Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Unpardonable Sin

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Sadly, there are some people who are afraid that they have committed the unpardonable sin and are beyond redemption for eternity. While it is good to be concerned, the unpardonable sin is not something that can be committed casually. Think about it. God is not capricious and willing to condemn someone for such a serious sin committed in ignorance or by something said in haste.


Some people are concerned that they have committed the unforgivable sin, and are going to Hell no matter what. It's not that easy. Here are some helpful resources to settle the issue.
ESV Bible text added to Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees by James Tissot / Public Domain
There are several views on this sin. One is that it cannot be committed today, it was a "game over" for the Pharisees who had been condemning him and had finally crossed the line because of the constant hardening of their hearts. Another view is that this sin is the rejection of salvation, where someone dies without Christ. (In the latter case, the end result is the same.) Even some Christians are afraid that they fouled up somehow, and take the unbiblical view of losing their salvation because of it. Indeed, one view is that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is resisting his promptings to repent of specific sins, and it implies that a Christian can lose his salvation, which is false. But if someone is worried that they have committed this unpardonable sin, that itself is a sign that you are not beyond hope, and the situation can be resolved.

A tragic imagining: Someone has died and stands before God. He asks why that person rejected salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The offender replies, "I figured I committed the unforgivable sin, so I went on with my business". 

Here are some articles, and a link to three sermons by Phil Johnson on the subject. Although I found the second sermon to be the most interesting, the first one is very helpful in setting it up. The third sermon is interesting as well. To hear those, click on "The Unpardonable Sin".

Helpful articles:
While a truly born again believer in Jesus cannot commit this sin, there is no excuse to "live like the devil". Someone who claims to be a Christian and does not "bear fruit in keeping with repentance" is probably unsaved. In fact, a sign of true repentance is wanting to live to please God. I recommend hearing "Hell's Best Kept Secret" as well as "True and False Conversion", available at this link. The above resources should help settle anxieties and disquieting doubts about going to Hell because of a mistake.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bible References and Mobile Devices

The other day, I happened to visit one of my sites that uses numerous Scripture references with my cell phone. (Some of the articles here can be chock full o' references.) People with mobile devices will see something like Luke 6:22 as plain text, and may be asking, "What does expect us to do, go and look up all of those references?" No, not really.

It takes a passel of time for me to give links to many references in, say, Bible Gateway or something. And that's after looking things up myself in the first place. (This article I did for Genesis Week has a passel of Bible verses embedded in the text, and putting those in took almost as long as writing the article itself.) I have something installed called Reftagger that works with computers that use mouse pointers — just hover over the link, and the verse pops up, as well as a link to read more if it's a long passage. Unfortunately, mobile devices are left out of it. They have to be — no pointers to hover with.


A short explanation of what's going on with Bible references, and why people with mobile devices are unlikely to see what I tried to make available to them.
Reconstructed with a screenshot and clip art of a pointing hand.
So, it looks like my suggestion is that if someone wants to check out my Scriptural support and see if I'm using proper references, come back to the article when you're on a computer that has mouse stuff happening. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I thought I should at least explain what's happening.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Clarifications on Calvinism

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is a clarification of some remarks I've made about Calvinism and Reformed theology. Some of those may prompt people to think that I'm an enemy of Calvinism. Not hardly! So, if you're an angry Arminian (read closely, I'm not talking about Armenians), don't be looking to recruit me in a crusade against Calvinism — I get good teachings from both camps.

There are Calvinists who are arrogant, and meaner than a sack full of rattlesnakes, acting like Mormons who are trying to convert Christians from Arminianism or something else to the "doctrines of grace". I don't cotton to being told I'm an immature Christian ("Once you grow in the faith, you'll understand") or even that I'm unsaved because I don't accept all of their views. Someone who acts like that is full of pride, despite the false modesty of saying that "the elect were chosen by God before the foundations of the world". For having no choice in the matter, some are amazingly un-humble — which makes as much sense in me taking pride in winning my division ("display class" thematic) of a stamp collector's exhibition, of which I had the only entry. Hooray for me! (As the crowd yawns.)


Some things I've said in the past may make people think I'm an enemy of Calvinism. No, I'm not an enemy, but refuse the label of Calvinist or Arminian.

Remarks like those above can get me into trouble, what with people putting words in my mouth, reading too quickly, and the like. Fact is, there are Reformed doctrines that I fully agree with.

One is perseverance of the saints (or the somewhat derogatory "once saved, always saved"). That doctrine is misunderstood by its detractors, but I can make a reasonable case for it. This belief is contrary to traditional Arminianism, but briefly, if you cannot obtain salvation by your own efforts, you cannot keep it that way, either. Or was the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross insufficient after all (Heb. 10:10-14, 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 4:1-8)? A doctrine saying that you can commit a sin just before you die and end up in Hell is unscriptural, and disgusts me. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but security and peace.

Another doctrine that Calvinists and Arminians agree on, and I join in, is often called total depravity. No, it doesn't mean that nobody can do good things (Matt. 7:9-10). Rather, it says that sin taints every part of us, including our thinking. People can have a measure of "goodness", but do not meets God's standard. Anti-theists and anti-creationists believe they are doing "good" by persecuting Christians and creationists, but their thinking is corrupted, and they are actually doing evil. We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23, 6:23) and need God's mercy (Eph 2:8-9).

When I study on it a spell, it seems that the foundation of Calvinism is the doctrine of election. Now, I cannot debate the subject effectively, and freely admit that there are some support verses that I can't fully deal with. However, there are verses that also seem to indicate that Christ died for all, not just the ones he chose ahead of time that would be saved. When those are pointed out to Calvinists, they give a kind of answer that indicates that the plain reading of the inerrant Word is unclear, and they have the right understanding, so they have to explain it to you. The first two doctrines that I discussed above can be defended without the doctrine of election, but it seems to me that if Calvinism loses that doctrine, the others collapse.

