Dear praying friends,
Yet another year is drawing to a close and as time runs its course surely God’s ‘awake’ people can clearly see the outworking of that which is clearly predicted in God’s Word. If today society has not already spiralled down and reached the levels of days similar to those of Noah and Lot [wicked and immoral] then all I can say is that those former days must have been truly and unimaginably horrendous days. God’s people are called to be “salt” and “light” but today the world witnesses a professing ‘Church’ that has no “savour” and radiates no discernable “light”. As Roger Oakland said during his recent visit, professing believers have got their eyes upon ‘men, methods & movements’ and as a result the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been buried under an avalanche of purpose-driven, alpha-inspired, unscriptural feel-good trivia. And all the time Rome is advancing her claims and cause to be God’s one true church. On page 16 you will find details of Roger Oakland’s latest and timely book ‘Another Jesus’. [Enclosed with this newsletter is a photocopy of its front cover together with a copy of the front cover of a book that I myself have just had published called ‘Try the spirits: Volume 1’ [for details visit ‘Twoedged Sword Pubilcations’]. This book is a compendium of my writings on C S Lewis; Philip Yancey & The Alpha Course. It can be ordered from me – price £5.50 [includes p&p]. Thank you all for another year of faithful prayerful and practical support.
Your servant for Christ
PHILIP YANCEY [PART TWO] “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness” Jude 4
Following on from Part One I want now to address the interview given by Philip Yancey to the ‘Rev.’ Candace Chellew-Hodge and to consider whether Mr Yancey is guilty of “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness”. The preamble to the interview, written by ‘Rev.’ Candace Chellew-Hodge is itself enlightening as it reveals the change in her initial perception of Mr Yancey through reading some of his books. Candace Chellew-Hodge wrote –
‘I first heard of Philip Yancey when his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” came out in 1997. Even though many people whom I respected raved about the book, I was not interested in reading the book. Why would I? It was written by a man who regularly wrote for Christianity Today – a magazine that was less than gay friendly. I’m not one to spend my precious reading time on authors who bash gays and lesbians – or authors that I perceive might do that. I know their positions and their arguments. Reading their books seemed like a waste of time. I must now confess that I unfairly judged Yancey. I let a silly “guilt-by-association” taint my opinion of him even before giving his books a chance. I regret that, but perhaps God knows best. If I had read Yancey in 1997 I might not have appreciated his gentleness, his grace or his mercy quite as much as I do now. I finally gave in and read Yancey’s work only after I had subscribed to the audio book service Audible… Audible has a great selection of Christian and spiritual books and I’ve consumed most of their catalogue. It was during a dry spell, when I had exhausted much of the collection that interested me that I turned to Yancey’s new book, Rumours of Another World. I had been in spiritual crisis and was looking for someone to explain to me how to reach that supernatural world that we know exists, but somehow cannot relate to or forget about in our daily rush. The description of the book sounded intriguing so I put my preconceived notions of Yancey aside and downloaded the book. What a blessing! The book was just what I needed. I did, however, cringe through the chapter on “Designer Sex,” waiting for that bash against gays and lesbians. It never came. I was deeply shocked – an evangelical who didn’t use a chapter on sex to take a pot shot at homosexuals? It was hard to imagine. The tone of the book led me to make another selection by Yancey. Reaching for the Invisible God was another book I listened to with an eager hunger. Finally, an author offered an intelligent treatment of faith, doubt and how we relate to a God we cannot see. I was beginning to see why so many people loved Yancey – and why others would not like him at all – especially if they clung to a fundamentalist, black and white faith. Finally, I decided to read “Grace”. This book left me speechless and utterly blessed. I want to start a church based solely on the teachings of this book – of God’s “grace on tap” for every person who walks through the door. I think it should be required reading for every single church member on the face of the earth… It was Yancey’s description of his friendship with Mel White in “Grace” that touched me most deeply. White’s story, documented in his own book Stranger at the Gate, has been well documented in the gay and lesbian community… Shunned by his former employees, White went on to found ‘Soulforce’, a social action group dedicated to the spiritual equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender believers. Yancey’s steadfast support for his friend Mel, and *his own struggle with the sinfulness of homosexuality* is documented in the book and is one of the most honest accounts of grace in the face of struggle that I believe I have ever read. It was this chapter that led me to write to Yancey and tell him how much his books had moved me. He was kind enough to send me a reply that emboldened me to ask for an interview. He agreed to an email interview, given his busy schedule. I was amazed that he would lend his name to a publication like ‘Whosoever’ – and eternally grateful. I cannot recommend his work strongly enough. If you thirst for grace, peace and joy, read Yancey’s works. You will not be disappointed.
