Monday, June 22, 2009

Pool of Siloam Found in Jerusalem

We continue our series of criticism of the heretical Word-Faith movement with this post, originally written Tuesday, August 9, 2005. I've done some light editing since then for format.

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Again, archaeologists have confirmed details of the Biblical record! A sewer line repair team in Jerusalem found the Pool of Siloam last fall and called in archaeologists to take a look. You can read more here.

The Gospel of John records an incident that took place here:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7)

In typical fashion, secular scholarship had belittled John's story as merely a moral lesson with no basis in fact, saying there was no proof that the place even existed.

I'll also take the chance to tie this story into my running assault on the Word-Faith movement. Their doctrine of "positive confession" holds that if one says or believes negative things about one's own circumstances, this gives Satan the opportunity to move into one's life and cause evil (disease, financial difficulty, etc.) to happen. In short, the Word-Faith movement believes that Christians have a "right" to physical health, and that therefore no one should be sick. Illness is evidence of a lack of faith. Some even deny sickness exists, dismissing illness as merely a "spiritual symptom" sent by Satan to trick the believer into making a negative confession and thus open the door to a spiritual attack.

It's easy to see where this doctrine leads. Real, physical ailments are dismissed as a lack of faith, and often a trip to the doctor is seen by members of this movement as a "negative confession." The consequences of the Word-Faith movement's heretical theology has been deadly at times, as several people have died in the last twenty years by refusing treatment for sickness. If you doubt me, find and read the heartbreaking book "We Let Our Son Die," by Larry Parker (Harvest House, 1980, ISBN 0890812195). It's out of print, unfortunately, but it's a chilling account by a father who withheld insulin from his diabetic son thinking that such an act would be a lack of faith and prevent true healing.

See, the story at the Pool of Siloam utterly refutes the Word-Faith notion that human sickness and suffering is a direct result of one's own lack of faith. Jesus answers his disciples' questions by declaring that the blind man could not see because it was the Father's will that he be blind. God used the blind man as a means of demonstrating His glory and ownership over all creation, as well as Jesus' authority over even injury and disease. Now, we must recognize, of course, that all sickness and pain in the world is ultimately the result of the curse of the Fall, and thus of human sinfulness, but the Bible is abundantly clear that individual calamities are not always punishment. (Needless to say, Word-Faith teachers have a lot of trouble with the book of Job, and not many positive things to say about him).

John, in His Gospel, paints a clear and unavoidable picture of God's absolute sovereignty over all things. The Pool of Siloam was one of the stages for this glorious story. Praise be to God that this stage has been uncovered once more, and that those who oppose His Word have been humbled yet again.

(by Jeff Jones)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Prayer and the State of One's Heart

This is the third in a series of posts brought here from my old blog, addressing the false teaching of the Word-Faith movement. This was originally posted August 9, 2005.
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How does the state of our hearts affect prayer? What factors in our lives are spoken of in the Bible as having an effect on prayer, besides faith? Though not exhaustive, here are a few thoughts to ponder.

One thing to consider when approaching Almighty God in prayer is our motive:

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:2-3)

If there is one way to waste our time in prayer, it is by asking for things we have no need for. God did not create us for our own pleasure, or to glorify ourselves; He created us to glorify Him, in fellowship with and service to Him. No matter what the Word-Faith teachers claim, God is not glorified when we ask for Rolls-Royces for ourselves when a Chevy will do; He is not glorified when we build expansive houses for ourselves when others shiver in the streets. As James said, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27)

The Word-Faith idea that God will give us anything we want, because He is glorified in our earthly prosperity, is one that has become far more popular in the evangelical church over the past couple of decades. According to this view, God wants us to be materially successful, because we are the "King's Kids," and we are entitled to such benefits by virtue of our faith. As such, earthly blessings beyond measure are available to us - if we only claim what is rightfully ours! And so Word-Faith teachers and churches focus overwhelmingly on "positive confession" - that is, declaring with confidence that one will receive what he wants, and avoiding any negative thoughts or words about the matter. And many of the leading lights of this movement are incredibly wealthy (due primarily to the so-called "seed" offerings of their followers) and flaunt their wealth in their lifestyles and sermons.

