Saturday, July 30, 2016

Man's Wisdom or God's Wisdom?

Mankind has exhibited pride and a desire to be in control since Eden (Gen. 3:6), and that pride was manipulated by the serpent's deceit, that they would "be like God" (Gen: 4-5). While being inquisitive and investigative is a gift of God, people have elevated their own wisdom to a lofty perch and have disdain for the wisdom of God, preferring scientism and evolutionism to truth. And yet, we seem like idiots to them.


Greek philosopher Epicurus, evolutionist and hedonist. Man has tried to elevate his wisdom ever since Eden. God's wisdom is foolishness to those who are perishing, but actually confounds worldly "wisdom".
Greek philosopher Epicurus, evolutionist and hedonist (public domain image, modified)

The "wise" philosophers of the ages have sought to answer the mysteries of life, and some have made religious out of esoteric knowledge. Whether the views are secular or form some kind of religion, they try to supplant the Word of God . God has given us true wisdom in his Word (Prov. 1:7, Prov. 2:6, Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 1:23), which is far above the false wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:20, Isaiah 55:8-9).
The Bible is a very binary book. It does not wallow in greys and pastels, but sets out the grand issues in bold black-and-white terms that demand of us a commitment, a response, leaving us no place for dithering. Jesus famously said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). There is no middle ground!

Paul told the Corinthians that his commission from Christ was “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Corinthians 1:17). This message would be seen as folly to those lost in their sin, but welcomed as the power of God by those whom He is saving (1 Corinthians 1:18–19). Thus the “wisdom of the world” (1 Corinthians 1:20) is at loggerheads with the saving, Christ-centered, cross-centered “wisdom of God” (v. 21).

Paul sets up two competing wisdoms between which there can be no compromise. But he did not invent this state of affairs. In fact, this dichotomy goes back to nearly the beginning of Scripture. The first collision occurs in Genesis 3.
I hope you'll read the rest by clicking on "Competing Wisdoms". Also, I'd be much obliged if you'd read my related article, "Wisdom and Reason".

 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Apostle Peter and the Age of the Earth

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

There are some professing Christians who will say that since the Bible does not give a direct date of creation, they can gallop the Eisegesis Trail and shove millions or billions of years into the Bible. It doesn't work that way. Not only are they showing their bent toward compromise, but their lack of biblical knowledge, and essentially calling Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others liars. There is a right way to interpret Genesis, and it's a good idea to believe what Jesus believed and taught. Many serious problems arise when people play fast 'n' loose with Scripture.

There are many strong reasons to believe that God says what he means about Genesis. Here is a closer look at what Peter had to say, and the implications of the truth of Genesis for the Christian.
The Penitent Apostle Peter by Anthony van Dyck, 1618
The Old Testament is extremely important for understanding the New Testament. We were told that scoffers would come, and there would be apostasy. Peter referred to Genesis several times, and made it clear that not only was there a judgement by global Flood at the time of Noah, he likened it to the coming Judgement by fire. Mockers will denigrate the importance of Jesus' return, preferring to believe in evolutionism, at their own eternal peril. Even some professing Christians do not really believe the Bible, preferring long ages, compromise, and so on instead of God's Word.
When it comes to the discussion over the days of creation and the age of the earth, many people mistakenly think that the issue only involves the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. However, it is important to remember that the teachings of the New Testament are also significant to this debate.

Second Peter 3:1–7, for example, says that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing at the belief that Christ will come again. They will base their ideas upon the assumption that the world has not changed, deliberately ignoring two major events in the history of world: God’s supernatural Creation of the world and God’s judgment of the world by the historical, global, catastrophic Flood in the days of Noah.

Peter’s understanding of these two events is key as it helps us see how the apostle read Genesis. This in turn informs our understanding of the issue of the earth’s age. It is important then to consider what these verses say.
To read the rest, click on "How the Apostle Peter Relates to the Age of the Earth Debate".

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Christian Witchcraft?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article has two parts. I was going to present some musings that had built up in my mind, made some notes about this on Friday — and something very serious came to my attention on Saturday that fits right in. Kind of strange when those things happen. My concern is how Christians turn their prayers and worship into something resembling spells, forget that God is our loving Father, and act like the Bible is a kind of occult manual.