*I can confirm [as the result of email exchanges with Candace Chellew-Hodge] that the phrase in this preamble ‘his own struggle with the sinfulness of homosexuality’ does refer to Philip Yancey’s ‘struggle’ and not to any ‘struggle’ by his homosexual friend, Mel White. It is not my intention to publish and analyze in full the interview given, but rather to quote extracts and to make comments. The full interview, detailing all the questions posed by Candace Chellew-Hodge of Whosoever and setting out, in full, the answers given by Philip Yancey can be viewed by following this link http://www.whosoever.org/v8i6/yancey.shtml
Question by Whosoever: In your book “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” you tell about your friendship with ‘Soulforce’ leader Mel White and your support of him at the [‘gay’] March on Washington in 1987… What is your position on gays and lesbians in the church?
Answer by Yancey:…Mel was one of my closest friends for years before he revealed to me his sexual orientation. (He still is, by the way.) He had repressed and hidden his homosexuality, and in fact was married and was making a fine career in Christian publishing and ministry…. I get hate letters full of equal venom from both sides: from conservative Christians appalled that I would maintain a friendship with Mel and write compassionately about gays and lesbians, and from the other side wishing I would go further with a full endorsement…I’m sure of what my own attitude should be toward gays and lesbians: I should show love and grace. As one person told me, “Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.” When people ask me how I can possibly stay friends with a sinner like Mel, I respond by asking how Mel can possibly stay friends with a sinner like me. Even if I conclude that all homosexual behaviour is wrong, as many conservative Christians do, I’m still compelled to respond with love. As I’ve attended gay and lesbian churches, I’m also saddened that the evangelical church by and large finds no place for homosexuals. I’ve met wonderful, committed Christians who attend **MCC churches, and I wish that the larger church had the benefit of their faith. And at the same time, I think it’s unhealthy to have an entire denomination formed around this one particular issue–those people need exposure to and inclusion in the wider Body of Christ. When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people. There are a few–not many, but a few passages of Scripture that give me pause. Frankly, I don’t know the answer to those questions. My church in Chicago spent a couple of years carefully studying the issue. The church had openly gay members, but did not allow practicing homosexuals in leadership positions (as they did not allow unmarried “practicing heterosexuals,” whatever that means). The committee studying the issue looked at the biblical and theological and social aspects and finally came down in the same place: welcoming but not affirming homosexuals in leadership roles. Conservatives got mad and left. Many gays and lesbians also left, hurt that the church reinforced their “second-class citizen” status. I don’t have a magic answer, and I can’t see one on the near horizon. Whole denominations are struggling with the very same issue, as you know.
**MCC refers to what is know as the Metropolitan Community Church and from the website of the MCC in West Hollywood, California we read the following – ‘The first Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) was founded by Rev Troy D. Perry in 1968 in Los Angeles, CA (USA). This Fellowship of Churches plays a vital role in addressing the spiritual needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community around the world. For those of us who were raised in a religious atmosphere, homosexuality was usually associated with shame and guilt. As a result, many of us were cut off from the spiritual dimension of our lives. Metropolitan Community Churches provide an opportunity to explore a spiritual experience that affirms who we are’.
Comments: From the answer given by Mr Yancey the following conclusions can be drawn: –
1. Mr Yancey asserts that sexually active professing ‘gay Christians’ are to be shown ‘love and grace’ and not to be challenged about their sexual activity and are to be viewed simply as Christians who MAY BE SINNING in a different manner to other Christians. Mr Yancey is clearly uncertain about whether homosexuality etc is sinful in the light of his phraseology such as ‘Even if’, ‘I’m confused’, ‘there are a few passages of scripture that give me pause’ and ‘I don’t have a magic answer’.
