Apologetics

Do Wrong Beliefs about Jesus Hinder or Affect Salvation?

Question: “My wife is a believer in Jesus Christ and on fire for the Lord, but she has difficulty believing that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God. Will this hinder or affect her salvation in any way?”

I do not think it is the absence of knowledge that damns; rather, it is the despising of knowledge that damns.

One of the things that we know for certain as we read through the Scripture is this: there is only one God. The Scripture is very plain and clear about that. Look at the Old Testament, for example. There is the Hebrew Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV).

Now, if you continue reading the Bible, you recognize that the Father is God. The Bible is explicit about that (see John 17:1–3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Ephesians 1:3;1 Peter 1:3–5).

You also realize that the Holy Spirit is God. One example in the New Testament is Acts 5, wherein Peter condemns Ananias, who lied about selling a piece of property and donating all the proceeds to the church. The Apostle said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God” (vv. 3–4 NIV). In this case, lying to the Holy Spirit means lying to God.

Another example in which the Holy Spirit is equated with God is 2 Corinthians 3:17–18: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV; cf. Romans 8:9–11). The Holy Spirit is omnipotent (Genesis 1:2; Luke 1:35), omnipresent (Psalm139:7–9), omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), eternal (John 14:16; Hebrews 9:14), and personal (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13–14; Acts 8:29; 15:28; 16:6; Romans 5:5; 8:14–16, 26–27; 15:30; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

The Bible is also very clear with respect to Jesus Christ being God—being of one essence with the Father. For example, Colossians 1, which declares Christ to be “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (vv. 15–18 NIV). Another example is Hebrews 1, which declares, “About the Son [the Father] says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy’” (Hebrews 1:8–9 NIV; cf. Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 45:6–7). And, of course, John 1 declares “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1 NIV). Anyone reading through the Gospel of John with an open mind sees Christ repeatedly identified as God. After Jesus demonstrated the power to lay down his life and to take it up again, the disciple Thomas did not identify him as “a god” but as “my God” (John 20:28). The original Greek language of John 20:28 is unambiguous and definitive. Literally, Thomas said to the risen Christ, “the Lord of me and the God of me.”

Moreover, in Romans 10:13, Paul equates calling on Christ with calling on Yahweh (Joel 2:32). And in his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul declares that Jesus, “being in very nature God [in the form of God], did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant [the form of a servant], being made in human likeness” (NIV). Paul goes on to conclude by equating bowing to and confessing the name of Jesus with bowing to and confessing the name of Yahweh, further demonstrating that Jesus is Himself Almighty God (see Philippians 2:6–11; Isaiah 45:22–25). I do not know how it could be any clearer.

The Bible is telling us that there is one God, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. But also the Bible tells us that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (see Matthew 28:19; John 14:15–21, 26–27; 15:26–27; 16:5–15).

In other words, the Father does not become the Son, and the Son does not morph into the Holy Spirit. You have one God, subsisting in three persons, who are eternally distinct. That is what the Bible teaches.

Now, you say it is hard for your wife to get her head around that; I will tell you, it is hard for me to get my head around that, too. I oftentimes tell people, “If you can get your head around that, your God is too small.” This means that the God we serve can be apprehended but cannot be comprehended. He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and that is not only true for this present time but also it is true for all eternity. The Bible is clear that Jesus is God, that the Holy Spirit is God, and that the Father is God, but there is one God with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being eternally distinct.

What I am talking about again is this: it is not the absence of truth that damns; rather, it is the despising of truth that damns. What I am suggesting is that there can be many professing Christians unable to communicate what I just communicated, but I am not looking at them and saying, “Those people are lost.” That is not my province; rather, that is in fact the province of the Holy Spirit. However, as you read about the Lord — doing what the Lord asks us to do, getting into God’s Word, and getting God’s Word into you (Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119) — as you learn more and more about God, you have to follow what God says, as opposed to recreating God in your own image.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Who Is the “Us” in Genesis 1:26?  (Hank Hanegraaff)

If God Is One, Why Does the Bible Refer to Him in the Plural? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is Oneness Pentecostalism Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Allah, the Trinity, and Divine Love (Jonah Haddad and Douglas Groothuis)

We also recommend the following book:

Muslim: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog is adapted from the November 8, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Christ, Allah, and the Sword

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39 NIV).

Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Does this not contradict His message of peace? If the “sword” mentioned by Jesus is never to be taken literally, can Christians concede that the “sword” mentioned in the Qur’an was never meant for Muslims to take literally? 

The “sword” Jesus talked about is not literal. It symbolizes conflict. Someone says, “Well, then do not take Islam literally when you have the Surah of the sword.” But, the reality is that one should be taken literally; the other quite obviously should not be taken literally. I say that because if you look at the history of Islam, you have fourteen centuries of advancement by sword. If you look at the model of Christ, you have almost two thousand years of advancement by word.

Do you ever see Jesus Christ doing what Muhammad did? Do you see Jesus in Jerusalem slaying people? Do you see Him killing the Jews that would not listen to Him? Muhammad beheaded hundreds of Jews. One is quite literally using the sword; the other is using, in this case, the sword as a metaphor.

Jesus’ metaphor of the sword is quite plain. The sword divides, and ultimately truth divides even more. We follow the one who is the way and the truth, but when we do, there is a division between mother and father, and sister and brother.

