Am I hyper-Calvinist, or just hyper?

Talk about hyper!I was recently told that my articles showed a leaning toward hyper-Calvinism, so I grew a little concerned until my wife pointed out that A:) I am hyper, and B:) I am Calvinist.  But in all seriousness, I had looked into this term a loooong time ago, but I could not remember what the specifics were.

The first thing I needed to do is find out what the hyper-Calvinism doctrine teaches. I do remember that it did not have an good connotation to go along with it.  I also know that definitions can range widely, so you might find that people who are labeled as hyper-Calvinists, might just be  nothing more than a passionate Calvinist.

I am not a theologian, so I need to find someone I know who has the resources and background that I could trust.  I started with Googling the term and found a great article from Tim Challies on this subject. That was a pretty good find, but Tim said in his post that Phil Johnson did some extensive work on this subject.

Phil Johnson runs the blog over at teampyro.blogspot.com and is the Executive Director at Grace to You and the main editor for John MacArthur. So between Phil’s article here and Tim’s, I think I get a pretty clear picture of the theological definition of hyper-Calvinism.

Here is an excerpt from Tim’s blog-

[Hyper-Calvinism] manifests itself in an over-emphasis of one aspect of God’s character at the expense of another. Hyper-Calvinists emphasize God’s sovereignty but de-emphasize God’s love. They tend to set God’s sovereignty at odds with the clear biblical call to human responsibility… Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of a Hyper-Calvinist is an unwillingness to evangelize at all, or to evangelize without extending a call to accept and believe the gospel.  A hyper-Calvinist is one who:

  1. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
  2. Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
  3. Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
  4. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

In my posts, I go to great lengths to stress God’s anger at sin, and His wrath on those who will not repent. Could I talk more about God’s love of humanity? Absolutely, but that does not make me a Hyper-Calvinist. In person, I am very passionate toward understanding the Gospel rightly. I have also been increasingly frustrated at the bad theology that is floating around the town I live in.  This is compounded by the fact that I attend a church, but as of yet, I do not have a place where I call home.

Most pastors I have heard don’t present God’s anger at all, only His love. That is one of the reasons for this blog. To try and present a thoughtful response to the non-biblical, seeker sensitive, Perry Noble type error that I see so much of.  That is probably why I talk more about God’s wrath than I do His love. But the truth is that people need to understand who they are before they will truly understand Christ’s love that was shown on that cross.

People have been lifted onto a ivory pedistal of self worth by the unbalanced preaching of God’s love alone. Remember that God’s love that is shown to us in the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. This has caused some tension when some of the “visitation” committee have come by my house after I have visited. One more than one occation, the people sitting in my living room on Tuesday nights (that seems to be visitaion night) have called me “very intense” after meeting with me, because I am tired of the soft Gospel.

I want a church home who knows what the Law of God is for, who knows WHO church is for (not for the seekers but the sheep). I want a church that preaches law to the proud and grace to the humble. I want a church that I can lay it all out on the line and have them tell me if they are the church I am looking for or not.  I am eager to join that church, I am looking forward to serving there.

Bring it on…

–Danny

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Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Beth Moore- A review of “Stepping Up”

Awhile back I posted an article on judging our teachers and in it I identified a few points that are red flags before we jump head-first into a ministry.  In that article, I examined Beth Moore and her testimony that I found in Christianity Today.

I received a few emails telling me I was wrong and a clear testimony could be heard in her “Daniel” or “Stepping Up” video series, so I watched “Stepping Up” and would like to give you my thoughts as objectively as a I can.

The first thing you notice is that Beth Moore is PASSIONATE. No question about it.  She also has a lively personally which draws people to her. She is like the ultimate motivational speaker.  She is funny and expressive which makes her enjoyable to listen to. She exalts God as well as Christ and does not lack in praise and worship.

The background for this 6 hour study was the Psalms of ascents (Psa 120-134). These were songs that pilgrims sang when traveling to the three yearly feasts.  The first hour was about how important songs are to us. The problem is that songs quickly tend to manufacture emotions and get people pumped up on superficial feelings.  When the person makes a “decision”, it may the music moving in them and not God. Another problem is that too much of our Christian music is severely lacking in sound theology. Most of it is encouraging “feel good” music. I think this is an important difference of opinion, but most definitely a secondary issue.

One of the topics that is she relates to is bondage to sin, but the overtones are not being a rebel against God, but more like a victim of sin. She said that she was miserable in that cycle of sin, and she would repent, but she didn’t know how to get out of that hole. There is almost a theme of being oppressed by our circumstances, not willful rebellion against a Holy God. She mentioned God’s wrath in this series, but she said that God is coming back and people are going to have to answer for the things they have done TO YOU.

In her second session about 3 quarters of the way through, she presents the Gospel to her audience. This is THE most important message we have as Christians. If she is not clear and on target with the Gospel, then nothing else matters. I listened… and waited

Unfortunately, it was very disappointing.  This is the Gospel she presented…

This is the simplest process you have been invited to take. Simply coming to the cross of Christ and saying, I just don’t believe that You did it for everyone, I accept that You did it for me. By grace and grace alone I receive this gift. I want to walk Your path. I want to fulfill the destiny, in You, that You have had for me since before the foundation of the world. Come into my life Holy Spirit, You will never leave me or forsake me… and it’s done. And it’s done. Sealed until you see Him face to face- He’s never getting out, no matter what you do. You can try and get rid of Him and you cannot make Him go away. Believe you me, if you could, I would have done it. Take a deep breath of absolute assurance and absolute certainty. … You’ve got to know that you know that you know that you belong to Christ, no matter how you feel. Tomorrow morning you may awaken and say, “I don’t feel any different”. Well it doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel, does it girls? It has to do with what you know to be true, and you know that God is faithful to do what he promised and if you invited His Son into your life, He is there, and He is there to stay.

Her audience needed to hear that they had broken God’s Law, that everyone in that audience, and at home, were guilty criminals before God. Beth needed to allow her audience to weep over their sins before being brought to the cross. Her presentation, you will not find any mention of sin, Hell, judgment to come, repentance or the Law of God… the very thing that Paul says is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. People need personal conviction of sin, and she told them to repeat an incantation, a magical phrase. She then prompted them to more of an intellectual belief in Christ rather than total surrender.

I want you to notice something else. Beth says that it is not about feeling different, and that is true, but what she left out is that it is all about BEING different. Being saved is a radical change. The concept of being born again is like being run over by a Mac truck. Your thoughts, your desires, your very nature would have been crucifed with Christ. You may not feel different the next day, but unless there is a new creature standing where the old sinful man stood, then you are not saved.

Beth does mention repentance in her study, and she talks about what a sinner she is, but I would like to see something deeper from her on these issues.

The way she talked about repentance, it was saying “I’m sorry” to God every day. I want to know if she thinks repentance is also the one time turning from sin, forsaking it, and turning to God, that happens at salvation. I know that as Christians we all still sin,  but apologizing to God and turning from sin are two different things.

And she does calls her self a sinner, but I have close family members who call themselves sinners and then turn right around and say, “I don’t deserve Hell! No one deserves Hell!” There are also countless Catholics who call themselves sinners that believe in work righteousness and will end up in their sins on judgment day.  Saying she is a sinner does not give me an insight to her theology in this area.

She also says in her study that she will NEVER talk condemnation talk to any of her girls. She then talked about not being able to take the next step if we continue to be carnal. It sounds like she believes that someone can be living in sin and still be a Christian. If that is true, then this is really bad teaching. I thought of this again when she talked about people living “totally disobedient to God” and then said, “I’m not coming down with condemnation on anyone…”  If she believes that a sincere prayer saves a person, then she would not be able to tell the sheep from the goats. I would be interested in knowing what she would say about someone like Ray Boltz. I suspect it would be something like “only God can judge his sincerity.”

She mentioned a girl in Africa she was ministering to and she said that the girl, who claimed to be a Christian, contracted AIDS, but Beth did not say how she got the disease. The girl waited until the last possible moment to tell her family and they said to her, “You are no longer one of God’s children.” Beth gave a strong answer to that, which was,  “THAT IS A LIE!”  The problem is that the audience is not given any more information, so the audience is led to believe that she was a Christian no matter what kind of fruit she was bearing. She could have been a career prostitute, but don’t dare question her salvation.

She also talked about encouraging one another and she gave some examples like, “That is a beautiful handbag” and “Girl, your hair looks fabulous!” I don’t think that is the type of encouragement that Jesus or Paul had in mind. In fact, that plays more to pride and self esteem. When I think of biblical encouragement, I think more of something like, “Do not rejoice that demons are subject to you, but rejoice that your name is written in heaven!”

On a positive note, Beth talked about being forgiving one another and being more loving and more gracious to each other. From my viewpoint, she was right on the money with these.

Overall, I did learn a lot about the 3 feasts and there were some valuable information in her session, but the focus was too often on my blessing, my healing, my joy, my encouragement, my pain, my weariness, my healing… it was very man centered at times and I am sure that there plenty of women that feel fantastic after her studies. I could be very wrong about some of her theology, but there was nothing good in her Gospel presentation. This series needed the Law of God and it was no where to be found.

–Danny

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 1:16 am  Comments (43)  

Do you know what decisional generation is?

In my last post, I included a video that highlighted a major problem with modern Christianity. In the video, a woman instructed children to “make a decision” to become a Christian and then led them through a prayer so that Jesus would be their best friend.  This is called “decisional regeneration” and is very popular… and very dangerous.

If a person decides that they want to become a Christian, most pastors will lead that person in a short prayer and then will pronouce them saved. I have heard pastors say things like, “everyone that asks Jesus into their heart will be saved”, but there-in lies the problem. Salvation is not yours to bestow on yourself.  The Bible clearly states that salvation belongs to God alone.  I think the problem is that WE like to be in control.  When the decision is OURS to make, why do we need to have faith in God?

When someone repents and puts their life in Jesus’ hands, trusting that what God promised, He is able to do– THAT is faith.  Remember that Jesus said that many would call Him Lord, Lord, but He will cast them into Hell on the day of judgement.  I believe that too many are trusting in the decsion they made instead of looking at their lives to see if they are bearing godly fruit.

The video embeded below is kinda long, 9 mins, but watch the first couple of minutes and see why simply making a decision to become a Christian does not save you.

No man comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him. (John 6:44)

–Danny

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beth Moore- no wrath in witnessing

Beth Moore has a 2 minute audio ministry and on her Dec 9th spot, she talked about God’s wrath, and I applaud her for that topic.  I think that needs to be a regular subject in our pulpits.

What concerns me is that she does not think that our best approach to non-believers is to talk about God’s wrath, but his love. She tells us that God’s love is a huge draw and she justifies the “love only” approach with Romans 2:4, saying that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. This is a serious error in interpretation and we need to be clear on what scripture actually says.

Mrs Moore clearly interprets Romans 2:4 as, telling people about God’s kindness leads them to repentance, but that is not what the verse says. The verse tells us that the fact that we are able to repent is evidence that God is kind. If Paul was telling us to tell people only about God’s love, then he violated his own teaching in Acts 24:25 when he spoke of the need for righteousness and the judgment to come.

John the baptist said, “who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” And Jesus spoke often about the fires of Hell and commanded that people repent or perish. The Bible says that godly sorrow works repentance, not the knowledge that he is kind. James 4:9 tell us to “mourn and weep, letting our laughter be turned to sorrow and our joy to heaviness”.  How does telling people that God loves them produce sorrow and heaviness without a personal conviction of sin and its consequences?

Even the cross is evidence of God’s terrible wrath. Isaiah 53:10 said that it pleased God to CRUSH HIM. The fact is, that Christ centered witnessing needs God’s wrath to allow His love make sense.

“[Satan] stirs up daily, new sects, and last of all, which of all other I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect as such as teach… that men should not be terrified by the Law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ.” –Martin Luther

–Danny

Rick Warren- Truth and Error

I saw an interesting interview on Beliefnet with Rick Warren, and the interviewer brought up some things that I believe we need to be able to answer- correctly. If we do not have a firm, biblical foundation, the theology we build on that foundation gets way out of wack. We end up inserting what we think, instead of what scripture says.

Please understand that I am not trying to single out Pastor Warren, but I feel an obligation to speak up against bad theology, no matter who it is.

Pastor Warren’s messages are mixed with solid truth one minute and bad theology the next.  For example, Pastor Warren says loud and clear that Jesus is the ONLY way to get to heaven– YEAH! But then he will say to the unsaved that God is not angry at them– EXCUSE ME? Doesn’t scripture say something about God’s anger and wrath on unbelievers? And these errors are not on some secondary issues, these are serious problems that effect how people respond to the gospel. These are FOUNDATIONAL issues.

Before watching the interview, there are a few basic things I want you to think about as you listen.

  • People are not sent to Hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus, they are sent to Hell primarily for breaking God’s laws. The Bible tells us that liars and thieves, adulterers, idolaters, covetous, and the sexually impure (and other law breakers) will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Unbelief IS a sin, but it is not the primary reason people are sent to Hell.
  • What happens to those who have never heard of Jesus? The Bible says that everyone is given a conscience (Rom 2:14-15).  People know it is wrong to lie and steal and commit adultery. So if someone does not sin, they will be fine, but if they have broken the law, then they will be guilty before God, and will be judged according to light that they have.
  • If non-believers die in their sins, they are judged for ALL the sins they have committed. Every one. Every sin requires payment. Every sin requires that justice is done. Either you repent and put your faith in Jesus, and the price He paid for our sins , or you pay for your own sin be spending an eternity in Hell.

See if you can spot the “personal” beliefs of both the interviewer and Pastor Warren that have no basis in scripture.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

–Danny

Rick Warren’s 60 day Jesus challenge

rickwarren2Rick Warren was on Hannity and Colmes last week (Dec 4th) where he was promoting his new book, The Purpose of Christmas. I think the interview was very interesting and disappointing.  I also think that understanding why this was a HORRIBLE gospel presentation can help us in presenting the gospel the correct way and give people a real reason to turn to Jesus this season.  Here’s the video, watch it and lets reason this out together.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Right off the bat, I see a problem. Salvation is mentioned, but what are people being saved from? They need to be saved from the wrath of God that is going to be poured out on those who do not know God. Pastor Warren does nothing to tell people WHY they need a savior. The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Most men will proclaim their own goodness. Pastor Warren basically says that we need a savior because God said so. That is extremely inadequate.

Secondly, just “unrapping” the gift is not enough. People are stuck on accepting Christ, but that is so lukewarm and trivial, it has none of the weight that the Bible attaches to salvation… dieing to yourself, picking up your cross daily, forsaking sin, total surrender of one’s self as a living sacrifice to God. There is no repentance in Pastor Warren’s message.  No brokenness.  When James said to weep and mourn over your sins, letting your laughter be sorrow and your joy to heaviness, I don’t think that was code for “accept Jesus into your heart”.

Pastor Warren was asked a specific question about what happens to people who do not “accept” Jesus. The answer was typical for someone who does not build a foundation on the Law of God. There was no judgment, no wrath, no Hell in Pastor Warren’s message (and no cross for that matter). How can a god who loves me be angry at me? Colmes did not seem to think he needed a savior.

And the last point, and the biggest gripe I have, is… TRY JESUS? What is He, a used car? A pair of jeans that you try on just see if they are a right fit for you?  Pastor Warren challenges people to put their trust in Jesus for 60 days like He is some life improvement infomercial. Jesus did not suffer and die so you could try Him out and see if He makes your life better. In fact, the only things promised for a Christian in this life are trials, tribulation, and persecution. Can we receive blessings like a better marriage, or emotional healing from our walk with Christ? Yes, but if you come to Christ because you want something, no matter how bad your situation, then you come with a wrong motive.  If you d0 not come to Christ because you are a guilty criminal in need of a savior, then God will not save you.

Jesus Christ is the sovereign God of the universe, and we are supposed to give Him a shot at being Lord of our lives? Like He is going to say, “oh goody, I get to be Lord today!” He IS Lord, whether you live in rebellion to that fact or not. The only thing Pastor Warren’s message will serve to do is water down Christianity and create false converts.

–Danny

Buddha loves you

I know people who think they are sharing their faith just by saying “Jesus loves you” to non-Christians, but what if I told you, “Buddha loves you”? What impact would my statement have on you? I doubt any; in fact it sounds kinda foolish. In the same way the bible says that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But why is that?

Imagine this, you are sitting on a dock overlooking some turbulent water, but you are safe and sound, enjoying the view. All of a sudden, a man comes running down the dock screaming, “I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!” and jumps in the water and drowns. What would run through your mind… lunatic, nutjob, wacko?

Now lets say you actually fell into that churning water, you were drowning, there was no way to save yourself, but suddenly a man dives head first into that dangerous water without hesitation. With all of his strength he thrusts you up onto the dock, crying out, “I love you, I love you” and slips beneath the water. Knowingly giving his life to save YOU. What would you think of that man now?

The love of God is a sacrificial love reflected in the cross of Jesus Christ, but to the world, they are safe on the dock of their self-righteousness. From their point of view, then don’t need saving. They don’t see that they are drowning in their sin. It makes no sense to them. It’s like telling you that Buddha loves you. To tell someone the love of Jesus, first, show them the water they are drowning in by holding up the mirror of the 10 Commandments, the holy laws they have violated, and then preach Christ crucified.

–Danny

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 7:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Why is Granger preaching a Social Gospel?

Do you know what the Social Gospel is? I have sometimes heard it called Liberation Theology. The current trend in this theology is that the poor and oppressed are in “Hell on earth” and Jesus will someday come and liberate them. If there is any talk about a literal place called Hell, it is often watered down and it is hard to see how someone could end up there.

Well, what does this have to do with Granger Community Church?

It seems the conservative community does not have very many good things to say about Granger and I have seen their numbers from the Reveal Survey that shows some pretty bad stats for a for a church that prides itself on “reaching” the unchurched. So I decided to watch some of their services for myself and make my own judgment. Here is what I knew to start off-

  • part of the Willow Creek Association
  • Entertainment type worship
  • 6th most influential church in America

They are currently going through a series called “Questions“. These topics that will show me exactly what I am looking for. The first teaching “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People” was pretty weak, but I was REALLY disappointed by the third week: “Why Would a Loving God Send Someone to Hell?”

There was no explanation of the perfect justice of God, but there was message about social justice. I was waiting for how to reconcile how a god of love could create a place of eternal punishment, but I got was “Hell on earth” and how Jesus is going to relieve the oppressed.

We need to care for the poor and downtrodden, but we need to do so while preaching the correct gospel. I don’t like speaking out against Granger, but I have a responsibility to be true to the Word of God as well as to be honest to whoever may read this blog.

–Danny

Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment