News From The Front – June 2007

Dear praying friends,

It seems that Northern Ireland is fast becoming a haven for every modern heresy that is currently circulating under the guise of being ‘evangelical’. In June/July Brian McLaren will speak to thousands of young professing Christians at the local ‘Summer Madness’ event. Also in July, Joel Osteen will ‘preach’ at the Belfast Odyssey arena. In November the main speaker at the ‘Mandate’ gathering for men will be Erwin McManus who, like Brian McLaren, is identified with what is called ‘The Emerging Church’ – I’ve just had a phone call to tell me that another ‘Emerging Church’ figure called Rob Bell [we have an ‘Alarm Bells’ warning article about him & his wife on our website] will be speaking in Belfast in June, with the Church of Ireland Youth Dept., closely associated with ‘Summer Madness’, advertising Bell’s visit. On our website and in this newsletter these issues will be addressed. Why do we do that? Let me quote from John MacArthur’s latest book ‘The Truth War’ [mentioned on page 13] ‘As always a war is being waged against the truth. We are on one side or the other. There is no middle ground…in every generation the battle for the truth has proved ultimately unavoidable because the enemies of truth are relentless. Truth is always under assault. And it is actually a sin not to fight when vital truths are under attack…whenever the enemies of gospel truth succeed in infiltrating the church [as represented by all those mentioned above] faithful believers are obliged to take the battle to them even there. That is certainly the case today’ [pages XXIII-XXIV]. We thank you for all your support and encouragement and covet your prayers as we continue to engage the enemies of God’s “truth”.

Your servant for Christ


  • The ‘testimony’ of Tony Campolo

I am indebted to my good friend, Roger Oakland, of ‘Understand the Times’ for the following very illuminating commentary on portions of a book authored by Tony Campolo entitled ‘Letters to a young evangelical’. Herewith is Roger’s commentary and I will add some final comments at its conclusion.

Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology of Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania. He is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education and the author of many books. He is a well-known conference speaker who is noted for his agenda to liberalize evangelical Christianity in order to make it acceptable for the twenty-first century. One of his recent books is titled ‘Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians are Afraid to Face’. On the back cover, the following statement is made:

With his trademark shoot-from-the-heart style, Tony Campolo shatters the stereotype of evangelical Christians as a monolithic mass of social conservatives. In ‘Speaking My Mind’, this prolific author and university professor takes issue with the public image of evangelicals as right-wing hardliners and claims a place at the table for socially liberal viewpoints. [1]

Brian McLaren is also a well known author and speaker. Many agree McLaren is the leading proponent for a rapidly developing trend within Christianity called the Emerging Church. Campolo’s publisher, W. Publishing Group (a branch of Thomas Nelson Publishing), chose McLaren to write the only endorsement on the back cover of the book. McLaren, who has authored books such as A New Kind of Christian, The Church on the Other Side, More Ready Than You Realized, and The Secret Message of Jesus, states the following:

If you paid the full price for this book and only got chapter 8, you’d be getting a good bargain. The same is true for chapters 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11. At a time when the term “evangelical” is up for grabs, Tony’s voice needs to be heard. [2]

Please notice Brian McLaren’s reference to “a time when the term ‘evangelical’ is up for grabs” and the proclamation that “his voice needs to be heard.” For those of us interested in Bible prophecy, such a statement causes us to pay attention. You see, there once was a time when an evangelical was a person who had a deep reverence and trust for the Scriptures. Further, that person had to believe the only way to heaven was by accepting the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our sins, and that hell was a literal place where the lost would spend eternity. Not so today! As McLaren so clearly states, the definition of what it means to be an evangelical is now “up for grabs.”

I have read a number of Campolo’s books and listened to his messages. Yes, Campolo is a perfect example of someone who is influencing minds and producing “a new kind of Christian.” I will quote Campolo on a number of issues so that you will be able to examine his ideas in comparison with what the Bible teaches. As we will see, the words of Isaiah will be very appropriate when we compare what Campolo says with what God has said in His Word:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts”. [3]

  • Letters to Timothy for Our Day

Tony Campolo has written a new book titled ‘Letters to a Young Evangelical’. Campolo equates the letters he wrote for this book with the letters written to Timothy that are recorded in the Bible. Paul’s letters were inspired by the Holy Spirit. What about Campolo’s letters? Were they inspired? Campolo introduces ‘Letters to a Young Evangelical’ the following way:

Writing letters to young Christians is nothing new. Almost twenty centuries ago, the apostle Paul did it. He wrote to Timothy, his protégé, with the hope that his letters would guide this fledgling Christian missionary and inspire him to realize his potential as an evangelist and a church leader. Paul’s epistles have come down to us as part of the New Testament, and they are jam-packed with good theology and wise council. [4]

Certainly, what Campolo has stated is true. The books of First and Second Timothy are packed full of truth and insight. Paul’s inspired letters have provided divine guidelines for living ever since the words were written down. However, Campolo seems to suggest the time has come for the Bible to be revised and additional words need to be written to update the youth of our day. As he states:

Paul wanted Timothy to develop the kind of spiritual disciplines that would nurture him into Christian maturity. Imitating Paul, I will address letters in this book to an imagined young Evangelical named Timothy. [5]

Campolo’s statement that he will “imitate” Paul by writing letters to “an imagined young Evangelical named Timothy” should be examined carefully. What if Campolo were to promote ideas and beliefs that he claims will build spiritual discipline but these ideas and beliefs are foreign to the Scriptures? What if young people read the letters written by Campolo and consider his words equal to Paul’s words.

Do you remember what the Bible tells us about true faith? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. If an unsuspecting young person were to take Campolo’s words and equate them with God’s Word, wouldn’t there be a potential for this young person to be deceived? The apostle Paul wrote his letters under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These letters are part of the canon of Scripture. Paul’s words are accurate, true, and sanctioned by the God of the Universe. Shouldn’t the words written by a man who has an agenda to liberalize Christianity cause some concern?

Further, the words written by Paul to Timothy warn us about individuals who would come along—especially in the last days—and reject sound doctrine, presenting ideas that would lead people astray. Note carefully what Paul says:

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”. [6]

  • Coming to Christ Campolo Style

Most Christians can tell you the very moment when they first encountered Jesus Christ in a personal way. Being ‘born again’ is an event that can be vividly remembered. Tony Campolo says his personal encounter began when he discovered Christ through a practice known as “centering prayer.” Though not found in the Bible, the ritual of “centering prayer” is a pillar of Eastern mysticism. In his book ‘Letters to a Young Evangelical’, Campolo shares his own personal testimony in a chapter called “The Gospel According to Us.” He begins the chapter the following way:

As you may know, most Evangelicals at some point make a decision to trust in Jesus for salvation and commit to becoming the kind of people he wants us to be. [7]

A few pages later in this chapter, Campolo presents the details of his conversion experience. He begins by stating:

When I was a boy growing up in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood in West Philadelphia, my mother, a convert to Evangelical Christianity from a Catholic immigrant family, hoped I would have one of those dramatic “born again” experiences. That was the way she had come into a personal relationship with Christ. She took me to hear one evangelist after another, praying that I would go to the altar and come away “converted.” But it never worked for me. I would go down the aisle as the people around me sang “the invitation hymn,” but I just didn’t feel that anything happened to me. For a while I despaired wondering if I would ever get “saved.” It took me quite some time to realize that entering into a personal relationship with Christ does not always happen that way. [8]

Now, it is certainly true that not all conversions are experienced by coming to Christ at an evangelistic crusade. However, it’s important to carefully consider how Campolo describes his personal conversion experience, especially in light of the Scriptures. Later in the same chapter, he wrote:

In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time—sometimes as much as a half hour—to center myself on Jesus. I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say. [9]

I have searched the Scriptures! You can do the same. “Centering prayer” and using the name of Jesus as a “mantra” is just not there. In fact the idea of using a “mantra” (that is mindlessly repeating a word over and over again) is used by the Buddhists and the Hindus in their attempts to focus on the spiritual realm and contact higher beings that the Bible calls demons.

  • “Born Again” by Centering Prayer

Tony Campolo claims he became born again through this practice called “centering prayer”. He encourages his young readers to get closer to Christ by embracing this ritual. Centering prayer is becoming very popular within the Emerging Church Movement. Is it biblical? Tony Campolo says he uses “Jesus” as a “mantra” to clear his mind and to get himself into an altered state of consciousness. This mystical experience, he calls the “thin place.” Quoting from his book:

The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.” The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein separation between self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul. [10]

Remember that Campolo explained that ‘Letters to a Young Evangelical’ was an attempt to imitate the apostle Paul in offering advice to a young evangelical Christian named Timothy. However, it is obvious that Campolo’s ideas are not grounded on Paul’s teachings. In fact they contradict what Paul wrote.

In another letter written by Campolo titled “Becoming Actualized Christians,” further instructions are given regarding how to have a ‘born again’ experience by practicing “centering prayer”. He states:

I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading Catholic mystics, especially ‘The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola’. Ignatius, a founder of the Jesuit order, was once a soldier and it was only when he spent a long time in a hospital bed recovering from a battle wound that his heart and mind focused on God. Like most Catholic mystics he developed an intense desire to experience a “oneness” with God. Gradually, he came to feel an intense yearning for the kind of spiritual purity that he believed would enable him to experience the fullness of God’s presence within. [11]

Campolo’s belief that you can be ‘born again’ by experiencing a “oneness with God” while embracing the teachings of Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits, is preposterous. As can be documented, the very reason the Jesuits were founded by Loyola was for the purpose of bringing the ‘Separated Brethren’ (those who departed from Catholicism) back to the Roman Catholic Church, by whatever devious means it would take. How could Campolo, who claims he is an evangelical Christian, make such a statement? But there is more! Campolo continues by praising the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings:

After the Reformation, we Protestants left behind much that was troubling about Roman Catholicism of the fifteenth century. I am convinced we left too much behind. The methods of praying employed by the likes of Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some Catholic saints, my prayer life has deepened. [12]

My case is closed. Tony Campolo may claim he is an evangelical Christian, but the facts speak loud and clear. The mystical New Age practices he promotes are more closely tied to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism than to biblical Christianity. The Bible makes it clear the only way to be born again is to repent of your sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ. The doctrines of demons that Paul warned Timothy would be promoted in the name of Christianity in the last days are underway.

  • [1] Tony Campolo ‘Speaking my mind’: Back cover
  • [2] Ibid
  • [3] Isaiah 55:8-9
  • [4] Tony Campolo ‘Letters to a young Evangelical’ page 1
  • [5] Ibid page 2
  • [6] 2 Timothy 4:2-4
  • [7] Tony Campolo ‘Letters to a young Evangelical’ page 20
  • [8] Ibid page 25
  • [9] Ibid page 26
  • [10] Ibid
  • [11] Ibid page 30
  • [12] Ibid page 31
  • Cecil’s comments

Tony Campolo has ‘testified’ that when he was listening to the Word of God being preached at evangelistic meetings that ‘it never worked for me’. He then goes on to explain what he believes ‘did work for him’ – ‘In my case intimacy with Christ had developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholics call “centering prayer”… . I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.’

In the ‘Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs’ by John Ankerberg and John Weldon we read this ‘The word “spell” is perhaps the nearest approach to the Sanskrit word mantra. It is a form of words or sounds which are believed to have a magical effect when uttered with intent…Sound is the foundation of all magic and an armoury of mantras forms part of the equipment of the magician in all countries…A mantra repeated often enough can penetrate the dense barrier of the material sphere and draw power from the occult planes…The power of the mantra also functions to facilitate “altered states of consciousness” [that] lead to a kind of intoxication which results in trance…mantras are integrally related to occult practice and philosophy [pages 244-346].

In contrast to this ‘Word of God-free testimony’ by Tony Campolo, the Apostle Peter reminded true converts to Christ of how they were living testimonies to “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever…and this is the word by which the gospel is preached unto you” [1 Peter 1:23&25] and in Romans 1:16 the Apostle Paul declared that “the gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation” and not some mind-emptying, occult-empowering mantra.

