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.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ 1 Kings 17

1 kings 17 24

 

1 Kings 17

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Compare verse 1 with James 5:16-18. What can we learn about prayer from Elijah’s example in these passages?

2. How did God provide for Elijah in verses 2-7? In verses 8-16? In both cases, how did he obtain the food? How did God provide for the widow and her son (15-16)? What does this chapter show us about God as Provider? How might Philippians 4:19 fit with this portrayal of God as Provider?

3. How do the three miracles in this chapter – the control over weather, the creation of food, and the raising of the child – point to the miracles of Jesus? Can you think of similar miracles Jesus performed? Might this explain why some people in Jesus’ time thought he was Elijah resurrected?

4. In verse 24, what purpose did the miracle serve according to the widow? How did Jesus’ miracles serve to confirm His message and His deity?

5. In one sentence, what is the overall theme of this passage?

Blog Swap, Christian women, False Doctrine

Blog Swap ~ Reiki- Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light

blog swap

It’s time for another awesome blog swap! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other talented bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.

It’s my pleasure to bring you another swap with Pamela of Guarding the Deposit. Pamela has a very timely article for us today. If you’re into alternative medication you’ll want to be sure to read this important article, Reiki- Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light.

Reiki- Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light
Reiki- Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light

My entrance into the occult began with reiki under the innocuous title of “alternative medicine”. I have participated in many occult practices, but nothing manifested demonic activity more than reiki. This practice has become acceptable to many Christians and it is in this vein that I must write and warn.

Here is my story.

Click here to continue reading, and don’t forget to subscribe and follow Guarding the Deposit on social media!

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Mark 1

For further study on the book of Mark, try my study, Mark: God’s Good News for the Gentiles, from which this lesson is excerpted.

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Mark 1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying,“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.