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for you do no know when the time is (Mark 13:33)

The Dutch Reformed Church’s [Accelerated] Downward Spiral into Apostasy

Posted by Tom Lessing on May 17, 2009

Someone recently asked me “How is it possible that anyone who once proclaimed a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ can apostatize from the truth and begin to follow another Jesus, and yet still believe that they are following the real Jesus?” In hindsight I knew my answer was rather flimsy at the time and I felt like kicking my own rear-end for not having provided a better reason for our postmodern malady of chronic apostasy. I must admit I felt much better when I realized that when Paul grappled with the phenomenon of apostasy he could only express his astonishment at the serious and very dangerous defection from sound biblical doctrine in the church at Galatia without giving any sound reasons. The most amazing thing about their apostasy was that it happened so quickly. It accelerated at an alarming rate since Paul’s last missionary journey to Galatia and very soon after the false teachers began to infiltrate the church with their menacing heresies. It indicates that when doctrinal error is allowed to continue unabated and is not immediately nipped in the bud it will quickly spread like a cancerous tumour, spreading rapidly from body cell to body cell until the entire body is infected and eventually killed (2 Timothy 2:13-19). Incidentally, rev. Attie Nel of the DR Church Bergsig delivered a sermon on this passage but instead of warning his congregants against the manifold false teachers of our time, he singled out the “whistle-blowers” as the whipping-boys and cancer carriers and advised his congregants to rather surf the site http://bible.org if they needed solid biblical mentors or teachers to guide them on their spiritual journey. He said:

N.T. Wright “Today there are three persons who’ve had a very significant influence on my life: N.T. Wright, SCOT McKNIGHT and Eugene Peterson. In South Africa: Stephan Joubert and Jan van der Watt, and even Adrio König. Everyone of us should have a teacher or two in our lives, preferably more than one [and] say: ‘I am eager to learn from you.’ However, people learn in different ways. Some learn through reading; others though listening; yet others learn though talking, discussion. I do not like to talk because I am a slow thinker, but I’m an avid reader and listener. Now, I’m going to give you a website’s name where all three of these things occur. There’s a lot of reading-matter, very good reading-matter and conservative theologians; they publish daily on that site and there is also sermons you may listen to, and there’s a place where you can chat with others. The address is very simple, www.bible.org. Pop in there; you can also make those persons your teachers.”

Toward the end of his sermon rev. Nel says:

“Make God the first love, the only love in your life. Having said that, one wonders, ‘but how do I live it?’ And one of the persons I heard speaking about this, this week, he said ‘Just love Jesus.’ That’s all. Only love the Lord. If you love the Lord and if you love Him more than anything else everything falls into place. Its so easy. Its so easy. Its not an emotion. I do not choose to feel something. I choose to be something. How does it feel to love your wife? I don’t know . . . All I know is that I would do nothing to hurt her. How does it feel to love your wife? I don’t know . . . I do not know what it feels like. All I know is that when I keep my children in safety, that is what my wife wants of me . . . ‘Just love Jesus’”

These are indeed precious words but unfortunately precious words do not always paint the full picture. Jesus Christ also wants rev. Attie Nel and all the other pastors in the Dutch Reformed Church family to keep God’s children safely, just as his wife wants him to keep their kids in safety. Didn’t  Jesus say that our love for Him will be mirrored in the way we feed and keep his sheep and lambs? (John 21: 15-17). To love Jesus is therefore much more than a mere pious wish to “just love Jesus.” In fact, Scripture never says that we should “just love Jesus.” Love for God finds its highest expression in the way you handle and practice His Word (doctrines) (John 14:21, 21; 2 John 9) and also in the way you feed and keep his children. In the first place, to keep God’s children safely means to preserve and feed them within the constrains and parameters of His Word so that they may grow spiritually and to protect them against the unscrupulous attacks of false teachers. Are our pastors doing that? No, say I, because they are delivering up the sheep and the lambs to teachers who are saying and doing things contrary to our Great Teacher, Jesus Christ. They are leading the sheep and especially the lambs along ways that seem right but the ends thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12).

N.T. Wright, one of rev. Attie Nel’s influential teachers, is a bishop in The Church of England who are confusing Christians with his book “What Saint Paul Really Said.” He is also one of the co-writers of a book that is causing an uproar in the church, called “Stricken By God, Nonviolent Identification & the Victory of Christ edited by Brad Jersak en Michael Hardin. Several distinguished leaders in the Emergent Church, amongst them Brian McLaren, have endorsed it with gusto. Bishop Wright is an highly esteemed person in the Emergent Church. On page 119 of his book “What Saint Paul Really Said” he wrote the following on the doctrine of justification.

"’Justification’ in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God.  It was about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people."

With this concoction readers are expected to rethink the concept of justification. According to Wright “justification” cannot be interpreted in terms of God’s imputed righteousness of His Son to save sinners, but merely as an expression or locution (metaphor) of God’s covenant faithfulness in vindicating Israel in the face of the nations. No wonder Paul lamented:

Galatians 1:6-7 I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you by the grace (unmerited favor) of Christ (the Messiah) [and that you are transferring your allegiance] to a different [even an opposition] gospel. Not that there is [or could be] any other [genuine Gospel], but there are [obviously] some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel] and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) [into something which it absolutely is not].

The apostle John was equally astonished when he was shown the apocalyptic MYSTERY BABYLON, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH and the woman who was drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:6). In fact, the very same word “thaumazo { thou-mad’-zo}” is used in both these passages. Unfortunately astonishment (amazement, bewilderment and shock) have been replaced by admiration and appreciation, even to the extent that the once disallowed and disavowed doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are being assimilated in Protestant circles with accelerated zeal and wonderment. Those who fail to notice the globally orchestrated and unrelenting efforts of some of the most revered spiritual leaders in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches to reverse the Reformation need to surf the internet for only a few hours to see how far they have progressed to eradicate the divide between the two. During my research on the internet I happened to stumble on a site entitled PBS that seems to be on the forefront of providing international news and views via their television stations and internet content. They claim to reach more than 65 million people every week and invite their viewers and listeners to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. I was particularly interested in their page called RELIGION AND ETHICS and its cover story “Protestant Mary” which appeared on December 17, 2004. Kim Lawton, Managing Editor/Correspondent and award winning reporter, producer, writer and editor who has worked in broadcast media and print for nearly 20 years covering religion, ethics, and culture, interviewed several well-known clergy and academics. She introduced Prof. Timothy George, Southern Baptist and dean of the evangelical Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, as one of a growing number of theologians and writers urging evangelicals and other Protestants to stop ignoring Mary. She also interviewed Professor BEVERLY ROBERTS GAVENTA (Princeton Theological Seminary) who is calling for a new Protestant examination of Mary.

So even in order to understand fully what those Gospels are about, which is so much what Protestants prize, we have to pay more attention to her. We can’t just bring her out for Christmas Eve and put her back away on the 26th.

Mother Mary Why do we need to pay more attention to Mary when she hardly or ever contributed to the advancement or illumination of the Gospel? That task was given to the twelve apostles of whom Jesus once said: “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” We dare not show any partiality when Christ himself singled out every person who does the will of His Father in heaven to be his brother and sister and mother. Mary who presented herself to God so that He may accomplish His will in regard to the incarnation of God the Son, was indeed blessed but so are the poor in spirit, they that mourn over their sins, the meek, the hungry who thirst after the righteousness of God, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. No one can deny that Mary was a blessed chosen vessel of God, for had He not done so our blessed Lord and Saviour could never have partaken of flesh and blood so that our sins and transgressions could be judged in His torn and bloodied body on the cross. The virgin vessel was blessed but no more than every man, woman and child who do the will of His Father in heaven. As soon as we place Mary on a pedestal to single her out for special attention above all the others whom Jesus Christ referred to as his brothers and sisters and mothers, we are dangerously close to the Mariology of Roman Catholicism. Mariology in the Roman Catholic tradition is not just about bringing Mary out of Christmas Eve and examining her position for a better and fuller understanding of the Gospels. The ultimate goal of Mariology is to proclaim Mary Co-redemptrix with Jesus Christ. The following definition of the word “Co-redemptrix” appears on Wikipedia.

Co-Redemptrix in Roman Catholic Mariology refers to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the redemption process. It is a separate concept from Mediatrix. The concept of Co-redemptrix refers to an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of humankind. Co-Redemptrix has not been formally defined as a dogma, although petitions for declaring it (along with Mediatrix) a dogma have been submitted to the pope by various Cardinals and bishops. It would become a fifth Marian dogma if approved by the Holy See.

Millions of Roman Catholics have signed and submitted a petition to the Pope, pleading with him to declare Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatix and Advocate for all Christians. On April 9, 1997 the late Pope John Paul II referred to the role of Mary in the crucifixion during an audience as follows:

Mary … co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity…In God’s plan, Mary is the ‘woman’ (cf. John 2:4; John 19:26), the New Eve, united to the New Adam in restoring humanity to its original dignity. Her cooperation with her Son continues for all time in the universal motherhood which she enjoys in the order of grace. Trusting in this maternal cooperation, let us turn to Mary, imploring her help in all our needs. (Emphasis added)

The ominous reality about the growing world-wide appeal to proclaim Mary the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate for all Christians is that it has taken on an increasingly supernatural dimension with the many Marian apparitions throughout the world. In many of these Marian apparitions she claims to be the Mediatrix, Advocate, Saviour (Ark of peace) and ever-present, titles which belong to Christ alone. Her most alarming claim is that she is the Co-Redemptrix or Co-redeemer of the world. The following quotes are directly from the lips of the “Mary” many people have seen in her apparitions throughout the world.

I stand here as the Co-redemptix and Advocate. Everything should be concentrated on that. Repeat after me: The new dogma will be the dogma of the Co-Redemptrix. Until I’m acknowledged, there with the most holy Trinity, has willed me to be, I will not be able to exercise my power fully in the eternal work of co-redemption and in the universal mediation of graces.”

She claims to have suffered with Christ for the sins of the world.

I love you even if you are far away from me and my son. I ask you not to allow my heart to shed tears of blood because of the souls who are being lost through sin.

For a long time I have suffered for you. If I don’t want my son to abandon you, I am forced to pray to him myself without ceasing. You pay no heed. However much you would do, you can never recompense the pain I have taken for you.

I boldly assert that his suffering became my suffering because his heart was mine. And just as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so in a certain sense my son and I redeemed the world with one heart.

I am she who is related to the divine Trinity. I am the virgin of Revelation.

My children, I am the Door of heaven and a help on earth.

She encourages her children to venerate her statues.

As mother I want to tell you that I am here with you represented by the statues you have here. Each of my statues is a sign of a presence of mine and reminds you of your heavenly mother. Therefore, it must be honored and put in places of greater veneration. You should look with love at every image of your heavenly mother.

She also encourages her followers to build shrines and temples to her honour

I ardently desire a temple built for me here where I can show and offer all my love, compassion, help and protection, for I am your merciful mother.

In 1999 in Amsterdam she was not only hailed as the Co-Redemptrix but also for the first time as The Lady of all Nations. In one of her apparitions she said the following-

When the dogma, the last dogma in Mary’s history has been proclaimed, the Lady of Nations will give peace, true peace to the world. The nations, however, must say my prayer in union with the church. They must know that the Lady of all nations has come as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.

The Marian apparition now claims that she is not only Mary the mother of God but also Lady of all the Nations and as soon as the Pope declares her to be the Co-Redeemer with Christ she will usher in a new era of peace.

Speak about the mother of the Eucharist because the mother of the Eucharist closes history. All the messages come from God and everywhere that I am appearing I am speaking about the same things. Because of the triumph of the Eucharist, the mother wants all the churches to be reunited so that there will be only one church for all the people (Emphasis added).

You may have begun to wonder why I am telling you these things and how they tie in with the Dutch Reformed Church’s downward spiral into apostasy. Not only has the emerging mystical spirituality (contemplative prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina, lectio continua, enneagrams, labyrinths, solitude, the silence, meditation, breath prayers, the Jesus prayer, contemplative retreats, twelve cross stations, Jesus candles, icons, Ignatian contemplation, the Desert fathers etc.) taken the church by storm, it is beginning to show its true colours and purpose which is to bring Protestants back into the Roman Catholic fold.

Prof Beverly Gaventa The Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch and Communitas will be hosting a three-day conference on the theme “What can we learn from the book of Acts about being a Missional Church?” from 18-20 May 2009. The conference will launch research groups that will work on seven themes in the Book of Acts over a period of three years. The project aims at bringing together two major discussions within the context of theology and church practice. Proff. BEVERLY GAVENTA (Princeton Theological Seminary) who I have already briefly introduced to you as a promulgator for a new Protestant examination of Mary and SCOT McKNIGHT (North Park University, Chicago) will be the main speakers at the conference. Like Prof. Gaventa, McKnight urges Protestant churches to honour Mary. The following excerpt appeared in one of the site Lighthouse Trials Research’s newsletters:

In emerging church leader, Scot McKnight’s book, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, McKnight says thatScot McKnight Protestant Christians are the only Christians who do not honor Mary. He recommends that Protestant churches all practice an "Honor Mary Day" (p. 144), saying she "leads us to a Jesus who brings redemption … To listen to Mary is to hear the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection as a mega-event whereby God established a new kind of power, a new kind of family, and a new kind of kingdom" (p. 145). McKnight describes this great event as a time when the world will come together and worship Mary (Emphasis added).

McKnight who is already having a great impact on the emerging church is also passionately promoting the Eucharistic Jesus in Protestant circles. He says that "the Eucharist profoundly enables the grace of God to be received with all its glories and blessings."(Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus, (Louisville, KY: Westminister John Knox Press, 2002 edition, p. 7).

It is evident that the Dutch Reformed Church’s three-day conference on the theme “What can we learn from the Book of Acts about being a Missional Church” is nothing but a well-disguised effort to promote the Roman Catholic Church’s New Evangelization programme. Many young Dutch Reformed Church clergy are progressively opting for a missionary strategy to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and are urging people to become followers of Jesus. The Jesus they are following is slowly but surely morphing into the Eucharist Jesus who is repeatedly sacrificed on the altars of Roman Catholic cathedrals throughout the world. For more information on this subject read here.

Jeremiah 44:15-25 Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, and all the women who stood by – a great assembly – even all the people who dwelt in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to or obey you. But we will certainly perform every word of the vows we have made: to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her as we have done – we and our fathers, our kings and our princes – in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and prosperous and saw no evil. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine. [And the wives said] When we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make cakes [in the shape of a star] to represent and honor her and pour out drink offerings to her without [the knowledge and approval of] our husbands? Then Jeremiah said to all the people – to the men and to the women and to all the people who had given him that answer – The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem – you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land – did not the Lord [earnestly] remember [your idolatrous wickedness] and did it not come into His mind? The Lord could no longer endure the evil of your doings and the abominations which you have committed; because of them therefore has your land become a desolation and an [astonishing] waste and a curse, without inhabitants, as it is this day. Because you have burned incense [to idols] and because you have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law and in His statutes and in His testimonies, therefore this evil has fallen upon you, as it is this day. Moreover, Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have both declared with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her. [Surely] then confirm your vows and [surely] perform your vows! [If you will defy all My warnings to you, then, by all means, go ahead!] (Emphasis added).

When a church, their leaders, their countrymen and their country refuse to listen to and heed God’s warnings in His Word, He leaves them to their own devices and allows them to fall even deeper into their self-inflicted, apostatized and idolatrous lifestyles. Like Israel of old they too have their pious reasons for their disobedience. Our country has been in the grip of crime and violence for a very long time and despite the many warnings from various corners throughout the country, church leaders, and especially our younger generation church clergy, have unremittingly and obstinately followed their own “new-hearty” and “labyrinthy” ways to bring peace to our land. They too say “we and our fathers, our kings and our princes – in all the cities of South Africa – will bring peace, prosperity and happiness through our own efforts and methods. We have tried the old ways but it didn’t work. Let us therefore rethink the Gospel; let us listen to the followers of other religious persuasions and work in union and in harmony with them to save our beloved country.” God  says to them “Surely, then confirm your new vows to usher in My Kingdom on earth with your abominable ways; honour the queen of heaven as my people have done in olden times. If you will defy all My warnings to you, then, by all means, go ahead! But!  remember what I have said through my apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 10:9-12 We should not tempt the Lord [try His patience, become a trial to Him, critically appraise Him, and exploit His goodness] as some of them did – and were killed by poisonous serpents; Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did – and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer (death). Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period).