When it comes to Tony Campolo “Beloved, believe not every spirit but test the spirits whether they be of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world” [1 John 4:1]. Mr Campolo seems to be living, breathing, ‘teaching’ proof of those mentioned by Paul in his first letter to Timothy 4:1, people who would “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons’. ‘Demonic’ teachings are further exemplified when it comes to

  • Tony Campolo and ISLAM [1]

Earlier on page 2 Roger Oakland made reference to Tony Campolo’s book ‘Speaking my Mind’. In my own December 2006 newsletter I made reference to an article that I had posted to our website warning people about the upcoming ‘Summer Madness’ gathering in Belfast where ‘Emergent Church’ “guru” Brian McLaren will sadly be the headline speaker. In that website article I likewise made reference to McLaren’s endorsement of Campolo’s book and I went on to analyse a number of ‘teachings’ put forth by Tony Campolo. I want to set out now part of what I wrote in relation to what Tony Campolo said about ISLAM in chapter 9 of his book called ‘Is Islam really an evil religion?’ [I hope to comment further on his views on ISLAM in my next newsletter (DV)] I wrote –

On pages 138-139 Tony Campolo wrote

‘Hosts on a variety of talk shows on Christian radio have stirred up negative reactions against Islam by citing a verse in the Koran in which Mohammed called for the death of “infidels” [unbelievers/non-Muslims]. The text they usually cite to justify such violent retaliation is this – ‘Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them whenever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, kill them’ [The Koran: Sura 2 (Al –Baqarah) 190-194].

When asked about this passage from the Koran, a Muslim scholar contended that this passage must be read in context. Those in (a) non-Muslim tribe were staging regular terrorist attacks on the Muslims in Medina. These verses were not permission for terrorism. Instead they were a warning against terrorists…

It is completely unfair to judge Islam by this verse when the overwhelming emphasis of the Koran is to treat Jews and Christians with reverence and respect, to provide freedom for them to worship (but not to proselytise) in accord with their faith and to protect them against harm [The Koran: Sura 29:46]…It is…wrong for us to take an isolated passage out of the Koran to demonise Mohammed or to define Allah as a God who wills the annihilation of non-Muslims’.

Cecil’s Comments

Anyone reading what Tony Campolo has written would, I believe, come to the conclusion that the passage he quoted is the only passage in the whole of the Koran that is used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’ including Jews and Christians. This is one of the ‘misleading’ and ‘incorrect’ statements by Tony Campolo that I referred to earlier [in the website article]. So what are the TRUE facts about the verses/passages in the Koran that are used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’? A very helpful web page that I accessed gave details of no less than 164 Jihad verses that are often used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’. On this web page they are listed in the order that they appear in the Koran but people must understand that the Suras in the Koran are not listed chronologically [in the order the ‘revelations’ were given to Mohammed] but the Suras in the Koran are listed according to length [shortest first and so on].

‘Revelations’ in Islam are subject to the law of ‘abrogation’ – in other words, if a later ‘revelation’ contradicts or cancels a previous ‘revelation’, then the latest ‘revelation’ over-rides the previous. This is very important when comparing/contrasting the verses that enjoin a peaceful approach to ‘infidels’ [early ‘revelations’] with the much more militant verses [later ‘revelations’] that sanction extreme violence against ‘infidels’. Here is one short quote from this web page –

‘Abrogation is a reoccurring topic whenever verses of the Koran are discussed. As a rule, later verses counselling Holy War, such as the Sword Verse (Sura 9:5), abrogate earlier verses counselling tolerance and peace, such as Sura 2:256. The Sword Verse is just one of the 164 Jihad verses listed below. It follows that not many, if any, of the Holy War verses in this list are abrogated’.

From that quote we learn that the verses cited by Tony Campolo, from Sura 2, are actually part of a Sura containing ‘earlier verses counselling tolerance and peace’. The ‘Sword Verse’ [Sura 9:5] is viewed as ‘abrogating’ the earlier peaceful approach. So what is this ‘Sword Verse’ and have we examples of it being used by Muslims to justify the killing of ‘infidels’? The verse reads ‘slay the idolaters wherever you find them…take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush’.

