The Changing Church (2002-2003)
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News, Links and Quotes
Spiritual Progress Hard to Find in 2003: "America’s spiritual confusion undoubtedly relates to the fact that most people own a Bible but few know what’s in it. Research showing that only 4% of adults, and just 9% of born again Christians, have a biblical worldview sheds light on the distorted viewpoints that reign in the U.S." Statistics for the Changing Church
Peace Plan (by Rick Warren): "...we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century.... The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church. It was a reformation of doctrine - what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose -- what the church DOES in the world....
"Right now about 5,000 more churches are doing the 40 Day of Purpose campaign.... In 2004 we expect over 15,000 more churches to participate.... I signed books [Purpose Driven Life] for (1) All the Supreme Court Justices (2) One for Fidel Castro...." See Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? and Re-Inventing the Church and The Global Church
Church flies gay flag: "Churches in North-Norway guarantee homosexuals that they will be welcomed without prejudice. The parishes of Svolvaer and Vagan promise that no negative words can be uttered towards gay churchgoers in their churches, a promise that is bound not to please everyone." Norway once sent out more missionaries per capita than any other nation. How my beautiful homeland has changed! Jeremiah 5:21-24
How to transition an established church – Part 1: "It occurred through the efforts and commitment of a church family that walked together through a clearly defined process to arrive at God’s best for the church.... Do not rush. Give people an opportunity to buy into each step of the plan. Make use of teams from a broad spectrum of your church.... Allow an adequate time of adjustment before moving on to the next stage.... In fact, this transition will always be a part of our ministry. It is a process, not a destination. As a result of the constant changes occurring in our culture, every church must remain adaptable to changes, remaining relevant without changing its message." See Re-Inventing the Church and The Mind-Changing Process
Changing worship: how to transition an established churc - Part 4: "...many pastors trying to transition their churches think they can treat their transitioning church like a church plant. That is a fatal mistake. You cannot jerk a transitioning church into a new worship style. You must practice extreme patience to help your church make the necessary change to a worship style that will directly impact those who do not know God....Gradually de-emphasize the piano and organ while introducing other instruments like guitars and drums. This transition can be started with Sunday night services and carefully introduced to Sunday morning."See A New Song
This strategy for change -- gradualism and stealth -- sounds like the plan prepared by The World Federation for Mental Health back in 1948. Its founding statement noted that "change will be strongly resisted unless an attitude of acceptance has first been engendered." See Justifying Mind Control
Ministerial Confessions by Horatius Bonar: "Associating too much and too intimately with the world, we have in a great measure become accustomed to its ways. Hence our spiritual tastes have been vitiated, our consciences blunted, and that sensitive tenderness of feeling has worn off and given place to an amount of callousness of which we once, in fresher days, believed ourselves incapable." See Jeremiah 6:13-15
Ecumenism - Then and Now: "How did Philo harmonize the written Word of God in the Old Testament with Platonic philosophy -- the philosophy that would regard the Christian faith as silly and its greatest apostle as a seed-picker? It was easy. They applied to the Old Testament the allegorical method of interpretation.... That method promoted inclusivism....
"This is a world-church age, an ecumenical age.... Evangelism must bepragmatic , utilitarian, a means to an end -- the end being unity, harmony, peace, and security." See Re-Inventing the Church
Church strives to lose fuddy-duddy image on sex: "The Church of England sought to shed its puritanical image on sexual issues yesterday in a report that could pave the way for further liberalisation. Its Doctrine Commission admits that the Church has 'acquired a reputation for being negative about sex'. It should celebrate it as 'a wonderful gift from God'. Pejorative language, such as the phrase 'living in sin', is absent from the report, which instead encourages 'covenanted relationships'.
"...given the changes in society's attitude towards sex and relationships, 'a merely nostalgic or conservative reaction is out of the question'. The report concludes: 'Unless the forces are understood and responded to with insight and good sense, individuals and whole families, communities, nations and regions - ultimately human life itself - are at risk.'" Compromise and consensus
Does God Permit Christians To Teach False Doctrine in a Fictional Format? "Whenever the false doctrines in the Left Behind Series are mentioned, the 'excuse' for Christians to tolerate this is invariably, 'The books are only fiction!' This answer is designed to silence further inquiry.... The 'It's only fiction!' excuse is fast becoming a paradigm, or model, to excuse all kinds of false teachings that are traveling through the church with whirlwind speed. Does the Bible teach that as long as false doctrine is taught in a fictional format, then this is acceptable to God?" 2 Timothy 4:3-4 and Left Behind: New Age Imagery Popularizes Prophecy
Episcopal Priest Will Not Submit to Church's Leadership, Doctrine: "Randall's congregation responded to his action with a rousing standing ovation.... Meanwhile, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America say it 'takes some time' to decide whether homosexual sex should bar people from becoming ministers.... At a forum on the study yesterday, one Lutheran asked if the committee has considered that the homosexual act is a sin. The minister directing the study responded, 'That is one of the key questions people need to grapple with.'"
This confusion about sin is in their minds, values and philosophies, not in the Bible. God's Word makes it very clear. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 but in the light of Ephesians 4:14
So God changes God's mind, does he? "As Episcopalians this week broached the unprecedented topic of a gay priest's fitness to be a bishop, a vital clue emerged as to what was going on. A priest from Portland, Ore., the Rev. Sherman Hesselgrave, observed that "God changes God's mind.' Ah. Hmmm....
"What Charles Darwin and the biological evolutionists somehow failed to implant in the mind of the cultural evolutionists is that life can evolve downward no less than upward. The dear, dignified, stately old Episcopal Church seems to have gambled and come up snake eyes on its bet that God is other than who He always said He was." This downward "evolution" began long ago. See Conforming the Church to the New Millennium
Gay Bishop Wins in Episcopal Vote; Split Threatened: 'The Episcopal Church approved the election of its first openly gay bishop tonight.... Moments later, more than 12 conservative bishops, their faces grim, marched slowly to the front of the House of Bishops to denounce the decision.... Others rejoiced, praising the popular bishop-elect for his works and saying the decision was another barrier overtaken by church leaders, another widening of church doors.
'It's a great day for the church,' the Rev. Sandye Wilson of the Minnesota Diocese said. 'This is a church which has finally understood that men and women created in the vision of God can be the guardians of the faith — and be gay or lesbian.'"
This statement fits the UN vision of a church for its New World Order, but it's blatant rejection of Biblical truth!" Romans 1:22-32 and The Counterfeit Church
Church's Unity Is At Risk: "Bishop John B. Chane said anti-gay activists have been threatening a schism.... 'We are being guided by the Holy Spirit to discern where God's will is in our church, and it's a very painful place to be, and it has to be a place where we are moved by faith rather than being moved by fear,' he said.... The convention will also decide, probably on Monday or Tuesday, whether to develop an official liturgy for blessing gay unions....
