“Methodist Pastor Uses Bible Verse to Defend Forcing Christians to Fund Abortions” Original article is from LifeNews.com

aliciabaker

As the title suggests, this Free Methodist, female, “Pastor” has twisted the very words of Jesus, to justify her pro-abortion stance. Here is what she had to say,

Jesus directs us to advocate for a just society that allows people to live their lives to the fullest. Jesus directs us to advocate for a just society that allows people to live their lives to the fullest. In John 10:10, Jesus says, ‘I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full,’ Baker said. “And this means supporting access to affordable birth control, because by permitting individuals to plan if, whether and when to become pregnant, birth control allows us to live our fullest lives.” You can read the full article on LifeNews.com

You might ask, “How someone could twist God’s word to justify such evil?” Well it starts with liberal theology. You might ask, “What is liberal theology?”

Here is a quote from GotQuestions.org answering that question;

Answer: In liberal Christian teaching, which is not Christian at all, man’s reason is stressed and is treated as the final authority. Liberal theologians seek to reconcile Christianity with secular science and modern thinking. In doing so, they treat science as all-knowing and the Bible as fable-laden and false. Genesis’ early chapters are reduced to poetry or fantasy, having a message, but not to be taken literally (in spite of Jesus’ having spoken of those early chapters in literal terms). Mankind is not seen as totally depraved, and thus liberal theologians have an optimistic view of the future of mankind. The social gospel is also emphasized, while the inability of fallen man to fulfill it is denied. Whether a person is saved from his sin and its penalty in hell is no longer the issue; the main thing is how man treats his fellow man. “Love” of our fellow man becomes the defining issue. As a result of this “reasoning” by liberal theologians, the following doctrines are taught by liberal quasi-Christian theologians:

1) The Bible is not “God-breathed” and has errors. Because of this belief, man (the liberal theologians) must determine which teachings are correct and which are not. Belief that the Bible is “inspired” (in that word’s original meaning) by God is only held by simpletons. This directly contradicts 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2) The virgin birth of Christ is a mythological false teaching. This directly contradicts Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 2.

3) Jesus did not rise again from the grave in bodily form. This contradicts the resurrection accounts in all four Gospels and the entire New Testament.

4) Jesus was a good moral teacher, but His followers and their followers have taken liberties with the history of His life (there were no “supernatural” miracles), with the Gospels having been written many years later and merely ascribed to the early disciples in order to give greater weight to their teachings. This contradicts the 2 Timothy passage and the doctrine of the supernatural preservation of the Scriptures by God. 

5) Hell is not real. Man is not lost in sin and is not doomed to some future judgment without a relationship with Christ through faith. Man can help himself; no sacrificial death by Christ is necessary since a loving God would not send people to such a place as hell and since man is not born in sin. This contradicts Jesus Himself, who declared Himself to be the Way to God, through His atoning death (John 14:6). 

6) Most of the human authors of the Bible are not who they are traditionally believed to be. For instance, they believe that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible. The book of Daniel had two authors because there is no way that the detailed “prophecies” of the later chapters could have been known ahead of time; they must have been written after the fact. The same thinking is carried over to the New Testament books. These ideas contradict not only the Scriptures but historical documents which verify the existence of all the people whom the liberals deny.

7) The most important thing for man to do is to “love” his neighbor. What is the loving thing to do in any situation is not what the Bible says is good but what the liberal theologians decide is good. This denies the doctrine of total depravity, which states that man is incapable of doing anything good and loving (Jeremiah 17:9) until He has been redeemed by Christ and given a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

There are many pronouncements of Scripture against those who would deny the deity of Christ (2 Peter 2:1)—which liberal Christianity does. Scripture also denounces those who would preach a different gospel from what was preached by the apostles (Galatians 1:8)—which is what the liberal theologians do in denying the necessity of Christ’s atoning death and preaching a social gospel in its place. The Bible condemns those who call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20)—which some liberal churches do by embracing homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle while the Bible repeatedly condemns its practice.

