Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ Category
The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth by John Lanagan is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth, click here.
The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth: How Eugene Peterson’s The Message Omits Homosexual Sin—and Other Strange Deletions, Additions, and Alterations
By John Lanagan
Can we just say it? Homosexuality is going to be the dividing line between the true church and the rising apostate church. And Eugene Peterson’s The Message is being used by those who want to avoid or deny the truth that homosexuality is a sin.
The Message flat out deletes homosexuality as sin from two key New Testament passages and gives a politically correct spin to a third (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Romans 1:25-27).
For this reason, The Message and other ungodly imitations of the Bible will be increasingly promoted by those who practice a “form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) that includes acceptance of homosexuality.
Preaching and teaching from The Message rather than the Bible also makes it easier for those who are unwilling, afraid, or just too tired to resist the politically correct juggernaut of homosexuality.
I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing. (Hosea 8:12)
Pastor Carl Lentz oversees Hillsong Church in New York City. Like its parent church in Australia founded by Brian Houston, Hillsong NYC is enormously popular. Celebrities flock there, younger people rave about Hillsong, and secular media give it a free pass.
Such popularity and acceptance would cease if Carl Lentz treated homosexuality like any other sin (i.e., biblically). But Lentz refuses to do so from the pulpit, during interviews, or in any public forum. Among other excuses, he claims he does not deal with homosexual sin publicly because “Jesus rarely dealt with morality or social issues” but with “the deeper things of the heart,” he says.1
During one of his sermons, Lentz used The Message version of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to assert that Hillsong is biblically obedient in refusing to “make polarizing statements about certain things in our Christian community.”2
According to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 from The Message:
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.
Lentz waxed eloquent over one particular phrase from the passage. He repeated, “Be ‘attentive to individual needs.’ That’s interesting. Isn’t that cool? That’s why some churches want us to give blanket answers on huge issues, well, my Bible says be ‘attentive to individual needs.’ So we’re not gonna make polarizing statements about certain things in our Christian community right now. No matter who says what we won’t be pressured into giving blanket statements to individual needs. Never!”3
That sounds kind of heroic, doesn’t it? There is one slight problem: The phrase “attentive to individual needs” is not in any reputable translation of the Bible. It is not in the original Greek. It can only be found in The Message.
In other words, Carl Lentz used a non-existent verse to justify Hillsong’s politically correct silence about homosexual marriage and homosexual sin!
In another sermon, Lentz lamented about biblical illiteracy—and then, ironically, proceeded to teach from The Message. He said:
If you don’t know the Bible, it’s okay. Get to know it. We have a biblically illiterate generation coming up right now where you’re gettin’ second hand information, second hand revelation, second hand stuff that don’t get you through the first hand battle, so make sure you know it for yourself.4
Lentz then told his audience to go to, “James, chapter three. . . . I’m gonna read from The Message.”5 This is further irony because chapter three of James begins by warning that teachers will be more strictly judged.
On more than one occasion, Lentz has assured his audience that The Message is a valid text. Speaking at Judah Smith’s City Church, Lentz stated:
And this morning I’m reading from The Message paraphrase. It’s not a literal translation, but I believe if you check it with all the other translations, it’s right on the money.6
Lentz depends on a phrase not found in genuine translations to justify Hillsong’s politically correct silence about homosexuality.
The Message Versus the Word of God
On a homosexual website, a former evangelical pastor, now living as a homosexual man, uses The Message to assert homosexual relations are God-honoring if performed in love rather than lust.
Tim Evans, author of On Being Gay, relies on The Message versions of 1 Corinthians 6 and Romans 1:25-27 to make his case. He writes:
Reading these renditions and then re-reading the traditional texts without the lens of prejudice, the point is as plain as day. Lust and abuse is wrong and destructive, but love—now that is a different matter.7
Let’s compare The Message passages with those from a genuine Bible.
First, here is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Now, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 from The Message:
Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who do not care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.”
How many people even realize what Peterson has done here? Peterson’s version claims those who “use and abuse the earth” will not be saved! Homosexuality has been removed, and nature/earth reverence has been added! Homosexuality out, earth reverence in! Yet, the Lord tells us:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)
The second passage used by the author of On Being Gay is Romans 1:25-27. Here is the passage from the KJV:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another; men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Compare that with Romans 1:25-27 from The Message:
Refusing to know God they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretcheds. (emphasis mine)
All lust, no love? Commenting on Eugene Peterson’s altered meaning of this passage, Berit Kjos, the author of “What Kind of Message is The Message?,” notes:
This strange wording may leave loopholes for homosexuals that make “sex” seem permissible as long as it is viewed as an expression of “love,” not lust—which many gay couples claim today.8
As Tim Evans has ably demonstrated in On Being Gay, The Message serves as a potent weapon for those who deny that homosexuality is sin.
Before examining one final verse where the sin of homosexuality is deleted in The Message, let’s briefly look at a few other verses that have been changed. This is simply to demonstrate there are deletions, additions, and alterations throughout The Message.
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)
Remember, a generation has now been raised on this “Bible.” For many, it serves as a preferred or even primary text. Nationally known pastors like Rick Warren and Carl Lentz frequently teach from it.
So, just to get a sense of what Eugene Peterson has done, below are two psalms, a verse from Romans, a verse from John, and one from Colossians. We’ll compare The Message versions with those from the KJV.
First, Psalm 1:1:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Now, The Message, Psalm 1:1:
How well God must like you—you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Eugene Peterson’s psalm evokes images of clowns pouring forth from a tiny car, running around in helter-skelter fashion, honking their hand held horns.
Sin-saloon! (Honk, honk) Dead-End Road! (Beep, beep) Smart Mouth-College! (Honk honk, Beep beep)
Several years ago during a radio interview, I read aloud Psalm 1:1 from The Message. The Christian talk radio host exclaimed, “That sounds like a cartoon!”
Let’s compare verses from another psalm. Here is Psalm 32:1-2, KJV:
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Now, Psalm 32:1-2 from The Message, Eugene Peterson’s “lucky” psalm:
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from Him.
Eugene Peterson has taken away “blessed” and added “lucky,” thus changing the very meaning of the verse.
The Lord warns us:
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
Now, let’s see what has been done to Romans 15:13, The Message:
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (emphasis mine)
What God of “green” hope? Here is the same verse from the KJV:
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)
Just as he did in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, where he deleted homosexuality and added “use and abuse the earth” as a sin, Eugene Peterson has inserted a potential God/nature reverence interpretation into Romans 15:13 that is not in any reputable translation of the Bible.
Should we care for the environment? Of course. Should we insert our man-made agendas into passages of Scripture? That is blasphemous.
Keep in mind that many brand new Christians are given The Message because of its readable, everyday language.
I and the Father are one heart and mind. (John 10:30, The Message, emphasis mine)
I and my Father are one. (John 10:30, KJV)
The Message version of John 10:30 changes understanding about Christ’s relationship to the Father. Eugene Peterson changed the very words of Christ.
