“Bob Burney Live,” WRFD Columbus, Ohio
If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don’t discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child’s fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:
We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren’t firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.
Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.
Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.
The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.
Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.
All that changed recently.
Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.
The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.
If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.
Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.
Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.
Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:
Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.
Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry.
Should this be encouraging?
Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.
What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.
Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in Apologetics, Apostasy, Bible, christian, Christian Life, church, Cults, culture, Deceptions, devotional, emerging Church, Evangelization, False doctrines, False Teachers, False teachings, grace, liberal, Life style, religion, Repentence, Teachings | Tagged Bill Hybels | 2 Comments »
By Jerry Rassamni
The following is a contrast between the diverse dogmas of Islam and Christianity. I will thus be following the maxim of TV’s Sergeant Friday effectively adopted by Ronald Reagan: “Just the facts, Ma’am”:
|Birth||Born of a virgin even according to Qur’an.Born around 4 BC in Bethlehem.
Jesus Christ’s (the Messiah’s) birth and coming were foretold in 333 prophecies in the Bible, hundreds of years prior to His birth. Of these prophecies, 456 specific details of His life are given. God gave the Old Testament to the Jews so they would recognize the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Jesus fulfilled all prophecies foretold of the Messiah in minute detail, during His birth, miracles, crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
The angels announced His birth to the shepherds. John the Baptist (the forerunner) announced His coming. The angel Gabriel announced His birth to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. The Magi came from the East with gifts to worship Him.
|Born of AminahBorn around AD 570 in Mecca.
There are no prophecies concerning the coming of Islam’s prophet.
Islam’s prophet did not have a forerunner. His coming was not anticipated. He simply claimed to be a messenger of God.
|The Messiah||“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” [God with us] (Isa. 7:14, written around 700 years before Christ).“And the angel [Gabriel] said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:30–33).
“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:17, 18).
“And a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in YOu I [God] am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11).
“You are My Son, Today I [God] have begotten You” (Ps. 2:7). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13, 14, written centuries before Christ.
“I [God] will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6), written centuries before Christ.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6, written around 700 years before Christ).
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
“My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me” (John 8:16).
|“We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit” (Surah 2:87).
“Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name is Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah; He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous” (Surah 3:45, 46).
“We (God) sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah” (Surah 5:46).
Allah did not confirm Muhammad’s ministry in a public manifestation.
“Christ the son of Mary was no more than a Messenger” (Surah 5:75a).
“(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me” (Surah 3:50).
“To you, We (God) sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it” (Surah 5:48).
|There is no mention of another prophet after the Messiah; on the contrary, the Bible concludes with these stern and uncompromising words: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18).||“Allah and His Angels send blessings on the prophet: O you that believe! You send blessings on him, and salute him with all respect” (Surah 33:56).|
|Titles||Door to heavenEternal life
Judge of the living and dead
Prince of Peace
Word of God
First and Last
Bread of Life
|An ApostleA Messenger
Son of Abd Allah
Prophet with the Sword
Seal of the Prophets
The Prophet of Islam
|Marriage||Never married or had relations with any woman.||Married 15 women, including the then seven-year-old Ayisha|
|Worldly desires and riches||Jesus was not of this world nor did he have worldly desires or riches. He said in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”||The prophet Muhammad was poor but became well-to-do upon marrying Khadija, his first wife who was fifteen years his senior. He also profited from the booties of war. Ayisha, the youngest of the prophet’s wives, used to say that the prophet loved three things: women, scents, and foods. During his wars, the prophet claimed 15 percent of the booty.|
|Great Prayers||Jesus taught His followers to pray in this way:“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen (Matt. 6:9–13).||This prayer is called the “Fatiha,” or the opening of the Qur’an, which is its first chapter:“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. You do we worship, and Your aid do we seek. Show us the straight way. The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who do not go astray” (Surah 1).
|Miracles||Miraculous birth of Jesus by a virgin as God promised (even acknowledged by the Qur’an). Jesus healed the sick, the blind, and the paralytic, walked on water, rebuked the storms, raised the dead, rose from the dead just as He promised, and as it was foretold by the prophets of old. He appeared to over 500 followers following the resurrection. He performed countless other miracles. Was lifted up into heaven in front of His disciples forty days after His resurrection.||The prophet Muhammad claimed that the Qur’an is the Muslim miracle, and issued a challenge in Surah 2:23 for unbelievers to produce a similar Surah to what is in the Qur’an.|
|War & Peace||Never lifted a sword.“Then Jesus said to him: ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword’” (Matt. 26:52).
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matt. 5:9).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43, 44).
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I [Jesus] say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (Matt. 5:39, 40).
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
“Behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:43–48).
|Proselytized with the sword in sixty-six recorded battles.“Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length until you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them)” (Surah 47:4).
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows and you know not” (Surah 2:216).
“And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression” (Surah 2:193a).
“Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in those circumstances), that do wrong” (Surah 60:9).
“And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out” (Surah 2:191).
“We ordained therein for them: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.’ But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah has revealed, they are (no better than) wrong-doers” (Surah 5:45).
“Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, whether slain or gets victory — soon shall We give him a reward of great (value)” (Surah 4:74).
“Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (Surah 9:5).
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does not love transgressors” (Surah 2:190).
