Apologetics, In the News, Journal Topics

Last Dance-Chaz Bono and Dancing with the Stars

I’ll miss Dancing with the Stars. Watching it was a weekly family ritual everyone in our home looked forward to, so our decision to stop leaves a void. It’s not a decision made out of moral piety because, after all, plenty of performers on that show have behaved in less than saintly ways, and don’t even get me started on some of the costumes! Nor am I afraid that, as a noted psychiatrist recently warned, young people will become gender confused by viewing a transsexual. (After all, the transsexual in question saw plenty of non-transsexuals as a child, which tells me gender identity isn’t seen then mimicked) And it’s not, as some have stupidly said, an act of prejudice or hatred to stop watching DWTS because of Chaz Bono’s participation. For the last time, disagreement and hatred are two hugely different experiences that ought never to be confused.

No, it’s more than that. I feel that I, along with the rest of the country, am being asked to celebrate a female in a specifically male role. If Chaz was simply a guest on a cooking show, or talk show, then no big deal. But Bono is assuming an officially male role in Dancing, which I as a viewer am asked to applaud. Strike that – I as a Christian am being asked to applaud it. And that I cannot do.

My Creator looked on the His newly formed man and made His first critical remark about humanity – that it wasn’t good for man to be unbonded, unattached, alone. (Genesis chapters 1 and 2) The Female was then specifically and deliberately made for completion of the male, and the contrast between the two was as intentional as their very creation. And if, as God noted to Jeremiah, we are known from the womb (Jeremiah 1:5) then the sex we’re born with is assigned, not optional. Our subjective experience cannot overrule created intent, and I can’t in good conscience applaud, however well intended, attempts to change what was divinely decreed.

Yes, a person must indeed feel an enormous pull towards becoming the opposite sex if such a person goes through the time, effort and financial sacrifice to attempt a sex change operation. Some accept the outcomes of these operations as valid, but some, myself included, see them only as cosmetic attempts that disfigure (without changing) the original. So I can respect how strongly Chaz must have felt the need to be male, else why go through so much to achieve the goal? But herein lies the problem: If someone says they feel are one thing, yet their physical, verifiable state testifies to something else, are we really so wrong in assuming that the problem is not their physical status, but rather their feeling? To put it crudely, if I say I feel like Napoleon Bonaparte, yet my physical status clearly says I’m not, is it really fair to expect you to go along with my feelings and ignore what’s plain to both sight and common sense?

I don’t think so. And that’s why this season is the last dance for me and my house. I wish Bono the best, who I’m sure doesn’t share my worldview and therefore shouldn’t be expected to conform to it. But nor can I conform to Chaz’s, so I politely and respectfully withdraw.

I’ll sure miss Bruno’s rants, though. Nobody can do enthusiasm like that guy.

Joe Dallas is the program director of Genesis Counseling in Tustin, California, a Christian counseling service to men dealing with sexual addiction, homosexuality, and other sexual/relational problems. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and is the author of books on human sexuality, including Desires in Conflict (Harvest House, 1991) and A Strong Delusion (Harvest House, 1996). For a more detailed article by Joe Dallas on transsexualsim, see his article “The Transsexual Dilemma” from the Christian Research Journal at http://www.equip.org/articles/the-transsexual-dilemma. The Christian Research Journal is a must-have tool in your apologetics library so please subscribe to the Journal (6 issues for $39.50).

In the News

Literal Interpretations and Reading the Bible for all Its Worth

Dave Lose, author of Making Sense of Scripture, and Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, recently contributed to the Huffington Post an article entitled “4 Good Reasons Not to Read the Bible Literally.” I took an interest in reading the article, as the biblical writers utilized figures of speech (e.g. hyperbole; metonymy; synecdoche), and that there are instances when “Literal Interpretations Don’t Hold Water.”

