Apologetics

The Literal and Metaphorical Use of Fire in the Bible

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Fire MetaphorI begin today’s broadcast with just a word about metaphors. A good example is fire. You know fire can be very, very real, or it can be used, as it is many times in the Bible, in a metaphorical sense. When the Bible speaks of God’s throne as flaming with fire (Dan. 7:9), we intuitively recognize that an implied comparison is in view.

When we read of the lamps of fire before God’s throne, we apprehend that there is more going on than mere physical fire, because John actually tells us that what he is describing when he says the lamps of fire are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5).

Consider James; he described the human tongue as being set on fire by hell. Remember when he said, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body”? He goes on to say “it corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NIV). Now, James obviously does not intend for us to think that the tongue, which in itself is a metaphor for human language, is a literal fire that literally sets on fire the course of one’s life. Nor are human tongues or languages literally set on fire by hell. James is using the language of fire as a metaphor for the destructive power of words and, in the same way, uses the language of fire as a metaphor for the destructive nature of hell.

The Bible over and over again uses the metaphor of fire in different ways to describe jealousy (Deut. 29:20; Ps. 79:5), sexual lust (1 Cor. 7:9), unbridled passion (Rom. 1:27), and the like.

I think it is safe to say that figurative language is the principle means by which God communicates spiritual realities to His children. Why do I mention this at the beginning of the broadcast? Simply to reinforce in your mind that when you read the Bible literally, it means you take what the Bible says in the sense in which it is intended. Golden bowls full of incense. What are they? They are the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8).

—Hank Hanegraaff

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NIV).

For further related study, please access the following:

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

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

This blog adapted from the March 15, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Love, Not Eradication: What Down Syndrome Babies Deserve

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Down SyndromeJust before I came into the studio, I was reading an article. It is a National Right to Life article by Lauren Bell. It is entitled “Babies with Down Syndrome Deserve Love, Not Eradication.”

Lauren writes that “In recent remarks to the Citizens Assembly in Ireland, Dr. Peter McParland” pointed out that “in Iceland…every single baby—100 percent of all those diagnosed with Down syndrome—are aborted.” One hundred percent. As such, “Iceland has become the first nation to boast of eradicating Down syndrome from its country.” Moreover, “Denmark follows closely behind Iceland and predicts to be a ‘Down-syndrome free’ nation in the next 10 years.” In addition to all of that, “90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are aborted in Great Britain and the United States.”

That of course raises a very serious question. What makes a Down Syndrome baby less valuable than a proposed designer baby? The answer is this: one is not less than the other. Both are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), and that should make all the difference in the world. The imago Dei insures that a Down Syndrome child must be afforded the very same dignity that we give to a distinguished scientist; of course, the imago Darwinii leads in quite another direction.

I wrote about this in Has God Spoken? The point being amplified by none other than the late Stephen Jay Gould, one of the most prominent Darwinian theologians on the planet. He observed that the highly regarded evolutionary notion of recapitulation — this of course is the idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny —served as a basis for Dr. Down labeling Down Syndrome as “Mongoloid idiocy.” Why? Because he thought it represented a throwback to the Mongolian stage in human evolution. As Gould said, the term “Mongoloid” was first applied to mentally defective people because it was then commonly believed that the Mongoloid race was, well, not yet evolved to the status of the Caucasian race. Thankfully, Stephen Jay Gould decried recapitulation’s responsibility for the racism of the post-Darwinian era. In his words, “Recapitulation provided a convenient focus for the pervasive racism of white scientists; they looked to the activities of their own children for comparison with normal, adult behavior in lower races.”

Anyway, I was reading the article, and as I was reading the article, I was just stunned to think that this is the condition we find ourselves in today, a condition in which people no longer regard the image of God in humanity as sacred. I actually took the time to watch the video (mentioned in the article). I think it was 29 minutes. It was memorable time. It was chilling to hear Dr. Peter McParland speak in clinical fashion about having Down Syndrome–free babies. As we all know statistically, the vast majority of people with Down Syndrome are happy, satisfied, and affectionate members of our society. To discriminate against them is simply chilling and unthinkable, and yet we see once again how ideas have consequences.