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” (Surah 5:33).
|Enemies||Loved his enemies||Killed his enemies|
|Kingdom||Kingdom not of this world||Established an earthly empire|
|Law vs. grace||While Jesus was teaching at the temple, the Pharisees brought before Him a woman caught in adultery, and they inquired of Jesus what they should do in order to test Him and find grounds to accuse Him. They reminded Him that the Law of Moses calls for the stoning of such women. This was a classic trap. The Law is formal: it calls for stoning. Jesus did not contradict the law nor approve of the sin. On the one hand, He is scornful of the accusers, who are filled with pride, and says to them: “Let him who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And He watched them leave in silence. On the other hand, Jesus calls sin sin and evil evil when he told the woman to sin no more (John 8:1–11).Implication: Mercy is dispensed resulting in grace, which forgives. Jesus taught His followers in Matthew 7:1 not to judge, lest they be judged.||In the Muslim tradition, there is also an incident when an adulteress is brought before the prophet Muhammed as he was in the oasis of Khaybar. Sonic Jews brought before him a woman caught in the act of adultery. They asked him what they should do, so he called for a copy of the Torah. Since the Torah formally stated that the adulteress should be stoned, he ordered her to be stoned. In Islam, obedience to the Law comes before everything.Implication: Judgment is unre-lenting, resulting in the Law which stones.|
|Foremost Command-ment||“One of the scribes came and . . . asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:28–31).||“Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him” (Surah 112:1–4).|
|Salvation||“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6).||“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Surah 2:62).|
|Death||Condemned no one to deathDied in Jerusalem at age of 33 by crucifixion
Arose from the dead on the third day as prophesied and appeared to hundreds of witnesses
|Condemned many to deathDied in Medina at age 62, due to pneumonia and poisoning
Lingers in his grave
|Last words||Jesus never asked for forgiveness for His sins for He was perfect. But one of His last statements on the cross was to forgive those who crucified Him: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ last words on the cross fulfilled a prophesy from Psalm 31:5 when He said: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).||The last words of the prophet Muhammad in a whisper were, “Lord grant me pardon; eternity, in Paradise! Pardon. The blessed companionship on high.”|
|Second coming||Jesus’ second coming is revealed in both the Bible and the Qur’an. He will come to judge (John 5:25, 27).||“And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment); therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but you follow Me: This is a straight Way.” (Surah 53:61)|
By sinning against God in the garden, something fundamental happened to people. They died spiritually as they lost their fellowship with their Maker, and they began to die physically. Both the Bible and the Qur’an agree that God created humans, and they enjoyed a special relationship with the Creator in the Garden, but that relationship was severed. As a result, the quest of religion is how to restore that broken relationship, but religion cannot restore it. Only God can. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We must place our faith in God’s righteousness and promises instead of trusting in our sin-stained hands to save us.
The following paragraphs offer some insights concerning the creation, degeneration, and regeneration .
Act I. The Generation of Humanity
Michelangelo’s famous fresco in the Sistine Chapel—known as the Finger of God—which depicts the creation of Adam is one of the most famous images in the world. This fresco can help enhance our understanding of the Christian view of man’s spiritual state. God is shown as a bearded old man in a swirling cloak next to cherubims (type of angels). He stretches out his right arm to impart the spark of life from His finger into that of Adam, who is earthbound. Adam’s left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s to show that God created humans in His own image.
Man enjoyed perfect communion with God in the Garden before sin crept into the world.
This touch or communion between God and people continued until people disobeyed God in the Garden. As a result, they died spiritually since their fellowship with the Creator was severed. A great gulf grew between God and people. The reason: God is eternally holy and will not allow un-holiness in His presence. However, God in the Garden spoke of a Savior who would bridge that great gulf. Since sinning against a just and holy God is an infinite crime against an infinite God, God said that a Savior would suffer to pay the price for sin. In essence, Michelangelo’s famous fresco of the creation of Adam is the first of three acts in the cycle of life and death.
Act II. The Degeneration of Humanity
In order to understand the ensuing events after Adam’s creation, we must imagine a second fresco. We would see the same painting with the same set of players but with one stark difference. This time, the slight distance that separated God’s finger from Adam’s finger grew to infinity because God will not allow sin to go unpunished. I would title this the degeneration of humanity. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden because of their sin, and a great gulf separated them from a holy God who hates sin. Therefore, it became impossible for them to bridge that gulf and renew fellowship with God. It is interesting to note that man still has a finger pointed toward God trying to reach him on his own terms with his man-made efforts. God also has a finger pointed toward man lovingly longing to reach Him in the appointed time, and in the only way possible that does not compromise the infinite holiness of God.
The slight distance that separated God’s finger from Adam’s finger grew to infinity because God will not allow sin to go unpunished.
Act III. The Regeneration of Humanity
The regeneration of humanity is the third act that Michelangelo never drew. Once again, God reached down from heaven to Adam, and Adam reached out to God, but this time, two other personalities appear in the picture, the savior that God promised, and the Holy Spirit. The savior is nailed to a cross, bridging the gap between man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness. He is touching Adam’s finger with His human nature, and God’s finger with His divine nature. The great chasm between Adam (man) and God is now bridged by a Savior covered in blood and crowned with thorns. This Savior had to be one with God in order to be a savior for if you were dying of thirst and someone wanted to help you, they would have to have water. Likewise, if you need eternal life, the savior would have to have eternal life. Thus the Savior could not be a mere mortal prophet but he had to be divine.
The Holy Spirit is also present in this fresco in the form of a dove (Luk 3:22). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and need for repentance. The Bible tells us that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). The Holy Spirit helps us to see in the spiritual realm. He helps us realize that our efforts at holiness are feeble. He enables us to appreciate how holy God is and how sinful we are. He assists us to grasp that there’s a great gap between us and God that only God can fill and that only God can cleanse us and renew us (Tit. 3:4-6). He convicts us to humble ourselves before God and enthrone Him in our lives instead of magnifying ourselves. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on us and reveal the truth to us against our will, but if we ask Him to reveal the truth to us (1 Pet 1:2), He will. Hence, the concept of the Holy Trinity is fully manifested when our relationship with God is restored (2 Cor. 13:14, Mat 28:19, Rom 8:9). The Holy Spirit draws us to the Father, through the Son who is our High Priest (Mat 3:16-17, Jud 1:20-21).
The great chasm between Adam (man) and God is now bridged by a Savior covered in blood and crowned with thorns.
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are monotheistic religions, as they believe that God is one. Muslims however, erroneously denounce the Christian view of the Trinity (Trinitarianism) as polytheism (shirk – associating someone with God). Trinitarianism is not the opposite of Unitarianism or Monotheism (belief that God is one), but polytheism is (belief that there is more than one God). Trinitarianism does not contradict monotheism but it asserts it. Trinitarianism is the belief that God is one what, but three whos – or said differently, one in being, but three in persons or expressions. It is this concept of the Trinity that enables God to be self-sufficient. God is not in need of anyone to commune with for He is able to commune with Himself. In the same way that man one, yet he is body, mind, and soul; so is God one, yet he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has the ability to have each member of the Holy Trinity or the Godhead or the being of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) represent themselves distinctly. Thus, Christians believe that God is one is essence, but He expresses Himself in three persons who share in the one divine being.
In the same way, that man one, yet he is body, mind, and soul, so is God one, yet He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps us to grasp spiritual truths that are beyond human understanding. He enables us to appreciate how holy God is and how sinful we are. He reveals to us that there’s a great gap between us and God that only God can fill (Tit. 3:4-6). However, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on us and reveal the truth to us against our will, but if we ask Him to reveal the truth to us (1 Pet 1:2), He will. Hence, the concept of the Holy Trinity is fully manifested when our relationship with God is restored (2 Cor. 13:14, Mat 28:19, Rom 8:9).
God gives us a choice of whether to live in the second fresco—degeneration—with no hope of fellowshipping with God, or the third fresco—regeneration—where our fellowship with God is restored. If God did not allow us to choose for ourselves, we would be puppets. God does not want mere puppets to worship Him because they are forced to, but He wants free-will agents to worship Him from their hearts because they want to. If our worship did not come from the heart, it becomes a hollow expression that means nothing to God. “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isa 29:13)
If our worship did not come from the heart, it becomes a hollow expression that means nothing to God.
In stark contrast to the above, in countries where the Shari’a (Muslim Jurisprudence) is the law of the land, Muslims are forced to worship during prayer time at the risk of being whipped by the muttawa [Islamic morality police]. Incidentally, the shari’a undermines most human rights, particularly freedom of religion, freedom of expression, political freedoms, and women’s rights. The shari’a crushes dissent. They don’t want people to choose for themselves, but they want religion to choose for them. In essence, Islam emphasizes the external expression of worship instead of genuine heartfelt praise to the Almighty.
In essence, Islam emphasizes the external expression of worship instead of genuine heartfelt praise to the Almighty.
We do not serve a vengeful God, but a loving God who walked among us, who understands our tears, our sufferings, and our sorrows. He does not want us to serve Him because we have to but because we want to. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He does not force us to love Him, but He awaits us with nail-scarred hands, saying,
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30)
God tells us in His Word that we can try to reach Him with our human efforts and religions, but we will always end up in the second fresco—degeneration—with a great gulf separating us from God. We can never bridge the gap, only God can. Muslims say: “I don’t believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.” Arnold Toynbee puts it best in his astute analysis: “Find the body of that Jew, and Christianity crumbles into ruins.”5 Muslims also say: “I have my own way, for the blood is offensive to me.” God says to them: “Good, now you know how I feel about your sin. Your sin is an offensive stench in My nostrils.”
According to the Qur’an itself, biblical sources are held in highest esteem and are the yardstick of veracity by which any other message is measured. “But if thou art in doubt (kunta) as to that which we have revealed to thee, ask those who read the Book before thee. Certainly the Truth has come to thee from thy Lord, so be not thou of the doubters” (Surah 10:94).
It is clear that the above verse was directed at Islam’s prophet, for the verb is in the masculine singular form kunta (you are), instead of its plural form kuntum. However, if we use the biblical source as a yardstick to measure the Qur’anic scriptures, then simply put, the Qur’an flunks the acid test of veracity since it rejects the fundamental tenets of Christianity, such as the Trinity, the inerrancy of the biblical Scriptures, the deity of Christ, His death on the cross, and His subsequent resurrection.
In comparing the Qur’an and the Bible concerning inerrancy, we will consider the following:
1. The Qur’an contradicts the Bible concerning fundamental issues. Since they cannot both be right, one of them must be in error.
2. The Qur’an claims that the Bible is the barometer of truth.
3. Therefore, the Qur’an must be in error.
1. The Qur’an contradicts the Bible concerning fundamental issues. Since they can’t both be right, one must be in error:
a. Regarding the identity of Jesus, the Qur’an says, “They indeed disbelieve who say: ‘Surely, Allah — He is the Messiah.’” (Surah 5:17, see also 5:72)
b. Regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, the Qur’an says, “They killed him (Jesus) not, nor did they cause his death on the cross, but he was made to appear to them as such.” (Surah 4:157)
2. The Qur’an claims that the Bible is the barometer of truth.
a. “But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book [Bible before you.” (Surah 10.94a)
b. “And that which We have revealed to you of the Book [Bible], that is the truth verifying that which is before it; most surely with respect to His servants Allah is Aware, Seeing.” (Surah 35.31)
c. “Say: Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and a guidance to men?” (Surah 6:91b)
d. “And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit.” (Surah 29:46)
3. Therefore, the Qur’an must be in error.
Since the Qur’an and the Bible disagree on fundamental issues, they cannot both be right. Logic demands that one has to be in error. Muslims claim that since the Bible does not match the Qur’an, the Bible must have been corrupted. However, since the Qur’an instructs us that the Bible is the barometer of truth, this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that whenever the Bible and the Qur’an disagree, the Qur’an must be in error. In other words, the Qur’an is in error concerning a myriad of theological issues such as the Holy Trinity, the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, the sacrificial atonement of Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible, etc. Let us examine some clues in the following vignette to explain why the Qur’an is so vastly different from the Bible.
“A cartoon shows a line of pews and the same sentence is being passed verbally from one pew to the other:
First pew: ‘My ear kind of hurts.’
Second pew: ‘The pastor has an earache.’
Third pew: ‘The pastor got a hearing aid.’
Fourth pew: ‘The pastor is having trouble hearing.’
Fifth pew: ‘The pastor got a double earring.’
Last pew: An old lady with a cane is walking out and says, ‘That does it, I’m outta here! The pastor’s got a double earring!’”
