Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Odds are 1 in 600...

If you were being prosecuted in a court of law for murder, would you want to be convicted on a statistical probability? Lets say, for example that the prosecution says, "The murderer was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The defendant was was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The odds are only 1 in 600 that anyone that night would fit that description, so the defendant must be the murderer".

First of all, the prosecutor would be laughed out of the courtroom. Second of all, better evidence is needed to convict someone of murder. Statistical probabilities are not going to go very far in a court of law.

Enter James Cameron. (right) He and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici have put together a documentary on a tomb that was discovered 26 years ago in Jerusalem. In the tomb was found some caskets, or ossuaries, that have inscribed on them the names of Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, and another Mary called "Mariamene", supposedly Mary Magdalene. The filmakers had some experts in statistics run the chances that these names would be found together and the results were 1 in 600. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici say that this is conclusive and proves that Jesus died and was buried rather than raised from the dead.

Now, first of all, I want to address the name "Mariamene a mara". They say that this is Mary Magdalene. Nice try guys. First of all, "Magdalene" is not Her last name, but rather refers to where she is from. Mary of Magdala (Magdala near Tiberias, on the west shore of Galilee), like Jesus of Nazareth, or Joseph of Aremathia. The Filmmakers haven't even addressed what Mariamene a mara even means. Do a search of Google, look at any Greek dictionary... it can't be found.

Second of all, these names were extremely popular hebrew names. Joseph of course is famous in the old testiment as Joseph son of Jacob, who went down into Egypt and was made second by Pharoah. Mary, is famous from the name Mariam, sister of Moses. Jesus, or Yeshua, is famous because of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land. Add to that the fact that after the time of Jesus, these names would have become even more popular because of their connection with the gospel accounts, and you could have lots of Josephs, Jesuses and Marys running around being related to each other, not to mention buried in a tomb together.

Third, the tomb was found inside Jerusalem's walls. Jesus was recorded as being born in Bethlahem, and lived in Nazareth. Mary, his mother, lived in that area as well. Same story with Joseph. Why would they be buried in Jerusalem rather than on their own family ground? And what about Mary of Magdela? Why would she be buried there as well? Why would Jesus' ossuary say "Jesus son of Joseph" while Mary Magdelene's says "Mary of Magdela"? Why wouldn't Jesus' say "Jesus of Nazareth"?

Fourth of all, the purpose of an ossuary was to make it easy to move the remains of the deceased. It was always Jewish custom to move the remains of relatives should they need to be moved, and it wasn't necessary that the remains be kept together because the hebrew people kept copious records of geneologies. So it's not entirely clear that any of the ossuaries that were found in the tomb were even related to each other.

Silly people. A 1 in 600 chance isn't good enough. It wouldn't stand up in a court of law, and it shouldn't stand up in the court of public opinion either.

Part 6, Prosperity gospel


Reverend Hugh Beck, Lutheran campus pastor at Texas A. & M. University, writes in his book, What Should I Believe:

Some people understand the Bible to be basically a code book which, if properly deciphered, gives one access to the very mind of God. Some people understand theBible to be basically a sort of catechism with answers for any and every question that may come to our attention. Some people understand the Bible to be basically a presentation of certain beliefs and doctrines that are to be dug out of various parts of the Bible without regard to the setting in which they appear, are to be pieced together into a whole, and then must be believed in just that way.22

A classic case of this kind of eisegesis can be found in Kenneth Copeland’s the Laws of Prosperity. After conflating the two covenants into one, he lays down his system for prosperity. He writes, “In Deuteronomy 28, we see the blessings that come from obeying the Word of God. For instances, verses 11-12 state, “And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord swore unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure.” You see, God blessed Abraham and his descendants with prosperity because He swore it in the covenant. Praise God!23” We can see clearly here that Brother Copeland has confused the Abrahamic covenant with the Mosaic Covenant, which St. Paul clearly distinguished in his letters as separate and even conflicted covenants!

