This blog is closed

This blog is closed and is scheduled for deletion – I really have no interest in heresy hunters any more. Unfortunately I’ve lost touch with my co-author, Richard, but I think he’s gone on to other things as well because he hasn’t posted in a couple years.

If you’re interested in the advancement of the Kingdom of God and revival, come visit my blog at http://iamhealed.net!

– Kay (Kathi) Sharpe

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The Cult of Heresy Hunters

This is reposted from Kathi Sharpe’s blog at http://iamhealed.net:

By their own admission, heresy hunters are heretics and cultists.

I woke up in the middle of the night pondering “the cult of the heresy hunters”.

It doesn’t really matter what you call them – I prefer the term “heresy hunter” (HH), others like “Online Discernment Ministries” (ODM’s) or even “apologists”. These are not people who see a theological stance or movement, disagree with it, discuss it where necessary and move on with their lives. These are people whose sole purpose in life is to attack and sow discord among the brethren using whatever means they feel is necessary – lying, blaspheming the Holy Ghost, manipulation, fear tactics, etc.

I have taken some heat over the years because my position is that these people are not saved and/or have forsaken their salvation. Could I be wrong? Sure. Only God knows a person’s heart and only He knows what names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But Jesus said that by their fruits we would know them, and the fruit of the heresy hunters is more poisonous than an unripe ackee.

Let’s look at what the heresy hunters use as a working definition of the word, “cult”.

Sandy Simpson of the “Apologetics Coordination Team” (Deception in the Church) writes,

“Any system of belief that desires to call itself by the name of a religion, but by its own beliefs teaches and promotes either explicitly or implicitly against the core beliefs of the religion whose name they desire to associate with, is rightly termed a “cult” of that religion.” (Sandy Simpson, Defining Terms) [source]

Sandy also quotes Alan Gomes (on the above site)

“A group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrine system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which system denies either explicitly or implicitly one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian Faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.” (Alan Gomes, Unmasking The Cults, Zondervan, 1995)

The heresy hunters teach and promote quite a few things that are explicitly and implicity anti-Christ and anti-Christian. Denying the redemptive power of the Cross. Sowing discord among the brethren. Denying the work and Person of the Holy Spirit. (and so on). Though they appear leaderless, as long as one touts their doctrine and toes their lines, they are considered to be “leaders” within the loose organizational structure and become “authorized” to teach this doctrine of hate to others.

Let Us Reason is another heresy hunter site that serves little purpose other than to attack Christians they disagree with. They include most revivalists, Pentecostals, and Word of Faith adherents in their “cults” category(along with Mormons, JW’s, and new-age gurus.

Let’s look at what LUR says about cults:

There are two ways a cult operates in falsehood. Theologically and sociologically. From belief and practice. Some are theologically dangerous others are sociologically dangerous. Not all cults are harmful to someone’s physical well being, but they are harmful spiritually if they mislead someone in their relationship to God through another gospel. They will all have control or manipulation over people in some fashion. They will hold the person to this particular group or church often with fear convincing them that there is no where else to go, no one else has the truth like they do. [source]

There are two ways the heresy hunters operate in falsehood: theologically and sociologically. They mislead people into believing that God is hateful, grace is inaccessible, and the Spirit of God is powerless. They further mislead people into believing that God wants them to be suspicious of everyone and everything, that the way of Christ is hatred, that lying is an acceptable practice, and that if one does not toe the line (as defined by the heresy hunters) that one is in danger of condemnation. They exercise fear and manipulation – attempting to convince people that they are hell-bound or even unsaved if they listen to certain teachers or engage in certain BIBLICAL practices. They go to great lengths to convince people that their way is THE way and that all churches (other than their own) are suspect – no one has the truth like they do.

Someone once said a cult is everyone who disagrees with your belief. This is essentially what the leaders of the these groups will state. If someone does not agree with their particular interpretation of the Bible or of God they are against God. This is their exclusivism at work. [source]

It’s interesting that the heresy hunters say this – and yet viciously apply the very same tactic. (If you’d like evidence, explore “Slaughtering the Sheep” or “End Times Prophetic Words” or “Christian Research Service” (but take care to protect your shoes, because I guarantee – you will throw up on them)

Several of them have come here and were so vile I had to stop them from posting (had to IP ban one guy who was so vile and malicious – all because I disagreed with him). I have gone to several of these sites and attempted to have a civil discussion with them. It doesn’t work. I was asked to leave Slaughtering the Sheep after posting a lengthy bit of Scripture that blew their position on the subject at hand right out of the water. My friend John Burton has tried to engage them as well, with much the same result. One can only conclude that since their theological positions cannot withstand challenge, they are unwilling to examine the Word of God and what it says and their only charge is, “Heretic! You’re against God! It’s obvious to everyone!”  (And, of course, anyone who disagrees with that statement is also labeled an anti-God heretic).

Christian apologist Robert Bowman defines a cult as A religious group originating as a  heretical sect and maintaining fervent commitment to heresy. Adj.: “cultic” (may be used with reference to tendencies as well as full cult status.( Robert Bowman, A Biblical guide to Orthodoxy and heresy.) [source]

Heresy hunters maintain fervent commitment to heresy. In fact, I have never met more committed, fervent, fanatical cultists in my whole life (and I’ve known quite a few genuine cult members)

Cult’s will say they are the way to Christ and Christ Himself is not the way. So they put themselves as a group or their teaching  in between man and God. They become mediators between God and man. They do not have the Christian distinctive, but will claim to be Christian in their beliefs and practices. It was Christ himself who Said “I Am the way, the truth the life.” [source]

This is an excellent example of the lying tactics of heresy hunters. Yes, it is true – genuine cults employ this tactic. However, none of the revivalist/Pentecostal/WoF teachers they lump in with “heretics” teach anything of this nature. Not a one. Yet the charge is leveled…

There are some groups that have right doctrine but are steeped in legalism. Legalism are laws that are unscriptural or biblical laws that are no longer to be practiced. They make ones walk heavy and the effect is having them lose their joy. They become toilsome, harsh and inflexible. The Pharisees couldn’t show mercy the heavier matters of the law because of their legalism although they knew the Scriptures well enough. Love and legalism don’t mix, love is flexible willing to yield. Love, grace and peace are a family they bring health and growth to an individual. While extra laws are a burden and often times bring bondage if not exercised by an individuals own free choice, legalism may not affect ones salvation as much as it will affect their spiritual growth. It certainly can affect their relationship to the Lord. churches that are orthodox in doctrine can fall under a pastor or leadership that goes beyond their God given authority and manipulate the congregation or individual members. [source]

The doctrine of the heresy hunters is 100% legalism. Even in cases where they are right in saying that a person is a cultist or heretic, the HH’s are Pharisaical in approach to the point of being 100% wrong.

Furthermore, the HH’s go well beyond any God-given authority for their actions. They often argue that Paul confronted heretics. There are some fundamental differences between Paul and heresy hunters – namely that Paul was an apostle who was in relationship with the people he was confronting, AND his desires were redemptive.

