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Alpha and Omega Ministries – A Personal Reflection

In the year 1988, at the age of sixteen, I stumbled into a class called Witnessing to Mormons. Our church was a fairly large church in the Phoenix area and on Wednesday nights there were numerous options for youth. After attending several of them, I found the youth-oriented options to be fun, but not overly satisfying. I was not overly sure what I was looking for, as I was only 16 years old, but it seemed to me that the classes that only addressed dating, peer-pressure, and similar youth-oriented topics were missing something even more fundamental, but I could not quite figure it out. As I looked through the Wednesday class options, I saw “Witnessing to Mormons” by someone I had never even heard of (and in such a large church, I knew a lot of people). I had already read several books on Mormonism by the Tanners and some others, but I wanted to be able to ask questions.

Sitting in that class, I found out that almost all of my questions were answered long before I could even ask them. Answers to questions I never even had were answered – I was amazed at the knowledge and clarity and, most of all, the substantive teaching. The teacher was Rich Pierce, and I wanted to absorb everything he knew about the subject.

I was disappointed when I walked in a few weeks later and another teacher was going through the material. I was hoping to hear from Rich Pierce again, but I thought I would give this guy a chance. Again, I was simply awestruck at the level of knowledge, the command of Scripture, and the ease by which Mormon arguments that tripped me up were easily and soundly dismantled. My heart was afire! I did not think it was possible to exceed Rich Pierce’s understanding of these topics, but this man had. His name was James White.

Suddenly, I realized that this was a Christian ministry that took Scriptural study and the preaching of the Gospel very seriously, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it in some way. It turned out that Alpha and Omega Ministries was planning to witness to the Mormons in Mesa during their Easter Pageant. I jumped at such an opportunity, as I enjoyed sharing my faith. I continued to study, I listened to as many tapes of debates, lectures, and studies from this ministry as I could get my hands on.

The Witnessing to Mormons class even had role playing, using the best arguments that the Mormons had and required the class to draw upon what it had learned in order to articulate the faith clearly and compellingly. Mr. White (as he was before he received his doctorate) prefaced the Role Playing section by saying the following (paraphrased from memory), “Role playing is useful in preparing you to address the best arguments the Mormons have so that you can present to them the Gospel of Christ. We are not here to defeat an opponent, win an argument, or tear down a belief system. We must have a redemptive purpose. Our desire must be that they hear the true Gospel and that they believe in the true God and the true Savior. If that is not your purpose, this entire class is not for you.” Years later, Rich Pierce told me that one of the founding members of the ministry, Mike Beliveau, said something similar when he was teaching the same class.

My first time out passing tracts, I was a quick-trigger with a Gatlin gun of Bible verses ready to be used, and a teenage-level irreverence to go with it. I was placed with Mike Belliveau on the east gate of the Mormon Temple. I doubt that after all these years, he even remembers our time there, but more than once he had to gently, but firmly, chide me for my manners. “Watch the zingers”, he would say. “Mike, if you don’t love these people, you are no good to them, no matter how many verses you give them.” “Mike, you are not the Holy Spirit.” These rebukes silently hurt my pride, but taught me that I was relying far too much on myself to argue men into the kingdom of God. Suddenly, a lesson my father had earlier taught me finally sunk in (I had once asked him why cult groups do not see the truth in Scriptures). He told me, “It is not an intellectual issue. It is a sin issue.” I realized that James, Mike and Rich were putting everything they taught in class to practice. I had a lot to learn. I had to remember that it is God who saves, not my persuasive words of speech.

Decades have passed and I am now Vice-President of Alpha and Omega Ministries. In all those years, the message, method and approach has remained refreshingly consistent. Dr. White has and still expects that our ministry be in the business of tearing down false teachings, but always with a redemptive hope, and always building up with the truth of the Gospel. There are a lot of lost folk in this world, and a lot of people who have placed their hope in a false Gospel. Our ministry exists to proclaim the Gospel to those caught up in deception, to provide pastors and laymen with the tools to defend their faith and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It further exists to encourage Christians to patiently and peacefully engage this culture with the Gospel.

By the grace of God, we hope to continue in this effort until the Lord relieves us of duty.

My Sincere Thanks

I am up in Salt Lake City (where it is actually doing a little snowing at the moment) speaking at Christ Presbyterian Church in Magna (Pastor Jason Wallace) and preparing to be on Sean McCraney’s program tomorrow evening on the subject of the Trinity.  As I noted briefly on Twitter and FaceBook, I had the misfortune of listening to an episode of Jordan Hall’s “Polemics Report” on the way up not because I listen regularly but because a friend texted me and said he himself had been mentioned. It was the most unhinged I have heard Hall—just losing control at times and allowing that inner rage he experiences to express itself. Anyway, no one likes being lied about and slandered, myself included, so it was hardly an encouraging experience.  But thankfully the services went well yesterday and the Lord blessed the preaching on the subject of the Trinity.  I will be speaking again this evening, tonight focusing on the texts that demonstrate the eternal existence of the Son as a divine person in fellowship with the Father (the death knell of every form of unitarianism or modalism).

This morning a few folks sent me links to a podcast that was recently posted.  I wanted to grab lunch at Taco Time up here in Salt Lake (it is a weakness of mine, but I LOVE Taco Time crisp meat burritos and their taco sauce—I’ve purchased a NUMBER of bottles to take home with me as there are no Taco Times in Arizona any longer) and so I put the podcast on my phone and listened while driving and eating.

I am pretty much at a loss for words.  I want to thank everyone involved, including all those who wrote testimonials, Tom Buck who took time to call in and speak with the Hardings, and Kofi for recording what he did.  I do not handle such kindnesses very well, I admit.  I do know that far more people see through the past year’s worth of attacks than believe the nastiness of the critics, but they do not tend to be the “loudest” folks out there.  The other side yells a lot louder, and with more frequency, to be sure.  But the solid, consistent, faithful are out there, and we want to keep blessing them.  So thank you so much for this encouragement, it is much needed.  This also sort of fits with it being 2018…A&O was founded in 1983, so this is our 35th year in ministry!  Good to hear what the Lord has done over the decades.  So, again, my sincere thanks!

Click Here for the podcast.

2017: The Year in Review (Update: Fritz Erbe Video Now Linked)

Took the whole program to review 2017 and consider a little bit about trends and things to consider for the future.  UPDATE:  the kind brothers and sisters at Sovereign rushed to get the video I noted about Fritz Erbe posted.  Here is the link.  Please share it with others!

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

 

Ephesians 4:29-32 Applied to Christian Communication, A Hack-Job Video, and Francis’ Unorthodox Views

Started off with some geeky stuff, a few new books, etc., then moved to Ephesians 4 and how we are to behave as believers, especially in the realm of communication.  Moved seamlessly into a hack-job video that P&P is promoting, a personal attack upon me.  Played the whole thing showing how whoever produced it (Hall knows and isn’t saying) purposefully avoided context, proper categories, etc., and sought only to mislead the viewer.  It is dishonest at its core.  After that had a few brief comments on Mormonism, and then finished up with an article about Pope Francis’ unorthodox views.  A 90 minute edition today!

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

Speaking the Truth in Love, Destroying Others, then Back to the Free Will Debate

Started off with biblical discussions regarding how Christians are to interact with others, leading to some thoughts about those who wish to “destroy” others in the name of Christ.  Then turned back to the Free Will debate that was the subject of the previous program, listening and responding along the way.  105 minutes today!  More than a jumbo, less than a mega!

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.