Calvinists seem to have a high regard for Scripture) which surprises me when people like Dr. R.C. Sproul vacillate on Genesis). I've encountered Arminians who not only have a low view of Scripture, but are willing to introduce heresies (theistic evolutionists use a form of the Pelagian heresy). So, I am convinced that neither camp is completely right, but both have truth in some of their views. Also, there are people that I believe will accept doctrines or beliefs because someone they admire accepts them (a kind of genetic fallacy). Whatever teaching or doctrine is presented, compare it with Scripture, keep it in context, and don't reject a fellow Christian who does not happen to hold to your favorite views on these matters.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dealing with Important Things

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

For quite a long spell, it's been interesting to me how things come together, and I think I see a divine hand in it. Maybe I'll read articles and hear podcasts on the same topic in a short space of time without planning on it. There have been times when I've been writing an article and a podcast comes along with valuable material that parallels what I'm in the process of doing. It happened again.

A very important truth that I've learned is balance. Ever hear the expression, "Truth out of balance"? That's when truth becomes excessive and harmful because it's misused. (I reckon that we all get a bit unbalanced when we get too agitated about something we've learned, so we study up on it, then maybe talk a mite too much about the subject.) People need to get a proper perspective on the importance and priority of some things. Seriously.

I've been going on about how some Christians get judgmental with each other, majoring on minor issues, and elevating side issues to supreme importance. There were times when I named certain side issues that were not gospel issues, and people proved me right by attacking me personally about the examples I used, and ignoring the points of the articles themselves. (What's with people's egos nowadays? I can discuss a concept and use and example, and someone who was unnamed can complain, "Hey! He's talkin' 'bout me!" Narcissism much?) While I was cognating on judgment and balance and things, oh my, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries had a podcast that caused me to get the bit in my teeth, jump the corral fence, and get to writing this here article.


Christians can get into majoring on minors, and getting truth out of balance. Then we look down on each other. Some perspective and balance are greatly needed.
Text added to a screenshot of Dr. White's November 13, 2015 video (linked below).
Dr. White is a Calvinist. I do not claim the label of either Calvinist or Arminian, but I like a lot of his material, and even like the man. (Don't reckon he'd care for me too much, I'm a bit of a jerk sometimes.) But I also disagree with some of his views. Regular readers know that I listen to (and link to) material by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith. Pastor Rosebrough is a Lutheran! Gasp, horrors! He's taught me a great deal, but I disagree with him on certain theological matters.

Should I, or anyone, have a narrow "Clone Club" perspective, "If you want to be one of his, gotta act like one of us"? If so, I'd have to reject Dr. White and Pastor Rosebrough. Since we disagree on side issues, should I condemn them to Hell? Really, many people act like that. (Maybe you no longer like me because I like someone you don't like. Ever stop to think that maybe someone with whom you disagree on a nonessential matter may actually have something valid to say, and you can learn from him or her? Try extending them some grace and Christian love. We have to prioritize what is essential, nonessential, and actually harmful. (I am not talking about cohabitating with false teachers, ain't no way.) And try mighty hard to listen without a filter from tradition or emotional bias.

Sometimes Calvinists get on my nerves more than angry Arminians, but I still use presuppositional apologetics, which is rooted in Calvinism/Reformed theology. There was a bumper sticker that said, "If it ain't country, it ain't music". I've run into some people who may as well have had a sticker that said, "If you ain't Calvinist, you ain't Christian". Seriously, I was told that if I didn't accept the "doctrines of grace", then I'm an immature Christian, a sinner, or possibly even unsaved! Such a ridiculous attitude is based on circular reasoning and a wagon-load of pride. Fact is, nobody has all doctrines nailed down completely. Tinhorns on either side need to stop looking down on other Christians as if they were "lesser" or even unsaved, you savvy?

Dr. White is friends with Dr. Michael Brown. They have debated each other on Reformed theology, and have teamed up with each other to debate advocates of homosexuality. People have criticized them for being friends and allies on important issues.


Ever heard of dominion theologyDr. Greg Bahnsen was into a form of dominion theology, which is frowned upon by many. He was a presuppositional apologist and a Calvinist, but I like his work anyway. There are some presuppositional apologists who are "better" than others. "I like Bahnsen's explanation of Van Til"..."I'm an advocate of Gordon Clark"..."Jason Lisle's presuppositional approach is not presuppositional enough". Oh, shut up, the lot of you! Division in the body of Christ over which version of presuppositional apologetics is right? Meanwhile, people are going to Hell because you jokers are too busy fighting and debating among yourselves to share the gospel! Priorities, people.

The video and audio (you can pick whichever one) from Dr. White makes many important points. I'd like very much for you to spend an hour and give it some serious attention. Dr. White asks that you try to be consistent, think it through, and see if he makes some points. I know I needed to hear it as well as share it with all y'all.

One thing I'd like you to take note of is how the word "fundamentalist" has changed definitions. With the historical definition of the word, Dr. White and I can be considered fundamentalists. However, today it is not only a pejorative, but implies someone who is legalistic, narrow minded, and just plain ignorant. That second form of the definition is what atheists and anti-creationists use.

There are some other things he touches on in the first few minutes, and the main part begins at the 9:05 mark. Click here to watch or hear "An Hour Long Discussion About What Matters: Freedom, Dividing Lines, Catholicity, the Lordship of Christ".

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What If I Told You...?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is a kind of bridge article for "Christians, Heroes, and Hurt" and another that was previously unwritten, "Dealing with Important Things". In the previous article, I was discussing how some Christians get the bit in their teeth when people they look up to have a downfall. Sometimes, we find out that our heroes are crooks, and other times, we find out that people have other failings. In either case, we find out that people are human after all.

