Archive for ‘Heresy’

October 5, 2016

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century

christianity-in-crisis-21st-century-coverStatus: Checked Out

Book Description:

Nearly two decades ago Hank Hanegraaff’s award-winning Christianity in Crisis alerted the world to the dangers of a cultic movement within Christianity that threatened to undermine the very foundation of biblical faith. But in the 21st century, there are new dangers—new teachers who threaten to do more damage than the last.

These are not obscure teachers that Hanegraaff unmasks. We know their names. We have seen their faces, sat in their churches, and heard them shamelessly preach and promote the false pretexts of a give-to-get gospel. They are virtual rock stars who command the attention of presidential candidates and media moguls. Through make-believe miracles, urban legends, counterfeit Christs, and twisted theological reasoning, they peddle an occult brand of metaphysics that continues to shipwreck the faith of millions around the globe:

“God cannot do anything in this earthly realm unless we give Him permission.”

“Keep saying it—‘I have equality with God’—talk yourself into it.”

“Being poor is a sin.”

“The Jews were not rejecting Jesus as Messiah; it was Jesus who was refusing to be the Messiah to the Jews!”

“You create your own world the same way God creates His. He speaks, and things happen; you speak, and they happen.”

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century exposes darkness to light, pointing us back to a Christianity centered in Christ.

From the Preface:

“Having lost the ability to think biblically, postmodern Christians are being transformed from cultural change agents and initiators into cultural conformists and imitators. Pop culture beckons, and postmodern Christians have taken the bait. As a result, the biblical model of faith has given way to an increasingly bizarre array of fads and formulas.”

hank-hanegraaffAbout the Author:

Hank Hanegraaff is host of The Bible Answer Man, heard daily throughout the United States and Canada. He is president of the Christian Research Institute and author of many bestselling books, including The Prayer of Jesus and The Apocalypse Code

Pages: 432
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 3, 2009
ISBN: 0849900069

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

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June 29, 2016

Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook

Watchman Fellowship Profile NotebookStatus: Available for reference in library only.

Book Description:

Arlington, Texas based counter cult educational and evangelistic ministry, Watchman Fellowship, provides this custom notebook which contains every Profile published by Watchman Fellowship bimonthly since 1993 — over 450 pages!

These Profiles are 4-page briefings on new religious movements, the occult, cults, New Age spirituality, and related doctrines and practices. New Profiles will be added to the Notebook six-times per year as they continue to be published on an ongoing basis.

Watchman Fellowship is largely staffed by traditionalist Southern Baptists who subscribe to a Dispensational Premillennial view of eschatology. Not every view espoused by Watchman Fellowship necessarily reflects the views of the session of Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church.

Source: Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook Page

About the Author:

Watchman Fellowship is an independent Christian research and apologetics ministry focusing on new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age.

David Henke founded Watchman Fellowship in Columbus, Georgia in 1979. Today, Watchman Fellowship has grown to several offices in the United States.

Watchman Fellowship serves the Christian and secular community as a resource for education, counseling, and non-coercive intervention and evangelism training. We accomplish these tasks through our church presentations, personal counseling, this website, and other activities. We have served almost every denomination including Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Lutheran, Nazarene, non-denominational, etc., as well as schools, law enforcement agencies, and civic groups.

Concerning a person’s right to choose, we believe that a real choice is one based on access to all the information, and understanding both or all sides. The counterfeit groups typically try to block their members and the public from having access to this information. We have found that most cults will use deception, control, cover up, and dishonesty with their own members and the people they are trying to convert. This deception includes some or all of the following: the group’s history, false prophesy, false scholarship, a distortion of true church history and doctrine, and destructive practices of the group.

Our name, Watchman Fellowship, is often confused with the Watchtower Society title used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, we are in no way affiliated with them. Our name is taken from the Old Testament book of the Bible, Ezekiel.

“Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” (Ezekiel 33:7)

As Christians, we do believe that “we are our brother’s keeper.” Like the watchman on the wall (Ezekiel 3:17), we have the responsibility to sound a warning against the deception and destructive spiritual abuse practiced by counterfeit groups. In sounding such warning Watchman Fellowship also has a principled commitment to accuracy.

Source: About Us Page

Book Details:

450+ Pages
Publisher: Watchman Fellowship
Publication Date: 2016

Source: Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook Page

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

November 25, 2015

God Transcendent

God Transcendent CoverStatus: Available

Book Description

J. Gresham Machen ‘was one of the most colourful and controversial figures of his time, and it is doubtful that in the ecclesiastical world of the twenties and thirties any religious leader was more constantly in the limelight’. Machen was a scholar, Professor at Princeton and Westminster Seminaries, church leader, apologist for biblical Christianity, and one of the most eloquent defenders of the faith in the twentieth century.

