Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time by Karen Armstrong

     "You shall have no other gods before Me," Exodus 20:3.

     Karen Armstrong is an ex nun who has become an apologist for Muhammad, the most evil man who has ever lived.  In a previous book review, I wrote that I generally give positive reviews of books because I do not have much time to read books that are not edifying.  I have not broken that promise as I have not read this book but skimmed it briefly and read both fawning reviews and some harsh criticisms of it.  What I will do in lieu of an extensive review of this book is give three reasons why Muhammad is the most evil man ever and not a prophet for any time.

     1)  He was a child rapist.  The Hadiths, which are authoritative for the vast majority of Muslims, tells us that Muhammad married his last wife when she was age six and consummated their marriage when she was nine.  This custom, along with the more well know custom of polygamy, is practiced in many if not most Islamic cultures.  The Koran also promotes the rape of children in Sura 4:3.
     2)  Muhammad promoted and practiced ethnic cleansing throughout the Koran.  Many apologists of Islam cite Koranic passages which seem to promote peace.  Most of these verses occur early in the Koran and are therefore repudiated by later verses in the Koran which advocate the destruction of all unbelievers.  This is called the doctrine of abrogation.  Early on in Muhammad's life he said things such as, "there is no compulsion in religion."  Later on he slaughtered Christians and Jews and advocated their slaughter wherever they were found.  Early on he was in the minority, struggling to get acceptance and control.  Once he got that, he revealed his true evil intentions and allowed no tolerance of other faiths.
     3)  Muhammad was an inveterate liar.  This is revealed in the above doctrine of abrogation and is officially a doctrine all its own.  Muhammad promoted and practiced the doctrine of taqiyya.  It can be found in Sura 3:28 and 16:106.  It simply allows Muslims to lie with impunity to advance the cause of Islam.  This can be seen from Muhammad's many peaceful promises he makes in the Koran which he quickly turns on later in the Koran.  You see this practiced often today.  Yassar Arafat was a master of it and most recently the Ground Zero Imam also put this doctrine to the test.
     Muhammad was an evil, despicable prophet who must be repudiated at every turn.  Do not be deceived by those like Armstrong who whitewash the horrific crimes and doctrines inflicted upon our world by this false prophet.  Hold on tenaciously to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who, unlike Muhammad, was Truth Himself and who lived a perfect, holy life.  Jesus harmed no children, murdered no one and never uttered so much as a white lie.  For this we crucified Him.  He is everything Muhammad was not and we need to remember His amazing sacrificial death for our sins at all times.  We need to drink in His grace and pour it out wherever we go.  His life and death truly reveal Jesus as not just a prophet for our time but as THE PROPHET FOR OUT TIME!  God bless you brothers and sisters and always remember to learn, live and love the gospel.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Turning to Another Gospel: The Reformed and Their New Found Love of the Deformed Gospel of Rome

