Answer to Open Challenge to Fans and Critics of Bill Johnson/Bethel Church

Craig:

Since Bill Johnson’s Bethel church continues to grow, I’ve decided to reblog this particular post. In it, by analyzing Johnson’s words, I conclude that Bill Johnson is teaching a form of neognosticism. The audio source is the same sermon from which Johnson offhandedly claims Jesus was ‘born again’.

Originally posted on CrossWise:

Since the original Open Challenge to Fans and Critics of Bill Johnson/Bethel Church has not received much interaction apart from regular readers here on CrossWise, it seems best to fully explain the selected text comprising that challenge in this separate post, as I deem this information critical to understanding the basis not just of Johnson’s Christology, but of his entire theology.

In the following message, taken from Bill Johnson’s 12/20/09 sermon Jesus is our Model (2nd service), all CAPS indicates Johnson’s emphasis, other emphasis is added, indicating portions important in understanding the overall message: 

…Look at verse 3, “And, the devil said to Him, ‘IF you are the Son of God command this stone to become bread.’”  Jesus answered Him saying, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone but by every WORD of God.”  What was the first temptation?  It wasn’t to turn…

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He is Risen!

Hallelujah! He is risen! This is the crux of the Crucifixion. While Christ’s death resulted in the tearing of the veil from top to bottom, thereby fulfilling the Mosaic, Old Testament sacrificial system and providing atonement of sins for all who would accept His sacrifice on the Cross, this was only fully understood by the Triumph of the Empty Tomb, in the exulting exaltation over death, the glorious Resurrection, culminating in Christ’s post-resurrection appearances. The Empty Tomb proved He was Who He said He was – God’s Son, the Christ, the Messiah.

No one with a shred of intellectual honesty can deny the existence of a man named Jesus from Nazareth, born of Mary, who was married to Joseph, a carpenter. The historical veracity of Jesus’ life is unassailable, as accounts of Jesus’ existence are available not just in Scripture and the writings of early professing Christians, but in the near-contemporaneous writings of non-Christians including Tacitus and Josephus. The question for skeptics of the Christian faith to answer centers on the Empty Tomb: Where is Jesus’ body?

We Christians know the answer: He is Risen! And now He sits at the Father’s right hand.

The Increasing Weight of the Sin of Gluttony

Some folks built like this
Built like that
Don’t you holler at me
Dontchoo call me fat
Ya know I’m built for comfort
I ain’t built for speed

So sings bluesman Taj Mahal in his rendition of the Willie Dixon tune usually associated with blues legend Howlin’ Wolf (Dixon had played bass in Wolf’s band).1 It is a somewhat playful and humorous song; however, the subject of gluttony is a serious one. In America the problem of overeating is increasing – along with the collective girth of the population in general, and the Church in particular.

This is going to be somewhat of a rant, rather than any sort of well-researched article. This issue has been on my mind for a while now; but, the idea to actually write this article came when I went to an Italian restaurant for lunch this past week.

It’s a restaurant I go to only sporadically. It’s a bit far from my office; so, when I do go it’s usually on the weekend. I’d been there a few times during the week, but this particular time was different. I noticed that the restaurant was a bit busier than usual; however, it wasn’t until I sat down that I noticed something was out of the ordinary. There was a spread of food by the bar area. “What’s that?” I asked, pointing. “It’s our buffet,” came the reply from my waiter. An Italian buffet? Sounded oxymoronic to me. This was not a pizza joint; this was a somewhat respectable Italian restaurant. Apparently, they instituted a Tuesday and Thursday buffet somewhat recently.

I tend to stay away from any buffet. It’s too tempting to eat too much just to “get your money’s worth.” But, this is precisely why some frequent buffets. They come to enjoy “all you can eat.” Like the individuals who ordered the buffet at the Italian restaurant mentioned above. Not one was what I’d term “trim” or “thin.” A few might be considered of normal weight; however, most were overfat. Some were probably obese.

About a year ago I began going to a particular Chinese restaurant for lunch. I usually eat lunch alone, bringing material with me to read as I eat. I now go to this particular establishment about two or three times a month. When I first began going there, the restaurant had just ceased their all-you-can-eat buffet. Apparently, they were losing money with it. Yet, I witnessed countless patrons asking about the buffet. A few left upon hearing what they perceived as bad news. Most would eat their lunch, but I don’t think these individuals would come back, as I noticed the clientele decrease with each passing month. Frankly, I don’t know how the restaurant stays in business.

