Most of the class-action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, in which rampant sexual abuse was allegedly committed against children, has been dismissed by a Maryland judge. Bill O’Neil, the attorney for the plaintiffs, stated yesterday in an interview with radio host Janet Mefferd that it had been known from the outset that the age of most of the alleged victims had long since passed the statute of limitations. The case still was pursued, however, in the hope that allegations that SGM leadership had systematically pressured victims not to seek legal counsel or help outside of the church would have weighed more heavily into the judge’s decision.
The Cripplegate takes a look at a question asked by every believer at one time or another: How does one identify his spiritual gift?
The New Testament gives at least three lists of spiritual gifts … strongly implying at the very least that every Christian has a kind of spiritual gift, and that not every Christian has every gift. So how do you find out what your gift is?
First, remember that every believer has the responsibility to be a faithful member of their local church, and that gifting is discovered, identified, and validated in that context. So if you are not a member of a church, fret about that before you fret about what you are supposed to do in that church.
It is not uncommon to hear some among the seeker-driven crowd state that if a person would only “try Jesus” for 60 days, 30 days, or some other predetermined amount of time, he would be hooked on Christianity. Yet, how does this approach compare with Scripture? Is this “test drive Jesus” the Jesus of the Bible?
How do pagan practices find their way into the church? As the following article demonstrates, it begins rather innocently for some Christians, who may simply want to experience a deeper connection to God through a mixture of appealing spiritual practices. The dangers of dabbling in something God detests come at a great cost, warns Marsha West.
In December 2012, a poorly done parody of the pop song, “Call Me Maybe” circulated throughout the blogosphere. “Ordain a Lady” was a production created by the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), which describes itself as “the world’s oldest and largest organization working solely for the ordination of women as priests, deacons, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Catholic Church.” Some of the lyrics for the parody tune read as follows:
I had a dream as a girl, Like Therese of Lisieux, I need to give this whirl So I can lead the way.
Woman priest is my call; Women preaching for all. Don’t listen to St. Paul, ‘Cuz I can lead the way.
My ministry is growing. Excommunication? I’m still glowing. M.Div, chasuble flowing; Where you think the Church is going?
Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy, But God just called me, so ordain a lady! Justice doesn’t look right, with only male priests, But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Four months later, Reuters tells the story of Rosemarie Smead, “a 70-year-old Kentucky woman [who] was ordained a priest on Saturday as part of a dissident group operating outside of official Roman Catholic Church authority.” Though it has not been reported that Smead is affiliated with the aforementioned WOC, it nevertheless seems obvious that she and the group share similar goals. Continue reading
For those who may not be aware, today is Earth Day. I have been receiving notifications about Earth Day’s impending arrival for about two weeks, and in my email inbox this morning, I received “Happy Earth Day” messages from a t-shirt company, Aveda, a homeschooling organization, Williams Sonoma, Lindt Chocolates, and many others. But how should Christians think about Earth Day? And what, if anything, should be our response? Continue reading ➛
Marsha West tackles Christian mysticism and makes the case that Bible-believing Christians must not involve themselves in Contemplative Prayer and so-called Christian yoga, as both of these practices are not only unbiblical but they can be spiritually harmful. She begins:
For a couple of decades there has been a big push by numerous evangelical leaders to incorporate pagan practices into the visible Church. These unbiblical practices have their origins in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, likewise the New Age movement. Roman Catholic Trappist Monks fully embraced Eastern religion’s pagan practices. Through the writings of Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, William Menninger and Thomas Keating these practices have been introduced into mainline Protestant churches as well as independent, nondenominational, charismatic and Pentecostal churches.
It has been over two weeks since the popular miniseries, ‘The Bible,’ finished airing on The History Channel. The show, which was produced by Roman Catholic Roma Downey (of the series ‘Touched By an Angel’) and her husband Mark Burnett (producer of ‘Survivor’), garnered the praise of many professing evangelical Christians in spite of its gross historical and theological inaccuracies. While not all denied the existence of these inconsistencies, supporters of the series argued that the production caused people to open their own Bibles and thus helped to renew an interest in the sacred text.
