Autobiography With Purpose: My Doctrinal Homecoming

Header May 2013
Reading the Pyromanics blog

We need to set aside discussion regarding Brookville Baptist Church until my next Autobiography With Purpose installment so that I can give you an idea of changes that the Lord made in my theology in the years between 2006 and 2012. Actually,  the word “changes” seems a little misleading, since my shift in doctrine felt more like a spiritual homecoming than a new beginning.  At any rate, I’ve realized (mostly from thinking about it at 2:30 this morning) that a narrative of what happened with Brookville would make much more sense if I first explained what the Lord was doing with me between Sunday morning services.

Shortly after I joined Facebook in 2008, I re-connected with a friend I’d known when we both attended Church of the Open Door in San  Rafael, California. We’d known each other since about 1977, at times being fairly close.  Around the time I moved to Massachusetts to marry John, this lady and her husband also relocated their family, causing us to lose touch for roughly six years until Facebook reunited us.

To my shock and dismay, I soon learned that my friend had become heavily involved in Holy Yoga. Even though I’d known since first coming to Christ that yoga is diametrically opposed to Biblical Christianity, I began searching out Christian websites that offered biblical explanations for rejecting the practice. My search led me to Sola Sisters, a blog written by two women who had been saved out of New Age philosophies.

Sola Sisters not only helped me in my research on yoga; they addressed the problems with Rick Warren, evangelical mysticism and other issues infiltrating the church.  Many of their blog posts verified misgivings I’d had regarding a wide variety of teachings and popular teachers I’d encountered over the years.  In addition, their emphasis on Scripture and the Five Solas of the Reformation beautifully complemented John MacArthur’s radio broadcasts, which John and I listened to each morning.

It wasn’t long before I started clicking links on Sola Sisters’ blogroll. That practice led me to the Pyromanics blog, maintained by Dan Philips, Frank Turk and Phil Johnson. I recognized Phil Johnson as being part of MacArthur’s Grace To You ministry, so I eagerly read the blog and was introduced more fully to Reformed Theology. Through Sola Sisters I also found Erin Benziger’s Do Not Be Surprised blog, which opened doors to more discernment and Reformed Theology blogs and websites than I could hope to mention in today’s autobiography.

As I explored these blogs and studied Scripture in more systematic ways, I would often come upon ideas that my past churches (and, to a lesser extent,  Brookville) had talked me out of embracing. Most notably, they refuted so-called Christian psychology and the erroneous idea of building up self-esteem.  Frequently, I’d read an article and think, “Yes! I thought the passage said that!”

There were still instances, of course, when I struggled with my Armimian background.  I had difficulty realizing, for example, that I couldn’t take any credit for my salvation.  But through His sovereignty and providence, the Lord Jesus Christ began ushering me into Reformed Theology.  The tension I experienced at Brookville came largely as a result of this doctrinal redirection, but the joy of coming home greatly eclipsed that discomfort.  At last, I knew what I believed and why I believed it.

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Saturday Sampler — June 26 Through July 2

Three BunniesAs a tribute to the late Jerry Bridges, premiere Christian blogger Tim Challies lists Jerry Bridges’ Seven Standout Spiritual Lessons. I particularly appreciated the comments on faith in Sovereign Election leading to a broader understanding of God’s sovereignty. The same process happened in my life.

Observing the one-year anniversary of the Obergefell vs Hodges decision, Pastor Gabe Hughes preached  a sermon entitled LBGT and How the Church Should Respond to the congregation at First Southern Baptist Church in Junction City, Kansas. It takes time to read this transcript, but I strongly advise that you make reading it a priority. Hughes covers many important facets of this issue.

I’m skeptical of James Dobson in general anyway.  He did much damage by bringing psychology into the evangelical church, and even more by partnering with Mormons and Catholics for political purposes. So pardon me if I agree with Amy Spreeman’s comments in Wink-wink, nudge-nudge: Dr. Dobson leaves questions about Trump’s regeneration, written for Berean Research.

Jessica Pickowicz writes Bible Journaling – What Every Christian Should Know in her blog, A Beautiful Thing. Be sure to consider her perspective.

Writing for Stand to Reason’s blog, Amy K. Hall looks at the lenient sentence Brock Turner received after being convicted of rape. She then asks, Is This Really the Kind of Judge You Want God to Be? Her essay challenges careful thinking about our objections to the doctrine of hell.

Just when you think he’s fading away, Amy Spreeman writes in the Berean Examiner that Rick Warren resurrects Purpose Driven Conference in U.S. to build “process and paradigm” because God “told him” to. Um, I doubt God did.

If you don’t already subscribe to danielthree18, ladies,  please consider doing so. Rachel’s Theology Thursday: Jeremiah 29:11 post wonderfully teaches the proper context of this popular Bible verse, as well as  helping us see what the Lord actually does plan for Christians.

Pastor Mike Abendroth of Bethlehem Bible Church and No Compromise Radio admonishes Christians to Stop Defending the Bible in this video:

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Autobiography With Purpose: Swallowing Hard

John & Deb Anniversary 2008When Brookville Baptist Church completed the 40 Days of Purpose campaign, John and I returned to Adult Sunday School cautiously, wondering if the Bible Study groups and Sunday School classes would start using more of Rick Warren’s curricula. To our great relief,  no such thing happened.  We praised the Lord that we saw no noticeable effect of the program.

At least not in the church itself.

I noticed myself becoming more distrustful of the pastors and elders. I began praying for them to develop better discernment in regard to doctrine. They had fallen for Rick Warren enough to bring the entire church though the PDL campaign, so I feared future theological compromises. While I realize that  Christians should always assess their leaders against Scripture (indeed, I implore the readers of this blog to evaluate everything I write by testing it against God’s Word), the skepticism I felt toward the leaders at Brookville went beyond being a good Berean.

Yet, my doubts about their discernment didn’t give me a desire to  change churches. I felt wary, but I also believed it was a better church than anything else in our  immediate area. John agreed that we probably couldn’t find anything more faithful to Scripture. Additionally,  he took encouragement from the fact that, because he taught Adult Sunday School two months out of the year, he  could be a positive influence.

In the next few years, John and I noticed changes here and there. Less hymns. An entertainment quality to the Praise Group.  Topical sermons replacing verse-by-verse exposition.  The pastors no longer standing behind the pulpit when they preached.  We told ourselves that all these were minor changes, and admonished each other against being legalistic or judgmental.

I particularly struggled with the content of the music,  having recently acquired an appreciation for hymns. I saw that contemporary praise music,  despite being fun to sing, typically focused on Christians rather than on the Lord. And even those praise songs that actually tried to focus on Jesus lacked the rich theology that I’d found in hymns.  Occasionally, the Praise Group included hymns or songs with strong Biblical content, but increasingly I found the singing portion of the services something to endure rather than a vehicle for worship.

As my struggle with the music progressed, I learned to pray for the Praise Group to gain discernment in selecting songs.  But I especially disciplined myself to daily confess my judgmental attitude.  Over time, I accepted the music as best I could.  John quietly adjusted the lyrics he sang whenever a song expressed unbiblical ideas, and I refrained from singing certain songs altogether.

For better or for worse, Brookville was our church family and we decided to persevere through the problems and praise God for the Biblical elements that, by God’s grace, still remained. Many people there genuinely loved the Lord and served Him as best they could. Yes, the 40 Days of Purpose had caused spiritual erosion,  but we believed love compelled us to overlook the church’s flaws and celebrate its strengths. Little did we know how profoundly they would love us during the roughest storm in our marriage.

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Autobiography With Purpose: Different Point Of View

VBSMon23During our first three years of marriage, John and I enjoyed a couple different Personal Care Attendant situations that allowed us to attend Wednesday night prayer meetings and Vacation Bible School. John taught two month-long Adult Sunday School classes each year and I spent a few months helping with the Junior High Sunday School. We also joined Pastor Larry with the Nursing Home ministry and became part of the Missions Committee.

At home, we regularly listened to John MacArthur’s Grace to You radio broadcasts. At the time, his teaching seemed to complement the bulk of what I was learning at Brookville. On a more profound level, however, I noticed myself responding to much of what he said differently than I responded to Pastor Dennis, Pastor Larry and the men who taught Adult Sunday School. He said things, particularly about the dangers of self-esteem, that I’d always seen in Scripture (but that every church I’d been in explained away).

