Globalist elites want to take away liberties and freedoms

The globalist elites will make trillions upon trillions of dollars with a “great reset” and possibly a worldwide takeover of the economy. Society is in danger of losing our rights, liberties and freedoms. The globalist elites will do whatever it takes in order to enable this economic and social “reset”; and Covid is the perfect and convenient excuse.

Millions of people have already lost their jobs, businesses and way of life. The globalists want to enlarge Amazon. Small businesses and local mom and pop shops will have to shut down to make way for the likes of Amazon and Alibaba. People will go bankrupt, lose millions on the stock market and the globalist elite will come in to swoop them up for pennies on the dollar. This is how they will enrich themselves. This was how the globalist elites made their billions after the great depression of the 1930s. It’s all happened before.

This is also a global thing. Believe me, the world is watching. Everyone is talking about this “great reset” or worldwide take-over. It’s no longer just a conspiracy; it’s all out in the open. Election fraud and corruption is the only way they can force this upon the people. Freedoms and liberties have already eroded all around the world. The same thing will happen around the world–Europe, Asia, Africa. This is the coming globalism. Some have called it “commonism.”

Hong Kong has already on the way of becoming another authoritarian controlled state. If the United States follows this path of socialism and centralized government, it might spell the end of the democratic republic. The right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, press freedom, etc. will slowly erode and disappear.

Americans need to re-read and learn the significance of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and documents like the Magna Carta and essays like the Federalist Papers. These are several of the main foundational documents of America’s democratic republic. I am not an expert on these documents but I believe these ought to be read and taught in schools and in university classrooms–both in and outside the United States. There is lots to be learned from the founders and drafters of the U.S. Constitution.

Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto is not the path to take. It is the wrong path for America and for any nation state. Marxism was not what built-up the United States. It was a limited form of government that enabled free market capitalism to exist in conjunction with the three branches of government: the executive branch (president), the legislature, and the judicial. It’s not always perfect due to human sin, but it is certainly much better than the alternatives of socialism.

Nations states that have taken the path of socialism have all been complete failures. Look at what it did to Russia and China in the early days. Marx’s ideology might be well-meaning on the outside, but at its core, it is evil and requires evil acts, lies and manipulation to implement this “great reset” within a free society.

Young people looking at higher learning, please seek out a good liberal arts education where you can learn the classics of American history and foundations documents like the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Federalist Papers and the Magna Carta. These are invaluable to a free society and has largely been forgotten.

My father lived an early part of his life in Communist China (blogged about it here). He used to tell me the CCP was evil. I laughed, and didn’t take it seriously back then. Today, having seen what the CCP is doing to innocent Uyghers in Xinjiang, to the Christian Church, and to practitioners of Falun Dafa, I believe my father was totally correct in saying the CCP and Communist ideology was evil. The CCP blatantly abuse people’s basic human rights of freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and conscience. They also control the media and press in order to control the people. It is not a free country. They steal technology from the west and sell their goods back to the west.

I used to think this globalist elite was just some conspiracy, but today, we are witnessing its willful spread of deception, fraud, lies and corruption. It is happening before our eyes. This is no longer a conspiracy; it has now become a reality. The global elite have come out of hiding. They might also attempt to use the military and the police to intimidate and control the people. The free world will be weakened until it has become an empty shell.

If America goes, so goes the world. I cannot express the pain that faithful Americans are experiencing right now. The big lies of the globalist elite will undoubtedly drive a wedge of bigger divisions between the left and the right, and between freedom-loving Americans and those who don’t care either way. The country is now hugely divided right now and will become more divided if the Democrats continue to insist on impeaching Trump. Public anger will arise; it is heating up quickly.

Good Christian people, continue to pray for the future of America and for protection over the free world. Pray for our physical safety. If you are angry and frustrated by the left and globalist elites’ corruption and manipulation, use your righteous anger to do the right thing. Fight for freedom. Support truth, honesty and justice no matter what the globalists are doing. God will use his people and direct them in the pursuit for justice and truth.

Who was Henry Alline?

First Great Awakening

As part of my orientation into the Baptist Church, I started doing some research on the early Baptists in Canada and rediscovered the importance of spiritual revivals.   Though Baptists had an even earlier history in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many early Baptists in  Canada and the American colonies had its beginnings in the revivals of the Great Awakenings.  God used and is still using spiritual revivals to call His people back to Himself.

Many Baptist churches in the Maritimes were established upon the foundation set by the leadership of one of the most influential preachers in early Canadian history, Henry Alline, who was central to spiritual revival in Nova Scotia.  Alline was regarded by his contemporaries as Nova Scotia’s George Whitefield—dynamic, eloquent, and uniquely spiritual.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1748, Alline arrive to Nova Scotia with his parents and experienced a spiritual conversion in 1775 at the age of 27. Henry Alline began to preach in 1776 during the spiritual revival that swept the Maritimes, in which most, if not all, protestant churches were impacted.  Whether it was in Nova Scotia or New England, crowds flocked to hear him wherever he went.  His ministry lasted only eight years from 1776 until his premature death in February 1784 at the young age of thirty-five.  All though the timespan of his life and ministry was short, God used him powerfully, and later, his predecessors, to make a lasting impact in the evangelical and Baptist landscape in the Maritimes during this period of the First Great Awakening, 1778-1783.