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Rending the Veil from the Bottom to the Top.

Posted by Tom Lessing on May 5, 2009

Matthew 27:51 And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; (Emphasis added)

What do you think the result would be if we were to do a survey asking people the question: “If you were able to bring about the most important and revolutionary event in the entire history of mankind, what would you do?” The majority would probably want to find a cure for AIDS or cancer, or usher in a Rent Veil lasting global peace. Some would probably want to eradicate poverty once and for all. Believe it nor not, these are not the the most important things the post modern and “emergent” thinkers are aiming to do, although they may say so. What they do have in mind is to seek “new” ways and means of entering into the presence of God. Since mankind’s Fall many have tried to take the kingdom of heaven by force (their own efforts), simply because they have rejected God’s way. Don’t be hoodwinked by their manifestos of “wanting to alleviate poverty,“associating with the poor by living amongst them,” “following in the footsteps of Jesus by exemplifying his example.” These are all stepping stones (own efforts and good works) to bring them into the presence of God.

In ancient times it was a very dangerous and a life threatening experience to approach a king without his permission. Even today, in some parts of Africa, you are not allowed to enter a village without the resident chief’s permission. The normal procedure is to first request the chief’s personal assistant to convey your wish to visit him. He would then inform you if and when you may meet with the chief. When an appropriate time is set the envoy meets you at the entrance of the village and accompanies you to the chief’s house in the centre of the village. Don’t even think to knock on his door. That’s bad manners. The envoy enters the chiefs house alone, informs him of your arrival and only then may you enter his home — provided that the chief does not decide to reverse his initial invitation and turn you away at the last moment. Frustrating . . . ? Very frustrating, but that’s the way you need to express your respect and appreciation for the chief as your superior in his village. Not only that; it also proves to the envoy and his chief that you are prepared to humble yourself in their presence. There is a similar narrative in the Old Testament. When Mordecai, queen Esther’s uncle disclosed Haman’s plot to destroy all the Jews, he begged her to approach her husband, king Ahasuerus, on his throne and to inform him of the murderous plot. She was at first reluctant because it was too dangerous for her to do so uninvited. Here’s how Esther answered her uncle.

Esther 4:11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” (Emphasis added)

The outcome of this event is well-known. When queen Esther approached the king he held out his golden sceptre as a gesture that she may come closer and she touched the top of his sceptre, acknowledging thereby his supreme authority over her as her king and her lord. Had she not done so a multitude of her brethren, the Jews, would have been murdered in a plot which had been orchestrated by Haman. If royal protocol in those days were adhered to so strictly how can we possibly expect the King of kings and the Lord of lords to accept manmade ways to approach Him in His most holy sanctuary in heaven? However, adherents to the Emerging Church are increasingly turning to manmade ways to usher themselves into the presence of God. Indeed, they are forcefully trying to rend the veil from the bottom to the top. In their endeavors to accomplish this the new breed of “Christian” ministers, pastors, apostles, disciples and teachers are demanding a complete change in the way we think about our spirituality, and particularly in the way we experience Christianity.

The prefix “re” has become one of the most potent lingo doohickeys in our postmodern society. Despite it’s two-lettered confines it has a vast potential to revolutionize your life. Words like “think,” “imagine,” “construct,” “define,” and “paint” (with due thanks to Rob Bell in his “Velvet Elvis”) have taken on a whole new meaning when the prefix “re” is added. By doing a quick google search of the words “rethink” and “rethinking” on the internet I was dumbfounded to see the following results:

  • Rethinking our world (1 300 000 results)
  • Rethinking leadership (2 020 000 results)
  • Rethinking the future (1 340 000 results)

The idea of rethinking our world, leadership and the future is not limited to the secular world but is also increasingly and aggressively advocated in the church. One of the leading proponents of the “possibility thinking” or “positive thinking” cult, Robert Schuller, hosted a “Rethink Conference” in his Crystal Cathedral last year. A conference was scheduled for this year but has been postponed to 2010. Many of the speakers at last year’s conference, amongst them, Erwin McManus, Kay Warren (wife of Rick Warren) and Dan Kimball are proponents of contemplative mysticism and meditation. Fifty e-church members in South Africa, including Stephan Joubert and Dries Lombaard attended the conference in 2008 to rub shoulders with these most distinguished thinkers who are bent on changing the face of Christianity for evermore. They have made a great impact on our younger South African church clergy who in  turn are influencing many young people and introducing them to contemplative mysticism. The e-church websites (Afrikaans and English), engineered by Stephan Joubert and Dries Lombaard respectively, are vigorously promoting the contemplative spirituality under the guise of “loving and following Jesus.” In fact, all the followers of Jesus are welcome to comment on their sites and to participate in a relational conversation provided that you are also an avid follower of their gurus, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet, Nelus Niemandt, Erwin McManus, Doug Pagitt and many other contemplative Christian mystics. Those in agreement with Stephan Joubert and Rob Bell that truth may be found in other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism and even atheism are more than welcome on their websites but you will be summarily ostracized as soon as you sound a warning against their contemplative buddies.

In accordance with the “rethinking” culture of the contemplatives, I have decided to rethink, re-imagine, and reconstruct at least one passage from Scripture (Matthew 7: 22-23) to illustrate how they are trying to rend the veil from the bottom to the top.

Lord, Lord, look what we have done for you! We have done some real honest-to-good bundubashing by clearing away some trash and debris in the bushveld and built a beautiful labyrinth. We really do not know how our Afrikaans Reformed youth will react when we introduce them to our labyrinth but we are trying to make them genuine followers of you. Maybe this is something of what we are trying to do as followers of Jesus. To clean out the rubish [sic] in the world in order to create places where people can find peace, harmony, and connect with transcendence. Then the “Labyrinth Jesus” who they follow with so much love and commitment answered: “I have always known you. You have trod my way (labyrinth) faithfully, lovingly and with gusto. Enter into the holy presence of my father.”

Amazed? . . . . Shocked . . .? Thinking . . .? What nerve does he have to change and rethink the Word of God in such a blasphemous way? Before you decide to stone me with some of the “klippies” you used to build your labyrinths, read here very carefully. What’s up with these guys? Don’t they ever read their Bibles to learn what the real Jesus has to say about lasting peace, harmony and connectedness with God? Have they become so blind to the truth that they are mindlessly resorting to all kinds of dredge and dust-filled ways to seek after God’s peace and presence? Have they forgotten what Jesus said?:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Labyrinth in Grace Cathedral San Francisco This is definitely not the “labyrinth-Jesus” speaking here. Who is this “labyrinth-Jesus, anyway? To find a suitable answer we need to go back into pagan history. Wikipedia provides an elaborate history of the origins of the labyrinth which proves that it is not of God. Roger Oakland explains the meaning of the labyrinth as follows in his book “Faith Undone.”

The labyrinth is a maze-like structure that is growing in popularity, used during times of contemplative prayer. The participant walks through this structure until he comes to the center, then back out again. Unlike a maze, which has several paths, the labyrinth has one path. Often prayer stations (with candles, icons, pictures, etc.) can be visited along the way. The labyrinth originated in early pagan societ­ies. The usual scenario calls for the prayer to do some sort of medi­tation practice, enabling him or her to center down (i.e., reach God’s presence), while reaching the center of the labyrinth. (Emphasis added)

What lies at the heart of contemplative practices such as the labyrinth, silence, breath prayers, solitude, Jesus candles, icons, the Jesus prayer, lectio continua, lectio divina, 12  stages of the cross, which allegedly usher you into the holy presence of God? It all started with Cain’s bloodless sacrifice. Labyrinth Dad Adam and mom Eve taught him, as they did their son Abel, that God’s infinite holiness demanded no other way to approach Him but through the shedding of an innocent victim’s blood. Cain, however, despised God’s slaughtering of an innocent victim to cover up (atone for) their nakedness (sins) and decided to appease and satisfy Him with his own efforts and good works. Since then his way, in biblical terms known as the way of Cain (Jude 1:11), has been perpetuated throughout the ages by men and women who equally despise God’s remedy for our sins. Brian McLaren’s outright denial of the true meaning of the cross is symptomatic of the emergent movement.

"Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil." (A Generous Orthodoxy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004, p. 93).

The crucifixion to McLaren is nothing more and nothing less than a temporal alleviation of mankind’s suffering caused by sickness, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment (regardless of the reasons for a criminal’s incarceration) or any kind of danger or evil. Rob’ Bell’s philosophy of salvation is also related to the temporal in this world and not so much a place (heaven or hell) you go to in the afterlife after you’ve died. His problem is not with Jesus who wants to save all people and restore all things to Himself but with those who affirm that only certain people go to heaven. At his Mars Hill Pastor’s Conference held in January 2007 he asked some pertinent but very dangerous questions — dangerous for those who believe him.

Going to heaven? .  . . “That’s it?” The best we can do is some other just fire insurance? Just have to save  Rob Bellsouls? That’s message to the world? That’s despair. . . . Is that the best God can do? I need help today. . . . Is this what Jesus waved in front of people?

Some Jesus’ should be rejected.  . . . The Jesus who herds people in and kills them should be rejected. Do you believe in a God who would create billions of people only to watch them burn with no chance for any other sort of future? What kind of God do you believe in?

If you were asked the question “How does a person get saved, converted, in, redeemed, etc.?” and you only had the Bible to answer the question . . . you would have lots of answers. [It] Involves acts of love that demonstrate a change of heart, awkward exchanges, it’s all over the place . . . People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways. When we say “this is how it’s done” – it would be nice, but the problem is it’s not the way we see it. People stumble into the kingdom in all sorts of ways. Observations based on passages – how does a congregation move forward, how do you move forward, how do you proclaim? Salvation is holistic in nature. Jesus wants to save all of us. Jesus wants to save you from your past, from fear, from crippling worry, hatred, the myth of redemptive violence, from hating, racism, poverty, anything that hinders the full shalom that God created for the entire world. (Emphasis added)

Bell’s gospel of hope (in contrast with God’s Gospel of despair), declaring that Jesus wants to save all of us even from the scourge of poverty, is the most unkind, frivolous and destructive bit of exegeses I have ever heard. During his 2007 pastor’s Conference he warned that some Jesus’ ought to be rejected but he has no qualms whatsoever to embrace another Jesus who claims he wants to save the poor from their poverty. His Jesus is definitely not the Jesus who said: “You will always have the poor with you” (John 12:8). There are billions of desperately poor people on the earth. What are they supposed to think of a Jesus who wants to save them from their poverty but fails to do so? I am aware of a “Christ” who has  promised to alleviate and even eradicate the plight of the poorest of the poor. His name is Maitreya.

All major religions are expecting a divine messenger, albeit under different names, says Creme, and Maitreya has come in fulfillment of the prophecies of each. He has come earlier than anticipated by many religious groups because of the urgency of the times, in order to offer his counsel to a world in crisis. His priorities are simple: food, shelter, health care and education for everyone as guaranteed rights. His advice to humanity is just as simple. Share and save the world. When the plight of the poor and starving millions is alleviated then the recovery of the environment will become the first priority (Benjamin Creme during a press conference on 15 August 2006) (Emphasis added).

My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of sharing. How can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbor’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother? Allow me to show you the way forward into a simpler life where no man lacks; where no two are alike; where the Joy of Brotherhood manifests through all men. Take your brother’s needs as the measure of your action and solve the problems of the world. (The Christ is Now Here, advertisement in the Rand Daily Mail, 24 April 1982).

Is this the Jesus Rob Bell is referring to? It must be because the real Jesus of the Bible is quite capable of saving people from the righteous judgments of God even by utilizing the dire circumstances caused by extreme poverty. In countries like China many people have found salvation in Jesus Christ after they had lost everything — their homes, their wives, their husbands, their savings, etc. They have learnt to be content with what they have despite their extreme poverty (Hebrews 13:5).

The preaching of the Gospel in order to save souls from the righteous judgements of God is to Rob Bell a Gospel of despair? Its just a fire insurance? No! says Rob Bell, the message of the Gospel is that God would never have created billions of people only to have them burn in hell with no chance for any other sort of future. His inference that people come to Jesus in all sorts of ways for their salvation opens the door wide for people of all religious persuasions to indulge in contemplative mysticism. It is therefore no wonder that such a low estimate of Christ’s sacrifice has lead to the notion that labyrinths and other contemplative practices are mystically empowered to bring anyone, regardless of their opinion of the cross, into the presence of God. In a downloadable PDF document of Bell’s Mars Hill church the sixth phase of the mystic practice of “lectio divina” the following advice is given.

Contemplation
Finish by focusing your attention on the fact that God’s presence is with you. If as you try to focus on God’s presence you sense a need to read the text again, to continue meditating, or to simply continue talking with God, allow yourself to do so. As you do, know that you are in the presence of God. (Emphasis added).

Voila! Your own doing (works) of “lectio divina” brings you into the holy presence of Almighty God. They are merely perpetuating Cain’s way of rending the veil from the bottom Stephan Joubert & Dries Lombaard to the top. These are the men some of our most revered and respected spiritual leaders, amongst them Stephan Joubert, Dries Lombaard, Dries Cronjé and many other young pastors, are looking up to for spiritual guidance. Dries Cronjé, a spiritual buddy of Dries Lombaard and Stephan Joubert had the following to say about Rob Bell on their e-church site:

Recently, I was privileged enough to get my hands (and eyes!) on Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell.

You ask "Why Rob Bell again? Didn’t you review his material last time?" Well, I’m learning quite a bit from this most-genial disciple of Jesus and I want to share my excitement. My next post will be on someone different… Promise.

“The most-genial disciple of Jesus?” Really? The one who unashamedly distorts the Gospel of salvation? The one who promotes a kind of universalistic redemption?  Have we grown so accustomed to our wilful apostasy that we wilfully refuse to discern the spirit of antichrist in those whom we regard as followers of Jesus?

In my introduction I mentioned Esther who was afraid to approach her husband, king Ahasuerus, because she feared that he may not extend his sceptre of authority and approval to her. Although we are admonished to fear God, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), all believers who have been cleansed of their sins in the blood of Christ have the confidence and boldness to enter into his presence in the most holy of holies in heaven. They may do so anytime and anywhere for the rest of their lives here on earth until they meet with Jesus face to face.

Hebrews 10:10-22 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. (Emphasis added)

What more do we want? What more do we need? Those who believe they may enter into the presence of God by means of their dusty and filthy labyrinths in the bushveld or even on the dusty marble floors of lofty cathedrals and other mystical contemplative paraphernalia are deceived and are deceiving others, especially our youth. They are not following Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, but another Jesus. Stop your nonsense and return to the cross of Jesus Christ. The blood of His cross is God’s sceptre He extends to everyone who is willing to touch the cross in faith for their salvation so that they may enter into His presence with rejoicing and eternal thanksgiving.

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Pleasing Men/Offending God

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 26, 2009

Jer 17:5 Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. (Emphasis added)

The God of the Bible always does what He says. He is not a turncoat. He never reverses his principles. “God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). Christians become overjoyed and excited when they hear these comforting and reassuring words and they praise the Lord with much thanksgiving. His promises, they reiterate again and again, are true and “yea and amen” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). And so they are; no one can deny it! . . . but lo and behold we have become “positive thinkers” in the interpretation of the Bible; we are so taken up and enthralled by all the wonderful positive promises in God’s Word that we conveniently forget the curses, the admonitions and the negative promises. Some may immediately accuse me of “Old-Testamentism”, reminding me that we are living in the age of grace and abundant blessings, and that those curses were only relevant to that time. Not so! God’s curses in the Old Testament are just as potent today. Listen to what God says in the New Testament:

1 Cor 10:5-11 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did. Do not be worshipers of false gods as some of them were, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink [the sacrifices offered to the golden calf at Horeb] and rose to sport (to dance and give way to jesting and hilarity). We must not gratify evil desire and indulge in immorality as some of them did—and twenty-three thousand [suddenly] fell dead in a single day! We should not tempt the Lord [try His patience, become a trial to Him, critically appraise Him, and exploit His goodness] as some of them did—and were killed by poisonous serpents; Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did—and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer (death). Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period).

The Old Testament kings of Israel and Judah were in many ways the reflection or mirror image, if you will, of the hopes, aspirations and in particular the spiritual and moral fibre of the entire nation. When a king sinned and rendered him guilty of spiritual harlotry (idolatry) the entire nation suffered. Manasseh, one of Judah’s most evil kings who succeeded his God-fearing father Hezekiah, reigned in Jerusalem for 55 years and continually only did evil in the sight of the Lord. Despite God’s repeated warnings, the nation refused to listen and King Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations did whom the Lord destroyed before the Israelites (2 Kings 21:9-11).