Scripture speaks against those who would cry “peace, peace” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14)—which liberal theologians do by saying that man can attain peace with God apart from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and that man need not worry about a future judgment before God. The Word of God speaks of a time when men will have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5)—which is what liberal theology does in that it says that there is some inner goodness in man that does not require a rebirth by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ. And it speaks against those who would serve idols instead of the one true God (1 Chronicles 16:26)—which liberal Christianity does in that it creates a false god according to its own liking rather than worshiping God as He is described in the whole of the Bible

You can see that it boils down to a belief in man’s reason, and his culture, over the Bible. If you’ve ever wondered how people ignore scripture verses like;

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB Strong’s)  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

1 Timothy 2:12-15 (NASB Strong’s)  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.  For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

Titus 1:5-9 (NASB Strong’s) For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the  overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

Now you have your answer. They ignore these verses because they interpret them through their modern liberal theological hermeneutic which denies the accuracy, and authority of Scripture.

The Free Methodists have been in trouble for a long time. They are almost as liberal as the Episcopalians. One of the first things that happens when a denomination starts down the road of liberal theology is that they start ordaining women as elders/pastors. When you see that happening, you know they have put their feet on the other side of the slippery slope. Satan’s lies haven’t changed over the years. He tells us to not believe God’s words, and that we can be like God. We can live how we want to live. Don’t believe people who claim to be Christian, and are also pro-abortion, because chances are, they are not Christian at all, but self-deceived dupes of the devil.

When Jesus, God incarnate, the eternal Son, the second Person of the Triune God said in John 10:7-10 (NASB) “So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Does it look at all like He was trying to justify having a convenient, child-free life, of sexual immorality, and infanticide? Nope! In context, it looks like He is saying that in Him you can actually have true life. You can be forgiven of your sins, granted true repentance and faith, be born again spiritually, and live for all eternity with Him. Not only that, but while you are here on this Earth, living your life, you can do it for the glory of God, and be free from the bondage of sin! That isn’t a license to go and murder babies. It isn’t permission to do whatever your evil little unregenerate hearts want to do as false converts! Eternal life, in Christ our Savior, and Lord, free from sins bondage, is what Jesus is talking about. He is not talking about the one command of the satan worshipers, “Do as thou will.”

False Teacher Andrew Wommack (Whoa Mac!) Really, Stop! Stop Teaching Heresy!

aw1

Please Stop Listening To The False Teachings Of Andrew Wommack!  Here is a link to the video of Andrew Wommack teaching so that you know I’m not making this stuff up. https://youtu.be/i4BARuTQ-nc

 

He relies on his subjective feelings which he believes are being directed by the Holy Spirit to make decisions about where in the Bible he is going to study. This removes the ability to utilize proper hermeneutics. When he does this, he can’t have the broader context needed to harmonize scripture with scripture. This mystical decision making process is abiblical.

After picking the book of Numbers to study from, he skips the importance of the genealogies because he believes them to be tedious and boring. I wonder if he knows what theopneustos means?

At about 8 minutes and 16 seconds in he claims he makes it a habit to not teach things that are new for about a year, and that he sits on them, but of course he is going to break his own rule and teach a new teaching. What does the completely revealed finished word of God have to say about new teachings?

At about the 15 minute mark Andrew starts doing what many other false teachers do, he gets a concordance out and makes a hash out of Hebrew to invent a false teaching that is not in scripture and then impose it on his listeners. He uses it to claim that God does not afflict people. I wonder if he ever heard of Pharaoh, Jonah, Job, or for that matter the curse God inflicts all of Adam’s progeny with? Just, wow!… We all know from reading the same scriptures that Andrew is twisting, that Moses is disgusted with the people, and their selfish greed, and entitled feelings. Leading them was a great burden.

20 minute mark he starts on again about getting impressions from God and just knowing things in our hearts. This is no substitute for what God actually says in His word. How does one know if the idea that popped into their thoughts was not just of their own imagining, or even worse some demon speaking to them? I know, let’s ask Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Ellen G. White… NOT!

He keeps abusing 1 Corinthians 10:11-13. I wonder what he would tell the martyrs? Don’t worry, the lions won’t eat you, the flames won’t be that hot… Come on… The intent of God in His word where He says, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” in context means that you can make it through any circumstance by God’s grace. He provides a way out of sin, so that you won’t have to sin while being beheaded burned alive, cut off in traffic, being left behind by an adulterous spouse, the death of a child. You can go through these things, and by His grace, choose to not sin. It doesn’t mean bad things will never happen to you. This is insane.

This idea that the men appointed to help Moses was not from God is just more nonsense. Did not Christ have Apostles? Are the Churches to not have more than one Elder? Come on Andrew… Stop making such a hash out of scripture. You twist it like it is free. One day you’ll have to answer for all your twisting.