"Twenty-four active and retired bishops, however, warned in a July 18 letter that they might break ties with the national church if the convention approves Robinson's election or same-sex blessings. Those decisions, they said, would be 'unparalleled departures' from church teaching and 'symbols of a desperately confused, errant and disintegrating Anglican province.' ....
"However, while traditionalists invoke the value of unity, advocates of change invoke justice. 'The oldest tradition in our faith is change -- the way that God called us to a new understanding of women, and of color, and of slavery, and of the divine right of kings,' the Rev. Frank Wade... said."
"Adapting to continual change" is the rallying cry of global idealists and pragmatic global managers. God's Word calls us to uncompromising faith and obedience to His timeless and unchanging ways. See 1 Pet 4:3-4
The Old Cross and the New: Unannounced and mostly undetected, there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique - a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching.
"This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before. The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.
"The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. ... The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public....
"It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being...." The Cross of Christ
Salvation offered in 12 seconds: "Salvation on the Internet is the latest trend, according to the local newspaper. The user manual is available on the church's web pages. The church asks people to read out loud a two-lined prayer. As the last word of the prayer is spoken, the salvation will happen...."
Will it? In occult circles, people affect change by magical formulas and the direction of their own will. But God doesn't submit to our simplistic formulas. See Psalm 50:21 and What it means to be a Christian
We are stepping 'outside the box' again (by Jerry Falwell): "Rick Warren is well-known as the pioneer of the Purpose-Driven paradigm for church health. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries have attended Purpose-Driven Church seminars in 18 languages. Peter Drucker calls Rick 'the inventor of perpetual revival.' ....Partnering with Dr. Warren in this Purpose-Driven Conference is TRBC's newest step 'outside the box.'" See What’s Wrong with the 21st Century Church? and look for "Rick Warren."
Not a Time for Weak-Hearted Pastors or Preaching:"A well-known Bible teacher and author is calling on pastors to confront false beliefs from the pulpit....
"According to [John] MacArthur, shallow preaching produces shallow worship. With that in mind, he says he can walk into a church and listen to the music for 15 minutes and tell how profound the people's understanding of God is....
"...too often, pastors take 'a man-centered approach' and let the culture dictate their message. That sort of preaching, he said, gives the message a biblical allusion -- but in the end 'prostitutes the intent of Scripture.'"Matthew 24:24
Marketing the Church. "We are living in a time when outward success is preferred over faithfulness, when theology takes a backseat to methodology, when preaching the gospel gives way to drama, special music and pop psychology, when pragmatism transcends biblical exegesis, when poor doctrine is tolerable but a long sermon is not, when a sermon is judged not by its content, but by the way it makes you feel, and when God must be delicately packaged if he is to be sold to today’s very discriminating consumer." Re-Inventing the Church
I don't know what I'm singing: "...It happened on Palm Sunday, many years ago. People were singing a song as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. 'Hosanna!' they said. 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' ... But I wonder how many of them actually understood what they were singing. I wonder how many of them knew this Person they were singing to." Romans 11:33-36
Church puts prayer boxes in shops: "Colorful blue, white and gold boxes invite customers at 35 Philadelphia area businesses to drop off prayer requests in places typically reserved for commerce. ... Members of Enon's evangelism ministry, called SWAT for Soul Winning Action Team, pick up the cards each week. Enon's intercessory-prayer team will pray for each of the requests. ...
"'This is not a front-door evangelistic effort,' Waller said. 'We're not looking to have someone fill out a card so we can get their information and contact them.' He acknowledged that Enon's contact information is on the box and that he believes if a prayer is answered, the person is more likely to seek out a spiritual connection. 'But if they go back to their mother's church, then mission accomplished,' he said. Waller's rapidly growing congregation has 4,500 members...." John 15:7-8
Most Americans believe in ghosts: "A new survey on religious beliefs found half of all American adults believe in ghosts, almost a third believe in astrology and more than a quarter believe in reincarnation.... Majorities of about two-thirds of all adults believe in hell and the devil, but few expect that they will go to hell themselves....
"The survey also indicated that women are more likely than men to hold both Christian and non-Christian beliefs ...
"... there is a general pattern that indicates ... higher levels of belief among people with no college education and lower levels of belief among those with postgraduate education...." Small wonder, considering the liberal indoctrination students face in college.
"...not all people who call themselves Christians believe all the conventional Christian beliefs. For example, 1 percent of Christians do not believe in God... and 18 percent do not believe in hell....
"Most of the 84 percent of the public who believe in the survival of the soul after death expect to go to heaven." Some may be disappointed. See Matthew 7:13-14 and The Cross
Church Leaders Eye 'Christian Alliance': "Church leaders from 30 denominations agreed Wednesday on a proposal to create the broadest alliance of Christians ever formed in the United States. The steering committee of the budding effort, tentatively called Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., will invite a wide range of national church bodies and agencies over the next several weeks to join them. The loosely knit alliance would represent five segments of U.S. Christianity, listed in the plan as 'Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox, Racial/Ethnic and Roman Catholic.'...
"The proposal being sent to churches says that, in the early stages, the alliance will exist mostly for common worship, fellowship and dialogue on "commonalities" and "differences." Later, it would become more active in 'speaking to society with a common voice...." Could this "dialogue" squeeze churches into a politically correct mold that would exclude the truths of the gospel that seem "offensive" and "divisive" to our postmodern "society"? Romans 12:2
repeat Church . Are We Fundamentalists? "There are now two kinds of evangelical.... The old is the authentic, biblical position. The new is far off the track, not in its basic view of salvation, but in its readiness to compromise with doctrinal error and worldly ways. The new is selling the faith for earthly respect and recognition... and churches are being ruined."
Planting High Impact Churches: "Dr. Linus Morris in his book, High Impact Churches and Leaders, defines a high impact church as a church with these five measurable criteria: LIFE TRANSFORMATION: Are lives being transformed for Christ? VISION TRANSFORMATION: Are members committed to the Great Commission? Are they active in prayer, worship, Bible study? Are they good stewards of their time, talent and money using them for the cause of Christ? GROWTH: God's charge to the church is to grow and be fruitful. Growth is not the goal of a high impact church, but it typically occurs. MULTIPLICATION: The high impact church multiplies leadership: ministers and ministries. REPRODUCTION: The high impact church sends trained and equipped people out to extend the kingdom by planting sister and daughter churches.
"Morris adds that high impact churches are: purpose centered, values driven, and Spirit directed. Morris is the President of Christian Associates International (CAI) which is planting high impact churches in major European cities."
