Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

Ten Questions for Those Who Claim the “Supreme Beings” of the Nations are the True God

By Sandy Simpson

When did ANY of the Patriarchs and Prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles or Jesus Christ in the New Testament ever claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations were Elohim/YHWH, the one True God? And yet, this very thing is being taught by popular figures within the Christian church today.

I have ten questions for the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People (WCGIP) adherents such as Don Richardson, Daniel Kikawa, the late Richard Twiss, Terry LeBlanc, Danny Lehman, Aloha Ke Akua, YWAM as well as many in the Emergent Church (EC). The questions arise from their claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations are all the True God, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have included Scripture verses with each of the following questions, and the footnotes provide further documentation.

 10 Questions with Scriptural Answers

1. Did Abraham claim that the God who called him from Haran was the same as the god Baal of the Canaanites?

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:4; emphasis added)

The word for “LORD” in the above verse is YHWH, the name of God, the I Am. Baal was a false god of the Caananites, not YHWH. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were actually a polytheistic couple, Baal and Asherah, as in all ancient cultures modeled after the false religion of Nimrod and Semiramis at Babel.1

2. Did Joseph, upon being taken to Egypt, tell the Pharaoh they had always been worshipping the true God by the name of Amen (Amon)?

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him. (Jeremiah 46:25)

The God of Israel, thus the God of Joseph, said He would bring punishment on the false “supreme being” of the Egyptians and the leaders who worshipped it. The “supreme beings” of Egypt were Amen and Mut.2

3. Did Moses, after going up to the mountain of God, come down and tell Israel their worship of the Golden Calf was good because it was the same as the worship of YHWH?

[T]hey have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:8)

The golden calf is contrasted against the true God of Israel by Moses. Interestingly, the golden calf was not only an idol meant to take the place of YHWH, but it was a symbol of the Pharaoh who was considered a “god” by the Egyptians.

I have established that the only god specifically called a “Golden Calf” by the ancient Egyptians in their writings is Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts (these texts exist into later New Kingdom times in reworked formats). In these texts, Pharaoh calls himself a “Golden Calf,” born of heaven, who wishes to be allowed to board the sacred solar bark or boat, which carries the Sun god each day across the heavens. Pharaoh was called “Son of the Sun” and in New Kingdom times “the Sun,” in letters from Canaanite princes addressed to Pharaoh Akhenaten (reigned ca. 1350-1334 BCE).3

So Israel wanted to go back to Egypt and back under the rule of Pharaoh who was to be worshipped as a “god.”

4. Did Joshua, in conquering the nations in Canaan, claim that Baal was the True God?

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:8-13)

During the time of Joshua, the people of Israel worshipped the true God, by in large. But a generation after Joshua died turned away from YHWH to the worship of Baal & Ashtoreth. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.4

5. Did Elijah test the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel just for a good laugh because Baal was really the True God?

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

The whole conflict was between the false god Baal and the true God, YHWH. Postmodern “progressive” inclusivists of today would have never had this showdown. It would have shown that inclusivism is garbage. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.5

6. Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to repent to their god el, who was not Elohim but the consort of Athirat?

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2)

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (Jonah 3:1-5)

Anytime you see the word “LORD” in capitals in English Bibles, it is the word “YHWH.” YHWH sent Jonah to Nineveh, and when they heard that God was going to judge them, they repented. Jonah then got angry because they were Gentiles who worshipped false gods.

The origin of the name Nineveh is obscure. Possibly it meant originally the seat of Ishtar, since Nina was one of the Babylonian names of that goddess.6

El and Athirat were the “supreme beings” of Ninevah.7 They were not worshipping the “El” Who is YHWH but a generic singular El which means “god.” They were continuing in the polytheistic worship of Babel which was the worship of a male and female supreme beings.

