What Kind of ‘Christian’ is the President?

31 Jan

By David Wheaton, host of the Christian Worldview radio program:

“By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7: 16-20)

[Recently] Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as president of the United States.  In his inaugural address, President Obama outlined his vision for America, promoting liberal policies in terms of “equality” and “justice” for those he deems marginalized.  One example is when he said:

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

President Obama claims to be a Christian.  And yet how can a Christian so strongly advocate for what the Bible clearly calls sin (i.e. homosexuality)?  How can a Christian be so zealously in favor of continuing and expanding the killing of unborn babies?  What kind of “Christian” is Barack Obama?

Last Saturday on The Christian Worldview, Jefrey Breshears, author of the book The Gospel According to Barack, discussed the book’s subtitle, Where Did Barack Obama Get His Ideas About Christianity?  We’ve previously analyzed the president’s political worldview; this time we looked at his religious worldview.

Listen to the program here.

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No, Piers Morgan, the Bible does not Need Updating

18 Jan

Listening to The Christian Worldview radio program recently, host David Wheaton played audio of Piers Morgan’s interview with Rick Warren. Morgan asked Warren if the Bible should be updated to get with the times. This is the 21st– century after all.

For a pastor, Warren stumbled badly and could not coherently articulate a proper response. I wanted so much to respond then. And now I’m taking the opportunity to do so right here.

So, should the Bible be updated to fit the demands of those who don’t believe in it?

No! Our culture isn’t progressing; it’s declining. It’s a coarse culture in a perverse generation.

God has our best interests in mind. It’s reflected in His Word.

People have the free will to accept or reject God’s Word. But has the rejection of it been a good thing or a bad thing? Let me ask additional questions to answer this question.

How many people have died of AIDS? Drunk driving? Alcoholism or drug abuse? Suicide?

How many women and children have been killed by live-in boyfriends?

Has hedonism made people’s lives better? Or worse?

Has pornography harmed people or enriched their lives?

How many billions of dollars has government spent trying to pick up the pieces of broken families?

How many men who grew up without accountable fathers are in prison?

How many marriages have been ruined by compulsive gambling?

Is cheating in sports not rampant?

The answers to these rhetorical questions are obvious. The lesson is to be careful for what you wish for.

If more people heeded God’s timeless Word, it would be a much better world with less crime, less hurting, and less suffering.

Piers, now let’s go a different direction. Let’s suppose you invented a widget and opened a factory to mass produce widgets. Each product is sold with an instruction manual. But unfortunately a few people didn’t bother to read the instructions.

As a result of misusing the widget, some people were badly injured. Some even died. Many people accused you of intolerance for including an instruction manual with your product. They claimed you are evil for telling them the best and the safest way to use the product.

But you say you had their best intentions in mind when you wrote the manual.

That’s how it is with God’s Word. He tells us how we can live victoriously by living according to His Word. We can choose to ignore His advice and live life our way. That’s what we’re seeing with many in the world today. No, God, I’ll handle it my way, I don’t need you.

You see the results every day, and it’s not a pretty picture: tyranny, murder, rape, drugs, violence, STDs, AIDs, hate, death, socially unredeeming media, hopelessness, depravity.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our culture can be redeemed. Abstinence, fidelity, honesty, respect, and the Golden Rule are within our reach. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

No, Piers, the Bible does not need updating for the 21st century. The world needs the timeless, unchanging, sustaining Word today, tomorrow, and always. The free gifts of forgiveness, salvation and everlasting life are available for all.

Dr. Ablow: We’re Raising Generation of Deluded Narcissists

15 Jan

By Dr. Keith Ablow

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data  for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students  are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even  though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.

Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author  of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30  percent in the last thirty-odd years. These data are not unexpected.  I  have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic  psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young  adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the  equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have  hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They  can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated  self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny  photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy  short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and  musicians they “like.”

We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and  technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards  turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own  fictionalized life stories.

Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though  they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual  fanning of false love and false fame.

Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians,  Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters.  And while they can turn  off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and  playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after  their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for “being” something they are not.

On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs  portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and  self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in  psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.

These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting  our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.

As if to keep up with the unreality of media and technology, in a dizzying  paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand  out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades, energy drinks  in giant, colorful cans take over the soft drink market, and psychiatrists hand  out Adderall like candy.

All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a  Congress that can’t control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a  president that can’t see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary  achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the  psychotic people who wield them, and—here no surprise—a stock market that keeps  rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then,  inevitably, burst.

That’s really the unavoidable end, by the way. False pride can never be  sustained. The bubble of narcissism is always at risk of bursting.  That’s  why young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more,  tattooed more, pierced more and having more and more and more sex, earlier and  earlier and earlier, raising babies before they can do it well, because it makes  them feel special, for a while.  They’re doing anything to distract  themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy.

Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an  epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real  self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises  to the surface.  I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too.

We had better get a plan together to combat this greatest epidemic as it  takes shape.  Because it will dwarf the toll of any epidemic we have ever  known. And it will be the hardest to defeat. Because, by the time we see the  scope and destructiveness of this enemy clearly, we will also realize, as the  saying goes, that it is us.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.  Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com.

Arizona Pastor Leading Flock Astray on Virtue, Spiritual Discernment

11 Jan

Warren Stewart Sr. is the senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church, an inner city congregation in Phoenix, and president of Paradise Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arizona, Inc. He has just come under fire by homosexual activists for having expressed disappointment with President Barack Obama for endorsing same-sex “marriage.”

The introductory remarks to that statement bear close scrutiny. They are highly problematic for lack of spiritual discernment and leadership. Following are the pastor’s evaluations of President Obama, followed by The Arizona Christian’s response:

Pastor Stewart: He is very intelligent, successful, effective and courageous.

Arizona Christian: President Obama does show some signs of intelligence. Yet he also shows signs of a lack of intelligence. He is not dedicated to truth, but to political deception in the tradition of one of his leading role models – the late Saul Alinsky, whom he worked for. Alinsky’s notorious book, “Rules for Radicals,” was dedicated to Lucifer.  Obama is succeeding at demonizing his political enemies. He is effective at spending taxpayer money far beyond America’s means – immorally saddling future generations with mountainous debt, effective at downsizing America’s national defense, effective at attacking free speech, religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and America’s highest ideals. He is a highly effective socialist. He is not in the least way courageous. Obama is supporting Planned Parenthood despite the abortion giant’s defrauding of taxpayers and its insistence on killing a sizeable portion of America’s future – including a highly disproportionate number of preborn African Americans. He is extremely skilled at bringing into the highest levels of government people with poor (humanist, communist, Marxist) values and scandalous backgrounds. He revels in the demonization of America’s achievers and wealth creators. He is destroying the business climate during a down economy. He has presided in the nation’s highest elected office over a sharp rise in Black poverty. Much of what Obama says on a daily basis is located 180 degrees from truth.

Pastor Stewart: He is probably the highest profile role model as a leader, husband and father in the world.

Arizona Christian: Obama appears to be dedicated and faithful to his wife and family. But he is modeling anti-Christian values to them. He is not encouraging their spiritual growth or standing up as a godly husband and father. If he is corrupting America, he is corrupting his family. He and his family are spending millions upon millions on lavish vacations while his kinfolk in Africa live in squalor. He is not his brother’s keeper, and all the world knows this. There are many great role models in America — Tony Dungy, for example — but Obama is not one of them.

Pastor Stewart: Since he campaigned for the presidency and became president he has been an agent of change not only in our nation, but the world.

Arizona Christian: Indeed he has been an agent of change, but it’s the wrong kind of change, pastor. It is destroying America’s prosperity, morality, national defense and economy and business climate. Obama would prefer businesses close down – exposing families to the loss of jobs and income — for not providing abortion-inducing drug insurance to employees. Many things in America need changing, but not the changes wrought by the dominant left-wing, progressive, socialistic influences pervading the Obama Administration. Obama is trying to destroy God’s plan for marriage in America, and by endorsing same-sex “marriage” he is dooming more children to the ravages of fatherless homes. We need changes for the better in leadership and morality, and we are not getting them from this president or his administration.

Pastor Stewart: In addition, he speaks often about Jesus Christ being his personal Savior. For this and more we are thankful.

Arizona Christian: He has been labeled by former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as a “mainstream Christian.” But talk is cheap, and nothing could be further from the truth. Where is any evidence of the fruits of the Spirit in this president? Where are the outward workings of a life based on faith? There are none. In fact, no president in America’s 237-year history has so openly and brazenly attacked religious freedom as Obama has. Obama at best could most accurately be described as an “election year Christian.” In his book, Obama admitted to doubts about his “faith.” He has never worshipped in a mainstream church, only in a church preaching hate for America and radical liberation theology. He frequently mischaracterizes scripture in attempts to make veiled cases in support of big government socialism, which is part and parcel of anti-God humanism. Obama spoke of “collective salvation” – a concept nowhere found in the Holy Bible. Obama is trying to drum Bible-believing chaplains out of the military, attacking a tradition going back to President George Washington’s time. If anyone believes Obama is a “mainstream Christian,” he is seriously deluding himself.

