An open letter to every celebrity who becomes a Christian

*Update for Sept 26th* – Seeing that I’ve got similar feedback as the first comment in the thread, I’ve updated/edited this post to make it stronger.

 

MC-HAmmer

Dear Sir/Madam,

On behalf of your adopted family (namely all Christians worldwide), welcome to the family!  We rejoice, along with Heaven (Luke 15:7), that you’ve come to recognize the fact that you’ve previously lived a life of moral rebellion against God (i.e. “sin”) in thought and deed, renounced and turned from your previous life of sin, called out to Jesus to provide the righteousness you lack and save you from the coming and just wrath of God upon the sinful world, and are now trusting in the person and work of Christ to save you from your enslavement to sin, the coming consequences, impute his own righteousness to you and one day, raise you from the dead into a body fit to live forever more on paradise earth with the Trinity and all redeemed and resurrected believers.

We know you are excited about finding Jesus and coming to faith, and many of us remember the joy and excitement of when we “came to our senses” about ourselves, the Bible, Jesus and the gospel.  The time you’re in now is one of many delights, and we wish you God’s best in dealing with all the various challenges you’ll face.  We hope we can be a helpful resource to help you learn and grow and would love to see you both happy and holy for the rest of your life.

All that being said, we’d like to give you three warnings: Continue reading

My new mini-book announcement!

I don’t talk about this much with anyone, and I’ve never blogged about it, but in the light of the upcoming movie Heaven Is For Real, I thought I’d share my story about my trip to Heaven and cash in on this current Hollywood fascination.

I’ve decided to write a book about my experiences, and share my story with the world.

Book

It’s not a flashy story, and it’s not a long story, but it’s my story.

I don’t want to give away all the details, but I’ll give you all, my precious readers, a brief overview of my story: Continue reading

Biblical Grounds for tossing out the “F” word – part 2

In my previous post, I took a quick stroll through the pseudes/pseudo word group in the New Testament and looked at the term “false” in its various usages and manifestations.  Now I recognize that seems like I’m on a mission to make myself the most fringe Bible-egghead out there, but I honestly and sincerely do those sorts of things unto a serious and necessary end.

Egghead(I’m fighting the urge to toss out a few dozen egg puns right now…)

So, in an eggshell, the idea of the last post was that a “false prophet” isn’t so much a technical category as it is, quite simply, a prophet who falsely claims to be a prophet.  This then begs the question: if every prophet who wrongly claims the title us a false prophet, aren’t there tens of thousands of false prophets out there?  Aren’t there then also millions of false teachers?  What about a guy who thinks he’s a prophet and is simply mistaken due to ignorance?  Isn’t there room for an innocent misunderstanding with a guy who’s simply untrained about prophets, teachers, apostles, etc.?

Well, that’s where we need to take a comprehensive look at the concept of false prophets in the Bible.  That should help us hammer through these secondary questions.  Let’s rock!

Fett Accordion Continue reading

Putting the Prosperity Gospel in a Biblical Category

In a twitter conversation, a friend mentioned to me that the prosperity gospel is simply ancient pagan fertility religion in a modern garb…which got me thinking.  In thinking about the Biblical classification of the Prosperity Gospel, I would have to suggest that it’s not so much Ba’al worship as much as it is a system of very old false religion.

Now, it’s fairly easy to see that the “gospel” of the prosperity gospel isn’t the biblical gospel; the “good news” isn’t the resurrection of Christ resulting in restoration with God, it’s the resurrection of Christ resulting in the restoration of your credit rating.  It’s also fairly easy to get the whole “Balaam” and materialism connection (2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 1:11), and it’s easy to recognize that those who push the prosperity gospel are false teachers since those who use God as a means to get financial gain are, on the basis of that one characteristic, labelled “false teachers” in the New Testament (1 Tim. 6:3-10; 2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 1:11).  Nobody gets into ministry to get rich, and those who do aren’t actually “in ministry”.  Still, the materialism thing isn’t the only error.  I was thinking about something different…something less overtly pagan.

Yesterday I came to the startling realization that the prosperity gospel is also basically a religious grandchild of the worship of the golden calf instituted by Aaron, or the worship of the golden calves instituted by Jeroboam at Bethel and Dan, both for the same reason.

The prosperity gospel isn’t exactly the descendent of ancient fertility religions like Ba’al worship (though it’s really close), mainly because the prosperity gospel doesn’t worship Ba’al, or any other pagan deity by name.  The prosperity teachers worship a god whose name is the same as the God of the Bible; they claim that they worship Yahweh (or Jehovah, or whatever else they call him).  Their system of false religion is masquerading as Biblical Christianity; it’s not, but it loudly and proudly claims to be.  There are more than these two examples, but consider the examples of Aaron and Jeroboam:

1.  Aaron wasn’t trying to get Israel to change their gods, he was just trying to give them a physical representation of their gods; an icon…but things went sour real fast.  The people said “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 32:4) and then the following day they had a feast unto Yahweh that included burnt offerings, peace offering, food, drink, and what was likely some form of ambiguously described (it involved dancing, but possible more), but certainly wicked celebration (Ex. 32:5-6, 19).  It’s worth noticing that Exodus 32:19 says:

“And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.” 