7. Did David tell the Philistines to continue to worship the god Dagon because he was the same as YHWH?

And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. (1 Samuel 5:7)

The statue of Dagon fell twice in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, and the men of Ashdod admitted that their god was different from the God of Israel. The “supreme beings” of the Philistines were Dagon and Derceto.8 Emergent inclusivists of today would say that since Dagon was a “supreme being,” he was the true God, and they would get Bible translation societies to include his name in the Ashdod Bible.9

8. Did Daniel tell king Nebuchadnezzar to continue the worship of Marduk as the One True God?

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel 4:33-37)

Nebuchadnezzar had to be taught a lesson by the LORD (YHWH) so he would be humbled and recognize who the True God was. He had built a ninety foot statue either of himself, Nimrod, or Marduk since Marduk is a direct link to the worship of Nimrod. The “supreme beings” of Babylon were Marduk and Astarte (continued worship of Nimrod and Semiramis).10

9. Did Ezra and Nehemiah ask the Persians if they could rebuild the Temple as a tribute to the Persian god Ahura Mazda?

The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:19)

The king Artaxerxes ordered that the temple implements be returned so they could eventually rebuild the temple of the “God of Jerusalem.” This was not for the Persian gods but for the True God. The gods of the Persians were Ahura Mazda and Spenta Armaiti.11

10. Did Paul use a clever missiological technique by telling the Greeks that God is Zeus, or the Romans that He is Jupiter or the Ephesians that He is embodied in Artemis?

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. (Acts 14:11-18)

This situation is entirely consistent with Paul teaching over and over again that the Gentiles “do not know God.” Paul was there to bring them the Gospel, not to syncretize their own god with the God of the Bible. This is exactly what he did in Aereopogus also when he explained to them Who the “Unknown God” was, and most of them did not want to hear the truth.

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. (Galatians 4:8)

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians. 1:21)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. (Romans 1:28)

[N]ot in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. (1 Thessalonians 4:5)

. . . 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. (Ephesians 2:12-13)

[I]n flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

The “supreme beings” of the Greeks were Zeus and Hera, though Zeus had a number of other consorts spawning a pantheon of gods.12 Jupiter and Juno were the “supreme beings” of Rome, again spawning a pantheon of other gods.13 Artemis was a virgin goddess, never married, but was the daughter of Zeus and Leto.14

IN CONCLUSION
The obvious answer to the questions above, both from the Bible and historical records, is a resounding “No.”

. . . that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them. (Joshua 23:7)

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. (Psalm 96:5)

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:5)

The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. (Zephaniah 2:11)

There is only one Name (Jesus Christ) under heaven by which men may be saved.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And yet present-day false teachers claim a person can be saved by “general revelation” of “God” without the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

This is abundantly clear in the books, messages, and DVDs put out by such teachers on this subject and now in the book by Don Richardson called Heaven Wins. The WCGIP and EC false teachers also cannot answer the many verses in the Bible, which state that the Gentiles “did not know God.” This type of teaching constitutes a grand delusion in the last-days apostasy and a new radical Replacement Theology where the one True God of the Bible is replaced with “supreme beings” from all cultures and Israel is replaced by all the nations. This heresy has even helped Bible translation societies to put the names of the false gods of the nations into the Bible! That’s how dangerous such teaching is. It undermines the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself and puts at risk the eternity of millions of souls.

(This article is from Sandy Simpson’s booklet of the same title. It is available through Lighthouse Trails.)

Endnotes:
1. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
2. See http://socsci.colorado.edu/LAB/GODS.
3. See http://www.bibleorigins.net/EgyptianOriginsGoldenCalf.html.
4. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
5. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
6. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh.
7. See http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102197.htm.
8. See http://voices.yahoo.com/biblical-overview-history-philistines-1952417.html.
9. See http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/GenericandSpecific and also http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8655.
10. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/assyrbabyl-faq.html.
11. Sarah Iles Johnston, Ancient Religions (Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 199.
12. See http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/zeusgirl.html.
13. See http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman.
14. See http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Artemis.html.