Alline often spoke of this personal spiritual experience in terms of “New Light” and “New Birth”.  Today, we would probably speak of his New Light experience as equivalent to what we know as the “Spirit-filled” and “born again” experience, which is expressed in his words, “Attracted by the love and beauty I saw in the divine perfections, my whole soul was inexpressibly ravished with the blessed Redeemer . . . my whole soul seemed filled with the divine being”. Church historian George Rawlyk says: “Sometimes his preaching, ‘charged with emotionalism’ as it was, and delivered in a ‘fervent and eloquent manner’, in a resonating tenor voice, became superb poetry. Sometimes, the poetry was sung as a spiritual song and followed immediately by an almost frenzied outburst of words directed at specific [types of] people in his audience.”   For example, it might be directed it at young and old, at fisherman, community leaders and soldiers. Rawlyk says he probably did not have time to prepare his sermons.  He preached “as the Spirit moved him” and used words full of evocative and powerful imagery.  Between 1777 and 1783, in his trips crisscrossing Nova Scotia and the New England states, it is estimated that Henry Alline may have preached fifteen hundred sermons.

Between 1776 to 1784, Henry Alline established  five churches in Nova Scotia and two in New Brunswick that were known as New Light congregations.    These congregations did not start out Baptist in polity.  All but one of these New Light congregations eventually organized to become a part of Regular Baptist and Free Baptist denominations in Atlantic Canada. By 1810, there were about 28 Baptist churches in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

What’s a Lutheran? Let a traditional Lutheran explain it

If you’re an Evangelical, have you ever wondered how a traditional-orthodox Lutheran might feel about him or herself?  Or how a traditional Lutheran pastor might feel about Evangelicals?

I just came across an interview posted at The Gospel Coalition blog titled “Those Dern Lutherans“.  Blogger and Reformed pastor, Rev. Kevin DeYoung (RCA), interviewed Rev. Paul T. McCain, an orthodox Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor (LCMS) who is the editor at Concordia Publishing House, and who blogs at Cyberbrethren.  Let me say that he sure can tell you what Lutheranism is about. I have been a reader of his blog for years.    I’m not a traditional born-and-bred Lutheran; I’m an evangelical transplanted into the Lutheran church–so I provide this disclaimer–“What I say about Lutheranism is not necessarily representative of most Lutherans”. In this interview, Pastor Paul says it well.

Question 9. “Anything else you think the world needs to know about Lutherans?”

Answer: “I would say this: I think Evangelicals often find themselves searching for something they feel might be a bit “missing” in their Christian walk, and think that Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy may fit the bill, while all the while Lutheranism is there, right around the corner. Often when they find a traditional Lutheran Church they are surprised to find a robust, rich worship life, rooted in the Scripture (which is what the liturgy is, in its entirety). They find a rich focus on Christ and the Gospel–Lutherans are adamant that Christ is the heart and center of everything, and they also find a tangible experience with God, not based simply on feelings or emotions, but on a concrete and objective experience with God’s grace through the sacraments. And all this is wrapped up in such a vibrant passionate love for Jesus. We Lutherans combine the best of what is Evangelical, with the best of what is truly catholic about the Church, with the rich heritage of the Lutheran Reformation. I think it is a winning combination, but of course, I’m kind of biased.” (…Read full interview)

I think he’s right in what he says about some Evangelicals–whether we admit it or not.  Evangelical theology has much to learn from Lutheran theology, albeit, the opposite is true too.  The same goes for worship-liturgy too.  If you’re Lutherans, sorry but the vice versa is true too.

When all is said and done, I can honestly say that every denomination, church, or tradition, e.g., Lutheran, Presbyterian, Evangelical, etc., we have much to learn from one another.

Evangelical disconnect between Jesus and Paul

In Scot McKnight’s article in the December issue of Christianity Today [ HatTip: TC ] I think he is really onto something big here.  He is bringing up an issue that is just on the cusp of really becoming a major issue within evangelical Christianity, especially amongst younger evangelicals.  People are finding that they can resonate more with Jesus’ kingdom vision rather than Paul’s message of justification.  For those who don’t think so, just wait and see.  Today, there is a disconnect between our inability to connect Jesus’ language about the “kingdom of God” with Paul’s language of justification, says McKnight. What McKnight wants us to see is that the two can be reconciled.

