Apologetics

Shedding Light on Tracy Morgan’s Vision of the Afterlife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

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

—Hank Hanegraaff

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

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

Celebrity Death and the Meaning of Life (Robert Velarde)

Heaven is Real (Hank Hanegraaff)

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

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

The Contradictory Recollections of Near Death Experiences (Hank Hanegraaff)

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

Apologetics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Hank Hanegraaff

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

For further study:

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

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

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

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

Apologetics

Calling Out John Hagee’s Outrageous Spin

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What are your thoughts on John Hagee?

I have written about John Hagee in a book called Christianity in Crisis 21st Century. He is a committed Word of Faith teacher who believes that faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, and through the force of faith one can create their own reality.

Hagee is also a committed Christian Zionist. He has said some pretty bizarre things about his belief in that regard, which I chronicle in my books Christianity in Crisis 21st Century and The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times…and Why It Matters Today. For example, one of the things he does as a leading Christian Zionist is he routinely castigates those who do not share his two people of God theory as replacement theologians who are carrying Hitler’s anointing in their message, despite the fact that it is he—not those who he constantly impugns—who holds that Israel will soon replace the church as the focus of God’s plans. In fact, according Hagee’s view it is not the too distant future in which two thirds of Jews—whom he is now helping to herd into the Holy Land—are going to suffer a Holocaust that will make the Nazi atrocities pale by comparison.

Not only that, but I think it is truly tragic that Hagee places far greater emphasis on returning Jews to the Land than he does on turning Jewish people to the Lord. One of the quotes that I have in The Apocalypse Code are pretty telling. He says, “Let us put an end to this Christian chatter that ‘all the Jews are lost’ and can’t be in the will of God until they convert to Christianity!”1 Incredibly then, he goes so far as to take the onus off the Jewish community and places it squarely on the Jewish Christ. He says, “If Jesus refused by his words or actions to claim to be the Messiah to the Jews, then HOW CAN THE JEWS BE BLAMED FOR REJECTING WHAT WAS NEVER OFFERED?2 In other words, he goes so far as to say that the Jewish people wanted Jesus to be their Messiah but Jesus absolutely refused. Says Hagee, “The Jews were not rejecting Jesus as Messiah, it was Jesus who was refusing to be the Messiah to the Jews!”3

Now think about this? If you had read through the Gospels even once, you know full well that Jesus emphatically contradicted what John Hagee is purporting. Who can forget—and I am sure not one person listening to me and I cannot imagine that Hagee could forget—who can forget the emotionally charged words that Jesus spoke as He was leaving the temple? He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34).4 Or as the Apostle John put it: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). It is very clearly the Jewish people in Scripture—the Scripture to whom John Hagee is alluding—who rejected Jesus not the other way around. Plainly put, Hagee’s spin is historical revisionism pure and simple.

I would add to suggest as Hagee does that the Jews are somehow entitled to building settlements in Gaza and yet excluded from the blessed salvation of the Gospel might well be the height of antisemitism, which he accuses others of. Worst still the notion that Jews in the twenty-first century are going to endure a Holocaust for the first-century sins of their fathers is as unbiblical as it is unthinkable.

Only a Gospel of peace and justice through faith in the one who died for both Jew and Gentile is potent enough to break the stranglehold of antisemitism fueled in large part by bad theology. Hagee is making some really outrageous claims against people and he ought to be called on it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”

(Romans 1:16-17)

For further related study:

John Hagee (Christian Research Institute)

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

Modern Israel in Bible Prophecy: Promised Return or Impending Exile? (Stephen Sizer)

Christian Zionism in Action (Douglas LeBlanc)

In Defense of Zionism: Hagee’s Mandate for Supporting Israel (Kenneth Gentry, Jr.)

Beginning of the End (H. Wayne House)

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

Notes:

  1. John Hagee, Should Christians Support Israel? (San Antonio, TX: Dominion, 1987), 125
  2. Ibid, 63
  3. Ibid., 67-68
  4. All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Blog adapted from the February 7, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Addressing National Geographic’s Gender Revolution

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I want to mention something in follow up to a question I was asked on yesterday’s broadcast. I was asked about an article in National Geographic, which turns out to be the entire magazine almost. It is a special issue dealing with the gender revolution. I mentioned yesterday that I had not read it, so I got a copy of it, and read the whole thing today, quite a task I might add.

It starts, interestingly enough, by quoting Gloria Steinem, who says the most pressing gender issue today is “getting rid of [the idea] of gender.” According to Steinem, the most pressing issue is to get rid of the idea of gender. You have to divorce it from biology. Why? Because according to Steinem, “the idea of race and the idea of gender are divisive.”

