News From The Front – September 2007

Dear praying friends,

One of the enclosures with our March 2007 newsletter related to ‘2 matters for prayerful and practical consideration’. Thanks to the generous response of God’s people, in relation to one matter mentioned I was able to purchase a laptop computer and the PowerPoint programme. Over the summer months I have been trying to get to grips with this new technology – I wouldn’t claim to have fully ‘cracked it’ but I have been able to put together a number of presentations on current issues [such as Scientology, and Islam] and already a number of churches/fellowships have made arrangements for me to come to make these presentations. I am truly grateful to all who contributed and am also grateful to the Lord for opening up these opportunities to utilise these gifts for the sake of His truth. The second matter related to a possible ministry trip to Kenya in 2009. After much prayerful consideration both Margaret and I felt that this matter should not be pursued any further and we have informed the Kenyan Pastor accordingly. Again I am grateful to those who prayed for us as we considered this possible trip. One trip we shall be making will be for 10 days to Illinois and Ohio in October [DV] when I will be speaking in 4 churches during that time. Again I will be addressing matters that are very much in the news and so we would covet your prayers for provision for our travel and protection as we travel. As ever we covet your ongoing prayers as we sound the warning of ‘Take Heed’.

Your servant for Christ


  • ‘The Labyrinth Experience’ in South Belfast

When Pastor Gary Gilley was our guest here in March 2006 to address a number of issues, including what has come to be known as ‘The Emerging Church’; he highlighted how in many instances churches and fellowships are now ‘supplementing’ or in some cases virtually ‘replacing’ the reading and preaching of the Word of God with more visual, sensory-based experiences designed to somehow induce an almost mystical ‘experience’ of ‘God’.

In recent times a couple of Methodist Churches in South Belfast have hosted what were termed as ‘The Labyrinth Experience’. In each case those presenting this ‘experience’ have ‘dressed up’ rooms in the church complexes in such a way as to appeal to and address the senses and to supposedly ‘picture’ some aspect of a spiritual relationship with God. Ideas such as ‘the journey so far’, ‘the God who knows and loves’, our ‘relationship’ and what He ‘reveals’ will hopefully be ‘conjured up’ by the use of partitions and curtains, devotional aids such as the well-known ‘Footprints’, photos of people and communities, water bowls, pebbles and an open Bible.

Having spoken to one very sincere Christian lady who is known personally to me and who went through this ‘experience’ she stated that she found it, as a ‘primer for prayer’, to be a stimulating experience. She felt too that those presenting the ‘experience’ genuinely wanted to somehow attract people who might otherwise not darken the door of a church. In these days of falling church attendances I can fully understand their motivation.

The question is – is this the right ‘way’ to address this problem? A very helpful ‘warning’ ministry is called ‘Let Us Reason’ and I want now to quote extracts from one of the articles on their website that was written by their Director, Mike Oppenheimer. I have also supplied the website link should you wish to read the entire article.

Extracts from article by Mike Oppenheimer

Walking the labyrinth has become a popular spiritual exercise across the country and around the world. I first read of it in Leadership Magazine, a Christian publication and became a bit concerned – since looking into it further I’m definitely concerned.

Labyrinths are said to have been used for over 3000-3500 years (depending who you ask), accurate dating has been difficult. We are told by those who promote their use that Labyrinths are ancient and have been a part of the sacred landscape through human history. Those who use the labyrinth describe them as a pattern with power and a purpose. They are called “divine imprints,” that symbolize an archetype of wholeness. The Labyrinth is said to encourage healing, clarity, and peacefulness. There are claims of profound experiences as they affect the people who use them by connecting them with the deepest part of themselves. Labyrinths can often have a particular “specialty” in healing, improving ones health or alleviating symptoms of certain diseases. From the Catholic Encyclopaedia — Labyrinth is a complicated arrangement of paths and passages; or a place, usually subterraneous, full of windings, corridors, rooms, etc., so intricately arranged as to render the getting out of it a very difficult matter…

Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem at some point in their lives. During the middle ages the Crusades made travel to Palestine unsafe, so they used other means to honour their commitment. Labyrinths were used as a substitute pilgrimage experience for the holy land. Adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, Labyrinths were offered to the congregation as a way of fulfilling their vow to visit the holy land and nicknamed it the “New Jerusalem.”… we find that the origin of Labyrinths are from pre-Christian days. This is what we need to pay attention to – what they were used for before the Roman Catholic Church adopted them for their contemplation and pilgrimage substitute to the Holy land. Labyrinths predate Christianity by over 1,000 years…And the purpose of this article is to make Christians aware that Labyrinths are not in any shape or form a Christian practice.