2. The concept of ‘gay and lesbian CHURCHES’ appears to pose no theological problem for Mr Yancey. He views the Metropolitan Community Church as a bona-fide Christian ‘denomination’. He appears to have acquiesced to the willingness of the Church he belonged to in Chicago accepting ‘openly gay MEMBERS’ even though they did prohibit such from leadership roles.
3. Despite being a hugely successful ‘Christian’ writer Mr Yancey appears not to understand the term ‘unmarried practising heterosexuals’. Someone in his position and with his influence should surely know that the Bible identifies such people as “fornicators” [Fornication: In its more restricted sense fornication denotes voluntary sexual communion between an unmarried person and one of the opposite sex – Marshall Pickering Evangelical Dictionary of Theology page 422].
4. Mr Yancey reduces the MANY PASSAGES of Scripture that identify sexual activity outside the confines of the God-ordained marriage relationship of one man and one woman [Genesis 1:27-28 & Genesis 2:24] as being sinful to ‘there are a FEW PASSAGES of scripture that give me pause’. In the use of this terminology I hear echoes of “Yea, hath God Said?” [Genesis 3:1].
Question by Whosoever: How can other Evangelical Christians develop an attitude of grace (if not acceptance) toward gay and lesbian Christians?
Answer by Yancey: The only way is through personal exposure. It’s amazing how feelings change when suddenly it’s your daughter or your brother who comes out of the closet. In my case, it was my friend Mel. The issues I had read about suddenly had a face, a person with a story. When that happened, everything changed. That’s one reason why I think it’s sad that the churches have so little contact. I have attended gay and lesbian churches whose fervency and commitment would put most evangelical churches to shame. Disapproving conservatives should have contact with those people, and vice versa.
Comments: From the answer given by Mr Yancey the following conclusions can be drawn: –
The concept of unrepentant ‘gay and lesbian Christians’ is obviously acceptable to Mr Yancey who commends them for their ‘fervency and commitment’.
The phrase ‘attitude of grace’ appears to be interpreted by Mr Yancey as the eradication of ‘Evangelical’ Christian disapproval of homosexual/lesbian sexual activity – activity that the Bible clearly identifies as sinful. In effect Mr Yancey is encouraging an attitude of [to paraphrase Isaiah 5:20] ‘accepting evil as good’. God’s ‘grace’ never involves ‘accepting evil as good’ and Mr Yancey is encouraging an attitude and approach to sin that Paul warned against in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we [true Christians] that are dead to sin, live any longer in it?” Matthew Henry in his commentary on these verses wrote ‘The apostle is very full in pressing the necessity of holiness…he shows that connection between justification and holiness are inseparable. Let the thought be abhorred, of continuing in sin that grace may abound. True believers are dead to sin; therefore they ought not to follow it. No man can at the same time be both dead and alive. He is a fool who, desiring to be dead unto sin, thinks he may live in it.
Mr Yancey encourages ‘disapproving conservatives’ to ‘have contact with these people’ – he obviously means for ‘conservative’ Christians to tolerate such sinful practices amongst professing Christians by having what he calls ‘contact’ with such people rather than disapprovingly confronting them. This advice by Mr Yancey conflicts with the Biblical commendation already quoted from James 5:19-20 and with the concern expressed by Paul, who didn’t tolerate sinful sexual, immoral activity by professing Christians, but rather declared that he would “bewail” [lament and mourn over] those engaged in such sin [2 Corinthians 12:21].
Question by Whosoever: When my [lesbian] partner and I moved to a new state, we began searching for a church home. I wrote a letter to the local Episcopal rector explaining who we were and asked if we would be welcome in his church. His response, in a nutshell, was that we would be very welcome, if only we gave up our “sinful lifestyle” and sought out good, Christian (presumably Episcopalian) men to marry. This is the reaction of many Christian churches to gays and lesbians. We must give up our sexual orientation to be accepted. What do you say to churches like this?
