Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Book You Don't Need

Here is a book readers of this blog will probably never read. In fact, its one you hardly need to waste time on. I read it simply because it represents what most of evangelicalism is reading. Its what most Christians think represents cutting edge truth. It demonstrates the sad state of “Christianity today.” When it finally appeared at my local “discount” bookstore, I paid the three bucks to read it. Like automobiles, I hardly ever buy “new!”

Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christian: a Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey won a Christianity Today Award of Merit in 2002 and has found a wide and approving audience in “evangelical” circles.

McLaren is one of the most prominent leaders of the so-called emerging church, and represents the philosophy of that movement. He claims that truth is a shifting thing, exalts doubt as high as faith, and rejects the infallible inspiration of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and the eternal punishment of hell fire.

A New Kind of Christian presents theological liberalism in the guise of a wiser, kinder, and gentler type of Christianity called “Postmodern.” The semi-fictional account is about an evangelical pastor who has a crisis of faith and recounts his journey from a position of faith in the Bible as the absolute standard for truth and in which doctrine is either right or wrong, scriptural or unscriptural, to a pliable position in which “faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally right” (from the back cover).

Gary E. Gilly hit the nail on the head in his review of A New Kind of Christian by observing: “More specifically, McLaren rejects absolute truth, authority, theology, objectivity, certainty and clarity. He embraces relativism, inclusivism, deconstructionism, stories (to replace truth), creative interpretation of Scripture, neo-orthodoxy, and tolerance.”

As the evangelical pastor in A New Kind of Christian begins his sad journey into theological liberalism (which he wants to call “postmodern”) he describes himself in these words: “I feel like a fundamentalist who’s losing his grip—whose fundamentals are cracking and fraying and falling apart and slipping through my fingers. It’s like I thought I was building my house on rock, but it turned out to be ice, and now global warming has hit, and the ice is melting and everything is crumbling” (p. 22).

Instead of opening his Bible and finding out what God has to say in His Word and re-orienting himself to the eternal Word of God, instead of confiding in a man of God who believes the Bible, this evangelical pastor turns, in his hour of doubt, to a clever unbeliever and is led into the deepest error.

This is exactly what is happening to men and women throughout the evangelical world, because they have been brainwashed not to separate from false doctrine, have been brainwashed to think that a “positive, non-judgmental” approach to Christianity is preferable to absolutism and separation, and as a consequence evangelicalism, over the past 50 years, has been infiltrated with every sort of heresy.

This is a dangerous book that ridicules a staunchly Biblical, fundamentalist position on every hand. It labels such a position as Phariseeism and likens it to medieval Roman Catholicism. In the very beginning of the book, the Postmodern guide to whom this evangelical pastor has turned, says: “I don’t dislike fundamentalists, taken individually—they tend to be pretty nice folks. Get them together in a group though, and I get nervous. I start to twitch and break out in a rash” (p. 9). That is the best thing the book has to say about those who hold a strict Biblical stance, but liberals and Romanists are depicted in a much more sympathetic light.

Though purporting to represent a more intellectual approach to Christianity, the book is filled with straw man arguments, shallow reasoning, and Scripture taken wildly out of context. But it won an Award of Merit from Christianity Today!


Monday, April 28, 2008

STS Has Left the Building

Our weekend conference is now history—at least as far as an event. The fact is that the fellowship, renewal and challenge will continue to impact us for a long time to come.

Our over all theme, The Vital Signs of Grace, was powerfully dealt with by clear, direct teaching from John Verstegen, Alex Kurz, Ted Fellows, Rick Jordan and Matt Walker. They were “spot on” with every message.

I was able to teach for over five hours during the daytime sessions on Saturday. Amazingly, my strength held up—although I was “wasted” by the time it was over! It is so fantastic to have so much wonderful help that I had little else to do but rest. The saints of Shorewood are champions of service!

In the morning we covered material related to understanding the times in which we live and how to prepare for the future ministry we all will be facing. The application of Paul’s Ministry Model takes a wisdom that comes only from an understanding of the Word rightly divided—which gives us a clear grasp of where we fit into history, the church as a whole, and the current culture in which we live. Frankly, this is an area I have never heard discussed in other grace circles or preacher-gatherings. Yet, as we say, it is vital to having a relevant ministry for the message of grace we proclaim. We simply must minister to the questions of the hour in which we live—and into which our world is headed—rather than the questions of past eras that don’t relate to our times. Understanding Paul’s apostleship to the nations is key to this understanding—and one reason why the church at large is so adrift when it comes to actually being relevant to our world.

Brother and Mrs. Roy Lange were big hits. It is obvious that Brother Lange’s health isn’t as good as we would wish, but his spirit is high and his graciousness unabated. Even though his doctors told him he could not preach, I reminded folks that he could talk! So we managed to let him “talk a little,” both from the pulpit as well as in conversations. Roy and Arlis attended every session and were in constant conversations/discussions. I got a steady stream of thanks from men grateful they were able to spend time with the Langes. We got them to O’Hare Airport this morning for their flight home. The spirits of the Langes and Jordans were very high!

