Two Troubling Tweets: John Piper

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I’ve got stuff brewing, but here are two John Piper tweets while I cram for a midterm.

 

From the man who is seen as the expert on Biblical gender roles:

 

 

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Christians and Halloween: What’s a Christian to do?

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There are various ways Christians respond to Halloween. What is a balanced response?

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I have a hunch that Halloween can bring up some legalistic triggers for people, so I wanted to make sure to give an opportunity to discuss it.

Kathi shared this on the SSB Facebook page:

 

 

 

Guilt and shame on you if you celebrate anything on Halloween

 

 

Meanwhile, I see these signs all over my neighborhood and I cringe with the phrase, “Tour Your Final Destination,”  as if this church has determined everyone’s spiritual fate.  Ugh!

judgement house

Judgement Houses are done all around the nation and here is their vision:

At Judgement House, our VISION is to equip the local church and other ministries with the ability to create a walk-through gospel presentation concerning the truth of people’s choices versus the earthly and eternal consequences.

I think Judgement houses coerce young people into:

Emotional Manipulation to make a “decision” for Christ on Halloween

 

 

I know of many other Christians who take the opportunity to give out Christian tracts for Halloween trick-or-treaters because you can’t just eat candy, you must eat candy with a spiritual message attached.  Here is Way of the Master’s response to use Halloween in an evangelistic way:

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Meanwhile, you can find this at an evangelism website:

 

Crossway.com offers 22 different Halloween tracts to hand out with candy.  I hope the candy is at least the good stuff – you know –  Snickers bar, Reese’s bar, not that cheap stuff.

 

 

Christianbook.com also offers Halloween tracts:

 

Last year, my daughter left a comment about what she liked about the Christian Halloween alternative – Harvest Festivals:

 

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The Harvest Festival that she is referring to was a family favorite.  The whole church participated and it was great fun.  When we moved to Oregon, there was a family who opened up their farm to the church.  Everybody brought a pie and apple cider and there were all kinds of activities.  After that option was gone, our family had “family night.”  We turned off all the lights upstairs and went downstairs in the basement for a night of movies/popcorn.

We don’t have Harvest Festivals at our new church. We let our kids to dress up in costumes if they like, and let them go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.

We also enjoy handing candy at the front door.  No, we don’t hand out tracts. What I especially like is reconnecting with people from our neighborhood that we see in the summer at the neighborhood pool.  The evil Halloween festivities afford us the opportunity to connect and continue building the relationships in our neighborhood.

This year, we’re on an Angry Bird theme with our home-grown very large pumpkins. We have two done already.  My  24- and 17-yr old sons did this one:

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My 24- and 12-yr old sons worked on this one together.  (I’ll try to get a picture of this one when it’s dark outside.)

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Do you “celebrate” Halloween or participate in any festivities? Is the day difficult for you spiritually?

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related links:

SSB Sunday Gathering – October 26, 2014

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 

spiritual sounding board

 

 

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One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples.

He said to them, “Let the children come to me.

Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.

I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.  Mark 10:13-14

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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photo credit: JA, fall in the desert of Eastern WA state 

Word of Faith: Finding the balance between truth and abuse

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Word of Faith teachings:  the balance between truth and abuse

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Julie Anne is out on the road for most of the day and she asked me to post a discussion piece about Word of Faith. -Kathi

First, I would like to thank Loura Lawrence for sharing her story with us. I am so sorry for your loss. You have opened up to me a new world that is Word of Faith.

A quick Google search of Word of Faith led me to a Wikipedia article, local Word of Faith churches, and one of many articles on how Word of Faith has gone wrong. When looking into prominent preachers within this movement I started recognizing names: Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, and Robert Tilton. Those of you familiar with the movement will add Kenneth E. Hagin and Charles Capps.

Chris R. left a great comment on the last post that leads to this discussion:

And here I become confused.

I had been an ardent WoF disciple since 1981. Recently leaving an abusive church I must now rethink my worldview. That’s hard.

The problem is, it seems to me like there is much that WoF brought to the table in the early days which the church needed to hear.

