saved by grace alone,
Pastor Rojac of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Davao City, Philippines
Folks; thanks for your site it is really wonderful. I am working in Japan and need to read some good Christian material. It is safe here but extremely Godless. Keep up the good work. My wife and I teach a Bible study in a small Baptist church and I teach English. We could always use some preaching tapes if your church or another can send us some out occasionally we would be very happy. God bless your love and efforts in the Lord.
Thanks James and Nora Benedict in Japan
(English is the second language world-wide, and it seems English will soon be a second language in the US. We regularly hear from overseas, and are only restricted by funds as to how much material we can send overseas. Pray with us for a Spanish translator. One man contacted us about translation, but he wanted 3-5 cents a word. Completely out of our range. Mr. Williamson in Chicago has a ministry of sending material into Spanish speaking countries, and he has asked us several times for our material in Spanish. [We have heard from a pastor in Cuba also.) There is a real dearth of theologically sound material in Spanish and Portuguese. However, there seems to be plenty of non-edifying fluff in all languages.)
WARNING ON CCMDavid Cloud has a 2-hour
video tape which gives a timely warning on the inroads made by
Contemporary Christian Music into fundamental churches. This takes
various forms and he shows excerpts of these from conferences
he has attended, etc. CCM is a controversial subject today but
its corruption cannot be written off as a "preference"
difference. To find out how to receive the video, or a huge book
on CCMor to subscribe to Bro. Cloud's O Timothy magazinecontact
him at 866/295-4143 (toll free), or firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud
AMY GRANT RETURNSRecently divorced-and-remarried "Christian" rock star Amy Grant is back with not one but two albumsone aimed at reviving old hymns, the other at the pop market. She began her career as a CCM singer but crossed over into secular rock, throwing the CCM industry into an identity crisis (2/1/99 CC). She grew up in Nashville, the daughter of a surgeon. Her family belonged to a Church of Christ ("works salvation") church. A 6/15 Houston Chronicle article notes: "Looking back at the hundreds of church services she attended as a child, Christian music star Amy Grant can't recall one sermon. It's the music that got to her." Music can be a strong power for good or evil. CCM/rock today is having a corrupting power and influence in many fundamentalist churches which ignore it at their peril. (Calvary Contender, 9/02)
WORSHIPING MUSIC OR GOD?The 9/01 Vanguard posed this question: "Have we, unknowingly, actually arrived at a position where music has replaced faith as the means by which we appropriate God's blessings and where the 'worship leader' rather than the evangelist is responsible for bringing people to God?" Churches are being filled with concert goers rather than congregations, and the music team are becoming performers rather than pastorsand often having more public presence and time with congregation members than does the pastor. (CC, 1\15\02)
From the `Net (Scan This News)
My last purchase, a few weeks ago, was a new Ford Truck. Normally I would be very happy as a new truck owner. However that is not the case. There is something in the owners manual that I think everyone should be aware of before you purchase a new 2003 Ford. On page 5 and 6 of the owners manual of my truck is the following:
"Event Data Recorder
The computer in your vehicle is capable of recording detailed data potentially including but not limited to information such as:
* the use of restraint systems including seat belts by the driver and passengers,
* information about the performance of various systems and modules in the vehicle, and
* information related to engine, throttle, steering, brake or other system status potentially including information related to how the driver operates the vehicle including but not limited to vehicle speed
This information may be stored during regular operation or in a crash or near crash event. This stored information may be read out and used by:
* Ford Motor Company.
* service and repair facilities.
* law enforcement or government agencies.
* others who may assert a right or obtain your consent to know such information.
ScanThisNews is Sponsored by S.C.A.N.
Host of the "FIGHT THE FINGERPRINT!" web page:
American and Japanese scientists plan to float a 5300-pound instrument capsule to an altitude of 23 miles in the hope of glimpsing the most elusive particles in the universe: antihelium nuclei. Their discovery would confirm the existence of antimatter galaxies, which have to exist if the big bang theory of creation is correct.
The December 2003 ascent will be the boldest attempt since NASA first lofted its balloon-borne super conducting spectrometer (BESS) in 1993. Previous missions produced clues of antihelium but there was no solid evidence. (Popular Science, 12/02)
And thus we see a major motivation in the billions of tax (fiat) dollars being spent by NASA is to disprove Divine Creation as recorded in Scripture, and to prove the "big bang theory of creation," that is, evolution that started with a "big bang."