God Transcendent is a collection of Machen’s addresses. It shows, perhaps more clearly than any of his books, why he was such a great man. In these messages, Machen expounds the greatness and glory of God, the wonder and power of the gospel and the exhilaration of serving Christ in the front line of spiritual warfare.They show why Machen fought so tenaciously for biblical truth against error: ‘It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight’.

This series of popular messages includes Machen’s famous address, “The Active Obedience of Christ,” delivered only weeks before his death on January 1, 1937.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
1. God Transcendent
2. Isaiah’s Scorn of Idolatry
3. The Fear of God
4. Sin’s Wages and God’s Gift
5. The Issue in the Church
6. The Letter and the Spirit
7. The Brotherhood in Christ
8. The Claims of Love
9. The Living Saviour
10. Justified by Faith
11. The Gospel and Modern Substitutes
12. The Separateness of the Church
13. Prophets False and True
14. The Good Fight of Faith
15. Constraining Love
16. The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance
17. Christ Our Redeemer
18. The Doctrine of the Atonement
19. The Active Obedience of Christ
20. The Bible and the Cross

J Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

About the Author

John Gresham Machen was born at Baltimore on July 28, 1881, the middle of three sons born to a southern lawyer, Arthur Machen, whose brother had fought for the Confederates in the Civil War. Some time in his youth Machen came to a personal faith in Christ, but there was no dramatic conversion experience. In later years he was not even able to recall the date (4 January 1896) when he had publicly professed faith and become a church member in Franklin Street Presbyterian Church. He was educated at Johns Hopkins and Princeton Universities, Princeton Theological Seminary and the Universities of Marburg and Göttingen in Germany.

Machen taught at Princeton Seminary from 1906 until its reorganisation in 1929. Then he left to help found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he served as professor of New Testament until his death from pneumonia on New Year’s Day, 1937. In 1936 Machen was instrumental with others in founding what became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and was its first Moderator.

[See also Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Banner of Truth, 1987); Geoffrey Thomas, ‘J. Gresham Machen’, The Banner of Truth, No. 214 (July 1981), pp. 12-20 and Nos. 233-238 (February-July 1983) .]

Source: Banner of Truth Trust

Paperback, 206 pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust

Publication Date(s):

1949 (Wm. B. Eerdman’s Edition)
1982 (First Banner of Truth Edition)
2002 (Banner of Truth Edition Reprinted)

ISBN: 0-85151-355-7

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

November 21, 2015

Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy

Pelagius

HT: Wikipedia

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie lead a discussion on the heresies of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, and the decline of conciliar orthodoxy.

Pelagianism—A teaching, originating in the late fourth century, which stresses man’s ability to take the initial steps toward salvation by his own efforts, apart from special grace. Belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil with Divine aid (from class handout).

The class discussed Pelagius’ first principle that man is able to obey God’s commands, and that Adam sinned only for himself, not humankind. This was followed by a discussion of the orthodox doctrine of original sin (See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 6).

Next, Semi-Pelagianism was defined, and it was explained that this heresy persists in various forms to the present.

Semi-Pelagianism or Massilianism—Semi-Pelagianism involved doctrines upheld during the period from 427 to 529 that rejected the extreme views both of Pelagius and of Augustine in regards to the priority of divine grace and human will in the initial work of salvation. The beginning of faith springs from the free will of nature, and that the essence of “prevenient grace” consists in the preaching of the Christian doctrine of salvation. On the basis of such faith, man attains justification before God (“prevenient grace” allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer) [from class handout].

With the fragmentation of the Christian Church due to the Great Schism between the Eastern (“Orthodox”) and Western (“Catholic”) Churches and the Protestant Reformation, the Christian Church could no longer speak with one voice to formally condemn heresies. Subsequently, heresy abounds today due to the lack of universally authoritative accountability.

Listen to “Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy” at mcopc.org.

November 18, 2015

Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon

Click image to read more about this book.

Click image to read more about this book.

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the Adult Sunday School lesson introduced Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon.

The class discussed the eternality of the Holy Spirit in light of the fact that he “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Then, Pneumatomachianism was introduced, and how this ancient heresy led to the insertion by the Western catholic church of the so-called “filioque clause” into the Nicene Creed, which reads, “…And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.”

Pneumatomachians–While accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ as affirmed at Nicea in AD 325, they denied that of the Holy Spirit which they saw as a creation of the Son, and a servant of the Father and the Son. Led to the Filioque of the Nicene Creed (from class handout).

The difficulty of conceiving of the human and divine natures of the Lord Jesus Christ and the gravity with which the orthodox creedal formulations of the first five hundred years of church history were enforced was then discussed.

