Archives For Evangelicalism

September 30, 2015

Arminianism & Its Hazards

by Eric Davis

calvins flowerChances are you’ve discussed it lately. Who chose whom? God? Man? Both? Whose will and choice triggers salvation? Man’s? God’s? Both? It’s a common occurrence to spar over Calvinism (the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace) vs. Arminianism.

This post could not possibly address all the issues. Instead, it will take a brief look at some of Arminianism’s consequences. But first, a quick reminder of common Arminian teaching.

Arminianism typically holds that God elects individuals to salvation based on his foreknowledge of their personal worthiness. It’s claimed that God’s election means that he chose those whom he foresaw would trust in Christ for salvation prior to them doing so. God chose those whom he foreknew would choose him. Humanity, therefore, is fallen, but not incapable of seeking God. Though sinful, man is still able to arouse his will so as to choose God savingly. Some reject election, arguing that it is incompatible with human freedom and responsibility, thus rendering things like evangelism, prayer, and discipleship unnecessary. It follows, then, that many argue that one is able to lose their salvation.

arminian flower

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Arminianism has had its propagators over the years. Jacob Arminius, of course. Later, John Wesley wrote, “I reject the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination…I would sooner be a Turk, a Deist, yea an atheist, than I could believe this” (Cited in Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 102). About 100 years later, Charles Finney held that there are essentially two types of people; the savable and the unsavable. God chose those who inherently possessed the ability by their freedom to choose God and be saved. Some contemporary proponents include F. Leroy Forlines and Roger Olson, to name a few.

Wherever we might find ourselves theologically, there are a number of hazards for consideration which are consequent of Arminian teaching:

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Papacy02Anyone paying attention to the news last week could not have missed Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of his visit was the way in which some evangelical leaders enthusiastically embraced him. Today’s article addresses one of the many reasons why evangelicals should neither endorse nor applaud the office of the papacy.

The Popularity of the Papacy

Francis is unarguably one of the most popular popes in recent memory. That popularity has been fueled, largely, by his unexpected message of tolerance toward those who have historically been condemned by the Catholic Church.

In last few months, Francis has even shocked many Catholics with statements he has made about homosexuality, divorce, abortion, capitalism, climate change, and how he views of people in non-Catholic religions. Some of his comments have been so surprising, in fact, that it leads one to wonder about the continuing validity of the rhetorical question: “Is the Pope Catholic?” With Francis, it’s getting harder and harder to say for sure.

In spite of all of that, the pope has never been more popular. Type the words “pope Francis souvenirs” into Google and over 1.8 million results show up. There are Pope Francis bobble heads, coffee mugs, commemorative buttons, key chains, wall art, collectible stamps, prayer cards, throw pillows, and a whole lot more.

Incredibly, the pope’s popularity has even spilled over into some Protestant circlesenticing a number of evangelical leaders to embrace him as a brother in Christ, rather than to reject him as a false teacher. In the words of one well-known television preacher, regarding Francis: “I love the fact that’s he’s made the Church more inclusive. Not trying to make it smaller, but to try to make it larger—to take everybody in. So, that just resonates with me.”

But the fact of the matter is that the popularity of this pope or any other pope represents the tragic reality that there are more than a billion people today caught in the clutches of a false religious system. The Roman Catholic church is not the true church. It is an apostate movement that has undermined the gospel by elevating the traditions of men above the Word of God.

[Note: This article continues on the Preachers and Preaching blog.] Click here to Continue reading . . . 

As the evangelical world in America seems rather excited about the Pope’s visit, I can’t help but remember how I nf95i1-warrenpopefelt when I discovered the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document (ECT).

In 1995 the unthinkable happened. Well known evangelical pastors signed a document in which they joined themselves with Catholic priests and Philosophers, in an ecumenical fashion in order to promote the agreements over the disagreements that have plagued Protestants and Catholics for centuries dating back to the greats: Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Knox. They agreed to no longer “proselytize” each other, agreeing that Catholics are indeed brothers, and sisters in Christ.

This article was successful in its endeavor. The vast majority of Christians in America do not evangelize Catholics. Someone like me who has shed many tears over the deception of the Roman Catholic Church is seen as hateful. I totally understand the desire to believe people are saved. I also desperately want Roman Catholics to go to heaven, but we can’t let our desire for people to be saved or our desire to please men, lead us to cheer them on as they run towards hell. We must love them.

When I first found out about the ECT, I was shocked. I was fresh off the boat and never in a million years did I imagine such confusion over what seemed to be such a clear issue to me and any Italian believer. Most evangelical churches in Italy, many of which we would never step foot into, recognize this truth.

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Since there is so much confusion about Roman Catholicism, many faithful men have stood up and provided helpful tools to equip the Church in reaching Catholics. The more you understand Roman Catholicism the easier it will be to explain the Gospel with clarity. I have been helped by all these books and recommend them to you.

1 – Are we Together? – R.C. Sproul

“This book is not what you might assume: a rehearsal of slogans. Rather, it is an intelligent and engaging primer for Protestants and Roman Catholics alike about what Rome actually teaches and what are the profound issues that continue to separate confessional, evangelical Protestants from the Roman communion. This is a book that Protestants should give to their Roman Catholic neighbors and that Protestant pastors (after reading it) should give to their members. It is also a book that more than a few theologians and historians should read before the next round of ecumenical discussions and documents.” ~ R. Scott Clark

2 – Evangelicalism Divided – Iain Murray

Iain Murray’s historical overview of the fortunes and misfortunes of evangelical Christianity, especially in England, between 1950 and the century’s end-time, will stir up both an approving and a dissenting readership. But no one can contend that it ignores some of the most vital theological issues of the time and the conflicts surrounding them. The narrative is well documented, and it details not only conflicts of perspective but inconsistencies and alterations of views by some of the leading participants in the events of the day. The names best known to Americans – Billy Graham, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, James Packer, John Stott among them – are evaluated, commended and critiqued as contributory to the present-day evangelical outlook and predicament. – Carl F.H. Henry

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342491561_640Christ promised to build and bless one, and only one, institution in the universe: the church (Matt. 16:18). The true church exists, then, not consequent of man’s power and method, but God’s. However, this is not always articulated and practiced by professing Christians. Ours is a day which has witnessed that. This past weekend, I attended for the first time a conference which addressed the issue head on.

