Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you the old timeradio program The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny SouthFlorida.

Welcome, I’m Dr. Matthew McMahon.

The movie “The Da Vinci Code” directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen was recently released. It grossed almost as much in the opening weekend as the last Star Wars movie which tells you that Americans love fantasy. This, however, is not saying much for the movie itself since the last three of Lucas’ Star Wars prequels were a sore disappointment. “The Da Vinci Code” movie is a take off from the fictional novel written by Dan Brown thatsold over 40 million copies.

Its purpose, simply, to deny the deity of Jesus Christ in the form of intrigue and entertainment. The devil knows that most Americans don’t read their Bible’s, and that indoctrination is much more powerful by way of the media for mushy minds than sitting down to read for eight hours. Those Americans that have not read Dan Brown’s book will no doubt get the cliff noteversion in Ron Howard’s film.

Thankfully, the movie is bombing according to the critics. Out of 100 critics, 6 think the movie is worth seeing. 94 think it is a waste of time. “A jumbled joyless affair that neither entertains nor enlightens.” Another said, “No its not as bad as you’ve heard – its worse.” Another said,“Frankly it’s a stinker.”

In the movie is pressed the concept that the great sting of the ages is that Christ was only human, and married to Mary Magdalene. This, the secret society of the Priory of Sion says is, “the dark con of man.”

One of the main tenants of the movie, and the book for that matter, is that prior to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. no one believed that Jesus was divine. It was there that Constantine inaugurated the divinity of Christ and had the New Testament documents rewritten. However, the thousands upon thousands of early church documents and manuscripts of the Gospels and New Testament letters, written in the first century, and the copies we have through the second and third centuries, demonstrate Christ as divine. The movie would have you believe that the early Christians believed Jesus was only a mortal. As Tom Hanks character said, very clearly, “Jesus was just a man.” Yet, even if one were to take the writings of the early church father themselves, and pull from them the Scriptures of the New Testament, one would find all but 12 verses of the canon stated succinctly and clearly. From the very beginning, Christians worshiped Jesus as God. Even the church Fathers—all of whom wrote before the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.—affirmed that Christ was God. This is found in the writings of Ignatius (writing in 105 A.D.), Clement (150), Justin Martyr (160), Irenaeus (180), Tertullian (200), Origen (225), Novatian (235), Cyprian (250), Methodius (290), Lactantius (304), and Arnobius (305).

Constantine did not divinitize Christ. As a matter of fact, the Nicean Creed was actually penned in a vague light because the controversy over Arianism was not going to be completely settled for another 50 years. Thus, we know, that if Arius could ascribe to his interpretation of the Nicean Creed believing with Dan Brown that Christ was just a created being, then obviously the poor historical understanding Brown has of history has trickled over and been copied into Ron Howard’s poorer version of the Da Vinci Code. If Constantine had a document penned that allowed for an Arian interpretation, then Brown’s bogus claims are simply a worse sort of dark con.

The movie depicts The Priory of Sion as created in 1099 by the Knights Templar. They are the ones who coined the phrase “the dark con of man” referring to this Christological cover up. However, The Priory of Sion was created in 1956 by a French anti-Semite con man, Pierre Plantard. In 1975, documents were found in the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris that allegedly proved the Priory is as old as 1099, and that Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton and other luminaries secretly presided over it. These documents, however, were proved to be fakes. Since the dark con was a recent con, then Brown has been conned, and his con was copied by Ron. In affect, these men are taking America on ride equivalent to a historical and theological acid trip begun in 1975 by Plantard. The movie winds up being, the dark con of Ron instead.

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you The Wild BoarNews Podcast from Sunny South Florida.

Welcome, I’m Dr. Matthew McMahon.

40 Million People bought Dan Brown’s fictional novel, “The Da Vinci Code.” This fabricated and made up story begins with the murder of the Louvre’s curator. But this curator is not interested in simply art, rather he is also the Grand Master of a secret society called the Priory of Sion. This fictional sect guards a secret that, if revealed, would discredit biblical Christianity. Before he dies, the curator attempts to pass on the secret to his granddaughter Sophie, a cryptographer, and Harvard professor Robert Langdon, by leaving a number of intricate clues that heanticipates will aid them to this fictional truth.

The“truth” in this fictional novel, is the location and identity of the Holy Grail. Dan Brown, though, as all good fictional writers, further fabricates the story by identifying that the Grail is not the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, as fictional legend has it, but rather, it is Mary Magdalene’s, who, in Brown’s fictional account, is the wife of Jesus.

At this point, Brown has crossed over from fiction to blasphemy by libel. HE has written down something false and slanderous to the character and person of the Son of God, who, is no fictional person, but the documented and historically proven Son of God, and King of Kings. Instead, in Brown’s fictional book, he continues to slander Christ by attempting to demonstrate that Mary, Jesus’ supposed wife, carried on the royal bloodline of Christ by giving birth to His child! The Priory guards the secret location of Mary’s tomb and serves to protect thebloodline of Jesus that has continued to this day!

As it is marked on the cover, this is a work of fiction. However, in order to confuse or possibly instigate conversation among his popular audience, Brown writes, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” Brown, The Da Vinci Code, 1. The unsuspecting and ignorant reader might take this to mean that fiction is fact. And unfortunately, the unsuspecting populous, some 40 million book readers,have been utterly duped.

The novel questions the authenticity of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Brown alleges that“Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, whichomitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traitsand embellished those gospels that made Him godlike” (234).

There is no historical basis for the claim that Constantine embellished the New Testament Gospels to make Jesus appear more godlike, but people are believing a novel of fiction instead of the historical documents of the New Testament. Brown writes, “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false” (235). However, this is the question that the thinking reader should pose to Brown’s book. What will Brown place in the stead of the New Testament? He uses the Gnostic Gospels, fabricated stories called the Nag Hammadi documents, as what he calls, the earliest Christian records. (245) However, this is not only false but historically ludicrous. In other words, with facts like these that Brown introduces to dupe the reader, one must state, emphatically, that almost everything taught in the fictional book, The Da Vinci Code, is utterly false.

Why would Dan Brown, then, create a slanderous fabrication about the Son of God? Why would he want to discredit the New Testament? Well, Brown follows the suit of his father, the devil, who also wanted to discredit Christ from being the Son of God when he tempted the Savior in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Christ, though, in discrediting the devil, and demonstrating his lies, quoted the Scriptures and relied upon the inscripturated Word of God for His strengthand support.

Dan Brown believes that Christianity is based on pagan religions – such as the mystery religions. Dan Brown states: "Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on Dec. 25, died, was buriedin a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days."

However, Brown, with his twisted and his blatantly inaccurate understanding of the historical record, even of paganism, has it exactly the opposite. The mystery religions borrowed from Christian themes – including the ones that Brown mentions. In many of the ancient cultures, there was always the myth of a dying and resurrecting“demi-god” essentially mimicking "winter" and "spring."However, these are never alleged to have been real history.Again we find a son of the devil fabricating lies in orderto attempt to discredit the Son of God.

The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years 66 Books 40 Writers (Differing vocations, education, sophistication) 3 Continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) 3 Languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) Yet, all in agreement about every aspect of its doctrine and continuity which is scientifically impossible unless it be divinely inspired. It is about one central story line...1 Theme, The Glory of One True Living Christ. The indestructible book, the Bible, has been unexhaustedly attacked by the devil in every age since its inception. Wicked and sinful men continue to try to discredit God’s word, in order to exalt their own ideas about what they think God is like.

Think about it. If God is who He says He is in the Bible, then most of mankind is going to hell, and atrocities like the Da Vinci Code will cause unrepentant sinners like Dan Brown to burn in a hotter hell because of their sin. Such men throughout history have often attempted to discredit the Bible to make life more bearable. But, as with the rich man “being in torments in hell (Luke 16:23), these slanderers of the Son of God delude themselves to make life easier for a time, until they reach their day of reckoning and stand before the King of whom will show no pity or sympathy. They will upontheir judgment, see the wrath of the Lamb.

This slander, this libel, these lies paraded as facts, will also be catapulted into the minds of millions of people worldwide through the movie magic of Ron Howard and acting talents of Tom Hanks. As a result, an answer to this Da Vinci Hoax, this Da Vinci delusion is more warranted, because the populous is not interested in fact. They love fiction if it will make their time on earth more bearable and their sin easier to commit.

For more information on the utter nonsense of the Da Vinci Code I implore all thinking people across the world to visit A Puritan’s Mind ( In the next few weeks, there will be information posted there that will aid the truth seeker in debunking, easily, the incredible audacity and stupidity of Brown’s fictional book. What was Brown thinking? He was thinking of himself, his paycheck, and how many people he would turn to a dead religion of Gnosticism. In the age of information, what we need is good information, truthful information, not what Brown, Howard, and Hanks are peddling for profit. Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Billy Graham's Last Sermon

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr.Matthew McMahon.

This just in –

In a recent survey of a large portion of evangelical pastors, they were asked who is the most influential figure in the church today. No, they did not say Jesus Christ. But this is to be expected of theological morons. Instead, they named Billy Graham.

In what he called his last sermon, Billy Graham sermonized a final time March 11-12 at the New Orleans Arena. His cornerstone saying in every sermon is “God loves you, Jesus loves you.” Billy Graham, is called the famous “evangelist” of the 20th century. However sad the Billy Graham Crusade is about the retirement of their world ridden evangelist, it is a cause of rejoicing for those who know the true Gospel of sovereign grace. For the poor doctrine and the compromising theology is finally at an end, or so we hope. Certainly others will take his place, such as his son Franklin who is infected with the same heretical theology that Graham had been, and is, still to this day. But knowing that Franklin Graham will not be as cherished as his father has become a cause of rejoicing for those who hold the truth so dear. We do not need to speak of Graham’s association with the Mason, or New Age movement. Rather, we simply need to listen to a sermon or two to find his deviant gospel glaring back.

Billy Graham, like Arminius, or even worse than Arminius, herald the same secular man’s religion as the Remonstrance did four hundred years ago. Not only was Graham an avowed Arminian, but he was also the voice of a watered down Gospel; which is no Gospel at all. His theology is not only riddled with error, but his compromises demonstrate the worst sort of heretical teaching. On May 31, 1998 he had a television interview with Robert Schuller (another arch-heretic that the church should be keenly aware), as reported in the May-June 1997, Foundation magazine. Graham said, “I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the Body of Christ.”

In September 1993, Graham held a crusade in Columbus, Ohio. In a pre-Crusade television interview, Graham said (speaking of the people of Columbus, Ohio): "You're too good, you don't need evangelism. ... In fact, that's what kept us from coming [to Columbus] for so long." Curtis Mitchell, who documented Graham’s invitational preaching, says the following is a typical use of words by Graham, “I am going to ask you to come forward. Up there – down there – I want you to come. You come right now – quickly. If you are with friends or relatives, they will wait for you. Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. It’s a long way, but Christ went all the way to the cross because He loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps and give your life to Him…” Such things are said as he shares his stage with Roman Catholic priests, and boasts of unity at the expense of the Gospel. Billy Graham has made it no small matter that he has aligned himself with an ecumenical spirit surrounding the apostate church of Rome and her wicked priests; which have accompanied him at his evangelistic crusades. It is one thing to invite unconverted Roman Catholics to a gospel meeting to hear the gospel preached, but it is quite another matter to go to a meeting where Roman Catholics, and Roman Catholic priests that are still firmly in Rome, are preaching from the platform." Similar expressions of Charles Finney’s Pelagianism can be found throughout his years of preaching.