—Hank Hanegraaff

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27 NIV).

This blog is adapted from the March 7, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Lenten Disciplines: Training for the Eternal Inheritance

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Lenten SeasonWe are now well into the Lenten season. Lent literally means fortieth. It is marked by Christians through fasting, prayer and acts of kindness. Western Christianity began Lent March 1 this year, which ends April 13, and Eastern Christians began on February 27 and will end on April 7 this year.

The Lenten disciplines train us for our eternal inheritance. I love what the apostle Paul said: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24–27 NIV).

You know wishing does not win a race. It takes disciplining the appetites. It takes making them your slave. Thus like a coach, Paul urges his young protégé to forego endless myths and legends and instead train hard in the gymnasium of life. Why? Because physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things (1 Tim. 4:7–8). It has promise not only for the present life but also for the life to come.

I would say that prejudice against the spiritual gymnasium is breathtaking. We live in this self-indulgent culture in which feeling good is esteemed to be the highest value or virtue. The apostles had a decidedly different perspective. That is why Paul practiced disciplines like fasting (Acts 13:1–3; 14:19–23). He was emulating Christ. He believed that was the highest virtue. Therefore, Christ fasted (Matt. 4:1–2) and Paul emulated that fasting as well. He lived and practiced the things that his Lord taught so that he might be empowered by God’s energies and not just his own energy.

I think if each person listening to me right now were brutally honest with themselves, they would say that more often than not they walk in the way of the world. How many can truly say that we have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires? Who among us can truthfully say that he has engaged in mastering those passions that for far too long they have been mastered by? Yet, that is precisely what Christ calls us to do. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34 NIV).

Mental ascent. Good intentions. They do not in and of themselves produce transformation. It is not just our beliefs that need changing; it is our behaviors. If our habits remain the same, then our lives are going to remain the same as well. I cannot tell you how many people have told me over the years that they would dearly love to memorize Scripture, and yet very, very few are willing to embrace the disciplines necessary to carve the Scriptures into the canvas of their consciousness.

I am not talking today as I open the broadcast about fasting for the sake of fasting or fasting to curry the favor of God. No. We fast from food in order to experience union with God. Doctrinal correctness is not a replacement for correct discipline as though what we do and what we think have no bearing upon one another—of course they do.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7–8 NIV).

This blog is adapted from the March 6, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Having Faith to Move Mountains

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Faith and Healing

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk (Acts 14:8-10, NIV).

What does it mean to have “faith to be healed”? Does this mean through faith we can experience healing from all our physical sicknesses and infirmities?

Here is the issue: What is your faith in and how do you define faith? The Word of Faith movement says faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, through the force of faith you create your own reality. You can then by having faith in your own faith be healed.

A biblical understanding of faith is that faith is a channel of living trust between an individual and their God, and therefore, faith is only as good as the object in whom it is placed. If it is placed in yourself, it is ill-placed. If it is placed in God, it is well-placed. That is the point of faith. We are to have faith in God.

If we have faith in God, then we can move a mountain (Matt. 17:20; 21:21-22). What does that mean God can move mountains? It is precisely what it means. Therefore, Jesus is saying If you have faith in God, then you have the kind of faith that can do anything because God can do anything in accordance with His will and in accordance with His nature.

The whole issue here is not whether you can be healed by faith; rather, what kind of faith you possess. Is it faith in your own faith or faith in your God? If you have faith in God, you are also saying, “May it be according to your will, because you know what is best for me, I do not know what is best for myself.” We see a snapshot in time, but God sees the panoply of our lives; therefore, we say, “God this is what I would like; nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done.”

