Friday Church News Notes, Vol 14, Issue 9
ALPHA COURSE BUILDING THE ONE-WORLD CHURCH (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - The Alpha Course, an interdenominational evangelistic program, has grown phenomenally since its inception in the early 1990s. More than 18 million people have participated in the program in 169 countries, and the materials have been translated into 112 languages. It was birthed by the charismatic Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican church in London, England, and the developer, Nicky Gumbel, said that he experienced “massive electricity going through” his body in 1994 when the laughing revival broke out at the parish. One person was thrown across the room and lay on the floor howling and laughing, another lay on the floor with his feet in the air, laughing like a hyena, while others were “drunk.” The Alpha Course includes a “Holy Spirit Day” with the objective of bringing the participants into a charismatic experience, including “tongues.” Gumble says tongues speaking begins with a limited vocabulary and “develops” (Questions of Life, p. 147), but of course we see nothing like this in Scripture. The apostles did not have to attend a class on tongues speaking to prepare for Pentecost! The Alpha Course is a radically ecumenical program that is helping to build the end-time, one-world “church.” Gumble says: “We need to unite ... the movement of the Spirit will always bring churches together. He is doing that right across the denominations and within the traditions ... People are no longer ‘labelling’ themselves or others” (Renewal, May 1995, p. 16). Last year, Gumble made the following statement: “Alpha runs in every arm of the Church. It’s growing the fastest in the Catholic church. ... the course runs exactly the same no matter the denomination. ... What unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us. We focus on what unites us. We present a united front to the world. In every different part of the body of Christ--Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, non-denominational, Catholic, Pentecostals, Bulgarian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox--Alpha crosses all divides” (“The Alpha Course: An International Phenomenon,” WillowCreek.org, March 2012). The Alpha program has achieved this ecumenical acceptance because it is doctrinally weak. It refers to salvation, the cross, the death of Christ, etc., in such a vague way that false doctrine is not refuted. For instance, it says salvation is “by grace,” but it does not say that salvation is by grace ALONE by faith ALONE through the blood of Christ ALONE without works or sacraments. Of course, there is not a hint of condemnation of Rome’s gross heresies and blasphemies. When Gumble was asked whether the Alpha Course was sometimes used “to poach Catholics,” he replied, “No! When they do Alpha I say to them: do not come to Holy Trinity Brompton but go back to your Catholic parish. It’s part of the Church and I love the whole Church” (“Alpha Male,” The Spectator, Dec. 12, 2012). Alpha is also a major force in the Contemporary Worship Music field. See The Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, a free eBook available from www.wayoflife.org.
TIM TEBOW’S NON-OFFENSIVE CHRISTIANITY (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143) - Pro football star Tim Tebow is outspoken about his personal faith in Jesus Christ, but his brand of Christianity is the soft, non-offensive type that is popular in America today, and it appears that he values his career more than standing for God’s holy Word. When it became known that Tebow had agreed to speak at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, there was an uproar from the Christ-hating sports media because Robert Jeffress, First Baptist’s senior pastor, has called homosexual behavior sinful, which is an unforgivable sin in the modern pop culture. Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports brashly claimed that “Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.” Others chimed in, and bowing to the pressure, Tebow told Pastor Jeffress that he needed to “lay low of controversy” (“Despite Canceling First Baptist Appearance,” Dallas News, Feb. 22, 2013). He said he intended to “continue to use “the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day.” But genuine faith, hope, and love cannot be separated from righteousness and holiness and truth. What people need is not merely a brighter day; they need salvation from eternal condemnation, but the good news of salvation cannot be understood without the bad news of God’s holiness and man’s fallen condition. The enemies of Christ are winning simply by screaming like howler monkeys whenever a public figure appears to be saying something in favor of biblical righteousness. They have already intimidated many Christians into keeping their mouths shut on important biblical issues. But Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets,” and, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels” (Luke 6:26; 9:26).