This article has caused me to become more self-aware of the change in my own theology.  In coming out of a Lutheran seminary two years ago. I have been more storied in the justice/kingdom language in the gospels of Jesus rather than the justification language of Paul’s epistles.  As a result, I have been preaching more from the gospels–actually more than double the number of sermons on Paul’s epistles.  Why?  Perhaps I just feel more comfortable with Jesus’ kingdom of God, and less comfortable with Paul’s justification.  I am an evangelical, but am I a typical evangelical?  Perhaps…perhaps not.  However, I think this may be representative of many recent seminary graduates, especially those coming out from more liberal seminaries where social justice is sometimes over-emphasized.

During my seminary days, I have heard far more sermons in chapel on the gospels of Jesus rather than on Paul’s epistles….in church too.  What will be a consequence of this change?  Our sermons will become more justice-oriented rather than justification-oriented.  Perhaps this may have contributed to the mainline denominations emphasis on justice in their theology. .  Perhaps I need to be re-storied in Paul’s language of justification rather than Jesus’ justice language on the kingdom of God?  Where is the balance in my life?  Perhaps this is why I’ve decided to take continue education classes at an evangelical seminary because I feel that I am missing out on an evangelical slant on Paul’s understanding of the gospel.

In our evangelical minds, we may like to think of ourselves as pro-justification and on the side of Paul, but our theology may actually be more in line with the justice of Jesus’ kingdom of God.  Regarding gospelling, McKnight says in the video interview, that we have moved into a persuasive rhetoric, whereas, we used to use declarative rhetoric.  Persuasive rhetoric is open to manipulation so we should be more declarative in our gospelling.  [ video here…]

In your church, are you hearing more sermons based on the gospel text? Or on Paul’s epistles?

Christians are leaving church in record numbers

Leaving Church series: Intro 1, Intro 2, Part 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7.

Author and journalist, Julia Duin, says that people are leaving church in record numbers.  I believe this is true, especially in North America, and it has been happening for decades in Europe already. Duin, author of Quitting Church (Baker Books, 2008) said in an interview at Rutherford that:

People who are leaving have been in church for some time. They’ve been believers more than ten years and are burned out. They’re not getting anything new in their churches. They’re not seeing the three major things—decent preaching, good community and feeding. Full interview…

By feeding, she meant content and spirituality.  The whole seeker-sensitive movement is part of the problem, she says:

The seeker friendly movement started in the 1980s. It was the effort to dumb down a lot of church services, make them shorter, easier to grasp, cut the number of hymns, cut the preaching time and get it to a kind of package deal. The idea was to get nonbelievers interested in going to church because it would not take up too much of their time and wouldn’t challenge them too much. But what happened is that a lot of people who had been believers for some time suddenly found that the sermons were like milk instead of meat. They were so simplistic. Many were finding that what they were getting was pabulum.

Well, this problem is not only symptomatic of mainstream evangelical churches, but has also been a common symptom in most mainline churches for decades.  If the steep decline in attendance at mainline churches is any indication of the dangers of dumbing down content and spirituality, then mainstream evangelical churches better wake up and smell the coffee!

We are not teaching the important truths of the faith.  Neither are we forming real community.  Moreover, our churches seem to be doing a lousy job reaching out to people who are suffering or going through trials.

We need to begin to raise the bar and give people what they are looking for when they enter our churches: content and spirituality!

Leaving Church series: Intro 1, Intro 2, Part 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7.

What if Prof. Bart Ehrman hadn’t gone to Princeton?

I was just reading a very interesting blog post on Parchment and Pen (HT: TC & Joel) posted by Daniel Wallace (a dispensationalist at Dallas Theological Seminary) where there’s an excellent exchange of ideas and views.  Wallace’s beef is with liberal theologians who regard themselves as open-minded but their behavior is less than open-minded when it comes to how they treat evangelical students. His statement is a little disheartening:

Many of the mainline liberal schools routinely reject applications to their doctoral programs from evangelical students who are more qualified than their liberal counterparts—solely because they’re evangelicals. And Dallas Seminary students especially have a tough time getting into primo institutes because of the stigma of coming from, yes, I’ll say it again—a dispensational school. One of my interns was earning his second master’s degree at a mainline school, even taking doctoral courses. He was head and shoulders above most of the doctoral students there. But when he applied for the PhD at the same school, he was rejected. His Dallas Seminary degree eliminated him.

This can be very infuriating to evangelicals. I agree, I think there is still a lot of prejudice at some or many liberal seminaries; and faculty do make it harder for evangelicals to get through a program at their seminaries. At the same time, there are many liberals who are not prejudiced against evangelicals. In fact, they like the evangelical perspective because it’s fresh and new to them. Evangelicals are able to hold to orthodox theology while being open to  a critical view of biblical scholarship; while some liberals seem to have lost all their theological bearings and thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

Think about Bart Ehrman for a minute. What if his application to Princeton Theo. Seminary was rejected?  Bart Ehrman was a hardcore evangelical who did his theological degree at Moody Bible Institute but later did his PhD at Princeton. Princeton was where his view of the bible changed 180 degrees. He no longer considers himself a Christian. That’s scary. I’ve always wondered what if Prof. Bart Ehrman hadn’t gone to Princeton?

Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Mary and the evangelical mind

In the November 2009 edition of First Things, a Roman Catholic journal on religion, culture, and public life, the Statement of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) article: “Do Whatever He Tells You: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Christian Faith and Life” addressed the issue of Mary, which is an important to our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.   It was very balanced and well thought out in my opinion. Previously, I have heard the defense for Mary from a Catholic point-of-view but what stands out most in this article was the evangelical admission of ignorance of doctrinal beliefs held by Catholics regarding Mary.

Despite all this common ground, however, both Marian dogma and Marian devotion remain contentious issues. Evangelicals understand that the Catholic Church does not equate adoration of God (latria) and veneration for Mary (hyperdoulia). It seems to many Evangelicals, however, that the devotion of some Catholics to Mary can obscure the preeminence, unique sinlessness, and sole salvific sufficiency of Jesus Christ as well as the common pneumatological ground of worship for all Christians who pray “through Christ in the Spirit.”

Emphasis on Mary’s intercessory role, coupled with prayers to Mary, can create confusion between adoration and veneration—and risks leading people away from, rather than to, the Savior. This is especially true in contexts where devotion to Mary is a deeply ingrained part of cultural identity. We do not think this is the intention of Catholic teaching as expressed in Lumen Gentium, and Catholic members of ECT have addressed in helpful ways exaggerations of Marian piety. In an age of syncretism and radical pluralism, the recent statements by Pope Benedict XVI declaring Jesus Christ the one and only Savior are an encouragement to all faithful Christians. We acknowledge that there is little Evangelical reflection on any of these Marian themes, certainly nothing commensurate with the vast Catholic literature in the field. This stems from Protestant neglect of Mary, born of a conviction that the Catholic portrait of Mary exceeds its biblical warrants. Full article…

The mysterious claims of apparitions of Mary at Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe have occasionally caught my attention, hence, the mystique behind Mary.  However, deep inside, I admit that I have secretly held Marian teaching with a slight contempt, simply because it seems like Mary’s humanity should be so obvious to us as Christians.  We regard her as a person not without sin, therefore, the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is unnatural to the evangelical mind.  I have read and heard many Catholics address her as The Blessed Virgin Mary.  To address her as such gives us evangelicals a funny feeling inside because the concept of her being so blessed would almost stand on the verge of idolatry.  That is why evangelicals do not even go there.

We ask ourselves: “Is Mary really that blessed that she should deserve the title The Blessed Virgin Mary?…and why Mary, and not Peter, Paul, James and John?”  Sure Mary was blessed to give birth to Jesus the Christ but she was still only a human being.  However, the more I think about this, I don’t think I would have any problem with this title of honor.  However, what seems to give us evangelicals problems concerning Mary is the adoration and veneration given to her; herein lies the underlying fear.

I know the ECT article addressed this, but protestants, in general, do still get the impression from Roman Catholics that Mary is so highly regarded as a saint that the veneration of her as a saint could lead one to worship her, and pray to her as a secondary mediator after Jesus.  Evangelicals and protestants do not pray to Mary, let alone to any other saint.  In the evangelical mind, it would be on the verge of idolatry to pray to anyone else but to God Himself.  As evangelicals, we have always been taught that the only mediator and intercessor between humans and God is Jesus Christ himself.

I have no trouble with Mary’s virgin birth.  In fact, Mary’s virginal concept is an orthodox doctrine that evangelicals cherish.   It is actually seen as a bellwether test of orthodoxy, and it is usually included in many of our statements of beliefs.  However, this doctrine of Mary’s virgin birth is not on the forefront of the evangelical mind.  Should it be?

All Saints Day: any saints today deserving of recognition?

In the earliest days, St. John the Baptist and the early martyrs were honoured by a special day. The earliest day was traced back to Sunday after Pentecost. During the persecution under Diocletian’s rule there were a great number of Christians martyred so this common day was appointed by theRoman Catholic Church (RCC). Gradually, more saints were added to the list of saints including patron saints recognized by the RCC, plus saints like Luther and Calvin added by protestant churches.

I found out how a person becomes a Catholic saint according to the RCC:

1) The person must have exhibited heroic virtues in life;
2) There must have been a confirmed miracle attributed to the person; and
3) There must be another miracle attributed to his/her intercession.

If a person meets these three requirements, then he/she is canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint.

Today, there are almost as many saints as there are days in the year. But why stop now? Today, I think many more saints of the Lord who are not Roman Catholic but are evangelicals. Protestants, evangelicals, and charismatics who claim numerous uncountable miracles are not as big on celebrating saints like the RCC but who are, nevertheless, deserving of the same commemoration as martyrs.

Why not open All Saints’ Day to all deserving candidates? Are there any lesser-known saints you know of who deserves to be recognized by us today?

New book: “A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church”

I’ve been blogging about the evangelical church recently. Here’s a related post.

