Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Apostasy, Deconversion, and Atheism

There are people who have actively chosen to leave the Christian faith, using a pretense of intellectual and even moral superiority to those who do believe. Some professing atheists claim that they are "former Christians". These riders of the owlhoot trail exhibit little or no accurate knowledge of the Christian faith, however, and often attack Bible believers, even seeking to destroy us in the public square. Especially biblical creationists, as they need evolution in atheism.

Atheists, compromising Christians, and others rebel against God
Credit: Pixabay / Edward Lich
Although atheism is a blatant rebellion against God, another form of rebellion is to "deconvert" from orthodox beliefs. Michael Gungor used to believe in creation, then went on to theistic evolution, and went on record rejecting the inerrancy of the Bible. Singer Don Francisco came out rejecting inerrancy as well. Some pastors and teachers who held to the Bible's teaching on homosexuality jumped on the compromise wagon. Karl Giberson does not exhibit much knowledge of Christianity, and prefers to promote his religion of evolutionism. Andy Stanley is rebelling against Scripture, and seems to be getting worse. What I have seen in many cases is when people rebel against God, their compromises lead them to further apostasy.

Whether it is an atheist, theistic evolutionist, theological compromiser, or something else, it is frequent that these people who jumped the fence to run to their false freedom try to convert others to their way of thinking. Atheists flat-out seek to destroy the faith of Christians, and the others are more subtle, trying to "reason" with others to join them in their slide toward apostasy. Note that quite often, any of these types will play the victim card.

One that made news early in 2018 is Jen Hatmaker. She claims the moral high ground, and shreds Scripture while trying to gain converts to her viewpoint. Thanks to The Domain for Truth for the link to this article.
When it comes to reaching the “lost,” one of the most tried-and-true methods is the personal conversion story. Whether done privately or publicly, it’s compelling to hear about how someone came to believe in the truth of the gospel and the Bible. Such testimonies can personalize and soften the message so it is more easily understood and received.

But when it comes to reaching the “found,” there’s an equally effective method—and this is a method to which the evangelical church has paid little attention. It’s what we might call the de-conversion story.

De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians. And their purpose is to convince them that their outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent. A person simply shares his testimony of how he once thought like you did but have now seen the light.
To read the rest of this very interesting and informative article, click on "Jen Hatmaker and the Power of De-Conversion Stories". For a related article, you may also appreciate "Pain, Disappointment, and Apostasy".


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Logic and the Bible 2: Unbliblical Worldviews

In "Logic and the Bible", we saw that the three main laws of logic are impossible without God. That does not mean a requirement to believe in God's existence, or to be a believer in Jesus Christ is necessary for logic to work. However, it works because God exists, whether someone believes or not. Now we can saddle up for another part of our journey.


people will try to generate excuses to get around the necessity of God for logic to exist
Credit: Freeimages / Drew Pendleton
It seems like we should be able to file this under "Completed", but some folks will not be satisfied with what Dr. Lisle said before. Just as we see Darwin's disciples use rescuing devices even after deep time and evolution are shown to be insufficient, people try to get around the necessity of God for logic to exist.

We cannot assume laws of logic exist because of our experiences, because we may have faulty memories, be deluded, and the irrational assumption that logic will be the same in the future. There is also the claim that logic is a convention; that is, the laws exist because we agree on them. That doesn't work, because other people may come up with their own logic systems and expect them to be true, but that cannot happen. Someone else may say that laws of logic are simply the way the universe is, and there is no need for God the Creator. Since the universe keeps changing, there is no reason to expect the laws of logic to remain constant. 
We saw previously that the Bible can make sense of laws of logic and their properties, and that the three laws of thought are rooted in the nature of God.  However, non-biblical worldviews cannot make sense of laws of logic or their properties.  As one example, consider materialism: the belief that all things that exist are physical and extended in space.  It is quite obvious that materialism cannot make sense of abstract laws because abstract things are non-material, and the materialist does not allow for the existence of the non-material.  But really, any worldview that denies the Bible cannot make sense of the existence and properties of laws of logic.  Why should there be abstract laws that govern all correct reasoning?  Who decides what these laws are?  Why would such laws be universal, and invariant?  Even if a person were to presume that laws of logic existed and had all these properties, how could that person possibly know that laws of logic are such?  What are some possible ways in which the non-Christian might attempt to account for laws of logic?

