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Ultimate Fighting, clergy, Anglican Church, sex outside of marriage, 
homosexuality, Madonna, Wal­Mart, Evolution, Cal Thomas, Abilene Christian University,
Dwayne Van Rheenen, Episcopalians, United Presbyterians, United Methodists, Evangelical Lutherans, Chrysler Corporation, Singing Oaks Church of Christ, inerrancy, 
Bellview Church of Christ, liberals, National Review, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals,
New York University Medical Center, perverts, homosexuals, physician assisted suicide

Potpourri, April 1997

religion, articles, christianity
No Enemies Mother Earth Changing McChurch
Lectureship Evolution Inerrancy Quotes
Wrong Kind of Fighting I Take This Man? Bellview More on Perverts
Anglicans Confirmed Liberals Life or Death
How Nice Trendy Sermons, Vacant Pews Good Counsel  
Bravo Good for Chrysler Bizarre  

Our many loyal readers continue to encourage us with words of praise and appreciation. Here is a brief sample: "Thank you for a great year of your excellent magazine ... I appreciate the Firm Foundation and can't understand why more Christians are not interested in knowing what is going on ... Enclosed is my one year renewal ... I appreciate your work in pointing out error, but it would be good if you could broaden your horizon ... Also, it would be good if some of your writers were more concerned about teaching a plain, simple gospel message than impressing readers with their million dollar vocabularies ... May I thank you for your efforts to expose false teaching in the church. Some congregations and preachers can yet be saved ... May God bless you in your good work ... Best wishes to all concerned with the good, old Firm Foundation. Keep the faith! ...Thank you for your efforts toward preservation of the purity of the New Testament church ... One thing you should point out is that Restoration leaders were not infallible. One of them could have said something that is not biblical. We are not committed to men but to God."

Such plaudits renew our determination to stand by the old paths. The advice given is always seriously considered, and we benefit from it. We attempt to improve each issue of the paper. We are much obliged to those we quote and all others who wrote.

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No Enemies

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You've hit no traitor on the hip,
You've dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You've never turned a wrong to right,
You've been a coward in the fight.
-Charles Mackay

We speak, of course, of the good fight of faith.

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The Southwest church, 8900 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX announces that their 16th annual Southwest Lectureship will be held April 13­16, 1997. The theme is "The Churches of Christ Salute You." Speakers from several states will present good and relevant messages from the Bible. Plan to attend.

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Wrong Kind of Fighting

Ultimate Fighting, the no­holds­barred combat sport that has been drawing crowds-and stirring controversy-in cities across the country, is trying to break into the Big Apple. New York city and state officials barred Ultimate Fighting in 1995, but last year the state legislature legalized it. Despite the law, city mayor Rudy Giuliani has vowed to prevent a bout that is scheduled to take place in March. "This is people brutalizing each other," the mayor said (Sports Illustrated, Jan. 27, 1997).

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According to the London Sunday Times (Jan. 26, 1997) a survey of 200 members of the Anglican clergy found that some could only remember two of the ten commandments passed down from God to Moses. Only 34 percent could give all ten commandments. The London Sunday Times survey also showed two vicars did not believe in heaven, more than half believe there is life on other planets. Geoffrey Shilvock, from Wolverley, Worchestershire, who could not remember all of the commandments, questioned their prohibitive nature, saying, "The trouble is that they are very negative ... most people prefer a more positive approach."

More than half of the Anglican preachers said they did not regard sex outside of marriage a sin; a third said homosexuality is not a sin.

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How Nice

Pop­music star Madonna, on how she will train up her daughter, Lourdes, in the way she should go, said: "I want my daughter to read the Bible, but I will explain to her that these are stories people made up to teach people-it is not the rule."

Madonna is not too different in her attitude toward the Bible than some professors and preachers.

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Wal­Mart refuses to sell debauched CDs and videos. A few other major corporations have opted against supporting MTV by withdrawing advertising from the program. It is slow but there maybe a crack in the dam and eventually the profane may be squeezed off the airways.

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Mother Earth

A few eccentrics have begun to bow down and worship the earth under the banner of environmentalism. The Louisville Courier­Journal (Jan. 18) described such a service: "In the center of the table on a colorful cloth sat a clear pitcher of water, an earthenware bowl filled with dirt, a burning candle, glowing red apples, and dried flowers. The seven people at the table shared memories of times they were outdoors and sensed a connection between God and earth.

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Cal Thomas (Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Jan. 18) informs that John Paul II did not say evolution "is more than a hypothesis." Thomas explains that the English translation of John Paul's comments was incorrect. L'Osservatore Romano, the official publication of the Vatican, provided this translation of the key phrase in John Paul's address: "Today, almost half a century after the publication of the encyclical (Humani Generis) new knowledge has led to the recognition of more than one hypotheses in the theory of evolution."

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I Take This Man?

Paul Aungst from Mt. Vernon, Washington sent a clipping from the local paper, Skagit Valley Herald (Jan. 10), announcing, "As one of his final acts, outgoing Gov. Mike Lowry is sponsoring legislation to authorize same­sex marriage." The newspaper made this comment, "The bill is doomed in the Legislature, where the majority intends to pass a ban on same­gender unions."

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The Abilene Reporter­News (Sat., Jan. 18) reported, "For example, all tenure­track, full­time professors at Abilene Christian University must be active members of the Church of Christ. The same goes for administrators. 'Obviously, our mission when hiring faculty is academic quality,' said ACU provost Dwayne Van Rheenen. 'But preserving our Christian mission and heritage is very important to us. It's something we don't want to lose.' Part­time instructors, visiting instructors, and similar positions are required to be 'committed Christians,' although they don't necessarily have to come from a Church of Christ background," Van Rheenen said.

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Trendy Sermons, Vacant Pews

The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 3) observed, "Over the past century, the so­called mainline churches (e.g., Episcopalians, United Presbyterians, United Methodists, Evangelical Lutherans) have diverged further and further from Christian orthodoxy while losing parishioners in droves."

As one Episcopal priest explains: "Every time we ordain someone who is not a heterosexual white male, we gain hundreds of new members." Except it doesn't work that way. The more heterodox- multicultural, multidoctrinal-the churches become, the more members they lose, and yet they keep at it.

A 1993 conference funded by the Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and American Baptist churches "featured a veneration of 'Sophia, Creator God' ... and rites from other religions such as the American Indian tobacco ritual."

Thomas C. Reeves, The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity, says, it is usually the mainline elites who are guilty of such high jinks. What ordinary churchgoers perceive is that their leaders have ceased to accept the authority of Scripture.

"Weigh the benefits," writes Mr. Reeves: "Sunday with the family at the beach or in church listening to a sermon on AIDS; working for overtime wages or enduring pious generalities about 'dialoguing,' 'inclusiveness,' and 'sharing and caring'; studying for exams or hearing that the consolations and promises of the Bible are not 'really' or 'literally' true." As he summarizes the problem. "Liberal Protestantism ... has succeed in making itself dispensable."

The church is not far behind.

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Good for Chrysler

Chrysler Corporation is under attack from gay rights groups because the company refuses to include sexual orientation as part of its anti­discrimination statements. Protesters picket daily outside Chrysler's Ann Arbor, Michigan, corporate headquarters (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 1996).

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Churches whose leaders believe that worship should change to fit the demands of the culture should brace themselves for the next step, which is already taking place in England. David Tomlinson in the English newspaper The Guardian, describes the approach to worship in his congregation. They hold their services on Tuesday nights in a pub. "These are invariably conducted in a relaxed atmosphere with people sitting around tables rather than in rows," he reports. "Smoking and drinking are permitted, there are no preachers, sermons or hymns, and the group decides what subject it would like to discuss."

Let those who demand the church change contemplate where it may lead-and has already gone in Jolly Old England. Change for the sake of change has no virtue; refusing to change because of ossified ignorance is a vice. We must change if the Bible requires it because the Bible pattern is supreme. If the teaching of scripture makes the change optional or a matter of expedience, then sanctified common sense, good manners, and effectiveness should decide. In any case, pressing an expedient to the point of division is sin, because division is sin.

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George preacher for the Singing Oaks church in Denton, Texas wrote, "I do not believe in inerrancy ... Sure is a shame that the Almighty God, through His Holy Spirit, is unable to preserve His own word through the centuries ... those who call themselves his [God's] children cannot even believe in God's ability to communicate. Trust Him to take care of our every need? Yes! Trust Him to save us? Yes! Trust Him to be true to His word? Nope ... since man is involved, it must be full of mistakes."

