“We discuss Islam on this episode with Emilio Ramos of Red Grace Media (www.redgracemedia.com) and Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries crashes the podcast and gives Len flop sweat. He and Emilio partner up to give us LOTS of meat. Topics discussed included:
Islam’s origins and the prophet’s ‘vision’ The history of Islam and the time between the death of Mohammed & The Crusades Proper use of apologetics in engaging with Muslims Evangelizing a Muslim trucker in ten minutes or less The “Truth and Love” conference May 2-3 (www.redgracemedia.com for details)
Recently the story broke about the enrollment of a Muslim student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The story causes anyone familiar with SWBTS to pause in bewilderment as to way the seminary has decided to make such an apparent compromise. To be frank and to the point, compromise is precisely what this is— secular media also taking notice of the compromise, the story was featured on the Blaze. There is simply no good explanation for the decision by SWBTS to open its doors to Muslim and consequently Mormon students (with more students apparently on the way). There are monumental concerns here. How is it possible for a Baptist Seminary to move in this direction? What are the theological compromises that have been made in order to make this decision a reality? Is the seminary really that desperate for students that they are now recruiting Muslims and Mormons? Should the seminary now open the doors to every other religion; paganism? Hinduism, Buddhism? Satanism (so long as they agree to abide by simple “moral code of conduct”)?
This is the logical demise of syncretism. It also brings up another question of massive practical importance; namely, that of the responsive local church. Should local churches who object to such a decision continue to support the Southern Baptist Convention or protest it until it gets its act together? This is an extremely relevant point because the inclusion of Muslim students is a decision which has been viewed by the seminary as a way to enhance itself and the Southern Baptist movement general but may in actuality be detrimental to it. Irony of Ironies! Remarkably the president of the seminary Paige Patterson seems to suggest that admission to the archaeology department is not all that important and that he has made such exceptions before. The fact that he is enrolling in the archaeology department should not be surprising to anyone. After all, where else should this Muslim student begin to study? At the theology department? New Testament department? Apologetics department? Of course not, he is simply using the school for his personal ends but in the process he is advancing the cause of Dawa and the Muslim infiltration of the West. Patterson’s reason for making this exception includes the fact that the Muslim man got along with other SBWTS students abroad. But this should not at all be a factor in allowing this Muslim man to enroll at SBWTS. Pray for him, evangelize him, show him the love of God; but by no means take him in and make him part of the student body.
This decision goes against the standard policy of the seminary, which means this was a unilateral decision made by the president himself.
Patterson has clearly decided it is no longer necessary to profess faith in Jesus Christ in order to be a student at SWBTS; something a devout Muslim simply cannot do.
This is an unfortunate decision indeed. It is unfortunate because as with all compromise it is never in a vacuum and scarcely remains alone; there will always be copycats that take the issue further the next time around. In an age where religious freedom is constantly under attack, where the “Gay Christian” is on the rise, same-sex marriage is being legalized and celebrated everywhere—now is certainly not the time (and never should it be) to do away with the distinctions of the Gospel and the Church of the Triune God of Scripture. The reality is that the infiltration of Islam into the higher institutions of learning in the Christian world is like a dream come true for those engaged in Dawa and spreading the Muslim cause. Like it or not, Patterson’s decision is helping Islam, it is opening doors to Muslims, and furthermore it is setting a low standard for other seminaries around the world. We can only hope and pray that Southwestern changes their decision and preserves and upholds the written policies of the school.