In the end, Jesus was very plainly living by a dictum. That dictum was shown in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47–55; cf. Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53; John 18:1–11). There the soldiers come to arrest Him and one of the disciples — Peter — takes out a sword and whacks off the ear of a solider. So, Jesus did not suddenly say the rallying cry, “Let us kill them; pull out your swords!” No. Jesus healed the soldier missing the ear. Then He said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52 NIV).

The distance between Muhammad and Jesus is the distance of infinity.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

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

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law” (David Wood)

Is Religion the Root of Evil?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

If Christianity Is True, Why Are So Many Atrocities Committed in the Name of Christ?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

Learn more about Islam in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (B2043) by Hank Hanegraaff

Uncategorized

Understanding Preterism

I am currently a thirty-five-year-old seminary student, and I have been on an eschatological pilgrimage, if you will, and I am leaning postmillennial, but I am researching now partial preterism and full preterism, and I just wanted to know more about it. What is your take, and where do you stand on such things?

I talked about this a little bit on yesterday’s broadcast along with the Facebook Live that I was doing, which you can also find on YouTube. There are two kinds of preterism that I have been asked about. One is hyper-preterism, or full preterism, and the other is partial preterism. The actual word has to do with the past (preterism is from the Latin word praeter, meaning “past”). This is the view that eschatological events prophesied in the Scripture have already taken place. The manifestation of preterism comes in the forms that I just talked about — partial and hyper.

The partial preterist is within the pale of orthodox Christianity. It postulates that the bodily return of Christ, the bodily return of the dead (i.e., the general resurrection), the restoration of creation, and the final resolution of sin is yet future.

However, hyper- or full preterists contend that all prophecy, including the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of Christians, has already been fulfilled. That is why I said on yesterday’s broadcast, and I will repeat today, full preterism is heresy. Flat plain heresy. Of course, you have many full preterists that have called me over the years that would dispute that, but I think it is heretical to say that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has already taken place, or the bodily resurrection of Christians has already taken place. Full preterists think all biblical prophecy—all—was all fulfilled by the end of the first century, especially with the judgment of destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

The problem is always the same. Hyper-preterists must redefine many essential teachings in order to fit their preconceived notions or their paradigms. The resurrection to eternal life, the resurrection to eternal judgment, the restoration of the cosmos, the second appearance of Christ, all of that has to be redefined. Therein lies the problem of hyper-preterism. For as the Nicene Creed states, the Lord Jesus Christ “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; His kingdom will have no end….We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come” (see Matthew 19:28; John 5:28–29; 14:1–3; Acts 1:9–11; 3:19–21; Romans 8:18–27; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 15:23–27, 51–54; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 5:9–10; Ephesians 1:9–10; Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:28; 11:13–16; 2 Peter 3:5–13; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 3:12; 21:1–27; 22:1–5 [cf. Isaiah 65:17–25; 66:22–24; Dan. 12:2]).

Oftentimes people fail to recognize that the word “coming” used in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1–51; Mark 13; Luke 21:5–36) and certainly in John’s expanded version of the Olivet Discourse — the Book of Revelation — can be used in different ways. Coming can mean the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, although Hebrews 9:27–28 talks about the second appearing of Jesus Christ. It is not as though He is coming from somewhere far away and He has to travel back here. The same is just as if one were to say, “He ascended into heaven, and He had to travel a long time to get there;” that of course is reading the text in a way that it is not intended to be read. When we talk about Christ’s ascension (cf. Acts 1:9–11; cf. Luke 24:50–51), we are really in essence talking about Him transcending time and space, transcending this time–space continuum, and only God can do that. When Christ appears a second time, He will appear. It is not as though He is a long way away. He will appear, as the writer of Hebrews puts it. We can use coming in that sense. The sense of Christ appearing a second time.

We can also use coming in an altogether different sense — Christ coming in judgment. This would be in concert with how the Old Testament prophets used the language (cf. Isaiah 19:1–25). Christ is obviously a greater prophet than them all; He uses the language of the Old Testament prophets and now He applies it to His coming in judgment of those who say, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” “His blood be on us and our children.” (Matthew 25:22, 23, 25; cf. Luke 23:27–31). Those who do not recognize Messiah in their midst. Those who want luminous limestone and glistening gold, as opposed to the crystal Christ, the paragon of virtue in their midst.

— Hank Hanegraaff

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27–28 NIV).

For further study, please access the following:

Is “Coming on Clouds” a Reference to Christ’s Second Coming?

Which Generation Is “This Generation”?

When Do We Receive Our Resurrected Bodies?

The following e-store resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Afterlife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven, the Hearafter, & Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Last Days According to Jesus (B512) by R. C. Sproul

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 25, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Politico Whitewashing Abortion

I saw an article in the Washington Examiner entitled “Politico Whitewashes Horror of Aborting Triplites.” The article by Philip Wegmann points out that “Dostoevsky observed that ‘man could get used to anything,’” and “Orwell explained” much the same thing “how political jargon gives a ‘defense of the indefensible.’”

Wegmann goes on to say,

Rather than admit that the only way to turn triplets into twins is to kill a baby, Politico hid behind a euphemism. And rather than react in horror at the death of a child, they printed a splashy graphic to explain “the decline of triplets” as if the procedure was the equivalent of filling a dental cavity. In short, they casually whitewashed slaughter.