Note: For more information on the false polytheistic gods of ancient times, read my article “Monotheism in Ancient Cultures is Virtually Nonexistent” at: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/monotheisminancientcultures.html. It is important to note that in virtually every culture from Babel on, the “supreme beings” were not monotheistic gods but rather male/female pairings patterned on the worship of Nimrod and Semiramis of Babel. Also note that every one of these “supreme beings” spawned a pantheon of other false gods to be worshipped.

Report From Bryce Homes in India

One of the Christian Bryce Home families in India.

LTRP Note: Roger Oakland’s Bryce Homes International program has been going on for several years now. There are Bryce Homes in seven countries now. If you have never looked into this missions program which assists Christian families who are in poverty with spiritual, physical, and educational needs, we hope you will take the time to do so and consider supporting this work. If you are looking for a ministry to give to that has solid integrity and preaches the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bryce Homes International is such a ministry. Lighthouse Trails has partnered with Understand the Times Bryce Homes since 2010. To learn more about Bryce Homes, click here,  or to donate, click here.

From Understand the Times

Bryce Homes in India
August 2017

The following is a quarterly report coming from two of our leaders in India that oversee four Bryce Homes in India. These children have been abandoned to the streets and left on their own to survive.  Bryce Homes India provides the support for the children to be taken into the homes of Christian parents. It is the support that we receive from our donors that makes this possible.

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for your support and prayers for needy children and new parents.  God is working in the hearts of the children and the new parents in the Bryce Home children in Guntur. Last month schools reopened and all children have started to attend school. In the Bryce Homes, the adopted parents are taking care of the children. This is something I never expected from them because it is very difficult to love and care for children as their own. Also, children are having big physical challenges.

We were able to raise some money locally for new books for the children. God has opened the hearts of the people and provided study books and note books for all the children. This is very expensive. Only God did this.

All the children are attending Sunday school every week along with their parents.

Pray for all the kids because of their physical illnesses.  Often, they fall in sick and unstable in health that makes a problem in homes. Pray for the parents. They are the ones who face all the challenges. May God give them the big loving heart. Click here to continue reading.

Commentary: Race for Africa

Written by the late evangelist to Africa, Loren Davis
Reprint from 2005

In 1988, my wife and I went to Africa and have been working there ever since. When we first arrived there, we had little money and lived meagerly in harsh, brutal conditions our first ten years. From August 2000 to November 2005, through our generous partners, God has enabled us to build 132 churches in unreached villages deep in the interior of Africa, evangelizing them and providing them with competent Bible-believing pastors. We have also preached 36 major crusades in Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya where hundreds of thousands have attended and have come to Christ.

 

Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com – women walking in Tanzania, Africa

By living so close to the people for so long, we have learned to love and appreciate them. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are African. Even the primitive people in the bush are very smart. I would say they are bush smart. Outsiders could never endure and survive in similar conditions. We have seen their sufferings first hand and have heard them tell the stories about their lives. Most of their lives are hard, but they desire to succeed and to make something better for their families and themselves.

 

Their great faith and yearning to succeed has made them vulnerable though to every shrewd scheme brought in to exploit them. Not only have we lived among the different tribes for many years, we have read much of the history of Africa, from slavery to colonial times, to now. We are now seeing a bigger outside threat coming to Africa, perhaps greater than has ever even happened in the past. No doubt about it, there is a race for Africa. Click here to read this entire article.

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

LTRJ Note: The following is the content of  Roger Oakland’s booklet,  The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel. We are reposting this important article because Lighthouse Trails has many new readers who may not have seen this.

By Roger Oakland

Emergent Missiology

I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.1—Brian McLaren

Emerging “progressive Christianity” is changing the way evangelical/Protestant missions is being conducted. The idea is that you can go for Jesus, but you don’t have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church. This concept spills over into some missionary societies too, where they teach people from other religions they can keep their religion, just add Jesus to the equation. They don’t have to embrace the term Christian. At the 2005 United Nations Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, Rick Warren made the following comments to 100 delegates who represented various different religions:

I’m not talking about a religion this morning. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish or you may have no religion at all. I’m not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion.2