Tim Challies recently commented on the new book (see his post here): A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church.  It might be a good book we should pay more attention to because it offers constructive criticism and advice for those who have been disenchanted with the evangelical church. Challies states:

This book comes from a man who has been an insider, an evangelical, for several decades. And it comes from a man who loves the church, not one who wants to phase it out or move on to the next thing. He spends the bulk of this book diagnosing problems within evangelicalism saying that once we are able to name a problem, we are equipped to deal with it. He begins by dismantling evangelical myths (bigger is better, being the foremost of these) and then turns to his description of The New Provincialism. This is a term he coined to describe evangelicalism’s obsession with now at the expense of the past and the future.

The evangelical church in the UK is on the rise

In mainline Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian churches, we are seeing a constant and continual drop in church attendance.  Something has got to change!

But when we look at evangelical churches, attendance tend either remain stable or are flourishing.  What is the difference?  What are evangelical churches doing that is different?

In relation to my previous post “Will evangelicalism decline or continue to expand?“, I noticed from an article from the UK newspaper  “The Independent” that the evangelical church in the UK is now growing.  [HatTip: Rachel Marszalek ]

“Church of England pews may be empty, but the fields of Somerset are rocking with a series of evangelical festivals this summer….. As the leaders of Britain’s more mainstream denominations scratch their heads and debate how to revitalise their congregations, evangelical Christianity in Britain is going from strength to strength. The number of evangelical churches in Britain has risen from 2047 to 2,719 since 1998 and their followers now make up 34 per cent of Anglicans, figures show.”

News like this in the UK is very encouraging. I can still remember constantly hearing about how the church in the UK was on the verge of dying but it has seemed to resurrected due to a revival in the evangelical/charismatic movement.  For this, I’d like to say: “Praise God! God is on the move in the UK.”

Some might ponder if it’s just some gimmick.  I have no doubt that there is no gimmick.   I think mainline churches have a lot to learn from evangelical churches.  Evangelical churches are simply more in tune with God’s clear sense of mission and evangelism than mainline churches.  Evangelicals are clear in encouraging that every disciple should engage in personal evangelism.  How evangelism is engaged may vary widely.  Worship may also vary widely.  Not all evangelical congregations use drums or electric guitars. Some are still in the stone age using organs, but the commonality is in the attitude of the believer: everyone is encouraged in the teaching and preaching to have a mindset of fulfilling God’s mission on earth.  For some of you reading this, this is pretty old hat and may seem strange I’m talking about this like as if it was exciting and cutting-edge missional stuff. But for the old church world, evangelism is  like a bad word.

The source of this mindset or attitude, I think, is the experience of God’s love.  When believers experience the love of God in their lives in a spiritual way and also in a tangible way within the congregation, the Holy Spirit transforms the believer into a Christ-loving individual.  When the individual loves the Lord God, one will understand the importance of sharing the love of Christ with others around them.  This might translate into an engagement in some type of evangelistic activity, either on a personal level or congregational level.  That’s how the gospel transforms people and an entire society.

Will evangelicalism decline or continue to expand?

Phil Johnson at the Pyromaniacs blog has a recent post called Whither Evangelicals. He says that:

“The average evangelical today couldn’t even tell you what the original doctrinal distinctives of classic evangelicalism were.  In fact, post-modern evangelicals don’t really have any clear doctrinal identity.”

I would agree with this.  But this is so because it is so diverse–not that it doesn’t have any identity.  Most evangelical churches do not have common creedal confessions like Reformed and Lutheran churches.  However, evangelical churches do have a basic doctrinal belief and it tends to be traditionally orthodox.  Phil goes on to say:

“… I’d be inclined to say that the singular characteristic that stands out most among contemporary evangelicals is their distaste for drawing any clear lines between truth and error. They don’t like to handle doctrine in a polemical fashion. They especially don’t want to be thought “negative” when it comes to declaring their doctrinal convictions. They don’t want anyone to think they are “against” what someone else teaches. (What a gauche, fundamentalist attitude that would be!) Almost everything is negotiable within the broad evangelical movement of today.”

I do not agree with his assessment because this may be true of some evangelicals but not the majority of evangelicals. The majority of evangelicals would fight tooth and nail to defend what they believe to be truth. I would even beg to differ in saying that evangelicals are the protectorates of orthodox Christian beliefs.  But each evangelical would differ in how they defend it and why the defend it.

Why? It’s because evangelicalism is a very wide/broad movement that cannot be narrowed down to simply a narrow movement.  It is so broad and diverse that no one can characterize all evangelicals in a certain way. They are not only diverse but are also identified by so many denominations. It’s probably the most diverse in terms of denominations. And because of this denominational diversity that the evangelical movement will not just lay down and die or fade away like what the iMonk would like to suggest.

