Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home From Malta!

I have arrived home from the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. I went there with elder Chris Brady and my son Bob III. The purpose of this trip was to visit pastor Paul Mizzi, who is a Reformed Baptist pastor of Trinity Evangelical Church in Malta. We had a delightful time with Pastor Mizzi and the people of his church. Paul and his brother Joe have come to faith in Christ and were once Roman Catholics. Malta is at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. On a pap Malta is just below Sicily. Malta was the sight of two great sieges in the past. First, in 1565 the Muslim army and navy attacked the Island in the Great Siege of Malta. That battle had tremendous significance as all of Europe held its breath. The outcome of that battle would shape Europe for the next 400 years. The Island held out and the advance of Islam in Europe was prevented. Then second great siege was during WWII. The Germans bombed Malta but could not break the spirit of these courageous people.

Today the Island of Malta is strategically positioned between Islamic northern Africa and Europe. The country of Malta is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and stands in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ministry of pastor Paul Mizzi is greatly needed for the gospel of Christ to be given to the people of Malta. This is a great mission field and is wide open for the preaching of the great doctrines of grace, especially Justification by faith alone. We are hoping to establish a good relationship with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ to help them in their ministry on this beautiful and historic Island.

Ken Link, a dear brother in Christ from England, made his 100th visit to the Island to show us around and to be our host. I am deeply grateful for his help, service, and friendship that we developed during this visit. I trust that we will be able to see Ken in the future and to enjoy fellowship in Christ once again.

Paul's brother Joe wrote a wonderful Little book on Catholicism titled Test All Things. I am going to order a number of these books and would encourage all of you at Berean to read it. This book will not just help you to understand the Roman Catholic faith and its many errors, it will also help you to understand true historic gospel of God's sovereign grace. After reading this book on the flight home from Malta I found that these were the main questions that need to be answered by those who would witness to their Catholic friends.

1. Is the Bible alone our guide to salvation, or do we need the traditions of the Church to teach and guide us as well?

2. Who is the foundation of the Church, Jesus or Peter?

3. Does the Bible distinguish between mortal sin and venial sin?

4. How is a sinner justified before a holy God?

5. Does baptism play a part in a sinners salvation and regeneration.

6. Do earthly priests have power to forgive men of their sins?
7. Is the doctrine of purgatory taught in the Bible?
8. Is the sacrifice of Christ complete and final, or do we need a weekly sacrifice at Mass to save us from our sins?
9. Does the Bible teach us to pray to Mary or to worship Mary?
These questions are at the heart of the debate between Roman Catholicism and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. To be wrong on these questions and issues is to put one's soul in grave and serious danger. The book by Joe Mizzi will answer these questions and give us wonderful insights into the gospel of the New Testament. I highly encourage all of you to read this book. I will try to have copies at the church as soon as possible.

I want to thank all of you for praying for us while we were gone, and I would like to thank Pastor Eric, the elders, deacons, and staff at Berean who kept the ministry moving as we were gone. Next week I plan to have Chris Brady give a brief report of our trip.

God bless all of you!

Pastor Dickie

Friday, March 13, 2009

Where Have Our Values Gone?

I am greatly concerned that in our country today we are seeing our moral and spiritual values slipping away from us. I am posting an article that sheds some light on the decline of Western Morality. While the aritcle makes many good points let me remind my readers that only a true revival of the preaching of the doctrines of grace and a mighty stirring of God's Spirit will stop the erosion of our nation's integrity, faith, and morality.

The Decline Of Western Values
Dennis Prager

With the decline of the authority of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many people stopped looking to external sources of moral standards in order to decide what is right and wrong. Instead of being guided by God, the Bible and religion, great numbers -- in Western Europe, the great majority -- have looked elsewhere for moral and social guidelines.

For many millions in the twentieth century, those guidelines were provided by Marxism, Communism, Fascism or Nazism. For many millions today, those guidelines are ? feelings. With the ascendancy of leftist values that has followed the decline of Judeo-Christian religion, personal feelings have supplanted universal standards. In fact, feelings are the major unifying characteristic among contemporary liberal positions.

Aside from reliance on feelings, how else can one explain a person who believes, let alone proudly announces on a bumper sticker, that "War is not the answer"? I know of no comparable conservative bumper sticker that is so demonstrably false and morally ignorant. Almost every great evil has been solved by war -- from slavery in America to the Holocaust in Europe. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers making war, not by pacifists who would have allowed the Nazis to murder every Jew in Europe.

The entire edifice of moral relativism, a foundation of leftist ideology, is built on the notion of feelings deciding right and wrong. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
The animals-and-humans-are-equivalent movement is based entirely on feelings. People see chickens killed and lobsters boiled, feel for the animals, and shortly thereafter abandon thought completely, and equate chicken and lobster suffering to that of a person under the same circumstances.

The unprecedented support of liberals for radically redefining the basic institution of society, marriage and the family is another a product of feelings -- sympathy for homosexuals. Thinking through the effects of such a radical redefinition on society and its children is not a liberal concern.

The "self-esteem movement" -- now conceded to have been a great producer of mediocrity and narcissism -- was entirely a liberal invention based on feelings for kids. The liberal preoccupation with whether America is loved or hated is also entirely feelings-based. The Left wants to be loved; the conservative wants to do what is right and deems world opinion fickle at best and immoral at worst.

Sexual harassment laws have created a feelings-industrial complex. The entire concept of "hostile work environment" is feelings based. If one woman resents a swimsuit calendar on a co-worker's desk, laws have now been passed whose sole purpose is to protect her from having uncomfortable feelings.

For liberals, the entire worth of the human fetus is determined by the mother's feelings. If she feels the nascent human life she is carrying is worth nothing, it is worth nothing. If she feels it is infinitely precious, it is infinitely precious.

