Chuck Smith Passes Away of Cancer at age 86

I  wanted to pay my respects to the family of Chuck Smith over his recent passing at age 86 from lung cancer.  The fact is, the differences I and my followers have had the Calvary over the past years are most definitely secondary and inconsequential to the family of God.  Chuck was and is a brother in Christ who remained steadfast to the ministry of God until the end.  I pray for a quick recovery of this shock to his followers and family.

Chuck had theological differences from myself, but one would be hard pressed to find a man who transformed ministry in the United States this side of the 20th century more than he did. He is to be applauded and respected for his ministry and it is my prayer that more of us would have the courage to take the established traditions of the church as much as he did.  Many of our churches may differ in theological beliefs, but most are touched in some way by the ministry of Chuck.  From  the contemporary music of Maranatha to casual dress in church we all experience some of Chuck’s influence.

To those who were not fans of Chuck, please use wisdom in the matter and refrain from taking advantage of this situation to espouse hatred toward him or speculate on the future of Calvary Chapel.   Any such comments on this blog will be promptly removed.  

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Does Metallica Point us to God?

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

As a baby believer, I used to think that God’s creation of Man in Genesis 1 was a description of our physical look.  I thought that God was in fact a being, with special powers, that looked like us.  As I matured in the faith, a came to realize that my original belief about this passage was filled with holes.  For instance, God create man and woman and obviously I didn’t believe that God had both male part and female parts!  Since no two people are the same, it was impossible to reconcile different skin colors, and heights.  I came to be acutely aware that God is not referring to our physical look but something on the inside of us.  I came to understand that God is referring to our essence, our identity, perhaps even our soul.  These invisible attributes are in fact an imprint on man that points us to our creator who has the same essence.  So what are these attributes that God is referring to in Gen 1? I think that the best way to discover the attributes that man received from God is to simply look at God’s own actions in the text.

GOD CREATES…WE CREATE

God is the perfect creator.  He loves to create and is the author of the concept of creation.  When God created Man, He gave us a desire to create as well.   A great deal of our time is spent in creation mode and it is what we are at our best.  I know I am at my happiest when I am creating something.  It is God who has given us the ability to created new and exciting things and our creation glorifies Him.

GOD ORDERS..WE ORDER

In the beginning the earth was in chaos (void and without form).  God then systematically created order to the universe.  He ordered the waters in the sky and earth, added the Sun, Moon and stars. He created creatures on the earth the produce based on their own kind.  He then created man and ordered his life by giving him woman and then instructed them to subdue the earth.  He created seasons and and tides and weather systems.  He ordered the chaos.  God loves order and we too love order.  We are in fact, unable to live in a world without order.  We take jobs as scientists that study and explain the order of things. We develop laws and governments to help to keep society orderly, and we punish the disorder of things.  If you look at the pages of Genesis 1, you will notice that God uttered “it was Good” about each of His creations except for when He created the Heavens (space).  Did God forget to say the words or this there something about space that makes it not good.  Perhaps God did not utter “it was good” because the Universe is a cold, dark and disorderly place that is not suitable for His crown of creation?  It appears to me that God ordered things to make it perfect for man and space is no place for man to live.  God orderly attributes were given to us in our creation as well and we absolutely crave order in all things.  Anyone who hates order is a sociopath which is a  brain disease that causes people to not recognize orderly versus disorderly.  Order is a gift from God.

GOD KNOWS RIGHT FROM WRONG…WE KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG

When God created He uttered the words “It was good”.  In order for God to utter these words, He must recognize that things can be bad. Though everything God created, is by it’s nature good (meaning it has a holy intended purpose) he must still understand the contrast to goodness.  Man also knows what is good and bad.  Though we might from time to time suppress this knowledge, we still deep down know when we are sinning or when we are going right.  Though before the fall we had no capacity to define badness, we still had the ability to recognize it once we had something to compare to.  This is evident in the text of the fall of man.  As soon as they disobeyed, they were aware of their sin. They did not say “Hey, Good piece of Fruit thank for sharing Snake!”.  They said (and I am paraphrasing here) “Oh Crap!  What have we done?”  God knows good and bad and we also know good and bad.  The difference between God and man is that God cannot do bad because it is against His nature.  Our nature is different and we are most definitely able to do what we shouldn’t.