Though it is intended to be satirical, the above vignette brilliantly describes how biblical stories could be altered in the Qur’an. The main reason behind the discrepancies between the Bible and the Qur’an is that Islam’s prophet had to rely on oral information from Christians and Jews concerning the Bible, because the Bible was not yet translated into the prophet’s language of Arabic until approximately three hundred years after his death (AD 900). This further proves that the Qur’an lacks divine origins; otherwise, biblical stories would have been preserved unchanged. Muslims need to make up their minds concerning whether Allah’s word can be altered. If it cannot be altered, then the Bible, which the Qur’an claims to be the word of God, could not have been altered. Muslims cannot vacillate on their beliefs concerning this issue to suit their purposes. Therefore, if the Bible was corrupted, Muslims must be open to the possibility that the Qur’an itself was corrupted.
In Islam, the world is traditionally divided into two camps. Those are Dar Al Islam (literally house of Islam or submission) meaning House of Peace, and Dar Al Harb (House of War). Although the exact definitions of these terms vary widely, a traditional definition is as follows: Countries that are under Muslim rule are grouped in the House of Peace, whereas countries that are not are grouped under House of War. Muslim fundamentalists have Islamic world domination in mind. They are on a jihad until the whole world confesses the Islamic creed which is featured on the Saudi Arabian flag. The Wahabis are the dominant Islamic sect in Saudi Arabia. Their war cry was: “kill the infidels.” The national flag of Saudi Arabia, the religious center of Islam has the words, “La Illaha Illa Allah” (There is no god by Allah). Beneath those words, is the key to making that happen—a sword.
About Jerry Rassamni
Jerry Rassamni grew up in Lebanon as a Muslim during its bloody Civil War and became a militia fighter at a young age. Jerry’s heart burned with hatred against his enemies the Maronite (Catholic) militias.
After immigrating to the States, Jerry began to study the bible in order to refute it. Upon examining the scriptures, Jerry was captivated by the love of the God of the Bible who presented Himself not as a distant impersonal God, but as a personal heavenly Father. Jerry’s heart was subsequently changed as he had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jerry, who is fluent in four languages, is a frequent speaker on apologetics
Posted in Allah, Apologetics, Apostasy, Bible, christian, Christian Life, church, Cults, culture, Deceptions, Evangelization, False doctrines, False Teachers, False teachings, grace, Islam, Jihad, liberal, Life style, Mohammed, Muslims, Persecution, religion, Repentence, Teachings | Tagged Jerry Rassamni | 2 Comments »
Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, “Oprah & Friends” will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.”
For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink
everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6
Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah’s longtime friend and special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson—who also happens to be one of today’s premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance
. This Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as a “civil rights movement for the soul.”7 They all agree that the principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A Course in Miracles—which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?
A Course in Miracles is allegedly “new revelation” from “Jesus” to help humanity work through these troubled times. This “Jesus”—who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible’s Jesus Christ—began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman.
One day Schucman heard an “inner voice” stating, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”8 For seven years she diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described himself as “Jesus.” A Course in Miracles was quietly published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years “the Course” was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers who studied “the Course” individually, with friends, or in small study groups.
and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was—in reality—the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift from God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be He.
When I left the New Age “Christ” to follow the Bible’s Jesus Christ, I had come to understand that the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles was a false “Christ,” and that his Course in Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles:
“There is no sin. . . ” 9 [See note]
A “slain Christ has no meaning.”10
“The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.”11
“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”12
“The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.”13
“God is in everything I see.”14
“The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”15
“The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”16
“The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”17
Most Christians recognize that these teachings are the opposite of what the Bible teaches. In the Bible, Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross of Calvary was hardly a “useless journey.” His triumph on the cross provides salvation to all those who confess their sin, accept Him and follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. His victory on the cross rings throughout the New Testament. It has been gloriously sung about in beloved hymns through the ages and is at the heart of our Christian testimony.
I found the Jesus of the Bible to be wholly believable as He taught God’s truth and warned about the spiritual deception that would come in His name. The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles reveals himself to be an imposter when he blasphemes the true Jesus Christ by saying that a “slain Christ has no meaning” and that we are all “God” and that we are all “Christ.” It was by reading the Bible’s true teachings of Jesus Christ that I came to understand how deceived I had been by A Course in Miracles and my other New Age teachings.
I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s book Love is Letting Go of Fear. Jampolsky declared in his easy-to-read book how the teachings of A Course in Miracles had changed his life. As an ambassador for A Course in Miracles over the years, Jampolsky has been featured not only in New Age circles but at least twice on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. While Schuller introduced Jampolsky and his “fabulous”
18 Course in Miracles-based books to his worldwide television audience, it was Marianne Williamson’s appearance on a 1992 Oprah Winfrey Show that really shook the rafters.
On that program, Oprah enthusiastically endorsed Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Ironically, all of this was happening after I had left the Course and the New Age. In fact, I was doing the final editing on my book The Light That Was Dark
that warned about the dangers of the New Age—and in particular A Course in Miracles.
After being introduced to the world on Oprah, Marianne Williamson has continued to grow in popularity and, as previously mentioned, has become one of today’s foremost New Age leaders. Williamson credits Winfrey for bringing her book about A Course in Miracles before the world: “For that, my deepest thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Her enthusiasm and generosity have given the book, and me, an audience we would never otherwise have had.”19 In her 2004 book, The Gift of Change, Williamson wrote:
“Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of the Course as key to changing one’s personal life; today, I see its guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how deeply the two are connected.”20
“Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of the Course as key to changing one’s personal life; today, I see its guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how deeply the two are connected.”20
Thus the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles are about to be taught by Marianne Williamson to millions of listeners on Oprah’s XM Satellite Radio program. Listeners are encouraged to buy A Course in Miracles for the year-long course. An audio version of A Course in Miracles recited by Richard (John Boy Walton) Thomas is also available on compact disc.
Popular author Wayne Dyer told his PBS television audience that the “brilliant writing” of A Course in Miracles would produce more peace in the world.21 Williamson’s New Age colleague, Neale Donald Walsch, said his “God” stated that “the era of the Single Saviour is over”22 and that he (“God”) was responsible for authoring the teachings of A Course in Miracles.23
Meanwhile, Gerald Jampolsky’s Course in Miracles-based book, Forgiveness, continues to be sold in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral bookstore as Schuller prepares to host a January 17-19, 2008, “Rethink Conference” at his Crystal Cathedral.24
At this critical time in the history of the world, the New Gospel/New Spirituality is coming right at the world and the church with its New Age teachings and its New Age Peace Plan. But this New Age Peace Plan has at its deceptive core the bottom-line teaching from A Course in Miracles that “we are all one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. But the Bible is clear that we are not God (Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea 11:9). And per Galatians 3:26-28, our only oneness is in Jesus Christ—not in ourselves as “God” and “Christ.” What Oprah and Marianne Williamson and the world will learn one day is that humanity’s only real and lasting peace is with the true Jesus Christ who is described and quoted in the Holy Bible (Romans 5:1).
