Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The interview with Pagitt was as revealing as it was disturbing. When questioned on sin, heaven, hell, and salvation Pagitt was evasive and tried to avoid any certain implications of the doctrines queried. What was painfully obvious was that Pagitt doesn’t believe heaven and hell are real places. I am not sure what he does with passages like John 14:3 where Jesus tells the disciples “I go and prepare a place for you”! In fact, Pagitt sounded a lot like 20th century liberals who maintained that hell is a state of mind.
For someone who lauds and extols tolerance as a cardinal virtue, Pagitt grew increasingly intolerant and hostile with the direct line of questioning. When asked about the eternal destiny of Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, Pagitt tried to escape into hyper-space by hiding behind a curtain of verbal fog. On this issue he was more illusive than the Loch Ness Monster. Bottom-line, he sounds like a universalist—all will eventually be saved.
The only thing certain in Pagitt’s mind is that nothing is certain. Of this he is certain.
For his part, Osteen had a 43 minute interview with Larry King. As King pressed concerning issues like sin, salvation, heaven, and hell, Osteen countered with a certain “I don’t know” 39 times! One thing listeners can be sure of is that Osteen doesn’t seem to know much. Yet, every week in Houston, Texas 47,000 people crowd around to hear Osteen pontificate about something, that by his own admission, he doesn’t know much about. Go figure!
I wonder how many of Osteen’s fans would go to a doctor who admitted he didn’t know much about the basics of medical science and human physiology? Yet, every week millions entrust their eternal destiny to those, like Osteen and Pagitt, who confess ignorance on such matters. This is all reminiscent of what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
The over-arching similarity between Pagitt and Osteen is that both promote theological ambiguity as a cardinal tenant of their faith. They don’t know and they are proud of the fact that they don’t know. They both seem to think that ambiguity on cardinal, central doctrines is some how more humble than certitude. Old Testament prophets they could never be, because they would be unwilling to say “Thus saith the Lord”!
The example of Jesus is most instructive for us. In Matthew 4:1-11 when the Lord was tempted by the Devil, how did He respond? On three rapid fire occasions He declared “It is written”. In like manner, the Lord’s forerunner, John the Baptist, was introduced with same formula of certainty, “It is written” (Mark 1:2).
The “It is written” construction was used in Hellenistic times of legal orders and proclamations. Such a formula conveys both certainty and authority. When used in the Bible, it declares the absolute, permanent, divine record of God to man. This record is forever settled in heaven—the same heaven Pagitt isn’t quite sure about. Where sin, salvation, and the Savior are concerned, there can be no ambiguity. There are no loopholes or exception clauses for those who try to by-pass Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. Human ingenuity and artistic imagination cannot successfully remove God’s exclusive demands for the sinner.
Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord’s earthly ministry by preaching the message of “repentance” (Mark 1:4), we are called today to prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming by preaching the same message. To equivocate here, as both Pagitt and Osteen do, is to commit spiritual malpractice, which has eternal consequences for those who listen.
Paul warned Timothy about such non-sense (theological ambiguity) when he said that such men are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth,” (2 Timothy 3:7-8).
In the end, there is no virtue in avoiding the truth, and there is no real humility in equivocating on issues of eternal significance. Jesus considered John the Baptist to be the greatest among men (Matthew 11:11-12) not because he was ambiguous, but because he obediently proclaimed the message of repentance. True humility is found in the obedient proclamation of the gospel. Of this I am certain!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Secondly, I am not in any way advocating trashing God's wonderful creation we enjoy. Quite the opposite, I believe we need to be good stewards and custodians of the environment without allowing it to control us, and without exchanging worship of the Creator for that of the creation (Romans 1:18-32). What most don't realize is that CO2 is not a pollutant, it simply isn't toxic. The vast majority of atmospheric CO2 is the result of oceanic evaporation (98% of the CO2 in the atmosphere).
