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Posts Tagged ‘Another Jesus’

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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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;”

Posted in Emergent Church, Missional Church | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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.

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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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