Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Truth War

I have almost completed reading the book that I previously blogged about called "UnChristian - What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity."

As I read Steve Camp's blog post today, I found myself recalling the Emergent church attitudes and errors that were blatantly obvious within the theme of "UnChristian." The philosophy, premise, and theological opinions of the book authors stand in stark contrast to the biblical truth of the matter that John MacArthur points out in his new book, "The Truth War."


On the back cover of the "UnChristian" book it says in large black type:



1. Christianity has an image problem

2. Leaders offer vision for the future.


Note this very telling sentence:



"Find out why these negative perceptions exist, learn how to reverse them in a Christlike manner, and discover practical examples of how Christians can positively contribute to culture."


Steve's warnings in his blog post expose the conceptual errors inherent in the "UnChristian" book.

He writes:



Temporal vs Eternal


Emergent Christianity guts the faith to appeal to culture; and their myopic view of the kingdom of God predisposes them to be more concerned with the temporal, than the eternal.

The ECM has two Fundamental Flaws:
1.) a lack of reverence for God and His Word; and

2.) the unquenchable need to contextualize the Christian faith in adapting it to culture.

This is gangrenous to authentic Christianity. Erosion of the truth always begins with the subtle wandering away off the path of the essentials of the faith.



I have found that the Emergent church movement and several of its errant offspring movements, have the bad habit of moving towards either a "cross-light" (i.e. - "light" meaning, severe de-emphasis of the depravity of man and his need for repentance at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ in order to be reconciled back to Holy and Righteous God) or, just tend to ignore the subject altogether. Some have become so steeped in cultlike error that they have even gone so far as to actually call Christ's sacrifice for man's sin as "insane" and, thus 'celebrate' a totally cross-less Gospel.

Since the authors of "UnChristian" are so concerned with "negative perceptions" about Christian faith, why would they want to preach the Cross of Christ which is "offensive to those who are perishing?"

The answer?

They wouldn't...and they don't!

In their skewed worldview, tolerance trumps the need to preach repentance.

I am currently reading John MacArthur's "The Truth War." It is EXCELLENT! I think that I first heard about the book at Steve's Camp on This blog.

EVERY CHRISTIAN needs to read this book! You will then be better able to discern the truth, that is, Orthodox, Biblical Christianity and recognize the falsehoods and deceptions of the Emergent church, gay "christian" movement, and "seeker-sensitive" false teachers (like Brian McLaren).

MacArthur's subtitle says, "Fighting for certainty in an age of deception."

Deception is rampant in today's culture. It's not only deceiving those who have absolutely no Christian beliefs, but many deceptions disguised as "Christianity" are fooling many who claim to be Christians.

Those who deem themselves as Christians, yet are ignorant of what the Bible teaches, could end up going to an emergent church without having the discernment ability to recognize any errors being taught by the leaders there. This is especially problematic when the teaching and preaching at these churches are not biblically sound. The attraction of the "emergent friendly" atmosphere might "tickle their ears" but will, unfortunately, lack the sound doctrine of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

MacArthur has so many great quotes in his book that it is hard for me to choose which ones to share today.

As I continue to read through The Truth War book, I plan to blog about portions of this important book that will definitely help readers have more of an ability to discern truth from error.

For now, I want to show how MacArthur demolishes the "UnChristian" authors' premise in their book. Here are just a few of the relevant quotes:



"The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems especially attractive to young people who are in tune with the culture and in love with the spirit of the age."

"People are experimenting with subjective, relativistic ideas of truth and labeling them "Christian." This trend signals a significant departure from Biblical and historic Christianity."

"The postmodernist recoils from absolutes and does not want to concede any truths that might seem axiomatic or self-evident. Instead, truth, if acknowledged at all, becomes something infinitely pliable and ultimately unknowable in any objective sense."


[Time out. For those who might be interested in seeing a debate that shows how a "postmodernist recoils from absolutes," I invite you to view a video that shows the exchange between New-Age guru Deepak Chopra and Christian Apologist and Ambassador for Christ, Greg Koukl on a program called "Faith Under Fire." The video is a bit grainy, but it's certainly worth your time to see that as the dialogue progresses, Chopra takes pride in "embracing his uncertainty," yet, verbally indicates that his relativistic worldview causes him to recoil from Koukl's certainty in his faith about the Person of Jesus Christ.]

Back to John MacArthur's quotes:



"Uncertainty is the new truth. Doubt and skepticism have been canonized as a form of humility. Right and wrong have been redefined in terms of subjective feelings and personal perspectives."


Here is the crux of the emergent movement. The notion that certainty about anything is inherently arrogant.

I have read countless blog posts from people who refuse to repent because they want to hold onto a particular sinful lifestyle; yet, make want to make the claim that they are Christian. This is wildly popular today in this age of postmodernism. The "UnChristian" book was filled with applause for the "do not judge" view!

How ironic is it that the belief that no one can really know anything for certain (e.g. "my" truth tells me differently from "your" truth mantra) is emerging as virtually the one dogma postmodernists will tolerate!!

MacArthur provides a biblical definition of truth.



Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God.


He goes on to support this claim with Bible quotes, including what Jesus has said about truth. He also shows the necessity of absolute truth, why we can only get it from God, and how all other definitions which try to omit God, hopelessly fall short.

If you took the time to view the video of Chopra and Koukl's debate, you would have noticed that Chopra holds to the idea that his own cynicism should be regarded as the most splendid of all virtues! You can actually see the contempt on his face and his dislike for Greg Koukl when Greg shares the fact that (paraphrased here) "since all religions claim different things, logically, it is impossible that each religion can be true all at the same time."

Chopra thinks that his view is more "tolerant." He thinks that his view is more "noble." Chopra even naively claims that unlike Koukl, he does not "impose" his beliefs upon everyone else.

Greg nailed it when he came back at Chopra's hint of having "humility" with the fact that Chopra has sold millions of books promoting his views about his "uncertainty."

This claim of uncertainty on the part of Deepak's worldview is supposed to be an indication that Chopra isn't "imposing his views" upon others? C'mon!! How hypocritical is that?

Greg Koukl's book, "Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air" describes Chopra's worldview and exposes the irrationality of it.

Absolute truth does exist. It can be found in the pages of the Bible.

To claim religious neutrality is a fallacy. There is no such thing. Even the religions of atheism, skepticism, and secular humanism all have an object of worship. Namely, the self!

What is really sad, my Christian friends, is the fact that false teachers like Brian McLaren have much more in common with Deepak Chopra than with the Truth of Orthodox, Biblical, historic Christianity.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the emergent church movement is moving away from the truth into a spiritual oblivion, similar to the one that Chopra embraces!

MacArthur writes:


Listen, for example, to how Brian McLaren sums up his views on orthodoxy, certainty, and the question of whether the truths of Christianity are sound and reliable in the first place:


How ironic that I am writing about orthodoxy, which implies to many a final capturing of the truth about God, which is the glory of God. Sit down here next to me in this little restaurant and ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope's, whoever) is orthodox, meaning true, and here's my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture...I'd have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong. 1

1 Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 293.


McLaren suggests that clarity itself is of dubious value. he clearly prefers ambiguity and equivocation, and his books are therefore full of deliberate doublespeak. In his introduction to A Generous Orthodoxy, he admits, "I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated, and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity." A common theme that runs throughout most of McLaren's writings is the idea that "there is great danger in the quest to be right."


Doesn't McLaren's doublespeak (which is masterfully pointed out by Dr. MacArthur's comments about McLaren's quote from his book) eerily remind us of Satan's encounter with Eve in the Garden of Eden and how he (Satan) led her astray by saying, "Did God really say....?"

Hat Tips:

Camp On This

GCM Watch

Faith Under Fire

The Truth War

******* to be continued *******

8 comments:

Tom G said...

Christinewjc,

I certainly agree with you about the central importance of the truth of Jesus Christ. This is something we cannot bend on; we can never compromise.

I read unChristian, too, though, and I didn't find in there the wishy-washiness that you seem to have found. Kinnaman and Lyons are not recommending that we give an inch on our doctrines and beliefs. They're recommending that we examine whether there is pride in the way we relate to outsiders, or judgmentalism; or whether we might be failing to live the love of Christ.

If outsiders reject the Church because of our beliefs, that's theirs to deal with before God. If they reject the Church because of unChristian attitudes or practices on our part, then for that we are accountable. We'll never get rid of the first (the offense of the cross), nor should we ever even try. But the second, we can certainly seek to solve.

I saw their book as a call to deeper Christianity, not shallower.

Christinewjc said...

