Apologetics

Is the Current Transgender Bathroom Bills Debate a Primary Issue?

Dallas, Joe-TransgenderBathroomPrimarySecondary

Hank Hanegraaff: This is a special edition of the Bible Answer Man broadcast. My special guest is Joe Dallas. We’re going to be talking about a cover story in the Christian Research Journal titled “Of Bathroom Bills and Basic Beliefs,” transgenderism, homosexuality, and things related. I want to start out by talking about an the April 21, 2016 article from USA Today entitled “NBA Should Move All-Star Game from North Carolina Now” by Nancy Armour.

Armour states,

NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated Thursday that the All-Star Game won’t be played in Charlotte next February if hatred, bigotry and discrimination continue to be the law of the land in North Carolina…

…North Carolina lawmakers have shown no signs of budging from their hateful stance.

It is also pointed out by Armour that,

Bruce Springsteen, Boston and Pearl Jam have all canceled concerts in North Carolina in protest of the law. PayPal dropped plans for a global operations center in Charlotte, costing the state 400 new jobs.

If those public shamings weren’t enough to prompt a change of heart, no amount of “pretty pleases” by Silver and the NBA will, either.

In Armour’s opinion,

The best way to deal with bullies – there’s no other way to describe North Carolina’s small-minded lawmakers—is to stand up to them. With as popular as basketball is in North Carolina, home to both Steph Curry and Michael Jordan, the NBA pulling the All-Star Game would be the strongest statement yet that intolerance has no place in today’s world.

Armour’s bottom line is this: “North Carolina’s discriminatory law [HB2] is both hurtful and hateful.”

Think of all those words she used in one article: “hateful,” “hurtful,” “bigotry,” “discrimination,” “bullies,” “small minded lawmakers,” and “intolerance.” The rhetoric has ratcheted up on this subject, and I can tell you that there is not a day that has gone by in the last month wherein I did not read two or three front page news articles on this subject. All of that led me to ask Joe Dallas to write a cover story for the current edition of the Christian Research Journal, which is entitled “Of Bathroom Bills and Basic Beliefs.”

Joe Dallas has been on the Bible Answer Man broadcast many times. He is the Program Director of Genesis Counseling in Tustin, California. It’s a Christian counseling service to men dealing with sexual addiction, homosexuality, and other sexual relational problems. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He’s author of some incredible books on human sexuality, including A Strong Delusion and the forthcoming Speaking of Homosexuality. Along with “Of Bathroom Bills and Basic Beliefs,” he also contributed to the same issue of the Journal another article that just fantastic: “Is Gay Christian an Acceptable Identity?” This is must reading for every Christian on the planet. As always Joe, it’s great to have you on the broadcast.

Joe Dallas: Hey, Good being here, Hank.

Hank: I want to start out with a very simple question. Is the issue at hand, the issue which I tried to set forth in the opening of the broadcast; is this a primary issue or a secondary issue?

Joe: That’s an important question because, Hank, if it is a secondary issue, why are we bothering?

I think that if we cannot be persuaded to change our position, as believers, the next tactic will get us to see that position as a secondary issue, which we don’t really need to stand firm upon. We would not break fellowship over say when we may or may not believe the Rapture of the church is going to happen, or over which gifts of the Spirit are available today. We would not call those primary issues.

I would argue that this is a primary issue for a number of reasons, the first being the very account of creation. Hank, we can’t get around this simple fact. To be human is to be sexual. To be sexual is to be male or female. To be male or female is to have an assigned sex given to us with our Creator’s foreknowledge. Those are foundational truths, when we try to alter them, we create madness, and candidly, just listening to you now describing the current scene, what other word could you use other than “madness”?

Hank: Joe, I kind of set this up at the opening of the show, but give us some kind of idea of what you’re driving at, what the subject matter is that we are underscoring in the broadcast, when you talk about “Bathroom Bills and Basic Beliefs.”

Joe: Yes. We’re taking about a couple of things simultaneously. We’re talking about transgenderism, Hank, which is a broad common term covering primarily the more technical term, transsexual. A transsexual is an individual we feels that he or she was born with the wrong body and is in fact a member of the opposite sex. A transsexual male will say, “I know I have the body parts of a male, but all my life, I have felt I am a woman.” That is a condition commonly called gender dysphoria. When a transsexual realizes he or she has that condition a decision has to be made. Either I am going to treat this condition as though it is a problem, which I need to manage and deal with, or I’m going to give into to it, and say the problem is my body not the condition.

Now, traditionally, Hank, we have believed that if someone believes they are in the wrong body the problem is their beliefs. Only recently have we come to begin believing as a culture that the problem is actually the body, and not the beliefs. There’s the rub, because as more people come forward and say “I demand the right to determine for myself what my sex is regardless of what my anatomy testifies,” there is concurrent with that a demand that the culture come into agreement with that assessment. So, more and more people who are saying, “I am female,” even though they have male parts, are also demanding that we refer to them as female and that reverence needs to extend it self even to which bathroom and shower facilities they use.

That is the crux of the controversy we’re facing, really on a national level, but, as you have said, specifically now in North Carolina. However, as you know Hank, President Barack Obama has sent out a letter from a federal position basically saying that schools will need to comply with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, and he is interpreting sex discrimination as discrimination against students who identify as transgender. What we are seeing a resistance to is the federal based move to force women and girls to allow males, anatomical males, into their showers or their bathroom facilities or vice versa, simply based on the male saying “I am a female, and that’s all I need to say.”

Hank: You point this out in the article, but there are people who are in very significant positions in our culture, like Governor Nicky Haley (South Carolina) and Charles Krauthammer (Fox News) who both contented that HB2 represents a fabricated problem?

