Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, March 22 2018 @ 12:01 PM UTC

The Problem With Progressive Christianity

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For many years there has been the notion among some people that American Christianity is too concerned with doctrine and theology and less concerned with helping the needy and oppressed of society. This narrative, to a degree successfully promulgated, was fostered by those with a liberal mindset toward Christianity. More importantly, within the church community this narrative has been embraced by what has become known as Progressive Christianity. Progressives, both secular and religious, have effectively controlled the narrative that conservatives lack compassion, care for the poor and oppressed, and that they are too focused on morals and values issues that they ignore critical human needs. But is this narrative really true, or is this an argument developed by Progressive Christianity in opposition to the church’s historical emphasis on right beliefs?

How To Recognize A False Religion

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If you've ever been confronted by a Mormon at your door, or spent time listening to a Buddhist talk about enlightenment, or sat in a church service of progressives, then you may have wondered to yourself if what was being discussed was true. Maybe your own faith has shaken a bit as you considered the claims of a competing worldview.

Today, I want to set your mind at ease. I'm going to give you ten brief characteristics of Christianity that will enable you to instantly recognize whether what you are hearing is true or false. That's right, I said instantly. Once you understand these characteristics, spotting a spiritual fraud will be easy, and you'll be able to begin holding your ground against a false religious claim. So, let's get started.

All false religions deny, redefine, or supplement some or all of the following truth:

How Do You Know The Bible Isn't A Myth?

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Throughout 5,000 years of recorded human history virtually every culture has had some kind of mythos regarding the supernatural world. In fact, Judaism, and later Christianity, sprang from a group of stories about the supernatural world and its impact on Israeli society. All of the ancient religious myths have fallen into obscurity, but Judaism and Christianity remain. Yet here is a surprise that most Christians don’t think about.
The Bible has all the markings of an ancient myth.
Now, for purposes of clarity let me define what I mean by a religious myth. A religious myth, in one definition, is a story or group of stories about gods, goddesses, or other supernatural beings that help shape a culture, but from a historical and factual perspective are not true. Myths are not true. They are religious folklore. They have value in that they can teach certain principles a society holds, but they are not, by definition, true accounts of real world events. What may surprise many Christians is that Christianity and Judaism have all of the markings of ancient religious myths—with two important exceptions.

The Theology of Time Travel

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Don't you hate it when people bring up objections to the Gospel that seem high and intelligent just to catch you off-guard in your witness about Jesus? For instance, have you heard that silly challenge that asks, "Can God create something so heavy that even he cannot lift it?" Those types of questions are designed to stump the Christian and even make you and I look silly. (By the way, the answer is yes he can. Jesus collapsed under the weight of his own cross).

Recently the movie, "Looper" and popular science fiction shows have brought up another protest to the Gospel that seems just as silly. "If time travel is possible, doesn't that mean that God is not in control of the world, or history?"

I confess that I enjoy thinking through issues like these. These issues stretch the imagination and can force us to go back to the scripture for answers to even the silliest or the hardest of issues. And yes, there is also an answer to this question in the scripture.

Is Time Travel Possible?

If It Can't Be Measured It Doesn't Exist

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Recently I posted the following on my Facebook page: “If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist.” It wasn’t long before someone asked, “How do you measure God?”
Thanks for asking!
Some people look at faith in God as something that is regulated to “personal belief.” In other words, you can believe something if you want, but it’s not really real. The Bible’s view of faith is quite different. Faith is not something you believe without evidence for the object of its existence. Rather, biblical faith is based squarely and solidly on evidences. Biblical faith is not nebulous. Nor do we measure God by a ruler. Rather, we measure God by the impact he has on his creation. In fact, measuring God is not all that dissimilar to measuring black holes. Yes. You read that right.

Man Is Made In God's Image. But The Angels Are Not. Here's Why

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Have you ever read Genesis 1:26 and wondered what in the world God was talking about when he decided to make man in God’s image? The passage reads, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Many people have speculated about the image of God, thinking that it refers to man’s intellectual capacity, or his ability to make moral judgments. Many have wondered if angels are made in God’s image since they would seem to be above us in the current created order (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7). Angels seem to be able to have intellectual capacity and make more judgments. So how can man, being lower than the angels be created in God’s image and the angels being higher than man not be in God’s image? These are interesting speculations. However, the scripture does not seem to refer to such characteristics as being the reason why man is categorized as being in God’s image.

