The link below is to an article that reports on an alleged beating of a man at a crusade event in Brazil by three men, including the son of Benny Hinn – Joshua Hinn.
The following article concerns a South African preacher who has said that Jesus had HIV. Read about this nonsense at:
Leaders who defected from the Episcopal Church completed the formation of a conservative branch of Anglicanism in North America Monday by ratifying the constitution of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), reports Charisma News Online.
The document was signed during ACNA’s Inaugural Provincial Assembly, which drew some 800 participants to Bedford, Texas, this week. Pittsburg Bishop Robert Duncan, who on Wednesday will be installed as the group’s first archbishop, said the formation of ACNA reflects a return to orthodox Christianity that is happening both within the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and beyond.
“Our God is up to something very big, both with us and with others,” Duncan said Monday. “The Father truly is drawing His children together again in a surprising and sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. He is again re-forming His church.”
On Tuesday, Saddleback pastor Rick Warren addressed the assembly, encouraging them to love one another but not the world’s values, the Associated Press reported. Other non-Anglican participants include Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church, the Rev. Samuel Nafzger of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. The assembly ends on Thursday.
The formation of ACNA, said to represent some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes, is the latest response to liberal moves within the Episcopal Church that culminated with the ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003. Since then, roughly 200 congregations have left what had been the only U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, ACNA leaders report.
Most of the defectors, including several charismatic parishes, have aligned with conservative dioceses in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, where Anglicanism is experiencing the most growth.
To read the full story, click here.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
I have recently come across an article penned by Peter Masters of the ‘Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, England. Writing in the ‘Sword & Trowel’ 2009, No 1, Peter Masters attacks what he calls the ‘New Calvinism,’ in a scathing assault on what he sees as the merger of Calvinism with Worldliness.
I have also come across an article written by Collin Hansen (to which Masters refers) in the September 2006 edition of ‘Christianity Today,’ in which he investigates what he calls a resurgent Calvinism, a Calvinism that is making a comeback and shaking up the church. This resurgent Calvinism is that which Peter Masters criticizes.
Peter Masters calls the Hansen article a book, so I am not sure that the entire ‘book’ appears in Christianity Today or whether it is an excerpt from it.
The Hansen article doesn’t come to any conclusions about Calvinism, though it does include a number of people and their comments that are opposed to Calvinism. It also includes people and their comments that wholeheartedly support Calvinism. There seems to be a sigh of relief that the Calvinist resurgence finds its root in the Scriptures and has a major commitment to them and what they teach, so all is not as bad as may first appear.
It is difficult, not being familiar with Collin Hansen, to pinpoint just where he himself stands on ‘Calvinism’ from the article itself.
However, in the Peter Masters article it is clear that he stands opposed to the ‘New Calvinism’ that he detects in the resurgent Calvinism of our day in England and the United States. Far from being pleased with the rise in numbers of those holding to Calvinistic teachings, he is concerned over what he perceives as a merging of Calvinism with Worldliness, and on some points I would have to agree.
I am not yet convinced that he is right in every area of his criticism of resurgent Calvinism as I do not believe you need to embrace the Puritans ‘legalism’ in respect to matters indifferent in order to appreciate the Puritans overall. Nor do I think you need to embrace that legalist spirit in order to stand alongside the Puritans in those matters vital to Christianity, especially from a Reformed perspective.
However, I do agree with some of what Peter Masters has to say concerning the ministry of some of the men he recognizes as leaders in the ‘New Calvinism.’ For example, I would agree with a large amount of what Mark Driscoll has to say and teach – but the manner in which he teaches it, using language that can be described as offensive, is not the way to do it. I have not heard Driscoll preach myself, but I understand he often uses questionable language in order to be relevant to the lost of this current age. What Masters has to say in this respect is quite right in my opinion.
I also question the need to embrace so readily the entertainment of the world as part of the worship service. So as to be clear, I have listened to a lot of secular music, though I draw the line at what I find to be unwholesome and much of today’s current music in exactly that and I largely do not listen to it. I do not believe it necessary however, to imitate the secular style of music and to import it into the worship service. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this means the entire banning of contemporary music, just that greater care needs to be taken in reaching a position on whether to include it in the worship service at any particular time – not including it simply to be ‘relevant.’
I, like Peter Masters, have grave concerns about the Calvinism that I hold to (Particular Baptist) being united with a Charismatic style of it. For me, this has no place and I find it difficult to believe that leaders of such calibre as John Macarthur and John Piper are happy to be united in conferences where Charismatic worship practices occur, etc.
I think overall Peter Masters is saying what I have been saying about the growing trend in reformed circles towards pragmatism. He says it a lot better than me of course. There is a growing embrace of church growth like behaviour and seeker sensitive styled practices that embrace worldliness as a means of attracting people to church.
I found myself being concerned with whole far Peter Masters went in his denunciation of the ‘New Calvinism.’ However, the more I think about it the more right he seems to be.
Masters calls many of the ‘New Calvinist’ leaders brilliant men and I would agree with him. I greatly admire John Macarthur and his associates, and I am sure I would also find much of what John Piper and the others have to say equally as helpful. But I am concerned with what Peter Masters has outlined in his article. I am also a little confused because I thought this was the sort of thing that John Macarthur has also decried in many of his books. I find myself finding it difficult to believe that he could be caught up in this blend that the ‘New Calvinism’ appears to be.
I certainly don’t write off everything that this resurgent Calvinism is doing. I know these men are wholeheartedly committed to the same truths as the Reformers and Puritans held dear. i do not doubt that at all. I also think they are doing much good. But if what Peter Masters is highlighting is true of this movement, than there is great need for concern I think. The real and full consequences of this approach will not be seen until the next generation and I fear those consequences will bring much harm to the church.
Belarus’ Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the state’s requirement that worship must be registered to be legal, Forum 18 News Service has learnt.
On 2 March the Court rejected an appeal brought by a Pentecostal pastor against a fine for leading an unregistered religious organisation. Pastor Valentin Borovik had argued that the requirement to register broke both the Belarusian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a position supported by international human-rights lawyers.
Dismissing the appeal out of hand, however, the Supreme Court’s vice-chairman ruled that Borovik’s rights to freedom of conscience “were not violated in any way.” Baptist and charismatic communities are the most recent to report state harassment for unregistered religious activity, which increasingly comes from ideology officials.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
Two Danish visitors to Belarus were detained by police and are being deported as they expressed “ideas of a religious nature”, in the words of the deportation order, Forum 18 News Service has learnt.
“We were praying, reading and speaking from the Bible, greeting the people, and praying together,” one of the two, Erling Laursen, told Forum 18. Neither were leading the worship service they attended. Police took video footage of the two praying in Gomel’s charismatic Living Faith Church, but refused to say who had recorded it “to protect our colleague”.
The Church’s pastor Dmitry Podlobko told Forum 18 that a young man he had never seen before filmed a worship service with his mobile phone. Pastor Podlobko said that “it’s not news to us that the security organs are watching. They visit and watch us secretly.”
The KGB secret police closely monitors all religious communities. The deportation of the two Danes – who are banned from Belarus for one year – brings to 31 the number of foreign citizens barred from Belarus in recent years for their religious activity.
The most recent people expelled were four Catholic priests and three nuns, banned at the end of 2008.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
On 15 October, a declaration unexpectedly appeared on the webpage of the Russian Ministry of Justice listing 56 religious organisations scheduled for liquidation. These stem from a number of major world faiths and included Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, the Catholic “Caritas” as well as small, dissident Orthodox groups and one organisation belonging to the Kiev Orthodox Patriarchate, reports William Yoder, Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. Yet at least 35 of the 56 listed qualify as Protestant organizations. These include the humanitarian “World Vision” and “Youth with a Mission”. At least six Baptist organizations are listed. These include one established by the Russian branch of the “Billy Graham Evangelistic Association” and three regional districts of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” (RUECB). Apparently; several entire churches are up for liquidation, including the “Union of Churches of Presbyterian Christians” and the “Assemblies of God”. Even the 26-congregation-strong “Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians” is scheduled for elimination. Its Bishop, businessman Alexander Semchenko, remains a member of the presti gious “Council for Cooperation with Religious Organisations at the Seat of the Russian President”.
Pastor Vitaly Vlasenko, the RUECB’s Director for External Church Relations, warns against undue alarm, for the declaration states only that the Justice Department “plans to file liquidation claims” against the 56. “This is a wake-up call,” the Pastor adds. “This is certainly not the last word on the matter.” He reports that thousands of religious organisa tions were registered during the 1990s, and that a number of them are now virtually defunct. Many have failed to submit the annual reports on activities and finance demanded by Russian law. In some cases, registered and factual activities no longer match. In one instance, a Baptist organization registered in Moscow is active only in Siberia.
Attorney Anatoly Pchelintsev from Moscow’s „Slavic Centre for Law and Justice” (SCLC) sees serious injustice in the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate is absent from the list. Due to its overpowering size, the law of averages would demand that a least a few of its organisations find their way onto the list. Yet Protestants, who speak for less than 1% of the Russian population, make up 62% of the total list. He sees no regard for the appropriateness of means, describing liquidation as akin to meting out the death penalty to persons found guilty of jaywalking. “Such actions fly in the face of official Russian state policy on the freedom of worship and creed.” Pchelin tsev, a seasoned legal veteran, believes the responsible officials are hardly aware of the complicated international ramifications of their own decree and cites the possibility of “chaos and destabilisation in church-state relations”.
In June, the highly-active SCLJ succeeded in getting a decision requiring the liquidation of a 30-member Methodist congregation in Smolensk overturned. Two years ago, it won a Euro pean Court ruling in Strasbourg sentencing the Russian Federation to a fine for having forbidden the work of the Salvation Army. The SCLJ was initially formed in 1993 and took on its present name when it became an affiliate of the Washington/DC-based “American Center for Law and Justice” (ACLJ) in 1998. The head of ACLJ is Jay Sekulow, America’s leading attorney on religious affairs. ACLJ was founded in 1990 by the controver sial Pat Robertson, a Southern Baptist and charismatic. He is probably America’s most prominent television preacher.