“The labyrinth has its origins in ancient pagan rituals, most famously at Knossos in ancient Crete, where one was located in the basement of a palace where the mythic man-eating Minotaur was said to roam….Modern disciples of the labyrinth propose that ancient Christians used the labyrinth as a means of spiritual meditation. Scholars insist there is absolutely no evidence of labyrinth walking by Christians (M. Tooley, September 2000, Maze Craze. ). So if these were practiced by other religions and cultures that are of a non Christian origin, what kind of value would they have to offer a Christian who is supposed to have all that he needs in Jesus Christ according to the Scripture?… A labyrinth is unicursal – this means there is one open, unobstructed path the walker follows into the centre and back out again. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the centre and back out again with no dead-ends…We are told that the labyrinth is a tool useful to people of all religions or no religion…R. White writes, “Walking the labyrinth supposedly promotes spiritual awakening and deeper inner knowledge. Followers testify to arousal of feelings (good and bad), renewed creativity, brain re-mapping and energy production. Labyrinths have taken their place next to sacred circle dances and sweet-grass ceremonies taught as rediscovered ancient practices to enhance spiritual growth”(White, R. Aug. 15, 2000. Walking the Labyrinth: New Age Fad or Traditional Technique?…

What are Labyrinths used for; the explanations come from those using it. The Rev. Sarah Bentley of New Life Institute, a centre for counselling, education and spiritual growth related to the Austin-area United Methodist churches, said she introduces labyrinths to people as a form of meditation. They are training the participant in a walking meditation. Meditation is the process of quieting the mind, various methods can be used to bring a consciousness change so that you still your mind, and you become uncontrolled conscious. Meditation is a spiritual practice of many eastern religions. We are told that by clearing a space within the mind, and allowing yourself to experience whatever emotions or thoughts surface during your walk you come out with a labyrinth experience. Your questions can be answered…It becomes apparent that although this is taking place inside some churches, it really is a non-Christian practice. Many New Agers claim they are not into religion, but practice spirituality. With these types of descriptions, one may wonder what does this have to do with Christianity? The answer is -Nothing… One of the major initiators in reviving the labyrinth in our time is Rev. Lauren Artress…Dr. Artress states, “The labyrinth provides a sacred space where the inner and outer world can commune, where the thinking mind and the imaginative heart flow together… a space to listen to our inner voice of wisdom”. She goes on to speak of the experience of walking the labyrinth in the following manner: “Walking the labyrinth is a spiritual discipline that invites us to trust the path, to surrender to the many turns our lives take, and to walk through the confusion, the fear, the anger, the grief that we cannot avoid experiencing as we live our earthly lives. The labyrinth is a place where we can open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We can ask for guidance and pray for ourselves and our loved ones.” Certainly one is able to do this without a Labyrinth, the early church did not depend on this vehicle to help them with their spirituality. Jesus already instructed us how to be open to his leading and his answers so why do we need to use this other religious device?… Dr Lauren Artress says, “To walk a sacred path is to discover our inner sacred space: that core of feeling that is waiting to have life breathed back into it through symbols, archetypal forms like the labyrinth, rituals, stories, and myths.” This has nothing to do with practicing Christianity and everything to do with other spiritual practices that Bible tells us not to participate in…

  • What does the God of the Bible have to say?

