Sunday, April 30, 2006

Broad Enough for Mormons?

In a previous post about Barna’s stats on the portion of the adult population that are born again (45% according to Barna), I mentioned that the number of people who are actually “born again” are really only 9%. That is if you analyze the categories. The first category is extremely broad and includes 36% of the adult population. The basic criteria is simply “made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.”

The other category that included 7 core biblical beliefs are what I would see as being necessary for a clear definition of saving faith. This was the category that comprised a mere 9% of the adult population.

In a June 2001 article by George Barna, 34% of Mormon adults fall under the category of “born again” according to Barna's broad criteria.

“In total, 34% of the adults who attend a Mormon church say they have made a personal commitment to Christ that is important in their life today and also say that when they die they know they will go to Heaven solely because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.”

This is extremely deceptive and shows just how lacking evangelicalism is in clearly defining the gospel. The lack of clarity is causing confusion and creating lack of discernment. Biblical illiteracy has become so problematic that many simply do not understand what they believe, let alone be able to adequately explain it to others. When someone approaches them from another faith using the same terminology they are familiar with, they readily accept that they are on the same page.

While evangelicals are rapidly losing ground in biblical literacy and discernment, groups such as Mormons have made considerable strides in apologetics and have become extremely deceptive in their tactics.

When we reduce our faith to a lowest common denominator in a supposed attempt to avoid being offensive, thinking that this is the best way to reach people, we do nothing more that leave fertile soil for heresy to take root in the church.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Yes, The Same Pragmatic Approach.

For those who may not be convinced that the "emerging" movement employs the same basic pragmatic approach as the "seeker-sensitive" movement, here is an excerpt from an article in Reformation 21 magazine that makes that observation. Although the characteristics may differ, even significantly, the underlying principle is basically the same. Jason Robertson posted on this some time ago and took some grief over it, but I agree that the principle of pragmatism is basically the same.

"Interestingly, although emergent church leaders disagree with the seeker-sensitive, church-growth model of the church they share the same underlying principle of pragmatism. The reason we need to “re-paint” and “rediscover” Christianity is because the old model doesn’t work anymore. Author’s like Leonard Sweet argue that we need new kind of Christianity, a post-modern Christianity if we have any hope of reaching a post-modern world. Beyond the subtle arrogance of such a proposition there is a beating principle of pragmatism. This movement seems to be fundamentally driven by the question, “what will work?” instead of the Biblical question, “what has God said?”. In the pursuit of “relevance” and “authenticity” - the holy grail of the seeker-sensitive movement 20 years ago and the liberal church before that - this movement is also in danger of leaving historic, biblical Christianity behind. Consequently, it is destined to be one more “ism” in church history which ends up in the garbage heap of failed philosophies." (Emphasis Mine)

[Reformation 21, Review by Dale Van Dyke of Rob Bell's book, "Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith"]

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Joy and Hope of the Resurrection of Christ.

Excerpt from:

"Christ Exalted "


"Jesus Christ Gloriously Exalted Above All Evil in the Work of Redemption" - 1738
by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death." (1 Corinthians 15:25, 26)

II. Here is matter of exceeding great encouragement for all sinful miserable creatures in the world of mankind to come to Christ. For let them be as sinful as they will, and ever so miserable; Christ, in the work of redemption, is gloriously exalted above all their sin and misery.

How high soever their guilt has risen, though mountains have been heaping on mountains all the days of their lives, till the pile appears towering up to heaven, and above the very stars; yet Christ in the work of redemption appears gloriously exalted above all this height. — Though they are overwhelmed in a mighty deluge of woe and misery, a deluge that is not only above all their heads, but above the heads of the highest mountains, and they do not see how it is possible that they should escape; yet they have no reason to be discouraged from looking to Christ for help, who in the work of redemption, appears gloriously above the deluge of evil. Though they see dreadful corruption in their hearts, though their lusts appear like giants, or like the raging waves of the sea; yet they need not despair of help, but may look to Christ, who appears in the work of redemption, gloriously above all this corruption.