Almost everything is affected by liberal feelings. For example, liberal opposition to calling a Christmas party by its rightful name is based on liberals' concern that non-Christians will feel bad. And for those liberals, nothing else matters -- not the legitimate desire of the vast majority of Americans to celebrate their holiday, let alone the narcissism of those non-Christians "offended" by a Christmas party.

And why do liberals continue to endorse race-based affirmative action at universities despite the mounting evidence that it hurts blacks more than it helps? Again, a major reason is feelings -- sympathy for blacks and the historic racism African-Americans have endured.

Very often, liberals are far more concerned with purity of motive than with moral results. That's why so many liberals still oppose the liberation of Iraq -- so what if Iraqis risk their lives to vote? It's George W. Bush's motives that liberals care about, not spreading liberty in the Arab world.

Elevating motives above results is a significant part of liberalism. What matters is believing that one is well intentioned -- that one cares for the poor, hates racism, loathes inequality and loves peace. Bi-lingual education hurts Latino children. But as a compassionate person -- and "compassionate" is the self-definition of most liberals -- that is not the liberal's real concern. His concern is with an immigrant child's uncomfortable feelings when first immersed in English.
Reliance on feelings in determining one's political and social positions is the major reason young people tend to have liberal/left positions -- they feel passionately but do not have the maturity to question those passions. It is also one reason women, especially single women, are more liberal than men -- it is women's nature to rely on emotions when making decisions. (For those unused to anything but adulation directed at the female of the human species, let me make it clear that men, too, cannot rely on their nature, which leans toward settling differences through raw physical power. Both sexes have a lot of self-correcting to do.)

To be fair, feelings also play a major role in many conservatives' beliefs. Patriotism is largely a feeling; religious faith is filled with emotion, and religion has too often been dictated by emotion. But far more conservative positions are based on "What is right?" rather than on "How do I feel?" That is why a religious woman who is pregnant but does not wish to be is far less likely to have an abortion than a secular woman in the same circumstances. Her values are higher than her feelings. And that, in a nutshell, is what our culture war is about -- Judeo-Christian values versus liberal/leftist feelings.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Evaluation of The Shack

Dear Bereans,

I want to share with you a brief summary of my review of the novel The Shack. You can receive the entire review by getting it off the book rack in the narthex of the church. Or, if you are out of town, you can request it from our church office at Berean. Just send us an email and I will have it sent to you by mail.

I am writing this review because I believe that this book is very dangerous. It completely distorts the gospel of God's grace and misrepresents many other doctrines as well. I hope that what you read here will be of help to you. Here are a few of the pages that this review contains:

As I began to read The Shack, I was shocked and appalled by what it contained. The review that follows here will be the analysis of my time spent going over this book and studying its pages. I assume the author must have written this book with all good intentions to being a blessing to the body of Christ. Having read this book I am convinced that, whatever the author’s intentions and motives were for writing it, he knew exactly what he was doing. The author is promoting a Christian worldview that is Postmodern, contemporary, and Arminian in its presuppositions.

Let me say up front that this book is an engaging story. It touches the emotions of the soul on a number of very deep levels. This is one of the reasons The Shack has had such an impact on those who have read it. The book is a novel, and the story is very moving. One almost feels he is in a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kincaid painting when reading this book. All the human emotions of sight, sound, smell, and feelings are utilized to make it a very dramatic experience when reading it. But aside from the popularity of an emotionally gripping narrative, one must ask-- “Does this justify reading a book that is seriously flawed in its theological and worldview foundation?” I think there are many other books that could and should be read that are not filled with the doctrinal errors and the heresies that this book is riddled with. In these days in which we live, we need to give ourselves to reading the best of Christian literature from both the past and the present. I am always a bit skeptical of anything that is being produced in our current culture. We are a culture that has been described as being Postmodern. It is a culture that has embraced, in the area of Christian values and thought, much that is man-centered, Arminian, and has been corrupted by what some have called the cult of Pop-culture.

Author- William P. Young was born in Canada and raised among a stone-age tribe by his missionary parents in Papua, New Guinea.

Synopsis- The Shack is a fictional story that seeks to provide answers to the great question, “Where is God when people suffer with pain, sorrow and disappointments?” Mack, the main character, has lived under the burden of The Great Sadness since the abduction and murder of his daughter four years previous. He then receives a note from God (”Papa”), inviting him to return to the shack — the scene of his daughter’s murder — for a time together. When he returns to the scene, Mack is treated to a weekend encounter with the Godhead. Each member of the Trinity is present: “Papa” - a large, jolly, Aunt Jamima-type, African-American woman (representing the Father); “Sarayu” – a beautiful, sensual woman of Asian descent (representing the Holy Spirit); and “Jesus” - a Middle Eastern carpenter who is portrayed as a silly and almost goofy person. Most of the book is Mack’s dialogue with these characters from this point on. They discuss a number of topics, all of which are to help Mack deal with The Great Sadness from his little girls murder. By the time the weekend is over, Mack is a changed man because of his conversations with the Trinity. This change in Mack’s character is not clearly defined or explained. It is hard to see that Mack has come to what we would call true regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit. So much has been left unsaid that the reader is left to guess whether or not Mack has been born again.

Dr. Al Mohler, who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gave a review of this controversial book entitled, “A Look at The Shack” on The Albert Mohler Radio Program ( Dr. Mohler states of The Shack:

· “This book includes undiluted heresy.”
· “This book simply, by any measure, falls far short of biblical Christianity.”
· “Regardless of intention (I can’t read the [author's] heart), I can tell you that the effect of the book is indeed deeply subversive of the Christian faith, and I think inherently seductive as well.”