The following verse is also bold on Peterson’s part, considering the Lord hates attempts to divine or foretell the future. Why the mention of a forbidden practice (along with telescope and microscope) as if it were a legitimate activity?
You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. (Colossians 2:10, The Message)
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:10, KJV)
Why has Eugene Peterson done all this? The Message, bluntly stated, seems written to make Christians less knowledgeable about the Word of God. While that may seem a strong comment, please consider what Eugene Peterson himself said about the Bible:
Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text, which has a separate life of its own, and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we do it. . . . [Christians] should be studying it less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God. . . . I’m just not pleased with all the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing that Christians do, and the more they do the better.9 (emphasis mine)
In contrast, the Word of God encourages us:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The Lord commands us to neither add to nor delete from the Bible. We see this in Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 4:20-21, 30:5-6, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:2, and Revelation 22:19.
It is a mistake to consider Eugene Peterson as some kind of elder statesman of the faith. Not only has he spawned The Message, Peterson has also endorsed two heretical books: The Shack, and Rob Bell’s sly ode to universalism, Love Wins. The latter disputes whether the unsaved will really spend eternity in Hell.
Peterson has been praised and admired for so long that it may be difficult for some to accept that The Message is an offense to God. Yet, as Paul writes:
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Let us heed Paul’s admonition, and not put “men above that which is written.” Not our pastors. Not Christian authors and musicians. And certainly not Eugene Peterson.
That being said, this deception is spiritual in origin as Scripture tells us:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
The Message’s Effect on the Church
Now, let’s return to the issue of homosexual sin. We are at the point where many in the church are wavering about homosexuality.
As with 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, homosexuality is again deleted in 1 Timothy 1:8-11. According to The Message:
It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.
Here is 1 Timothy 1:8-11 from the NASB:
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. (emphasis mine)
The Message is weakening the church. Our long-term acceptance and use of The Message explains in part why many Christians are lukewarm on the issue of homosexuality. Society continues to undergo a paradigm shift. Christians are daily being exposed to a barrage of pro-homosexual propaganda via media, entertainment, politics, and education. Certainly, The Message is not the only factor—but place this “Bible” in a person’s hands, and it can have, over time, significant influence.
This booklet has not been written as a weapon against homosexuals. Far from it. My wife and I (and many others) have repented of this sin and trusted the Lord with our lives. True love is holding to what the Bible says about homosexuality, rather than glorifying the sin, which is what is happening in the culture.
I believe The Message will be increasingly used by on-the-fence churches, apostate churches, and by homosexual “Christian” activists.
The Bible says: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
But how can we understand God’s Truth when Truth is no longer there to be read?
Satan has always tried to twist or deny the truth of God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-5). Jesus Christ Himself showed us the importance of the Word of God. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, Christ fought the devil’s lies and temptation by answering with Scripture. Three times our Lord responded with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
Men like Tyndale and Wycliffe put their lives on the line so common people could have access to the unadulterated Word of God. Now, centuries later, there is relatively little objection when the Bible is altered, revamped, or tinkered with.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)
If you have been using The Message, please don’t feel embarrassed or condemned. After all, The Message has been endorsed by numerous well-known Christians and has been with us for a long time now. People appreciate its everyday, accessible language. So this booklet may come as a bit of a shock.
We have primarily concentrated on the passages where homosexuality is deleted or given a politically correct spin. We have noted what seems suggestive of earth/nature reverence in two other passages, and we have also looked at two altered psalms; then we examined a verse from John and found that The Message offers a different understanding of the relationship between the Father and Christ. Eugene Peterson’s “horoscope” verse was also examined.
The fact is, there is so much wrong with The Message it would take a book (maybe two books) to cover it all. Some other “Scriptures” in The Message you might want to investigate by comparing them with the real thing are: Romans 8:35-37, Matthew 6:9-13, Ephesians 2:1-3, Galatians 5:19-21, and Romans 16:19-21. There are many others.
It is rather amazing how the earth reverence insertions and the altered or deleted passages about homosexual sin play into current political correctness. The Message is seemingly made for worldly churches. But I have often wondered if The Message is the precursor to a sinless, Christ-less “Bible” that will be used by the false church.
That “Bible” will have so-called sins included in it, but more along the lines of the 12 Steps—more generic in nature. A “Christ” figure will be included as well—but not the sinless Savior, our King of kings. Homosexuality will not be a sin but will be treated with reverence.
Christian use of The Message is not a good thing.
The Message is not a translation of the Bible. It is not a para-translation, as its publishers have so cleverly called it. Nor is it a paraphrase, because Eugene Peterson has omitted, and he has added.
The Message should not be used by the body of Christ at all.
To order copies of The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth, click here.
1. Carl Lentz with Katie Couric http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3wLm6pPvRY.
2. Carl Lentz, Huffington Post interview with clip of Lentz preaching (go to18:01 in video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrdJd1vD2MM.
4. Carl Lentz, LOVE IS RED Conference (go to14:38 in video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqXIAS9B0A.
6. There Goes The Neighborhood (go to 6:19 in video) hhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_60hICs834.
7. Tim Evans, On Being Gay (http://www.courage.org.uk/articles/article.asp?id=219)
8. Berit Kjos, “What kind of message is The Message?” (http://www.crossroad.to/Bible_studies/Message.html).
9. Michael J. Cusick, “A Conversation with Eugene Peterson” (Mars Hill Review, Fall 1995, Issue No. 3, http://www.marshillreview.com/sojo/peterson.shtm), pp. 73-90, quoting Peterson.
To order copies of The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth, click here.
Compiled and commented by Understand the Times, International
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[This] video presentation is called From Moses to the Arab Spring to Occupy & the 99% by Shalom Mennonite Church Youth. (This is the same church that made the labyrinth video posted on Menno-lite last week.) According to this video, after learning the stories of Moses in the Bible for 2 years, these youth had a hard time knowing which came first, the ten plagues or the ten commandments. So they put together a time line of the events that compares the way people in the Arab Spring and the Occupy 99% movement around the world are like modern day Moseses.
In the video, they hold up papers of the events of the life of Moses which they have organized into chronological order. A girl holds up the first paper and reads a chart that says:
Pharoah represented the 1% wealthy elite in Egypt.
The Hebrews at the bottom of the social pyramid and suffered under the economic and political system.
Then the story of Moses and the exodus out of Egypt is told in order. It is creatively done by these lovely kids – almost refreshing, were it not for what is added to the end of the story where these youth apply it to modern times. With the help of prompts they conclude that Moses freed the people from “an oppressive economical and political system that oppressed them.” Here is a transcript of their modern day application … Click here to continue reading.
Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church For Social Failures – But Media Silent on Controversial Doctrinal Issues
On October 14, 2014, Mark Driscoll, the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington for the past 18 years, formally resigned from his position after numerous accusations came against him from former members and others. As is the case with most mega-church pastors these days when they do just about anything different than usual, Driscoll’s resignation received widespread attention from both Christian and secular news media. Unsurprisingly, none of these news stories are talking about Driscoll’s unbiblical and faulty doctrinal beliefs but are rather reporting primarily on his moral and social failures, minimizing these failures and emphasizing his apologies.
According to one media source:
Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill Church, stating that he does not wish to continue to be a distraction to the ministry although a six-week review of charges lodged by others within the church cleared him of moral wrongdoing.1
Charges include plagiarism, misuse of church funds, authority abuse against other members, “creating a climate of fear,”2 derogatory remarks made in the past about women, and rude, angry, and unkind behavior toward others who were in submission to him. Driscoll had temporarily stepped down in August for a six-week period while an investigation by Mars Hill board members took place. These events led to his resignation where Driscoll apologized for his past sins.
According to the Christian Post:
Driscoll made headlines earlier this week when he publicly released his resignation letter from Mars Hill, a church he founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1996 and has served as lead pastor since then.
His decision comes shortly after a letter from some Mars Hill Church elders was issued asking Driscoll to step down from leadership. These elders were later fired. . . .
Driscoll grew a small Bible study to a 13,000-member campus with 15 other locations in five states. Mars Hill was recognized as the third fastest growing and 28th largest church in the country by Outreach magazine in 2012.3
In a statement, Mars Hills’ board of overseers said Driscoll hadn’t committed any acts of “immorality, illegality or heresy” — sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.4
Religious News Service’s report stated:
Driscoll, who came into evangelical prominence as multisite churches and podcasts rose in popularity, found a niche within a largely secular Northwest culture. Though he has been controversial for years for statements on women and sexuality, several tipping points likely led up to Driscoll’s resignation.5
In addition to the reports above, other media outlets that reported on Driscoll’s resignation include: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Christianity Today, Fox News, ABC News, New York Observer, and numerous television stations.
Doctrinal Deficiencies Ignored
But in all of these reports, not one that we are aware of has addressed Driscoll’s serious doctrinal deficiencies. What the media, both Christian and secular, has failed to report is that Driscoll has many beliefs and affinities that are contrary to the Word of God. However, neither Christian leaders nor Christian media seem the least bit concerned about that.
To begin with, one of the most serious doctrinal deficiencies is that Mark Driscoll is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and has been for many years. For example, in an article written by Driscoll, ironically titled “Obedience,” Driscoll tells readers to turn to contemplative advocates Richard Foster and Gary Thomas. Driscoll states: “If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.” But these two books that Driscoll has recommended are two of the most damaging books within Christianity today! In Celebration of Discipline, Foster says that everyone “should enroll in the school of contemplative prayer (p. 13, 1978 ed.), and in Sacred Pathways, Thomas tells readers to repeat a sacred word for 20 minutes in order to hear God. Another article written by Mark Driscoll on the Mars Hill Resurgence site is titled “Spiritual Disciplines: Worship.” For those who do not understand the underlying nature of contemplative prayer (and the spiritual disciplines), read this article, “5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer.” The roots behind the contemplative prayer movement are panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God).
In addition to Driscoll’s contemplative leanings, Driscoll publicly mocks and derides Christians who believe in the biblical account of the end times, who homeschool, who believe in a rapture, and who talk about an antichrist coming on the scene one day.
Below is a clip from Joe Schimmel’s DVD, The Submerging Church: How the emerging church is drawing multitudes away from biblical Christianity. This clip shows Driscoll’s mockery of Bible-believing Christians.
Mark Driscoll’s 2008 book, Vintage Jesus, has some noteworthy quotes that further illustrate Driscoll’s faulty beliefs. When that book came out, we contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring Driscoll’s teachings into the Calvary Chapel movement (which has been successfully done in some CC churches).
Calls Christians Little Christs - (page 120):
“To be a Christian is to be a ‘little Christ.'”—Mark Driscoll
Mocks Homeschooling and Armageddon: - (page 157):
“Unlike today where Christians have largely fled the cities in favor of homeschooling about the rapture amidst large stacks of canned goods readied for a hunkering down at the unleashing of Armageddon, Christianity has historically been an urban religion. A reading of the history book of early Christianity, Acts, reveals that Christianity began as an urban movement led by Paul, whose itinerant church planting ministry was almost exclusively urban as he moved from city to city and bypassed the rural areas.”—Mark Driscoll
The Rapture is Dumb – (page 44):
“One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that as God he actually chose to come into our fallen, sick, twisted, unjust, evil, cruel, painful world and be with us to suffer like us and for us. Meanwhile, we spend most of our time trying to figure out how to avoid the pain and evil of this world while reading dumb books about the rapture just hoping to get out.”—Mark Driscoll
(LT Note: In Vintage Jesus, Driscoll favorably quotes Walter Wink, whom Driscoll refers to as “insightful.” But Wink was a liberal theologian who would fall in the emergent camp because of his anti-biblical beliefs. For instance, in Wink’s 1998 book The Powers That Be, Wink denies a “violent” atonement, which is the emerging way of saying that he rejects the idea that God, the Father would send His Son to a violent death as a substitute for the sins of man. This is the exact same thing that Brian McLaren, Harry Fosdick, and other atonement deniers have said, and Wink is in this same category (see our article “A Slaughterhouse Religion.)” We are not saying that Driscoll is denying the atonement, but his favorable reference to an atonement denier shows a serious lack of discernment, at best.)
In addition, Driscoll has promoted what we term “the new sexuality.” Please refer to our 2009 article “A Pastor Speaks Up: Mark Driscoll and the New ‘Sexual Spirituality’”and this Baptist Press article titled “Driscoll’s vulgarity draws media attention.” Radio host Ingrid Schleuter (formally of VCY America) documents Driscoll’s “new sexuality” in her article “Sexpert Pastor Mark Driscoll is Told, ‘Enough is Enough.’”
The “fruit” of Mark Driscoll’s teaching can also be seen in one of Mars Hills’ congregants, a young author named Jeff Bethke, who shares Driscoll’s sentiment regarding Christians who believe the Bible about the last days.
Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain in his book Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) in a chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” Bethke puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity (this realization will be accomplished through practicing meditation—enter contemplative prayer in the Christian church to help bring about a great falling away).
While Mark Driscoll has resigned because of social and moral failures, there is absolute silence coming from Christian leaders, Christian media, and secular media on the real heart of Driscoll’s problems—his beliefs. Perhaps nothing illustrates the nature of Driscoll’s beliefs more than his recent comments about the 2014 Hollywood movie, Noah. A Lighthouse Trails article titled “Mark Driscoll’s Distorted View on Noah and Salvation . . . (And How Some People Have a Very Strange Idea as to the Meaning of God’s Salvation),” shows Driscoll’s very distorted view of salvation (the Gospel). In Driscoll’s so-called defense of the biblical account of Noah, he says that the Noah account was an example of God’s grace and that it had nothing to do with Noah’s righteousness or even Noah’s faith in God. And in fact, in a sermon by Mark Driscoll (see video clip below), he says that Noah was “bad all of the time.” This is a commonly believed and twisted view of God and salvation that says God loves and chooses some and hates and rejects others based on nothing more than God’s own personal whim rather than on one’s faith or trust in God (“without faith it is impossible to please [God]“—Hebrews 11:6). Could it be that Driscoll’s view of salvation and of a God who does not love all of mankind is at least in part the reason for his social and moral failures (e.g., anger, abuse, ridicule, and mockery)? In actuality, the story of Noah is about God saving the one man on the earth who had faith in God.
