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Centesimus Annus, religion, Bible, Christianity, church, Christian, Church of Christ, Baptist, Catholic, Non-denominational,  Pentecostal, Presbyterian, inspiration, agnostism, divorce, Calvinism, premillennialism, evolution, creation, morals, feminism, Christian Chronicle,
Water Cronkite, Christian Coalition, Interfaith Alliance, Max Lucado, Marilyn Manson, 
Human Rights Commission, United Methodist Church, Institute of Religion, same sex marriages, 
Sierra Club, Deconstructionism, John Paul II, Glide Memorial Methodist Church,
Abilene Christian University, Carroll Osburn, Rubel Shelly, Charles Darwin, Joe Beam, 
Howard Publishing, ACU Press, Larry West

Potpourri, November 1997

religion, articles, christianity
Cronkite Methodists Feelgood Darwin Was Right
Confusing Rights, Right? Socrates Silly Stuff
Marilyn Manson Quotables Bob Funk More Silly Stuff
Expelling God Deconstructionism Where It Leads Still More Silly Stuff
The Golden Gate John Paul II Pay Attention

We wish space permitted printing all the letters our readers write, but, alas, it does not. Anyhow we do read, enjoy, and benefit from every message. It is our time to say "Thank you!" Here is a sampling from our mailbag.

"A letter from the Christian Chronicle asking for a gift was an inspiration to me to send contributions to several other papers, including the Firm Foundation. I am sorry that I had to withhold a contribution from the Chronicle for reasons of which I am sure you are aware ... Thank you for the excellent articles in the Firm Foundation. It gets better all the time ... The elders have determined to enter a subscription to the Firm Foundation for each member of the congregation. Enclosed is a list of the membership. Please bill us quarterly ... Just a note to let you know the title of your paper, Firm Foundation, says it all. Keep up the good job ... Enclosed is my check for another year of the Firm Foundation. May the paper ever live up to its name."

There is much more, but this gives you an idea of the encouragement readers give to "cheer us on our Journey."

Quick reminder of lectureships this month: West Virginia School of Preaching, Oct. 27­31, Moundsville, WV; Denton Lectures, Nov. 9­13, Pearl Street Church, Denton, TX. Cold Harbor Road Lectures, Nov. 2­5, Mechanicsville, VA. Attend and gain spiritual weight; the teaching will make your soul fatter. We all need nice, fat, sleek souls. Give it a try.

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Water Cronkite has sent out a letter on behalf of "The Interfaith Alliance." He says that the Christian Coalition is a "genuinely radical movement." Mr. Cronkite does not say what his Alliance wants, only that he thinks the Christian Coalition is bad. Cronkite and the ministers, bishops, and rabbis named on his letterhead have no positive program to offer. They merely condemn, judge, and castigate the Christian Coalition for being, in their judgment, judgmental. Ho­humm.

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Max Lucado is quoted by J. Michael Parker (San Antonio Express News, July 2, 1997) as saying, "I believe baptism is necessary for obedience because Jesus commanded it ... I just don't think we're saved by baptism or any other human effort ... baptism is ... something we do to celebrate our salvation, not to earn salvation."

Now, let's get that straight - baptism is necessary to obedience but not necessary to salvation. Would it not follow that obedience to Jesus is therefore not necessary to salvation?

"Though he [Jesus] was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:8­9).

"[W]hich also after a true likeness cloth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 3:21). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).

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Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson is 6'1" and 135 pounds. He can't sing or write lyrics, but is enjoying a run as one the nation's hottest rock stars. His latest album is titled Anti-Christ Superstar and his lyrics celebrate things like suicide, destruction, and disease. Brian Warner uses the stage name Marilyn Manson in reference to superstar Marilyn Monroe and super-murderer Charles Manson. His shows consist of the rankest profanity, ripping up a Bible, and inviting the audience to spit on him.

At a recent show in Washington, D.C., the median age of Manson's audience was 14. Parents paced in the back of the hall, one dad explaining how he didn't want his teenage daughter to come alone. The kids were decked out in black costumes, sinister makeup, and T­shirts reading "666" or "American by Birth, Anti­Christ by Choice."

One girl in black lipstick earnestly explained that Manson minds his own business, in contrast to the Christian protectors handing out fliers outside the show. "Passing out those little Christian papers," she said, "that's wrong" (Source: National Review, June 30,1997).

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Expelling God

At 2 a.m., Friday, June 27, 1997 the Michigan State Board voted 5­3 to eradicate a perilous threat to the schoolchildren of the state of Michigan.

The scourge that the board has pledged to wipe out is its own mission statement, which dares to include the word God.

The sentence that the majority of the board finds offensive reads in full: "We, the Michigan State Board of Education, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, do earnestly desire to secure these blessings undiminished for our children." These words are taken almost verbatim from the preamble of the state constitution (Wall Street Journal, June 20, 1997).

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The Golden Gate

San Francisco's Human Rights Commission upheld rules regulating the city's dozen-or-so homosexual sex clubs. Among other things, the regulations ban sex without condoms and require that lighting be bright enough to enable club staff members to observe what kind of sexual relationships are taking place. The rules are meant to curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to the city's health department. Regulation opponents say the rules are "an attack" on the homosexual community's right to privacy, arguing that sex dubs are sometimes the only place where strangers can have sex (World, July 5, 1997).

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The United Methodist Church's $12 million public relations agency, United Methodist Communications, openly promoted homosexual marriage in a cable television program it sponsored, according to the Institute of Religion. Entitled Adam and Steve? Same Sex Marriages and the Christian Faith the show is part of a 26­episode series entitled, Scriptures Alive. The series argues that the church should heed the desire of homosexuals to solemnize their relationships with the blessing of the church, because "gay and lesbian couples are wanting to make a profession of their couple­ness in the eyes of God."

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Rights, Right?

Michael McCloskey, chairman of the Sierra Club, said, "Trees and rocks have rights to their own freedom."

Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz suggests "the right to a bottle of barbiturates for every prisoner who requests it."

Gay activist Jeff Levi claimed homosexuals "have the right to see government and society affirm our lives."

George Gerbner of the Annenberg School for Communication announced "a new civil right" for all, including minorities, the poor, and the disabled to be represented fairly and equally on television. He was discussing a study that found too many white males on TV.

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  • There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
  • Down with gravity.
  • Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?

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Marvin Olaskey, University of Texas professor, assigned to his 467 students taking the course "Critical Thinking for Journalists," the book, The Vision of the Anointed, by Thomas Sowell. Olaskey said, "The course was set up a few years ago to be typically propagandistic: Critical Thinking, in academic circles, means deconstructing the dominant views of society, and leftists interpret that to mean attacking Christianity and conservatism. But now that I'm teaching the course, I ask future journalists to deconstruct what is truly the dominant philosophy in America, secular liberalism."

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John Paul II

In the encyclical Centesimus Annus, the liberal ruler of the Roman Catholic Church, gives an interesting admission. Here is the crucial paragraph:

Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that the truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct personal activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.

What he says makes a lot of sense. We must have an absolute standard of authority for morals and religion. Although John Paul II may disagree, that infallible standard is God-breathed scripture, which makes the man of God perfect in the sight of God (2 Tim. 3:16­17) - without the counsel of Cardinals and Pope.

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Glide Memorial Methodist Church, on the edge of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, in deference to a Jewish attendance comprising about 15 percent of the congregation, has taken down the cross. The church stresses "outreach" to AIDS victims and crackheads and the generally nonjudgmental dogmas of racial healing and personal growth. The bread line outside is impressive - almost three blocks of derelicts and junkies and muttering old-timers and gaunt men wearing military fatigues that may or may not have been earned (See 2 Thess. 3:10). The Sunday morning service is shout-and-holler lip service.

The difference between Glide Memorial Methodist Church and the Woodmont Hills church of Christ in Nashville is that the Methodist are doing what they say, and Woodmont is saying but not doing. Walk the talk, man, walk the talk. Why doesn't Woodmont bring in three city blocks of homeless and prostitutes?

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"If I tell you that I would be disobeying the god and that on that account it is impossible for me to keep quiet, you won't be persuaded by me, taking it that I am ironizing. And if I tell you that it is the greatest good for a human being to have discussions every day about virtue and the other things you hear me talking about, examining myself and others, and that the unexamined life is not livable for a human being, you will be even less persuaded."