My remarks are just an overview, but you can read Dr. Jason Lisle's more detailed explanations about those points and more. I'd be much obliged if you'd read the rest by clicking on "The Failure of Unbiblical Worldviews to Justify Laws of Logic".

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Deity of Jesus

Some people try to do away with the extremely important doctrine of the deity of Jesus. Some will give a simplistic reaction along the lines of, "He never said 'I am God'", somehow demanding that exact phrase in the Bible, and ignoring all the other evidence that Jesus did indeed claim deity. Other owlhoots such as cultists, atheists, and liberal theologians sidestep the truth for their own purposes.


Scripture clearly indicates that Jesus is God
Credit: Unsplash / Jacob Meyer
The idea that Jesus is not who he claims is an ancient heresy called Arianism, which was made by Arius in the 4th century. It has been around in various forms for all these years, and the most common example is evinced in the Jehovah's Witnesses. 

As C.S. Lewis pointed out in Mere Christianity, it is nonsensical to claim that Jesus was a "great moral teacher" while claiming to be God. Indeed, Christianity itself is worthless if Jesus is not God in the flesh, our Creator, who died for our sins and then bodily rose from the dead.

I have three items to present. The first is a rather lengthy article that gives conclusive evidence from the New Testament that Jesus is God. Second, a sermon by Phil Johnson that I found fascinating (and hope you will agree) that the Bible establishes the deity of Christ. He also makes some other historical references. Third, links to three sermons on the first chapter of John by Dr. Albert Mohler.  I hope you will bookmark or otherwise save this link or the ones below for future reference.

Here is the article:
I’ve heard many people, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, say that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God. In response to that claim, I took a deep dive into Scripture, particularly the New Testament, to see how much evidence there really is for the deity of Jesus. What I found was astounding. There is overwhelming evidence that the NT authors intended to present Jesus as God come in the flesh. In this “article,” I’m providing a resource for you to use next time someone challenges you on this issue.
I go through the books or sections of the New Testament noting different times that Jesus is revealed as God. Though this is not an exhaustive list, I have identified more than 120 verses or passages that express the divinity of Jesus in some way. Some of the verses taken by themselves are not absolute proof of his divinity, but when viewed along with the many other passages on the subject, they strengthen the case for the deity of Christ.
Jesus is either claiming to be God, accepting or demanding worship, claiming to possess attributes that only God can possess, claiming to do things that only God can do (and then doing miracles to prove it), or others are making these claims about Jesus.
To read the rest (get comfy, it's long but worth it), click on "The Divinity of Jesus Revealed in the New Testament".

Next is the sermon that I mentioned. It is called "Jesus is YHWH", and is free to listen online or you can download the MP3.

Finally, three sermons by Dr. Mohler, also free to listen online or download the MP3s:
John 1:1-3, then  John 1:3, finally John 1:4-8.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Astral Beings and Aliens

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Years ago, I had a fascination for occult-related things. Even though I was a Christian (albeit with a weak theological foundation), I studied and thought I could do a "white magic" thing and be a force for good, or something like that. I never had an out-of-the-body experience, saw a ghost, encountered a UFO, or anything like that. God delivered me from occult involvement, but my studies from a Christian worldview have been beneficial at times.

This is a very broad topic, and scores of books have been written on it. I have to confine myself to a few comments on some of these subjects.