The rest of today is being spent in getting some of the paper work caught up (read that: paying bills!) and then resting. Cynthia is bushed! She has always been able to work rings around me. Years ago I gave up trying to keep up with her! I was touched Sunday morning to watch our six year old twin granddaughters greet grandma with hugs and kisses and see the fatigue simply melt from Cynthia’s countenance as she held and talked to them. Jody and the girls took Uncle Rick to the airport after he preached Sunday morning. Grandma spends most Tuesday’s with them, so she’ll have a great day tomorrow. Today, we are simply trying to rest and get our bearings back! My endurance level is slowly increasing over time—but I still take much too long to rebound, and, besides, I don’t get to spend Tuesdays with the grandkids!


Friday, April 25, 2008

STS is coming!

Our Soldiers Training for Service conference begins Friday evening and runs through Sunday night. This is the annual gathering of students, graduates and friends of Grace School of the Bible here at the Shorewood Bible Church campus, located at 1900 Hicks Road, Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

This meeting is a special time of blessing, refreshing and challenge. One of the highlights is the singing. It is hard to describe the impact of these men singing the songs of grace with zeal in their hearts to the Lord. The only thing that can really catch the thrill of this is to be sitting in the front of the auditorium during the singing. I have never understood why anyone would choose to “sit in the back” when the really good seats are up front!

Brother Roy Lange’s doctors have given the ok for him to with us, although they told him he is not to preach. We’ll be sure he has opportunities to “greet” the brethren!

All the sessions will be available via the internet for those unable to attend in person. Simply go to ShorewoodBibleChurch.org and click on the video icon to view the meetings over your browser’s media player.

The schedule is as follows:

7:00 p.m.: The Vital Signs of Grace: Faith
John Verstegen

9:00 a.m.: Walk In Wisdom—I
Richard Jordan

10:30 a.m.: Walk In Wisdom—II
Richard Jordan

11:30 a.m.: Walk In Wisdom—III
Richard Jordan

2:00 p.m.: What Yet Is To Be Done?
Richard Jordan

3:00 p.m.: Q&A
Richard Jordan

7:00 p.m.: The Vital Signs of Grace: Hope
Alex Kurz

9:00 a.m.: The Vital Signs of Grace: Charity
Ted Fellows

10:30 a.m.: “They So Spake”
Richard Jordan

6:00 p.m.: The Vital Signs of Grace: Laborers Together With God
Matt Walker

Special thanks go out to all the saints of Shorewood who put on a large hospitality hat and so generously provide for the needs of all who attend. It is a joy beyond description to be a part of such a congregation of God’s people for whom giving is such a natural part of life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learning to Rant

I’m told that one of the most popular items in the blogging world is an occasional “rant.” If you don’t know exactly what that is, here is a sample (H.T. to Dan). Perhaps you should start your own blog so you can blow off a bit of steam too. Check it out:

1. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I get to preach, enjoy visiting with the saints and take a nap all on the same day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

2. Spring is my favorite season—except for summer, fall and winter.

3. I’ve lived in the heat and I’ve lived in the cold. Personally, I think it’s easier to live in the cold. I mean you can always put more clothes on to get warm, but there’s a limit to what you can take off to get cool.

4. If you haven’t played on a Wii, you’ve missed a lot of fun. Even middle-aged uncool guys can play it.

5. I’ve noticed that when someone is poking along on I-290 in front of me, I wish they’d get their crazy fool self off the road and then a I buzz around them like a bat out of a cave. Then when someone buzzes around me the next moment like a bat out of a cave, I secretly pray that there’s a cop around the bend waiting with his radar gun on. But isn’t that how most of us view grace? We want it for ourselves, but not for other people. We want judgment for them.

6. Personally, I think the Church Growth Movement isn’t.

7. I’m not quite sure how the “Emergent Church” got its name, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t because it is “emerging” out of sound doctrine.

8. Have you ever noticed that people on a diet become totally obsessed with their diet and then become like Jehovah’s Witnesses about their diet trying to convince themselves and others that this is the best diet of all time? Oh, btw, I’m not on a diet.

9. The amount of junk we tend to gradually accumulate is simply appalling. Thus, I end up parking $25,000 worth of automobiles in my driveway while we park stuff that wouldn’t bring $250 at a yard sale in the garage. Pretty stupid, isn’t it?

10. Arby’s Homestyle Turkey/Bacon/Ranch Sandwhich is outstanding. The bread is whole grain and really great. Plus, there’s something about them that makes you feel like you’re eating healthy when you have one even though you know it really isn’t.

11. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people get on the moving sidewalks at airports and then refuse to walk. Most people who just use them for a “ride” really need the walk. Meanwhile, they are slowing down those of us who use them to get to our gate twice as fast.

12. People who spend a lot of time talking about how awful teenagers are probably don’t know any teenagers. The more I spend time around teenagers, the more I don’t like adults. I love our high school group. These are the best teenagers around.

Well, enough of that! I feel better already. . .well, maybe soon. . .ok, ok. . .I know. . . That's all for now.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My First Hero In the Faith

We are working on preparations for our upcoming Grace School of the Bible conference schedule for April 25-27. We call it Soldiers Training For Service (STS). (It is always the last full weekend of April each year.) This is our 25th Anniversary so it will be a special time together.