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22)
And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
You can click here to read a short piece by Dr. Harry Ironside on Noah that will help dispel the confusion that Mark Driscoll has brought.
The accusations of plagiarism, misuse of church funds to manipulate one of his books to get on the New York Times best-seller list, authority abuse, and crude and demeaning talk about women certainly is enough reason for Driscoll to resign from the pulpit; however his beliefs and “doctrines” are being completely ignored, and it is our guess that in time (and probably not too much of it) Driscoll will resurface with a new ministry or a “restoration” to his old ministry, and this contemplative, emerging pastor will not have changed at all in the areas most important. He has publicly apologized for getting angry and being mean to people, and that’s all people seem to care about. And why not? Many of today’s Christian leaders share Driscoll’s contemplative, emerging propensities. They’ll be the last ones to speak up.
In short, the saddest thing of all is the lack of discernment and integrity of the church at large to stem the tide of apostasy that has already flooded our midst.
2010 Film “With God on Our Side” – Championed by Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren & Steve Haas (World Vision) – Has Changed the Minds of Evangelicals
By Jan Markell
Olive Tree Ministries
Today, one of the greatest seductions is that there could be world peace if only the Palestinians had a homeland. The film that came out in 2010 titled With God On Our Side is aimed at changing the end-time views of evangelicals and the theology that says the Jews are God’s chosen people and have a divine right to the land of Israel.
Porter Speakman, the movie’s producer, explains that there is a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel. He says there is a theology that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians. Peace would be terrific if Palestinian leadership wanted peace with Israel. They don’t. They want a one-state solution and the destruction of Israel. So whatever theology Speakman refers to is bogus.
“Palestinian Christians lived here for centuries in this land. Suddenly they meet Christian groups of people who say the Palestinians are obstacles to the Second Coming of Christ. You need to move out to make room for the Jewish Diaspora to come here.”
“Anti-Israel activists see American evangelicals as key to U.S. support for Israel. That is why they are targeting evangelicals with messages of pro-Palestinian solidarity as supposedly central to Christian compassion.”
“Anti-Israel activists see American evangelicals as key to U.S. support for Israel. That is why they are targeting evangelicals with messages of pro-Palestinian solidarity as supposedly central to Christian compassion.”
“The film’s main message to evangelicals is that the old religious Right crassly imposed a pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy based on its end-time theology, creating untold suffering among largely innocent Palestinians. The film suggests that more thoughtful, more compassionate evangelicals will reject that heritage and instead stand with the Palestinians as the victim group most needing compassion.”
“The film perpetuates a simplistic stereotype alleging that American evangelicals self-servingly only support Israel because a Jewish presence there is central to their blood-thirsty apocalyptic dreams about the second coming of Jesus.”
I hope other evangelicals are as outraged as I am at being called “blood-thirsty.”
To sum it up, Israel and the U.S. are nasty imperialists, and Christian Zionist evangelicals only back the Jews because of perceived abused theology: God will bring the Jews back to the land. It rightfully belongs to them. The last days’ scenario centers around the Jewish people and nation. Say folks, I say we can’t change Scripture although many are trying to do so today!
What is true is that Palestinian leaders and the entire Arab world abuse them, not U.S. imperialism and anybody’s end-time theology. Evangelicals are strong supporters of Islamic evangelism around the world. Many evangelical agencies have been raised up, particularly since 9/11, to reach out to lost Muslims, including Palestinians.
The film With God On Our Side wants increased U.S. pressure on Israel to accommodate Palestinian demands, facilitated by reduced U.S. evangelical support for Israel. It just won’t happen. We are smart enough to know that what they really want is Israel dismantled altogether in favor of a one-state solution: Palestine.
Just what exactly is “Christian Zionism?” It is a movement supporting the return of the Jewish people to their rightful homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. Christians who fit into this category are almost exclusively evangelicals who believe God has a continuing special relationship with the Jews [as opposed to the belief of Replacement Theology]. He has a covenant with them that can never be broken. This is apart from the church. This is based on literal and futurist interpretation of the Bible and the conviction that Old Testament prophecies concerning the Jewish people are being fulfilled today in the State of Israel.
According to the film, With God on Our Side, Christian Zionism and our strange theology have muddied the waters more than any other entity! So, along comes a man who cannot stand the stench of Israel, Stephen Sizer. He is a Church of England priest who has written several anti-Israel books and anti-Christian Zionist books including Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon and Zion’s Christian Soldiers. Here are some more blood-thirsty images!
Sizer insists that the theology of Christian Zionists rejects some ethnic groups such as the Palestinians. He suggests we are using the lens of Bible prophecy and not the lens of justice. Most evangelicals will always choose the lens of the Bible so let Sizer bang his head against the wall in utter frustration. He has a great platform to do so on the program by the so-called “Bible Answerman,” Hank Hanegraaff. Who are some championing this film? Those who usually side with religious Left causes including Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Steve Haas from World Vision, Gary Burge from Wheaton College, and more.
This film came at a time when Barack Obama tried to impose a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. Obama behaved as though he were President of the World, dictating borders and treaties even if one side does not want to participate. He has clashed with the Lord God of Israel, and America may never be the same. What other sovereign nation would put up with this scenario? None.
Gen. David Petraeus has blamed the war on terror on Israel, saying that the perception in the Arab world is that America cannot “stand up to Israel.” As a consequence of that perception, Petraeus said, America was losing support among the moderate Arab states. There are no moderate Arab states. But this is just one more American voice condemning our number-one ally and “the apple of God’s eye” (Zechariah 2:8). There was even talk that Barack Obama is going to shut down Israel’s nuclear program. What other nation would be on the receiving end of such abuse?
Some have concluded that Israel, while important, isn’t that important to the United States. The administration has “dug in” on its position and maintains that any Jewish construction in Jerusalem is an “Israeli provocation” and that the price for “peace” is a Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of any Jewish presence.
So those behind this pathetic effort to demonize a group of Christian Zionists and, for that matter, demonize all of Israel, need to do a reality check. There are consequences. Covenants are involved: Genesis 17:6-7; Genesis 12:1-7; Psalm 105:8-15. God is on the side of those with whom He has covenants: Israel and believing Christians who call him Savior. He will never break a covenant. That you can count on. You and I are betting eternity on His trustworthiness. Watching Him perform His promises to Israel should give us great comfort!
LTRP Note: As you read this article by Warren B. Smith, note how similar the New Age “doctrine” and terminology is to that of the “new” Christianity that has been presented to the church today through contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, and the emerging church.