There are people like Joni Eareckson Tada who is one of my heroes of the faith. She has been a quadriplegic in a wheelchair for many, many years—decades in fact. Does she want to be healed? Of course! But, she recognizes now in retrospect that her wheelchair has become her crown. As a result of being in a wheelchair, she has been one who has sat at the feet of the Master, and out of the overflow of her relationship with God, she has blessed multitudes.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Does Isaiah 53:5 Guarantee Our Healing Today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Gospel of Peace a Promise of Ease and Prosperity? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Faith in Faith or Faith in God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Osteenification and What it Portends (Hank Hanegraaff)

Healing: Does God Always Heal? (Elliot Miller)

Is There Healing In This Application? (Walt Russell)

This blog adapted from “In Acts 14 Paul sees that a crippled man has the faith to be healed. Can you explain this?

Apologetics

Infidels on the Run from ISIS

CRI-Blog-Belz, Mindy-InfidelsWe are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NIV).

Hank Hanegraaff: As prologue to an interview with Mindy Belz, let me say this: While Christians are being marginalized in the West, they are being martyred in the East. In Iraq a vast majority of Christians have been either executed or exiled. In Mosul, this is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, almost every Christian in the city fled after the Islamic State offered exile or death. Churches across Iraq now stand empty. We can say the same thing about Syria. Islamic State has almost wiped out Christians in that country altogether. Added to the persecution problem is a very real propaganda problem. Over and over and in a myriad of ways the West is being seduced into believing that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, on the other side of the coin, Christianity is a Crusader religion, and as such the epitome of intolerance. In the midst of the propaganda and the persecution often in the blind spot of the West you need this resource: They Say We are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East

Well, Mindy Belz, you are an incredible human being and you just returned from your travels to places like Iraq and Syria—places that have recently been liberated from the Islamic State. You have seen firsthand the destruction and the challenges for Christians who would deeply love to return to their homes and churches. Tell us a little about that.

Mindy Belz: I get a lot of encouragement from being with the Christians in the Middle East and particularly the Christians who are now displaced as refuges in Iraq. But I have to tell you that this most recent trip I just returned from was incredibly discouraging to me, walking through the cities and towns that have been liberated in Nineveh Provence, which is all the surrounding area outside of Mosul and actually walking through Mosul itself. Seeing the destruction of churches. Seeing the way everything connected with Christianity has been desecrated and the way that lives past, present and future were attacked by ISIS. It is monumental and it continues to be really amazing to me that in the West we are not calling this what it is, were not calling it genocide, were not calling it war crimes, when every time I go there I am confronted with the evidence of war crimes.

Hank: So many people in the West think that we could have established a democracy very easily in Iraq, we failed to do that, but what you experienced, and you have traveled throughout the Middle East, is the very reality that in the Middle East Sharia is state and state is Sharia; therefore, it is very, very difficult to establish a genuine democracy that would keep safe Christians without them having them to pay a gangster protection tax—the jizya. .

Mindy: That is right. I think definitely Christians have been caught in what sometimes is referred to is a war within Islam, there is a lot of debate of what that actually constitutes. I think it is really clear that radical Islam—fundamentalist Islam, whatever you want to call it, Jihadi Islam—is on the rise. I trust the Islamic experts who say that if you trace the origins of violence of Islam back to the original text, they are there for everyone to see. What we are seeing now among Muslim majority countries is this return to a sort of Islam as it originally was, which as we know is a conquering beast that spread out across three continents within less than the first 100 years of the coming of Muhammad. We are seeing violent Islam as we have not seen it—not in my lifetime until recent decades. We are seeing that the victims of it are people that we Christians in the West would consider to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

Muslims are victims too. I meet plenty of people who without wanting to participate in terrorism and without wanting to see their families be victims of this kind of Islam, you know have been caught in the midst of it, they too are homeless. They too sometimes have children—I was in a hospital where a 10-month-old child had lost both of her arms due to an ISIS explosion—these are everyday realities and they do affect Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmens every group there.

