Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Christian Liberty and Judgement

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is going to be an unusual article. Instead of explaining in great detail the nature of Christian liberty, I'll just touch on it and then discuss some decision-making I did. It came about while considering artwork for the fifth annual Question Evolution Day in 2016.

If someone wants to go to church on Saturday, that's fine for them. For that matter, any day is fine. I go on Sunday, which is called the Lord's Day. None of us can look down on another for our choice (Romans 14.5-6, Colossians 2.16). Similarly, if you refuse to celebrate Christmas, Easter or whatever because of your convictions, let that be settled in your own mind, but don't judge those of us who do choose to celebrate certain holidays. 

One item commonly discussed regarding Christian liberty is whether or not we can consume alcohol. Romans 14 is commonly used in discussing that topic. People compare questions raised to Paul about eating meat sacrificed to idols with the consumption of alcohol. To eat that meat, to drink that alcohol — yes, it's fine, but you need to have consideration for the conscience of someone else.

We have Christian liberty...and I'll let you research that matter further yourselves (I'll start you out with this link). Just remember, you have no business judging someone who takes a drink, goes to church on Whateverday, or celebrates a holiday.

It seems that quite a few Christians have been cranking up the judgmental attitudes. This not only shows a great deal of pride on their parts, but ignorance of Scripture. I really don't like being on the receiving end of sanctimonious Christians, possibly because I'm aware of my own failings in that area.

"Is there a point to this, Cowboy Bob?"

Yup. I wanted the artwork for QED to be different and also humorous, even thought I'm over 16 months early for the event. I thought it would be cute to use a "fifth" booze bottle and make a label (I did not spend much time on the one pictured because it's only an illustration for this article). 

There were some logistics difficulties. Wow, was I uninformed! They don't make fifths (1/5 of a US gallon) anymore, that stopped in about 1980. So my humor was outdated. Then, finding a public domain picture of a fifth of alcohol was difficult, though I could get by with clip art like the one above.

More importantly, what about the reactions of Christians? I think my liberty would allow me to use the booze bottle image, but it would backfire; people would be put off, not encouraged. Although I believe I have the liberty, I also have the responsibility to be considerate. "Weaker" Christians? Well, I don't think so. People have lost loved ones because of drunk drivers, or been hurt by alcoholics, or are recovering alcoholics, and so on. Seems like I would be rubbing their noses in it with my Christian cuteness.

Yes, I can insist on my "right" to use a bottle of alcohol as the logo for the Question Evolution Day event. But I would be needlessly provoking and offending brothers and sisters in Christ by doing it. My call is: Drop it. Insisting on my right would just be selfish and possibly be harmful.

Does this make me noble or extra spiritual? Not for a minute. But I'm "at peace" with the decision. Besides, I don't like being hollered at. A "win-win situation", as they say. Hey, I told you this was going to be an unusual article.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Godly Prophesy or Sinister Forces?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article is from a conversation I had with a friend. Unfortunately for me, she asked a question for which I could not give a simple answer. I was disappointed in myself for being unable to give a good response at the time until I realized that it was not really an easy question. It needs some background in several areas, including my own belief system. So, I gave it some thought and did some research, and am going to give what I hope is useful material for her, and for others. I am expanding on what was supposed to be a reply to her question. Which is quite a trick with Basement Cat snoring behind me.

From what I can reconstruct in my memory, she told me that a man she did not know very well began telling her some things about her life that were true, and saying what would happen in her future. In addition, he claimed to be a Christian and that this was a gift of God. (I believe she told me he said he was not a psychic.) So, was this a prophecy?

"The Winged Man (The Fallen Angel)" by Odilon Redon, Public Domain
Being a skeptic at heart, my first impulse was that this guy was being manipulative. Some people are skilled at reading others, and can steer people's emotions so they accept what they are told. There are times when the person on the receiving end is caught up in the moment and does not really notice things that are incorrect or very general, and there are times when people seem to have a keen insight that is difficult to explain. My first impulse when someone seeks to gain from what they are saying is that it should sound an inner alarm bell. Have you ever watched the TV show "The Mentalist"? I used to. The hero is a former "psychic" who could read people and use other tricks, but renounced his ways and even claimed that there are no such things as real psychics. Whether you agree with the character's claim or not, the show did convey ways that people are emotionally manipulated.

"So what about prophets, Cowboy Bob?"

In the Old Testament, prophets were people who were moved by God to speak for him. Pagan religions and cultures had prophets all over the place who claimed to speak for their gods. 1 Samuel 6.1-3 shows that the Philistine prophets spoke accurately (I assume that God worked through them at that time). However, a prophet of Yahweh had to be correct. It was a very serious undertaking to speak for the Creator of the universe who brought the Israelites out of captivity! A prophet's main duty was to speak for God, but there were times when he was led to foretell the future. If he did this and what he said did not come to pass, that was all. Game over (Deuteronomy 18.20-22).

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament-style prophets, as implied in Matthew 11.13. The Old Covenant was fulfilled, and the New Covenant was instituted through Jesus. When he left, he sent all Christians the Holy Spirit (John 14.17, 2 Timothy 1.14, Ephesians 3.16), so there was no need for those kinds of prophets.

