War

(April 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 4)  Christians have long struggled with the issue of war. Are there any circumstances that justify a Christian going to war? In the light of the biblical commands to love and forgive our enemies, is war justified? Let’s take a look. Christian Views Radical Pacifism – Radical pacifists believe that all violence is evil, and therefore, not only is war wrong but so is the maintenance of a police force and personal resistance to aggression. After all, they reason, it is rather difficult to love your enemy when you are killing them or punching them in the face. What would be the response of a radical pacifist to the crimes of Osama bin Laden? Love! Alice Walker, writing for the Village Voice, represents this position well: “What would happen to him if he could be brought to understand the preciousness of the lives he...

Twenty Facts About Israel and the Middle East

(March 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 3)  The world’s attention has been focused on the Middle East. We are confronted daily with scenes of carnage and destruction. Can we understand such violence? Yes, but only if we come to the situation with a solid grounding in the facts of the matter — facts that too often are forgotten, if ever they were learned. Below are twenty facts that we think are useful in understanding the current situation, how we arrived here, and how we might eventually arrive at a solution. Roots of the Conflict When the United Nations proposed the establishment of two states in the region — one Jewish, one Arab — the Jews accepted the proposal and declared their independence in 1948. The Jewish state constituted only 1/6 of one percent of what was known as “the Arab world.” The Arab states, however, rejected the UN plan and...

The Secret Critiqued – Part 2

(August 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 8)  The Secret’s Links with Christianity New Thought In my research for this paper I was surprised to find that we have been down this road in the past. As a matter of fact, virtually the whole “secret” was revealed in the mid-1800s beginning with Phineas Quimby who taught that “physical diseases are caused by wrong thinking or false beliefs. Disease is merely an ‘error’ created ‘not by God, but by man.’ Eliminate false beliefs, Quimby taught, and the chief culprit for disease is thereby removed, yielding a healthy body.” The New Thought movement developed from Quimbly’s ideas in the late 1860s. “According to New Thought, human beings can experience health, success, and abundant life by using their thoughts to define the conditions of their lives. New Thought proponents subscribed to the ‘law of attraction’ which is...

The Secret Critiqued – Part 1

(July 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 7)  Have you heard The Secret? It is all the rage throughout our society and has even infiltrated the church. From day-time talk shows to the business world, The Secret (detailed in both book and DVD forms) is making an impact. The inspiration behind The Secret came in 2004 when an old book called The Science of Getting Rich was placed in the hands of a woman named Rhonda Byrne. Byrne was going through a difficult period in her life and the message in this book rejuvenated her imagination. Over the course of the next two months Byrne read hundreds of books and studied the lives of great leaders in history. She discovered, she claims, that many greats from the past (e.g. Churchill, Einstein, Emerson), as well as the present (e.g. Jack Canfield, author and co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul...

The Passion of the Christ – Part 2

(March 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 3)  THE ROAD TO ROME? As little as twenty years ago it was the overwhelming consensus of Protestant evangelicals and fundamentalists that those who adhered to the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification were not saved. That did not mean that Catholic Christians did not exist, for it was recognized that within the Church of Rome existed regenerate souls who for various reasons had remained in the Catholic Church. But none who clearly understood and accepted the soteriology of Rome could be viewed as born again. Rome’s salvation is sacramental in nature. Salvation, Catholics teach, is by grace, through faith, based on the cross. But to this they add an elaborate system of works which are also necessary for salvation. Still even this is not enough, for final authority for eternal salvation lies in the hands of the Church. All of this, and more, is...

The Passion of the Christ – Part 1

(February 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 2)  Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ is being welcomed in conservative Christian circles with almost universal acclaim. Some Christian leaders have even said that the film will be the greatest opportunity for evangelism since the crucifixion itself. Perhaps they are correct. From almost all accounts The Passion of the Christ is relatively faithful to the biblical record. But such is not the case. The movie goes far beyond the biblical account, adding not only dramatic license, but much that is found in Roman Catholic tradition and mysticism. This may, or may not, diminish from the overall message of the film, but at the very least it will lead to confusion, especially for those not biblically knowledgeable, as to which events actually took place and which events came from the imagination of the writers and others. A few other scenes are taken...

The Da Vinci Code Deciphered

(March 2006 – Volume 12, Issue 3)  The most celebrated novel of our times is much more than a novel. The Da Vinci Code has sold some forty million copies, just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of people who will view the movie starring everybody’s most beloved actor, Tom Hanks, and directed by none other than Opie (aka Ron Howard). As a result, before the close of 2006 the majority of those in the Western world will probably be introduced to the mysterious code popularized by Dan Brown. They will no doubt find this code both intriguing and troubling. It is intriguing because Brown is a fascinating author. The Da Vinci Code is unquestionably a great novel by literary standards and, if it was only a novel, would not be worth our time to examine in this venue. But it is troubling because Brown has a...

Spiritual Warfare – Part 3

 (June 1995 – Volume 1, Issue 8) The Bible does not recognize occult sin as a special category that has not been dealt with at the cross. We have spent considerable space in our last two newsletters evaluating and criticizing the Spiritual Warfare Movement. In this final letter on this subject, we would like to devote the bulk of our attention to the Biblical instructions that our Lord gives us concerning our battle with Satan and his demons. But first, we would like to elaborate a little on four of the major unbiblical teachings of the SW leaders. MAJOR UNBIBLICAL TEACHINGS: Christians must learn to bind Satan. This idea is based on the misinterpretation of three passages: Mt 12:29; 16:19; and 18:18. The context reveals that Mt 12:29 was an illustration of Christ’s personal power over Satan — not ours. And Mt 16:19; 18:18 are in the context of fulfilling...

Spiritual Warfare – Part 2

(May 1995 – Volume 1,(May 1995 – Volume 1, Issue 7) Issue 7)  We quickly examined, in our last newsletter, the branch of the Spiritual Warfare Movement known by some as the “power encounter” branch. These are men such as Mark Bubeck and C. Fred Dickason who believe that we must forceably confront, bind, and expel demons from the lives of some people if they are to find spiritual freedom. This time we will turn our attention to the “truth encounter” branch of the SWM. This branch is well represented by Neil Anderson who, while in general agreement with Dickason and Bubeck, believes that power encounters are not necessary, in fact may be dangerous. He teaches instead, a more clinical approach which directs the demonized to take certain steps based on truth. When those steps are taken, the demons will release their victim from bondage. We want to carefully study this...

Spiritual Warfare – Part 1

(April 1995 – Volume 1, Issue 6)  According to Dickason, God neglected to include in His Word instructions for victory over one of the Christian’s most powerful enemies. It seems that Christians never tire of trying to come up with a new way of dealing with life. We are reminded of the Athenians at the Areopagus who, “Used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). Within evangelical Christianity today, there is a constant parade of novel approaches for dealing with our sins and problems. One of these is what some call “spiritual warfare.” Spiritual warfare has become quite the rage in many Christian circles, despite the lack of Biblical support. This is due to several factors: the mystical and experience orientation of the modern church, the influence of charismatic elements, pragmatism, the church’s surrender to psychology during the last twenty years, and...