One treat will be to have Brother Roy Lange join us this year. Roy was my first Bible teacher; has been my friend and hero for over four decades. I want him to see some of the “fruit” of his ministry through me. I also want our men to meet him. Even at his advanced age, he is still going forward with the ministry he has lead for almost 60 years, Forest Park Bible Church in Mobile, Alabama. I am looking forward to having him and his dear wife, Arlis, with us for this weekend.

Some men teach; some men educate; some men inspire. Roy Lange did all three for me. Only two weeks after I trusted Christ as my savior I began to study with him. He taught me how to understand and enjoy my Bible; more importantly he taught me to love God’s Word. His passion for the message of grace and his heartfelt commitment to seeing God’s grace live in his life and ministry became my pattern, my ensample. He was my first hero of the faith—and no one has ever quite equaled his influence on my heart. I only wish I could say that I’ve lived up to the high standard I have seen in him over all these years.

One of the genuine joys of my life has been to be engaged in training men for the ministry and then working with them to reach others with the message of grace from the rightly divided Word. If in some small way I can challenge and encourage these dear men, I count all my efforts well spent—and Brother Lange’s influence honored.

By the way: Two Sunday’s ago I spoke at the first anniversary of Kelly Temple Ministries in Chicago. James Kelly, a dear young man who is developing into a fine preacher, established this young assembly. He has a real heart for the neighborhood where he ministers. James is from Brother Michael McDaniel’s ministry in Oak Park (Westside Grace Ministries), which in turn is an outgrowth of Brother Arthur Johnson’s ministry on Chicago’s south side (Shorewood Bible Church—South), which is an outgrown of our assembly, Shorewood Bible Church (now) in Rolling Meadows. This type multiplication has been a basic vision and pattern we work from—it is the Pauline Ministry Model we are endeavoring to fulfill. It’s happening in Chicagoland—and around our country and the world—because of the ministry of Grace School of the Bible. Praise the Lord!!

If you can’t be with us in Rolling Meadows for the STS conference, join us via the Internet by going to ShorewoodBibleChurch.org and clicking on the video icon. All the sessions will be streamed live over the Internet. Ya’ll come!



As I have already said, I saw a prescreening of Ben Stein's documentary last month. It opens this coming weekend. It has certainly stirred up the Richard Dawkinsites of the world. No wonder, given the absurdity of his views, especially as expressed on camera during the interview he gave Stein. The following is from the WorldNetDaily By Jill Stanek:

On April 18, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” will boast the largest U.S. opening of any documentary film ever. Scheduled for release in 1,000 theatres, “Expelled” will be hotter than “Farenheit 9/11,” which debuted on 868 screens, and much more convenient to see than “An Inconvenient Truth,” which I was surprised to find opened on only four screens nationwide despite all the hype, peaking at 587 before its appeal melted.What’s “Expelled” about? Synopsizes CNS News:

“Expelled” calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed scholars who have been forced out of prestigious academic positions because they proposed Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin’s 150-year-old theories about the origins of life. Instead of entertaining a debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has moved to suppress the ID movement in a “systematic and ruthless” way at odds with America’s founding principles, the film asserts.

Liberals have been going ape about “Expelled” for months as it has been screened around the country.

Note: As a Bible Believer I do not hold a brief for the so-called I-D movement, but Cynthia and I are going to see this documentary next weekend to help it have a good opening. Anything to tweak the geeks.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

1885, Dr. Pepper & King James

Janet Wukash asked me last Sunday if I knew why the above date is so important. I am ashamed that I didn't; friends will immediately understand my embarrassment when they learn the answer: That's the year Dr. Pepper was introduced to the public! Why is that important? Hey, it makes D.P. the oldest major soft drink on the market! Coke didn't debut until 1886. I will never be unaware of this vitally important date again.

Rita Bauschard sent me the following email for our friend Bobby Barlow. Bob is ministering in China and seeing amazing fruit in the proclamation of the grace message. Perhaps you'll be as fascinated as I was by this nugget he uncovered while researching King James:

I thought this interesting to share with friends who really love smokers but despise 'smoking.' This is a five-hundred-year-old quote I found serendipitously while doing research on King James 1 of England. Remember your history? He is the person our King James Version of the Bible is named after.

King James 1 authored "A Counterblast to Tobacco" (1604). It is one of the first, and surely one of the best, attacks on smoking ever written. "Smoking", James tells us, is "a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."

A word to the wise: It is high time we let the smokers alone....We must ever be on guard about chiding our fellow members in the Body of Christ for such habits. We must never give the loathsome suggestion that somehow the love of God would be increased toward such an individual IF they stopped smoking. Our place is to assure them that they are "already complete in Christ," they are already possessors of "all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ." By failing to do that we are treating some of beloved in the Lord like 'second class citizens of heaven." Not even an innuendo of suggestion should emanate from us that WE are better Christians than they are because WE do not smoke and THEY do, unless of course we are vying for the "Pharisee of the Month Award."

Well said, Bobby. And Godspeed to your ministry in China--not exactly a "smoke free" environment!