The article points out precisely how they do that. This is graphic, but I think it needs to be heard: the doctor uses ultrasound; that ultrasound is used in order “to maneuver the unborn baby into position,” then “a syringe of toxic potassium chloride is inserted in the mother’s belly…that long needle is stabbed into the child’s little heart until [the child’s heart] stops beating. Politico just calls it a ‘reduction,’” but the “real horror goes unnoticed when imprecise language transforms a callous abortion into an unremarkable ‘reduction’” and “the public can become accustomed to the most revolting of horrors if they are pre-packaged correctly. Dostoevsky and Orwell were right all along.”

I happened to write about this subject in The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated. There I put forth an acronym. The acronym A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N, so that people are equipped to annihilate A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N arguments. While I will not go through the entire acronym on the show today, I do want to highlight the “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N.

The first “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N I dubbed the “opium” effect. This is in keeping with the article I just read to you wherein clever codewords are the opium of the pro-abortion lobby. Those code words are specifically designed to dull human sensibilities to something that is absolutely horrendous: the horror of abortion. We see this all around. For example, the moniker “Planned Parenthood.” That may well be the quintessential example. The positive ring of the words masks the horrific reality. To abort a preborn child is tantamount to terminating a life. As Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger famously pontificated, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Such killings again are positively repositioned as prochoice prerogatives. The preborn children terminated, well, they are indelicately rendered fetuses and prolife advocates are profanely recasts as social extremists. Again, this is the opium effect, the effect of clever code words. This has been used to great effect within this holocaust that is going on within our midst.

Abortion is the painful killing of an innocent human being, and we ought to get that squarely in our psyche. We ought to be able to communicate this because it is painful for the child, in that methods employed involve burning, smothering, dismembering, and crushing. It is killing in that, from the very beginning, that which is terminated fulfills the criteria necessary for establishing the existence of biological life. That includes metabolism, development, the ability to react to stimuli, cell reproduction, and the like. I say it is the painful killing of an innocent human being, innocent in that the preborn child deserves protection, not capital punishment. The painful killing of an innocent human being, in that the child was killed is the offspring of human parents, has a totally distinct genetic code.

Since abortion is nothing short of terminating the life of a person created in the image of God, it is important for us to get this information into our minds.

— Hank Hanegraaff

Blog adapted from the October 18, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Identity of Mystery Babylon

My question is about “Mystery Babylon”—“the great prostitute”—in Revelation 17. I notice similarities between Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon. Who is Mystery Babylon? Have the events concerning Mystery Babylon already taken place, or are they still future?

One of the seven angels with one of the seven bowls came and said, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries” (Rev. 17:1–2 NIV).

What is going on here is pretty interesting. When you read Scripture in light of Scripture, you recognize who is in view. Reading through the Old Testament, we see the prophets of God repeatedly speaking of the prostitution of Israel and the prostitution of Judah (cf. Exod. 34:11-16; Deut. 31:14-22; Jer. 3:1-10; Ezek. 16:1-59; 23:1-49; Hos. 1:1-2:13). The prostitution of the northern kingdom and the prostitution of the southern kingdom. In each case, the prophets use graphic language to depict Israel, who was called to be a light to the nations but instead prostituted herself with the nations.

When we get to Revelation, we recognize that Revelation is four-hundred-four verses with two-hundred-seventy-eight of those verses alluding to other parts of Scripture, primarily Old Testament passages. We should immediately think, the clue here is given to me by reading the other passages — Israel is in view here. Israel is the prostituted bride.

We have a grand metanarrative in Revelation—John’s version of the Olivet Discourse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)—in which we see a persecuted bride, the seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult. There is also a prostituted bride. Some of the people in those churches, particularly those in Laodicea, were in bed with Rome, which is the Beast. The Roman Emperor wanted to be called “Savior and Lord” in place of Christ. You were supposed to say, “Caesar is Lord and King,” as opposed to saying, “Christ is Lord and King.” That answers the second part of your question. This is not about the twenty-first century. This is about what happened in the first century.

When you read Romans, you intuitively know that Paul is writing to Christians in a first-century epoch. The same thing is true with John in the Book of Revelation, his expanded Olivet Discourse. He is writing to seven churches — he says so in the introduction — seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult and he is telling them to be faithful and fruitful. They are going to suffer for a short time, but their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The Book of Revelation, then, was not written to us, but it was most certainly written for us. Just as there are prostitutes in Scripture, and Israel prostituted herself with the nations, so too there are those who act the part of prostitutes. They are not true to the Lord Jesus Christ. They give Him a kiss as did Judas, as opposed to saying with the thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following;

Who or What Is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

These bookstore resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 9, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics, In the News

Porn and Despair: Hugh Hefner’s Legacy

I mentioned on the September 28, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast the passing of Hugh Hefner. Hefner, of course, was the founder of Playboy. He died at the age of ninety-one. I wanted to say a little more about Hefner in that as I was reading the newspapers this morning, I saw the media still continues to extol his legacy. I think about Pamela Anderson who said, “Outside of my family, you are the most important person in my life,” or Larry King who remembered Hefner as “a GIANT in publishing, journalism, free speech and civil rights.” Dennis Rodman said he was “an Icon of all Icons” and “#GameChanger.” Norman Lear said, “A true explorer, a man who had a keen sense of the future.” Kim Kardashian weighed in, saying she was “honored to have been a part of the Playboy team.” Bruce Kluger in USA Today said, “So long Hugh Hefner, thanks for the glorious gig…My girlfriend hated it, but what could be better than writing about the Playmate of the Month.”