"So what about prophets in the New Testament?"

In the New Testament, God would give utterance to people and they would prophesy (Acts 21.9, 1 Cor. 13.9-10). There are two kinds of prophecy. First, there are occasional prophecies caused when someone is filled with the Spirit. The second kind is more complicated, this involves the "gift of prophecy". Astrologer and "prophet" Jeanne Dixon supposedly had a "gift of prophecy". She also had quite a few things that were wrong. There are others like her. Although we're not under the Old Testament, God would not reduce his standards to have someone claim to be a prophet and have "iffy" accuracy.

Here is where I have to stop and explain a position I have: The "charismatic gifts" of speaking in tongues, healing, prophesy and so on described in the New Testament have ceased because the church has been established. I could be labeled as a "cessationist". (To take this tangent on a tangent, there are some people who will say that if someone is prophesying or speaking in tongues, they are under Satan's influence. Who am I to restrict God? If he wants me to speak in a language that I do not know, or gives me a prophetic utterance, hey, great! But that will not necessarily mean that I have been given that particular gift.) Dr. John MacArthur wrote on the spiritual gifts here, and has a sermon series here. There are others who insist that these gifts have continued through the present time.

I am not interested in having a debate here about whether or not the "sign gifts" have continued to this day. This was to show where I am coming from, but I will refer you to this short article about prophecy in the church today.

God has given us many good things, and Satan counterfeits many of them. To say that someone "speaking in tongues" as a guarantee of God's approval is ridiculous. Cults and occult practices have mimicked this and other things of the spirit (2 Corinthians 11.13-15, 1 Timothy 4.1). A simple way to tell if someone is interested in the truth is to test him and determine what testimony he brings (1 John 4.1-4). This requires good knowledge of the Bible. Does he glorify God (1 Peter 4.12-16)? Is he bringing the truth of the gospel (Galatians 1.8-9)?

Yes, someone may have a special message for you. But it must be measured against the written Word of God (Acts 17.11). Is it harmless? Perhaps. Or it could be an opening into a darker deception. Pray, search the Scriptures, get good counsel and be discerning.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Theistic Evolution: Old Heresy Rebooted

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Evolution is an ancient pagan religion that was plagiarized, tweaked, dressed up and popularized by Charles Darwin. People like to call it "science", but it is the pseudoscience of an anti-God religion. It seems that some religious people wish to appear intelligent in the eyes of the world, so they accept evolutionary thinking, but they need to have some sort of veneer of religion, perhaps a "fire escape". So they tack God's name onto it so they can have the best of both worlds.

Old earth compromisers will add to God's written Word, finding excuses to insert millions or billions of years where it is unjustified (Prov. 30.6, 1 Cor. 4.6). Theistic evolutionists take this even further, but both have a low view of Scripture.

A great deal of modern theology is man-centered, not God-centered. Read the popular religion books, watch the television broadcasts, listen to radio sermons and religious music, and you'll hear about how God wants you to be happy and successful. Let's face it, a great deal of the Reverend Doctor Feelgood's messages are borderline or even outright heresy. Much modern theology accommodates evolution and long-age compromises.

Theistic evolution is form of Pelagianism, a "church" in Portland, OR teaches theistic evolution

Various old earth compromises are rampant, but theistic evolution (TE) goes much further. Like Darwin did for evolution, theistic evolution takes the old Pelagian heresy and makes it presentable to modern audiences. It is man-centered and actually negates the need for the cross of Christ! TE organizations like Biologos strive to remove Adam and original sin, and replace them with evolutionism. Indeed, there are some TE bloggers that are so vicious, they claim to be Christian but actively misrepresent and ridicule biblical creationists, and join in with atheists in their mockery. I guess verses like Ephesians 4.12-15, 1 John 3.10-12, John 13.35 are not in their Bibles. In fact, I have doubts that they are actually Christians (Matthew 7.15-20). Christians are to seek to glorify God, not give precedence to their own pet doctrines or seek their own pleasures .

Note that some people take an old earth or TE view simply because they have not thought the issues through, and are unaware that they are not only ignorant of science against evolution and an old earth, but unaware that they are doing violence to Scripture.

Theistic evolution goes beyond the Pelagian heresy and actually supports atheism.
The secular philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”1 King Solomon, the wisest person in all history said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9–10).

This is especially applicable to Church history. There is no new heresy under the sun, and those who aren’t familiar with the battle for truth throughout the past 2000 years are doomed to repeat the same errors that have plagued the church since it began.

Today we Christians find ourselves at an interesting place in Church history. Although Scripture has been with us for 2,000 years (and is sufficient for determining how and when God created), we now have decades of research that supports what the Bible has always said. Today we are blessed with mountains of scientific evidence supporting the biblical record of a recent creation followed by a global flood and all humans originating with Adam and Eve. Despite all of this, aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism.
Please read the rest of this article by clicking on "BioLogos, theistic evolution and the Pelagian heresy: Debating an historical Adam and the destruction of the Gospel".