Answer by Yancey: I’m probably not the best person to address a church like that–you are. Obviously, if a church is saying you need to give up sexual orientation, that church needs some education. I know of some ministries who try to change sexual behaviour, but none that try to change sexual orientation… I would probably approach that rector differently. I would point to how Jesus dealt with people who were moral failures–I’m starting where the rector is, who sees you as a moral failure. Jesus chose one such woman, a woman who had had five failed marriages, as his first missionary. I would also ask if he requires all who attend his church to leave their “sins” at the door.
Comments: From the answer given by Mr Yancey the following conclusions can be drawn: –
Mr Yancey clearly accepts the notion of diverse ‘sexual orientation because very subtly the questioner has directed attention to what she calls ‘sexual orientation’ and diverted attention away from ‘sexual activity’. This ‘orientation’ approach seeks to legitimise ‘sexual activity’ between those of the same gender by suggesting that diverse ‘sexual orientation’ is a perfectly normal and an integral part of God’s “good” created order. God’s “good” created order included humans created “male and female” [Genesis 1:27] and there was no mention whatsoever of what might be termed ‘cross orientation’. The ‘sexual activity’ attributed to this ‘cross orientation’ [homosexuality and lesbianism] is regularly identified in many passages of the Bible as an “abomination” in the sight of God.
Mr Yancey identifies a woman [see John 4:1-29] who had ‘five failed marriages’ as a ‘moral failure’ and explains how Jesus chose her to be ‘his first missionary’. Does Mr Yancey want to convey the impression that Jesus would use as a ‘missionary’ someone who was still enmeshed and wedded to sinful immorality? Has Mr Yancey forgotten the Lord’s words to another ‘moral failure’ when he said to the woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery “go and sin no more” [John 8:11]. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he instructs those who “name the name of Christ [to] depart from iniquity” so that they may be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified and fit for the master’s use” [2 Timothy 2:19 7 21].
Much more could be written, not only on this topic of homosexuality and lesbianism but also about other worrying aspects of Mr Yancey’s thinking when he makes statements like “I also find a lot of spiritual nourishment in Catholic writers across the centuries. They understand the mystery, and many of them spent their entire lives exploring that mystery” and when the interviewer makes comments like “Your books convey an obvious intelligence and depth about your faith. You incorporate the thoughts of many serious theologians including Soren Kirkegaard, Simone Weil and Thomas Merton”.
Leaving these additional concerns aside and returning to Mr Yancey’s comments on this whole issue of ‘gay and lesbian Christians’ I firmly believe that there is only one conclusion that can be arrived at. Measuring Mr Yancey’s comments against the teaching of the Word of God Mr Yancey is guilty of what Jude warned against in verse 4, namely of “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness”. Mr Yancey is either not equipped or simply unwilling to articulate God’s clear views on this moral issue and as a result he is giving false spiritual hope and comfort to those who are in danger of suffering the same judgment as their ‘sexually orientated ancestors’ as we read in Jude 7 of “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth, for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire”.