If they apprehend themselves to be miserable captives of Satan, and find him too strong an adversary for them, and the devil is often tempting and buffeting them, and triumphing over them with great cruelty; if it seems to them that the devil has swallowed them up, and his got full possession of them, as the whale had of Jonah; yet there is encouragement for them to look again, as Jonah did, towards God’s holy temple, and to trust in Christ for deliverance from Satan, who appears so gloriously exalted above him in the work of redemption.

If they are ready to sink with darkness and sorrows, distress of conscience, or those frowns of God upon them, so that God’s waves and billows seem to pass over them; yet they have encouragement enough to look to Christ for deliverance. These waves and billows have before exalted themselves against Christ, and he appeared to be infinitely above them. — And if they are afraid of death, if it looks exceeding terrible, as an enemy that would swallow them up; yet let them look to Christ who has appeared so gloriously above death, and their fears will turn into joy and triumph.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Barna’s Wacky Stats.

According to a new report by George Barna, 45% of adults meet the criteria of being born again. That would mean that close to half of the adult population is born again. But don’t waive the victory flag just yet. A closer look at the criteria reveals something different, at least if you look at things from a biblical perspective.

Barna apparently has two categories of born again Christians. The first one involves a broad definition of those who have “made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.” In this category, the respondents questioned did not describe themselves as born again, but merely met Barna’s criteria. They also did not meet the criteria to be called evangelicals. This category constitutes 36% of the adult population.

The other category is made up of evangelicals who meet the criteria mentioned above, plus the seven "core beliefs that mirror those taught in the Bible." These represent 9% of the adult public. The seven core beliefs are as follows:

  • Saying that their faith is very important in their life today
  • A belief in the responsibility to share their faith with non-Christians.
  • Believing that Satan exists.
  • Salvation is only through grace alone, not works.
  • Believing in the sinless life of Jesus Christ.
  • Affirming the accuracy of the Bible.
  • Believing God is all-knowing, all-powerful, the perfect deity who created and rules the universe today.

After reading the article, I had to think to myself “Huh?” The second category more accurately reflects what it means to be born again. How can one claim to possess saving faith without affirming those seven core beliefs? Those are not optional, they are essential! So it seems that the reality is that only 9% are actually “born again” and possess legitimate saving faith.

This effort to make saving faith broad and inclusive is setting up people for deception. It was Jesus who said “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.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NASB)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Christ Our Propitiation.

"4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him."
(Isaiah 53:4-6, NASB)

When Adam sinned, it brought devastating consequences for all of mankind. As a result of that sin, the perfect relationship that Adam and Eve had with God was severed. Adam was warned that partaking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would bring death.(Genesis 2:17; 3:19) This produced a curse that was transmitted to all of mankind.(Romans 5:12;6:23) We inherited Adam’s sin nature and we were under a death sentence, ready to receive the wrath of God.

As a result of our sinful disobedience, we were under the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26) The law provided the means for defining the extent of our disobedience and was the grounds for our indictment. (Romans 3:19-20; 4:15; 5:13; 7:7) Scripture is replete with verses that indicate that we were in danger of the wrath of God.

John 3:36
Romans 1:18; Romans 2:5-6; 2:8
Ephesians 2:3; 5:6
Colossians 3:6

All of us are guilty of sin. (Romans 3:10-12) We were all deserving of just punishment for our sins, but God in His great mercy, provided the perfect sacrifice for sins, a propitiation for our sins. The term propitiation means to appease or pacify in the sense of allaying wrath or anger. Christ absorbed the wrath of God that was directed at us as a result of our sinfulness.

Romans 5:9-10
2 Corinthians 5:21
1 John 4:10

Scripture is quite clear on this matter and it is impossible to go very far in the Bible without running into verses that point out the substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. God offered his only Son in our place as a substitute to bear the punishment that we deserved.

"I have heard it said, "God didn’t die for frogs. So he was
responding to our value as humans." This turns grace on its head.
We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not
rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential
in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They
aren’t bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice
could pay it."

(John Piper, "The Passion of Jesus Christ", pg. 29)

Yet, sadly there are those who want to deny this and go to great lengths to deny and redefine the meaning of what took place on the cross. This is especially true in the emerging "church" movement. Observe the following quote by Brian McLaren in an interview with Leif Hanson:

McLaren: This is, one of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of the this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.

This is not the only incident of this philosophy. There is more. And this really is nothing new. I will be posting more on this subject soon.