Hillsong won’t take public position on LGBT issues

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Via Hillsong’s Brian Houston says church won’t take public position on LGBT issues:

At a press conference for the Hillsong Conference in New York City today, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Houston to clarify their church’s position on same sex marriage. But Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was “an ongoing conversation” among church leaders and they were “on the journey with it.”

Anytime you hear “ongoing conversation” and “on the journey” a Weasel Word Warning should go off.

Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong’s New York City location, made similar statements on CNN in June, saying Hillsong in New York City has “a lot of gay men and women” and he hopes it stays that way. But he declines to address the matter in public because, in part, Jesus never did.

Ugh.  The argument that Jesus never said anything about homosexual behavior (or abortion, etc.) fails on several levels.  If a church leader uses it you can be confident that he or she is ignorant and/or malicious.

Short version: Yes, He did say something about it, but the theological Left ignores or distorts it as they do with many things about Jesus and his teachings.

Medium version: Arguing from silence is a logical fallacy, Jesus is God and part of the Trinity that inspired all scripture, He supported the Old Testament law to the last letter, the “red letters” weren’t silent on these topics in the sense that they reiterated what marriage and murder were, He emphasized many other important issues that these Leftist theologians completely ignore (Hell, his divinity, his exclusivity, etc.), He was equally “silent” on issues that these folks treat as having the utmost importance (capital punishment, war, welfare, universal health care, taxpayer-funded abortions, etc.), He didn’t specifically mention child abuse and other obvious sins though that wouldn’t justify them, and abortion and homosexual behavior simply weren’t hot topics for 1st century Jews.  And the Gospels never claimed to include everything He said.  John specifically notes that the whole world couldn’t hold it all!  (John 21:25) And Jesus never said anything about the “sin” of criticizing homosexual behavior, so it must be OK!

Long version.

Oh, and check out Wait . . . Wait . . . Wait . . . This Hillsong Church Business All Makes Sense Now — Now that’s convenient.  Hillsong just came out strongly pro-LGBTQX right before it was announced that they had hidden child molestation from authorities.

The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

- 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
– 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
– 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
– 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
– 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

* The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians
2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Thou Shalt Not Murder

Cross posted at Stubborn Things

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Corollary: Thou shalt not redefine murder in a pathetic attempt to pretend it isn’t murder.

Having done prison ministry for the last 8 years, I’ve met more murderers than the average person – including one who, post-redemption by Jesus, could honestly claim that he was “as friendly as a basketful of puppies.”  But that hasn’t made me go soft on crime.  I admit that I enjoy reminding anti-capital punishment folks that not only is capital punishment – properly applied – a biblical alternative, it was actually God’s idea (see Genesis 9 and Romans 13, among others).  And no, Jesus didn’t overturn it, but that’s a separate topic.

You might think that people would intuitively consider any kind of murder to be the most serious sin against God and neighbor.  Murder takes the life of an innocent human being, it kills an image-bearer of God, it usurps God’s sovereignty over life and death and it is a culmination of a host of other sins: lust, greed, covetousness, hate, anger, pride, etc.   How could we explain that away?  Yet people have been rationalizing it since Genesis 4.

Not only do people create gods in their own images, they create words and phrases in their own images, such as “same-sex marriage” (pure oxymoron) and “reproductive rights/health/etc.” (deadly and misleading euphemisms, because abortion kills a human being who has already been reproduced).  Even highly intelligent people like the authors of Freakonomics insist that murder rates have gone done over the centuries, conveniently ignoring that abortion is murder.  People are Romans 1 poster children, pretending to be anti-murder while suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

I’ve even seen Christian pacifists support abortion.  One such activist was quote-mining some church fathers to develop a twisted appeal to pure pacifism but he ignored the clear accompanying admonitions against abortion.  What could be more violent than literally ripping off someone’s limbs and crushing her skull?   Yet with no hint of hypocrisy the pacifist opposed any abortion restrictions.