Don’t take your cue from Steve Chalke [Part 1]
In the Belfast Telegraph ‘Church News’ of 12 November 1994 an item was headed ‘Chalke brings roadshow on tour of Ulster’ and the opening lines of the article read ‘CHRISTIAN TV star Steve Chalke was in Northern Ireland today at the start of a week-long special mission’. Over the years I have watched with increasing concern the expressed views and actions of this ‘Christian’ TV presenter Steve Chalke. By way of example, according to a March 1994 Evangelical Times article, when asked on GMTV’s ‘Sunday Special’ on 16 January 1994 about the Duchess of Kent’s ‘conversion to the Roman Catholic Church’ and to confirm ‘this involved a doctrinal change of belief’, Steve Chalke replied that ‘it was only another form of Christian worship’ implying that all were equally valid. Outside of his TV interests he is the National Director of a ‘Christian’ organisation known as ‘Oasis Trust’ that primarily works amongst young people. In 1994 he was in Northern Ireland as the guest of Evangelical Ministries when he spoke [daytime] in schools and in various locations [evenings] around the Province. He also spoke at 2 Saturday ‘Youth Leaders Survival Courses’ in Coleraine and Belfast. In the Vol.1 No.1 issue of Compass [The Quarterly Journal of Non-Religious Christianity], a magazine that was produced and edited by Gerald Coates [the hyper-charismatic founder of the Pioneer Churches and who was a co-founder of the Marches for Jesus] there is an article about Steve Chalke in which he refers to the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’. The article said ‘Oasis Trust, it seems, was affected by this move of God relatively early. Arriving late for a prayer meeting just after Pentecost last year, Steve walked in to find all the staff lying on the floor. “I just sat down in the corner and thought – well it all seems to be under control in a strange kind of way”…Steve relates the present “refreshing” to the disciples’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. Anyone who in their judgement can equate the ‘Toronto Blessing’ experiences [‘animal noises, uncontrollable laughter, spiritual drunkenness’ etc] with the ‘Mount of Transfiguration’ experience [a foretaste of future ‘glorification’ – see Luke 9:31-32 & 2 Peter 1:16] is quite frankly seriously flawed in their judgment. In the same article we also read this disturbing account ‘He [Steve Chalke] did though have a unique experience after praying for God’s refreshing…I went back to my room. I had to submit a script to BBC1 by the next morning…but for weeks I’d just had no inspiration…This time though Steve sat down, picked up the pen and found himself beginning to write fluently…The whole flow of what I was going to speak about just came together…Steve was conscious of two things. First that he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Secondly that the script was perfect’. I would just like to say that if I, as someone who has been called to write on ‘things Christian’, penned something and then publicly asserted that  I had totally nothing to do with it in the sense that it was completely ‘authored’ by an unseen force and  that what I had penned was perfect, I would expect to be treated with both extreme scepticism and alarm by discerning Christians. In the booklet ‘The Facts on Spirit Guides’ [by John Ankerberg & John Weldon] the subject of ‘Channeling’ is examined. The practice is defined on page 7 as ‘a New Age term for spirit-possession. This occurs when humans willingly give their minds and bodies to spirit beings. These spirits enter and control people and use them to give their spiritual teachings or other information’. There is then an interesting comment on page 15 in the section entitled ‘What happens during channelling?’ where we read ‘Another form is known as “automatism” where the spirit seems only to control part of the body such as the hands in automatic writing’. In his book ‘Occult ABC’ Kurt Koch, on page 200, gives this definition of ‘Automatic Writing’ as ‘In spiritist automatic writing, the medium must achieve complete inner quietness and must not concentrate on anything. Suddenly the compulsion to write comes over the medium’. These explanations of ‘automatism’ and ‘automatic writing’ bear an unsettling and uncanny similarity to Steve Chalke’s claimed ‘unique experience’ of how he wrote that BBC 1 script. Perhaps you’re thinking that what I have just suggested is somewhat ‘extreme’ and ‘over the top’ but I have found over the years that what I would call the ‘shoots and buds’ of someone’s ‘heresies’ have a tendency to develop and strengthen over time until they eventually ‘blossom fully’. Well, in recent months I believe the scripture-contradicting views of Steve Chalke have come into ‘full bloom’. As you will read later we, as a ministry, have again hosted a visit by Roger Oakland and many of Roger’s talks were in support of Biblical Creation as detailed in God’s inspired Word. How does Steve Chalke view the Genesis account of creation? In the 20 August 2004 issue of the British Church Newspaper we read “Reformed commentators have heavily criticised Steve Chalke, ‘Evangelical’ TV personality and Director of Christian Charity ‘Oasis Trust’ for his strongly expressed criticisms of the Biblical doctrine of penal substitution. He has now condemned the accounts of creation in Genesis and Exodus as ‘rubbish’…Steve Chalke said ‘My personal belief is that those who wish to read into Genesis chapter 1 that God made the world in six days are not being honest and scholarly. It won’t be taught in the school [a new ‘Christian Academy’ to be opened by Oasis Trust] because I think it’s rubbish. It’s a bizarre thing to claim the Bible suggests that”. I would simply ask – Does Steve Chalke not believe the fourth commandment? – “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth”: Exodus 20:11. In this quote mention was made of ‘penal substitution’ and in a review by Andrew Sach and Mike Ovey [in ‘Evangelicals Now’ – June 2004] of Steve Chalke’s latest book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ we read the following “If God is not angry and humans are not essentially guilty, then what job remains for the cross? Unsurprisingly, Chalke renounces a crucial biblical dimension of the atonement: penal substitution. For Chalke this is unnecessary and offensive…But the apostle John declares that the pouring out of God’s wrath on Jesus is the very essence of love [“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins”: 1 John 4:10].