Psalm 8 is wonderful example of what God expects from man concerning our care-taker responsibilities of all He spoke into existence. Psalm 8 hearkens back to Genesis 1:26-28 where it is said that we (man) were created with the primary responsibility to care for and tend the rest of creation. From the very beginning humanity was tasked with dominion, which is expressed in both ruling and subduing. As Old Testament scholar Eugene Merrill notes, the ruling and subduing are very strong verbs in the original Hebrew, which essentially mean that man was created with the functional duty of "treading down" creation. Implied here is the residential idea of the coming fall in Genesis 3. Unarguably, dominion became exponentially more complicated with the entrance of sin into the equation. Interestingly, God never revoked man's primary earthly responsibility of dominion, even in light of Genesis 3! Now, in a post-fall world, all of creation groans and travails in the convulsive aftermath of sin. This makes our current dominion mandate all the more arduous and tenable, but not entirely impossible.
It is my contention that what is really driving the MGW train has more to do with politics and the New Age movement than real science. What better way for neo-marxists, like Al Gore, to finally exert the kind of governmental power and comprehensive control they desire then through environmental issues? The draconian legislation being proposed by the UN's IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) will significantly increase both the reach of government and expand their tax coffers. Capitalism and the free market as we now know it will be drastically altered and impaired by big brother bureaucrats around the globe.
Add to the above, the pronounced New Age influence. Environmentalist tend to favor New Age spirituality because of its pantheistic center (God is all and all is God). For this reason, the enviros see man as the number one enemy, because we are encroaching on the environment (creation), which is their sacrosanct shrine. Since the environment is sacred to them, protecting it--even at the expense of humanity--is a solemn sacrament and a cardinal tenant of their nature based faith. This view dramatically collides with the Bible. Psalm 8 makes it clear that man is to look up at God not to confine one's gaze to the earth beneath. When man fails to look up, this earth is all there is. As Romans 1:18-32 reminds us, we then become subservient to creation instead of the creator, with our priorities drastically out of balance. In short, the MGW promoters are trying bring man under the dominion of creation rather than the other way around!
In final analysis, we are called of God, the Sovereign of the universe, to manage the sky, the earth, and the sea (Psalm 8:5-8). This must not be reversed. In the end, do we really think we can change and affect weather? Only Almighty God can achieve this (Mark 4:35-41). Therefore, weather happens, whether we like it or not.
The following is a brief assessment of some of the science involved in this debate. These two letters were recently published in The Cape Argus :
Tragically the lopsided scaremongering tactics by the SA media, government, and education department, on man-made global warming have produced the predictable response evidenced by Vuyo Mabandla (People are clueless on climate change 15-10-07). It is precisely because the masses are clueless that they are “freaked out”.
I would like to assure Mabandla that he will keep his scalp for yet another day. The alleged iceberg off the coast of St. Francis is not the first iceberg spotted off SA’s coastal shores. In fact, Captain James Horsburgh, a hydrographer for the East India Company, wrote about numerous iceberg sightings off our shores between 1828-1830 (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 120, , pp.117-120).
Horsburgh noted in 1830, “It appears that icebergs, until lately, have seldom been seen by navigators in their passage near the Cape of Good Hope and the coast of South Africa.” Some of the sightings reported sizable ice flows that towered 300 feet above the water and were 2 miles in circumference. How can this be? Remember there were no petrol guzzling SUV’s then!
No doubt, Mabandla has been further influenced by Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and his propaganda piece “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT). Mabandla can rest easy where Gore is concerned. What Mabandla hasn’t been told is that just last week, in the UK, a court ruled that Gore’s documentary is as inaccurate as it is misleading (probably why he won the Nobel Prize).
The judge determined that if Gore’s movie is to be shown in UK schools, the learners must properly be informed of two things: First, the movie is not about science but politics. AIT is a lopsided propaganda piece that is not meant to inform, but to politically indoctrinate.
Secondly, the judge highlighted 11 gross inaccuracies (and there are far more) in Gore’s “science” that must be highlighted to learners if the movie is shown. From Lake Chad, to the retreating glaciers on Kilimanjaro, and even the 4 dead seals, the movie is an unqualified farce hardly worthy of honest science.
