Wednesday, November 22, 2006

“Whatever” Christianity by Marsha West

So, if the Bible isn’t a Christian’s authority, what is? Short answer: Anything he or she wants it to be. You sort of make up your religion as you go along. Does this strike a cord? Christianity has become a blend of religious beliefs. Add a pinch of modern psychology, a dash of Buddhism, a teaspoonful of Catholic mysticism, a cup of New Age spirituality, mix well, and voila! You’ve cooked up a batch of New Age Christianity.

Those who practice pragmatic Christianity believe that today’s churches must be relevant. The Church has to adjust to our modern culture. In order to recruit the unsaved, Christianity must rid itself of its antiquated dogma and doctrines. The Church must become “inclusive,” “non-judgmental,” and “tolerant.” To accomplish this, the atmosphere in churches should be warm and inviting and its members must be friendly.
Marsha West has written a two-part commentary titled “Whatever” Christianity that laments the theological relativism commonly seen in many Christians. To these post-modern Christians, even outright heresy becomes acceptable.

In her commentary, West singles out people like Robert Schuller who “is more concerned with people’s “self-esteem” than with their eternal souls” and “bases his theology on what people want to hear rather than on God’s Word”; Rick Warren who welcomes Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews into his pastor-training programs because he thinks the core essentials of Christianity are non-essentials; C. Peter Wagner who claims that the ministries of the prophets and apostles have been restored; and Brian McLaren who requires a moratorium to determine his stand on sodomy.

In the light of this post-modern theological epidemic that has already crept into the Church, what should be our response? West believes that we “must become skilled at recognizing heresy and false teaching within the Church.” It is our duty as followers of Christ to hold on to His teachings and “remain within the pale of orthodoxy.”

Articles:
"Whatever" Christianity (14/11/2006)
"Whatever" Christianity (Part 2) (18/11/2006)

18 Comments:

Blogger Beloved Princess said...

From what little I've read here, she seems like a religious policewoman.

The church becoming 'inclusive', 'non-judgmental' and 'tolerant' - the atmosphere 'should be warm and inviting and its members must be friendly' are separate issues from accurate doctrinal teachings. Being pragmatic relevant churches does not equal to embracing the world's values.

And since when has Christianity been not been pragmatic?

What worries me is that she writes against these men of God because they sought to reach out to non-believers. Rick Warren 'welcomes Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews' not because [she (i.e. Marsha West) - notice how she presumes that is what he is teaching] the 'core essentials are non-essentials' but IMO, he wants the Word to reach out to them.

If Jesus can eat with prostitutes and tax collectors, what are Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews? All men are made in the image of God.

Finally, the last paragraph - West believes that we “must become skilled at recognizing heresy and false teaching within the Church.” It is our duty as followers of Christ to hold on to His teachings and “remain within the pale of orthodoxy.”

These words and phrases - holding on to the teachings of Christ, orthodoxy, skilled at recognising heresy - sounds elitist to me. I can think of another group mentioned in the bible who were like that; who believed that Jesus was a false messiah come to misled the Jews, who talked about cannibalism (ref. holy communion) - why, he is only a carpenter's son. But for the signs and wonders that followed His ministry...

At the end of the day, Christianity consists of doctrine - yes. But at its core, is a personal relationship with the One who died for us. Herein is love, not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His son as a propitiation for our sins.

Rather than act as religious policeman claiming what is "right" in God's eyes, let us love one another and let God do the "opening" of their eyes. Trust the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and not man's interpretation.

Trusting God that He would write the laws within our hearts (Hebrews 10) does not mean that anything goes. But let us not be quick to judge our brethren and simply be thankful that the message is going out.

There may be false and erroneous teachings out there - there has always been and there always will be. Let us then rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment. Let us encourage and support our brethren. Judge not by our mental faculties on what is doctrinally right or not but look on the fruits of their ministry. If God is for them, who can be against them?