America is overfat. In San Antonio, the city in which I live, we have the distinction of being the 2nd fattest large city in America.

I’ll try to be precise with my terminology here. The term “fat” comes with baggage. It’s viewed as not “politically correct.” It’s just not nice to call another “fat.” “Overfat” seems better, as we all have a certain amount of fat, even highly-conditioned athletes. “Overweight” does not seem helpful, since body builders, most especially males, can exceed the BMI (body mass index) limit for height. Moreover, all things being equal, one with a large skeletal frame will necessarily weigh more than another person of similar height who is small-framed. Hence, the key is one’s body fat percentage.

BMI tables can be used as a guide; however, these must be put in proper context. For example, I am thin – though not exceedingly so (and quite healthy, thank the Lord) – in part because of exercise and a balanced diet; however, according to the BMI table I can gain another 30 pounds and still be of “normal” weight. Yet, if I were 30 lbs. heavier, I’d be very much overfat!

Eating is a necessary part of life. And, it’s used for celebrating. In the Church many gatherings are associated with food. There’s the “pot-luck” dinner in which everyone brings one food item, for example. A somewhat recent Purdue study found a correlation between persons of faith and an increase in both BMI and obesity. Church members were found to be more overfat than the general population, with Baptists having the distinction of being the most overweight religious group.2 We’re setting a very poor example.

We can and should do better than this. Being overfat increases the risk for certain diseases and maladies. It shortens our lifespans. But, more importantly, gluttony is a sin. Overeating indicates a lack of self-control, which illustrates that one is not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). Moreover, one can argue that it defiles the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

As a Church body, let’s endeavor to become more physically fit. Start slowly if you haven’t exercised in a while (and consult your health care professional). Let’s eat a more balanced diet. Cut down on the junk food (stop drinking sodas, both diet and regular!). Add more fresh veggies and fruits. The money saved can go to the poor and/or missions.

 

1 Lyrics from “Built for Comfort,” Taj Mahal Oooh So Good ‘n Blues, 1973, Columbia Records, C 32600.
2 See Wendy Ashley, “Obesity in the Body of Christ,” SBC Life, June 2007: http://www.sbclife.net/Articles/2007/01/sla8.

Newsweek Publishes Dr. Michael Brown’s Response to Eichenwald’s Article

I have to admit that this caught me totally by surprise.  Credit must be given to Newsweek for affording a professed Christian to rebut the Eichenwald piece from last month.  And, Dr. Brown did a fine job!

Please read A Response to Newsweek on the Bible.

I may append some snippets from the article later.

Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

Craig:

Newsweek on the Bible: An Article So Slanted it’s Dizzying

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, on his blog, critiques a current Newsweek article, written by Kurt Eichenwald, in which the author, among other things (such as making sweeping generalizations), makes misleading claims about text critical issues in the New Testament. Eichenwald’s comments regarding John 7:53-8:11 – the woman caught in adultery – is one blatant example of the shoddy journalism permeating the piece:

…Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages. It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels or in any of the early Greek versions of John. Even if the Gospel of John is an infallible telling of the history of Jesus’s ministry, the event simply never happened

My current position is with most current Christian scholarship that this is not Johannine (penned by John). According to Metzger (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament), and other sources, this pericope is inserted in various places in Greek manuscripts (mss), such as appended at the end of John’s Gospel, placed after John 7:36, after John 7:44, though predominately located after John 7:52; however, it IS extant in some Greek mss situated in Luke’s Gospel, just before chapter 22.

To comment briefly on the bolded portions of the above quote from the Newsweek article:

Scribes made it up and the event simply never happened: Unless Eichenwald is claiming omniscience, he simply cannot know for certain that the event did not ever happen. To claim that scribes simply “made it up” is to pass judgment (and note the author’s closing “Don’t judge”). This by itself calls into question the author’s objectivity and motive. Most scholars identifying as Christian are of the opinion that this pericope was part of an oral tradition, which was later inserted into Scripture at various places. However, there are a few bona fide NT scholars and/or textual critics (Zane Hodges, W. Pickering, Maurice Robinson, David Alan Black) who argue for this pericope’s originality in John’s Gospel, situating it just after 7:52.