While he did go on afterwards and say he believed that Jesus was God, the implication was that your religion doesn’t matter to God, and being Buddhist, Mormon, or whatever will not interfere with having Jesus in your life. Donald Miller, author of the popular Blue Like Jazz, puts it this way:

For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.3

In Erwin McManus’ book The Barbarian Way, he refers to “Barbarians” in a positive light and says that this is how Christ-followers should be:

They [Barbarians] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago.4

A May/June 2000 issue of Watchman’s Trumpet magazine explains what this new missiology really entails:

Several international missions organizations, including Youth With a Mission (YWAM), are testing a new approach to missionary work in areas where Christianity is unwelcome. [A] Charisma News Service report said some missionaries are now making converts but are allowing them to “hold on to many of their traditional religious beliefs and practices” so as to refrain from offending others within their culture.5

The Charisma article in which Watchman’s Trumpet reports elaborates:

“Messianic Muslims” who continue to read the Koran, visit the mosque and say their daily prayers but accept Christ as their Savior, are the products of the strategy, which is being tried in several countries, according to Youth With a Mission (YWAM), one of the organizations involved.6

The Charisma story reports that a YWAM staff newsletter notes the new converts’ lifestyle changes (or lack thereof):

They [the new converts] continued a life of following the Islamic requirements, including mosque attendance, fasting and Koranic reading, besides getting together as a fellowship of Muslims who acknowledge Christ as the source of God’s mercy for them.7

When one of the largest missionary societies (YWAM) becomes a proponent of the new missiology, telling converts they can remain in their own religious traditions, the disastrous results should be quite sobering for any discerning Christian.

Keep Your Religion, Just Add Jesus

In an article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” the following statement is made regarding the research of new missiology advocate, Herbert Hoefer, who wrote Churchless Christianity:

In striking research undertaken in the mid-eighties and published in 1991, Herbert E. Hoefer found that the people of Madras City are far closer to historic Christianity than the populace of any cities in the western Christian world could ever claim to be. Yet these are not Christians, but rather Hindus and Muslims. In their midst is a significant number of true believers in Christ who openly confess to faith in fundamental Biblical doctrines, yet remain outside the institutional church.8

The article further expands this idea that one does not need to become a Christian or to change his religious practices; one just needs to add Jesus to his spiritual equation:

However, some might argue that this [the “smothering embrace of Hinduism”] is the danger with the ishta devata strategy I am proposing. It will lead not to an indigenous Christianity but to a Christianized Hinduism. Perhaps more accurately we should say a Christ-ized Hinduism. I would suggest that really both are the same, and therefore we should not worry about it. We do not want to change the culture or the religious genius of India. We simply want to bring Christ and His Gospel into the center of it. 9

In his book, Herbert Hoefer’s research is quite revealing to his idea that rather than “changing or rejecting” the Hindu and Muslim culture, missionaries should be “Christ-izing” it.10 He says there are thousands of believers in India whom he refers to as “non-baptized believers.” Reasons for the believers not becoming baptized vary, but usually it is because they will suffer financial or social loss and status. Hoefer admits that these non-baptized believers are not Christians, and usually they do not choose to call themselves that. In many of his examples, these non-baptized believers continue practicing their religious rituals so as not to draw suspicion or ridicule from family and friends. Hoefer explains one story:

[There is] a young man of lower caste who earns his livelihood by playing the drum at Hindu festivals and functions. “All this is what I must do,” he said, “but my faith is in Christ. Outside I am a Hindu, but inside I am a Christian.”11

Another family of the Nayar caste consisted of a wife, her husband and one son. Hoefer describes their situation:

[H]er husband and son have been believers in Christ for eight years. They both had studied in Christian schools and learned of Christ. The husband’s father had a vision of Christ, and one brother also is a non-baptised believer. The husband does not join his wife in coming to Church, but he occasionally joins her for the big public meetings. They do not have family devotions, but worship Jesus along with the Hindu gods in their home. Their approach to the Hindu festivals is to carry them out but to think of God, not Jesus specifically.12

I am not here to judge whether these non-baptized believers are truly born again. That is for the Lord to decide. My concern lies with the way missions is changing and how the Gospel is being presented. To say that someone does not have to leave their pagan religion behind, and in fact they don’t have to even stop calling themselves Hindu or Muslim, is not presenting the teachings of the Bible.