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The Bellview Church of Christ in Pensacola, FL, will hold their 22nd Annual Lectures June 7­11. The theme for this year will be Leadership. Thirty lessons will be presented by 28 gospel preachers. Video and audio tapes will record the lessons and a book containing all of the information will be published. The book will be available by the time of the lectures.

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As long ago as the 1920s, the conservative Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen drew censorious attention to the existence of two religions - liberal Christianity and the historic faith-dwelling beneath the same steeple. The image of two religions has grown newly relevant in the Nineties. Thomas C. Reeves, The Empty Church, observes, "Requiring acceptance of the undiluted faith, long the practice in Christendom, would create a climate of exclusivity, mutual purpose, and community, and so would demands for purity of life."

Liberals, let us remember, are a minority-a fact they prefer to conceal (National Review, Dec. 11,1996).

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Good Counsel

Agitated parents should realize that young people shouldn't be spending so much time before the TV set whatever is on the screen. If we are worried about our children's education, we should revive the ancient but now discarded custom of ... homework. At least two hours per night (National Review, Dec. 31, 1996).

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Williams College has become a nest of progressive activity. From forcing women to use unisex toilets and showers (to make them "less self­conscious about their bodies"), to compelling heterosexual students to declare themselves homosexuals in public (to appreciate how it feels), Williams has embraced Political Correctness like a desperate lover. Williams's admissions policy is ultra­affirmative­action, of course (National Review, Dec. 31, 1996).

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Many evangelicals have been uncritically accepting the thought­forms of popular culture, turning worship into pop concerts, transforming sermons into pop psychology motivational seminars, and downplaying biblical doctrine in favor of feel­good theology lite. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals organized to address these issues held a summit meeting this year, calling for re­emphasis on Christ, the Bible, faith, grace, and God (World, Jan. 4, 1997).

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John Roh, a resident at New York University Medical Center, reacting to a federal court ruling declaring physician­assisted suicide legal in New York State, said: "Most of us feel a little weird or edgy about killing people."

"The wise do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.... So everything from the Easter morning to the Ascension had to be made up by the groveling enthusiasts as part of their plan to get themselves martyred" (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, discussing the unbelieving world's intellectual scorn for the followers of Jesus).

"We know that progress will come if we focus more energy and resources on this issue" (Hillary Clinton in a Bolivia speech. Mrs. Clinton's "this issue" refers to U.S. taxpayers' money given to the International Planned Parents Foundation under the guise of family planning).

"There's nothing so exhilarating as being shot at and missed" (Winston Churchill).

Bill Gates, multi­billionaire owner of Microsoft on his avoidance of religion: "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on Sunday morning."

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More on Perverts

Wolfhart Pannenberg, professor of theology at the University of Munich, has this to say about the church and homosexual behavior:

Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting a schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture (Christianity Today, Nov. 11, 1996).
[F]or that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in (their) knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Rom. 1:25­28).

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Life or Death

Charles Krauthammer, Chicago Tribune (Jan. 13, 1997) tells of a mother (50) in the Dutch city of Assen, after the deaths of her two sons, one by suicide and the other by cancer, who requested her doctor to help her die. He did it by giving her lethal pills. The Dutch Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of the doctor.

This is important because the U.S. Supreme Court on January 8, 1997, was asked to decide whether physician­assisted suicide should be legal in America as in Holland. The Dutch have decided that mental suffering is a basis for euthanasia. Will that eventually happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? This very point is being considered by the justices now deciding the future of euthanasia in America.

Douglas W. Kmiec, a Chicago ­ Tribune reporter (thanks to Earl Davis for sending a copy of the paper), is of the opinion that the Court will decline to sanction assisted suicide-perhaps even unanimously.

Christians believe in the value and dignity of human life and should pray the U.S. Supreme Court will find in favor of life and against willful death.

More tragic than elective physical­suicide is choosing spiritual­suicide, and more common, too. Moses wrote: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life" (Deut. 30:19­20).

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H. A. (Buster) Dobbs