Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
No Compromise, Ever: Episode 1
08/20/2012 - James White
The Discernment Gap: Showing a Lack of Passion for God's Honor and Glory
01/30/2012 - James WhiteI need to be brief, as I have many pressing duties.
Reading the commentary on the Elephant Room 2 events, and in particular, the alleged rehabilitation (repentance?) of TD Jakes has truly been brought me sadness. Sure, I know that very few Evangelicals, even scholars, have much experience with modalists and Oneness advocates, but still, the general ease with which many have been taken in by such a shallow and brief discussion does not speak well of the depth of understanding of many today. It also speaks loudly to the fact that many in Evangelicalism disconnect the honor and glory of God from the truth He has revealed about Himself. That is, they do not see that to worship and honor God demands from us our utmost effort to accurately hear and to follow what He has revealed about Himself, primarily in Jesus Christ, and the holy Scriptures. To take lightly God's self-revelation is an affront to the divine majesty, and would not be the action of a heart that is consumed with passion for its Lord. The true source of a passion for sound doctrine comes first and foremost from a heart that has singular attention to the glory and honor of the object of its passion. Those who "argue doctrine" simply for the sake of ego or self-gratification do so to their own destruction. Sound doctrine isn't about personalities or men, it is about truth that transcends our brief time on earth.
Let's remember some of Jakes' words from ER2. Keeping in mind his statement of faith, which continues to use the modalistic language of "manifestations," and keeping in mind that Jakes does not baptize in the Trinitarian formula (he baptizes in Jesus name only---something oddly ignored by the tribunal who seemed to grant to themselves the ability to proclaim Trinitarian orthodoxy at ER2), let's consider his words. When asked if God manifests Himself in three ways, or exists in three divine Persons, he said that "neither one of them totally get it for me." Now there is a ringing profession of Trinitarianism if I ever heard it. Please, why are so many quick to pass over this direct statement that the historic profession of faith just doesn't quite "totally get it" for Bishop Jakes? Does that really sound like someone who has seen the error of their ways and is ready to abjure error for a sound profession of faith in the truth? Or does it sound like someone who really thinks he is in a position to pick and choose what is comfortable for him given his goals and aims?
Ah, but Jakes went on to say, "I'm not crazy about the word 'person.'" Yes, another ringing word of repentance form his former modalism and a sound profession of his new Trinitarian faith, is it not? Is that why he has not changed his statement of faith for his church, because this new found Trinitarianism is not something he is really all that "crazy about"? Can you imagine talking to someone who had been a Mormon, and professed belief in many gods, and now he is seeking fellowship with you, and when you inquire as to his beliefs, he says, "Oh, I believe mainly like you, but, Trinitarianism just doesn't fully do it for me, and I'm not really crazy about the term 'monotheism.'" Will you be inviting that person to fill your pulpit to teach on the nature of God next Sunday, I wonder?
But the most amazing statement that has somehow failed to make it into the pages of Christianity Today and all the blogs celebrating Jakes' newfound Trinitarianism came right at the heart of the conversation. Driscoll asked him about the use of the term "manifestations" in his church's statement of faith. And he replied:
My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word" [Driscoll interrupts saying, "manifestations"] "Manifest instead of persons, which you describe as modalist and I describe as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 - I didn’t create this, Paul did: “And without controversy” which I think we have…we have been bickering about something which Paul describes as a mystery, and I don’t think we should do that. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. For God was manifest in the flesh.” Now Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it is robbery to the divinity of God to think God was manifest in the flesh. And I think maybe it’s semantics, because [garbled], but Paul says this before this fight was started.”
Did you catch that? Can someone explain this to me? A prosperity preacher of a mega church has a statement of faith for years on end that is clearly modalistic in nature that says God eternally exists in "three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit." He continues to defend that language in these words. When the key issue is brought forward, the use of manifestations instead of persons, his response is to dispute the identification of "manifestations" as modalistic, but instead say it is "Pauline," i.e., it is in accordance with Biblical revelation. He then misuses 1 Timothy 3:16, as all modalists do, and as is prevalent in Oneness writings. And yet, despite these words, we are all somehow supposed to applaud Jakes' new position as a sound, orthodox Trinitarian?
Sadly, there was no follow up. Driscoll and the rest heard what they wanted to hear, fist-bumped and applauded, and all was well. It would have been so painfully simple to bring this entire question to a complete conclusion. I could have done so by pressing a single question until a clear answer was given. But that is why I was not invited to ER2 (and won't be invited to ER3, or 4, or…Lord help us!). ...