@ 26:50 he starts in again about suffering not being God’s will, and he is placing a tremendous works righteousness burden on the people listening to him, that he himself doesn’t even believe or perform. He preaches a, “life enhancement Christianity” that is just not true. We don’t have less suffering in our lives when we come to faith, matter of fact, we suffer for our faith, unless you don’t believe what God incarnate said in His own word. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it ticks me off to hear him talking about, “God’s best.” How does he know what is God’s best for you? We need to suffer. It is part of growing in faith. It is part of being sanctified. Again, what would this clown tell Polycarp while he was being martyred? “Oh Polycarp, you just don’t lay your burdens down on the Lord enough. You just aren’t using the faith God gave you. You need to try harder to be more spiritual like me because I don’t have any problems…” Yeah, right! Pack it in and go home Andrew before you hurt anyone else!!!

@ 30:10 Andy say, “God doesn’t put any negative things on us.” Well, God says in Isaiah 45:6,7 

” 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun

That there is no one besides Me.

I am the LORD, and there is no other,

7 The One forming light and creating darkness,

Causing well-being and creating calamity;

I am the LORD who does all these.”

or how about Deuteronomy 32:39,

“‘See now that I, I am He,

And there is no god besides Me;

It is I who put to death and give life.

I have wounded and it is I who heal,

And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”

Oh and say, let’s not forget the flood, or Sodom and Gomorrah, or plagues and famines sent as discipline upon the people. Andrew’s theology is so anthropocentric it is no wonder his doctrines are so focused on life enhancement through the faith he invented. In Romans 1 we can see God’s punishment in the form of people worshiping created things. This includes anthropocentric religion as well. Romans 1:21-25 “21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” If your theology centers around man, you are an idolater.

@30:43 Wommack’s god doesn’t control any of the negative things that happen to us. His god isn’t sovereign.

So if 1 Corinthians 10 isn’t about not suffering, what is it really about? I’m glad you asked. It is about being tempted to sin against the Lord in several different ways. It is focused on the glory of God, and obedience to Him as worship. If you look at the verses in context you’ll see that, not only did God allow suffering, He caused it as punishment and discipline on His people for giving in to sin. Let’s take a look at the scripture in context. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

” 1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

In verses 1-5 we see that the ones, who persevered in faith in Christ, were the ones whom God was well pleased with. The rest God was putting under discipline. Verse 6 is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t go after the sin that they went after, duh! The first group of sinners mentioned was the idolaters, then the immoral out of which God killed 23,000. Next were the ones who doubted and tried the Lord, He sent serpents to kill some of them. Then there were the grumblers, the ones who complained about God’s providence. God destroyed them with the destroyer, an angel sent to kill them in the desert. After reading all of this in addition to the verse that so often gets twisted, we can see that God is talking about sin here. In Christ, He has provided a way out for His elect. We can choose to not sin, in any given temptation because we are no longer slaves to sin, but to Christ. The Holy Spirit is in us, we are born again, made dead to sin and alive to Christ. When temptation comes, fight against it with the promise of the gospel, and a view of Christ’s sufferings on the cross on behalf of you, because of your sins. If you do that, you won’t want to add suffering to Christ so to speak, not that you could, but figuratively because as we know all of your sin, past, present, and future, was paid for over 2000 years ago by Jesus.

I watched the rest of the video and there was more and more about God telling you what to do in some mysterious way, via a word, or prompting. It was getting tedious and sickening to hear him keep burdening people with uncertainty, when the Bible is so clear. People, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO, READ THE BIBLE!!!

@ 38:20 He talks about his skin cancer, and how he is committed to healing, so he won’t go to the doctor over it. Now you know as well as I do, even though he told other people to do what they wanted in that regard, he made it sound like he was superior and the example, because he is committed to healing. Obviously if they decided to go to the doctor, they must not be. This is spiritual malpractice. He could be costing people their health with this pernicious nonsense.

He then goes on to tell people they have created their financial burdens themselves. I agree that some people have, but what about medical hardships that cause financial hardships, oh wait… That’s your fault to for not being committed to healing. Silly me…

If this one lesson didn’t offer enough health and  prosperity false gospel for you, don’t worry…  He has many more available on youtube for me and others like me to correct.  Please take care, and read your Bible.  I agree with Andrew on that.  Read your Bible apart from his teachings.  Systematically study it from beginning to end.  If you do that, and still agree with Wommack, I pray the Holy Spirit will correct you.  Here is some more on Wommack.

