Dear praying friends,
This September marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries and the 14th anniversary of the first ‘broadsheet’ issue of News From The Front. In that first issue I wrote ‘It is a source of great encouragement to my wife Margaret and me to know that people are praying very specifically for the ministry of “Take Heed”’. Today we are still heartened to know that many people, including quite a number who received that first issue, are still prayerfully supporting us. Many too, along with others who have ‘enlisted’ over the years, have faithfully and generously supported the work and again we return our grateful thanks to all.
In the first issue I referred to several leaflets that we were publishing on the subjects of ‘The Hare Krishnas’ and ‘The Jehovah’s Witnesses’. As you will read in the separate enclosure with this newsletter we are hoping to publish a leaflet for distribution amongst Muslim neighbours who desperately need to be informed of the true Christian view of Islam and be presented with the true Christian Gospel. We covet very much your prayerful and practical support for this venture and if you can make use of these leaflets then please ask for a supply and pray for opportunities to use them as the Lord leads. Please also pray on for my niece Heather nearing the end of her chemotherapy sessions.
Your servant for Christ
- ‘PENAL SUBSTITUTION’ Steve Chalke versus C H Spurgeon
In part 1 of my article on Steve Chalke, that was published in my December 2004 ‘News From The Front’, I made reference to how Steve Chalke, in his book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ had publicly rejected, in print, what lies at the very heart of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Biblically revealed Divine truth that is known as ‘penal substitution’ – summed up succinctly by Peter in 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust”. In that article I wrote –
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.”
Solomon wisely wrote in Ecclesiastes 1: 9 “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done: and there is now new thing under the sun”. This is especially true where ‘error’ is concerned. The expression ‘If it’s new it’s not true: If it’s true it’s not new’ has a lot to commend it where ever-occurring and re-occurring theological ‘error’ is concerned. In the context of this attack by Steve Chalke upon that [the substitutionary, atoning death by Christ on behalf of His people – Matthew 1:21] which gives God’s people great comfort and sure hope in the matter of their eternal destiny I want to quote the ‘Evening’ thoughts of C H Spurgeon for 21 June. Written about 150 years ago, these words, from the pen of ‘the Prince of Preachers’, stand as a lighthouse, directing people away from the ‘wisdom’ of Steve Chalke that would make eternal shipwreck of their souls, and as a signpost, directing lost sinners to the one who “is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him” [Hebrews 7:25].
This evening’s verse: “The foundation of God standeth sure.” 2 Timothy 2:19
The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” and that “Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”; “Who Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree”; “For the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave Him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus–this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation. In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure.”
- ‘THE CHURCH’
- Steve Chalke versus Loraine Boettner
Speaking in Birmingham [England] in July 2005 at the Baptist World Alliance Centenary Congress, Steve Chalke compared today’s church to Cinderella when he said she ‘must leave the “scullery” and engage the world as Christ intended it to’. Echoing the welcoming words by letter of ‘Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called the world’s 35 million Baptists a “powerful force for good,” a diverse community “ready to challenge the powers that be,” in the words of one report we read of Steve Chalke that
‘He called on churches to become “the new health service” for people all around the globe. To illustrate, Chalke recalled how his mother used to present the story of Cinderella as a great mystery. Cinderella was born to be a princess, but she languished as a servant, dressed in rags and toiling in a scullery, the dreary area of a large house where laundry and cleaning is done…“Here is the issue facing the church around the earth: We live as Cinderella in the scullery,” Chalke stressed, noting the church has traded its mandate to engage the world for a diminished role “inside,” talking to itself…“Our religion may be personal, but it’s not private,” he retorted. “Jesus has to be Lord of the universe. … Christian truth is public truth. We are called to engage the world.” Since God is the God of politics, science, industry, art and all aspects of humanity and society, Christians must be active in the public square, making a difference in the lives of people everywhere… For example, Oasis Trust recently completed a deal with the United Kingdom government to build a performing and visual arts school in one of the poorest areas of Bristol. Eventually it will build six such schools across the nation. The schools not only will provide education but also “wrap-around care” for the entire communities in which they are located, he said. They will be centers for recreation and health care and social involvement as well as education for the children. “We do not build schools,” he said. “We regenerate communities.” If churches are going to make a difference in the world, they must do likewise, Chalke said…“Social regeneration and spiritual transformation are integrated,” he said…and “the church should not fear compromising its beliefs by working with others to provide that kind of care”, he urged. “The greatest compromise is to not get involved, to sit in the scullery”.