Not all reviews, however, were positive. David French wrote an incredible article that underscores the bitter fruit of Hefner’s life’s work. The bitter fruit that helped poisoned American families. In National Review, the article entitled “Hugh Hefner’s Legacy of Despair.” While I will not read the entirety of the article, I do want to refer to some of what David French correctly wrote. French says,

Hugh Hefner didn’t invent pornography…Hefner, however, played his part, and the part he played was immensely destructive to our nation’s cultural, moral, and spiritual fabric. Hefner mainstreamed porn, he put it in millions of homes, and he even glamorized it — recasting one of America’s most pathetic industries as the playground of the sophisticated rich. He then grew to a ripe old age, consorting with women young enough to be his granddaughters. He was America’s most famous dirty old man.

And now he’s dead…

It’s hard to calculate the damage he did, but the cultural rubble is all around us. My generation is perhaps the first to grow up with easily accessible porn…

The effects have lasted a lifetime. Boys grew up believing they were entitled to sex on demand, and the sex would always be amazing… They learned that monogamy was confining, that promiscuity was liberating, and that women should always be hot….

How many families have broken to pieces when a wife discovers her husband’s secret addiction and realizes that she’s not enough — that she’s never been enough…? How many men have grown to hate themselves for their psychological dependence on the saddest of habits? The testimonies from porn nation are devastating….

To see men become addicted to porn is to watch character formation in reverse….They lie habitually to cover the extent of their habit…even when their wives are allegedly “open” and sexually liberated…The screen alone is never enough, the wife is never enough, and the addict so often seeks mistresses, prostitutes, or both.

Another family breaks. More lives fall into despair….

And yet, the secular, progressive guardians of our public morality — you know, the people who think you’re a horrible person if you don’t recycle or if you use the wrong pronouns — all so often don’t just tolerate but celebrate the sexual “liberation” that is part and parcel of porn nation.

So many A-list celebrities spent time at the Playboy Mansion…Our president has. The evidence is on his office wall.

French concludes his article by saying, “When I think of Hugh Hefner, yes I mourn, but I mourn because the bitter fruit of his life’s work has helped poison the families of people I know and love. He is gone, but his legacy lives on. And his is a legacy of despair.”

One of the consequences of autonomy on the part of humanity where we rationalize God out of existence is that we sacrifice truth on the altar of subjectivism. Ethics and morals are no longer determined on the basis of objective standards but rather by the size and strength of the latest lobby group. As a result, we have no enduring reference points; thus, societal norms are now in the present reduced to matters of preferences.

Obviously, one of the most devastating consequences of the repackaging of Satan’s age-old deception is the sexual revolution. I was talking to Mary Eberstadt on a Hank Unplugged about the sexual revolution. It lies at the root of many of the ills that we are facing in society today. Its bitter fruit is toxic and poisonous. Unfortunately, even in the pulpit, America has capitulated, but certainly in the secular community.

I once heard that noted evolutionist Sir Julian Huxley when asked why people so embraced the theory of evolution had a quip, which is quite memorable, he said it is because the concept of a creator God interferes with our sexual mores. As a result, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He became nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Now, I think of that response. It is pithy. It is memorable. But it eloquently captures the spirit of the evolutionary paradigm. Once you take God and relegate God to the status of a Disney character, what you have in return is freedom from all constraints. The ability to make up your own rules.

Hugh Hefner glorified sex in the media. It has been glorified as well in movies and through music. It is glorified by Madison Avenue. Not in the way it was intended to be glorified. One of the greatest gifts that God has ever given to humanity has been perverted. Today, we only have one rule, and that is Life has no rules. It is all a part of attempting to rationalize God out of existence in order to do away with His laws of morality, which is as absurd as voting to repeal the law of gravity because people have fallen off buildings and bridges and boats. Obviously, even a unanimous vote cannot change the deadly consequences for someone who later attempts to jump off of a ten-story building. My point here is simply to say that we cannot violate God’s physical or moral laws without suffering, disillusionment, destruction, and even death as consequences.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related reading, please access the following:

What’s the Problem with Pornography? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain (William M. Struthers, PhD)

Darkening our Minds: The Problem of Pornography among Christians (Joe Dallas)

Sexual Sanity for Women in a World Gone Mad (Ellen Dykas)

The Normalization of Premarital Sex: Satan’s Master Stroke? (Elliot Miller)

“You Shoulda Put a Ring on It:” Witnessing to Cohabiting Couples (Joe Dallas)

Sex, Lies, and Secularism (Nancy Pearcy)

Sex, Lies, and Christianity: Reclaiming Biblical Sexuality (Melanie Cogdill)

Defiling the Undefiled (Joe Dallas)

Single in Christ and a Sexual Being (Ellen Mary Dykas)

Modesty, Objectivism, and Human Value (Richard Poupard)

The following books are recommended titles for an apologetic’s library on the devastating effects of porn on culture:

The Game Plan: The Men’s 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity (B827) by Joe Dallas

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (B1087) by William M. Struthers

This blog is adapted from the September 29, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Recognizing the Canon

Who put the Bible together? Who chose those books to be bound together in that order?

