Apr 262010

I used to be known as the #1 critic of Calvary Chapel and I’m still called an “anti-CC” pastor by some.

The perceived damage I’ve done is nothing compared to what some are attempting today, which is to split the non denominational denom from within.

I tried to deal with facts and documents, these folks with fear and accusations.

I received emails all week about George Bryson’s current witch hunt against anything that smacks of Calvinism within the movement.

Jacob Prasch is taking things up a notch with two recent articles, the contents of which will be a staple as he visits like minded Calvarys to spread the love.

The first is a “Calvary Chapel Alert” where he takes on Skip Heitzig for Leonard Sweets appearance at a worship conference.

The gloves start to come off when after describing the conference Prasch adds “The announcement follows a public financial scandal reaching the secular press at the same church in 2008.”

I remember that…don’t remember ol Jacob supporting the investigation though…

The invective reaches new heights in a second article linked to this one, Who Wants To Be Next”?

First up in the article is the usual toasting of Rick Warren and the “emergent church”.


Then…John Piper.

“One should hardly be surprised that the Calvinistic preacher John Piper has jumped into bed with Rick Warren. With his erroneous Replacement Theology, Piper has always been a teacher of error anyway. While we cannot confirm Mr. Piper’s motives, we should rather be surprised if John Piper had not ventured further into error; he was always misled with his reformed nonsense to begin with and has always misled others on various other points, so it is natural he should introduce his church to more error.”

Then he hits high gear…some samples:

“Why would doctrinally grounded pastors partner with someone like Rick Warren whose dishonest and backtracking antics on the same-sex marriage issue are plainly wrought in hell? Why would they share platforms with a multi-faith advocate who mutilated the scriptural Gospel they claim to believe in? Why would they ignore their own heritage concerning the importance of studying the return of Christ and share a platform or grant public sanction to someone whose endorsement of the Emergent church is conspicuously of Satan? Why would they share a platform with a virtual New Ager like Leonard Sweet unless it was to debate him? Why this sad, sick compromise? How could a preacher ever endorse a vile specimen of blasphemous heresy like The Shack unless he himself is false?”

For those keeping score that was a shot at Piper, Eugene Peterson, Skip Heitzig and Gayle Erwin.

“I have readily defended Chuck Smith publicly from the unjust attacks on him and on his character by Christianity Today magazine, the “Phoenix Preacher” and others. But how can I defend some of those claiming to be Calvary Chapels who no longer by their actions believe or do what Chuck taught?”

I’m honored by the mention…

“Much to his credit Chuck Smith always tossed heretics such as Lonnie Frisbee and John Wimber out of Calvary Chapels and more recently Chuck Smith has rightly (and at considerable personal cost) withstood those introducing Emergent Church practices and beliefs into Calvary Chapels. There are indeed many godly men in Calvary Chapels whose ministry I can endorse without hesitation such as Don McClure, Raul and Xavier Reese, Edmund Coronel, Jack Hibbs, Damian Khyle, Lloyd Pulley, Claude Stauffer, Jim King, Dwight Douville, Bill Gallatin, Daryl Skinner, Greg Jones, Ray Bentley, Mike MacIntosh, Rob Yardley, John Higgins and many others from America, to the Far East, to New Zealand, to Britain and Europe. I sanction the ministry of all of them without hesitation. There are also however, others who leave me confused, leave the church of Jesus misguided, and leave themselves on the wrong road often due to “The Second Sin of David”; it is no longer about Jesus but about the numbers or about something having nothing to do with Jesus.

What do I do when Gayle Irwin cover endorses a heretical specimen of blasphemous trash like The Shack authored by a man who says there is no hell? Following an ugly financial scandal in the newspapers, what do I do when Skip Heitzig invites a teacher of New Age in pseudo-Christian packaging from an extreme axis who most would define as “Emergence’ like Leonard Sweet with worship by a Roman Catholic who adheres to the false Christianity of Rome? Chuck Smith made it clear that he does not want this Emergent influence in Calvary Chapel and he is correct. What do I do when good men of God like Roger Oakland and Paul Smith are marginalized by theocratic politics?”

There is more nonsense in that one paragraph than I have the hands to document.

Heitzig, for all of his numerous faults, is about as “new age” as I am Arminian.

Gayle Irwin teaches people how to know and love Christ and that’s the fundamental difference between him and the ODM’s.

One is all about Jesus…one makes it impossible to see him.

It’s not the Calvinists who want to bring division to your churches, my CC friends.