If this truly was a goal and purpose for the miniseries, however, then one cannot help but wonder why there would be a need to merchandise ‘The Bible.’ Perhaps the numerous errors contained in the production could have been redeemed at least in part if, upon conclusion of the series on television, viewers were urged to open a copy of God’s Word. Instead, throughout the five weeks the series aired and in the days following, a merchandising campaign began that promoted this hopelessly inadequate small-screen rendition of ‘The Bible’ and accompanying resources. Continue reading
Christian rapper Shai Linne recently released his newest album, Lyrical Theology, Pt. 1: Theology. It wasn’t long before one track on that album, “Fal$e Teacher$,” began drawing the attention of many due to Linne’s bold willingness to “name names.” Linne called out twelve prominent preachers, each known for his or her aberrant teaching. The ministry of at least one of those ‘false teachers,’ Paula White, has responded to Shai Linne’s claims. Continue reading
David Cousar is concerned about the way in which popular Bible teacher and author Beth Moore has used the tragic death of Rick Warren’s son to attack Warren’s theological critics, or, as Moore calls them, “bullies in the body of Christ.” Cousar begins:
I had promised myself not to write anything critical of Rick Warren in the wake of his son’s tragic and untimely death. My heart goes out to him and his family during this incredibly sad time.
So, what could possibly prompt me to write anything about him in less than a week after his horrific personal tragedy? It was his weekly email newsletter that he sends out to Pastors.com members. In it was featured an article by Beth Moore titled “Beth Moore: Sadness and Madness”.
In this piece, Southern Baptist pastor Randy White lays out what he believes Southern Baptists can expect from the recent appointment of Dr. Russell D. Moore, who will replace the controversial Richard Land as the President of Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Whether or not you are Southern Baptists,” says White, “Moore will have huge influence on the Christian worldview and expression of Christianity for many years to come. It is not hard to discern where Moore will lead, what he will emphasize, and what his values are, and this Southern Baptist is concerned.”
By now most have learned that smiling prosperity preacher Joel Osteen became the target of an elaborate internet hoax in recent days. Christian News Network offers details:
The yet unidentified entity behind the hoax appears to have set up a Blogger account, run by Google, within the past few days. While the URL of the blog uses the name “Christianity News Texas,” the “about me” section of the site falsely utilizes the logo and identity of Christian News Network in an attempt to legitimize the fabricated news story. Source
The articles posted on this website claimed that Osteen had renounced his ‘Christian’ faith and was resigning from Lakewood Church. The first of these articles, which was written to appear as though it originated from CNN (Ted Turner’s Cable News Network), “alleged that Osteen stated that God was a ‘fictional character’ and that he would rather focus on ‘immediate issues,’ such as the environment.”
Some would say that only ‘boring’ Christians seek to hear from God through His written Word, the Bible. Then there are those who look for warm-fuzzy feelings, ‘still, small voices,’ or the face of Jesus in their grilled cheese sandwich. Melbourne, Florida woman Patti Burke, however, claims that her ‘sign from God’ was found in a bag of cheddar cheese flavored Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers. Continue reading
The blog of Mormonism Research Ministry examines a recent case settled in the U.S. Tax Court. On 4 March 2013, it was ruled that “Mormon plaintiff George Thompson would not be allowed to consider his church tithe a ‘necessary expense’ in regards to paying back taxes owed to the government.”
What exactly does Mormonism teach about tithing? In short, the teachings of the Mormon church imply that failing to tithe could result in one being burned at Christ’s coming, deemed unworthy of an inheritance in Zion and denied the eternal gift of living with God and family forever, among other punishments.
The blog of The Institute on Religion & Democracy offers details of a Good Friday sermon preached by controversial figure Bishop John Shelby Spong. According to the report, Spong spoke about the Gospel of John, insisting that the work was not authored by John the son of Zebedee and claiming that it “was not a story of incarnation.” Instead, Spong proposed that the Gospel of John “sees Jesus as a life lived so deeply that he reached mystical oneness with God.” Spong further claimed that, through his words in this gospel, Jesus was inviting his disciples “to enter a mystical reality of divine human oneness.”