LUR also gives some “Common Characteristics” for cults. I am including the graphic from their page partly because it’s illustrative of heresy hunter tactics, and partly because LUR’s terms of use require content to be cited exactly. Since the graphic is there, I’m including it.

For abusive cults, the key word is CONTROL  CONTROL CONTROL by Submitting to the Leadershipleaders tend to be the absolute end, looked to as prophets of God, as specially anointed apostles. Or they can be a strong, controlling, manipulative personality who demands submission even if he changes his views or conflicts occur in doctrine or behavior. sometimes they can be looked on as God Himself. Often to obey a leader and their teaching is equal to obeying God.

wpe33.jpg (2931 bytes)It can take time for them to gain power over the new convert, but it will eventually be there. Control is usually overwhelming and can cover most aspects of the followers’ lives: Dress codes, activities, finances, time,  possessions and relationships. They can dictate to the member who to see, what to do, what is the right thing to say, and how to say it. Various degrees of control can be experienced, from subtle manipulation to blatant ordering. They will expect Rigid obedience of the members time and activitiesinvolving their followers in physically and emotionally draining activities leaving little time for privacy and reflection, or questioning their authority. Expecting one to show up when everyone else does, and everything is usually done in groups.

The methods of control which are used is usually FEAR of displeasing God the leader or both. Fear of rejection, punishment, losing ones salvation, missing the rapture, going to hell. Guilt, Fear, intimidation are Weapons used to maintain their loyalty and devotion to the group.

Intimidation and accusation are the most often used. For example, any questioning of authority is treated as rebellion, and not trusting. They suppress questions and conform to the groups behavior. They Discourage Critical or Rational Thought and Questions they will reply with comments like, “Satan is the cause of all doubt; he is keeping you from the Truth,” or it will take time to understand the deep things of God. Critical thinking is discouraged being called prideful or sinful or rebellious. No independent thinking is encouraged.

They over simplify answers to life’s questions, making everything for all situations as simple as black or white. [source]

Those are 100% the tactics of the heresy hunters. That is precisely what LUR itself does. An examination of the list on the above page [HERE] further illuminates the cult tendencies of heresy hunters. In fact, there are only a few list items that are NOT espoused by the heresy hunter cult.

Here’s another common tactic, this time from Slaughtering the Sheep:

?However, there will always be watchmen who stand on the wall who sound the alarm when false doctrine enters the camp.  Todd Bentley and Rick Joyner call it persecution, and by token, we are persecutors.  But, God’s Word calls us Bereans.

This is the conclusion of a longish page that sounds off against what they call false doctrine (but the things they are talking about are biblically defensible). They attack the people who call them persecutors and claim the title of “Berean” though they are so unlike the Bereans of the Bible, such a claim is laughable at best. This is a very, very common cult tactic: paint a picture of a bad guy. You’re not the bad guy. Therefore, you are the good guy. Except, cultists are not “good” by any standard.😦

Lastly, I will draw from my own experience with Bud Press of “Christian” “Research” “Service” (in quotes because none of those three terms apply to Mr. Press or his site, in my opinion). He initially contacted me when I was the Director of ExWitch with a rather pressing problem (no pun intended): online Christian bookstores were (and still are) stocking occult titles. A few phone calls (including one to my former employer) showed that there isn’t really a whole lot the booksellers can do about the situation. They get a database of all books the publishers/distributors consider “Christian” – distributors are notoriously in error on this – and there it is! That’s the database. Most booksellers do not have the luxury of hand-selecting books.  If they find out about a specific title, there is a possibility they can block it – but even if they do, it may re-appear if the book is reprinted with a slightly different title or ISBN.

Mr. Press became increasingly unreasonable and hateful during our phone discussions about this topic, to the point that he began calling the booksellers heretics. Given that one of said booksellers is a friend of mine and one of the most devoted Christ-followers I know,  I took exception to that statement. Mr. Press would listen to no amount of reason on the subject – typical cult behavior.

Furthermore, Mr. Press attempted to recruit me into “the fold” – first by flattery (which didn’t work out too well for him), then by attempting to engage me in taking action against others (like Ravi Zacharias – another mistake as Ravi is one of my favorite authors) and then finally by asserting that since I came to Christ as a result of a vision, and since no one can have a vision of Christ (Mr. Press’s faulty interpretation of Scripture, in direct violation of several Scriptures in Acts), ergo, I’m not saved and I’d better do something about it.

At this point I distanced myself quickly. This is an extremely typical cult recruitment tactic (that many of the heresy hunters write about on their sites). Press into service, flatter, and if that doesn’t work – attempt to incite fear. Unfortunately for Mr. Press, I know my Savior and my salvation very, very well. One could say – on a face to face basis. :)  I pity those who he and others of his cult have managed to influence, though.

___________________________________________________________________________________

I could go on – but I think I’ve posted ample evidence: There is a cult in the modern Christian church – the cult of the heresy hunters. They hate God’s people and, if He shows up and does anything, they hate God Himself. In fact, one cult member state that he would rather burn in hell than serve the same God that John Burton and I serve. Given that John and I both adore our risen, living Lord and Savior, the Jesus Christ the Bible talks about, the Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever… that is a disturbing statement. I cried when I heard it.

AGAIN, I want to be very, very clear. Abundantly clear. I am not talking about disagreements about doctrine among people who love Christ. I am not talking about “well, the Baptists believe this, and the charismatics believe that” or the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism or how often communion should be served or when Jesus will return. This sort of difference is healthy (to the extent that it’s discussed with love) and is not a problem within the church. I’m not even talking about people who say there is no revival, that spiritual gifts are not for today, that there are no prophets or apostles today…

Lovers of Christ can differ on these things and still love Christ and still love those they are in disagreement with. And while we might attempt to persuade others to our position, if they do not embrace it that’s ok. We know they’re saved. We know they love Jesus. They know the same of us.

I am talking about people who eat, sleep, breathe, spew, and crap hatred. People whose sole purpose for getting out of bed in the morning is to spew hatred about other individuals. Their sole topic of conversation is alleged heresy. They gossip, conspire, malign, lie, and work very hard to “slaughter the sheep”. I’m talking about people who believe that I’m hell-bound for living a literal biblical lifestyle – for living out the Great Commission! For living the gospel!  They want to convert me (and you) from leading people to Jesus, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the leper, casting out demons, prophesying and moving in the power and authority that Christ promised (and discipling others to do the same)… to promoting the same vile hatred that they promote. They travel earth and sea to win one proselyte and make him twice the son of hell that they themselves are… this is a travesty; a malignant cancer in the Church.

I know that quite a few heresy hunters read this blog. Here’s my challenge to you: stop, and see what the Bible really says. Don’t say another word until you read every single thing the Bible says about love. Be silent until you read everything the Word says about confrontation, about difference, about authority, about discord and about peace. Ask God to show you how those things are manifested in your life. Ask Him how your actions demonstrate your love for Him and for your neighbor. Ask Him to reveal to you those areas you need to change. Ask Him to show you the areas in your life that you have not sacrificed to Him. Climb on the altar and ask Him to burn those areas of your life. And most of all – ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Even one second in the presence of the Living God will utterly transform everything in you.