We have all kinds of new terms indicated in National Geographic like “gender fluid,” which is someone whose gender identity shifts between masculinity and femininity, between a man and a woman. Another is “gender queer,” someone whose gender identity is neither man nor woman; instead, it is between or beyond genders or a combination of genders.

One of the articles was titled “Helping Families Talk about Gender.” The first sentence reads as follows: “All children need the opportunity to explore different gender roles.” Every single child on the planet again needs the opportunity to explore different gender roles. According to the article in National Geographic.

The cover story sports a picture of Avery and says she “spent the first four years of her life as a boy and was miserable.” From 0 to 4 she was absolutely miserable, but now as a transgender girl, the Kansas City native, has become “impressively articulate and wise.” She has made that transition from boy to girl, and the wisdom is already self-evident at a very young age.

The conversation continues with evolving notions about what it means to be a man or a woman and the meanings of words like transgender, cisgender, gender non-conforming, gender queer, agender, or any of the more than the 50 terms Facebook offers users for their profiles. You got lots of options over 50. Sadly, enough a recent survey of 1000 millennials found that half of them think that gender is indeed a spectrum.

In the face of that what do we do? The first thing we do is recognize that God has spoken, and the Bible is crystal clear respecting gender bending activities. Secondly, we ought to adjust our attitude. In place of a we/they siege mentality, Christians must recommit themselves to becoming salt and light, and do so with gentleness and respect. Finally, we must never yield our conscious to the subtle lure of what is today “politically correct” in magazines like National Geographic. The temptation to yield to cultural norms is going to be pressed on each Christian with increased veracity. Yet, to yield is to abandon the very call that God has placed upon our collective lives.

—Hank Hanegraaff

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them

(Genesis 1:27, NIV).

This blog adapted from the January 31, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Interesting Hits and Major Misses in the Jesus of Islam

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Talk about the Jesus in the Bible and the Jesus in the Quran.

On the one hand, it is kind of encouraging to see Muslims agreeing with us on so many things. Muslims agree with us on a lot of things about Jesus that most other people in the world do not agree with us on. For instance, Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Who agrees with us that Jesus was born of a virgin? The Muslims do. Muslims believe that Jesus lived the most miraculous life in history. Of everyone else in history, they say Jesus was the most miraculous. They believe Jesus was the Messiah. They believe that He had a miraculous end to His earthly existence. They do not believe He died and rose from the dead, but they believe that Allah miraculously rescued Him. They believe that Jesus is going to return to play some important role in a future judgment.

We look at that and we see a lot of common ground between us and Muslims. Those can be very interesting points of to lead off in conversations. But, Muslims do that as well. Muslims draw attention to these similarities to say, “Hey, you know you Christians, you believe Jesus was born of the virgin? We do too. You believe that Jesus performed miracles? We do too. You believe that Jesus is the Messiah? We do too. Look at all this common ground we have.” Muslims will use that in their efforts at da’wah, which is sort of Muslim evangelism.

What is interesting is that when we look at the areas where they disagree with us on, it is kind of exactly what you would expect given what the Gospel is in the New Testament. In other words, when the Apostles went out and preached the Gospel, Jesus had taught them many things but when they condensed it, what is the core message of the Gospel, they always preached about Jesus death for sins, His resurrection, and that we have to submit to Him as Lord. Death, resurrection, and deity this was the take away message from the Apostles. When we look at Islam, Islam agrees with us on Jesus on almost everything else except those three things. They will say Jesus did not die on the cross, He did not rise from the dead, and He is not Lord.

The Christian response when Muhammad came along should have been something on the lines of “Wow, we have been expecting you because we have been told that false teachers and false prophets are going to come and corrupt the Gospel, and you have just nailed all the core of the Gospel while agreeing with us on so much else.”

Talk about the misunderstanding that a Muslim would have or the misapprehension with respect to the phrase “Son of God,” where Allah contends that this has to do with sexual procreation and whereas a Christian says that this has to do with special relationship.

It is really actually a problem for Islam. In other words, if a seventh-century Arab caravan trader like Muhammad hears Christians talking about the Son of God, misunderstands the phrase, and thinks that we are talking about God producing an offspring. That would not be very surprising. We would at least expect God to know what we mean by the phrase Son of God and to respond to what we actually believe. What we find in the Qur’an is that Allah says how can he have a Son when He has no wife (Surah 2:116; 6:100-102; 39:4). It is presupposed in the Qur’an that the only way for God to have a Son is to have a husband and a wife.