Someone once said: “God very often gives a country the leaders it deserves.” The “leaders” are not necessarily political leaders but spiritual leaders who are supposed to teach their flocks everything the Lord commanded them to do and uphold. They have not only been given the enormous responsibility to preach the unadulterated Word of the Lord but to act as beacons, lighthouses, leading the way to the only Saviour of the world, and declaring without fear and reservation “There is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” Sadly the very opposite is taking place. Spiritual leaders throughout the world and also here in my beloved country, South Africa, are increasingly replacing God’s altar of worship with the alien altars and strange fire of other religions, all in the name of ecumenical tolerance, love, a new global ethic and mutual respect.

King Ahaz who occupied the throne in Jerusalem from 732-715 BC is a perfect example of how our post modern and emergent spiritual leaders tolerate the so-called truths in other faiths and even participate in other religions for the sake of an ecumenical and global peace. When Rezin, king of Aram and Pekah, king of Israel, formed an alliance against king Ahaz in an effort to force him to join them against the Assyrian threat, Ahaz preferred to appeal for help to Tiglath-Pileser III. He voluntarily submitted as a vassal to Assyrian control and sent  a gift of silver and gold from the temple and palace in Jerusalem to encourage Tiglath-Pileser to remove the armies of his neighbours from his walls. Tiglath-Pileser obliged by attacking and capturing king Rezin’s capital Damascus. This was the beginning of Ahaz’s spiral into an even greater apostasy and eventually his death. He was so overwhelmed by Tiglath-Pileser’s victory over his enemies that he travelled to Damascus to meet the Assyrian king. There he saw and was captivated by a very large Assyrian altar. He immediately had a sketch made of it and sent it to the high priest, Uriah, instructing him to build a similar one. He also commanded him that all the regular offerings should hence be made on the new idolatrous altar. Ahaz had the bronze altar, of which God had given Moses the exact measurements on Mount Sinai, removed from it’s place in the temple and only used it to seek the counsel and guidance of God. Ahaz had done this to please Tiglath-Pileser and not to offend him. Do we need to say more to see that religious tolerance is nothing new under the sun?

King Solomon was perfectly correct when he said there is nothing new under the sun. Our own revered spiritual leaders have in many ways replaced God’s altar with the altars of other religions. They have become so captivated by the alleged truths in other religions and even the New Age that they have turned their backs on God’s one and only altar. They know it is impossible to strip God’s altar of it’s inherent offensive character (1 Peter 2:6-8) . . . and yet they are doing everything in their power to make the Gospel of God more palatable and less offensive. Some of them keep the offensiveness of the cross hidden in their churches as a means to seek God’s counsel and guidance but as soon as they move into the world they exploit the non-offensive and “unashamedly ethical,” altars, the New Age altars, and even the altars of other religions in order not to offend their new partners in religious tolerance. The great prophet Elijah unashamedly called this kind of two-faced hypocrisy “to halt between two opinions.” The LXX. render the expression “How long go ye lame on both knees?” The Hebrew verb rendered “halt” is used of the irregular dance (“leaped upon”) around the altar (1Ki 18:26). It indicates a lame, uncertain gait, going now in one direction, now in another, in the frenzy of wild leaping between two radically different and opposing altars. I have already mentioned in one of my previous commentaries that Graham Power, Chairperson of Transformation Africa with whom Rev. Jannie Pelser and many other spiritual leaders  are in close cahoots, was one of the major sponsors of the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Cape Town from 1 to 8 December in 1999. If ever there was a time when nominal Christians were captivated by the altars of other religions, it was here, when they became “participants to meet their own and other’ traditions at deeper levels” to “encounter others whose practice, work and commitment can enrich their own,” to “inspire individuals, organisations, nations and religions and spiritual communities to offer gifts of service, which will make long-term difference in the world” and last but not least to “explore new modes of creative engagement of each institution with one another and with the critical issues which confront the planetary community.” (A New Day Dawning, Spiritual Yearnings and Sacred Possibilities”, p. 6). They are “unashamedly ethical” but have no qualms whatsoever to be ashamed of the offensive Gospel of Jesus Christ. While they unashamedly boast in the face of God that they are “unashamedly ethical” He in utter derision answers them: “all your righteous acts (global ethics, norms and values) are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6).

Although some of our distinguished preachers and teachers, amongst them Rev. Jannie Pelser, sincerely believe that the global ethics (norms and values) they intend to cultivate in our society are akin to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, they conveniently forget that the fruit of the Spirit is uniquely just that —  the fruit of the Holy Spirit — and can only be cultivated in the lives of those who have come to repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on God’s altar, the cross. Notwithstanding this eternal and immutable truth, Jannie has repeatedly said (on Radio Pulpit, Radio 702, Radio Sonder Grense and several other public forums) that everyone from all walks of life and different religious persuasions can participate in the New Heart Foundation’s efforts to change our society. His modus operandi is nothing short of an attempt to replace God’s altar (which alone can cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in peoples’ lives) with other altars, and not unlike king Ahaz, to maintain the regular Christian terminologies (fruit of the Spirit) on these altars for the sake of tolerance an a non-offensive interreligious or ecumenical brotherhood.

Jannie Pelser’s norms and values, articulated in the New Heart Foundation and Heart Initiative of South Africa is nothing new. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago commissioned Hans Kung to develop a draft of a “Declaration of the Religions for a Global Ethic.” which you can read here. It provides a link to the Global Ethic Foundation which states, amongst other things, the following:

We affirm that there is an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions. There already existFalse Dawn ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.

Lee Penn, the author of False Dawn: The United Religions Initiative, Globalism, and the quest for a One World Religion describes in great detail how the URI intends to cultivate a global ethic. A preview of the book can be seen here.

The interfaith movement, which began with the 1893 Worlds Parliament of Religions in Chicago, has grown worldwide. Although this movement has been largely unknown to the public, it now provides a spiritual face for globalization, the economic and political forces leading us all from nationalism to One World. The most ambitious organization in today’s interfaith movement is the United Religions Initiative (URI), founded by William Swing, the Episcopal Bishop of California. Investigative reporter Lee Penn, a Catholic ex-Marxist, exhaustively documents the history and beliefs of the URI and its New Age and globalist allies, the vested interests that support these movements, and the direction they appear to be taking. The interfaith movement is no longer merely the province of a coterie of little-heeded religious idealists with grandiose visions. The URIs proponents have ranged from billionaire George Soros to President George W. Bush, from the far-right Rev. Sun Myung Moon to the liberal Catholic theologian Hans Kung, and from the Dalai Lama to the leaders of government-approved Protestant churches in the Peoples Republic of China. The interfaith movement, including the URI, is being promoted by globalist and New Age reformers who favor erosion of national sovereignty, marginalization of traditional religions, establishment of global governance, and creation of a new, Earth-based global spirituality, in effect, a one-world religion. Therefore, the URI and the interfaith movement are poised to become the spiritual foundation of the New World Order: the new civilization now proposed by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union. In The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, French metaphysician Ren Gunon spoke of the anti-tradition (the forces of materialism and secular humanism) finally giving way to the counter-tradition (the satanic inversion of true spirituality), leading to the regime of Antichrist. The anti-tradition weakens and dissolves traditional spiritualities, after which the counter-tradition sets up a counterfeit in their place. Since Gunons time, as is well known, anti-traditional forces have greatly advanced worldwide. It is less well-known that counter-traditional movements have also made great strides, and now stand closer to the centers of global political and religious power than ever before. The counter-tradition is making inroads on the political and cultural Right, as much as it is doing on the Left. False Dawn painstakingly documents these trends, and speculates on their future development. In so doing, the author takes investigative reporting to the threshold of prophecy, and gives us a stunningly plausible picture of the global religious landscape of the 21st century. This extraordinary project is the literary equivalent of turning over a flat rock. There is much to be seen and learned here all of it unsettling, disquieting, occasionally downright scary. William Murchison, Radford Distinguished Professor, Baylor University When a bishop of a Christian church happily worships alongside a Wiccan invoking other gods, something has gone horribly wrong. In False Dawn, Lee Penn has produced a comprehensive and critical history of the United Religions Initiative. (Emphasis added).

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time (hour, the end of this age). And as you have heard that the antichrist [he who will oppose Christ in the guise of Christ] is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen, which confirms our belief that it is the final (the end) time.

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The Prize-winning Oxymoron of the Week

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 24, 2009

Can you spot the oxymoron in the paragraph below which was taken from Rev. Cobus Wyngaard’s blog here? The oxymoron, in this particular case, may be defined as follows: “Fundamentalism is to know nearly nothing of the Bible” which suggests that “non-fundamentalism is to know nearly everything of the Bible.”

I haven’t really blogged on Easter this year, as I usually do (2007, 2008), but I’ll be preaching on the Easter events again this Sunday, since I know that most of the kids sitting in that service wouldn’t have been to church over Easter weekend. But my preparation is a struggle! I know the kids in this service: They know nearly nothing of the Bible. Many haven’t been to church for a number of years now. And they are very prone to fundamentalism. Their fundamentalism worries me. But broader than the fact that I need to preach to these kids, I also need to find a way of talking about the cross; for myself. This has obviously not started today, but I’ve been theologizing about the cross probably for at least 9 years now, since the first time I led a small group of 13 year olds at a camp. (Emphasis added)

I truly and humbly believe that the anti-fundamentalist non-fundamentalist fraternity do not have a clue what the meaning of fundamentalism is. Is that a good enough reason to exonerate them from their non-fundamentalist ignorance? I really don’t think so because Wikipedia and other excellent sources of information are at their disposal. Now, let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about Christian fundamentalism here.

The term “fundamentalism” has its roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) which defined those things that were fundamental to belief. The term was also used to describe “The Fundamentals”, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by Milton and Lyman Stewart. This series of essays came to be representative of the “Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy” which appeared late in the 19th century within the Protestant churches of the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which distilled these into what became known as the “five fundamentals”:

  • The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
  • The virgin birth of Christ.
  • The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin.
  • The bodily resurrection of Christ.
  • The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.

By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the Five Fundamentals came to be known as “fundamentalists.”

Since then, the focus of the movement, the meaning of the term Fundamentalism, and the ranks of those who willingly use it to identify themselves, have gone through several phases of re-definition, though maintaining the central commitment to its orthodoxy.

Though some of our distinguished non-fundamentalist friends may find it very difficult to associate the above five fundamentals with the Bible, I have it on very good authority that they are indeed biblical fundamentals. The very little remaining grey matter I have in my head tells me that anyone who upholds these five fundamentals must at least know something of the Bible. In fact, the feared fundamentalist kids in Rev. Wyngaard’s church whom he claims know nearly nothing of the Bible seem to know more of it than what he does. Not to worry, this is evidently ample proof of the veracity of Jesus’ words in Matthew 21: 16: “and [they] said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”

Fundamentalism, according to Rev. Cobus van Wyngaard, also seems to be the outcome of “not having been to church for a number of years.” I’m not too sure whether he sees this as a positive or a negative thing. Nevertheless, I personally believe that the kids’ propensity for biblical fundamentalism would have been dealt a death-blow if they had loyally attended his church. Any pastor of a flock who claims to be “the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (John 3:10) will obviously say things such as “I also need to find a way of talking about the cross; for myself. This has obviously not started today, but I’ve been theologizing about the cross probably for at least 9 years now, since the first time I led a small group of 13 year olds at a camp.” Why does he need to find a way to to talk about the cross and why does he need nine years to theologize about it when the fundamentals about the cross are given to him on a platter in the Bible? Could it be that he needs more time to theologize about the cross because he has rejected the fundamental biblical facts about the cross? Once Paul of Tarsus understood and believed the power and wisdom of the cross of Jesus Christ, he immediately preached it without having to wait another nine years before he was assured that he had at last found a way to articulate the meaning of the cross. In fact, he was so certain about the meaning of the cross that he was “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Rev. Cobus van Wyngaard is obviously searching for a new take on the cross, “a reading of the Bible which calls for something else. I try and find the answer to the question “Why was Jesus crucified?” That’s an excellent question and I sincerely hope that he finds the correct answer before he meets his Maker. Perhaps the following question will make it much easier for him in his quest for the real meaning of the cross: “Why was Jesus crucified before the foundation of the world?” (1 Peter 1:20)

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The Dutch Reformed Church’s Downward Spiral into Apostasy

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 20, 2009

Isaiah 2:6 Surely [Lord] You have rejected and forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled [with customs] from the east and with soothsayers [who foretell] like the Philistines; also they strike hands and make pledges and agreements with the children of aliens. (Emphasis added)

Several high profile Dutch Reformed clergy as well as other well-known professors and doctors have openly and publically proclaimed that Christianity does not have the exclusive rights to spiritual truths and that Christians may learn from Eastern religions and even the New Age Movement. Professor Stephan Joubert of e-church fame, said on March 1, 2009 in a sermon at the Kemptonkruin Dutch Reformed Church:

“He [Rob Bell] says you must engage the culture. You must listen to the Buddhists. You must listen to what they have to say. It startles Christians because they do not clearly hear what Rob Bell is saying. He does not say: become like them. He says: read their stuff; find out why they are so important. They too may have truth. Truth is not only in Christianity. You find truth in Judaism. You can find truth in atheism. You can find truth wherever. God’s general truth is a little wider, but you say ‘Jesus is Lord.’”

Prof. Stephan Joubert is deceived and he is deceiving many if not all of his congregants in the e-church. Does the emerging mantra “Jesus is Lord” which was used ever so profusely in the charismatic movement have magical qualities, giving one a free pass to say and do whatever one likes without having to fear God’s righteous judgments? Has he never read Matthew 7:22, 23?

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Rev. Jannie Pelser of the Rant and Dal Community Church and presenter of the programme “Brandpunt” on Radio Pulpit  is equally deceived. He said on Friday, 3 April  2009 in his programme.

“Is God’s revelation and work not bigger than Christianity? Could there not be elements . . . could we not learn from one another, regardless of the fact that it may even be the New Age. But when I think in terms of the contemplative [spirituality] . . . a being still before God, an openness to God. Is it not a rewarding moment?

My commentary here has since sparked off a debate between me and Rev. Guillaume Smit of the Brackenfell West Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape who feels that Christians may participate in Eastern religious activities such as yoga, karate, tae kwon do and other meditation techniques without compunction or fear that they may be getting involved in idolatry. He wrote as follows here.

This is why a Christian could, in principle, have the freedom to participate in eastern sport such as tae kwon do, karate or judo, provided the instructor only teaches the sport and not any form of eastern philosophy along with the sport. And since this is a point of contention for more conservative (sic) Christians, a Christian could also participate in meditation techniques that enable him/her to relax and get focused on worship or studying Scripture, provided this isn’t part of practices that is closely associated with eastern religions. Obviously, it makes sense to argue that participating in new age practices such as astrology or spiritism falls outside the scope of this principle, as these practices are also closely associated with the occult.

Could it be possible that Rev. Smit has ruled out the work of the Holy Spirit in worship and the studying of the Bible? Rev Guillaume’s statement that meditation techniques enable Christians to focus on worship and the studying of the Bible, is completely at variance with the teachings of Jesus. True worship, He said, is to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God, Who is Spirit, cannot be worshipped in any other way than in spirit and in truth. This simply means that anyone’s spirit who hasn’t been quickened (made alive unto God) through repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross cannot worship God because their spirit is still dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). Jesus made this point when he told the man, who first wanted to bury his dad after Jesus had commanded him to follow Him, to let the dead bury their dead (Luke 9:60). The second prerequisite for true worship is to worship God in truth, the truth as we find it in God’s Word ALONE. The Holy Spirit ALONE can enlighten the mind to understand the Scriptures. In fact, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach God’s children all things and bring to their remembrance the things whatsoever He taught His disciples. In his High Priestly prayer Jesus asked his Father to sanctify his disciples in his truth, emphasising the fact that his Word is truth. Both Stephan Joubert and Jannie Pelser as well as Guillaume Smit are in the dangerous position of denying and vilifying the fact that it is ONLY the Holy Spirit that guides us into ALL truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit works ONLY within the parameters of God’s revealed truth as we find it in His Word. As such there can be no beneficial truths whatsoever in other religions and philosophies, let alone the New Age movement. I fear that our churches and their congregants (the sheep and little lambs) are being led astray by their pastors and “dominees” into a maze or labyrinth of venomous reptiles from whence it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape. In little more than a quarter of a century the Dutch reformed Church has moved from a position where it was outspoken against Eastern religions and their practices to a position of tolerance and participation mainly through one of its most “respected” champions of so-called Christian meditation, Dr. Willem Nicol.