Sure, we know in our minds that everyone has failings, but it seems that we tend to get a mite upset anyway when they show their frailties. The idea for this one came to me because I had a headache when I was writing the last one.


Too many Christians have a fondness for judging each other on superficial matters. More biblical truth and love, less legalism.


What if I told you (or word got around):
  • I took an extended break and used the work computer for personal research, and got in trouble
  • Some of my girlfriends are jealous of my wife
  • I was harsh with an atheist attacker
  • I get spells of anxiety and depression
  • I got away with a hit-and-run with property damage
  • My cologne is very expensive
  • I use strong profanity when software is bucking like a bronco
  • My family and I are not close
  • Some of my contacts are very dangerous people
  • I stole my wristwatch from Wal-Mart 
  • The occasional rye and seltzer sets well with me
  • That the expression "What if I told you" in the "Matrix Morpheus" "meme" was not actually used in the Matrix movies
I'm borrowing from Rush Limbaugh and illustrating absurdity by being absurd. (Come to think of it, I do that frequently.) While the haters take those "confessions" and spread them around, the rest of us can get on with this. The last one listed is true, and I'm not too fond of cologne. Maybe a couple of others are true, but I'm not telling you which. Last "confession": it was kind of fun making up that list. Maybe I should have used "confession bear"?

One reason that I had a period of about fifteen years where I rudely put God on the back burner was because of the way many Christians acted. They — we — tend to get intolerant of people who do not act and think in a way that we think is best. Although I had been hurt, the problem was that I had unrealistic expectations, and took my eyes of Christ. Too many Christians do that. I reckon it's human nature to speak ill of others. Although atheists have a great time badmouthing Christians (with or without cause), there are Christians that like to gossip. That is beyond unhelpful, it is sinful (2 Cor. 12:20, 1 Tim. 5:13, Prov. 11:13 NIV). 

In fact, although it's good to sound warnings when someone is getting bad teachings, we can get burrs under our saddles in the nonessentials. "You believe / do not believe / do / don't do what?" A good part of the problem is legalism. People judge others on little details. If you smoke, drink, have a tattoo, slip up and take the Lord's name in vain, go to movies, play cards, these and a host of other things can disqualify you from being a good Christian in some people's eyes. (Take a look at "The Lie of Legalism" for a good article.) The title track on Steve Taylor's debut EP was "I Want to be a Clone". It talked about rigidity, legalism, church-ianity, man-made rules, and more. Guess what, pilgrim? This is rooted in pride! A powerful line in there was, "If you want to be one of his, gotta act like one of us!" What if I told you that in some places, Christians have a smoke and drink, and nobody thinks anything of it? 

People grow at different rates according to the Spirit's leading; there is a God, and you are not him. Sure, offer advice, counsel, teaching. We all need to be humble and teachable, as long as we compare what is said to us with Scripture, which is the final authority. I'm not talking about sins that destroy lives or disqualify someone from ministry because the qualifications of an elder must be taken seriously. People like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Kong Hee, and others found out the hard way, but their egos kept them going and some sheeple still follow them.

Christ followers, if you find out about failings or just something you don't like about another Christian, and it's not a violation of biblical principles, let it go. If it's sin, serious error, or something else, admonish him or her with gentleness and Christian love. More biblical truth and love, less judging. Less hurting, especially for no good reason. You savvy?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Christians, Heroes, and Hurt

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
Edited 11-22-2015


Despite what many unbelievers seem to think, when people become Christians, they don't have to surrender their humanity. Yes, we make mistakes and have occasional sins in our lives (Heb 12:1, 1 John 1:9), and do many things that everyone else does. That is, we have needs, desires, jobs, eat, drink, breathe, sleep, do some mattress dancing with our spouses, have hobbies, hang around with friends, and so on. We also have people we look up to.

Two things that cause pain to Christians are finding out people we admire have flaws, and also being told that we're following false teachers. But Christians are to instruct each other in love.
Image credit: Pixabay / Unsplash

Who are the Heroes?

Anyone can be elevated to hero status among Christians, just like our counterparts in the world. When it someone of "our own kind", people tend to get excited about someone of their own ethnic, religion, sex, age, country, political views, and so on. Some people that Christians elevate include:
  • A sports star is very public about his or her faith
  • Musicians that mention Jesus favorably, or even make claims to be Christians
  • That smooth-talking Rev. Makeya Feelgood on television
  • Someone who has videos that have some interesting material and maybe "special" insight that nobody else has
  • Your local pastor who really, truly does have something worth hearing
  • High-profile ministry leaders
  • A friend, family member, or even a social media acquaintance
  • Other people that are praised as great Christians, so we get caught up in the excitement
So yes, we have people that we look up to with varying degrees of admiration. This can be all right when it's kept in proper perspective, but can be a problem if we put too much emphasis on those we admire. For that matter, people in entertainment industry are often looked up to for advice on spiritual matters. Who are they, really? We should not be following musicians because they promote certain views, and evaluating their opinions carefully.


Downfall

Seems safe to assume that just about everyone knows the pain of being betrayed by a friend. In Christian circles, that betrayal can have varying sources, many of which are not legitimate. A professing Christian betrays your trust, lies about you, steals your property, or something else may happen. Finding out that you have differing views on nonessentials may be challenging, but depending on how serious it is, there is seldom a need to break fellowship. Finding out that someone promotes Bible-denying heresies, well, they need to be avoided and false teachers are to be exposed (John 3:20, Eph. 5:11, 1 John 4:1, Jude 1:4, 2 Peter 2:1, Matt. 7:15-20).