Now on a kind of side note, what is interesting about that is when the angel announces to Mary, in the Qur’an, that she is going to have a son, she raises the same objection. How can I have a son when no man has touched me. Allah’s response is that it is easy for Allah (Surah 3:45-47). In one part, it is impossible for God to have an offspring without having a wife, but Mary can have an offspring without having a husband. A bit of an inconsistency there.

When you look at the Bible, there are a variety of uses for the phrase “son of God.” It can mean that you sort of reflect God’s will. When it says blessed are the peacemakers they shall be sons of God (Matt. 5:9). God is not producing an offspring, it is where sort of we have a kind of family resemblance if we are doing God’s will. Israel is called God’s son because God plays a direct role in starting Israel and so on (Exod. 4:22-23). Jesus is the Son of God in a unique sense in terms of His relationship with the Father and because He is the Messiah (John 3:16; 20:30-31; Luke 22:66-71). What is interesting of all the different uses of “son of God,” angels are called sons of God in certain contexts and so on (Job 1:6; 2:1), but of all the different uses of “son of God” none of them have anything to do with God actually physically producing an offspring. Yet, according to the Qur’an that is the only thing Christians can mean.

Muslims look at this and say, “You Christians have a problem because you are saying God has a son” and the response should be “No, you Muslims have a problem because you God, who wrote your book, did not know what even mean by the phrase ‘son of God.’” It cannot be a revelation from God.

—David Wood

David Wood, PhD, is host of the Trinity Channel’s live talk show Jesus or Muhammad? He has participated in more than forty moderated public debates in the United States, Great Britain, and France.

For further study, see “Jesus in Islam” by David Wood in the Christian Research Journal 40-1.

Blog adapted from the February 2, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Apprehending the Trinity

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When Jesus Christ was on the cross crying out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)* was He praying to Himself?

This is one of the reasons that we believe in the Trinity. We believe Jesus is not talking to Himself. We do not believe that Jesus is Himself the Father. We see that there is a subject-object distinction between the Father and the Son. The Father sends the Son (John 5:36-38; 8:14-18; 12:46). The Son prays to the Father (Matt. 26:39, 42; Luke 23:34; John 11:41-42).

The Trinitarian belief is that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; Psa. 86:10; Isa. 44:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Jas. 2:19), but within the Godhead, there are three distinct persons. There is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The reason we believe that is the Bible clearly states that the Father is God (Matt. 6:9; Jas. 1:17; 1 Cor. 8:6), the Bible clearly states that the Son is God, in passages like John 1 or Colossians 1 or Hebrews 1 or Revelation 1, the Bible also clearly and emphatically states that the Holy Spirit is God (2 Cor. 3:17; 2 Pet. 1:21; Acts 5:3-10; 28:25-27). Not only so, but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (John 1:1; Col. 1:17; Rev. 1:17, 2:8; cf. Isa. 41:4, 44:6 and 48:12; Heb. 9:14). The Father never becomes the Son or the Son never becomes the Father. We believe in one God, revealed in three persons, who are eternally distinct.

Now because there are subject-object distinctions within the Godhead, we see the Father sending the Son or the Son praying to the Father or in the case in which Jesus is saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Remember in His incarnation, Jesus voluntarily takes on the limitations of humanity without divesting Himself of a single attribute of deity. He is now asking His Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” And what He is in this case drawing our attention to is Psalm 22. There’s a context there. What does Psalm 22 tell us? In verse 24, it tells us “He has not despised or distained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to His cry for help.” We know that ultimately Jesus is not forsaken. What we have here is what is typical in the Psalms, a contrast between emotional despair and faith in God that is being highlighted.

Which member of the Trinity do I address in prayer?

I think it is perfectly appropriate and biblical to pray to the Father, to pray to Jesus Christ the Son, and to pray to the Holy Spirit. For example, you can thank the Father for sending the Son. You can thank the Son because the Son has saved us from our sins. You can thank the Holy Spirit that He empowers us for service. Because there are personal self-distinctions within the Godhead you can pray to each member as it were of the Godhead, each Person within the Godhead.

We say there is one “what”—one God by nature or essence—and three “whos”—three Persons. Now that is something that I have confessed many times on the Bible Answer Man broadcast that I cannot comprehend; I can only apprehend. Now if the Bible is telling me to believe that there is one God and three Gods that would be an obvious contradiction, but what the Bible is saying is that there is one God by nature or essence and three in person, and that is not a contradiction, though it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study:

Is the Trinity Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

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)

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

Loving the Trinity (James White)

The Trinity: A Case Study in Implicit Truth (Ron Rhodes)

This blog adapted from “When Jesus was on the cross he wasn’t talking to himself was he?” and “The Trinity

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

Apologetics

The Planned Parenthood Prenatal Ruse

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I want to mention something about Planned Parenthood. It seems that Planned Parenthood is putting extra emphasis on its non-abortion services. The reason they are doing that is to justify the $500,000,000 that Planned Parenthood receives each year from you and I. In other words, from tax-payer funding. Prenatal care, however, seems to be virtually non-existent according to Live Action in a video entitled “The Prenatal Care Deception.”

Here is what Planned Parenthood people themselves say. “Planned Parenthood offers abortions not prenatal care.” This was a receptionist at Planned Parenthood in Tempe, Arizona. Another Planned Parenthood person in Albany, New York agreed, saying, “No, Planned Parenthood does prenatal care hon.” Another in Merrillville, Indiana said, “No, we don’t do prenatal services. I mean it’s called Planned Parenthood, and I know it’s kind of deceiving.”

Well, the abortion business does almost 1/3 of all abortions in the U.S. 870 per day, some 320,000 a year. Perhaps there are millions more that are not accounted for.

“Planned Parenthood says it’s a champion of women’s health care; yet, prenatal care, which is an essential service for expectant mothers, is virtually non-existent,” says Lila Rose, who is president and founder of Live Action. “Our investigators who wanted to keep their babies were turned away,” she says, “by 92 out of 97 Planned Parenthood centers. It’s clear that despite its claims, abortion is the priority and the only option for pregnant women that visit Planned Parenthood.” There is a big ruse going on according to this organization, which is doing some pretty good primary research. Live Action is exposing the underbelly of Planned Parenthood.

You know there are so many arguments I hear today. For example, I hear from the pro-abortion lobby this inequality argument. Simply put, the inequality argument posits that a woman forced to carry her baby to full term could not compete successfully with a male counterpart in the workplace; therefore, she should be provided the latitude to abort. Think about carrying this to its logical conclusion. The inequality argument would apply to abandonment as well. Imagine the absurdity of arguing that in order for a woman to compete on an equal basis with a man she should be afforded the opportunity not only to abort a preborn child but to abandon a preschooler.

The arguments are pretty lame and Planned Parenthood is trying to keep its money. It is fighting hard for the $500,000,000 we give them and I hope they lose that fight.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Apologetics

Not Pomp and Power but Dependence Upon the Lord

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I took off some time to watch the inauguration of Donald John Trump. The peaceful transition of power. It was quite a sight to behold. I could not help but think as I was watching the inauguration and all of the festivities of what happened March 4, 1865. This was the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln. Those words forever etched in the annals of history. “With high hope for the future,” but “no prediction in regard to it” that is the future said Abraham Lincoln, “is ventured.”

Lincoln went on to say,

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

I was thinking that Abraham Lincoln died precisely forty-one days after he penned those words and then spoke them at the inauguration. My mind flashed back to the prophet Isaiah:

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever….

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?….

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust….

Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing….

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff

(Isaiah 40:6-8, 12, 15, 17, 23-24 NIV).

Interestingly enough, when you think about the proclamation that Lincoln made for a national day of fasting and prayer. I loved what he said:

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

I bring all that up because when we see the pomp and the power sometimes we think we can rely on the arm of flesh, but ultimately, we are totally and completely reliant on the arm of the Lord.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Blog adapted from the January 21, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Fast Food Christianity of Paula White

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I was looking at the list of people who would be praying at the presidential inauguration, and one of them was Paula White (Paula White-Cain) the notorious Word of Faith preacher.

White famously said, “when God begins to speak to you, you get up and go to the phone, because God is telling you $68.19 for the next 12 months, which happens to be $818. What Deuteronomy 8:18 says that God will give you power to get wealth”1 Well, this is “faith food”2 or fast food for millions of gullible people around the world.

She claims to have had a divine visitation in which

God gave her a vision of multitudes of millions of people as far as her eyes could see. In the vision, every time she opened her mouth and began to declare the Word of the Lord, there was a visible manifestation of the power of God – souls were saved, the sick were healed, and the broken were restored. Conversely, when she was silent, people began to fall into utter darkness.3

The message that she had to loudly proclaim was that “God does not want us to live in poverty or lack” for “He wants you to be prosperous.” Indeed, says Paula, “God wants you to have it all.”4

To have it all requires the sowing of seeds, so says Paula, “For the next 12 months I am sowing $68.19, based on Psalm 68:19, that daily God will load me up with benefits.”5 The magic in the numbers is breathtaking. Paula goes on to say, “$68.19 for the next 12 months, which happens to be $818.” Then she uses the pretext of Deuteronomy 8:18 to make her point “God will give you power to get wealth.”6 But, what is more astounding about this is how many gullible people find merit in White’s message.

On one occasion White said, “Today, I was in prayer and fasting and seeking God, when God said to her saying, challenge the people to give $66.12 according to Psalm 66:12.” Then she promised her devotes, “the Word cannot return void. When you put your faith with the Word, then you have mandated results.”7

Like other faith teachers, her formula for success involves speaking right words, and thinking right thoughts. Speaking of the power of words she says, “Oh come on Paula…are you actually saying that just because my mouth says something that makes it true?” Well, she answers her own question by saying, “I’m here to tell you, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying: Your words create your world” (Italics in original).8 Her justification is that “If God can create something out of nothing, and if we are created in His image, then if we can image it, or imagine it, then, so it can be for us.”9

She garners support not only through claims of revelations and visitations and prophecies—including by the way the prophecy that a child would be saved by a thirteen-foot angel10—but though specific claims of prophetic healing. Her healing claims rival those of Jesus Christ Himself. White purports to have seen everything from the blind receiving sight to resurrections from the dead.11

Tragically, the Devil’s in the details. To date she has not provided even basics to buttress her boasts, but her fame continues to spread from her church in Florida that she decimated to what she started now in New York and now she was featured in the inauguration.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further Study:

Turning Truth into Mythology (Hank Hanegraaff)

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)

Notes:

  1. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon 2003, November 14, 2003
  2. Paula White Ministries, “Paula’s Life Story.”
  3. Ibid.
  4. Paula White Ministries, “Follow God’s Principles ‘To Have it All’
  5. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon, November 4, 2003.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon, April 6, 2005
  8. Paul White Ministries, “Understanding the Power of Words Over Your Money.”
  9. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, February 6, 2004
  10. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, June 10, 2003.
  11. White says, “I’ve seen blinded eyes open and I’ve laid hands on women where they’ve removed the womb and fallopian tube only to go back see them holding twins and I’ve watch as they pronounced people dead only to see them praising God in our church after laying hands and calling forth life back into them and I preached the Gospel on every continent and seen over a million people come to the lord Jesus Christ” (Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, June 10, 2003).

Blog adapted from the January 16, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Book of Mormon Fails

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The Book of Mormon is the record of two great civilizations—at least allegedly. First the Jaredites, who left the Tower of Babel and migrated to the Americas twenty-two hundred years before Christ. The second migrated from Jerusalem around six-hundred BC, and divided into two great nations—the Nephites and the Lamanites.

The Lamanites, according to the Book of Mormon, were “white and exceedingly fair and delightsome;” however, due to sin, “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). The lone Nephite survivor in the final battle with their Lamanite enemies was a mighty military commander named Moroni. (You, of course, see him on steeples of Mormon temples.)

Along with his father Mormon, Moroni inscribed the most correct of any book on earth in Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics and buried it in the hill of Cumorah. After bring resurrected as an angel, Moroni appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith, and instructed him relative to its destined translation into the English language. Smith, in due course, found the book inscribed upon golden plates along with a pair of magical eye glasses that he used to translate the Egyptian into English. The result was a new revelation called the Book of Mormon.

There is a problem. No archaeological evidence for a language such as Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics. No archaeological evidence for the great civilizations chronicled in the Book of Mormon. No archaeological evidence for lands such as the land of Moron that is described in Ether 7. No anthropological evidence that the Nephites and the Lamanites migrated from Jerusalem to Mesoamerica. Indeed, both archaeology and anthropology militate against the people, places and particulars that are part and parcel of the Book of Mormon and demonstrate conclusively that the book is little more than the product of a fertile and you might say enterprising imagination.

Here is the deal. Like the Book of Mormon, the Bible has been roundly denounced, as a cleverly invented story. But, there is a difference. Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Bible is buttressed by history and evidence. While the archaeologist spade continues to mount up evidence against the Book of Mormon, it has piled up proof upon proof for the people, places, and particulars that are inscribed in the parchment and papyrus of biblical manuscripts. I’ve written about that evidence in my book Has God Spoken?

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Is the Book of Mormon Credible? (Hank Hanegraaff)

DNA Science Challenges LDS History (Bill McKeever)

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

Book of Mormon Word Change (Bill McKeever)

Problems with the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon (Bill McKeever)

LDS Church Acknowledges Anniversary’s Ban on Priesthood for Blacks (Eric Johnson)

Historical Artifacts and Biblical Sources: Determining what is True (Jerry Pattengale)

Biblical History: The Faulty Criticism of Biblical Historicity (Paul Maier)

Biblical Archaeology: Ally or Adversary (Paul Maier)

Blog adapted from the January 12, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.