Like all SA’s learners, Mabandla has been led to believe that high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 have produced a corresponding rise in temperatures. Therefore, we must legislate to regulate CO2 emissions. But the UK judge concluded, contrary to Gore, that there is a convincing body of evidence which states the rise in CO2 levels is actually the result of a preceding increase in temperature.
This makes complete sense when one considers the earth has been thawing out from the Little Ice Age (1400—1850 AD) for the last 150 years. As the temperature has increased (.67C), correspondingly so have water evaporation levels (H2O evaporation accounts for 96% of our atmospheric CO2). If the current CO2 levels are the result of the rise in temperature, then what can we do to curb water evaporation? Absolutely nothing.
According to some leading climatologists, who will never be heard in the mainstream media, there is every reason to believe the modest rise in temperature is part of the natural ebb-and-flow of creation. Sadly, SA’s learners aren’t presented this side of the debate. Instead, learners are force-fed Gore’s science fiction as fact. So much for open-mindedness and the free exchange of ideas, which are supposed to be the hallmarks of true education.
I would like Mabandla to rest well tonight by considering this: If the same people who are chortling about man-made climate change can’t even get the 5 day forecast right, then what are the odds their 100 year predictions of doom-and-gloom are correct?
Len Stevens (A wake-up call to young people everywhere, 22-10-07) poisons the well with his straw-man claim that the politically correct version of man-made global warming is “irrefutable science”.
Stevens’ egregious assertion is predicated on the faulty assumption that the computer generated climate models are infallible—never mind the great disparity between these models.
The reason for climate model fallibility is simple, weather is a very complex system. All complex systems, like the financial markets, have a multitude of unaccounted for variables which affect the outcome of the predictions. This makes it impossible to accurately predict the ultimate results.
In order to accurately gauge the future of climate change, the current models would need to factor in all of the following variables into their equation: solar variation, gravity, pressure, temperature, density, humidity, clouds, topography, rotation of the Earth, the sea’s changing currents, greenhouse gases, and CO2 dissolved in the oceans—to name a few of the needed variables. The current models are unable to include all of these vital factors, because they are either unknown or ever changing.
The dirty little secret regarding climate models is when one attempts to test them, they fail, sometimes spectacularly so. For this reason, climatologist Patrick Michaels concludes that reliance on climate models amounts to “scientific malpractice”!
All of this hardly makes for “irrefutable science”. Such a claim is as narrow minded as it is irresponsible. As Mark Twain once said, “I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life and most of it never came to pass.” All the present PC hype about man-made global warming will prove no different.
(Open-minded learners looking for information about websites and articles refuting the PC propaganda regarding this issue can contact me at: email@example.com)
I can only conclude the sky will not fall, nor will the earth spin off its axis because of man. We might harm the environment (all because of sin), but we can't destroy the earth. Only God can do that. When it is all said and done, someday there will be God-induced Global Warming (GGW)! "10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness ..." (2 Peter 3:1--11).
Until then, we need to promote and serve Him and His gospel, not the dogmas of earth worshipping idolaters!
*Note: Pastor Mark will be writing a 60 page booklet on this subject in the next few weeks, which should be available early in 2008!
Friday, November 23, 2007
There is no dispute that God is love (God’s love unbiased, Mark Kleinschmidt, and Love your neighbor, Sharon Cox 22-11-07). What is never discussed, when this argument is inveighed as a trump card to promote gay rights, is love’s definition and context.
Both Kleinschmidt and Cox set sail on the choppy sea of subjectivity and relativism with their respective utilitarian notions of God’s love. Because God is a complex of attributes, to include His infinite holiness, righteousness, justice, grace and mercy—not just love—His love must be defined within the broader context of these respective characteristics. Wrenched from these other qualities, God’s love is subjectivised and infused with soppy sentiment. This is not love, but wishful thinking.