That is a good question. Some of it is fairly self-evident. Let me start by giving you just a little analogy. If you look at certain Gospels, that are oftentimes considered to be Gospels, that were left out and read them, you will immediately realize why they are left out.

Over the last decade or so, for example, a Gospel that has gotten a lot of press is the Gospel of Judas. It is supposed to be far, far superior to the Gospel of John, and there is a lot of static on this on the Web. One day — and this has been quite a while ago — I decided to pick up the Gospel of Judas and, along with a colleague who has worked with me almost twenty-eight years, we sat in my office and read the thirteen papyrus pages. When we got done, we were on the floor laughing. Laughing because of the absurdity of the Gospel of Judas. In other words, people talk about it in glowing terms, but when you actually read it, you see the difference between that and the literary masterpiece that we call the Gospel of John or even the five books of John, including his epistles in the Book of Revelation.

I think the more fundamental answer to your question is that the books that we have in our Canon, or the books that were used in the early Christian church, obviously Jesus giving ratification to the Old Testament Canon but with respect to the New Testament Canon, these are books that were widely distributed and read prolifically in the early Christian church. They were letters. Those letters were not letters that were determined by men to be canonical or part of the Canon of Scripture; rather, they were discovered to be canonical based on the principles of canonicity.

A canon is a measuring rod or a stick by which you measure, and there are principles associated with that measure, and these books fall in line with those principles, including the principle of perspicuity. The principle of perspicuity means that the books are clear and consistent not only within themselves but also amongst themselves.

The operative way of taking about the Canon of Scripture is this: it is not human beings determining but human beings discovering.

When you are talking about the Old Testament, that Canon was established early on. That Canon was ratified by Christ and the Apostles prior to the time the New Testament Canon came into existence. I mean, there was a long time when there was no such thing as a New Testament Canon. The New Testament Canon came into existence over time. But, the practices of the early Christian church have been perpetuated to this day through Christ, through the Apostles, and through the early church fathers — Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch and later through the early New Testament catechism, a first or second century document. So, upon the basis of the tradition that has been passed down from Christ to the Apostles to the church fathers, we also have a tradition whereby we know what was used, what was circulated, in the early Christian church. That is how the Canon came to be.

“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)

For further related study, please see the following:

Is the New Testament Canon Authoritative or Authoritarian? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Fictitious Gospel of Judas and Its Sensational Promotion (Daniel Hoffman)

The Gnostic Gospels: Are They Authentic? (Douglas Groothuis)

Overcoming the Media Mania of the Gnostic Gospels (Paul Maier)

Please also check out these resources in our e-store:

Memorable Keys to Essential Christian D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E (P401) by Hank Hanegraaff

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

The Canon of Scripture (B329) by F. F. Bruce

This blog is adapted from the 9/18/2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Only Solution to Western Erosion and Islamic Resurgence


The reason I wrote the book MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion is that despite its incoherence, the Muslim cult (by the way, it is a cult — a cult of Arabian paganism, Judaism, and Christianity, and a muddy mixture of all of them at best), this cult one-billion-six-hundred-million strong and growing, is poised to fill the vacuum left by a Western culture that is slouching inexorably toward Gomorrah. Demographics are alarming. While polygamist Muslims boast a robust birthrate, native Westerners are moving rapidly toward self-extinction. Filling that void are multiplied millions of Muslims who have little or no intention of assimilating into Western culture.

Equally grave is the specter of global Islamic jihadism. That is calling it like it is. A global Islamic jihadism network that is now exacting mass genocide on Christians in the East and ever-multiplying terrorist attacks throughout the West. Just before I went on air, I did an interview with the Associated Press. During that television interview, I wore a button, and that button has the fourteenth letter of the Arabic alphabet on it: ن. The reason I wear it, as I explained to the AP reporter, is that I stand in solidarity with Christians who are facing mass genocide in the Middle East, which is squarely in the blind spot of the West. This symbol, the fourteenth letter of the Arabic alphabet — we use the word “nūn”; that is how you pronounce it, to describe this letter — has been scrawled on churches and homes of Christians throughout the Middle East, as they have been taken by Muslims. It is not just ISIS; other people have been plundering the homes of Christians as well. So I wear this, although it is used as a term of derision by Muslims against Christians who serve the Nazarene, Jesus Christ. I wear it in that I am standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are being maimed and murdered. Most of them I will not see this side of eternity, but I will see them in eternity. What more can I say?

We are witnessing the cobelligerency of fantastically wealthy Saudis. They are spending billions of dollars exporting virulent Wahhabism to the West. We think about ISIS or ISOL or Daesh, or whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is we have an alliance — because we are addicted to the alliance’s oil — we have an alliance with Saudi Arabia, the very country that is exporting something equally as bad or perhaps worse than ISOL itself. Exporting this virulent form of Sunni Islam to the West.

Worse still, Western governments, academic institutions, and media outlets are bent on exporting a false narrative respecting the religious animus that is animating global Islamic jihadism. I hope when you hear the monikers that are used on television, you will insert these words, at least mentally in your mind, for what is really going on. The best moniker to use is not radical Islam; it is global Islamic jihadism. That of course serves to recapitulate a problem, but what begs our attention are solutions.

Some might suppose that the solution lies in an aggressive use of Western military power. Now, that is wholly necessary in some cases, just as World War II was wholly necessary, but it is not sufficient. Sebastian Gorka, who was part of the Trump administration until, I guess, he could not stand anymore the political correctness going on in this regard, he wisely noted that you cannot win a war if you cannot talk honestly about your enemy. I should also say that the problem is not ultimately fixed either at the ballot box, because, as with military might, political activism plays a necessary yet insufficient role. The despotism of militant egalitarianism, radical individualism, multiculturalism, political correctness, and religious pluralism are not magically redeemed by political victories. That ought to be pretty clear to us by now. Even during the Reagan Revolution, illiberal liberalism — I love that moniker because it shows just what we have to deal with: an oxymoron — illiberal liberalism continued, even during the Reagan years, to hold sway in the educational, entertainment, and environmental industries, the very industries that create, manipulate, and disseminate ideological constructs that are driving Western civilization in a very, very dangerous direction.

Again, that is why I wrote the book MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion. I am using the acronym MUSLIM so that you can remember, or get your arms around, what Islam is all about.

The only real solution to a disintegrating West, to a resurgent Islam, is what the prophetic pen of Os Guinness wisely designated renaissance. In other words, it is the power of the gospel, however dark the times. “The challenge,” said Guinness, “is to shake ourselves free from the natural despondency of those who look only at circumstances and at the statistics of decline and gloom.” As Christians, we do well to realize that the West has been one place before, and now it appears that the West has almost been lost a second time. Now partly in response to the courageous faith of those who have achieved it twice before, but more in response to the Great Commission itself, it is time, it is high time, to set our minds and hearts to win back the West to our Lord again.

— Hank Hanegraaff

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

Apologetics

Sally Quinn, Hexes, and the Truth about the Occult

Speaking about a true evaluation of things, I wish Sally Quinn had a true evaluation of things. I was reading USA Today, and the headline in huge, huge type was “Sally Quinn Has Cast 3 Hexes, and Worries They Worked.” She, of course, is a veteran journalist and founder of a website, ironically enough, called On Faith. She describes her lifelong belief in the occult, and worries that she once put hexes on people, and those hexes actually worked.

You read the article (it is in a question-and-answer format), and in response to questions, she pointed out that she has “psychic abilities.” She says, “My mother put hexes on two people,” and, boy, did they work; those people “died.” She said, “I saw her do it,” and then “when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, there were three people who hurt me in some way, or [hurt] somebody I loved, and so I decided to put a hex on them.” When she was asked, “How do you put a hex on someone?” She said, “There’s sort of a ritual. I light candles and music and fire and notes,” and she said, as a result, “one person died right away, another person got fired immediately and then died, and then the other one died right away.” Evidentially, two died instantaneously.

Quinn’s brother said to her, “You’ve really got to cut this out. This is bad karma,” and, “In some way, you have put out bad energy and it comes back at you threefold, and you’ve just have got to stop this.” When she heard that, she said, “I never did it again,” although she has been tempted. She says, “Believe me, since [Donald] Trump was elected, and since the election, I can’t tell you how many friends have asked me to put a hex on Donald Trump, and I won’t do it. I just said no. I don’t do that anymore.” In other words, she is not going to murder another person. It worked for her mother, did not have to use a knife, sword, didn’t have to use a gun. Just had to learn the ritual and use a hex.

The USA Today Q & A ends with her saying, “I…had this epiphany, which was that all of the things that I had believed in, all of the magic that I had believed in, was just as legitimate as organized religion, of Islam or of Judaism or of Catholicism, or of Protestantism. And it was just that it wasn’t organized in that way and that therefore didn’t have that respect….So I began to see that all religion was magic, and it is.” She also says, “I can’t understand that any God who was omniscient and all good could allow suffering, and that’s the big hurdle I have about a confessional God.”

I think it is important for us in light of Sally Quinn’s new book Finding Magic, it is instructive and incumbent upon us to discuss a couple of things. She does not believe in a confessional God because a confessional God would not allow suffering. What’s the Christian response? Secondly, she is involved in occult practices, or at least she was, and I think by looking at the title of her book (although I have not read it), she still is into the occult to some degree. She is just not killing people anymore with her hexes. It is a pretty disturbing thing, and we need to talk about the world of the occult as well. This is another example of why it is necessary for Christians to always be ready to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within them and do that with gentleness and respect.

Now, what Sally Quinn is into is the world of the occult. I thought that I would spend a few moments talking about the world of the occult because this is one of the core values of the Christian Research Institute: to counter cults and this occultist kind of behavior Quinn’s involved in.

It is kind of interesting, even in the article she was not going to divulge all the secrets, and that is quite common because the actual idea in the Latin (i.e. occultus) has inculcated in it this idea of hidden or secret. But, of course, now she has taken the world of the occult, and it is no longer in the closet. It has been glamorized. Think about this: you don’t like someone; you can kill them. You do not even have to go to court. This kind of sorcery or magic is an attempt by occultists to harness paranormal powers for private purposes. What they do is they use these ritualistic formulas — Quinn talks about “candles and music and fire and notes” but doesn’t want to elaborate beyond that — they use spells, incantations. What they are trying to do is harness what they perceive to be the natural and spiritual powers of the universe in order to satisfy their own desires. Someone hurts you, someone does not love you as they should, you feel jilted? Well, put a hex on them, and then they will pay. It is just a matter of learning how to harness this power.