23/11/06 12:19 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I am very afraid that you have misapplied the example of Jesus eating with prostitutes and tax-collectors. Please do note the kind of programs Rick Warren has: pastor-training programs. These are not programs designed to “wants the Word to reach out to them.” No, these are programs that operate on the assumption the applicants are Christians, clearly understand the gospel, and have some ministry experience in their churches. For instance, one of the main responsibilities my Bible college has is “pastor-training.” And one of the minimum requirements for enrolling into a Bible college or seminary is that one must be a Christian, which is basically stating the obvious.

If one “wants the Word to reach out” to Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews, surely there is a more straightforward way to do so? There are other programs geared towards missions and evangelism, like Firm Foundations from New Tribes Mission, which chronologically walk through the entire Bible so that the unbelievers can understand the gospel. “Pastor-making programs,” as the phrase itself indicates, are not the answer or the appropriate way to explain the gospel to unbelievers.

Marsha West’s article is not about physically separating ourselves from sinners, which is clearly impossible since all of us are sinners ourselves and still in the world. Jesus ate with sinners to establish the type of recipients the gospel of salvation is meant for. But we are dealing with a different issue here. So even though we are to mingle with unbelievers in order to preach the gospel to them, we were also warned by Paul not to be yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14-18). We are not to adopt the ways and standards of unbelievers. And this also means we should not lend any credence to anything that is contrary to the truths revealed in the Word of God.

So West’s article is really about postmodern theological relativism, which accepts all manners of beliefs as true. Her article is about defending propositional truths. It is our duty as Christians to preach the gospel to everyone. But while we preach the gospel, we must be careful not to compromise doctrinal truths lest we preach a false gospel. And while it is true that God is the one who opens people’s eyes, it is the responsibility of the Church, which means the responsibility of all believers, to ensure that we remain faithful to the doctrines passed down from the apostles. “The message [that] is going out” must be the “sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 6:3-5).

Legalism versus a concern for orthodoxy
Do not confuse the legalism of the Pharisees with a concern for orthodoxy. Both are different issues altogether. The former is to believe that works contribute to salvation, while the latter is about “standing firm and holding on to the traditions” passed down from the apostles (2 Thess 2:15). If you think that “holding on to the teachings of Christ, orthodoxy, skilled at recognizing heresy” sounds elitist, I do strongly encourage you to study the Scriptures carefully for they speak of such matters i.e. Acts 17:11; Gal 1:6-9, 2:4-5; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 Tim 4:16, 6:3-5; 2 Tim 2:15, 4:2-3; Tit 1:9-14, 2:1.

Do read the history of the Church. Learn how the Church reacted against the historical heresies such as Gnosticism, Arianism, and Pelagianism etc. If not for the Reformation and the works of “elitists” such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox and many others who were persecuted for recognizing heresy and standing up for orthodoxy, I doubt if you and I are able to have easy access to the Word of God today.

Love one another
What is “loving one another?” Is it letting everyone do what is right in his or her own eyes regardless of what is clearly written in the Scriptures? Is that what love really means? When you love your son or daughter, do you warn them against playing with fire, and discipline when he or she does something wrong? There are many ways to display love and we should not limit ourselves to only one aspect of it. Therefore, do not confuse acts of warnings, reprimands, and exhortations as lack of Christian love. A love that does not guard doctrinal truths and is apathetic towards spiritual dangers is not true love.

The role of the Holy Spirit
It appears you have a misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in relation to the interpretation of the Scriptures, or hermeneutics. The primary role of the Holy Spirit is in conviction, not cognition. One must have a cognitive understanding of the gospel before becoming convicted by it. An unbeliever can have a cognitive understanding of the Bible, but he is not convicted of its truths.

It would be absolutely erroneous to think any Christian can open the Bible and the meaning of the text is immediately apparent without proper study. We must ask ourselves: what is the historical context of the text? What is its literary context? What is the author’s primary purpose in writing the book? To determine this, our “mental faculties” are needed in interpreting the text. After we have interpreted the text, the Holy Spirit would do the work of illumination in us.

As J.I. Packer wrote, “illumination [of the Holy Spirit] is thus the applying of God’s revealed truth to our hearts, so that we grasp as reality for ourselves what the sacred text sets forth.”