The reality that we keep coming back to is that ISIS is really targeting all of these groups and most especially non-Muslims to adhere to and come into conforming to its brand of Islam. It is its stated goal not to stop this kind of fighting, this kind of war, until that happens. We have this tremendous battle that we militarily, culturally, ideologically, and evangelistically, and I fear that we just do not see it quite that way in the West as people in the Middle East are confronted with.

Hank: I spoke in Iran at the University of Tehran and Allameh Tabataba’i University. I walked the streets in the middle of the night, and I was met with one random act of kindness after another. You can say, on the one hand, that Islam has many people, who are adherents, who are genuinely peaceful and tolerant. I have met many of them personally. On the other hand, if I would have taken my Bible out and sat in a public square reading the Bible, or if I have been speaking publicly about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you would immediately see the lack of tolerance. I think as someone that knows this better than probably most on the planet, Mindy, you can give us a little insight on that distinction. On the one hand, there are peaceful and tolerant Muslims, on the other hand, Islam is anything but peaceful and tolerant.

Mindy: I think what we see is the fear of ISIS and the fear of radical militant groups. Groups that are blowing up children. ISIS is now using drones armed with grenades in Mosul. That is kind of a new thing that has been happening in the last couple of weeks. Those are falling on marketplaces and soldiers and all kinds of places. There is a kind of evil here is really hard even as I have looked at it up close. It is really had to fathom. The fear it instills makes a lot of people want to conform to the brand of Islam, if you will, that they are teaching, and that is having an effect all across the region. You encounter the kind of things you are talking about, where there is freedom but only to a point.

I see churches continuing to operate, continuing to hold worship services, and continuing to gather on regular basis. They are doing it against incredible odds. They are incredibly brave believers. If you have decided to stay, I feel like anybody who is still worshipping Christ openly in this part of the world is doing it having counted the cost and having chosen to in spite of that cost. They have a lot to teach us about the depth of their faith and the depth of their commitment in the faith of the kind of peril that you are describing.

You know I think that it’s a great moment. We too sometimes succumb to a sort of fear of ISIS and we forget that we have a God who is bigger and a Gospel that is better that what the Jihadists are holding out. I met a refuge in Europe this past summer from Iraq who told me that after making this incredible trek, an illegal trek that we have heard a lot about, and arriving in western Europe. The first thing he said when he met someone was “Can you find me a church?” This person looked at him because he is clearly an Iraqi Muslim man and said, “Why are you looking for a church?” He said, “Because Islam has brought me nothing but trouble.” In the midst of all of this trouble there is a great moment where many Muslims are asking questions and are looking for this better Gospel, and this loving God that we have. It is a real challenge to continue to hold that out in the midst of the dangers and the fear. That is what keeps me going back is that I keep seeing the Iraqi Christians and other believers in the Middle East doing just that.

Hank: I find it quite ironic in that while the faith is being deconstructed in the West, often times Western Christians regard Christians in the Middle East as suspect because they are involved in what they think are dead churches that are just repeating liturgies that are without any life whatsoever, but you found the opposite to be true. You found that through the liturgies people have stayed with a fantastic fidelity to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I was very struck by reading that in your book.

Mindy: That is sort of my story. In many ways, I am a cloistered Western Christian. I have lived on the Eastern seaboard, and had a somewhat sheltered upbringing. My forbearers came here in the 17th century, and here we have been ever since.

In many ways, these Christians (in the Middle East) have been through tumultuous times not just in this century but in centuries previous. One of the things that has been eye opening to me was visiting the old churches. Keep in mind that there are young evangelical churches that continue to meet and worship in Iraq as well. One of the things that was really striking to me is that part of the isolation that these groups have felt, part of the effect of being shunned, if you will, by the Western Church, is that they have also been somewhat kept from a lot of the liberalizing influences that we have seen in the Western Church. They have continued to hold on Scripture in its original form. Many of the churches that I have been in are still worshiping in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke, they are chanting their liturgy, and they are singing in that language. They feel very strongly about holding onto what came before them. That also means holding on in some ways to an unadulterated Gospel. That is not always the case. Obviously, there are going to be dead churches and people who have fallen away from the faith, and we see that here in the United States as well. But, it is striking how many have held onto what many of us would recognize as vibrant faith.