GOD RECOGNIZES BEAUTY AND AESTHETICS…WE RECOGNIZE BEAUTY AND AESTHETICS

God’s creation is awe inspiring!  Everything He creates not only has utility to it, but also has beauty to it.  God did not just create the universe but He also created the most beautiful painting imaginable while doing it!  As we stare out into space we are struck with it’s beauty and are moved by its creation.  When we see an elaborate spider web that is spun in a seemingly random patter to create a work of art, we are memorized by it.  God necessarily must recognize beauty in order to create beautiful things.  We too have this attribute.  Even though a spider can create a beautiful thing (a web) they do not recognize it as beautiful. we do, because we are different than the spider, we have the attribute of aesthetics within us.  When we create, we are constantly looking to add our mark of beauty to it.  Consider Apple Computer products.  The iPhone is not the most powerful phone, nor the most practical one, but they sell like hot cakes because they look good.  We emotionally purchase things based on how they make us feel, not because they are the best alternative to solving our problems.  We love beautiful things, and are thus attracted to them.  Do to is attracted to beautiful things otherwise He would have no interest in creating and being involved in His creation.

The difference between deism and theism is the involvement of God in His creation.  The God of Christianity is a theistic one who is continually involved in His creation and this is a testament to His desire for beautiful things.  He was not disinterested in His creation like deism involves, he was and is activity involved in it at all times.

DOES METALLICA POINT US TO GOD?

So to answer the question in my title, “Does Metallica point us to God?”  The answer is “YES”.  I am not suggesting that Metallica is a Christian band nor am I saying that the lyrics are pointing us to God.  What I am suggesting that any music, even Metallica moves us and this is our ability to recognize the attributes that God has given us.  Music is an orderly creation.  We know if the music is right and edifying or bad and not edifying.  Most importantly we recognize it’s beauty and aesthetic qualities and receive an emotional – not practical – response to it.  There is absolutely no other reason for music but to get us in touch with out emotions.  Music provides not other reason for existence.  Music is more than just the combination notes on a page. Music is indeed a creation of God and our ability to recognize it’s beauty is a gift given to us by God.  So though you might not like Metallica, one must still conclude that the band displays the gifts given to us by our creator and we should glorify God is this.

What not to do as a Christian

DriscollA friend of mine posted this quote on her Facebook page the other day and it strikes me that this is a good example of what not to do as a Christian.   I don’t mean to assume that my friend did something wrong,  I am not really attacking her, but I definitely have a thing or two to say about Mark Driscoll’s use of this quote.  At first glance there doesn’t seem to be any major issue with the quote.  I see what he is intending to do. He is using religion to mean a system of rules and rules don’t save or redeem.  I get it and would be in agreement if that was indeed the context of the original quote, but when one dives deeper into the meaning and the logic of the quote, it becomes a bit more problematic.

Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery. – Robert Ingersoll

First let’s take the quote at face value.  Religion is defined as an organized system of beliefs.  Are organized systems of beliefs slavery?  No one actually believes they are or they would have no ability to believe anything at all especially if someone also holds the same belief.  We are in fact, called to do this as Christians.  We learn about Christ by going to a book that is a collection of truths and we believe those truths to actually be true.  Is Driscoll suggesting that beliefs no matter how organized are a bad things and thus should be avoided?  Why should I “believe” that?  Am I supposed to run around making up my mind with absolutely no facts to support it just for the sake of  not being enslaved by my beliefs?  The quote is in fact nonsensical and meaningless if the word religion objectively has meaning.  So using the true and accurate definition of the term religion leaves Mark Dirscoll with a contradiction because he would not know what to believe if he did not have access to an organized set of beliefs to help him understand and define things as true or false.  Though it is Jesus who saves, it is our organized system of beliefs that keep us OUT of slavery; it doesn’t fling us into it.  Certainly beliefs can enslave us but it is not the belief that enslaves, it is the embracing of false beliefs that enslaves.

