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Posts Tagged ‘Emerging Church’

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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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.

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