Joe: Well, I wish they were right. I wish that I was overreacting. I wish that the millions of us who are concerned about this were overreacting. But, Hank, the problem has already shown itself, it’s not fabricated, it’s now historical. There are already a number of cases—which I’ve cited in the article we’re talking about, in this special edition of the Journal—cases which men have seized on this new opportunity to enter into women’s restrooms and changing rooms, and they are not transsexual men, they are simply males, because you really do not—in order to take advantage of these new laws—you don’t have to really be transsexual, all you have to do is say, “I am a woman,” and that gives you access into the women’s facility.

So, there are two reasons we’re concerned about this: One is the very real problem of sexual predators. We know they exist. We know that to some extent they will always prey on victims, but this gives them a “green light” like they never had before.

The second problem is the violation of a girl. The violation she will feel having to share toilet facilities or shower facilities with an anatomical male, whether that male is in any way physically violating her or not, she will feel violated by his presence because of what we would call “natural modesty.” We’re trying to rip natural modesty away from women and force them to accept communal showing and toilet use with anatomical males all for the sake of catering to a very minuscule percentage of the population which is making this demand.

For further related study, please see the following equip.org resources:

The Transsexual Dilemma: A Dialogue about the Ethics of Sex Change (Joe Dallas)

How Do Biblical Ethics Apply to Hermaphrodites? (Hank Hanegraaff)

(Blog adapted from the June 8, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.)

Apologetics

Is the Bible in error or inerrant?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Bible In Error or InerrantQ: Most Bible teachers believe in verbal plenary inspiration, which is the inspiration of the Scripture down to the very words, and the original manuscripts there’s no errors—scientifically, mathematically, anything like that. What about holding to a different position, like the view that has been held by theologians like Karl Barth, that Scripture is completely inspired but some of it, when it comes to history or certain scientific facts, can contain error in the original manuscripts?

Hank Hanegraaff: If you look at the words of Peter, he says: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21, NIV).

The one thing we can say about the Bible is that it’s fully divine and fully human yet without error in its autographs. This is to say, if God is God, and God is speaking through the personalities and proclivities of people, He is speaking truth through them. Therefore, if you read Peter and you read Moses, you’ll find two different writing styles. Now, why would the Holy Spirit in that process communicate error through people?

What we must do is learn to read the Bible for all its worth. In Genesis, for example, when you see a snake deceiving Eve, Moses writing long after the creation event is not intending to say “Satan looks like a snake,” or “Satan has physical characteristics,” or “a snake has vocal chords.” No. He is not telling us what Satan looks like he’s telling what Satan is like. Satan, of course, is non-corporeal—nonphysical.

We have to understand the art and science of biblical interpretation and then we’re not going to come off and say, “You know what, the Bible has some nice things to say, but overall it makes some pretty big errors.” Instead, we’ll say, “Whoa, my error was in that I didn’t know how to read the Bible for all its worth.”

For further related study, please see the following:

How Do We Know the Bible is Divine Rather than Human in Origin? (Hank Hanegraaff)

L-I-G-H-T-S to the Word of God (Hank Hanegraaff)

Practical Hermeneutics: How to Interpret Your Bible Correctly (Part 1) (Thomas Howe)

Practical Hermeneutics: How to Interpret Your Bible Correctly (Part 2) (Thomas Howe)

Taming Bible “Discrepancies” (Rachel Ramer)

Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty (H. Wayne House)

What Does it Mean to Interpret the Bible Literally? (Hank Hanegraaff)

When Literal Interpretations Don’t Hold Water (John Makujina)

Was Eve Deceived by a Talking Snake? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Please also consult the following books:

Has God Spoken (B1045) by Hank Hanegraaff

The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated (B2027) by Hank Hanegraaff

The Origin of the Bible (B1089) edited by Philip W. Comfort

New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (B106) by Gleason Archer

Blog adapted from “Do the original manuscripts of the Bible contain errors?

Apologetics

Which Church Denominations Show the Way?

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Church Denominations and the Way“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).*

Q: I was raised Baptist but currently attend a non-denominational church. I’m puzzled with the question: Which denominations are right? What is the truth? There’s so many different ones out there? Over the past two-thousand years, things got twisted a bit, and I’m just not exactly clear on what is the truth?

Hank Hanegraaff: First, you have to have to understand essential Christian doctrine. All genuine Christians—whether Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Baptist—all genuine Christians believe in the essentials of the Christian faith.

Essential Christian doctrine starts with the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and ends with salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It’s not what we do but what Jesus Christ has done for us. Jesus paid it all through his passion on the cross. Essential Christian doctrine becomes the core of what it means to become a Christian.

Now as a Christian there are various ways in which we see church government, that’s called ecclesiology, and you can differ over that without dividing over that.

Q: How does one respond to somebody who professes to be Roman Catholic but insists that Jesus is not the only way to heaven, there are other ways to get to heaven, there’s other religions out there, they are just different versions to the same thing?

If Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6) and someone says, “You know there are many roads that lead to God,” well, it doesn’t matter what brand they call themselves—Catholic, Presbyterian, etc.—they are not a believer in the essentials of the Christian faith that codify what it means to be a Christian.

“There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end,” the Bible says, “it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). We can’t say, “This seems right to me.” What we have to do is take our opinions and test them in light of the final court of arbitration, which again in a biblical worldview is the Word of God. The essentials that I’ve talked about are so plain in the Bible that a child can understand them.