Oprah Winfrey’s misplaced faith in Marianne Williamson and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles is a sure sign of the times. But an even surer sign of the times is that most Christians are not taking heed to what is happening in the world and in the church. We are not contending for the faith as the Bible admonishes us to do (Jude 3).
It is time for all of our Purpose-Driven and Emerging church pastors to address the real issue of the day. Our true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is being reinvented, redefined, and blasphemed right in front of our eyes and hardly anyone seems to notice or care. If we want the world to know who Jesus Christ is, we need to also warn them about who He is not. There is a false New Age “Christ” making huge inroads into the world and into the church. The Apostle Paul said that “it is a shame” we have to even talk about these things, but talk about them we must (Ephesians 5:12-16).
If people want to follow Oprah Winfrey and the New Age “Christ” of A Course in Miracles they certainly have that right. But let them be warned that the New Age “Christ” they are following is not the same Jesus Christ who is so clearly and authoritatively presented in the pages of the Bible.
Posted in Apologetics, Apostasy, Bible, christian, Christian Life, church, Cults, culture, Deceptions, emerging Church, Evangelization, False doctrines, False Teachers, False teachings, liberal, Life style, New Age, religion, Repentence, Teachings | Tagged Oprah Winfrey | Leave a Comment »
There is a curious problem today in the evangelical [and fundamental] world — one that poses sobering questions for the church and for the individual believer. The problem in brief is this: a great army of personal soul-winners has been mobilized to reach the populace for Christ. They are earnest, zealous, enthusiastic, and persuasive. To their credit it must be said that they are on the job. And it is one of the phenomena of our times that they rack up an astounding number of conversions. Everything so far seems to be on the plus side.
But the problem is this: The conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism. The capsule technique of soul winning has produced stillbirths.
What lies at the back of all this malpractice in bringing souls to the birth? Strangely enough it begins with the valid determination to preach the pure gospel of the grace of God. We want to keep the message simple — uncluttered by any suggestion that man can ever earn or deserve eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law. Therefore, the message is “only believe.”
From there the message is reduced to a concise formula. For instance, the evangelistic process is cut down to a few basic questions and answers, as follows:
“Do you believe you are a sinner?”
“Do you believe Christ died for sinners?”
“Will you receive Him as your Savior?”
“Then you are saved!”
“Yes, the Bible says you are saved.”
At first blush the method and the message might seem above criticism. But on closer study we are forced to have second thoughts and to conclude that the gospel has been over-simplified.
The first fatal flaw is the missing emphasis on repentance. There can be no true conversion without conviction of sin. It is one thing to agree that I am a sinner: it is quite another thing to experience the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. Unless I have a Spirit-wrought consciousness of my utterly lost condition, I can never exercise saving faith. It is useless to tell unconvicted sinners to believe on Jesus — that message is only for those who know they are lost. We sugar-coat the gospel when we de-emphasize man’s fallen condition. With that kind of watered-down message, people receive the Word with joy instead of with deep contrition. They do not have deep roots, and though they might endure for a while, they soon give up all profession when persecution or trouble comes (Matt. 13:21). Many have forgotten that the message is repentance toward God as well as faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A second serious omission is a missing emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. A light, jovial mental assent that Jesus is Savior misses the point. Jesus is first Lord, then Savior. The New Testament always places His Lordship before His Saviorhood. Do we present the full implication of His Lordship to people? He always did.
A third defect in the message is the tendency to keep the terms of discipleship hidden until a decision has been made for Jesus. Our Lord never did this. The message He preached included the cross as well as the crown. “He never hid His scars to win disciples.” He revealed the worst along with the best, then told His listeners to count the cost. We popularize the message and promise fun.
The result of all this is that we have people believing without knowing what they believe. In many cases they have no doctrinal basis for their decision. They do not know the implication of commitment to Christ. They have never experienced the mysterious, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
And of course there are others who are talked into a profession because of the slick salesmanship techniques of the soul winner. Or some who want to please the affable, personable young man with the winning smile. And some who only want to get rid of this religious interloper who has intruded into their privacy. Satan laughs when these conversions are triumphantly announced on earth.
I would like to raise several questions that might lead to some changes in the strategy of evangelism.
First of all, can we generally expect people to make an intelligent commitment to Christ the first time they hear the Gospel? Certainly, there is the exceptional case where a person has already been prepared by the Holy Spirit.
But generally speaking, the process involves sowing the seed, watering it, then sometime later reaping the harvest. In our mania for instant conversion, we have forgotten that conception, gestation, and birth do not occur on the same day.
A second question — can a capsule presentation of the gospel really do justice to so great a message? As one who has written several gospel tracts, I confess to a certain sense of misgivings in even attempting to condense the good news into four small pages. Would we not be wise to give people the full presentation as it is found in the Gospels, or in the New Testament?
Thirdly, is all this pressure for decisions really Scriptural? Where in the New Testament were people ever pressured into making a profession? The practice is justified by saying that if only one out of ten is genuine, it is worth it. But what about the other nine disillusioned, bitter, perhaps deceived; enroute to hell by a false profession?
And I must add this: Is all this boasting about conversions really accurate? You’ve met the man who solemnly tells you of ten people he contacted that day and all of them were saved. A young doctor testified that every time he goes to a new city, he looks in the phone book for people with his last name. Then he calls them one by one and leads them through the four steps of salvation. Amazing enough, every one of them opens the door of his heart to Jesus. I don’t want to doubt the honesty of people like this, but am I wrong in thinking that they are extremely naive? Where are all those people who are saved? They cannot be found.