I issued a challenge like this on StS and didn’t get even one taker: Why not take some time to get to know a revivalist? I’ll even volunteer. Come and follow me around for a week. Go to church with me. Pray with me. Seek God with me. Go grocery shopping with me (it’s often an adventure). See how we live and how we minister. Ask questions and dialogue with us. Get firsthand information to form an opinion on, rather than gossip and spew. And all that I ask – ALL – is that your outward actions be subject to the spiritual authority present (that means in my home, your behavior is subject to my husband or me; in my church, your behavior is subject to the pastor. And all that means is that if you have nothing nice to say in a nice way, you don’t say it🙂 )

I’m betting I don’t get any takers here, either🙂

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RELIGIONS OF THE STARS – What Hollywood Believes

ANNOUNCEMENT – NOW AVAILABLE!

Religions of the Stars:
What Hollywood Believes and How it Affects You

stars_sm

Oprah Winfrey,Tom Cruise,and Madonna all promote their own brand of spirituality. Richard Gere, Marie Osmond,and Ashton Kutcher embrace beliefs of yet other religions. In a culture obsessed and saturated with celebrity, people can’t help but be inundated with the spiritual practices of the rich and famous.

Whether athletes or actors or talk show hosts or even reality TV stars, these people have become role models—even spiritual guides—for children, teens, and adults alike. Yet just because someone has a light shining on them does not mean they are reflecting the True Light. Most are pushing their own agendas and beliefs.

* What do these celebrities really believe?

* Do Hollywood’s religions line up with what the Bible teaches?

* How can we share our faith with those who might embrace one of the many religions of the stars?

* Why are some of Hollywood’s religions (e.g., Scientology, Buddhism, Kabbalah) so popular?

Bestselling pop-culture apologist Richard Abanes answers these questions and more as he examines everything from Scientology to the New Age Movement to Kabbalah to Mormonism. Appealing to those curious about the religions of the rich and famous, Abanes holds celebrity beliefs up to the light of the Gospel, showing how each religion falls short of the Truth.

Concerned parents will also gain insight into how today’s Hollywood spirituality affects the movies and television programs they see, as well as how their children might be influenced by the way these religions are portrayed in the media.

EXCERPT
+
TABLE OF CONTENTS

* * * * * * * * * *

“Abanes has done a remarkable job in surveying some of the bizarre religious trends in Hollywood. Religions of the Stars should serve as a wake-up call to Christians that it’s time to bring a Christian world view to Hollywood.”
—Gary DeMar, President of American Vision

* * * *

“This book is a long-overdue and illuminating look at the various faiths being espoused by today’s most influential celebrities.”
—Norman L. Geisler, Distinguished Professor of Theology & Apologetics; Co-Founder of Veritas Evangelical Seminary

* * * *

“Abanes employs a researcher’s skill, examining our celebrated people and their religious beliefs. Then he applies the apologist’s art, gently evaluating those beliefs in light of the Christian faith.”
—Todd Wilken, Radio Talk Show Host, Issues, Etc.

* * * *

“This book gives great insight into what those in the heart of pop culture are thinking and believing. If you care about people and the mission of Jesus, then you cannot ignore what is in this book.”
—Dan Kimball, Author, They Like Jesus but Not the Church

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Muslim Demographics – A Christian Response

[N]othing burns me up more than being presented with information so thoroughly false, so completely stripped from its context, that it can be considered an outright lie. A lie presented for the sole purpose of manipulating the way I think, what I believe, or how I behave. The video has an agenda. And it pushes that agenda by presenting specious information. To say its disingenuous would be a vast understatement. To say it’s revolting would be slightly off the mark. To say that it’s overwhelmingly offensive would be most accurate. Much of the video’s message is delivered by inference. Its dramatic tone and creative juxtaposition of “facts” lead you
to assume certain (incorrect) conclusions
.
Muslim Demographics Debunked

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islam2

In recent months a highly volatile and extremely sensationalistic video has surfaced on youtube: “Muslim Demographics.” It has caused a firestorm of heated discussions and controversy at personal blogs, on political/religious websites/forums (message boards), and inside chat rooms. The video advances five messages/arguments:

– Muslims, thanks to higher fertility rates in their widespread population, will soon outnumber non-Muslims;

– Muslims, within the span of 20-50 years, will essentially control the entire world because of their numbers;

– “Islam will overwhelm Christendom;”

– Christians must “begin reproducing again” and convert Muslims to counter the imminent threat to Christianity;

– Christians must “share the gospel message with the changing world, this is a call to action.”

By the end of this 7 1/2 minute video, its highly inflammatory, bottom-line warning (which is directed primarily at Caucasians, non-Muslims, Westerners, and Christians) becomes disturbingly clear — i.e., Muslims are on the verge of destroying the fabric of Western/Christian society. It is all going to occur, allegedly, through:

1. Muslim fertility rates that are far higher than the fertility rates of non-Muslims; and

2. Muslim immigration to countries like Europe, Canada, and the United States.

After viewing this video several times, I can confidently categorize it as an example of fear-mongering propaganda created out of:

1. unverifiable studies/claims;

2. unsubstantiated historical data;

3. abuse/misuse of statistics; and

4. manipulation of truth.

The video deliberately agitates the worst fears harbored by non-Muslims — especially Christians. I would go so far as to say that it contains racist overtones and has a general xenophobic feel that is reminiscent of the kind of literature produced by racists.

wplogolib(Not surprisingly, this video has already appeared on various hate websites owned/operated by neo-Nazis, skinheads, and the Klan).

MUSLIM DEMOGRAPHICS?

Who made Muslim Demographics? What might be their agenda? Why are they qualified to make such statements/assessments? Where did they get their information?

These are essential questions that must be answered in order to discern whether or any of the video’s statements/arguments are credible (or at the very least, worthy of being considered as possibly credible). But the answers we find to these questions leave much to be desired.

The video, for example, was not posted by any reputable/known person or organization. It was uploaded to youtube (March 30, 2009) by an anonymous individual called friendofmuslim. All we know about this individual is that they are a 31-year-old (supposedly) living in Lebanon (supposedly). And the information blurb about the video only states: “Islam will overwhelm Christendom unless Christians recognize the demographic realities, begin reproducing again, and share the gospel with Muslims.

This instantly makes the video less than legitimate and brings into question its reliability. We have no way of finding out the identity of friendofmuslim, no clue as to what his/her agenda might be, and no way to check their credentials (and/or biases). Oddly, although the poster claims to be from Lebanon, the video was actually uploaded to youtube via an IP Address in Israel. The poster (friendofmuslim) also has no other videos on youtube, nor are they allowing comments to be made (two additional aspects of the video that are unusual).

Furthermore, the video  completely ignores the distinctions existing between: 1. Muslims who consider themselves Muslim by ethnicity only; 2. Muslims who adhere to the religion of Islam; and 3. Muslims who are part of the radical Islamists, often connected to terrorism/violence. The dismissal of these three categories of Muslims utterly skews whatever statistics are presented — and the conclusions drawn from them. This brings us to the very issue of statistics in general, their use/misuse, and their reliability as a standard for predicting the future.