The bigger issue here is that words actually have meaning but Driscoll prefers to redefine words for his own special purposes.  To be fair, he’s not the only one who does this and if you asked most Christians if Christianity is a religion they would answer with the Pavlovian response of “no, it’s a relationship”.  As if religion and relationship are opposed to one another.  However anyone from the outside would certainly consider Christianity a religion and in fact most with say it is the perfect example of one.  What Driscoll is doing with his redefinition of words is called relativism and there is quite frankly no room in Christianity for relativists.  It begs the question as to what other important words are redefined by the church and its leaders so that they can boil down the Christian gospel to a 120 character Tweet.  The real issue for most people is the desire to see Christianity as a love religion with no rules, but certainly this is not the case.   Though salvation comes through the drawing of man to God and the relationship that follows, one cannot just remove the need for rules because of it.  Certainly I can’t use my relationship with God as an excuse for committing adultery or fornication.  Christianity has rules and we are inclined to follow them not because we will be struck down but because of our obedience to the Father of the Universe is part of a love relationship.  We have added many man made rules to Christianity but that is not a problem for the religion of Christianity, it is just a testament to the corruption of man.

There is however a much, much bigger issue with this quote and I hope that my readers already see the problem.  along with words having meaning is the concept that writers have a context in which they are making claims.  When we look at the words in the bible, we should seek to understand the context in which it was intended.  When Paul talks about the need for head covering for women, is Paul making a universal truth or is he speaking to a particular group of people who were experiencing a particular issue?   Though we debate over this in the church, it is clear that the reason for the debate is not because we are troubled over the words, but the context of Paul’s words.  Understanding context can sometimes be difficult but it is our obligation to try to find it.  So getting back to Mark’s tweet, is Mark representing the author of the quote properly or is he simply hijacking someones words for his purposes?

Robert Ingersoll the author of the quote was called “The Great Agnostic”.  He was an enemy of Christ, not a friend!  Ingersoll is not making the point that Driscoll is making, but he is actually making the exact opposite point of Driscoll.  Ingersoll knows what the word “religion” means and he is using the word in the exact same way as me.  So what Ingersoll is saying is, “Christianity enslaves people!”  This leaves Driscoll with three possible reason for quoting Ingersoll.  He either has no idea who Ingersoll is and thus was mistaken as to the context. He doesn’t care to be courteous to the author and is fine with misquoting him. Or he reject Christianity and has thus quoted Ingersoll properly.   Thought I doubt it to be the latter, there is no room for any of these options  in Christianity and it is especially problematic when quoted from a man who has millions of loyal followers who see Driscoll as a quick path the truth.  This calls Mark Driscoll’s character into question.  How can I trust anything he says?  How do I trust that when Mark Driscoll quotes other dead thinkers – people like Paul and Peter – that he is quoting them accurately?  How can I trust that this man does his homework and pays attention to important details in the Bible when he couldn’t take a second to Google a man before he quoted him? I asked Mark Driscoll these questions and am eagerly awaiting a response, but like with most pastors who eventually start to believe their own press, I don’t expect I will hear anything back.  Especially when the only response should be an apology to the author of the quote. We don’t like to apologize to dead enemies of the faith especially when we have twisted their words and context to serve our selfish ambitions.  If anyone feels differently, I would ask you where you have evidence to suggest that God is okay with us misrepresenting people even if our intent is a good one and the person wronged is evil?  Certainly I would not want some atheist using my words out of context to prove a point and I doubt Driscoll would like this either.

My dream is that Christians would start to take their faith seriously.  Instead of accepting everything that comes out of the mouth of a man in skinny Jeans, we’d start to think for ourselves through the context of the organized truths provided in the scriptures, corporate worship and the Holy Spirit.  We need to grow past the milk in the bible and start to eat some of the meat. Most importantly, we need to realize that we are being watched by everyone and if we lie about someone’s words to make a point we will ultimately be branded a liar not as thoughtful and courteous.

Let me end with some other quotes from Robert G. Ingersoll and you tell me if this man is a friend of foe to Christ

“If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.”

“The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it.”