It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels and scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages: As to the former, I could be generous and assume the author meant there are no parallel passages in Matthew, Mark, or Luke; but, I’ll take his statement on its face. While I’m not aware of any translation locating this pericope anywhere other than after John 7:52, there are extant Greek mss with this account in Luke’s Gospel, just before Luke 22 (after Luke 21:38), as noted above. But, more important is his misleading claim that there are no “early Greek versions of John” containing this pericope before the Middle Ages. While there are no extant Greek mss containing this account before the Middle Ages, there are Old Latin mss with this variant, two of which are from the 5th century. In addition, Jerome “knew many Greek as well as Latin mss” (C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, 2nd ed. {Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978} p 589) evidencing this pericope, as testified in part by Jerome’s Adversus Pelagianos II, 17, (Against the Pelagians), thus providing further proof that this account was known as early as the 5th century, possibly even late 4th. Moreover, some extant 2nd and 3rd century Greek mss leave a space between John 7:52 and 8:12, though the spacing does not allow for the full text – one can speculate from there.

Originally posted on Daniel B. Wallace:

Every year, at Christmas and Easter, several major magazines, television programs, news agencies, and publishing houses love to rattle the faith of Christians by proclaiming loudly and obnoxiously that there are contradictions in the Bible, that Jesus was not conceived by a virgin, that he did not rise from the dead, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The day before Christmas eve (23 December 2014), Newsweek published a lengthy article by Kurt Eichenwald entitled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” Although the author claims that he is not promoting any particular theology, this wears thin. Eichenwald makes so many outrageous claims, based on a rather slender list of named scholars (three, to be exact), that one has to wonder how this ever passed any editorial review.

My PDF of this article runs 34 pages (!) before the hundreds of comments that are appended. Consequently, I don’t have…

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Thomas Nelson Amends “Jesus’” Words with Nary a Sound

For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough (2 Corinthians 11:4, NIV).

Apparently, quite a few noticed a number of unbiblical issues with the hugely popular Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, published by Thomas Nelson (recently acquired by secular publishing house HarperCollins).  Perhaps the most vocal critic has been Warren Smith, who wrote an expose on Young’s book in his Another Jesus Calling.  Smith, a former New Ager, was quick to note that Young’s professed inspiration for Jesus Calling, the similarly titled God Calling (credited in the introduction to Young’s book), was an overtly New Age book channeled through the authors a la the Alice Bailey works, though Young took pains to explain that she deemed her work was/is Biblically-based. It isn’t.

Young claims that through contemplative prayer she received “messages” directly from Jesus Himself, writing these words in a journal, resulting in her Jesus Calling. However, some of these “messages” contradicted Scripture. Young’s “Jesus” claimed that Abraham was guilty of idolatry in his “son-worship” of Isaac.  This “Jesus” also explicitly contradicted Acts 1:7-9 by stating: ‘I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.’ These were the last words I spoke before ascending into heaven.

Obviously becoming aware of these problems, Thomas Nelson, employing literary sleight of hand, simply made ‘corrections’ to the 10th anniversary edition of the book, including these purported direct quotes from Jesus Himself, with no explanation whatsoever – as if that fixes the problems.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this ongoing ordeal is the fact that the secular media is also taking Thomas Nelson to task for deleting the reference to God Calling as the book’s inspiration, as well as the other emendations noted above, with no reason provided for doing so within the pages of Young’s book. Ruth Graham in The Daily Beast writes, “A skeptical reader, comparing the two introductions, would see an effort by a publisher to bring an increasingly controversial but lucrative best-seller into line with mainstream evangelical orthodoxy” (see footnote 8 at link referenced just below).

Read more here:

Free on PDF! Redeeming Philosophy: A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions by Vern Poythress

Craig:

This is just too good to pass up: A free pdf download of a new philosophical book from a Christian worldview. Dr. Poythress, current editor of the Westminster Theological Journal and former member of the translation committee for the ESV, writes from the perspective of the Reformed tradition. This work, like some of his others, is written at a more conversational level, that is to say, at a level understandable to the general layperson. Each time he brings up a term which may be unknown to the average reader, Poythress defines it. Download and enjoy!

Originally posted on The Domain for Truth:

I just posted a few minutes ago but this is too good not to share right now!

Redeeming Philosophy A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions

Dr. Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary has just had his book Redeeming Philosophy published just a few weeks ago last month.  Apparently he has made this book available for free online as a PDF!

You can download the file if you click HERE.

Here’s the book’s description from the publisher’s website:

Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I find meaning?

Life is full of big questions. The study of philosophy seeks to answer such questions. In his latest book, prolific author Vern Poythress investigates the foundations and limitations of Western philosophy, sketching a distinctly Christian approach to answering basic questions about the nature of humanity, the existence of God, the search for meaning, and the basis for morality.

For Christians eager to engage with the timeless philosophical…

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