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This Does Not Bring God's Wrath, It IS God's Wrath
05/21/2011 - James WhiteAccording to this article, a recent Gallup poll, for the first time, shows a majority (53%) of Americans supporting the legalization of "same-sex marriage," i.e., they support the radical redefinition of marriage (though, of course, the question was not asked in that logical, historical, or moral form). According to the information published in that article, when the question was first asked in 1996, 27% supported the idea. The rapid change in opinion is directly related to the public relations push planned out decades ago by homosexual activists, and fully supported by powerful figures in Hollywood.
The profanation of marriage: many Christians will say, "This will bring the wrath of God." As a general statement, this is true. But I would like to suggest that given the light Western culture as a whole, and the United States in particular, has received, and given our cultural heritage, this will not bring God's wrath, it is God's wrath. In other words, when a culture can fall so far morally at such a precipitous speed, God has surely removed not only His hand of blessing, but His hand of restraint as well. We are being given over, or, maybe more accurately, have been given over, to fulfill the "lusts of the flesh."
You see, Western culture has so demeaned marriage, treated it with such disdain, glorified its destruction, mocked its sanctity, that it is perfectly righteous and proper for God to remove the blessing of marriage from such a culture, and replace it with a profaned, twisted substitute. Just as God causes those who refuse to love the truth to love a lie (2 Thess. 2:10-12), so too it is proper to allow a culture to follow its own rebellion to its proper end. Don't like God's law about marriage? Fine, He will let you fall in love with a shallow, soul-destroying, culture annihilating substitute. He will let you purposefully abuse children by denying them a father or a mother, as if either one can simply be dismissed on a whim. He will let you confuse your children about their gender, resulting in the degradation of every element of the society. Such cultures pass into history, and relatively quickly.
All of this is evidence that the next generation (the article says the large portion of support comes from the young) has been thoroughly indoctrinated in a secular/materialistic mindset that has no foundation for understanding marriage, its God-given character, and its centrality to life and society. My generation has failed, quite honestly, to pass on a robust Christian worldview to our children, in general, and the results are clear, and predictable.
We must keep our lights bright, call for repentance, call sin sin, and wrath wrath, always as redeemed and hell-deserving sinners ourselves, and pray God will pour out repentance upon our land.
The Door Was Shut, Rob Bell
03/30/2011 - Tur8infanInspired by today's Dividing Line webcast, I offer the following compare and contrast on Rob Bell's theology.
Rob Bell (Love Wins, p. 66):
Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, "Sorry, too late"? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: "Door's locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it's too late."Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13):
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.Am I saying that those in Hell will come "truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation" - no, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that when the door shuts, it's too late. So, since you don't know when Christ will return, or when you yourself will die, take hold of the kingdom of heaven now. Be prepared.
And at midnight there was a cry made, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, "Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out."
But the wise answered, saying, "Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us."
But he answered and said, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not."
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Bell's dream of an always-open heaven is nothing more than a delusion.
Your Hell is Too Small, Mr. John H. Armstrong
03/04/2011 - Tur8infanTo John H. Armstrong, author of the book, "Your Church is Too Small," and to those who buy into his way of thinking, my response is "Your hell is too small."
What do I mean by that? I mean that you are too quick to assume that people don't need to hear the gospel. You figure, "if they call themselves Christians, who am I to judge?" But in the process you lose the chance to convict them of sin and exhort them to repentance and faith in Christ.
By accepting their Christian professions despite their idolatry or other serious and unrepented-of sin, you are not doing them any favors. You may make a lot of friends for yourself (and that will be your reward) but you are not showing them love.
We love our fellow humans and we don't long for hell to be as large as it is. But on the other hand, we need to be realistic and to keep in mind that there will be many who are now saying "Lord, Lord," who will be there. It's not loving to tell someone with a treatable disease that they are fine, even if they don't want to hear about their disease.
Mr. Armstrong, you may think that my definition of the church is too small, but I'm afraid I must tell you that your definition of hell is too small. If I'm wrong, I've shared the gospel in vain. If you're wrong, you've failed to share the gospel with those who need it. If there's any uncertainty about who is right, I suggest you come over to my side.