First, a personal problem. Although it's good to be specific in prayer and even pour out your heart to God, I'll allow that I get a mite over-specific. F'rinstance, I'll pray for my wife's safety for the work day. So, I'll pray for her safety to, from, and during work. I realized that I needed to rein up because I was insulting God at full gallop and didn't even realize it! God is infinitely wise, and knows what we mean. Indeed, he helps in our prayers (Romans 8:26-27). I'm thankful that he's patient.


Original image: Jesus Teaches People by the Sea by James Tissot
Have you read stories or seen movies about jinns (more commonly known in English as genies)? They are wish-granting mythological spirits. (Trivia: the word genius is based on a Latin word for a Roman household spirit.) Aladdin, magic lamp, three wishes, that sort of thing. Many stories have the jinn as a trickster — someone wishes for a million bucks, and the one making the wish is suddenly surrounded by a million male deer. I feel that many of us treat God in a similar way. Although he has given us faith and saved us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and provided what we need to live Christian lives (2 Peter 1:3), we seem to act like we must be ultra-specific and use the right formula or he'll ignore us, give us the wrong thing, or punish us in some way.


On a side note, there have been atheists who claim to have prayed for something but did not have their desires met. British atheist Lewis Wolpert said he quit praying because he asked God to help him find his cricket bat, which did not happen. People like that have no understanding of God or the Scriptures, and I wouldn't be surprised if some "prayed" and rubbed the Bible in order to make the prayer "take". Makes as much sense as rubbing the fat Buddha Maitreya's belly for luck.


There are Christians who seem compelled to use formulaic prayers as if our Father in Heaven will reject the prayers, and perhaps us, if we do them "wrong". I've been in churches that use modern Bible versions such as the Holman Christian Standard Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version — and pray in ye olde English. Why? Do they think God doesn't savvy? Is it a kind of spell? To me, it smacks of witchcraft. It also seems pretentious.

Christians, we need to trust God, not try to impress him or use formulas like witches or other humanists. Another thing to consider is that some of these people are just playing church, and do not know God. Examine yourselves to see if you are indeed in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).


Two aspects in this article. First, we insult God by praying in a formula manner. Worse, occult formulas such as circle casting are infiltrating the church.
Assembled from components at Clker clipart
Here is the part I wasn't intending to write before, but I believe it was providentially shown to me. And it's very serious. Part of this material hit me rather hard, because I had foolishly dabbled in the occult years ago, thinking I could use magical forces for good. If you want to know about that part of my history, click on "The Spirit of the Thing".

We have a contradiction happening. In many parts of the world (especially those oppressed by atheism and Mohammedanism), Christianity is growing. In other areas, especially our comfortable Western cultures, rejection of the authority of God's Word (easily seen in compromise with theistic evolution and "deep time" science philosophies), and apostasy are increasing. New Age practices (essentially Eastern religious concepts), "Chrislam" and even witchcraft have been accepted in churches; people like "new" things, "new" revelations, "new" moves of the Spirit, but do not spend much time checking things out to see if they're biblical. It's all about me and what I want (Matthew 6:33), and not about giving glory to Jesus.

Want a "new" way to pray better and get what you want? Use an old occult technique of casting circles! You don't need God's Word, just listen to the adversary — like Eve did (Genesis 3:4-7). Yeah, that turned out well, didn't it? Before Mark Batterson said that our job is to draw circles in the sand, Belinda Carlisle sang some very occult lyrics in 1988's "Circle in the Sand". Nice song, and I have no idea if she knew what the lyrics really meant (she didn't write it), but it's witchcraft.

I'm asking you to please take a look at something, including a 15-minute video, and share it to your Christian friends: "3 is the Number: The Circle Maker and Wiccan magic". And pray. The Bible way.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Twisting Scripture to Accuse Other Christians

One area where professing atheists are painfully correct is that too many people who call themselves "Christians" are ignorant of what is in the Bible they profess to believe. (My father facetiously said, "To thine own self be true. John 3:16". He knew full well that it's in 3 Peter 2:11.) Then they act like atheists, twisting Scripture to manipulate or condemn Christians. That's not the way it works, old son. We need to know what the Bible really teaches, and how to use it properly.