The Chalcedonian Definition of the relationship between the two natures of Christ:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from the earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. (Click here for more information about the Definition of Chalcedon)

Implicit faith in the revelation of the human and divine natures of Christ in Scripture despite the complexity of how this can be without falling into one or other of the ancient heresies was affirmed.

Then the discussion moved to the issue of original sin, and how the guilt of Adam was not imputed to Jesus because his conception was “extraordinary,” rather than being the “ordinary generation” by which the guilt of Adam is conveyed to his posterity, in the words of the Westminster Standards.

Finally, the class closed with some discussion of the apparent hierarchy in the Godhead and the distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity (click here for more on these terms).

Listen to “Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon” at mcopc.org.

November 3, 2015

The Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy

The Council of Nicea ruling on the Arian Heresy.

The Council of Nicea ruling on the Arian Heresy.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie taught about the Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy.

Christianity faces more controversies and heresies than other religions because it is based on propositional doctrine rather than morality, as other religions are. “Contending for the faith” is a biblical duty intended to preserve the peace and purity of the church (Jude 3). In the ancient era of church history, the Faith needed to be stated more clearly in a formal way, hence the development of Nicene Orthodoxy.

The heresiarch Arius taught that Jesus was the first created being, and denied the “ontological Trinity,” which means he denied that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are of one divine essence. The councils which developed the Nicene Creed demonstrate the fact of the eternal generation of the Son, and the modern controversy over this teaching is due to a new understanding of the Greek root of the term translated “begotten” in reference to Christ.

Listen to “The Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy” at mcopc.org.

October 27, 2015

Gnosticism and Docetism

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, elder Wayne Wylie taught on Gnosticism, and introduced Docetism in his series on Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Elements of the ancient heresy of Gnositicism include the ideas of dualism, the elitist attitude of the “Gnostikoi” who are the chosen few favored with secret knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, and some discussion of how this two-tiered attitude is reflected in various Christian movements to this day. Another prominent custom among modern Christians which bears some parallel to the notion that Christians have direct knowledge of God apart from Scripture is in the notion of receiving individualistic “guidance by the Holy Spirit,” often appealed to in day-to-day decision making. Important varieties of Gnosticism, such as that of the arch-heretic Marcion and the school of Valentinus were also introduced.

In Gnosticism, knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, rather than faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, is the key to a redemption comprised of the escape of the spirit from the body at death.

Docetism was also introduced. “The word [Docetism] is derived from the Greek dokeo, meaning “to seem” or “to appear.” According to Docetism, the eternal Son of God did not really become human or suffer on the cross; he only appeared to do so. The heresy arose in a Helenistic milieu and was based on a Dualism which held that the material world is either unreal or postitively evil. The basic thesis of such docetics was that if Christ suffered he was not divine, and if he was God he could not suffer [from class handout].”

Listen to “Gnosticism and Docetism” at mcopc.org.

October 26, 2015

Introduction and Review: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church

Click image to read more about this book.

Click image to read more about this book.

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie reviewed “Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church” which he taught through the 18th century about a year and a half ago. After a couple of weeks of review, Wayne will resume where he left off dealing with Pietism and Revivalism.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) sets a prominent theme the student of heresies in church history must keep in mind. The heresies with which the modern church contends are merely variations on heresies which the church throughout history has always had to correct.

The concepts of “heresy,” “error,” “dogma” and “orthodoxy” are defined, compared and contrasted.

Why are there more controversies and heresies associated with Christianity than with any other religion? This stems largely from the fact that most religions are based on morality, whereas Christianity is based on propositional doctrines which are rooted in historical events.

Heresy forces the church to define what we mean by the doctrines we confess. The earliest heresies dealt with who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What was he like? How much does one really need to know about the nature of the triune God, and the person and work of Jesus Christ?

Listen to “Introduction to Heresy and Orthodoxy” for all of this and more at mcopc.org.

October 19, 2015

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics

Bible and Homosexual Practice CoverStatus: Checked Out

Book Description

Gagnon offers the most thorough analysis to date of the biblical texts relating to homosexuality. He demonstrates why attempts to classify the Bible’s rejection of same-sex intercourse as irrelevant for our contemporary context fail to do justice to the biblical texts and to current scientific data. Gagnon’s book powerfully challenges attempts to identify love and inclusivity with affirmation of homosexual practice.