Below is a tract the Dutch Reformed Church distributed to warn its congregants against transcendental meditation. As you can see it was published in 1977, a mere 32 years ago which shows how rapidly the Dutch Reformed Church has spiralled into apostasy since that time.

transcendental-meditation-11 Transcendental Meditation 2

Transcendental Meditation 3 Transcendental Meditation 4

I would like to translate some key phrases in behalf of our English readers. On page 3 it reads as follows:

The initiation ceremony is clearly a religious ritual and no one is allowed to participate in TM without it. The pupil and teacher remove their shoes, enter the room with candles and incense and place an offering of a white handkerchief, fruit and flowers on the altar in front of a photo of Guru Dev, Maharishi’s master.

A song of prayer is sung during this event to glorify pagan gods.

The pupil then receives his own MANTRA, a word or sound of one or more syllables which is completely meaningless to the pupil. TM claims that every person on earth has his/her own mantra that uniquely suits them. They assert that the teacher fortuitously receives the pupil’s mantra from Maharishi and that the teacher has the knack to know his pupil so well after only a few minutes that he is able to present him with just the right one.

A heavy atmosphere of mysticism and superstition surrounds this mantra: this word and it alone enables the devotee to meditate. It may never be written down or disclosed to someone else. The reason for this is evident. No wonder some people have discovered that they have the same mantra.

The above ceremony is known as the “Puja” in which the photo of the Guru Dev is used as a representation of the Hindu deities, Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu. The MANTRA can also be the name of one of thousands of Hindu gods. Christianized meditation in which the name “Jesus” or a phrase such as “have mercy on me” are used as mantras are no less dangerous to one’s spiritual life than the above mentioned ceremony. Some may argue that Christianized meditation has no affiliation to the offerings in the “Puja” ceremony. The fact remains that the repetitive mumbling of the mantra, whatever it may be, produces altered states of consciousness and opens the devotee up to demonic entities. In any case the Word of God forbids Christians to use a vain repetition of words as the gentiles do who think they will be heard by much speaking (Matthew 6:7).

Rev. Smit’s provisos to “detoxify” any form of Eastern meditation from its inherent and inseparable religious overtones, so that the Christian may worship God and study His Word in a relaxed way, is preposterous. The Bible warns that we should have no spiritual union with idolaters and the unbelievers’ spiritualities.

2 Cor 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

The flip side of this coin is, however, that if your body is not the temple of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God does not indwell you, you may probably participate in these idolatrous practices without compunction. By all means, continue to do so but remember that the wrath of God will remain on you until you repent of your ways. This applies to all the other disciplines Rev. Smit mentioned in his defence of these practices, i.e. tae kwon do, karate or judo. Karate has its roots in Zen Buddhism and its principles were handed down in great secrecy by word of mouth from Zen Master to Buddhist Monk. An Indian Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma in the 6th century A.D. in China, synthesized karate techniques and Yoga meditation in order to unite mind, spirit, and body. (Among the Chinese styles are kung fu or gung fu, wu shu, and pa kua. Tai kwan do and hapkido are among the Korean styles.) Karate is clearly not only a mental and moral exercise, but indeed, a spiritual experience. In each practice session there is a concerted effort to unite mind, spirit, and body just as Bodhidharma sought to do with Zen priests.

Rev 18: 4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;

To end my commentary on this subject I would like to quote from Dr. Kurt Koch’s book “Occult ABC” to highlight the dangers of yoga.

Yoga chakras YOGAYoga of Jesus

The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit and is possibly the root underlying the Greek word “ioge,” shelter, and the Latin “jugum,” yoke. If these linguistic associations are anything to go by, to practice yoga is to put oneself under a yoke, or to seek shelter from a protective power.

It is impossible to present yoga fully in a short chapter. To begin with, there are many forms of Indian and Tibetan yoga, so many that it would take more than one large volume to list them all. It would take up too much space here even to describe one single form.

For a good introduction to yoga, Maurice Ray’s book Joga, ja oder nein? is recommended. This book describes Hatha Yoga and Raja (Royal) Yoga from the standpoint of the Christian faith. It is the best discussion of yoga from a Christian point of view known to me.

In this brief account I can only give a very limited part of the whole. I have used the following sources:

1. Pastoral counselling in the West and the East, especially in East Asia, where I have travelled extensively eight times.

2. Information given me by the Indian professor de Roy, who has studied the yoga practice in his country.

3. The definitive work by Mishra on Patanjali Yoga: The Textbook of Yoga Psychology. Several key sentences from Mishra’s work will introduce us to the spiritual atmosphere of yoga:

a. The higher ego of man is transcendent and immanent, without beginning and without end, it has no birth and no death.

b. Yoga means the synthesis of the physical and metaphysical universe.

c. Heaven and hell are only products of the human mind.

d. Behind magic, mysticism and also behind the occult the yoga system is present.

These four sentences show clearly that yoga and the Bible cannot be harmonized in the remotest way. The systems of the Far East and the Christian faith are irreconcilable opposites.

If we take a cross section of the most well-known forms of yoga, we can recognize four stages.

The first stage has the aim of helping the student of yoga to gain control of his consciousness and his body. This goal is achieved by means of mental and physical exercises.

The mental exercises include meditation, autogenic training, con­centration, and “koan,” a litany involving the continuous repetition of a mantra (secret word).

The physical exercises include breathing exercises and various bodily postures like the lotus position, the cobra position, and the headstand.

This first stage is thus psychosomatic in nature, producing unity of body and mind.

There are many Christians who believe that it is possible to par­ticipate in this first stage of yoga without harm. It is merely a matter of relaxation exercises. If only this were true! Counselling experience tells otherwise. This technique of relaxation and these “emptying exercises” so highly spoken of by the yogis lead to the inflowing of another spirit—other spirits. The students of yoga do not notice it.

Ex 266 G.C., a Christian teacher, told me that during an evan­gelistic campaign, a certain man and his daughter had wished to surrender their lives to Christ. But they found themselves unable to do so. Only after they had renounced their yoga exercises and repented of them did they succeed in coming through to Christ.

Ex 267 In Johannesburg, South Africa, I counselled a theology student. He was a young man who had been converted to Christ some years before. Hearing about a yoga course which had been announced in church, he applied to join. After a few months, he noticed a change in his spiritual life. His desire to read the Bible disappeared. He also became tired of prayer. I advised him very strongly to give up his yoga exercises at once and to renounce the whole thing.

The second stage of yoga involves the control of the unconscious mind. When a person has mastered the second stage, he can control and guide, for instance, his visceral nerves. I have met masters of the second stage who can perform astonishing feats.

Ex 268 In a Western university town, I met a theology student who practiced the second stage of yoga. He was able to increase or decrease his circulation of blood. Being inclined to be humorous, he used to entertain his fellow students by showing off his abilities. He could make one of his ears red and the other one white at the same time. He could also cause red spots to appear on his skin by suggestion.

I could only wonder what kind of gospel this young man will one day preach to his parishioners.

Ex 271 The most enlightening experience I have had of this sort was in California. A young woman came to me for counselling. She told me that she had been a master of the second stage of yoga. In the course of her yoga exercises, she had actually chosen Jesus as her guru. Note this, not Jesus as her Savior and Redeemer, but only as her example, her great master. During her yoga exercises, she developed occult powers. She became unhappy about it, and tried to free herself. It was then that she first realized what a power yoga had over her. She began to seek Christ. Several of her friends prayed for her. After terrible struggles she became free. She wrote an account of her experi­ences entitled “From Yoga to Christ.” She gave me permission to publish it.

Yoga does not liberate; it enslaves. Yoga does not free; it binds. Yoga does not enlighten; it brings confusion. Yoga does not prepare the way for Christ, as Father J. M. Dechanet (Cahier du Val) claims, but makes people immune to redemption through Christ. Yoga does not open the door for the Holy Spirit, but for spiritist spirits.

The third stage of yoga is concerned with the mastery of the natural powers. I have found very few examples of this in the West, but very many in the East. It is the speciality of Tibetan yogis to combine magic and yoga. After three years of apprenticeship under a lama, who is the master of this art, the adept (apprentice) has to be able to produce energy in the form of heat in natural objects, such as melting ice by means of mental concentration.

I have still more frequently come across the converse of this, where yogis are able to produce heat and even flames. We find this among the fire worshippers, who also practice fire magic.

Ex 272 In Port Elizabeth, one of these fire masters, who had emigrated from India to South Africa, came to me for counselling. He made a confession and asked for my help. I showed him the way to Jesus. He was willing to accept Jesus as his Lord. I do not know if he has continued in the faith. Occultists often fall back into their old ways.

Those who are still in doubt as to whether stage one or two of yoga results in occult processes must admit that when it comes to stage three, yoga leads to the powers of the abyss.

At the fourth stage, the yogi gains the mastery of the dark arts. The Lamas of Tibet are particularly well known for this. I have collected very many examples of stage four yoga. In Kalimpong on the Tibetan border, I came into contact with many Tibetans. I have also received reports from former missionaries in Tibet. Especially enlightening was the confession of a man who has given me permission to publish his story.

Ex 273 My informant had studied yoga, magic and spiritism for ten years with the Lamas. He had heard of my lectures in Sydney and followed me on to Newcastle, Australia. He made a full confession and named his specific sins. He said, “What the Lamas teach is the cult of spirits, the cult of demons. Please help me to become free.” We had a long talk together. From this man I learned that the Tibetan yogis are masters of the trance, materialization, excursion of the soul, telekinesis, levitation, perfectly controlled telepathy, and all the arts of spiritism. At stage four, which I have met in this intensity only with Tibetans, Zombis, Alauts, Maccumbas, and voodooists, yoga can no longer, with the best will in the world, disguise its true character. Here yoga reaches its ultimate master — Satan, whose desire it is with his promises and his wiles to snatch people away into the abyss.

There is no need for further comment on the religious side of yoga. Yoga ends not only in self-redemption and atheism, but in the cult of demons. Those who undertake to take part in yoga exercises enter a force field by which they are unwittingly directed towards the origin of these powers. These are the powers of which Paul speaks in his epistles, (see Colossians 2:15). Christ has freed us from the spirits, demons, and powers. The chief of these powers is Lucifer, who is seeking to win back those he has lost. And what successes he has gained, for yoga has become the fashion in the West!

A quotation from a book published overseas confirms my own view. In the book “Satan kumpf um diese Welt,” by Lindsey and Carlson, we read, “Chris Pike (a son of Bishop Pike) told me in a personal interview that he previously practiced yoga and meditation. As a result he had become controlled by spirit beings which had nearly destroyed his life. He then renounced these powers in the name of Jesus, and today he is a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. His life was completely changed.” (Effects of Occult Devices 261)

All Christians who are allowing themselves unsuspectingly to be led astray into yoga should take note of Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Kurt Koch: Occult ABC” Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, pp 256-261).

One of the strangest phenomena of our postmodern times is that many clergy actually practice the “ancient-future” philosophy of the emergent church. They cling to their traditional roots and simultaneously take hold of so-called new age practices in a wonderfully pyrotechnical display of emergent unification. This is not of God and will inevitably lead you into the miseries of the abyss . . . unless of course you repent and turn to Jesus Christ.

Posted in Eastern Mysticism, Eastern Spirituality and Religions, Emergent Church, Missional Church, New Age | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments »

The Enigmatic Ping-Pong Love of the Emergent Fraternity

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 13, 2009

King Solomon’s wise remark in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “The thing that has been, it is what will be; and that which has been done is that which will be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” is relevant and true to this very day. It is particularly true of most people’s reactions, and especially high profile persons such as professors, doctors, and pastors (“dominees)” in the post modern emergent camp, when they are confronted with the unalterable, infallible and eternal truth of God. Allow me to explain this in terms of an incident in the Bible when Paul and Silas were severely beaten in prison subsequent to their witnessing to the truth. Paul and Silas, as with all the other disciples, witnessed to the truth; they heralded it and never sought to engage in a conversation with the idolaters of their time. They never said: “Ok you guys, let us congenially gather around the coffee table where you may teach us the beatitudes in your religion and we will teach you ours. We’re not interested in converting you to our religion; we’re merely trying to find common ground so that we may learn from one another.”

Acts 16:25-37

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” (Emphasis added)

That’s what I love about Paul. Contrary to today’s emergent leaders such as Stephan Joubert who make such a big fuss of the integrity of Rob Bell, his own name and even those of his fellowmen were of little concern to him (Galatians 2:6) when matters pertaining to God’s truth and the doctrine of salvation needed to be defended in the face of Christ’s enemies. Nevertheless, when simple justice called for it, he stood his ground like a man and confronted his persecutors head-on: “Hey, you guys cannot just cast us out like common dirt when you violated your own country’s laws. They have beaten us mercilessly and now your highly respected magistrates whose integrity you hold in high esteem want to thrust us out shamelessly and secretly? Tell your highly esteemed magistrates to come here and accompany us out with due respect and honour.”

Before I continue, I would like to emphasize that I have no concern for my own name when it is maligned in behalf of Christ and His Gospel. In fact, the “black-and-white” defined truth is that all Christians should leap with joy when they are maligned, ridiculed and persecuted for the Name of Jesus Christ and His Gospel (Matthew 5: 11; Acts 5:41). However, I fail to understand how someone who calls himself a Christian can publicly associate my name with the devil, who is the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and subsequently make an about turn to send me a private e-mail, assuring me that he is praying for me and my family. A serious dilemma arises: should he pray to God for Tom Lessing and his family or should he pray for “an agent of the devil (the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning) and his family? He reminds me of Dr. Johan van den Heever of the Eldoraigne Dutch Reformed Emergent Church who recently also very piously called me his brother. It is this kind of ping-pong love no one dares to trust, because you never know what they are going to call you next. A fountain cannot bring forth bitter and sweet water (James 3:11).

Although Rev. Guillaume Smit did not give me permission to post on my blog an e-mail he recently sent me, he has no authority to prevent me from disclosing the general content of his mail. I never gave him permission to label me an agent of the devil and yet he wilfully and maliciously called me the agent of the father of all lies who is a murderer from the beginning on the internet for the entire world to see. Now he clandestinely wants me to continue our discussion in private. He wants to gently and secretly get rid of me like those magistrates in Paul’s day. Nonetheless, I have decided to disclose, on the internet as he had done in calling me an agent of the devil, that he has now piously decided to pray for me and my family. He is determined to pray that God would overcome me with His love; that He would open my spiritual eyes so that I may know the truth, and yet when I presented him with the truth from Scripture he accused me of legalism and pharaseeism; and that my “black-and-white” theology is an outright fallacy. His ad hominem accusations are not even original. He parrot-talks after other emergent gurus who call themselves Christians. In one of his reviews of Ron Martoia’s book, “Static,” he wrote here: Ron Martoia

Static “I also re-read Ron Martoia’s book, Static, in this time. Martoia challenges his readers to rethink salvation and sin in light of a biblical understanding of Scripture rather than a theological understanding (my words). I agree with him on the issue: We are way too obsessed with black-white legalistic issues when it comes to Christian life and ethics. It results in the Christian church becoming more and more like a Pharisaical religion in stead of being an authentic Jesus movement” (Emphasis added).

The overriding meaning of the above quoted section is evident: If you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, unalterable and eternal Word of God, you are a “black-and-white-legalistic-Pharisee” as opposed to the “authentic Jesus movement” that promotes yoga and other disciplines in Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age philosophies. Many emergent preachers claim that all religions have wonderful and beautiful truths that may be incorporated freely into Christianity in order to enhance the “authentic Jesus movement’s” evangelical outreach throughout the world.