But this greedy and materialistic worldview reduces God to the level of a cosmic vending machine, spitting out the tokens we want if we put in the appropriate number of "faith-filled words." In this view, God serves us, not the other way around. Many Christians do seek material wealth out of an honest desire to do good with it, but in far too many cases it turns out to be a subtle trap of the devil. Because of our sinful nature, it is far too easy to make that pursuit of success our god, instead of focusing on glorifying God Himself.

Another motive that offends God in prayer is pride:

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
(Matthew 6:5-6)

and:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)

In these two examples, Jesus heavily criticized those who pray for appearances. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and other religious leaders of His day made a habit of flaunting their piety. Jesus challenged His followers to be different. Praying in public can be edifying to others (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) but if done as a "show" to others, then our focus is no longer on God but on ourselves. And that is idolatry.

The second example also points to a self-righteousness in prayer. None of us deserves to call himself righteous before God; we are all sinners. God seeks humility in His children (Luke 7:7-10). Righteousness is our duty - that is, something expected of us; we deserve no special recognition or reward for doing what is simply our duty. And because, as sinners, we cannot even be righteous of our own ability, we should be all the more humble before Him who credits His own righteousness to us!

Besides our attitudes towards God, material things, and ourselves, our relationships with others have an impact on the state of our hearts – and thus on our prayer lives. Jesus told His disciples: "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25) We are to forgive others their sins – as the passage in the Lord’s Prayer affirms: "...and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12) Our relationship with God centres around his forgiveness of our sins, and God expects us to forgive others in the same way. If we do not, on what basis can we expect God to listen to our requests favourably?

One other thought relating to prayer may be found in 1 Peter 4:7: "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers." Paul alludes to two important concepts here. Sober-mindedness has to do with the fact that we are called to edify our mind as well as our spirit through prayer (1 Corinthians 14:15). Our mind is a gift from God; our capacity to reason and think is one of the things that sets us apart from the animals, and is part of the "image of God" that we reflect. Our spirits and minds are to be of one accord in worshiping God.

The other concept Paul speaks of in 1 Peter 4:7 is that of self-control, an idea that he, again, spoke of elsewhere in his writings. Paul speaks of self-control being a "fruit of the Spirit":

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

Here Paul speaks of "walking by the Spirit," an idea that closely parallels the concept of "praying in the Spirit" spoken of in Ephesians 6:18: "...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints..." Praying in the Spirit is also spoken of in Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 14:15, and Jude 20, and essentially means that a Christian who is right with God will be filled with the Holy Spirit, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in his or her life. That Christian will naturally seek, in prayer, those things God the Holy Spirit wishes him or her to ask of God the Father.

All of these factors and considerations may be summed up by one short verse, Psalm 34:15: "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry." This verse is quoted in 1 Peter 3:12. We are called to righteousness in every aspect of our lives, including in prayer. God listens to the righteous.

And this is why prayer calls for humility: our righteousness, the very reason God listens to us and is inclined toward us, is not our own.

It is His.

(by Jeff Jones)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Meaning of Christ’s Sufferings for Your Daily Life

In light of Jeff’s previous posts on health and wealth teaching, I thought that I would share this short excerpt from the rough draft of the Bible Study notes. The study was delivered this evening (on John 19:1-22; and the Pilate’s trial of Jesus), June 18/2009.

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John 19:1-2
Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.

“The soldiers”; clearly having some license from Pilate to abuse Jesus, rough Him up. They put a ‘crown of thorns’ on Him and mock robe on Him. This crown of thorns probably served two purposes.[1] First, depending on where they got them, the thorns could be 12 inches long, and would be very painful.[2] Second, and this isn’t certain, the spikes are a mock imitation of the ‘radiant corona’, a crown portrayed on ruler’s heads at the time. The spikes represent rays of light (picture the Statue of Liberty). Either way, the point of the crown is to mock Jesus.

See, the soldiers are playing their twisted, vulgar games. They would play a game of “mock king,” scratchings of which are preserved on the stone pavement of the fortress of Antonia. Philo and other literature attest this game.[3] Mark describes it this way (Mark 15:18-19): “18 And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.” See, whenever they would go to bow down before the prisoner they would substitute a gift or kiss with a punch to the face.[4] Even the way they say, “Hail, king of the Jews” is formed in such a way that would only be used to address inferiors.[5] That is, it’s even phrased to deny that he’s a king.

Isaiah 50:6-7
I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

There is one particular application that I want to make from this [the mockery and abuse of Jesus Christ] . It is very important for our time.

1 Peter 2:20-21
… if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Christ left you an example. For what? So that believers might follow in His steps; Steps of suffering, a road of sorrows, of mockery, pain, suffering, reviling, and hatred from the world.

1 Peter 4:1
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…

In context, Peter refers back to 1 Peter 3:14-18. The “way of thinking” is to be ready and willing to suffer for good and for righteousness’ sake, and so imitate Christ’s own way when He was reviled and when He suffered. Arm yourself with this way of thinking. Why? Because suffering for the sake of Christ cuts off the ‘nerve centre of sin’. This is why it is necessary. It isn’t optional. And in our day, when preachers will proclaim that material comfort and prosperity is your calling, this is an especially important message. If you are a child of God, you will suffer. If everything is comfortable for you, biblically speaking, it means that you are an illegitimate son.

1 Peter 4:13; 5:10
4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. …
5:10 … after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Please take this to heart. It is for the good of your soul:

2 Timothy 2:3
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

So set your face as flint, and endure suffering, as Jesus Himself did.


[1] Carson (The Gospel According to John), page 598. The NET notes say, “The crown of thorns was a crown plaited of some thorny material, intended as a mockery of Jesus' "kingship." Traditionally it has been regarded as an additional instrument of torture, but it seems more probable the purpose of the thorns was not necessarily to inflict more physical suffering but to imitate the spikes of the "radiant corona," a type of crown portrayed on ruler's heads on many coins of the period; the spikes on this type of crown represented rays of light pointing outward (the best contemporary illustration is the crown on the head of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor).” Morris writes that this idea of the crown of thorns is widely accepted, but not proven, and it well could be an instrument of torture (page 700, fn. 5).

[2] Kostenberger (John), page 532.

[3] Kostenberger, page 532.

[4] Morris (The Gospel According to John), page 701. The soldiers probably thought themselves witty, going up and paying homage, and substituting blows for gifts and dutiful presents.

[5] Citing Wallace; Kostenberger, page 532, note 56.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Relationship of Prayer and Faith

Last time, I posted an old post from my own blog (which has gone sadly dormant due to my neglect). That post recorded my disgust at a Word-Faith church service. The next day, it was still bothering me, and so I started a running series aiming to take apart the foundational assumptions of the Faith teachers. So here it is, for your edification.

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I'm still grumpy about what I witnessed last night, and so I intend to devote a couple of posts to the subject of prayer, and why we don't always receive what we ask for. My aim here is to debunk the Word-Faith movement's doctrine of faith and prayer, in favour of the Biblical model.

In the world we live in, we are often faced with daunting circumstances. Our friends and family get sick. Problems arise at home and at work. Stress, injury, and fatigue take their toll on us. And in the face of these problems, the Bible calls us to prayer:

...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

So why do so many prayers seemingly go unanswered? We pray for sick people, and they still die – many good Christians among them. We pray for success in our endeavours, and they fail miserably. We pray for the salvation of our friends and family, and yet they continue in sin. Doesn’t God hear?

Many say that the reason prayers "fail" is because of a lack of faith on the part of either the person praying, or the person prayed for. Proponents of this view call on Biblical teachings about prayer for support:

"Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:23-24)

And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." ()
Matthew 21:21-22

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:13-16)

So, the first question we must ask is: Do prayers fail for lack of faith?

Yes – they can, and they do. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus, James and others talked of the importance of faith in prayer. James had this to say:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

Jesus did not perform many miracles in his hometown because of a lack of faith:

...and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?... And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:54, 57-58)

Mark 6:5, in fact, says Jesus could not do miracles there because of the lack of faith.

(Now, it’s important to point out here that Jesus was not unable to perform miracles, as if the faith of others somehow grants Him power. That is a blasphemous notion - one of the many reasons why the Word-Faith philosophy is heretical. God is NOT dependent on us in any way, unlike what the Word-Faith preachers claim - look at Acts 17:25 for proof. No, Jesus could not reward a lack of faith with a miracle in this case, because it did not suit His purpose.)

The Old Testament also speaks of the importance of faith and trust in God to answer prayer. In 1 Chronicles 5:20, God answers the prayers of the Israelites because of their trust in him.

So does this mean that, like the Word-Faith teachers believe, we can have anything we want, if we have enough faith? Is it true that faith is all that’s required?

Word of Faith adherents, as well as metaphysical cults such as Christian Science, the Unity School of Christianity, and the Mind Sciences would all say yes. But is this a biblical view?

What about Paul? He grappled with a "thorn in the side" for years, begging God in prayer no less than three times to take this affliction away (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God refused to heal him – because His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. That is to say, not only did it force Paul to rely more heavily on God, but it glorified God by showing His strength in supporting Paul through his trials.

Paul’s companions were by no means exempt from sickness. Timothy suffered from a stomach ailment that, presumably, had been prayed for but not yet healed; Paul prescribed wine for this condition! (1 Timothy 5:23) If faith were all that is required for healing (or any other answer of prayer) then why had the prayers of Paul, perhaps the greatest evangelist of the early church, or Timothy, clearly a man of great faith, been denied? Paul also mentions that he left Trophimus behind sick (2 Timothy 4:20) and mentions the sickness of Epaphroditus, who almost died! (Philippians 2:25-30) Surely a prayer with sufficient faith would have prevented the disease from reaching that point, would it not?

Or consider the following examples from Matthew 26:

And going a little farther [Jesus] fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will..." Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done..." So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (39, 42, 44)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:35-36)

Here our Lord is praying to the Father to spare Him the suffering He was to undergo, if it were possible. Of all examples, our Lord and Saviour, the Son of God and God incarnate, Jesus Christ, surely would have been granted His wish – IF faith was all that was required. Who could have perfect faith, if not God Himself? Jesus could have had no less than complete faith in His Father. But God clearly said "no"; Jesus went to the Cross in accordance with His Father’s will.

So, it has been clearly demonstrated that Biblically speaking, "having enough faith" is by no means a guarantee for receiving what we ask for in prayer. God can and will say "no." He is sovereign - meaning, He owns all of Creation and may do what He pleases with it. And this is the very heart of the matter.

The Word-Faith movement would deny God His sovereign right to say no. Just read some of their literature - it's full of "claims" and "demands," declarations that they are entitled to things. But the only thing God owes to any human being, save His own Incarnated Son, is wrath and punishment.

Remember that. When you pray, ask God for things in all humility and thankfulness for the blessings you have already received. NEVER claim or demand, in the blasphemous manner of the Word-Faith movement. Yes, we can approach His throne with confidence - but that is no warrant for such impertinence. Biblical faith, in prayer, is a trust in God to answer according to His will, belief that Jesus' sacrifice has entitled us believers to approach God directly in prayer, and confidence in His power to grant our request - should He so choose.

(by Jeff Jones)

Monday, June 15, 2009

What A Disgusting Message: My First Exposure to the "Faith" Movement

On August 7, 2005, I had just arrived home from an event hosted by a local church (not my own), and I was "grouchy." I was, in fact, so angry that I wrote an entire post on my blog to vent about the experience. What follows is what I wrote that night.

The whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Turns out this event was hosted by one of the two "Word-Faith" churches in the Fredericton area. I didn't know that when I came, but found out upon arrival. As it was free, I decided to stick it out and see how things went.

First, during the worship music time, one of the musicians made a statement to the effect that the "old hymns" aren't great for today's worship. Now, that's intelligent - a hundred years from now, someone might disparage the music you're playing as passe.

I have no objection to writing and singing comtemporary worship music. Even Isaac Watts' great hymns were contemporary in his time, right? But this woman's comments betrayed a lamentable lack of historical awareness. The old hymns and anthems of the church represent a priceless trove of Biblical teaching and commentary. They are a treasure! We don't sing them enough these days - and the results are sad, as much of the music we play in church today is more shallow and simplistic than the Sunday School songs I grew up with. We could use more of the old hymns, I think - maybe the distressing lack of basic Christian theology evident in the church today might be alleviated somewhat.

That was just the beginning, though. The attendees were handed some papers when they came in - a flyer describing the sponsoring church, which included a "Prayer for Salvation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit," another flyer advertising an upcoming event, an offering envelope, and some other documents.

The period of singing ended, and the period of offering began. I say "period," because it took at least half an hour. The male head pastor of the church got up and held up one of the offering envelopes, asking us to turn to the packages we had been given. He declared firmly that the envelope was the most important thing in that package!

Now, anyone familiar with the Word-Faith movement knows its unhealthy obsession with money and "seed" offerings. It isn't called the "Prosperity Gospel" for nothing. But this is the most blatant and sickening statement of the like I have seen or heard. In that same package was a flyer with a "prayer for salvation" (I don't think it was a good prayer, but I'll get to that in a minute, and it's beside the point here) - a prayer that is designed to introduce an unbeliever to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, and yet that pastor dared state that the offering envelope was the most important document?

Absolutely shameful. If you're reading this, and you're not familiar with Word-Faith teachings, this is a great example. This "church" exists to spread the "gospel" of positive confession and worldly wealth, not the Gospel of salvation from sins. At least that's the message I get when the pastor places an offering envelope higher in importance than a salvation message.

The male pastor then handed over to his wife, his "co-pastor," who spoke at length about God's desire to bless us financially and materially, as well as spiritually and physically, and who promised that God WILL return our "seed" offering in blessings to us. Again, a patently unbiblical message. We give not in hopes of being rewarded - this would reduce God to a metaphysical investment package, or worse, a cosmic vending machine! - but in gratitude and humble recognition that everything we have is from Him. We give as a sacrifice - not to earn favour or buy God's affection, or to "plant seed," but as a lesson to ourselves that God deserves the firstfruits of EVERYTHING we do. We give as a regular reminder that God is the source of all blessing.

The last thing that really irked me was reading through the "salvation prayer," and hearing the pastor's call at the end for unbelievers present to be saved. The written prayer simply noted Acts 2:21 and asked Jesus to come into the heart of the one praying and be Lord of their life, followed by the reading of Romans 10:9 and a confession for the reader to state that Jesus was raised from the dead and that He is Lord. It then transitioned into a declaration for the reader that they are now Christians!

What's wrong with this? It misses the entire point of salvation - that is, being saved. What is the reader being saved from? The prayer doesn't say. There is not one mention of sin, or of iniquity, or wickedness, or wrongdoing - certainly no mention of hell and judgment! Not even a mention that Christ died as a sacrifice for sin! The prayer is simply a declaration that Jesus is Lord and then assures its reader that he is "born again."

One cannot put true faith in Christ unless he realizes that he is helpless and lost in sin; that he cannot save himself (again, this helplessness isn't mentioned at all); that Christ died in the place of sinners; and that His righteousness is reckoned to us by way of our faith. The prayer mentions that the reader is now "righteous," but it doesn't say how or why, much less why this is somehow a change from the reader's initial condition!!

You cannot, CANNOT, EVER preach the Gospel without stressing sin and the need for repentance. This "salvation prayer" falls far short of the mark. And sadly, this is not a problem confined to Word-Faith circles - it is endemic to the evangelical church today.

I'm tempted to take back what I wrote above - that offering envelope was probably far more useful than this prayer. Such a "prayer of salvation" runs a serious risk of giving assurance of salvation to a person who never has geniune faith or understanding of Christ.

I left shaking my head and lamenting the condition of the modern church. If this focus on the physical earth and its material blessings and prosperity is to become the norm in the church, and especially if the lack of a coherent Gospel message that induces awareness of personal sinfulness remains our evangelical focus, then we are to be ashamed. No doubt our Lord will hold us to account.

Kyrie eleison...

(by Jeff Jones)

Monday, June 8, 2009

“Human rights”

Paul Grimmond writes:

There has been a concerted push in recent times for Australia to adopt a human rights charter. It's supposedly designed to ensure that “Australia joins the rest of the enlightened world by enacting comprehensive human rights legislation.” (see: humanrightsact.com.au). It is, of course, anything but a way of ensuring that human rights are preserved in Australia.

The reasons that it would fail are manifold, but the most significant one is raised by Carr in the end of his article. A human rights charter ends up legislating liberalism and allowing no room for conscience. Or in other words, it forces everyone to adopt exactly the same moral position as the authors of the charter.

Carr points out that under current laws, a nurse or doctor with a conscientious objection to performing an abortion is currently allowed not to perform the procedure. However, under the proposed charter, that freedom would be removed. The reason for this is that much of what passes for liberalism is in fact a front for dictatorial autocracy. The move is always from “let's allow these two opinions to co-exist” to “you are no longer welcome in our society if you believe that”.

If you've followed any of the shenanigans with the legal action being pursued by the Anglican Church of Canada against Bible believing pastors and their congregations in New Westminster, you'll know that it works exactly the same way in the church as it does outside. No one's allowing any room for conscientious objection to the Anglican Church of Canada's same sex marriage proposals.

Agreeing with the opposition