Steve Chalke’s thought of ‘the church should not fear compromising its beliefs by working with others’ was mirrored in another talk given at the congress, as this extract of a report shows –
‘Christians must unite with those of other faiths to tackle oppression around the globe: This was the closing charge to delegates at the Freedom Conference attended by 100 people from over twenty-two countries who are gathered in Birmingham for the Baptist World Alliance Centenary Congress. The words come from former Christian Aid chief executive and Baptist minister, the Revd Dr Michael Taylor… This will mean linking with other Christians and with people of other faiths, working together in different ways for the common good.”
When I read of Steve Chalke’s call for churches to become “the new health service” I thought of the wise words of Dr Loraine Boettner that are found on pages 30/31 of his book ‘Roman Catholicism’ under the heading of ‘The Church In Politics’
‘She does not seek to become a political power rivalling the state, nor to become a state within a state. She must not allow herself to be used as a pressure group for the securing of certain rights and temporal benefits for men, nor to pressure the state for reform measures even though such reforms may be needed and desirable from the Christian viewpoint. Christians as individuals are indeed to work for whatever reforms may be needed but the Church is not to do so in her corporate capacity. Such action on the part of the Church almost invariably will detract from her primary mission of the proclamation of The Gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of men and will tend to give people a wrong conception as to what her true mission really is’.
Steve Chalke’s problem is that having removed the Divine ‘transforming heart’ of The Gospel, namely ‘penal substitution’ he is only left with his own human ‘social regeneration’ message and hope.
Rather than likening the Church to Cinderella, in the light of Steve Chalke’s message and call to action, I would liken the Church to another character and that is Red Riding Hood whose very life was threatened by a “ravening wolf” [see Matthew 7:15] and I have no doubts as to who is playing the role of the “ravening wolf” in this Baptist World Alliance staged ‘spiritual pantomime’ and the Lord’s word of warning in such a circumstance is quite clear – “Beware!”
- ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ and ‘The Resurrection’
The front cover of the 1st May 2005 issue of ‘The WATCHTOWER: Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom’ carries this heading ‘Will the Dead Live Again?’ and inside are no less than 4 articles [covering pages 4-22] that deal with the topic of ‘The Resurrection’. In the first article entitled ‘The Resurrection: A Glorious Prospect’ the writer begins by detailing how other non-Christian religions such as Islam and Zoroastrianism teach a future bodily ‘resurrection’ of those who have died. Comment is then passed on the Christian teaching on this subject with quotations designed to show that there is apparently, according to the Watch Tower, some confusion within Christendom on 2 separate issues namely ‘the resurrection of the dead’ and ‘the immortality of the soul’. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught rightly that there will be a ‘resurrection of the dead’ but wrongly that there is no ‘immortality of the soul’. In the ‘Watch Tower’ publication ‘Let God be True’ [pages 60-64] we read ‘There is not one text in the Bible that states the human soul is immortal…The fact that the human soul is mortal can be amply proved by a careful study of the Scriptures…It has been clearly proved that man (the soul) is mortal and subject to death’. In the eyes of the Watch Tower ‘the soul’ is just another name for ‘man’. David Reed [a former Jehovah’s Witness Elder and Presiding Minister] when commenting on Ezekiel 18:4 in his book ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse’ [pages 45-46] writes ‘The word soul is used in many different senses throughout Scripture. It sometimes refers to a person’s life, sometimes to the person himself (as it does here at Ezekiel 18:4) and sometimes it refers to the inner part of man that lives on after death. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny this last use of the word soul. They say that man totally ceases to exist at death, that when the body dies, there is nothing left. But there are many Scripture verses that prove them wrong’. Mr Reed then goes on to cite by way of example Luke 12:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Revelation 6:9-11. Commenting on page 64 in his book on the passage in Luke 16:19-31 in which the Lord Jesus tells of what happened to a rich man and a beggar called Lazarus after they both died David Reed wrote ‘People must really have a conscious existence after death, and some of them must really be “in torments’, deeply regretting their past life’. As far as Jehovah’s Witnesses are concerned, when you look at a corpse, you are looking at the whole person and there is nothing of that person that is continuing to exist separate from their corpse. Returning to their article they then write [page 5] ‘The Bible documents a number of resurrections. Let us examine four of these accounts and consider what they reveal’. Reference is then made to Elijah praying [1 Kings 17: 17-24] for the dead son of the widow at Zarephath, of Elisha praying [2 Kings 4:8-37] for the dead son of a Shunammite woman, of Christ raising [Luke 7:11-16] the dead son of the widow at Nain and of Christ raising [John 11:1-44] Lazarus, the dead brother of Mary and Martha. I want to draw a number of lessons from these examples cited by the Watch Tower in their article. The first example of ‘resurrection’ that they refer to, namely Elijah praying for the dead son of the widow of Zarephath, actually shows that their teaching that there is nothing of a dead person, such as a ‘soul’ continuing to exist separate and apart from their corpse, is erroneous. Their article states ‘Sadly this woman’s son fell sick and died. Elijah immediately carried him up to the roof chamber where the prophet lodged and petitioned Jehovah to restore the boy’s life. A miracle occurred and the boy “came to Life”.’ They have used the expressions ‘petitioned Jehovah to restore the boy’s life’ and ‘came to life’ without actually quoting what the Bible says. Here is what is recorded in Authorised Version of the Bible and in the Watch Tower’s own ‘New World Translation’ –
- Scripture Authorised Version – New World Translation
1 Kings 17: 21-22
“And he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried unto the Lord and said, O Lord, my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived”.