Brother Copeland continues, “God did not curse Adam; He built a garden for him and provided everything he could possibly ever need or want. Satan is the one who brought in the curse. When Adam united with Satan, everything in the earth was cursed.24” Here we begin to see an air of dualism, with God and Satan being equals. In the paragraph before Brother Copeland states, “Then beginning with verse 15, we find an outline of the curse of the law. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statues…that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.” This curse spells complete and total poverty in every area of life. Poverty is not a blessing from God. To believe that it is, that it carries with it some sort of humility, is to believe that God is the author of the curse, and He is not! God is the author of the blessing.”25 Brother Copeland’s version of God appears to not be sovereign, and incapable of punishment on His own. At this point the author of this paper would have to ask brother Copeland, “Who brought on the plagues of Egypt?”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:13-16 NIV)

Just one clear example from Scripture that God is the one who brings both blessings and curses. The author to the Hebrews wrote in chapter 10, verses 30 and 31, “For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” He was quoting several passages of Old Testament scripture:

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. (Deuteronomy 32:35)

The LORD will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you!(Deuteronomy 32: 36-38)

Brother Copeland’s confusion of the two covenants is, the author of this paper believes, a fundamental confusion of Law and Gospel. St. Paul makes a clear distinction between the two covenants in Galatians, Chapter 3, verses 16 through 18:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. (Galatians 3:16-18 NIV)

But, Brother Copeland states clearly in his book:

Let’s stop and consider for a moment that when God made His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He promised to take care of them and their descendants. They were free men! Consequently, every Jewish slave who bore the lash under Egyptian rule was a free man! There was only one problem… they didn’t know it! Therefore, God called Moses and gave him the ability and authority to write down the covenant God had made with Abraham. This way, the people would know what had been done and what had been agreed to. Moses went forth in the name of the covenant, performed miracles by the power of God in the face of Pharaoh, and led God’s people out of bondage. They could have gone free 400 years before, but they didn’t know their covenant!26

Moses wrote down the covenant made with Abraham? Does brother Copeland mean to suggest that Moses wrote down the Law? Or the covenant? Abraham’s covenant is based on promises made by God, and in that covenant only one command is given, and that’s circumcision. In the quote above, brother Copeland seems to suggest that there were certain agreements made and Moses wrote them down before Mt. Sinai, indeed, before the people even left Egypt!

Let’s look at the covenant that was made with Abraham, known then as Abram. Chapter 15 of Genesis.

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (NIV Genesis 15:12-16)

Now, here we have God stating quite plainly that the people would most definitely be enslaved for four hundred years. In fact, God’s reasoning for them staying in Egypt for four hundred years was “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure”. God’s judgment on the people of land of Canaan would later be carried out by Israel led by Joshua as they conquered the territory, just as God had promised. Brother Copeland seems to think that the people of Israel could leave anytime, had they known they were free.

Look also at what God himself did to seal this promise. In Verses eight through eleven, when Abram asked God how he would know he would take possession of the land, God tells him to get a “heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon”, that Abram then slaughters, cuts in half (minus the dove and the pigeon), and arranges the pieces opposite each other. This kind of arrangement was later talked about by God through the prophet Jeremiah, Chapter thirty-four verse 17, “The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.” This ceremony was a solemn ceremony whereby an agreement was made between two parties, and then the covenant was sealed in blood when the two parties walked between the pieces signifying that if one or the other party breaks the covenant, they would become like the dead animal. God takes his covenants seriously.

So when Abram has set up the animals in this same covenantal fashion, he falls into a deep sleep. Then after God makes his promises to Abram, God passes between the pieces of the animals alone.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram… (NIV Genesis 15:17-18)

Abram was asleep. He didn’t walk between the pieces with God, but rather God walked between the pieces alone. The promise that God made, He covenanted in blood to uphold Himself, by Himself regardless of whether the people believed it or not. In fact, God meant all along to uphold this covenant through blood (Jesus’ blood) and His own death. Interesting, since in Christ, God Himself did actually die. What this means is that the covenant that God made with Abram was fulfilled in Jesus death and resurrection. The promise was broken by the people, but God upheld the promise in the death of Jesus and his resurrection. This is why the writer to the Hebrews can say that this covenant is based on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6)

St. Paul says that these two covenants are distinct from one another. In fact he says that, “The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise”. How could the law be introduced 430 years later if it had already been introduced 430 years earlier? The answer is that the law wasn’t given until Moses.

St. Paul says that these two covenants are distinct from one another. In fact he says that, “The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise”. How could the law be introduced 430 years later if it had already been introduced 430 years earlier? The answer is that the law wasn’t given until Moses.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. (Romans 5:12-13 NIV)

This verse is being taken out of context, but the point is to show that St. Paul, at least, believed that the covenant laws as they were given at Mt. Sinai were not given till that time, rather than believing that they were given to Abraham 430 years earlier.

So thus far we can see some characteristics of pagan beliefs creeping into the prosperity gospel.

