‘Born Bad’: How the idea that we’re all sinners has shaped Western culture – The Washington Post


‘Born Bad’: How the idea that we’re all sinners has shaped Western culture – The Washington Post.

Read this book review by Michael Dirda and consider where the argument about original sin and the history of Christian doctrine errs.

Your observations are welcome. Feel free to share using the comments box below.

The New Apostolic Reformation—Announcing Two New Books


Maybe you’ve heard of it—the New Apostolic Reformation. Or maybe you haven’t. Either way, you probably know someone involved in the movement. It’s even possible that you attend a church that is part of a vast network of churches and ministries promoting the cause of modern-day apostles and prophets. You may be supporting missionaries and Christian organizations that have joined this cause.

Whether you’re sympathetic, concerned, or just curious, I urge you to take a close look and consider how you will respond. This movement is worldwide. Its mission is ambitious. It seeks to control the key sectors of society, including government, education, and the media. And it claims to act with unique authority from God, who has re-instated the New Testament offices of apostle and prophet to usher in the kingdom of God.

Scores of people are drawn to NAR claims that God is now revealing himself through an army of prophets and that they are producing miracles on a scale never seen before in Church history. The signs and wonders performed by the new apostles and prophets, they say, are greater even than the miracles wrought by Jesus.

Scores of people have been injured by this movement. It has divided families. It has left people in financial difficulties they never imagined. It has fostered disappointment with God, who failed to deliver on his alleged promises. It has even left some with a bitter taste about Christianity of any kind.

The major media have been talking about it. But there hasn’t been a serious and detailed investigation of NAR claims until now.

I’ve just completed two books, co-authored with Holly Pivec, about the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement ignited by C. Peter Wagner and now spreading like wildfire beyond the limits of his own influence. We offer a full exposition of the major teachings of movement leaders, and we examine them in detail, testing them against the teaching of the Bible. We conclude that their claims are false and misleading. Some are dangerous.

If you’re looking for an overview of the movement and you want a concise biblical evaluation of the movement, then you might begin with our book God’s Super-Apostles—Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want a fuller exposition of NAR teachings and a more complete examination of the movement, then you’ll want to read A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement. In this second book we offer detailed documentation for our description of the New Apostolic Reformation. And we carry our examination further, with fuller arguments to support our assessment.

I want to thank Holly for enjoining me to research this movement with her and for collaborating on two books that we believe will be of real service to others, including Christians and non-Christians. Both books are in production now and will be out in October or November. Already people have been placing advance orders with the publisher, Weaver Books.

In the days ahead I’ll be sharing more about the NAR. Meanwhile, you may want to visit Holly’s blog spiritoferror.org.

My First Published Dialogue—”Can and Would God Speak to Us?”


My most recent publication is the opening chapter in the new book In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of the Bible, edited by Steven B. Cowan and Terry L. Wilder (B&H Academic, 2013).

The full title of my chapter is “Can and Would God Speak to Us? A Dialogue on Divine Speaking.” Writing in dialogue format was a new venture for me. I enjoyed listening in on what “Chad” and “Danielle” had to say in conversation with each other. (What they say about learning something new during the process of writing is true!) I was challenged by the format, but I hope to try my hand at it again sometime.

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I encourage readers interested in sophisticated responses to contemporary challenges to biblical authority to read this book. Each chapter stands on its own as an important contribution on a specific topic. There’s something here for everyone, with topics ranging from canonicity to supposed contradictions in the Bible, from biblical archaeology to biblical criticism, from issues of slavery and sexism in the Bible to issues of genocide in the Bible. There are discussions of the Bible and ancient pagan myths, the historical reliability of the two testaments, the quality of biblical manuscripts, the interpretation of Scripture and its role as a source for theology, and science and the Bible.

The Docetist Heresy—Implications for the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus


A question about christology was posted in the “About Doug” section of this website. It seems fitting to copy my reply here.

That questions seems to assume a view about Jesus Christ known as “Docetism.” Docetism is a heresy that confronted the early Christian church and was summarily condemned at the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. Convened by Emperor Constantine, this Council took place in modern-day Turkey at a place called Bithynia.