It wasn’t just the idolatry that got Moses hot under the collar; there was something shockingly wicked about the way they were celebrating their new deity as well (but the Bible doesn’t clearly unpack exactly what that was).

Beyond that all, it’s interesting how Aaron somewhere knew that what he was doing was horribly wrong.  This is revealed through the fact that he tried to remove himself from the whole affair by claiming that the people forced him to lead them into idolatry (Ex. 32:22-23) and he even lied about the golden calf, trying to tell Moses that the calf basically made itself (32:24).  God doesn’t let Aaron get away this his change of story though, and assigns him appropriate blame (32:25), then the sons of Levi paid the price for participating in the sin (32:26-29) and God also punished the people directly for their idolatry and wicked worship (32:35).

In short, Israel worshiped a false god whom they called Yahweh, worshiped him in a wicked way, and the leader behind it all tried to play innocent even though God knew better.  Sound familiar?

2.  Jeroboam wasn’t trying to get Israel to change their gods either, he was just trying to give them a physical representation of their gods; icons that they could worship outside of Jerusalem so that the northern tribes wouldn’t be tempted to return to Jerusalem.  Once the kingdom had split Jeroboam knew that if the northern tribes returned to Jerusalem to worship, the people would remember their rebellion against their rightful king and they would want to reunite with the 2 southern tribes (1 Kings 12:27).  So, in a politically driven move to preserve the separation of the north and his own political power, Jeroboam did the following:

 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one.  He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar to make offerings. – 1 Kings 12:28-33

Jeroboam wasn’t trying to make a new religion.  He wanted something that felt like Judaism.  He made counterfeit gods, counterfeit temples, counterfeit priests, counterfeit feasts, and counterfeit sacrifices.  Notice how he described their gods as the ones “who brought you up out of the land of Egypt”?  That’s directly identifying the golden calves with Yahweh.  Not very subtle idolatry, but far more subtle than telling the Israelites to abandon Yahweh and worship a Philistine deity.

Also, remember what happened to Israel in the Exodus when Aaron led the swan-dive into idolatry?  Well, Jeroboam got a visit from a true prophet of God in 1 Kings 13.  That prophet condemned Jeroboam right in front of the altar while Jeroboam was in the act of idolatry (13:1-3).  Jeroboam tried to have him seized but Jeroboam’s hand shriveled up when he pointed his finger at the man (13:4).  Then, Jeroboam had a rather quick change of heart after his prophecy came to pass (13:5) and Jeroboam all of a sudden wanted the prophet to pray to Yahweh for him.  The prophet did and Jeroboam’s hand was restored (13:6), but then Jeroboam wanted the prophet to become part of his entourage and the prophet stalwartly refused (13:7-10).  Jeroboam knew full well that he was an idolater, and he knew that Yahweh was the only true God.  He just didn’t care until he needed Yahweh to do something for him, but when Yahweh healed him, Jeroboam didn’t repent (13:33-34).

Finally, remember how in Exodus 32 God struck Israel with a plague after 3,000 Israelites were slain?  Well, Jeroboam’s son Abijah fell sick so Jeroboam sent his wife in disguise to see the prophet Ahijah (the disguise was because his eyesight was bad in his old age and Jeroboam thought he could trick the prophet).  The Lord told Ahijah who was at the door and Ahijah gave her a prophecy about her sick son:

“Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with unbearable news for you.Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back, therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the Lord has spoken it. Arise therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die.” – 1 Kings 14:6-12

The Lord doesn’t take idolatry lightly, especially when it’s done in his name.  Remember that “Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:5) and “Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), and yet God said of Jeroboam that “you have done evil above all who were before you” (1 Kings 14:9).  Solomon didn’t have all his male offspring cut off for his blatant idolatry.  Solomon’s children who escaped the sword weren’t eaten by dogs or birds.

I’d dare say that God really doesn’t like people using his name to pedal false religion.

So, if I’m reading those two stories correctly, I’d have to suggest that the prosperity gospel isn’t actually a grandchild of ole’ fashioned Ba’al worship, but I’d rather suggest that the prosperity gospel is a grandchild of the false religions devised by Aaron and Jeroboam.  It’s false religion done in the name of Yahweh, but the real scary part is that makes it worseGod really doesn’t like it when people use his name to make it appear that he is condoning something that he actually condemns.  As a matter of fact, he’s made that one of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:7).