The questions we should ask is why we need to have second thoughts about biblical salvation and what the purpose is behind the emergent fraternities “rethinking” process. Biblical salvation is an individual-istic redemption. The Holy Spirit deals with every individual in a personal way convicting him/her of their own particular sins with the purpose of bringing them to a position where they contritely acknowledge (confess) their sins and eternal lostness to Jesus Christ in order for them to be saved from the righteous wrath and indignation of an infinitely holy God. Not so with the emergent church. This kind of salvation is too narrow-minded, too harsh and judgmental, too simplistic and out of touch with postmodern man’s immediate needs. They can no longer wait for Jesus Christ to usher in His Kingdom of peace, wholeness, and wellness. They want it here and now, the result being that they have derailed biblical salvation and shunted it to a parallel sounding rail of a global resurrection or salvation, which is nothing more than a social gospel. Rev. Jannie Pelser’s transformational theology to inculcate healthy and sound norms and values in our society falls squarely in this category.

In Flip Loots’ programme “Oop Gesprek” (Sunday, 12 April 2009) his two guests, Jannie Pelser and Graham Power (who was one of the sponsors of of the “Parliament of the World’s Religions” in Cape Town in December 1999), once again advertised their missional programme to inculcate sound and healthy norms and values in our society. How do they aim to forge healthy and civilized norms and values in our society when they unashamedly tolerate the corruption and highly unethical transformation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their churches and seminaries, and unashamedly and publicly spread the lie that we may learn from other religions and even the New Age because they too have certain beneficial truths inherent in their beliefs? (read here). Strengthened by their maxim “unashamedly ethical” they aim to eradicate corruption, crime and unethical practices from the top to the bottom. How dare they appoint themselves to the lofty position of guardians of social ethics (norms and values) when they unashamedly cuddle up to men who unashamedly corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Jannie Pelser admitted that we are living in the last of the last days which, according to Scripture, will be unashamedly characterized by a falling away from the faith. And yet, Jannie and Graham Power are confident and very excited that their missional thrust to transform South Africa and the whole of Africa with their norms-and-values-heart-transplant will be a resounding success. Who should we believe —  God or Jannie Pelser and Graham Power? I have written extensively on the fallacies of their unbiblical transformational “gospel” here and here.

I have already posted one of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos in one of my previous comments but would like to do so here again to prove to you what I mean.

The Gospel is NOT just about God not having given up on the world; that a giant resurrection rescue is on its way and that He wants to put it all back together, you, me and the whole world, again. The Gospel is the Good News of God’s unending longsuffering toward mankind as a whole, not willing that any should perish but that the entire world should come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The sad news, however, is that the majority shun God’s divinely ordained way of saving lost sinners. They have rejected the cross of His Son because to them it is sheer foolishness  (1 Corinthians 1:18). They want Him to resurrect them into a new and wonderful life of well-being, wholeness and peace without the blood of His cross. The Gospel is the Good News only to those who in faith and repentance have responded to God’s divinely ordained way of salvation. To those who reject His free gift of salvation, there is no peace (Isaiah 42:22).

The late Alice Bailey, a Theosophist during her life, who was used as a channel by die spirit guide, Djwal Kuhl, said something very similar about a universal resurrection in her book The Externalization of the Hierarchy – Section III – Forces behind the Evolutionary Process

An Easter Message

Easter Day 1945

On this day, we recall to our minds the fact of Resurrection – a universal and eternally recurring resurrection. I would like to talk with you anent the Christ, about His work as head of the Hierarchy, and about the rebuilding which humanity must undertake and which the Hierarchy is seeking to impulse at this time. A great period of reconstruction is planned. Here are the two words around which I wish to create my theme: Resurrection and Reconstruction. It will be a reconstruction implemented by Those Who know the meaning of resurrection, and it will involve a resurrection of humanity through the medium of its intelligentsia and men and women of goodwill. These two groups (the Hierarchy and Humanity) will need to be brought into a closer rapport, and this is entirely possible if the followers of the Christ realize their opportunity and shoulder their responsibilities. I would point out that when I use the phrase “followers of the Christ” I refer to all those who love their fellowmen, irrespective of creed or religion. Only upon this basic premise can a hopeful future be founded.

I do not care whether or not those who read my words accept the occult teaching of a spiritual and planetary Hierarchy over which the Christ presides, or whether they think in terms of Christ and His disciples. The essential recognition for which I plead is that this great group of spiritual Individuals, Who receive so general a recognition throughout the world and in all the great religions, should be [469] regarded as active. The Christian view of the Christ is built upon that which He enacted for us two thousand years ago and through which He symbolically indicated to us the way which all aspirants must go. It portrays a picture of a waiting, quiescent Christ, living in some vague and far away heaven, “resting on His laurels” and practically doing nothing very much until such time as the sons of men of every race and creed acclaim Him as Savior; this they must do both as individuals and as representing the organized Christian Church. It is a picture of a listening, observing Christ, animated by pity and compassion, but Who has done all He could and now waits for us to do our part; it is also a picture of One Who waits to see what humanity, as a whole, will accept theologically. In the mind of the narrow, fundamentalist theologian, Christ is seen as presiding over a peaceful place called Heaven, into which the elect are welcomed; He is also seen as consigning all who remain aware of their own spiritual integrity and responsibility, who refuse to be gathered into organized churches or who go idly or wickedly through life, to some vague place of eternal punishment. To this vast multitude (probably the majority) His love and compassion apparently do not reach, and His heart remains untouched. It appears that He cares not whether they suffer eternally or attain complete annihilation.

This surely cannot be so. None of these pictures is accurate or adequate; they are not true in any sense of the word. . . Resurrection is the clue to the world of meaning, and is the fundamental [470] theme of all the world religions – past, present and the future. Resurrection of the spirit in man, in all forms in all kingdoms, is the objective of the entire evolutionary process and this involves liberation from materialism and selfishness. In that resurrection, evolution and death are only preparatory and familiar stages. The note and message sounded by the Christ when last on Earth was resurrection, but so morbid has been mankind and so enveloped in glamor and illusion, that His death has been permitted to sidestep understanding; consequently, for centuries, the emphasis has been laid upon death, and only on Easter Day or in the cemeteries is the resurrection acclaimed. This must change. It is not helpful to a progressive understanding of the eternal verities to have this condition perpetuated. The Hierarchy is today dedicated to bringing about this change and thus altering the approach of mankind to the world of the unseen and to the spiritual realities. (Emphasis added).

“Liberation from materialism and selfishness” is a recurring theme in many religions and philosophies. On Saturday, 24 April 1982 the following advertisement appeared in the Rand Daily Mail under the title “THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE.”

WHO IS THE CHRIST?

Throughout history, humanity’s evolution has been guided by a group of enlightened men, the Masters of Wisdom. They have remained largely in the remote desert and mountain places of earth, working mainly through their disciples who live openly in the world. This message if the Christ’s reappearance has been given primarily by such a disciple trained for his task for over 20 years.

At the centre of this Spiritual Hierarchy stands the World Teacher, Lord Maitreya, known by Christians as the Christ. And as Christians await the Second Coming, so the Jews await the Messiah, the Buddhists the fifth Buddha, the Muslims’ the Imam Mahdi, and the Hindus await Krishna. These are all names for one individual.

His presence in the world guarantees there will be no Third World War.

WHAT IS HE SAYING?

My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of sharing.

How can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbour’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother?

Allow me to show you the way forward into a simpler life where no man lacks; where no two are alike; where the Joy of Brotherhood manifests through all men.

Take your brother’s needs as the measure of your action and solve the problems of the world.

It is very interesting that yoga and transcendental meditation are presented on the internet as metaphysical ways to alleviate the suffering in the world:

Transcendental Meditation can improve your grades, make you a better citizen, assure you of a higher salary, alleviate world suffering, and increase the productivity of the national economy, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi promised an overflow crowd of about 200 in Leverett House Junior Common Room last night.(Read here).

It is evident that this resurrection of humanity will take take place by means of a massive paradigm shift, corporately induced primarily through meditation, and contemplative spirituality (centering prayer) which, in turn, is solidly embedded in Eastern religious practices such as yoga and other New Age philosophies. The Bible warns against passivity or inactivity of the mind because the mind, according to Scripture, is the avenue by which change and transformation is brought about in a person’s life. Paul warns us not to be conformed to this world system and its philosophies but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind so that we may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). In Ephesians 4:23 he says that we should be renewed by the spirit of our mind and Peter in his first Epistle (1:13) warns that we should gird up the loins of our mind. Our minds should continually be taken captive in obedience to the will of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 10: 5). Indeed, the mind is the battleground for the souls of men and Satan will  do everything in his power to neutralize the mind so that he may invade and take captive the thoughts of men in obedience to his will. In fact, the Bible states very clearly that it is he, the god of this world, who blinds the minds of unbelievers so as to keep the Gospel veiled in them that perish (2 Corinthians 4:3). Contemplative spirituality with its emphasis on stillness and passivity of the mind (altered states) is unmistakably the primary vehicle Satan utilizes to captivate the hearts of men and to bring about change in the world; a change that allegedly brings on global peace, tranquillity, wholeness, wellness and euphoric love and compassion. This kind of peace, love, wholeness and wellness cannot and will not last because its orchestrator is bent on the destruction of mankind. No wonder the Bible says that when they say peace and safety a sudden inescapable destruction will come upon them (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Ron Martoia who pleads that we should rethink salvation and sin in the light of a biblical understanding of Scripture and whose ideas Rev. Guillaume Smit endorses wholeheartedly, has some very unbiblical ideas about salvation and sin. In his opinion Jesus rarely said anything about getting to heaven. Tony Cartledge of the ABP Associated Baptist Press released a report on 8 February 2007 of a conversation Ron Martoia had with several religious leaders on January 29. 2007. He wrote:

CONOVER, N.C. (ABP) — Despite decades of tweaking evangelistic methods, there is little evidence that many Christians are experiencing true life change, Ron Martoia told church leaders Jan. 29. (Read he entire article here.)

Perhaps, the church consultant said, that failure is because Christians in the Western world have been prone to think of salvation as a “point-of-sale” transaction that focuses on getting to heaven instead of appreciating that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promise of shalom, a concept that suggests wholeness, wellness, and peace.

Based on surveys he has done, Martoia said nine out of 10 pastors define the gospel as the good news that Jesus died for people’s sins so they can go to heaven. But Jesus rarely said anything about getting to heaven. He focused mainly on present human needs. Jesus’ self-stated mission, as found in Luke 4:16-19, is derived from Isaiah 61:1-2 and incorporated the Old Testament sense of bringing deliverance, healing and wholeness.

Preaching about forgiveness from sin becomes increasingly ineffective in a postmodern world where a sense of guilt and obligation is less often operative, Martoia said. In contemporary American culture, one can no longer assume that people identify themselves as sinners in need of grace.

“People may not think of themselves as sinners going to hell, but they seek wholeness and recognize they’re not there,” he said.

Thus, Martoia suggested that the Genesis 1 creation of humankind in God’s image (imago Dei) is a better starting point for evangelism than beginning with the “fall” story of Genesis 3: “What would it be like for us to begin the conversation with people as if we’re trying to live out the image of God in us and want them to live out the image of God in them?”

The inner imago Dei creates the yearning to believe that there is purpose to life, that life can be better, and that belonging is possible, Martoia said. It’s a trio of longings that correspond to faith, hope and love, he said.

Helping others identify and get in touch with the image of God in them is more of a process than a one-time transaction. And seeing the gospel through imago Dei calls for an apologetic that begins relationally, not just rationally, Martoia said. (Emphasis added)

You need not look far to realize what Ron Martoia, also known as a transformational architect, means when he says get in touch with the image of God in them is more than a one-time transaction” (i.e. being born from above). It provides ample proof why he is into Eastern mysticism and why his ideas on salvation (i.e. wholeness wellness and peace) are based on his keen interest in yoga and the integral theory. The “Excellerators” website describes Ron Martoia as a transformational architect who is addicted to golf and is also a yoga instructor. A short description of his book here reads as follows:

Dr. Ron Martoia proposes using modern interpretations of basic Christian terms sometimes employed in evangelistic attempts. So many witness encounters are compromised by, among other things, the unwillingness to rephrase biblical language into something more understandable to the listener. Maybe the words we sometimes use confuse more than inform. Is the Christian message hopelessly out of date? Dr. Martoia would say no, it just needs to be rephrased. Addressing secondary elements of the witness encounter (the basics of conscience-level communication and subsequent conviction are not addressed), Martoia tells the story of his interaction with two young adults and their attempt to fully present the Gospel to their friend. While advocating positive positions on some issues that many feel are at odds with Christianity, including yoga and feminism, Martoia does address the need for a change from how evangelism has been attempted in recent years. (Emphasis added).

If Jesus rarely spoke of heaven and focused mainly on human needs, his crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension would have been a nonsequitur. The biblical facts, as He Himself stipulated prior to His ascension, are that He was going to prepare a place in heaven for all His true followers (John 14:1, 2). In addition, He also promised them that they would encounter hatred, persecution, affliction and tribulation in this world but that they should remain vigilant and loyal to Him, even unto death, because He would never forsake or leave them. Biblical salvation is not a transaction; it is a command. When the biblical Jesus began his public ministry His very first words were “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance is not an option, it is an absolute necessity and anyone who disobeys His command will forfeit eternal life in heaven (John 23:36). Brother Paul said, in stark contrast to Ron Martoia’s rethinking philosophies, the following:

1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (Emphasis added)

I have not only recently been accused of being an agent of the devil but also of unethical practices such as “stealing.” What can be more unethical than stealing away the truth out of the hearts of men, women and children who could have been saved if they had heard the true Gospel instead of the mishmash “gospel” of the emergent church? What is more unethical than the infringement of God’s sole rights on His Gospel by rethinking, changing and revamping it to make it more palatable for the postmodern creature? It is not only unethical and not only amounts to spiritual theft but is also downright dangerous. Read here.

When Mr. Sarel van der Merwe (in Jannie Pelser’s programme “Brandpunt” – 03/04/2009) pointed out that Rob Bell promotes Yoga in his Mars Hill sermons they thought he was off his rocker. Subsequent to the programme, Rev. Guillaume Smit wrote a comment on his blog under the title “Does Rob Bell teach Yoga?” After a quick survey on the internet he found a sermon Rob preached on May 29, 2005 called “breath.” Instead of doing an in depth survey on the dangers of yoga, he came to the conclusion that Rob only used Yoga as an illustration and ended his comment in sympathetic praise for yoga. Read his comment here.

But as I’m not a member of his community I’m not privy to the subcultures prevalent in Mars Hill. Maybe yoga is practiced by a lot of his church members as part of their daily exercise routine. After all, yoga, as with karate and judo and other martial arts sports, can be practiced without getting involved in eastern religions or eastern philosophy. (Emphasis added)

The issue is not whether Rob Bell’s congregants practice yoga but that he promotes and teaches yoga during some of his sermons.

The Hindu masters or yogis themselves maintain that Yoga cannot be divorced from its inherent spiritual purpose which is to be yoked to the impersonal Hindu God Brahman. Yogi Baba Prem, Vedavisharada, CYI, C.ay, C.va wrote:

It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer “Christian Yoga! This Thursday night….” I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. “Christian Yoga”, I thought. Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga. Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word! It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of protestant teachings. It is not found within the King James Version of the bible. It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. So how did we get “Christian Yoga”? From this I could conclude that “Christian Yoga” could only indicate one of two possibilities:

1) Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that “invaded their turf” pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques.

2) Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization—the Vedic civilization.

I thought to myself, “why would they want to take over yoga?” Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years? Is this an extensive marketing plan cooked up in some New York marketing guru’s head? Is it an attempt to water down the teachings of yoga and import their own teachings into the system? Or is it that they cannot stand not to own everything spiritual? I think the best reason might be that yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had. It offered a practical, rational, logical, and truthful approach to spirituality. It did not contain any form of self-righteous condemnation, but offered love and acceptance to all. It did not prey upon victims with terms such as “Sin” and “eternal damnation”. But most importantly, it had answers! It offered a practical approach to cultivating a relationship with divinity. It offered a systematic approach and an abstract approach to meet the varying temperaments of the spirituality hungry.

The second possibility was that Christianity was itself looking for answers. A small book filled with judgment, inflexibility, and condemnation was no longer fulfilling the needs of the masses or the leaders of the church. Offering yoga classes allowed the Christian to secretly practice Hinduism without having to renounce their Christian tradition. Possibly by embracing the technology of yoga and meditation, the Christian church could finally return to the idea of love and acceptance that it believed it was founded upon. It is ironic that one religion would need to look to another religion to teach them about love, peace, harmony, and forgiveness. If successful, it could embrace these ancient teachings and save itself from the fate it planted over the last few thousand years. (From: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com) (Emphasis added).