For further related study, please see the following equip.org resources:

The Essentials of Christianity (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is a Cult? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Perspicuity of Scripture (Hank Hanegraaff)

Heresy and Aberration — What’s the Difference? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is Jesus the Only Way? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Denomination Should I Join? (John M. Frame)

Is Jesus the Only Savior? The Answer to Religious Pluralism (Ronald H. Nash)

Is Belief in Jesus Necessary? The Answer to Religious Inclusivism (Ronald H. Nash)

Is There Salvation After Death? The Answer to Postmortem Evangelism (Ronald H. Nash)

Are All Religions the Same at Their Core? (Winfried Corduan)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).

Blog adapted from “Which denomination has the correct teaching?

Apologetics

Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Pivec, Holly-Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Article: JAA167 | Author: Holly Pivec

This article first appeared in the News Watch column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 4 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Kits to remove curses, cards to interpret dreams, and music to heal people have become popular products in the apostolic‐prophetic movement, also called the “New Apostolic Reformation.” The movement, which is fast growing in charismatic churches, has long been criticized for its promotion of modern “apostles” and “prophets” who claim to have great authority and to speak for God. It is now being criticized for selling products that—many Christians believe—have more in common with the magic charms used in occult practices than with Christianity.

Property Dedication Kit. One organization that sells these products is the Elijah List, based in Albany, Oregon, which is founded and run by “prophet” Steve Shultz. The Elijah List e‐mails daily newsletters that feature prophecies—and advertisements for products like these—to more than 130,000 subscribers, according to its Web site (www.elijahlist.com).

One of the Elijah List’s top‐selling products is the “Portals to Cleansing Property Dedication Kit”—sold for $12—which is supposed to remove curses from houses and properties. Created by Henry Malone, a professional “house cleanser” and founder of Vision Life Ministries in Irving, Texas, the kit contains anointing oil and wood stakes, with Scripture verses on them, to drive into the borders of a property.

“Use it and make the enemy flee!” Shultz promised his Elijah List readers in an advertisement for the kit, sent on October 16, 2006. Shultz personally vouched for the kit, saying he’s cleansed his own 20 acres of land three or four times and, each time, has seen “a noticeable change in the atmosphere and circumstances.” He said curses are the only explanation for “certain sicknesses, diseases, and even death that comes upon very anointed and pure‐hearted people.”

A companion book written by Malone—titled Portals to Cleansing: Taking Back Your Land from the Hands of the Enemy (Vision Life Publications, 2002)—is sold separately from the kit. It promises to teach readers the “keys to reclaiming [their] land, home, possessions and animals from the power of Satan and his demonic forces.” (See the book and kit at: www.elijahshopper.com.) The book recommends holding a communion ceremony at the center of a property—where family and friends gather inside a circle drawn on the ground with anointing oil—then burying the unused bread and juice or wine.

After following the book’s advice, Matthew Spencer posted a review on Amazon.com saying that his home had a new “peace” and “lightness of spirit.” Spencer said, “I no longer feel uneasy walking through the house in the dark. Honestly, it is a night and day difference.”

Marcia Montenegro, author of the book Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids (Cook/Life Journey, 2006) and founder of the Web site “Christian Answers for the New Age,” however, said Christians don’t need to worry about curses since they aren’t emphasized in the Bible. Even if curses were a threat, though, she thinks the kit would be powerless against them.

“How is that going to remove curses?” said Montenegro, a former professional astrologer and occult practitioner who converted to Christianity. She told the Journal that the kit has more in common with an occult worldview, comparing the anointing oil and wood stakes to “amulets”—objects that occultists believe have powers to protect them from evil, disease, or other harm.

“[With the kit,] it’s like you’re engaging in the occult to protect yourself from [the occult],” Montenegro said, adding that occult practices are banned by the Bible in Deuteronomy 18:10–12. She believes that a biblical response to threats is prayer to God—which goes straight to the source of divine power—rather than relying on magic charms. “What happened to regular prayer?” she asked.

Amulets have a long history, according to Dr. Ron Rhodes, founder and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries in Frisco, Texas, and author of New Age Movement (Zondervan, 1995). The ancient Babylonians, for example, wore cylinders that were supposed to ward off evil spirits, Rhodes told the JOURNAL.

Today, New Agers wear crystals to ward off negative energies. The purpose of amulets—like all occult charms—is to harness and manipulate the power of a deity or the forces of nature, according to Rhodes. He sees this as the purpose behind the property dedication kit.

“It is definitely an example of paganism making its way into the church,” he said.

Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil. Another top‐selling product for the Elijah List is “Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil,” which is supposed to give visions of the heavenly realm. Sold by Tom Panich of Vancouver, Washington, it’s made with a base of virgin olive oil and six fragrances that are mentioned in the Bible: calamus, cassia, frankincense, myrrh, Rose of Sharon, and spikenard. A half‐ounce sells for $12.

Anointing oil often has been used by Christians on sick people—along with prayer—in accordance with a Scripture passage, James 5:14–15. Christians historically did not view the oil as having any special power, however; they saw its use simply as an act of faith in God. They also did not use the oil to induce visions or cleanse homes from evil, as it is used in the apostolic‐prophetic movement.

In this movement, different brands of oil are depicted as “anointed” and, therefore, as more powerful than other “non‐anointed” oils. For example, in the Elijah List’s first advertisement for Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil, sent on March 22, 2004, Shultz said, “We’ve carried different anointing oils in the past. But I always try to carry anointing oil with true anointing on it. This oil fulfills that anointing ‘standard.’”

Panich—a graduate of Norvel Haye’s New Life Bible College in Cleveland, Tennessee—claims that, in 2003, God told him to make the oil. Panich said, later, he was in the shower one day when he was hit with “a lightning bolt of God’s Glory,” and the Holy Spirit gave him the name, “Third Heaven Vision.”