I learned something in writing this blog post, and it’s not something that encourages me to take a softer approach to the prosperity gospel.  I’m starting to develop a solid understanding why Peter describes false teachers as “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved” (2 Peter 2:17).  False teachers claim to be true teachers of Yahweh and promote, in the name of Yahweh, a system of worship that is actually idolatry; they claim to offer people the 1 truth that can save their souls but bring them a counterfeit (and inoculate them against the true gospel in the process).  It’s no wonder that they get the darkest part of hell.

Sobering and frightening words.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “accept no substitutes” Unger

The Reason Christianity needs a Strange Fire Conference

Charisma magazine does me so many favors; they are an unlimited fountain of fantastically feisty displays of charismatic craziness, continuationist spinelessness, and “heardmeneutics”.  I would suggest that any of the three are reason enough for a conference level response, but all three together necessitate a series of conferences.

The craziness is found in all the “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit, and the defenses of the manifestations, like Ron Phillips recent defense of being slain in the Spirit (which has been re-named “falling out in the Spirit”).  How long will Genesis 2:21 be used to support this?

Heardmeneutics” is what I call a common charismatic approach to scripture where the interpreter seeks an interpretation of scripture from the Holy Spirit alone, ignoring the language and grammar of the Bible.  Such “interpretations” regularly have little or nothing to do with what the passage actually says or means.  A shining example of this is Cindy Jacob’s recent video on the Leviathan Spirit.

The spinelessness is shown in today’s absolutely stunning article by James Robison called “Another view of the Prosperity Gospel“.  This is where the continuationist (or charismatic) folks cannot bring themselves to actually condemn something that is a false gospel, or even use the phrase “false gospel”.  Let’s look at just one telling quote in the article (my interactions are in italics:

– “Scripture points out that what we’re seeing today is not new. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah talked about priests who were greedy for gain (see Jer. 6:13; 8:10). The prophet Micah grieved over the ruling classes of Israel, whose rulers judged for reward, priests taught for hire and prophets divined for money (see Mic. 3:9).”

Well, he’s right.  Jeremiah 6:13 says that there were prophets who were greedy for gain.  What Robison doesn’t mention is what God said through Jeremiah about those prophets:

“For from the least to the greatest of them,
everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
    everyone deals falsely.
 They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
when there is no peace.
 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
    at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,”
says the Lord.”
Jeremiah 6:13-15

If Robison knows 6:13, why does he not share God’s view of those false prophets & priests? 

Why can he not call them “false” like Jeremiah (and God) did?

Why can he not condemn them like Jeremiah (and God) did?

Why can he not call the prosperity gospel “shameful” like Jeremiah (and God) did?

And as for Micah 3:9, it certainly does comment on the priests and prophets who divined for money.  Let’s look at the greater passage:

Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob
    and rulers of the house of Israel,
who detest justice
    and make crooked all that is straight,
 who build Zion with blood
    and Jerusalem with iniquity.
 Its heads give judgment for a bribe;
    its priests teach for a price;
    its prophets practice divination for money;
yet they lean on the Lord and say,
    “Is not the Lord in the midst of us?
    No disaster shall come upon us.”
 Therefore because of you
    Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
    and the mountain of the house a wooded height.” – MIcah 3:9-12

Again, scorching words against those prophets.  God says that they don’t actually prophesy, but rather “practice divination”.  They hate justice, reverse right and wrong, are marked by sin, and yet claim that the Lord is among them.  Because of their very presence in Jerusalem, Jerusalem would be destroyed.  Robison says nothing of the sort.

Simple question – Did Robison use some sort of Bible concordance to grab verses for the article or did he actually read the passages he was referencing? 

Those very passages show God’s response to those prophets & priests who did what they did for money, and the judgment found in the scriptures Robison quotes doesn’t appear in the article in which he cites those scriptures.  What gives?

Why does his evaluation on the prosperity gospel sound so utterly different than John Piper’s evaluation?  Consider this:

.

If the Continuationists cannot bring themselves to call “false” what God calls “false”, or cannot bring themselves to unabashedly condemn the things that God absolutely condemns, are they being true to the scriptures?  If they quote scriptures and then explicitly contradict the scriptures they quote, are they really taking the Bible very seriously?

Most charismatic teachers/leaders simply do not have the theological resources or consistency to condemn all the false prophecy, false manifestations of the Spirit, and false teaching in their midst without compromising their own multimillion-dollar ministries, hence the soft approach to all the clearly and obviously abominable stuff going on.  The very scriptures they attempt to use to softly address the issues at hand condemn them for their soft approach.

I’d hate to be James Robison when he has to give account for how he’s used the influence the Lord has given him.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Why can’t we all get along…with GOD?” Unger

***WAIT A MINUTE.  In the time it took me to write this post, the article was pulled from Charisma!  WHAT HAPPENED? It still shows up in Google, for the time being…