Joyce Briscoe

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During a recent talk with one of my daughters this testimony came up. I thought I’d share it again.

She stood before an adoring crowd on national television to tell her story. She was the recipient of a Disney award for outstanding teachers. Comedian Robin Williams introduced her to the audience. She had come fresh from a controversy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She had shown the movie, Last Temptation of Christ to her gifted history students. When word leaked out that she used the movie for a history class, Albuquerque's Christian community spoke up in protest. During the award ceremony Mrs. Briscoe noted how some Christian leaders had risen up against what she had done.

She was talking about me.

Looking For Your Bible in a Toilet

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Here's an oldie from 2008, ten years ago, but still relevant today. Where did you get your Bible?
I’m sitting in my home office, my desk covered with four different Bibles used during my weekly work-at-home day of Bible study development. One of these Bible’s is my wife’s old hardback NIV that the publisher released with the cover mistakenly printed upside down. Gosh, how goofy I would feel using a Bible in church with the cover upside down. People would think I was just playing church if they looked at me. We bought a Bible cover for it to cover its deficiency, otherwise it’s just unusable, isn’t it?
That Bible got soaked in a rainstorm many years ago. Many of its pages are wrinkled and crinkled. I think someone spilled tea on it. There are big brown blotches on a lot of the pages. I use it for reference once in a while, but heavens no; I would never use it in public; it’s a mess.
Then there’s my ESV. I like that translation though I confess I still prefer the NASB. I bought my ESV last year on a trip in the States. It’s got a sleek super-soft cover and feels cool. It’s almost frictionless! Yes, isn’t that what a Bible is all about? Of course the corners are now turned up a bit. Darn it. I like my books in good condition. Don’t you know it’s a sin to open a book more than 90 degrees? What? You fold over your cover ALL THE WAY! You could go to hell for that! What is wrong with you?
That ESV is okay, but the upturned corners really bug me. I’m not anal. No I’m not. I’m not.

Miraculous Healing: Where Are The Former Amputees?

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In 2006, an itinerate evangelist held a series of large rallies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to share the Gospel. At that time, I was Managing Director of Eagle Television in Mongolia. We decided not to take part in promoting or reporting on the event because I believed the evangelist taught elements of Prosperity doctrine. Thousands of people came to the events, and healing miracles seemed to be happening on stage.

One morning after an event one of my friends reported that her mother had been brought forward for healing. She suffered from bad eyesight and while she could see, her sight was very bad. The evangelist prayed over her and the woman proclaimed in front of the crowd that she was healed. Everyone was excited by this miracle. There was only one problem. She still couldn’t see well. Like many people who come forward for healing, when it doesn’t happen they become too embarrassed to admit that nothing has changed. This can be especially true in a country like Mongolia which is somewhat oriented as a shame-honor culture. The psychological pressure to confess a healing, despite the reality of the situation, becomes overwhelming.

The next day a video crew from the evangelist’s ministry went to her home to record the testimony about her healing for fund raising purposes. The woman was feeling embarrassed by this time because she knew she had not been healed. She admitted to the video crew that she was not healed and still had great trouble seeing. When the crew questioned her further she began to feel embarrassed again and then told them that her sight was just “a little better” in one eye. Naturally, she did not want to lose face—common in Asian cultures. Upon learning that her sight in one eye was “a little better” the producer accompanying the video crew declared that it was miracle too, so they tried convincing her to record a testimony about her healing—a healing that never took place.

You Can Never Lose Your Integrity

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My former pastor in Florida, Esmond Hilton, had a saying that he used with his kids all of the time. And from time to time he mentioned it in the pulpit. “You can never lose your integrity, you can only give it away.” From the first moment I heard it I thought it was profound because it was so simple, yet so real. You can never lose your integrity, you can only give it away.
In the Bible, the very first thing that was mentioned about Job was that he was a man of integrity. Look at how it describes him: “That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). If a book of the Bible were to be written about you, what would be the first thing God would say about you?
Job was a man of integrity. By describing Job in this fashion, and the practices of his life, the Bible is telling us that Job’s relationship with his Creator was not only his first priority, it was the center of all of his other experiences. For Job, God was the center of his life and that relationship influenced and informed every other part of his life.
As it goes on, the Bible tells us that Job had four things in his life that defined him. Job had: