Biblical Discernment in Christian Literature

Volume 26, Issue 4, August/September 2020 Biblical discernment today, if not at an all-time low, is surely bumping along at the bottom of the pond, and nowhere is that more evident than in Christian literature.  Most people, if a book or blog post is written by a credentialed Christian author, and published by at least a semi-respected Christian publishing house, let down their guard and accept unquestionably whatever is disseminated. This is true not only of the average believer but also of many in leadership. For example, Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A. J. Swoboda, won Christianity Today’s 2019 Book of the Year award in the spiritual formation category, and thus would presumably represent spirituality as understood by mainstream evangelicalism today. Written by a pastor/seminary professor, the book’s strength lies in its reminder that the believer needs rest as grounded in the...

The Enneagram Part 2

Volume 26, Issue 3, June/July 2020 In the first article on this subject, I began by developing a case for biblical authority and sufficiency, stating that anything that attempts to by-pass Scripture as the source of truth for Christian living is deficient and should be viewed with suspicion at best.  Any system which claims to offer a pathway to either salvation or sanctification, which is not derived directly and completely from the Word of God, is a fallacy.  Not only are such systems to be avoided (2 Tim 2:16; 3:5), they should be exposed (Jude 3-26).  The Enneagram is just such a system. In the first article I also addressed the origins of the Enneagram, its modern face and what it proposes to accomplish, which is self-knowledge and a deeper relationship with both self and God. In this paper we will revisit the origins, identify some popular promoters, briefly...

The Enneagram – Part 1

Volume 26, Issue 2, April/May 2020 If you have not heard of the Enneagram yet, you will soon.  According to Wikipedia it “is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. As a typology the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes called “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which indicate connections between the types. The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spirituality contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs. In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace interpersonal-dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. Both contexts say it can aid in self-awareness, self-understanding and self-development.” The Enneagram figure or diagram looks like the following. Before I jump into the midst of the fire swirling around...

Girl, Wash Your Face A Critique

(Volume 26, Issue 1, February/March 2020) The best lies, the most potent lies, are rooted in deception. Obvious lies seldom get out of the starting gate, while well-disguised lies are racing around the track.  John 1:5 informs us that Jesus is the Light that shines in our dark world, while Satan, according to 2 Corinthians 11:14, manifests himself as an angel of light. Few would be attracted to Satan and his schemes if he appeared as an angel of darkness, but masqueraded as an angel of light, as one very similar to the true Light, he is able to entice multitudes to his worldview.  Those entrenched in satanic schemes, or doctrines of demons as Paul calls them in 1 Timothy 4:1, mirror the same techniques as their master, and infiltrate the globe as “false apostles,” spreading their erroneous teachings throughout the world.  Their most effective method is to dress...

Music and Worship

(Volume 25, Issue 7, December 2019/January 2020) As a pastor, I have long been an interested observer of the ever-changing ebb and flow of music as related to the church and, specifically, worship.  As a Baby Boomer, I have personally experienced the birth of “rock and roll,” the “English invasion” spearheaded by the Beatles, and all that has followed.  This radical shift in secular music in the 1960s and 1970s was quickly mimicked by the Christian community in the late 1960s as believers attempted to reach a generation that was “turned-on and tuned-out” to the values and lifestyles of past generations.  It was assumed, first by a few but eventually by many, that the best way to engage this new, rebellious generation was to accept and adopt many of its philosophies, methods, and especially its music.  What would later be termed Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) was born on the...

Poor Analogies and Illustrations Used to Teach the Trinity Which May Teach Heresy Instead

(Volume 25, Issue 6, November 2019) Without question, the Trinity is one of the most complicated, mysterious and difficult doctrines for God’s people to comprehend.  The core doctrine of Old Testament Judaism was monotheism as expressed in the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” And while there are scattered references to the three members who composed the Godhead in the Old Testament, those references are better understood in the light of New Testament revelation.  We look back now with clarity and recognize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all are present prior to the incarnation, but it is doubtful that many Old Testament saints grasped the idea of a Trinity, at least not with the precision that Christians do today.  So it is not surprising that when the Patristics attempted to understand and define the Triune God that there...

It Is Time to Kiss the Church Hello

(Volume 25, Issue 5, September/October 2019) By now the details about Josh Harris’s divorce and apostasy is old news and every cheesy pun associated with his best-selling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, has been trotted out ad nauseam. I thought I would attempt a positive pun instead,–“It is time to kiss the church hello,”–because I think ultimately the focus is on the wrong issue.  Follow my musings for a moment. Harris experienced the world of evangelical celebrity at a very young age.  As a youth he assisted his parents in their leadership in the homeschooling movement, traveling to home school conferences and selling his father’s materials.  Still, in his teens, Josh was speaking at these conferences and produced a magazine for homeschoolers called New Attitude.  At the ripe old age of 21, he published his signature book, which not only sold over a million copies but also launched a...

The Unseen Realm, A Critique

(Volume 25, Issue 4, July/August 2019) Michael Heiser’s view of Scripture and the supernatural realm has generated much attention within evangelical circles recently.  His concepts have generated a wave of speculation that some are now riding.  What does he teach and how concerned should the discerning Christian be?  This critique will provide some answers. It all began when Heiser was examining Psalm 82:1, which reads in the NASB “God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. “Michael Heiser, currently Executive Director of the School of Ministry at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, came to believe that he had discovered the key to understanding God and Scripture which had long been buried by the western world and the evangelical community. That key was:  “The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – a pantheon – of other gods” (p....

The Lord’s Supper Part 2

(Volume 25, Issue 3, May/June 2019) The Supper in Practice If you visited a variety of local churches of various denominational stripes, you will find that the Lord’s Table is practiced in many different ways. In some congregations, believers remain seated while the elements are brought to them. In other assemblies, believers come forward to receive the elements from the pastors or priests, or serve themselves, and then return to their seats.  In a service I attended a few years ago, the congregants stood up during the Lord’s Supper while the elements were rapidly dispensed and consumed.  The service presented the feel that the Breaking of Bread was a necessary ritual that should be celebrated as quickly as possible so that they could get to the “praise music.”  These are just some of the ways in which the Table is practiced by Christians. Also, different traditions observe communion at...

The Lord’s Supper Part 1

(Volume 25, Issue 2, April 2019) During the formative days of the Reformation, when Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli were at the height of their influence, they came together to discuss some of the theological differences that had surfaced between the various leaders of the movement.  As they sat down to hammer out these matters they would check off doctrine after doctrine in which they were in basic accord. The two men were in agreement concerning salvation by God’s grace through faith alone, that the Scriptures were the only authoritative revelation from God, and the issues of eternal life.  As a matter of fact, they could join hands over virtually all the essential beliefs – what have been termed the non-negotiables of the faith.  The discussion came down to one final issue that of the Lord’s Table.   Zwingli went first, laying out a very detailed formation of his understanding...