The Watchman Report 

Tolerance and Evangelism

The Cancer of Cowardice

 

I sighed with an equal degree of anger and sadness as I read the all too familiar words emblazoned on the church notice board, “Our mission is to share Jesus”. I wondered what that meant, exactly. A commodity to give out portions thereof, offer to another as one would a cocktail frankfurt or a Catholic Jesus cookie, a mutual exchange of religious opinion perhaps? In either case it is amoebic reasoning. I suppose to the undiscerning ‘sharing Jesus’ seems innocuous enough, but for those attuned to what is really going on in the professing church today it is more akin to the cuckoo cry of cowardly compromise. Where is such an instruction given in Scripture? What book, passage or verse gives the church collective the instruction to ‘share’ Jesus? Of course the Word of God speaks of no such tepid, milk toast, lukewarm concept. The command is to preach the Gospel not to ‘share’ Jesus. It is the word kērussō’ - to herald, to proclaim with unashamed boldness. The implication in context is that the one secure in the knowledge of the one and only true truth is to publically and boldly proclaim that truth fully aware that it stands distinct from all other. There is no hint of a suggestion that perhaps the Gospel truth is yet one of many other truths on the smorgasbord of faith from which the ‘seeker’ may select. There is only ONE truth and that is Christ. There can be no claim to salvation when that irrevocable fact is open for negotiation.

And yet this is the way of the church growth / seeker sensitive / emerging church movement today. More interested in its own popularity than the truth, more occupied with being relevant than right, and more concerned with being seen as nice people who ‘identify’ with the culture rather than standing apart from it, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ without fear or favour. Such a tolerant approach to ‘evangelism’ is not clever; it is cowardice and plays right into the hands of the enemy. They call it smart soul winning, the Bible calls it trimming their ways (Jeremiah 2:33-37), and it is sin! They are people pleasers ensnared in what the Bible calls ‘the fear of man’ (Proverbs 29:25). What is truly amazing however is that in their arrogance they will actually attack those obedient to the Word who are earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.

So we see the boffins within the seeker sensitive / emerging church movement literally hell bent on painting every biblical absolute in pasty shades of gray so as to not offend the little lost darlings they are inviting to church. The end result of course is the complete degradation of the very Word they claim to cherish and uphold. Apostasy literally means 'a falling away or departure from foundation'. That is precisely what we see occurring in large sections of the professing Christian Church today – particularly in the charismatic sector, and yet not only can its leaders and participants not see it, they actually have the gall to call it revival.

The wholesale departure from the Word and its lucid instructions is absolute evidence of a movement in apostasy. The Great Commission is to GO not to COME. GO into the world and preach the Gospel to all men… remember? Nowhere does the Word of God instruct believers to bring the lost to religious meetings. Christ never once said “Bring the unredeemed into your church buildings so they could be saved”. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts unto salvation, not silver tongued marketing merchants that lead a sinner to Christ in repentance. The gathering of believers was and is for the express purpose of the training and discipleship of the Redeemed so that, when mature, such would GO and replicate by preaching (not sharing) the Gospel. Do we really need reminding that the Christian Church is not comprised of buildings or denominations or movements? The Church is the embodiment of the Redeemed in Christ. What is masquerading as the true Church in this ‘tolerant’ age, is little more than a sanitised social club, an evangelical entertainment enterprise and a rambunctious revenue raiser. Please note my careful use of the word ‘masquerading’. The true church of Christ shares no favour with the world and its lost throng. Those who might take issue with that should take a second look at what they think church to be and what Y’shua has declared it to be.

In the following articles, both Pastor John MacArthur and U.S. Watchman Paul Proctor make the point that what the world really needs at this juncture in history is not compromisers masquerading as Christians seeking conciliation and unity at all costs, but true believers with a sanctified spine who will stand up to the world (not have tea and biscuits with it), defy its trends (not imitate them), get into its face (and of its primetime prophets) to proclaim the Gospel of Y’shua without fear, reminding the lost in black and white terms that the consequence of rejecting His blood bought pardon is eternal damnation – Period!

Are you up for that today?

 

Tony Dean

Moriah Ministries Australia

© 2008

 

 

The Rise of Extreme Tolerance

By Pastor John MacArthur

 

Many evangelicals (once known for a very prudent and biblical approach to doctrine) are fast becoming as doctrinally clueless as the unchurched people they are so keen to please. At least three decades of deliberately downplaying doctrine and discernment in order to attract the unchurched has filled many once-sound churches with people who utterly lack any ability to differentiate the very worst fast doctrines from truth. I constantly encounter evangelical church members who are at a loss to answer the most profound errors they hear from cultists, unorthodox media preachers, or other sources of false doctrine.