By Warren B. Smith
In the New Age scheme of things, “love” means seeing yourself and your fellow man as a part of God and “one” with God. “Love” and “oneness” are equated with all of those who confess themselves to be a part of God. “Love” and “oneness” are said to be true perceptions based on right thinking. “Love” and “oneness” produce peace, health, and spiritual growth in the “one body” of mankind. They are the ticket to the next spiritual level. “Love” and “oneness” people are those who follow New Age/New Gospel teachings and the New Age God and Christ.
In the New Age Gospel scheme of things, “fear” means seeing yourself and your fellow man as “separate” and not as a part of God. “Fear” and “separation” are equated with all of those who refuse to see themselves as being a part of God. “Fear” and “separation” are said to be erroneous perceptions based on wrong thinking. “Fear” and “separation” prevent the attainment of peace, produce illness in the body of mankind, and prevent spiritual growth. They are the ticket to the “selection process” because they prevent the “one body” of humanity from advancing to the next spiritual level. “Fear” and “separation” people are those who oppose New Age/New Gospel teachings and the New Age God and Christ. Traditional Christian believers, by New Age definition, are “fear” and “separation” people.
The “God” and “Christ” of the New Age Spirituality use these cleverly contrived words and concepts to divide the world into two camps: those who follow them and those who oppose them. Through the ingenious use of language they make their case and push their position. Always taking the high road of “love” and “oneness” they isolate those who oppose them by branding them as “fearful” and “separate.”
The “God” and “Christ” of the New Age/New Gospel are very adept at never saying “traditional Christian believers,” but instead say “those who are under the illusion of separation.” They do not say “traditional Christianity is evil” or “traditional Christianity is of the devil.” They say “separation is evil” and “separation is of the devil.” Instead of saying, “traditional Christianity is a crime that must be driven from this world,” they state: “The crime of separation must be driven from this world.”1 Instead of saying, “traditional Christian believers will one day be submitted to the selection process,” they state: “All that hinders the manifestation of man’s divinity must be driven from our planet.”2
How do the New Age “God” and “Christ” suggest that Christians, and others under “the illusion of separation,” rid themselves of the “fear” that is causing them to feel separate from God? By “atoning” through the “at-one-ment” process. That is, by affirming that “all is love” and “all is God” and never forgetting that they are a part of God. By their definition, the only way you can be “loving” and “at-one” with your fellow man is by ultimately pledging allegiance to the doctrine of “oneness.” From this perspective you are either a “love” and “oneness” person or you are a “fear” and “separation” person. Your “love” of God is expressed by seeing yourself and others as a part of God, as “one” with God. Your “fear” of God is expressed by seeing yourself and others as not being a part of God, as “separate” from God. In their New Age future, you will live or die based on whether or not you see yourself as a part of God. It is the doctrine of “oneness” versus the doctrine of “separation.” It is as simple and straightforward and brutal as that.
If it all sounds kind of backward, that is because it is. It is the language and methodology of the “God” and “Christ” of the New Age/New Gospel. And it is the same terminology and methodology being used by their New Age followers. “Oneness” is presented as the inevitable by-product of “love” and as such is like “mom and apple pie.” Who could possibly be against “mom and apple pie”? “Separateness” is regarded as the inevitable by-product of “fear” and as such is like “the Grinch who stole Christmas.” Who in their right mind supports “the Grinch who stole Christmas”? The upshot of this clever conditioning process is to impress people everywhere with the seemingly indisputable contention that if you are against “oneness” you are also against God, Christ, and your fellow man.
Only an ingenious and creatively deceptive spirit world could have thought up such a diabolical way of separating and disparaging Christian believers and others who do not believe they are a part of God. Who could possibly be against “oneness”? And the answer is, of course, only those who have been “deceived” into believing in “the crime of separation.” Only those who are under the “self-centered” illusion that they are “separate” and not a part of God. Only those who have been “deluded” into believing that the “sin of separation” is real.
The Meaning of Separation in the New Age Gospel—Direct quotes from “God” or “Christ”
Separation is an illusion
This is your assignment. This is your work. You are to destroy the illusion of separation. (Walsch’s “God,” FWG, p. 21)
Separation is not believing you are a part of God
The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation. (“Jesus,” A Course in Miracles, Text, p. 147)
Nothing separates you from Me, and soon many will realise this. I am with you and in you. I seek to express That which I am through you; for this I come. (Maitreya, Messages, p. 22)
Separation is self-centeredness
[T]he fundamental regression is self-centeredness, or the illusion that you are separate from God. I “make war” on self-centeredness. It shall surely be overcome. The child must become the adult. Human must become Divine. That is the law. (Hubbard’s “Christ,” Revelation, p. 233)
Separation is not love
Love is the only way. You cannot gain the next stage of evolution in a self-centered state. (Hubbard’s “Christ,” Revelation, p. 236)
Separation is fear
It is essential at the moment of infusion of empathy that you overcome all fear of separation from God. This overcoming of fear in a whole planetary experience is an irresistible force. No being can resist it. (Hubbard’s “Christ,” Revelation,
Separation is hatred
Let us together show the world: that the need for war is past; that the instinct of man is to live and to love; that hatred is begotten of separation. . . . (Maitreya, Messages, p. 108)
Separation is evil
Just before the final wave of tribulations—the seven last plagues—those who resist evil, those who are victorious in their struggle against the temptation of separation, stand upon a burning sea of glass. (Hubbard’s “Christ,” Revelation, p. 201)
Separation is Satan
When at last you see that there is no separation in God’s World—that is, nothing which is not God—then, at last, will you let go of this invention of man which you have called Satan. (Walsch’s “God,” Conversations With God, Book 3, p. 56)
The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the “devil.” (“Jesus,” ACIM Text, p. 50)
Your triumph over Satan, that is, over the illusion of separation, will be a victory for the universal community. (Hubbard’s “Christ,”Revelation, p. 193)
Separation is sin
I shall drive from this Earth forever the curse of hatred, the sin of separation. (Maitreya, Messages, p. 104)
Separation is sickness
A sick person perceives himself as separate from God. Would you see him as separate from you? It is your task to heal the sense of separation that has made him sick. (“Jesus,” ACIM Manual, p. 56)
Separation is lawlessness The crime of separation, of division, of lawlessness must go from the world. All that hinders the manifestation of man’s divinity must be driven from our planet. My Law will take the place of separation. (Maitreya, Messages, p. 248)
Separation is crime
The crime of separation must be driven from this world. I affirm that as My Purpose. (Maitreya, Messages, p. 189)
Separation is a “lack” that must be corrected
A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. (“Jesus,” ACIM Text , p. 14)
[These quotes excerpted from: A Course in Miracles; Conversations with God, Book 3 and Friendship with God, N.D. Walsch; Messages from Maitreya the Christ; and The Revelation, B. M. Hubbard.]
