Jay Bakker Redefines Atonement and Much More

Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I've Crossed from Amazon.com

Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed from Amazon.com

Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye, and the pastor of Revolution Church in New York City released a new book last week. The Christian Post interviewed Bakker about the book and that interview should sadden believers everywhere.

CP reporter Nicola Menzie noted, “Bakker’s reflections on a faith that he feels needs to be reformed don’t seem to rest on genuine biblical interpretation, as he chooses in Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed to ignore the more troublesome and demanding texts that test his own views.” Continue reading

Headlines that make me shout “Amen”

This was just so encouraging I needed to share it. Evangelicals: We Must Stand Firm on Biblical Authority, Exclusivity of Christ from The Christian Post. It’s about R. C. Sproul and Dr. John MacArthur standing up for sound doctrine and the June conference they’ll be holding in Seattle.

“When the world is crying for tolerance for everything but Christianity, the Church is giving the world an attitude of tolerance, soft-selling, backing off, being more concerned with entertaining and showing interest in unbelievers … we ought to … get on our game,” said MacArthur.

Read the rest at Christian Post.

Andy Stanley Still Not Answering, Puts Down Theology and Preaching

Does the Bible consider homosexuality a sin or not? It seems like a simple question for a pastor to answer. Yet, Pastor Andy Stanley has so far refused to make his answer clear for all the world to know it.

Stanley’s viewpoint is at the center of controversy currently after Al Mohler Jr. brought up one of Stanley’s sermon illustrations in a column for Christian Post entitled: “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?”  For the record, I think the answer is yes and that Mohler’s column was right on.

The sermon illustration put Stanley’s views of homosexuality on trial because he took issue with a homosexual couple volunteering in one of his church campuses, not because of their homosexuality. But because one of the individuals was not yet divorced from his wife. Stanley identified the offending sin as adultery. If you’d like to hear the sermon Stanley was giving in context you can listen to the audio and a discussion of it in this Fighting for the Faith podcast.

The matter has generated quite a few stories and radio discussions because the Bible is very clear on the subject, in contrast to Stanley. While the viewpoint in unpopular, homosexuality is one of the many behaviors listed in Scripture as sins. So Pastor Stanley either accepts what the Word of God states plainly, or he doesn’t. And his parishioners and the body of Christ as a whole deserve to know which it is.

The Christian Post had a follow up story today (May 6) that still hasn’t cleared things up. That article by Anugrah Kumar called “Pastor Andy Stanley Alludes to How Christians Should Treat Gays”  mentioned that when asked for his views, “Stanley had pointed The Christian Post to his message series when asked Wednesday for clarification on his views on homosexuality, and added that he might issue a statement to CP in the near future about the topic.”

That’s not an answer, that is a non-refusal refusal to answer (kind of like the non-apology apologies you see in politics all the time).

In his most recent sermon (of that 8-part series), Stanley instead turned the issue on its head saying Christians have a “branding problem” (because people call Christians homophobic), putting down theology (from CP: “Regrettably, he added, many a times we find that those who have hurt us are the ones who are right in their theology.”) and saying: “Jesus’ movement was all about ‘how you love,’ but overtime it became ‘what you believe,’ he said. ‘If we would simply do what Jesus did… instead of arguing about what he said, ‘the world would change, the reputation of Christ’s followers would change, the influence of the church would change. This is easy. This requires nothing… just a brand new worldview’.”

I’m not sure where to begin. Okay, on the “branding” point. What the world thinks of Christians does not matter. Jesus told his disciples they would be hated for his sake. I absolutely agree that the truth should always be spoken in love and that Christians should not get hung up on one particular sin as if it is a worse sin than any other. But refusing to tell the truth is NOT love.  Each and every sin and lifestyle of sin is soul-endangering.

Second, on the point of theology. I am wary of any pastor who puts down doctrine or theology. His statement that often the people who hurt us are doctrinally correct is an overgeneralization and a red herring.

Third, this business about a Jesus movement gets under my skin. What Jesus did wasn’t a “movement.” It wasn’t like the sexual revolution, or women’s suffrage, or prohibition for crying out loud. That language plays into the hands of every person who wants to reduce Christ to his being a good man who was an inspirational example for us to follow.

Jesus was God in flesh revealing himself and the incredible good news! That he was going to make a way for hopeless sinners to be reconciled with God through his death and resurrection. He came to bring a new covenant yes, that would change our relationship to the Mosaic Law. But that didn’t change that the Law was right. It was meant to open our eyes! The Law was given so that we would know we were sinners who could never, ever be good enough in our striving to be acceptable to God. Jesus came and lived a perfect life, one that we COULD NEVER LIVE, so that he could take on the punishment we deserve and become our substitution.

We CANNOT do what Jesus did. We will never even come close. Should we love others? Absolutely! But it can only come from Jesus through us.  As believers the more we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the more we can be transformed by him, and the more we will resemble him in behavior.

Jesus was all about “What you believe.” In fact, just this afternoon I was reading John 6 and was pondering this verse: John 6:28 “They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? ” The multitude wanted to know how they could do what Jesus had done (he had just fed the 5,000).

But Christ’s answer was not “model my behavior” or “have enough faith and you’ll be able to work these miracles too.” No. His answer was believe in me. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

The last paragraph in the CP article was also troubling. “People around Christians, the pastor suggested, should not feel condemned, and that would give leverage to us which we have lost. Change cannot be brought about by preaching and legislation, he emphasized. Change comes when people see something; “it’s so attractive, almost irresistible.”

People should not feel condemned? I agree that bruising feelings unnecessarily is wrong, but to be concerned merely with a person’s feelings rather than their soul is heartless and cruel.

All people who have not believed the gospel of Jesus Christ are living, condemned by their sins, and damned to hell. That’s the problem!

I’m truly saddened that Stanley thinks “change cannot be brought about by preaching.” Since that is the very command we’ve been given. Christians are commanded to preach the Gospel. A quick search of “preach” in the Bible yields a great many verses (these are just a few of them) that prove a huge part of Jesus’ own ministry was preaching and his followers were to do the same, verses Stanley needs to reexamine I think.

Matthew 4:17 From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 3:14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach …

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

Jesus speaking in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 10:42 And he charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.

Romans 10:13-17 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness…

Osteen Claims to Share ‘Hope,’ But His Prosperity Preaching Lacks Power of the Gospel

Joel Osteen preaching at his Lakewood, Texas church. Captured from video

Texas megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen preached to a crowd of tens of thousands in Washington, D.C. on April 29. According to The Christian Post, Osteen told attendees that “God is a positive God.”

Here’s my question – what Bible is Osteen reading? What verses does he think support that claim? God is many things, but “positive?” It seems a very strange word to describe the God who does not tolerate sin at all. He flooded the earth in Genesis 7, saving only Noah and his family. He sent plagues on the Egyptians, “smote” Uzzah for touching the ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6. And in case you want to say, that’s just the God of the Old Testament (a bogus argument because God is unchanging – Malachi 3:6) take a look at Ananias and Sapphira being struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5.

That isn’t to say God doesn’t show mercy, grace or bless people when he wills. If you understand the full story of the scriptures his incredible love and grace are evident. We sinners deserve nothing but God’s wrath eternally. The good news is that Jesus Christ paid our penalty on the cross and if we repent of our sins and place our trust in what he has already accomplished we can be forgiven. That is tremendously “positive” news. But talking about sin and the cross isn’t something Osteen really likes to do. He prefers to keep things upbeat.

Back in January I read an autobiographical piece on Salon.com from a woman who “Fell in love with a megachurch.” Osteen’s megachurch to be exact. I found her account troubling as she explained that Osteen didn’t read much from the gospel and that what she liked about the church was that is “felt more motivational than religious.”

Even after multiple visits at Lakewood, she was able to dismiss the few “religious images” and “Jesus talk” she had heard. She wrote that she would “tweak [Osteen’s] words so they worked for me. He said things were in God’s hands; I heard it as fate’s hands. He said God would send luck my way; I told myself to make my own luck.”

That’s exactly the problem. It isn’t the gospel and because it isn’t, it cannot save souls. That’s the heartbreaking part about it.

Osteen’s recent D.C. message also made it sound like every day of a Christian’s life is going to be sunshine and roses. That’s a false promise too. At the end of the event, after Osteen gave a message about God’s positive destiny for everyone’s life, he prayed with those who wanted to dedicate their lives to Jesus and told them to pray that they repent of their sins,” The Christian Post reported.

More on Blue Like Jazz

Donald Miller (author)

Donald Miller (author) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had contemplated going to see Blue Like Jazz so I could write a more thorough critique of it, but I don’t have the time. So I’ll just share a few thoughts based on an interview with Donald Miller and an article from The Christian Post.

First, the Christian Post talked to director Steve Taylor and wrote that, according to him, the film “isn’t a Christian film at all.”

Boundless also interviewed Donald Miller and Steve Taylor and asked what they want Christians and non-Christians to take away from this. Miller gave this response, which I found to be very bizarre.

“When I go to church, when I’m embedded in church culture, I tend to get this feeling that I can’t really share all of who I am. Like I can’t share my struggles and even my actions, right? ‘Cuz it’s just not accepted socially – for good reason – because it’s wrong. So the flipside to that, is that I’m not totally known,” Miller said.

He continued, “And when I go to work or I go to school I can kind of let go of some of that, and it’s not because I want to be this awful person. Partly, it’s ‘cuz I want to find out who I am and I want to be known. And I think that church culture can maybe cause a disintegration between the parts of ourselves …”

I need to interject here – What is all this about wanting to find out who he is? The Bible tells us who we are (sinners in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ), at least in relation to who God is. When Jesus called his disciples he told them he would make them fishers of men – so our calling is made clear. As for our character, who we are supposed to be is also very explicitly laid out in scripture, although surrendering our will to Christ is a daily challenge. We are called to be holy and blameless, to not be lovers of self, etc. Take a look at Ephesians 5 if you want a very convicting list of what we should be.

As for church culture causing some sort of disintegration within ourselves – this sounds like the rampant problem of hypocrisy. If you are one person in church and another outside of it you are a hypocrite.

That is not to say Christians will be perfect. Even those saved by grace sin, but choosing to habitually live in sin is incompatible with Christianity. Jesus wants to transform us and make us more like him, so our old self should be disintegrating as we become more like Christ. Read Romans 6! We die to sin, are made alive to God and become his servants. Romans 6:22-23 says: “22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Later on in the interview Miller says that we should be in touch with our depravity. I might agree, but I can’t quite tell from the way he said it. I do believe we have to be aware of our depravity and constantly asking Christ to prune it out of our lives – we are not to abuse the grace of God by wallowing in it.

I linked to a couple of reviews of the book, Blue Like Jazz, in this previous post.