Confusion of Law and Gospel
Dualism, pitting God against Satan as equals
Positive thought theology imported from Christian Science
Faith defined as “a force”, or force at least defined as a characteristic of faith
Man is seen a having a god like will

There is a disconnect between historic Christianity and the word of faith prosperity gospel. They teach a mitigated gospel not too different from Roman Catholic teachings.

In fact, one could make the argument that the prosperity gospel isn’t even remotely Christian other than in name.

22 What Should I Believe, Hubert Beck, Published by Concordia Publishing House, ISBN 0-570-03800-6 page 61
23 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 41
24 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 41
25 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 41
26 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 43

This week on the Whitehorse Inn

The Question of Tolerance
This week at the Inn, Mike Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Rod Rosenbladt, and Ken Jones discuss tolerance and intolerance and today's postmodern culture's tendency to be intolerant to so called "intolerant religions".
I would add to the conversation that this issue amounts to namecalling. People today get on Christians for saying that Jesus is the only way (and free at that), and express intolerance towards us even as they call us intolerant without noticing what they are doing. Click here to listen to the show.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

People making weird truth claims...

Semper Reformanda ~ Always reforming.

I'm so tired of people making inconsistant statements. Take this post on a Blog I found on a "lutheran" Webring.


First of all, this person is so badly catechised, it's not even funny. The blogger makes this claim:

2. Judging others.

We're all guilty of doing this from time to time because it is human nature, but I really hate it when I hear Christians judging other people, especially when they go so far as to speculate that another person is not a "true" or "real" Christian or question where the person in question will be spending eternity. We are commanded to "judge not, let you also be judged."

Then turns around in the next point and judges other Christians.

3. Displaying an attitude of superiority as compared to other religions.

Too often Christians act as though they have "a lock" on the truth and everyone else
is so ignorant that they don't deserve to be treated as equals. Our truth is just that: Our truth as we understand and believe it. I am a firm believer in John 3:16. But I also believe that, as Jesus commanded, I should strive to maintain an attitude of humility at all times, even when it comes to the fact that I have discovered what I believe to be the truth.

And in that particular point, states that they believe Christians don't have a "lock" on the truth, then turns around says:

5. Denying the inherent truth of the Gospels.

At first glance, this might seem like a contradiction of above items. But it is not.I have actually heard Christians say shocking things like, "Well, I don't believe in hell" or "I don't think there really is a devil." In my opinion, if you are going to adopt the label of "Christian," you must embrace the core concepts of the belief system without reservation.The most basic tenet of Christianity is set forth in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." He also said that no one will come to the Father except through Him. Therefore, as we understand the truth, the possibility of eternal damnation for those who reject those basic tenets is real. Christians are called upon to proclaim the Gospels boldly, not shrink from their message because it is unpopular or unpalatable to some.

The blogger had already stated in an earlier point that:

1. Attempting to convert co-workers.

There is a time and place for everything and it is most inappropriate to proselytize in the workplace. Sure, if you happen to know that one of your colleagues is a Christian, it is acceptable to mention your shared beliefs at lunchtime, during breaks, etc. so long as the conversation takes place in appropriate locations and does not interfere with other folks' rights.

So let's see... Rules for Christian living include:

  1. Proclaim the Gospels boldly
  2. Do not shrink from the message because it is unpopular or unpalatable to some.
  3. Don't bother your coworkers with the message because it would be unpopular or unpalatable to some
  4. Don't say the gospel is true because we don't have a lock on the truth
  5. Don't say the gospel is untrue
  6. Don't interfere with other people's rights
  7. Don't deny the inherent truth of the gospel, just deny it by denying Genesis is true history so that Jesus, "the second Adam", is a fulfillment of an allegory rather than a fulfillment of God's will for the history of redemption.

Yup, that's consistant alright. Sorry, I'm a polemic. Get used to it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Blasphemy Challenge: Atheists Pwned by upstart theologian!

I don't know if anyone reading this knows it, but on youtube.com, there's a thing going on called "the blashphemy challenge". Atheists are asked to submit videos in which they "blaspheme" the Holy Spirit. I've watched a number of these and they all get it wrong. They think that all they have to do is deny the Holy Spirit, Deny God and deny the Jesus is God. It's funny though, because in order to actually blaspheme the Holy Spirit they would have to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil, which means they'd have to admit there is a God, which means they aren't really atheists in the first place.

But I digress.