And the apostle Paul, who ended up dying for his faith, exhorted believers to be willing to give up all for the sake of having Christ:

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

The implications of this new missiology are serious and, what’s more very unbiblical. Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries has done extensive research and analysis on the new missiology. In his article, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century,” Oppenheimer states:

Can a Christian now call himself a Muslim? The word Muslim is made up of two words, Islam and Mu. Muslim does not just mean submission; it means submission to the God Allah; not the Lord Jesus Christ or Yahweh. Can a Muslim be called a Christian and walk with Allah? This seems to make no doctrinal or practical sense, unless they change the names and the meaning. This only brings confusion. Why do this when you can introduce Yahweh as the true God without any baggage and shuffling around in names, nature or descriptions? The answer is that you may not see the same results. This is what this is all about isn’t it, results; pragmatism, the end justifies the means.13

In a book by Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson titled Idolatry in Their Hearts, they show how widespread this new missiology has become. Listen to some of the comments made by a few new missiology proponents:

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths…. One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”14—Leonard Sweet

I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.15—Rick Warren

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.16—Thomas Merton

Allah is not another God . . . we worship the same God…. The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews—and the Muslims—worship.17—Catholic convert Peter Kreeft

Oppenheimer and Simpson present page after page of documentation showing this paradigm shift in Christian missions. They ask the question, “Can one be a Hindu or a Muslim and follow Jesus?” They explain why the answer is no:

One cannot be in relationship with Jesus within the confines of a false religion. One must leave his or her religion to follow Jesus, not just add Him on . . .

This broadens Jesus’ statement of the road being narrow into a wide, all encompassing concept. What is concerning is that these same kinds of statements are also made by those who are New Agers that hold a universal view. Alice Bailey [an occultist] said, “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.”18

With Rick Warren saying your religion should have no bearing on your spiritual life, Erwin McManus saying he would like to destroy Christianity, and missionary societies telling new converts they can have Jesus without Christianity (or baptism), the results could be devastating and will very likely undo the tireless efforts of many dedicated missionaries around the world. These Bible-believing missionaries have risked their lives and given up comforts and ease to travel around the world sharing the good news that becoming a Christian (receiving, by faith, Jesus Christ into your heart and life as Lord and Savior) is the way to eternal life. Now, right behind them, come emerging church missionaries who say Christianity is a terrible religion, and Christians are out to lunch–so just become a Christ-follower, and you don’t even have to tell anyone about it. In fact, you can still live like you always have.

To the many who have suffered persecution and martyrdom over the centuries for being Christians and being courageous enough to call themselves that, we now must believe they suffered and died unnecessarily-—after all, they did not need to confess Jesus as the only way. And they didn’t need to renounce their pagan religions. We also find that the following words of Jesus do not fit into this emerging church paradigm:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

There is a powerful story in the Book of Acts, in which the apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).” Paul answered him:

I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)

If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.

Bridging the Gap between Good and Evil The serpent’s temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, that we can be like God, remains with mankind to this very day. Satan’s plan is to lessen or eliminate (he hopes) the gap between himself and God. The following explanation by Ray Yungen puts it well:

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all—nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.”19

When those in the emerging church try to persuade people that we need to bridge the gap between Christians (or Christ-followers as they put it) and non-Christians, they aren’t really talking about reaching out to the unsaved in order to share the Gospel with them. They are talking about coming to a consensus, a common ground. Emerging church author and teacher Leonard Sweet explains:

The key to navigating postmodernity’s choppy, crazy waters is not to seek some balance or “safe middle ground,” but to ride the waves and bridge the opposites, especially where they converge in reconciliation and illumination.20

It takes a little thinking to figure out what Sweet is saying by this statement, but when he talks about bridging the opposites, he’s referring to a chasm that exists between good and evil. This tension between the two is called dualism, and at the heart of occultism is the effort to eradicate it. If that gap could truly be closed, then Satan and God would be equal. The Bible clearly states this will never happen, but it also says that it is Satan’s desire:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

This misguided effort to unite all things, to give people the option of maintaining their own religious practices, suggesting they do not have to call themselves Christians is a spiritually slippery slope and an undoing of the Christian faith.