Who is surprised over the lost world’s response to the Nashville Statement?

WeddingatCana_StainedGlass

Who is surprised over the lost world’s response to the Nashville Statement? I’m not. I don’t believe any of the signers are surprised either. The liberal, “Christians” are shocked and surprised by the Nashville Statement. I don’t know why they are so shocked. It isn’t like we changed our tune. We’ve been affirming scripture over culture all along. As is often the case with liberals, it boils down to the redefinition of words.

It is almost like they have a different religion than we do… They call themselves, “Christians” yet they deny the authority of scripture. (Think God’s Word is wrong.) They say silly things like, “The table is a little bigger than that.” “The path is broader than you think.” “God’s love trumps theology.” “Love is love.” You get the idea. None of it is biblical. When you remind them that, (Matt 7:13, 14) “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” they insist that their feelings about God’s love trump what the scripture actually says.  They say, “My God isn’t as small and black and white as the way you understand her/him/x to be.” 

I talked with one who claims the Bible says nothing about homosexuality being a sin. When confronted with scripture from the Old Testament, he denies it and claims we are under a new Covenant. We are in a New Covenant, but the scripture from the Old Testament is pertinent. It demonstrates what God says about homosexuality. God is immutable. He doesn’t change. What was sin years ago is still sin.

So with that argument dismissed by the liberal, I moved to the New Testament. I cited scripture where homosexuality is listed along with other sins making it evident that it is included as sin. The liberal dismissed this as an interpretation problem on my behalf. He insisted that this is only about homosexual sex outside of marriage and that homosexuals at that time were being married in the Church and that their union was not sinful. When I asked him how he got there from what the scripture says, his response was less about scripture and more about how his view is from our modern context, and love. He also presumed to imagine how he though Jesus would respond now.

It is evident that liberal Christianity is just a redefining of the word, “Christian.” It isn’t Christian at all. They may claim Jesus as their savior, but they don’t really trust or believe Him. They deny His word, and they deny Him the ability and authority to define what sin is. They reserve for themselves the ability to define what sin is and is not. If you don’t know what sin is, how can you truly repent? If you don’t see yourself as a sinner, why would you want a Savior?

At the end of the day, don’t be alarmed by your liberal family, or friend’s response to the Nashville Statement. Understand that they are more than likely still in the dark and lost. Try to correct them from scripture. Pray for them. Don’t be swayed from the truth by their strange arguments. Even if their arguments manipulate your emotions remember, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Trust God’s word, not your feelings.

Eastern Orthodox Church and the Gospel?

Patriarch-Kirill-Orthodox-Pascha

I was looking for a Youtube video of an Eastern Orthodox Father explaining the gospel when I found the one below.  After watching it, I’m not sure they know what the gospel is.  Was it just me, or was his explanation convoluted and imprecise?  After listening to it, I’m more unsure of what they believe than when I began.  It seems to be the normative for the EOC.  It is almost like they purposely leave things unclear.  It is like buying a car from a used car salesman in a fancy outfit who says, “Come on, trust me.  I’m looking out for you.” but then he won’t let you look under the hood, or even open the car door before you buy, and when you ask him what size engine it has, he just assures you that it is wayyy better than your other car, because it is the oldest car around.

The gospel is fairly simple to explain as a Protestant.  That is because we hold the Bible, God’s Word, as our authority for our faith.  Ya know why? Because it is God’s Word…  Here it is in a nutshell, we are sinners. God is perfectly righteous. We can’t be good enough to make up for our sins. Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, took on human flesh, was born of the virgin Marry, lived a perfect sinless life, and was righteous. He was truly God, and truly man. He went to the cross, had the wrath of God poured out on Him that we had coming to us, and paid for our sins.  This justified us to God.  If we repent of our sins, turn from them and turn to Christ, trust in His work on the cross where He atoned for us, and believe only in Him and His work for our salvation, God considers us as righteous as Jesus.  His righteousness is imputed to us once we repent and believe.  After that moment, we are saved, and can never be lost again.  From that point on, God will conform us to His Son’s likeness, in the sense that we will begin to hate our sin, and love God and His will more.  We will submit to Him more.  We will grow in the knowledge of our own personal sins, as well as grow in holiness.  OK so maybe I didn’t make it as simple as, “Repent of your sins, believe in Christ, then you are saved.”  I could have, because in a sense, it is that simple.