Panich said, “Every time I mix up a batch [of the oil], a strong anointing hits me and I shake vigorously…Also, on the occasions that I have put a full box (144 bottles) of the anointing oil in the hands of two separate strong intercessors, they have been hit by the power and anointing of the Lord, almost to the point of falling to the ground.”

Panich also recommends that the anointing oil be poured over the wood stakes from Malone’s property dedication kit, something Panich said he has tried. “After I drove the first stake into the ground, I felt the Presence of the Lord come across the yard, hit me, and then I almost fell over,” he wrote on the Elijah List (Oct. 16, 2006).

Such descriptions of anointing oil (as having magical power) concern Montenegro. She said that it’s one thing for Christians to use the oil symbolically, “but it’s another thing if you think that the oil itself is somehow going to magically protect you,” she said. “To think that an object in and of itself has power is [to think according to] an occult worldview.” Such a use of anointing oil reminds Montenegro of the New Age practice of burning sage to cleanse and bless houses, she said.

Dream Cards. The Elijah List also sells “Dream Cards,” created by Barbie Breathitt of “Breath of the Spirit Ministries,” based in North Richland Hills, Texas. The laminated cards contain common dream symbols—such as numbers, colors, and animals—and their interpretations. They are sold for $10 each or in sets of 6 and 12—for $50 and $96, respectively.

Breathitt’s Dream Cards are endorsed by Patricia King, the founder of Extreme Prophetic Television with Patricia King—a half‐hour program featuring well‐known “prophets” that airs on Canada’s Miracle Channel.

“So many believers are having significant dreams but do not always understand the significance of the symbols within them,” King said. “Barbie Breathitt has done a marvelous job of preparing dream cards as a tremendous tool to help this process.”

Besides dream interpretations, one of the cards lists colors and musical keys that are supposed to bring healing to specific body parts. The use of music and colors for healing is also promoted in occult circles, as on New York psychic Ellie Crystal’s Web site (http://www.crystalinks.com/colors.html).

Rhodes said that dream cards that are similar to Breathitt’s are common in New Age stores: “The idea that it [dream interpretation] is penetrating the Christian church is kind of scary,” he said, adding that this represents a growing acceptance of mysticism among Christians.

Rhodes admits that the Bible records times when God’s people, like Daniel, interpreted dreams. He says that in those cases, however, they always made it clear that God gave them the interpretations, not dream cards.

Montenegro, who knew dream interpreters before she became a Christian, said that the assignment of meanings to symbols is subjective. “Who’s going to say what represents what? You can make anything be a symbol for anything,” she said, adding that the people she knew couldn’t agree on the meanings of symbols.

Besides being a waste of time, dream interpretation can encourage egotism, according to Montenegro. “If you start focusing so heavily on your dreams and think everything has a meaning, it leads to self‐ absorption,” she said.

Prophetic Worship CDs. Another growing industry is “prophetic” worship CDs—combinations of music, teachings, and prophecies that are supposed to bring healing, visions, and supernatural encounters just by listening to them. Many of the CDs are recorded in live settings, where the musicians and “prophets” perform spontaneously, without preparation. They, allegedly, are taken over by the Holy Spirit—composing music and lyrics that come from the “throne room of God.”

One of these CDs, sold by the Elijah List for $15, is called Invitation to Intimacy. It was recorded by James W. Goll, the cofounder of Encounters Network in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while he was “caught up into another realm,” according to the advertisement. The CD contains over an hour of “prophetic, spontaneous worship and teaching with keyboard and instrumentation in the background.”

Divine encounters are offered by Ryan Wyatt’s CD, titled The Overshadowing. Wyatt—founder of Abiding Glory Ministries in Seymour, Tennessee—urges his listeners to “sit back and relax as you are taken into the Open Heavens and experience Visions of God! Rest under the wing of God as He overshadows and saturates you with His thick, weighty, intoxicating presence!”

CDs that offer physical healing include one by “prophetic revivalist” Matt Sorger of Seldon, New York, titled Healing in His Wings. The advertisement says the CD combines instrumental music and many other “heavenly sounds, healing scriptures, spontaneous healing prayers and prophetic song.” It claims to be a “powerful combination of both the biblical healing word and the manifest healing presence of Christ.” Another CD by Canadian “prophet” Todd Bentley, titled The Voice of Healing, promises to “bring the transferable, tangible healing anointing and atmosphere to your home, hospital room, or healing service.”

The concept of music or teaching that is composed directly by the Holy Spirit alarms Rhodes. “That whole idea assumes a direct pipeline to God,” he said, adding that if someone claims to receive revelation from God, then it needs to be perfectly consistent with the Bible. “But oftentimes it’s not,” he said.

Rhodes also objects to the idea that an anointing can be transferred through a CD, saying, “There is definitely a pagan connection there—a transference of anointing or power or energy.”

Rhodes said that New Agers also have released music they claimed was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but they redefined the Holy Spirit in non‐Christians terms—as a nonpersonal force rather than as one of the three Persons of the Godhead. In the same way, people in the church sometimes redefine the Holy Spirit, Rhodes added. “Just because someone is talking about the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Spirit you and I know from the Bible,” he said.

Hocus Focus. Rhodes suspects that many of the people who sell dream cards, prophetic music, and similar products are motivated by a love of money—something the Bible warns against in places such as 1 Timothy 6:10. “People are capitalizing on, and ripping off, gullible people,” he said.

Rhodes believes the biggest danger for Christians, however, is not being conned out of cash, but being deceived by a magical worldview that diverts their focus. “Their attention is being taken off of God and put onto objects and potions,” he said.