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL

“The Great Agnostic”

Evolution and Unexplained Attributes of Plants

FImagerom the title I selected for this post, one might think this a boring article on why science is wrong and why religion is right.  After all, it appears that modern American Christians are hell bent on showing the science as a medium is from Satan and not from the Creator of all things.  My daughter, a home school student, is constantly bombarded with “science” books that try to discount modern science by layering biblical philosophy on top of scientific evidence, no matter how many problem these books create regarding other theological points in the long run.

In reality, my plan today is to use science to not only show an inconsistency in it’s philosophy in regard to evolution but also to challenge the modern Christian’s thought regarding a topic that is generally accepted as “off limits” for Christians.  The topic is one of my favorites when it comes to making Christians feel uncomfortable.  The topic is drugs.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I am in no way giving a free pass to Christians to get high, stoned, or wasted.  I am not advocating taking a trip into another dimension! What I am advocating is giving some thought to the words of the Creator when He uttered “and it was good”

A common scientific principle of evolution is that evolution does not produce attributes in organisms that are not directly beneficial to the organism. If we see an attribute that seems to benefit others and not the organism then we have a problem. There is, of course, the possibility that some attribute is no longer beneficial and is left over from previous evolutionary cycles but some attributes don’t seem to ever benefit the organism and this can be problematic to the theory of evolution.  Take for instance plants.  Plants have certain attributes that seem only benefit others.  Marijuana has Tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC), The Poppy has morphine, codeine, papaverine, thebaine and noscapine, and of course Heroin.  All of these ingredients benefit others and no theory of evolution has sufficiently produced a benefit to the actual flower or plant.  So the question remains, why were these attributes included in the design of the plant?  This is problematic to Christians as well given that the concept of self medicating is generally considered a no, no in Christians thought.  This however, is a man-made concept.  People throughout history have used plants as medication and modern medicine didn’t really exist until the 11th century.  So if God is timeless, then He certainly doesn’t forbid the use of plants for medicine.  In fact most of our drugs started from a natural component and it wasn’t until patent medicine became a money making opportunity in the 17th century that we see synthetics hit the market.  What then do we say about this?  Are we to assume that natural medicine from plants was good then but now we know better?  President candidate Mitt Romney made this point when he was talking to a gentleman suffering from ALS.  When confronted by the man in a wheel chair, the man said he has tried all modern medicines to help him deal with his ALS.  He stated that only Cannabis seems to help.  Romney, a “religious” man, stated “Have you tried any of the synthetic marijuana?”  He then went on to say, “I will never accept that marijuana is medicine”  What struck me about this comment is that Romney trusts modern science more than hid creator!  He assumes that science can make medicine but God can only create drugs!  In what world would anyone advocate the use of a chemicals created by a fallible human over that of a product made by God Himself?  In addition, Romney is saying that even though Marijuana and synthetic alternatives have similar active ingredients, Marijuana is bad and the same drug in synthetic forms is magically good!  So man’s creation is good and God’s is sinful?  Really?  Granted in many cases these man-made chemicals are better to treat an individual symptom with but in the case of synthetic THC, they simply are not and everyone knows it.  Never mind the side effects from synthetics!  The reason for Romney’s statement is a testament to what campaign contributions and bad theology can do to the mind of the ignorant.  Romney is unable to see the truth through 100 plus years of taboo and neither are many of my Christian brothers and sisters.  This is especially true with Marijuana.  We see that the Opium Poppy produces pain medicines, and we see the the Coca Leaf produces anesthetics but we can’t seem to find any benefit to Pot!  Science seems to have the same problem.  There really doesn’t seem to be any reason for THC, or Opium in evolution!  I guess science and many Christians actually agree on something! 

What if, however, we are to assume that these plants were created and not evolved?  What then might we say about These ingredients?  What do we know about the bible regarding God and man?

1. God created all things

2. God uttered that all things are good

3. That God gave man all plants and animals

4. God told us to be good stewards of the land

5. Man is a bunch sinful depraved abusers

 

Given these five points, is it not entirely possible to show that the reason drugs exist is for our use?  Abuse is part of the human condition, created during the fall so the fact that people abuse drugs is not all together concerning regarding my argument.  After all, it is part of the human nature to be depraved.  We are in the constant state of abuse so to do anything other than abuse would change the very nature of man.  This nature is only changed when God Himself changes it though the replacement of our hearts and making us righteous in Christ.  Our abuse is not relevant to God’s creation for a holy intended purpose.  If it were relevant, humanity would not exist either!  