Fruits of ministry?
It is astonishing that you would discard “what is doctrinally right,” which makes me wonder what does your faith rests on? The Word of God or the deeds of men? Does signs and wonders authenticate the truthfulness of men’s teachings? The Bible warned that “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). Paul also wrote of men who are “false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13).

I have recently finished reading D.R. McConnell’s A Different Gospel: Biblical and Historical Insights into the Word of Faith Movement. He is a charismatic, but at the same time, he is quite discerning of what is happening within the movement. I will be posting my thoughts on his book soon. But for now, let me quote an excerpt from his book (p. 52):

Likewise, the numerous healings and miracles occurring in the Faith movement are not necessarily signs from God that the Faith gospel is the gospel of the New Testament. Charismatics who naively assume that healings vindicate truth are overlooking the fact that almost every major religion and cult the world has ever known has produced healings. For every god there is a religion, and in every religion there are healings.

Granted, the Faith movement does claim to heal “in the name of Jesus,” but this proves nothing, for so does New Thought. Both the Faith movement and metaphysical cults incessantly use the name of Jesus.

24/11/06 5:14 PM  
Blogger vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Beowulf,

I guess you hit the nail on the head.

A low esteem for doctrine, a lack of knowledge of the Scripture, coupled with a latitudinarian mindset is perhaps the typical Christian in the 21st century zeitgeist. Pragmatism at the expense of Truth is not merely pragmatism but spiritual compromise.

Particularly telling is the following quote from beloved princess:

“At the end of the day, Christianity consists of doctrine - yes. But at its core, is a personal relationship with the One who died for us.”

No child of God would deny that central to Christianity is not religion but a relationship with Jehovah God. But Christianity is not only about relations, but also propositional truths. In fact, Christianity is defined by such salient truths about God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. None of these truths, including soteriology and anthropology, can be compromised without compromising the gospel itself.

Your truly,
Vincent

26/11/06 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Doc said...

Dontcha love it when people say things like 'Christianity is about relationship, not propositional truths' as if that statement wasn't itself a propositional truth!?

Postmodern, emergent, whatever; it's just one more way of saying there's no such thing as absolute truth.

26/11/06 11:49 AM  
Blogger ddd said...

Thanks Beowulf for speaking out against Rick Warren. It would be good if more people in and even the entire visible Church of Jesus Christ would discipline him for his many heresies i.e. Inclusivism, Works-Righteousness cf Gal. 1:8 etc., and seperate from him if he is unrepentant.

26/11/06 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Terence said...

Hi Beowulf, it's me again. You seem to confuse "being relevant to our modern culture" and being doctrinally sound as mutually exclusive. You seem to stereotype megachurches and so-called "modern" churches as being shallow and heretical.

What does being relevant mean? Take this example: You compare two youths, both twenty year old males, both devout christians. Youth A is your stereotypical Christian, who frequently does door-to-door evangelism, ignoring the hell out of neighbours, who listens to christian songs all the time, whose only conversation is christianity, who dresses in an old-fashioned manner, who is no sense of humour and is serious all the time. And then there is youth B, who knows the culture and fads of the day, the lastest fashion, who knows how to dress sharp and take care of his appearance, who eats well and works out, who is tech saavy and eloquent.

Both are spiritual, both pray and read the Bible frequently, both have a burning desire to know God and his Word. But guess what? Youth B is going to be more effective at reaching out to the lost. Yes, we should lean on God when it comes to evangelism, but surely God gave us brains for a purpose?

To be relevant is to be progressive and forward-looking, street-smart and wise. Relevance does not mean casting aside your foundational beliefs and delving into sin and revelry. It simply means we are repackeging the gospel for a new generation, keeping the contents, but changing the approach.

Like what Pst Kong Hee has always said,"The methods may change, but the gospel will always remain the same."

It is all about relational evangelism, my friends. Which is more effective: you preaching on the streets to total strangers who don't give a hoot as to who you are, or you reaching out into your friend's life, winning him over as a person, and then preaching the gospel to him?

Christ is still preached. Sin is still condemned. But what is the difference, my friends? It's the approach.