The logical conclusion of the Kleinschmidt-Cox equation for love is that almost any behaviour or lifestyle can be justified and validated by invoking the “God is love” argument. Many an adulterer has rationalized their sin by quoting “Love your neighbor as yourself”. But God's love is not a blank check. Once other attributes, like holiness, are added to the love matrix, love takes on moral parameters and ethical imperatives, grounded in the whole of God’s person.
The Bible also says “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) and “…holiness, without which, no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). Unless holiness, along with the rest of God’s attributes, is factored into the definition of love, love will be reduced to ambiguity and arbitrariness.
Until one is willing to repent of what the Bible labels sin (adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, murder, rape, pride, corruption, homosexuality … etc…) on the basis of the person and finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, no one can honestly claim they are loving God and their neighbor as themselves. The good news is that God is neither biased nor prejudice. All who seek Him on His terms will find forgiveness and true love. Only then will the world truly be better place!
Rev. Mark Christopher
Living Hope Bible Church
True to form, Tutu invoked the gay orientation argument. Robbed of this salvo, the gay rights movement would fall flat in a blink. Yet, I know of no DNA test ever performed that was able to discern one's sexual preferences through DNA testing! Being gay is simply not the same as one's skin color. To claim such is disingenuous. It is an emotive argument devoid of any concrete proof.
Below is my public response to Tutu's outrage:
In his latest bloviating diatribe (I wouldn’t worship an anti-gay God—Tutu) Desmond Tutu gave a clinic on the use of ad hominem logic. Tutu’s hurling of acerbic invectives at his detractors is a favorite smoke-screen to cloud the weakness of his own arguments on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Tutu’s transvalued (calling good evil and evil good) viewpoint on this issue has far more in common with a postmodern, pluralistic culture than the Bible. For Tutu to argue as he does, he must supplant the Bible with the popular interposing of a politically correct culture. To achieve this, he, like many today, must ignore the obvious and argue the ridiculous. This he has done well!
The question arising from Tutu’s tantrum is whether or not God is “anti-gay”? Rather, the question should be is God anti-sin (adultery, fornication, lying, theft, corruption, pride, homosexuality etc…)? The answer is an unequivocal, Yes.
Because God is a complex of attributes, to include His infinite holiness, righteousness, and justice—not just love--He will not “welcome” any sin into His presence. This is precisely why God sent His only begotten Son to die and serve as the perfect sacrifice for humanity’s sin. For those who repent from their sin on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross, there is forgiveness and the eternal embrace of a welcoming God! But God only welcomes those who come on His terms.
Therefore, the real question isn’t is God anti-gay, but is Tutu pro-God?
For those who would like to receive a copy of my book Same-Sex Marriage:Is It Really The Same?, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Mark Christopher
Sunday, May 27, 2007
A few days ago I read one of the more absurd articles I’ve read in recent times. The article was entitled “Churches Ban Gay Marriage”. This article was in response to South Africa’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage. The gay community is now lamenting the fact that some denominations, churches, and pastors refuse to officiate same-sex weddings, even though the recent legislation in South Africa provides for ministers to exercise their conscience on the issue.
The gist of the article was that, in light of some refusing to perform same-sex unions, now the issue had advanced from one of “gay rights” to one “human rights”. The letter below is my response to this absurd notion of marriage being a “human right”:
As a pastor I found the comments of Vista Kalipa (Churches ban gay marriage 17-05-07) telling. According to Kalipa and Triangle Project, marriage is now a "human rights issue".
I have always approached marriage as a God-given privilege. As such, there are a host of reasons why I won't marry some couples--being same-sex is but one.
If I don't think a couple is ready, or prepared, or fails to meet other biblical criteria, my policy is simple: I am not obligated to marry them. To date none of those I have turned away have ever died, gone hungry, suffered from lack of shelter, or been psychologically harmed as a result of my policy.
Since marriage is now a "human rights" issue, what about the following scenarios? :
- Refusing to marry polygamists, which is technically legal here?
- A case of pedogamy, whereby an intergenerational couple, ages 12 and 50, wish to marry. They are both consenting, loving, and the 12 year old has a signed permission slip from his or her parents. Am I obligated to marry them?