This is exactly what happens to Christians who practice yoga. They become yoked to a Hindu god (a demonic entity) who teaches them that the Bible and the God of the Bible are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of people in a wretched world full of misery, suffering, poverty and disease. It has become a redundant “black-and-white” book that only makes people feel guilty about themselves while all they need is love, love and more love — they need a relational (an experience orientated) and not a rational theology.

The following excerpt comes from The Encyclopaedia of New Age Beliefs, p. 595

The Oxford American Dictionary defines “yoga” in the following manner: “1) A Hindu system of meditation and self-control designed to produce mystical experience and spiritual insight. 2) A system of physical exercises and breathing control (4414:1085). Most people only think of yoga in terms of the second definition. We will show that this is a mistake. When examining the true goal of yoga, one sees why these two definitions cannot ultimately be separated. In other words the one who practices yoga as “a system of exercises and breathing control” is also practicing a system “designed to produce mystical experience and spiritual (occult) insight.” For example, Ernest L. Rossi of the Department of Psychology at UCLA states how yoga is designed to induce altered states of consciousness.

“When one considers the ancient yoga science of pranayama (controlled breathing) to have relevance, then one must admit that the manual manipulation dyhana is the most thoroughly documented of techniques for altering consciousness. For thousands of years these techniques for the subtle alterations of nasal breathing have been gradually codified into classical texts: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (II, 6-9, 19-20) Siva Samhita (III: 24, 25), Geranda Samhita (V: 49-52) and Yoga Chudamani Upsanisad (V: 98-100). A new tradition of psychological and experimental research exploring these ancient techniques has been developing during the past decades (Gasegawa en Kern, 1978), the work of Vinekar (1966), Rao and Potdar (1970), Eccles (1978), and Funk and Clarke (1980) also provides a broad background of independent studies using Western laboratory methods in studying the relationship of this nasal cycle to the ancient yogic tradition of pranayama in achieving psychosomatic health and the transpersonal states of dhyana (deep contemplation and Samadhi or occult enlightenment) (1046:113-14).

The end purpose is for the individual to realize that he or she is one essence with God or ultimate reality. In other words, one must realize he or she is God. Whatever school of yoga is used (hatha, raja, bhakti etc.) whether it is Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Sufi, Tantric or some other, the goal is typically the same: occult enlightenment achieved by internal manipulation of occult energies (prana, chi) leading to altered states of consciousness in order to produce awareness of one’s inherent union with God or ultimate reality (611).

Read here what Rev. Guillaume Smit says about Ron Martoia who is a yoga instructor and practices yoga himself.

“Ron Martoia said in his book, Transformational Architecture, that we reduced the Bible to a set of propositional statements that explain salvation and that we further on focus on the communication of information. We miss the reality that the Bible testimony is of God’s work on earth by way of a collection of stories.”

Who is Ron Martoia? Look here:

In an interview (emergent conversation) with Ron Martoia 11/28/2006) he said:

Thomas Keating & Ken Wilber “But I will say this, I am renewed in the commitment for a quiet daily centering prayer practice and the immense impact it brings. I have just come off a five-day integral Christianity conference with father Thomas Keating, eighty-three-year-old Benedictine monk. One of the things we did each day was at least two to four sessions of centering prayer at a minimum of twenty minutes a session. Total silence, total inner silence.” “I think the thing I am challenging is the either/or of your questions “either wholeheartedly Christian or ashamedly secular?” We have to have both of those . . . all out full card carrying members of both. When we start to see unity where we have seen distinction, and I mean this in the sacred/secular distinction way, we will see spiritual emergence is happening and arising all around us and it is up to us to clear the obstacles that would impede that emergence. This is really an articulation also of John 16 that lets us see the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of every unbeliever (just like every believer) and it is up to us to help point out that activity.”

Also read here.

Now to Rhythm…
“Spiritual solitude is key for me as well. I have already mentioned the value and importance of a regula fidei and I genuinely believe in it’s centrality. That said, there is one thing I do every day, that is centering prayer. I have been on this pattern for nearly 4 full years now. Two times a day/20 min. (sometimes only one but ALWAYS at least one) I do centering prayer of the Father Thomas Keating sort. This is the way I enact and live into Psalm 46.10. I am convinced a centering practice along with daily input channels are what accounts for whatever creative and theological reflection I have going on in my life. My writing flows from the confluence of these two patterns.”

“Seven years ago I started down the yoga trail. Ashtanga Yoga is the power yoga, get a hard sweaty workout type of yoga. Some of you hear the word yoga and all sorts of red flags go up. Get a grip and do some reading. Yoga practice does not require you to be Buddhist, so relax. My nearly daily practice has improved so much. Yoga’s interface with a centering practice is actually a very interesting interplay. Maybe sometime I will write a post on that.”

Thomas Keating is one of the frequent lecturers on Ken Wilber’s website “Integral Spirituality.” The introduction to his site consists of a logo depicting the many symbols of different faiths with a cross right in the middle which all come together and merge into one single abstract symbol of ultimate unity. One can hardly miss the meaning when we take into account that the entire world is rapidly moving toward a one-world religion in which the infiltration of yoga and especially the contemplative spirituality into the Christian church are playing a major part.

Ray Yungen speaks on Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington. Read here.

“In the book Finding Grace at the Center, written by these two Catholic monks, the following advice is given: ‘We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible … Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices … “Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington have taken their Christianity and blended it with Eastern mysticism through a contemplative method they call centering prayer. I met a woman who once enthusiastically told me that in her church ‘we use a mantra to get in touch with God.’ She was referring to centering prayer … Keating and Pennington have both authored a number of influential books on contemplative prayer thus advancing this movement greatly. Pennington essentially wrote a treatise on the subject called Centering Prayer while Keating has written the popular and influential classic, Open Mind, Open Heart, and both are major evangelists for contemplative prayer.

This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that contemplative spirituality and yoga are wholly compatible and indeed strange bedfellows. These are the kind of issues we are dealing with — the infiltration of the New Age and the practices of other religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. These are the dangers that are causing immense harm to the body of Christ, especially the younger generation (little lambs). What is the church going to do about it? Probably nothing, because most of them are already so deep into it that it would take a miracle to convince them they are playing with fire.

1 Tim 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

Re 18:4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;”

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The Ongoing Discussion with Rev. Guillaume Smit

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 9, 2009

Please read Rev Guillaume Smit’s rebuttal to my previous commentary here.

pharasaical-justificationBearing in mind that you have decided to stop any further discussions with me, I do however want to ask you to bear with me and at least grant me some grace to write a rebuttal to your scathing attack. Perhaps I should start off with your “loving” and “godly” description of my moral fibre.

You use a tactic of divide and intimidate and the spreading of slanderous comments about the integrity of people you disagree with under the guise of protecting the faith. In the mean time you have become an agent of the devil himself.

As a man of the cloth you should know that the only safe way to discern or to arrive at a final and conclusive verdict that someone is an agent of the devil is to consult the Word of God (i.e. the Bible) for it alone gives us a true insight into the character and work of the devil. Yet you categorically refuse to quote from the Bible when you converse with me in writing. You said:

I deliberately refrain from using Scripture references when I write to you. The Bible is not intended to be a proof text for one’s arguments. The Bible is also not intended to be used as a legalistic document viewed as containing only universal laws to be abided [sic]. The Bible is God’s Word, through the testimonies of the faithful believers who wrote it down.

How do you expect to make a fair judgment when someone contravenes our constitution without reading, quoting and referring to the constitution? Any court of law and its judge would be in direct contravention of the law if they refuse the opposing parties and their advocates to study and refer to previous cases? Furthermore, how can you judge me to be an agent of the devil when you yourself declared that the “Bible is not intended to be a proof text for one’s arguments.” This and I really mean “this,” is really and truly one of the most magnanimous enigmas of the emergent fraternity. The other side or the anti-emergent crowd is forbidden to use the Bible as a proof text, but the emergents themselves furtively afford themselves the right to use it as a proof text to identify their critics as agents of the devil. What kind of logical thinking is that?

While we’re on the subject of the law and in our particular case, the copyright law I humbly refer you to the term “Fair Use” which seems to have become an international law for copyrighted material on the internet.

Fair Use

. . . Courts have found that to be “fair” a use has to be transformative and not just reproductive. This means that someone cannot simply start up a blog and upload all the images from the Neiman Marcus website. This would be a merely reproductive use that was not in any way transformative. If, however, you upload select photos from the Neiman Marcus website in order to comment on or criticize the store, products, or even the photograph itself, you are not longer just reproducing the work, you are transforming it. If you are using an image for the following purposes, it is most likely a transformative fair use and not copyright infringement: criticism, comment, news reporting; teaching; scholarship or research; parody. (Emphasis added).

Nonetheless, with due respect to your request to remove your photo form my blog; I have decided to do so unceremoniously, but only on one condition. I will remove your photo from my blog if you remove your slanderous remark that I am an agent of the devil and, in addition, make an official and “Twitter”-like apology on the internet. Like you, I too have copyright on the use of my “picture,” especially when you take into account that the Bible itself provides me with that copyright (As I have already said; only the Bible presents us with a fair an unbiased description of the devil).

In your introductory sentence you said:

It is against my better judgment that I engage in this correspondence with you. I am afraid that you will take what I write and strip it of its original context and use the quote as if itself was what I meant to say.

Okay, I can live with that, only if you would be so kind as to put your gross and slanderous accusation that I am an agent of the devil in the right context for me. If my use of the quote itself distorts and undermines your original intention and the meaning thereof, how would you juggle and mix your original words to prove to me that you intended it to mean something entirely different? Could it be possible that you inadvertently used the word “devil” while you intended to use the word “saint”? This is just another one of the emergent’s magnanimous slight of the hands. When someone quotes you word for word you furtively and ingeniously cry “wrong context, wrong context.” I can only guess where you learnt this wondrous battle cry of defeat. (Does the institution’s name start with a “U” and end with a “P” or is it “U” and “S”?) Be that as it may, you make the most startling and unfounded statements.

For the record: I did not say or even imply in the very slightest that you are a follower of Stephan Joubert’s thoughts, and I can appreciate your innovative thoughts in forging a new missiology (1997) that eventually and quite naturally flowed into the emergent stream, but are your thoughts biblically correct? I have always wondered why people want to deconstruct the old and reconstruct allegedly new ways of presenting the Gospel to a lost world. Isn’t Jesus’ words in Matthew 28 sufficient? —“ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” If His power on high provides us the ways and means to present His Gospel, why do we need new uncharted ways? Oh! Sorry, I have just overstepped your unwritten law not to quote Scripture in our discussions. What I did say, was that you trusted Stephen Joubert’s testimonial of Rob Bell without examining what Bell says in the light of Scripture. I quoted to you word for word what Rob Bell said in his infamous “Yoga” video, but you conveniently prefer to ignore it. Is your relational philosophy such an overriding impulse that you do not care at all what they say about the Jesus you are claiming to follow and love? What did Jesus mean when He said:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

I’m sorry, but I smell a rat and that rat’s name is “relational.” I am all for a loving and right relationship with my brethren but then it must be embedded in the truth as we find it in God’s Word. Any other relationship is forced and disregards God’s truth; it is not genuine and it cannot last because it is built on sand and not the solid rock of truth whose Name is Jesus Christ. There are many other Jesusus, Christs and spirits in our society today and we must make dead sure that we are following the right one.

Rest assured, I wasn’t that concerned about your typo about Rob Bell in your other post. I am more concerned about your false impression of his teachings. Typos will have no effect on your spiritual make-up; wrong doctrines will.

You continued saying:

It seems that your underlying issue is with the New Age Movement. You force remarks from leaders in the Dutch Reformed Church, as well as people associated with the emerging church movement, into a common denominator, by declaring them all to be New Age adherents or worse. There is a saying that goes something like this: If you look for the devil behind every bush, all you will eventually see is the devil. In this process you and Sarel van der Merwe take remarks from its intended context and meaning; you intentionally attack and belittle the integrity of people who sincerely love and serve Jesus Christ; you spread malicious half-truths to the people who read your blog or attend your workshops; you intimidate ministers of religion and other Christian leaders by trying to hijack every meeting where your favourite subject is being discussed or your current enemies are involved. In all this you forget the overarching principle of Christ’s love as the ultimate driving force in Christian dealings. My actual problem is that you consequently accuse everybody associated with the Emerging Church Movement of being deluded by New Age Philosophy, but nowhere do you provide substance to your accusations (i.e. you do not explain why it is new age or how any reasonable reader or listener will be induced into new age philosophy by listening or reading it). You also expect your readers/listeners to know what the true gospel is that you so vociferously defend without putting it forth as alternative to that with which you differ. All I read is biblical verses that you use as support for your own arguments. Please, help me here, what exactly should we preach, in your opinion? Perhaps you could devote a blog post to elaborating on your beliefs and theology? It should be a recurring thing, however, because from time to time newer readers should be able to understand why you think the way you do.

Allow me to correct you on some of your remarks.

  • Love is not the overarching principle and the ultimate driving force in Christian dealings. Let me set it down for you in biblical terms: Love without God’s truth is not the overarching principle and the ultimate force in Christian dealings. Please bear with me while I try to explain this to you in the words of the apostle of love — our beloved John.

3 John 2 and 3: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

Wow brother John, what about love? Jesus taught us to love one another as He loved us. How can you prioritize truth and not love? I’m sure John’s answer would have been more or less the following: “Love can never be divorced from truth, for the simple reason that Jesus Christ is both love and truth. He is the essence of both truth and love. If it were possible to divorce love from truth you would have had to divide Christ into two halves — the one Truth and the other love in which case you would have had two false Christs. That is impossible because love and truth are the indivisible essence of Jesus Christ.” Moreover, without absolute truth there can be no justice. No court of law would ever be in a position to prosecute and bring to justice a criminal without a justice system that is able to distinguish between right and wrong and true and false. And yet you expect God who is the Great Judge of all people to relinquish His right to judge between a black and white situation (right and wrong, true and false). I can assure you that you are no candidate for Rev. Jannie Pelser’s initiative to instil acceptable norms and values in our society. The words “norm” and “value” entail the necessity to distinguish between right and wrong and true and false (black –and-white as you coined it). Your value system can only lead to total chaos. You said:

You do not acknowledge for a single moment your own shortcomings in the way you interpret Scripture, expecting from your readers to accept your interpretation as the one and only single possible reading. From this viewpoint you spend all your time and energy attacking Christian leaders and pastors and thinkers – people who mostly stood up to the challenge of communicating Jesus’ redemption to a group of people who cannot be reached by your way of evangelism or your black-and-white theology anymore. You use a tactic of divide and intimidate and the spreading of slanderous comments about the integrity of people you disagree with under the guise of protecting the faith. In the mean time you have become an agent of the devil himself. When I read the Bible I see that Jesus reserved his most scathing criticism for the Pharisees and rabbis of his time, people who used the Old Testament in exactly the same legalistic way you are doing today with the whole Bible. In stead of attacking Christians who are trying to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to a increasingly broken generation, why don’t you start spending your considerable energy and knowledge to find ways to help broken, lost and destitute seekers see the light of God’s presence, and the love of Jesus, without judging them?

If you do not accept my interpretation of Scripture you should at least show me where I had misinterpreted it. Neither you nor any other doctors, professors and reverends have ever taken the time to prove to me (from Scripture) that my interpretation is faulty. Nonetheless, you insidiously refuse to quote Scripture to me. How on earth can you prove to me that I am wrong when you refuse to quote the only book that distinguishes justifiably between right and wrong (black-and-white as you put it)? You remind me of Jesus’ words in John 18.

And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

I wonder who the real Pharisees of today are. Like the officers of the then self-righteous Pharisees they accuse Jesus’ disciples with all kinds of horrendous things but never once  do they take the time to witness (from Scripture) of their evils. Perhaps they are unable to do so because they have rejected the Word of God as the only infallible truth (by cuddling up to the alleged truths in other religions and cultures) and therefore do not know how to distinguish between black and white. Instead they strike the disciples of Jesus with malice and hatred, calling them “agents of the devil.” You were in high spirits and ecstatic with joy when I engrafted your name in the hall of fame, containing the names of Jannie Pelser, Nelus Niemandt and Stephan Joubert. I prefer to be associated with the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ who once said:

Mt 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

  • My underlying issue was not with the New Age, at least as far as my comment on Rev. Jannie Pelser’s programme “Brandpunt” is concerned. Ironically, it was Jannie Pelser who mentioned the New Age as a possible enhancement and enrichment of the truth in the Bible. You may recall that he said:

“Is God’s revelation, God’s work, not bigger than just Christianity? Could there not be elements, could we not learn from one another, even if it had to be the New Age? But when we think of the contemplative . . . a being silent in die presence of God, an opening up to God. Is it not a rewarding moment?”