Graham was a revivalist, no doubt., But a revivalist of Finney’s heretical teaching on decisional regeneration, and its destruction of the Gospel. When the stadium is packed with religiously inclined people, and Billy Graham gives the invitation to the masses to come and accept the Lord, where is his theology coming from? When preacher after preacher beckons the people to come to the altar, where are they getting their theology from? Jesus never asked for the multitudes to come forth publicly and show forth a profession of faith, check a box on a card and go home assured of their salvation. The Bible, contrary to Graham, does not say that. One cannot decide to be regenerate on a whim, or walk down a flight of stairs towards a man calling them to act on their own accord. Graham has through the years increasingly accommodated error in order to gain greater influence.

Iain Murray, in his book Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 (Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), includes two chapters describing Graham’s influence on evangelicalism, and demonstrating his move from a more conservative stance to a willingness to embrace proponents of error and heresy. Billy Graham began as a brush salesman, and the same tactics he used to go door to door to sell Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones a brush or two, he has used for years to continue his sales pitch to the ignorant and sentimental.

Yes, Billy Graham preached his last sermon. What do we say to this?

We say Amen, and thank God.

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Good News Newspaper, Calvary Chapel, and Promise Keepers

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr.Matthew McMahon.

This just in –

“The Good News...In South Florida” is a magazine that is published by Calvary Chapel of South Florida. Calvary Chapel is a theologically deviant church movement (certainly not a church though they would like to think so) that was started by Chuck Smith, self proclaimed pastor and blatantly purporting the condemned and heretical theological system called Arminian, wrapped up in the Antinomianism of Dispensational theology. With such theological systems behind his belt, he has duped and exposed millions of people who are connected with the Calvary movement, and over the last five years the paper“The Good News” has become a ministry, so they say, of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale – a movement that has followed the same heretical theology of Smith, and much of the mega trends that occur under the watchful eye of their false teacher, Bob Coy. One can find in the “Good News” newspaper all manner of charismatic, Arminian and Dispensational teaching, even teachings that are linked with Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other cultic ideas. Though the paper boasts in that the “Editor-in- Chief” is (and I quote) “God the Father”, it seems that the connection to the Word of God has been all but lost. They even make mention that their “ecumenical” newspaper quotes only the New Living Translation of the Bible, which is really a corruption of the Word of God, and a watering down of the essential message of the Scriptures to suit modernism.

The Good News boasts that it is (quote) “not responsible for the practices of any advertiser.” This makes collecting funds to keep the paper going to its distribution of 75,000 easy, since, though any ad may be rejected, the Good News is not responsible for businesses that may say one thing, but devise something else in their day to day business. But we do not need poor advertisement to see the heretical theology that the Good News purports and distributes. Instead, all we need to do is read through the front page, and their attempts at journalism. We do not even need to read or come into contact with the advertisers to find the propagation of heretical theology, all we need to do is read their headlines, and their stories.

Headline, May 2006 edition of the Good News – PK (Promise Keepers) comes to South Florida: Revival for men who “hate church,” By Linda Hahn. Hahn says that Promise Keepers is America’s largest parachurch men’s ministry, and she is right. She says, “The organization hopes to meet the needs of men across America, hosting events in 19 cities and reaching 170,000 men for Jesus, while equipping leaders to serve the church body.” Its theme this year is “Unleashing the Raw Power of Your heart.”