Some Calvinists like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, James M. Boice, or Arthur Pink have predicted its demise and that it would just fade away into oblivion. It won’t. I think evangelicalism may perhaps morph into something else.  Just as Wesleyanism morphed into the United Methodist Church and other Methodist denominations, I predict evangelicalism may merge into fewer denominations in the very distant future but it won’t simply fade away like Puritanism did. In fact, evangelicalism is becoming even more diverse as we speak as an ever-increasing number of churches and denominations come into being.  Phil also states:

“The evangelical movement that our grandparents and great-grandparents knew is dead. Evangelical principles live on here and there, but the label has been commandeered by people who have no right to it. It has been bartered away by those who promised to be the movement’s guardians and mouthpieces—Christianity Today and the National Association of evangelicals being among the chief culprits. But rank-and-file evangelicals are to blame as well, because they were content to abandon their own heritage and run after cheap amusements. The average American today thinks evangelicalism is a political position or a religious ghetto rather than a set of biblical beliefs.”

Phil is right on here.  Moreover, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and Christianity Today are merely mouth pieces but I would like to add that what they express do not even reflect 10% of evangelicalism. We may prefer to put evangelicalism into a box and characterize what evangelicals believe, but this doesn’t work. It is simply too diverse, and it may always remain so. We have to look at evangelicalism by breaking it down to its denominations and look at a specific church’s denominational belief. Painting the evangelical movement as with one broad stroke gives a false description of what it is. It just shows that we do not understand what it is.

If I may draw an analogy, I might compare to the nature of the internet. The internet cannot be controlled or regulated because it is just too big and diverse and delocalized. So it is with evangelicalism. It is too big and diverse to even be stereotyped as being politically conservative or a religious ghetto (as Phil calls it).

Despite saying all of this. I do concur with Phil and the iMonk that evangelicalism does have its apparent weaknesses. But its weaknesses are only what we perceive as weaknesses. To evangelicals, these may actually be its strengths; and these strengths may help evangelicalism to grow into the next century.

A new wave of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church has emerged

This is my response to the recent posts at InternetMonk.com on the “Coming Evangelical Collapse” (Part 1 and Part 2) and comes as my personal response just after I made my first post (here). I’m sitting here on Sunday night thinking: “Okay, the church seems to be waning” but I ask myself if Christ is still the lord of the church? I believe he is. Michael Spencer may be pessimistic (and perhaps also realistic) about the old-school evangelical church in North America, but I think he may be missing what God is doing around the world. Sorry Michael… but with all this bad news in the decline in evangelicalism, I do not think God is done with the evangelical churches, or even the mainline churches. In fact, I dare say that God will revive the evangelical churches and mainline churches.

Jesus is the Lord of the church and will always be the lord of the church. We humans may try to usurp God but think we can figure him out but God is going to confound us intelligent humans by doing something unintelligible. God will transform his church. Who is to say that the evangelical church that iMonk is speaking of will not change? I believe the Holy Spirit will do his work and move in a new and sovereign way to renew Christ’s church. It will look radically different from the old form. It may be scary to us but not to the new generations of new Christians who will enter this new church that will emerge.

Let’s never forget what God has done throughout the recent history of the church. God used Martin Luther and John Calvin to give birth to the churches of the Reformation (i.e., Lutheran and Reformed). The Holy Spirit used Luther and Calvin because the Pope, and those high up in the ecclesiastical ranks of the Roman Catholic Church, denied certain evangelical truths. (Note: let’s not get hung up on theology at this point, which can be debated until kingdom come). Later, God used evangelical revivalists such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney to give birth to the evangelical churches because the churches of the Reformation became complacent. Then God used Charles Parham and William J. Seymour to give birth to the pentecostal churches because evangelical churches became complacent. Now God is using new generations of charismatics to give birth to third and fourth generations of Pentecostal-charismatic churches because the first wave of Pentecostalism has become complacent. Each generation of churches have neglected an important aspect of God’s truth and reality so the Holy Spirit has raised up a new generation to include important aspects of God’s truth in his church today. Today, a new wave that has emerged in the charismatic movement is spreading like wildfire around the world. However, God is not ignoring the older church denominations either. I believe God is merciful and will revive the older mainline and evangelical churches. I do not believe that God wants to throw out the old for the new.

While we are seeing a decline in attendance and memberships in many all of the mainline protestant denominations in North America and Europe, the charismatic movement is spreading very rapidly around the world. In fact, it is spreading so fast that we in the western world cannot even begin to keep track of what is happening in the new church around the world. That is where the bulk of the growth is. In fact, the charismatic movement is even giving a re-birth to the old mainline denominations in the developing world (e.g., Lutheran, Reformed-Presbyterian, Methodist, including the Roman Catholic Church). It is through this charismatic revival that the old mainline and evangelical churches are being revived in the developing world through. (Old school theologians may not want to admit to the huge contribution of the charismatic movement but it’s true).

Furthermore, evangelical churches around the world are not dying; they are actually also growing very rapidly. This charismatic revival is reviving the evangelical churches around the world too. Baptist churches around the world are also growing. In fact the number of denominations around the world are increasing every day.