Have you forgotten that you immediately answered in the affirmative by saying:

“Of course it is a rewarding moment . . . but I also specifically want to say the rewarding moment is that we have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with cultural expressions that enable us to come to a standstill so that we may hear what God wants to say to us in a new and fresh way.”

Jannie Pelser referred to the New Age as one possible avenue Christians may explore to learn more about God’s general revelation and you heartily went along with him. What do you mean by “cultural expressions” and “enable us to come to a standstill?” Do you mean that Christians should learn from Eastern religions prevalent in the New Age, such as meditation, contemplation and silence in order to find new ways for God to speak to them?

You claim to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an increasingly broken generation and advise me to start spending my considerable energy and knowledge to find ways to help broken, lost and destitute seekers see the light of God’s presence, and the love of Jesus, without judging them? You seem to know quite a lot about my evangelical outreach to other people. You’re dead wrong, you will never know anything about me because I prefer to obey Jesus who said that my left hand should never know what my right hand is doing.

Are you sure you are following the real Jesus and bringing His Gospel?

2Co 11:4 For [you seem readily to endure it] if a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received or a different gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed; you tolerate [all that] well enough!

Should you ever decide to continue your discussion with me, kindly refrain from beginning your comments with “Dear Tom” and rather begin with “Dear agent of the devil.”  That would at least prove to me that you are not hypocritical.

Posted in Emergent Church, Gestuurde Kerk, Missionêre Kerk, Ontluikende kerk | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I have Become an Enemy of the State – Rev. Guillaume Smit

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 7, 2009

Guillaume Smit When Paul rebuked brother Peter in the presence of all (Galatians 2:14), Peter did not cuddle up in a little corner and cy out “Oh woe is me, Paul has branded me an enemy of the state.” No! He knew what it meant to be contrite, for His Lord had taught him so, and he also knew what it meant to accept someone’s rebuke in humility. What’s interesting about this incident in Peter’s life was not that he humbled him before Paul, but in obedience to the Word of God. Paul wielded the Sword of the Spirit, not his own thoughts, and when Peter realized this he immediately yielded to Paul’s rebuke. Why . . . ? Because he was keenly aware that Paul’s rebuke was for his own benefit. Had he not done so, his spiritual life would have taken a sharp turn for the worst into fettered darkness and despair.

Contrary to Peter’s example of contrition, Rev. Guillaume Smit plays the victim of an alleged conspiracy against him and his emergent cohorts. In my commentary on current events surrounding the Emerging Church in South Africa I have constantly used the Sword of the Spirit to expose the dangers inherent in the emergent spirituality and particularly the dangers lurking in the words of high profile persons such as Stephan Joubert, Nelus Niemandt, Jannie Pelser, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and many many more. Biblical Christianity is being bombarded by “emergent” attacks in public, via the internet and other media, at an alarming rate. And yet, when disciples of Jesus Christ (please note: the biblical Jesus and not another Jesus) voice their concerns in public, they are branded the persecutors of the emergent fraternity. In stead of engaging in a scholarly and adult discussion, they usually and deliberately sidetrack the issues at hand and divert to sarcasm, ridicule and even scoffing. Listen to Guillaume’s ingenious reaction to my commentary on Jannie Pelser’s programme “Brandpunt” aired on “Radio Pulpit” on 3 April this year.

He [Tom Lessing] is rather scathing in his attack. I feel quite privileged, however, as he uses my name in the same sentence as Stephan Joubert, Nelus Niemandt, and Jannie Pelser. Didn’t think I am that important!

This is usually the innuendo or heavily over toned kind of remarks our dear South African reverends and pastors make when they do not know how to defend their faith from Scripture. Guillaume, unlike Paul, is more concerned about the integrity and position of his heroes than God and His infallible Word. Paul said:

Gal 2:4-6 [My precaution was] because of false brethren who had been secretly smuggled in [to the Christian brotherhood]; . . . To them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the Gospel might continue to be [preserved] for you [in its purity]. Moreover, [no new requirements were made] by those who were reputed to be something—though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me; God is not impressed with the positions that men hold and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions—those [I say] who were of repute imposed no new requirements upon me [had nothing to add to my Gospel, and from them I received no new suggestions].  (From The Amplified Bible, emphasis added).

I am intensely concerned for the sheep and and especially the lambs who are being taught to follow high profile men of integrity, high esteem, and “upright hearts” while these men themselves do not know the voice of  the Great Shepherd. Had they indeed known His voice, they would never ever have followed another or even contemplated the possibility of finding salvivic (redemptive) truths in other religions. Okay! you may try and convince me that you have never implied that their are redemptive truths in other religions. If not, then how would the other non-salvivic truths in other religions benefit the Christian? Its absurd to think that the other non-salvivic truths in other religions are able to enhance the one and only true salvivic truth for all men. Rob Bell is well-known for saying things that are not in harmony with Scripture and yet you accept and respect Stephan Joubert’s testimony of him? On your blog under the title “Does Rob Bell” teach Yoga?” you wrote:

One of my old univerity [sic] lecturers, Stephan Joubert, shared with me that he personally knows Rob and can testify to his love and commitment to Jesus Christ.

Your criteria or barometer for biblical discernment is the “integrity” a man of flesh and blood of whom God said “ . . . let God be true, but every man a liar; . . . ? (Romans 3:4). God’s Word unequivocally teaches that anyone who claims to love Jesus MUST keep His commandments (John 14: 21) and one of His commandments, as we’ve already seen in Paul’s discourse in Galatians 2:4-6, is that the truth of the Gospel must continue to be preserved in its purity. One only needs to read some of Rob Bell’s blatantly unbiblical statements to see that he is not obeying Christ’s commandments with regard to the preaching of His Word. Despite your in depth research on the internet and his video, proving that Bell teaches Yoga, you insist that he is a Christian who loves Jesus. Here follows a transcript of some of the things Rob Bell said:

“Feel free to breathe as deep as you can without snoring…(laughter)… Central to the Christian tradition for thousands of years have been disciplines of meditation, reflection, silence and breathing. It was understood to be a healthy person, to be fully connected with God and fully centered, you would spend significant parts of your day in silence, breathing, meditating, praying, allowing the Spirit of God to transform you and touch you.” (4’ 34” – 05’ 20”)

“In Yoga, one of the central tenets of Yoga is your breath needs to remain the same regardless of the pose (posture). So whether you’re making the letter Q with your whatever (laughter)…In Yoga one of the things you learn right away is no matter how difficult the pose is – especially if you happen to have someone from the Grand Rapids Ballet on the mat next to you, who can, that can see their own back, this way (laughter)…its not how flexible you are, its not whether you can do the poses, its not how much you can bend yourself, its, can you keep your breath (breathes in an out) consistent, through whatever you’re doing. And the Yoga Masters say this is how it is when you follow Jesus and surrender to God. Is it your breath being consistent? Its your connection with God, regardless of the pose you find yourself in. That’s integrating the Divine into the daily. (7’ 54” – 8’ 58”)

Rev. Smit, have you noticed Rob Bells emphatic statement “Yoga Masters say this is how it is when you follow Jesus and surrender to God . . . Its your connection to God”? Do you really and truly believe  Stephan Joubert’s testimony that Rob Bell loves the Lord Jesus Christ and is wholly committed to Him? Let us gently set aside Stephan’s “wonderful” testimony and rather look at what God’s Word says.

Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Emphasis added).

If you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, you have no right to say or to believe, via Stephan Joubert, that Rob Bell loves the Lord Jesus Christ while God’s Word says the very opposite. Who’s testimony are you going too trust—God’s or that of Stephan Joubert? Bell says in his book “Velvet Elvis.”

“One of the lies is that truth only resides in this particular community or that particular thought system.” . . . “I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God.”

The truth of God in all its aspects resides in His Son Jesus Christ. Do you believe that Jesus Christ resides in all religions?

In reference to your worldwide “Twitter” announcement: “I have officially been blacklisted by those South Africans who are opposed to the emerging church, notably Sarel vd Merwe and his followers.” the following: I am not a follower of Sarel van der Merwe. Both he and I are followers of Jesus Christ and His eternal, uncompromised infallible truth. Both of us abhor any lies because all lies emanate from the father of lies, the devil. We have committed ourselves to Christ’s command to have “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them: (Ephesians 5:11). It is obvious that Jean Oosthuizen’s (of infamous “Kletskerk” fame) incongruous and unfounded accusation that Mr. Sarel van der Merwe keeps a blacklist of all of South Africa’s wayward pastors, has influenced you heavily. Your nightmare that you have been blacklisted is a figment of your imagination and reminds me of a portion of Scripture in the book Leviticus.

Lev 26:36 . . .the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to hasty and tumultuous flight, and they shall flee as if from the sword . . .

Moenie vir koue pampoen skrik nie. Staan jou man en begin jou standpunte te verdedig vanuit die Woord van God. Moenie spoke opjaag wat nie daar is nie. En moet asseblief nie vir ons sê, jy sê so omdat Styephan Joubert so sê nie.

(For those who do not understand Afrikaans, I have encouraged Rev. Guillaume Smit to stand his ground like a man and not to allow cold pumpkin to put him to flight so easily. In addition I encouraged him to defend his faith from the Word of God and not to say “I say so because Stephan Joubert had said so.”

May I suggest that in stead of saying “I have become an enemy of the state” to rather say “There is something rotten in the state . . . of the church” with thanks to Hamlet by Shakespeare.

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How do you know whether you’re following the real Jesus and not a counterfeit?

Posted by Tom Lessing on March 23, 2009

The Emergent Church’s main priority is to be followers of Jesus Christ. A young man with whom I have become acquainted via the internet and in particular his blog (http://www.thinktoomuch.net) once insistently asked me not to refer to him as a Christian but as a follower of Jesus. At first glance this may seem to be worthy of imitation. However, we really need to ask “Jesus who?”

I was shocked to the bone when I recently read an article in which several world-renowned figureheads in Christianity were featured as champions of the faith. I immediately thought of Paul’s words of warning in 2 Corinthians 11, proclaiming that there were false apostles who claimed to have worked on the same terms as he did. What a villainous, wicked, dishonest and deceitful thing to do! I can just imagine them saying, “Brother Paul endorses our work wholeheartedly because we are working on the same terms as he” This was not only a very subtle attack on Paul’s missionary work but a very fraudulent way of promoting their heresies. No wonder Paul felt compelled to use such a frank and outspoken approach to quash this very dangerous situation in the Corinthian Church:

2 Cor 11:4 You seem quite happy and pleased to endure it when a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received, or a different Gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed. You tolerate [all that] well enough.

How do we determine when a different Gospel is preached that leads to the reception of another Jesus and another spirit? The most obvious answer most Christians would afford is “erroneous doctrine” which is clearly correct. But what incites wrong doctrine? The driving force behind wrong doctrine is the obsessive desire to please man and to receive rousing accolades for doing so. Paul’s succinct description in 1 Timothy 4:2-4 fits the situation in the churches of our day like a glove,

1 Tim 4:2-4 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Willow Creek Community Church in Northwest suburban Chicago is one of the largest mega-churches in America of which Bill Hybels is the senior pastor out of a total of approximately 48 staff pastors. It claims to have a membership of 12,000 plus souls. Pastor Hybels did a thorough survey of the un-churched Harrys and Marys in their community to determine why they didn’t attend church. The answers they came up with formed the basis for a more upbeat and palatable gospel. The survey indicated that they “didn’t like to be bugged for money,” “found church boring, predictable and to much of a routine,” “didn’t think that church was relevant to their lives,” and “always left church feeling guilty (the Christian message was too negative with ‘sin’” etc. The result was a manmade mega-church with all the glitz and entertainment of an Oscar winning Hollywood film.

In order to accommodate the battle of the sexes (chauvinism and feminism) Hybels adopted two different gospels — one for men and one for women. The gospel for men is to rid them of their “mindless misrepresentations of masculine identity,” while the one for women offers them the freedom from ”being a people pleaser” and thereby allowing herself to satisfy her “need for inner security.” I was wondering whether Hybels’ male and female gospels had any influence on Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men conferences. The most alarming thing about Willow Creek is that thousands upon thousands flock to their staff to learn the techniques for church growth. More or less 15,000 people attend the Saturday evening and Sunday’s seeker services accompanied by contemporary music, multimedia displays, dramatic sketches and watered-down messages geared to reach the itching ears of the “investigative Christians.”

Sadly they are not building on the foundation that has already been lain. They are laying a completely new foundation, not of solid rock but shifting sands that cannot withstand the consuming fire of a Holy God. It is different gospel, with another Jesus and another spirit at the helm of things. I chose Willow Creek as an example amongst many others who follow the same pattern.

Jesus never mollycoddled or catered to the whimsical fancies of people so that they may “feel welcome, unthreatened and entertained” as Hybels would say. No! Jesus struck at the core of man’s problem, his sin which he expresses in his self-will, self-centeredness, self-worth, self-esteem, self-importance, etc. These are the very things that keep us from following Christ.

I would like to draw your attention to the word “finish” in Luke 14:25-33. The fact that it appears three times should make us attentive and to take special note of it. God’s purpose for our lives is to finish our course with joy (Acts 20:24). Repentance and the new birth is only the beginning of the course. Unfortunately preachers are often guilty of keeping their congregations ensnared in the beginning stages of their new life in Christ. They do not encourage them to press on, to such a degree that their church members become complacent and passive (satisfied with the status quo or the present state of their spiritual lives). Or, as some would say, “we don’t want to rock the boat,” especially when they need to warn their congregations against false doctrine.

Multitudes of people followed Jesus, most of them, however, for all the wrong purposes and reasons. The majority of the people followed Him because He had given them bread to eat. Others seem to have been more interested in the miracles He performed. Sheer curiosity motivated many people to follow Him. Jesus did not play along with their whimsical desires. He stopped, turned around and facing them He explained exactly what was required of them to follow Him. The great majority of people were usually offended by what He said and turned their backs on Him. It is evident from Jesus’ words that discipleship does not merely mean to follow Him. It involves a great deal more than that. One can only imagine what the huge crowd’s response could have been if Jesus had said, “Anyone who would like to accept Me as their Saviour, come forward and I will pray for you”, or “those of you who want to give their hearts to Me, put up your hands, bow your heads and close your eyes while I pray for you.” This may seem somewhat of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, this is happening in many churches throughout the world today. Although we should have a burning desire in our hearts to bring as many sinners as possible to repentance, we should always guard against over-eagerness.

Unrestrained zeal often fails to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). When the whole counsel (will) of God is declared fearlessly, it compels any would-be follower of Christ to first sit down and count the cost. This is exactly what Jesus was saying to the huge crowds that followed Him. Sit down, (give yourself the time to ponder this very important matter with prudence) and count the cost (make very sure that you are prepared to pay the price for discipleship and finish the course). Pay the price? Isn’t salvation a free gift from God? (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Yes! Indeed it is and we need to thank God for His wonderful grace every day. However, Jesus clearly says that discipleship does not go without cost. What does this price or cost entail? To find a proper answer we need to review the world’s magnetic allurement on the human heart. Man’s natural inclination is to find security, solace, happiness, pleasure and acceptance in the world. As a matter of fact, every child is born into a family where the principles and standards of the world is impressed on his susceptible mind from early childhood. Very soon he becomes entangled in the things of the world “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

According to 2 Peter 2:20, the world pollutes or defiles. It contaminates the one who associates himself with the things of the world. Everyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4). Could there be anything more devastating and dangerous than this — to be an enemy of God? It stands to reason that one needs to come out of the world before the enmity can be removed. A radical translocation is the only means to eradicate the animosity between a friend of the world and God. In Colossians 1:13 we are told that God’s children have been removed from one place to another, i.e. from the dominion of darkness and evil into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our sins. There is, however, always the danger of being drawn into the world again and saints are warned to beware lest any man spoil you (carry you off as a captive) “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). The rudiments of the world is so strongly imbedded in fallen man that God Himself had to die on the cross to free us from its venomous tentacles. Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we have been cut off (severed) from the world. We are no longer of the world although we are in the world. In His High Priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus twice says, “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Listen very carefully what Jesus is saying here, “we are not of the world as He Himself is not of the world.”