Can one seek or come to know God by a Labyrinth walk? It may be the latest fashion in spirituality touted as a spiritual tool of meditation and prayer but is it for a Christian? We are told in Colossians 2: 8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Some are trying to justify this as a Christian tradition. In fact it couldn’t be, not just because it is not found in the Bible, but because it goes against everything the Bible and Christianity teaches for one to practice true spirituality. Walking through the Labyrinth is not a rediscovery of a lost form of Christian spirituality but pagan spirituality. Though it may be reformed and repackaged to our modern times, we can be assured it has nothing to do with Jesus who gave man the true spiritual way of life. I don’t think one can Christianise this practice, nor justify its use. Especially with what we have already discovered about how it is being used, is it pleasing to God that we walk labyrinths when He has told us not to take up pagan practices?… Walking meditation and stopping to quiet oneself is not promoting prayer. Not all that is claimed to be spiritual, is good or from God. We are told as Christians to test the Spirits. Do we now need experiential prayer elements? Did Jesus look for a Labyrinth to teach people to pray? What happened to going into our rooms to pray quietly (Matthew 6:6)?… [Lauren] Artress does not withhold her rejection of the straight and narrow way found within Christianity. She explains the labyrinth is more forgiving and leads its followers forward in a flawless path. God’s word states you cannot walk the wide road and claim to follow Christ who says HIS way is the narrow road and has nothing to do with a Labyrinth. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus tells us the only way to practice a spiritual life is to enter into life through the narrow gate because the wide and easy road leads to destruction. This does not mean entering a labyrinth to walk its path… The very reason people end up using labyrinths and other such methods to find their spirituality is because they are not holding and promoting the word of God, which is all one needs to be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Though it is currently fashionable for “Christians” to participate in walking Labyrinths along with other religions, it is a clear sign the Word of God is not being upheld but is being replaced with subjective feelings, through New Age spirituality… This cannot have any spiritual benefit for a Christian, but one can possibly have a relaxing time as they enjoy the walk…There is no basis for those who practice Biblical Christianity to embrace the labyrinth as an acceptable tool for meditation and prayer? It is inherently New Age, let them have it.

The use of ‘’The Labyrinth Experience’ may have seemed to those both promoting and hosting it to be a good ‘way’ to kindle some interest in spirituality and prayer. In the light of Mike Oppenheimer’s report, the words of Proverbs 14:12 come to mind “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”. Near the end of his life, Joshua gave this advice to God’s people – “Now therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in truth” – how were they to do that – Joshua continued “and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt, and serve ye the Lord” [Joshua 24:14]. I would recommend this advice to anyone who today is contemplating either holding or having ‘The Labyrinth Experience’.

  •  The NPP and 2 former Presbyterian Moderators:

In recent years there has been much talk and discussion about what has come to be known as the NPP. This I hasten to add is not referring to the ideology of some ‘supremacist’ political party but rather the NPP refers to a new ‘take’ being put forward by an array of theologians on the inspired teachings of the Apostle Paul, in particular in relation to the glorious truth of ‘justification’. The initials stand for the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ but the reality is that it is just another attack upon the truth of God’s inspired word and so it is ‘no new thing under the sun’. When analysed in ‘the cold light of scripture’ this ‘new perspective’ is being used to undermine the very heart of the true Gospel and is being used to further the aims and ambitions of today’s liberals and ecumenists. Faithful servants of God have written some very helpful articles and I want to draw extracts from one particular article that will hopefully give you an understanding of what sadly is being advanced in many colleges and seminaries around the world and also close to home. The article is found on the website of The Trinity Foundation. The article is entitled ‘The New Perspective on Paul’ and was written by Louis DeBoer [Editor of American Presbyterian Press]. Herewith are the extracts [with an occasional added comment by myself] –

‘Let us first recall what we are being asked to discard, the “old perspective on Paul.” The old perspective declared that Paul was concerned about God’s law, sin, and individual salvation, and taught the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone…Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 33). The Gospel, the good news, presupposes the bad news, the fall into sin and man’s hopeless condition before a just and holy God, as recounted in Genesis. Man violated the covenant of works, which is the covenant God made with Adam in the Garden before the fall…

The good news, the Gospel, is that Christ kept this covenant on behalf of His people, His elect. He hung on the cross in our place and suffered the death that we deserved. He paid the penalties that this covenant required of those who transgress it. And more than that, He kept its terms for us. He led the perfectly sinless life of faithful and personal obedience that God requires of us, thereby earning everlasting life for us. Christ’s perfect obedience to the law of God, His sinless perfection, His spotless righteousness, is imputed to us at the moment we believe the Gospel. We are justified, declared not guilty, because of the imputation of our sins to Christ, and the imputation of His perfect righteousness to us…The imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us when we believe the Gospel fits us for Heaven and fellowship with a holy God. Both the obedience to God’s law and the satisfaction of God’s justice are absolutely necessary, and both are provided by Jesus Christ. We are saved by His passive and active obedience, not our own…This is the Gospel that has been preached and proclaimed, believed and trusted, for the past 2000 years, especially during the 490 years since the Reformation…And this is the Gospel that we are now being told is all wrong because it is based on a misunderstanding of first-century Judaism and what Paul was actually trying to teach…