What about those people that we have placed on pedestals? (There are crooks and hypocrites that present a version of Christianity, and we need to exercise righteous judgment, John 7:24, according to Scripture.) Many of them did not ask to be made into heroes. Whether teachers or media figures, they did not die for our sins and bodily rise from the dead (1 Cor. 1:12-13). When criticizing, are we being judgmental? For example, country singer Carrie Underwood has been forthright about her beliefs, and said that she approves of homosexual marriage. Does that maker her bad, or not a Christian, as some have claimed? Although her choice of a liberal "progressive" church is certainly lacking, her stance on that issue does not disqualify her from the body of Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).

I'm on record as saying that I seek glory for God, not glory for Bob, and I've been very reluctant to use my own experiences, but I hope they will help make some points. Family, friends, supporters of The Question Evolution Project and other social media acquaintances sometimes look up to me for spiritual advice, which is biblically rather scary (James 3:1). I've lost friends over my political views, biblical creation science,  authority of Scripture, cessationism (which has garnered hostility, and one person's friendship cooled considerably when this view was discovered), and others. There are some views that I have that I do not tell anyone because they are irrelevant, or I have not formed a strong argument for them. What if some of my other beliefs became public? In addition, I've publicly stated that I've done rotten things in my past. What if some of those came to light, whether they were fifteen years ago or fifteen hours ago? Would I lose "followers" and friends? That's up to them as to how they want to judge me, but I hope they would judge according to Scripture (which includes forgiveness, Matt. 18:21-22, Luke 17:3-4, Col. 3:12-13), not legalistically, and not from anger because I don't support a pet nonessential belief. I can't live up to each individual's preconceptions, sorry.

You should see that my experiences are relevant to this article. Just ride up on the hill and get the big picture: Christians need to remember that friends, family, religious celebrities, and so on have differing views. We have no business rejecting them over nonessentials, for violating our traditions and preferences, or by being legalistic (Col. 2:20-23). For that matter, we should not be judging them based on rumors or from the claims of unbelievers.


Wounds of a Friend

Now we have to take a fork in the trail toward something that is very important.

Most people don't cotton to getting bad news. What if I told you that popular recording artists Phillips, Craig and Dean have a history of Modalist cult involvement, and their Trinitarian claims are unclear and suspect? Would you disassociate with me? I told someone that Kent Hovind was involved in King James Onlyism (which is legalistic and very divisive), and that friend grew very distant from then on. (For that matter, people put Kent Hovind on a pedestal that is insulting to the rest of creation science, as if he was the only one teaching creation, so they're sure glad to have their hero back, as this image illustrates.) There are times when we feel hurt or even betrayed when a Christian friend informs us that we are following a false teacher or that we need to repent of something. It's our business to watch over each other, and doing it in love.

Christians preach repentance for salvation, and people get mighty riled about that. But we do it because Jesus commands us to (Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8), and because we don't want to see them going to Hell. Similarly, we correct each other so we can hold fast to the truth (1 Thess. 5:11).

It causes me anguish seeing someone I care deeply about getting involved in false teachings or taking a risk at being deceived. Speaking up may cause anger, even when done with gentleness, love, and respect. (There are times when a sharp rebuke is necessary, Mark 16:14, Luke 17:3, 2 Tim. 4:2, Titus 1:3, but we need to be very careful when doing this. But that element is beyond what I am discussing here.) Our guide and authority is the Word of God, and we are to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Some professing Christians meddle in occult matters, a topic that the Bible strictly forbids. Here is a podcast on that subject. Someone is liable to be annoyed that I brought that up, but it's because I care!

Are you angry when someone tells you that you need to repent, or that you're riding a trail that can lead to disaster? Even though some may say things to build up their own egos, some of us genuinely care about you.

Also, those of us who are on the receiving end of information and correction should give consideration to what is offered. For those who give the information and it is not accepted, well, maybe we're wrong, maybe the Spirit is not working in that person on that thing at that moment, or something else. No need to be a rattlesnake and strike every time that person walks by. Let God be God.

Still love me?



 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

"God Told Me": Why Unbelievers Hate Christians Part 3

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

For those who want the background on this unintended series, I discussed the origins of "Why Unbelievers Hate Christians" in "Making Money From End of the World Fears", the reading of which is optional but helpful. You may want to see "Crooks: Why Unbelievers Hate Christians Part 2" as well.

Once again, I was listening to a podcast at work and chomping at the bit to gallop home and write an article on it. 

Christians have enough problems dealing with critics and mockers without some of us giving them reasons to do so. I could write articles on nutty people who profess the name of Christ as a career (as well as false teachers), but there are others who do it far better than I do.

There are professing Christians who claim to have direct revelation from God, as if the canon of Scripture was still open. Such claims need to be challenged from the written Word of God.
Unpopular Opinion Puffin's opinion is unpopular among some people.

Still, this one bothers me, and I hope it can be an object lesson. Opal Covey is running for mayor of Toledo, Ohio. She's run four times before, and lost every time. The part I don't cotton to is that she makes the claim that God told her to do this. Later, she claimed that she won in the past, but the election was stolen. If she doesn't win this time, God will destroy Toledo. Chris Rosebrough asks, "What kid of God does this woman believe in?"

Whoa! Restrain your equines! There are far too many people running around claiming to get direct, personal revelations from God. Worse, there are people who simply accept it as "a move of the Holy Spirit", and if you resist or object, you're resisting the Spirit. (I've heard of people wanting to do the right thing and checking a "word from God" with the real Word of God and being told that they're "blaspheming the Spirit"!) For that matter, giving "credit" to the Holy Spirit for misunderstandings of Scripture and false teaching is blasphemy in itself. Jesus said the Spirit will testify about him (John 15:26), not you, your special secret revelation, your bid for election, and especially false teachings. Give glory to God, not yourself. Watch who you're calling a blasphemer, blasphemer!