MUSLIMS

STATISTICS, STATISTICS, STATISTICS

The bulk of evidence that friendofmuslim uses to support his/her perspective consists of fertility (birth rate) statistics. The Muslims-have-higher-fertility-rates-than-non-Muslims statistics offered paint a frightening picture. But the video gives hardly any documentation to support the numerical calculations, let alone such fear-inspiring declarations as “In a matter of years, Europe as we know it will cease to exist” and “In just 39 Years, France will be an Islamic Republic.”

Moreover, it must be acknowledged that statistics can be very misleading, highly generalized (rather than specific), inconsistent (ever-changing), easily misused, and partial in scope. In other words, statistics are dangerous. In reference “Muslim Demographics,” the SNOPES news website has rightly pointed out that such videos/articles (i.e., alarmist) are flawed:

They cherry pick a few gloomy-sounding statistics without presenting them within a larger context, they assume that current demographic trends will remain static even in the face of future political, economic or social changes, and they don’t acknowledge that fertility rates are influenced by a number of complex, interrelated, and volatile factors. That last point is especially important, as even small changes in fertility rates can have a significant impact on the future size and nature of populations. Or, as Martin Walker noted a Spring 2009 Wilson Quarterly on the subject, “the detailed work of demographers tends to seep out to the general public in crude form, and sensationalist headlines so become common wisdom” (Muslim Demographics).

SNOPES additionally refers to the Wilson Quarterly, explaining how that publication has also noted that there exists “three deeply misleading assumptions about demographic trends have become lodged in the public mind.” First, “that mass migration into Europe, legal and illegal, combined with an eroding native population base, is transforming the ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the continent.” Second, “that Europe’s native population is in steady and serious decline from a falling birthrate.” Third, “that population growth in the developing world will continue at a high rate.”

The list of problems with the videos use of such statistics goes on, and on, and on and on (for further information, see Muslim Demographics). The SNOPES article concludes: “…the best demographers can do is make broad guesses about population trends based on current conditions and assumptions about how (and how much) those trends might be influenced by societal changes. . . . ‘projections of birthrates and population totals are often embarrassingly at odds with eventual reality.’”

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE “FACTS”

When critically viewed, it must be admitted that all we get from the “Muslim Demographics” video is a plethora of population/fertility numbers coupled with authoritative-sounding claims such as “According to research,” “historically [speaking],” “historical research tells us,” and “Some studies show.” But none of these claims are backed by references that can be checked: Which studies? Who’s studies? Where historically?  When historically? What research? Who’s research?

There are no answers provided to these questions (NOTE: extremely small, white text sometimes appears beneath certain statistics, but the references are illegible). We must be wary of such propaganda-like claims, which are the same sort of claims usually made by individuals seeking to advance a certain cause/perspective without true/reliable evidence. For example, Dan Brown — author of The DaVinci Code — used this tactic in presenting his “historical,” “researched,” and “factual” arguments about Jesus being as a goddess-worshiping pagan, who sired a child with his wife, Mary Magdalene (a “truth” concealed by violence and deception at the highest levels of the early church). Similarly, racists (neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Holocaust Deniers, and Skinheads) often make sweeping statements based on unverifiable “research,” non-specific “studies,” and untraceable “historical” data.

Interestingly, even a cursory look at just a few of the claims made in the video are enough to show that it is less-than-reliable when it comes to facts and accuracy. One might even say that at certain points the video seems to be deliberately seeking to mislead viewers by manipulating information. As one blogger stated, “whoever made it, they did play fast and loose with the truth – Goebbels [Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda] would have been proud of them.”

For example, the video claims that 25% of the population of Belgium is Muslim. This is false. That figure, according to Wiki, applies ONLY to the city of Brussels! “In 2008 estimation shows that 6% of the Belgian population, about 628,751, is Muslim (98% Sunni). Muslims cover 25.5% of the population of Brussels.”

DIGGING DEEPER

Another highly dubious claim concerns the average fertility rate for Muslims in France (i.e., 8.1 per family). The claim is almost certainly false. Where did the figure originate in the first place? Not a single country in the world has a fertility rate so high. The closest countries would be Niger, Guinea-Bissau, and Afghanistan, according to Wiki, with rates of 7.19, 7.07, and 7.07 respectively (2005-2010). NationMaster listed the top three countries as Niger, Uganda and Somalia, with rates of 7.34, 7.29, and 6.81 (People Statistics). The CIA puts Niger, Mali, and Uganda in the top slots with fertility rates of 7.75, 7.29, and 6.77 (Total Fertility Rate, CIA).

After an entire day of researching, I could not find any place where the video’s 8.1 figure might have originated. I did, however, discover that the majority of Muslims in France are immigrants from three countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia (Muslims in Europe: Country Guide). What are the fertility rates in these countries? They are: 2.38 , 2.38, 1.93 (per UN TFR Ranking)! Does it make any sense at all that people moving to France from countries with such low fertility rates would for some inexplicable reason suddenly start having 8.1 children?! Consider, too, these equally false statements from the video.

VIDEO: “In the Netherlands, 50% of all newborns are Muslim.”
TRUTH: “There are approximately 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands, a nation of 16.6 million people. . . . Muslims makeup about 6% of the total population. Yet, we’re supposed to believe 50% of the children born in the Netherlands are Muslim? The fertility rate in the Netherlands is 1.66 children per person. Mathematically, Muslims in the Netherlands would need to have 26 children to makeup 50% of the births in the country” (Muslim Demographics). And according to The Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), “Based on projections of the future number of migrants, it is easy to calculate that Muslims will remain a minority in the future” (see this PDF File).

VIDEO: “Historically, no culture has ever reversed a 1.9 fertility rate.”
TRUTH: Actually, France reversed it, according to NationMaster, which used data from the CIA World Facebook. The fertility rate of France went from 1.85/84 in 2003-2006 to 1.98 in 2007/2008 — i.e., a reversal (see People Statistics)

VIDEO: “In Russia, there are over 23 million Muslims, that’s 1 out of 5 Russians.”
TRUTH: “Roman Silantyev, a Russian Islamologist has estimated that there are only between 7 and 9 million people who practice Islam in Russia, and that the rest [about 11 – 13 million] are only Muslims by ethnicity” (Islam in Russia, Wiki).

VIDEO: “The German Government, the first to talk about this publicly, recently released a public saying, ‘The fall in the German population can no longer be stopped. Its downward spiral is no longer reversible… It will be a Muslim state by 2050’ (Germany Federal Statistics Office).”
TRUTH: This is NOT what the German government said, nor is it what the Germany Federal Statistics Office released as a statement.

What we see here is a perfect example of manipulating and splicing statements together to form an altogether different statement/message that conveys what an individual (in this case, friendofmuslim) wants to communicate. The quotes in this section of the video were taken from a 2006 article written by Gudrun Schultz for the prolife website LifeSiteNews.com.