Holly Pivec holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is the managing editor of Biola Connections. She has a blog at spiritoferror.wordpress.com, which examines the apostolic and prophetic movement.

Apologetics

Why was King David Punished for Taking a Census?

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-David Census

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah” (2 Sam. 24:1).*

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron. 21:1).

Q: Did God tell David to take a census and then punish him for it? Why?

Hank Hanegraaff: We have to look at this in context. I mean in the context of all of Scripture, because that passage is cited at different places in the Bible. If you look at 2 Samuel, you’ll find that God told David to take a census (2 Sam. 24), and if you look at Chronicles, it says Satan incited David to take a census (1 Chron. 21). The passages demonstrate that although Satan incited David, ultimately it was God who allowed Satan to carry out the provocation. Satan’s design was to destroy David and to destroy the people of God in the process. But it was God’s plan, and it was His purpose to humble David, and then to teach his people a valuable lesson.

Here’s what’s going on. Instead of trusting solely on God, David had begun to trust in his military might. David himself—you see so clearly in context—has a sense of guilt, there’s also an uneasiness on the part of his general Joab, and that indicates that they were both well aware that they were on dangerous ground in taking the census. So they already knew that to fall for the provocation of Satan was to distrust God. They knew that this was against the very command of God, and yet, they failed the test, because in the end they wanted to depend on the arm of flesh as opposed to depending on the arm of God.

Q: David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), and this was stated in his early life; however, yet later in his life he sins dispassionately, one example being the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam. 11; cf. 1 Kings 15:3 and Psalm 51). At the end of his life was he still a man after God’s own heart?

Hank: I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s Israel’s quintessential king, he’s a man after God’s own heart. That is not because he doesn’t sin. It is because he desires fellowship with his heavenly father and therefore confesses his sin, most notably in Psalm 51 where he says “Have mercy on me, O God | according to your unfailing love | blot out my transgressions | Wash away all my iniquity| cleanse me from my sins” (vv. 1-2). And he asks God to restore to him, grant to him a willing spirit and the joy of his salvation. “Create in me,” he says, “a pure heart, O God | and renew a steadfast spirit within me. | Do not cast me from your presence | or take your Holy Spirit from me. | Restore to me the joy of my salvation | and grant a willing spirit to sustain me” (vv. 10-12) And then he says “Then I will teach transgressors your ways | and sinners will turn back to you. | Save me from blood-guilt, O God, | the God who saves me, | and my tongue will sing of your righteousness” (vv. 13-14).

David was well aware that he not only had an affair with Bathsheba, but as a result of that affair he had to have Uriah killed on the battlefront. So he had blood on his hands and this was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms when Nathan pointed a boney finger at him and said “You are the man…You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own” (2 Sam. 12:7, 9). And Nathan used an illustration to get through to David, who was living in denial with respect to his own sin. And this was not even the greatest of his sins. I mean, it was a great sin, but there were many other great sins in David’s life, including the census that he took, demonstrating that he was leaning on the arm of flesh rather than on the arm of God.

David is not just anyone, he is the leader of God’s people and therefore his responsibilities and his judgment is a stricter judgment, very much like what James says about teachers. “Not many of you should be teachers because in teaching there is a stricter judgment” (Jas. 3:1). So David sinned horribly, but he had a heart that panted after God “as a deer pants after streams of water” (Psa, 42:1).

For further related study, see the following equip.org resources:

Articles:

Taming Bible “Discrepancies” (Rachel Ramer)

Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty (H. Wayne House)

Does Satan Have Access to Our Minds? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Books:

New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (B106) by Gleason Archer

Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (B2023) by Jonathan Morrow

The Covering: God’s Plan to Protect You from Evil (B665) by Hank Hanegraaff

* All Scriptures cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).

This blog adapted from “Did God tell David to take a census and then punish him for it?” and “Science Affirm Intelligent Design and Q&A.”

Apologetics

Islam’s Two Qur’ans

Islam’s Two Qur’ans

Q: You are familiar with what happened here in Orlando, Florida at Pulse, the gay bar. What happened is the Islam community took a page add in the Orlando Sentinel apologizing and said they had nothing to do with that shooting. Part of the add went, “We affirm that the mass murder that took the lives of so many innocent people was a vicious aggressor whose actions do not represent Islamic values. The Qur’an says, ‘Do not be brutal or commit aggression, for surely God does not love aggressors’ (Surah 2:190)” Are they missing the part where the Qur’an says that all people must be converted to Islam and the teachings of Muhammad, and that all those who do not believe in him will be either eliminated or killed? Isn’t that too part of what Islam teaches?

Hank Hanegraaff: Well, absolutely. I think what’s important to realize is that you really have two Qur’ans as opposed to one. You have a “Meccan” Qur’an and you have a “Medinian” Qur’an. When Muhammad was in Mecca, he was a struggling itinerate preacher. He had a very long road to hoe. As a result of being a struggling preacher, he said things—part of the Qur’an—that were peaceful at the time because he was in a great minority. He had very few followers. When you get to Medina, Muhammad was a bloodthirsty warlord. Therefore, the tenor of what he communicated was far different from when he was a struggling preacher in Mecca.

So, you have two Qur’ans. You can pick and choose between the two, but if you want to know what Islam is all about, conceding that there are peaceful Muslims, you can never concede that Islam is a religion of peace. It has always advanced by the sword.

If you look at the history of Christianity it has advanced by the Word not the sword. You don’t find suicide bombers in the Christian faith. If you do, they are an aberration.

