Persecutor

* Note: This article has been updated. And by updated, I mean completely changed.

The article I originally posted this morning was an amazing tale of intrigue, conspiracy, and dramatic conversion. It involved a former KGB agent named Sergei Kourdakov who violently persecuted the church in Russia only to be radically saved in America where he began working with Underground Evangelism—a California-based ministry that helped to smuggle Bibles into communist countries.

He was like a modern-day apostle Paul, risking his life to minister to the very people he had formerly persecuted. The parallels to Paul’s testimony were obvious and compelling. Moreover, the details of Kourdakov’s life were all arranged in convincing fashion in an autobiography published by Fleming H. Revell soon after he died (in 1973).

His story has been repeatedly told in books and sermons. Even Wikipedia houses an article propounding the details of Kourdakov’s incredible testimony.

My post this morning accurately conveyed details from Sergei’s autobiography. The problem is that his autobiography appears to have been a work of fiction, rather than fact.

Thanks to my friend and fellow blogger, Tim Challies, I discovered that the story Kourdakov recounts in his autobiography is most likely untrue. Christianity Today tells the full story at this link.

I had not been aware of the controversy surrounding Sergei Kourdakov’s story before seeing that link. But now that I’ve read the article there, I cannot in good conscience leave my previous post online.

If Kourdakov’s story is in fact false, it is a good reminder (for me) of the need to verify everything carefully. One of my pet peeves is sermon illustrations that are untrue. It appears, on this occasion, that I may have been unknowingly guilty of using such an illustration.

Consequently, I’m posting this retraction — possibly the first in Cripplegate’s history. While it might not be the last, I certainly hope to do better at vetting stories like this before I publish them.

In honor of the US Presidents Day weekend I wanted to share this highly personal post I wrote as a tribute to a hero of mine the week President Nelson Mandela died. It was originally titled Nelson Mandela Changed me: How to Love a Terrorist.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) died on Thursday, at 95 years old. Today the world will talk of how his politics molded history. There will be documentaries about his presidential legacy and movies telling his remarkable story. But I doubt any of that will capture the impact he had on people like me. I was a racist and a detractor. I was ignorant and brainwashed. I was a pessimist and a cynic. But Mandela changed my mind.B&W Nelson Mandela

I grew up in the dystopia of Apartheid. As an English speaking White child in the 1980’s I had no idea that the country I lived in was not a democracy—my parents voted, and one day I would too.

I was vaguely aware of banned books, censorship, and protest poetry, but none of that affected my life. I hadn’t an inkling that Whites were a minority, and that Blacks outnumbered us nine-to-one. I lived in a city, which meant that Blacks were only allowed there temporarily and if they had permission papers. They were there to do the dirty jobs. At night they slunk back to their distant and disgusting shanty towns. It never occurred to me that those hodgepodge shacks, built from our rubbish, housed 30 million real people.

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At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, . . . and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:10–11 –

Name Above All NamesThe wonderful hymn of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation reaches its climax in these verses. Paul has said that the Father exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name. He’s said it was the name which is above every name. And here he says that at that name—which is better rendered: in honor of that name—every knee is going to bow.

So what’s the name? Jesus has a lot of names. Is it: Son of Man? Son of God? The Alpha and Omega? The First and the Last? The Faithful and True? The Beloved Son in whom the Father is well-pleased? Is it Christ? The Messiah? Is it the long-awaited prophet? Is it our Great High Priest? Is it the King of kings?

Finally, the almost unbearable suspense is broken, and the Apostle Paul tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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This June, Immanuel Bible Church (in the Washington DC area) is hosting a conference for college students/young adults. The Foundry Conference will focus on the different ways God calls people to glorify him: the calling to salvation, the calling to sanctification, the calling to vocation, etc. The goal is for those who attend to come away with a deeper understanding of how they glorify God by responding to his call in their lives.

foundry logo

Registration is $25, and includes books, and lunch. The conference begins Friday evening, June 5, and ends Sunday evening, June 7.

You can register here. I’ll be preaching at the conference, along with:   Continue Reading…

L9057fe81adc950d59ad8bf71dd3b3364ast week we featured an article entitled, Why I Am Not A Mormon. Some of our readers requested a similar article on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today’s article is in response to that.

If you were to ask me why I am not a Jehovah’s Witness, though there are many reasons, these would be the top three:

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crown_2Did the early church believe in the deity of Christ?

Ask your average Muslim, Unitarian, Jehovah’s Witness, or just about any non-Christian skeptic who has read (or watched) The Da Vinci Code, and they’ll try to convince you the answer is no. From such sources we are told that the deity of Christ was a doctrine invented centuries after Jesus’ death — a result of pagan influences on the church in the fourth century when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion.

Emperor Constantine, in particular, is blamed for being the guy who promoted Jesus to the level of deity, a feat of cosmic proportions that he managed to pull off at the Council of Nicaea in 325. As Dan Brown put it (through the lips of one of his literary characters): “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea. . . . By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable” (The Da Vinci Code, 253).

So how can believers answer such allegations? Continue Reading…

Today’s post is a book review written by my wife, Deidre, for our church’s women’s ministry newsletter (here it is on pdf). I too recommend the book, and hope this post spurs more people to read it. You can order it from Amazon or Westminster Books (its the same price both places).

The Discipline of Spiritual DiscernmentA successful counterfeiter needs to overcome two obstacles. First, he needs to design a forgery that looks plausible. Second, he needs to figure out how to get the counterfeit into circulation.

Tim Challies uses the dynamic of counterfeiting money to illustrate the necessity of the biblical mandate for discernment. His book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, argues that true wisdom is contained in Scripture. Yet the world is filled with false wisdom, cheap counterfeits that only barely look like the real thing. The goal of this false wisdom, Challies writes, is to get passed off into the church so that it is accepted by Christians.   Continue Reading…

This week was vaccine week in the news. Measles outbreaks in California and Arizona shed light on the trend of anti-vaxxers: parents who intentionally do not have their kids immunized against measles (the actual vaccination is against measles, mumps, and rubella). Today I want to appeal to Christian parents who are in the anti-vaxx crowd. But before getting there, a little history:

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February 5, 2015

Touched by an Angel?

by Lyndon Unger

Hi-Ho Cripplegate readers!kermit_the_frog

 

As you know, I have been somewhat sporadic in posting on the Cripplegate as of late.  The reason for this is that Fred Butler and I have been re-working our responses to Michael Brown’s book Authentic Fire and and preparing them to become a book.  Being the somewhat perfectionist Bible-geek that I am, I’ve re-tooled all the posts from which this book has spawned and have added over 50 pages of new material.  Most of it is in rather obsessively copious endnotes (it’s going to be released on Kindle, so footnotes aren’t an option), but I recently wrote a footnote that turned into quite the study project.  Knowing that the book Authentic Fire is somewhat “old news” but questions about Charismatic issues are not, I’ve added a whole lot of content to the upcoming book that will hopefully make it a far more valuable resource than just a book critique.  I promise you that if you pick up a copy, the endnotes will be more than worth the price alone. Continue Reading…

February 4, 2015

Why I’m Not A Mormon

by Eric Davis

TempleLiving where I do, the topic of the Mormon faith often arises. It’s a religion which is gathering quite a few adherents, especially outside the USA. But if you were to ask me why I do not ascribe to Mormonism, I would begin by giving these three reasons:

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