Where do we turn for good theological news? Well, the Good News wants you to turn to their paper that boasts in heretical teaching. What are the front-page headlines? Promise Keepers is coming to town to find all the men in South Florida who hate God, and don’t go to church. Yes, south Florida needs a remedy, but founder Bill McCartney (former head football coach of the University of Colorado Boulder) is not the answer, but part of the problem. Christianity does not need a football coach propagating conferences that hold as much theological significance for a Mormon as they do anyone else. Their watered-down attempts at making Christianity fun and relevant, have backfired, for God will hold them in judgment for corrupting the good news of the Scriptures. Rather, South Florida needs true, biblical pastors and theologians who know their bibles well enough to protect their church from the nonsense of the Promise Keeper movement that is simply an ecumenical trend to reach men in the nation with an anti-biblical message that draws them in, rather than a biblical message that will press them to sit under godly preaching. Yes, men hate church. But they hate church because movements like Promise Keepers are attempting new fangled, anti-Christian means to gather men in under the guise of entertainment. Mr. McCatrtney had thrilled thousands as coach of the University of Colorado football team, and there he unleashed the raw power of football athletes. But the Gospel is not football, its not entertainment, its not a sport. Promise Keepers boasts that they are going to “Unleash the Raw power of Your heart” in this year’s conference. Well, according to Scripture, men’s hearts are wicked. (Read Genesis 6:5) If that power is continued to be unleashed, then Promise Keepers is simply aiding and abetting rebellion against God.

As a result of the headline article, and the coming of PK, the local Calvary Chapel Ft Lauderdale is “mobilizing men to gear up” for the conference. Should this place us at ease? No. Rather, it should scare us. Following much of the mega church’s movement in assimilation of people, whether they are educated in the things of God or not, or even converted, Curtis Copeland who is a leader at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale in one of their men’s “small groups” says “Yes, there is a global discontentment among men about the overall structure of “church.” But God is stirring up the hearts of men to serve Him with fierce passion, He is calling them to use their sometimes overlooked talents to focus on pursuing the core purpose of any good man: deliver the Gospel, until the whole world hears.” This kind of blatant militancy against the Regulative Principle of Worship, and the commands and statutes of God in the Bible, are what makes Calvary Chapel grow, and what makes their newspaper, accommodating to the reader. Certainly, delivering the Gospel is a noble effort, but Curtis is deceived, for men who hate church are not those who should go out to bring the Gospel. Rather, qualified, trained and educated pastors that are sent by Christ are the ones commissioned to bring the Gospel of Peace.

When my home church witnesses for the Gospel, we tell people they are depraved, fallen in Adam, and hell bound, where, at any moment God could call them to His throne for judgment unless they repent. As Edwards preached, they are hanging by a thread over the pit of hell, and their thread is ready to snap at any moment. God is holy, they are not. They hate church because they hate God. Not because they are misunderstood, or have overlooked talents that need to be used to make them feel like part of something. God is on His holy Throne, and Christ, unleashing the wrath of the Lamb upon the hearts, minds an souls of those who hate him and the Gospel, will stand in judgment unless God, by His sovereign power, regenerates their heart, and plants a new life principle in them. God has promised to save His elect, for he is the Great Promise Keeper Himself.

How does Promise Keeper’s keep men coming to their rallies (for a hefty cost)? The Good News newspaper says, “The Promise Keeper’s slogan for 2006 sums up the thoughts of many Christian men in South Florida: “It is not learning about how to be a nicer guy. Its about becoming the powerful man God designed you to be…and when the power of God in you is unleashed…the adventure truly begins.” What“it” they are speaking about? What Christian men are theyspeaking about? Do they mean the men who hate church whogo to Calvary Chapel small groups? It sounds as thoughthey are writing a promo for a movie trailer. But we mustadmit, Promise Keepers is right in that men are looking fora new adventure. But they are not looking for God. Eithermen will turn to God through Christ in realizing theirdepravity and wickedness if God grants them repentance, orthey will turn to Promise Keepers and the theology of theGood News Newspaper and Calvary Chapel which his really,and eternally, bad news for them all.

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Evangelicalism and The Sinner's Prayer

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr.Matthew McMahon.

This just in –

During the Reformation, the term “Evangelical” was used to describe the reformers who believed in “gospelling” or heralding the good news of justification by faith alone. In contrast to the Apostate Roman Catholic Church of the day, Protestants were known as these “Evangelicals.” Those in league with Wittenberg and the Swiss cantons toward Reformation were frequently referred to in this manner. Reformed doctrine, then, historically, was associated with the term. However, today, this is not the case. Evangelicalism as a contemporary term really came about after the turn of the last century. The common Christian ideology of Evangelicalism did not formally begin untilabout 1939 (Why was it not used for some 300 years?).

