Dear praying friends,
For most of the past year large swathes of the world have been engulfed by what has come to be known as the ‘credit crunch’. Supposedly prosperous nations in Asia, Australasia, Western Europe, the British Isles and North America have been brought financially to their knees. Some of these in times past would have been viewed as bastions of Christianity but they have been found to be not only virtually financially bankrupt but also to be spiritually bankrupt. In Deuteronomy 8:19-20 God issued a warning to His people as they were making their way to the Promised Land – “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish…because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God”. The finances of many nations have been destroyed by corruption in high places – and so it has also been with their spiritual resources – they too have been corrupted. Much of this newsletter brings to light some sources of such present-day and popular corruption. May God be pleased to give His people discernment to preserve and prosper a faithful spiritual heritage amongst the nations that will bring true glory to Him, for that surely is one genuine biblical purpose that God has for His redeemed people.
Your servant for Christ
Mary Baxter appeal – final update
The two items on this page will have restricted geographical relevance but will nevertheless also hopefully be a source of universal encouragement to all those who receive this newsletter. With my last newsletter I enclosed a report on the response to an appeal made to those on my mailing list who live in the UK. A long-time and faithful elderly supporter of this ministry called Mary Baxter had fallen victim last September to thieves who broke into her house whilst she was at her church midweek meeting and they stole £4000.00 that she had been planning to use the following day to pre-pay future funeral costs. In my December newsletter enclosure I told how, thanks to a truly magnificent response, the sum of £3990.00 had been donated and passed on to Mary. I am now delighted to report that about mid-December I received a further gift of £20.00 to forward to her which meant that the entire amount stolen had been ‘made good’ with a little extra to spare, so God, through His people, has been so good.
Upcoming conference with Gearóid Marley
For those on my mailing list who live in Ireland there is a yellow enclosure with this newsletter giving details of a planned Saturday morning conference to be held [DV] in Lisburn Congregational Church on 18th April 2009. The speaker will be Gearóid Marley who will relate his remarkable testimony to God’s grace. Some years ago Gearóid was studying at Maynooth [Roman Catholic] Seminary in the South of Ireland when the Lord moved savingly in his life. He then went on to study at an Evangelical Seminary in England and today Gearóid pastors a Baptist church in the religiously and racially diverse city of Birmingham in England. Gearóid will give two talks dealing firstly with his salvation by God and then secondly with his service for God. The attendance will be limited to 80 places and so I would earnestly encourage those who wish to attend to apply as soon as possible for the [free] tickets using the application portion of the yellow enclosure. For those unable to attend your prayers for this conference are truly coveted. 
The political pals of Rick Warren
In the article on the UK ecumenical venture called HOPE 2008 that appeared in my December 2007 newsletter I wrote at one point –
‘It is clear that for decades now governments and global political organisations have sought to enlist the help and co-operation of leading religious figures and religious initiatives [Billy Graham and Rick Warren immediately spring to mind] to further their ‘one-world’ agenda’.