"The unexamined life is not worth living," has become a Socratic dictum.

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Bob Funk

U.S. News & World Report (August 4, 1997) says that "for 12 years a notorious band of Bible scholars has riled the religious community by declaring that Jesus is grossly misquoted and misrepresented in the Gospels.

Funk, in his book Honest to Jesus, makes clear that he envisions a "reinvention of Christianity." Funk advocates a faith built on what he believes is a more rational and historically accurate view of the life and teachings of Jesus. This new Christianity would among other things emphasize Jesus as a teacher rather than a divine. It would replace the Lord's Supper with a common meal, emphasize forgiveness and freedom over punishment and piety, and endorse "protected recreational sex among consenting adults."

In a Boise, Idaho, meeting of 50 or so participants Roy Hoover, professor emeritus at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., explained the implications of the seminar's disbelief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. "The idea of resurrection," Hoover said, "is embedded in an ancient worldview" that is outdated in this scientific age. The Christian belief in a "general resurrection of the dead ... simply cannot stand as an article of faith." The entire notion of life after death, Hoover said, "has become difficult to affirm."

No afterlife? Christianity without a hope of heaven?

"For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom 8:24­25).

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Where It Leads

A person, who identifies herself as Nelta Brock, posted a message on RM Bible (RM Bible is a list server sponsored by Abilene Christian University) saying she is "truly frustrated." Nelta says she started out as a "radical person ... hanging in with all our traditions and formalities." She advanced to doubting basic Bible teaching - like whether giving is a part of Sunday worship, or the use of instruments in worship is sinful. Then, she says, she found R M Bible and other people like myself. "It scared me," she wrote, "because I didn't want to give up rules and regulations." Still, Nelta stayed with R M Bible (sponsored, did I say, by ACU) until she was free from traditions. Her last sentence reads, "With tears in my eyes I tell you that this is probably my last post to RM. Because, people, you know what? I am beginning to doubt that God even exists."

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Pay Attention

Gene Edward Veith, World, July 5, 1997, wrote: "Christian colleges and faculty members are sometimes led away from these foundations by their earnest and almost pathetic yearning to be academically respectable. Plagued by an inferiority complex, many in Christian academia are so eager for approval from their professional peers in the intellectual establishment that they are embarrassed about their Christian identity ... They think their mission is to influence Christianity with their field, rather than to influence their field with Christianity. This mindset is a formula for intellectual mediocrity. Such scholars are condemned to be followers" (Carroll Osburn and Rubel Shelly, please take note). Veith concludes, "The more a Christian college become indistinguishable from its secular counterparts, the more likely it is to fail. Why should anyone pay private college tuition if the same education is available from cheaper state schools with better computer facilities?"

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Darwin Was Right

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down" (Charles Darwin, in The Origin of the Species).

"To Darwin, the cell was a 'black box'-its inner workings were utterly mysterious to him. Now, the black box has been opened up and we know how it works. Applying Darwin's test to the ultra-complex world of molecular machinery and cellular systems that have been discovered over the past 40 years, we can say that Darwin's theory has 'absolutely broken down'" (Michael Behe, biochemist and author of Darwin's Black Box).

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Silly Stuff

Hank Hanegraaff, a reformed vineyard charismatic, in his book, Counterfeit Revival, quotes from John Arnott's book, The Father's Blessing. "In a section titled, Jesus Wants a Love Affair with You, Arnott describes how Jesus appeared to a woman and fulfilled all her fantasies. Jesus laughed with the woman as together they ran around with arms stretched out like airplanes; Jesus lay on the ground with the woman and played Legos; then Jesus played with her hair and met her deepest needs and desires."

Hanegraaff continues, "Similarly, in one of Carol Arnott's (John's Arnott's wife) visions, Jesus brings her a bouquet of lilies after which they 'run and play and have a wonderful, intimate time together.' Carol and Jesus then get married. At the wedding feast, Carol said, she "was standing in an open spot when Jesus walked up and said, 'Carol, may I have the first dance?'" Carol exuded that cardinals and blue jays picked up my veil, and I danced with Jesus."

Oh, by the way, these Third Wave, Kansas City Prophets, Pensacola Charismatic, Toronto Blessing, Shout­and­Holler people are the same ones Rubel Shelly catered to his in infamous Florence, Ala., April 19, 1996, speech, which is the subject of a debate with L. Toreador elsewhere in this issue.

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More Silly Stuff

Joe Beam in his book, Seeing the Unseen, Howard Publishing (who else?-well, maybe ACU Press) tells about how Dennis Randall, his associate minister, picked up a man off the streets of an Alabama city. This guy was really grubby, according to Randall. Dennis and his family were terrified of this stranger who darkly looked them over. Finally the guy said, "Stop the car." D. Randall thought the evil looking man would kill him, his wife, and his children. He stopped. The man got out of the car. D. Randall, relieved, sped away, but looking in his rearview mirror for this tough looking guy, Randall found that the "man" had disappeared. Weird, man, weird! Beam and Randall concluded this man was an angel in human form. The next morning Randall found a card under the windshield of his automobile. The card said, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb. 13:2). (Which proves, by the way, that angels use the NIV) When Randall later tried to find the card, it, too, had disappeared. Shades of "Ghosties, and Goblins, and Long-Legged Beasties, and things that go 'bump' in the night."

Man, that is spooky, really spooky. We are not making this up - it is found on pages 31­33 in Beam's book published by Howard Publishing Company of West Monroe, La. (Howard Publishing, incidentally, is the source of more false teaching than any other publishing company among us, unless it be Sweet Publishing, and maybe ACU Press.)

By the way, Joe Beam's book also says, "I have written from a balanced, middle-of-the-road view" (p. 3). "If you picked up this book hoping to find scary stories of exorcisms and wild speculations about Satan and his angels, you will be disappointed" (p. 11). "Anecdotal evidence proves nothing" (p. 12). "Beware of stories told by those who claim they have had contact with angels" (p. 36). C'mon, Joe, who are you kidding? Of course, you are right about what anecdotal evidence proves.

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Still More Silly Stuff

Larry West of West Monroe, La., (closely connected with Howard Publishing Company) in an article, "Freedom to Confess" (Gospel Advocate, April 1997) goes overboard on this sentimental, feely-touchy, type stuff. He tells about a man in Arkansas (he does not say who or where ­ no way to check it out, but it may have happened) who was crying so hard that he could not speak. Larry comforted the man. That was not enough. Two elders came to give solace. Still the man's shoulders shook from uncontrollable sobs. He finally got himself together enough to say, "I want to apologize to my son. I've said, Son, why don't you get up here and lead a song, lead a prayer, lead a soul to Christ?"

The brother broke down again, weeping so hard he could make no audible, intelligible sounds. Unutterable groanings! Finally, between his choking- having difficulty in breathing, swallowing, or speaking-he was able with great effort so blurt out. "But my son said to me ..."

Now, that is Larry's setup. What do you think the son said? Daddy, I'm a homosexual dying of AIDS? My wife and six kids were just killed by a tornado? I got drunk, robbed a bank, and will have to go to jail for the next 50 years? I just raped Marilyn Manson? What, think you, did he say?

No! No! No! It was much worse than anything you could possibly imagine. The thing that reduced this dear old dad to a slobbering, quivering, incomprehensible mass of sobs and tears was when his son replied, "Why should I, Dad, you don't."

Boo-hoo-hoo. Isn't that terrible? I don't know how that poor parent stood it. Also, I don't know why the Gospel Advocate printed it. It is so sad.

Extravagant emotionalism destroys the ability to think, as Larry's story of the sobbing, slobbering, sentimental father shows. Anecdotes may, after all, prove that anecdotes do not prove anything, just as Joe Beam says (but he keeps on telling them).

Oscar Wilde wrote, "A sentimentalist is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market price of any single thing."

Putty-like, soft, fuzzy, tear-jerking tales are the antithesis of reason. People who are baptized while swimming in a sea of tears do not remain faithful to the church overnight. Larry West knows this more than anybody. Tell us, Larry, how many you have baptized? Where are they?

All this blubbering is a colossal waste.

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Cor 16:13).

Now, I will go cry myself to sleep.

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H. A. (Buster) Dobbs