At that time J. Elwin Wright of the New England Fellowship toured through the US seeking denominations to band together to press a national revival. (This would obviously obscure denominational lines and overthrow, in many ways, the proper authority of the church.) He invited representatives to meet at a National Conference for United Action among evangelicals at St. Louis in 1942. Four pastors were the primary speakers at this conference: Harold J. Okenga, pastor of Boston’s Park Street Church, William W. Ayer, pastor of New York’s Calvary Baptist Church, Robert G. Lee, pastor of Memphis’ Bellevue Baptist Church and Stephen W. Paine, president of Houghton College.

The four preached on various ecumenical topics and encouraged unity and a national movement toward spiritual renewal. The conference drafted a constitution, a statement of faith, and agreed to meet again at a constitutional convention in the next year. The constitution drawn up for these evangelicals comprised the following: 1) there would be a voluntary, democratically administered organization (i.e. a complete overthrow of church government). 2) The group would not oppose the role, right and privileges of its members (this is so vague, one wonders exactly what they mean). 3) Church membership would be limited to those in agreement with them and with the doctrinal beliefs they held (this would be an impossibility if every denomination held to their actual beliefs – ecumenicity would be impossible and selfdefeating). 4) They were to be evangelical in spirit andpurpose (what does “evangelical” actually mean?).

This newly constructed body of “churches” would concern itself with evangelism, their relation to government, national use of radio for the propagation of the Gospel, public relation activities, preservation of the separation of church and state, Christian education, and the freedom for home and foreign missions. This statement was approved in 1943, andthe N.A.E. (National Association of Evangelicals) was born.

In general the term “Evangelical” has developed into a more inclusivistic attitude toward liberalism, and are ecumenical in their efforts towards ecclesiastical unity. As a result of a broad churchism their theological views are akin to pleasing the masses. Evangelicals believe that there should not be any isolation from other denominations. Thus, Methodists should work with Presbyterians, and Presbyterians should work with Baptists, and Baptists should work with Pentecostals, and so on, for the cause of the Gospel. How could this happen if different theological lines delineate “what is the Gospel” and how one should“preach the Gospel?”

In any case, Evangelicals are also tending to lean toward modernists and mainline ideas – mainline denominations that are akin to popularity. Such popular associations and organizations are The Billy Graham Crusade, Trans World International, Youth for Christ International, Wheaton College, and Gordon College. Even the EPC – the Evangelical Presbyterian Church – founded with a flexibility around issues or women ordination in both elder and deacon offices, and flexibility around doctrinal matters such as the baptism in the Spirit and Spiritual gifts. (Not to mention that the EPC gutted the Westminster Confession of Faith and reinstated a watereddown version of Christian fundamentals.)

The Evangelical sector is made up of pastors, theologians and teachers who are best described as “theologically flexible.” This is a compliment for many of them. This ecumenical and theological flexibility is a key factor (and problem) among contemporary Evangelicals. They are often non-compulsory and convicting in their preaching, and desire to keep the peace in their biblical preaching. The problem that is faced is their flagrant inability to draw solid non-negotiable doctrinal lines in the sand. They propagate, primarily, a cooperative spirit with everyone (which is not necessarily a bad thing except when it has afocus of ecumenicalism.)

Many pastors pride themselves in being ecumenical, or evangelical. They see “Evangelicalism” as a good thing. It is obvious they are unaware of its history, and its popularity. Maybe they are being ignorantly overly optimistic. Maybe their alliances are hoping to make a greater change across the world in their attempts to be more “biblically evangelical.” But as far as labels go, that designation is about as ambiguous as an ethereal label can be, no matter how long someone takes to define it. The longer it takes to define, the vaguer its actualconnotations are known.