Somewhere ‘along the line’ in recent years I also stated that I felt that in many ways Rick Warren was being ‘groomed’ as the successor to Billy Graham who for decades was ‘paraded’ as the ‘evangelical Christian’ voice on special political occasions and I very much had in mind, when I stated that, the American Presidential inaugurations. For a number of years I have sought to sound warnings about what I have perceived to be Rick Warren’s theological problems and various articles written by myself and others have been posted to our ministry website. Let me state clearly at the outset that according to the Great Commission given by the Lord Himself to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Mark 16:15 the mission of Christ’s church here on earth is not to repair this broken world for all people but through the preaching of the gospel of ‘Jesus Christ and Him Crucified’ to rescue and prepare Christ’s chosen people for the next world. This world is destined for fiery divine judgment and not for frantic human rejuvenation. The preaching of the true and exclusive gospel of ‘Jesus Christ and Him Crucified’ is God’s appointed means for rescuing and preparing His chosen and redeemed people – ‘salvation’ for human beings does not come through Warren’s gospel of ‘marrying’ faith [any brand of ‘faith’] communities to politicians and business men. A clear understanding of Rick Warren’s ‘vision’ for what mission Christians should be involved in can be viewed on this internet link
There he speaks for almost 4 minutes and sets out his view of how this ‘broken’ world can be ‘repaired’. He gave this interview just about a year ago when he attended a conference in Davos in Switzerland. This conference is known as the ‘World Economic Forum’. In his talk Rick Warren spoke of ‘2.3 billion Christians in the world’ – to arrive at such a figure he must of course include members of the  Roman Catholic religion and members of the various assorted ‘State-Controlled’ Orthodox churches – so much for discerning gospel truth from error. He also referred to another of his political dalliances – his membership of America’s ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ In simple response to Rick warren’s ‘vision’ I say this – Peace, prosperity, call it what you like, in this world will not come through the united efforts of a Rick Warren constructed three-legged stool made up of Political Leaders, Business Leaders and People of Faith – it will come through the return of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as a matter of passing interest there was a further conference at Davos [25-29 August 2008] known as the International Disaster and Risk Conference and the details of it were described as follows –
IDRC Davos 2008 will address a broad range of risks and threats including natural hazards, risks of a technical, biological and chemical nature, but also climate change, pandemics and terrorism, with a clear focus on a consistent and systematic risk management approach, to be able to take effective and efficient decisions for disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, which lead to transparent and comparable results in different risk situations.
I have absolutely no information that would suggest that Rick Warren attended this particular conference but I would simply say this about all the supposed carbon threat to planet earth – The fact that someone has cut their carbon footprint will cut no ice when they stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Another article that sheds light on Rick Warren and refers to his political dalliances can be found on the website of the Lighthouse Trails Research Project based in Oregon, USA. I would especially draw attention to this portion from that article
‘Warren called for “a new reformation” to adapt to the 21st-century world… “You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds; I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does. The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together”… Warren has convinced millions of people that a new reformation is going to take place via the Purpose Driven Movement: a reformation in which good works (deeds) must be practiced regardless of one’s religious beliefs or even lack of them. What beliefs one holds is secondary, according to Rick Warren. At the 2005 United Nations  Prayer Breakfast, he told an audience of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims, “God doesn’t care what religion you are.” He told acclaimed broadcast journalist and interviewer, Charlie Rose, that his Purpose Driven Peace Plan could include homosexuals, and he told the Pew Forum that his reformation could include Muslims. And when he says that the first reformation “split Christianity” and the new one will “bring them [Catholicism and Protestantism] together, it broadens his reformation kingdom even more. Rick Warren’s reformation is an earthly man-inspired movement, and this is why the emphasis cannot be placed on biblical doctrine – it would be too limiting and constricting’.
One of those that featured prominently on the Homepage of the website for the ‘World Economic Forum’  was former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Since resigning from that office he has established the ‘Tony Blair Faith Foundation’ that is pursuing the similar goal of Rick Warren of trying to unite ‘people of faith’ – that of course bears no relation to the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples. On the website announcing Mr Blair’s ‘Foundation’ there is this interesting quote by him –
“If people of different faiths can co-exist happily, in mutual respect and solidarity, so can our world. And if faith takes its proper place in our lives, then we can live with a purpose beyond ourselves alone, supporting humanity on its journey to fulfilment.”
In the light of such a statement [notice the use of the word ‘purpose’] it should come therefore as no surprise to learn that Rick Warren accepted an invitation to serve on the Advisory Council for Mr Blair’s ‘Faith Foundation’. This Foundation has its own website and on the website we read – ‘those who have agreed to be members [of the Advisory Council] are:
Dr Ismail Khudr AL-Shatti, Advisor in Diwan of HH the Prime Minister of Kuwait and former President of the Gulf Institute for Futures and Strategic Studies
HE Dr Mustafa Ceric , Grand Mufti of Bosnia -Herzegovina
The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London
The Reverend David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance
The Reverend Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance
Professor Jagtar Singh Grewal, former Chairman of the India Institute of Advanced Study and former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University
Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot of the Upaya Zen Center
Right Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Bishop of Kaduna
Anantanand Rambachan, Professor and Chair of the Religion Department at St. Olaf College, Minnesota
Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations
Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
The Reverend Rick Warren, Founding and Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church
In addition, HE Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, will join the Advisory Council once he has retired as Archbishop’.