The EOC explanation of the difference between the EOC and Protestants gospel was kind of useless to me.  I don’t know how it could be good news to anyone.  It almost sounded like the guy was trying to say they believe you can be dead and get saved.  If that is true, then the Bible is a lie.  If the Bible, being God’s Word is a lie, then it isn’t God’s Word.  I trust the Bible and not the EOC’s man made traditions.

Rob Bell, a Picture of a Heretical, New Age, Emergent Movement Guru.

Rob-Bell0

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.” Rob Bell

This quote was presented to me without context as a standalone statement. First I will address it as is. Then I will address it in context to the entire quote.

As a direct answer to this ludicrous assertion I will simply reference the mind of God revealed in His Word.

“ 18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NASB)

To the person who is a friend of the world, the gospel is foolish, and they are enemies of God.


1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:1-10 (NASB)

Only the people being saved will appreciate the gospel. Everyone else will hate it to varying degrees. Some will seem indifferent to it, while others hate for it will be evident. If two people are looking at Christ and His gospel, and one has a new nature that desires the things of God and hates sin, and the other person is not regenerate, they are still in the world, and their fleshly passions still rule them, the first one will see Christ and His gospel as exceedingly good news to be desired above all things. He will be like the man who sells all he owns to purchase the field with the precious pearl in it. The other man will think the first is a fool, and mock him. He will spend his life a slave to his own pleasures.

Now I will address the quote in context. I had to look it up, as I do not read Rob Bell’s works as he is a heretic and outside of orthodoxy. It was from his book, “Velvet Elvis.”

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.” Rob Bell

Bell is attempting to relate his opening statement to a homogenous group called, “the church.” He tries to relate the two by claiming that, “the church” is wrong for, “trying to convert people and convince them to join.” He claims that instead, “It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display.”

Bell does not define what, “the church” is. His opening statement is not supported by the following sentences of the paragraph. As I demonstrated above, the Bible is clear about whom the gospel is good news to. It cannot be good news to those who are ultimately to perish outside of Christ. They will reject it, and continue on in rebellion to God. Using this statement to start his paragraph was not proper. I understand what he was attempting to say in his inaccurate use of language. First, let’s assume that when he references, “the church” that he means all of the people, past, present, and future, from all nations, and tribes, from all over the planet, who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, being brought to new life, who see how detestable their sins are, and are humbled by them in contrast to the holiness and righteousness of God, and have repented of their sins, and put their trust and faith in God incarnate, their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered the penalty of their sins on the cross of His crucifixion, paying for them completely, dying, being buried, and resurrected on the third day, conquering death and sin on behalf of His elect. He would have been more accurate to say, “The Church should demonstrate the grace, and sacrificial love of Christ to the lost world, in their words, and deeds, motivated by their new natures, and renewed minds, by the will of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them.”

Words have meanings, and the imprecise language of Rob Bell and his ilk causes much misunderstanding and confusion. If he desires to be understood properly he should be more precise.

Another statement was presented along with the first, by the individual who presented the statement to me. They wrote, “Blessed are those who are more right than others.” Said Jesus never.”

First, this statement implies that the Jesus of this statement doesn’t care about being doctrinally accurate. It also implies that to be concerned with doctrinal accuracy is to be equated with un-Christ-like attitudes.

We know from reading the progressive revelation of scripture, which is the mind of the incarnate and eternal Word, who being God Himself, in the second person of the Trinity, revealed His will for us, and to us, in the scriptures, has explained true doctrines and refuted false ones, as well as condemned those who taught false doctrines as teachers of the devil’s doctrines. He called them, children of their father the devil.