The New Perspective on Paul (NPP) says that the Western churches for the past 2000 years, and especially Protestants for the past 500 years, have all misunderstood Paul…They claim that justification has nothing to do with our legal standing before God…but to ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. Justification is horizontal [Cecil – the man to man relationship], not vertical [Cecil – the man to God relationship];… Paul was not concerned about how we are delivered from our sins as much as he was concerned about church membership…

According to the NPP, Second-Temple Judaism was really a religion that believed in “salvation by grace,” and it has been improperly condemned as being a religion of salvation by works, human merit, and one’s own righteousness…According to the NPP the problem was not that the Judaisers in the early church were corrupting the Gospel and teaching a false way of salvation so much as they were confusing badges of church membership….They refused to admit Gentiles into the church unless they wore the Jewish badges of covenant membership: circumcision, adherence to the ceremonial law, etc. [Cecil – this NNP assertion is totally refuted by Acts 15:1 “And certain men who came down from Judea taught the brethren and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses ye cannot BE SAVED”]

To the NPP, the entire question is, what is the badge of covenant membership in the New Testament – circumcision or faith? According to the NPP, “justification” has to do with how we recognize who is in the covenant family. “Justification by faith” simply means that faith, as opposed to circumcision, observing the dietary laws of Moses, etc., is the badge that enables us to recognize who is a Christian, that is, who is in the covenant community. They are careful to point out that they mean faith in Christ as Lord, not faith in a substitutionary atonement. [Cecil – An atonement that ALONE propitiated God’s wrath and that ALONE expiated the guilt of God’s elect] They believe that the whole plan of salvation that the Reformers taught as the Gospel is a fabrication based on a misunderstanding of Paul and Judaism. The following quotations from NPP theologians give a sense of how they express these views:

James D. G. Dunn

The doctrine of justification by faith came to expression in these key letters of Paul (Galatians and Romans) as his attempt to prove that God’s covenant blessings were for Gentiles as well as Jews…Justification by faith is Paul’s fundamental objection to the idea that God has limited his saving goodness to a particular people. (1)

[Bishop] N. T. Wright

“Justification” in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God. It was about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people…Despite a long tradition to the contrary, the problem Paul addresses in Galatians is not the question of how precisely someone becomes a Christian or attains to a relationship with God…The problem he addresses is: Should ex-pagan converts be circumcised or not?… it has to do, quite obviously, with the question of how you define the people of God. Are they to be defined by the badges of the Jewish race, or in some other way? (2)

By “the gospel” Paul does not mean “justification by faith.” He means the announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus is Lord…To believe it is both to have assurance…and to know that one belongs in the single family of God, called to share table fellowship with all other believers without distinction (Galatians 2:11-21). (3)…It is not how you become a Christian, so much as how you can tell who is a member of the covenant family…the doctrine which insists that all who share faith in Christ belong at the same table…the central tenet of the NPP ‘Justification’ is not about salvation from sin, but about “who belongs at the same dinner table.” It is about social fellowship and food, not sin and righteousness.

  • The Agenda of the New Perspective

What motivated the originators of the NPP to craft this revisionist view of Paul’s theology? Since they have been rather explicit in promoting the alleged benefits of their “perspective,” we can gain a direct insight into their agenda. I will cover it under the following heads –

1. Anti-Semitism. Proponents of the NPP say they want to vindicate Paul from the charge of anti-Semitism. They think Paul’s harsh words against the Judaizers and his low estimation of first-century Judaism lays him open to a charge of anti-Semitism…Now, Paul was himself a Jew, with a passion for the salvation of his fellow Israelites…Paul even said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren” [Romans 9:3]… These are not the words of an anti-Semite, but of a man desperately labouring to bring salvation to his fellow Jews who are trapped in the coils of a false religion,

2. Ecumenism. The proponents of the NPP decry the results of the Christian Reformation…They believe that both sides in the Reformation misunderstood Paul, and that the entire Reformation was a gigantic mistake….and they hope that their teachings will reunite Catholics and Protestants…They see their novel doctrine as particularly useful in reuniting all branches of the “Christian” church and accomplishing the goal of one church in one world.

3. Socialism. Third, they see their doctrine as of great use in advancing the church in its primary goal of promoting “social justice.” [Cecil – Rome will absolutely love this]… to show how justification is a doctrine that ought to be drawing us together instead of dividing us and separating us. (8)

4. The Gospel. Finally…The Gospel of the Christian church, which was restored in the Christian Reformation, must be eliminated and replaced with something else, something more relevant, more mundane, more tangible. The NPP is radically opposed to the Biblical doctrines of sin and salvation…and it asserts that Christians have misunderstood the Bible on this very basic point for the past 2,000 years..

Now there is a common thread to all these concerns. There is a uniformity to this agenda. These are all Liberal concerns. Christians are concerned about truth. Christians are concerned about sin and the salvation of their fellow men, about their eternal standing before a just and a holy God. Liberals have other concerns. They do not believe in the Gospel. They see no need for it because they do not believe in man’s desperate condition before God. Their concerns, like the Sadducees of old, are all related to this present world. The New Perspective is the latest form of theological Liberalism.

1. James D. G. Dunn and Alan M. Suggate, The Justice of God: A Fresh Look at the Old Doctrine of Justification by Faith, 25, 28.

2. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 119-120.

3. N.T. Wright, “The Shape of Justification.” See also chapter 7 of What Saint Paul Really Said.

8. J. Ligon Duncan, “The Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul.

This article by Louis DeBoer continues on to consider ‘The Attractions of the New Perspective’ and ‘Theological History Fabricated by the NPP’ before drawing some ‘Conclusions’ in which Mr DeBoer writes – “Today’s “Evangelicals” [Cecil – those promoting the NPP] extend the right hand of fellowship to wolves in sheep’s clothing [Cecil – likeminded liberal ecumenists] and count heretics [Cecil – The Pope, his priests, so-called “Evangelical Catholics” etc] as “esteemed brethren.”

In the light of this very helpful article by Mr DeBoer I want now to relate this NPP to 2 former Irish Presbyterian Moderators namely Trevor Morrow and Russell Birney. Back in the late 1990’s I had identified how they were twisting and misrepresenting Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Their ‘heresy’, for that’s what it is, didn’t go under the banner of the NPP but in the light of the more recent controversy addressed by Mr DeBoer I can now see that this is precisely what both Mr Morrow and Mr Birney were advocating. Mr DeBoer identified ‘ecumenism’ as being on the agenda of those promoting the NPP and it was in precisely this context that both Mr Morrow and Mr Birney set forth their ‘twisted teachings’. What follows now are extracts from what I wrote about the teachings of Trevor Morrow and Russell Birney.

On Trevor Morrow I wrote –

‘I mentioned the 1998 Belfast launch of the 16-page booklet entitled ‘Evangelicals & Catholics Together in Ireland’…Coinciding with the launch of this booklet was another publication called “Adventures in reconciliation: 29 Catholic Testimonies”… In addition to the 29 Catholic ‘Testimonies’ in the 1998 book… there were also 4 ‘Commendations’, one of which was by Trevor Morrow. This ‘Commendation’ contained one of the most devious scripture-twisting segments I have ever read – twisted in order to malign true evangelicals who in obedience to God’s Word separate from those who are trusting in the false ‘gospel’ of Roman Catholicism… Trevor Morrow wrote in his ‘Commendation’ [pages 26-27]…

‘For Presbyterians like myself, who still hold to the principle of the Reformation – of justification by faith alone, the implications are straightforward. If these [’29 Catholic’] testimonies are evidence of real faith in Christ, then whatever our theological differences, these Roman Catholic believers are justified by faith alone, and so are our brothers and sisters in Christ’. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he saw this doctrine [justification by faith alone] as vital for Christian fellowship and freedom. The Jewish Christians from Jerusalem had come down to Galatia and were fearful that Paul’s message of justification apart from the work of the law would undermine the traditions and identity of their Jewish inheritance. They were insisting that it was not enough for a Gentile to believe in Jesus Christ. They also had to keep the laws of Judiasm; to be circumcised, to keep the dietary requirements, to observe the Jewish Sabbaths and festivals, in order for them to be accepted as Christians. It became for them a criteria for fellowship. Paul rails against this. If someone insists that something else is required, apart from faith, in order to accept a person as a fellow Christian, or as a basis for fellowship, then they, says Paul, are preaching a false gospel’.

Trevor Morrow is teaching that Paul’s argument with the Judaisers was centred upon what the basis for ‘fellowship’ should be. This is Mr Morrow’s ‘devious scripture-twisting’ that I referred to earlier. Paul’s argument was not dealing with the basis of ‘Christian fellowship’ but with the basis for ‘salvation’. “The gospel of Christ [alone] is the power of God unto salvation” [Romans 1:16] and the Judaisers were preaching a ‘gospel’ of ‘Christ + works’ [just like Rome] that can never “save” anyone and so these preachers and their ‘gospel’ were placed under God’s curse [Galatians 1:8-9]. Paul positively encourages the discernment of and separation from such false teachers whereas Trevor Morrow teaches that those who rightly exercise Biblical discernment and separation are the ones who are in error. Trevor Morrow, by what he wrote in his ‘Commendation’ is…guilty of mimicking the role played by the Apostle Peter in the ‘Galatian error’

On Russell Birney I wrote –

‘On 7 November 1999, Russell Birney, the minister of a large and popular Presbyterian Church in Ballymena preached a sermon based on Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. The first 90-95% of the sermon could not be faulted but the final section betrayed Mr Birney’s ecumenical zeal as he totally twisted his accurate biblical exposition of events with an application designed to serve the cause of false ecumenism…The ‘Galatian error’ was that of the Judaisers ‘requiring people to enter into a system of faith + works for salvation’ – a system that Paul condemned with “anathema”. The ‘Galatian error’ was not [as Mr Birney stated] believers today ‘requesting people to leave a system of faith + works for salvation’ as represented by the modern-day Judaisers namely Roman Catholicism… Such action [by believers] is in obedience to the Word of God and is certainly not to be viewed as Mr Birney taught as the equivalent of the ‘Galatian error’. Rather Mr Birney is the one who stands guilty of such ‘error’ as he is himself disobeying the clear command of God’s Word by willingly fellowshipping with those who still claim to be Roman Catholics.

This NPP, as I wrote earlier, ‘is just another attack upon the truth of God’s inspired word’ but it is a very serious one because it undermines the very heart of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is particularly worrying, from a local standpoint, is the fact that 2 men elected in the last decade to the role of Moderator in the largest Protestant church grouping in Ireland have been in the forefront of promoting this gospel-destroying heresy. It is to be hoped that their influence will not adversely influence or affect what is being taught as ‘The Gospel’ in the theological college in Belfast where ministers are trained for their denomination.

In conclusion, the Daily Devotional ‘Footprints of Faith’ had these thoughts for 18 July [when writing this article] on the phrase “To teach them war” [Judges 3:2] – “It was necessary for God’s ancient people to learn the discipline of war…We must know the enemy. How vital is good intelligence in a military campaign. Child of God, do not underestimate the strength of the enemy. It is not for nothing that he is compared to a lion and a dragon. How subtle is our adversary. He can disguise himself as an angel of light…We must develop a holy skill in the use of the weaponry placed at our disposal. There is ‘the sword of the Spirit’, which is the Word of God, How wonderfully our Saviour wielded that sword…He met every subtle satanic onslaught with ‘It is written’…We can wage a good warfare only as we are ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of his might’ [Ephesians 6:10]”. Let us all stand fast against this NPP and hold fast to “the old paths” [Jeremiah 6:16].

  • Tony Campolo and ISLAM [2]

As stated on page 9 of my June newsletter I want to outline some further misrepresentations of Islam that have been made by Tony Campolo. I want to quote some extracts from an interview Tony Campolo [TC] gave to Shane Claiborne [SC] [founder of an ‘evangelical’ Monastic Community called ‘The Simple way’] on ‘Evangelicals and Inter-Faith Co-operation’.

[SC] Both Muslims and Christians are very evangelical in the sense of desiring others to come to faith in their God. When we talk about inter-religious cooperation, does that mean that we need to stop trying to convert each other?

[TC] We don’t have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don’t convert, they are God’s people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell…I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam…Islam is much more gracious towards evangelical Christians who are faithful to the New Testament, than Christians are towards Islamic people who are faithful to the Koran…Mohammad was very understanding that there was great truth in Christianity. He differed with us in that he felt he had a more complete truth, and Islam would hold to that, but Mohammad contended that we would ultimately be judged in terms of the truth that we had at our disposal…I’ve got to believe that Jesus is the only Saviour but being a Christian is not the only way to be saved.