After leaving 10 Downing Street Mr Blair did not waste too much time before joining the Roman Catholic church and of course in his new ‘faith’ roles he is very much serving the Papal agenda and by serving on the ‘Advisory Council’ Rick Warren is likewise serving the aims of the Papal antichrist. This of course was something that Billy Graham had likewise done for decades so my ‘guess’ that Rick Warren was being ‘groomed’ as a successor to Billy Graham has not been wide of the mark.
It did in fact reach its supreme fulfilment on 20th January when Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States and Rick Warren prayed for him just as Billy Graham had prayed at previous Presidential Inaugurations.
In the run-up to the Presidential Elections, interviews with the 2 main candidates John McCain and Barack Obama were conducted on American television by surprise, surprise, Rick Warren. It did not come therefore as much of a shock to learn that Mr Obama had invited Rick Warren to ‘give the invocation’ at his Presidential inauguration and so as I said earlier in this I see Rick Warren very much stepping into the shoes of Billy Graham and that is a sad day for the gospel and great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ
In a recent ‘end of year’ report Mike Oppenheimer of ‘Let Us Reason’ ministries wrote.
‘Why have “Christian” leaders joined with humanists, politicians and other world religions in the task of achieving world peace through human efforts. There are many in the church, in particular Robert Schuller and Rick Warren that are willing to work with anyone they can to achieve this unity and peace. Schuller’s view on Islam is that we have the same goals in mind. He has said if he came back one hundred years from now and everyone was Muslim it wouldn’t bother him. Rick Warren says – who’s the man of peace in any village – or it might be a woman of peace – who has the most respect, they’re open and they’re influential? They don’t have to be a Christian. In fact, they could be a Muslim, but they’re open and they’re influential and you work with them to attack the five giants. And that’s going to bring the second Reformation (The Pew Forum on Religion May 23, 2005.) This a Reformation to Unite All Religions not to bring Christianity back to its Biblical roots. The Bible teaches the ones who actually bring peace to others are those who bring the gospel (Romans 10). There are NO people of “faiths,” plural. There is only one faith and it was delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It would seem that they by their actions deny that God will save us just as the Humanist Manifesto states “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” (‘Humanist Manifiestos I and II, Paul Kurtz, ed.,p. 16.)…Warren’s peace plan is still a working model to resolve leading world problems. Being asked to do the inauguration speech for the new presidency of Obama gives him a platform to many more to hear of it’.
Some years ago Rick Warren unveiled his personal PEACE plan for the world and used each letter of peace as an acrostic. Originally the P and E stood for ‘Planting Churches’ and ‘Equipping church leaders’- clearly ‘Christian’ goals – however these have now been changed to ‘Promoting reconciliation and ‘Equipping servant leaders’ – these revised aims will clearly sit much more comfortably with Rick Warren’s political pals and he obviously views that as paramount. . By his words and actions over recent years Rick Warren has shown clearly that he prefers to ‘court popularity’ rather than ‘preach Christ’ [alone] and for that he will one day have to give account to the One who alone is truly all powerful “in heaven and in earth” [Matthew 28:18].