What it all means is that we should seriously re-examine our streamlined capsule evangelism. We should be willing to spend time teaching the gospel, laying a solid doctrinal foundation for faith to rest on. We should stress the necessity for repentance — a complete about face with regard to sin. We should stress the full implication of the Lordship of Christ and the conditions of discipleship. We should explain what belief really involves. We should be willing to wait for the Holy Spirit to produce genuine conviction of sin.
If we do this, we’ll have less astronomical figures of so-called conversions, but more genuine cases of spiritual rebirth.
Posted in Apologetics, Apostasy, Bible, christian, Christian Life, church, Cults, culture, Deceptions, devotional, emerging Church, Evangelization, False doctrines, False Teachers, False teachings, grace, liberal, Life style, religion, Repentence, Teachings, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
By Ray Stedman
The problems of abortion yield themselves to solution only when viewed against the background of reverence for human life and its theological base, for, to quote John R. W. Stott, “Man is a unique creation, the object of God’s loving care in both creation and redemption. The reason the Bible forbids the taking of human life, except judicially, is that it is the life of a human being with a divine likeness.”
The humanist viewpoint, which views man as fundamentally an animal, gives us no reason to even confront the question, for if man is only another animal he can be treated like one, therefore, there is no moral or spiritual question involved. But if, as the Bible declares, man is uniquely singled out to bear the stamp of God’s image, and to be the object of Christ’s redemptive love, then destroying human life assumes moral and spiritual implications because it brings God into the picture and we face our responsibility to him and his unchanging laws.
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6 (RSV))
This is the recorded decree of God — not because human life was cheap (the murderer’s), but because human life (the victim’s) was precious. This word from God bears witness to the value and sanctity of human life. This is the context in which the Christian views the problem of abortion.
I don’t have to tell you how pertinent this subject is. Everybody is talking about it. But, as Christians, we must always come back to the Scriptures for our frame of reference and try to settle such questions as this on the basis of what the Word of God says — regardless of what the world thinks and does about them.
To help us think it through, I’d like to point out what I think are the crucial questions on this issue and then summarize what I feel the Scriptures give us to reach conclusive answers to these questions. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those areas where we can cite passages that give us clear-cut answers. Our conclusions must be reached more from the standpoint of general principles than from specific statements. But I think the principles that apply are very clear, and we should not find it difficult to draw conclusions from them.
The first, and, perhaps, the most crucial, question is: “Is a fetus a human being at every stage of its development, that is, from conception onward? Is it to be regarded as human life from the very beginning?”
The position of secular writers on this question varies widely. Some take the stand that a fetus is not to be regarded as a human being until it is actually born and that any arrest of its life before birth is not the taking of life. Others do not agree to that. Many people would say the fetus becomes human life at the point of “quickening,” that is, the first time that the fetus shows life, jumps within the womb. Others say the fetus becomes a human life at the time when the heartbeat can be detected.
It seems, though, that very few secular writers would take the position that it is human from the point of conception unless they are strongly influenced by moral or religious considerations. Roman Catholic writers might take that position. The position of the Catholic Church has been consistently against abortion, but, like so much that is happening today in the Catholic Church, the official stance is one thing, while its practice is quite another. Not much effort is being made to enforce the official position of the church due to the controversy raging today. Of course, Catholics would go even further, saying that even the act of contraception, of preventing conception, is proscribed by Scripture, because it represents an aborting of God’s will. But that position would find few Protestant defenders.
When we come back to the Scriptures on the question of abortion, it seems to me that it is almost assumed in the Bible that human life is present in the fetus. It is like the argument about the existence of God — very little Scripture could be used to answer the philosophical claim that God doesn’t exist, because Scripture assumes that he does. This matter is much the same — Scripture simply assumes that human life is present in the fetus and that it is there from the beginning.
Of the Bible passages that deal with this subject, a noteworthy one is Psalm 139, which refers unmistakably to the fetus before birth. Remember that this Psalm deals with a man’s search for his own identity. Let’s read at least the first half of this Psalm:
O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me!
Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up;
thou discernest my thoughts from afar.
Thou searchest out my path and my lying down,
and art acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou dost beset me behind and before,
and layest thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high, I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6 RSV)
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.” Notice the use of personal pronouns all the way through. “Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up…” This portrays the wonder of the psalmist at the incredible intimacy of the knowledge of God. He goes on to say that it encompasses even his thought life. He acknowledges that God knows him better than he knows himself, that he understands the inner workings of his being, the unconscious developments of his life, that he is far more aware of every intimate detail of a man’s life than the man himself. God’s knowledge of man is far beyond what man is able to know of himself and is therefore a source of wonder to him.
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there thy hand shall lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Let only darkness cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to thee,
the night is bright as the day;
for darkness is as light with thee. (Psalm 139:7-12 RSV)
Notice Verse 7: “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Here he’s facing the implications of this knowledge that there is no conceivable state of being in which a human can exist (before he is encompassed in the body, after he is in the body, before birth or after death, or within the whole of life) in which God does not know him, and that there is no escape from the being and presence of God.
Then he comes to an actual description of his embryonic state:
For thou didst form my inward parts,
thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.
Wonderful are thy works!
Thou knowest me right well;
my frame was not hidden from thee,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;
in thy book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 RSV)
“For thou didst form my inward parts; thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.” The Hebrew word for knit together really means “thou didst unroll me.” You know how the fetus is rolled up; it develops in this fetal position. The idea here is that from the very beginning God forms and begins to unroll the fetus. The psalmist is impressed by the wonder of this: “I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was made in secret.”
Do not be misled by the next phrase, “the depths of the earth.” This doesn’t mean that fetal growth takes place underground. It’s really a poetic phrase that expresses something of the mystery of life. It pictures something that is hidden and therefore difficult to discover. While his life was at this stage, where it is difficult to understand or even investigate, God’s understanding of the psalmist’s being and identity was clear. Notice that there is no change in the personal pronoun: it is still “I” and “me” describing the fetal state, just as it is when he is speaking about himself as a grown person.