There is a startling parallel between demonic oppression in astral projection and with alien abductions
Credit: Pixabay / Karen Smits
Every once in a while, I have some odd coincidences happen in my life. Sometimes I think God is trying to get my attention. In this case, I had recently written and posted my review of the movie Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception. The movie makes a very strong case (using science, theology, and more) that personal encounters with and supposed abductions by alleged aliens from outer space are actually demonic interactions. A day or two later, I was scanning the Page at Why?Outreach and saw an article about what is often called astral projection. What startled me is that this 2015 article mentioned several things supporting the case that aliens are demonic beings. I had to saddle up and ride. Well, type, actually.

My perspective includes personal studies as well as material from Alien Intrusion. I will be focusing on the article "Astral Projection Unveiled: The Demonic 'Astral' Realm".

If you study on it, stories of hauntings, alien abductions, other occult experiences seem to happen when people are in an altered state of consciousness. That is, falling asleep, drowsy, partially awake, under the influence of drugs, and so on. Indeed, the UFO/alien discussions include the idea that aliens are transdimensional — they go to and from another dimension. That seems plausible, and is consistent with demonic activity as well. It seems that the boundaries between the physical world and the spiritual get blurred at these times.

Astral projection is common in New Age and other occult circles, and there is a great deal more to it now than when I was doing my studies. The way I understood it, out-of-the-body experiences were usually things that "just happened", but some folks learned how to control it. Nowadays, there is a great deal of mythology surrounding the practice, including uninformed opinions and conforming to a group.

We have to be mighty careful when listening to testimonies of people who have had experiences, especially when they are posted online. Investigators have contact with people, and ask about alcohol, substance abuse, history of mental illness, and so on before proceeding. Online, you can have a range or reports that include sincere narratives and people under demonic influence. Kind of hard to tell who is on the level. Also, people may be sincere but very wrong in their interpretations. Don't get me wrong, many people do have experiences with demons, but they may have been mostly formed in their minds. Not imagined, not faked, but placed there.

Supposedly, you can travel with your spirit guide, feel love, build temples, participate in occult practices, make "friends", and more. Sometimes, something comes back with you and affects your waking world. This would be more likely when someone has been tampering in the occult.

One thing in common between "alien abductions" and some aspects of astral projection is paralysis. This may be sleep paralysis, but in detailed examinations, this particular paralysis is indeed of demonic origin. 

Another aspect of astral encounters is sexual. People have reported being raped and having other bad experiences in psychic realms (and there is a sexual aspect in so-called alien abductions as well). This is compatible with the idea that the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4 were demons who were having sex with human women. (I will not enter that debate here, there are several schools of thought on it.) Also, Satan and his demons hate God and God's people. Sex is a gift of God, so it makes an odd kind of sense that they would corrupt and pervert it.

Something else that alien encounters and demonic astral projection experiences have in common is that they stop at the name of Jesus. The article linked above makes it sound like a token to make such activity stop, but I disagree with the way this is handled. Calling on the name of Jesus may have some effect, but can backfire. Acts 19:13-17 tells of some people trying to drive out demons in the name of Jesus, but they were not "walk the walk" Christians, and had a very bad experience. The authority of the believer does not have much power when attempted by people who only have an intellectual assent to the gospel.

I had a problem with the way demonic possession was presented as a side effect to astral projection. Possession is generally not something that "just happens", whether doing astral travel or something else. It begins when a kind of door is opened, and Satanic influence is being cultivated through occult activity and rebelling against the Word of God. (An individual's family history, such as occultists in someone's ancestry, can have an impact as well.) From what I've learned, demonic oppression and influence are more common than possession, and oppression seems to precede possession.

I can tell you about some people who claim to be former Christians, then grew in hatred of God, blasphemed by calling God a liar, attacked God's Word and his people, and grew increasingly angry and bitter. Some of these are indeed demoniacs. Galatians 5:19-20 tells us that various forms of rebellion, including idolatry and witchcraft, are closely related.

People have had encounters with demons in various guises, there is no real question about it. Like with alien experiences, many people keep this to themselves and need to be delivered from them. I hope that people who need help will repent of all occult involvement and turn to saving faith and commitment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, this is a very serious issue.

Also, I recommend reading this article that appeared the day I began writing this. (Here we go, another odd coincidence on this subject.)
After attending a screening of our movie Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception, David H. wrote in with the following question.
Just a question: I saw your movie tonight, and was interested by its explanation for many alien/UFO phenomena as being spirit-based. But I don't understand how UFOs: (1.) can be tracked on radar and (2.) similarly recorded on film and in photographs while still being spirit-based? And some of them are recorded as performing very complex high-speed maneuvers. How can this be possible for spirit-based entities?
Gary Bates, CMI-US CEO and writer/producer of Alien Intrusion, responds:
To read the response, click on "Can spirits manifest physically?"


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Logic and the Bible

Some people are intimidated by discussions about logic, there is no need for that. We use it all the time. Obviously, most of us do not get formal with it, we just reason our way through problems, play games, and so forth. Although logic discussions can use notations similar to those of algebra, the letters are shorthand and make sense.


Jason Lisle discusses three basic laws and how logic is biblically based.
Credit: Freeimages / Aleksandra P.
There are some things about logic that may seem surprising. Laws of logic are intangible, like numbers. If you write "5" or "law of identity" on a board, then erase it, the number or law does not cease to exist. Logic is actually a reflection of the mind of God, and we use it because we are created in his image. Without God, then logic, numbers, and science would be impossible! Dr. Jason Lisle explains the three main laws of logic and their biblical basis in this article.
Laws of logic are the rules of correct reasoning.  They reflect the way God thinks and the way we must think if we are to think correctly.  Laws of logic are also called “rules of inference.”  Correct reasoning can never violate a law of logic.  There are many laws of logic.  But three are considered the most basic or primary.  Let’s examine these three and how they stem from the mind of God.
I'd be much obliged if you'd read the rest. Just click on "The Biblical Basis for the Laws of Logic". Also, you may want to look at a previous post on how using logic is a moral obligation, "Logical Thinking and the Christian". If you have a notion to read up on some logical fallacies (atheists and evolutionists use these to manipulate Christians and creationists quite frequently), click on "Logic Lessons". Finally, if you want to get going on the follow-up article on logic and unchristian worldviews, click on "Logic and the Bible 2: Unbliblical Worldviews".



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Is Christianity Fading Away?

There was a time when church-going had the appearance of being respectable, even if people were insincere about their beliefs. Today, there is open contempt for Christianity, and atheists claim that their numbers are increasing. However, that is a bit difficult to tell, because sometimes not even atheists know the meaning of atheism, such as "Christian atheists". Those folks seem a mite confused, don't you think?

In addition, hardcore atheists like to claim that the increase of "nones" in surveys mean that they are "winning". Not hardly! "None" means not affiliated with a particular religion or denomination; it does not mean a rejection of God. I'll let you in on something: I left the church I was attending because of what I considered their "stealth creationism" — they believed in it, but didn't want to be "labeled". This area has apostate churches or strange gatherings, so this child is, by some measure, a "none"!

Christianity is growing despite the efforts of atheist regimes, Mohammedans, and secularists. We have received persecution, and it is on the increase. Persecution has happened from the beginning. In the United States, we've had it comparatively soft, and people have become lackadaisical in their theology.