In our increasingly secular nation, a growing number of Americans are clueless as to the real reason for the Easter holiday. Case in point: This year’s White House Easter Egg Roll has as its theme “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” In the United Kingdom somewhere around 80 per cent of children do not even know the true meaning of Easter. In this piece Marsha West reveals the far-left’s plot to secularize the Christian faith and then she lays out the true meaning of Easter.
Update 29 March 2013: Tim Keller offers further clarification at the blog of The Gospel Coalition regarding his comments as quoted by The Huffington Post and as discussed in the following article. Those additional comments may be viewed here.
Reporting on the growing tension between personal and political views of same-sex ‘marriage’ faced by professing evangelical Christians, The Huffington Post focused on comments made recently by pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Speaking to a group of journalists at a forum sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Keller predicted that, in spite of the growing public support for gay ‘marriage,’ large numbers of Christians will continue to believe that such a practice runs contrary to the Christian faith.
“There’s a tendency to say, where are evangelicals going? I think they’re going to look more and more politically, actually, like conservative Roman Catholics, and like African Americans. I think that’s where they’re going,” Keller said. “But the inertia of the Bible keeps them from, I think, getting really very liberal when it comes to theology and social ethics.” Source
Keller reportedly offered an interesting qualification, however, as he clarified this statement by saying that “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.” Continue reading
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently was challenged by a shareholder in the company who questioned the company’s endorsement of a state bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Schultz reportedly told the shareholder that he was free to sell his Starbucks shares and invest elsewhere. The ensuing brouhaha had many Christians up in arms, calling for a boycott of Starbucks coffee, and lighting up social media with conversations about this dastardly deed. And yet at the risk of inflaming many of my Christian friends who often exercise their American right to choose to boycott a company that makes this or that anti-Christian statement, here is just some food for thought: Should we as Christians expect lost people to act in any other way than lost people generally do?
Ghost Inside My Child, a new reality show to air on the Biography Channel, is “seeking families of children that have or have had past life memories.” Continue reading
David Wheaton’s guest on The Christian Worldview is Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You. They discuss the significance of the new pope and what it means for the world and for biblical Christians. Wheaton poses the following questions: Is there any special significance to a first Jesuit pope? And what does it portend that evangelical leaders such as Rick Warren proclaim, “Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader” and Luis Palau declare that the new pope is “really centered on Jesus and the Gospel, the pure Gospel”?
Heaven Is for Real, the story of four-year-old Colton Burpo, who allegedly traveled to Heaven and back, has mesmerized professing Christians since its publication in 2010. In two years it has sold 8 million copies and been translated into 30 different languages. Those who could not find satisfaction in what God’s Word shares about the life to come flocked to the young boy’s story in spite of the fact that Burpo’s claims about Heaven flatly contradicted the biblical text. The popularity of the book was an overt demonstration of how many Christians today allow experience to trump objective, biblical truth.
Like every good story, whether fiction or nonfiction, Heaven Is for Real now is slated to be made into a movie. The Christian Retailing website notes that not only is Greg Kinnear in negotiations to play the role of Colton Burpo’s father, Todd, but that the film will be co-produced by Joe Roth (Oz the Great and Powerful) and famed prosperity preacher T.D. Jakes. Continue reading
Marsha West once again tackles our corrupt society’s hyper-sexualization of young girls. In this piece she exposes how lingerie company Victoria’s Secret is targeting middle school and high school girls with their new line of intimate undergarments. Marsha also confronts the popular teen girl magazine, Seventeen, for promoting Disney star Ashley Benson’s movie, “Spring Breakers,” on the magazine’s cover. The film is rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence and contains graphic sex scenes between two women and a man, yet is being promoted to the young readers of this periodical.
In an interview appearing at Odyssey Networks, Rob Bell offers further explanation for his support of gay ‘marriage.’ As was previously reported, Bell came out this past weekend in support of marriage equality while speaking at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, saying,
I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.
In this latest interview with Odyssey, Bell states that God is “inviting us to see things in new ways.” Continue reading