 

My point it this.  God created these drugs and I believe He created them for a holy intended purpose. Though evolution will continue to present arguments to remove God from the equation, it will always be working with one hand tied behind its back.  You see we, as Christians, understand that all things were created good and God created ingredients in plants that can help heal the body, reduce pain and even provide for a little relaxation in stressful times. Instead of us railing against drugs as bad for society, we should be falling back on Christianity’s oldest and basic premise, that God created.  We mustn’t jump to point number two that man fell and start our theology from there.  Drugs are, at their very core holy and the fact that man abuses is not a testament to the drug, but to the human condition.  

One basic premise of evolution tells a story about God, so let me give one more piece of advice given to me by the great philosopher, Indiana Jones.  He said in the third and in my opinion best, movie (the Last Crusade) “maybe you should try reading books [on evolution] instead of burning them!  God is everywhere EVEN in the theory of evolution and if you read up on it, God will make Himself known even in something that seems to oppose Him.

“Christian” Dr. Ergun Caner Sues to Suppress his Lies

For those of you who have been following that two year battle that Christian leaders have been waging over the public and numerous lies told by Ergun Caner will find Ergun’s recent moves to fit  perfectly within his character (or lack there of).  For those that haven’t been following let me give you a quick summery.

This Video from YouTube says it better than I can

Ergun Caner (Known as Butch Caner prior to 9/11) is the self professed apologist against Islam.  Over his years of ministry he has claimed to be born in Turkey, trained in Jihad in madrases in Islamic countries, speak Arabic and having numerous debates of Islamic scholars.  In reality he was born in Sweden and moved to the United States when he was just a small biy and was barred from leaving the country due to a divorce decree issued after his mother (Christian) divorced his father (Muslim).  He has been shown and eventually admitted that he doesn’t speak Arabic and he has yet to produce a single debate he has ever had with a Muslim.  He was never trained in Jihad and in fact it is very questionable if he was ever devoted to Islam given his young age when he parents divorced.  His lies have been exposed by the likes of Dr James White (Alpha Omega Ministries) and blogger Jason Smathers from Arizona and many other including new media agencies, amateur bloggers and the Islamic community.  He is in fact a fraud and an unrepentant one at that.  The sad part of it all is the systematic cover up by people like Norman Geisler, Calvary Chapel Church, Liberty University and many others who apparently think that bashing on Muslims with words like “sandy monkey” and “towel head” is more important than telling the truth.  After a quite time of about 1 years, Mr. Caner apparently believes that his lack of repentance and continued cover up has made everything okay and him untouchable and he has yet again gone on the offensive to clean up his negative image.  He has been telling churches that are friendly to him to take his sermons off their website, and has been filing ridiculous claims to YouTube about copyright violations to have negative videos taken down.  All of this while tweeting his “poor me, I’m a victim” Rhetoric. Of course he can’t control everything and even though he has friends in high places (just south of Heaven I would say) and much of his lies have been covered up by them,  many of the negative press still remains.

One of the most damaging pieces of falsehood uttered by Caner was to a group of Marines who were about to deploy to Islamic countries as part of our on-going war against terror.  The video was mean’t to teach these leaders how to deal with Islam and who better than a former enemy?  The video in question was obtained by Jason Smathers through the Freedom Information act and though I would love to embed it in this blog, I can’t.  Why? Because Caner has recently filed a suit against Smathers stating that the video he obtained through the United States government is a violation of copyright. YouTube has taken in down but Caner won’t stop until he destroys the reputation of a “fellow” Christian.  I would suspect that this is just one of many law suites to come and I hope that Dr White who has kept this issue in the spotlight for years will eventually find himself embroiled in a suite as well.  Caner’s profound arrogance fed by powerful leaders (to use the term loosely) shows no stopping in his blitz campaign.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to repent Ergen? I guess repentance is not an option, perhaps you should ask Jesus to regenerate you just as he does with other non-believers!