The annual Ekklesia Conference is hosted by Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida, pastored by Jerry Wragg. Ekklesia has as its mission, “to instruct Christians in the inseparable truths of Christ’s church and His gospel. Our desire is that believers would passionately serve and commit to the advancement of those realities with lifelong conviction.” As the previous 5 years of the conference, a theme is chosen which relates to the local church. This year’s was the mission of the church. Today’s post is a brief review of this worthwhile event.

So that readers may get a better feel for the flavor of the conference, here is a brief rundown of the speakers and their respective sermons:

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Bible07Last weekend, I had the opportunity to address this issue during a prospective student lunch at the Ligonier Fall Conference.

Today’s post is adapted from the notes I prepared for that lunch.

How to Choose a Seminary

I’m sure there are many practical concerns that factor in to why people choose the seminaries that they choose. Perhaps it’s the cost of tuition, the distance from home, the popularity of the professors, or the academic prestige of the institution. All of those are reasons why someone might choose a seminary, and some of those reasons involve legitimate considerations.

However, I’m convinced that none of those reasons represent the primary criterion that should be used to choose a seminary. And that’s because seminary is unlike any other educational institution in the world. Continue Reading…

September 17, 2015

Review: Captive

by Jesse Johnson

It was a jail break 10 years ago that helped make Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life one of the best selling books of all time.

In Atlanta on March 11, 2005, an inmate awaiting trial for rape found himself in an isolated hallway with a lone female deputy. What followed became a nationally televised man-hunt that you likely remember.

The inmate, Brian Nichols, punched the deputy in the face so hard he put her in a coma, stole her gun and radio, entered court, murdered the judge and a court reporter, and then killed another deputy while fleeing the building.   Continue Reading…

200wordsBaptists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. All three claim to believe in Jesus. Yet, only one of these groups can be rightly classified as a denomination rather than a false religion.

With that in mind, the question we are asking today might be stated as follows:

What are the marks of cult groups and apostate forms of Christianity that identify them as false religions—such that we can and should label them as heresies, rather than simply classifying them as different denominations?

Here is my attempt to answer that question in 200 words or less:

The New Testament articulates three fundamental doctrinal criteria by which false teachers (and false religions) can be identified: Continue Reading…

September 14, 2015

The Perfect Woman

by Clint Archer

Nadia 3We usually think of perfection as an ideal for which athletes aim rather than a goal anyone seriously expects to achieve. After all, nobody’s perfect. But that all changed at the Montreal Summer Olympics when a young Romanian girl achieved the impossible.

On July 18, 1976, fourteen-year-old Nadia Comăneci represented Romania in the gymnastics team event. Spectators watched in riveted silence as she confidently completed a mesmerizingly ambitious and astonishingly flawless routine on the uneven bars . . . until the instant her feet planted an unfaltering dismount, which generated an avalanche of applause. But the jubilation dissipated suddenly when her result appeared on the digital display: Comăneci’s brilliant performance had scored only 1.0.

In gymnastics, a panel of judges rates each performance according to its difficulty, creativity, and the technical proficiency of its execution. The highest and lowest figures are discarded and the final score represents an average of the remaining numbers. The highest number a judge can give is a perfect 10, and every judge would need to give a 10 in order for the cumulative score to be 10.

one point oBecause this is so unlikely, the electronic score board only allowed space for a single digit on the left side of the decimal point: the maximum number it could show was 9.9, which means it displayed Comăneci’s score as 1.0 instead of the perfect 10 the judges had awarded for the first time in Olympic history. An apologetic voice over the public address system explained the error and the crowd roared to ovation.

Little Nadia was—gymnastically speaking—the world’s first perfect woman.

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In a not so shocking admission Pope Francis announced to the world that Priests now hold the right to absolve women who have had an abortion and to forgive them for their sin as long as they are contrite. Get this, the Pope has the authority to tell priests that they now have the authority to forgive the sin of abortion. And they say this pope is humble!

Growing up in Rome and watching people pray their way up the “holy” steps, watching them wait to confess their sins to men and many things like this, has caused me to grieve for people who are in theholy steps Roman Catholic Church. Any religion that is built on the backs of the poor and that propagates works based righteousness should bring tears and concern to those who have experienced true grace. It is important that we as believers understand the truth of why Catholic confession is not Biblical, not to win an argument but in order to rescue souls. So here’s five problems with Roman Catholic confession.

1- Priests can’t see the heart

It is fascinating to see the stories of Saul and David. Most people would look at their confessions after being confronted  as very similar. One said Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord. The other “I have sinned against the Lord.” One may even say Saul’s confession was better worded, but ultimately both prophets had come with a clear message from God who had seen their hearts and knew which one was truly repentant. Priests cannot see the heart of man and are definitely not good judges as to whether someone is repentant or not, heck, even if they could tell from the eyes if a person was lying they don’t get to in catholic confession. Man is not a good judge of what happens in someone’s heart and certainly not a good judge of how bad sin is since we love to minimize sin and magnify man’s goodness.

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