Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ October 2, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

This is the first article I’ve read at Natasha Crain’s blog, so I’m not very familiar with her, but if 10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas is indicative of her theology, she’s a keeper. Most of what Natasha writes is on parenting, but this is a helpful discernment article. “Be vigilant. Test everything. And hold fast to what is good and true.”

 

In my article Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church, I suggest several ways you can teach small (and older) children to “take notes” in church. Recently, I came across these awesome sermon notes pages that incorporate some of those ideas. They are free to download and print out. Maybe your church would even like to make them available on Sundays! Sermon Notes for Younger Kids and Sermon Notes for Older Kids.

 

Before I became a stay at home mom, I was a professional in the field of Deaf Education. It really taught me to be more aware of barriers we can place in the way of someone with a disability. I thought these articles, 3 Barriers Keeping the Disabled from Church, and 10 Things You Should Know about Discipling People with Special Needs, were helpful reminders to be aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters in our church families and the ways we can be a help to them rather than a hindrance.

 

Here’s a great little app! “Looking for a simple way to pray for persecuted Christians in need around the world? Pray for the Persecuted Church will send you regular, specific prayer requests submitted by Christian leaders, field staff and partners living out their faith in the world’s most difficult places. This app allows you to quickly scroll through the prayer request from one screen and then click ‘I prayed’ to let persecuted Christians know that you’re standing with them in prayer.”

 

“’If the claimed revelation/vision is not taken as authoritative or infallible, but just meant for encouragement, then what harm is there in that?’ While it is true that most cautious continuationists (e.g. Wayne Grudem) would agree that the claims of prophecy today are not authoritative or infallible in the way biblical revelation is, there is still harm in having this type of practice in churches.” Check out Clint Archer’s excellent article over at The Cripplegate entitled Are claims of supernatural experience really that harmful?

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Narnia, Michelsen, Faith healing…)

 

Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Just a reminder- I changed my comments/e-mail/messages policy a few months ago, so I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Why are witchcraft and magic OK to most Christians in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia books, but not in secular books such as the Harry Potter books? Should my children be reading the Narnia books?

Obviously, I can’t answer for every individual Christian who finds Narnia OK but Harry Potter objectionable. Many perfectly godly Christians find both objectionable or neither objectionable. But generally, I think it’s the same reason most Christians assume Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Hillsong, etc., are biblically legit- most Christians aren’t very discerning. They naïvely trust that if a person has gained notoriety as a “Christian” celebrity and his stuff is sold in Christian bookstores, he’s teaching sound biblical doctrine.

I’m not saying that Lewis teaches unbiblical doctrine in the Narnia books (none sticks in my memory, but it’s been at least 8-10 years since I read them) I’m just saying if you put a Narnia book and a Harry Potter book side by side on the table in front of the average Christian she’s going to say, “Narnia- good. Harry Potter- bad.” and that’s going to be the extent of her thought process because she knows Lewis is a famous evangelical and J.K. Rowling is not.

Witchcraft and the occult are not things to be taken lightly. You should also know that there is credible evidence that C.S. Lewis held some very unbiblical beliefs, some of which, if true, would put him outside the camp of Christianity (particularly his rejection of penal substitutionary atonement). With regard to whether or not your children should read the Narnia books, my counsel would be to study what the Bible has to say about witchcraft, the occult, and the things Christians should focus their thoughts on, examine the books for yourself, pray for wisdom, and make what you determine to be the most God-honoring decision for your family. You may wish to get some guidance from your pastor or a mature Christian friend, too.


What are your thoughts on Johanna Michaelsen?

In the last “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag I said I had heard Johanna Michaelsen’s name but didn’t really know anything about her. Since that time a couple more people have asked me about her and I’ve found out a tad more about her (It’s not that there’s no information available, just that I haven’t had time to research her much.).