What does God say about that? First of all, God lets us know that it is lame. There is no real inherent power here. It is mythological. It is not real. But, God warns the Israelites that these very practices would inevitably lead to their downfall (Deut. 18:9–13). Not only that, but He rebuked the Babylonians. He rebuked them because they supposed that they could bypass His power through their many sorceries and potent spells (Dan. 2:1–23; Isa. 14:1–23). That is the germ of the issue. It is seeking another power other than God. It is trying to supplant the one who created the universe and stamped His imprimatur upon us with a counterfeit. In doing this, they are believing in a kind of spiritism that is completely bankrupt. Ouija boards, the crystal ball, the idea of conjuring up the dead, all of this is something God spoke out against very, very strongly warning those who practice spiritism by saying, “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists” (Lev. 20:6 NIV).

In the Bible, we see something very graphic in this regard. Sally Quinn really could not kill anybody with her hexes. That is delusional. God, however, has the power of life and death. You see in 1 Samuel 28, Saul — who was made the first king of Israel — turn from God to hexes, spiritualists, to the witch at Endor. As a result, he thinks that through a witch, he can get answers that he no longer wants to get from God. Remember, in the story, Samuel appears, and the witch is bewitched. She is absolutely terrified because she certainly was not expecting this. Samuel was raised from the dead not by an occult power, which would be impossible, but by God. That was done as a severe warning. You see that warning carried out in the life of Israel’s first king because with the warning came the result. Saul died (1 Sam. 31).

We should never turn to anyone but to the true and living God. The bottom line when it comes to spiritists is prostitution. When they are involved in that kind of prostitution, they end up cutting themselves off from all that is true, right, and good.

I was also very intrigued by Sally Quinn saying, “I can’t understand that any God who was omniscient and all good could allow suffering, and that’s the big hurdle I have about a confessional God.” This, of course, brings up one of the questions that is asked over and over again by those who disbelieve. That question is asked to those whom believe, and those who believe need to answer, and when they answer, they give a reason for the hope that lies within them, and hopefully they can do that with gentleness and with respect.

At first blush, when that question is asked — when you are asked the question about evil or suffering — there might seem to be as many responses as there are religions. In truth, there are only three: pantheism, philosophical naturalism, and theism.

Now pantheism, we get rid of the first two quickly; it denies the ultimate existence of good and evil. Why? Because in this view, God is all, and all is God.

What about philosophical naturalism? That is the worldview that undergirds evolutionism. Well, philosophical naturalism supposes that everything is a function of random material processes, and thus there can be no such things as good and evil in the ultimate sense.

Theism is the only possibility, and only Christian theism answers the question to suffering and evil in a satisfactory matter.

Let us boil this down to three things. First of all, freedom of choice. Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil when He created humans with freedom of choice. We choose to love or hate. We choose to do good or evil. The record of history bears eloquent testimony to the fact that humans of their own free will have actualized the reality of evil through their ungodly choices. God is not the author of evil. He created the potential for evil, but He did that by granting humans freedom of choice.

There is a second point. Without choice, love is meaningless. A lot of people do not like to hear this, but it is true. God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces His love on people nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love Him. Instead, God, who is the personification of love, grants us freedom of choice. Without freedom, we would be little more than preprogrammed robots.

The final point I would like to bring out in this regard is the fact that God creating the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice is ultimately going to lead to the best of all possible worlds. It is going to lead to a world in which there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Those who choose Christ will be redeemed from evil by His goodness and will forever be free from sin.

We live in a fallen, sin-cursed world, and many people suffer as a result of the sin not only of a cursed world but the sin of people. Lives are taken away by drunk drivers, by murderers. We should also recognize that the gravity that keeps us on the planet is the same gravity that enables fatal falls. In that, we realize that even natural disasters — we have just experienced in Houston, Texas, one of the worst devastations in the United States of America, hurricane Harvey and now hurricane Irma, looks like its sight’s set directly on Florida — and a lot of suffering can come out of that. In the midst of suffering, there has to be a word of encouragement. That word of encouragement is this: we look forward to a place, a universe, in which it no longer groans and travails but is liberated from its bondage to decay, as Paul puts it in Romans 8:18–25, and we too ourselves will be liberated. So we look forward to that which we do not yet have, and we expect it earnestly.

— Hank Hanegraaff

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, NKJV).

Apologetics

The Secret and Joel Osteen: An Even Greater Problem than American Christianity’s ABC moment.

We do live in an anything but Christian moment. Sometimes it has been called an “A-B-C” (anything but Christian) moment. It is a moment in human history in which we are not only being attacked in the West by a liberal liberalism but we are also being invaded, as it were, by militant Islam. The demographics alone are alarming. Perhaps there is even a greater problem, which is the problem of a church ill-equipped, and ill-prepared. A church that is gorging on empty calorie diets. A church that is no longer a leavening force within the culture. If there was ever a time in which the church needed to stand up and be counted, it is now.

Let me give you just a little anecdote. There was an article in USA Today entitled “How Conor McGregor’s Belief in Law of Attraction Will Help Him Beat Floyd Mayweather.” This of course was about the Floyd Mayweather vs. Connor McGregor fight which took place on Saturday. Connor McGregor talked about the law of attraction in this article. He said, “It is the most powerful thing in the world…the belief that you are able to create whatever situation that you want for yourself and no one can take it from you. It is believing something is already yours.” McGregor went on to say, “If you can see it here and you have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen…you are creating that law of attraction and it will become reality.” Vocalizing desires then makes them real. McGregor predicted as a result of the law of attraction that he would win in just two rounds. He lost, of course, in the tenth round.