How can man establish a "measurable criteria" for assessing churches? Within the new church management system, such measurements are defined according to human standards for growth, "participation" and "transformation," not God's. God's guidelines are too offensive for the kind of growth most "high impact" leaders envision. See Isaiah 55 , 2 Samuel 24:9-15 and the next link:
Reaching New Cities: "CAI's vision is to impact Europe by planting High Impact churches, and developing High Impact leaders, across Europe. ...We have a list of cities that we think are strategic. On the list are cities such as London, Vienna, Frankfurt, Rome, Marseille and Kopenhagen. We would like to see a churchplanting team in each city. Different projects are in different phases; for some projects we are still in the data-collection phase, others are already in the team-assembly phase."
Creating a Healthy Spiritual Environment: "I want to introduce you to a modern metaphor of the church to help us understand our goals and mission. First I want to redefine the role of pastoral leadership as that of being a spiritual environmentalist. We are acutely aware of our ecological environment, its fragility, inter-relatedness and what is needed to sustain it. Lets apply this to the church....
"Everything is connected and every action has an effect on the whole. In the same way the church is part of the world....Too often the church forgets that she is part of a greater societal and spiritual ecosystem....
"Mathematical theorists tell us that when a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon it could in the end cause the next southerly to blow through Wellington.... We must acclimatize to a changing world or we will destine ourselves to irrelevance or even extinction."
It seems that "the healthy church" is one that conforms to the world, sees all things as interconnected and has embraced the new absolutes of the global paradigm: pantheism, monism and probably evolution as well. But God says, "...do not be conformed to the world..." See Demand for consensus and The Global Church
Strategic Mapping and Futuring: "Everything, even change itself, is changing. Instead of slow, evolutionary change, we are experiencing a world of random, episodic change. By the time we adjust to the changes, the world has already changed again. In such a world the ability to think strategically, instead of blindly following the status quo, is essential to leadership....
"Strategic mappers must be able to suspend their judgment long enough to see the unthinkable. They must unlearn what has worked well for a long time. To do this, they must be able to separate themselves from what they know has and is working and ask, 'what might work?' ....Strategic mapping is about breaking new ground and learning how to think and act differently."See the opening quotes in Reinventing the World
Reflections on the transition process: "... conferences with Bill Hybels at Willow Creek, Rick Warren at Saddleback.... This ministry paradigm has exploded the ministry, membership, and outreach of our congregation. It also presents several specific challenges.... [Read the first three "challenges," then go to Reinventing the Church ]:
CHANGE - all of us experience constant change, which at times makes us weary (the only constant is change)
COMMUNICATION - constant communication across the organizational network is a necessity (needs, decisions, ideas)
LEADERSHIP - leaders must be leaders, not doers of ministry (we are constantly mentoring others)....
And the Spurgeon Award goes to: "The inaugural C.H. Spurgeon Awards ceremony was held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in early October, recognizing top churches in such categories as evangelism, global missions and worship. It had all the fun elements of an awards ceremony -- the envelopes, the presentations and the suspense -- but with a much different focus than most ceremonies seen on TV. ...
"The ceremony, sponsored by Southern Seminary's Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, included churches from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. But the ceremony will go nationwide next year."
Wonder what Pastor Spurgeon would have thought of such a ceremony -- especially in light of Matthew 6.
'Interactive team-building seminar' called cutting-edge way of learning: "... 56 education staff members from seven 'cutting-edge' churches participated in a three-day workshop led by Christian futurist Leonard Sweet and Keith Kline, director of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Center for Leadership Development....
"Sweet told the group that people's method of learning is being rewired.... 'Seminars must change from the seminars in the past where the style was, 'Come and hear a lecture,' to a more relational style....
"...the new concept of learning is based on 'EPIC' -- Experience, Participate, Image-Rich and Connection. 'This is an entirely new paradigm which is changing where we are to where we must go.'...
"The successes of television programs such as 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?' transitions the audience from the rational to the experiential, from representative to participative, from word-based to image-based, and from individual to connected, Sweet said.... 'The recovery of Christianity in the next millennium is likely to be based on whether or not the church can carve, not cast, its ministries into more EPIC shape."
Genuine Christianity doesn't need "recovery." God has always had a remnant of faithful believers. Their triumph is based on His truth and grace, not man's cleverness or relational compromise. See Re-Inventing the Church
Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View : "Over the past 20 years we have seen the nation's theological views slowly become less aligned with the Bible. Americans still revere the Bible and like to think of themselves as Bible-believing people, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the eastern religions and other sources. Because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism - a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives." America's Spiritual Slide
The Next Christianity: "We stand at a historical turning point, the author argues—one that is as epochal for the Christian world as the original Reformation. Around the globe Christianity is growing and mutating in ways that observers in the West tend not to see. Tumultuous conflicts within Christianity will leave a mark deeper than Islam's on the century ahead.... we are at a moment as epochal as the Reformation itself....
"The process will not necessarily be a peaceful one, and only the foolish would venture anything beyond the broadest predictions about the religious picture a century or two ahead. But the twenty-first century will almost certainly be regarded by future historians as a century in which religion replaced ideology as the prime animating and destructive force in human affairs, guiding attitudes to political liberty and obligation, concepts of nationhood, and, of course, conflicts and wars....
"The Reformation made possible a religion that could be practiced privately, rather than mainly in a vast institutionalized community. This move toward individualism, toward the privatization of religious belief, makes the spirit of the Reformation very attractive to educated people in the West....
"If we look beyond the liberal West, we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in affluent American suburbs and upscale urban parishes, is already in progress. Worldwide, Christianity is actually moving toward supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy, and in many ways toward the ancient world view expressed in the New Testament....
"By any reasonable assessment of numbers, the most significant transformation of Christianity in the world today is not the liberal Reformation that is so much desired in the North. It is the Counter-Reformation coming from the global South. And it's very likely that in a decade or two neither component of global Christianity will recognize its counterpart as fully or authentically Christian." Redefining Church & Missions
The Purpose Driven Lie: "The latest in a growing list of Baptist Press articles spotlighting Rick Warren is one by Erin Curry promoting the pastor's latest book entitled, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ - obviously a sequel to ‘The Purpose Driven Church’. ... Curry wrote the following: "Warren says the goal of The Purpose Driven Life is to help people develop a heart for the world." What makes focusing on this particular comment so important is that it reveals the humanist philosophy and psychological manipulation that fuels today’s church growth movement. (CGM)
"...notice if you will, that Warren doesn’t encourage us to develop 'a heart for the lost', but rather 'a heart for the world'. Those who believe the Word of God know that loving the world is exactly what Christians are commanded NOT to do." 1John 2:15-17
"When we focus our affection on a dying world instead of the Living Word, we ourselves become susceptible to its power and influence and over the course of time are seduced by it into compromising our own convictions until we tolerate, then accommodate, then approve, then imitate, then embrace and finally love the very world we were saved FROM." Col 2:8
In an era of 'tolerance,' biblical error still must be confronted: "When the gospel is taught erroneously within the church, the most loving action Christians can take is to confront those in error, said New Testament scholar D.A. Carson.