While reading the reviews at the Amazon site, I found this quote:

"Christians ought to have learned by now that we cannot avoid being an offense to the world and still remain faithful to the gospel" (pp. 201-202). MacArthur rightly emphasizes that our ultimate loyalty is to Christ. Our hearts cannot be divided over whether we serve God or the world. If we serve God with all of our hearts we cannot make compromises with the world."

Neil said...

I haven't read either book so I can't comment on either.

There is plenty to criticize about contemporary evangelicalism. The question is whether the emergents focus on the correct problems and have good solutions. As best as I can tell they don't.

The emergents tend to wallow in ignorance and seem to be proud of it. Yet scripture tells us that God wants us to know him (though we can't know everything about him). I was just noticing that theme in Colossians, as well as verse 2:18 which warns against those who delight in false humility (the emergents come to mind!).

Keep up the good work, Christine!

Christinewjc said...

Hello Tom G.,

I have two previous blog posts about the UnChristian book. If you would like to read them, they can be found here and here. You might notice that I had both praise and criticism for the book.


You wrote:

"They're recommending that we examine whether there is pride in the way we relate to outsiders, or judgmentalism; or whether we might be failing to live the love of Christ."

Regarding pride. I have found that it is often the "outsiders" who misconstrue the reality that "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven by a God who is" for their secular humanistic thoughts regarding pride. A truly repentant follower of Christ knows from whence he/she has come. We also know that the attacks of Satan can lead us into backsliding if we let our flesh surpass the guidance of the Holy Spirit. An "outsider" cannot understand this concept because, as the Bible tells us, they are "spiritually discerned."

I could talk until I'm blue in the face about my sin and that it is only through Jesus' sacrificial death at the cross that my sin is taken away. Would an "outsider" consider that arrogant? Probably. But that is my testimony. It is a part of every born-again Christian's testimony.

The "judgmentalism" portion of the UnChristian book does not rightly divide the Word of truth. They appear to desire elimination of all forms of judgment (including the necessary form of judgment known as discernment) in favor of a seeker-sensitive rhetoric that is designed to lure the outsiders in. That may be all well and good...for a season. But eventually, those that come into the church in that manner will need to be exposed to the fact that they are sinful and separated from God because of their depravity. Is there ever a seeker-sensitive way to let them know this?

I think that the answer is no.

Even in the UnChristian book, David tells a story about his gay friend Mark who was uncomfortable when David told him that yes, the Bible states that homosexual behavior is sin and an abomination to God. This was not what Mark wanted to hear. Perhaps he wanted to hear that he (Mark) could be saved without repenting of homosexual behavior. This is why the gay "christian" movement (gcm) is so popular with homosexual men and women. They incorrectly preach that there is no need to repent of their "favorite" sin.

To illustrate the incorrect view of the gcm, do this little experiment. Just substitute any other sin for the refusal to repent of "homosexual sexual behavior."

Put "murder" in there. Put "lying" in there. Put "theft" in there. Put "idolatry" in there. See? It doesn't work.

In order to be reconciled unto God through the cross of Christ, one must repent (which means confess and turn away from former sinful habits), ask for forgiveness, invite Jesus to be Lord and Savior of one's life, and vow to follow both the Living Word (Jesus) as well as the written Word (the Bible) of God through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer.

Continuing in willful sin against God's Law and the Prophets is an indication that one remains in rebellion and reprobation and has not given all of themselves over to Christ. He is to be our Savior and Lord over our entire life! Jesus himself told us, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

The "unchristian" attitudes that you speak of must include the fact in order to be a Christian, all sinners are called to repentance. Outsiders do not like that message, no matter how softly, gently, or "emergent-churchily" it is presented. If they balk at, or reject such a message, then they will balk at and reject the church (and Christians) who have pointed this out to them.

The bad news of our sinful, fleshly nature needs to be pointed out to the potential believer before the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can lead such a person to genuine conversion.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Neil!

Thanks so much for your encouragement!

It was quite eye-opening to read "UnChristian" first, then start "The Truth War." Like I mentioned to Tom G., there were some good points made in the "UnChristian" book. However, I think that their basic premise regarding exactly why the "outsiders" (the label they gave non-believers in the book) perceive Christians, in particular, as "negative" and Christianity, in general, as "displeasing" to their eyes is, for the most part, disingenuous. The false premises that they make in the book are most evident in the fact that they didn't define the terms "evangelical" or "born again" for respondents. Isn't that odd? That one fact alone skews (IMO) the basis for the statistics that they chart in the book and, in some cases, could be construed by readers as unfair, fraudulent, unscientific, and, ultimately deceitfully incorrect.

They did state some good points, like, "As Christians, we want to believe our efforts are driven by the right motivations." I can certainly agree with that.

However, on the book jacket, the authors state, "that research shows that Christians are best known for what they are against. They are perceived as being judgmental, antihomosexual, and too political. And young people are quick to point out they believe that Christianity is no longer as Jesus intended. It is unChristian."

My question? How would non-believers know this? Do they know Jesus or just a little bit about him? Have they read and studied God's Word? Do they understand why Jesus came to this earth and what is necessary for their salvation? Would they truly be able to recognize what should be regarded as "unChristian" these days or what is necessary while participating in true, gospel driven, save your soul, biblically based dialogue? How could they? Even the label that the authors gave them gives us the easy answer to my question. Outsiders. What are they "outside" of? The God's Honest Biblical Truth...that's what!

The authors then write (continuing on the book jacket):

"What Christians believe may not be popular [true...I can agree with that!], but Paul also advised the first believers to "live wisely among those who are not Christians" and to "let your conversation be gracious and effective."

The first partial Bible quote in the above paragraph is the NIV version. The second, was taken from the NLT version.

Here's the KJV:

2Cr 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

And, what's more, note the continuation of the point in the next verse:

2Cr 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Presents a different context, doesn't it?

Now lets look at Colossians 4:5-6

Col 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.


Col 4:6 Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Again, presents a much clearer context than the NLT version. Also, notice the portion of the verse that tells us that we should be redeeming the time.

The authors left that important point out of the book jacket brief...didn't they? Why? Guess it didn't fit with their premise...

Christinewjc said...

Another great review of "The Truth War" book:

A Need to Heed..., May 26, 2007
By ModRes (California) - See all my reviews

A number of weeks before this book was announced, I wrote to Dr. MacArthur asking if/when he might write a book such as this. Imagine my delight when I learned that one WAS going to be released and soon!

The Emergent Church is creating havoc within Christendom. Like Gnosticism and the Judaizers of the early church, the blantant error that is coming in like a flood into the modern-day church needs to be brought under the truthful light of Scripture, where it will not survive. That can only happen when faithful and courageous Christians are willing to call into question the very things that are being espoused. Paul, Jude, James, Peter - none of these men hesitated to call error error. Paul especially named names. There MUST be a willingness among Christians today to stand against the error in whatever form it comes. The Bereans even applied Paul's teachings to the litmus test of the Scriptures and it did not bother Paul at all. In fact, he seemed to applaud it! Yet, when what is being taught today is questioned, then those asking the questions are accused of being "legalists," "hatemongers," or "divisive." If this is so, then certainly Christ was "divisive" as was Paul, Jude, James, Peter and numerous others who stood against the tide of lies that literally sprang from Satan's domain.

Too often in today's desire to be ecumenically "inclusive," not only are lies allowed, but they are often encouraged, as if the lie itself does no harm and is simply a matter of denominational variance. In truth, many of the lies that are being promulgated by Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rick Warren and others attack the very foundation upon which Christianity rests!

Dr. MacArthur's book could not have come at a more appropriate time in the life of the church. I pray that its message will be heeded by true Christians everywhere. The fight for truth is not an option.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Christine,
Yours is the first review (other than my own) that has come even close to being critical of UnChristian. I don't know what your apologetic bent is, but you seem calvinistic in your theology, so if I were a betting woman, and on the basis of this post, I'd bet you are a presuppositional thinker who sees the pragmatism in the emergent movement, which I frankly see as the offspring of the seeker movement. Great post! I

Sarah

Christinewjc said...

Hi Sarah,

If you are interested in reading a few more critical (as well as praising) reviews, I found this Summize site for the book UnChristian.

My blog post about it was categorized under "wretched."

Oh my...

My post obviously made someone over there quite upset!

The more that I am learning about the emergent movement, seeker sensitive movement, and gay "christian" movement; the more I see them all as heresy disguised as Christianity.

Just as Solomon said...there is "nothing new under the sun." Heresy groups have been around forever. One of our jobs as Orthodox, biblical Christian believers (besides, of course, spreading the Good News of the Gospel) is to expose such heresies with the hope that they won't lead others astray.