A positive point made by Lose is that the Bible does not idealize humanity, but includes all of our warts and wrinkles. Abraham passed on of his wife twice, Moses murdered, David committed adultery, and Peter denied the Lord. “Whatever their accomplishments,” writes Lose, “most of the ‘heroes of the faith’ are complicated persons with feet of clay. And that’s the point: the God of the Bible regularly uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.” Problems also abound with Lose’ article, as the bulk of it is a disappointing criticism Bible inerrancy.

According to Lose, “There is no hint that the authors of the Bible imagined that what they were writing was somehow supernaturally guaranteed to be factually accurate.” Elsewhere in the article he asserts, “Earlier Christians—along with almost everyone else who lived prior to the advent of modernity—simply didn’t imagine that for something to be true it had to be factually accurate, a concern only advanced after the Enlightenment.” Yet, this makes no sense. If God has spoken to us through Moses and the prophets in the Old Testament and Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament, then it can be deduced that the information communicated would be without error. Common to each of the Gospel is teaching on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; yet, if this teaching is not factually accurate, then the theology is also good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. Paul gets it when in stating: “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Inerrancy does matter!

What are the so-called “errors” of Lose? One is Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, which the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke record towards the end of Christ’s ministry in contrast to John who places it at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. It is true that the wooden literalist, whether liberal or conservative, stumbles when coming to grips with the chronology of the Gospel writers, the issue is not the four Gospels contain factual errors; rather, the Bible student is to be sensitive to the literary structures inherent within the biblical text noting the unique ways the Gospel writers under the inspiration of the Spirit constructed their account. There is no contradiction with “Christ’s Cleansing of the Temple.” Lose also makes a fuss about the crucifixion occurring on the Passover in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but on “the Day of Preparation” in John. This is simply making a mountain out of a molehill, and John’s “Day of Preparation” is simply a reference to the Passover week. D. A. Carson writes, “ ‘Passover’ can refer to the Passover meal, the day of the Passover meal, or (as in this case) the entire Passover week (i.e. Passover day plus the immediately ensuing Feast of Unleavened Bread” [1].

Lose’s assertion that “Most Christians across history have not read the Bible literally” is correct in so far as it means the wooden literalist interpretation of fundamentalist on the left and on the right only came about in the last hundred and fifty years; however, the allegorical interpretation associated with Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine and other early church fathers can likewise be considered problematic. It is really through the historical grammatical interpretive method that we can come to grips with the intended message communicated through the text.

God has spoken and, while fallible human agents were used to compose the message, these prophets and apostles wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that what was produced was the infallible Word of God. The task of the Bible student is to read God’s Word and using sound principles of hermeneutics, which is the art and science of biblical interpretation, draw out its intended message. For further study on this subject, Has God Spoken by Hank Hanegraaff is highly recommended.

— Warren Nozaki

Notes:

1. D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 604.

Apologetics, Journal Topics

What The Walking Dead Can Teach Pro-Lifers

The Walking DeadThe season finale of The Walking Dead raised an important question for Christians: Are humans nothing more than their physical brains? Are all of my thoughts predetermined by synapse firings in the brain? If so, several things follow. First, personal identity through time and change is impossible. When my physical body changes, my identity changes—meaning I can’t be held responsible from past crimes. Second, rational freedom is a myth. After all, if our thoughts are predetermined, we are not free to think any differently than we do. Indeed, one set of synapse firings is no more rational than the next. Third, rationality itself vanishes. If our minds are the result of blind and irrational forces of nature, why trust them to give us the truth about the world? In a strictly physical universe, survival rather than truth is primary. Fourth, human equality suffers. If human value is reduced to brain function, those with more of it are more human and valuable than those with less. Christian theism offers a more plausible explanation for human nature that can account for personal identity, rational freedom, and human equality. Humans are not mere physical machines, but a dynamic union of body and soul.

Scott Klusendorf is president of Life Training Institute and holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University. His feature article, “What The Walking Dead Can Teach Pro-Lifers” on which this post is based appears in the Volume 34, No. 4 issue of the Christian Research Journal (a 6-issue subscription is $39.50). To read the full article, please subscribe or renew your subscription or give a gift subscription.

