Saturday Sampler: November 20– November 26

Vexel Rose TrioResponding to a recent Tweet by Joyce Meyer, Elizabeth Prata writes Should we shut off our minds? in her blog, The End Time. As far as I’m concerned, we should probably shut of Joyce Meyer.

How can I resist directing you to Narrow Minded Woman’s piece, Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: “How Firm a Foundation” when she features my all-time favorite hymn? “What more can He say than to you He has said?” Ladies, God’s Word really is sufficient!

And while we’re on the subject of church music, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day writes Hymns and the Power of Music to Teach. Oh how I wish every music leader would read this wonderful blog post and take it to heart!

 Calvinism Is Not Hyper-Calvinism asserts Josh Buice of his Delivered By Grace blog. He includes a helpful timeline on church history and the development of Reformed doctrine, as well as  demonstrating that true Calvinists invest in evangelism and missions.

This article by Pastor Colin Smith on his blog, Unlocking the Bible, appeared back in June, but it still offers wonderful counsel by reviving Four Warning Signs You May Be Wandering from the Truth.

Sarah Eehoff Zylstra’s report,  New ‘Fairness for All’ Proposal Seeks Compromise Between Religious Liberty and Gay Rights, appearing in the Gospel Coalition Blog raises interesting questions. Could such a compromise really be enacted? If so, would if even work?

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On Exploiting Scandal (And Claiming Discernment)

Bible Mask MedievalErin Benziger created quite a stir last week with her soul-searching blog post, Please Don’t Call Me A Discernment Blogger.I’ve spent this past week thinking about her comments on the matter, hoping to develop perspective on my approach to The Outspoken TULIP. Although I haven’t yet come to any hard and fast conclusions, I wanted to present  a few of the thoughts I’ve had thus far.

For starters, I most definitely agree that many so-called discernment blogs show anything but Biblical discernment. Having tangled, a few short months ago, with a self-proclaimed discernment blogger who believed John MacArthur, Al Mohler and Steve Lawson deserve to be denounced as false teachers with questionable affiliations (largely basing her claims on rumors that have either been debunked or never had credible substantiation to begin with), I can attest that discernment blogs often devolve into gossip tabloids. Additionally, I subscribe to a couple blogs that go overboard in their attempts to serve as watchmen against heresy, and sometimes I wonder if they honor Christ. Sensationalism sells, and bloggers know it.

I know it!

Like Erin, I’ve noticed that I attract the most readers when Beth Moore or Rick Warren appear in the title of an article. And yes, I’ve exploited their names whenever I wanted more hits. As much as I’d like to shift the blame to my readers’ apparent appetite for scandal, I need to take responsibility for whetting that appetite. Am I much different than Barak Obama, who never lets a crisis go to waste? (What a chilling comparison!)

But the problem becomes complicated by the glaring lack of discernment in churches that claim to be Bible-believing and conservative. Evangelicals in the 21st Century do need to be warned about popular teachers and trends that deviate from the clear teachings of Scripture. Neither Erin nor I contest that point. Like her, I draw on Jude 3-4:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Just yesterday I listened to a podcast that lamented a disturbing trend engulfing young evangelicals. Quite rightly, the guest and co-hosts attributed the popularity of this trend to the ignorance of doctrine that leads to the lack of discernment that opens people up to unbiblical worldviews. I nodded in agreement with most of what they said…until they promoted a conference featuring a speaker who is known for doctrinal error in her own right. For all their talk about how discerning they are, the hosts and their guest flabbergasted me with their eagerness to sit under this false teacher.

So yes, we need bloggers brave enough to  speak out against false teachers and doctrinal error. Admittedly, the Church has always battled perversions of the Gospel,  and it has faced darker days than it faces now (remember the Middle Ages, when Roman Catholicism denied people access to Scripture). Yet today’s Biblical illiteracy, which is   much less excusable, proliferates over the Internet with astounding force. Obviously, we desperately need Christians who will stand firmly against deception in the Church.

But, dear sisters in the Lord, there’s a big difference between contending for the faith and using Beth Moore to attract readers. I regret doing so, not because Erin’s article exposed my sin, but because I’ve acted in a manner that dishonored the very God I claimed to represent.

Again, let me be clear: Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Sarah Young and many other false teachers need to be called on the carpet for ways that they deceive evangelicals. I’m not finished writing about them, because people aren’t being warned. Likewise, I have more to say about Holy Yoga, Charismatic churches, contemplative prayer, the evangelical embrace of psychology and other disturbing trends. As I said earlier, these very serious problems must be addressed.

But they must be addressed for the right reasons. I know that my blog’s stats  always skyrocket when I type Beth Moore’s name in the title. I also know that they plummet when I blog about Jesus Christ. And while that certainly says something sad about my readers, it says something even worse about me! It says that I’m willing to  capitalize on false teachers and doctrinal error for the sake of making a name for myself.

The Outspoken  TULIP exists, first and foremost, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping women to stand for Him as the Church faces increasing persecution. Discernment is part of that equipping. But Biblical discernment goes much deeper than exposing false teachers and doctrinal error. Ultimately, we develop discernment by studying and obeying God’s Word. Maybe I’ll never be a big-name blogger by deciding against using Beth Moore as bait to hook readers, but hopefully the Lord will tell me, when I stand before His throne, that I served Him well.

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50 Shades, 40 Days…And None Of The Above

Most of my readers probably would have no problem with me denouncing 50  Shades Of Grey (book or movie), despite the fact that I’ve never read anything more than  Wikipedia’s synopsis of the book (which was bad enough). In fact, if I had read the book itself, a majority of those same readers would most likely write me off as a hypocrite for writing so much about personal holiness and then reading such pornography.

And such a dismissal of my integrity would definitely be warranted. If I read that sort of book, my readers shouldn’t respect anything that came from my keyboard ever again. I know enough about the book to understand that reading it dishonors the Lord. I really don’t need to read the book (or see the movie) to know that it’s sheer pornography that I must avoid. Obviously. I can’t imagine anybody arguing with me on this point.

So why, when I refuse to read books by Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren, do professing Christians believe I have no grounds for criticizing them? I have, actually, read some of their blog posts and Twitter feeds, as well as watching their YouTube videos. But that doesn’t satisfy those who ardently support these people. They demand that I invest hours slogging through books that will only reiterate the bad theology that I’ve already seen on their blogs, Twitter feeds and videos.

In other words, I don’t question these teachers before I’ve done my homework. For instance, several years ago, the church John and I attended went through Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose campaign. Both of us initially felt excited about the campaign, especially since the Sunday School Superintendent had asked John to lead the Adult class during those Sundays.

But as we watched the promotional videos leading up to the campaign, we noticed  how frequently Warren wrenched Scripture out of context in order to advance his agenda. Because I have a shameful history of misusing God’s Word in that way (the Lord has graciously brought me to repentance), I picked up on it quickly. In response to my discomfort about him, I researched him and discovered quite a few people who also saw serious flaws in his doctrine. After a few days of  fighting through his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, I could see that Rick Warren simply didn’t respect God’s Word. Therefore, John and I chose not to participate.

Of course, people scolded us for condemning Warren’s teachings without reading his entire book. Yet many of those same people would undoubtedly applaud me for writing against 50 Shades Of Grey, all the while respecting my integrity for not reading it.

If people commend me for pursuing moral and sexual purity, shouldn’t they also appreciate my desire for doctrinal purity? Obviously, I believe they should. The Lord calls for both types of purity.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. ~~1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

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Why Do We Want Jesus?

Closed Bible and crossThe teachings on romance with Jesus stem from a greater problem within evangelical circles, as yesterday’s post on The Cripplegate reminded me. The Dangers of Man-Centered Theology demonstrates (in quite convicting ways) how easily we make the Gospel all about us. We may give lip-service to the fact that Jesus deserves all the praise, honor and glory, but honesty forces us to admit that most of the time we follow Him with the expectation of receiving goodies.

I can’t help thinking of this passage:

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~~John 6:25-40 (ESV)

The crowd wanted Jesus because He met their temporal needs, not because He deserved their adoration. He fed the 5000 to reveal Himself as the Almighty Creator, but the people chose to focus on Him as a cosmic Waiter Who bore the responsibility of satisfying their appetites.

We do pretty much the  same thing now. Maybe most of us have enough delicacy to avoid the blatant Name-It-And-Claim-It teachings of people like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn, but how many of us fall for Beth Moore, Rick Warren and Sarah Young as they offer a watered-down Jesus that romances us, gives us purpose and whispers in our ear? Instead of physical bread, this man-made Jesus lets  us feel special about ourselves.

Certainly, the Lord loves His people, and He graciously cares for our needs. He does so, not because we deserve His mercy (we don’t), but because He is amazingly kind and generous in the face of our unworthiness. His kindness shouldn’t stimulate our greed, so that we constantly dream up new ways for Him to shower us with blessings. Quite the contrary, those blessings ought to cause us to shower Him with praise and adoration. They should place our attention back on Him.