In the church today, there is a growing reluctance to take a definitive stand on any issue. Discernment is frankly not very welcome in a culture like ours. In fact, the postmodern perspective is more than merely hostile to discernment; it is practically the polar opposite. Think about it: pronouncing anything "true" and calling its antithesis "error" is a breach of postmodernism's one last impregnable dogma. That is why to a postmodernist nothing is more uncouth than voicing strong opinions on spiritual, moral, or ethical matters. People are expected to hold their most important convictions with as much slack as possible. Certainty about anything is out of the question, and all who refuse to equivocate on any point of principle or doctrine are therefore automatically labelled too narrow. Zeal for the truth has become politically incorrect. There is actually zero tolerance for biblical discernment in a "tolerant" climate like that.

In the secular realm, postmodernism's extreme tolerance has been foisted on an unsuspecting public by the entertainment media for several decades. A plethora of talk shows on daily television have led the way. Phil Donahue established the format. Jerry Springer took it to ridiculous extremes. And Oprah made it seem somewhat respectable and refined. Shows like these remind viewers daily not to be too opinionated-and they do it by parading in front of their audiences the most bizarre and extreme advocates of every radical "alternative lifestyle" imaginable. We are not supposed to be shocked or notice the overtly self-destructive nature of so many aberrant subcultures. The point is to broaden our minds and raise our level of tolerance. And if you do criticize another person's value system, it cannot be on biblical grounds. Anyone who cites religious beliefs as a reason to reject another person's way of life is automatically viewed with the same contempt that used to be reserved for out-and-out religious heretics. The culture around us has declared war on all biblical standards.

Some Christians unwittingly began following suit several years ago. That has opened the door for a whole generation in the church to embrace postmodern relativism openly and deliberately. They don't want the truth presented with stark black-and-white clarity anymore. They prefer having issues of right and wrong, true and false, good and bad deliberately painted in shades of gray. We have reached a point where the typical churchgoer today assumes that is the proper way of understanding truth. Any degree of certainty has begun to sound offensive to people's post modernized ears.

One young pastor told me he didn't like the authoritarian implications of the word preaching. He said he preferred to speak of his pulpit ministry as "sharing" with his people. He didn't last long in ministry, of course. But sadly, his comments probably reflect the prevailing mood in the church today.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones noticed the same trend several decades ago. His marvellous book Preaching and Preachers began by noting that modern society was becoming uncomfortable with the whole idea of "preaching":

A new idea has crept in with regard to preaching, and it has taken various forms. A most significant one was that people began to talk about the "address" in the service instead of the sermon. That in itself was indicative of a subtle change. An "address." No longer the sermon, but an "address" or perhaps even a lecture...what is needed is a chat, a fireside chat, quiet talks, and so on! 1

Lloyd-Jones was simply noticing one of the subtle harbingers of postmodernism's contempt for clarity and authority. A problem that existed in embryonic form in his era is now a full-grown monster.

At the "Emergent Convention" in 2004, a gathering of some eleven hundred leaders in the Emerging Church movement, Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch (an Emergent community in Minneapolis), told the gathering, "Preaching is broken." He suggests that a completely open conversation where all participants are seen as equals is better suited to a postmodern culture. "Why do I get to speak for 30 minutes and you don't?" he asked. "A sermon is often a violent act," he declared. "It's violence toward the will of the people who have to sit there and take it." 2

Rudy Carrasco, a Pasadena-based Emergent pastor, agreed that preaching is simply too one-sided, too authoritative, and too rigid for postmodern times. "Every day, every week, there's stuff that pops up in life, and it's not resolved, just crazy and confusing and painful. When people come across with three answers, and they know everything, and they have this iron sheen about them, I'm turned off. Period. I'm just turned off. And I think that's not unique to me." 3

Many in the church, caught up in the spirit of the age, think Christians should never take an uncompromising stand, should never argue about anything. We're not supposed to engage in polemics. I hear this frequently: "Why don't you just state the truth in positive terms and ignore the view you disagree with? Why not steer clear of controversy, forget the negatives, and present everything affirmatively?"

That ethos is why it is no longer permissible to deal with biblical issues in a straightforward and uncompromising fashion. Those who dare to take an unpopular stand declare truth in a definitive way-or worst of all, express disagreement with someone else's teaching-will inevitably be marked as troublesome. Compromise has become a virtue while devotion to truth has become offensive.

But many of the issues being compromised within the evangelical movement today are not questionable. Scripture speaks very clearly against homosexuality, for example. The Christian position on adultery is not at all vague. The question of whether a believer ought to marry an unbeliever is spelled out with perfect clarity. Scripture quite plainly forbids any Christian to take another Christian to court. Selfishness and pride are explicitly identified as sins. These are not gray areas. There is no room for compromise here.

Nevertheless, I constantly hear every one of those issues treated as a gray area-on Christian radio, on Christian television, and in Christian literature. People want all such matters to be negotiable. And too many Christian leaders willingly oblige. They hesitate to speak with authority on matters where Scripture is plain. The lines of distinction between truth and error, wisdom and foolishness, church and world are being systematically obliterated by such means.