Scott Klusendorf will be joining Hank Hanegraaff on the Bible Answer Man broadcast on Aug. 16, 2011. Tune in at 6PM ET at our website, www.equip.org!

In the News, Journal Topics

Christian Discernment in Response to the Norwegian Massacre

Over the weekend CNN reported Anders Behrig Brevik, the suspect accused of massacring dozens of youth at a Norway retreat center, returned to the scene of the shooting as part of a police investigation. As many can recall, numerous mainstream media (MSM) news sources began reporting that on Friday, July 22, 2011, there was a bombing of government offices in Oslo, Norway, and a connected shooting at a youth summer camp on Utoya Island, which left seventy-seven people dead. [1] The person who confessed to carrying out the attacks being the thirty-two-year-old Norwegian named Anders Behrig Breivik, who was arrested on the same day. [2] MSM sources such as CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times describe Breivik as a “right-wing fundamentalist Christian” opposed to multiculturalism and Muslim immigration to Norway. Even “Christian” news sources like The Christian Post recapitulated the “right-wing fundamentalist Christian” label to describe Breivek.

Christ’s followers can certainly mourn with those who mourn over this tragedy; however, when mass murderers are labeled “right-wing fundamentalist Christian,” all are encouraged to use discernment in determining truth from error. One must ask, “Just what is a right-wing fundamentalist Christian?” The term right-wing has broad connotations, and it can be used in reference to views expressed in biblical Christianity as well as unbiblical pseudo-Christian ideologies such as those associated with militant extremist groups like Christian Identity and America’s Patriot Movement. As news reports continue to update the situation, one finds Breivik’s views are more akin to the latter than the former.

CNN offered readers’ comments on the question: “Should Breivik be called a Christian fundamentalist?” In a Washington Post op-ed piece entitled “When Christianity becomes lethal,” Susan Brooks Thislethwaite, professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, finds the term Christian fundamentalism to be “less helpful today in understanding right-wing Christianity,” but laments that “Christians are often reluctant to see…connections their religion and extreme violence.” The distinction between biblical Christianity and unbiblical pseudo-Christian ideologies is simply indiscernible in her article.

Biblical Christianity has good reason to reject multiculturalism’s moral relativism and liberal intolerance. Scripture also teaches Jesus is the only way; however, this truth claim is certainly not the grounds for any evil done in Christ’s name, and criticisms on the purported biblical justification of holy wars and divine genocide simply hold no water.

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17, ESV)

—Warren Nozaki

Notes: 

  1. CNN Wire Staff, “Norway Honors Victims of Terrorist Attacks,” http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/29/norway.attacks/index.html?iref=allsearch
  2. Cf. CNN Wire Staff, “Timeline: Recounting Norway’s three-hour nightmare,” http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/24/norway.terror.timeline/index.html?iref=allsearch
Apologetics, Journal Topics

Sex, Lies, and Secularism

A collegiate website advises young women how to have a “happy hook-up.” Get “clear consent and mutual agreement to engage in sexual acts,” the article recommends. Then “the whole hookup experience will be more positive for everyone involved.”

Glancing at the author’s bio, I was surprised to learn that she is a student at a conservative Christian college.

When even Christian young people are buying into the hook-up culture, it’s clear that traditional ways of teaching biblical morality are no longer effective. Young people don’t only need rules; they need reasons. They need to learn the worldview rationale that makes sense of biblical morality.

Young people today are caught between two contradictory views of sexuality. A modernist view reduces humans to sheer biological organisms driven by impulse and instinct. By contrast, a postmodern view disconnects gender identity from biology, treating it as a social construction, fluid and changing.

As an example, a few years ago California passed a law requiring schools to permit transgender students to use the restroom or locker room of their preferred gender, regardless of their anatomical sex. The new law defined sex as “gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.” Notice the assumption that a person’s sex is “assigned,” as though it were purely arbitrary instead of an anatomical fact.

In short, postmodernism treats physical anatomy as insignificant, inconsequential, and completely irrelevant to gender identity. This is a devastatingly disrespectful view of the physical body.