"The evangelical church has imbibed popular culture's redefinition of love and tolerance to such a point it has lost a clear understanding of the gospel ....In many cases, Carson said, the church has swapped the gospel for a contrived unity based on a popular, sentimental definition of love."Deuteronomy 11
"The altar of God's choosing is not approached by feelings of devotion or emotions of worship: that is why it is difficult to discover it. All natural religion reaches its climax in ritual, in the beauties of aesthetic and sensuous worship. God's altar is discerned only by the Holy Spirit when that Spirit is in a man." Oswald Chambers.Deuteronomy 12:13 and 1 Cor 2:9-10, 16
The Changing Church. Truth is relative, say Americans: "The study surveyed 4,000 adults across the nation. Evangelicals make up eight percent of the population; non-evangelical, born-again Christians are 33 percent; and notional Christians (defined below) are 44 percent. Atheists and agnostics make up eight percent, and other faith groups have seven percent.
"The largest of the five segments is one that Barna termed 'notional Christians.' These are people who consider themselves Christians but don’t claim to know their eternal destiny (whether they will experience eternal life, eternal damnation or some other outcome). A majority of these individuals believe they will have eternal life, but not because of a grace-based relationship with Jesus Christ.
"One of the smallest segments are the evangelicals—a group of individuals who believe their relationship with Jesus Christ will provide them with eternal life, and who accept Bible teachings as accurate and authoritative. The non-evangelical born-again Christians also believe they have eternal salvation through their relationship with Jesus Christ, but they do not believe in various core Bible doctrines." Deuteronomy 4:2
The call to unity: "Unity seems to be the buzzword today not only in our politically correct culture but in the 21st century church as well. Somewhere along the way, under the guidance and influence of the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, promise-keeping, church-growth movement, (CGM) brought to you by Willow Creek, Saddleback and Fuller Theological Seminary, many in the Body of Christ have come to the erroneous conclusion that unity is priority one." Luke 12:51
Patrons of the Evangelical Mind: "..So, who helped fund the resurgence of evangelical scholarship—and why? ... The Pew trusts were founded between 1948 and 1979 by the wealthy children of J.N. Pew.... J. Howard Pew... gave a lot of money to parachurch groups like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, and Young Life. He also helped launch a couple of evangelical intellectual enterprises—Christianity Today in 1956 and Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary in 1969.... A good example of the influence that the Pew programs have had can be seen in the discipline of philosophy, specifically metaphysics....
Other major foundations with mainline Protestant roots, though not specifically targeting evangelicals, have funded the work of evangelical scholars. One is the John Templeton Foundation. Born in 1912 in Tennessee, Templeton was raised a Cumberland Presbyterian. But he was also influenced by the Unity School of Christianity, which teaches that all great religions embody part of ultimate truth and move toward the same goal. ... He set up the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1972.... In good Unity fashion, it has been awarded to preachers, activists, and scholars of many religions, including evangelicals." See The Global Church
Spurgeon on Jabez: "Long before the first megachurch, Spurgeon preached regularly (often 10 times in a week) to audiences of 6,000 and more.... Wouldn't it be interesting if Spurgeon told us what he thought of the 'prayer of Jabez'? Well, indeed he did. In the year 1871....
"[In contrast to Spurgeons message] Wilkinson continues to talk about the Christian life in terms of 'unclaimed blessings'.... But there is no hint in this book that that 'best' might sometimes seem less than a blessing to our human eyes. We are to expect clear sailing, as long as we don't sin and depart from 'God's agenda.' This is a feel-good message....
"Spurgeon, though... was a man who experienced not only great 'enlargement of territory,' but great suffering as well.... Spurgeon could tolerate and even welcome suffering. As he thought about what Jabez might have meant by 'blessing indeed,' he reminisced on his own life: 'I have oftentimes looked gratefully back to my sick chamber. I am certain that I never did grow in grace one half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.'" See Light in the darkness.
Barna's challenges for Christianity — prophetic words, or sweeping generalizations? "If Christianity is to be a serious component in people's lives, there must be an intentional and strategic shakeup of what we do and how we do it within our faith communities....
"We've made it way too easy to be 'born again'—perhaps much easier than Jesus intended. When do we get to the point at which we accept smaller numbers of intensely devoted people rather than feverishly investing in filling auditoriums and stadiums with massive numbers of the lukewarm 'Christians' that Jesus promised to spew from his mouth (Rev. 3:16)?....
"The people who fill the positions of leadership in churches today are, for the most part, teachers—good people, lovers of God, well-educated, gifted communicators—but not leaders. They do not have or understand vision. They are incapable of motivating and mobilizing people around God's vision." We should heed the second paragraph but question the other two. God doesn't call pastors and shepherds to study the latest "quality management" techniques and "vision-casting" processes. See Re-Inventing the Church and the next two links:
Christianity Today and the Evangelical Movement (old but just as relevant): "The single most startling change in evangelicalism is its shift toward political and social involvement. And specially noteworthy is the fact that the segment within evangelicalism most obdurate against such involvement came forward to take the lead....
"Christianity Today has an even more important role than serving as the flagship of evangelicalism. It is to create an effective leadership for the church of Christ. The evangelical church today desperately needs good leaders. By contrast with the nonevangelical churches, our leadership is not educated. We have zeal and commitment, but we are not well trained with skills for effective leadership."See Re-Inventing the Church, Part 2
Whither Christian Unity? "In May of 2001, I went to Malaysia to attend the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Fellowship (since renamed the World Evangelical Alliance, or WEA). In December 1998 I attended the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Zimbabwe. What I saw in these very different meetings helps us think about cohesion and cooperation between Christians—about our participation in global, national, and even local efforts at 'being one.'..." The Global Church, especially part 2.
'Wild' Men's Movement: 'No More Mr. Nice Guy': "For the second time in a decade, a Christian men's movement born in Colorado is touching the nation. But this one sees men heading into the woods in small groups rather than gathering in large crowds in football stadiums."
One third of clergy do not believe in the Resurrection: "A third of Church of England clergy doubt or disbelieve in the physical Resurrection and only half are convinced of the truth of the Virgin birth.... The poll of nearly 2,000 of the Church's 10,000 clergy also found that only half believe that faith in Christ is the only route to salvation. While it has long been known that numerous." Psalm 50:21
Evangelicals compete for Guatemalans' faith: "By transforming the religious landscape, the wave of evangelical conversions has shaken one of the pillars of Latin American society. But it is also leaving an impact on individual lives.... 'The evangelicals emphasize the Bible, so there is a push for everyone to read. Poor young people for the first time are seeing an opportunity for leadership, and get a new sense of dignity and self-worth. The devout Pentecostals also have a rigid behavioral ethic, which has helped deal with the problems of alcoholism, spouse abuse and abandonment of families.'
