When ever I watch the O’Reilly Show and he has a segment on religion of any kind, I am immediately skeptical waiting for miscues and outright error concerning what the Bible teaches. Bill often represents his own Church’s doctrine (Roman Catholic) inaccurately as well. So it was with some real reservations that I hung in there to watch the segment on; “Is There Life After Death?” There was no doubt in my mind that Bill believed in “life after death,” after all he is a Roman Catholic. So I was confident that at least that question would be viewed in the positive, especially since he was airing this question in the context of the resurrection of Christ. Continue reading ‘Is There Life After Death?’
When our family gathers for thanksgiving, its a large festive occasion. Full of noise from exited grand kids and discussions ranging from what’s happening in our respective homes, our gadgets (cell phones, tablet, and computers), ministry blessings, and of course what ever football game is on at the moment.
We will sit around one large table to enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner with the younger grandchildren at a separate table.
While this blog is primarily a discussion of theology from a Biblical perspective, I thought this very funny video was worth a post!
- Michael Holtzinger
For the uninitiated, this headline would seem to be just another liturgical ceremony of the Roman Catholic Church. It is viewed as harmless and maybe even respectful of the life of Pope Paul II and that is all.
But what does it mean when the Catholic church talks about the process of “beatification”? For the Catholic Church it is the “last step before being declared a saint.” This is also called the process of “canonization”. “By canonizing some of the faithful, ie., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.” So this is the process whereby the Catholic Church recognizes that certain individuals because of the exemplary life as seen by the Church have earned heaven and sainthood. Of course, not only is the life of the person examined but there must also be evidence of sainthood through the performing of two miracles that are recognized by the Catholic Church. In the case of Pope Paul II only one miracle has been recognized. The Vatican has deemed that the otherwise inexplicable cure of a French nun, Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was due to John Paul’s intercession with God to perform a miracle, thus permitting the beatification to go ahead. Another miracle will have to be attributed to John Paul’s intercession after the beatification in order for him to be declared a saint. Of course, for the Catholic Church this process is complicated and intricate, the beatification and subsequent canonization is recognition of the sainthood of the deceased individual and also his or her intercessory influence before God.
“Believers in Christ’s atonement are now in declared union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration; those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death… Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ. To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions, they begin to look like Confederacies in Evil… It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin.”
C.H.S., Nov. 1887, The Sword and Trowel.
A few days ago, I received an email inviting me to attend a conference in Seattle called “Inhabit Conference” at the end of April. The Conference is being hosted by Mars Hill Graduate School and being sponsored by “Parish Collective,” Mars Hill Graduate School”, and “Transform.” The Theme is “The West Coast Gathering for the growing transition toward rooted Practice – Presence – and Place.” Since I am not part of the emergent/emerging missional movement I really didn’t know what the code words Practice, Presence, and Place meant so I took the time to do some research and see if I could glean some meaning.. The best explanation I could find was on their Facebook page; “the Inhabit Conference brings together innovative missional practitioners from across the West Coast to empower, encourage, and engage each other around the common theme of inhabiting a particular place.” With that in mind, and upon some further research, the organization, “Parish Place” one of the sponsors, seems to really see the missional directive in that same kind of language. Michael Frost of Paris Collective puts it this way;
“God’s reign and rule is not only over individuals and their lives, it’s actually over the planet, it’s over human society, it over everything, God’s reign is complete, utter, and total, even though it is perceived kinda partially and mysteriously. Well then the mission of God’s church is to alert people to God’s reign over the planet, over the environment, over human relationships. So for me the mission of the church, I think, is identifying the way God’s reign or rule is unfolding in their neighborhood and that’s always pursued in the context of place. It’s perceived in the restoration of relationships, in the presentation of beauty, and in the expression of justice. And all of those things are always expressed locally in a sense of place. So rather than church membership being the primary goal of mission, the primary goal of mission needs to unfold or uncover that ways in which God reign is being expressed in the place in which we currently find ourselves.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ( ESV ) 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,£ not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being£ might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
I recently received an email encouraging me to attend a pastor’s meeting where I would have a chance to meet and interact with a speaker who’s ministry is to , among other things, encourage the development of natural and spiritual giftedness in light of the pastor’s call to ministry. In a paragraph called “Living Your Strengths”, the author states ; “Your calling is what God wants you to do with your life; your talents and strengths determine how you will get it done. When you discover your talents, you begin to discover your calling.” The author was encouraging us to particiapte in StrengthFinder/APEST Seminar which will be held in early February 2011 .
To discover these talents and gifts that are defined into 5 categories (Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelist, Shepherd/Pastor, and Teacher, taken from an interesting hermeneutic of Ephesians 4:11) a person can take the APEST online self-assessment designed to solicit an individual response to a series of questions. It was developed and adapted from a team of Gallop Research scientists, headed by Dr. Donald O. Clifton which is based on their 40 year study of human strengths in which they created a language of the 34 most common talents and developed the assessment to help people discover and describe those talents. Continue reading ‘A Call To Ministry’
I cannot count the number of times that I have told people how bad the Constantine was for the Christian faith. Well, today I was reading Culver’s Systematic Theology and ran across this statement. Thank you Robert for saying it so well:
“In modern times faith has been wrongfully “rationalized” and “psychologized”, just as in the medieval period it was “legalized” and ruined by the reduction to mere assent to facts.”