. . . the most sophisticated and convincing examination of the biblical data for our time. –Jürgen Becker, Professor of New Testament, Christian-Albrechts University

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

About the Author

Robert A. J. Gagnon is Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He co-edits Horizons in Biblical Theology, and has published in the Journal of Biblical Literature, Novum Testamentum, and Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

Book Details

522 Pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: September 2002
ISBN 10: 0687022797
ISBN 13: 9780687022793

Source: WTS Books

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

September 17, 2015

Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church

Heresies CoverStatus: Available

Book Description

The history of Christian theology is in large part a history of heresies, because Jesus and the claims he made . . . seemed incredible,” writes the author. Heresies presents “the story of how succeeding generations of Christians through almost twenty centuries have tried to understand, trust, and obey Jesus Christ.” Particularly concerned with christology and trinitarianism, the author calls on the four major creeds of the church—Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian—to separate orthodoxy from heresy. He acknowledges that heresy has done much more than confuse and divide the church. It has also helped the church to classify orthodoxy. Just as heresy served this purpose historically, so it serves this purpose pedagogically in Heresies.

This volume presents a clarion call to evangelicals to preserve tenaciously “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Frank E. James III wrote in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society: “Brown deserves to be commended not only for his insightful scholarship and his readable style but also and more importantly for providing a sorely-needed jab to the soft underbelly of modern evangelicalism.”

Source: Hendrickson Publishers

Harold OJ Brown

Harold O.J. Brown

About the Author

Like so many others who graced the halls of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Harold O. J. Brown (1933-2007) was an evangelical statesmen, demonstrating high intellectual acumen, steadfast theological conviction, and compassionate, prophetic social engagement. While a mentor in the classroom and beloved teacher, Brown was most known for his role in arousing a slumbering pro-life movement.

His Life: A Thumbnail Sketch

Born on July 6, 1933, Brown seemed to have a natural draw to the intellectual life. He studied vigorously at Harvard throughout his 20s and early 30s, where he earned four degrees from Harvard: A.B., Harvard College (1953); B.D., Harvard Divnity School (1957); Th.M., Harvard Divinity School (1959); Ph.D, Harvard University (1967).

During that same period, Brown was also ordained in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (1958) and served in pastoral ministry first between 1958 and 1965. That pastoral tenure ended with postdoctoral work in Europe, having received the prestigious Fulbright and Danforth fellowships. His primary educational home, however, was Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he taught in 1971, 1975-83, and 1987-1998. (He also had an extended tenure at Reformed Theological Seminary.) On all accounts, he was a beloved teacher and mentor. As TEDS faculty member John Woodbridge fondly recalls,

Brown was an intriguing lecturer. He could awe with displays of vast erudition regarding theology, ethics, journalism, politics, and church history. He could entertain by spouting Latin verse or by bursting into the hearty singing of an old German song. He could charm with flashes of wit and colorful anecdotes. But students especially appreciated Brown’s care and concern for them as persons. He wanted them to be educated (“civilized” with a wide-ranging culture), articulate, and activist Christians.

This account is evidenced by the fact that students elected him “Faculty Member of the Year” in 1989.

Theological Accomplishments

Brown’s significance as a theologian, pastor, professor, and social activist lies primarily in his influence on the pro-life movement. He both anticipated the problem of abortion before it was legalized and was one of the more significant organizers and strategists afterward. It is reasonable to suppose that without Brown there may not have been a pro-life movement.Indeed, according to Matthew Miller, had it not been for Brown (and with him, Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop), “there may not have been a pro-life movement in the 1980s at all, nor in the years that followed.”

In 1975 (two years after Roe v. Wade), Brown and Koop founded the Christian Action Council (now Care Net), which was a leading “right to life” advocacy group on Capital Hill for some time and remains active in the promotion of “life.” He was also the editor of The Human Life Review, among many other publications. Furthermore, Brown was the Christianity Today editor responsible for writing the editorial in response to Roe v. Wade, which Mark Galli (CT) described as “[o]ne of the finer moments in CT history.” Published on February 2, 1973 with the title “Abortion and the Court,” the editorial is a scathing, insightful, bitingly witty, and intelligent critique of the Court decision. Besides his critique of the absurdities of the decision, and its moral consequences and pagan undertones, Brown’s prophetic articulation of the changing shape of society is also eerily spot-on:

Christians should accustom themselves to the thought that the American state no longer supports, in any meaningful sense, the laws of God, and prepare themselves spiritually for the prospect that it may one day formally repudiate them and turn against those who seek to live by them.

Besides his work in the “right to life” movement—indeed, in relation to it—Brown’s work in the Evangelical-Catholic dialogue is also noteworthy. As one Catholic, Scott Richert, remarks, Brown was “perhaps the best example I have ever known of an uncompromising ecumenism.”

For these reasons and many more, Harold O. J. Brown is the ideal theologian after whom to name our academic scholarship for doctoral students, designed to encourage excellent theological argumentation with compassionate, prophetic social engagement.

Source: Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Hendrickson Pub (March 1998)
ISBN-10: 1565633652
ISBN-13: 978-1565633650

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.