This video, from a Christian, makes the best case against Atheism I've heard on Youtube yet. He's good, although I think he went to quickly past some complex ideas (in Mathematics we'd say, "he didn't show all his work").

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Today on the Whitehorse Inn...

Today on the Whitehorse Inn, Mike Horton and the usual cast of Characters discuss Postmodernism and the Emergent Church. I find this subject fascinating. I'm starting to see that Brian McClaren and his contemporaries are in actuality reacting to the previous generation's "church" by creating a form that is formless. The whole thing kind of reminds me of what happens with each generation's music. The want their music to be so radical that it disturbs their parents while it affirms the new generation's sense of self.

If that's true, then the emergent church is basically a selfish endeavor designed to make it's practitioners feel good about themselves. Listen carefully when Shane Rosenthal asks Brian McClaren "what is orthodoxy and how can a Christian know what is in bounds and what is out of bounds". McClaren basically says that a community needs to be built first, around principals and ethics, then doctrine can be discussed.

Brian, if you ever read this, keep in mind that our forfathers first and foremost had a message to shout out, and around that message a community was built. Think of it this way: no one would have wanted to see the movie "Star Wars" if no one had first talked about it. Fans talked about it, discussed it, learned it, and around that a fan community was built. For Pete's sake people, even the secular world knows this. Why doesn't the church?

Click here to listen to the show.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sunday, bloody Sunday

This is got to be one of the funniest, yet thought provoking web produced video I've seen in a long time.

It's post modern to the hilt, but it get's it's point across in good fashion. George W. Bush rockin' out with his own version of U2's "Sunday, bloody Sunday".

Thursday, February 15, 2007

KFUO Worldwide

Yesterday on KFUO worldwide:

On Issues, Etc. Todd Wilken interviews Brigitte Gabriel, Author of "Because They Hate". She is a survivor of Islamic Terrorism and tells us that "Islamic religious authorities and terrorist leaders repeatedly state that they will destroy the United States. Unless we take them at their word, and defend ourselves, they will succeed"...

Click here to listen to the show.

Part 5, Prosperity gospel

A tale of two sons

Let us move on to an extensive dissertation by brother Copeland concerning the parable of Jesus, the Prodigal Son. In this passage brother Copeland attempts to draw a distinction concerning the brother of the prodigal son being someone who has a problem with “littleness of thinking”. But first, we need to give brother Copeland his due for stating the gospel clearly… Only to take away the good news at the last second.

We have seen from the Word that God has established His covenant in the earth, but what about the new covenant? The Word says it is a covenant of righteousness based on better promises. As we have read in Deuteronomy, God called Israel stiff-necked and unrighteous. According to the new covenant, we have been made the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. God does not see us a stiff-necked people. (He sees us many times as an untaught people because we do not know the covenant, but we are not stiff-necked and unrighteous.) He sees us through the blood of the Lamb: spotless, blameless, beyond reproach. Israel was the servant of God; we are the sons of God (see Galatians 4:7). We need to realize our rights as His children and citizens of the kingdom of God.20

Although there are many points that could be picked on here, let’s stick with brother Copeland’s use of the gospel in this case. Are we to assume that even after Jesus paid the full price for sin, we still are somehow missing out on the benefits of salvation? He continues:

To illustrate, let’s look at the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15. For many years we have read this story without realizing its full significance, and it has a very important application in the area of prosperity which has been entirely overlooked. As we have read about the prodigal son coming home, we’ve stopped there. Our minds have been on him, but what about the other son? The prodigal son took his inheritance and squandered it. When he returned home, his father killed the fatted calf and threw a big party welcoming him with open arms. Then the other son came in, saw what had happened and got mad at his father. He said, “I have stayed with you, and you have never even given me a little goat. Yet when he goes off and wastes his money, you celebrate by killing a calf for him!” Then his father said, “But, son, everything I have belongs to you.” In other words, he was saying, “You could have had a fatted calf anytime you wanted it. It belongs to you. I’m pleased that your brother has come home, but you could have had it for the asking!” You see, the other son would have settled for a goat when the calf was his all the time! The inheritance belonged to both sons; only one took advantage of it. The older son did without because of the littleness of his thinking. Most Christians are cheating themselves out of their full inheritance in Jesus Christ because of the littleness of their thinking. By not knowing their covenant, they do not know their rights as children of Almighty God!21

Note first of all that brother Copeland resorts to a frequent tactic used by “word of faith” teachers, in that rather than quote scripture verbatim as we have seen him do previously, he paraphrases the text. He also pulls the passage out of context, which leaves him with a good place from which to prove his point: The second son is a “little thinker”. That means that, since there are many Christians not prospering in their newness in Christ, they all must be suffering from the same bad thinking. Note that we have located an important connection between “word of faith” teachings and those of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who helped found Christian Science.

The context of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 Is found at the beginning of the chapter:

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 NIV)

Each of the Parables in this chapter has attacks aimed directly at the Pharisees:

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7 NIV)

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 NIV)

The final dig comes at the end of the parable, when Jesus points up the attitude of the Pharisees toward not only the people Jesus was associating with, but Jesus himself.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” (Luke 15: 22-32 NIV)

The Pharisees couldn’t have missed these attacks. Indeed, this kind of language was exactly what led to Jesus being crucified. Jesus has here drawn a comparison between the brother of the prodigal son and national Israel. The brother in the parable couldn’t be angry that he doesn’t have anything, because at the beginning of the parable Jesus plainly states that the father divided his property between his two sons. No, the brother is angry because of his father, who “never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

His father never gave him even a young goat. Even after he had worked so hard for his father. And worse yet, his father gave his wayward, sinning brother a feast upon his return. The father never gave the brother anything. Brother Copeland has missed the point of this parable, and worse, seems to be more interested in using the scripture to make his point concerning health, wealth and prosperity than striving to arrive at the truth of scripture.
20 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 39
21 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 40

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"What's your beef with 'prosperity gospel' anyway?"

Yeah, I have a beef with the prosperity gospel (and by extension, those who teach it) . Many people have asked me about it, so here it is.

I used to attend a church where this was the default mode of the church. Basically, Sin and Grace was a small refrain, Jesus and his work on the cross for us was a background tune, and the sacraments were nonexistent. Ok, one could say I'm being picky, but the fact is that when Jesus is a side note and the normal work of the church is set aside, many abuses are made possible. Though unintentional, there can be no doubt of this.

Case in Point: One woman at the church had a nerve pinched so severely in her shoulder that she was in constant pain, running down her arm into her hand. Her arm was becoming deformed. The women at the church laid hands on her and prayed over her, and the woman was given a number of things she needed to do to "receive her healing". Nothing worked. The conclusion that the women at the church came to was that this poor woman did not have enough faith. The woman left the church and she was declared "unteachable".

When I saw this woman, later after I heard what happened, I had to make it clear to her what was going on. In all the suffering and being told her faith wasn't strong enough or she didn't have enough faith, she never gave up on her faith in Christ. She had gotten her miracle alright. Nothing could separate her from the love of God.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro 8:38-39 NIV)

Another case was of one evening the pastor was "anointing" people so that they would "baptized in the holy spirit" and be able to "speak in tongues". Later, when the ones who didn't get their anointing were taken into a back room I could wailing and anguish from another woman who, it turned out, didn't get her anointing. Although I'm not 100 percent sure, I can guess that she was questioning whether she was a Christian or not. After all, the "spirit" had rejected her and she didn't get her anointing so she could speak in tongues.

Notice I'm not mentioning anything that happened to me personally. I wont go into those details, since my own experience might be tainted. But the actions and experience of others speaks volumes to me.

Yeah, I have a beef with the "prosperity gospel". Like Paul said, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal 1:8-9 NIV)

No Christ, no Gospel. No Gospel, no Salvation. No Salvation, no Prosperity. No Christ... No hope.

Book Recomendations

The Gospel According to Dan Brown
by Jeff Dunn (Author), Craig Bubeck (Author)

There have been a lot of books written debunking "The Da Vinci Code", but this book takes a different path. Rather than going over the historical and factual errors, the authors analyze the world view presented to us in the story itself. One's worldview has a drastic effect on one's ability to interpret reality, and that is definately true of Dan Brown. The authors also dissect each of Dan Brown's novels to show how he creates a case for his world view and how he packages his "gospel" in a whodunit mystery that leads the reader on to discover the hidden "truth".

Absolutely fascinating reading. One little known fact that is revealed about Dan Brown is his abortive attempt to have a music career. If you do a search on the internet you can find some of his material.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Part 4, Prosperity gospel

The Pelagian Code

The teachers of the prosperity gospel teach a wide variety of different ideas, but no teacher has had the same influence as Kenneth Copeland. His books have sold millions of copies, and through his TV appearances on the Trinity Broadcast Network he has reached and influenced millions of people along with dozens of other televangelists. Let us look at an excerpt from his book, the Laws of Prosperity9.