Bible believing churches are getting stronger
Credit: Unsplash / Ben White
Yes, we see many church buildings in Western countries repurposed or outright closed. People are leaving mainstream liberal denominations. Why? One big reason is that young people are not given much reason to stay. That is, they are not being given answers to their questions, and their parents are not exactly being inspiring in their professions of faith. Do they talk the talk, or walk the talk? The truth is, Christianity in these here United States is still alive. Churches that practice what they preach, and teach that the Bible is true from the beginning, are thriving. We can grow, and grow stronger.
We’re used to hearing that religion is dying in America, secularization is inevitable, and that young people are leaving the faith in droves. But a new Harvard research study has great news for Christians. Previous research typically focuses on the massive increase in the proportion of people who claim atheism or ‘no religion’. But these reports generally don’t address where the decline is happening. This new research demonstrates that the decline is in ‘moderate’ religion. So it turns out that ‘religion’ isn’t dying, but the differentiation between believer and unbeliever is becoming clearer.
To read the rest, click on "Christianity in America is not dying!"



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Those Specialized Christian Words

"Excuse me, Cowboy Bob, can you spare a moment?"

"Sure."

"I am concerned with your conduct a few moments ago. It was not consistent with some biblical principles."

"Thanks for bringing that to my attention. My sanctification in that area is rather lacking. Please pray for me."

Christians have their own specialized lingo
Credit: Pixabay / StockSnap
People have their own specialized words and terms in various places, and sometimes they seem to be speaking a somewhat different language. A mechanic can tell you what needed to be repaired on your vehicle, the sergeant gives instructions to the troops, my wife tells me what went on in her workplace, the cowboys on the ranch discuss work that is being done, Christians can write and talk to each other, and so on. Some use "regular" words that have entirely different meanings in various contexts, some words are unique for the people involved. Most of us, even as individuals, have lingo that needs to be explained to other folks.

For Christians, the basics of salvation are simple, but it is a lifetime journey to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). The Holy Spirit is leading, teaching, and convicting us, and the Word is absolutely essential for our growth. With that comes specialized vocabulary. 

Even definitions are important. For example, if someone says, "I believe that God is the Creator", he may not mean six-day recent creation, but instead could believe in the false teaching of "evolutionary creation". Define creation. Also, if you ask a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Roman Catholic, and a Southern Baptist if Christ is the only way to salvation, they would all probably answer in the affirmative. Define Christ, salvation, only way. In both examples, clear definitions can result in greatly different responses.

It is interesting to see remarks from "former Christians" (even some who have claimed to be pastors) who display no understanding of the Bible or Christian terminology. "I went to a church for years..." If that person really went, I wonder if he or she paid any attention, or if the pastor believed the Bible in the first place.

So, Bible believers do their studying and have fellowship, but have to be careful of how they address spiritual things to unbelievers. For one thing, they are unable to understand the deeper things (1 Cor. 2:14, 2 Cor. 4:4, John 8:44). However, we are commanded to spread the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20) and be ready to talk to someone who asks us (1 Peter 3:15). When that happens, we must avoid as much Christianese as we can so we don't confuse people.


via GIPHY

Many professing Christians are nominal, giving intellectual assent to the principles of the faith, but not having an adequate understanding of them. Dr. Jason Lisle has a very helpful article for all of us.
The Christian says, “You need to repent and trust in Jesus for salvation.”  The unbeliever responds, “Salvation from what?  Why would I need Jesus?”  The Christian then says, “You need to be born again to be saved from your sins.  Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.  His blood will atone for sin, and you can be justified and sanctified before God.  The alternative is an eternity in hell.”  The unbeliever responds, “I am basically a good person.  I don’t think a loving God would send me to hell.”

Perhaps you have heard, or even been a part of, such a conversation.  Christians have a tendency to use certain “religious” terms that are either directly from Scripture, or which are used as shorthand to describe a biblical principle (such as the ‘Trinity’).  There is nothing wrong with this.  However, it can be a problem in communicating with unbelievers.  Christians tend to assume that unbelievers understand such terms, but that is often not the case.  Even Christians sometimes misunderstand certain biblical terms.  We here examine, define, and explain some of the more important biblical terms that are helpful in understanding the Gospel.   We will include relevant verses that shed light on these terms.
I hope you'll read the rest of the article, and possibly save the link for later reference. To do either or both, click on "The Problem of Religious Language".