Atheists are right when they accuse many Christians of being unaware of what the Bible says. Worse, some Christians twist Scripture to support their religious traditions and opinions.
Modified from an image found at Pixabay by Dowdster
People are fond of their religious traditions and opinions, and seek to justify them. When something is clear-cut, that's one thing. But sometimes owlhoots take verses are taken out of context (and especially using the King James Version's terminology that has changed over the years) to club people over the head because they're not being legalistic enough. 

Years ago, I approached Pastor Dourface about taking the youth of the church to an upcoming Christian rock concert. He response was along the lines of, "Noooooo, brotherrrrrrr, we have to avoid every appearance of evil". He had the presupposition that rock music itself was evil, therefore, Christian rock is evil, too. Plus he misused a verse to back up his view. Meanwhile, he presents the Word of God in the pulpit dressed like a banker or lawyer (aren't there evil people in those professions?) and using a public address system (atheists use those too, you know). Let's be rational, and let's use Scripture correctly, shall we?

I was making remarks about a topic along this line, and I was directed to a very helpful article. Don't take this as an endorsement of everything on the site or what the author says, I'm only recommending this particular article. Shame I feel the need to give such a disclaimer, isn't it? Anyway:
This is one of several occasional essays on “Scripture Twisting.” The purpose of these very brief essays is to challenge certain popular interpretations of the Bible that really have little or no basis.

I attended a Christian liberal arts college. The students there had scores of little oral traditions that helped them obey God. My wife and I still joke about them. Our favorite was this: “You should pray over a meal if it cost more than 50 cents or if you have to eat it with a fork.” Where is that in the Bible? No place, of course, but we students felt that it was a necessary add-on for our sanctification.

You, too, have probably been exposed to such oral traditions. Over the years we have seen various essays and heard far too many sermons that extol the virtues of avoiding the appearance of evil. I remember growing up in a church in which the pastor would frequently preach on the evils of going to movies, or dancing, or drinking and smoking. Nowadays, such sermons are usually passé. Instead, there are laundry lists that ask various questions about an activity such as “Is it honoring to God? Might it harm a weaker brother or sister? Is it the best use of your time? Does it promote the cause of Christ? Does it avoid the appearance of evil?”
To read the rest, click on "1 Thessalonians 5:22 — The Sin Sniffer’s Catch-All Verse". 

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

World Religion and a Tipping Point

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Although the title of this piece sounds a mite like something from a conspiracy theory, there is a passel of reasons to think that a world religion may be coming. I was raised in the United Methodist Church, and my father was involved in the ecumenical movement, and the liberal UMC was (and is) involved in the World Council of Churches: "The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity". Those of us who are knowledgeable in these matters know that their claim to uphold Scripture has no basis in reality, since it's based on theological and political liberalism, as well as a heapin' helpin' of compromise on biblical truth. Maybe it would have been easier to join Moon's Unification Church and accept him as the messiah.


Although Christians need to be unified, it is not at the expense of truth. The Parliament of the World's Religions emphasizes socialistic unity and harmony, where "truth" is based on emotion and experience. Contains links to Carl Teichrib's interviews on his observations.
Modified Hindu Sri Yantra image from Clker clipart
While the Bible does call for unity among his followers (John 17:22-23, 1 Cor. 1:10, Heb. 4:2), it was not at the expense of fundamental principles. After all, Jesus preached repentance and adherence to his teachings (Matthew 28:18-20). That kind of truth claim and exclusivity does not appeal to many church folks.

There are people taking a notion to call for the harmony and unity of all religions. Sure, you can keep your "faith tradition" (whatever that means), but we have to all get along. Carl Teichrib from Forcing Change attended the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions, which takes the idea of unity to a new level. There was an emphasis on climate change, income inequality, as well as war, violence and hate. Problem is, the emphasis on "oneness" involved socialism and talk of having an arm of the United Nations to deal with spiritual issues. 

Which religion is right? None of them. All of them. This was an event that attracted people from all over the world, and many different religions were represented. Watered-down liberal and mystical "Christianity" had representatives, but Teichrib only saw conservative Christians as observers or there for evangelistic purposes, not invited to present or give workshops. The conference essentially demonized conservative Christians, and hated the idea of evangelism. But I wonder what of the Mormons and Mohammedans who attended, since they hold to exclusivity in their religions.