The first half of the statement was lifted from yet another article (by Agence France-Presse) wherein vice-president Walter Rademacher of the Federal Statistics Office is quoted: “The fall in the population can no longer be stopped.” IN CONTEXT, Rademacher is not talking about Muslims taking over anything. He is simply commenting on the declining population growth of Germany – period. And the main point he was making was that even with the help of immigrants (including Muslims), German population growth possibilities are very questionable – if not impossible. That’s it. That’s all he said.

The second half of the statement – “It will be a Muslim state by 2050” – is not only NOT from the German government (i.e., Rademacher and/or the Federal Statistics Office), but it is not even accurate. The statement, which is also found in the LifeSiteNews.com actually reads, “[Germany] is well on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050” (not “It will be a Muslim state by 2050). And who exactly made this assessment if it was not the German government, not Rademacher, and not the Federal Statistics Office? In the LifeSiteNews.com article we find out that it was actually unnamed, unidentified, anonymous, untraceable “demographic trend-watchers.”

These are but a few of the many factual errors, pieces of deceptive information, and instances of manipulation of facts that render “Muslim Demographics” not only offensive, but also dangerous. As Christians we need to avoid this type of sensational propaganda that does nothing to help bridge the idealogical/sociological/theological/philosophical chasm separating Muslims and non-Muslims. “Muslim Demographics” only spreads fear, mistrust, suspicion, and lack of understand among people who need to work at coexisting peacefully despite differences of opinion and beliefs.

Conveniently, one statistic the video left out was the fact that Muslim fertility rates around the world are actually dropping: “. . . the only major religion left out of the demographic transition was Islam until the 1980s. At least until the late 70s, the total fertility rates were quite high—6 per woman. But as a religious group, fertility started declining in predominately Muslim countries.”

A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Christians must never forget what scripture has declared: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

In other words, even if everything stated in the video were true, well……so what? If God, in his sovereignty, allows Muslims to become the dominate ethnicity and allows Islam to become the dominant religion, then that is what God in his sovereignty allows to happen.

Since the dawn of society, God — no one else — has determined the rise and fall of governments/cultures/nations. As the New Testament tells us: “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom. 13:1). If we are to believe scripture, then it must be acknowledged that God alone allows leaders, government, and religions to rise and fall — and that includes Islam:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him”
(Daniel 2:20-23).

So whatever the future may bring, I implore all of us to make sure that we keep focused on the Kingdom of Heaven, and our primary calling to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), lights around the world (Matt. 5:14), and faithful saints who are called to preach the Gospel (2 Tim. 4:2) so that men and women might come to know the love of Christ (Rom. 8:39) and through a relationship with him enter into the Lord’s glorious kingdom of eternal joy (Rev. 1:6). That kingdom will last forever, while this earthly kingdom will pass away (see Ecclesiastes).

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS

At this point it would be irresponsible of me to not say a word about Muslims in general. From my experiences in America and from my 15+ years in ministry, I have not found them to be the threatening, anti-Christian, baby-breeding monsters portrayed in this video. I have found them to be loving, gracious, peace-loving, and hospitable individuals with whom I happened to disagree when it came to issues concerning the identity/nature of God, the Bible, the Koran, and the validity of Islam.

Even author Daniel Pipes, widely known as being extremely cautious/critical of Islam, has stated that “the problem at hand is not the religion of Islam but the totalitarian ideology of Islamism [and by implication Islamists].” These are the radical, militant, politically-motivated Muslims interested in “conquest, theocracy, and intolerance” (Pipes, “Fighting Militant Islam, Without Bias,” City Journal). But this does not describe the average Muslim, especially those Moms & Dads referenced in the video who are are now living throughout previously White/Christian nations.

Ironically, as Pipes has correctly pointed out, the first victims of radical Islamism (a minority of Muslims) are usually traditional Muslims, who “understand this ideology for what it is and respond with fear and loathing” (Pipes, “Fighting Militant Islam, Without Bias,” City Journal). As one website truly dedicated to lovingly reaching out to Muslims has put it: “. . . the average Muslim is like the average Christian. They know enough to call themselves Muslims, but basically they are materialistic, want a good job, and hope to live a good comfortable life.” (About  Islam)

CONCLUSION

As I see it, the problem in Europe, America, Canada, and other countries is not Muslim immigration (or overly-fertile Muslim women). The problem is hate/sin/fear — the kind expressed through violence by radical Islamists; the kind expressed through propaganda like “Muslim Demographics.”

More importantly, when it comes to Christianity/Christians, NOWHERE does the Bible instruct believers in Jesus to make more babies in order to preserve numerical superiority over people adhering to other faiths. Procreating is not the “action” scripture recommends when the need arises to:

1. confront alternative religions,

2. counter persons with whom we disagree, or

3. respond to enemies.

Contrary to the video, we have the following words of guidance and direction from scripture:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”” (Matt. 22:37-39).

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

“We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:14-18).

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

In other words, the video “Muslim Demographics” is not only inaccurate, but unbiblical. It is not surprising that the video has led to numerous racist, hate-filled, and xenophobic comments being posted throughout cyberspace — particularly on so-called “Christian” website. I close with one final passage:

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (1 Titus 3:1-5).

Populations increase and decrease. Cultures come and go. Nations rise and fall. History’s pages will continue to turn and bring whatever it may being…..it matters not. Jesus said, “‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).

Let us not forget this teaching from our Lord. Do not let anyone steal your peace that is in Christ Jesus (Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-8).

peace in him,

RICHARD ABANES

[Note: This video has been debunked at numerous websites. For further reading, please see: Mission researchers respond to statistics in Muslim Demographics video; Anti-Muslim Immigration Video Spreads Fear, Distorts Truth; Muslim Demographics; Muslim Demographics: Fact vs. Fiction; Spreading Fear About the Faith of Islam).

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Being A Doer of God’s Word

I was reading my Bible the other day and asked myself: “Am I really doing what I’m reading?,” “Am I really living as a Christian ought live?,” “Am I just filling my head with more knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, when I know darn well that I’m still not doing my best to live up to the knowledge I already have?”

A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963), still revered after all these years as a non-compromising believer, said, “The Spirit-filled walk demands that we live in the Word of God as a fish lives in the sea. By this I do not mean that we study the Bible merely, nor that we take a ‘course’ in Bible doctrine.”

This great man of God, of course, wasn’t downplaying Bible study per se, but discouraging an overemphasis on intellectual “study” and an ungodly obsession with “doctrine” at the expense of life application and the manifestation of personal growth through being a doer of God’s Word. As he also said, “Unused truth becomes as useless as an unused muscle.”

Such a sentiment is beautifully confirmed in scripture by James, who declared: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). How can this be done? To be honest, obedience to this passage can take innumerable forms, but every act of obedience will likely fall into at least one of these categories:

1. Loving God & Loving Your Neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39; 1 Pet. 1:22)

2. Caring for Others (James 1:27)

3. Sharing the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:4; Rom. 10:15)

4. Making Disciples (Matt. 28:19)

5. Living in Truth (1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:15; 1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:1)

If we could just live out these aspects of our existence with as much energy and focus used in other areas of our daily journey toward heaven, then the world would be a much better place not only for us, but most definitely, for everyone around us. That’s what I’m going to chase after over the course of these next two weeks — being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer only. How about you? It could be terrifically exciting!

peace in him,

RICHARD ABANES

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In Defense of Calvary Chapel: Say No to Lighthouse Trails

[Note: This article also appears at crosswalk.com]

In recent months I have been making a concerted effort to expose what has become a curse of the Internet—i.e., the Cult of Online Discernment Ministries, also known as ODMs (see my article Don’t Believe Everything You Read On the Internet and several additional linked assessments).