NEW HOMOSEXUAL CCM BAND (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - In 1998, gospel star Kirk Franklin said that “homosexuality ... is a problem today in gospel music--a major concern--and everybody knows it” (Church Boy, pp. 49, 50). The truth of this has been demonstrated more clearly with each passing year. The most recent example is a trio named Micah’s Rule which recorded their first album in 2012. The band is composed of Greg McCaw, a homosexual; Chasity Scott, a lesbian; and Mary Anne Hewett, a “transgender.” Their first CD is “a mix of Southern gospel, classic country, blues and a medley of 1960s peace songs--all with a Christian message” (“Gay, Transgender Band Breaks Barriers in Christian Music,” Religion News Service, Feb. 15, 2013). McCaw was a Church of God pastor for 25 years and sang bass for more than two decades for popular Southern Gospel and CCM musicians such as Sandi Patty, Bill Gaither, and the Gatlin Brothers. Currently, the members of Micah’s Rule attend St. Jude Metropolitan Community Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. Micah’s Rule wants their music to speak the message that “in life, it’s how you walk your road, not listening to people who say you’re not worthy of God’s love.” McCaw adds, “We’ve all had that experience.” This is a deceptive smokescreen. The issue is not whether homosexuals are loved of God, or whether Christ died for them, or whether they can be saved. It is not whether their sin is greater than someone else’s. The issue is repentance. The Bible plainly teaches that Christ shed His blood and died because God loved the whole world of sinners (John 3:16). Christ came to seek and to save every lost soul. But the Bible just as plainly teaches that men must repent of their sin in order to be saved (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 17:30), and homosexuality is most definitely a sin before God. In Romans 1:26-27 it is called “vile,” “against nature,” “lust,” “unseemly,” and “error.” Homosexuals today must do what homosexuals did in ancient Corinth. They must repent of their sin before God and receive the life-changing, sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither FORNICATORS, nor idolaters, nor ADULTERERS, nor EFFEMINATE, nor ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
BABIES ABORTED IN THE U.K. FOR MINOR ABNORMALITIES (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143) - The following is excerpted from “UK: Cleft Lip, Club Foot Abortions 10X More Than Reported,” LifeNews.com, Feb. 5, 2013: “In a shocking new report, the London Telegraph newspaper indicates European researchers show abortions done on babies with minor disabilities that doctors can easily correct is ten times higher than previously indicated. Although babies with club feet or cleft palates can undergo surgery to correct the physical problems, mothers and couples are still having abortions when the conditions are diagnosed in the womb. And Eurocat, an agency set up to monitor congenital abnormalities across 23 countries says 157 unborn babies were aborted in England and Wales who had been shown to have a cleft lip from 2006 and 2010. However, the newspaper says the UK government, via the Department of Health, records only 14 such abortions during that time. Another 250 babies were killed in abortions because they had a club foot and, again, officially government figures paint a different story--showing them at a lower number.”
NORTH KOREAN PRISON CAMPS (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - The following is excerpted from “North Korean Prison Camps Are Like Hitler’s Auschwitz,” Business Insider, Feb. 20, 2013: “North Korea's prison camps are a closed-off world of death, torture and forced labour where babies are born slaves, according to two survivors who liken the horrors of the camps to a Holocaust in progress. ... ‘People think the Holocaust is in the past, but it is still very much a reality. It is still going on in North Korea,’ Shin Dong-hyuk told AFP through an interpreter on the sidelines of a human rights summit in Geneva. Shin himself spent his first 23 years in a prison camp in the secretive country, where he says he was tortured and subjected to forced labour before making a spectacular escape seven years ago--and giving the outside world a rare first-hand account of life inside the camps. Camp 14--a massive slave labour camp comprising a number of ‘villages,’ factories, farms and mines--is one of five known prison camps in North Korea believed to house as many as 200,000 people. ... Chol-Hwan Kang, now 43, was sent to Camp 15 with his whole family when he was nine years old to repent for the suspected disloyalties of his grandfather. He spent 10 years there before his family was released and later managed to flee to China and on to South Korea -- the same route taken by Shin. ... At age 13, Shin was forced to watch the executions of his mother and brother. ... Shin, who says his father and grandfather were sent to the camp because two of his uncles apparently defected to the South, said he was expected to spend his entire life there under North Korea's ‘guilt-by-association’ system that calls for up to three generations of family members of an accused to also be punished. ... ‘Daily I saw torture, and every day in the camp I saw people dying of malnutrition and starvation. I saw lots of friends die and I almost died myself of malnutrition,’ Kang recalled.”