Christians must make the case that a biblical worldview affirms a much higher view of the body than any secular view. It offers the radically positive teaching of a Creator who actually likes matter because he created it—a God who affirms our material, biological, sexual nature. Whereas secular views are inevitably dehumanizing, Christianity supports a high and holistic view of the human person.

Nancy Pearcey’s latest book is Saving Leonardo, on which this article is based. She is also the author of the best-selling, award-winning Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity. Pearcey currently teaches at Rivendell Sanctuary. Her feature article, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism” on which this post is based appears in the Volume 34, No. 4 issue of the Christian Research Journal (a 6-issue subscription is $39.50). To read the full article, please subscribe or renew your subscription or give a gift subscription

Nancy Pearcy will be joining Hank Hanegraaff on the Bible Answer Man broadcast on August 9, 2011! Tune in at 6PM ET at our website, www.equip.org!

Apologetics, In the News

The Fact and Fiction of Bruce Chilton’s Mary Magdalene

Last week for the Huffington Post, Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell professor of religion at Bard College, offered a synopsis of his book Mary Magdalene: A Biography (Doubleday, 2006). Chilton explains that Mary was a common name, which is why the biblical character was associated with a place called Magdala, so that she would not be confused with the other women with the same name. He points out that Jesus’ statement about the tax collectors and prostitutes having a better chance at getting into heaven before the chief priest and elders (Matt. 21:27) has led some to conclude Mary Magdalene worked the oldest profession (albeit the idea stretches credulity beyond the breaking point).

Chilton also mentions legends about the biblical character, such as her sailing on a rudderless ship to France, levitating while she prayed, being Jesus’ concubine according to the Cathars, or having sexual relations with Jesus and conceiving a child, as depicted in faked parchments produced by Pierre Plantard after World War II, which became subject to the popular fiction The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Please seeMary Magdalene’s Modern Makeover and The Da Vinci Code: Revisiting a Cracked Conspiracy” by James Patrick Holding.

Chilton believes Mary Magdalene was the one whom the Lord exorcised demons out of, and identifies her with the women who anointed the Lord at the end of His ministry in Mark 14. There is nothing problematic with these assertions per se; however, red flags are raised with Chilton’s statements about Mary’s encounter with the resurrected Lord being merely a vision. “Mary Magdalene’s vision, precisely because it was a vision in the earliest account (Mark 16) and not the inspection of an empty tomb, placed Jesus in the realm of heaven,” writes Chilton.

The idea of Mary Magdalene having a visionary experience of the risen Lord does not really pan out, particularly in light of the many other eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Paul Maire notes, “The ‘psychological’ or ‘hallucination’ theory would be attractive if only one person had claimed to see a vision of the risen Christ, perhaps Mary Magdalene, who formerly may have had psychological problems anyway. But the disciples were a hardheaded and hardly hallucinable group, especially Thomas. And, if sources have any validity, there would have to have collective hallucinations for different groups of up to five hundred in size, all of them seeing the same thing—a virtual impossibility in the case of a phenomenon that is usually extremely individualistic.”[1] (Please see, “Explaining Away Jesus’ Resurrection: HALLUCINATION The Recent Revival of Theories” by Gary Habermas.) Warren Nozaki, Research

For further study, please consider the following bookstore resources:

In The Fullness of Time
SB916/$23.00

Resurrection
B545/$14.00

The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God
B808/$31.99

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
B890/$16.99

The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ
B387/$12.99

Notes:

1. Paul L. Maier, In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1997), 196.

In the News

Do Ministers Like Joel Osteen and Charles Finney Help or Hinder the Church?

Charles Finney?

Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister at Colonial Church, in Edina, Minnesota, wrote a column for Patheos.com entitled, “Meet Joel Osteen’s Forefather, Charles Finney,” offering a general portrait of the nineteenth-century revivalist preacher, and highlighting certain parallels with the twenty-first century Word-Faith televangelist. For example, just as Osteen markets his ministry for the masses, investing $95 million to renovate the Compaq Center into a modern evangelical church without crosses, stained glass, and religious iconography, but with a café, wireless Internet access, videogames, and a vault for tithes, Finney similarly used theatrical preaching, introduced the altar call (perhaps to recruit new converts to assist in his anti-slavery campaign), called sinners out by name, prayed in “colloquial language,” which many considered “vulgar” at the time, and utilized publicity and mass media to promote nightly meetings.
Finney’s ideas, according to Harrell, were derived from a commitment to natural theology. Seeing that God endowed humans with rational faculties, the nineteenth-century preacher believed God could be known through human reason, volition, and ability; yet, Finney also found the doctrines of total depravity and original sin senseless, and taught that one could attain perfect sanctification. Harrell is right to point out “Finney’s take is not the Biblical gospel of grace.” Finney simply took human freedom to an unbiblical extreme, and the idea of Christian perfectionism is simply an error.
Harrell, having mentioned Finney in a sermon, received an apoplectic e-mail from a church elder complaining that the nineteenth-century preacher was responsible for much of what is wrong with American Christianity, to which Harrell agreed in part; yet finds “heirs such as Lakewood’s Joel Osteen, while at times terribly misleading and deserving of critique, are also the very messengers through whom thousands upon thousands of people first consider the possibility that they matter to God.”
It is true that people need to know they matter to God; however, can the message of Joel Osteen direct them to the God who cares? Osteen is in reality a new generation of Word-Faith teachers who teach a theologically aberrant prosperity gospel. Just as Word-Faith luminaries like Essek William Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn propagate the idea that faith is a force, words are containers of the force, and through the force of faith man can speak into existence their health and wealth, Osteen likewise teaches, “Your words have creative power. One of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. And there is a divine connection between you declaring God’s favor and you seeing God’s favor manifest in your life. And some of you are doing your best to please the Lord. You’re living a holy consecrated life but you’re not really experiencing God’s supernatural favor and it’s simply because you’re not declaring it. You’ve got to give life to your faith by speaking it out.” [1]
Harrell appeals to the principle of becoming all things to all people in 1 Corinthians 9 as justification for starting a contemporary worship service at his church, but also values Finney, Osteen, and other megachurch ministries as examples of ministers following the same principle. Is this what Paul really had in mind? Yes, a church designed like a popular entertainment venue or shopping mall with a practical life lesson delivered by a proficient orator attracts crowds, but is that really why believers gather together to worship? Who is the object of worship?
Are crowds really the “proof”? Many flock to so-called revival meetings to witness so-called signs and wonders performed by revivalists like C. Peter Wagner, Kim Clement, Bill Hamon, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner,and other associated with Joel’s Army, a part of the latter rain movement that believes the church is presently experiencing an end time restoration of super apostles and prophets; however, what they are really getting is spiritual counterfeit, which utilizes hypnosis to produce altered states of consciousness to induce bizarre behaviors like being slain in the spirit, or sardonic laughter. One can even argue that the hypnosis, altered states of consciousness, and induced bizarre behaviors were at one time relegated to the occult mystical practices associated with Hindu gurus and their ashrams, but now have entered into the church by the rock star like revival preachers. Some churches may attract the crowds, but are we witnessing the transformative work of the Spirit, or simply reproducing Counterfeit Revival?
—Warren Nozaki
Christianity in Crisis 21st Century (B995/$22.99) by Hank Hanegraaff further expounds on the problems on the problems with the Word-Faith movement, and Joel Osteen in particular.
Counterfeit Revival (B614/$12.99) by Hank Hanegraaff examines false revivals led by teachers purporting an end time restoration of super apostles and prophets manifested in bizarre signs and wonders such as being slain in the spirit and sardonic laughter.
Notes:
1. Discover the Champion in You, Trinity Broadcasting Network, May 12, 2003. Cf. “Promoting the Gospel of Self-Esteem,” and “Osteen’s ‘Gospel-Light’ Message” by Bob Hunter.
In the News, Reviews

Atheism Will Doom Britain, but Does It Have to Be this Way?