The Bible’s Meaning of Separation from God
Man, by his selfish choice to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, willingly chose the path that would separate him from fellowship with God. At that moment sin, death, shame, fear, guilt—all the things that plague the human race—were introduced to the human soul that had, to that point known Divine fellowship and love. The response of the Lord was to seek the lost. Then, as now, God is at work, redeeming our separation by atoning sacrifice, which is a gift of His love to His creation. Jesus Christ came to seek and redeem the lost (the separated). Those who acknowledge their need are brought back into fellowship with God through Jesus’ atonement. At Christ’s death, the veil of “separation” in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:50–51), ending sin’s separating curse once and for all. The root of the sin that separates man and God has always been born first in the concept “I will” (self). The mistake of deifying the creature/creation as opposed to worshipping the Creator has always provoked judgment/separation from God.
Separation is a result of worshipping creation:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:21–25)
Separation is ended by atonement of Jesus Christ:
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:10-11)
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us . . . For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:12–14, 18-19)
Believers cannot be separated from Jesus Christ:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)
Believers are hated and separated by the world:
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. (Luke 6:22)
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:14–15)
Believers separate themselves from the world
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
To read more about the New Age “Christ,” read Warren B. Smith’s book, False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?
Is religion to blame?—War, Religion, and the Interfaith Global Peace Agenda by Carl Teichrib i is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Is religion to blame?—War, Religion, and the Interfaith Global Peace Agenda by Carl Teichrib, click here.
“Is religion to blame?—War, Religion, and the Interfaith Global Peace Agenda”
[A]ll modern trends point to the specter of a terrifying, bigger and more pitiless conformity.1—Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
If a global motto exists, it would have to be “Give Peace a Chance.”2 From every corner of the world, from every academy and institution, from every school, public office and even many churches, the cry for global peace is being sounded.
Peace is a noble idea; but since mankind has had a written history, we have never known true peace. The scattered, bleached bones of human history testify to this brutal truth—millions upon millions of times over.
So is mankind incapable of achieving ultimate peace on Earth? In a nutshell, yes. But accepting this reality doesn’t imply that we are to automatically embrace conflict and strife. If anything, it gives us a window into who we are and how we operate. Unfortunately, the view from this window isn’t very pretty.
How do we collectively respond to this sad state of affairs? By perpetuating a lie!
Religious Guilt and the Death Factor
It has been popularly said that religion is responsible for the majority of the world’s conflicts. Posted on a BBC News Talking Point discussion board on the relevance of religion, one commentator boldly asserted, “Just look around the world today. Religion is the cause of all war and hate.”3
Expounding on this line of thinking is an Internet petition seeking “world peace” by the outright banning of “organized religion.” This petition, which needs to be viewed for what it is—an exercise in dissent—makes it very clear that organized religion “in all its factions, is responsible for most of the worlds wars and the entire ‘War on Terrorism.’” A number of petition signers, some showing immense tolerance by resorting to obnoxious and crude language, repeat the mantra “Religion is the cause of all wars.”4
In a more serious fashion than this off-beat online petition, interfaith founder of the metaphysical Integral Institute and a contributor to BeliefNet.com Ken Wilber writes:
Throughout history, religion has been the single greatest source of human-caused wars, suffering, and misery. In the name of God, more suffering has been inflicted than by any other manmade cause . . . for every year of peace in humankind’s history there have been fourteen years of war, 90% of which have been fought either because of, or under the banner of, God by whatever name.5
Has religion really inflicted “more suffering” than any other man-made cause? Is this assumption, one shared by a large segment of society, an accurate notion? Certainly it’s a position that’s well ingrained.6 Demonstrating the imbedded nature of this popular impression, history professor Pat Johnson writes:
I challenge my classes to comment on the following statement: Organized religion has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause. Almost all the students raise their hands in agreement.7
Logically, if religion has been the major cause of the world’s wars and death, then religion should shoulder the burden of responsibility towards making peace. Today, this rationale underscores much of the global interfaith movement, including the 2005 United Nations Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace.8
But can the finger of guilt really point to religion as the primary cause of war and strife?
The Killing Century
In analyzing this hypothesis of religion’s global war guilt, let’s examine the role of religion as the primary killing factor in the bloodiest century of all time—the last one hundred or so years. As Winston Churchill explained during the MIT Mid-Century Convocation:
Little did we guess that what has been called the Century of the Common Man would witness as its outstanding feature more common men killing each other with greater facilities than any other five centuries together in the history of the world.9
So was religion the prime death factor, the “single greatest source” of war and suffering, for this very cruel and brutal century?
In order to understand the answer to this question, let us take a look at the major wars and human-caused genocides that occurred during this time frame. And in order to do this in the space allotted for this booklet, we need a lower stop-limit number—let’s say 1.5 million as a minimum death total.
Please bear in mind that this list will not be able to separate-out all examples. Some, such as the death figure for World War II, could be broken down into holocaust tabulations, single battle totals, etc.—but we’ll try to keep it simple.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that many historical conflicts and killings lack accurate death tabulations, and in some instances the numbers given in our list may actually be too low.
Other problems arise from the lack of concrete death totals. For example: the Mexican uprisings of 1910-1920 variably run between 750,000 and 2 million dead, likewise the decades-old Rwanda/Burundi conflict falls into this statistically difficult range. Because of the variance in accounting up to the 1.5 million mark, I will leave out these two examples along with many others that display complex numerical discrepancies up to the 1.5 million figure.
However, the following death-inventory will suffice for our brief review.10 Notice how few of these mass-killing events had classical religion as its central cause. And yes, religious factors do come into play in some instances, yet even in these examples there are other causes and motivations that go beyond religion.
Congo Free State (1886-1908): 8 million—with some estimates up to 13 million; control of colonial profit and power base.
Feudal Russia (1900-1917): 3.5 million; political control and consequences of political struggle.
Turkish Purges (1900-1923): 3 to 5 million; political control before and surrounding the Ottoman collapse, Islamic/ethnic factors within political/national expansionism—Pan Turkism.
First World War (1914-1918): 15 million; balance of power.
Russian Civil War (1917-1922): 9 million; political control.
Stalin (1924-1953): 20 million—with some estimates up to 60 million; political control.
China Nationalist Era (1928-1937): 3 million; political control.
Second World War (1939-1945): 55 million; German/Japanese expansionism, balance of power
Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945): 17 to 24 million; Japanese expansionism into China. Note: this number may or may not include the Henan Famine of 1942-43, which started as a drought but was horrifically accelerated by the Chinese government in Chongqing. If the numbers for the Sino-Japanese War do not include the Henan Famine, than add 3 to 4 million more dead. Furthermore, it must be recognized that the Sino-Japanese War blended into the Pacific Theatre of World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Soviet Repatriations—Victims of Yalta (1944-1947): 1.5 to 2.8 million; end-of-war and post-war repatriation of “Soviet citizens” from Western Allied-controlled territory to the Soviet Union.
Post-World War II German Expulsions (1945-1950): 2.2 million—with some estimates at 5 million; post-war retributions and displacement actions of Germans from Eastern Europe, consequences of Allied policies and Soviet “reparations in kind.”