This is prejudicial conjecture and bigotry.
Smart Christians compare their actions with Scripture.
If someone says, "God told me...", have them show you where it's written.
What seems to be an all-access pass for these people is tongue-talking. If you cut loose in an unknown language against all the rules in Scripture (1 Cor. 12:10, 1 Cor. 12:30, 1 Cor. 14:27-28, 1 Cor. 14:40), then somehow you're considered legit, and your "prophesies" are on the level.. Not hardly! Satan counterfeits signs and wonders, but what passes as the biblical gift of tongues is actually nonsense, sorry to break it to you. And it is not a "secret prayer language" that makes you a spiritual hotshot, though many get full of pride on this. By the way, why would God need to work your vocal cords and mouth to build up your spirit? Such a claim is based on a Pentecostal or "Charismatic" tradition, which in turn is based on a misunderstanding of the biblical texts. News flash: the canon of Scripture is closed, we're not tacking on new "revelations" — especially on someone's say-so. I suspicion that some of these tinhorns are using their "gifts" to boost their egos as well as make money (Titus 1:11).

Ask questions of these people. Not only have them show where their claim is supported in the Word of God, but if you can point out how they are violating Scripture, why should anyone then believe that their utterance is valid? They are manipulating people's emotions.

When someone makes a claim about God, it needs to be check against God's Word, not tradition, opinion, or emotion. Too many of their followers are gullible, and lack biblical depth and discernment. To people who have depth of biblical knowledge and guidance of the Spirit, these fakers are quickly spotted, and often laughable.

I need to be very clear on another point. Someone may say, "I believe that God led me to do such and so", well, that's a mighty far cry from a claim of having a direct revelation from God. 

We were warned that false prophets would come along (Matt. 24:24). People who claim to give prophesies are notorious for having a terrible record of accuracy. Even though the Bible gives the test of a prophet (Deut. 18:22), some feel that this does not apply since the New Testament began. This implies inconsistency on God's part, and people today are open to deception. Some of this come from the New Apostolic Reformation deception.

Opal Covey was angry with Fred LeFebvre of radio station WIOT. She told him that he was resisting God's will, rebuked him, shook the dust off her feet, and then railed at him in "tongues". Now, I have no idea of what Fred's views are, but Fred showed a better understanding of the Bible than Opal did! From what I saw in the video, he acted in a professional manner. You can see the article and video here. I'm looking forward to adding to this article about her loss of the election and how Toledo is still standing. ADDENDUM 11-02-2015: Opal walked out on Scott Sands of WSPD during an interview today after he challenged her on the tongue-talking and being a "prophetess". I reckon he was a mite irked. Who wouldn't be? Also, she claimed she won, but the votes were stolen. Sure, you betcha.

For more analysis, Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith discussed this incident (it's the podcast that got me all het up in the first place). My my reckoning, it begins at about the 14:55 mark. To listen for free or download, click here. In addition, here's his update on exceptional wackiness from Covey, starting at the 18:00 minute mark.

When someone claims to have a direct revelation from God, check it with the Word. Most likely, your best bet is to saddle up and ride for the hills. But bring your Bible along, you can trust that. ADDENDUM 11-05-1959: Opal Covey came in last in the election, and Toledo is still standing. I guess who they elected is probably better than an addlepated charismaniac.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crooks: Why Unbelievers Hate Christians Part 2

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Edited October 26,2015

I discussed the origins of "Why Unbelievers Hate Christians" in "Making Money From End of the World Fears", the reading of which is optional but helpful. The essence of this unintended series is that Christians are hated from the get-go because we are followers of Jesus, and because the cross of Christ is offensive itself. Problem is, there are professing Christians who stupidly give the world reasons to ridicule us.

Yes, we have crooks in our midst. Not only are there false teachers giving a feel good message without repentance and without the blood of Christ, but there are con men and women who are using the gospel for money (1 Peter 5:2, Titus 1:11). Jimmy Swaggart was caught with a prostitute (was disciplined by the Assemblies of God, rejected it, and went independent), televangelist Jim Bakker was nailed for fraud and a sex scandal (now he's back, people don't seem to learn), various preachers have been caught in adultery and fraud, the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy, and more. Those are people who have done serious wrongs, and when legitimate Christian organizations do fund raisers, atheists falsely accuse them of being scam artists out of hatred, not because of genuine proof of wrongdoing — yet they excuse wealthy Clinton Richard Dawkins of getting wealthier from the profits of bigotry, but never mind about that now.


Unbelievers hate Christians because the cross is offensive. Unfortunately, con artists and crooks like Kong Hee give them valid reasons to laugh at us.


One religious rock star is Kong Hee of City Harvest Church in Singapore. (I hesitate to call him "Christian" because of his extreme heresies, see this episode of Fighting for the Faith for more about that.) His "pastor" wife (wrong, click here, also 2 Tim 2:12-14, 1 Tim. 3:2) wanted to be a music star, and he misappropriated church money for her career. Now Kong Hee has been found guilty and is facing jail time. Some of us hope he learns and repents, but this is another injury to the body of Christ and our testimony to the world. Worse, other false teachers and deluded people still support him! It's one thing to suffer because we're Christians (1 Peter 4:14, Matt. 5:11-12), but quite another to suffer punishment for being a crook but still playing the victim card. No wonder unbelievers laugh. 

Although we're human, actual Christians (not the fakers and apostates) are called to a higher standard. Addendum: Chris Rosebrough has some interesting points on the October 23 edition of Fighting for the Faith that I strongly encourage you to hear.




Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Dirt on Theistic Evolution 2: Mabbul

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

In the original article, "The Dirt on Theistic Evolution", which I recommend reading before continuing with this one, I took theistic evolutionists to task for their inconsistencies on their claims to believe the Bible and their magisterial views of science. The creation account was the primary emphasis in that article.

This time, I'm focusing on the Genesis Flood account.

Theistic evolutionists and others who claim to believe the Bible must make a series of compromises when faced with the clear teachings of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.
The Deluge / John Martin, 1834
Old-Earth creationists, theistic evolutionists, Hugh Ross, and other owlhoots who want to compromise on what Scripture plainly says for the sake of "science" need to find some way to ignore the account of the Genesis Flood. They must wedge long ages into the Word of God so it appears to agree with current atheistic interpretations of scientific evidence.

Biblical creationists uphold the authority of Scripture, and tend to be skeptical of old Earth science — especially when such science is full of bad logic and atheistic presuppositions. (For more about the science aspects of long ages, and evidence for a young Earth, there are many articles here.) If you study on it for a spell, you'll realize that biblical creationists are not expecting anyone to reject real science. Those long age interpretations are just that: interpretations. They are not facts, but opinions of what happened in the distant past. The Bible does tell us to believe anything that contradicts actual observed science (except in clear cases of miracles), or to disregard what we see with our own eyes.

Old Earthers claim to believe the Bible, so they should have no problem with miraclous events: an axe head that floated (2 Kings 2:5-7), Jesus and Peter walking on water (Matt. 14:29), Jesus bodily rising from the dead (Luke 24:46-48), Philip casting out demons (Acts 8:6-7), Paul raising Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12), and more. But they holler "Whoa!" when it comes to believing the first eleven chapters of Genesis, especially Creation and the Flood. But the Flood is not written as myth or allegory, so it cannot be dismissed as such.

People may rightly ask, "How can the Flood cover the highest mountains? There would be no air up there!" (I actually heard this objection.) First of all, air pressure would rise with the water, check your basic science. Second, the high mountains that we see today did not exist then. They were pushed up during and after the Flood, which helps explain the presence of marine fossils on mountains. Creation science Flood geologists have done extensive research on the changes in the Earth's surface due to the Flood, but those are beyond the scope of this article. People will use dubious long-age interpretations of secular historical science (and let's face it, we don't know everything about science), and then claim that Scripture is wrong. Not hardly, pilgrim!

There is a special word for the Flood, mabbul, מַבּוּל, that only appears in reference to that Flood. Most references are in chapters 6-11 of Genesis, and once more in Psalm 29:10. God made his covenant with the Earth to never again destroy the entire world with a mabbul, and he used that word thrice in Genesis 9:11-15. When the Flood is discussed in the New Testament, the Greek word kataklusmos, κατακλυσμός, is used (where the English word "cataclysm" came from). Special words for a special event. If people want to make the Flood into some kind of local event, then they are making God a liar, since there were obviously many local floods over the years.

Riding the trail up yonder into the New Testament, we find that Jesus referred to it as an actual historical event (Luke 17:26-17) and the writer of Hebrews told us that Noah and the Flood were real (Heb. 11:7). Peter followed Jesus' example, referring to the Flood as not only a past judgment, but likened it to the coming final Judgment, and telling us what we see now: mockers will come along (2 Peter 3:3-7). Peter adds that the first Flood was with water, but the final Judgment will be by fire. Will that be a local incident, too, nay-sayers?

For people who claim to believe the Bible, I ask this: Who are you going to believe, the ever-changing whims of man-made science philosophies, or the Word of God? God is holding off on that last Judgment to give people time to repent, whether false teachers, those who are deceived, and those who are rebelling against God. But there will come a time when it's all over, and there will be no second chances.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

You're Bad, So I Can Do What I Want!

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

In the beginning was blamestorming. After eating the forbidden fruit, Eve some to Adam, and he blamed both Eve and God for his choice (Gen. 1:12). When confronted, Eve blamed Satan for her choice, and made the excuse that she was deceived (Gen. 3:13). Seems to be human nature to blame others for our own bad decisions, and to seek other ways of justifying our actions. This can be seen throughout history through today.


Unpopular opinion puffin poining out problems in others does not excuse you
"Unpopular Opinion Puffin" has an unpopular opinion.
Atheists will use an argument from outrage, including cherry-picking things in the Bible that they don't like to justify denying God's existence and authority. Likewise, they will use Bible texts that they don't understand to make excuses for rebelling against God, such as "How can a loving God..." Well, how can an honest person not bother to do some homework on the questions? One way I've seen the "logic" of unbelievers seems to work this way: "You're not a good enough Christian to meet my arbitrary standards, therefore, the Bible is not true, there is no God, I can do what I want". Not hardly!

For that matter, there are Christians who will find excuses reject biblical truths that they don't cotton to. Sure, there are honest disagreements on nonessentials, but when it comes to clinging to pet doctrines and beliefs, some Christians will act just like atheists. When shown from Scripture that they may not be exactly right, people can get meaner than a burlap sack full of sidewinders. Blaming God (Job 40:8) can be seen in both believers and unbelievers.

Let's back up a mite. As we know, people will pass blame and make excuses for their own behaviors. This is seen in the pro-homosexual lobby. "You Fundies can't tell us about our sins, because you have adulterers and allow other kinds of sins!" That shallow, emotionally-laden tu quoque argument is easily dismantled. For one thing, Christians who oppose homosexuality are not justifying their own sins and making them a means of identity. "Hi, I'm Bob, I'm an adulterous heterosexual white male, and I want acceptance, reinterpretation of the Bible, and special legislation to suit my lifestyle." Also, the "you do it too" reaction, whether accurate or not, is a way to distract from the main point that homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible. The same kinds of poor reasoning are used by abortionists, atheists, liberal religious people, cultists, and more.

