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Archive for October, 2017

The Jesuit “mafia” and fog, both literal and figurative, in the churches. These were some of the discussion points brought up by Dr. Paul Elliott in his talks on Day 2 of The Trinity Foundation’s Reformation conference. Dr. Elliott gave two presentations on Saturday 10/28, both of which I would strongly encourage you to listen to when the recordings become available.

The Reformation Is Not a Return to Pre-Reformation Positions

By way of introduction to his opening talk on Saturday, Dr. Elliott mentioned that he is working on a tree volume set on the subject of the corruption of the text of the new testament. As part of his research, Dr. Elliott noted, more often than not, he found that the hand responsible for corrupting the Greek text of the New Testament used in modern translations is, more often than not, that of the Jesuits. He also included a comment by a friend of his warning that his work exposing the Jesuit efforts would not go unnoticed and that it was “dangerous territory.” Dr. Elliott did not use the word “mafia,” but the implication of his words is that there exists something like a Jesuit mafia that seeks to silence the opposition, and do so by violence if necessary.

Dr. Elliott contends that there are forces in the Evangelical movement that are seeking to give Protestantism an “extreme makeover” of the sort one sees on various TV shows, and that the effect of this makeover is that, “the vast majority of the nominally Evangelical church today is rapidly returning to the pre-Reformation position.” Dr. Elliott identified four things that characterized the pre-Reformation church.

First, there was Biblical illiteracy. In the middle ages, Christians did not have access to Bibles in their native language. Today, the problem is that, while “Bibles” are readily available, so-called modern translations such as The Message are corrupt paraphrases, not translations at all. Because they do not faithfully translate the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, they leave people without the Word of God in much the same way as medieval church goers whose only Bible was in Latin, a language that most of them did not understand.

Second, Dr. Elliott identified the problem of Church as an Experience. The Reformation has always emphasized the primacy of preaching, the expositing of the Word of God in understandable, clear language. On the other hand, the Roman Church-State has always made an appeal to the senses with its “smells and bells.”

And just as the pre-Reformation and current Roman Catholic Church emphasized experience over doctrine, so too do neo-evangelicals in the emerging church movement. Dr. Elliott noted that as an observer he attended a trade show dedicated to the “worship market” which, “is now a multi-billion-dollar business.”

Dr. Elliott noted that, “The most popular product in this big exhibit hall was fog machines!,” which allowed churches to generate “different colors of fog” to set the right mood. As Dr. Elliott wryly commented, “Those fog machines were a metaphor for the entire so-called worship conference.”

Third, Dr. Elliott took up the problem of pluralism. By way of example, he cited Timothy Keller saying there may be some “back door way to Heaven” apart from Jesus.

More subtle is the case of John Piper, whom Elliott quotes as saying that we are made right with God by faith but enter heaven by our works.

Finally, Dr. Elliott speaks of the current emphasis on Deeds Instead of Doctrine. As Rick Warren has said, “You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about creeds…[the new reformation that we’re bringing about through the Purpose-Driven church] will be about deeds…The first one was about what the church believes…This one will be about what the church does.”

How is the different from what Rome teaches? In truth, not much, if at all. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that Warren is also hard at work trying to re-united Protestants and Romanists. Dr. Elliott reported that Warren was the keynote speaker at Pope Francis final Sunday service when he was in Philadelphia in 2015. Warren, a Southern Baptist, referred to the assembled cardinals, bishops and priests and the pope himself as “brothers.”

Dr. Elliott closed his talk with an encouragement for Christians not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed. We are to be outwardly what we are inwardly. This requires that Christians, “Never be afraid to admit it when you find yourself, or the church, deviating from Scripture in even the smallest point.”

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Day 2 of The Trinity Foundation’s Reformation conference saw four separate presentations by two men whose work has long been associated with the Foundation.  Mark W. Evans, a minister from Faith Presbytery, the Bible Presbyterian Church presented a single paper in two sessions titled The Reformation:  Past, Present, and Future.

The other speaker of the day was Dr. Paul M. Elliott, president of Teaching the Word Ministries.  Dr. Elliott gave two separate talks, the first titled The Reformation is Not a Return to Pre-Reformation Positions, and the second The Reformation Is Not Co-Belligerence with Unbelievers.

For those interested, all four sessions from Day 2 plus the two sessions from Day 1 were recorded and will be available on the Trinity Foundation website.  The planned date of the posting is not known to this writer.

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Well, I just got back to my hotel room here in Johnson City.  Day 1 of the Trinity Foundation Reformation Conference, the full title of which is The Reformation at 500:  Is It Over or Is It Needed Now More than Ever?, ran a little later than expected, but this attendee isn’t complaining.

Trinity Foundation president Tom Juodaitis gave the opening talk.  In it, he focused on the two key principles of the Reformation – what some call the formal and material principles of the Reformation – Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) and Sola Fide (justification by faith alone).

Mr. Juodaitis made the important point that there is a close connection between the spiritual liberty that comes with the preaching of the Gospel and the political and economic liberty that the West has enjoyed over the past 500 years.

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Isaiah_Spanish Square_Rome

The Prophet Isaiah, from a monument in Rome.

“How do you know when a politician’s lying,” runs the set up to an old joke. The answer? “When his lips are moving.”

Ouch.

Now granted, that’s funny joke. But it’s funny only because it highlights vast chasm most of us have seen between most political rhetoric from most political reality.

George H.W. Bush wont the 1988 presidential election in part on his famous promise, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Not long after his election he conspired with Congress to, wait for it…raise taxes.

More recently, Barak Obama told the nation in no uncertain terms that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

And this wasn’t the only lie that was told with respect to Obama Care. After the passage of the bill, a video of Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and one of the chief architects of the Affordable (sic) Care Act, surfaced that made clear that Obama Care always was a hustle, and that those behind the bill knew it all along. Gruber’s words were, “(L)ack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting this thing (Obamacare) to pass.”

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Trinity Foundation

The Reformation at 500 conference will be held in Johnson City, TN on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2017.  For conference registration details, click this link: http://trinityfoundation.org/PDF/TheReformationAt500Flyer.pdf

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Harvey Weinstein_AP

Harvey Weinstein, AP

 

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35

It’s been quite a tumultuous week plus for famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Here’s a man who went from king of the movie world to fired by the board of directors of his own company in the space of just a few days. To add insult to injury, just a few days later he became only the second person to be kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the organization’s 90 year history. The official statement of the board read,

We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleague but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.

I confess to being fairly ignorant of Hollywood generally. As is the case with most people, I watch movies from time to time, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan. Concerning the name Harvey Weinstein, it’s a name that until the past few days was barely known to me. I can’t say that I ever gave it more than a moment’s thought. And yet, here I am writing a blog post on the subject.

So what prompted me to do this? Well, as reports of Weinstein’s behavior dribbled out in the media, and the consequences of it started to come home to roost, it called tom mind, of all people, the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards and his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Edwards’ sermon is apropos Weinstein’s situation in a number of ways. First, is the context of Deuteronomy 32:35. the verse on which Edwards based his sermon. This verse speaks of God’s judgment upon his enemies, how he will take vengeance upon them and do so suddenly. As Edwards observed, this passage, “implies that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction.. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next, and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning. Which is also expresed in ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places, thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment? (Psalm 73:18-19)’ ”

And so it was with Weinstein. The predator, after years – decades one supposes – is now very suddenly the prey.

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