In an op-ed piece for The Jerusalem Post, Shmuley Boteach laments “Godlessness has doomed Britain,” since “Atheism equals nihilism, neither of which are fertile ground for a national resurgence.” The logic of this is impeccable. Boteach points out that Britain’s greatest exports on the subject of religion are from thinkers who despise religion, such as Richard Dawkins who “compared religion to child abuse,” and Christopher Hitchens, who “titled his 2007 book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” He also observes that whereas 92 percent of Americans believe in God, according to Britain’s National Center for Social Research, only 35 percent in Britain, and 43 percent declare no religion.

One can also point out that the militant approach of New Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens carries a strong rhetorical sway, and their arguments on the surface appear convincing. It is only when one examines them closely under the light of truth that one realizes none of them hold any water. (See “Village Atheists with Vengeance.”)

Boteach finds that there is nothing comparable in Britain to American megachurch pastors like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, and reasons that in the latter there is no official state church with religion being entrepreneurial, in the sense that “religion lives and dies in America like a commercial enterprise.” Pastors who “excite” with “uplifting and relevant” messages will fill pews, and those who do not will have empty pews. He also attributes “religious fervor” to the growth of America, “from pioneering backwoodsmen to the most powerful and innovative nation on earth,” whereas British influence has waned in the past century with “militant atheism” being “a key reason.” His explanation is that “atheism is a philosophy of nihilism in which nothing is sacred and all is accidental.”

The endgame of belief in a purely material universe that came about by random chance through the Darwinian Evolutionary process with its survival of the fittest and extinction of the inferior is nihilism. Boteach is certainly on target.

Whie it is generally true that “religious fervor” is a contributing factor to the growth and expansion of the United States, it is not “relevant” preaching that forms foundations of innovation and progress. One can argue that an attempt to be relevant makes for irrelevance (see “How Relevant Is Relevance?”). While Joel Osteen does have mass appeal, his overall message can be considered a “Gospel of Self-Esteem” or “Gospel-Light.” Whether or not his name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospel can provide spiritual foundations for lasting social transformation is doubtful.

To be more precise, one can make the case that the Bible has been the spiritual source underlying progress in Western Civilization. Vishal Mangalwadi, in his lecture series entitled “Must the Sun Set on the West,” makes a compelling case that the sun is setting on the West because the West has severed itself from the source of its greatness, the Bible; however, the sun need not set on the West, because people can still return to the source of their greatness. Ultimately, it is from minds deeply influenced by the truth of Scripture that have gone on to make innovations that ultimately transformed the West. How Christianity Changed the World also explores the way Christianity inspired the highest achievements in Western civilization from its humble beginnings.

— Warren Nozaki

For further related study, please access the following:

“Christopher Hitchens’s Sledgehammer Rhetoric” (Douglas Groothuis reviews God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens)

“The Cook’s Tale: A Naturalist’s Quest for the Ingredients of Life” (Angus Menuge reviews The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins)

“Darwin’s Rottweiler: Fierce Barks, Feeble Bites” (Doug Groothuis reviews The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins)

“Dawkin’s and Darwin’s Three-Ring Circus” (Jonathan Wells reviews The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins)

“Can Morality Be Based in Our ‘Selfish’ Evolutionary Past?

Please also consider the following bookstore resources:

AGAINST ALL GODS/CONFRONTING THE NEW VILLAGE ATHEISTS Package PK974/$14.99

The Book that Made Your World B1044/$22.99

Apologetics, In the News

Modern Medical Technologies, Abortion, and the Gendercide of Baby Girls

The Wall Street Journal bookshelf recently posted a review entitled “The War Against Girls,” wherein Jonathan V. Last offers chilling facts about the unequal ratio of aborted female babies over males worldwide, which is the general thesis of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men (New York: Public Affairs, 2011) by Mara Hvistendahl. Whereas natural ratios in birth are 105 boys to 100 girls, with 104 to 106 being in the normal range, Hvistendahl observes certain countries fall out of the natural window. China, for example, has a ratio of 112 boys to 100 girls with some towns over the 150 mark; Azerbaijan is at 115, Georgia at 118, and Armenia at 120. Last notes, “Since the late 1970s, 163 million female babies have been aborted by parents seeking sons.”