AP ARTICLE ON THE SUITE

At the risk of getting sued myself, I have a few things to say not just to Caner but to the so-called Christians that are not only standing behind this man but protecting him and feeding his ego.  SHAME ON YOU ALL.  This man has systemically destroyed any relations we might have with Muslims and the furtherance of the gospel yet you stand on your holy pulpits and tout this mans greatness?  It is your job to protect the flock and yet you let a wolf through your front door and when he is proven to be a wolf you simply give him a better costume?  Ergen Caner is a lair and deceiver and an unrepentant one at that and frankly his behavior over the past several years reminded me to the Book of James.  Show me your faith apart from works and I will show you my faith by my works.  Caner’s works are that of an unregenerate soul and for those of you who worship (yes worship) Geisler, Calvary Chapel and Liberty University need to seriously consider dropping to your knees in repentance yourself!  What arrogance Calvary Chapel must have to arrest a man who is protecting the flock!  Caner a bad man and you are not only giving him a platform to speak (I’m looking at you Calvary) but you have covered up his lies with lies of your own.

It is a sad day in the church when I find myself aligning with the Muslim’s against the Christian church.  Do me a favor, shutdown your ministries and go away – All of you!

The video below is from a Muslim, not a Christian and this more than anything points out the damage you all have done in allowing this man (Caner) a platform to speak his lies.  Consider this carefully as you will be held accountable for your actions!

The Distraction Dilemma – Shepherd’s Call Ministry

Recently I was sent a link from a friend regarding the Shepherds Call Ministry’s fight against music.  Of course the church has dealt with stuff like this for ages and I doubt that any critical critique I can give will bring about the end to these false profits, but nonetheless, this ministry has made an impact in the life and relationships for my friend and thus I feel compelled to respond.  The impact made has not been a good one and in fact the ministry has successfully driven a wedge between leadership of his church and a large number of attendees.  One might immediately question why such a riff occurred if indeed these people at SCM are from God.  In my opinion these are only a few possible answers to this question.  Either SCM are false teachers, wolfs in sheep’s clothing and though they appear to be railing against the devil and his impact they are indeed representing the devil or another possible explanation is that God is separating the wheat from the chaff and the division in the church is actually God judgement upon the church.  I think it’s something altogether different however.  I think the answer is ignorance.  I think that SCM is steeped in ignorance and a very surface level understanding of theology and so too are the leaders and many attendees of the church.  Instead of seeking understanding from within the pages of scripture, they are instead looking for the path of least resistance; a magic pill to Christian living, if you will.  With that said, I wanted to take some time and respond to a video called the Distraction Dilemma, an overview of music by Christian Berdahl.    The video is essentially a sales video to get you to buy his  12 hour video series for $49.99.  Let’s take a trip into the mind of the ignorant and see if we might be able to expose some of the extreme fallacies of this video series.

 

In this sales video, Christian is attempting the answer two questions regarding music.  These questions are:

music

Mr Berdhal sights the work of philosopher Marshall Mcluhan and brain specialist Richard Pellegrino and pits their conclusions about music’s ability to cause an emotional response against some contemporary christian artists.  The contemporary artists are quoted as making the point that the type of music is not as important as the lyrics.  Within five minutes of Berdhal’s lecture he has committed a straw-man fallacy.   The contemporary artists are by no means disagreeing with the scholars.  The entire point of music is to incite an emotional response and this of course can be used for both good and bad purposes within society and most specifically within the church.  I have personally experienced, and I would bet so have you, the use of music as a tool for manipulation.  For many churches music is the most effective tool to increase giving or get people to rise their hands in so-called profession of faith.   The question that remains is the morality of music.  Is music to blame for it being used for manipulative actions and immoral activities of the listeners or player?  Berdhal answers this question with a quote, not from the pages of scripture but from a Spirit of Prophecy statement from the Review and Herald – A Seventh Day Adventist Publication:

prophacy

His conclusion from this extra biblical statement is that if thoughts and feelings are shaped by emotion than music is very moral.   He is of course fighting a battle against an argument he created in his own mind.  No one would ever consider music to play no role in shaping emotion.  Nor would anyone with any moral character justify the use of music to manipulate.  We listen to music because it stirs emotion.  That’s the entire point to music.  Berdhal is however making a major category error that I think is a product of his Adventist background.  The SDA church is steeped in behavior modification and his lack of theology (in fact he never quotes the bible)  has lead him to conclude that objects are moral or immoral, evil or good.  Instead of blaming the individual for immoral, evil activities, he blames the object.  We see this all the time in Christian circles.  “Drugs are evil”.  Really?  Do drugs not cure disease, heal the sick and bring calm to the mind?  Drugs are not evil, it is the intent of the user that is evil.  In the bible, God makes it clear that we are to worship no God other than Him.  I fear that Mr Berdhal has never reflected on why this is the first commandment.  Simply put, after the nature of man changed in the garden the product of our change in nature is the desire of man to worship everything.  We are as Martin Luther stated, “Idol factories” whose goal in life is to replace the true and living God with other gods.  Music can certainly be one of these gods as can football, alcohol, politics, work and even church.  Ironically, Berdhal is attacking the ability for music to raise emotion while doing the exact same thing himself with his words.  Berdhal appears more interested in manipulating his audience by saying that music can move you to satanic influence and this more than anything shows a lack of theology and I will spend the remainder of this critique on that point.  He is effectively manipulating his audience to fear through appealing to the power of the devil.

What does it mean to be moved to satanic influence?  Honestly I don’t have a clue what it means nor do I see how it is possible.  I am not suggesting that Satan is not real, but what I am suggesting is that the problem with immoral activity is not a Satan problem but a fleshly one.  Given our sin nature and the fact that we are a work in progress (sanctification) it is not hard to see why we do the things we do.  As before all we need to do is step into the garden to understand the reasons why we do things.  After the fall we were given a sin nature and even though we may, as Christians try not to sin, we must also understand that we will continue to sin until we are glorified in the end.  One must simply look at the Book of Romans to see how the process works.  To summarize the book, Paul states that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, without the work of Christ in our lives we cannot do what is pleasing to the Lord.  The Lord Jesus does all the work.  He calls us to himself, He justifies the sinner before the father, He changes us through a process of sanctification and eventually He glorifies us in the end.  Jesus is doing the work in us.  It appears that SCM and the Adventist church believe that it is up to us to change ourselves.  We must look and act a certain way in order to find favor with God. If we don’t conform to the extra biblical prophecy of the SDA church we are at risk of being over taken by the devil.  Apparently the SDA and SCM are unaware of the words of Jesus in John chapter 6 where Jesus states that he will lose none of the people whom He draws to Himself.  Apparently salvation is a temporary state of affairs that can be removed based on our behavior and lack of conforming to the doctrine of the church.  This actually sounds logical given that God has given me a will but in reality, the Bible says a vastly different thing regarding our sinful lives.

Another point that must be made is that Berdhal doesn’t seem to have any room in his theology (or lack thereof) for God’s ability to use sin for His good.  Again, all I must do is take a look at the book or Romans to discount this notion.  Romans clearly states that God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.  God works both the good and bad things together fora holy indented purpose.  Paul goes into more detail when he states that God has the right as God to create some for glory and others for destruction.  The point is, God is in control.  We have plenty of examples of this throughout the bible.  Simply look at Job, David, Noah, Moses, and Jesus himself.  The story of Joseph is yet another good example as Joseph utters to his brothers, “what you intended for evil, God intended for good”.

My point here is not to justify sin, but rather to understand why it exists in the first place.  God uses sin to glorify himself as he eventually beats it when those who are called are glorified upon the second coming.  Berdhal seems to believe that God needs his help, and I think it is accurate to state the the Adventist church in general suffers from a God complex by creating extra biblical rules, legalism and manipulation through so-called prophets.

I would say that Berdal’s god is no god at all.  His god is powerless against using music (other than the music sanctioned by Berdhal) to glorify Himself.  Berdhal’s god is at the mercy of Satan who apparently abilities, that God does not, to manipulate people through music.  God apparently is powerless to counter the words and beat from AC/DC or Metallica.  Berdhal’s god has no power over the listener because the listener is more powerful than god himself.    God is at the mercy of man and his emotions, man is not at the mercy of God.  This of course is the exact opposite of what scripture says.  Simple read Job and the interaction of God and Satan or look at the Israelite’s conquering of the promise land against impossible odds or reflect on Paul’s words in Romans where he states “Who are you oh man to question God”.