Just a day or so after having written this article and having had it posted to the ministry website I was reading a 1994 publication  ‘The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism’ by the late Dr Ernest Pickering [a gracious and godly Pastor who I, as a young-in-the-faith believer, had the privilege of meeting at a conference in London in 1990] and I came across these words written by him on pages 18-19 and I was greatly struck by their relevance to the very concerns aired by myself in this article about what would appear to be Rick Warren’s over-riding ‘ministry’ priorities –
‘Certainly our modern society has many grievous problems which wrench the heart of a believer. But we must follow Scripture and not our emotions. There is no evidence in the New Testament of any church-sponsored social programs organised for the purpose of alleviating human suffering in the unsaved world. Careful study of the New Testament will reveal that efforts to meet social needs were confined for the most part to believers (Acts 4:32-37). James exhorts us to demonstrate our faith by helping fellow believers who are “naked” or “destitute of daily food” (James 2:15). These and other illustrations show us that the social concern of early believers was primarily aimed at fellow believers and not at the world in general. This is not to] say that individual believers cannot and should not show kindness and generosity to the world’s needy. Certainly such behaviour is appropriate and reflects the spirit of Christ. But…the main work of the churches of Christ is not to minister to outward and physical human needs, but to preach the gospel of the Son of God which speaks to a far deeper and more eternal need – the salvation of the soul’.
Mark Driscoll’s approach to preaching
In early January 2009 a lady who had been given some preaching tapes of Pastor Mark Driscoll by a young relative contacted me. This lady, whilst acknowledging that there was some commendable content on the tapes, was nevertheless uneasy about some aspects of both the preaching style and content of Mark Driscoll and she wanted to know my views on him. Mark Driscoll first came to my attention when I was researching and preparing my talk on what is loosely termed ‘The Emerging Church’. Unlike many of the perceived leaders of this grouping [people like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell] who are unwilling to stand up and proclaim ‘thus saith the Lord’, Mark  Driscoll does defend and declare many of the crucial doctrines revealed in God’s Word so he has in the past classed himself as “swimming in the theologically conservative stream of the Emerging Church’. However he is also willing to adopt some of the methodology associated with those viewed as less ‘theologically conservative’ when it comes to the issue of worship and Roger Oakland in his book entitled ‘Faith Undone’ writes on page 65 –
‘Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered why churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense, and icons, promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Fellowship explains – “Everything in the service needs to preach – architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell – it all preaches. All five senses must be engaged to experience God”.’
This assertion by Mark Driscoll flies in the face of Hebrews 11:1 that states “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” and is contrary to Romans 10:17 where Paul writes “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing [literally – “the receiving of a message” – Vines Expository Dictionary] by the word of God”.
It is through verbal/oral preaching, that does not bypass but addresses our mind and intellect, that Christian faith is established and built up and not through sensory perception. Pastor John MacArthur has written ‘True faith is not based on empirical [experience-based] evidence but on divine assurance and is a gift of God’ and on another occasion he similarly stated ‘Divine wisdom can’t be empirically deduced… It comes only as a gift God gives when His Spirit reveals His Word to individuals’
Mark Driscoll has also referred to himself as “theologically conservative and culturally liberal” and it was really this “culturally liberal” aspect that had worried the lady who contacted me. She was uneasy and disturbed by some of the worldly expressions and sentiments expressed by Mark Driscoll on the tapes. In the research for my ‘Emerging’ talk I came across a relevant article on http://www.mbcpathway.com/article108917c726992.htm and the following extracts refer to information I have just shared on Mark Driscoll and highlight other disturbing ‘worldly views’ he expressed 