Inevitably, when you hear of a suicide bombing, you can immediately deduce that it must be Islamic. The fact remains that all of history has been a history of violent jihad within Islam. Look, for example, at Muhammad’s life and then the four Caliphs that followed him, a twenty-nine-year reign collectively. These were very violent years whereby Islam advanced by the sword. Look at the Umayyad Caliphate, again a bloody one, if there ever was one. The Abbasid Caliphate, often times considered the greatest of all of the Muslim caliphates, advanced by the sword. Look at the Ottoman or Turkish Empire throughout the world, and you find violence, destruction, and death. In some cases, there was complete genocide. Now you have the Islamic State following in the footsteps of previous Caliphates, calling themselves a Caliphate, wanting to unite all of Islam under their ghastly reign, and they are inspiring a whole host of people based not on some weird radical theology, but on the essence of what was taught to them and modeled for them by their leader Muhammad, modeled for them in the Qur’an, the Al-Hadith, the Surah, the Sunna, Sharia law, and interpreted even by those today who are the experts.

You find nothing in the history of Islam but a legacy that either says that you submit, and if you happen to live in a Muslim country then you become a dhimmi, which is a proposition whereby you are inferior and you have to pay a protection racket to stay alive, or you say the Shahada, which is the means of saying, “I have just converted to Islam,” or you face the sword. Those are the three options you have. What Muhammad taught and what Islam has always taught is that there are only two houses—the house of Islam and the house of war. If you’re not part of the house of Islam, you’re part of the house of war.

Now do I concede that there are many Muslims that do not understand their own legacy, their own history? Of course. But, this is very akin to what you ultimately put your trust in. The founder of Christianity or the founder of Islam, as two primary sources. You have the two fastest growing religions in the world, although Islam now is the fastest growing religion in the world. If you look at the legacy of Christ, He told to put up your sword, if you advanced by the sword, you will die by the sword (Matt. 26:52). Muhammad did exactly the opposite, beheading Jews—very much like the Islamic State does today. Calling People of the Book the vilest of all creatures (Surah 98:6).

There are Muslims that know what they’re doing, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is a great example. They are simply playing off the ignorance of people within the American community who think that Islam is a religion of peace. It isn’t even a religion in the Western sanitized sense of the word. It is a socio-political economic system that rides on the rails of Sharia, and in the process subjugates people. Look at how women are subjugated under Islam and wonder how Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can speak of Islam in breathless terms with soaring rhetoric. You have Obama denouncing Scripture, but revering the Qur’an, and you find in that there is either duplicity or ignorance. I don’t know which but one or the other. This kind of duplicity is being communicated over and over again, particularly in the wake of the kinds of tragedies experienced in Orlando.

For further study, please see the following:

Will the Real Islam Please Stand Up? (David Wood)

Jihad, Jizya, and Just War (David Wood)

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity (David Wood)

The Rise of the American Jihadist (David Wood)

Ambiguous Islam (John Ferrer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part One) (Charles Strohmer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part Two) (Charles Strohmer)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

Blog adapted from the July 8, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

First Fruits, Tithes, and Revering the Lord

Hanegraaff, Hank-First Fruits, Tithes,

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10)*

Q: Quite a few pastors today are asking for firstfruits, which is an offering that is above the tithe and regular offerings. Sometimes they ask for a whole week’s salary. I know under the Mosaic Law there was firstfruits, but is that for today?

Hank Hanegraaff: We should not understand firstfruits in the sense which it is being used by certain televangelists. You know the Rod Parsley and Paula White types of the world. That’s just sheer manipulation.

First of all, we do not go back to types and shadows when the substance has come. I think a lot of people have no clue about biblical typology, and how the types and shadows are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

There is certainly is a sense in which we want to give our first fruits to the Lord as designated by the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 9:6-15; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 12:8). And we also have to realize that the tithe in the Old Testament meant something, it was a way of demonstrating your reverence for the Lord. And we are, according to Moses in the Old Testament to revere the Lord our God always. So learning to reverence the name of God is a timeless principle as crucial today as was in the days of Moses. And I think it’s very important to learn through tithing how to give.

Q: What about Proverbs 3:9-10?

Hank: I think certainly when you look at Proverbs 3:9-10 you see that if you give that God is going to reward you for your giving. I think that principle is important. Again, what you are doing when your honoring the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your crops, then “your barns are going to be filled to overflowing, you vats will brim with new wine.” It’s true. When you “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). If you do that, you will be blessed.

Now that blessing does not mean you are going to be rich. If you trust in the Lord, God will be your source and your provision. He will give you everything that you need.

For further study, please access the following equip.org resource:

Is the tithe for today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is the Biblical View of Wealth? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does the Bible Teach about Debt? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Tithing: Is it in the New Testament? (Revisited) (Elliot Miller)

Short-Term Recession of the Long Winter? Rethinking the Theology of Money (William F. High)

What is the Significance of Biblical Typology? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century: Wealth and Want (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity Still in Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Bon Hunter)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984) unless noted.

Blog adapted from Is the giving of first fruits for today?

Apologetics

Jesus Christ: Fully Divine, Fully Human, One Person.

Hanegraaff, Hank-Jesus Christ Fully Human Fully Divine

Q: I was talking to a friend about the two natures of Jesus Christ. He was telling me that Christ had a human spirit and a divine spirit. Does Christ have two spirits or just one?

A: Remember that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures—fully man and fully God. What does it mean to be fully man? When a woman gives birth, she gives birth to a body/soul unity. Jesus Christ was fully man. We also recognize from Philippians that He was not divested of a single attribute of deity. So, in the incarnation, while He took on the limitations of humanity, He was fully and completely divine.

How that is communicated, I think, is most safely put in the Creed of Chalcedon or in some of the other biblical creeds, like the Creed of Athanasius. This is important in that the church fathers wanted to codify this in language that’s consistent and correct.