- In the UK, animal rights activists have filed a court case on behalf of a chimp, to accord the chimp "human rights" status. If chimps are granted "human rights", would their human rights be violated if I refused to marry them?
In the end, Kalipa's absurd statement has more to do with trying to legislate opposing thought than human rights. For this reason I urge all truly God-fearing pastors and denominations to lovingly, yet firmly, stand true to their God-given convictions, and to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29)!
Rev. Mark Christopher
The paper did print the letter and I did not receive any responses, either positively or negatively. What the original article underscored was the fact that the gay community isn’t interested in equal rights. Rather, they desire special rights whereby their “rights” trump everyone else’s. This is about them holding Bible-believing Christianity hostage with their transvalued logic. I have read enough of their own literature to know their goal is to destroy traditional Christianity and all of its institutions like marriage and family, which is all seen as the progenitor of their plight.
What I find interesting in this whole debate is that it is always Christianity that is the target of the gay lobby’s attacks. My questions is, what about Islam? As this debate has raged here in South Africa for the last several years, not one word or peep from the Islamic community or the Muslim Judicial Council—Why? Why hasn’t one of these avante-garde, postmodern journalists investigated Islam’s position on the whole homosexual, same-sex issue? For some inexplicable reason Islam has slid under the radar here. While the papers printed the names of churches and pastors that will marry same-sex couples, why didn’t they print the names of Imams and Mosques where same-sex couples could exchange their vows? –PROBABLY BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE!
Though I don’t pretend to know why Islam has been so silent on the subject here, I do have a theory. Could their silence be because they know this watershed event, of same-sex marriage, heralds the demise of western civilization as we know it? Is their silence part of their strategy to win the ultimate victory over the perverse infidels? Or is it because they hope the sanctioning of same-sex unions will lend greater credence and acceptance to the polygamous marriages they endorse? At this point I can only surmise, because the media is conspicuous by its silence toward Islam on this matter.
What I do know is, if the media were to pursue Islam on this topic the way they have Christianity, they would find themselves in a similar situation to that of Salmon Rushdie, after he wrote “Satanic Verses” a few years ago. Quite frankly, the modern day media doesn’t have the courage or the stomach for such an investigation. So it is that the gay community and its obedient lap-dog, the media, will content themselves with relentlessly attacking Bible-believing Christianity and making the true Church out to be the villain. This, of course, will ultimately fail, as Jesus Christ has built His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
In part one of this article I began discussing some of the major streams of thought that insidiously seduce many professing believers and poison the well of thought in the Church. In the former article I briefly examined the nature and consequences of individualism. Though the Bible teaches aspects of individualism, it does so within the confines of Christ and His blood-bought community, the Church. For this reason, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves!
Another dangerous contagion of thought that has mutated and made major inroads into the minds of many is the philosophy of radical egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is more practically known through the various equality movements … a.k.a equal rights. While some of the goals of the equal rights movement are noble and even laudable, like most secular philosophies many have gone to seed and burst the banks of all reasonable thought. It is one thing to promote equal pay for equal work, or to seek social and legal equality for those of a different ethnicity and culture. But when egalitarians seek to erase all known, observable God-given distinctions, reason has jumped the fence and given birth to radical egalitarianism.
The Bible clearly recognizes an equality of essence, whereby all men and women of all races, classes, and creeds share an equality of derived essence (or being) from God as Creator. The New Testament underscores this equality of essence in the very nature of the gospel message. In passages like Galatians 3:28; Colossians 1:28; & 3:11, it is clearly taught that there is no segregation or apartheid at the foot of the cross. The finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary provides a level playing for all who desire salvation and the forgiveness of sin. There is one salvation for all mankind that transcends the barriers sinful man has constructed.