When God made man, He gave him a will that has power. It is actually a godlike will because man has the right to choose his own eternal destiny. Only a god has that kind of choice! Man was made in God’s image and given the will to make up his own mind. You can go to hell if you want to and God will protect your right…you don’t have to, but you can. On the other hand, you can choose Jesus Christ and the Word of God. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God said, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” What a privilege! The choice is yours!

As you can see, we have a minor (?) conflict here with historic Christianity. In the Canons of the Council of Orange, Against the Pelagian heresy, we find written:

If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). (Canon 4)

This is another defining trait of the prosperity gospel. Pelagianism has been a bane of the church throughout her long history, and continues to crop up at will throughout the body of Christ. The majority of the prosperity teachers have taught “decisional theology10”. But historically speaking this is not what the church has taught, but rather has fought valiantly against this error. It’s too bad the Kenneth Copeland didn’t finish reading in Deuteronomy, because he would have read this:

And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. (Deuteronomy 31:16, NIV)

It would appear that God already knew what the people would do.

This common Eisegesis11 of scripture, either by isolating passages from their context or wholesale misinterpretation of the words in plain English, is an overriding trait of “word of faith” and prosperity gospel teachers. Many examples of this kind of interpretation can be found throughout Christendom, of which our reformation fathers fought long and hard to correct, but no other tradition has practiced eisegesis more fervently than the “word of faith” tradition.

Covenant Confusion

One trait held in common between “word of faith” teachers and the standard Arminian12 theology is embodied in the general confusion of the Mosaic Covenant13 and the Abrahamic14 Covenant. Since it is also influenced by premilliennialism15 and dispensationalism, decisional theology is the norm. The Mosaic Covenant is seen as a fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, Rather than the Mosaic Covenant being fulfilled by the person and work of Jesus Christ in his life, death and resurrection.

In classic Lutheran Theology, the distinction between Law and Gospel was called “a special guiding light that serves till the end of time that God’s word may be rightly divided”16. The law is everything that God commands; the Gospel is everything that God promises. In this view, it is seen that the Christ fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and extends the Abrahamic Covenant to all who believe in Him.

The conflation of the two covenants can be seen clearly in brother Copeland’s book, the Laws of Prosperity, where he makes his case for these spiritual laws that he claims governs prosperity and who can receive prosperity:

Abraham…Moses…David…Solomon…why did God bless these men? Why have so few men found the blessings of God in finance? We need to renew our minds to God’s reason for financial blessings. In the book of Deuteronomy, we see the predominant rule to remember in living a prosperous life: “And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee the power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

The predominant rule: God gives the power to get wealth.

Why? To establish His covenant.17

We can already see how brother Copeland is stretching the two covenants to fit each other. First, he takes a statement from God and turns it into law. It’s true that “the power to get wealth” comes from God, but brother Copeland is about to turn this away from being a work of God into a work of men.

Deuteronomy 29:9 says, “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.” According to this, we should be prosperous in everything we do, but we must keep the words of the covenant.18

This is the beginning, from which brother Copeland quickly drives his readers off into the weeds and back under the law. As my Pastor, Gary Held, pointed out, “There is “wealth”, and then there is wealth. True riches are found in Christ, but only through trusting the Gospel. Material wealth can be accumulated by anyone, including (especially?) unbelievers. Arab oil Sheiks have no faith (in Christ) and have lots of material property”. I would add to that the example of Bill Gates. As far as I can find, he is not a Christian in any sense of the word, but is one of the most wealthy and most influential men in history. Brother Copeland believes that by obeying the law of the mosaic covenant one can become wealthy.

According to the author to the Hebrews, Jesus said:

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.’ ”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-10

Jesus fulfills the Mosaic covenant by His own body by doing the will of God. It’s difficult to see how Jesus’ atonement fits into the “word of faith” system, but from what this author can gather, it appears that Jesus simply isn’t necessary. Jesus’ finished work on the cross seems to be a side note to the prosperity gospel. Perhaps it’s the attraction of a "system", much like Romanism, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the beginning and the work that we do is ultimate means to the end?