In today’s Evangelicalism, countless people have succumbed to the deceptive antics of the ecumenicity of the sinner’s prayer. The Sinner's Prayer is a demonstration of how a fallen man may recognize the Need he has of Christ. The"Sinner's Prayer" is a term that describes the words spokenby a person when he or she has recognized their sin andtheir need for a relationship with God through JesusChrist. Though this idea in general is a complete overthrowof the doctrine of man’s depravity, the sinner’s prayer, inEvangelical circles, goes something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”

At that time a card is given to them, they sign it, and they are told that they are now part of the Kingdom, andthat no one can tell them differently.

However, such a prayer remains biblically inconsistent. Christ never sat down with a man and told him to (quote)“Repeat after me..” Rather, Christ and His Disciples toldmen to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.Jonathan Edwards has been herald by most of Christendom tobe the greatest preacher that America ever produced. IfEdwards is such a great preacher and evangelical, certainlywe should find the sinner’s prayer, or something like it,in his writings, if Evangelicalism today is correct. Dr.John Gerstner in reading all of Edward’s works and sermons,compiled what Edward’s would consider, not a sinner’sprayer, but a seeker’s prayer.

Dear God, whom I hate with all my being precisely because you hate and threaten me with hell, I hate this punishment perhaps even more than I hate you. Or, maybe I should say that I love my comfort even more than I hate you. For that reason I am asking a favor of you. I want you to make me love you, whom I hate even when I ask this and even more because I have to ask this. I am being frank with you because I know it is no use to be otherwise. You know even better than I how much I hate you and that I love only myself. It is no use for me to pretend to be sincere. I most certainly do not love you and do not want to love you. I hate the thought of loving you but that is what I'm asking because I love myself. If you can answer this 'prayer' I guess the gift of gratitude will come with it and then I will be able to do what I would not think of doing now—thank you for making me love you whom I hate. Amen.

As you will notice, this prayer would be considered as anti-evangelistic in contemporary circles – the modern evangelical church today repudiates such thoughts and would be abhorred to see it in print in any form. They would never counsel someone to pray a prayer as this. But in light of the historical teaching of the church, of Reformed preaching through the centuries up and through Jonathan Edwards, this is surely what the church did believe, did counsel and did preach from their pulpits. The doctrine of seeking is essentially gone from 21st century Christendom, but it needs to be revived.

Where are you on the evangelistic theological scale? After hearing this prayer, ask yourself “Does this shock you?” If it does, then certainly, you have been infected by the virus of contemporary Evangelicalism. If not, then you are a spirit of a different sort, one that is biblically consistent, but one that would be better termed an evangelical in another generation as it once was in the time of the Reformation.

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Pulpit and Worship

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr.Matthew McMahon.

Ministers never worship, so some say. They are never the recipients of their message, and are not lead, but lead in the congregation. This however, is grossly inaccurate. Scripture states in Nehemiah 8:4, "And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for thepurpose..."

The minister who preaches is ministering to saints and sinners; those needing encouragement and edification, and those needing conversion. The hearers listen, and are ministered to through Christ effectuating his Word as it is preached; and obviously this ministry is effectual if Gospel doctrine is preached. It is often observed that those who hear the sermon are present in worship as they listen; and this completely true. The privilege given to the hearer is to receive the words spoken as “the oracles of God.” But what can we say of the preacher? Is he simply ministering? Is the pulpit only a vehicle for God to minister to the saints in the pew, or is there a dimension of worship for the minister in the pulpit? Ispreaching worship?

Any true minister of the Gospel would shout with a resounding “AMEN” to the unavoidable fact that Gospel preachers enter into a dimension of worship from the time they set their eyes upon the pulpit (and arguably sooner), to the time they retire from the pulpit (and arguably later). The preacher, as he works through his sermon in the place of the pulpit, is worshipping while in the act ofpreaching.