In ‘The Ulster Bulwark’ [Magazine of the Evangelical Protestant Society] there is an article on page 3 about ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ and they quote where Steve Chalke said about his views on ‘penal substitution’ as expressed in his book ‘In my view the real problem with penal substitution – a theory rooted in violence and retributive norms of justice – is that it is wholly incompatible, at least as currently taught and understood, with any authentically Christian understanding of the character of God or genuinely Christocentric world views – given for instance Jesus’ own non-violent “do not return evil for evil” approach to life’ and he went on to say “Hence my comment, in The Lost Message of Jesus, about the tragedy of reducing God to a ‘cosmic child abuser’. Though the sheer bluntness of my imagery might shock some, in truth, it is only because it is a stark ‘unmasking’ of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology.” The flaw in this thinking is quite obvious – for God to JUSTLY punish sinners for their sin would not be ‘evil’ so when God graciously punished His own Son on the cross as a propitiatory substitute for His chosen people He was doing so in order that “he might be just and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus” [Romans 3:26]. God’s Son is “the good shepherd who gave his life for the sheep” [John 10:11]. Penal substitution is the ground upon which God is able to perfectly pardon guilty, but repentant sinners and still remain true to His own perfect standards of justice. It is clear that this truth “is hidden” to Steve Chalke and he is “blinded” to this truth at the heart of the “glorious gospel of Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]. Can anyone seriously doubt that Steve Chalke has “departed from the faith” and is “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” [1 Timothy 4:1]?
Moral Crusades’ and ‘The Gospel’
The front page, lead article in the October 2004 issue of Evangelical Times was titled ‘Moral Crusades’ and herewith are a few extracts from that article –
The siege of Beslan and the murder of hundreds of children plumbed new depths of callous wickedness…How should the Christian respond to all this…Christians see these sins and the hurt and destruction they produce and we want them to stop…It is tempting for the church to try to solve these problems…Because our society is blinded by sin we would like to help it set up safety-rails for moral behaviour and barriers against self-destruction. Some Christians believe this is not only desirable but that we have a duty to construct these barriers against sin’s folly…Key moral issues…become the battleground of opposing worldviews and lifestyles…But moral crusades ALONE have little impact…We do not say that it is wrong for Christians to engage in moral crusades – but there are significant dangers…Recent requests for Christian activism have included picketing school gates where contraceptive pills are dispensed to pupils…BUT WHERE IS THE GOSPEL IN ALL THIS? Advocates of social protest may say ‘the gospel’ is in the social reform BUT THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL that is “the power of God unto salvation” [Romans 1:16]. Furthermore, political influence in a democracy almost always requires divergent groups to make common cause. The Roman Catholic Church in Britain is by far the most socially and morally alert religious group…The Catholic Church is particularly vocal on abortion…Few Christian pressure groups today could survive if they limited their membership to Evangelical Christians. Consequently, Roman Catholics, liberals and Evangelicals find themselves setting aside differences in doctrine for the ‘more important’ issue of their moral crusade’.
This timely and excellent article has I believe spotlighted a very subtle way in which the enemy of ‘the gospel’ has sought to further diminish the power and influence of God’s appointed means of saving sinners namely “by the foolishness of preaching” [1 Corinthians 1:21]. Lives truly transformed by God’s Spirit through the message of ‘the gospel’ will be radically changed and morally uplifted for the article goes on to say
‘Evangelical believers know that controlling sin is not a matter of social reform. We can never make a man better by enforcing a particular moral code. There is only one remedy for the sin that lurks at every level of society – the gospel of Jesus Christ, applied by God’s Spirit to the heart of individuals’.