‘Missouri Baptists had their first significant encounter with the “Emerging Church” in December 2005 when former Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Clippard recommended a $200,000 loan to a new church plant in St. Louis, called The Journey…By the July 2006 board meeting, the then MBC President Ralph Sawyer requested that the board’s church plant workgroup investigate and report on mounting concerns regarding alcohol use among some church plants…By the 2006 annual meeting of the Convention, Clippard declared in his executive director’s address that the Journey’s pastor, Darrin Patrick, was a modern-day Caleb and portrayed The Journey as a church plant model…by the December 2006 Executive Board meeting…it was discovered that there were significant alcohol-related issues and that The Journey had a bar-room ministry in a St. Louis micro brewery for nearly two years called “Theology at the Bottleworks”… But the issues surrounding The Journey were much more significant than just a bar-room ministry. It was also discovered that Patrick serves as vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, a group of young, Emerging Church planters that plant likeminded churches across the United States, many of which are Southern Baptists, and a growing number of which are young Missouri Baptists…The founder and president of Acts 29 is Mark Driscoll, named by Christianity Today as one of the most influential young preachers in America, with over a million downloads of his sermons each year. Also known by his peers as “Mark the cussing pastor,” Driscoll pastors Mars Hill Church in Seattle, which he planted in 1996. Stating that, “I myself swim in the theologically conservative stream of the Emerging Church,” Driscoll claims to be “theologically conservative and culturally liberal.” Regarding the use of alcohol, Driscoll writes: “My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol,” at which time he “repented” and immediately began to drink alcohol. Driscoll’s church website notes that the church has “beer-brewing lessons whenever a large group of [Mars Hill] men get together.” This would be in keeping with Driscoll’s view of Jesus, who, according to Driscoll, began His public ministry at a wedding, where He “kicks things off as a bartender.” This past New Year’s Eve, Driscoll’s church hosted what they called a “Red Hot New Year’s Eve Bash,” which included a “champagne bar” in the church (ID’s were required for drinkers) and “bonus points” were offered for those whose attire was “RED hot.” Driscoll is also founder of the Paradox Theater, a ministry of Mars Hill Church, which in its first few years, hosted about 650 secular rock concerts for underage kids in Seattle…Another concern about Acts 29 churches like The Journey is their “film night” ministries where secular R-rated movies are viewed and then discussed. At the Journey, four of the five most recent films that could be documented were R-rated. According to Driscoll, his church also has a film and  theology event that shows “an occasional unedited R-rated movie.” Driscoll also writes that some of his “sermons on sex were R-rated,” and notes that he gives “warnings to parents and sometimes saw whole visiting youth groups walk out blushing halfway through the sermon.”
Apart from his dangerous views on alcohol Mark Driscoll was also identified as being clearly “culturally liberal” in his ‘preaching’ approach to the issue of sex and related matters. This link http://www.apologeticsindex.org/789-mark-driscoll quotes a secular newspaper article written about Mark Driscoll and here are some extracts [Cecil – I am very conscious that these extracts include language that God’s people would undoubtedly prefer not to be confronted with but for the sake of correctly addressing the concerns about ‘Mark Driscoll’s approach to preaching’ I do feel it is necessary to present the relevant “evidence”] –
‘The following is quoted from an article in the New York Times Magazine. It is titled, Who Would Jesus Smack Down? Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters. No matter: YouTube is where Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, would rather be. Unsuspecting sinners who type in popular keywords may suddenly find themselves face to face with a husky-voiced preacher in a black skateboarder’s jacket and skull T-shirt. An “Under 17 Requires Adult Permission” warning flashes before the video cuts to evening services at Mars Hill, where an anonymous audience member has just text-messaged a question to the screen onstage: “Pastor Mark, is masturbation a valid form of birth control?” Driscoll doesn’t miss a beat: “I had one guy quote Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ ” The audience bursts out laughing. Next Pastor Mark is warning them about lust and exalting the confines of marriage, one hand jammed in his  jeans pocket while the other waves his Bible. Even the skeptical viewer must admit that whatever Driscoll’s opinion of certain recreational activities, he has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen… Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture… the Bible tells him that to seek salvation by self-righteous clean living is to behave like a Pharisee’ [Cecil – I believe Mark Driscoll is here misrepresenting the biblically based views of many Christians – genuine believers know that ‘clean living’ will never save anyone but they also know that those whom God has truly saved should subsequently exhibit ‘clean living’ – Paul stated in Acts 26:17-20 how he had been commissioned by God to go to the gentiles to “open their eyes…to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan” so that they should “repent and turn to God and DO WORKS MEET (befitting or becoming) FOR REPENTANCE” – they should exhibit evidence of having truly been converted – this echoes John the Baptist’s words to those coming forward for baptism in Luke 3:7-8 and of course baptism is for those already saved]
By way of response to Mark Driscoll’s use of sexually explicit language I want first to turn to a recent article on this topic by Pastor John MacArthur and herewith are what I consider to be some relevant extracts –
- Grunge Christianity Counterculture’s Death-Spiral and the Vulgarisation of the Gospel – John MacArthur
One of the favourite topics on the evangelical agenda these days is how the church should “engage the culture.” Do Christians need to imitate the boorish aspects of a quickly-decaying civilization in order to remain “relevant”? Some evidently think so…Mark Driscoll is one of the best-known representatives of that kind of thinking. He is a very effective communicator–a bright, witty, clever, funny, insightful, crude, profane, deliberately shocking, in-your-face kind of guy. His soteriology (doctrine of salvation) is exactly right, but that only makes his infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society more disturbing…I don’t know what Driscoll’s language is like in private conversation, but I listened to several of his sermons. To be fair, he didn’t use the sort of four-letter expletives most people think of as cuss words–nothing that might get bleeped on broadcast television these days. Still, it would certainly be accurate to describe both his vocabulary and his subject matter at times as tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ. In every message I listened to, at least once he veered into territory that ought to be clearly marked off limits for the pulpit. Some of the things Driscoll talks freely and frequently about involve words and subject matter I would prefer not even to mention in public [Cecil – the New York Times article gives ample examples of these], so I am not going to quote or describe the objectionable parts…The point I want to make is not about Driscoll’s language per se, but about the underlying philosophy that assumes following society down the Romans 1 path [Cecil – where God gives sinners over to indulge in their sinful, decadent excesses] is a valid way to “engage the culture.” It’s possible to be overexposed to our culture’s dark side. I don’t think anyone can survive full immersion in today’s entertainments and remain spiritually healthy…We could learn from the example of Paul, who engaged the philosophers on Mars Hill [Cecil – how apt but also ironic as this is the name of Mark Driscoll’s church in Seattle]. But far from embracing their culture, he was repulsed by it. Acts 17:16 says, “while Paul waited for [Silas & Timothy] at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols”…Even Jesus’ high priestly prayer [see John 17:14-16] included a thorough description of the Christian’s proper relationship with and attitude toward the world…Whenever Jesus spoke of believers being in the world, He stated that if we are faithful, the world will be a place of hostility and persecution,  not a zone of comfort. He also invariably followed that theme with a plea for our sanctification [see John 17:17-19]… I frankly wonder how any Christian who takes the Bible at face value could ever think that in order to be “culturally relevant” Christians should participate in society’s growing infatuation with vulgarity.
Next I want to quote a telling passage from pages 41-42 of John MacArthur’s book ‘The Truth War’ that seems to speak to this issue of being ‘culturally liberal’ –
‘The Nicolaitans were a dangerous sect and they may well have been the very “wolves” Paul cautioned against in the famous prophetic warning of Acts 20…there is a considerable amount of evidence that Nicolaitanism was indeed bred and incubated by men who had achieved stature as leaders in the church. Apparently when the Nicolaitans were rejected in Ephesus they went to a nearby church plant at Pergamos where they gained a following in that church. Christ’s message to Pergamos in Revelation 2:12-17 is almost entirely given to rebuke, because the church had embraced “those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (v15). What was the doctrine? It is described in verse 14 as a kind of radical licentiousness “thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols and to commit fornication”. They were using Christian liberty as a cloak for vice and an opportunity for the flesh [Galatians 5:13; 1st Peter 2:16] (Cecil – going back to Mark Driscoll’s own admission that ‘his church also has a film and theology event that shows “an occasional unedited R-rated movie’ is he not conscious of the Lord’s statement in Matthew 5:28 “I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” and is he oblivious to the fact that by staging such an event he is opening the door to the committing of just such sin by those in attendance?) This was evidently the very same kind of error the epistle of Jude was written to address because Jude refers [v4] to the false teachers he opposed as “ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” [lewdness] and he says [v11] they “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward”. Licentious behaviour and greed were key characteristics of all forms of Gnosticism. That was a deadly  brand of false religion that flourished in the second century and often infiltrated the church, masquerading as Christianity”.
I want now to draw attention to what Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus and Philippi on how they were to behave in the midst of their prevailing ‘culture’.
To those in Ephesus Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1 “Be ye therefore followers [Cecil – According to Vines this means literally – ‘become imitators’] of God, as dear children” and in verses 3-4 he writes “But fornication and all uncleanness…let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness nor foolish jesting which are not fitting” [Cecil – surely this is a severe rebuke of the incident reported in the New York Times article that evoked an outburst of audience laughter]. Paul goes on to issue this warning in verses 6-8 “Let no man deceive you with vain [Cecil – literally ‘empty’] words…Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were once darkness [Cecil – unregenerate and dying in your sins] but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light”.
Then in verses 11-12 Paul gives guidelines to believers as to how to interact with the pervading immoral ‘culture’ that surrounds God’s children “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them. FOR IT IS A SHAME EVEN TO SPEAK OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE DONE OF THEM IN SECRET”.
Finally, to the believers in Philippi, Paul gave this closing exhortation in Philippians 4:8 “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, WHATEVER THINGS ARE PURE [John MacArthur study notes – “That which is morally clean and undefiled”], whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; IF THERE BE ANY VIRTUE [Cecil – According to Vines – ‘moral excellence’], and if there be any praise, THINK [Cecil – According to Vines – ‘make those things the subjects of your thoughtful consideration] ON THESE THINGS”.
Matthew Henry summarises his commentary on these verses by saying ‘It gives a great force to what we say to others when we can appeal to what they have seen in us”. In contrast to those wise words it would appear that Mark Driscoll is saying to ‘others’ – “I can be just like you” instead of saying to them “you should be like me”.
In a sermon I heard preached some months ago the minister gave two challenging quotes – the first was attributed to the godly Scottish minister Robert Murray McCheyne [1813-1843] – Mr McCheyne apparently once commented ‘My peoples’ greatest need is my personal holiness’. The second was attributed to Richard Baxter [1615-1691] a Puritan who apparently once said ‘Too many men are ministers before they know how to be Christians’. Could these be statements for Mark Driscoll to ‘ponder in his heart’?
I think Mark Driscoll and those who accept his ‘approach to preaching’ should above all take time to reflect on these words of Scripture
“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” [Romans 12:2]
“what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” [2nd Corinthians 6:14] “friendship of the world is enmity with God” [James 4:4].
‘Hail’ to our ‘god’ – DNA
With this year being a double anniversary where Charles Darwin is concerned, his birth [200 years ago] and the publication of ‘Origin of the Species’ [150 years ago] not surprisingly organisations like the BBC have gone into ‘overdrive’ with programmes extolling the ‘gospel’ of evolution. In correspondence I received late in 2008 someone enclosed a little printed card that sums up the mindset of many today
‘The modern man is too clever to believe in God the creator, but do you know what he does believe in? He believes in a chemical compound called the DNA molecule. If you ask the modern atheist: “How has the world come into being?” he will tell you: “There was some original undifferentiated protoplasm”. “Well” you say, “how has man come out of that? How have all the animals come out of that? Where has music come from? Where has love come from? Where has poetry come from? How has that undifferentiated matter developed into man with all his greatness and intellect? You will be told: “In the nucleus of every cell there is this chemical molecule called DNA and this has produced everything; this has determined everything; this guides everything. Now DNA molecule has not got a mind, has not got reason, has not got understanding, has not got a will…and yet modern man, who does not believe in God the Almighty Creator, is prepared to believe in the DNA molecule! How strange that learned men should be capable of believing in the determining power of a chemical compound and yet reject the eternal and everlasting God’.
Photocopies of the following articles were also enclosed with the newsletter –
Rick Warren: The art of ‘politically-correct’ praying