It’s Bryson and his new found friends in the ODM community that fear losing their power and profits…and fear even more that you will think for yourselves.

Apr 262010

Disfellowshipped former CC pastor Jim Kempner failed to update us on “The Weekend Word” about his destruction of a school and a church, so I’ll do it for him…

Since our last report the federal agent on his board resigned and Kempner allegedly served notice on two other (opposition) board members that they were terminated.

There are questions about the legality of that move and rumors that family members will be placed in those positions.

There are questions about whether or not Kempner is in compliance with the requirements of being a 501-c3 non profit corporation and rumors abounding that the state will be petitioned to look into the matter.

Those with the biggest concern at the moment are the teachers at the school who are afraid they won’t be paid as scheduled on May 1.

The teachers are on a 12 month pay schedule, which is distributed from the 10 months they work. The teachers are concerned that the money they are due (to sustain them through summer) will not be available.

They have received word (from those in the know) that there is not enough money in the bank to pay the teachers’ salaries for the month of May, which is due at the end of April.

The teachers have all requested that they receive their payment in full when they complete the school year, since they want to make sure it is not spent on other things during summer.

We all know now that Jim has odd spending habits…

I digress…

Approximately one month ago the teachers began requesting that they be paid at the end of the school year, since there is a high probability (apart from God’s moving) that the school will not be open.

Kempner sent a memo stating that preschool and first grade would remain open, but that could simply be a way to avoid releasing funds for the teachers…that he doesn’t have.

Should the school and church fold, Kempner still has a property worth 4X what was paid for it.

Why do we keep talking about this situation?

Because we owe it to those teachers and those kids to keep a light on in the dark while praying for a miracle.

That’s why…

We are gathering statements and documents and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved.

Apr 242010

High and Holy God, give me this day a word of truth to silence the lies that would devour my soul and kind encouragements to strengthen me when I fall.

Gracious One, I come quietly to your door needing to receive from your hands the nourishment that gives life.

Amen and Amen.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Apr 242010

What did you teach?

What did you learn?

Did you hear the Gospel?

We continue in the Heidelberg Catechism;

Question 123. Which is the second petition?

Answer: “Thy kingdom come”; that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; (a) preserve and increase thy church; (b) destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; (c) till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, (d) wherein thou shalt be all in all. (e)

(a) Matt.6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Ps.119:5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Ps.143:10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (b) Ps.51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Ps.122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Ps.122:7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. Ps.122:8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Ps.122:9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good. (c) 1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Rom.16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (d) Rev.22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev.22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Rom.8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Rom.8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (e) 1 Cor.15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Apr 232010

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
(Romans 14:17 ESV)

Being the “Phoenix Preacher” with all the baggage that now surrounds that logo has always been a challenge to my faith.

I’ve seen a lot of dirt.

I learned to handle the dirt, got dirty myself, and learned to become a fan of grace showers.

I’ll tell you what I can’t handle…the hate.

Not people hating me…I have been blessed with far more friends than enemies.

This mornings email has people wanting to “rip Calvinism to shreds” ,smoke out Calvinist pastors, condemn the Orthodox to hell (and me with them), condemn all non-Calvinists to the fires (and me with them), expose J.I. Packer as an ecumenicist, and a friend of the blog as a compromiser.

That was just in the first 50…

The mind blowing part…each email opened with a statement of “love” for me and my work.

I’m feeling it…

The longer I walk with Jesus the less I worry about being picking the right people to hang out with.

The closer I get to the kingdom, the more friends from different theological places I meet heading in the same direction.

It’s safe to stay in our sectarian ghettos with our creeds written and unwritten.

It’s ok too…there’s no rule that says you have to come out.

Me…I need freedom.

For me, I’ve learned that because Jesus was “right” in my place, I can risk being wrong.

As Steve Brown says, I know I’m wrong about some stuff, I just don’t know which stuff.

Because He’s already made me totally secure in Him I have the freedom to try and the freedom to fail and the freedom to have friends who think differently even if we’re all wrong.

Because of Him, I can risk it all with the assurance that I will eternally lose nothing.

People aren’t safe, but He is.

Because of Jesus, I have the freedom to delete the rest of my inbox without reading any of it…and I just did.