St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, whom Paul was livid at their turning away from the gospel of Jesus Christ, wrote:

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:8-14)

St. Paul’s admonishments here concerning living under the law are clear. Living under the law brings back the curse of the law while living and walking by faith in Jesus Christ brings salvation. Even more startling is that, in that same section of his book, brother Copeland makes this claim:

You see, when you put the Word of God first in your life and it becomes your final authority, prosperity is the result. It is inevitable because the Word of God covers every situation in life. THE WORD IS FINAL AUTHORITY.19

Covers? Brother Copeland doesn’t explain what he means by “covers”. It would have been nice for him to explain how God’s word “covers every situation” but rather our brother in Christ is here trying to establish an absolute from God’s word that simply doesn’t hold. He makes a law statement by saying “put the word of God first and prosperity will result”. However, we read from St. Paul in his letter to the Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

Perhaps St. Paul is referring to the suffering that can come with great wealth? The author can’t tell from reading Kenneth Copeland’s book, but it certainly seems to be what brother Copeland is implying. One thing is for sure: In the “word of faith” system, if an individual doesn’t receive his blessing after having put God’s word first, the reasoning will always be that the individual either didn’t have enough faith, or didn’t keep God’s word first.
9 page 11, the Laws of Prosperity, Kenneth Copeland.
10 decision theology proposes that the very act of deciding to commit one’s life to Jesus is what saves an individual.
11 Eisegesis, plural eis·ege·ses, the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas – compare exegesis. Merriam-Webster dictionary.
12 Arminian, Ar·min·i·an, of or relating to Arminius or his doctrines opposing the absolute predestination of strict Calvinism and maintaining the possibility of salvation for all. Merriam-Webster dictionary
13 Covenant made with national Israel at Mt. Sinai in Exodus
14 Covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15
15 premilliennialism , pre·mil·len·ni·al·ism, the view that Christ's return will usher in a future millennium of Messianic rule mentioned in Revelation
16 Mueller, p. 533; Triglot Concordia, Formula of Concord p. 801, LCMS PDF document, Triglot Concordia, Formula of Concord, http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/LCMS/TrigBOC.pdf, p. 342, “We believe, teach, and confess that the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is to be maintained in the Church with great diligence as an especially brilliant light, by which, according to the admonition of St. Paul, the Word of God is rightly divided.”
17 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 35
18 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 36
19 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, page 38

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cooky conspiracy theories...

Want to see how far some people will go in constructing an idol? The Craftsmanship of this particular idol is astounding.

The guy gives a ton of "facts" that support his claim the bible is a hoax. Maybe he should read Lightfoot's How we Got the Bible (Amazon: How we Got the Bible). At least Lightfoot actually sites his sources, which the author at "hoax-buster" refuses to do because scholars are "indoctrinated"... He claims the Christian religion started in Egypt...
This is exactly why I have this blog. Once the torrent of strange ideas and socalled "facts" weigh in together, whether it's the da vinci code or stuff like this "hoax-buster", all that stands in the rubble of the postmodern revisionism is Christ and him Crucified.
This Guy believes that Jesus is a fraud. Who do you say he is?

This week on the Whitehorse Inn Feb. 12th

This week, the boys at the Inn Discuss Postmodernism and it's effect on our culture.


Mike Horton notes that postmodernism is a "condition", we need to recognize that fact before we talk about the theories and definitions of what postmodernism is. I find that to be an interesting way to look this because until now the way the culture has tried to define postmodernism has been to refer to "relativism" and truth as being relative even when something can be proved true. An awesome discussion.

Part 3, Prosperity gospel

Faith as trust v. Faith as a force

One of the primary problems in the world we live in today is a problem of definition. One person has a definition of any given concept and another may have a completely different definition. In context with today’s prosperity gospel, we have a major problem of definition in the Christian concept of faith.

A classic definition of Faith can be found in the Heidelberg Catechism (cir. 1563)

It is not only a certain knowledge by which I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a firm confidence which the Holy Spirit creates in me through the gospel, that, not only to others but to me also God has given the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work. (Question 23)

Over and against this definition of faith, which is an historic definition, we have today’s “word of faith” teachers proposing a radically different view. Kenneth Copeland, in his book, the Laws of Prosperity7, writes:

“Faith is a spiritual force, a spiritual energy, a spiritual power. It is this force of faith which makes the laws of the spirit world function. When the force of faith is put to work, these laws of the spirit function according to the way God says they will.”