Then there are the Christian grandparents who pay for their grandchildren to be killed with deadly equivocations about how it is better to “ruin” one life than three – ignoring how the word is used just a little differently regarding the death of the preborn child than it would have been if he had been allowed to live.

The disabled are valued so little that it is now broadly considered a moral good to kill them in the womb and a moral evil to allow them to live.

It flows downhill from there.  When half of society considers it a moral good to be allowed to kill your child, why should we be surprised at anything else they come up with?

Part of the problem is worshiping government over God.  Even the writers of the The Simpsons understood this to a degree when they had Reverend Lovejoy say, “Once something has been approved by the government, it’s no longer immoral.”  They rationalize murder as being best for the rest of society (see abortion, or the Holocaust or the tens of millions killed by their Communist governments in the 20th century).  If you think the Leftists aren’t capable of trying to wipe out believers then you haven’t read The Gulag Archipelago.

The best solution is the authentic Gospel and making disciples.  That will transform hearts, minds and societies more than anything else.  It will drive out bad thinking and false religions.  But it starts with discipline – church discipline – which means getting rid of the wolves in sheep’s clothing running most major denominations.  The fault is actually with the Bible-believing Christians who let the wolves come in and take over.  They acted like they were being nice to allow alternate (read: apostate) viewpoints in the church, but they were really just being nice to themselves in the interest of avoiding controversy.  Sharing the truth of Jesus is not only the best way to make disciples but to transform societies for the better.  That will reduce murder and other sins more than anything else.  Absent a right view of the cross and the resurrection people will continue to do what is right in their own eyes.

And the Gospel is there for the salvation of those who have committed murder, including the hundreds of millions involved in the abortion process in some form.  I’ve seen God redeem murderers countless times in pregnancy center ministry and in prison ministry.  Jesus came with a perfect balance of grace and truth.  We have the truth on the seriousness of murder, the reality of murder, how to reduce murders and how to offer grace to those who have committed murder – and every other sin.

Philippians 4:13 themes elsewhere in the Bible

Philippians 4:13 is a commonly misinterpreted Bible verse.

Philippians 4 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

The real meaning is about being content in all circumstances — good or bad — by living through Jesus who strengthens us.  Unfortunately, it is most often used out of context in relation to worldly accomplishments.

But that isn’t the only place you’ll find the real theme.  Notice here the reality of being content despite horrible circumstances:

2 Corinthians 12 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And here’s another passage about him giving us strength for endurance and patience, not wordly accomplishments.

Colossians 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

And another . . . .

1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

Being content sounds bland compared to our worldly desires, but what a phenomenal blessing the real interpretation of Philippians 4:13 is! How wonderful would it be to have contentment in every situation in life? That’s the true promise of scripture that we seek and rejoice in.

As often happens, the real meaning of the passage is better than what we wanted it to mean.

Mark Sandlin = false teacher

Mark Sandlin is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who often blogs at Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis’ Sojourners blog.  A friend sent me a link to Jesus Is Not My God, where Sandlin loudly and proudly claims not to believe in the deity of Christ.  He is welcome to his opinions, of course, and I respect his right of religious freedom.  We even have a term for people like him: Non-Christians.

I’ll start with one of his closing comments, because it typifies the approach of these “progressive Christians.”

I’m not trying to say I am right and others are wrong.

I find that kind of statement as revolting as his claims to be a Christian.  It is a completely wimpy, passive-aggressive postmodern lie.  He has a pulpit, blogs and Podcasts in place to teach these things, so he obviously thinks he is right.  Why not grow a pair and own it?

This is the first post in a series called:“This Collar Is Too Tight: Heresies From a Southern Minister.” Most institutionalized Churches define who is and who isn’t a Christian far too narrowly. There is an increasingly long list of tenets to which a person must dogmatically adhere in order to be in the club. The thing is… I don’t believe a whole lot of them. I even find many of them to be biblically inaccurate.

That’s an odd thing for him to say, because he sits in judgment of the Bible and decides for himself what “really” belongs.

I’ve decided to address them one by one because I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who feel the same way — even other ministers.