A major sector of Docetists held that the man born to Mary in Bethlehem was merely a man, and that the Spirit of God, after some fashion, imbued this man with divinity. Some held that Jesus only appeared to be human. (The word “Docetism” derives from the Greek word <em>dokeo</em>, meaning “to seem”.) Docetism was deemed a heresy because the traditional and orthodox doctrine is that Jesus, one and the same person, had two natures, a divine nature and a human nature, so that he was fully God and fully man at the same time from the beginning.

There is evidence that an incipient form of Docetism was already at large during the first century. 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 7 address the threat that some deceivers deny the literal incarnation of Jesus Christ, holding that as the divine Son he had not come in the flesh. This is probably the first heresy to be addressed by the Christian church. Through the prevailing influence of Gnosticism, Docetism and other heresies continued to flourish in some quarters. By the 4th century it was clear that official condemnation of the heresy was needed. This would curtail attempts by Docetists to pass their doctrines off as the truth about Jesus Christ.

Thus, it was the physical body of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, that was literally raised from the dead. This is the teaching of Scripture and so it has been the orthodox position of the Christian church from the beginning.

Addendum:

Some early converts to Christianity may well have been Docetists before their conversion. Perhaps they had heard of “Christ,” and, under Gnostic influence, did not then associate the Christ with the man Jesus.

Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, had known of Jesus and preached about Jesus in the synagogue at Ephesus. Though much of what he preached was accurate, some things were amiss. We don’t know what these things were, but two Christians, Priscilla and Aquila, “took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.” It’s said in the Acts of the Apostles, a New Testament book, that he left with their blessing to preach that “the Christ was Jesus.” See Acts 18:24-28. So it’s possible that Apollos had been confused on this point. But he was persuaded of the truth through his association with the church at Ephesus, and he left, with their blessing, for Achaia to preach this truth from the Scriptures. This was in refutation of Jews he encountered along the way, and so, apparently, many of them had misunderstand the truth about Christ.

I speculate that because Gnosticism was well-ensconced in the region, when Christ was preached some simply accommodated this preaching to their Gnostic perspective. Others who were not Gnostics, but who lived surrounded by the ideology of Gnosticism, assumed that the Christ was somehow to be understood in gnostic terms. Apollos may have been one of these, and yet had accepted much that he had heard about Jesus. And other Jews, who were more reluctant to accept the official story about Jesus that had been filtered by the Gnostic community, were not prepared to believe any of it. Having been set straight about Jesus Christ, Apollos then began to preach to fellow Jews, by appealing to their Scriptures, that “the Christ was Jesus.”

Mind you, this is speculation about the details of the situation. But Apollos, a Jew who anticipated the arrival of the Messiah, was familiar with the preaching of John the Baptist about Jesus. (See Acts 18:25.) But his knowledge of Scripture and his understanding of Jesus were somewhat confused, until Apollos’ meetup with believers at Ephesus.

Just a short time later in Acts, we’re told about a group of twelve individuals who also had heard and believed the message of John the Baptist. See Acts 19:1-7. There they are called “disciples,” but they may only, at the time, have been disciples of John the Baptist, or, because they soon came to believe the truth about Jesus Christ, and were to become disciples, they are here called disciples because that is what they were at the time of Luke’s account of what happened. It appears that Paul had doubts that they had yet believed the Gospel. Or at least he wanted to be sure that they understood the Gospel. So he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered something like this, “The Holy Spirit? What Holy Spirit?” Subsequently Paul learned that their knowledge had up to then been limited to what they knew of John the Baptist’s message, which, of course, preceded the message Jesus delivered during his earthly life. Though they were expecting the Messiah, and likely would have known prophesies in their Bibles of the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit, these men probably had not even heard of Jesus. It was time they knew the rest of the story!

John the Baptist had foretold the soon arrival of the Christ, that is, the Messiah, so they were naturally anticipating this. Apparently, they had not yet heard that John’s words had already been fulfilled in Jesus, and that his Spirit had been given at Pentecost. Imagine the thrill it must have been for them to hear such news! Right there on the spot, it says, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” And thus they received the Holy Spirit.