“And he proceeded to stretch himself upon the child three times and call to Jehovah and say, O Jehovah my God, please cause the soul of this child to come back within him. Finally Jehovah listened to Elijah’s voice so that the soul of the child came back within him and he came to life”.
This incident at Zarephath is a practical illustration of the truth of what we read in James 2:26 that “the body without the spirit is dead” [AV] or “the body without spirit is dead” [NWT]. Commenting on “spirit” as used in James 2:26 we read in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – ‘the immaterial, invisible part of man’ and other examples of this usage are cited as Luke 8:55; Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 5:5 and Ecclesiastes 12:7. This incident at Zarephath is also totally at odds with the Watch Tower’s teaching as set out on page 333 of their book ‘Reasoning From the Scriptures’. Under a heading of ‘Is the resurrection a reuniting of an immaterial soul with the physical body?’ we read an answer that states ‘For this to be possible of course humans would have to have an immaterial soul that could separate from the physical body. The Bible does not teach such a thing’. Yet their own New World Translation, as we have already seen, records Elijah as praying “for the soul of this child to come back within him” and God answering Elijah’s prayer “so that the soul of the child came back within him”. It is clear that the Watch Tower’s human ‘Reasoning From the Scriptures’ contradicts the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. So the first lesson to be learned from the ‘resurrection’ of the son of the widow of Zarephath is that at death there is a separation between a person’s ‘mortal’ physical body and their ‘immortal’ immaterial ‘soul’, a lesson that contradicts Watch Tower teaching. The second lesson to be learned from these examples cited by the Watch Tower in their first article is that they contradict what some Scriptures quoted by the Watch Tower in their second article on ‘resurrection’ entitled ‘The Resurrection – A Teaching That Affects You’ actually teach. In this article on page 8 they refer to ‘the resurrected Jesus’. Before going any further can I say that previous Watch Tower teaching flatly denies that Jesus was ‘resurrected’ in the sense conveyed in their first article, namely that of a dead corpse being brought back to life. In ‘Let God be True’ [page 122] we read ‘So the King Christ Jesus was put to death in the flesh and was resurrected an invisible spirit creature’. Ex Jehovah’s Witness David Reed in his book says this on page 15 under the heading of ‘Resurrection’: ‘Concerning Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that he became nonexistent when he died and that he was raised three days later as a “spirit” – an angel. They deny his bodily resurrection’. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that ‘resurrection’ can be either in a ‘human body’ or a ‘spirit body’. On page 333 of ‘Reasoning From the Scriptures’, under the heading of ‘Resurrection’ we read ‘Resurrection involves a reactivating of the life pattern of the individual, which life pattern God has retained in his memory. According to God’s will for the individual, the person is restored in either a human or spirit body.’ This ‘resurrection’ diversity of either ‘a human or spirit body’ is affirmed on page 10 in the second ‘resurrection’ article already referred to. However, the Lord Jesus taught that He [not some ‘life pattern’] would be raised in a ‘human body’ and not in a ‘spirit body’. He affirmed a ‘human body’ resurrection in John 2: 19 when He said “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise IT up” and John under inspiration records in verse 21 “But he spoke of the temple of HIS BODY”. He denied a ‘spirit body’ resurrection in Luke 24:36-39 where we read “And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and frightened and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have”. So, once more, we find that the Watch Tower’s human ‘Reasoning From the Scriptures’ contradicts the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. Now, let’s return to the second lesson to be learned from these ‘resurrection’ examples, namely of how they contradict the teaching of some Scriptures quoted by the Watch Tower in their second article. Let me quote from what that second article says on pages 8-9 ‘About two years later, Felix’ successor, Porcius Festus, invited King Herod Agrippa to join him in examining the prisoner Paul…In his defence Paul asked “Why is it judged unbelievable among you men that God raises up the dead?…I continue to this day bearing witness to both small and great, but saying nothing except things the Prophets as well as Moses stated were going to take place that the Christ was to suffer and as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to publish light to this people and to the nations”.’ [Acts 24:27; 25:13-22; 26:8 & 22-23 NWT]. Paul declares as part of his defence that the Old Testament Scriptures predicted the death of Christ and “that he [Christ] should be the first that should arise from the dead” [Acts 26: 23 AV]. If the ‘resurrection’ of Christ is “the first” as this Scripture teaches then the four examples cited by the Watch Tower in their first article cannot be genuine examples of ‘resurrections’ that we are told in the heading of that article are ‘A Glorious Prospect’. These four cases are not ‘resurrection’ examples of the ‘glorious prospect’ to which a Christian looks forward to [and of which Christ was “the first”] and to which an unsaved person should tremble at the very same prospect. In the first article we read on page 5 ‘In his letter to Jews who had become Christians, the apostle Paul said that women of faith had “received their dead by resurrection” [Hebrews 11:35 NWT]. In the Authorised Version we read “Women received their dead raised to life again”. Pastor John MacArthur has these helpful Bible notes on this verse ‘Women received their dead: The widow of Zarephath [1 Kings 17:22] and the woman of Shumen [2 Kings 4:34]…The first time they [their sons] were raised from the dead was merely resuscitation, not the true and glorious final resurrection (Daniel 12:2/John 11:24).’ These young men had simply been restored back to life in the same bodies in which they had already once died and of course in due time they died again. The Bible teaches that the resurrection to which Christians look forward is an altogether different ‘bodily experience’ – one that John points to in 1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the children of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him [the resurrected Lord Jesus] as he is”. John wrote “we shall be like him” and that reflects the hope that Paul expressed in Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like his glorious [resurrection] body”. Pastor John MacArthur comments in his Bible notes ‘The believer’s new body will be like Christ’s after His resurrection’. In the great ‘resurrection’ chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 we receive teaching on the difference between the body that goes into the ground at death [“sown” verses 42-44] and the body that will come out of the ground [“raised” verses 42-44] at the true and glorious [for Christians] ‘resurrection’ of all who have ever died as promised by the Lord in John 5:28-29 and there will only be one type of ‘resurrection’ body and not two types [‘either a human or spirit body’] as wrongly taught by the Watch Tower. The body that will die is our ‘legacy’ from the first ‘Adam’ who sinned and caused death, as promised by God, to enter into the world [see Romans 5:12]. Our ‘resurrection’ body is a gracious gift from the last ‘Adam’ [the Lord Jesus Christ] to all who die “in him” [see John 6:40]. These truths are found in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. In his Bible notes for these verses Pastor John MacArthur writes [please note – the comments/quotes in brackets have been added by myself] ‘Here Paul answers the question of verse 35 [‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’] more specifically by showing that the resurrection body of Jesus Christ is the prototype. He begins [verse 45] with a quotation from Genesis 2:7 [‘and man became a living soul’] with the addition of two words “first” and “Adam”. Adam was created with a natural body…The “last Adam” is Jesus Christ…He is saying that through the first Adam we received our natural bodies, but through the last Adam we will receive our spiritual [see verse 44 and please note it is “spiritual” and not ‘spirit’] bodies in resurrection. Adam’s body was the prototype of the natural, Christ’s [glorious] body [the prototype] of the resurrection. We will bear the image of His body…as we have borne the image of Adam’s on earth…Focussing directly on the resurrection body, Paul gives 4 sets of contrasts to show how the new body will differ from the present ones. (1) no more sickness and death [“corruption”] (2) no more shame because of sin [“dishonour”] (3) no more frailty in temptation [“weakness”] and (4) no more limits to the time/space sphere [“natural”]. The third lesson to be learned from these examples cited by the Watch Tower in their first article is that they contradict previous Watch Tower teaching. In his book ‘The Four Major Cults’ A A Hoekema writes on page 302 concerning the two ‘types’ of ‘resurrection’ bodies referred to by the Watch Tower [‘either a human or spirit body’] and having written ‘The following rather lengthy quotation describes both types of resurrection’ he gives this quote from the Watch Tower book ‘Make Sure of All Things’ [pages 311] – ‘Resurrection is a restoration to life of the nonexistent dead…It is an act of God dependent entirely upon God’s marvellous power through Christ and upon His memory of the dead. It is the reactivating of the life pattern of the creature…Resurrection does not involve the restoring of the original identical body of the creature’. The portion underlined clearly shows that the four cases of ‘resurrection’ cited by the Watch Tower in their article should not, according to their earlier teaching, be viewed as ‘resurrection’, as in each case the person dead was simply restored to life in ‘the original identical body’. Why is there so much contradiction and false-teaching on ‘the resurrection’ by the Watch Tower in these articles – it is there to ‘shore-up’ their other false teachings on the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the glory that is to come as revealed in the Word of God. It seeks to defend their false teachings that the 144,000 ‘Anointed Class’ have ‘spirit bodies’ and that they along with Christ, from the standpoint of the Heavenly Kingdom, will rule over the ‘other sheep’ who will have ‘human bodies’ and be living down here on Paradise earth. There is a truth that ‘lies beget lies’ and in these articles we see that truth fully demonstrated. Please join with me in praying that Jehovah’s Witnesses who “have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge” [Romans 10:2] may be exposed to the truth of God’s Word on this subject of ‘the resurrection’ and may come into a living relationship with the One who said in Revelation 1:18 “I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore”. And who is the One that said these words – He is the “one mediator between God and men, the [resurrected] man Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5]. He is also the One who left this earth visibly in His glorified body and Who according to two angelic messengers will one day return to this earth in exactly the same fashion – “This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky” [Acts 1:11 NWT].
- ‘BUSH-whacking’ The Word of God
Whilst in America in late June/early July I watched a programme on television called ‘Faith in The White House’. My impression was that this was a programme designed to create the illusion in the minds of American Evangelical Christians that President George W Bush is one of them and so to garner and consolidate their political support for him. The truth sadly reveals a very different picture and in fact reflects the influence of one of President Bush’s foremost spiritual mentors namely Billy Graham. I have in other articles detailed Billy Graham’s spiritual infidelity particularly where Roman Catholicism and Islam are concerned so I will not revisit those matters but will simply show how the actions of President Bush in these areas mirror the heretical teachings of Billy Graham. Billy Graham’s influence also extended to Bill Clinton and in fact his willingness to have both Bill and Hillary Clinton on the platform of his recent New York Crusade actually caused one Christian minister in his own words ‘I got up, turned away from the stage, and walked out’ [Rev. Rob Schenck: see http://www.earnedmedia.org/ncc0630.htm].
In January 2000, during his time as President, Bill Clinton hosted a reception to mark the end of Ramadan and he said to his Muslim guests ‘Over the weekend, along with Muslims all over the world, you celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The month of daily fasting is not only a sacred duty, it is also a powerful teaching, and in many ways a gift of Islam to the entire rest of the world…It reminds us that we must work together to build a more humane world…I thought it was particularly moving that Imam read the passage from the Koran that said that Allah created nations and tribes that we might know one another, not that we might despise one another’. In November 2001 President George W Bush held a similar reception and it was reported as follows ‘President Bush, eager to improve America’s reputation in the Muslim world, welcomed 50 ambassadors from Islamic countries for a traditional meal and prayer at the White House on Monday to mark the start of Ramadan. It is thought to be the first time that Muslims will have knelt and touched the floor with their foreheads in a formal ceremony in the official home of American president’. One Christian group sent a protest email to The White House, part of which read ‘President Bush has erred greatly by promoting the religion of Islam in various ways. But hosting a prayer meeting in the White House for an openly anti-Christian religious group is crossing a dangerous threshold…A Muslim prayer meeting in the White House is an act of blasphemy toward the God to whom we owe everything… and [is] an act of departure from the Living God. There is a vast difference between entertaining strangers and entertaining the worship of false gods.” Then what about Presidential and political attitudes towards Roman Catholicism? – Well these were very apparent at the funeral of Pope John Paul II. I have in my possession a picture of President George W Bush [who awarded this Pope the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 2004] and his wife Laura [head veiled in black], former President George Bush, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [again her head veiled in black] all kneeling in obeisance behind a rail just a few yards from the rosary-clasping corpse of Pope John Paul II. It is clear that when it comes to securing support from certain influential political quarters then any vestige of Christian Integrity [‘The absence of compromise and the presence of Biblical convictions’] quickly flies out The White House windows. It should also be noted that Billy Graham’s children, Anne and Franklin, represented their father’s organisation, one at the funeral of John Paul II and the other at the installation of his successor. Why did I title