Yugoslavia (1941-1987): 1.5 to 4.8 million; political control, ethnic/religious issues play an important role. Note: The history of conflict, genocide, and democide in the Balkans is complex and the accuracy of the numbers are difficult to ascertain. That said, the numbers given represent WWII and up to the immediate post-Tito era.
Chinese Civil War (1945-1949): 2.5 million; political control.
Mao Zedong (1949-1975): 45 to 70 million; political control and consequences of collectivist policies. Note: Approximately 45 million perished during Mao’s Great Leap Forward alone, due to starvation, collectivized and forced labor, beatings, and executions. The higher number of 70 million would include the death toll of the Great Leap Forward.
North Korea (1948-today): 2 to 3.5 million; political control and consequences of collectivist policies. Note: The numbers may be much higher due to famine/starvation.
Korean War (1950-1953): 3 million; political control.
Second Indochina War (1960-1975): 2 to 4 million; political control. Note: The higher figure represents the expanded capacity of the Second Indochina War beyond Vietnam and into surrounding nations.
Ethiopia (1962-1992): 1.5 to 2 million; political control and the exasperation of famine conditions, ethnic issues come into play.
Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1971): 1 million but up to 3 million due to starvation; political control, religion and ethnic issues played a role.
Pakistan-Bangladesh Genocide (1971): 1.7 to 3 million; political/economic and social control over East Pakistan, ethnic and religious issues come into play.
Khmer Rouge (1975-1978): 2.5 million; political control and collectivist policies.
Afghanistan (1979-2001): 1.8 million; political control, Soviet expansion, religion (Islam) and tribal/ethnic factors played a role in internal strife.
Second Sudanese War (1983-2005): 2 million; historical ethnic struggles, Islamic issues played a key role, resource control and usage.
Congo (1998-today): 3 to 5.5 million; political control and regional debasement, ethnic strife, resource and territorial control.
The sheer horror and brutality of mankind throughout the twentieth century cannot be properly demonstrated in a simplistic chart. However, it’s more than apparent that the principal causation of the majority of these awful events—especially those with death numbers more than five million high—cannot be laid at the feet of classical religion.
Remember Professor Johnson and his statement, “Organized religion has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause”? Professor Johnson just baited his students, and as the good professor tells us, “Almost all the students raise their hands in agreement.” He adds:
I then demand that they provide dead bodies as evidence. They usually mention the Crusades and one or two other religious wars they might have heard of but in none of their examples can they come up with a million deaths . . . I then point out that most of the people who have died as a result of war, have done so in the 20th century and that most of the killing was done in the name of secular ideologies. I then ask them who is the ‘baddest’ of them all. Most guess Hitler. I then tell them that he is rated #3. Some then guess Stalin, and I inform them that most scholars place him at #2 with 20 million killed. Almost no one gets #1 who, of course, is Mao who starts with an estimated 45 million. I then point out that the top two were Communists, and Hitler was a radical proponent of Social Darwinism. All of these ideologies are based on atheistic systems.11
Matthew White, a librarian who has done a tremendous amount of study in genocide/war issues and is the author of the online Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, gives this Q&A response to the question of “religion”:
Q: Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?
A: No, of course not—unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century—Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union—no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion.12
Major John P. Conway, studying at the US Army Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, commented in an article “War and Religion: Is Religion to Blame?”:
Most times, it can be argued that religion may play a key and significant role in the conduct of warfare on a psychological and cultural level, but is it the cause of warfare? Do nations, states and kingdoms wage war over religion? Is religion a primary cause of conflict between governments? Many have argued that it is. Another popular statement is, “Religion has been the cause of more wars than any other factor throughout history.” This is commonly accompanied by “people have been killing each other in the name of God for centuries.” Upon closer examination, these statements exude an element of mythology versus fact . . . A fundamental analysis of past wars commonly attributed to “religion,” as the causal factor, may reveal an uninformed and reactionary misjudgment. Throughout the course of history, the cause of warfare between sovereign states, kingdoms, and governments is attributable to many factors, but can rarely be attributed to “religion” as is so often the assertion.13
Major Conway continues:
[I]t becomes apparent that those who make the claim “religion has been the cause of more wars than any other factor in history” may speak from ignorance or have ulterior motives for the assertion. Further, this type of assertion seems rooted in anti-religion posturing . . . Men and nations have a history of warfare and the root of conflict is power and gain . . . Occasionally war is fought over religion, as is perhaps the case during the reformation period in Europe. More often than not however, the cause of war can’t be laid at the door of religion.14
Certainly religion plays a motivational and ruse factor in various conflict scenarios. All kinds of pretexts can be used in inciting and snow-balling hostilities; in 1969, for example, soccer played a key role in exploding tensions between Honduras and El Salvador. But as a whole the main cause of the major genocides and wars of the last one hundred years lie outside of purely religious stimulus. Moreover, even wars that contain a deep religious element often have multiple causation, including economic, political, and territorial grievances.
None of this is to say that religion is innocent when it comes to strife. Historically, we can cite the Catholic Crusades and the resulting Reformation genocides, and the mass slaughters done in the name of Allah—such as during the Wars of Apostasy.15 In modern times, we can see the effects of Catholic-Protestant clashes in the British Isles, Hindu-Islamic hostilities in India, the Islamic-Christian slaughters in Sudan, Buddhist-Hindu warfare in Sri Lanka, Moslem-Christian fighting in Indonesia, and the constant struggle in the Middle East between Israel and her Moslem neighbors. Islam as a religious/cultural/political system does play a dominant role in many regional conflicts and localized tension-points. However, in terms of the largest concentration of outright killing capacity, communism, national socialism, and imperial expansionism—all power struggles based on centralist political methodologies—have been the grandest contributor to war and human-caused mass death. Nothing else comes even remotely close.
Clearly, to exert that “religion is the cause of all war and strife” demonstrates a severe degree of historical naivety or deeply distorted emotional blinders or the outright broadcasting of disinformation for an ulterior motive (see Major Conway’s previous quote).
For the students of Mr. Johnson’s class, naivety is the most probable reason for their belief in this religion-war mythology. But for others, ulterior motives exist.
Wrong Assumptions, Wrong Peace
When wrong suppositions are employed, wrong results are guaranteed.
As already demonstrated, the war/religion assumption is nothing short of faulty. While religions today and historically have been culpable (Islam is a prime example in both modern and ancient contexts16), religion has not been the prime cause in every instance of war and strife, not even in the most extraordinary cases of the 20th century. Embracing this mythology as fact, the quest for world peace already finds itself building on a shaky foundation.
But regardless of the incorrect nature of the above point of view, many religious authors and spiritual leaders hold to this assumption. Then, taking motivational cues from this war theory, a response is formulated around another faulty assumption.