TURNING PURIM INTO A DRUNKEN PARTY (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143) - Purim is the Jewish celebration of victory over the ancient enemy Haman in Persia, the background of which is found in the book of Esther. But instead of Purim being a time of thanksgiving to God for His compassion in days of old and a time of solemn reflection upon the nation’s relationship with that God today, Purim has been turned into a drunken festival in modern Israel. It reminds us that though Israel is back in the land, she remains spiritually dead as described in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones. The following is excerpted from “A shot of religion in the Holy Land,” BBC Travel, Feb. 22, 2013: “Going to Israel during a Jewish holiday wouldn’t normally be my idea of a good time. I haven’t set foot in a synagogue since I moved out of my childhood home nearly a decade ago, and many religious holidays--at least in my experience--tend to put too much emphasis on repenting, and not enough on drinking, dancing and setting off fireworks deep into the night. But Purim--a holiday commemorating a time when the Jewish people living in Persia (modern day Iran) were saved from extermination in the fourth century BCE – is different. The booze-fuelled celebration, which takes place on the 14th day of Adar on the Jewish calendar (sunset of 23 to 24 February this year), is like Halloween, St Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one. ... Before my arak-drenched boozefest commenced, an Israeli friend explained that there are three things you are supposed to do on Purim: read the Megillah (the relevant section of the Talmud, the central religious Jewish text), give tzedakah (charity), and throw on a disguise and proceed to do as the Talmud states: ‘drink until you can’t tell the difference between Blessed is Mordechai and Cursed is Haman.’ Mordechai is the hero of the Purim story, and Haman, the villain. ... Purim was all around me. It flowed out of temples and into the bars, in the streets, on balconies and rooftops. ... If this is what religious holidays are like, I decided, sign me up.” “And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: BUT THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM” (Ezekiel 37:8).
THE ANHINGA (Friday Church News Notes, March 1, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - The anhinga is a water fowl that is also called the “snake bird” for the fact that its long neck looks like a snake when it’s body is submerged in the water. Found throughout the world in warm shallow waters, the anhinga is a large bird with a wingspan of up to 4 feet and a body weight of 3 pounds. It has beautiful multi-colored wings of jet black, blue, and white. The beautiful green and blue iridescent sheen to the bird’s feathers is produced by a reflective layer of melanin granules with a keratin substrate marvelously arranged to reflect a particular portion of the light wave, similar to the way that many butterflies produce reflective coloring. A distinguishing characteristic of the anhinga is its habit of perching and spreading its wings for long periods. This is done to dry out the feathers, as it does not have waterproofing oil glands like most other waterfowl. This is not an “accident.” It is a design feature that allows the bird to be less buoyant, as the non-oily feathers absorb water, thus enabling the anhinga to swim and hunt with its body submerged and only its long neck out of the water and to dive under water easily and stay down for long periods. It has air sacs located on various parts of its body that allow it to control its level of buoyancy in the water. The anhinga spears fish with its sharp bill, using its long neck to strike out quickly. “The rapid stabbing motion is made possible by the anhinga’s unusual arrangement of neck vertebrae. The eighth and ninth vertebrae form a kind of hinge-like mechanism that allows the head and bill to snap forward at a high rate of speed, so fast that very few fish escape” (Russ Heitz, Krazy Kritters of Florida). Anhingas form lifelong mating pairs. They build their nests in trees, particularly on branches that extend over water, and the male and female take turns incubating the eggs. A flock of anhingas is called a “kettle.”