(Originally printed in the Winter/Spring 2016 Issue of the MCOI Journal )
Though I no longer consider myself a Christian, I’m still keeping a space for God in my heart. I didn’t lose my religion. Instead, I’m creating my own. I don’t believe that we humans can live and function happily without any belief or faith in something outside of the physical world we live in. 1“After 13 Years, I’m Leaving Christianity,” Keay Nigel, HuffPost Religion, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keay-nigel/after-13-years-im-leaving-christianity_b_8488624.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063
These words from Keay Nigel near the end of his piece, “After 13 Years, I’m Leaving Christianity” on the HuffPost Religion blog, reveals an individual who is a microcosm of what I saw and heard at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions (October 15-19, 2015) in Salt Lake City, UT. The Parliament is a veritable smorgasbord of religious and/or philosophical ideas from which you can pick-and-choose when building your own personal belief system! There were nearly 10,000 people at the event, and a follow-up from the Parliament indicated there were 1,800 presenters.
Oprah Winfrey’s film series Belief was previewed at the Parliament, and not surprisingly, her views mirrored the ideas and spirit of the Parliament. “Progressive Christian” author and speaker, Diana Butler Bass,2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Butler_Bass wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post on Oprah’s new Belief’ series. In it, she shows how dramatically the “nature of faith is shifting.” Bass wrote:
The show reveals how religion itself is shifting, how we are living through a period of intense spiritual democratization. In all the world’s religions, older forms of remote and hierarchical authority — not to mention the very idea of a distant and monarch-like God — are being challenged by ordinary people as they pray, worship, walk pilgrimages and seek the divine in nature and neighborhoods.3“Oprah’s new ‘Belief’ series shows how dramatically the nature of faith is shifting,” Diana Butler Bass, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/18/oprahs-new-belief-series-shows-how-dramatically-the-nature-of-faith-is-shifting/
I have to agree we are currently “living through a period of intense spiritual democratization.” Case in point is the story of Keay, who came to believe the Church was deceptive, made false promises, exploited its young members to increase its size, and whose leaders were nothing more than financial scam artists. Keay, being a homosexual, listened to a message at his church from a former homosexual and “went forward,” with the expectation of being delivered:
But after a week or so, I slipped back to feeling those sinful urges. My same-sex attraction didn’t just go away in the name of God. There ain’t no miracle.4Keay Nigel, Op Cit.
After being disillusioned and embittered by the lack of a miracle delivery from his besetting sin, he began to see problems with other things his church was teaching:
As I grew more and more distant, I started to realize that many of its teachings were not quite right too. For instance, my church would teach us that all other religions are works of Satan. Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism were described as unintelligent religions, their worship of Pagan figures, animals and deities as nonsensical and laughable.5Keay Nigel, Op Cit.
The trickle of doubt turned into a flood of disbelief after a very public scandal developed at his home church, City Harvest Church6“City Harvest trial: Twists, turns and tears enough to fuel a Korean drama,” Feng Zengkun, Singapore: The Straits Times; http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/city-harvest-trial-twists-turns-and-tears-enough-to-fuel-a-korean-drama:
Fast forward to 2010, I started college. That year, my church got embroiled in a mega fraud investigation looking at $50 million being misused. At first I was still supportive as I had faith in the pastors of the church. But as I did my own research, I realized that I might have been wrong … For years and years of listening to the prosperity gospel in church, I had been brainwashed into giving thousands of dollars.7Keay Nigel, Op Cit.
Keay walked away from the faith, not because Christianity is false, but because the church he attended offered false, shallow teaching, and its leaders allegedly were exposed as frauds. The “Prosperity gospel” is false, and it has caused many people to leave their churches when the promised “returns on their money” never rolled in. In addition, there are very good and cogent reasons to reject Paganism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism that, sadly, he was not taught. In addition, his church was shown to be a greed-based enterprise. So, in search of something spiritually satisfying and bigger than himself, he is “creating his own” god and religion.
From Microcosm to Parliament
We live in an age when Western culture is rapidly abandoning their Judeo/Christian roots and returning to the various Pagan religions and pantheons of first-century gods and goddesses. The Parliament embodies this shift.
So why did I and about a dozen or so other Evangelicals attend? There are several reasons actually. As apologists, we need to know what it is the Parliament is trying to accomplish. Who are they, and what are they up to? The Parliament staff with whom I interacted via email, telephone, and some limited face-to-face contacts were quite pleasant and seemed sincere. Although wary of Evangelicals, they really appear to be interested in bringing about peaceful co-existence to the various people groups on the planet we all call home. In their document Declaration Toward A Global Ethic & A Call to Our Guiding Institutions,” the section titled “Our Approach” declares:
The Parliament of the World’s Religions seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity. The problem with seeking unity among religions is the risk of loss of the unique and precious character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition; this understanding is key to our framework.
Interreligious harmony, on the other hand, is an attainable and highly desirable goal. Such an approach respects, and is enriched by, the particularities of each tradition. Moreover, within each tradition are the resources (philosophical, theological and spiritual teachings and perspectives) that enable each to enter into respectful, appreciative and cooperative relationships with persons and communities of other traditions.8“Declaration Toward A Global Ethic & A Call to Out Guiding Institutions;” 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, 70 E. Lake St., Ste. 205, Chicago, IL 60601, p 4
Certainly, we all want cordial and “respectful … relationships with persons and communities of other faith traditions.” First of all, the Bible tells us that flesh and blood—human beings—are not the true enemy (Eph. 6:12), even though it may often seem that way. Our true enemies are powerful spiritual forces that often hold human beings captive to do their will (2 Timothy 2:26). Our neighbors, work mates, and other friends and acquaintances may be Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Mormon, Christian, Jehovah’s Witness, as well as more exotic, in our view, religious and non-religious worldviews and practices. We want to get along with these people, practicing the all-American ideal of “live and let live.” We want the freedom to hold to our beliefs and practices without fear of reprisal, so fairness dictates that we extend the same right to those with whom we come in contact. We also want the opportunity to share and discuss our beliefs with others and to seek to understand their viewpoint as well. In short, we want to practice true tolerance.
Tolerance, as properly defined and practiced, assumes we don’t agree with others, but we are willing to “tolerate” the discomfort that disagreement engenders. Past centuries have shown compulsory conversions are an evil endeavor, and forced conversions are not true conversions, in any case. And as Christians, we know it is not our job to convert anyone, but rather we simply present the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as we have opportunity to do so. The Holy Spirit is the One Who convicts and converts (John 16:8).
True tolerance is necessary in almost all areas of life. We all have points of disagreement with others that extend far beyond the religious realm. Adults are expected to deal with differences of opinion in a mature way, without bringing harm to people with whom we disagree. If promoting this sort of mature tolerance was the agenda of the Parliament, we might think what the Parliament is attempting to do is a good thing. We hear of numerous wars and rumors of wars all over this planet, with many of them being due to religious differences. We know the kidnapping and killing of Christians by Muslims or killing of Muslims by Hindus, etc. makes the world a very dangerous and fearful place. Many in the world are sick of wars and tumult, and they cry out for peace and safety; which explains the popularity of the Parliament and its agenda in our world today.
One particular religious tradition is not at all sick of war and tumult, however, but rather gladly embraces it and hopes to force its will over the entire world at the point of the sword. Islam’s bloody stampede continues unabated throughout much of the world, and the resulting bloodshed and chaos only makes the Parliament’s solutions to conflict look like a far better alternative. Unfortunately, the tolerance promoted by the Parliament is a very different animal from the true tolerance we just outlined. The Parliament’s tolerance is really an enforced unity based upon suppression of absolute truth. More on this later …
A Tour Thru the Spiritual Marketplace
While wandering through the modern-day Areopagus,9The events recorded in Acts 17:16-33 occurred in the Areopagus—an area in Athens where philosophy and religious debate and discussion took place. which the Parliament called the “Exhibition Hall,” I picked up a newsletter from Spiritual Directors International (SDI). It is a group who works at practicing the spiritual disciplines of “contemplative practice” and “deep listening.” As I began looking over the lead article “Be Still: Awaken Your Heart,” I decided to check out their website, where I read the “History of Spiritual Direction:”
Throughout human history, individuals have been inspired to accompany others seeking the Mystery that many name God. Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions throughout history. The story of spiritual direction, expressed in the video below through music, word, and embodiment, helps seekers and spiritual companions appreciate the ancient tradition and emergent wisdom in spiritual direction. Understanding the deep roots of sacred listening encourages the wisdom of the past to guide the emerging wisdom of tomorrow.10“History of Spiritual Direction, “SDIWorld, http://www.sdiworld.org/ about-us/history-spiritual-direction
This religious Mysticism has already invaded the Church in recent years, under the name “Contemplative Prayer.” It is as SDI point outs “emergent wisdom in spiritual direction” and so there is really little wonder why Emergents11For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, Emergents are those who are in reality departing from the Christian faith – but are keeping its name, while incorporating Mystical beliefs and practices into their newly formed belief-system. It is has pulled many former Evangelicals and churches into its orbit. such as Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and others embrace it. There seems to be something in human beings that is attracted to the Mystical, Gnostic (secret knowledge), and experiential – and away from the life of the mind. Jesus gave as the greatest commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
The Greatest Commandment is all-encompassing and includes our emotions and affections, as well as a mind that is engaged in thinking about and understanding the things of God and the world around us. The mind is very important; not only does it give us understanding, but it also acts as a check on our easily deceived emotions. Good intentions guided by the instability and capriciousness of emotional experience can lead us into deception, spiritual, and even physical danger. Christians are in no way immune to deception; if they think they are, they are deceived!
Ye Olde Elephant Trick
Each of the religious groups who were presenting at the Parliament were doing so to persuade (Evangelize) other attendees to come over to their viewpoint or, at least, to accept their worldview claims as being on an equal footing with all other worldviews represented. The over-all agenda of the Parliament was to encourage the differing groups to incorporate all other truth claims into one’s own belief system. The Jains 12Jainism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism exhibit displayed the way to do this in the timeworn story of The Elephant and the Blind Men13“The Elephant and the Blind Men”; http://www.jainworld.com/literature/story25.htm:
Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”
They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.
“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“Oh, no! It is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
“No! It is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
“It is like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”
“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree to. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, “Maybe you have your reasons.” This way we don’t get in arguments. In Jainism, it is explained that truth can be stated in seven different ways. So, you can see how broad our religion is. It teaches us to be tolerant towards others for their viewpoints. This allows us to live in harmony with the people of different thinking. This is known as the Syadvada, Anekantvad, or the theory of Manifold Predictions.
On the surface, this story sounds like it ought to be right, because it sounds so fair. Americans love fair! Why should anyone have to be wrong? Can’t everyone be right, so no one’s feelings are hurt? In reality though, the old Elephant story is bogus.
Let’s think about it: The storyteller is sighted so he knows what the elephant truly is, and that the blind men are all incorrectly describing the beast. Yet he does not tell them that, essentially leaving them in the dark! All of the blind men were absolutely wrong! An elephant is not a pillar, a rope, a thick branch of a tree, a big hand fan, a huge wall of a solid pipe. The sighted, supposedly “wise man” left them in their ignorance! He deceived them in order to stop the arguing. However, who was he to decide that it was in everyone’s best interest to value short-term harmony over true understanding. Now, it may not matter too much in the big scheme of things if the blind men held on to their silly ideas about elephants. Nonetheless, it really matters for all eternity that people come to know the true nature of God! People need to know the truth about God!
Belief and Hate Speech
We have already pointed out the Parliament and its adherents take a very dim view of anyone claiming to know absolute truth. Today, there is an increasingly hypersensitive reaction to dogmatic truth claims—to the point of defining such claims as “hate speech.” If you assert that Jesus IS the One and Only Truth, you are a “hater” and have committed a “hate crime” in the view of many.
One of the booths I visited was promoting Circle Sanctuary.14https://www.circlesanctuary.org/ Circle Sanctuary is a Wiccan Church which claims to be the oldest 501c3 Wiccan church in the U.S. It was founded by Selena Fox, and its headquarters are in Wisconsin. The representative said they have a 200-acre preserve and the nation’s first “green cemetery” (ecological correctness was very big at the Parliament). I asked if they allowed visitors; and with great excitement, she told me visitors are not only allowed, but also welcomed! She enthused over the many festivals and events in which visitors might like to observe or participate. I mentioned that I am an Evangelical Christian and wondered if I and, perhaps, some students or friends would be welcome to visit? She was visibly repulsed at the idea and informed me “hate speech” isn’t allowed. Why did she automatically connect Evangelicals with “hate speech?” It wasn’t a very nice thing for her to say—it almost felt … well … hateful! But being a very tolerant person, I decided to let the slur pass without comment. I asked her to define hate speech—is disagreement hateful? She did acknowledge that disagreement is not necessarily hateful, but asserted that Christians are always trying to evangelize people and are not honest. But, isn’t evangelism simply an attempt to persuade another person about something—in this case, their view of God? How is that different from Circle Sanctuary or other Wiccan and Pagan groups who are trying to persuade non-Wiccans and Pagans to embrace their views?
I did acknowledge that some Christians are not honest. But then again, some Pagans, Muslims, and Hindus are not honest either. Dishonesty is not a sin limited to any one worldview; it is a common failing of mankind. But she did have a point that should be addressed. Many Wiccans and Pagans have been raised in Christian churches. As they met Wiccans and Pagans in person, some discovered, like Keay Nigel, that what had been communicated by their church about Pagan religions was often false and/or cartoonish. Too many churches have uncritically accepted the information presented in such books as Satan Seller by Mike Warnke, Satan’s Underground by Lauren Stratford, and other similar books. Mike Warnke claimed to have been a high priest of Satan. Turns out, Warnke was telling whoppers and really raking in the dough while he was at it. Stratford claimed to have been a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), which not only maligned Pagans, who were not in fact murdering babies in church basements, but set off a veritable conflagration of false accusations of so-called Satanic Ritual Abuse against Christian parents, teachers, siblings, and church leaders. If you’d like more information on the topic of false accusations of “Satanic Ritual Abuse” that raged for a decade or more, within the Church as well as in secular venues, please see the Summer/Fall 2001 issue of the MCOI Journal.15http://midwestchristianoutreach.org/wp-content/ uploads/2014/09/01sumfall.pdf
We do have a bandwagon problem in the Church. We, unfortunately, give too much credence to people like Warnke and Stratford; and, lately, it’s the people who claim to have been to heaven and back who are getting lots of attention in Christian circles. Too often, we don’t critically check the veracity of their claims as carefully as we should, nor do we check their claims against biblical truth. If something sounds too fantastical to believe, it probably is! Then, the “bandwagon effect” takes over—we invite these popular teachers/story tellers into our pulpit or youth group, because we’ve heard how great they are from other Christians and churches whom we trust to have vetted them.
On the other hand (and there is always an other hand), though our youth are not in much danger of being sacrificed to the devil by their pastor in a church basement, they are in grave danger of being proPagandized into accepting Mystic and Occult practices by a dark pop-culture aimed right at them: Rock stars, Hollywood, television, and video games, etc. They must be warned, shown what the Bible has to say about suddenly ubiquitous Occult practices, and educated to the dangers of Occult involvement. Moreover, even though we might assume adult Christians would not be vulnerable to Mystic and the Occult practices, unfortunately, they are.
The key is for Church leaders to become very well educated about false religions, false teachings, cults, and the Occult. Then we can educate our lay people and youth well enough to protect them from the onslaughts to their faith that inevitably will come, as well as enable them to present to others the truth of Christianity, and to give good answers to people whose faith is wavering. There are good answers; we must get them into the minds and hands of fellow believers.
Evangelical representation at the Parliament was sparse, but there were a dozen or so of us who were there to talk, observe, and share the Gospel. Even though we might have been viewed a little bit like a skunk at a picnic, one Evangelical was allowed to present a session. My friend, Scott Matscherz, Ph.D., is a solid Evangelical and a member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics. He had submitted a breakout session titled “Hating Hate,” which was accepted by the program committee. It was well attended. He carefully defined hate and gave examples of what most would agree are hate groups such as Westboro Baptist Church—the group who shows up at funerals with signs proclaiming, “God Hates Fags.” He also spent time making a case for truth and the Law of Non-contradiction. Scott used sources from other religions as well as Christianity to make his case. One of the quotes concerned the Law of Non-contradiction. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the Law of Non-contradiction—sometimes called “The First Principle” states:
… contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive.16Law of Non-contradiction; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_noncontradiction
Scott quoted from the Persian philosopher, Avicenna,17Avicenna, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Avicenna on this “First Principle:”
Those who deny the first principle should be flogged or burned until they admit that it is not the same thing to be burned and not burned, or whipped and not whipped.18Avicenna, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Avicenna
As he finished the quote, someone in the audience blurted out, “Are you saying that truth must be correspondent and coherent?” Scott answered that he needed to finish his presentation, but he would be glad to discuss this issue afterward. At that point, the individual got up and, as he stormed out of the room, proclaimed, “I don’t have to take this!” Nevertheless, in the main, Scott was given a fair hearing.
Another session—“Evangelicals and Mormons Overcoming Hate Speech”—was a panel discussion. Two of the four panelists were Mormon (aka Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS) representatives—Robert Millet and J.B. Hawes and two—Mark Maddix and Thomas Jay Oord—ostensibly represented “Evangelicals.” Mark Maddix opened by giving his history of growing up in the Evangelical tradition and detailed his interest in participating in dialogue with Mormons. He informed us that he doesn’t view “inspiration of Scripture” as most Evangelicals do, but rather, he believes Scripture is a big story of what God is doing in this history of salvation. In his desire to protect Mormonism from exclusion, he set up various straw-man* arguments. He tried to muddy the waters by outlining a number of differences in practices among Evangelicals. If he could show that Evangelicals don’t agree on everything, then how could they fairly exclude Mormons (from being considered Christian) for their differences? It is true Evangelicalism has no Pope or hierarchy to demand uniformity; and Evangelical churches do not agree on what we might call “the mechanics” of the faith. For example, they differ on such things as how often to have Communion or the proper method of Baptism. However, Evangelicals across-the-board agree on essential doctrines of the faith such as the nature of God (the Deity of Christ, Doctrine of the Trinity, Incarnation of Christ), the nature of man, and the nature of salvation, etc. Indeed, if you leave these essential doctrines behind, you cannot be considered Evangelical. Mormonism denies all of these essential doctrines. One of our group asked Maddix if Evangelicals and Mormons teach the same Gospel, to which Maddix replied, “Yes.” Thankfully, for the sake of those listening, J.B. Hawes answered the same question with a “No.” Hawes is correct: Evangelicals and Mormons preach very different Gospels. Now, it may be that Maddix teaches the same works-based, “we-can-become-gods” gospel as the Mormon LDS church, but it is not true that Evangelicals and Mormons teach the same Gospel. Perhaps Evangelicals need to be involved in the Parliament, if for no other reason than to correctly represent biblical views in this marketplace of religious ideas.
Ambassadors for Christ
The stated purpose of the Parliament—to bring about peaceful co-existence among the world’s religions—is, as we’ve noted, not necessarily a bad thing. Jesus does say in Matthew 5:9:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
In Romans 12:18, the Apostle Paul writes:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
However, living peacefully with others doesn’t mean sacrificing truth, as was case with the blind men and the elephant story. Rather, it is figuring out ways to live in peace with others in spite of our differences as far as it depends on us. As Christians, we cannot affirm all religions basically teach the same things, and all belief systems are equally true. We would have to deny our Lord to do so. Jesus said He IS “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), and there is no other “path” to God except through Him. This declaration is the very foundation of our faith, and we cannot negate it for the sake of getting along with others or even the lofty goal of peace on Earth. Jesus is famous for making politically incorrect truth claims. He went so far as to say that He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)—not that we should kill others because they don’t share our faith, but because He, as THE TRUTH, divides us from all others. No wonder, then, biblical Christianity is seen as a great obstacle to those who are peddling complete religious unity—a one-world spirituality.
But, while it may not be pleasant to be judged as an obstacle, it can’t be helped—we cannot water down the Gospel or present Christianity as “just another path” to God. The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in prison for boldly preaching the Gospel. Paul in Ephesians 6:19-20 asks for prayer:
… that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
The first-century Christians had come out of either Judaism or Paganism, and they well understood what Pagans believed and how they thought; so it was not difficult for them to explain to people the clear difference in Christ. The time we live in today is more like the first century than any time between then and now; but many Christians have little understanding of what they believe, much less, what others believe. Western culture has been moving away from Christianity for a long time now, and some in the Church are just drifting into Paganism right along with them. Some are unknowingly drifting away; but some— like the Emergents—know they are leaving the faith and, in their arrogance, they believe they are establishing a more-enlightened version of Christianity.
In the first century, Christianity was the new thing, but today Christianity is viewed as passé. The ancient false religions or “paths” are now the new thing, the exciting thing, and enticing for that reason. The Bible—the inspired Word of God—is disparaged as just a collection of fairy tales written by mere men, while the real fairy tales of Paganism are happily embraced.
Have It YOUR Way
Today, “faith” is far more democratic than it was in times past. People feel they can freely pick and choose what god they’d like to follow; and if none appeals, they can just make up their own. I wouldn’t be surprised if people could buy a “create-a-god kit” on Amazon©, full of warm and fuzzy variations which one can just paste onto one’s own personal god. Want “your god” to be 100% non-judgmental? Of course! Who wouldn’t? How about a “cheerleader god” who will work really hard to build up your self-esteem? That’s very popular these days! How about Hell? Ditch it! Obviously Hell was something made up so the Church could control the masses. Surely, “my god” wouldn’t impose that punishment on anyone—or any punishment for that matter! What about sin? Are you kidding? Just do what you want; “my god” is cool with it! What if you feel like doing something that you just know deep down to be wrong? C’mon! “My god” made you just the way you are! Surely then, whatever you want to do is right! Celebrate it!
Here’s a good test, friends: If “your god” agrees with everything you think, and everything you do, and changes as often as necessary to keep up with the times and your changing “values;” then you know who your god is!
Whether they know it or not, people need the true God, the real One, the One Who loves them so much that He gave His Son to die for their sins. In addition, people are just as much in need of the true Gospel today, which offers peace with God and life eternal if they will only believe the Gospel and call upon His name.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)Ω
*A Straw-man is a form of argument and is an informal fallacy that gives the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent; or a by presenting a weak or imaginary argument that is intended to be easily defeated (misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument).
All Bible quotes are from the ESV–English Standard Version of the Holy Bible
L.L. (Don) & Joy Veinot are president and co-founder of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., a national apologetics ministry and mission to new religious movements based in Wonder Lake, IL. Don and Joy, his wife of 45 years, have been involved in discernment ministry as missionaries to New Religious Movements since 1987. Don is a frequent guest on various radio and television broadcasts including The John Ankerberg Show. In addition, Don is a staff researcher and writer for the Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, co-author of A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life, and contributing author of Preserving Evangelical Unity: Welcoming Diversity in Non-Essentials, as well as articles written for the CRI Journal, PFO Quarterly Journal, Campus Life Magazine, Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Midwestern Journal of Theology and other periodicals. He was ordained to the ministry by West Suburban Community Church of Lombard, IL at the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, Israel in March of 1997. Don is a charter member of ISCA (International Society of Christian Apologetics) and is also the current president of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR), a consortium of counter cult/apologetic and discernment ministries from around the country.
© 2016, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
End Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||“After 13 Years, I’m Leaving Christianity,” Keay Nigel, HuffPost Religion, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keay-nigel/after-13-years-im-leaving-christianity_b_8488624.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063|
|3.||↑||“Oprah’s new ‘Belief’ series shows how dramatically the nature of faith is shifting,” Diana Butler Bass, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/18/oprahs-new-belief-series-shows-how-dramatically-the-nature-of-faith-is-shifting/|
|4, 5, 7.||↑||Keay Nigel, Op Cit.|
|6.||↑||“City Harvest trial: Twists, turns and tears enough to fuel a Korean drama,” Feng Zengkun, Singapore: The Straits Times; http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/city-harvest-trial-twists-turns-and-tears-enough-to-fuel-a-korean-drama|
|8.||↑||“Declaration Toward A Global Ethic & A Call to Out Guiding Institutions;” 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, 70 E. Lake St., Ste. 205, Chicago, IL 60601, p 4|
|9.||↑||The events recorded in Acts 17:16-33 occurred in the Areopagus—an area in Athens where philosophy and religious debate and discussion took place.|
|10.||↑||“History of Spiritual Direction, “SDIWorld, http://www.sdiworld.org/ about-us/history-spiritual-direction|
|11.||↑||For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, Emergents are those who are in reality departing from the Christian faith – but are keeping its name, while incorporating Mystical beliefs and practices into their newly formed belief-system. It is has pulled many former Evangelicals and churches into its orbit.|
|12.||↑||Jainism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism|
|13.||↑||“The Elephant and the Blind Men”; http://www.jainworld.com/literature/story25.htm|
|16.||↑||Law of Non-contradiction; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_noncontradiction|
|17, 18.||↑||Avicenna, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Avicenna|