2/12/06 12:00 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Actually, Terence, I do not see “being relevant to our modern culture and being doctrinally sound as mutually exclusive.” Not at all. In fact, I believe we must be doctrinally sound in order to be relevant to our modern culture. If we are not doctrinally sound, we run into the danger of preaching a false gospel. And is a false gospel relevant to the world? Surely not.

I do believe the message of the gospel transcends time and culture. The gospel that the apostles preached is always relevant and does not need “repackaging”: that all men are totally depraved sinners who are under the wrath of God, that we do not deserve the grace of God and God is not obligated to save any one of us; that our sins condemn us to hell, that Christ died on the cross to atone for the sins of his elect and rose on the third day, and that all men are responsible to repent and believe in Christ lest they bear the everlasting holy wrath of God.

This is the gospel that Paul wrote is “folly to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18).” It is our duty to follow the example of the apostles to preach “Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:22-23). Any attempt to “repackage” or soften the message to make it appealing to the culture is antithetical to the gospel. Being appealing is not the same as being relevant. One example is of a parent disciplining a wayward child. To the child, the discipline is not appealing. However, it is clear that the discipline meted out is relevant.

You have basically proposed two approaches to evangelism: (1) depend on external appearances to preach the gospel (i.e. “dress sharp … eats well and works out”), and (2) relational evangelism where you preach to friends, not strangers.

On (1), it seems you are proposing a wrong solution to the wrong problem. You have missed the point of Marsha West’s article. The thesis of Marsha West’s article is that many churches have forsaken propositional truths and have embraced postmodernism in order to be culturally relevant. Is this factually true? Yes. West’s article is not about accusing Christians of depending on external appearances, which is another problem altogether, but like I have written before, theological relativism.

But since you raised this issue up, let me direct you to 2 Corinthians 10-12 where Paul defended his ministry against the false apostles and boasted of his sufferings. We read of Paul’s “bodily presence is weak and his speech of no account” (2 Cor. 10:10). He was “beaten with rods,” “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (1 Cor. 11:24-27). Surely this is not the picture of a man who “dress sharp and take care of his appearance, who eats well and works out, who is tech savvy and eloquent.”

In my previous comment, I highlighted the difference between cognition and conviction. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict the unbelievers, but it is our responsibility to ensure that the unbelievers have a cognitive understanding of the gospel. To depend on a methodology whose success rests on external appearances is to erroneously assume that man has the ability to convict sinners. This approach, which is unbiblical, usurps the rightful role of the Holy Spirit in salvation.

So to address your example, assuming that both Youth A and B gave a coherent message and the unbelievers have reached a cognitive understanding of the gospel, it does not depend on the abilities of both youths, but ultimately depend on the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to convict the unbelievers of the truth (Rom. 9:16).

On (2), since the timing of one’s conversion ultimately depends on the Holy Spirit, it is erroneous to compare preaching to strangers versus preaching to friends to see which is better. Each approach has its place. Christianity is traditionally spread through both approaches. The apostle Paul certainly preached to strangers when he traveled from city to city, synagogue to synagogue. George Whitefield, the founder of Methodism, was famous for his open-air street preaching. Friends and strangers do not believe the gospel because they like you. Friends and strangers believe because the Holy Spirit enables them to believe (John 6:44).

Lastly, I think you have a misconception of my view of churches. I have no issues with megachurches and modern churches as long as they endeavor to maintain a biblical approach to preaching the gospel. For example, I find no problem with John MacArthur’s church, which is technically a megachurch. Or modern charismatic churches like the Sovereign Grace churches. Or even Mars Hill Church, which is considered to be an emerging church.

2/12/06 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Terence said...

No I'm not saying that we should DEPEND on appearances to evangelize, I'm saying that we should not allow our lack of basic fashion sense, our sloppiness be an obstacle towards our evangelistic efforts. God may look on the inside, but remember, men always look at the outward.

3/12/06 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Terence said...

Yes, there is a place for stranger-to-stranger evangelism in the world, but it is more of an exception than a norm. Mass evangelistic crusades and open-air preaching certainly have a place in society, but then again one must consider the culture and occasion we're in. Try preaching christ on the steets in Singapore. It's just not done. You'll most likely get arrested for public disturbance.

Simply put, some people are more open to different approaches than others. But a general rule applies: the gospel is more easily accepted among people when it is preached through a friend or loved one. Why? Because relational evangelism is not just preached with words, but with acts of love and kindness as well. We're in a different generation now. Street evangelism just isn't as effective as it was in the past. A new approach is needed, one that is radical and relevant, without compromising on the essential gospel message.

Since you believe than man has no ability to accept the gospel unless the Holy Spirit enables them to, then wouldn't it be prudent to find the best approach that will cause them to be aware of the gospel in the most effective and interesting manner, to "unearth" those that would eventually recieve Christ? Wouldn't it be good that we stop using backdated methods that no longer work, instead finding new means to propagate the gospel?

Can I infer that based on what you believe, it doesn't matter what method a person uses, he/she will still believe in the gospel?

3/12/06 8:22 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

If you are trying to “sell” the gospel, then perhaps looks would count as a factor. However the Scriptures clearly show otherwise. Let me direct you an example in the Scriptures, Matthew 3:4-6, which describes John the Baptist as wearing “a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.” John was obviously not wearing “fine clothes” (Luke 7:24-25), but it was clearly not an obstacle to his efforts for “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him” (Matthew 3:6).

Thus the lesson here is all men are so totally depraved in their sins that they are blind to the message of the gospel. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts men to repentance and faith, they would never receive Christ as Lord and Savior no matter how good-looking or how well-dressed the preacher is.

Street Evangelism
I do not know how familiar you are with evangelistic activities in Singapore, but the last time I checked, the Singapore Constitution does contain the clause, “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and to propagate it.”

Many years ago, I was involved with the evangelistic activities of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). One of the core ministry activities of CCC was witnessing to strangers on the streets using the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. And as far as I know, CCC still continues with this practice.

I am rather disturbed that you appealed to the law to rationalize the appropriateness of street evangelism in Singapore. Your reply immediately brings to mind the apostles’ response to the Sanhedrin who forbade them to preach the gospel. In spite of such adversity, the apostles courageously replied, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29) There are countries in the world where the preaching of the gospel is totally forbidden, be it to friends or strangers. Conversion to Christianity is death. Surely you are not going to suggest that those Christians living there not preach to unbelievers because of the law?

Citing a law in order not to engage in street evangelism, to be blunt, is a pretty poor excuse. Let me cite a historic example of immoral laws. The slave trade was once permitted under the law in the British Empire. But that did not stop William Wilberforce from going against popular opinion by speaking out against the evils of slavery. In the end, his brave actions finally got the Parliament to pass the Abolition Bill. Should we also not do likewise for street evangelism, an approach that is sanctioned by the Bible, which concerns, more importantly, the salvation of countless souls?

The testimony of the Mouk people clearly depicts how street evangelism is used today to reach unbelievers. In this true account, the tribal village was not converted in a single session of preaching. But rather, the missionaries patiently walked through the Bible for many sessions so that the Mouk people can have a cognitive understanding the gospel. After the village was saved, the missionaries trained the Mouk people to reach out to other villages that were historically at enmity with each other.

Therefore, in view of what I have shown, there is no reason to regard street evangelism or evangelism with strangers as “backdated methods.”

Friendship Evangelism
To be frank, I believe you are making a presumptuous statement that cannot be substantiated when you wrote, “the gospel is more easily accepted among people when it is preached through a friend or loved one.” There is absolutely no proof that friendship evangelism is a better approach than street evangelism. Friendship evangelism is not a novel approach that the Church has recently discovered in modern times. On the contrary, both evangelistic approaches have historically existed side by side since the beginning of the Church. So are “acts of love and kindness” as the means to preaching the gospel. Since it is the Holy Spirit who convicts people, God can use either approach to save people.

Methods of Evangelism
In answer to your last question, I would like to respond carefully. The Scriptures teach that God is sovereign over all things, including suffering and evil. Because God is absolutely sovereign, he ordains all things that happens and will come to pass. This does mean that God ordains those that he wants to be saved, as well as the means (or methods, if you will) through which they will be saved.