The RUECB, Russia’s largest, unified Protestant church, represents approximately 80.000 adult members in 1.750 congregations and groups. Its President is Yuri Sipko.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am a life-long opponent of the Church Growth Movement, Church Marketing gimmicks, etc. I have the occasional go at these sorts of things in this Blog from time to time.
Now I ask, ‘why reinvent the wheel when someone has already done it for you?’ I have been a long time nonconformist when it comes to Bibles – that is, the preoccupation that Zondervan and the likes have with making such things as youth Bibles, Slim-line Bibles, Green Bibles, etc, etc. I have become increasingly annoyed at the antics of such companies and how they peddle the Word of God. You would expect this sort of thing from a secular company I suppose and essentially that is what Zondervan is isn’t it? Charismatic-influenced Bible publishers you would expect it from as well I suppose, given that they have such a poor regard for the written Word of God?
But back to the question – why reinvent the wheel? I was over at the Pyromaniacs Blog a minute ago where Phil Johnson has posted some comments on Zondervan and I couldn’t agree with what he wrote more. Go and have a read via the link below. I won’t mind if you go over there and have a look J
Today, on the way home from work, I decided to do a little shopping. So I went and bought this and then that. I then thought, ‘Well, I’m over this way I might as well pop into that new Christian bookshop and see what it is like.’
So I arrived and popped in for a look – it is quite a set-up. It is all very impressive and has a very well researched approach to marketing in the bookshop setting. This mob could sure teach some of the ‘more secular’ bookshops a thing or two about setting up a store to entice people in and to buy.
Then the moment of truth arrived – I began to wander (or is that ‘wonder’) among the bookshelves and view what was on offer. It didn’t take me long to think that here was a wonderful example of ‘Christian Confusion Collected.’ Is the person/persons/group behind this bookshop a Christian (or a group of Christians) or just a seller of books under the collective title of ‘Christian Books.’ Is this person Protestant or Roman Catholic, Evangelical or Liberal, Reformed or Arminian, Charismatic/Pentecostal or … ? The question has to be asked, because books of all types were here represented. Perhaps the title ‘Christian’ was enough to get a book on the shelves here.
In a short time I had found a book on Mother Teresa, one by Karl Marx and a whole host of other uncomfortably united authors – you could almost feel the tension as they each jostled for shelf space. There was Mother Teresa, warming herself by the fire of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, with all her innocence and saintly arraignment for all to see. What an odd group of fellows were some of these authors.
Alongside the foolish waste of natural resources that is the Purpose Driven Church, was a book entitled, ‘This little church went to market – Is the modern church reaching out or selling out (which I actually bought for a read).’ What an interesting juxtaposition there for all to see ~ one wonders if the incongruity of the two books was picked up by the one filling the shelves – yes, I agree, unlikely.
Then of course my mind turned to the customers – what a pious looking group of people, pontificating on the excellence of the goods on offer. I found myself relating more to the girl who couldn’t contain her amusement at some of the titles she saw lining the shelves – a fellow vulgar vagrant perhaps, not yet filled with the spirit of the place.
So to end my visit it was necessary to make my way past the various trinkets, obviously there for those customers with more indulgent tastes, figuring I had spent enough time in my present world purgatory and pay the bill for some other misfit occupants of the store - the book warning of the market driven approach to ‘church,’ a book on unconditional election and another on John Wyclif, who seemed to peer out from the cover of the book, seemingly embarrassed by being among those with whom he was sharing a shelf – perhaps it was time for John to re-establish Lollardism in another setting than that to which he was used to. Still, I had liberated these three books from their imprisonment and they were soon to join brethren of a similar mind in other shelves at another place where their fellowship would be much sweeter indeed.
ABOVE: Hugh Latimer … Burnt at the Stake Under Queen Mary
(As described in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
To look at Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
What is it about church that moves Christians to just accept the status quo and put up with extremely poor preaching and worship services? I’m not talking about Charismatic meetings, Arminian meetings – I’m talking about so called Reformed meetings. Because the church calls itself Reformed it seems that believers feel bound to just accept anything that’s dished up for them and then have to push it as being good or great.
Why accept it? It’s insane to accept it – surely! Some of what I have heard in recent times is nothing short of drivel. Sure, there is nothing necessarily theologically wrong with what is being said. But it’s so ordinary in substance that there’s nothing noticeably Reformed about it. It lacks power, it lacks application and it lacks anything that could pass as really decent exposition. Generally it’s just monotone, seemingly dis-interested and non-passionate rambling. It’s a real blessing when it’s over. At least that’s how I felt recently – pleased to have got away from it.
Sadly however, there is no decent alternative – at least here in Australia. May God be merciful to us.