So even though the mainline denominations seem to be in the latter stages of life, and the old-old school evangelical churches (e.g., Baptists) are just entering the latter stage of life, God is reshaping and recreating a new church that will take the place of the old. I am not at all afraid of the future because Jesus Christ is still the lord of the church. Just as old wine is meant to be stored in old wineskins, and new wine is meant to be stored in new wineskins, Christ’s new emerging church will take a new shape and form that we will not recognize. We might be wise to put on our seatbelts and take hold of the handle bars, because God is birthing his church around the world that will surprise the old former Christian world.

A theologian #3: Rev. Carlton Pearson

Recently, I have been doing more reading and I have just finished reading The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Fundamentalism to the True Love of God by Carlton Pearson (ASUZA Press/Council Oak Books, 2007). Today, Bishop Pearson is considered a heretical pentecostal preacher who no longer believes in hell and believes that everyone will be saved. Proponents of universalism believe that whether or not one leaves this earthly life believing in Jesus Christ as the son of God, one will eventually be saved. This is the theology that Pearson has now accepted.

The rise and fall of Carlton Pearson intrigued me. Before being rejected by his congregation of 5,000, by his fellow pentecostal-charismatic clergy, and labeled a heretic, he was at the height of his pentecostal ministry in the charismatic world, but it all came crashing down. In his early days, he sang in the Oral Roberts gospel choral team, attended Oral Roberts University, and was noticed by Oral Roberts himself and taken under his wings. He was considered a protégé of televangelist Oral Roberts, and even sat on the Board of Regents at Oral Roberts University (ORU). But what a change of events when he announced to the world that he held universalist beliefs. He eventually lost the congregation he worked so hard to build. They left him. The church property went into receivership. He was no longer welcomed to speak at pentecostal conferences.

He begins his book discussing where he came from and where he has gone in his theology and ministry. Living a life holiness and evangelism defined his Christian life. He was as typical a Pentecostal as one could get. He also started the Asuza Conferences that brought in the big names like T.D. Jakes, and others.

Today, he has invited gays and lesbians to take an active part in the ministry of the church. The bulk of his book is spent discussing why he disagrees with the theologies of hell and damnation. He refutes the orthodox understanding of faith and grace. His book also begins with some quotes from the early church fathers. He also claims that most of the early church fathers were universalists themselves.

I was taken aback as I read his book, The Gospel of Inclusion. I could never imagine that a person of conservative evangelical influence could ever go that far away from one’s theology. By the end of his book, I got a slight feeling of insecurity because if someone like him I can go that far with his theology, who is to say that I might never go this far myself? When I look back and reflect on where I have been and where I am now, some might also consider me a heretic…but I’ll be quiet about that.

From what basis does Carlton Pearson build his theology? Is it the bible? Or is it from the writings of the early church fathers? I am cautious of putting the early church fathers on a pedestal simply because their theologies contradict one other’s. Some read their theologies as if they were the gospel truth but there is a hidden element of danger to doing so because it puts their writings on the same level as the holy scriptures. It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox church, and some from the liturgical Anglican and Lutheran persuasion hold that the historic faith of the ante-Nicene fathers are orthodox and apostolic. How can anyone claim that there is a true historic episcopate when the theologies of the early church fathers contradict one other’s theology? In my humble opinion, this simply does not square. Today, a part of the emerging church movement has placed a premium on the theologies of the early church fathers, but at what cost? Have they traded in theological truth for theological acceptance and inclusion of all religions?

Also see similar posts:
A theologian #2: Rev. Francis Schaeffer
A theologian #1: Rev. John Shelby Spong

A theologian #2: Rev. Francis Schaeffer

Duriez, Colin. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008. Pp. 240.

Francis Schaeffer is one of the great evangelical theologians of our modern day. I was already familiar with some of his books and his published video series: How Should We Then Live? Having just read this biography of this great man of faith, authored by Colin Duriez, I now have even greater respect for Francis Schaeffer than before. This book takes the reader chronologically through his Schaeffer’s early beginnings from a bright young student at Westminster Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) into his last days in this world as an established and reknown theologian who was hugely influential within evangelical circles.

The author dived into some interesting details of Schaeffer’s early life during the days of the separatist movement away from Princeton Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian Church, USA. He makes mention of the theological disruption at Princeton Seminary, and the defrocking of J. Gresham Machen and the story of the founding of a new denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America.

Schaeffer’s early days of ministry as a separatist and the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America reminds me about the similar situation that is happening in many of our other mainline churches today that are currently undergoing theological disruption and separation, e.g., Episcopalian, Anglican, Methodist and Lutheran. The past of work of Francis Schaeffer has set the tone and ethos for the future of evangelical Reformed churches in the United States. His ministry to young people, and in particular, to children was a phenomenal success. Many of our churches would benefit from learning how this was done through his evangelistic and faith-building ministry called Children for Christ.