this article ‘BUSH-whacking The Word of God’? Well, during the ‘Faith in The White House’ programme some excerpts from the multi-faith service held in Washington Cathedral in the wake of 9/11 were shown. Amongst the speakers were Billy Graham, a Jewish Rabbi, a Muslim Imam, a Roman Catholic Cardinal and George W Bush. Mr Bush read Romans 8:39 as follows “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from God’s love”. When I heard that I immediately said to myself – ‘that’s not right’. The Bible actually states “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. But that true reading of the Scriptures would have been ‘politically incorrect’ as it would have been viewed as offensive to Jews and Muslims and so in order to avoid alienating their political support the ‘powers that be’ decided to “pervert the gospel of Christ” [Galatians 1:7]. This adulterated reading given by President Bush was one that any Masonic worship service would have been proud of. But the Lord Jesus Christ is aware of and ‘takes note’ of such instances when men deny Him before men, for having said in Mark 8:36-37 “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange [political power and popularity?] for his soul?” we read these, His words in verse 38 “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this [spiritually] adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.
- Rick Warren: ‘A hearer but not a doer’?
One of the most challenging verses of scripture to professing believers is found in James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”. I think that all believers, if they were really being honest, would hold their hands up and plead ‘guilty’ if such a charge were levelled against them. Our actions often betray what is in effect disobedience to the clear instruction of God’s Word and in so doing we are ‘deceiving ourselves’ or as the Greek would imply ‘we are making a serious spiritual miscalculation’. Often this ‘miscalculation’ can be traced back to “the law of sin which is in my members” [Romans 7:23] which according to Pastor John MacArthur in his bible notes is ‘sinful humanness, waging war against his [the Apostle Paul’s] desire to obey God’s law’ – in other words ’waging war’ against Paul’s desire to ‘be a doer of the word and not a hearer only’.
However, some public statements by Rick Warren at the Baptist World Alliance Centenary Congress in Birmingham [England] disturbed me greatly and seemed to me to betray a problem that went beyond even ‘a serious spiritual miscalculation’. The backdrop for the comments by Mr Warren was the withdrawal of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2004 from the Baptist World Alliance with a consequent withdrawal of any SBC financial support for the BWA, some $125,000.00. One report, explaining the background to the SBC’s withdrawal read as follows –
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the committee recommending the split, pointed to Baptist World Alliance’s inclusion of American Baptist Churches, and that denomination’s recent accepting of the membership of Evergreen Baptist Association. That group has two churches that accept practicing homosexuals. To Patterson, being a member of an organization that has links to such churches, no matter how far removed, is a form of infidelity to Scripture. “We can no longer afford in this particular day, when the press for ‘gay marriage’ is on, to be in an alliance of any kind with denominations which support ‘gay marriage’ in any form or fashion,” he said.
At a press conference in Birmingham, in July, Rick Warren was asked about the SBC withdrawal and according to one report ‘Rick Warren told reporters at the Baptist World Alliance’s centenary congress that the withdrawal of Southern Baptists from BWA was a “silly” mistake. He then went on to make some other comments and these are the ones that I found particularly disturbing. In the table below you will see what God’s Word says on certain matters and alongside you will read the comments made by Rick Warren.
- GOD’S WORD – Rick Warren
- “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them…Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee…But when thou doest thine alms, let not thy left know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret” [Matthew 6:1-4]
- “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself…I give tithes of all that I possess” [Luke 18:11-12].
‘When the Southern Baptists pulled out funding, my wife and I wrote a check for $25,000 to BWA’
- “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them” [Romans 16:17]
- “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them” [Ephesians 5:11]
‘I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody’
[At meetings in England Mr Warren’s fellow platform speakers included Steve Chalke (who denies ‘penal substitution’), Charles Colson (Joint architect of Evangelicals & Catholics Together) and Peter Kreeft (Roman Catholic author of ‘Ecumenical Jihad’ who wrote ‘The power that will reunite the Church and win the world is Eucharistic adoration’.]
These comments, that clearly evidence that Mr Warren was not being “a doer” of God’s Word, seem purposely to go beyond a mere ‘spiritual miscalculation’.