There was a pervasive, almost fatalistic notion of the Sovereignty of God, which sapped any real expectation that God might intervene in the affairs of life if we trusted Him to do so. WoF answered that by pointing to Jesus’ own commendations of the faith of those who came to Him for healing. It presented the promises of God and encouraged believers to believe! The book of James itself appears to give plain instruction on how to ask, say, for wisdom – to do so with no doubting, since a doubter must not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord.

I could cite many other verses which appear to lay the emphasis on the believer’s response to the promises of God as somehow essential to their fulfilment.

And this finally leads to the abuses at the extreme end of the Name-it-and-claim-it movement. Extremes that even Kenneth Hagin addressed in his final book, “The Midas Touch”

I am at a complete loss as to know where what seem to be Truths turn finally into abuses.

Do I now reinterpret the Bible in much more relativistic and cultural way. Who is to say how far that process should go? How liberal with the text ought I to be?

Forgive me for not adding anything constructive to this debate, but it has hit a nerve.

Having once had a carefully constructive and watertight worldview I now find myself all at sea.

Which leads us to today’s discussion post. What do you know about Word of Faith? If you have been a part of the movement, are you able to share some experiences with us? At what point do we find a balance between truth and abuse?

Image source: Logopond

A Personal Story: Spiritual Abuse through Word of Faith Teachings during Tragic Infant Loss

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Loura Lawrence shares her personal story of infant loss and spiritual abuse through Word of Faith occult-like teachings

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October is the month designated for pregnancy and infant loss awareness, so this story is timely. Last week, I received a personal story of infant loss and spiritual abuse. Imagine combining the tragic loss of a precious baby in addition to false teaching which makes you doubt your faith, or uses doctrine as a spiritual weapon. Imagine being at such a low place emotionally and spiritually and the church’s false teachings and “support” turned out to be more harmful than helpful. Loura and her husband had that experience. Loura now believes what she experienced with her church “family” was a type of witchcraft.

Loura Lawrence (L. Lawrence) is a regular SSB reader and blogger and I’m very thankful she wanted to share her story with us.  ~ja

 


 

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Spiritual Abuse through Word of Faith Teachings during Tragic Infant Loss

Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 10:40PM

by Loura Lawrence

 

The Word of Faith/Believing Prayer Movement is one hallmark of Charismatic church teachings. This subject brings a lot of personal emotions to the surface because I lived this worldview for a brief and very painful time. Being young and naïve, and wanting only to follow Jesus, my husband and I put our faith in sincere and well-intentioned spiritual elders, and bought into this worldview hook, line, and sinker at the start of our young marriage, and especially when our first-born was diagnosed with a fatal heart anomaly in utero.

We were promised that “if we had faith”, if we believed hard enough, God would have to heal our baby. We read in proponents’ books, about certain “spiritual laws” that God was bound by (ha!). We were told that only certain people must be told about the baby’s condition; those discerning few who really knew how to pray “correctly” for her, to “pray believing”.

Here is an example (from CBN’s website) on how to pray believing for “your personal” miracle (though they give themselves an out by not guaranteeing your desired outcome): Can I be healed? 

To my eternal regret, we hurt and deceived a lot of people by lying about the baby’s condition. See, if you admitted there was a problem, even allowed yourself the tiniest thought there might be a problem, you wouldn’t get your miracle (in New Age circles this idea is called “positive thinking” to an extreme, and obviously unhealthy end).

In my naiveté and desperate hope, I clung to the belief my baby would live even after she lay dead in my husband’s arms. I firmly believed God would bring her back from the dead (and I know how crazy that sounds) and awe all the nay-saying doctors, the unbelievers I knew, and the Christians that didn’t pray for miracles.

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It wasn’t until her graveside funeral a week later, when we pulled up to the outdoor awning and I saw her casket, that reality finally hit me. It hit me so hard I refused to get out of the car.

I didn’t want that reality; that was not what I had worked and prayed and vainly hoped and “believed in faith” so hard for. But the death of my Elizabeth Ann nearly nine years ago, has spurred me to look before I leap, and research and study my Bible harder than ever. I can now say unequivocally that the Word of Faith movement doesn’t work, and it is very un-Biblical.

The most hurtful thing after Elizabeth’s death was the lack of apology on the part of those who had pushed their beliefs so hard. Rather than admitting the obvious (this system failed), they pulled away from my husband and I and grew distant and remained quiet. Worst of all, they continue to believe in and promote this garbage. That is when I become very angry.