Schaeffer’s ministry in Champery, Switzerland was certainly very impressive. His example of hard work, dedication and calling is what is required today in most fledgling ministries. His work in establishing L’Abri, a ground-breaking ministry beginning in Switzerland, was foundational to his written works that were published later. Schaeffer’s personal life and his family’s involvement in this ministry was eye-opening for me. I deeply value learning about the wonderful family support that Schaeffer received during his entire ministry. It makes me yearn for the same type of family support that he had because I know that without it, effective ministry would be impossible. His ministry is an example of what is required of our modern day missionaries and pioneers of new ministries. If I was a missionary, I do not think I could do even half of what the Schaeffers have done without the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit.

Finally, what also impressed me was the sharp mind of Francis Schaeffer. His apologetic defence of the reality of God and the gospel of Christ has stirred within me a renewed passion to continue to pursue the training of the intellect. Who says the evangelical faith and the intellect were not compatible?! Christians with a pious evangelical faith will be deeply encouraged by Schaeffer’s deep intellectual discussion of the faith. His work in bringing many to faith through intellectual discussion was what attracted so many young intellectual people to his work of L’Abri. His work in Europe was what made Francis Schaeffer so well known in America later in his life. This biography of Francis Schaeffer, theologian and pastor, has sparked an interest in me to re-read some of his early works: Escape from Reason (1968), The God Who is There (1968), and He Is There and He Is Not Silent (1972). If you are an apologist, a Christian who is concerned the direction our society is moving toward, Francis Schaeffer is a man you ought to get to know better. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, is a fabulous biography on one of the greatest theologians of the late 20th century.

Also see similar posts:
A theologian #3: Rev. Carlton Pearson
A theologian #1: Rev. John Shelby Spong

Ancient-future: does the future really lie in the past?

In the emerging church, some people have been rediscovering the ancient church. I consider myself evangelical, but not emerging, but have also discovered the past, and have been reading a little of some of the early church fathers like Iranaeus, Basil, Clement, Origen, Tertullian, etc. The emerging church movement should be more careful about completely buying into the historic past and thinking that the past has all the answers for the future. Looking into the past is not necessarily a key to discovering the truth for the present and future. The early church fathers had much theological debates about the trinity, the creeds, the eucharist, the persons of Christ and Holy Spirit, and many more issues. They all said some things that could be seen as being heretical today. Our newfound romanticized notion of the past is not necessarily as rosy as it seems. The early church fathers all fought over issues to the bitter end but could never come to any conclusive agreements.

With this being said, should we assume what the early church fathers taught was the gospel truth? No, certainly not. If we did, we would never be able to come to any theological conclusions on any issue because the church fathers never did themselves. Today’s new found enthusiasm for the patristics is wonderful, and it does help give us a deeper and richer sense of the history, apostolicity, and universality of the church, but it doesn’t necessarily give us any real solid answers. Does the future really lie in the past? It does and it doesn’t. The past is the past. I agree that it is good to study historic Christianity but doing so doesn’t carry more merit than any other academic discipline that looks back into its history. History is also full of mistakes—even grave mistakes. History should be read for the purpose of learning about past mistakes, but also for learning about what worked right. This is why the study of the early church fathers should never be seen as some sort of rediscovery of some long lost secret truths. History has shown that it can just as easily make bad mistakes as the present and future.

This search into the historic past in the use of icons, lectio divina, and etc. is nice but we must keep in mind that it is only one way of expressing spirituality; and it doesn’t necessarily work for all people either. In looking at it from the other side of the fence, many Christians who come from liturgical traditions like Anglicanism or Catholicism have also found that their traditional forms of liturgical worship have not satisfied their search for higher spirituality either. That is why they turned to evangelicals and/or charismatics for a taste of an alternate spirituality. We should realize that lectio divina or stations of the cross, and other ancient forms of spiritual practice are not the only ways and means to experience spirituality.

Each style of spirituality has its own unique value. Evangelical spirituality also has a rich spirituality. In recent decades, however, evangelical and pentecostal megachurches have gained a bad rap for being marketplace-driven, following the latest fashions, being success-driven and program-oriented, etc. This has hampered the richness in evangelical spirituality rather than helped it. This is one of the reasons for the rise in the emerging church. This megachurch phenomena is really a very recent trend in evangelicalism and dates back only to the last 20-30 years. It is not representative of early evangelicals in the 19th and 20th centuries. Before this time, early evangelicalism was known for genuine piety, humility, deep spirituality, and small-time church-ianity. It would be a shame for evangelicals to lose this kind of humble spirituality. If evangelicals forget about their own history, evangelicals will leave behind a rich history and spirituality. Each style of Christian expression has its own unique flavour of spirituality. And each style brings with it a wonderful way to express and experience spirituality, including the Orthodox, Catholic, Reformed, Anabaptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and etc. Why do you think the church continues to discover new forms and styles of worship? The Holy Spirit is constantly showing the Christian church, in each generation, new ways of worship. So I think there is hope for the future. (From left to right: Saint Basile-the-Great, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus; Tertullian of Carthage)