"The downside, however, at least in the eyes of some scholars, is that the evangelical movement completely dominates the lives of its followers.... 'It takes people's eyes off the here and now and says all rewards will come in the next life. People have no time for involvement in civil society, in other groups that might be pressing for changes and improvements in the social structure.''2 Cor 4:16 and Chart: Paradigm Shift
This last quote shows one reason why Communist China bans teaching on our eternal hope in Christ in the registered churches. Like former Soviet "trainers," they want the hope of the masses fixed on the Communist vision of earthly bliss rather than on God's vision of a heavenly eternity.
The Great Commission: "What does it mean to disciple a whole nation? When leaders disciple people from their own community, who then disciple others from their community, we say a nation is being reached. When a tribal group is discipling their own people and have started a church planting movement among them, we say a nation is reached. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, and I will build my church.'...
"Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Whom do you baptize? The disciples? You baptize nations. You make disciples of nations and baptize whole nations. God has a big vision. God is great, and then we make Him small by having a small vision. So now when you have discipled a nation, and you have baptized a nation, you come to the fourth thing....
"God is not just interested in saving souls. He wants the whole creation to be saved, the whole world to be redeemed. It is not just spiritual transformation. Nations will be transformed. There should be no poor people; everyone should have a good place to live. Nobody should be sick.... The whole of creation has to change and become beautiful like the Garden of Eden."See The Global Church, Part 1 and Part 3 We don't know how widespread the above views of the global mission are, but they might help us remember to base what we believe on God's Word, not on utopian visions. As long as we live in this corrupt world, there will be sin, sickness, poverty and human suffering. "For the poor you have with you always," said Jesus. John 12:8 And when He comes for us, only a remnant will be found waiting. Matthew 24:12
Learning for a Change: "It's been almost 10 years since Peter Senge, 51, published "The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization." The book was more than a business best-seller; it was a breakthrough. It propelled Senge into the front ranks of management thinkers, it created a language of change that people in all kinds of companies could embrace, and it offered a vision of workplaces that were humane and of companies that were built around learning. Along the way, the book sold more than 650,000 copies... and gave birth to a worldwide movement. ....
"According to Senge, who is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Society for Organizational Learning... the new book presents 'what we've learned about learning.' ... Out of these observations, we developed our own definition of 'leadership.' To me, the simplest definition of that word is 'the ability to produce change.'" Read about Peter Senge in Re-Inventing the Church, Part 2
Conflict - Synonym for Congregation: "In FACT—the most comprehensive study of the America’s religious landscape—75 percent of congregations reported some level of conflict in the last five years. Disagreements were reported in every aspect of church life: from theological beliefs to the way money was raised and spent, from worship practices to mission priorities, from lay decision-making to pastoral leadership styles....
"...it is important for congregations to adapt as living institutions reaching out to younger generations and to culturally changing populations in their communities." Is it? See Re-Inventing the Church, Part 1 and Part 2.
Presbyterian debate: Is Jesus the Savior? "More than 500 pastors and elders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) gathered here yesterday to debate the most central theological issue in Christianity: Whether Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. ...
"A key passage says, 'Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord, and all people everywhere are called to place their faith, hope and love in him ... No one is saved apart from God's gracious redemption in Jesus Christ. Yet we do not presume to limit the sovereign freedom of 'God our savior, who desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.' [1 Tim 2:4] Thus we neither restrict the grace of God to those who profess explicit faith in Christ nor assume that all people are saved regardless of faith."
"After the committee voted unanimously to endorse that document -- and had rejected several more succinct statements on the topic -- the Rev. Nancy Gillard of Missouri asked the committee to also endorse one sentence of the statement as a summary: "Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord, and all people everywhere are called to place their faith, hope and love in him." John 14:6
(Click on:) What's Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bible Translations? (An older article explaining some problems with earlier attempts at 'gender-neutral' language): "The publicity brochure of the New Revised Standard Version sounds so sensible. At last, we are told, misleading, masculine-oriented language has been removed from the Bible....
"But there are many other changes -- literally, thousands -- that should cause evangelicals much concern. The translators consistently disregarded precise, grammatically correct English equivalents and resorted to gender-neutral paraphrases. The preface explains that the copyright holder (the Division of Education and Ministry of the National Council of Churches of Christ) required that 'masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.' To fulfill this requirement, the translation committee explains that it had to depart from its ordinary principles of making 'essentially a literal translation.'...
"Other passages in the nrsv suffer the same fate: John 15:5 becomes, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.' (Jesus no longer says he will abide in an individual believer.) John 14:21 now says, 'They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.' (Jesus no longer specifies that he will love and reveal himself to an individual person.) The singular pronouns that Jesus frequently used are all changed to plurals. Many verses that specify a relationship between God and the individual believer have been obscured or removed from Scripture." This last paragraph illustrates a growing error in the postmodern church. It will be explained in Re-Inventing the Church, Part 2. See Re-Inventing the Church, Part 1.
TNIV (Today's New International Version) response center: "We cannot endorse the TNIV as sufficiently trustworthy to commend to the church. We do not believe it is a translation suitable for use as a normal preaching and teaching text of the church or for a common memorizing, study, and reading Bible of the Christian community...." The next two links lead to the same website:
(Click on:) 900+ Inaccuracies in the TNIV: "It seems to us that in every case listed here, the change goes beyond the legitimate bounds of ordinary, recognized meanings for the common Greek words being translated. These are thus 'translation inaccuracies' that were included in the TNIV for the sake of producing a more 'gender-neutral' or 'inclusive language' version." Psalm 119:11
The Social Gospel in America: "In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, under the influences of socialism, Darwinism, and scientific positivism, Christians began to re-examine their theology. Many theologians concluded that God works inside rather than outside the social system, that God works out his purposes within society. Oddly enough, this new perception merged with evolutionist theory to create an optimism toward social problems and toward history as a whole. Many leaders of this new social Christianity sought to make ethics central in religion and to demand immediate social renewal. ...Combined with Herbert Spenser's social Darwinism, however, another version of the social gospel grew...." Conforming the Church to the New Millennium
Purpose-Driven Church Conference Draws Scores of Pastors: "Several thousand church leaders swarmed the spacious grounds of the Saddleback Church mega-campus last week seeking to replicate the potent formula for church health and success popularized by Pastor Rick Warren. 'The church here is so famous because of church growth,' said Pastor Michael Chua, of the Makati Gospel Church in the Philippines. 'I want to learn how they were able to do this.'...