Hvistendahl explains that the increased availability of new medical technologies (e.g. amniocentesis, MRI scanners, ultrasounds, etc.) has made it much easier for a person to know the sex of their child, and decide to abort on the basis of a preferred sex. Surprisingly, the decision to abort baby girls is made by women, either mothers or sometimes mothers-in-law. Socio-cultural-economic reasons also play into the decision—it is cheaper to pay for a sex test than a dowry. The unequal and unnatural ratio of more males to females, according to Hvistendahl, potentially leads to other social ills, such as increased crime, inflated dowry price, and even greater demands in the mail-order bride industry. Nevertheless, Hvistendahl remains pro-abortion, and fears unless the unnatural selection of female abortions is addressed the “worst nightmare” of feminism could come about—a ban on abortions on the basis of gendercide.

Why should Hvistendah see the ban on abortions the “worst nightmare”? If the ratios of aborted fetuses were more identical to what occurs naturally would that justify killing girls and boys inside the womb? Is not the pro-choice rhetoric resounding so vividly in the United States that abortion liberates women with full body autonomy the real farce? Is this really not a misunderstanding true human dignity? In this instance, medical technology and abortion become the means for people with a skewed sense of their own human dignity—namely the idea that it is more valuable to have a boy than a girl in this world—to essentially carryout the unnatural gendercide of baby girls. The real question is where can people rediscover their own human dignity? Is not the biblical teaching on the imago Dei (the image of God in humanity spoken of in Genesis 1:27) the foundation to the sanctity of human life, the equality of the sexes, and key to our understanding of human dignity?

— Warren Nozaki, Research

For further study, please access the following:

Annihilating Abortion Arguments

Suffer the Violinist: Why the Pro-Abortion Argument from Bodily Autonomy Fails

The Shifting Focus in the Abortion Debate: Does the Humanity of the Unborn Matter Anymore?

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 1)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 2)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 3)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 4)

Also recommended is the following bookstore package:

Making Abortion Unthinkable: The Art of Pro-life Persuasion Audio CD Package
PK871/$29.95

Apologetics, Uncategorized

The Dangers of Tuning into Andrew Wommack

Andrew Wommack is a popular Bible teacher whose ministry is extended through radio, television, seminars, the Charis Bible College and various other extensions of the Andrew Wommack Ministries (AWM).[1] A close examination of Wommack’s teaching, however, clearly demonstrates he is doctrinally aberrant.[2]

The most controversial aspect of Wommack’s teaching is its incorporation of Word of Faith theology. As Word of Faith teachers twist Scripture to support the occult belief that faith is a force, words are containers of the force, and through faith-filled words we can speak things into reality, Wommack similarly takes Matthew 18:18 out of context as a proof text for his belief that “We can actually bind up the positive results of sowing and reaping in a godly person and loose the attacks of Satan against them by the words we speak (Prov. 18:21; Jas. 3:5-6, 9-10).”[3]

Just as Word of Faith teachers pitch various “give to get” cons as a means for devotees to obtain financial prosperity, Wommack likewise teaches, “Those who don’t give financially to the work of the gospel will not have God’s financial blessings in their personal lives. On the other hand, those who do give to the work of the Lord will have an abundant harvest of finances.”[4]

Word of Faith teachers tell us that all Christians must be in perfect health because healing is guaranteed in the atonement; likewise, Womack teaches, “It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time (emphasis in original).[5] Moreover, he even makes radical statements like, “The Lord never told us to pray for the sick in the sense that we ask Him to heal them. He told us to heal the sick,” and “Jesus told us to heal the sick, not pray for the sick.”[6]

The binding and loosing mentioned in Matthew 18:18 is neither in reference to the power of words to create reality, nor the commanding of demons. Jesus’ point concerns church discipline. Here the “binding” and “loosening” terms “normally used for tying up or imprisoning versus freeing or releasing, provide a natural metaphor for condemning or acquitting in a court.”[7] Christ’s command is practically worked out when Christians demonstrate truth by condemning sin and confirming righteousness.