He says, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance.” That is clearly the embryo. “In thy book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God!” The language here attempts to convey the fact that there is no conceivable state of the human being that does not involve identity before God. This is strong evidence that, in God’s view (and he ought to know), the fetus is a form of human life even in its undeveloped state.
Note that nature itself confirms this. If you find a seed lying on the ground and want to know what kind it is, you plant it and see. The seed never makes a mistake. Inherent in the seed are all the characteristics of the grown plant. This is true in all the natural realm so it seems logical that it is true in human life as well: The moment the fertilized seed is there, all that it will become is inherent within it. Therefore, we conclude there is human life from the very beginning, from the point of conception.
Another reference that helps to confirm this view is Hebrews 7:9-10. It speaks of Levi as paying tithes to Melchizedek while he was yet in the loins of his father Abraham. Here, even the sperm of Abraham is regarded as having identity. Levi is identified even before he was conceived (and Abraham wasn’t even his father — he was his great-grandfather). Yet Levi is identified as being involved in the characteristic acts of Abraham before he was even conceived.
And you can carry this line of thinking clear back to the fact that in some sense the whole race is found seminally in Adam in the same way. Here we are facing an almost unexplorable mystery of life — which is nevertheless true. That’s why Paul can say in Romans 5 that we all sinned in one man, and he hangs a lot on that point of his argument.
Another strong confirmation of the human identity of the fetus is in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. This is the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth while both were with child.
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:39-44 RSV)
Now joy is a human phenomenon. Elizabeth was six months into her pregnancy, “this is the sixth month with her who was called barren,” (Luke 1:36). So at six months we see there was a clear expression of a human emotion within the womb. And Mary had just conceived — yet John in Elizabeth’s womb is reacting to the person of Jesus in Mary’s womb! This is a very strong point. A lot of the weight of argument lies right here. This is saying that Elizabeth’s unborn baby sensed the presence of the Lord Jesus in Mary’s womb — that’s why it says that “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41), and “the babe … leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44).
Here, we conclude, the emotion of joy is being expressed through the humanity of the fetus. Now this isn’t just something that is imposed upon the fetus by God so that he makes it twitch, and then it is called a reaction of joy. That would make the terms meaningless; it must be that the fetus in some way feels and expresses joy. In another place, Luke 1:15, it talks about John’s being filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb — and only human beings are filled with the Spirit. All this we take as evidence that Scripture teaches that a human life exists from the very moment of conception.
Now we are coming to the second step. The first has been to establish that there is human life in the fetus. The second crucial question is this: “What does aborting that type of human life involve? Is it first-degree murder or is it considered a lesser crime?”
At the outset we suggested that we should not regard abortion in the same way as we would view a man’s deliberately killing another in cold blood. In other words, it isn’t first-degree murder to arrest this kind of life, though it is a form of taking life. The fact that there is a lesser penalty prescribed for an act of manslaughter as opposed to an act of murder doesn’t mean there is no taking of a human life in a manslaughter case. It means that the circumstances are such that there is less culpability involved.
We have concluded, I trust, that the Scriptures say to us that the fetus is a person all the way. That’s what Psalm 139 is saying. It uses the same personal pronouns for the fetal development before birth as it does after birth. I think we have to see it as a person. Now the lesser degree of blame attached to ending life through abortion is not because the fetus is not a person, but because it is more difficult to recognize it as a person. The degree of culpability is involved here. The degree to which a person acts deliberately and in full knowledge of what he is doing establishes the difference between murder and manslaughter.
The basis for lessening the degree of blame for a crime is not the quality of life that’s involved, but the degree of understanding of the value of that life. The Scriptures, then, in my judgment, indicate that human life exists from the very point at which conception occurs. But abortion is to be regarded as something less than outright, deliberate murder. It doesn’t bear that same degree of culpability if pregnancy is terminated.
That leads to the third question: “What effect does abortion have upon society?” Here again we have general principles set forth in Scripture. That is, that when men act in ignorance (as Paul put it about himself), they are able to obtain mercy because they did things ignorantly, in unbelief. God’s mercy does come in at this point; nevertheless, there are certain natural results that accrue which God does not set aside.
Despite the ignorance of man, there still is a penalty exacted by God — which we term “natural result” or “natural consequence” — that is not altered by mercy. Therefore, human society suffers the consequences of acts, like abortion, that are not a fulfillment of God’s righteous will. The major thing we ought to bear in mind, and to teach, in a Christian stand against abortion is that there is an effect upon society. To a great degree the ignorance of men today about this whole matter of abortion is defended and preserved. We are being told that it is an individual matter and is justified on that basis: “Well, I haven’t done any harm to anyone else. It’s my body and I can do what I like with my own body.” Christians have to come out and say, “Look, this is not true. No man is an island. We are all together in this, and what hurts one hurts all.” The hurt that affects society as a result of this, and which God exacts, goes clear back to the idea that if any man takes another man’s life, “by man shall his blood be shed,” (Genesis. 9:6 (RSV). In other words, violence begets violence. Thus, when there is a violent termination of life (which abortion is to some degree), this begets more violence in society; and when it becomes widespread, it becomes increasingly felt in society.
For example, a large percentage of the population in Japan is regularly practicing abortion. Does this mean that we can expect that society to reap bloodshed within itself? Yes, we can. The bloodshed can come about in various ways, some of which will be obviously abortion-related and some of which will not. For instance, it may take the form of a plague or of increased incidence of disease; it may even take the form of an outbreak of war, or an increased crime rate, or suicides. God is working within human society in all the various forms in which Satan, the “murderer” (John 8:44), is permitted to exercise his will, and Satan is given more toehold in society as men give in at these points. Therefore, the devil is able to exercise his desire to murder in various ways. We can see this even now in the Japanese culture. They have tremendous numbers of traffic deaths, etc. For years Japan has had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. They’ve been involved in wars; in World War II God judged Japan as much as he did the United States.
An obvious example of this is the devaluation of life itself. If we consider the fetus to be non-human, then there’s a decline in appreciation and understanding of the value of human life. And without a sense of the worth of human life, people act violently in a number of ways, one of which is the current loosening of abortion laws.