"'I am addicted to changed lives,' Warren said. 'My basic message is repentance, but I rarely use the term,' he said. 'We are in the mind-changing business. Behind every sin is a lie you're believing."....
"Pastors were eager to lap up the message. 'Everything we do we ask, 'What would an unchurched person think about what we're doing?' said Richard Sundermeyer, pastor of the Family Life Church of the Nazarene. While Warren maintains pastors can't allow the unchurched to 'drive the total agenda of the church,' the 'needs, hurts, and interests of seekers' should be a top priority in planning services....
"'We unapologetically preach the gospel, but we try to do that in ways that are clear, relevant, and not confusing.' ....For example, when Warren speaks of 'reaching the lost,' Price speaks of 'reaching out to people who haven't heard of God's love.' Price admitted that Warren has already 'done a lot of softening of the language of evangelical churches.'" This article is linked to Saddleback Church, which is linked to the next one:
Tough Questions for God: "Why is easier for some people to connect to God and harder for others? I think for the same reason it is easier to connect with their spouse or their friends for some. People have various states of dysfunctionalality. There are people who haven’t cultivated their affective (emotional) life. I know people who haven’t heard from themselves for six months. How are they going to hear from God? It simply has to do with the cultivation of the state of the soul. To the degree that a person carefully cultivates the faculties of the soul, they will be able to get in touch with God more deeply.... The best way to think about this is not to think of God, but rather to think about personal relationships and apply that to God. There is really no difference in principle between me and God and me and my relationship with my children or friends." Actually, there is a huge difference. The activities, attitudes and rebellion that bind many peer groups together would crush any delight in God's presence.See Psalm 50:21 and Psalm 66:18-20. Other answers given on this page were good. For example, see the answer to this question: "There are a lot of moral people from other religions, trying to approach God from another direction and trying to have a relationship with Him. Why can’t they?"
Pride and Prosecution: Oregon's destruction of a family: "The Christine's were continually harassed by the miss-named Grants Pass Public Safety Department. They were cursed at and terrified in a contrived traffic stop. Their motor home windows were broken and the inside pepper sprayed, then impounded, leaving them without a place to live. Friends had to finally pay police to get their ransacked motor home out of impound.
"Grants Pass police harassment never ceased. On one occasion Officer Dan Evans followed Ruth into the Josephine County court house on her way to the law library to shove legal papers under Ruth's arm while mocking her, saying if she dropped them he'd also arrest her for littering. During this time Ruth delivered her fourth daughter Olivia at an undisclosed location. SCF demanded she turn her new baby over as well."
Forget church growth, aim for church health (by Rick Warren, 4-17) "A decade ago, when I wrote "The Purpose Driven Church," I predicted church health, not church growth, would be the primary concern of the 21st-century church. I believe that prediction is proving itself true. The New Testament says a lot about the health of the church. Consider just a few verses: "As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing...." Ephesians 4:16b (NLT). "The focus of my letter wasn't on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church." 2 Corinthians 2:9 (Message). "You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other..." James 3:18 (Message)....
"Healthy, lasting church growth is multidimensional. I've written extensively on the fact that church health has five facets: every church needs to grow warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship, broader through ministry and larger through evangelism. These five purposes of the church are commanded by Jesus in the Great Commandment and Great Commission."
Notice that solid Biblical teaching is missing from his list of five purposes. Is that intentional? Without God's Word as their foundation, the church members will base their unity on human ideals and feel-good relationships, not on God's unchanging Truth. Nor will people discern the difference between the politically correct interpretations of The Message (Eugene Petersons's "version" of the Bible) and God's actual teachings. Please compare Pastor Warren's 3 quotes with your Bible and see the difference. Psalm 119:11
Leading In A New Reality: "Leaders’ Gathering with Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church." It's only an invitation to a church leadership conference, but the title gives a glimpse of the agenda: since the world has changed, the church must change with it in order to maintain its popularity. See Re-Inventing the Church, Part 1
God (please) bless America. "Belatedly it struck us that the everywhere present poster saying 'GOD BLESS AMERICA' is really an invocation, a plea for our God’s attention and presence, not some kind of morale-building slogan. Our indescribably holy God is never entertained when profane, worldly, wicked men use His name and presumptuously expect His favor.
"What we should be saying is this: 'GOD, PLEASE BLESS AMERICA.' This earnest plea for His help should be preceded by an equally earnest plea for His forgiveness. This is the ground of true repentance." Daniel 9:1-13
Conforming the Church to the New Millennium
The Mad Rush to Seeker Sensitive Worship: "The contemporary plan is plain for all to see --create a worship service (none dare call it liturgy!) that is fast-paced, light on doctrine, and very heavy on music and drama. We are preoccupied, as a friend puts it, with being 'trendier-than-thou.'
"One local paper advertises, 'Church Like You've Never Seen It Before!' This is followed by a brief description, all too typical of the trend: 'Outstanding Music...No choirs or pipe organs here. Our music is crisp, contemporary, professional, and yes, even hot! World Class Drama...Each week our Drama Team, 'Showcase', presents a dramatic performance specifically designed to enhance the message....
"Conferences and seminars abound on how to market the Gospel through services geared to the felt needs and personal questions of 'seekers,' a synonym for those who are not Christians but have become interested enough to listen to a 'Christianity 101' presentation of the biblical message. Stated very simply, what we have seen over the past ten years is an almost complete abandonment of liturgy, form, creed and formal confessionalism in an ever-increasing number of fast-growth churches ... Everything done is determined by the question, 'How will the unchurched respond to this if we do it?'....
"The Church Growth movement is traceable to a man and an institution --Donald MacGarvan, and The School of World Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Church Growth has several characteristics...: 1) It deliberately does not find a common basis for mission in doctrine or creed.... (2) The movement has an aggressively strong commitment to the use of the social sciences such as sociology, psychology and anthropology, holding the Bible with one hand and the social sciences with the other, all the time affirming, 'All truth is God's truth!' ...
"Writes C. Peter Wagner, 'That approach (i.e., phenomenological) may appear altogether too subjective to many traditional theologians... As a starting point, church growth often looks to the 'is' previous to the 'ought.'...What Christians experience about God's work in the world and in their lives is not always preceded by careful theological rationalizations. Many times the sequence is just the opposite: theology is shaped by Christian experience.'"The Global Church
See Apostasy for illustrations of this drift from truth.
An American Catholic at Easter – Part I: "...this acceptance and denial of pedophilia began when the Catholic Church in America allowed itself to be sucked into the moral relativism of the '60s.... At least in the minds of the liberal theologians and politicizers of Catholic doctrine, there was almost no accountability for one's actions, as everything seemed to have a psychological rather than a spiritual aspect. No sin, no consequences. ... God help anyone who made value judgments on moral issues or called certain behaviors sinful or evil. ...
"Hegel's collective 'whole' or the collective good became more important than salvation of the individual soul. In fact, God and Christ merely became one more cell in the collective. When there is a collective soul, there is also collective guilt. Rather than individual sin committed by unique individuals, collective guilt allowed that an individual need not be held accountable. In other words, one could blame it on society or psychological factors but not on the individual evildoer. ...
"The only American Protestant groups that have seen an increase in membership, as well as applications to the life of service to man and God, are the fundamentalists – evangelicals, Southern Baptists and the bible-thumping folks who still believe that sin exists and that it is not morally relative." See
This dream we call DAWN:"The database approach, research strategy and action planning along with prayer by the whole Church attracted me to DAWN," says Agustin 'Jun' Vencer. "...It is focused in its ministry, measurable in its outcomes, good management leadership, uses technology well, high in accountability, and increasingly becoming international in its staffing. It is systemic in its approach to ministry." Notice the TQM buzzwords in his statement. [A Glossary of Church Terms will define these terms when finished] He praises the new global management system with its high tech monitoring and standards-based assessments. Does he know how these "outcome-based" strategies will be used to manage minds and members everywhere? See Reinventing the World
Telling 'The Old, Old Story' in Hymns: "...many churches have turned to 'praise choruses' -- songs that employ simple, repeated words of praise rather than the more poetic, penitent language of vintage hymns. ...He counts it as a loss: 'The difference between the hymns and the praise songs is the difference between a sonnet and a greeting card,' he says. 'They don't have the depth and the poetic language that a song would have from the old hymnal.'" See note on this page: His Word and click here for a comment.
The History of Faith at Work: "But a change was on the way. In the first place, the new leadership was open to change. ... Smaller groups allowed greater openness and emotional intimacy. In that environment new procedures developed.
"These procedures were partly the outgrowth of the Human Potential movement and related behavioral principles and processes. Transactional Analysis with its emphasis on personal O.K.ness, the National Training Laboratories with their interest in honest and open encounter, Parent Effectiveness Training which argued for seeing the child as a person, Esalin, Gestalt and a host of other workshops, laboratories, strategies and training centers -- all put the total human being at the center and pleaded for a greater awareness of personal growth and identity. ...
"Under the leadership of Faith at Work, and with some funding assistance from the Lilly Endowment, a series of clergy conferences was held in the spring of 1970 in six American centers: Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York.... The result was the Leadership Training (Development) Program which was launched with another grant from the Lilly Endowment in the fall of 1970....
"The objectives of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-delight, of group building, and of discerning gifts governed the institute program. Here as elsewhere there was an effort to fuse Biblical faith with insights from the behavioral sciences."Rom 12:2
John 14:6 and What it means to be a Christian
Survey Reveals Americans' Muddled Religious Beliefs: "Although church attendance has dropped back to normal levels after a post-9/11 spike, the terrorist attacks have had a long-term effect on religious belief in America -- in some surprising ways. Americans have a more favorable view of Muslims than they did a year ago, and while most call themselves Christians, they also overwhelmingly believe that many religions lead to eternal life. ... President Bush's expressions of support for Muslim Americans and heavy media coverage of Islam were believed to be largely responsible for the change....
"Eighty-two percent of those questioned identified themselves as Christians, of whom 43 percent said that they were 'born again' or evangelical.... Yet 75 percent of all those interviewed said that they believed many religions could lead to eternal life, including 61 percent of those who said they had a high personal religious commitment. Only 18 percent of the total survey -- which noted 'strong expressions of religious inclusiveness'-- thought their own religion was the 'one true faith.'" See
Bishop calls for cannabis law to be relaxed: "Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev John Oliver, has become the first senior cleric in the Church of England to call for the decriminalisation of cannabis. The bishop... told The Telegraph yesterday that so many young people now smoked it that the law had become discredited and the police would be better off using their resources to tackle hard drugs. ... Valerie Riches of the Family and Youth Concern group said ... 'One wants bishops to speak up for things like marriage and the family, but they are not equipped to comment on complex issues like drugs. If you legalise anything, it becomes acceptable and the doors are thrown wide open.'" Rom 12:9
WBN's Leadership Structure: (World Breakthrough Network is an ''apostolic network of individual ministers, ministries, Kingdom organizations and church communities.") "The circular structures in preference to the hierarchical structures of a traditional organizational chart suggest harmony, interrelationship and integration.
"...all differentiation comes out of a 'unity' or 'oneness'. The glow of light exuding from the highest level (the Founding Apostle and the Senior Apostolic Team) flows downward through the centers of the levels of leadership illuminating the earth. This conceptualizes the downward flow of "apostolic grace"....
"The WBN Development Coordinators/Representatives actually circle and embrace the entire earth. The higher levels of leadership reach up and into the heavens. This conceptualizes the 'heavenly' operation of the Network leadership in bringing heavenly resource down from God which is then ministered into the earth through the Network coordinators on a 'ground' level."
This church management system fits the New Age as well as the New World Order. Two UN Summits, One Millennium Goal
Transformational Leadership: "Such leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.... Transforming leadership is dynamic leadership in the sense that the leaders throw themselves into a relationship with followers who will feel 'elevated' by it and often become more active themselves, thereby creating new cadres of leaders....
"Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together ... it cannot be mandated or purchased; it must be earned. This trust relationship is enhanced by the presence of two conditions: (a) the leader's vision of the organisation must be clear, attractive and attainable, and (b) the leader's position (stand) must be clear. The trust relationship must be present for any developmental process to take place between the leader and the followers. When an environment of trust is established, the collective capacities of both leaders and led can affect significant organisational change and propel the institution forward." Note the TQM buzzwords typical of the new "quality" management systems around the world. The Church is merely following the manipulative strategies used by corporations, governments, schools and the UN. See Reinventing the World and Re-Inventing the Church
Christian students lack biblical worldview: "A worldview is the lens, framework or grid through which you look at the world and every issue and aspect of life. In America, the two predominant worldviews are either a secular-humanist worldview or a biblical Christian worldview. Your worldview is the foundation of your ideas and values, and your ideas and values are the foundation of your conduct. ..The church in America needs to awaken to the fact that too many of our children have been 'taken captive' by secular and humanist thinking; one out of every two students from Christian homes is denying their faith before they graduate from college. ...Unfortunately, the desire to be non-judgmental and tolerant is now a growing problem among Christian students, thus causing them to reject biblical truth." A third worldview has become even more prevalent. See the chart (Three Paradigms) toward the end of New Beliefs for a Global Village.