The Scriptures state that only those who heard the gospel and believe will be saved (Rom. 10:14-17). This is pretty explicit and there is no argument about this point. However, there are, of course, good methods and bad methods. Good methods are those that provide the unbelievers with a cognitive and honest understanding of the gospel. Bad methods, on the other hand, tend to overemphasize certain points to the detriment of others, thus presenting a message that may be no gospel at all. Putting these points together, this would mean not all methods will result in a person believing the gospel. The Holy Spirit convicts people when they hear the biblical gospel that is preached through good methods.

That being said, it is possible that people can be saved through bad methods. It is possible that God ordains some of his elect be saved through a deficient gospel. It is possible the Holy Spirit miraculously instills a correct understanding of the gospel in the person despite the bad method being used. Of course, this is an exception and should in no way justify bad methods.

5/12/06 9:23 PM  
Blogger Beloved Princess said...

Here is the excerpt D.R. McConnell's book in your comment:-

Likewise, the numerous healings and miracles occurring in the Faith movement are not necessarily signs from God that the Faith gospel is the gospel of the New Testament. Charismatics who naively assume that healings vindicate truth are overlooking the fact that almost every major religion and cult the world has ever known has produced healings. For every god there is a religion, and in every religion there are healings.

Granted, the Faith movement does claim to heal “in the name of Jesus,” but this proves nothing, for so does New Thought. Both the Faith movement and metaphysical cults incessantly use the name of Jesus.


His 'observation' is not new. It is recorded in the bible. Both references here from Matthew 12.

Firstly, if the charge can be levelled against Jesus Himself; it is not surprising it can also be levelled against believers who heal in His name, even today.

Matthew 12:22-30

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.


Now, we know that infirmity is a spirit. (Luke 13:11)

Having in mind that, the second reference is referring to healings by cults. And that is, the healing is temporary. In the same chapter of Matthew 12:43-45

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.

Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

14/12/06 2:30 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Hi Beloved Princess,

I would like to understand your theological position and where your arguments are leading.

In the Name of Jesus?
Are you trying to vindicate healers who heal “in the name of Jesus?” You raised the point that the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the name of Beelzebub. D.R. McConnell, in his book, highlighted that the metaphysical cults “incessantly use the name of Jesus.” So would you be implying the metaphysical cults are wrongfully accused by mainstream evangelical Christianity of being heretical?

Take for instance, the so-called faith healer, “John of God,” who allegedly cures “cancers, AIDS, blindness, asthma, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, tumors” together with his “spirit doctors.” He would say to his patients, “In the name of Jesus Christ you are all cured.” The “gospel” that “John of God” preached, which denies the exclusivity of salvation in Christ, can be found the Beliefnet article,

[What religion does John of God belong to or preach?] Not any one in particular. He incorporates all religions. He says that it's not just Catholicism, although much of Brazil is. It's not just about Catholics, it's about anyone who believes in a higher power. There are pictures of Christ and Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist symbols.

In the light of this information, would you then consider “John of God” to be an authentic and genuine healer of God according to the Scriptures? And do you consider all cults, such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, that use the “name of Jesus” to be part of the body of Christ, thus accepting their teachings on the sole basis of “the name of Jesus?”

Luke 13:11, and Matthew 12:43-45
I do find your theological interpretation of these passages rather novel in its approach. In summary, you cited Luke 13:11, concluded that all infirmities are spirits, and cited Matthew 12:43-45 to support your theory that healing is temporary. However your innovative approach fails to take into consideration the following points:

1. Matthew 12:43-45 is about the issue of demon-possession (see verse 22). There is nothing in Luke 13 that supports your theory that the woman was demon-possessed. Jesus communicated directly to the woman, not to the demon (refer to Matt 8:28-34; 17:14-17, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 4:31-37 where Jesus commanded the demons in order to exorcise them).

2. We must distinguish between the cause of the illness and the illness itself. A spirit may cause the infirmity, but that does not make the infirmity itself a spirit.