In conclusion, one would expect and hope for much more spiritual discernment and leadership from a leading Arizona pastor than what Pastor Stewart has demonstrated with this particular message. President Obama reflexively governs against the Christian worldview. With his vast government power, he is opening the door for sin and depravity, and slamming the door shut on religious freedom and free speech.

A Gem of a Life — A Tribute to the Late Frank Pastore

28 Dec

By David Wheaton, host of The Christian Worldview Radio Program

I could sense it when we first met about a decade ago: Frank and I had a bond.  Even though we were raised in very different families and even though we lived two thousand miles apart and saw each other only occasionally, our life experiences connected us on several levels.

Frank and I both grew up playing sports and both of us made it to the “major leagues” — he in baseball and I in tennis.  Both of us came to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord during our pro sports careers.  Both of us became hosts of Christian radio programs that discussed the issues of life from a biblical worldview.  Both of us were follically challenged and wore what remained of our hair close to the scalp (mine, however, not close enough for Frank as he would urge me to “Just Bic it!”).

Like I said, Frank and I had a bond.

I am going to miss Frank.  I know God has welcomed him into His presence and I rejoice in that, but I am going to miss his friendly face, his exuberant personality, and his passion for the truth.  I will miss him and yet I will always remember the gem that God created in His surrendered life.

God’s comfort and grace to Frank’s family and those who knew and loved him.

Newsweek Takes Final Shot at Christ

18 Dec

By Albert Mohler Jr.

The major festivals of the Christian year often prompt major cover stories in the nation’s weekly news magazines. Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report all regularly feature major articles timed for Christmas and Easter. The days of these cover articles may soon be over, however, since US News & World Report is no longer publishing a print edition, and Newsweek’s final print edition will be dated December 31, 2012.

In years past, these cover articles had featured the work of reporters who interviewed a range of scholars and authorities from several theological perspectives. More recently, both Time and Newsweek have instead featured essays written by a single author.

Timed for this Christmas, Newsweek just released a cover essay by Bart D. Ehrman, who is well-known for his belief that the New Testament is largely historical fiction. “Who is Jesus?” is the question on the cover. “The Myths of Jesus” is the headline on the essay itself.

Newsweek’s agenda is clear, and it has chosen to feature a cover article denying the historical basis of Christmas as one of its last print editions.

Ehrman begins, predictably, by reviewing the controversy concerning the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” that emerged earlier this year when Professor Karen King of Harvard University claimed a tiny papyrus fragment to be a monumental discovery. Even as she insisted that the fragment did not prove in any sense that Jesus had a wife, she fueled the confusion in carefully-staged media appearances in which she referred to the fragment as “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

A professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Ehrman’s academic specialization is in the history of the New Testament and its times. As such, he dismissed the papyrus fragment as either irrelevant or a hoax. He writes, “As it turns out, most experts on early Christianity have come to think the fragment is a hoax, a forgery produced in recent years by an amateur who, unlike King and scholars of her stature, was not well versed in the niceties of Coptic grammar and so was unable to cover up the traces of his own deceit.”

A close look at that statement reveals a strong critique of Professor King who, according to Ehrman’s logic, should have been able to detect problems with a papyrus fragment probably manufactured by an amateur.

Ehrman cites that controversy, however, in order to make the point that there were hundreds of “proto-gospels” about Jesus floating about in the first few centuries of the Christian church, and that much of what modern people think they know about Christmas is actually not to be found in the New Testament.

He rightly states:

“As Christians around the world now prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, it is worth considering that much of the ‘common knowledge’ about the babe in Bethlehem cannot be found in any scriptural authority, but is either a modern myth or based on Gospel accounts from outside the sacred bounds of Christian Scripture.”

Of course, that is profoundly true. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was born in unusual circumstances and placed in a manger because “there was no room in the inn.” There is no innkeeper in the New Testament, however. There is no record of the number of the magi, no reference to December 25 as the date of Christ’s birth, and no mention of barnyard animals, much less a little drummer boy.

Beyond these rather familiar issues, Ehrman also points to a host of claims about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the larger Christmas story that amount to “legends and fabrications” that are rightly recognized as implausible and untrue.