As you will see I have underlined some sections of what is a composite of replies given by Tony Campolo and I want to expose what he has stated to the spotlight of both Scripture and also what Islam actually teaches. I will take a couple of his statements and compare them with what the Bible teaches and then take another couple of his statements and compare them with what the Koran teaches. The upshot of all of this is clear – Tony Campolo is a man that no Christian should trust.

Tony Campolo – ‘even if people don’t convert, they are God’s people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell’ In a recent article on the group IKON I wrote the following and it has application to what Tony Campolo said about unconverted people being – ‘God’s people’ – In the article I wrote –

‘God’s ‘family’, those who can truly refer to Him as “Father” is restricted to those who have been brought into a saving, eternal living relationship with Him, grounded on the atoning work of Christ on the cross and brought about through the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit. When someone undergoes a genuine work of Holy Spirit regeneration one of the many “spiritual blessings” with which they are “blessed” [see Ephesians 1:3] is that they are then “adopted” into God’s family and can rightly call Him “Abba – Father” [see Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:4-5}. It is only those who have been truly “born again” [see John 3:3-7] who can joyfully and confidently affirm “Beloved, NOW are we the children of God” [1 John 3:2].

Tony Campolo – ‘Jesus is the only Saviour but being a Christian is not the only way to be saved’

Just as Muslims classify non-Muslims as infidels/unbelievers so Christians classify non-Christians as unbelievers. Why? Well, turning again to my article on IKON I wrote this and again it has application to Tony Campolo stating that ‘being a Christian is not the only way to be saved’. I wrote – ‘the Lord said to the disbelieving of His day – “If ye believe not that I am he [God’s promised Messiah] ye shall die in your sins”… In John 3:36 we read that “He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life”. When it comes to “believing on the Son” God’s Word clearly identifies some non-negotiable, propositional truths that are embraced by true converts when they “believe on the Son”. [in] 2nd Corinthians 5 we find 2 absolutely core essential and non-negotiable truths concerning The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in verse 21 “For he [God the Father] hath made him [God the Son] to be sin for us [suffered, at the hands of The Father, as prophesied in Isaiah 53, as our substitute] that we might be made [have imputed/credited to us] the righteousness of God in him”. Put simply, God accepts Christ’s ‘substitutionary death’ for true converts as ‘their redemption’ and Christ’s ‘sinless life’ is imputed/credited to true converts as ‘their righteousness’.

Tony Campolo –  ‘what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam’ Surah 18:4-5 ‘And warn those [Christians] who say: Allah has taken a son … a grievous word it is that comes out of their mouths; they speak nothing but a lie’. Surah 18:15 ‘Who is then more unjust than he [like Christians] who forges a lie against Allah?’ Surah 9:30 ‘the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah… may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!’ Surah 5:72-73 ‘they [Christians] disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium… whoever [like Christians] associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden [paradise/heaven], and his abode is the fire [HELL]…a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve’ [HELL] Surah 8:36-37 ‘those who disbelieve shall be driven together to hell. That Allah might separate the impure from the good…then cast it into hell’ Tony Campolo – Mohammad was very under-standing that there was great truth in Christianity The deity and atoning death of Jesus Christ separate Christianity from all the other false religions of the world. What had Mohammad to say on these issues? Surah 19:88-93 ‘they [Christians] say: The Beneficent God has taken (to Himself) a son… an abominable assertion. The heavens may almost be rent thereat, and the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in pieces, that they [Christians] ascribe a son to the Beneficent God… it is not worthy of the Beneficent God that He should take (to Himself) a son. There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficent God as a servant’. [All, including Christ, are merely servants/slaves] Surah 4:157 ‘their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Marium… they did not kill him nor did they crucify him… they killed him not for sure.’

Contrary to what Tony Campolo said in the interview, unconverted Muslims are not ‘God’s people’, only Christians are ‘saved’, Islam does condemn Jews and Christians to ‘hell’ as ‘liars’ and Mohammad had no understanding of THE ‘great truth’ of Christianity – the person and work of Christ. Tony Campolo certainly has what it takes to be a member of the wolf pack of Matthew 7:15-16.