The same people who convinced me of their beliefs and themselves held my dead baby or spoke at the funeral, continue to refuse to admit their mistake. They seem intent on dragging other people through the hell that I went through.

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Christianity or Witchcraft in disguise?

I now believe this movement is merely witchcraft* in disguise. The idea of having to say prayer in a particular (i.e. ritualistic, formulaic, or prescribed) manner is a key occult practice; they call it incantation or spell-casting. The idea that God must abide by/is bound by certain rules He laid out in His creation is blasphemous-we can never be God’s puppeteers. But this is also a key occult practice; trying to bend the natural or supernatural world and its residents to a “knowledgeable” (i.e. magician) human will.

A third underlying idea is that of keeping secrets, or being made to feel elite in the secret mysteries and understandings of God. The word “occult” literally means “hidden”, and there have always been a plethora of secret societies and mystery religions. But Christianity is not one of them. The Bible is a collection of historical accounts on all the ways the God of the Bible has revealed Himself to people (not just the Israelites) throughout the ages. Daniel 2:47 says God is a “revealer of mysteries”. As God He could be mysterious, but He desires to be known by us and has revealed Himself for our benefit (see: How God Reveals Himself).

Other occult aspects that a particular Word of Faith group may or may not be involved in include divination like reading omens or “signs from God”, classically via tea leaves, hair, wood, screen doors, bird migration patterns, bones, entrails, stars, etc. A group may also use protective amulets and talismans including lucky charms, blessed cross necklaces and the like (see: Christian Amulet Gifts & Cross Charm Jewelry).

Some groups or teachers use astrology (reading the stars to determine God’s path for your life, like horoscopes), and a great many employ “special” prayers, blessings, or adjurations (words against demons) to bring health, wealth, children, etc, like the Prayer of Jabez. Certain music/musicians, scents (candles, oils – Abba Anointing Oils, or incense-also known as aromatherapy), gems, or herbs with purported properties, powers, and abilities, are often used for healing or cleansing the spirit, and bringing a participant closer to God.

Many times rituals or formulaic practices for better communion with God, protection, healing, cleansing, etc. are affected. These may include labyrinths, special prayer routines, meditation/contemplative practices, spiritual disciplines, extreme positive thinking, practicing being in God’s presence**, and more.

Those who practice any or all of these things generally have a scripture or three that appear to back their position. Therefore it is vital to not just read a passage in context of its sentence, but in some cases whole sections and even several chapters are needed to understand it in full (this is where many devotional books and Bible studies fail).

After having studied my Bible a bit better, I have come to the realization that God did not fail my family, false prophets did. If you want to get to know God better, simple prayer and Bible reading is the only way to do it. It is not glamorous and will not usually involve an experience. It will not cater to our human nature to act on or do something. And the Bible does not promise health, wealth, protection, or mysteries to unravel. The only way to “spiritually detox” is through repentance, forgiveness, and the grace of the cross.

 

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*It is rather ironic that practitioners of this movement like to define rebellion as synonymous with “witchcraft”, based on the misunderstanding of 1 Sam. 15:23 (here is an example of this misunderstanding turned “ministry”).

**Being “in God’s presence” or inviting the Holy Spirit “to come” is a nice, super-Christian thought. But if we are Christians, the Bible says we have the Holy Spirit (which is God) living in us, Romans 8:11, Acts 2:4, John 3:34, and John 20:22. Therefore, we cannot invite the Holy Spirit to come more, nor can we purposefully cultivate a sense of God’s presence. These are merely emotional or supernatural highs that we can easily become addicted to. Remember that the Bible also describes a deceptive Satan and demons, as well as God and His angels.

related links:

 

photo credit: Minnaert via photopin cc

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Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams

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Christian leaders put their spiritual spin on sexual abuse and premarital sex and devalue young women in the process.

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The errant Patriarchy Movement is getting some well-deserved attention by voices in Reformed Christianity

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Christian Homeschool Curricula:  How can we find safe and agenda-free material to use?

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A personal story of a father who used Christianity and the Bible as a weapon as he controlled his daughter and allowed her to be abused.

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