Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Joseph Smith meets Turkish Humor

I was Skyping with a Muslim friend in Turkey.  He asked me to explain the difference between Christianity and Mormonism.  (Thank you, Mitt Romney.)  I gave him a summary.  He said, referring to Joseph Smith, "Anyone can claim to be a prophet."  (To which I readily agreed.)  Then he told me a delightful story to illustrate.
A man in an insane asylum thought he was a messenger from God.  The doctors pondered how they could show him he wasn't.  Finally they approached the man's roommate and said, "Your roommate thinks he is a prophet.  Do you know of any ways we can prove to him that he's not?"  The prophet's roommate didn't hesitate.  "Well of course!  I didn't send him!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Is Adventism Orthodox?

I was talking with a friend recently about the need to explain the Biblical gospel to people who are Seventh Day Adventists.  Unfortunately there is still confusion among Christians about whether the SDA church is merely aberrant (solid on the essentials, and wrong on peripheral issues) or truly heretical (wrong even on essentials).

A generation ago, Seventh Day Adventist representatives carefully misled Christian cult expert Walter Martin about some of their beliefs.  Dr. Martin believed the Adventists to be essentially orthodox, and much of evangelicalism has unquestioningly followed his lead.  Even today, the organization he founded, the Christian Research Institute, continues to say that one can be a faithful Seventh Day Adventist and a faithful Christian.  Operation World, the Christian encyclopedia of global missions and evangelism, categorizes the Seventh Day Adventist church as an orthodox Protestant denomination, not a cult.

Until just a few years ago I would have agreed with them.  Then I began to learn more about the key doctrines of the SDA church, which (as it turns out) affect far more than what day we worship on or the details of the days before Christ's return.  Here's the note I sent my Christian friend.  Perhaps it will help you prepare for your next conversation with an Adventist.

Hi ____,
Here are links to some of the stuff about Adventism that I was telling you about, if you do want to dig further.
Back issues of their magazine (you can read/download for free):
All of the articles are good, but a few of my favorite recent articles focusing on Adventist false doctrines were: -- The Wretched Radio interview by Todd Friel. Fascinating, and covers a lot of territory.
When you get through I think you’ll see what I meant by the need to start from scratch theologically with someone coming out of SDAism. It has an incredible number of tentacles in people’s theology. But when you are a part of it, you are blind to how far it has taken you from the gospel. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 comes to mind.
Grateful for the grace that opens the eyes of blind rebels,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guard Your Heart

Received today from a missionary:

Dear Friends,
It is with sadness of heart that I write to you today. Last Monday (January 9th) I resigned as a missionary with ____ and have now returned to my mother's home in _________.
I felt that it was necessary to resign due to a series of bad decisions that I made that led me into grave sinful practices. Even though I kept in regular contact with other christian workers, I effectively hid it from them all.
Starting on December 31st, a series of events began that led to me realizing the need to confess my sin. I want to ask each of you to please forgive me for violating your trust.
Please pray for me as my life is very dark at this time.

Four lessons I see:
  • Do I pray for the spiritual health of my missionary friends, or just for their work?
  • Do I think I'm invincible, that "it will never happen to me"?  As Paul said, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."  (1 Cor. 10:12)
  • Do I pursue relationships with people who will know me well and ask me hard questions?
  • Perhaps most importantly, am I treasuring anything in my life more than Jesus?  All falls into public sin begin with private wandering of affections.
I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near.
I want the first approach to feel of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will, and quench the kindling fire.

From Thee that I no more may stray, no more Thy goodness grieve,
Grant me the filial awe, I pray, the tender conscience give.
Quick as the apple of an eye, O God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh, and keep it still awake.

Almighty God of truth and love, to me Thy power impart;
The mountain from my soul remove, the hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain my reawakened soul,
And drive me to that blood again, which makes the wounded whole.
(Charles Wesley)