The fact that there are many false teachers — especially within his circles — proves nothing.

I hope that this will give us all a little support and encouragement as we try to cling to our Christian-ness while others try to take it from us.

We aren’t trying to take anything way.  But words mean things, and based on the Bible and thousand of years of history it is incorrect to call people like him Christians.

I am a believer. Mostly.

I believe that there is probably a god — something bigger than us. I have a very hard time believing that there’s not something larger than humanity.

Wow, that’s bold apologetics.  Preach on, “minister.”

 . . . When I worship, I worship that God who is all-at-once bigger than me and might not be at all.

It’s the same god I believe Jesus was trying to teach us about.

In calling God “Father,” Jesus tried to teach us about the nurturing nature of this god. In saying that he and the “Father” were one he was trying to teach us about how we are all one in this god-thing that is larger than us. In telling us that in loving other people (everyone) we were loving God, he was trying to teach us about the connectedness of us all being created in the image of God.

I am a Christian because Jesus, for me, is the teacher who best helps me understand this god-thing.

How can one claim to be a Christ-follower and reject so much of what He taught?

When he worshiped, he worshiped that same god.

He did not worship himself.

Jesus never called himself God.

Here the cheating starts in earnest.  He’ll ignore what he doesn’t like from the synoptic Gospels, then dismiss the Gospel of John and the rest of the biblical claims about his divinity with a wave of his hand.  He starts with the assumption that the Bible isn’t the word of God, and concludes that the Bible isn’t the word of God.  Convenient.

Read through Matthew, Mark and Luke. You won’t find him saying it. Sure, there are a few places where you can interpret what Jesus says to possibly suggest he is God, but it isn’t stated outright.

Maybe if he didn’t go to the text with his preconceptions he’d come to a different conclusion.

You have to ask yourself: Something that important, don’t you think he might have mentioned it? And, if he did mention it, don’t you think somebody would have decided it was important enough to jot it down?

He did.

The Gospel of John does have Jesus mentioning the whole being God thing – a lot. The difference is a bit striking, isn’t it? The first three Gospels, all written before the Gospel of John, without Jesus saying he is God… and then John, after many years have passed, with Jesus saying he is God.

Does anyone else think it sounds like dogma slipped in there during those in-between years?

Thus begins the “progressive Christian” approach which isn’t new at all.  There are countless solid answers to objections like that but Sandlin doesn’t even pretend to have attempted to understand them.

Actually, yes, they do. Most modern scholars agree that John has some new theological perspective into its accounting of the life of Jesus. It may or may not be right, but because of the other three Gospels, I’m going with the idea that it is probably an addition.

Translation: “Most modern scholars” = “people I agreed with when I went opinion shopping.”  So Sandlin knows more than the early church?  Indeed.

For me, Jesus not being God is a good thing – a very good thing.

If what I hope to get from Jesus is an understanding of how to be the people God created us to be and to develop a closer relationship and understanding of God through that, it is much more helpful to see a person who is actually a person and not a god doing it. It’s hopeful even.

This “minister” doesn’t even understand the hypostatic union.

. . . I am saying that if you, too, believe Jesus is not your God, no matter what people tell you, you can still call yourself a Christian.

The Bible, the early church, common sense and 2,000 years of church history say otherwise.

Sandlin does what most pagans do, only they are more honest than he is and don’t make a living off their lies.  He finds a handful of verses he likes and claims to be a Christian.  But he doesn’t even hold to his professed belief of just believing Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Even those have Jesus speaking of Hell extensively, and Sandlin certainly couldn’t support that. And Jesus said that marriage, from the beginning, was just a union of a man and a woman.  Sandlin actively denounces biblical sexuality so once again he disagrees with Jesus.

Run, don’t walk, from false teachers like Mark Sandlin.

grumpy cat

On Mary

I got a really creepy email from a Catholic guy who I’ve done prison ministry with.  He actually signed off on the email “In Jesus and Mary.”  He was encouraging people to go to a site called Holy Love, which has alleged direct revelations from Mary, other dead people and Jesus.  Indeed.  Here’s a sample from Mary:

Our Lady comes seated on a Throne. She is in white with gold ornaments on Her Mantle. She says: “Praise be to Jesus.”

“Today, you honor Me under the title ‘Mother of God’. I am the Mother of God, but also the Mother of All Humanity. I am the Mother of all who esteem Me and pray to Me. I am also the Mother of all who have abandoned Me. I am the Mother of those who live in error, those far from their salvation and all who promote sin.”

“My Immaculate Heart is the Chamber of Purification where souls can face illumination and conviction in the Truth. Not believing in the Truth does not change the Truth. Conviction of heart is a great grace in any present moment, and must be accepted for conversion of heart to take place.”

“Therefore, as your Mother, I call each soul into My Heart as I tenderly and profoundly call you to realize the Truth of where you stand before God in any given moment.”

Now here is one from Jesus:

“I am your Jesus, born Incarnate.”

“No one can be saved or come into Paradise outside of God’s Divine Will. So it is, through and in this Divine Will, I come to offer the path of Truth which leads you into the Light. If you pursue the Chambers of Our United Hearts, you will live in the Truth and obey My Father’s Commandments. So it is, I offer you a roadmap to Eternal Joy – a Joy beyond all telling.”

“It is easy to disbelieve and thereby discount what I offer, but disbelief does not free you of the responsibility to discover the Truth.”

“Today, you are experiencing much snow in your part of the world. I tell you, some hearts are ‘snowed under’ by error. Holy Love must melt away the error and help them to begin their journey towards the Divine Will. Be the instrument which melts the ice.”

They have hundreds of those.  You can’t take the Bible seriously and believe any of them.  They have Jesus coming to us regularly and telling us to pray the Rosary.  Sure.

CARM has lots of great resources about Catholicism, such as Roman Catholicism, comparing Mary to God.  This is a great list to study thoroughly.  Look how often RCC doctrine is the opposite of what the Bible says.

My challenge for Catholics is to read the Bible for yourself and see how few mentions of Mary there are.  The book of Acts?  One mention, and only to note that she is in the room.  There are zero in the rest of the official recording of the early church history!  Romans?  Zero. 1 Corinthians?  Zero.  And so on, through the rest of the Bible.

We should have the proper view of Mary, which is that she had a unique role and was an obedient servant of God.  But the veneration / worship commanded by the RCC shows how false they are.  I appreciate their pro-life and pro-family views, but their Mary-worship, indulgences, purgatory, justification by works and other heretical views can’t be tolerated.

Also see What does the Bible say about the virgin Mary?

Jesus’ encouragement to churches standing up to false teachers

Note his first comments to the first of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3:

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

But don’t get smug or arrogant.  There’s more.

4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

So don’t forget the love.

Then there’s this.  So Jesus has things He hates?  Who knew?*

6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Apparently the Nicolaitans were seducing Christians with idolatry and sexual immorality — much like the theological Liberal churches today.

Revelation 2 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

Jesus hated that and still does.

*Those who read all of the Bible.

6 reasons to write in your Bible and 1 reason not to

Our pastor made some excellent points in 6 Reasons Why You Should Write In Your Bible.  Go to the link for more details on each reason.

1) Marking up the Bible helps you see what’s there.

2) It’ll help you process what is there.

3) You’ll remember more of the Bible.

4) You can find what you found.

5) Create Your Own Cross-references.

6) Most importantly, it will help you worship God with your heart and mind.

Here’s my one reason not to: If your handwriting is so bad that it makes the Wing Dings font look legible and you can’t even read it yourself.

I wrote in my Bible once.  I’m not sure why.  This is from the Bible I got as a kid, which I never read.  But for some reason this was written in the front.  It will give you some keen insights into my spiritual condition at the time.

2014-08-08 17.15.12

So I guess there is a 2nd reason not to write in your Bible: Don’t do it if you are going to write something stupid.

This is what I’ve been trying to tell people my entire life.

writing

Whether you write in your Bible or not, just be sure to read it.  A lot.