Now, that anecdote is interesting to me for this reason: it does not just come out of midair. It comes from a book that was a mega bestseller called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. She told the world that she had discovered the secret to life, and boy did the world take notice, Oprah Winfrey at the top of the list. What was the secret? The secret was the law of attraction. Rhonda Byrne got the law of attraction from the New Testament. She says it is quite easy; the New Testament gives it to us in “three simple steps”: ask, believe, receive. Then she goes on to point to herself as the principle example. In order to transform herself from fat to thin, she had a method; she thought thin thoughts. In fact, she said she did not so much look at fat people because if you see people who are overweight and observe them, that is going to be a negative consequence. She says as a result of the secret, “I now maintain my perfect weight of 116 pounds and I can eat whatever I want.” In other words, for her, the error was to think that food [i.e., overeating] was responsible for weight gain.

That kind of rhetoric, at first blush, may seem merely silly, but there is a clear and present danger in the reasoning. Just as her followers must avoid fat people for fear of becoming fat as well, they must avoid cancer victims for fear of contracting cancer or, for that matter, poor people for fear of becoming poor. In other words, you have to avoid the very people that Jesus exhorts us to care for. Do not even look at them, according to Rhonda Byrne.

What I found to be remarkable about Byrne is that she is remarkably open with respect to The Secret’s dark underbelly. She points out events in history where masses have been lost. Why? Again, the law of attraction. They attracted horror to themselves. Thoughts of fear can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “We are attracting everything to ourselves” and “There is no exception,” says Joe Vital, a law of attraction devotee. Thin thoughts produce thin bodies. On the other hand, six million Jews brought the horror of the Holocaust upon themselves. Or, think Houston. In Houston, there are millions of people attracting fifty-seven-trillion liters of floodwater to fall on Houston because they are thinking negative thoughts — at least that is the logical extension of her view.

For Rhonda Byrne, the jinni is the law of attraction, but this has metastasized, because it is not just being taught in the world under a quasi-Christian framework; it is being taught overtly in the church. In Houston, you have Joel Osteen. He is explaining that you have to begin speaking words of faith over your life; your words have enormous creative power; the moment you speak something out, you give birth to it, it is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you are saying is good or bad, positive or negative. When Osteen describes the genocide of nearly one million Rwandans, the implications are never far from the surface. Wherever and whenever tragedy strikes, words are at the center of the narrative. “Think about it,” exhorts Osteen in Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, “Your words go out of your mouth and they come right back into your own ears…and those words will produce exactly what you’re saying.” As proof, Osteen invokes the Bible. Says Osteen, “The Scripture tells us that we are to ‘call the things that are not as if they already were’” or were already in place. The problem here is he has taken a text, and he has distorted the text. He is quoting from Romans 4:17 and, as he must surely know, that text says nothing of the sort. It does say something of the sort, it is just that he has put a spin on it. The spin is that we are to call those things that are not as though they already were. But what does the Bible say? It says it is God who calls those things that are not as though they already were.

All of that ought to be a warning that we are within the church buying into a form of New Thought metaphysics carefully packaged for Christian consumption. Now the atheist world, the materialist world, looks at this and says, “See how easily Christians are misled! How gullible they are!” But, this is a caricature of Christianity. It is not the real thing.

What I am saying is this: yes, we face a threat from a liberal liberalism. Just think about the transgender movement. Now sex is no longer tied to biology. Think about gender fluidity. There are fifty-seven or more varieties now. Think about same-sex marriage. All of this is a threat to the historic Christian faith and to Western civilization. Then we have the demographic issue of millions and millions of self-aborting Europeans meaning that through the social structure now in vogue, the death rate exceeds the birthrate, and filling the vacuum (as vacuums are always filled) are millions and millions of polygamous Muslims. Yet, you wonder, somehow or other, how in the world could Islam be in bed with a liberal liberalism or vice versa? Does not seem to make much sense? But it does when you come to think about the reality that, right now as I speak, Christianity is seen as the obstacle that has for too long been dominant within Western culture, and it must be unseated. Now you have, as I said, strange bedfellows. In the midst of this milieu, a crumbling church and me talking to you on the Bible Answer Man broadcast saying, if you will be salt and light, you can exercise the power of one, and make a difference. And if you think the power of one is not significant, think Martin Luther. Or, think about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Or, in a negative sense, think about Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong or Pol Pot. We can make a difference, but it is not because words create reality; it is because we are called by God who does create reality to be empowered by the Spirit and to go out and make a difference while there is yet time.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following articles:

What Is The Secret? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Secret Revealed: Assessing the Latest Self-Help Phenomenon (Robert Velarde)

Osteenification and What It Portends (Hank Hanegraaff)

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

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

What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 1): E. W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel (Hank Hanegraaff)

What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland (Hank Hanegraaff and Erwin M. de Castro)

God Is Love, but Is Love God? (Elliot Miller)

Addressing the ‘Positive Gospel’ of the Metaphysical Movement (Dean C. Halverson)

See also our e-store resources:

Christianity in Crisis, 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

The Osteenification of America by Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the August 29, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.