"As we have said before, so I now say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed," Galatians 1:9.
     It is common place anymore to go to a "reformed" blog or website and seeing the heresies of Rome peddled openly and unapologetically.  Whether it is Tim Keller promoting the reformer torturing heretic Ignatius Loyola or a recent blog singing the praises of Father Damien or any number of reformed minded people peddling Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence or any number of mystical papists peddling prayer and popery.  We have reached the end of faithful gospel proclamation by the "evangelical" church in America.  Even people who are prominent in things like the Gospel Coalition, which seeks to proclaim the unvarnished gospel, don't have a clue it seems what the gospel is!
     Let's be clear here.  The Catholic Church is apostate.  If all someone has to go on is the gospel according to Rome, that gospel will lead them to Hell and is no gospel, good news, whatsoever.  If, as occasionally happens, a Catholic hears the true gospel and responds in repentance and faith, they are saved by Christ even if they continue to attend Mass faithfully.  Here I make a non exhaustive list of obvious heresies of the Catholic Church:
1)  The Mass is a sacrifice for sins.  This is an obvious denial of Jesus Christ's statement from the cross, "It is finished."  This is why I refuse to attend a Mass, as attending Mass is a sin unto itself, unless allowed to preach the gospel like I was able to do at a funeral once.
2)  Purgatory is the belief that those who do not go to Hell must be purged for a time to be made holy before entering Heaven.  C.S. Lewis also promoted this heresy.  This is also a complete denial of Christ's sufficiency.
3)  They believe in something called, the immaculate conception.  This has nothing to do with Christ's virgin birth but in Mary's birth being sinless.  They believe Mary was without sin and never had any children by Joseph, she was a perpetual virgin.  This is a denial of Romans 3:23 and means that Mary did not need her Son and His atoning death on the cross in order to obtain salvation.
     This is just a start, feel free to add more, but we are seeing in the reformed movement a total lack of discernment and a full scale promotion of so many false teachers in the Roman tradition.  We are seeing people drawn to piety and not to the purity of the gospel.  They seek to build a bridge I fear, to a false religion that has no desire to cross the waters with them.  The Catholic Church has made no attempt to draw near to the true gospel in the 500 years since the Reformation and has, in fact, retreated from the five sola's to an alarming degree!  I have family practicing indulgences now! 
     What is the Bible's response to false teachers?  It is not a gooey sentimentality that begs us to consider the piety of certain "saints".  No, Paul says, "let them be accursed".  Jesus told them a thing or two Himself.  He has a special place for false teachers who lead His flock along the wide road of piety, moralism, tradition and idolatry, "I never knew you: depart from Me you who practice lawlessness."  Jesus sends such to Hell and I fear that many "reform" minded evangellyfish are widening the narrow path and many sheep will follow the path they have laid out.  Friends, let's not promote this evil, the days are short, we need to build our lives upon the rock of God's word.  We need to pray for revival in the church and that our Romish tendencies would be purged and that we would not turn back to that old, dead gospel that has been preached since the snake in the garden.  Friends, let's learn, live and love the true gospel, preached by Paul and given down to us!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Muhammad! Oh Vishnu! Oh Buddha! Why Do We Slander Our Lord?

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain," Exodus 20:7.
     We have all heard it, in fact, to be honest with ourselves, we have all probably done it: slandered our Lord by using His name in an unflattering, thoughtless, degrading or otherwise unsanctified manner.  He is the Lord and worthy of all our praise and none of our lippy attitude.  We bring great dishonor to our Lord when we are flippant with our attitude towards Him and it is a terrible witness.  We must always be on our guard so that we do not slander our gracious, loving and all powerful Lord.  If we wear a fish on our car, a cross around our neck or faithfully proclaim His love, we must not give cause to heathens to mock our Savior.  Of this none of us are without sin and are all hypocrites in a sense.  We are to season our words with grace, which will salt the company we are in and the conversation we are having.  Grace needs to flow through our words and it will not return void as God promises when we speak His life giving word through the power of His spirit.  This does not preclude truth speaking as grace makes no sense apart from truth.  Jesus is grace and truth.  If we think we are doing any good by promoting pious platitudes devoid of the truth of God we are delusional.  We may sprinkle grace and be slandered because of it.  We can speak the God loving truth in the most sincere and pleasant voice and get spat on.  At least if we do it correctly.  Our Lord knew something of this as the writer of Hebrews tells us that Christ endured the cross for us, despised the shame heaped upon Him and He now has His rightful place next to His Father.  He was the personification of grace and was beaten beyond recognition.  Can we expect better?  We should not seek persecution and intentionally bring it upon ourselves but it should not cause us to be silent about God's greatness and love.
     What really made me consider this was a situation I was in recently.  I was in the presence of an unbeliever for many hours and I shared the gospel with him and he continually slandered our Lord at every occasion.  I do not think it was even a concern to him and he did it whenever the tiniest inconvenience occurred.  He did it before I shared the gospel and after.  I know that I was not innocent myself.  I'm an imperfect witness but I did my best to explain the gospel, creation, God's love and our depravity.  Finally, exasperated and angry at his continual abuse of our Lord's name, I shouted the names of other religious figures(the one's in the title) and asked why can't they be slandered instead!  I know my anger is never completely righteous but I do know that there is such a thing as righteous anger and I pray that the Lord can use my display to His glory.  I have prayed for this gentleman also and I pray that he does learn to love and live the glorious gospel of Christ.  Pray also for discernment of our anger, especially mine friends.  God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fairy Tales Our Secular/Atheist Friends Believe

"Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools,"  Romans 1:21-22.
     As a presuppositionalists, I do not like to argue with unbelievers about the evidence for and against God's existence.  After all, the Bible starts with God saying, "In the Beginning, God created the heaven's and the earth."  It did not start with God saying, "Here is the proof that I exist and created everything.  Here is the cosmological argument, here is the teleological argument and then here is the moral theory and on and on and on ad nauseum."  No, the Bible takes God's existence and His creative power for granted and only a work of God on someones heart can change them from an unbeliever to a believer.  Only the gospel, working in concert with the Holy Spirit can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.  That being said, Roman's 1 is one of the key foundations for this understanding of theology and apologetics.  We are told by Paul in this passage that God has made His existence and power manifest and obvious but people naturally hate God and, in fact, their minds degenerate to a point that their hearts are darkened and they become fools, all the while reveling in human wisdom.  Here are some examples of darkened hearts and foolish thoughts/ideas.
     1)  All Truth is relative.  This is self refuting from the start.  They start off with a truth claim which boomerang backs upon them with ferocity and force.  Truth cannot be relative, it is intolerant of relativism.  Truth may be harsh, liberating, consoling, difficult and many other things but it does not stand amongst competing, untrue ideas and converse with them sympathetically.  Truth is a tyrant, albeit a necessary and benevolent One when you truly understand Him.  Even more, how do you take someone seriously who does not believe in truth?  What can they say other than gibberish?  How do we evaluate their comments? Can they be trusted?  No, they can't.  If someone does not believe in truth the best we can do in conversation with them is discuss the weather and tiddly winks.  Their is no reason to take anything else seriously.
     2)  Fossils take millions of years to form.  Google the Mt. St. Helen's volcano eruption and fossils and see what comes up.  Not only did fossils form in just a few years but mountains were built!  Not only do fossils form in an incredibly short period of time but it is virtually impossible for them to form over hundreds of years let along millions.  Think about this.  What has happened to all the dead animals that you have seen left in the elements?  Scavengers come and pick to the bone whatever the maggots have left for them to eat.  The fur and bones weaken, and within a fairly short period of time, within a few years, the skeleton has largely disintegrated unless acted upon by a catastrophic event: like a flood of water!
     3)  You cannot legislate morality.  Once again, this is self refuting.  It is on par with saying, "You cannot legislate legislation."  Legislation is the encoding of a cultures morality and ethics.  So, not only can you legislate morality, it is ALL you can legislate.  Someones ethics/morality is being codified in every law, it is just a matter of whose morality is being enacted.  This has really become apparent to me concerning the sexual abuse case involving Penn State and Jerry Sandusky.  People who regularly comment about how we cannot legislate morality are up in arms about child sexual abuse.  It is a peculiar Judeo/Christian belief that adult/child sex is wrong.  The laws of our land that forbid this activity are there because of our Biblical heritage.  Islam and pagan cultures have a far different understanding of this evil practice.
     Here are just three examples of a darkened mind that the truth of the gospel needs to penetrate.  While we can and should point out these absurdities, we must not engage in endless arguments, trying to outsmart our atheist foes.  Instead, we need to share the appropriate scriptures with them, share the gospel and pray for their hearts to melt.  Remember, the gospel is the power of salvation, not our intelligence, arguments or any human wisdom.  God bless you friends and remember to learn, live and love the gospel!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baptism: Are You Ready To Die With Christ and Help Birth Him in Others This Christmas Season?

"Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," Matt. 28:19-20.
     Christ was born that man no more may die a famous hymn has told us.  In fact, Christ was born to die!  He was light that made its place in the darkness of this world that men could be made to see.  Jesus was not born to make us healthy and free from disease.  He was not born to make us happy in our circumstances.  He was not born to make our marriages better, our finances richer or our kids more obedient.  Simeon puts it beautifully in Luke 2, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant(Simeon) depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel."  Simeon could die now, having seen the salvation of His people in the face of the new born King, Jesus.
     Simeon died decades before Jesus' death on the cross and His glorious resurrection.  He prophesied Jesus' glorious work of salvation but could not partake in Jesus' glorious command of baptism.  That is something we have the wonderful opportunity to observe and partake in and one that we should pursue with all of our heart!  Baptism is a picture of our identification with Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection.  Paul gives us this illustration in Romans 6, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life," 6:3-4.  This, to be sure, is explaining our spiritual baptism into Christ.  Yet we know that baptism, which means "immersion", is a beautiful picture of our identification of Christ's death, His burial as we descend under the waters and His resurrection as we are raised out of the water and into newness of life.  Baptism tells the world that we are no longer under its evil influence but that we have died to it and are alive in Jesus Christ and we are willing to be obedient to Him and His word, regardless of circumstance.  We know that what Jesus taught is true.  Death brings forth life.  A seed must die to birth its offspring and we must die to birth the new life of Christ.  Water baptism does not birth life but is a symbol that we have died to our life and been reborn into His.
     This is the teaching that Jesus commanded us to give to all the nations.  In the beginning of Matthew, the nations came to Jesus from the east bearing gifts and true worship.  Matthew ends his gospel with Jesus telling His disciples, and us, that we are to bring His gifts and true worship to the world.  Baptism is the seal of this understanding for each and every believer.  God bless you and learn, live and love the glorious gospel of our incarnate King!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Word Became Flesh! Merry Christmas!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John 1:1-3, 14.
     Scenes of a baby in a manger, helpless and tiny, fill the yards and homes of Christians all over the world this time of year.  My favorite shows St. Nicholas bowing before His crib, praying to the one who brought us the greatest gift(s) we can ever imagine.  Yet, there is more to this.  There is something deep, amazing and fantastically wonderful that will never be fully grasped this hide of heaven.  The Word became flesh, the incarnation.
     While we ponder the beautiful birth of Christ texts in Matthew and Luke, we must keep a watchful eye on the penetrating and glorifying words of John's gospel.  Angels abound in Matthews gospel and dreams guide the Holy family as well as the wise men.  We get a powerful glimpse of God's sovereign love through out this account.  In Luke we have John the Baptists birth story told and we are shown a beautiful relationship between Mary and her older cousin Elizabeth.  The baby Baptist even leaps in Elizabeth's womb with joy upon his first encounter with his Savior, Jesus in His mother's womb.  These pictures of Jesus in Matthew and Luke put a proper emphasis on our Lord as a man, a real flesh and blood man, just like any one of us.  This would be truly stunning to both the Greek and Jewish mind of the day for different reasons which the Church still fights against today through different heresies.
     This is where John's Gospel so magnificently brings together Jesus' flesh with His glory as the Creator of everything.  God coming in the flesh yet subordinating His power and glory to the will of His Father was something we could not imagine.  The Greeks had their gods but they were petty, vicious, wicked and self centered to their core.  They did not subjugate themselves to anyone and were contemptuous of the humanity they over saw.  God, the true God, is altogether different and He is magnificent beyond our comprehension so He condescended.  He made Himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant.  Jesus tells us in the gospels that, "He came to serve and not to be served."  What kind of a king says that?  Yet Jesus demonstrated the power of God through His relationship to His Father who worked all sorts of miracles through His Son.  Jesus' perfect obedience demonstrates to us the power of God in a completely submissive life.  What could be more submissive than surrendering yourself to be born in a barn!  What does this kind of submission say to us?  Jesus' life was book ended by submission.  "He became obedient, to the point of death, even the death of the cross," Paul explains to us.  Our lives must be book ended by this same surrender mind set.  All the books in the middle also must be filled with this same surrender instinct so that we are filled with the grace and truth of our Savior.  The grace and truth that is distinctive to Jesus Christ and no one in human history. 
     Friends, we have this wonderful portrait of our loving God, bundled in a little blanket, meek and mild.  He "was born that men no more may die".  He was the embodiment of truth and grace.  He was God who became a man.  Let's be men(and women) who "walk according to the Spirit" and who put on the mind of Christ and let the light of Christ shine through our submission, our ultimate sacrifice to Him who sacrificed everything for us.  Let us go learn, live and love the glorious gospel of Christ, our newborn King!