Samir Selmanovic was raised in a European Muslim home, then served as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor in the US. Today, he participates in developing the new missiology and the emerging church through his role in Faith House Manhattan, an interfaith community of Muslims, Jews, Christians, humanists, and atheists. Selmanovic has some interesting and alarming views on Christianity. He states:

The emerging church movement has come to believe that the ultimate context of the spiritual aspirations of a follower of Jesus Christ is not Christianity but rather the kingdom of God . . . to believe that God is limited to it [Christianity] would be an attempt to manage God. If one holds that Christ is confined to Christianity, one has chosen a god that is not sovereign. Soren Kierkegaard argued that the moment one decides to become a Christian, one is liable to idolatry.21

On Selmanovic’s website, Faith House project, he presents an interfaith vision that will:

. . . seek to bring progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, and spiritual seekers of no faith to become an interfaith community for the good of the world. We have one world and one God.22

While Selmanovic says he includes Christians in this interspiritual dream for the world, he makes it clear that while they might be included, they are in no way beholders of an exclusive truth. He states:

Is our religion [Christianity] the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? Well, God decides, and not us. The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity.23

While it is true that God is the One who decides where He is going to place truth, He has already made that decision. And the answer to that is found in the Bible. When Selmanovic asks if Christianity is the only religion that understands the true meaning of life, the answer is yes. How can a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim fully understand truth when their religions omit a Savior who died for their sins?

Though world religions may share some moral precepts (don’t lie, steal, etc), the core essence of Christianity (redemption) is radically different from all of them. Interspirituality may sound noble on the surface, but in actuality, Selmanovic and the other emerging church leaders are facilitating occultist Alice Bailey’s rejuvenation of the churches. In her rejuvenation, everyone remains diverse (staying in their own religion), yet united in perspective, with no one religion claiming a unique corner on the truth. In other words all religions lead to the same destination and emanate from the same source. And of course, Bailey believed that a “Coming One”24 whom she called Christ would appear on the scene in order to lead united humanity into an era of global peace. However, you can be sure that if such a scenario were to take place as Bailey predicted, there would be no room for those who cling to biblical truth.

As is the case with so many emergent leaders, Selmanovic’s confusing language dances obscurely around his theology, whether he realizes it or not. Sadly, for those who are lost and who are trying to find the way, the emerging church movement offers confusion in place of clarity. It blurs, if not obliterates, the walls of distinction between good and evil, truth and falsehood, leaving people to stumble along a broken path, hoping to find light. In sharp contrast, Jesus commanded believers to stand out as beacon lights in this dark world, bearing the Word of God to a lost and dying generation. In such times as these, in which we live, let us not be quickly deceived, but let us heed the words that give life and true peace:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)