Robert Spencer, in his book ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam’ writes on page 31 ‘Osama bin Laden…in his “Declaration of War” against the Americans quotes Suras 3:145; 47:4-6; 2:154; 9:14; 47:19; 8:72 and of course the…‘Verse of the Sword’ Sura 9:5 [whatever happened to Tony Campolo’s claim for ‘an isolated passage’?] …In 2003 on the first day of the Muslim holy celebrations Eid-al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, he began a sermon “Praise be to Allah who revealed the Verse of the Sword to his servant and messenger [the Prophet Mohammed] in order to establish truth and abolish falsehood”…Osama’s use of these and other passages in his messages is consistent with traditional Islamic understanding of the Koran…The jihad passages in the Koran are anything but a dead letter’. To understand the chronological progression, as ‘revelations’ unfolded, from being a position of ‘no retaliation’ to being ‘defensively permitted’ to being ‘defensively commanded’ to eventually becoming ‘aggressively commanded’, a visit to this web page will prove very instructive

The following quote from this web page should cause Tony Campolo to revisit this whole subject in much greater depth and detail and hopefully cause him to retract what he has misleadingly written in this chapter –

‘Although all Muslim scholars believe that God replaced some earlier verses by substituting later verses, there is a great difference of opinion among them as to which verses supersede which verses. Nevertheless, most are agreed that Sura 9:5, (called “the verse of the sword”) supersedes most of the previous verses regarding jihad. Some believe it supersedes as many as 111 previous verses. In spite of this general agreement, many today quote the previous replaced verses in order to validate their perception of Islam being a peaceful religion. Thus modern, liberal Muslim leaders, especially here in the west, are teaching what could be called “the Islam of Mecca” with its emphasis on non-violence and tolerance. At the same time, “the Islam of Medina,” with its more aggressive, totalitarian nature is what is being practiced and taught by orthodox, fundamentalist Muslims in most parts of the Muslim world’.

  • “Be thou faithful unto death”

Shortly after 18th April I received an Internet link that posted a report under the heading – “A letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna”. This report gave the horrific details of how 3 Christian leaders in the area of Smyrna in Turkey had been savagely butchered to death by members of a Muslim ‘tarikat’ – a group of Islamic ‘faithful believers’. These 3 brothers in Christ, missionary and father of 3, Tilman Geske, pastor and father of 2, Necati Aydin, and former Muslim [like Pastor Aydin] Ugur Yuksel had all been involved in both printing and proclaiming God’s TRUTH and had arranged to meet with these Muslim men to give them a Bible study. Tragically this was merely a ruse to lure God’s servants to a meeting where they would be martyred for seeking to spread God’s TRUTH. This is but one of many equally horrendous instances in recent years where God’s faithful servants have paid the ultimate price in the cause of God’s TRUTH.

All these brutal slayings give the lie to Tony Campolo’s devilish statement quoted earlier that ‘It is… wrong for us… to define Allah as a god who wills the annihilation of non-Muslims’. As I write this article I have just started to read Pastor John MacArthur’s latest book ‘The TRUTH War’ and I want to quote some extracts from his introduction. On page XV he starts a section headed ‘What is truth’ and writes [pages XV-XVIII] ‘God and truth are inseparable…to reject God is to reject the Giver of all truth, the final Judge of what really is true, and the very essence and embodiment of truth itself…The contemporary aversion to truth is simply a natural expression of fallen humanity’s innate hostility towards God [“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be” Romans 8:7]. It is exactly the same attitude with which Pilate summarily dismissed Christ [“What is truth?” John 18:38]…the contemporary refusal to regard any truth as sure and certain is the worst kind of infidelity…We have been given a clear message for the purpose of confronting the world’s unbelief…Faithfulness to Christ demands it. The honour of God requires it…the ages-old conflict over truth is spiritual warfare, a cosmic battle between God and the powers of darkness [Ephesians 6:12]…it has become a very serious problem in the current generation…The Church has grown lazy, worldly, and self-satisfied. Church leaders are obsessed with style and methodology, losing interest in the glory of God and becoming grossly apathetic about TRUTH and sound doctrine…it is every believer’s solemn duty to resist every attack on the TRUTH…The TRUTH War is, after all, war. Warfare is always serious, but this is the battle of the ages for the highest of prizes, and therefore it requires of us the utmost diligence’. Our 3 brothers in Christ gave their lives in this warfare to proclaim God’s TRUTH. Earlier in his introduction in a section headed ‘The Eternal Value Of The Truth’ Pastor MacArthur wrote [pages XII-XV] ‘the church is supposed to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” [1st Timothy 3:15]…Much of the visible church nowadays seems to think Christians are supposed to be at play rather than at war…Contemporary Christians are determined to get the world to like them…the thought of even identifying someone else’s teaching as false (much less “contending earnestly” for the faith) is a distasteful and dangerously counter cultural suggestion…But Christians of all people ought to be most willing to live and die for the TRUTH…And if called upon to sacrifice for the TRUTH’S sake, we need to be willing and prepared to give our lives…that is exactly what Jesus was speaking about when He called His disciples to take up a cross [Matthew 16:24].