A former Pastor of mine used to quote a saying by a saint of God [it might have been Vance Havner but I can’t be certain] who said ‘The Church is not called to “Christianise” the world but to “Evangelise” it’. One quote that is by Vance Havner [see] is this – ‘If they had a social gospel in the days of the prodigal son, somebody would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he never would have gone home’ and I think these quotes together sum up the mindset behind some of today’s ‘ecumenical moral crusades’ that in reality pose a great danger to ‘the gospel’ that the church is called to preach and proclaim.
Prior to the publication of the article in Evangelical Times I was already considering writing on this issue as a particular book had been drawn to my attention. It is called ‘More Than These’ and it is written by an American Pastor called Ralph Ovadal. Pastor Ovadal had been deeply involved in the American pro-life/anti-abortion movement when the truth began to dawn upon him that this ‘moral crusade’ was being used to further the aims of Rome and the ecumenical movement. David Carson in his August 2004 – Protestant Old Paths newsletter carried this review –
‘Pastor Ralph Ovadal has for many years been a frontline campaigner against abortion and writes this book from first-hand experience, as well as many well researched sources. The purpose of the book is to unveil the Church of Rome in its use of the abortion issue to further its own agenda and to draw Evangelicals into fellowship with her. This they have been very successful in doing with the result that the barriers between Rome and true Christians have largely been broken down and some professing Christians have “perverted” to Rome. Mr Ovadal uses a multitude of sources to show how Rome operates and how successful she has been in lulling true Christians. While Pastor Ovadal remains passionately committed to the defence of the unborn children he insists it must not be at the expense of compromising the truth [of ‘the gospel’] It is well worth reading’.
A similar ‘moral crusade’ that is active around the world and that I wrote about some years ago in one of my newsletters is ‘Habitat for Humanity’ [June 1999] that seeks through ecumenical co-operation to provide cheap housing for poor families and the second of the Vance Havner quotes already referred to seems particularly apt in this case. Ralph Ovadal’s book ‘More Than These’ can be ordered by visiting his website on http://www.wcuweb.com/Default.asp or people living in the United Kingdom can write to him to order a copy at Wisconsin Christians United P.O. Box 771 Monroe, WI 53566 USA and if you enclose a bank of England £5 note he will gladly send you a copy.
The Evangelical Times article rightly states ‘It is the overriding responsibility of the Christian church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ’ but that must never be at the cost of forging unscriptural ‘spiritual alliances’ with those who preach ‘another gospel’. In his ‘Morning and Evening’ devotional for the ‘Morning’ of January 13, C H Spurgeon considers the verse in 1 Kings 22:48 “Jehosaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold; but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber” and I can think of no better way of ending this article than by quoting the following extracts – Mr Spurgeon wrote ‘Solomon’s ships had returned in safety, but Jehosaphat’s vessels never reached the land of gold…The secret cause of Jehosaphat’s loss is well worthy of notice, for it is the root of very much of the suffering of the Lord’s people; it was his alliance with a sinful family, his fellowship with sinners. In 2 Chronicles 20:37 we are told that the Lord sent a prophet to declare “Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works”…Would to God that Jehosaphat’s experience might be a warning to the rest of the Lord’s people to avoid being unequally yoked together [for example in ‘moral crusades’] with unbelievers…for if it be not so with us, we may expect to hear it often said “The Lord hath broken thy works”.’
Ministry visit by Robert Liichow re-scheduled
Due to injuries received in a car accident the planned visit by
Robert Liichow has been re-scheduled for 1st – 20th April 2005.
Revised details will be issued with our March 2005 newsletter. [DV]. Meantime do please pray for a full recovery by Robert and his daughter who was also injured in the accident.