Culver, Robert Duncan, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor Imprint, 2005. 716.
I feel sick to death of the common talk about the healthiness of doubting and the beauty of “modern thought.” This talk is only the self-praise of a set of concealed infidels treacherously lurking in God’s church.
- C.H. Spurgeon, “The Three Witnesses,” a sermon originally preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Sunday morning, 9 August 1874.
There is no question that this year’s mid-term elections are consequential. “Change we can believe in” has become “change that’s a nightmare”. The very fabric of our constitution is at stake. Voting and involvement in politics is the art of influence, and it is not perfect or pure. What we need to remember is that we are to never put our trust in men and politicians (Psalms 20:7; Psalms 146:3) no matter how well intentioned they may be. Power has a corrupting influence on the best of men and we need realize that all politicians will disappoint. But a citizens we have a responsibility to use our influence for good (Proverbs 29:2).
If you live in the State of Washington, Bob Williams of the Evergreen Foundation has a great voter’s guide at:
Check it out.
- Michael Holtzinger
“There are, in truth, but two denominations upon this earth: the Church and the world – those who are justified in Christ Jesus and those who are condemned in their sins.”
- C.H. Spurgeon 1887, Sermon 1987
I am no fan of Christianity Today but the link below is an insightful article on many levels into the Emergent movement and so-called “Hipster Christianity.”
Just recently I received a letter from my insurance provider that there would be an increase in premiums due to the new federal law (Obama-care), along with a letter I received a month earlier about a premium increase. The net effect has meant a 51% increase in premiums, higher deductibles and larger co-pays. These increases are due in great measure to State and Federal forced mandates of coverage upon the insurance companies.
What is even more reprehensible is that the consumer is forced to pay, through their premiums, for procedures others may go through that they may find morally unacceptable and violates their faith and moral ethos. For the Christian whose faith is built on a Biblical Judeo-Christian ethos, you are now losing your freedom to practice your faith through healthcare laws as well as your freedom to choose your health coverage.
So, what can we do? One: Oppose at the ballot box anyone who supported Obama-care or any other State or Federal regulations that rob us of our religious freedoms and financial choices. Two: Actively oppose any organizations, unions, political PACS or fellowships that support this over-reach of constitutional powers and loss of liberty. Three: Support candidates for political office and organizations who oppose this movement toward political, religious, and healthcare tyranny. Four: Get out there in your sphere of influence and passionately make your views known. Be persuasive! Five: Take personal responsibility and get creative with your healthcare needs. There are options out there that allow many if not most to legally opt out now and look for other ways of protecting themselves from financial destruction due to healthcare costs and protect their religious liberty.
Just for the record, I am opting out and taking personal responsibility for my healthcare needs. I am getting creative and setting up my own personal HSA to help cover clinic and medication costs and I joined a Christian healthcare sharing ministry to help cover catastrophic healthcare needs. I vow to be vocal and politically active to protect the liberties of my neighbors. I will not, in the future, pay any fines and will resist any attempt to rob me or my neighbors of their unalienable rights (rights from God, not the fickle, capricious, political will of men). To do anything less would mean that I am complicit in the moral downgrade of our country. This I will not do! Will you?
- Pastor Mike Holtzinger
” When the world patronizes the Church, the Church will need tenfold grace to maintain her spirituality, just as on an ocean steamer any speed beyond a certain limit is only attained by an expenditure of power altogether out of proportion to the increase of the distance traveled. ‘Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!’ (Luke 6:26). Such praise is not for good soldiers of Jesus Christ! If the enemy begins to love one of the king’s generals, that king may half suspect that his general is turning traitor. God save us from such treachery! ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ (1 John 2:15).”
~ Charles Spurgeon, 1891, Sermon 2225
” For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was – a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have an astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the in holy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”
~ A. W. Tozer, “The Root Of The Righteous”, (Harrisburg, PA, Christian Publications, 1955), pg.32-33
While Tozer was speaking of the influences of the world in the church in 1955, it may seem difficult to see his concerns in light of today’s so-called “seeker-sensitive” churches or “missional churches” who have so “engaged” the culture, that it is difficult to separate the world from the church.
In the end, the deadly seriousness of the Gospel has been trivialized, and minimalized, as we have become more interested in meeting the felt needs of the audience. The audience is now sovereign, not the Lord Jesus Christ and propositional truth born from the Scriptures. Tozer saw entertainment becoming the primary tool used for outreach. He rightly feared that the evangelical church was replacing the frivolous and the carnal for the supremacy of the clear preaching of the Word of God and the worship of the saints of God was becoming a spectator sport. Like Spurgeon, Tozer feared the “down grading” of the church which would leave us with only a shell, devoid of sound doctrine and lofty worship where Christ would be seen and worshiped as supremely holy and the only sovereign of our lives.
Sadly, worldly pragmatism for the sake of church growth and perceived ministry success has replaced our reliance upon the ministry of the convincing and convicting power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). It is easier for us to manufacture counterfeit growth than to wait on the movement of the regenerating ministry of the Spirit of God (Titus 3:5; John 3:5-6) as the church supplicates in fervent prayer and as separated witnesses ( I Peter 3:15) in obedient reliance as planters and sowers ( 1 Corinthians 3:7-8). The latter requires a church of faith while the former looks to that which man, can and likes to do.
- Michael Holtzinger