The fact remains that Berdhal is ignorant of the nature of God and the Nature of man.  He has them mixed up.  His theology appears to have God powerless against sin while man has the ability to conquer it by simply acting or not acting in a certain way.  Ideas have consequences and the idea that God is powerless against music is an infectious principle that will spread into every other aspect of life.  For instance if music is evil based on it’s type, why not words themselves?  What is stopping this man from stating that questioning a prophet is evil?  Why can he not utter the words of the cults and state that anyone who does not believe everything uttered from the pulpit of the SDA church is not saved and will burn in hell?  After all,  words stir emotion and can thus be evil.  Does it not appear that Berdhal is using an argument to persuade yet he leaves no room for God to be able to persuade as well?  Even though Berdhal is using words instead of music he is still preaching false doctrine and false theology.  God is not in control of just Christian things, He is in control of EVERYTHING!  If this is indeed the case, God can redeem the sinner through AC/DC or Metallica just as quickly as through a hymn.  God doses not need my help to do nor does he need Berdahl’s.  The God of the bible is vastly more powerful than the god of Berdhal or SCM.  My God has the power to redeem everything in His own time for his own purpose.  Berdhal’s god is limited by the individuals actions, activities and emotions, and a god who cannot redeem is really no god at all.  My God is soverign over His creation, SCM’s god is powerless to change the heart of man.

One last point to direct to my friend who request I write this post.  Berdhal is not the problem.  The problem is the lack of discernment of the leadership of your church.  If the leadership of the church is so ignorant to the nature of God, I would suggest a departure from the church or the removal of the leadership.  It is the job of the leadership to protect the flock.  They are not living up to the necessary standard for biblical eldership.  Though I am a strong believer in the church and don’t generally give advice to leave the local body or remove leaders, in this circumstance, it appears the best and only alternative.  The Bible says that we can recognize wolfs in the church by their fruit and any leader who reduces God to an inferior position of Satan is either a wolf, deeply ignorant or profoundly arrogant enough to believe the behavior modification is their job.  Guess what?  When a leader uses behavior modification to control church members they are effectively putting themselves in a position god.   God apparently was not so concerned with music for Him to put a prohibition on it, yet these leaders believe it is their job to augment or add to God’s will.  Adding or subtracting to God’s word or second guessing God will is idolatry and this is disqualification for leadership – period!  I would politely depart and find a healthy body to join instead.

 

NOTE: A link to this article has been sent to Shepherd’s Call Ministries Facebook Page.  Slides and quotes herein are used for news purposes and are protected on fair use laws.  All screen captures are taken from the video “The Distraction Dilemma – A Music Overview – Shot live at ASI”

The Acceleration of Moral Bankruptcy

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I jumped on my bike to do a quick 40 miles ride through the streets of Fort Collins, Colorado while listening to a Christian podcast.  As I rode, I suddenly realized that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  It was around the time that Chick Fill ‘A’s CEO was being called a bigot for giving his personal opinion on marriage to a Christian magazine.  I said to myself, we are living the book 1984, where words have no meaning, and acculturation has replaced clear thinking, debate and respectful disagreement.  Since that day, the acceleration of moral debauchery have become paramount and what’s more frustrating is the church’s desire to accommodate such moral bankruptcy by toning down Jesus’ message of repentance.

As Christians, we should not be surprised to see signs of God lifting his common grace upon America. We should also not be surprised that God will use these times to separate his people from those whom he does not “know” from within the church.  In Roman’s chapter 1, God makes clear how he deals with people who rebel against His word.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18-19, ESV) 

If you believe the Bible to be the word of God, then you should feel encouraged in it’s promises.  I know that the church doesn’t like to talk about sin and repentance, because non-believers don’t like that message, but nonetheless, God’s word is true and faithful and will come to pass. Why not let the Holy Spirit deal with non-believers and instead we trust that God has a glorifying plan for His elect and righteous judgement for the rebellious.

If God is real, then watering down the gospel message to accommodate the rebellious comes at a price to you and does nothing to repel God’s coming judgement.  So be encouraged that God will redeem His creation.