Although Christians are encouraged to financially support the ministries of the church they attend, there is nothing in Scripture that guarantees a financial return for our donations. Rather, the Bible sets forth the general principle that sowing seeds of unrighteousness will produce bad fruits, but sowing seeds of righteousness will produce good fruits (Gal. 6:7).

The Bible also teaches that sickness and death are the normal order of things in this life, but that those who have faith in Jesus Christ have the hope of being resurrected and glorified at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:42-58), and that believers will no longer experience sickness, suffering, and death (Rev. 21:1-4). Jesus never made any absurd prohibition against praying for the sick; however, James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, “Is anyone sick among you? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14, NASB).

Wommack’s view on private prayer languages is also controversial. Concerning 1 Corinthians 12:30, he writes, “Some people have used this verse to teach that speaking in tongues is not for every believer since the obvious answer to this question is no. However, this is speaking about the gift of speaking in tongues that operates in a church service. Not every believer will operate in that gift. But every believer (Mk. 16:17) who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit can speak in tongues in his own private prayer life.”[8]

There is good reason to believe in the perpetuity of spiritual gifts, and that the gift of tongues has not ceased with the closing of the canon; however, speaking in tongues is not normative. Scripture mentions a “prayer language,” which in a sense refers to speaking or praying in tongues (see 1 Cor. 14:14). Some identify this language with the Spirit’s “groanings” that the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 8:26 (NASB). It is unclear whether these “groanings” refer to words inexpressible in human language or to words unspoken, and Christians disagree whether tongues can be practiced privately as well as corporately. Those who believe that Scripture allows for the practice of tongues in private or personal devotion may refer to verses such as Romans 8:23, 26; 1 Cor. 14:4, 18-19, 28. Some believe that, based on 1 Corinthians 14:19, interpretations of tongues are unnecessary when spoken privately. Scripture, however, emphasizes that without an interpretation the “mind is unfruitful” (1 Cor. 14:13-14, NASB). It is also worth noting that Mark 16:17 is not found in earlier and more reliable New Testament manuscripts, so this passage is very shaky ground upon which to establish a teaching that all Christians speak in tongues. Moreover, the spectacular signs in Mark 16:17 were wonders associated with the Apostles but one need not presume they are to be normative for all believers (cf. Acts 1-28). Keep also in mind speaking in tongues is an issue Christians can debate but over which they must not divide.

Given Wommack’s blatant use of Word of Faith theology, we do not recommend his ministry.

For further study on related issues, we recommend accessing the following Web resources:

What’s Wrong with the “Word-Faith” Movement?

Christianity Still In Crisis: A Word of Faith Update

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

What’s Wrong With the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Answering Questions about Televangelists

The Perpetuity of Spiritual Gifts

Scripture vs. the Spiritual Gifts?

We also recommend from our bookstore:

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century
B995/$22.99

Notes:

1. AWM, “About Us” (http://www.awmi.net/about_us), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

2. AWM., “Statement of Faith” (http://www.awmi.net/statement_of_faith), accessed Sept. 3, 2008. Cf. The Essentials of Christianity,” “CP0600 – Heresy and Aberration — What’s the Difference?” and “What Is a Cult?

3. AWM, “Matthew 18:18” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/mat_18_18), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

4. AWM, “Galatians 6:7” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/gal_06_07), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

5. AWM, “Faith For Healing Is Based On Knowledge” (http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/healing_knowledge), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

6. AWM, “Our Authority Releases God’s Power” (http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/authority_releases), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

7. Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 94.

8. AWM, “1 Corinthians 12:30” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/1co_12_30), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.