There was a great deal of New Age activity going on, including prayers to the spirits of the four directions, and an emphasis on femininity, getting in touch with the goddess. (This oneness and unity gang apparently did not address how Mohammedans abuse and mutilate women. Interesting.) Hearing about this invocation stuff in the first interview, I remember many years ago in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I attended a kind of Earth consciousness event held on the grounds of (I think it was) the Unitarian church. Drumming, grooving on rhythms, a big bonfire, and so on. When they wanted us to all join hands and sing songs to the four elements (if I recollect proper), I stopped being an observer and abruptly went home. That was because I felt that they wanted me to pray to demons, and the whole thing seemed like a form of a Witches' Sabbath. I wonder if Carl felt similarly at that world religion event.

Since Bible-believing Christians were demonized, I can't help but think that biblical creationists are the worst of the lot and would get run out of Dodge, since we hold to the Bible being true from cover to cover, and that Genesis is not poetry or allegory, but actual history. But I disremember if that was discussed in the interviews with Carl that I heard.

By the way, New Age spirituality is, in my opinion, buffet-style religion with an emphasis on Eastern religions. Take what pleases you, make your own false gods, emphasize experience and feelings, but do not have any ultimate truth.

What is it about Chicago, anyway? Sure, Sinatra sang "my kind of town", but the first two sessions of the Parliament of the World's religions were held there. Now, we have another call to Christian apostasy with the "Justice Conference" in Chicago on June 3-4, 2016. If you click the link, you'll see false teachers and compromisers, but if you see Bible-believing Christians, let me know.

If you want to hear these interviews with Teichrib, I have three of them for you. First, at Janet Mefferd, you can listen online or download at this link. Note: apparently downloading requires signing up, but they haven't bothered me after I did this. Next, "Coming Together as 'One'" and "Global Governance, Religion, and Socialism" at Stand Up for the Truth. These can be heard online or downloaded without sign-up. Finally, if you want videos of the call to socialistic apostasy, click here.

It is more urgent than ever to get out the truth and equip believers to know what and why they believe, and teach sound doctrine without compromise.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How Should We Interpret Genesis?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

The first eleven chapters of Genesis are the most attacked section of the Bible (and with increasing intensity nowadays), and were understood to be actual history by most Christians throughout church history, until Christians began ceding science to secularists about 150 years ago. There's a good reason for understanding Genesis as written, since Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others referred to Genesis as literal history as well. Still, riders on the Old Earth Owlhoot Trail want to force in millions of years by way of the latest trends in man-made science philosophies, and tell God what he said and meant instead of taking the natural reading of Genesis. Naturally, atheists support them.


Compromisers and outright Bible-deniers are using misleading, loaded terminology to poison the well against those of us who actually believe that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are not poetic or allegorical. So, how should be interpret them?
The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, Benjamin West, 1791
One area of compromise came from Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers in 1814, who proposed a gap of long ages between the first two verses of Genesis, but the "Gap Theory" simply does not work. Others will try to spiritualize the early chapters of Genesis, referring to it as poetry (even though it doesn't read like Hebrew poetry), or say that they contain spiritual truth. How can you have spiritual truth from something that is false, including the order of the days of creation as compared to evolution?

For that matter, most Christians have understood the days of creation to be actual days, and not long ages. Some will do an "Aha! Gotcha!" approach when saying that the word used for day, yom, יוֹם, can possibly mean something other than an actual day, it can mean an age. Actually, that's not true. There are "qualifiers": evening, morning, and a number. That means day, old son. If God wanted to impress on us long periods of time, there are other (better) Hebrew words that could have been used (such as olam, עוֹלָם, instead of people reading into the text (Prov. 30:5-6). Not good enough, you still want to compromise? A section of Exodus kind of nails it down, doesn't it?

By the way, ask a compromiser what is there in the book of Genesis that somehow looks or reads differently after the eleventh chapter. Why are chapters twelve through fifty historical, but the first chapters are not, according to their view? Where did the textual style change? 

Theistic Evolutionists, disciples of Hugh Ross, and others like to ridicule those of us who believe that the Bible means what it says. One way of doing this is through loaded terminology and redefining words; we are "literalistic". Well, when something is written with the intention of being taken literally, people take it literally, don't they? Unfortunately, since there are so many negative connotations from compromising tinhorns who misuse the word literal that biblical creationists need to clarify: we use historical-grammatical exegesis. Although some people don't cotton to those expensive words, they're needed to make things more specific.