This God-given equality underscored in salvation through Christ, gives way to the obvious distinctions found in function, form, and responsibility. It should be obvious to all (sadly it is not) not all were born with equal abilities. Some are stronger, faster, smarter, wiser, more talented, more skillful, more experienced, more qualified, and more proficient. In the Christian economy such distinctions of ability are duly noted in the function of the Church. All believers are gifted differently and variously (1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Romans 12:4-8). Apart from such variation and degrees of giftedness, the Church couldn’t adequately function. Further, God established a simple hierarchy of leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11), without which the Church would cease to fulfill her divine mandate.
Radical egalitarianism endeavors to eradicate all such distinctions of form and function from society. The result is the homogenizing of culture into a bland and ambiguous tolerance. When all distinctions are expunged, all perversions become acceptable. Many academics and postmodern think-tank elites promote the notion of the androgynous ideal. In the androgynous world there is neither male nor female, as these are constructs of society. Hence, the neuter-gender ideal is ardently promoted. Radical Feminism has advanced this cause for over forty years now. The gay rights movement has this as their cardinal virtue. This why we see them tenaciously embrace trans-sexuality, trans-gender, and transvestitism. In this bazaar world without boundaries everything is acceptable except the obvious—distinctions.
How has such none-sense on stilts influenced the Church? Here are but a couple of ways:
- The feminist movement—both the secular and evangelical versions—has so conditioned men through the various appendages of the media, academics, and culture, that many are now confused. Many men have become frustrated and now suffer from Gender-Identity Crisis (GIC). Men no longer know what it means to be a man, let alone a godly man. We have been told to get in-touch with our feminine selves. The result is that men are in the process of being feminized, while the women are being masculinized. Many men are now on the pathway of emasculated masculinity. Think of the impact of this on the family, the Church, and society. As a pastor, one of the greatest challenges I have is to get men to be godly men and lead their families in a truly spiritual way. This is why godly, qualified leadership in the Church is becoming increasingly harder to come by.
- Closely related to the Gender-Identity Crisis, is the breakdown of the family. Radical egalitarianism has sought to subvert biblical gender-roles. This has produced a situation where the wives are often actively in-submissive, while the husbands are subjugated and passive. There has been a role reversal and a corresponding blurring of authority. This has produced more confusion and ultimately chaos in the home, as God-given guidelines are ignored. The believing husband is to always love his wife as Christ loved the Church (sacrificially), while the believing wife is to voluntarily and functionally submit (Ephesians 5:23ff). In this, they both realize their fulfillment as they mirror the relationship Christ has with His Church! This is the only antidote for the current ills that plague our homes.
- Radical egalitarianism has negatively influenced the Church in profound ways. Thus, it is now fairly common-place for women to pursue the pastorate (1 Timothy 2:9-15). It is no mere coincidence that homosexuality in the Church and homosexuals in the pulpit, has become the issue de jure of the day. What few realize is that the same hermeneutic used to justify women in the pulpit, is the one-in-the-same hermeneutic marshaled to advance homosexuality in the Church. A Church that advocates women in the pulpit today, will more than likely either soften, or abandon altogether, its stance on homosexuality tomorrow. The issue as it relates to women is not one of individual ability, but rather an issue related to divinely sanctioned suitability for a God designed role.
There is no doubt radical egalitarianism has gone to an unacceptable extreme as its advocates have sought to influence all of society. But they have forgotten not all ideas are equal. Not all have equal strength, intelligence, or ability for a given task. Not all who ride in The Argus Cycle Tour have equal talent, training, experience, or equipment, as the results clearly attest. Though the lowly private is equal in essence to the general, in function there is an observed hierarchy, apart from which the military could not operate effectively.
Outside of death being the great equalizer, there is only one place where all of humanity has an equal footing—in the shadow of the cross of Christ. God’s provision of salvation does not discriminate. Yet, in the living out of that salvation there is a biblically prescribed form and function that must be observed. The Church ignores this to its own detriment. Our true identity and fulfillment as the Bride of Christ is at stake. If we, as the Church, are to comply with our divinely appointed mandate, we must shake off the fertilizing effects of radical egalitarianism by refusing to compromise with the spirit of the age.
(Part Three of this article will address the issues of democracy and freedom respectively)