43“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” John 8:43-47 (NASB)

Jesus is the true and living way, and as we can see from what he said in John 8, He is definitely concerned with true doctrine about Him. If someone says they know Jesus, I would ask them questions about Jesus to see if we are talking about the same Jesus. What I know about my Savior is very important. It is the difference of knowing the true Jesus as He has expressed Himself in scripture, and knowing a cheap counterfeit that cannot save anyone. While it is true Jesus never specifically said the above quote, it is also true that contrary to the intent of the quote Jesus did always teach the truth, and require it of His followers. Don’t be fooled by slick sayings. As God said,

4I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. 5For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

6Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

      8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Colossians 2:4-8 (NASB)

Let’s take a closer look at the tradition of using icons, especially by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

theotokosofiveronpixelized

I attended my Son-in-law’s baptism in to the Eastern Orthodox Church. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was aware that they utilized icons, and relied heavily on extra-biblical traditions in the practice of their faith. If we are honest, very many Churches practice traditions that are not in the Bible. They aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are also not necessarily right. I am not a member of the E.O.C. I had some questions about some of the traditions I witnessed. I asked around, and everyone was quite eager to answer my questions. They were pleasant, and friendly. I had a nice time talking with several of the folks after the baptism and first communion. I also took some free booklets home with me for further reading.

One of the booklets I took was titled, “No Graven Image” by Jack Sparks, Ph.D. I figured that this would be geared towards a person who was not familiar with their traditions and should give at least a rudimentary explanation of their tradition of using icons. I was correct. Although I didn’t find any of the explanations very compelling.

A painted picture, of a Biblical scene, for people to appreciate, is different than bowing to, kneeling in front of, praying to/through, or kissing a picture, as if you are doing it to the person depicted. Christian themed art is not the same as venerated icons. I am not willing to say that every person in the E.O.C. views and understands icons the same. I am also not willing to say that all of them are idolaters. I am willing to say that I don’t agree with the blurring of lines that comes along with calling it, honoring, or veneration.

I want to make it simple. If you believe that you can pray to a dead person to have them pray for you, you are wrong. Christ is our intercessor. We pray to Him. We don’t need a Priest. The office of Priest is also fulfilled by Christ. Of course, that is a topic for another discussion. If you kiss the picture of Jesus, while thinking and feeling like you are kissing the real Jesus, you are wrong. I also don’t agree with their use of Mary icons. I didn’t get a booklet for that. I did ask about it though. They esteem Mary in excess. Not like the Roman Catholic’s do, but still more than I believe they should. If you think that looking at an artistic rendering of Jesus, is going to help you have a deeper experience of faith, I would posit that perhaps you don’t have a high enough view of scripture.

Jack Sparks argues that as Christians attempt to emulate Jesus, or Paul that they should also use icons to help them. I disagree. Sparks says, “When Orthodox Christians honor an icon of one of the saints by bowing before it, they are intent upon the godly example of that saint and upon following that example.” I don’t see any value in what he asserts. I think we should derive our knowledge of their character and behavior from scripture. We know of them from scripture. It is their character and behavior we emulate. We don’t use icons for that. We use the word of God.

There was no direct Biblical support provided to justify the tradition of icons. The scriptural support cited as evidence in the booklet had little to nothing to do with the topic of idolatry or in justifying the Eastern Orthodox position. Sparks also cited works of some early Christians as historical support for their traditions. I can always do the, “My church father can beat up your church father thing” but that would be counterproductive. Just because they did it in the past doesn’t mean we should still be doing it. I can understand how in a time before mass circulation of printed books, how they would rely more on pictures to tell a story. I get it, but it is not the same. It has taken on a ritual of its own. It has become idolatry, even if it didn’t start out that way. There are some within the E.O.C. who don’t use the icons in an idolatrous manner, but I think that it is a detriment to the faith. I think it is a tradition that needs to go away. We have the fullness of God’s word, given by progressive revelation over the years. It is the most printed book in the world. It is widely available in many languages, even for free from different ministries. We should be reading it, and regarding the content therein, as much higher and better than pictures.

The booklet compares people’s misplaced respect of Pastors, or the Bible, to the Eastern Orthodox treatment of icons. Just because people do something doesn’t make it Biblical. I don’t think people should venerate the Bible, but rather the contents of it. It contains the word of God. I don’t agree with respecting Pastors over any other brother. We don’t even have the title in the Church I attend. We have Elders. They are not held in any higher regard than anyone else. They are servants.

I realize many of the folks in the E.O.C. are probably very Bible literate and do in fact esteem the word of God highly. When I say that they don’t have a high enough view of scripture it is in comparison to their desire to experience their faith in some other manner. It is as if there is something they feel is missing from the practice of their faith. They find something about the traditions of the E.O.C. fulfilling. I think if God’s word were more to them, they wouldn’t have the desire to feel their faith. I could be completely wrong here. This is just my opinion.