When one starts with faulty theology at the beginning, it has a domino effect throughout Scripture. Here is the first of two videos that I'm going to present without embedding (since embedding slows down the page loading time). The video is "A World of Compromised Faith", and it runs about half an hour. (It's actually audio in a video format, so if you use one of the free online YouTube-to-MP3 converters or other software, you can grab it and listen to it at your convenience.) The source is an episode of Chris Rosebrough's "Fighting for the Faith", and I excerpted the pertinent section. Scott McKenna of Edinburg's Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church gave some fine examples of intellectualizing and spiritualizing Genesis, Pentecost, and the Bible in general in "Pentecost: A World of Faiths". Such heresy shouldn't be surprising from someone who puts in quotes from Schopenhauer and H.G. Wells in the "What We Believe" section!

The second video is an actual video (not just "audio in video format" like the one I did above). It is "How Should the Bible be Interpreted?" from Creation Today, runs about half an hour.

Here are some resources and supporting documents for your edification:
I suggest — request — that you save (and share) this article to help edify and encourage Bible believers who are dealing with compromisers who want to slap leather with them. The truth is on our side, and we don't need to be intimidated.

 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Renunciation by Association

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article is another appeal to clear thinking and discernment among Christians. I get to doing that on occasion, you see. There's a fallacy of guilt by association where a person receives condemnation because of who they run with or what they believe in. Sometimes it results in a witch hunt mentality, possibly utilizing the ancient proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". (Although attributed to Arabs, it's actually traced back to Hindu writings of Arthashastra.) Such a concept can be very detrimental for Christians.


Should Christians dislike other Christians because one likes a teacher that the other one dislikes? Let's cut each other some slack, Jack!

It's bothersome enough to upset someone you love because you give a warning about false doctrine or other dangerous territory in spiritual subjects. On a related matter, it hurts when someone will get a burr under his saddle against some teacher or writer, and then get irritated at you because you like a person that they dislike.

Now, hold off on drawing that shootin' iron and let me explain. There are people who are fans of heretics like Rob Bell, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston, and so on, and I don't cotton to associating with them. If an associate of mine wants to friend up a supporter of heretics and I stop associating with him or her, I may be doing the guilt by association thing. On the other hand, that person may be doing a form of missionary work on the heretic supporter.

There are people who are theologically sound. Sure, there will be disagreements on side issues, that's not the point. (This is getting more difficult to explain than I thought.) I'll put myself in the middle of this. Suppose I promote something I think is really great by Pastor Whatzit. But my friend Jedediah can't stand Pastor Whatzit because that pastor trounced Hezekiah Howzit in a debate, and Jedediah really likes Howzit. (Are you with me so far?) So, because I posted something by someone Jedediah dislikes, then Jedediah does a kind of guilt by association thing on an emotional level and dislikes me as well. I don't cotton to being disliked because I like something or someone, especially when both Whatzit and Howzit are brothers in Christ but have differing views.

There are Pages on Facebook that post things I don't like, but they are generally on solid theological ground. (Others are off the rails, and good material from them is a rarity, so I distance myself.) Similarly, I don't agree with everything that every creationist posts, whether scientifically or theologically, but there's no reason to reject an entire ministry.

Now, if I'm promoting heresy, it may very well be right and proper to drop me on the trail and ride on. Before doing that, a Christian should pray for me and approach me about it. But if I say that I've renounced orthodox Christian teachings in favor of Petey Pelagian's views and won't repent, move on. Otherwise, cut me some slack, Jack! I'd be much obliged if you'd grant people the courtesy of being wrong on occasion.

There are time when someone will read something they disagree with (or by someone they don't care for), and then realize that there was something worthwhile there after all. I've come around to a different way of thinking on some things, and known of others who have done the same. It may not be right away, but it can happen.

Looks like my main point is that Christians cannot divide over personal preferences, emotional reactions, and maybe traditions. Things can be overlooked, others need to be prayed about and maybe even discussed before stopping an association.

I've really struggled with the wording on this, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

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