In the light of these terrible events in Turkey and also faced today as we are with a seemingly never-ending flood of ‘purpose driven’, ‘seeker sensitive’ ‘health and wealth,’ ‘inspiration-only’, ‘non-offensive’ “gospel” messages and movements, these next words by Pastor MacArthur on page XIV should come as a sombre challenge in particular to all who identify with these branches of ‘Contemporary Christianity’ – ‘Does anyone really imagine that many of the entertainment-hungry churchgoers who pack today’s megachurches would be willing to give their lives for the TRUTH?’ Let me close this item, in memory of our late brothers, with these words from Christ Himself to the Church at Smyrna almost two thousand years ago “I know thy works and tribulation…and I know the blasphemy of them who…are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer…be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” Revelation 2: 9-10.

In the UK, to inquire about obtaining a copy of Pastor MacArthur’s book,

“The TRUTH War” you can phone ‘Grace to You’ on 01233 662262

  • Belfast Bible College responds

On page 16 of my March newsletter I quoted an email that I had sent to Belfast Bible College on 2nd February asking for clarification on a point in their ‘Doctrinal Basis’ and I mentioned that at the time of ‘going to press’ for my newsletter I had not received a reply from them. A couple of days after [2nd April] my newsletter was posted to our ministry website I received the following email from the Principal, David Shepherd and also responded to him as below

Dear Cecil, I trust all is well with you. Please see…my response – Our doctrinal basis is as clear as a statement of such brevity may be and allows for the breadth of evangelical thought on ‘The Fall’. While some evangelical thought (including my own) tends toward a more literal reading of Genesis, it is possible along with R. Niebuhr, J. Ellul, C.S. Lewis, H.M. Kuitert, James Orr, Donald Bloesch and others to insist on a historical fall without insisting on a rigidly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3.This is made possible by the range of thinking on key passages such as Romans 5…Where Paul refers to death in verse 12, he may well be referring to physical death only since that’s what thanatos seems to mean in verse 14…Then again the passage appears to draw a contrast between death and ‘eternal life’ in v.21 and in vv 16 and 18 Paul seems to use condemnation in a similar way to death in v.12…which may suggest a ‘spiritual death’ was intended…Or does he mean death in its physical and spiritual aspects…? While I myself would defend a more traditional evangelical position on the ‘Fall’…I would acknowledge the possibility that others (including Dr. Keay) who I would consider to be evangelical might read Genesis in a different way than I might. While I hope that the above answer might satisfy you, I am not confident that it will do so, nor do I anticipate that further exchanges on the issue will be of particular assistance. Let me therefore thank you again for your concern for the ministry of Belfast Bible College and wish you every blessing in yours.

Dear David, Many thanks for your response just received and likewise I have no desire to prolong this issue. I have read your comments and in the light of Ephesians 2:1 I think it’s very obvious that Paul viewed mankind from Adam as being spiritually dead as well as being subject to physical death and all because of ‘the fall’. Sadly Dr Keay, according to his contribution to the ‘evolution v creation ‘ debate on Sunday Sequence, clearly doesn’t believe this truth. I am your servant for Christ, Cecil Andrews

PS When it comes to C S Lewis I would simply say ‘Take Heed’ and direct you to [‘Take Heed’ ministry website link to article on C S Lewis then quoted]

  • Joel Osteen coming to Belfast

The Belfast Odyssey arena currently has this advert on its ‘What’s on’ page –

An Evening with Joel Osteen is a chance for you to be encouraged by one of America’s leading pastors. You will be able to celebrate God’s goodness through worship and praise music…, you’ll learn more about Joel’s ministry and family, and Joel will have an inspirational message from God’s Word. At the end of the event, Joel will proclaim a special blessing over everyone in attendance… You don’t have to be a Christian or a member of any particular church. The only requirement is a ticket. [Cost £11.50].