This is the second basis for today’s prosperity gospel. To remind the reader, E. W. Kenyon wrote:

‘When you know that "By His stripes you are healed" and you know it as you know that two and two are four, the adversary will have no power over you. When you know the Power and Authority of the Name of Jesus and that you have a legal right to use it, and the adversary lays siege to you, you will not be filled with fear. You will simply laugh at him and say, "Satan, did you know you were whipped? Leave my body." He will leave.’

When we couple these two teachings together, we begin to see how today’s modern prosperity gospel is constructed. Now granted, they are defining, to some extent, what they see as an attribute of faith, a force that creates reality. The only trouble with this belief is that it’s not found in scripture. In historic Christianity it’s understood that God’s word created the heaven and the earth, and that Jesus is the one by whom all things were made. But in “word of faith” and prosperity gospel teachings it is put forth that it is literally words that create reality.

“Star wars” Theology

This idea of the “force of faith” is reinforced in the pop culture of our day, as well as in what may be the most influential cultural event of our day. George Lucas, in his fifth installment of his movie epic, Star Wars, wrote a scene concerning the mystical energy called “the force”. The scene is in The Empire Strikes Back, and involves one of the lead characters trying to levitate an X-wing fighter. He fails, and his master gives this little dissertation on what “the force” is:

Luke Skywalker: I can’t… It’s too big…

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me! Judge me by my size do you? And well you should not! For my ally is the force and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.

Luke Skywalker: You ask the impossible.

Yoda then levitates the ship himself, and Luke Skywalker exclaims.

Luke Skywalker: I don’t believe it!

Yoda: That is why you fail.
Are we not surprised to find that Yoda’s pep talk sounds resoundingly like the confession of our churches today? Change “the force” to “the Holy Spirit” and read it again. The culture in the Americas is ingrained with this kind of thinking. If you just believe, you will succeed. This is just but one example of how popular culture has picked up on teachings such as those of Norman Vincent Peale, and made them their own.

The quote above also shows how a Gnostic8 worldview is the norm in our culture. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter”. The Christian worldview is best summed up in the 3rd article of the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,the holy catholic Church,the communion of saints,the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body,and the life everlasting.

The “resurrection of the body” was the default view in the ancient church. In today’s culture this would be interpreted as grotesque, as witnessed by a large number of movies and books devoted to the subject of ‘resurrection’. Definitions are key. In the horror genre we find the norm for bodily resurrection to be portrayed and embodied as zombies (as in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead films), vampires, (any given Dracula movie or book, or Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles) and other evil monsters, (ie, Frankenstein). In this genre, the flesh is portrayed as bad, and particularly in Anne Rice’s tomes, the spirit is seen as good.

Anne Rice’s novel, Interview with a Vampire, presents to us a classic Gnostic view of spirit and flesh, embodied in the protagonist Louis. He spends a large amount of time riddled with guilt over his ‘bodily’ desires, ie, his need for human blood, even to the point of trying to obstain from human blood and lives on the blood of rats. His flesh is presented as his biggest problem, and his spirit is presented as being good in his desire to do the right thing and not kill humans to feed his desires.

Although, to a certain extent, the good/bad dichotomy is a generalization of true Gnosticism, one must keep in mind that the average North American does not know the actual tenants of true Gnosticism, but only knows what his or her hearts tell them and where it leads them. It’s not difficult to see the Gnostic worldview in popular culture once one knows what to look for. The author of this paper believes that if his readers look closely, they will realize gnosticism is not only the default view of the culture, but is many times also the default view of the church.
7 The Laws of Prosperity, 1974 Kenneth Copeland, ISBN 0-88114-952-7. page 20 PDF document available at http://www.kcm.org/studycenter/finances/index.php
8 Gnosticism, a view that holds that all things material are inherently evil and all things spiritual are inherently divine.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Everyone needs to check out Pastor Tom Baker's show, Law and Gospel...

He does two hours live on KFUO worldwide from 2pm to 4pm daily (EST).


Also, I'm working on the next part of my properity gospel series. I came out of a church that wholeheartedly believes that stuff, which is why I think it seemed good to the Holy Spirit for me to write this paper.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This week on the Whitehorse Inn

This week on The Whitehorse Inn, Mike Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Rod Rosenbladt and Ken Jones talk about narcissism in the culture and the church. It almost seems as though there's a new "gospel" category to add to the list of "social gospel" and "prosperity gospel": The Narcissistic Gospel. Literally, the Gospel According to Me is the name of the game these days in all church bodies, from the lowliest non-denominational church to the mainliners to the Roman communion.

Listen to this week's broadcast at One Place and while your there sign up for the podcasts.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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