Blaming, self-justification by pointing out flaws in others, various excuses — they are excuses to cling to our sins and bad thinking. You want to call me a bad Christian? Go ahead, I admit that I've sinned and have inconsistencies. Flaws in other people? You betcha! You'll find a passel of them in professing Christians, even in our spiritual leaders. Cherry-picking verses out of the Bible so you can pretend it's untrue? It's been tried before, and keeps on failing, do your homework and see. All of those are distractions to avoid the main point that God is the Creator, he makes the rules, and we are responsible for our actions. No excuses will work. Just ask Adam and Eve.

We need to humble ourselves before almighty God (James 4:6, Matt. 18:4, Psalm 51:17), repent (Acts 17:30-31, Matt. 4:17, Luke 24:46-47, Rom. 2:4), and believe for salvation (John 3:16-17, Acts 10:4, Rom. 1:16). Those who believe are assured of salvation (Eph. 2:5-7, John 1:12-13) through the faith (Eph. 2:8-9). No excuses.

 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Dirt on Theistic Evolution

By Cowboy Bob Sorensen
A group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. They elected one scientist to go and tell God that he was now irrelevant.

The scientist walked up to God the Son and said, “God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We’re can clone people and do many other things that seem miraculous, so why don’t you just go on and leave us alone?”

God listened patiently and then said, “All right, how about if we have a man-making contest?”

The scientist said, “Okay, we can do that!”

“But,” God added, “we’re going to do this just like I did when I made Adam.”

The scientist said, “You got it”, and bent down and grabbed a handful of dirt.

Jesus (Col. 1:16) looked at him and said, “Not so fast. Go get your own dirt.”
Biblical creationists believe the Bible as written, using the historical-grammatical approach. Theistic evolution and other compromising positions require eisegesis and elevating science philosophies to a magisterial authority position.
morgueFile / Slartibartfast
Aside from the arrogance of man thinking that God is not needed because we've evolved beyond the need for him (or that he does not exist at all, Rom. 1:18-19), some people insist on believing in evolution and then slapping God's name on it to justify their belief in rebellious pseudoscience. Although many theistic evolutionists claim to believe the Bible, they elevate man-made science philosophies to the magisterial level for their authority; those owlhoots dare to tell God what he said and means. Maybe they believe the Bible is a text that God preserved, but do they believe what it says? The rest of us will continue reading the Bible with historical-grammatical exegesis.

Although belief in special creation is not essential to salvation, Genesis is foundational to the gospel message. Theistic evolution is easily refuted in the minds and spirits of those who actually believe the Word of God. In some sermons on Genesis, Dr. John MacArthur pointed a few things and sparked some ideas that I'm going to present to you. Evolution means not only that God is not in authority over creation, but that God's Word is false.

God made man out of the dust of the Earth, וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָֽאָדָם עָפָר מִן־הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַֽיְהִי הָֽאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃ , Gen. 2:7. Adam was made separately from the animals, and had the personal touch of God breathing into him the breath of life. This was not just physical life, but also spiritual life. Man was a separate, distinct creation, and you cannot get anything resembling evolution or long ages from the text.

Animals were also formed from the ground (Gen. 2:19) and then brought to Adam to give them names, but there was no suitable helper for him. The critters were different, lacking the abilities to reason and have meaningful interaction with him; a cowboy may talk to his horse while riding herd, but that's not exactly fulfilling for him. So God did something different for his special creation, and made woman from his side (Gen. 2:21). Adam did not have to wait for his wife to finish evolving, nor was she a separate species. She came from his side to stand with him, not as an inferior creation. Edit: Adam called her Eve (Gen. 3:20), another indication that she was unique and not just one of many co-evolving humanoids. The Bible clearly refutes evolution for the Christian.

In Genesis 2:8-14, we are given details about they layout of Eden. It wasn't just a tiny plot of land, but rather a big place. Such details are not the stuff of mythology, legend, poetry, or allegory.

Genesis sets forth the foundation that God's plan for marriage is one man and one woman (Mark 10:6-9). Jesus (Mark 10:6), Paul (1 Tim. 2:13, 1 Cor. 15:45), Jude (1:14), and others in the Bible treat Adam as an actual historical person and creation as a real event, not an allegory or poetry. To say that it is nothing less than actual history is to call Jesus and others either liars or stupid.

Like atheists and cultists, theistic evolutionists and other compromisers try to put Bible-believing Christians on the defensive — especially biblical creationists. (Interesting that theistic evolutionists cozy up to atheists and join forces to ridicule us, isn't it? So much for John 13:35, 2 Cor. 6:14-15, Gal. 6:10, and other verses.) Some will claim superior knowledge of Scripture and require that we answer certain questions they think we cannot answer (Steve Risner and Tony Breeden each wrote a series that shredded one compromiser's rant, and Charlie Wolcott addressed old Earth creation and theistic evolution). I reckon we should turn things around and find out if they claim to believe the Bible, do they believe what it says?

Some TEs claim to believe the Bible, but from their conduct, they don't appear to do so. Not only do some of them treat many Christians like garbage, but to get millions of years and evolution out of the Bible, eisegesis is necessary. God takes a dim view when people add to his words, see Prov. 30:16 and Rev. 22:18-19, and also note that in 1 Cor. 4:6, Paul cautioned believers not to go beyond what is written. Although Peter heard the voice of God during the transfiguration of Jesus, he said in 2 Peter 1:19-21 that the Word of God is more certain! Having a dim view of God's Word, adding to it, not following the teachings, causing divisions (Jude 1:17-19, Rom. 16:17), compromising with unbelievers and their philosophies — apostates and false teachers are heading for serious trouble (Jude 1:4).