Losing our religion: "It has become unthinkable for a Church leader, or any public figure who is a Christian, to speak as if the gospel of Jesus Christ is superior to other creeds; to talk about Christianity as an exceptionally, uniquely good thing. In public, at least, such talk is taboo....
"I am not saying that the Church should have used 11 September to denigrate Islam; of course it should always guard against offensive evangelism. But this Church takes sensitivity too far: it would rather never mention the name of Jesus Christ in public than risk being accused of racism, or whatever.... Whether it means it or not, the Church of England’s main function is to obscure the gospel; to ensure that it cannot be an influence upon our society. It very effectively sits on it, keeps it out of play. In this Church, Napoleon’s witticism is true: state religion is indeed the ‘inoculation of the state against the virus of religion’." American churches are drifting down the same current, though a distance behind. Not only are God's people silenced by political correctness, our churches are re-imagined, truth is revised and Christianity is marketed with more popular image. See Are We Fundamentalists?
Imaginary letter from "God" to President Bush by Stephanie Salter, 12-23-01] "My dear brother George: May the peace of our Lord (and me) be upon you in this celebration season of my birth. .... Millions of people -- millions, George -- pray for you every day. People of all faiths and denominations. People in countries you have never visited. Even people who believe in no God offer up prayers of hope when they hear you speak or see you on television because you hold their fate in your hands." It's wonderful to know the heart and mind of Jesus and follow in His steps. But this strange blend of feel-good human imagination, politically correct pluralism and distorted truths makes a mockery of the Bible. We cannot know "what Jesus Would Do'" unless we are "born of the Spirit," fill our minds with His truth and have chosen to walk in His ways. See 1 Cor 2:9-10
National Test Reveals Christian Students Lack Biblical Worldview: "A worldview is the lenses, glasses, framework, or grid through which you look at the world and every issue and aspect of life. In America, the two predominant worldviews are either a secular humanist worldview or a Biblical Christian worldview. [Actually, the global/pluralistic worldview is now the greatest threat. See Three Paradigms]
"Your worldview is the foundation of your ideas and values and your ideas and values is the foundation of your conduct. ...The church in America needs to awaken to the fact that too many of our children have been 'taken captive' by secular and humanist thinking. Thus one out of every two students from Christian homes is denying their faith before they graduate from college." See Postmodern church
A Critique of The Prayer of Jabez: "...However, The Prayer of Jabez actually ends up misinterpreting this passage. ... MOST IMPORTANTLY, in the 92 pages of this Christian book on prayer, and out of only a handful of references to Jesus, I found only a single reference to Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross (p. 74). In this reference, Jesus is work is merely the means for moving the Christian 'to a higher level of honor and exponentially expanding blessings.'" See The Prayer of Jabez
Dutch Church Celebrates Harry Potter Themed Service: "The pastor donned a wizard's hat and asked the youngsters to come dressed as Harry. Pastor Joris Ridderbos says there are a lot of similarities between the story of Harry Potter and the life of Jesus. ... 'As a result from his first meeting with evil, Harry Potter is bearing a mark. And I want to emphasise to the children that every victory has a price. ... Isee the Harry Potter story as a new story that can make the old Bible story much more comprehensible." Gal 1:6-10 and Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies
Churches count on census to help map out their future: "The Rev. Richard Magnus looks at the mountain of data gleaned by the Census Bureau and thinks about churches ... 'It tells us where we ought to do some shifts in ministries,' said Magnus, who works from the Lutheran headquarters in Chicago. 'It tells us if this is a good place to do a congregational start.'
"Mainline Protestant churches that have been losing membership for years are hoping to reverse the trend, while majority-white denominations are struggling to diversify. All see the census as helping them fulfill a mandate to identify spiritual needs and meet them. ...
"Using demographics to market faith makes some religious leaders uncomfortable, but most feel a sophisticated approach is necessary to draw nonbelievers and dropouts to church....'I feel that God gives us these tools to use and he allowed these tools to be developed and not just for business use but for reaching people for him also,' Vinall said." See Reinventing the World and 2 Cor 6:12-18
Titles from God: "An increasing number of pastors are giving themselves --- or getting their colleagues in the ministry to do it for them --- status-enhancing titles such as bishop, doctor, even apostle. ...And like [Bishop T.D.] Jakes, a shrewd businessman known for his marketing savvy, these pastors believe that adopting a catchy title sets them apart in a competitive field, says Riggins Earl, a professor of ethics and theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.... 'In order to compete, a reverend is not enough for their status,' he says. 'Even calling themselves doctors doesn't do enough. We have to find other titles that have more of a mystical appeal.'
"Is it ethical for pastors to claim names such as bishop or doctor though they don't meet the traditional qualifications that come with those titles? That question touches on a struggle church leaders have had since Jesus' disciples were first recorded arguing over who was the greatest....
"Mitchell, who holds earned doctorates in theology and divinity, says there are many pastors who call themselves 'doctor' after receiving an honorary degree. Preachers even have a nickname for the degrees. "There are a lot of donated dignity doctorates,' he says. 'Everybody and their brother want to have a doctorate.'...
"The Christian tradition, however, ultimately teaches that those who seek worldly titles to elevate themselves are betraying the example of Jesus.... Jesus washes the feet of his disciples ... a function then performed by slaves....." See Prov 16:18 and The Global Church
IMAGINE Playing Games with God: "Upon reading the following op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle my first inclination was to just dismiss it and move on. However, it occurred to me later that maybe this was something that needed addressing in light of our country's new infatuation with God and the growing apostasy withinthe post-modernist church. ...W.W.J.D.? ...
"No matter how good such creativity makes us feel, our faith in Christ needs to be based on reality, not fiction. If it becomes dependent upon the fantasies and feelings of humankind then any little 'wind of doctrine' that comes along has the potential of carrying us away or spiritually hurling us to the ground in defeat. As many of my readers already know, the sensory-driven 'worshiptainment' format of the seeker sensitive church growth movement has corrupted mainstream Christendom in much the same way 'edutainment' has corrupted public school. ...
"It's one thing to quote from scripture what Jesus actually said and did to guide someone toward a more biblical understanding and behavior. But when we take it upon ourselves to imagine what Jesus would think, say, do or feel under certain circumstances and treat those imaginings as factual information or inspired revelation then we betray the very One we claim to serve.... Although the catch phrase "What would Jesus do?" has become quite fashionable among younger Christians, it can turn the didactic teaching of scripture into a dialectic tool of occultism. ... 'Thus saith the Lord...' is replaced by a second opinion... that of a creative journalist with a vivid imagination. Instead of humbly proclaiming God's Word on important issues in her commentary, she imaginatively puts HER words in HIS mouth...." See Twisting Truth and Psalm 50:21
For more links, click on The Changing Church - 1 or Church 2