There is a mysterious aspect to it; therefore, the language is important. We recognize even with the language that we don’t fully comprehend it, but this is our apprehension of God’s condescension in the pages of Holy Writ. I think we need to be very careful with the language; therefore, once again, I’ll refer you to the creeds that say,

One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledge in two natures…the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son.1

I don’t know if I can say it any better than that. From a historic Christian standpoint, therefore, we are well served to emulate the language of the creeds in communicating what it means that we have one person with two natures fully God and fully man.

For further related study, please access the following:

Does the Bible Claim Jesus is God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Jesus Claim to be God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Credentials Back Up Jesus’ Claim to Deity? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Incarnation Incoherent? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Deity vs. Humanity A Closer Look at Philippians 2:6-7 (Kristen Forbes)


Notes:

  1. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes, sixth edition, vol. II (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 62

Blog adapted from “Did Christ have two spirits or just one?”

Apologetics

Apostles, Prophets and Aberrant Doctrine

Pivec, Holly-Apostles, Prophets, Aberrant Doctrine

Article: JAF075 | Author: Holly Pivec

A book review of Understanding the Fivefold Ministry by Matthew D. Green, editor (Charisma House, 2005).

This review first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 1 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Advocates of the growing, controversial New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement believe that God is raising up modern‐day apostles and prophets to lead the church in the end times. They believe that such apostles and prophets will have great authority, supernatural power, and divine revelation to defeat demonic principalities, convert nations to Christ, and establish God’s kingdom.

A central teaching of the movement, called “fivefold ministry”—based on Ephesians 4:11–13—is that God has given the church five ongoing governmental offices: those of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Two of those offices, apostles and prophets, have been ignored since the first century, according to the movement’s advocates.

This oversight is the subject of Understanding the Fivefold Ministry, edited by Matthew D. Green (an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God denomination and the managing editor of Ministries Today magazine), with a foreword written by Jack W. Hayford (president of the Foursquare Church International and senior editorial adviser to Ministries Today). More than twenty Pentecostal and charismatic leaders contributed chapters to the book, including C. Peter Wagner (former professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and a leader of NAR, Ted Haggard (former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals), and J. Lee Grady (editor of Charisma magazine).

Written for a lay‐level readership, the book has six sections: one on each of the five offices and a final section with a self‐test to help readers find their place in the fivefold ministry. Its purpose, according to Hayford, is to “contribute something of substance” to a subject that he believes has been treated recklessly, with many “apostles” and “prophets” becoming preoccupied with “power and position.” Hayford says he hopes the book will refocus the movement on the “servant leadership” that Jesus, the giver of the five “gifts of leadership,” modeled (foreword, p. xi‐xiii). The book does stress the importance of humility among apostles and prophets, but it fails to make a solid, biblical case for the basic issue of the continuation of those offices.

The Case for Modern Apostles and Prophets. Few Christians will object to its chapters on evangelists, pastors, and teachers, so this review will focus on the chapters on apostles and prophets. Understanding the Fivefold Ministry presents two main arguments for the continuation of these offices.

First, it claims that Scripture gives no indication that these offices will cease. Second, it claims that there are contemporary Christians who have all the characteristics of the New Testament apostles, which Green lists in the first chapter as humility and servanthood, the equipping of others for effective ministry, a dramatic call from God, unique giftedness, signs and wonders, and sound theology.

Grady finds both arguments compelling. In his chapter “Stuck on Titles?” Grady says that the question, “Are there apostles today?” is “dumb…since the Bible never says the ministry of apostles would vanish before Christ’s return, and there are so many gifted people functioning in this vital role today” (193).

It is odd, however, that Grady would call this question “dumb,” when, before this movement’s rise in the 1980s, almost all Protestants viewed the office of apostles as one that belonged to the first century. Wayne Grudem, for example, argues in his book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Crossway, 1988) that the purpose for which Jesus called apostles (to found the church, which included writing Scripture) and the criteria for being an apostle (having seen the resurrected Christ and being appointed by Him) limit the office to the first century. He points to Ephesians 2:20 and Revelation 21:14 as support for the role of apostle as foundational. Grudem, however, allows that the word “apostle” may be used today in a lesser sense, to refer to missionaries and church planters. He argues against a modern office of prophet, contrasting Old Testament prophets—who spoke God’s very words and had tremendous authority—with Christians today who have the gift of prophecy, but do not hold that office and whose words are not authoritative.

Some of the book’s contributors seem to believe that modern apostles and prophets have extraordinary authority. Wagner, for example, does not address the authority of modern apostles and prophets in his chapter, but he does address it in his other books (including some that are recommended in Understanding the Fivefold Ministry). In Churchquake! (Regal Books, 1999), Wagner argues that the authority of the apostles cannot be questioned, even by the pastors or prophets under them. (One may wonder why this controversial teaching—held by many in the movement—is never mentioned in the book.)

Cindy Jacobs (co‐founder of Generals of Intercession, a prayer and spiritual warfare ministry in Colorado Springs, Colorado) argues that prophets have great authority to guide world leaders and nations. She compares modern “prophets,” such as Bill Hamon and Chuck Pierce, to Old Testament prophets, such as Elisha and Daniel (see her chapter in Understanding the Fivefold Ministry, titled “Prophets—A Voice to the Nations”).

Other contributors view modern apostles and prophets in the same lesser sense Grudem describes. Eddie Hyatt (author of 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity), for example, argues that modern prophets can’t prophesy God’s will, as Old Testament prophets did. In his chapter, titled “Putting Personal Prophecy to the Test,” Hyatt says that there is no example in the New Testament of a prophet being sought for guidance. He states, “In the New Testament, the indwelling Holy Spirit is the right and privilege of every believer, making the mediation of a special prophet unnecessary” (60). The purpose of prophecy today is to confirm and encourage—not to mediate or legislate, Hyatt says, citing 1 Corinthians 14:3.