Others—including well-known blogger Tim Challies (Article #1 & Article #2), Pastor James MacDonald, and the Internet Monk—have raised similar concerns about these so-called watchbloggers. Most recently, we have the following short article by long-time journalist Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries, who is not only “an award winning British journalist,” but a respected author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth.” Wooding observed the following in a May 12, 2009 article titled “The Wild Wild West of the Blogosphere: Is it ‘Love Central’ or ‘Hate Central?’”

In recent years, a new form of communication has appeared called blogging in which anyone can set up a blog (a contraction of the term weblog) and write about anything they wish. No journalistic training is required, but a point of view that can be either hateful or positive.

After being in journalism for 40 year now, I marvel at the variety of commentaries or entries, often without any real evidence, that are appearing all over the Blogosphere. For some who live in restricted countries, these bloggers literally risk their lives by writing about human rights abuses in their land. This is what I consider the good side of blogging.

But sadly, we also see many individuals, especially Christians, who use their blogs to attack other Christians with whom they disagree. These bloggers know no bounds in their hateful attacks and justify them, just like the Pharisees of old, by saying that their view is the only one that matters. There are also secular blog sites that continue their vendettas against those they don’t like or disagree with by going to such lengths that I wonder how they get away with it legally.

I have been the target of some of these sites, both “Christian” and “Secular,” and I usually just ignore their barbs as being part of the territory of my work as a journalist. I wonder what kind of lives these attackers lead and why they are so hateful in their words in what has become the “Wild Wild West of the Blogosphere.” Do they have any joy in their lives or do their personal attacks made them feel superior to those they go after?

I realize that not all blogging is negative, but I do wonder what non-Christians make of the so-called Christian blog sites that are often so vicious in their attacks against other believers. In Luke 6:31 (New Kings James Version), we read, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” In John 13:34.35 (New Kings James Version), we read the words of Jesus, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Finally, we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (New International Version), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

So a word to those of you who blog and claim to be Christians. Please be careful that you don’t inject even more hate into this hateful world with blogs that bring the words of Jesus Christ into such disrepute. Let’s have more blogs that are “Love Central” instead of “Hate Central.”

This echoes precisely my own views about what has been happening all over the Internet—on a daily basis.

Despite the many warnings, pleas for more balance, and loving corrections that have been given to these online watchbloggers, today we have been presented with yet another tragic example of “Freedom of Speech” being used to attack/slander godly men and women via cyberspace wells of poison. This time the attack has come in the form of a terrifically inaccurate/destructive hit piece posted by Lighthouse Trails Research (LTR) against Calvary Chapel (and by implication, the widely respected father of that movement, Chuck Smith).

PC

This is troubling, but not surprising. Lighthouse Trails Research founders, Dave and Deborah Dombrowski, have for years been attacking godly preachers, Christian authors, and even God-honoring organizations (e.g., Rick Warren, Ravi Zacharias, Biola University, and Moody Bible Institute, Calvary Chapel Pastor Bill Ritchie, and many others). Their wildly false accusations have confused countless Christians and needlessly divided brothers/sisters in Christ. The Dombrowskis, using their blog/website, even mounted an attack against one of the most biblically-sound evangelists serving the church: i.e., Greg Laurie (Harvest Christian Fellowship).

The Greg Laurie Attack

In reference to Laurie, Lighthouse Trails Research (LTR) declared that they hoped at some point other men of God would be able to help Laurie “remember the simple and true faith he found so many years ago.”

What prompted this unwarranted attack? Laurie had merely accepted an invitation to hold a one night outreach in the Madison Square Garden under the auspices of the New York City Leadership Center, which was helping to coordinate ministry outreaches for several national ministries including the 40-days of Purpose Campaign, led by Rick Warren. That’s all. But that was enough to motivate LTR to call into question Laurie’s spiritual health and doctrinal direction.

The damage done by such comments spread so swiftly through cyberspace, that Harvest Christian Fellowship was forced to release an official statement that in part stated: “Due to some erroneous information disseminated through Lighthouse Trails, I wish to clarify our ministry mission and strategy for New York City. . . . Harvest Ministries is supportive of all endeavors to strengthen the church and present the gospel and would affirm churches in seeking to participate in 40 Days of Purpose.”

A New Assault

Now, LTR has gone even further in their attacks against Calvary Chapel (CC)—i.e., its pastors, assorted churches, and even Chuck Smith. According to LTR, there is a war of sorts going on within the CC network of churches that is pitting godly/biblical/orthodox/traditional pastors against an ever-growing presence of unbiblical/liberal/Emergent/questionable pastors who are seeking to pull the CC movement in a pseudo-New-Agey, Emergent, Liberal direction. They make the following accusation:

This situation with Calvary Chapel is not isolated. Nearly every evangelical denomination and organization of any size in North America is going in this same direction to one degree or another. One key factor in why this is happening so rapidly is that Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries are heavily saturated with contemplative/emerging spirituality. Biola University, for instance, where many Calvary Chapel pastors have attended and graduated, is deeply involved in this “new spirituality.”

LTR goes so far as to them bring up the frightening specter of the OCCULT, implying that it is somehow connected to what is going on at Calvary Chapel: “Mysticism (i.e., the occult) is overtaking all segments of society, and this means that the world is falling under the spell of sorceries (magical arts) that according to the book of Revelation will deceive all nations (Revelation 18:23).”

This is all linked to nothing more than a single event—i.e., the release of Paul Smith, one of their close associates, from his position of leadership at Calvary Chapel. Paul Smith, not coincidentally, has been a champion for LTR within the CC network of church, often seeing eye to eye with them on a number of hot-button issues. Consequently, his release from CC leadership was interpreted as a serious compromise with truth and a sure sign that CC is now on the wrong doctrinal path. As they conclude: “With the termination of Paul Smith and the embracing of and teaming up with an emerging church, is this ‘authentic spirituality’ the direction that Calvary Chapel is going to go? The answer to that question is becoming clearer all the time.”

Standing for Truth!

This kind of hurtful and divisive attack against a thoroughly orthodox, biblical, Holy-Spirit-led, evangelistic-oriented, Bible-based network of churches is inexcusable and against everything discernment/apologetics should be. The Calvary Chapel system, under the leadership of Chuck Smith, has brought untold thousands to Christ and continues to give a simple Gospel call to those in need of Jesus. And their churches are led by some of today’s most Bible-centered teachers: Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, Raul Ries, Bill Ritchie, Tom Stipe, Mark Martin…..and many, many others—some well-known; some obscure.  Nevertheless, thanks to this newest post by LTR against Calvary Chapel, we have comments like the following beginning to appear at other blogs/websites: “This [the release of Paul Smith] is directly linked to the Emergent Church Movement’s Eastern Mysticism infiltrating that church denomination.”

cc_dove

But Calvary Chapel is about as far from liberal, Emergent, or Eastern Mysticism as any church system can be. They consistently lift up Christ, the scriptures, the cross, and the Gospel as the source of all truth for those who do not yet know Jesus as their personal Lord & Savior. I would urge all of my readers to write/email to LTR and offer them correction regarding this matter—lovingly, but firmly.