To live as an alien (foreigner) in this world naturally makes us enemies of the world. To be hated by the world, to be dejected, humiliated, and to be the target of scoffers and mockers is the price disciples of Jesus have to pay. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4: 11, “Up to this time, we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” Our flesh (the old Adam nature) is not capable of enduring this kind of treatment. Self-pity usually engulfs the soul like a dark cloud when persecution, tribulation and hardship befall God’s saints and many begin to compromise their position with the world. There is only one sure antidote against the slippery road into worldliness—self-denial and mortification. Listen to what Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (forget himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests), and take up his cross (die to the world and its dainties) daily, and follow Me.” Napoleon, the great French conqueror in the previous century said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must sustain me.” The conquest of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross has made us what we are and it is only conquest that will sustain us.

Every true child of God is acutely aware of the Holy Spirit’s godly jealousy in his innermost being. He is particularly sensitive to the Spirit’s jealous supplications to “Come out of her, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues,” and “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” The prerequisite for God to be your Father and for you to be called His sons and His daughters is separation. We have no right to call Him Father while we frivolously compromise our divine calling to be separated from the world and the things in the world (James 4:4). The natural tendency of the human soul is to freely indulge in all the pleasures of the world without a twinge of conscience. Children of God who do not separate themselves from the world are no better than the unbelievers who naturally partake of the things in the world. In fact they are worse and are called “adulterers and adulteresses” or unfaithful wives who are having illicit affairs with the world. What are the traits or characteristics of those who compromise there calling to be separated from the world? They become friends of the world. It means that the world accepts you as its friend because there is very little left in your make-up to indicate that you are not of this world (John 17:16). The distinct demarcation or differences between you and the world has faded away to such a degree that the world begins to accept you as its own. The world no longer hates you the way it hated Jesus but rather develops a very congenial and friendly attitude toward you. We should be very concerned when the world starts to love us and cuddle up to us as its friend. If we truly desire to follow the real Jesus and not a counterfeit we should constantly remind ourselves where He is to be found.

Heb 13;12-14 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Emphasis added).

In stark contrast with the above, the Emergent followers of Jesus demand to have the Kingdom of God to come here and now. What they fail to see, is that they are playing into the hand of Antichrist whose wish it is to set up his own kingdom of darkness and destruction.

Dan 8:23-25 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

Who are you following — the real Jesus or a counterfeit?

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Who is the Real Jesus – Shaman, Fatherless in Galilee, or More?

Posted by Tom Lessing on October 27, 2008

Questions and answers are certainly the most important yardsticks in the assessment of people’s opinions. It not only determines a person’s knowledge of certain topics but in spiritual terms may even indicate the person’s ultimate destination after death. Consider for a moment the following very compelling question and the various answers in response to it.

Matthew 16:13-17 Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Although most of the answers were dead wrong, at least some of the them remained within the ambit of biblical history, something today’s distinguished researches cannot lay claim to at all for they do not define history as the sequential occurrence of events based on clear historical facts but as the subjective perceptions of people shaped by their own personal worldview. Hence Prof. Jurie le Roux’s[1] incongruous remarks: “My reason formulates the reality. I create the reality, I assign meaning to history, I create meaning. . . Every exegete makes the Scriptures meaningful . . . Mankind does not have the ability to think in absolute terms . . . Therefore it is impossible to make absolute pronouncements about God.”[2] “For the first century Christian Jesus rose from the dead because it was part of their worldview; today we cannot understand it like that.”[3]

If man is incapable of thinking in absolute terms he is not only completely impotent with regard to his statements about God but also in regard to recent history such as the murderous deeds of Hitler who executed 6 000 000 Jews. Does this consign the postmodern thinkers to the madness of the Neo Nazis who cannot think in absolute terms and deny the absolute facts about the holocaust? Fallacious and unscientific remarks such as the above have one specific purpose in mind and that is to “mayathologize”[4] world history, and in particular biblical history. The word “mayathologize” is of my own making and is derived from the old Sanskrit word “maya,” a term used mainly in Hinduism which says that everything is an illusion. “Mayathologizing” has become a very handy tag to explain away the factual evidence of Jesus Christ’s words, miracles, death and resurrection as mere shamanic experiences induced by altered states of consciousness and out of body instances. The latter must be done at all cost so that the Bible may be brought on par with other religious mythologies, stories and sayings.

Martin Dibelius (1883-1947) and Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976), two German theologians and professors for the New Testament, coined two types of history — “Historie” and “Geschichte.” “Historie” are real, objective and verifiable events that are provable through scientific resources such as excavations and archaeology. “Geschichte” on the other hand, are events which the observer claims to be true in his mind and heart; it is therefore internal and non-verifiable and constitutes ‘faith’ or subjective history.“This distinction permits the assertion that something (say the resurrection of Jesus) is ‘true’ [i.e.: ‘Geschichte’] [but] which is not ‘true’ in the sense of history as fact [i.e.: ‘Historie’].” [5] “Formgeschichte” which is part and parcel of these dualistic and divergent views of history, maintains that the various reports of the life, works and words of Jesus Christ were modified, exaggerated and even fabricated by the Christian community to suit their own needs. These narratives were categorized by Dibelius and Bultmann as legends and myths. This led to the never-ending quest for the real Jesus — a demythologized Jesus (“Geschichte”) toward a Jesus of “Historie,” stripped of all the embellishments, myths and legends the early Christians allegedly experienced as true facts in their own hearts and minds through altered states of consciousness or out of body experiences. The quest for the real Jesus has since developed into a quagmire of researched “findings” of which the latest is blatant blasphemy — i.e. the notion that Jesus performed healings and exorcisms, controlled the spirits, and acted as prophet, teacher and mediator of divine knowledge as a Galilean shamanic figure.

In an open public debate held on 16 October at the University of Pretoria, three notable speakers in their particular field delivered papers on the subject “Who is the Real Jesus – Shaman, Fatherless in Galilee, or More.” They were Proff. Pieter Craffert, Andries van Aarde and R. Zimmermann.

Prof. Craffert, a member of the New Reformers (Nuwe Hervormers) who is on the staff of UNISA has recently published a book entitled The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective.” It has won the acclaim of many postmodern theologians.

Christopher Rowland of Queens College, Oxford, applauds it as follows:

“Dr. Pieter Craffert’s book is a timely contribution to the debate about Jesus, which deserves to be read widely and pondered by the scholarly community, as it enables a better grasp of Jesus of Nazareth in his historical context. Those who have discussed the political problem posed by Jesus have never taken seriously enough the power wielded by the charismatic, miracle-worker, and seer in an ancient society. The careful exploration of the way in which Pieter Craffert has explored how shamanism might inform the understanding of the Jesus tradition sheds much light on the religion and politics of the Jesus of history which will set future discussion on a firmer historical footing.” (Emphasis added).

Bruce J. Malina, Creighton University, Omaha, is overcome by a shamanic-like ecstacy when he says with gleeful elation:

“In this book, Craffert uses the metaphor of traveling to describe the task he has undertaken. Given the existence of the two prevailing pathways leading into contemporary ‘historical Jesus’ study, Craffert leaves the century-and-a-half old Schweitzer Street (Schweitzerstrasse) and Wrede Road (Wredebahn) to do some ‘bundubashing’ (South African: to travel off road through remote and rough terrain) to get to the social personage of Jesus the Galilean. His critique of prevailing historical Jesus study is insightful and incisive, while his description of Jesus as first-century Galilean shaman is masterful and accomplished. His rationale for and realization of a work of anthropological history is quite on the mark, enabling a reader to have an encounter with a first-century, Galilean shamanic Jesus that shouldproduce an appropriate culture shock in those unused to the radically different cultural and social landscape of Mediterranean antiquity.” (Emphasis added)

Bundubashing?  . . .  indeed! The postmodern intelligentsia are following “bundubashing” paths and ways which the Word of God describes as ways and paths that seem right to the traveler but the ends thereof is eternally destructive.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

John J. Pilch, Georgetown University, Washington says:

“Craffert’s groundbreaking study lifts contemporary historical Jesus research out of frustrating dead ends to move it in a new and richly rewarding direction. According to him, Jesus is best understood as a shamanic figure who lived in first century Galilee. Everything the New Testament reports about Jesus, his teaching and his activities, fits the model of a shamanic complex. This model offers the most culturally plausible interpretation of biblical evidence that others have judged to be purely literary compositions with no basis in reality contrived to teach a ‘theological’ or ‘spiritual’ lesson. Craffert’s new view of Jesus makes him as intelligible as other universally documented holy persons who have appeared in all cultures throughout the millennia of human existence.” [5] (Emphasis added).

The last sentence proves what I said previously, that the enemies of God are doing everything in their power to bring God’s Son, Jesus Christ, on par with all the other so-called holy persons who have been prominent in every conceivable religion.

In his essay Craffert said that Shamanism is a way to explain how Jesus of Nazareth performed his miracles, died and rose from the dead. At first I could not understand how he links the unique miracle of Christ’s resurrection, wrought by God’s Holy Spirit, to a demonically inspired practice such as shamanism, until I read the following words in an article on the internet.

The Way of the Shaman
The shaman has often been referred to as “the wounded healer.” What this means is that the shaman has passed through some terrible illness or crisis, or has even been to the land of the dead, and has survived, but not only survived: he has also come back, stronger and wiser, with the help of the spirits. It also means that most of the people reading this article have the potential for doing shamanic work, for we have all faced, and gone through, times of pain and crisis.[6] (Emphasis added)

This is clearly a demonically inspired counterfeit of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection which provokes God’s terrible indictment in Matthew and Mark:

Mt 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Mr 3:29-30 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He has an unclean spirit.

Anyone who attributes the work of the Holy Spirit to that of the devil and his demons and like the Pharisees of old asserts that Jesus performed his miracles by the power of Beelzebub, is in danger of eternal damnation.

Mt 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

What is the difference between the above Pharisaic denunciation and Craffert’s assertion that “As a Galilean shamanic figure Jesus typically performed healings and exorcisms, he controlled the spirits while he also acted as prophet, teacher and mediator of divine knowledge”? (Emphasis added). To understand this abysmal and abyss-like affirmation, we need to take into account the essential traits of a shaman.

According to an article on Wikepedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism) the shamans main functions are to perform a plethora of functions depending upon the society wherein they practise their art: healing; leading a sacrifice; preserving the tradition by storytelling and songs; fortune-telling; acting as a psychopomp (literal meaning, “guide of souls”). In some cultures, a shaman may fulfil several functions in one person. The necromancer in Greek mythology might be considered a shaman as the necromancer could rally spirits and raise the dead to utilize them as slaves, soldiers and tools for divination. Generally, the shaman traverses the axis mundi and enters the spirit world by effecting a transition of consciousness, entering into an ecstatic trance, either autohypnotically or through the use of entheogens. The methods employed are diverse, and are often used together. Some of the methods to induce such trances are:

  • Tobacco (improves concentration, but is not psychotrophic)
  • Drumming
  • Dancing (trance dancing)
  • Singing (chanting)
  • Icaros / Medicine Songs
  • Vigils
  • Fasting
  • Sweat lodge
  • Vision quests
  • Mariri
  • Swordfighting / Bladesmithing
  • “Power” or “master” plants used as incense or consumed to heal or attain altered states .
  • Psychedelic mushrooms – alluded to euphemistically as holy children by Mazatec shamans such as María Sabina.
  • Cannabis
  • San Pedro cactus – named after (St. Peter), guardian and holding the keys to the gates of heaven, by the Andean peoples; Quechua name: Huachuma
  • Peyote
  • Ayahuasca – Quechua for Vine of the Dead; also called yage
  • Cedar
  • Datura
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Fly agaric
  • Iboga
  • Morning glory
  • Sweetgrass
  • Sage

(Emphasis added throughout)

Is Prof. Craffert suggesting that Jesus used similar drugs and methods to induce His alleged shamanic altered states of consciousness? If so he is either very close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit who, according to Scripture, empowered Jesus to do His miracles and also raised Him from the dead, or he has already blasphemed Him on so many occasions that Craffert no longer feels any compunction whatsoever.

The public were given an opportunity to ask questions which were taken and answered in a batch. I phrased my question as follows:

Who said these profound words, and indeed they are very profound – ‘if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.’ Was it a shaman as you proclaim and if so, would you say that your and my sins are merely shamanic experiences?”

The three very distinguished speakers answered all the other questions except mine. This reminded me of Paul’s serious admonishment in Romans 1:18-19:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (Emphasis added)

They know what the truth is but deliberately withhold it in unrighteousness. Men directly resist the doctrines of religion, since they know they cannot hold to those doctrines without abandoning their sins. Was this the reason why they could or would not answer my question?

My most sincere plea is that the three honoured speakers whose misinterpretation of Jesus Christ is leading them and others astray to repent of their evil ways and to receive the truth of God’s Gospel so that they may be saved because it is not the will of God that any should perish.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Throughout the years the Theological Faculty of the University of Pretoria has hosted many speakers who have contributed to their own and the Dutch Reformed Church’s slide into apostasy. They are increasingly ridiculing the fundamentalists who in godly fear uphold the fundamental truths of Scripture and refuse to compromise those truths in behalf of a “unity-in-diversity” paradigm. A person who has often scoffed at fundamentalism is Prof. Piet Naudé.[8] At the annual Spring Festival of the Theological Faculty held on 8 October, he said that the church should incorporate and propagate diverse spiritualities with one exception – and that is to avoid fundamentalists as the plague  because it is impossible to negotiate any common ground with them. They are mad, he said. A large audience comprising mainly of men (?) laughed with abandon at Naudé’s little jokes and his mockery of fundamentalism. The only thing you can say to the fundamentalists, he said is “See you in heaven . . . and maybe not!” Madness, however, is not akin to fundamentalists but rather to liberalists who profess to be wise but have become mad in their own crazy suppositions.

Romans 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]. (Amplified Bible)(Emphasis added).

The irony is that while Piet Naudé scoffed at the fundamentalists, he stood in front of the pulpit of the Univeristeitsoord DRC in Pretoria on which it is written “Even so I send you,” the words Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead (John 20:21). He sent them out into the world to proclaim the most fundamental truth ever encountered by mankind: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” How can Piet Naudé, the Theological Faculty and the men (?) who giggled and laughed with him obey Christ’s command to go into the world and what kind of message can they offer a world gone crazy when they scoff at the fundamental remarks Jesus Christ made during His sojourn on earth?

2 Peter 3:1-3 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.(Emphasis added)

Brother Peter seemed to have known and anticipated the ill-reputed meetings at the Theological Faculty of UP such as the one that took place on 8 October 2008. Indeed, he was spot-on when he said there will be scoffers in the last days. To them I want to reiterate what die Psalmist said:

Psalm 2:1-4 WHY DO the nations assemble with commotion [uproar and confusion of voices], and why do the people imagine (meditate upon and devise) an empty scheme? The kings of the earth take their places; the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Anointed One (the Messiah, the Christ). They say, Let us break Their bands [of restraint] asunder and cast Their cords [of control] from us. He Who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision [and in supreme contempt He mocks them]. (Psalm 2:1-4) (Emphasis added).

Jesus called Simon Peter a blessed man because His Father in heaven revealed to Him the eternally immutable truth about Himself. Who revealed to Prof. Pieter Craffert that Jesus must have been a shaman . . . the god of this world?

2 Corinthians 3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (Emphasis added)


[1] Prof. Jurie el Roux is on the staff of the Department Old Testament of the Theological Faculty at the University of Pretoria.

[2] Le Roux JH 2001. Geskiedenis van die Pentateugnavorsing. Deprt. Ou Testament. Universiteit van Pretoria. p 36-38)

[3] Jurie le Roux 2004. Na OTW Pentateugkritiek vraestel aan Ferdie Mulder gesê. 19/06/2004; GW 1:12; 11 h30. Universiteit van Pretoria.

[5] Richard Soulen: Handbook of Biblical Criticism,” p. 79

[6] http://www.unisa.ac.za/Default.asp?Cmd=ViewContent&ContentID=20742

[7] http://www.shamanism.dk/Artikel%20-%20All%20life%20is%20connected.htm

[8] Prof Naudé has a master’s in philosophy, a doctorate in theology and is an ordained pastor. He has won countless research awards, particularly in the field of Christian theology and ethics, has published two academic books, more than 50 articles and presented more than 100 papers at national and international conferences. Leading Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University ethics academic, Prof Piet Naudé has been appointed as director of the university’s Business School.

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