Hyatt also opposes the idea that God is restoring apostolic government. His Web site features an article (available at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/article01.html) that states, “No such order or government is either delineated or prescribed in the New Testament. The New Testament writers, in fact, show very little concern for church offices and organizational structure.”

What the Book Doesn’t Say. One wonders why the book doesn’t clarify that some of its contributors are defining apostles and prophets in very different ways. Without these distinctions, readers may be misled to think that all the contributors are in agreement. Also, much of the aberrant teachings that contributors promote in the book, ironically, can’t be found in the book itself. They are found, rather, in books that the authors recommend for further study at the ends of the chapters.

For example, three different contributors—Jacobs, Green, and Grady—recommend Bill Hamon’s books, including Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God (Destiny Image Publishers 1997). This is troubling, since this book, which has a foreword written by Wagner, teaches that Christians need new doctrinal revelation. Hamon says, “He [Paul] also reveals that this anointing for divine revelation was not just given to the prophets of old but has now been equally given to Christ’s Holy Apostles and Prophets in His Church” (Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God, 140). Extrabiblical revelation in Hamon’s book includes the teaching that modern apostles and prophets are going to become so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin will be struck dead.

Dismissing Concerns. Despite the book’s silence on these controversial issues, Doug Beacham (executive director of church education ministries for the International Pentecostal Holiness Church) seems to be aware of them. In his chapter, titled “The Leadershift,” Beacham expresses concerns that modern apostles may use their authority to promote “authoritarianism” and that prophets may attempt to give new doctrinal revelation.

In response to Beacham’s concerns, Wagner agrees that preventing apostles from abusing their authority is a challenge. He reassures readers that the International Coalition of Apostles—a network of over 330 apostles led by Wagner—is addressing the issue.

Wagner’s response, however, is inadequate. Are Christians simply to trust that the International Coalition of Apostles will provide its own oversight? Some of these same “apostles” have already abused their positions by teaching that they have great authority and the ability to give new doctrinal revelation.

Wagner also agrees that Beacham’s concern about new doctrinal revelation is legitimate. Wagner says that, in the past, some “prophets” and “apostles” claimed to give revelation that “superceded” Scripture, such as the Book of Mormon. Wagner assures readers, however, that the apostles he knows “would tremble at the thought that new truth that they receive would in any way violate the integrity and the authority of Scripture” (31).

Wagner’s response, nonetheless, sounds hollow, since he currently promotes “apostles” and “prophets” who proclaim new doctrinal revelation. This includes Hamon, whom Wagner elsewhere calls one of his “closest prophetic colleagues” (Changing Church [Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2004], 11).

Final Thoughts. Some contributors, such as Haggard, commendably acknowledge abuses among modern “prophets,” such as proclaiming false prophecies and “explain[ing them] away” (35). Contributor R. T. Kendall (former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London) encourages teachers to promote the written Word over prophetic words. Kendall also urges readers to contend for sound doctrine—the faith “once for all” delivered to the saints, which is refreshing in light of the book’s endorsement of those who promote new doctrinal revelation.

Hayford’s endorsement of the book, likely and unfortunately, will cause many Christians to feel safe accepting the aberrant teachings associated with the NAR movement. It is troubling to see Hayford’s credibility used in this way.

 

Holly Pivec holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is the managing editor of Biola Connections. She has a blog at spiritoferror.wordpress.com, which examines the apostolic and prophetic movement.

Apologetics

Does the Bible Permit Homosexual Activities?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Homosexuality Parameters

Q: Can you be a practicing homosexual in good standing with God? Was Leviticus 18 really condemning the ritualistic sex done by Baal worshippers? Was not this prohibition really against pagan idolatry as opposed to modern homosexuality?

A: I think the whole passage, Leviticus 18, has to do with unlawful sexual relations and not only talks about homosexual relationships, but also it says “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it” (Lev. 18:23).* Leviticus 18 is then talking about all kinds of sexual improprieties.

Leviticus 18 is not an isolated passage. If it were, maybe you could try to make the case that you can’t have homosexual relationships in the sense of worshiping at the altar of Baal or something like this; however, the Bible in general warns against these kinds of practices.

If you look at Romans, Romans aptly describes not only the perversion of these kinds of relationships but the penalties that are associated with them. When Paul says, “their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Rom. 1:26-27).

So I think the point is God has set parameters around our lives so that our lives would indeed be full. I don’t think that it takes someone with an advanced degree in physiology to appreciate the fact the human body is not designed for homosexual relationships.

Homosexuality is not an identity it’s a behavior. It’s a behavior that has associated with it all kinds of attendant problems. But, you know, you have to ask yourself the question: How could God have made this point any clearer? There’s not a single unambiguous passage in Scripture that affirms homosexuality, but what you find is the Bible universally condemns it. So the Bible is as clear as it can be on this particular subject.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Does Homosexuality Demonstrate that the Bible is Antiquated and Irrelevant? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Speaking of Homosexuality: A Christian Response to the Arguments of the Gay Rights Movement (Joe Dallas)

Answering the Gay Christian Position (Joe Dallas)

Is Arsenokoitai Really that Mysterious? Homosexual Sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (C. Wayne Mayhall)

Is There a Gay Gene? (Donald F. Calbreath)

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Robert A. J. Gagnon)

The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread The Bible (Joe Dallas)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Blog adapted from “Can you be a Christian and actively practice homosexuality?