Johanna is recommended by my friend Amy Spreeman of Berean Research. Amy also serves on Johanna’s ministry advisory board. So it sounds like Johanna is someone worth looking into as a trustworthy resource. However, as Amy and Johanna (assuming she is like-minded) would probably agree, you cannot simply trust someone else’s endorsement. You must do the work of a good Berean and examine everything you take in against Scripture to discover whether it is doctrinally sound. I’m hoping you’ll find Johanna easily passes that test.

Not sure where to start? My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own may help.


How do you reconcile passages such as Luke 2:22-35 (Simeon awaiting Jesus at the temple) with the principle that God only speaks to us through Scripture?

I would classify it in the same Hebrews 1:1-2 category as God speaking to Moses through the burning bush, or Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, or Jeremiah’s prophecy at the potter’s house. God spoke to Simeon in the same Old Testament sense as any of the other Old Testament prophets He spoke to before Jesus came. (In fact, you might even say John the Baptist, who came after Simeon, was the last “Old Testament” prophet.)

It’s a little confusing to us because we read about Simeon in the New Testament after the intertestamental period, and after Jesus had actually been born, but at the time he spoke these words, he was effectively living in “Old Testament times.” (Which is why we also see in this passage that the reason Simeon encountered Jesus is that Mary and Joseph were presenting Him at the temple to “fulfill the law of Moses.”) Jesus had not yet fulfilled His earthly mission of living a sinless life, teaching, preaching and miracles, founding the church, dying on the cross, resurrecting from the grave, and ascending into Heaven. Until those things were accomplished, Simeon, Jesus, and all of the other Jews living at that time were still under the Mosaic (Old Testament) Covenant.

You might find my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient to be helpful.


Do you believe that supernatural healing still occurs today?

Yes. I believe that God can heal miraculously, through doctors and medicine, and through the way He designed the body to heal itself when ill or injured.

What I do not believe in is “faith healing” as it is commonly understood and practiced today. I’ve never encountered a person who teaches and practices faith healing who also adheres to sound biblical doctrine, and I’ve never encountered a person who adheres to sound biblical doctrine who teaches and practices faith healing.

If what you’re really asking is whether I’m a continuationist or a cessationist, I’m a cessationist.


What are your thoughts on Francis Chan?

When Francis Chan first became popular, he had a reputation for being a doctrinally sound Reformed pastor and author. I never read any of his books or followed him closely, but I have godly friends who did.

In 2013 Francis spoke at International House of Prayer’s (IHOP) One Thing conference where he praised Mike Bickle, embraced him as a Christian brother, and tacitly accused discerning Christians who had wisely, and biblically, discouraged him from participating in the conference of dissension and division.

If you are unaware of the theological problems with IHOP, you should know that it (along with Bethel Church in Redding, California) is basically ground zero for the heretical New Apostolic Reformation movement. Chan spoke at One Thing again in 2015, demonstrating a shocking lack of awareness of the unbiblical theology of Catholicism, and called for evangelical unity with Catholics saying, “And I think it’s time for us to get beyond, okay, I’ll sing with them, okay, I’ll worship with them, y’know, okay, I’ll admit that they’re Christians, and go to a biblical stance which says I can’t live without them. I need them. They’re indispensable.”

I don’t know whether or not Chan’s early books and materials were doctrinally sound, but I would definitely not recommend him now. Someone who is a pastor has no excuse for being so undiscerning and ignorant of errant theology.


I am wondering if a Christian believes in speaking in tongues is for today would you recommend that people shouldn’t follow them just as you have recommended people not follow other people for different reasons?

I don’t usually proactively recommend – share their articles, quotes, etc. on social media or the blog, suggest people attend their churches or conferences, read their books, and so forth – continuationists who are otherwise doctrinally sound, but I don’t warn against them either. I just tend to be silent about them.

There are many false teachers I do warn against, and most of them are continuationists, but continuationism is not the central reason I warn against them. When I warn against a teacher, it is because he or she is teaching demonstrably false doctrine and/or walking in unrepentant sin.

My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own explains the criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a particular teacher.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

Originally published January 16, 2014

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Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.

Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur

Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality

Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

14333566699421

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.
Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur
Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.