Mindy Belz is Senior Editor of World Magazine and author of They Say We are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

This blog was adapted from the February 23, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Life between the Dash – Living for Eternity

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff-Dash_Living for EternityBe very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

Just something to think about. All of us presently live in that tiny dash between the date of our birth and the date of our death. For some, the dash is short. For others, well, it may be just a little bit longer. But, all of us recognize that the entire dash represents the duration of our present life on earth.

I am thinking about my dad who was born 5 years after World War I. He was born in 1923 and he died in 1997. Therefore, the dash on his tombstone already has four digits on either side of it.

Now, I personally was born 5 years after World War II. I was born in 1950, and the dash is as yet followed by a great big question mark. I am bringing this up because what is true for me is likewise true for everyone. Whether you are young or old. Whether you are rich or poor. Whether you are male or female. You light the sky for the briefest of moments, and then eternity.

In the meantime, what you and I do today, this week, this month, this year, will have a direct consequence for all eternity. Therefore, while culture seeks to focus your gaze on greatness, Christianity rightly focuses your gaze on grace and holiness.

You and I live in a space-time continuum. We have been left in this continuum as Messiah’s mediators. Mediators by which the present universe is going to be transformed. The point is this: your greatness is not a function of stuff or status; rather, it is forever a feature of being a son or a daughter in the kingdom of heaven now inaugurated and one day it will be consummated.

We do not pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven” in vain. Nor do we pray passively. We are mediators of God’s redemption. We are rescuing stewards of creation. As such, the words of Jesus have personal application. “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21, NIV).

The bottom line: You and I are being honed as stewards of a restored garden. If that is true, how then should you live moment by moment, day by day, in the dash between your date of birth and the date that you go home to be with the Lord? Think about it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the February 22, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Exposing the Whitewashing of Jihad

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-whitewash-jihad

On February 16, 2017, many businesses and restaurants across the nation closed in protest against President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban. The next day there were students on various campuses, particularly in Charlotte, North Carolina where I live, staging a walk-out. This in protest to the ninety day ban on travelers from seven countries that were identified by the Obama Administration as sources of terror—the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

I can understand the worry that the list is insufficient. What about Pakistan? What about Saudi Arabia? One should never forget that no less a luminary than Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Saudi Arabia is not just a source of terrorist funding, but the source. “Donors in Saudi Arabia,” said Clinton, “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Even more alarming still is the fact that according to former Democratic Senator from Florida, Bob Graham, Saudi Arabia has direct ties to the massacres of September 11, 2001. In fact, Graham said there was “a solid case for the position that there was significant Saudi involvement going up at least to the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar in the time leading up to 9/11.” Not insignificantly fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals. (Graham overtly dubbed ISIS “a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money, and Saudi organizational support.”)

All of this of course is being whitewashed because Sharia subservient states, including Saudi Arabia, are portrayed as peace loving allies in the fight against terrorism. Little wonder then that when the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia declared it necessary to destroy every church in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, Western governments did not so much as blink. To date the worst co-belligerent to Islamic jihadism—and I hate to say this but it is absolutely factually based—has been the past eight year Obama Administration. I wonder why there were no protest then?

As painful as it is to remember, the Obama juggernaut actually advanced the agenda of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi. We all know who he was. Well known for proud membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. That despite Morsi’s in your face recitation of the Muslim Brotherhood maxim. It is hard to believe when you hear this maxim that you had Western leaders like Obama advancing this agenda. Morsi said, “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.”

Unfortunately, people are not up on the facts.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the February 17, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Main and Plain Things of the Mormon and Christian Divide

 

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-mormon-witnessing-to2

I am woefully ignorant of the Mormons, but they keep coming to my door. How do I deal with them?

I think that you want to always stick with the main and the plain things. With Mormonism, the main and the plain thing has to do with who is Jesus Christ. In Mormon theology Jesus Christ is not the one who spoke and the universe leaped into existence; rather, Jesus Christ is the spirit brother of Lucifer, and that is a big, big difference between what Christianity teaches and what Mormonism teaches.

The Jesus of Mormonism is the spirit brother of Lucifer not only but one who was conceived in heaven by a celestial mother and then came in flesh as the direct result of the Father having sex with the virgin Mary. That is a different Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible.

I would stick with those main points but there’s another point that will probably come up in the conversation very early on, and that is what is your authority? Because they’re going to point to the Book of Mormon as the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone to their religion, where you are going to point to the Bible as the most correct on any book on earth, and as a result of that you have a difference with respect to what you trust as an authority. The Book of Mormon fails the tests of reliability both from the standpoint of anthropology as well as archaeology, which is to say that the Book of Mormon is not a reliable source.

One other point I think I ought to bring out and that is that the Mormon thought with respect to salvation is very different than the Bible’s declaration with respect to salvation. In Christianity, we believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In Mormonism, you have a completely different idea, where Mormons appear before Heavenly Father dressed in fig leaf aprons, and holding good works in their hands. It is about works not what Jesus Christ has done but what you can do. The interesting thing is in their celestial heaven you basically become a god of your own planet, for the believe God was once a man and we can become what God now is.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

The Basics of Mormonism (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Book of Mormon credible?

Does Mormonism Really teach that Jesus is the Spirit Brother of Satan?

Mormonism: Christian, Cult, or??? (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

DNA Science Challenges LDS History (Bill McKeever)

LDS Apologetics and the Battle for Mormon History (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

The Mormon View of Salvation: A Gospel That is Truly Impossible (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

Blog adapted from “How do I witness to Mormons that come to my door?

Apologetics

Shedding Light on Tracy Morgan’s Vision of the Afterlife

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The headline in the USA Today newspaper caught my attention. It was titled, “Tracy Morgan’s Vision of Heaven.” The reason the article was in the paper is because Fist Fight is a new movie opening in theaters, but Tracy Morgan points out that his near fatal accident shaped his view of heaven, and brings back many, many memories. The article says, “When you survive a near-fatal accident like Tracy Morgan did,” I suppose, “you tend to have a sharper view of the afterlife,” or perhaps you won’t. Perhaps his view of the afterlife is based upon his own preconceptions.

What does Morgan think heaven will be like? In the article he is quoted as saying,

When I get to heaven, God is going to slap me on the (bottom) and say “Good job. Your parents and grandmom are back there waiting for you. Richard Pryor asked for you and Jackie Gleason is looking for you”…And it’s like “John Lennon, come here, I wanna ask you something!” That’s how I envision it. “George Carlin, is that you? Come here for a minute. Tell Jesus to stop playing that music, turn it down!”

This is the same George Carlin, the one supposedly seen in heaven, who during his life mocked the very notion of heaven. Carlin said,

Think about it? Religion has actually convinced people that there is an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, forever and ever, till the end of time. But he loves you.

George Carlin who is no longer in flesh, he is absent from the body, but it is very interesting not only to hear his humor but to hear the masses laugh at his mischaracterizations of God, heaven, and hell. This is precisely why I wrote a book entitled Afterlife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven, the Hearafter, & Near-Death Experiences. Tracy Morgan purportedly had a near death experience (NDE) when he was in a coma. He told Oprah about it.

Think about the other person that he mentioned—John Lennon. What is his conception of heaven? Remember the lyrics to imagine?

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Is heaven populated by people who rejected God during their lifetimes? How are we to think about heaven and hell? There is no more important subject for anyone in the flesh to know about. Think about it. Your life is but a vapor (Jas. 4:14). Here today, gone tomorrow. There is no more important subject for you to comprehend.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28-29, NIV).