Why Speech-Act Theory Matters For Truth-Lovers
03/03/2011 - Alan KurschnerPeter Pike's questions illustrate the illocutionary and perlocutionary acts of Rob Bell.
Church Growth is Dead?
02/06/2011 - Mike PorterPastor Marty Fields of Westminster Presbyterian Church believes that it is:
The first crack in the church growth edifice came a couple of years ago when church growth advocate George Barna expressed frustration that - since the full-blown implementation of church growth principles 20 years ago - there has been no net growth in the Christian church to speak of; in fact it has declined in America. He found that mega-churches have both a big front door and an equally large back door.
All mega-churches seemed to have accomplished is to kill off smaller churches that resisted the temptation to compromise Biblical Christianity.
The final nail came when Willow Creek Community Church - the “Mecca” of the church growth ideology - recently released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, on staff at Willow Creek, conducted the study. The conclusion? Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said, to his credit, “We made a mistake.” They didn’t make disciples - they made dunces.
Read the whole thing here.
But, the real question is "What will those churches driven by the spirit of pragmatism learn from this?"
A rebuke worth noting
02/05/2011 - Mike Porter"When you have to come to a Methodist for a biblical sermon, that’s pitiful."
Those are the sobering words of William H. Willimon, a self-designated liberal preacher who offers a well-deserved rebuke of "conservative" preachers who, despite all their arguments for "connecting", meeting "felt needs", "contextualizing", and (insert fadish buzzword here), have ended up sounding indistinguishable from liberal preachers. When a liberal preacher tells you that you sound like a liberal preacher, that is not to be taken as a compliment.
The primary responsibility of the Church is to proclaim God's Word. Of the ministry of preaching God's word, Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it well, "The Church is a special and specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform." In other words, there will always be other agencies that will provide social aid, but there is no other institution that can deliver the Gospel. There exists no other agency whose chief purpose is to tell men to "fear the Lord and keep His commandments." Whatever other obligations exist for the Church for its fellow man, if it refuses to proclaim of God's Word it is a useless institution which can be replaced by a hundred or even thousand others secular institutions.
What is commonly thought of these days as being new and innovative is neither new nor innovative. It may have new flash and greater special effects, but it is not new. The argument we hear is usually along the lines that, Man is different than he was a generation ago. He is more sophisticated. He is more technologically savvy. Therefore, the Church must reach out to that person. We must meet the felt needs, the concerns, the struggles because he is struggling as he has never struggled before.
Such an argument could have been given 40 years ago, even a hundred years ago, and it would have been no different in principal. In fact, this argument has been used for the last hundred years. Social Gospel and other experiments have been around for a long time.
The problem is that the argument is always based on the same fundamental error. Man has not changed. He is still sinful, still seeks to overthrow its Creator, and still seeks to be a law unto himself. God has not changed. He still rules as Sovereign Lord, His holiness still demands justice for sins wrought against Him, and He still meets the deepest needs of those whom He has created.
The Gospel confronts the sin and cuts through all excuses and arguments and subjects all men to the authority of God. The Gospel was not intended to alleviate a poor self-image. It was intended to bring those who are made in the image of God to repentance, that they would become worshipers of God. And the only means of this life-giving message comes from God's people who proclaim the Scriptures and preach salvation to men.
It is a difficult ministry. It is a despised ministry. It is not a ministry for anyone else but Christ's Bride. She must be faithful to deliver the message of her Husband.
We need biblical preachers now, more than ever, to remind us that “He who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:4) over our kings and kingdoms. God, not nations, rules the world.
Indeed we do. And I will echo Willimon's sentiment that when a self-designated liberal preacher needs to soundly rebuke biblical preachers for not being biblical preachers, there is little more needed evidence that many preachers are in need of repentance and must once again desire to faithfully execute their primary responsibility.
And Jesus said to him, "Starve my lambs"
02/03/2011 - Mike PorterIn contrast to John Ryland's profound thoughts on the office of Christian preacher, I would like to share a clip from a modern pastor who mocks nameless congregants for wanting to go deeper into God's word:
HT: The Museum of Idolatry
In this clip, after mocking the congregant by using a derogatory word against them, Perry Noble, demonstrating pastoral patience and concern, tells this audience of 2000 pastors, "You know what I tell them? I tell them, 'Your only as deep as the last person you served.'" He then implies threatening to look at their tithing and service record to "see how deep you are".
Later he accuses the motive of the congregant(s) stating that the reason why they want him to go deep is so that he would stand up on Sundays and "confuse the heck out of you so you don't have to apply what I teach on Sundays -- I could do that."
Contrast that with John Ryland's comment about pastoral ministry for a moment, "The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men..."
What a contrast! How many of the flock are starving for the greatness of God, wanting to feast upon His presence in worship only to find that their shepherd is too lazy to lead them to the green pastures?
What should Christian worship look like? Is it not compared to a feast wherein a soul is satisfied? Consider Psalm 63:
Psalm 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
"My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness...". Is this what we hear Mr. Noble telling other shepherds? The picture David gives us is a contrast of starvation and thirst in a barren land.
Living in the Arizona, I can relate to the picture of thirst very well. I have been on hikes when there was no water around and it was very hot. Knowing that I would need to walk another quarter mile before any water is available can be anguishing and frustrating as I long for that moment of refreshment. And when it comes, there is grace or dignity. There is only ravenous drinking until I am satisfied.
David pictures himself in a barren land and when he finally comes to the presence of God he gorges himself. Nothing can satisfy him like being in the presence of God.
This is the great responsibility of a Christian pastor. He provides the Word of God so that the people may gorge themselves in great and holy worship of God. He is not to berate his people for being ravenous in their appetite. The infinite God alone can satisfy the deepest spiritual longings.
1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
Be thankful for the diligent preparation of your pastor if he works hard at preaching and teaching. Be sure to encourage him that he is doing the Lord's work and faithfully executing his charge. It would be easier for him to pass on this responsibility and simply provide heart-rendering stories or self-help style homilies, but if he labors to bring forth the "whole counsel of God" thank him personally, and thank the Lord for him. And then pray the Lord will raise a thousand more like him.
S. P. Tregelles Has a Word for Today's Post-Evangelicals on Sentimentalism
05/07/2009 - Alan KurschnerS. P. Tregelles was one of the most noted 19th century Greek scholars. His observations back then still holds true today. He keenly writes,
[I]t has been painful to hear earnest and real desire definitely to study the Word of God regarded and termed by some, as being "occupied with the letter of Scripture." But do those who say this know what they mean? They speak of principles, and of having their minds occupied with Christ; but how do we obtain true principles except from God's revelation in the Word? and how does the Spirit lead the mind to be occupied with Christ, except from the definite truth of Holy Scripture? In fact, those who thus speak, putting the spirit in contrast to the letter, appear not to know what they are discussing; and as to Scripture itself, by paying but little heed to what they call "the letter," they really disregard so far what the Spirit has there set forth. "But oh! (they say) this head-knowledge, this intellectual study of truth! how it lead our minds away from Christ!" It is true that there may be mental intelligence with but little spirituality; but it is equally true that if we obey God we shall never neglect the words of His Scripture.
Of course, with this tone of feeling, all critical study of Scripture is decried; it is deemed a waste of time. Even the study of the Word of God in the original Hebrew and Greek is spoken of as if it were a secular occupation. The English Bible is thought to be enough for teachers and taught alike; and thus they remain alike uninstructed. And if the original languages are looked at, exact scholarship is deemed superfluous. How different is this from the real study of God's Word; from using and valuing each portion, however minute, as being from Him, and as being that of which He can unfold to us the meaning by the teaching of His Spirit.... All diligent and careful inquiry, and laborious examination of authorities, so as to know what were the very words in which the inspired writers gave forth the Scripture, is regarded as merely intellectual and secular. But is this a healthy tone of thought? Should not those who believe in the Divine authority of Holy Scripture know that they ought not to neglect its critical study? And if it be truly inspired, ought they not to feel that it is of some importance to inquire what is its true text—what, as far as existing evidence can show, were the very words in which the Holy Ghost gave it forth?
Most difficult is it to arouse Christians in general to a sense of the full importance of critical study of Scripture; and especially is this the case when dreamy apprehensions are cherished, and where vague idealism has taken the place of truth, and sentimental asceticism is the substitute for Christian holiness.
There may be an external knowledge of Scripture where there is no spiritual life or light; but that is no reason for cherishing what is supposed to be spiritual in contrast to the words of inspiration. Such a contrast cannot really exist. He who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and is guided by His Spirit, will be the most subject to that which is written in the Word. True acquaintance with Scripture is the best check to mere sentimental emotion. —The Hope of Christ's Second Coming, 1864, pp. 80-2