Ehrman then turns to press his case on the New Testament itself. After reviewing a number of traditions and non-biblical accounts he asks, “Are the stories about Jesus’ birth that are in the New Testament any less unbelievable?”

He then says that the answer to that question “depends on whom you ask.” To leave no doubt, Ehrman answers the question directly in his essay. The New Testament writings “are not historically reliable descriptions of what really happened when Jesus was born,” he asserts.

Ehrman juxtaposes those who are “interested in affirming the narratives of Scripture” and those who are more interested in “knowing what actually happened in the past.”

He then explains:

“And there is indeed a very wide swath of scholars—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, agnostic, and others—who have a very different view of the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament and who realize that there are problems with the traditional stories as they are recounted for us in Matthew and Luke, the only two Gospels that contain infancy narratives. However valuable these writings may be for theological reflection on the meaning and importance of Jesus—and why should anyone deny that they are tremendously valuable for that?—they are not the sorts of historical sources that we might hope for if we are seriously engaged in trying to reconstruct the events of history.”

In other words, Ehrman argues that Matthew and Luke simply can’t be trusted to convey historical truth. He points to what he insists are inconsistencies and erroneous historical claims, arguing that though some attempt to explain these questions in an attempt to affirm the veracity of the gospels, it is better just to abandon them altogether if you are “seriously engaged in trying to reconstruct the events of history.”

Just as a practical matter, a reading of Bart Ehrman’s many books, along with similar efforts, reveals that those who claim to abandon the New Testament in order to “reconstruct the events of history” find themselves coming back to the New Testament again and again. The reason for this is simple — there are no comparable sources.

Ehrman reveals his real agenda in the sentence that follows his denial of the historical truthfulness of the New Testament. He asserts, “For some Christian believers that is a problem; for others, it is a liberation, as it frees the believer from having to base faith on the uncertainties provided by the imperfect historical record and the fallible historians who study it.”

In Ehrman’s view, liberation comes in freeing the believer from a faith based in the claims of the New Testament, or in any historical record, for that matter.

The interesting point about Ehrman’s proposed path of liberation for Christian believers is the fact that Ehrman is himself no longer a believer. He was once a conservative evangelical, but now describes himself as an agnostic who has left the church.

Like many others, Ehrman tries to argue that the New Testament is still useful for “theological reflection on the meaning and importance of Jesus.” He asks, “And why should anyone deny that they are tremendously valuable for that?.”

But the New Testament does not present itself merely for the purpose of theological reflection. It makes unvarnished historical claims and direct statements of fact. Ehrman attempts to sideswipe this truth, stating that the New Testament contains writings identified as “gospels” rather than “histories.” But the word “history” in that sense is a fairly modern invention. The gospels do contain interpretation and theological elaboration, but all four gospels, including Matthew and Luke, contain explicit and pervasive historical material — the bedrock historical claims of Christianity itself.

Christianity stands or falls on the truth concerning Jesus, and thus it also stands or falls on the authority and truthfulness of the Bible. What you believe about historical truth defines what you believe about Jesus Christ. Without the revealed truths of the New Testament, there is no Christianity, just superstitions and fantasies about Jesus.

Interestingly, Bart Ehrman does believe that Jesus existed. In a recent book he debunks those who dismiss all claims about Christ as mere myth. He believes Jesus to have been a Jewish apocalyptic prophet, but not God incarnate in human flesh.

The cover article in the magazine, timed for maximum publicity at Christmas, was a premeditated act. Securing Bart Ehrman to write the essay set the course, and the cover art is intended to sell the magazine.

So, in the waning days of Newsweek as a print magazine, the editors decided to take on the New Testament. Readers should note carefully that it is Newsweek, and not the New Testament, that is going out of print.

 

 

 

David Wheaton: The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is … Not Fearing God

30 Nov

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

It seems almost disingenuous now for America to celebrate Thanksgiving, a day set aside to give thanks to God for His blessings on our nation, when a majority of our nation doesn’t revere or even acknowledge God.  This was confirmed in this past election when our country voted decisively for a leader who is stridently pro-abortion and pro-homosexual, positions that are God-rejecting at the very core.

The command to fear God is written all over Scripture, with promises and examples of blessing for those who do and discipline for those who don’t.  So while we often are encouraged to love God, why do we hear so little about fearing Him?  And what does it mean to fear God and how do we grow in our fear of the Lord?

This Thanksgiving weekend on The Christian Worldview, we’ll observe ways in which the fear of God has been pushed aside in our country and how we individually can grow in the fear of God in our hearts.

Listen here