Freedom is heady stuff… 🙂

Apr 232010


Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
PSALM 119:34

All Christians have a right and duty not only to learn from the church’s heritage of faith but also to interpret Scripture for themselves. The church of Rome doubts this, alleging that individuals easily misinterpret the Scriptures. This is true; but the following rules, faithfully observed, will help prevent that from happening.
Every book of Scripture is a human composition, and though it should always be revered as the Word of God, interpretation of it must start from its human character. Allegorizing, therefore, which disregards the human writer’s expressed meaning is never appropriate.

Each book was written not in code but in a way that could be understood by the readership to which it was addressed. This is true even of the books that primarily use symbolism: Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation. The main thrust is always clear, even if details are clouded. So when we understand the words used, the historical background, and the cultural conventions of the writer and his readers, we are well on the way to grasping the thoughts that are being conveyed. Spiritual understanding—that is, the discernment of the reality of God, his ways with humankind, his present will, and one’s own relationship to him now and for the future—will not however reach us from the text until the veil is removed from our hearts and we are able to share the writer’s own passion to know and please and honor God (2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 2:14). Prayer that God’s Spirit may generate this passion in us and show us God in the text is needed here. (See Ps. 119:18-19, 26-27, 33-34, 73, 125, 144, 169; Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19.)

Each book had its place in the progress of God’s revelation of grace, which began in Eden and reached its climax in Jesus Christ, Pentecost, and the apostolic New Testament. That place must be borne in mind when studying the text. The Psalms, for instance, model the godly heart in every age, but express its prayers and praises in terms of the typical realities (earthly kings, kingdoms, health, wealth, war, long life) that circumscribed the life of grace in the pre-Christian era.
Each book proceeded from the same divine mind, so the teaching of the Bible’s sixty-six books will be complementary and self-consistent. If we cannot yet see this, the fault is in us, not in Scripture. It is certain that Scripture nowhere contradicts Scripture; rather, one passage explains another. This sound principle of interpreting Scripture by Scripture is sometimes called the analogy of Scripture or the analogy of faith.
Each book exhibits unchanging truth about God, humanity, godliness, and ungodliness, applied to and illustrated by particular situations in which individuals and groups found themselves. The final stage in biblical interpretation is to reapply these truths to our own life-situations; this is the way to discern what God in Scripture is saying to us at this moment. Examples of such reapplication are Josiah’s realization of God’s wrath at Judah’s failure to observe his law (2 Kings 22:8-13), Jesus’ reasoning from Genesis 2:24 (Matt. 19:4-6), and Paul’s use of Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 32:1-2 to show the reality of present righteousness by faith (Rom. 4:1-8).
No meaning may be read into or imposed on Scripture that cannot with certainty be read out of Scripture—shown, that is, to be unambiguously expressed by one or more of the human writers.
Careful and prayerful observance of these rules is a mark of every Christian who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

Apr 222010

Today is Earth Day.

Ask me if I care….

I’ll spare everyone my rant about how liberals and hippies have ruined both the economy and ecology of Oregon in their attempts to both avoid work at all costs and prevent others from working that want to.

I won’t go on about how they almost destroyed the forests I grew up in and how they did destroy the life and rhythm of rural Oregon.

I won’t go there.

Happy Earth Day.

Apr 222010

We’re going to go through J.I. Packers little overview of Christian theology and review our understandings of the historic, Protestant Christian faith.

While Packer will come from a Reformed perspective on some of these issues, most of us will be able to affirm the majority of these teachings.

Where your particular tradition may differ, feel free to share that with us.

Today we begin a few days studying revelation…how God reveals Himself to us through His word and through creation.


The tablets were the work of God;
the writing was the writing of God,
engraved on the tablets.
EXODUS 32:16
Christianity is the true worship and service of the true God, humankind’s Creator and Redeemer. It is a religion that rests on revelation: nobody would know the truth about God, or be able to relate to him in a personal way, had not God first acted to make himself known. But God has so acted, and the sixty-six books of the Bible, thirty-nine written before Christ came and twenty-seven after, are together the record, interpretation, expression, and embodiment of his self-disclosure. God and godliness are the Bible’s uniting themes.

From one standpoint, the Scriptures (Scriptures means “writings”) are the faithful testimony of the godly to the God whom they loved and served; from another standpoint, through a unique exercise of divine overruling in their composition, they are God’s own testimony and teaching in human form. The church calls these writings the Word of God because their authorship and contents are both divine.
Decisive assurance that Scripture is from God and consists entirely of his wisdom and truth comes from Jesus Christ and his apostles, who taught in his name. Jesus, God incarnate, viewed his Bible (our Old Testament) as his heavenly Father’s written instruction, which he no less than others must obey (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; 5:19-20; 19:4-6; 26:31, 52-54; Luke 4:16-21; 16:17; 18:31-33; 22:37; 24:25-27, 45-47; John 10:35), and which he had come to fulfill (Matt. 5:17-18; 26:24; John 5:46). Paul described the Old Testament as entirely “God-breathed”—that is, a product of God’s Spirit (“breath”) just as the cosmos is (Ps. 33:6; Gen. 1:2)—and written to teach Christianity (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). Peter affirms the divine origin of biblical teaching in 2 Peter 1:21 and 1 Peter 1:10-12, and so also by his manner of quoting does the writer to the Hebrews (Heb. 1:5-13; 3:7; 4:3; 10:5-7, 15-17; cf. Acts 4:25; 28:25-27).
Since the apostles’ teaching about Christ is itself revealed truth in God-taught words (1 Cor. 2:12-13), the church rightly regards authentic apostolic writings as completing the Scriptures. Already Peter refers to Paul’s letters as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15-16), and Paul is apparently calling Luke’s gospel Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18, where he quotes the words of Luke 10:7.

The idea of written directives from God himself as a basis for godly living goes back to God’s act of inscribing the Decalogue on stone tablets and then prompting Moses to write his laws and the history of his dealings with his people (Exod. 32:15-16; 34:1, 27-28; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9). Digesting and living by this material was always central to true devotion in Israel for both leaders and ordinary people (Josh. 1:7-8; 2 Kings 17:13; 22:8-13; 1 Chron. 22:12-13; Neh. 8; Ps. 119). The principle that all must be governed by the Scriptures, that is, by the Old and New Testaments taken together, is equally basic to Christianity.
What Scripture says, God says; for, in a manner comparable only to the deeper mystery of the Incarnation, the Bible is both fully human and fully divine. So all its manifold contents—histories, prophecies, poems, songs, wisdom writings, sermons, statistics, letters, and whatever else—should be received as from God, and all that Bible writers teach should be revered as God’s authoritative instruction. Christians should be grateful to God for the gift of his written Word, and conscientious in basing their faith and life entirely and exclusively upon it. Otherwise, we cannot ever honor or please him as he calls us to do.

Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

Apr 212010

Tim Keller’s The Gospel for Christians.

Michael Horton on the new Calvinism:

Like wider evangelicalism, the “young, restless and Reformed” movement is a grassroots trend among people who are, generally speaking, not Reformed.  I’m energized by this movement every day, as I interact with people from a variety of churches, backgrounds, and traditions who are drawn to the doctrines of grace.  I spend a lot of my time in this hallway and am enriched by it.

Nevertheless, not even a “Reformed” hallway is anything more than a hallway.  “Reformed” has a specific meaning.  It’s not defined by movements, parachurch ministries, or powerful leaders, but by a confession that is lived out in concrete contexts across a variety of times and places.  The Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) define what it means to be Reformed.  Like Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anabaptism, Reformed Christianity is a particular tradition.  It’s not defined by a few fundamentals, but by a whole system of faith and practice.  If being Reformed can be reduced to believing in the sovereignty of God and election, then Thomas Aquinas is as Reformed as R. C. Sproul.  However, the Reformed confession is a lot more than that.  Even the way it talks about these doctrines is framed within a wider context of covenant theology.

Historian Eddie Glaude Jr. has proclaimed the death of the black church (HT: Thabiti Anyabwile).

Matt Redmond’s three (not so) good reasons to love legalism.

Trevin Wax interviews Scot McKnight about the end of historical Jesus studies.

James White on Ergun Caner.

Donald Miller asks if one’s personality presupposes his theology.

J.D. Greear on religious fervor.

Get Religion blog looks at the Southern Baptist Convention’s moves into northern U.S. markets.

Dan Phillips asks if Jews must disbelieve Jesus Christ as Messiah.

Adam McHugh interviews introverted church planter Jamie Arpin-Ricci, part 1 and part 2.

Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk is reviewing John Armstrong’s Your Church is Too Small (part 1 and part 2), and also posted Armstrong’s testimony.

Michael Dewalt looks at Romans 11 to answer this question: “How could God possibly allow the apostasy of His own physical nation, Israel, let alone do it Himself, when He had promised beforehand to never forsake His people?

Ed Stetzer interviewed Jared Wilson about his small group study Abide.

Tennessee pastor Phil Newton is asked about making Biblical changes in churches.

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