To order copies of The New Missiology –  Doing Missions Without the Gospel, click here.
Notes:
1. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), p. 293.
2. Rick Warren at the 2005 United Nations Prayer Breakfast, September 2005. For more information about the prayer breakfast, see “Rick Warren Speaks about Purpose at United Nations” by Rhonda Tse (Christian Post, September 14, 2005, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050914/21340_ Rick_ Warren_Speaks_about_ Purpose_at_ United_ Nations.htm); quote is from transcript of Warren’s talk that was provided to Lighthouse Trails Publishing.
3. Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz (Nashville, TN: Zondervan, 2003), p. 115.
4. Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 6.
5. “Youth with a Mission Experiments with New, Unscriptural Missions Strategy” (Foundation, Watchman’s Trumpet, May-June 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20090310180435/http://www.feasite.org/WTrumpet/fbcwt004.htm#Youth With), p. 39.
6. Andy Butcher, “Radical Missionary Approach Produces ‘Messianic Muslims’ Retaining Islamic Identity” (Charisma News Service, March 24, 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20010818051517/www.charismanews.com/news.cgi?a=285&t=news.html).
7. Ibid., quoting from a report in “The International YWAMer,” YWAM’s staff newsletter.
8. H. L. Richard, “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” a review of Churchless Christianity by Herbert Hoefer (Mission Frontiers, March/April 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/20001002151833/http://www.missionfrontiers.org/1999/0304/articles/04f.htm).
9. Ibid.
10. Herbert Hoefer, Churchless Christianity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001 edition), p. xii.
11. Ibid., p. 17.
12. Ibid., p. 16.
13. Mike Oppenheimer, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century” (Let Us Reason ministries, 2006, http://www.letusreason.org/curren33.htm).
14. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints, First Edition, 1991 p. 130.
15. Rick Warren, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren (Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, http://www.aspeninstitute.org); for more information: http://www. lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
16. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
17. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996), pp. 30, 160.
18. Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, Idolatry in Their Hearts (Pearl City, HI: Apologetics Coordination Team, 2007, 1st Edition), p. 358.
19. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 2006, 2nd ed.), p. 108.
20. Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1999), p. 163.
21. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2007), Samir Selmanovic section, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness,” pp. 192-193.
22. From Faith House Project website: http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/faith_house/2.WhatisFaithHouseProject.pdf.
23. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, op. cit., p. 194.
24. Alice Bailey: a term she used in her writings; see page 188 of Reappearance of the Christ for example. (Albany, NY: Fort

Roger Oakland’s Bryce Homes Live Reports From Kenya

Roger Oakland, in Kenya with some of the Bryce Home orphans (photo taken a few years ago)

From Understand the Times

Roger Oakland is currently in Kenya visiting the Bryce Homes Feb 21 – Feb 28. We will be posting trip reports when Roger can get internet access and send them. Please keep Roger and his team in prayer during this time.

 

Report 1 From Kenya

Report 2 From Kenya

Here is one of our slideshows on the Bryce Homes in Kenya. This is a vibrant ministry that is founded on the Word of God and focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

ROGER OAKLAND RETURNS FROM MISSIONS TRIP – BRYCE HOMES EXPANDING INTO INDIA!

Roger Oakland has returned safely home from his trip to India. Thank you to all who prayed for him during this time. Below are the links to his daily reports while there, including a report about Bryce Homes in India. If you would like to become a regular supporter of Understand the Times and Bryce Homes International, click here.

Bigstock –  Mumbai, India – February 28, 2016: Unidentified poor people sleep at the street in Mumbai, India

Reporting from Understand The Times, International
Report 1

Report 2

Report 3

Report 4

Report 5

Report 6

Report 7

Report 8

Report 9 Final Report

Bryce Homes India Interview

Bryce Homes for Widows and Children In Kenya End-of-Year Slideshow

Two of the new Bryce Home children

As we come to the end of 2016, we thank the Lord for the wonderful things He has done with the Bryce Homes in several different countries. The Bryce Home program is an Understand The Times, International ministry; however, Lighthouse Trails readers are a big part of the Bryce Homes. The donations that come from the LT readers have especially helped to make the Bryce Homes in Kenya program what it is today where an increasing number of widows and children are being helped significantly, both physically and spiritually. We hope you enjoy this end-of-the-year slideshow of the widows and children in Kenya who are part of the Bryce Homes program. You will notice several new families in the slideshow. As many of the original Bryce widows have been able to become self-sufficient or even partly self-sufficient, other impoverished widows and their children can become part of the program.

The Bryce Homes program is an outreach to Christian families (particularly widows and children) throughout the world, providing them with basic survival needs, educational costs, biblical mentoring, housing, and opportunities to start and run small home-based businesses. If you would like to support this amazing and Gospel-focused missions work, please visit the Understand The Times website.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

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