So, who is Joel Osteen? A few brief extracts from a report compiled by another faithful ‘watchman’ may serve to sufficiently alert people not to even consider paying £11.50 to hear ‘an inspirational message’ and to receive a ‘special blessing’. In June 2005 Joel Osteen was interviewed on the ‘Larry King live’ programme and a Dial-The–Truth Ministries report states –

After Larry King opened the phone lines, a concerned Christian asks Joel to clarify a previous statement…Osteen could easily clear this up.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. You’re the best, and thank you, Joe — Joel — for your positive messages and your book. I’m wondering, though, why you sidestepped Larry’s earlier question about how we get to heaven? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That’s not really a message of condemnation but of truth. OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that…KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven? OSTEEN: No. Here’s my thing, Larry, is I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know? Only God can look at somebody’s heart, and so — I don’t know. To me, it’s not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn’t. I just say, here’s what the Bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, you’re saying you’re not going, you’re not going, you’re not going, because it’s not exactly my way. I’m just…

KING: But you believe your way. OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart. KING: But for someone who doesn’t share it, is wrong, isn’t he? OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don’t know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I’m just going to let God be the judge of that. I don’t know. KING: So you make no judgment on anyone? OSTEEN: No. But I…

Larry really tosses Joel a softball. How about a God-defying atheist? Again, Osteen will not confess that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.

KING: What about atheists?

OSTEEN: You know what, I’m going to let someone — I’m going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just — again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it’s a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t want to believe that that’s going to be their choice. God’s got to look at your own heart…and only God knows that.

I find it ironic and demeaning that Osteen [In a later ‘apology’] “was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.” He was not UNCLEAR. He was crystal clear. He consistently and clearly rejected that the Lord Jesus Christ was the ONLY way of salvation! We’re not talking about a “babe in Christ”. We are talking about the pastor of the largest church in the nation! Here he is, as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus, on a very popular television show, and [he] refuses to acknowledge the very thing [to which] he supposedly has “dedicated his life”? Something’s seriously wrong with this picture…Many other statements from Osteen during the Larry King interview were blatantly in opposition to the Word of God [like failing to name homosexual practice as ‘sin’]

KING: But you’re not fire and brimstone, right…not…hell and damnation? OSTEEN: No. That’s not me. It’s never been me. I’ve always been an encourager at heart. And when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago there was a lot more of that. But, you know, I just — I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe — maybe it was for a time. But I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people. I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us.

Friend, the greatest “fire and brimstone” preacher that ever lived was the Lord Jesus! He preached about hell more than any other subject. If you don’t believe in proclaiming “fire and brimstone”, as Osteen openly confesses, you do not believe the Bible! It’s that simple… Stay away from Joel Osteen and his no condemnation, self-esteem, false-gospel. Warn others.

  • ‘Spark ‘07’ – ‘Ecumenical fusion’ & ‘Christian confusion’

This August ecumenical ‘public relations’ event in Ballymena will include full Roman Catholic participation. Some misguided ‘Protestants’ may view this as an opportunity to witness to the participating Catholics. Others looking on will simply view it as ‘Christians together’. God’s glory and truth are never advanced by ‘unholy alliances’. Spurgeon wrote “The secret cause of Jehosaphat’s loss was his alliance, his fellowship with sinners. Would that Jehosaphat’s experience might be a warning to avoid being unequally yoked together with unbelievers! May we be separate from sinners”.

  • ‘Sunday Worship’ – BBC Radio 4: 29th April 2007
  • Jesuit-led ‘service’ for mostly ‘gay’ congregation

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 4 May 2007

Edited version of this article included as an insert with the ‘JUNE 2007 – NEWS FROM THE FRONT’ – Full article can be viewed here