In a nutshell, this line of reasoning goes as follows: As faith communities are to blame for the world’s sorrows, then religions need to unite under a common umbrella to ensure peace and security prevails. Therefore, by uniting faiths in the push toward world peace, the divisions that drive humanity to mass violence will be bridged. Today’s global interfaith movement takes this approach, as do many such as Ken Wilber.
Postulating this idea of religious unity under the assumption of religion’s historical war burden, Wilber states:
If humanity is ever to cease its swarming hostilities and be united in one family, without squashing the significant and important differences among us, then something like an integral approach seems the only way. Until that time, religions will continue to brutally divide humanity, as they have throughout history, and not unite, as they must if they are to be a help, not a hindrance, to tomorrow’s existence.17
So what does it mean to be religiously “united in one family”?
Marcus Braybrooke, president of the World Congress of Faiths, explores this theme in his book, Faith and Interfaith in a Global Age:
My hope—though certainly not the hope of all in the interfaith movement—remains that dialogue will eventually bring convergence or, at least, that theology will become an inter-religious discipline or “global theology.”18
German Catholic theologian Hans Küng describes a similar pan-spiritual unification:
[A]fter intra-Protestant and intra-Christian ecumenism we have irrevocably reached the third ecumenical dimension, ecumenism of the world religions!19
Küng and Braybrooke’s concept of interfaith or interspirituality is shared by a large assortment of spiritual thinkers and even some religions. John Davis and Naomi Rice—both connected with the Coptic Fellowship International—succinctly tell us:
[T]he ultimate objective is a fellowship of religions, and the gradual appearance of a world-faith, which in its broader concept will be able to encompass all humanity.20
Similarly, the Bahá’í International Community, the global representative of the Bahá’í faith, openly asserts, “The key to interfaith harmony and co-operation is to focus on the essential oneness of all religions.”21
To a global public sick of war and bloodshed, the above unification ideology becomes a very appealing venue. Yet this postulation flies in the face of anthropology, sociology, history, and theology. The belief sets of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Animism, Hinduism, New Age, and so on, are fundamentally and irrevocably disconnected from one another—including who God is (or is not), the constitution of Man, the problem of evil, and the redemption solution to humanities failed state. Furthermore, the concept that all religions are “equally valid” is logically inconsistent when their theologies are in opposition to each other.
If all religions are authenticated as valid, we must then admit each spiritual expression into this new “global religious club” as legitimate forms. Therefore, cults-of-death—such as the Aum Supreme Truth movement, which was accused of delivering nerve gas inside a Tokyo subway train—must be more than just tolerated; they must be embraced as legitimate sources of truth. Satanism too, along with any other anti-social belief system, no matter how disagreeable, must be accepted on par and received into this universal fold. In time, Bible-believing Christians will be singled out as unacceptable ingredients to this global ecumenical soup.
Clearly, this “world faith for world peace” assumption is also lacking in credibility. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, this flawed unity concept is designed around the first fabrication—the guilt of war.
It can never be said that a House of Truth is built on lies, yet the perfect dream of world peace is being constructed on that very foundation. Waving the flag of tolerance and solidarity, religion is looking to re-invent itself to a new level of “planetary responsibility”—devoid of truth, logic, and reality.
Indeed, as mankind sacrifices truth in the pursuit of peace, the only peace gained will come at the sacrifice of liberty. Why? Because such a system, misdirected from the onset, can only coerce and enforce. And whenever man imposes a utopian peace design—that is, the “creation of peace” at the expense of reality—it inevitably becomes a “bloody utopian dream.”22
Paradoxically, by its nature, a “world faith,” world peace structure may actually become a type of self-fulfilling prophecy, ultimately raising the terrifying banner; “Peace is the destruction of all opposition.”23
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division. (Luke 12 :51)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.—Jesus (John 14:27)
To order copies of Is religion to blame?—War, Religion, and the Interfaith Global Peace Agenda by Carl Teichrib, click here.
1. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse (Arlington House Publishers, 1974), p.17.
2. The song “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon, recorded on May 31, 1969, has become a type of global anthem often sung at peace rallies.
3. BBC News Talking Points, “Is Religious Faith Still Relevant?” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/1885779.stm, April 9, 2002).
4. Caution: some of the language is very foul and would not be suitable for young readers, http://web.archive.org/web/20050115081421/http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Ban%20religion/signatures.
5. Ken Wilber, “Why Do Religions Teach Love and Yet Cause So Much War” (www.beliefnet.com/story/147/story_14762.html BeliefNet column).
6. See Carl Teichrib, “Casting Stones: Christianity and the History of Genocide” (http://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.php/Casting_Stones_-_Part_2#Casting_Stones_-_Christianity_and_the_History_of_Genocide).
7. Professor Pat Johnson, responding to an online Christian apologetics discussion regarding war as an excuse against Christianity (http://net-burst.net/hot/war.htm).
8. The U.N. Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace was held on June 22, 2005, in conference room #4 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. A reading of the various speeches and documents that surround this event demonstrates the link between religion as a conflict force (and the guilt this implies) versus what religions can now do—unite under the banner of world peace and development.
9. Winston Churchill, MIT Mid-Century Convocation address, March 31, 1949.
10. Sources for this chart include the work of R.J. Rummel, Matthew White, and a host of other encyclopaedic resources.
11. Professor Pat Johnson, op. cit.
12. Matthew White, FAQ section on 20th century history (http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/war-faq.htm).
13. Major John P. Conway, US Army Professional Writing Collection, “War and Religion: Is Religion to Blame?” (http://web.archive.org/web/20130415011457/http://www.army.mil/professionalWriting/volumes/volume1/december_2003/12_03_2.html).
15. For more information on these historical conflicts and slaughters, see The Encyclopedia of Military History by R Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Age of Faith by Will Durant, The Crusades by Zoe Oldenbourg, Judgement Day: Islam, Israel and the Nations by Dave Hunt, Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, A History of the Jews by Abram Leon Sachar, and The Arabs in History by Bernard Lewis, etc.
16. See Dave Hunt, Judgement Day: Islam, Israel and the Nations (The Berean Call, 2005) and Dore Gold, Hatred’s Kingdom (Regnery Publishing, 2003).
17. Ken Wilber, “Why Do Religions Teach Love and Yet Cause So Much War,” op. cit.
18. Marcus Braybrooke, Faith and Interfaith in a Global Age (CoNexus, 1998), pp.15-16.
19. Hans Küng, Preface to Willard G. Oxtoby’s, The Meaning of Other Faiths (The Westminster Press, 1983), p.10.
20. John Davis and Naomi Rice, Messiah and the Second Coming (Coptic Press, 1982), p.111.
21. Bahá’í International Community, “At the UN, Governments and Religious NGOs Convene a Peace Conference” (One Country, April-June 2005, p.14, http://www.onecountry.org/story/un-governments-and-religious-ngos-convene-peace-conference).
22. See the “Bloody Utopian Dreams” series by Carl Teichrib: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/teichrib/utopian-dreams-1.htm.
To order copies of Is religion to blame?—War, Religion, and the Interfaith Global Peace Agenda by Carl Teichrib, click here.