3. When Satan inflicts an illness or disease on a person, it does not necessarily mean the person becomes demon-possessed. Take for instance, Satan “struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). But that does not mean Satan possessed Job, for Job was clearly still in control of his mental faculties (Job 2:10).

4. Your interpretation rests on a type of logical fallacy known as an association fallacy. It is like saying, “Some charities have been fraudulent. Therefore charities must be frauds.” Just because one demon causes an infirmity in a particular situation, it does not mean all infirmities are caused by demons.

5. If you still buy into the theory that a demon-inflicted illness equals to demon possession, then would you be implying that a Christian, someone who is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), be possessed by a demon? Can a Christian, who is being progressively sanctified by the Holy Spirit, be taken over by a demon? Can the Holy Spirit and a demon co-exist together in a person? Surely Matthew 12:43-45 does not apply to a Christian since a Christian is not “empty” but filled with the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:14).

Concluding Remarks
It is rather interesting that you have quoted a number of passages from the book of Matthew to support your theory. Matthew does have something to say about those who purported to be acting on behalf of Jesus. Let me draw your attention to this passage,

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:21-23)

21/12/06 6:22 PM  
Blogger Beloved Princess said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

17/1/07 1:14 AM  
Blogger Beloved Princess said...

Hi!

I'm no theologian. I do believe the bible was written to the layperson and it's not that hard to understand really.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, nor do I see the inconsistency between Matthew 12 and Luke 13. So the guy was demon-possessed but the bible used the word "healed" in Matthew 12. So I don't see the inconsistency just because the lady in Luke 13 wasn't demon-possessed as well.

I agree that people who use the name of Jesus does not mean that they are believers. It's also worthwhile to note that Pharisees knew the book inside out but knowledge alone without revelation is moot. (Romans 10:2)

Anyway, cults are not new. They also appear in the bible. They are taking the same risk cults from time in memorial took, in simply reiterating the name of Jesus without accepting Him as their Saviour.

Acts 19:11-17

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.




Agree with you that a believer can never be demon-possessed.

I believe infirmity is a spirit. A believer can never be possessed. But he can be oppressed.

Here's two references:-

Acts 10:38

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.


Luke 13:16 (same incident I referred to earlier)

So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound —think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”

My stand is, doesn't mean that because there is a counterfeit means the real thing doesn't exist. Just because cults *seem* to heal doesn't mean that all healing are from cults.

I totally agree with your last point on Matthew 7:21-23. This verse is often mangled by believers to 'prove' that one can lose one's salvation - as if Jesus work is not eternal.

17/1/07 1:23 AM  
Blogger Beloved Princess said...

I agree with your statement "A spirit may cause the infirmity, but that does not make the infirmity itself a spirit."

20/1/07 9:24 PM  
Blogger InSpir3d said...

"The primary role of the Holy Spirit is in conviction, not cognition. One must have a cognitive understanding of the gospel before becoming convicted by it. An unbeliever can have a cognitive understanding of the Bible, but he is not convicted of its truths.

It would be absolutely erroneous to think any Christian can open the Bible and the meaning of the text is immediately apparent without proper study. We must ask ourselves: what is the historical context of the text? What is its literary context? What is the author’s primary purpose in writing the book? To determine this, our “mental faculties” are needed in interpreting the text. After we have interpreted the text, the Holy Spirit would do the work of illumination in us."

These statements appear to be pure assertion on your part. on what basis do you claim that cognition is a prerequisite for conviction?

just because someone can have cognition without conviction does not mean he cannot have conviction without cognition

23/11/08 3:36 AM  
Blogger InSpir3d said...

subtly but surely, you have made human intellectual understanding a pre-requisite for grace & salvation (without cognition, there cannot be conviction, right?).

the implications of this unfounded theology should be clear.

23/11/08 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/questions-a-answers-primary-234/68-the-jewish-messiah/374-messiah--the-criteria

http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/library/document-library/books/The-Real-Messiah/

http://messiahtruth.yuku.com/topic/2873/t/Searching-for-the-truth-about-God.html

16/9/09 5:09 PM  

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