Self-explanatory published by the Belfast Telegraph [16/10/04]
Dear Editor, 11 October 2004
Concerning the controversy over ‘communion’ Alf McCreary [Perspectives 9 October] refers to ‘this important Sacrament’ and tells of how ‘people from both denominations [Protestant and Roman Catholic] are known to share communion privately’. I believe that to truly ‘share communion’ as Mr McCreary puts it there is one essential ingredient required for any genuine ‘sharing’ on a human level to take place and that is “a shared understanding” of what is taking place. As one who holds to Baptist understandings on certain matters Christian I recently ‘shared communion’ with fellow believers during their Presbyterian communion service and was quite comfortable to do so as we held ‘a shared understanding’ of what was taking place. The Roman Catholic Mass claims to be an actual perpetuation of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary [Catholic Catechism: para: 1367] whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith [Chapter XXIX] declares the Lord’s Supper to be ‘for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself’. Rome claims the Mass IS a sacrifice whereas Presbyterians claim it is a REMEMBRANCE of a sacrifice. Rome guards its beliefs about the Mass jealously and in the 1998 publication ‘One Bread, One Body’ the Catholic Bishops of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland quite understandably said on page 9 ‘It is right to expect that anyone who receives Holy communion in the Catholic Church should manifest Catholic faith in the Eucharist’. Historically honest Protestants quite understandably went on to say in the Westminster Confession of Faith that ‘the…sacrifice of the mass is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect’. Clearly the understandings of theologically honest Roman Catholics and Protestants on the ‘important sacrament’ of ‘communion’ are at loggerheads with each other and are not ‘shared’. As Mr McCreary clearly wishes to passionately champion the cause of ‘shared communion’ perhaps in a future article he might explain in some detail what common ‘shared understanding’ he would formulate so that Christians such as myself who are guided by Biblical convictions might consider the merits of any such ‘shared communion’. The honest truth is that without ‘a shared understanding’ by all participants you are left only with a sham ‘shared communion’ service and you end up like Michael Palin in the Himalayas who, whilst participating in a religious ritual, threw a handful of flour in the air along with a group of Tibetan Buddhists, but did not understand what was supposedly going on. He participated but he did not ‘share’. Cecil Andrews
Visit by Roger Oakland & his book ‘Another Jesus’
My thanks to all who prayed for the 2nd ministry visit to Northern Ireland by Roger Oakland [23rd October – 7th November]. During that time Roger spoke at 20 meetings in 16 days. We were both much encouraged by the attendances and by the interest expressed by those who came along. Most of the meetings dealt with ‘Searching for the truth on origins’ [Creation v Evolution] and Roger is currently in the midst of making a 13-part DVD set dealing with this subject in detail and I will make further reference to this resource in a future newsletter [DV]. He also addressed the topic of ‘Seducing Spirits’ and audiotapes of these talks are available from us [price – £2.00 for each tape]. In the course of the ‘Seducing Spirits’ talk Roger mentioned the ‘Jesus’ of the Roman Catholic Church. In October, in Guadalajara in Mexico, Rome launched a Eucharistic Congress. The Pope in a message to pilgrims in Rome to mark the opening of this event said, ‘Inaugurated today in Guadalajara, Mexico, was the International Eucharistic Congress, which has as its theme “The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium.” I unite myself spiritually with this important ecclesial event, with which the Year of the Eucharist also begins…We entrust these intentions to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, “Eucharistic Woman”’. Next day ‘John Paul II told a group of young people involved in a diocesan mission on the streets of Rome that there cannot be evangelisation without the Eucharist. “Eucharist and mission are two inseparable realities,” the Pope told the youngsters Saturday at a meeting’. From an early age Rome promotes their ‘Jesus’ as this Zenit report shows – BRINGING CHILDREN TO CHRIST IN EUCHARISTIC ADORATION: Father Antoine Thomas Develops a Program for Kids: PRINCEVILLE, Illinois, OCT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Thanks to a French priest’s vision and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, hundreds of children are engaging in Eucharistic adoration and experiencing the real presence of Christ. Rome’s vision could be summed up in this re-writing of Philippians 2:10-11 ‘That at the command of our priests and at the ringing of our bells, every knee should bow and every tongue should be ready to receive our Jesus, our transubstantiated Lord, to the glory of our most holy father in Rome’. Roger Oakland’s latest book is called ‘Another Jesus’ – ‘The Eucharistic Christ & the New Evangelisation’
COPIES OF THE BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM US AND THE PRICE IS £7.50 [includes p&p].