What these men had believed exactly, prior to their encounter with Paul, is not quite clear. But apparently they hadn’t quite gotten it sorted it out yet that Jesus was the Christ.

I’m not suggesting that they had accepted a heresy up to that point. Rather, I recount these facts to indicate that at the outset Jesus Christ was known by the church to be God’s Messiah in the flesh.

There were others, though—under the influence of Gnosticism, I believe—who knew of Jesus and claimed to believe in the Christ, but had explicitly dissociated the two. This is suggested in a non-canonical book known as 2 Clement. Paul had spoken of a “Christ-party” in his first and second letters to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 11:13, 23). Without true belief about Jesus, these were false prophets who disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. This, one may think, suggests that they misrepresented Jesus Christ in their preaching. More likely, they preached Christ without reference to Jesus, and the church of Jesus Christ was being disturbed by their activities.

In any case, it didn’t take a 4th-century council to set things straight about Jesus Christ and his nature.

Doug on Day of Discovery Broadcast/February & March 2013


Day of Discovery is re-airing a couple of programs that included Doug’s participation. The programs are “What Jesus Said About God: Is There a Higher Power?” and “What Jesus Said About Life After Death.”
Following is the upcoming broadcast schedule:
 
Sunday, February 24, 2013         “What Jesus Said About God”
Sunday, March 3, 2013               “What Jesus Said About Life After Death” 
 

As a reminder Day of Discovery can be seen on Ion TV Sundays at 7:30 a.m. Eastern and Pacific, and 6:30 a.m. Central and Mountain time. A listing of local station air times can be found by visiting the website at www.dod.org and following the “Where to Watch” link in the left column. Additionally, the program is available to view at no cost via the Day of Discovery website.

If you watch and have comments or questions, feel free to return to this post and use the Comments box below.

Rev. Giles Fraser Catches Out Richard Dawkins in Dispute about Christianity in Britain


On Tuesday, BBC 4 hosted an occasionally heated exchange between Richard Dawkins and Rev. Giles Fraser. In their exchange, Fraser takes exception to the design of a survey conducted by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. He suggests that the survey, which purports to establish that Christianity is rare in Britain, shows no such thing. The Dawkins survey revealed that nearly two out of three who consider themselves Christians were unable to name the first book of the New Testament. (The correct answer is supposed to be the Gospel According to St. Matthew, but that depends on what you mean by “first”!) Fraser put the Dawkins test to work on Dawkins himself and asked if he could name the full title of The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Though he said he could, Dawkins stumbled when trying to quote the full title of his own secular Bible. Some British journalists are having laugh at Dawkins’s expense.

For audio of the interview (less than 7 minutes) click here. The story is reported at the Huff Post, with a transcript of the embarrassing bit, here.

Many, no doubt, will remark with glee on the embarrassing incident. But this isn’t quite fair, in my opinion. True, Dawkins should know the full title of Darwin’s seminal work. Dawkins is, after all, a former Oxford University professor who has published extensively in defense of Darwinian evolution. He is also the author of a 23-page Introduction to the Everyman’s Library edition of The Origin of Species and the Voyage of the Beagle, published by Alfred A. Knopf. But it surely is a sad commentary on the state of literacy in Britain that so few who call themselves Christians can name the book that appears first in most copies of the New Testament.

There is a larger point that should not be missed. There was a time when knowing that sort of thing was widespread among believers and non-believers alike. But the fund of “common knowledge” has been compressed to the dimensions of a thimble so that now what counts as literacy is up for grabs. Christian or not, shouldn’t a literate person know enough about the world’s great literature to be able to declare with confidence the name of the first Gospel of the New Testament?

Virtue vs. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism


Mike Austin has a new post today at Being Good.com: Virtue vs. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. MTD is a challenge to America’s teenagers and emerging adults. It is a challenge to parents. And it is a challenge to America’s churches. I urge you to read Mike’s post!

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