We were warned not only about false teachers, but that scoffers would try to denigrate the Word of God (2 Peter 3:3-4). The rest of us are to continue in the Word, which is sufficient to equip us for godly living (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Philosophies will come and go, but God's Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why Do Some Christians Accept Theistic Evolution?

There are several ways some professing Christians use to compromise on the plain reading of Genesis. One of the most dangerous is Theistic Evolution. Here are some reasons why.

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

They Say Compromise Is Good 

A few months back, I getting dissatisfied with the church I was attending, and wanted to saddle up and find another church in the Kingston, New York area. Not very promising, since there are polar opposites: emotionally-driven gatherings, and the traditional liberal outfits. Those who actually believe the Bible and can give proper exegesis are difficult to find around here.

One church had some standard fare in their statement of faith (including the inerrancy of Scripture, which is very important), and I reckoned that I could get along with that. But not a peep about creation. I sent them an e-mail inquiring about their position on it. The response was disappointing, saying that creation was an unimportant side issue, and anyway, the Framework Hypothesis was just fine for that pastor.

Not hardly! The Framework Hypothesis is a compromise position where Genesis does not mean what it says [1] [2] [3]. His church claims to believe the inerrancy of Scripture, and then he holds a position on Genesis that contradicts their claim.

In another instance, a popular apologist admitted that although Exodus 20:11 is quite clear, he still is not convinced that the days of Genesis are literal days, and was telling callers on his show about the Framework Hypothesis and other compromise views. I called him and said that it, and also the Progressive Creation position of people like Hugh Ross, fly in the face of the authority of Scripture, and uses bad science as well as bad theology [4] [5] [6]. In fact, I offered to send him him my own copy of Refuting Compromise by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati [my review here: 7], and he casually said he'd "take a look at it". Frankly, I think I wasted my time and money, but I still had to try to help correct this Bible-affirming apologist on his theological errors.

Some churches and pastors are embarrassed by creation. I believe they are intimidated by the established view of "science", and one pastor told me that although he is a biblical creationist, he does not want to be "labeled" [8]. What does that lead to, "stealth creation"? Someone is shown the way of salvation, and then told, "Oh, by the way, we believe in a recent six-day creation". Disingenuous at best. Also, where does the "labeling" end? Believing that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land (Exodus 14:21-22), that God provided manna (Exodus 16:35), Jesus and Peter walked on water (Matt. 14:25-32), Jesus raised the dead (Luke 7:11-17, John 11:38-44), Jesus gave sight to the blind (Mark 8:22-26), Jesus himself was raised from the dead (Luke 24:5-6), Peter healed a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-7), Paul raised the dead (Acts 20:9-12), and more throughout Scripture. Doesn't believing any of these things make someone a "science denier"? Some of us are not afraid of being labeled, because we believe the Word of the living God.

In an episode of Fighting for the Faith, Chris Rosebrough reviewed a sermon by Adam Huschka of Narrate Church [9] called "Help I Feel! False Prophet?", beginning at the 1 hour, six minutes, 24 second mark [click here to listen online or download: 10]. Looking at their "Our Beliefs" in the "About Narrate" section, at first glace, it seems I could go there because they affirm the basics. Careful... (Oddly enough, I could not find the "Help I Feel!" series on the church's site, but the podcast is still available elsewhere.) In the sermon reviewed at the above link, Adam Huschka thought it would be appropriate to run a secular video by Dan Gilbert called "The Surprising Science of Happiness" [11].

Gilbert begins by teaching evolution, and then presents his philosophy of happiness. He presupposed evolution as truth, and showed pictures of Homo habilis and modern human skulls to illustrate the increase in brain size. He did not bother to mention that, even in the evolutionary view, Neanderthal Man had a larger brain than modern humans. Further, failed evolutionary mythology persists in affirming the disproved view that cranial capacity is a measure of intelligence [12]. Huschka does not bat an eye about the false teaching of evolution, is willing to bring it into his church in a Sunday sermon, and uses secular views mixed with bad eisegesis of the Bible. A great deal of compromise going on.

Many who accept the various compromise positions above (and there are several others as well), they include an old earth viewpoint that is based on atheistic interpretations of science. Not all adherents of "deep time" are evolutionists, but have views that are compatible with evolution.

What About Theistic Evolution?

People accept theistic evolution (the view that God used evolution in his creative processes) for various reasons. In fact, I held that position myself for a short time, before I realized that not only is evolution terrible science, but is completely incompatible to what the Word clearly teaches. Some people casually take the "scientific consensus" of evolution and then slap God's name on it as if that blesses their lack of understanding and furthering of heresy.

There are four main reasons I believe that people hold to TE (theistic evolution):
  • They assume it is true, so we must be understanding the Bible incorrectly (as discussed in the section about Adam Huschka)
  • Fear of what other people will think, and being "labeled" (as mentioned above), and also bullying by militant theistic evolutionists
  • They have not studied how evolution is actually harmful to the gospel message [13] [14] [15], and may even be considered biblically lazy
  • Open rebellion to the authority of the Word of God and the plain teachings of the Bible 
This last point is the most important, as there are many who teach TE and put down the Word of God. What they call "science" (evolutionary interpretations of observations) is given a magisterial position above the Word, and it is man telling God what he said and means. 

Your Choice Has Tremendous Importance

I adjure you to check the information in the reference links above. TE is not only a compromise with the Word of God, but also a dangerous apostasy and false teaching. Christians need to be careful (Jude 1:3, 2 Peter 3:3-7, 2 Cor. 10:5, 1 Peter 5:8). False teachings and warnings against them have existed throughout the Bible, and seem to be increasing today. We have to know what the Bible teaches, know what we believe and why we believe it!