The world needs Christians who embrace an antithetical worldview, a biblical mindset that answers questions of truth and morality in terms of black and white. Why? Because there is no salvation without absolute, unshakeable truth. Compromising, changing, tolerant opinions don't provide answers for the "crazy and confusing and painful" issues that confront pastor Carrasco every day. Only truth saves and sanctifies and gives hope.

What's needed today is a generation of men and women who will take a stand on biblical truth. People like that fear the Lord, not men, and will find power and courage from the Lord to uphold His truth in an age of extreme tolerance.

Adapted from The Truth War, © 2007 by John MacArthur.

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1 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 15-16.
2 Tom Allen, "Postmoderns Value Authenticity, Not Authority," The Baptist Standard, July 8, 2004.
3 Ibid.

• Grace to You (Tuesday, April 15, 2008)

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Oprah and the Gospel of Me

 

By Paul Proctor

April 9, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

 

There are a couple of You Tube video clips making their rounds on the Internet that have aroused a lot of attention lately. I know this because they keep showing up in my email inbox from readers of this column.

I’ve seen two versions – both of which reveal celebrity talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, denying the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way to God – going so far as to tell members of her studio audience:

“There couldn’t possibly be just one way.”

The clip I’d like to focus on, Oprah Denies Christ – obviously taken from an earlier episode of Oprah, shows her challenging a couple of audience members’ faith in Christ – recalling author Daniel Quinn and apparently a character from one of his books – more specifically, a gorilla, as saying:

“…One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live and that we don’t accept that there are diverse ways of being in the world – that there are millions of ways to be a human being…and many ways…many paths to what you call God – and her path might be something else – and when she gets there she might call it the light. But her loving and her kindness and her generosity – brings her…if it brings her to the same point that it brings you, it doesn’t matter whether she called it God along the way or not.”

In light of the now sacred theory of evolution and all of the people throughout history she could quote to make her case, I find it curious that she chose to cite a simian, as if to suggest primates have a better understanding of humanity than do homo sapiens.

I did, however, find it encouraging that two members of Oprah’s audience spoke up and took exception to her heretical views. It requires no small degree of faith and courage to stand up to someone so powerful and popular, while they are surrounded by adoring fans, and tell them they’re wrong.

What surprised me initially was that Harpo Productions had not edited them out of the pre-recorded telecast. But then, the two ladies really only expressed an opinion, didn’t they? – A common mistake among Christians today that is not always viewed as objectionable by the secular media – especially where the consensus process is at work and the herd mentality rules.

However, had one of those women actually quoted Jesus Christ as having said, “I am they way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” they could have then asked Oprah, who claims to believe in Jesus, if He was lying. Unfortunately, it appeared to have been left as a mere exchange of opinions where absolute truth dissipated into the murky realm of feminized chitchat. In that type of superficial atmosphere, whomever receives the most applause, wins.

That’s consensus.

This is what happens when we endeavor to share feelings, speculation and personal experiences instead of God’s Word. In doing so, we unwittingly reduce it to just another human opinion – which plays right into the trained facilitator’s trap.

This is how biblically illiterate Christians today are gradually and carefully being led astray from true faith in Christ – even in their own churches – through their feelings and opinions – their egos and experiences – by pragmatism and consensus – always seeking Results & Relationships – a self-damning religion that has no absolute truth – no accountability and no authority figure to answer to for our actions.

What is the New Age all about?

It is the Gospel of Me – the divinity of self.

It is about setting aside the Word of God for everyone’s “felt needs” – the very thing the church growth movement and its leaders have been teaching Christians to entice the lost to church with for years.

Claiming they were schooling us on how to evangelize more effectively – they were, in reality, teaching us to set aside the Whole Counsel of God, in all its offence, and instead lure “seekers” to the great consensus we call church for processing – to share our feelings, emotions, appetites, experiences and imaginations with one another rather than God’s Word – all with a “love” that is ignorant of and apathetic toward sin and obedience – requiring nothing of participants but participation.

It’s like leading an alcoholic down the aisle on Sunday morning with a bottle of Jack Daniels and calling it repentance and faith.

If you break it all down, the New Age is, at its core, just spiritual narcissism – cloaked in charity, compassion and unity.

Remember this next time you see celebrities, authors, books, movies and commercials promoting The New EarthThe SecretThe Shift and The Moses Code.

Do you see a pattern here?

It’s about the acquisition of special powers, hidden secrets, divine knowledge, a deeper understanding and saving the world from intolerance with good deeds, good friends and good intentions. How is this different from Harry Potter?

Training, you see, begins as a child.

So, where does it all lead?

It leads to the same place Lucifer was headed when he said, in all his pride: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” – that wicked one who seduced Eve into taking of the forbidden fruit by telling her: “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.”

After all – the New Age is about discovering the divine within oneself, is it not?

In a nutshell, the New Age and its New Spirituality promises to help you find God in everyone and everything, including yourself, with or without Jesus Christ.

But unfortunately for the millions of misguided viewers and listeners tuning into Oprah for spiritual guidance, that’s not what the Bible teaches:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

© 2008 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved

 

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