The gross compromise coming out of Liberty University as outspoken Mormon and media political personality Glenn Beck delivers an address to the seemingly great glee of LU faculty brings up two important questions? Is Liberty a Christian School any longer, and is Glenn Beck the most effective false teacher in America since he continues to do what seemingly no other cult leader and false teacher has been able to do so frequently until now namely, speak at “evangelical” venues without being opposed by anyone? In fact, Liberty even went so far as to punish the faithful who would not sit and listen to Beck’s talk knowing that he is a man who worships a false god. Glenn Beck has also recently spoken at major “evangelical” churches like Gateway Church in Southlake Texas where he recently shared his “testimony.” Evangelicals everywhere are capitulating on the Beck issue thinking as Dave Barton has also stated, that in many ways Glenn Beck is one of the most “christlike” people he knows and that Mormonism was just a “label” that Beck wears. This is why the Evangelical identity is quickly vanishing away into total meaninglessness. When we see Glenn Beck and all that he is doing, we need great discernment to know that his personal influence among evangelicals is hurting the church by blurring the lines between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. Glenn Beck does a lot of weeping to get the crowd sentimentally involved before assuring people that he has the same “faith” as ours. This is standard LDS protocol, making it seem that they are of the same basic religious faith as Christians are. The truly sad thing is that the leaders of Liberty could not see through this standard LDS tactic of using the power of emotions to blur the precision of our exclusive gospel. There lies the heresy and the gross theological compromise of Liberty who at this stage can no longer be regarded as a Christian organization since it has opened up the doors to false teachers and allowed for doctrines of demons to influence the souls of their students. Here are the words of Paul for both Liberty University, Glenn Beck and the LDS:
Galatians 1:6–9 6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
In conclusion, we should not engage in any unnecessary ministry and religious affiliation with cults in any way whatsoever (cf. 1 Cor. 10.19-22). I don’t think we should even join with LDS or Islam or anyone else for that matter on anything knowing that they could change their position at any time and on anything. The leadership at Liberty should be sternly rebuked by their actions, Christian leaders should steer away from ever speaking with LDS leaders, speaking in their houses of paganism, or ever giving the hint that our differences can be tabled for any number of social controversies, “narrow is the way.”
I have personally benefited from the ministry and scholarship of D.A. Carson for many years. Carson’s commentary on the Gospel of John in the Pillar series was vital for my personal exposition of the gospel of John which took me several years to work through. So I have great gratitude and respect for Carson’s work. I am always happy to endorse and encourage folks to read Carson’s works. However in the latest edition of Themelios, Vol. 39, D.A. Carson interacts with 2 Timothy 4.5, and takes on the imperatival phrase, “do the work of an evangelist” (ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ). Carson is convinced this does not have to do with spreading the gospel to unbelievers necessarily and even seems to suggest that it not likely that Paul was trying to restrict this meaning of the phrase here. I would like to challenge that premise a bit and retain the more traditional historical interpretation of that passage for the sake of evangelism everywhere and because I think this is such a unique text in the Pastoral corpus; this is Paul directly exhorting pastor Timothy not to neglect evangelism— that’s huge. I simply want to point out four exegetical premises while interacting with Carson’s article in the Themelios journal.
1. We know that evangelism is not like other pastoral work, even teaching Eph. 4.11. In fact, if Paul’s call to do evangelistic work was simply a call to counsel or even preach within the church, the text would suffer redundancy. The reality is, that Carson’s view seems to empty the word, “evangelist” (εὐαγγελιστής) and the phrase “do the work of an evangelist” (ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ) of any distinct meaning by saying that (εὐαγγελιστής) only includes preaching to the lost.
2. We know what Philip’s evangelistic ministry consists of and it does not seem to line up with Carson’s broad definition of the term. Philip was an itinerant preaching of the gospel. That is to say, Philip was someone who preached the gospel from place to place and to those who did not know the gospel e.g. the Samaritans (Acts 8.5, 26). It seems from Philip’s description as an evangelist, that his ministry had a very specific role to play in the early church. Philip’s life seems to fit the description of the normative lexical understanding of the term “evangelist” as someone who goes from place to place preaching the gospel. For example Louw-Nida says:
“Though the term εὐαγγελιστής indicates only an individual who ‘announces the gospel,’ early usage would suggest that this was often a person who went from place to place announcing the good news.” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 541.)
Carson does not seem to think that Paul’s use of (εὐαγγελιστής) is mainly to be understood as preaching the gospel to unbelievers as is traditionally thought but wonders if it includes that point but mainly encompasses other types of gospel ministry:
“I suspect that most of us read 2 Tim 4:5, “Do the work of an evangelist,” along some such lines as the following. Paul tells Timothy, in effect, that even when he is rightly involved in preaching, teaching, instructing, correcting, even when he is known for keeping his head in all situations and learning to endure hardship, he must not forget to do the work of an evangelist. Certainly it is easy for pastors in busy ministries to be so caught up in church-related service that they have few or no non-Christian friends. They may never share their faith and unpack the gospel to unbelievers from one month to the next. Seeing the danger, Paul commands Timothy to do the work of an evangelist—that is, preach the gospel to outsiders, share the gospel to outsiders, aiming to win converts. Make a priority of evangelism. Herald the gospel to outsiders, whether one-on-one, in small groups, or in larger contexts—this is what evangelism is, and this is what an evangelist does. In the midst of diverse and demanding ministry, do not forget to engage in evangelism. Doubtless that is excellent counsel—but is this exactly what Paul is saying?”(D. A. Carson, “Editorial: Do the Work of an Evangelist,” Themelios 39, no. 1, Themelios (2014): 2.)
“Do the work of an evangelist” may well be an exhortation to engage in evangel ministry, in gospel ministry, which includes what we today mean by evangelism but should not be restricted to it.”(D. A. Carson, “Editorial: Do the Work of an Evangelist,” Themelios 39, no. 1, Themelios (2014): 4.)
Yet, this is not what we have from the lexical usage of the word and more so with Scripture’s living example of the term in Philip’s life. Preaching to unbelievers is, I would argue, the heart of evangelism— this is at the heart of (εὐαγγελιστής). Given Carson’s insistence that 2 Tim. 4.5 refers to more than strict evangelism, we have to wonder if everyone in the church qualifies as an evangelist since at some basic level all biblical ministry seems to fit into the definition assigned to this passage by Carson. With Philip, we see that not only is he called an evangelist, but his life exemplifies what that means. We see Philip caught up in the proclamation of the good news to unbelievers, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them” (Acts 8.5). It was this “good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8.b) that Philip was “preaching” (εὐαγγελιζομένῳ) and consequently, brought them to faith so that they “believed Philip” (Acts 8.12a). The use of the present middle participle “preaching” refers to Philip’s ongoing personal proclamation of the gospel to the unbelieving Samarians. Furthermore it was from Scripture that Philip preaching Jesus (Acts 8.35). Men and women alike were being saved and baptized under Philip’s evangelistic activity and it is this same activity that Paul is calling Timothy to. Acts 8 ends with Philip ending up at Caesarea but not until preaching the gospel to “all the cities” along the way (8.40).
3. We know that Paul points out that Timothy did the work of an evangelist with Paul in previous years. Although the term does not indicate missionary work, it should not exclude it. Evangelistic work can be done in the context of missions. One noted Greek Dictionary says:
“…the εὐαγγελισταί are placed after the apostles and are not primarily missionaries, but instead serve the Church through the proclamation of the gospel.”(Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 70.)
The most important part of any evangelist’s work is indeed the preaching of Christ. The exhortation of 2 Tim. 4.5 is really nothing new for Timothy. He was after all accustomed to assisting Paul, following him on his missionary journeys and laboring with him in the gospel (Phil. 2.19-22). He saw, the work of an evangelist modeled before him.
4. Finally, we should recognize the wisdom of Paul’s injunction to Timothy in this pastoral letter. Whereas, Carson sees that this may be our thinking today, but not really Paul’s intent; I see this rather as just that, Paul’s exhortation to a young pastor that he not forget the lost while ministering in the context of the local church i.e. among other gospel-centered ministries.
5. The normative interpretation of top exegetes of the Pastoral Epistles (PE) also take a rather customary approach to both the lexical range of the term “evangelist” and the meaning of the text of 2 Tim. 4.5. George Knight comments correctly:
“This description of Philip’s work together with the inherent significance of the term εὐαγγελιστής shows what the evangelist’s task was. Paul wants Timothy to continue to evangelize even though he is working in a more settled situation and is not in a new and unevangelized territory as Philip was. This use of εὐαγγελιστής may indicate that Timothy is the “evangelist” or “missionary” for Ephesus and that Paul is encouraging him to continue that work. Or it may indicate that in whatever capacity Timothy serves he must continue doing the work of an evangelist. Cf. Paul’s comments about Timothy’s work in the gospel in Phil. 2:22 and 1 Thes. 3:2.”
Finally, since Paul is addressing Timothy, now the Ephesian pastor, to concern himself with evangelism we should also note what Paul is not calling him to do i.e. make evangelism the priority over his pastoral duties within the church. Although many pastors use this latter point and concern as an excuse not to evangelize outside the walls of their local church; a note of caution should be struck nonetheless. Paul is not calling Timothy to unbridled evangelistic zeal, he is not suggesting Timothy neglect families, neglect prayer, neglect studying etc. he is simply calling Timothy (contra Carson) not to forget the lost as he immerses himself in his work as a (ποιμήν)- a shepherd. Suggesting further, that an “evangelist” referred to something distinct from other forms of general gospel work. Even Philip, perhaps the most well known evangelist in the early church resided in his own house suggesting that not even he was thinking of going beyond a certain locale for the sake of evangelism; at least not beyond a solid connection to his local church (cf. Acts 21.8). The need for evangelistic pastors is great, and I would hate to generalize this text (2 Tim. 4.5) away and produce less evangelism in our churches. The fact remains that, v.1, “preach the word” is not the same as v.5, “do the work of an evangelist”; they are different and so is everything else in these verses. Expository preaching is not that “work”, counseling is not that “work”, discipleship is not that “work”— that work consists chiefly of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and damned world that so desperately needs for more pastor/evangelists to go into the highway and byways of the world and herald Christ to the glory of God.
The Christian Post recently featured a horrific story of a young woman by the name of Emily Letts having a public abortion via video she later made public on Youtube. Granted, the actual procedure was not filmed. However, the process was nevertheless presented and documented and the video shows Emily going through the motions before and after the abortion. What is so shocking about the story is that the media has given very little coverage and society has given no outrage at all. It is difficult to imagine that we have come to this point in Western civilization. Where we have become accepting of the public murderer of infants without any outcry or formal protest. This is simply indicative of a postmodern worldview that many have adopted which teaches people that children in the womb are not really human. In fact they have come to be regarded as subhuman until they exit the womb supporting what the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, had already publicly expressed, namely that she did not regard a life beginning at conception and that what is in the womb is not actually human until birth. Richard’s statements are in complete antithesis to the biblical worldview which states that a life begins at conception. When David said he was conceived in iniquity he was referring to himself, “my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51.5). The point is that David considered himself a human person from the womb. That means that David saw that a person even within the womb not only has personhood but he or she also has dignity, meaning and worth. Materialism is totally inconsistent at this point. In fact, if materialism is true then human dignity is something that is totally conventional, relative, and imaginary. The hypocrisy is in the fact that people don’t actually live this way. Everyone lives with a sense of morality, transcendent morality, where ethical norms are woven into the very consciousness of our culture and that people have inherent worth. But this is precisely what the biblical worldview has always taught. Scripture from the very beginning has assigned meaning, morality, and dignity to man. This is of course because we are created in the image of the Creator who above all else possesses infinite worth and infinite dignity (Gen. 1.26-27).
While Emily Letts’ decision to publicize the murder for her unborn child for what she deemed to be a “positive” reasons, the truth is that her decision cannot be characterized as anything less than vile. The act is vile, the platform given to her by modern medicine is vile, and culture that tolerates and even encourages or rather celebrates her decision is vile as well. This is a total disregard for human life and it shows just how narcissistic and selfish our myopic culture has become. The truth is that only the gospel possesses the answer for all sinners for liars, for adulterers, for homosexuals, and for murderers like Emily Letts.
On a social level the Blaze recently featured an article countering the supposedly positive benefits of abortion by featuring five women who testified to the adverse effects that abortion had for their lives including guilt, inclination to suicide, and long lasting psychological trauma. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director led up the testimony of the five women. The Blaze reported:
In the post, “Our Five Surprises After Abortion,” Johnson shared her own personal story, saying that she never considered how her two abortions would impact others, including her four children.
“One day in the car, my daughter (out of nowhere) asked if someday she would be able to see her siblings in heaven. I asked her what she meant…honestly, hoping that she was not talking about my own two abortions,” Johnson wrote.
“She said that she knew I had two abortions and she wanted to know if she would ever get to meet those babies because she said, ‘in my heart, I miss them.’ I never knew I would pass that sort of heartbreak on to my children.”
What if anything can we learn from such gut-wrenching social evils as public portion? Unspeakable evil should always cause us to look towards unspeakable good, namely the goodness of God. God is not an abortionist He cares for His children He does not abandoned those whom He nurtures in His covenant love (Jer. 32.40). Long ago did Isaiah speak of God’s faithfulness in the face of such a vile and perverse generation such as ours. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the unfailing covenant love of God towards his people as greater than the commitment of a mother who might forget her own children:
Isaiah 49:15 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Finally when we look to Scripture we find that the Bible has much to say about little children and they’re worth their dignity and the beauty of their creation even from the womb:
Psalm 139:11–16 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Bart Ehrman is a textual critic scholar who has abandoned his belief in the Word and now makes quite a living by selling books filled with sensational claims, gross exaggerations and heretical assertions about the nature of Scripture and Christian doctrine. Ehrman is a well educated man, some regard him as one of the top textual critical scholars in the world, and that is all fine and good. Despite my personal interaction with Bart after his debate with Daniel Wallace in Dallas some years back, where I asked him, something like “apart from the Christian worldview, as a self proclaimed “happy agnostic”, how do you account for morals, meaning and beauty”? to which Bart laughed and scoffed simply replying that “everyone just knows that.” Aside from my personal five minute interaction with Bart, there are reasons for claiming that I know more than Bart Ehrman and so do you.
During his recent appearance on Colbert Nation, comedian Stephen Colbert’sshow, Ehrman actually made the absurd assertion that Jesus was confused on the cross, his proof? Mark 15:34 where Jesus utters the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me”? (the assertion comes at about the 4:40 mark on the video). Ehrman sees this as proof that Mark and John are giving conflicting stories about the crucifixion. But in reality, it is quite common knowledge that Jesus is not “confused” or simply crying out in agony, but is actually fulfilling biblical prophecy by citing Psalm 22.1 from the cross. This of course was to fulfill all righteousness and to do the work the Father had given Him to do by redeeming His people by bearing the wrath of God on the cross. But it is precisely this sort of sensationalism that makes it impossible for anyone to take Ehrman serious despite his expertise and scholarship in the textual field. His sensationalism is marring his ability to deliver truthful and genuine scholarship and if anything it is simply revealing that his supposed testimony of leaving the Christian faith “kicking and screaming” is simply a lie. The truth is that no apostate leaves the faith kicking and screaming, they leave eager and willing because, as their apostasy shows, they are yet dead in their sins. The fact that Ehrman appeared on a comedy show suits the present condition of his scholarship.
Literally one day after writing a blog on the recent controversy dealing with the Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling, an emergency conference was held by NBA commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling for life from attending any future games or even visiting a Clippers facility plus drawing an NBA owner’s vote forcing Sterling to sell his team. However, this was not the most important conference of the day for shortly after the commissioner’s statement delivered, former NBA player Kevin Johnson delivered his own conference speech. Johnson spoke of civil rights leaders of the NBA who have made the league what it is. The problem with Johnson’s statement is his reference to Jason Collins, the first openly gay player. This precisely fulfills the very thing my previous post warned about. In Johnson’s statement, the gay agenda prevailed. In fact, the homosexual movement was handed a “silent” yet monumental victory with Kevin Johnson referring to Jason Collin’s homosexual lifestyle with African Americans’ ethnicity equating the two. This is why the Clipper’s story is so relevant to the church. It just moves us this much closer to the day when speaking about the sinfulness of homosexuality will be tantamount to saying that a certain skin color is sinful or wrong or inferior. The former is inconsistent with the Biblical worldview while the latter is not. Homosexuality is not only inferior to heterosexuality and traditional marriage, it is inherently destructive, sinful and against God’s design for sex and marriage. The more that sexuality becomes categorized as a civil rights issue, especially in the eyes of the cultural consensus, the more difficult it will become for the church condemn the lifestyle without being equated with hate-speech and discrimination.
Anybody that knows me knows that I’m an avid basketball fan, so I am never too far away from what is happening in the NBA. The recent scandal involving Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling and the racist comments he made about not wanting his “mistress” to be associated or seen in public with black people has caused a firestorm in the NBA. Sterling’s racist rant received universal condemnation all around the league and all around the sports world for that matter; even President Obama while abroad in Malaysia interrupted one of his press conferences to comment on the matter. This of course is a good thing. Racism of any kind should never be tolerated. The problem with this story however does not have to do with race but with the new tolerance squad and the confusion over what precisely is civil rights.
The reason this story is relevant to the Christian Church is because of the postmodern rhetoric dealing with homosexual rights. I believe the day is coming when comments about homosexuality that are deemed inappropriate for example that homosexuality is a sin and that it is unnatural will be met with the same condemnation. In one sense of course this mentality is already here as is evidenced by Mozilla Fox CEO Brendan Eich recently being forced to resign for having supported Proposition 8 in the past. But the minute that our culture adopts a view that equivocates between race and sexuality and sexual orientation we will have a whole new level of hostility against the Christian Church on our hands. You have heard of the slogan “never waste a good crisis”, well this recent national controversy will surely not go to waste among aggressive liberals and homosexual agenda who will surely exploit this recent racial discrimination on behalf of one professional sports team owner for their own sinister purpose.
This is why we cannot confuse true civil rights true human rights ethnic rights and sexual orientation because the minute that we do anyone who speaks against a certain lifestyle will be condemned as a bigot and narrow minded racist.
So far, in listening to countless pundits and sports announcers on this issue, I have heard the repeated insistence that society has moved beyond that type of [bigoted] thinking. This is precisely what the culture is now trying to do with the homosexual issue claiming that we have moved beyond discrimination on this level as well. Of course the fallacy in this type of thinking is that the two are not the same in any way shape or form. That is not to say that someone cannot be wrongly treated as a homosexual person but that being a homosexual is not like being black. Being an African American person is not something that you decide to come out of the closet with its not a lifestyle that you test out it’s not an experiment, in fact, it is not optional at all. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice something that a person of race simply cannot even conceive of. Unlike homosexuality, ethnicity brings glory to God, in fact it is part of the great gospel story that God will redeem people from every tribe tongue and nation and make a new humanity in Christ (Gal. 3.28; Rev. 5.9-11). But homosexuality speaks directly against God’s purpose and God’s design for mankind because it does not display the relationship that God has with the church it actually distorts that redemptive portrait (Eph. 5.22ff.).
While I am in full agreement in condemning Sterling’s recent unfortunate comments, I am also gravely suspicious that such comments and condemnation will continue to be applied improperly concerning gay rights and homosexual “marriage” further removing this culture from the biblical worldview which is always a concern and always carries dire consequences for any people.