“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.”
Exodus 23:1

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will perish.”
Proverbs 19:9

“Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence …”
Psalms 101:5

“Remind the people to … slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”
Titus 3: 1-2

“Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”
1 Peter 2:1

I stand with Calvary Chapel and Chuck Smith, as well as with all CC pastors, as they face this newest threat not only their own churches, but the entire Body of Christ—i.e., the Cult of the ODMS.

Richard Abanes
PoP CulTuRE MiX

FOR MORE INFORMAtION ON LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS, SEE THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES:

Lighthouse Trails Research ATTACKS Greg Laurie

Lighthouse Trails: Walking in Darkness
(an introduction to Lighthouse Trails Research Project)

Lighthouse Trails: The Blanchard Bashers
(a look at the Ken Blanchard controversy)

Lighthouse Trails: A Futile Attempt At Reconciliation
(a look at Lighthouse Trails Dismissing Warren’s Email)

Lighthouse Trails: Rants and Ramblings
(a final look at the so-called “research” of LTRP)

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Homophobics, “Real Men,” and Effeminate Evangelicals?

In recent months my attention has been pulled to a number of websites run by various watch-bloggers and so-called “discernment” ministries. In response, I’ve posted several articles dealing with these websites and voiced my concerns with them (see my main link page of articles). But there is one aspect of SOME of these websites that I’ve not yet addressed—i.e., a bizarre preoccupation with homosexuality and related issues.

Don’t get me wrong. The gay agenda, homosexuality, gay marriage, and biblical views of human sexuality are definitely important subjects that should be openly discussed. But these websites have become almost obsessed with such topics, all the while failing to recognize that beyond the “gay” issue there are many more things to discuss during our pivotal era:

– the church’s health,
– political upheaval,
– ongoing religious dialog between world religions,
– skills for Christian living,
– church unity,
– prayer,
– continuing missionary efforts,
– suffering on a global scale and how to alleviate it,
– pop culture influences,
– etc., etc., etc., etc.

It seems that SOME evangelicals have become almost fixated on the subject of all things gay. And as if this were not troubling enough, we are now seeing a degree of homophobia and gay-hate-talk (or at the very least, gay-paranoia-talk) among Christians that is coming out in a most unusual way—i.e., through verbal attacks by various watch-bloggers against assorted Christian men/pastors, wherein the Christian man/pastor is being depicted as:

1. “effeminate,”

2. less than masculine,

3. practically Gay-i-fied

And this is all because those whom the watch-bloggers are criticizing simply do not preach, teach, behave, or run a church in a way approved by those watch-bloggers. The frightening specter of homosexuals running amok and effeminate men everywhere is being used by these watch-bloggers to scare their readers into believing that certain pastors/teachers have lost their Manly-Man edge and gone the way of gays (even though a preaching style, teaching method, or church structuring philosophy cannot actually be either effeminate or masculine).

Rather than simply stating their disagreements/criticisms, and then backing them with biblical passages (used in context), these watch-bloggers have resorted to using homophobic, anti-gay lingo that castigates their targets as “Effeminate Evangelicals”—i.e., not masculine men of God, but “sissified” (actual quote) compromisers of God’s Word whose manner of preaching/teaching is more akin to weak women.

WHAT CENTURY ARE WE LIVING IN?

It is difficult to know where/how to even begin responding to such a backward and destructive mindset. But it might be helpful to point to one of the worst examples available on the Internet—i.e., “Some More Thoughts on Effeminate Evangelicalism” by 56-year-old Phil Johnson, “executive Director of Grace to You, a Christian tape and radio ministry featuring the preaching ministry of John MacArthur.”

The first thing one notices upon reading Johnson’s diatribe against what he calls “Effeminate Evangelicalism” is the disturbingly sexist & near-homophobic language he uses as a means of mocking, degrading, and vilifying fellow men of God with whom he disagrees (i.e., in the area of preaching style, teaching content, and methods of presenting the Gospel). His bottom line is that “[t]he pulpit is not for wimps.” That comment, in itself, smacks of a culturally-determined machismo that categorizes certain men as “wimps” and others as non-wimps — as if a choice in preaching style/substance is a reflection of one’s sexuality and masculine/feminine behavior.

But Johnson says much more. Consider the following words, which in my opinion, have no place in any article that is supposedly intended to voice a difference of opinion Johnson has with various pastors who approach preaching/teaching in a way that differs from the approach Johnson endorses:

“Today’s evangelicals seem committed to keeping the church a soft, delicate, sissified environment.”

“Even the tone of the preacher has to be suited to the sewing circle”

“Have you ever thought carefully about what’s implied in just that term (seeker-sensitive)? It sounds like something a weak and frightened person thought up. Where does “seeker-sensitivity” fit into the biblical description of what the church should be. Answer: it doesn’t. It’s a typically effeminate trend.”

When I first read these words, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking, “He can’t be serious.” But then, to my horror, I realized Johnson was very serious.

The absurdity of declaring that those who do not preach/teach as Johnson sees fit have somehow abandoned their core masculinity is absurd beyond words—not to mention the fact that Johnson’s apparent definition of true “masculinity” seems rooted/ground NOT IN THE BIBLE, but in social/cultural roles and expectations in the Western world of what being a REAL MAN is all about (i.e., behaving, responding, an feeling in ways that should only be intrinsic to a women).

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

The sexist language and chauvinistic jabs in Johnson’s article are deplorable, insulting, degrading. . . . and to be honest, embarrassing. While reading his thoughts, I was immediately struck by how the Bible refers to a number of characters who, if we were to look at them through Johnson’s eyes, would be rather effeminate:

GOD = EFFEMINATE: “… but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper
(1 Ki. 19:12).

WISE ONES: = “A gentle answer turns away wrath”
(Prov. 15:1 – “A soft answer,” KJV).

JEREMIAH = EFFEMINATE: “I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter”
(Jer. 11:19).

GOD’S PEOPLE = EFFEMINATE: “I will leave within you the meek and humble
(Zeph. 3:12).

JESUS = EFFEMINATE: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”
(Matt. 5:5).

JESUS = EFFEMINATE: “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart”
(Matt. 11:29).

JESUS = EFFEMINATE: “Jesus wept
(John 11:35).

PAUL = EFFEMINATE: “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you”
(2 Cor. 10:1).

In light of these verses, we can see how far Johnson has strayed from biblical truth when he says, “certain qualities which are admirable traits for mothers and wives are dishonorable mannerisms for men to exhibit (or hide behind) when duty calls them to proclaim truth boldly or defend the faith against error.”

God forbid that men should exhibit “certain qualities” like love, tenderness, compassion, kindness, gentleness, empathy, sympathy, sensitivity, considerateness, and vulnerability (which seems to be a dirty word to Johnson) when they are preaching God’s Word and offering the Gospel to those who are helpless and hurting.

Paul clearly outlined the fruit of the spirit, which I would think should be most evident when preaching: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Contrast these sentiments with Johnson’s comments, which are made even harsher and more offensive by the picture he provided as a visual aid—i.e., a frail-looking, skinny, geeky, non-macho young man attempting to shoot a basket underhand (not overhand, like a real man). bskballHere is a picture of the stereotypical male who is cruelly taunted in high school by names like faggot, sissy, girlie-boy. Isn’t it time that we, as REAL MEN of God, grow up and leave behind us this kind of juvenile mentality that seeks to show one’s true GUY-HOOD through bullying tactics, mockery, intimidation, shaming, name-calling, finger-pointing, and imagery like that? Does Johnson think that using such an image is funny? Manly? Biblical?

Although offensive and less-than-Christ-like in the obvious message it sends, Johnson’s image fits his article, which is rife with archaic, sexist, narrow-minded, Western-influenced, culturally-based, and decidedly unbiblical images/stereotypes of what is (and what is not) masculine—then he links it all to his own SUBJECTIVE ideas about the proper/appropriate way to deliver the Gospel (or to give a Bible-centered message) from the pulpit.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that choices made by various pastors with regard to their preaching styles and/or teaching content are just that—i.e., choices. And those choices are neither male, nor female; neither masculine, nor feminine. Such choices have nothing to do with a man being truly manly. Johnson’s arguments are rooted in nothing but a subjective, sensationalistic, and fear-inspiring spin he puts on this topic—a spin that is obviously linked to some as-yet-unidentified facet of Johnson’s own psychological makeup.

GODLY MEN = MANLY MEN

The article noted above, unfortunately, was actually the second article by Johnson wherein he setup the odd connection between preaching/teaching style and masculinity. His first article, “Manly Men,” started off by tracing the inability to reach today’s men to “the eighteenth-century tendency of post-puritan preachers to temper hard truths and cushion the message as much as possible.”

There, according to Johnson, we have the root-cause of numerous church-related problems. Today’s preachers, says Johnson, are altogether different from real manly preachers of yesteryear like Charles Spurgeon. As Johnson writes: “Spurgeon was a man’s preacher, and his ministry reflected that.”

Ahhhh, a man’s preacher. It seems that Spurgeon, given Johnson’s description of him, was a real tell-it-like-it is, in your face, like-it-or-lump-it preacher. And that’s what made him so manly and masculine. Well, it might come as a surprise to Johnson that Joseph Smith—founder of Mormonism and a resoundingly non-Christian preacher—preached in a similar way. And so did many other preachers of that era (c. 1830-1860). Why? Because they were all preaching in a manner consistent with that time.

Oddly, Johnson notes: “But everyone has utterly forgotten all the effeminate preachers of that era [i..e, Spurgeon’s era] who at the time were absolutely certain that they were more ‘relevant’ because they were more in tune with their own times than Spurgeon was.”

But the truth is that Spurgeon was actually very much in tune with his times, being one of the foremost adherents to what was then known as “Extemporaneous Teaching,” which was popular during his years on the preaching circuit. That was his style. And as wonderful as it was, it had nothing to do with him being:

1) a “man’s preacher,”

2) masculine (rather than effeminate), or

3) manly.

It’s tragic and pathetic that Johnson’s way of thinking is still alive and well not just in America, but in the church. Why so tragic? Because Johnson’s whole concept of masculinity and strength are the very antithesis if what it means to be truly masculinity and strong in Christ. Throughout his anti-effeminate rant, Johnson displays not the Bible, but rather, his own subjective/culturally-determined ideas of how a manly pastor should preach; how a truly masculine pastor should present the Gospel. And if someone doesn’t line up with his own personal views, that person is not simply wrong, but effeminate!

For example, Johnson notes: “Post-evangelicals don’t want teachers who will declare the difference between truth and error with manly conviction. They just want to have fun.”

But Johnson here has set up a false dilemma; a false either/or scenario. Can’t someone “declare the difference between truth and error with manly conviction” AND “have fun” at the same time? Or can only effeminate men have fun? And this leads to more questions:

–  Can only effeminate men preach with tenderness, kindness, love, gentleness, compassion, and understanding?

– Is Johnson saying that to “declare the difference between truth and error with manly conviction” is essentially the same thing as just blasting out scriptures at people with no thought or concern for them?

– Does Johnson thing that preachers should not be vulnerable to their listeners when he not-so-subtly mocks how “Evangelicals constantly say they want their leaders to be “vulnerable”?

It takes NOTHING for a man to be bold, hard-edged, direct, to-the-point, insensitive, thoughtless, harsh, sharp-tongued, callous, and unfeeling. All of that comes naturally to us GUYS. But it is the supernatural work of God in a man that makes him better—i.e., kinder, gentler, more sensitive, filled with greater compassion & understanding, thoughtful beyond his nature, more loving. In other words, more like Christ.

Johnson diatribe, IMHO, is an embarrassment to true godliness and the kind of men that we are called to be in Christ. TBH, I was surprised that he didn’t add somewhere how men shouldn’t enjoy pretty flowers, shouldn’t wear/like pink, and shouldn’t EVER cry during a movie.

A MANLY CONCLUSION

Sadly, Johnson’s readers fell right into his net of sexist jargon designed to inflame their innate prejudice/fear of  homosexuals and effeminate men. Consider these comments:

“Blue Collar Todd” (clearly, a REAL MAN): “It seems once Christians befriend gays, their view of homosexuality changes and their conviction of its sinfulness subsides.”

Mark B. Hanson: “I read somewhere that the psychological profile of the average American pastor is virtually indistinguishable from that of a homosexual man.”

Let us all be careful and watch that we do NOT fall into the traps laid for us by society, culture, the world, the flesh, and the devil by going to any extreme with regard to our roles as men and women of God. Let us go instead to the Bible to see how we, as followers of Christ, should live, work, minister, love, serve, and grow in the knowledge of him who saved us. Johnson, in my opinion, would do well to read “Profiling Christian Masculinity,” which is an excellent article dealing with masculinity as a godly man.

(The above article can also be found at PoP CuLTurE MiX blog).

peace in him,

Richard Abanes
PoP CulTuRE MiX

Update

In response to my criticisms of Johnson’s article, the following accusation was made against me by Ken Silva, another ODM: “Apparently there’s a marked difference between the man-centered effete evangelicalism as represented by Richard Abanes and the Biblical preaching of men like Phil Johnson.”

(“EFFETE” means “Lacking strength or vitality; feeble, powerless, impotent; decadent, self-indulgent, effeminate.”)

Author’s Note

The online blogger discussed in this article—Phil Johnson—does not necessarily fit perfectly into the model of ODMs or into what I have dubbed The Cult of ODMs. However, throughout his blogging days he has not only echoed many of the sentiments/positions of ODMs, but also used some of their same tactics against his chosen targets of criticism.

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