This is part of the larger picture, too, of the whole sexual behavior of humanity. Certain passages state that God judges society within that society itself and brings upon it weakness, death, darkness, and hurt, because of sexual immorality. For instance, “For this cause, the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:3-6, Colossians 3:6 RSV). Widespread sexual immorality of any kind always brings judgment on a society. Abortion is a form of sexual immorality arising from the widespread practice of sexual promiscuity.
Another example of this truth is in Hosea, where we read about the case that the Lord has against the inhabitants of the land. Hosea begins with their lack of faithfulness: There is no knowledge of God in the land. Then he says the result is swearing, deception, killing, stealing and adultery, and they use violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed Hosea 4:1-3). Therefore the land mourns. The same progression — disengaging from God, sexual promiscuity, immorality, then violence, then the whole land infected — is what we see America going through today.
One further thing should be said on this — that there is a place for therapeutic abortion in individual cases. Where, if a mother’s life and a child’s life is in jeopardy and it is a matter of saving one or the other, there is some warrant for choosing the mother as opposed to the fetus, because she is a more developed life, has more ties to life around, affects more people and so on. There is some justification in that. But abortion is certainly not justified in the case of the convenience of the mother versus the life of the fetus. That’s another point entirely.
Sometimes, too, it’s really hard to distinguish what would be additional justifiable cause for abortion: There are physical problems and emotional problems — and where do you draw the line concerning emotional problems? These are hard decisions for which we have no concrete answer from Scripture. But this is something that Christians are going to have to wrestle with — increasingly so, and no matter how difficult the task — for we are to be “salt” in society.
By:Charles E. Wigg.
In In an area near Lucknow in North India, lived a Brahmin family, by the name of Chaubey. They were comparatively rich, quite religious according to the Hindu custom. They had a large house, where poojah (worship of Hindu idols),was daily carried out, and many acres of land. A son of that family turned out to be different from the other members, because as he grew he became a greedy and a violent man. He finally became king of a band of Dacoits, (Robbers, or Gangsters.)
He married a Brahmin girl, and had two sons. He joined in the daily poojah when at home, and even with his gang sought the blessing of the idols, before committing a crime. Once the crime had been successfuly carried through, with his gang, he returned to the temple to make a thank offering of part of the proceeds of the crime.
He was not troubled by the fact that they stole and murdered, he considered it to be a part of his karmah, or sacred duty. After all some of his gods did the same, thereby sanctifying his sinful life. During that period of his life, this man (by his own confession), committed no less that 28 murders, Their crimes made him to become very wealthy, and he acquired a taste for expensive foreign brandy, he always kept a good supply of it under the bed. He still had a faint glimmer of a conscience, and the liquor gave him a false courage, and enabled him to suppress what little voice of conscience that remained in him.
Though he committed so many murders, and stole so much property, yet he never spent time in prison. If caught, they would bribe the policemen, this was considered business expenses. If they found an honest policeman, and were brought to the court, then they would have to give the judge more money, but this was just bad luck.
But the Mighty God was watching that man, He set His love upon him, and determined to make him a trophy of His matchless grace.
There is a true God, He is the Creator of us all, He is both righteous, just, and intrinsically holy, He hates sin, yet loves the sinner. He tells us in His word, the Bible, that we are all sinners, both by nature, and by practice. We cannot help our nature, we acquired it from our father before we were born, but we can help our actions, because though Satan, God’s arch enemy, may tempt us to sin, yet he cannot compell us to sin. The Bible tells us that the punishment of sin is death, not only physical death, but spiritual death, eternal seperation from God, and that death is passed upon all, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, Rom.3;23, and Rom. 5;12.
After committing one crime, they were caught, and because the police man was honest, he had to go to Court, and the case was heard in the town of Basti. He went to that town, and while on his way to the court, he saw a man from Tamil Nadu, one of the southermost states of India, with a shoulder bag hanging from his shoulder, a Bible in one hand , and some tracts in the other. he was a missionary with the “Friends Missionary Prayer Band”
Though the dacoit was feared by all in that town, where he was acknowledged as king, yet this poor Tamil brother bravely offered the him a tract. When he was asked what it was, he told that it was a paper that would tell him about the ONE TRUE GOD. The dacoit put the tract into his pocket, then began to reproach the Tamil brother.
“What one true God?” he asked, “I have a thousand gods, if one of my gods fail I turn to another, if your God fails, what do you do?” The Tamil brother simply told him that his God never failed, that He could not fail, and that he would never need to turn to another.
The dacoit became angry when he heard these words, he snatched the evangelist’s Bible and threw it on the ground, he grabbed the tracts that were in the other hand and threw them into the air. He then put his hand into his pocket and felt the revolver that he had there, and threatened the evangelist, telling him that he was king in that place, and that if he came there again and found him there he would shoot him, he ordered him to get out of that place. The poor evangelist, meekly replied that he served another King, the Lord Jesus, and would have to do as He commanded.
The court hearing was adjourned for fourteen days, and the Dacoit returned home, where he boasted to his wife of what he had done. To His surprise, his wife did not laugh with him, but rebuked him, telling him that he had no right to treat the evangelist as he had done. She told him that the poor fellow was a holy man a servant of some god, and that he had done no harm to him, so he was wrong in treating him as he had done. He then put his hand into his pocket and produced the tract, telling his wife that the man was spreading religious propaganda, telling about some ONE TRUE GOD, and giving away papers. His wife then asked him if he had read the paper, and when he told that he had not, she told him that he should do so, that it might do him some good. This was a challenge to him, which he could not resist, so he did read the tract.
Fourteen days later he returned to Basti to attend court again, and he was angered to find the same evangelist there still. But he was shocked to see how thin the poor man had become, his clothes were just hanging on Him. He put his hand in the pocket again and felt the revolver, he then reminded the evangelist of the threat he had made two weeks before. The Tamil man replied ” You told me that you are king in this place, and that if you found me here again you would shoot me. I told you that I served the Lord Jesus, that He is my King, and He has not told me to leave this place. I must remain until He tells me to go. You can shoot me if you wish, but first let me tell you about the ONE TRUE GOD, because He loves you.”
BY Charles E. Wigg