Once Pastor Jim expressed that he had a few problems with MacArthur’s theology, though he didn’t offer any specific examples. I shrugged off his comment, eager to fit into my new church and understanding that pastors are fallible human beings.

Actually, I shrugged off a few things (most of which I don’t remember), telling myself that churches are imperfect institutions made up of imperfect people. I forgave personal hurts and prayed that I’d repent of judgmental attitudes when I disagreed with decisions or practices. The Lord convicted me to cultivate contentment.

In late 2004, Brookville Baptist Church decided to go through the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign. John had read some of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life, which seemed okay at face-value. During that summer, he used the book as a springboard for an Adult Sunday School class (he later told me that he saw errors in the book, but thought he could correct those errors by how he taught it). Therefore the elders asked John to lead the Adult Sunday School class during the campaign.

In the weeks leading up to the campaign, the church showed promotional videos of Rick Warren to prepare us for the program. It didn’t take long for me to see that Warren repeatedly wrenched Bible verses out of context in order to support his points. I recognized what he was doing because I’d done the same thing years earlier when I worked for Love In Action.

Warren’s shameless misuse of God’s Word prompted me to do some investigative work. To my surprise, I found articles from several sources (including some affiliated with John MacArthur)   confirming my assessment as well as revealing Warren’s pragmatic approach to numerical church growth. I shared my findings with John. He assured me that, if we couldn’t convince Pastor Dennis to abandon the campaign, he would use the Sunday School class to help people exercise discernment when reading the book and watching the videos.

Dennis respected our right to disagree with Rick Warren, but  he didn’t want John to use his teaching position to voice our disagreement. We decided that, during the campaign, John and I would attend Sunday morning services, but otherwise we wouldn’t participate in the campaign. Furthermore, we wouldn’t explain our   lack of involvement unless someone directly asked. Twelve years later, I question the wisdom of that last agreement.

How happy I was when the 40 Days ended and we could assimilate back into church life! But from that point forward, I found myself praying for the leaders at Brookville to develop better discernment. That’s a prayer nobody should have to pray.

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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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Growing 4 Life– Danger Zone

Monday, Leslie at Growing 4 Life wrote an article entitled Danger Zone, in which she examines the caliber of books that Christian bookstores typically feature. Her blog post made several important observations about some of the popular evangelical writers that I’ve been warning my readers to avoid, so I wanted to share what she’s written. She has graciously given me permission to reblog it here.


Danger-600x450I had an idea of what I wanted to buy for a graduation gift but time got away from me and the other day I realized that it was too late to order it. I groaned within, as I realized this meant I would have to buy it at my local Christian bookstore.

I have generally tried to avoid any bookstore labeled “Christian” over the last five or so years because I find them most disheartening to walk through. But that day I had little choice.

And so I headed off to the store to once again be dismayed and disgusted by the heresy and false teaching that is promoted and sold in “Christian” bookstores.

The first display I saw–just like the last time I was there and the time before that– featured Jesus Calling. You can read here why this book goes against scripture and why Christians should not be reading it. How long will that book be in the stores? I cannot believe it is still actually selling. It has had an incredibly long shelf-life compared to most books.

Then I headed to the Bible section. There I found both the good and the bad. One has to use great wisdom in picking out a Bible these days. We should always do our research before purchasing one. All Bible versions are not equal.

I headed next to the Bible Study section. There I was dismayed to find a whole section by Beth Moore. She has made some seriously wrong doctrinal turns in the recent years and, yet, it doesn’t seem to have affected her sales in any way. You can find good biblical articles refuting Beth Moore here and here.

Read the rest here

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Grown To Nothing

Rich Dead ChurchTaking stands for the truth has cost me friendships. That will most likely happen again. Not that I intentionally sabotage my relationships–I don’t. But neither can I pretend to agree with practices that go against the Bible. And the pragmatic nature of the Church Growth Movement, precisely because it relies on human strategies rather than the sovereignty of God, definitely goes against the Bible.

I agree with those who charge that doctrine divides (a frequent charge of those in the  Church Growth Movement). Indeed, Jesus brought violent division to First Century Jews to such an extent that many  of His followers suffered persecution and death at the hands of those who believed themselves to be devoted followers of the one true God. He said, quite explicitly, that He would cause division to the degree that people would equate persecuting His disciples with serving God (see John 16:1-4).

So I don’t want to bury truth simply to keep myself  comfortable. But neither do I want to speak truth in a malicious manner. People I love are caught in churches that promote Church Growth strategies, and many of them are genuine Christians. I don’t mind angering false converts (especially those who prefer deception over truth), but the Lord would have me be patient with those who know Him truly (Galatians 6:1-3). I also have belonged to churches that promoted error, and I remember how gently and gradually the Lord corrected me.

Having said all that, I can’t apologize for my concern over churches that measure themselves by the number of warm bodies that fill their seats (and consequently their offering plates) on Sunday mornings. Popular Church Growth leaders like Rick Warren need to be held accountable for influencing churches to jettison Biblical preaching in favor of marketing methods and more palatable presentations of “Christianity” in order to attract young families with earning potential.

Though leaders in such churches convince themselves and their congregations that they employ worldly strategies out of a desire to advance God’s kingdom, I know from first-hand involvement in two such churches that they primarily seek to expand their organizations. To be fair, I know that the leaders of both churches honesty did care about seeing lost people come to Christ. Yet I saw them express more concern over whether the offering plates filled up than about seeing genuine conversions.

Numerical growth, I agree, can be a blessing. Acts 2:41, for example, certainly celebrates the fact that 3000 people came to salvation in response to Peter’s Pentecost sermon. The church that John and I currently attend prays for revival in New England, longing to see many people return to the faith of the godly men and women who first came to Plymouth Rock. So please understand that I do see great value in a church’s numerical increase.

Quantity, however, must always assume a second place to quality, especially in relation to church growth. Rick Warren’s supporters defend his marketing techniques on the premise that “he brings so many people” into churches. Yet many people who purportedly “get saved” through his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, come through a grossly watered-down presentation that barely resembles the Biblical Gospel (page 58):

 “Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for . . . all you need to do is receive and believe…. Will you accept God’s offer?” Again, he offers a sample prayer, “I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.”

That’s woefully inadequate, but much more attractive than confronting people with their sin and using Scripture to present the Gospel. He fails to explain why his audience needs salvation, or even how Jesus accomplished salvation. It isn’t until much later in the  book that Warren bothers to mention repentance. Basically, Warren reduces the Lord to a life-improving commodity. That way, more people will, he believes, come into our churches.

But we must desire that men and women come to a real knowledge of Christ. And the Lord said very candidly that only a minority of people would truly experience regeneration.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ~~Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

Yes, we by all means ought to pray for more people to fill our churches. But we must pray even more for true conversions, even if doing so means half-empty pews and smaller offerings. Numbers, as exciting and affirming as they are, simply don’t reflect surrendered hearts that focus on glorifying Jesus.

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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.

Pope Francis…I’m Not Fawning

The 498th anniversary of Martin Luther’s launch of the Protestant Reformation is 36 days from now, and I plan to blog more extensively about it at that time. The excitement over Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, however, causes me to wonder if 21 Century American Protestants remember why we left Roman Catholicism in the first place. I anticipate sharing more detailed posts about the Reformation and its doctrinal foundations later next month, but today I simply want to voice my frustration over the adoration that overflows for this man…especially from those who represent evangelical teaching.

For example, I found this little gem on my Twitter feed this morning:

Warren and JakesTo be fair, I have no way to verify the authenticity of this Tweet, but I do know that Warren minimizes the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant theologies.  The following video shows his attempts to blur doctrinal lines:

Of course, Warren completely ignores that the Council of Trent, which convened between the years 1545 and 1563 in reaction to the Reformation, specifically repudiates the foundational teaching that salvation comes solely by faith in Christ’s work on the cross. Consider Session VI, Canon IX of that Council.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. (Source)

The Council of Trent still stands, even after Vatican II. Therefore, official Catholic teaching directly contradicts Galatians 2:16. In its dogma that salvation requires human cooperation in addition to Christ’s work on the cross, they preach a very different gospel than the Gospel that the great Reformers saw in Scripture. God’s Word condemns those who preach false gospels.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ~~Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)

I have no quarrel with Roman Catholics and those who don’t claim to be Protestants swooning over Pope Francis. But Protestants (and especially evangelicals) need to remember the Biblical doctrine for which men and women of the Reformation suffered and died. Doctrinal purity mattered a great deal to them at that time. Shouldn’t it matter just as much to us?