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

Celebrity Death and the Meaning of Life (Robert Velarde)

Heaven is Real (Hank Hanegraaff)

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

The Contradictory Recollections of Near Death Experiences (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog adapted from the February 16, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

About Frank Schaeffer’s Fundamentalist Rant on the White Evangelical Trumpocalypse

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There is an article by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the famous twentieth century philosopher who built and conducted the L’Abri training center in Switzerland. His son, Frank, known as Frankie, wrote an article entitled “How to Survive the Trumpocalypse and Build a Better America in 2017.”

How do you do that? According to Frank Schaeffer, you got to “Make a New Year’s resolution that matters: De-convert a white evangelical today.” Why? According to Frank Schaeffer “White evangelical America is a force rooting for chaos and disintegration on a par with Islamic extremists and terrorists.” “The real question is,” says Frank Schaeffer, “what can be done about the white evangelicals who as with the Islamic terrorists are now the sworn enemy of democracy and reason itself?” Schaeffer goes on to write, “Social justice evangelical types, the so-called evangelical left, give cover to the vast majority of nefarious and mentally deranged white evangelical voters. They are as it were ‘good Germans’ during the Nazi era” and “The entire evangelical movement Right and Left needs to be exposed and demolished.” Why? “There is no nice smart version of believing in a god who made people to burn forever,” Donald Trump is “very much like their ‘god’” and “It’s time to call the white evangelical movement what it is: a promoter of terror, unreasoning hatred and oppression.”

What is interesting about this, other than the racial aspect—white evangelicals—and the call to demolish them, is that Frank Schaeffer is a fundamentalist who believes that white evangelicals somehow or another think that hell is a place of burning, whereas the Bible uses burning or fire just as blackest darkness forever, as ways to describe the horror of being left to your own settled choices, which is horror in this life, and ratified by God in the life to come.

I think Christians whether Asian, Indian, African American, European descent, of course in Christ there is no racial distinction (Col. 3:8-11; Gal. 3:28-29), need now more than ever to be lovers of peace and tolerance and reason. Pray for people like Frankie Schaeffer but more than that, as we say so often on the Bible Answer Man broadcast, always be ready to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and with respect (1 Pet. 3:15).

Let me say something about The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated. I’ve been wanting to do this in context of what Frankie Schaeffer has written. I think it is important for us to know what the biblical idea of hell really is, and I touched on that a moment ago, but I have an entry entitled “Why Should I Believe in Hell?” Let me quickly say there are three basic reasons, first is Christ the Creator of the cosmos clearly communicated hell’s irrevocable reality. The second is that the concept of choice demands that we believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice, all we end up being is fatalistically determined by brain chemistry and genetics. Imagine spending an entire lifetime voluntarily distancing yourself from God only to find yourself involuntarily dragged into His loving presence for all eternity. The alternative to hell is worse than hell itself and that humans made in the image of God would be stripped of freedom and forced to worship God against their wills. A third point would be that common-sense dictates that there must be a hell. King David knew that for a time it might seem as though the wicked prosper in spite of their deeds, but in the end God’s justice will be served (Psa. 22). Common sense dictates that without a hell there is no need for a Savior. I think little needs to be said about the absurdity suggesting that the Creator would suffer more than the cumulative sufferings of all human kind if there were no hell to save us from. Without hell, there is no need for salvation. Without salvation, there is no need for a sacrifice. Without sacrifice, there is no need for a Savior. As much as we wish to think that all will be saved, common-sense precludes the possibility.

The idea of hell, as posited by Christians not just white evangelical Christians, that idea is not irrational. It is an idea that springs forth from the fact that we are created in the imago Dei (Gen. 1:27), and God does not just arbitrarily rub out the crowning jewels of His creation because they have chosen to live apart from His goodness, His glory, and His grace.

—Hank Hanegraaff

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all (Colossians 3:8-11).

For further study:

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

What about Hell? The Doctrine of Hell (Douglas Groothuis)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

This blog adapted from the February 10, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.