We must ask and answer an elementary question before proceeding: Is the “pulpit” important? Does the Bible say anything about a “pulpit?” Charles Spurgeon, in the church he ministered at Park Street had a wooden pulpit, but at the Metropolitan tabernacle he had no pulpit. Does this mean that in one place he, as a minister preaching the Gospel, worshipped, and in another he did not?--certainly not. The absence or appearance of a physical pulpit does not determine whether a preacher is worshipping or not. Peter in Acts 2 did not have a pulpit, through the Gospels we do not find Christ using a pulpit, and most of the prophets did not use one. A physical pulpit merely makes the experience of worship easier for the preacher and lessdistracting for the hearers.

Nehemiah 8:3-5 says, “He [Ezra] read from it [the Law] before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose.” Ezra was easily seen behind the pulpit which probably covered most of his body, and the pulpit was used to hold the scrolls he was reading to the people. There was a focal point for the hearers (Ezra behind the wooden pulpit), a remedy for distractions (the pulpit shielded him—they were not focused on what he was wearing or if he dressed well), and an aid for preaching (it held the scrolls, and possibly any other parchments he had). Physical pulpits are useful, but the act of preaching in that pulpit is what holds ourconcerns today.

The pulpit is that sanctuary where a truly called minister of the Gospel exercises his God-given giftedness to the aim of glorifying Christ. In the act of the preaching, this“glorifying of Christ” is the essence of his worship,though at the same time his Gospel preaching ministers toneedful people. It is here that the preacher’s feet bringthe good news of the Gospel of peace, and while he is doingthis he acts as God’s divinely appointed herald, reflectingthe image of Christ as the living Word in the message hebrings. The preacher ought to be exceedingly gripped witha sense that he is delivering Christ to the people throughhis preaching. If he is intellectually or emotionallyenthralled with a sense of this, then he is often consciousof the nearness of God around the words of God as they arepreached. This “nearness” and mode that the preachertravels through is the exact definition that God himselfgives those who worship, “I will be sanctified by thosethat draw near to me.” (Lev. 10:3)

Though this passage describes the unhappy death of Aaron’s sons while offering a strange fire to the Lord, we do find a principle here which cannot be avoided: the ministry of the herald (whether that be the priest or preacher of the Old or New Testament) worships God as he performs the duties God requires of him. Preaching is worship. It is the vehicle that draws the minister closer to God during that hour. Preaching is not just morally edifying speech. It is not simply a pep-rally to excite the listeners to a day or two of penitential service. It is taking the dominion of God and placing it within the deepest reaches of the soul of those he is ministering to. It is screwing truth into men’s minds in such a way as to enthrall the heart with more of Jesus Christ. Preaching is a spiritual infection which ought to impregnate the hearer with the life of God and Christ.

If the preacher is intimately aware that he is doing this through the unction and temperance of the Spirit of Truth, he is aware that God is delighted in the work being dealt with. He knows this is nothing he has accomplished, though he spends long prayerful hours in the study exegeting the Word and seeking God for every line of the sermon. Yet, he appreciates the fact that he is simply the vessel that has been prepared to pour forth Christ into the mouth of those waiting for rivers of living water. In that instance and that act of preaching he worships God with all his heart. His heart is poured forth and every fiber of His being screams forth the majesty of Christ and the holiness of God as He addresses the saints. The explanation of the Excellencies he is depositing into the ears of the hearers is the immediate fruit of his personal ownership of those sublime truths. Preaching, for the preacher, is worship.

It is without a doubt that worship begins sooner that in the pulpit. It begins in the study; both in study of the Bible and in prayer. Like pouring a soda into a glass the carbonation fizzles and bubbles so much that it splashes a bit out of the glass. The preacher is intimately aware of this “fizz” while preparation is under way, but once the preacher reaches the pulpit, the fizz is electrified a million times; it explodes! He knows he is not simply his own man; he is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; a holy fizz. The puritan divines would call this the“unction” of the Spirit. This “unction” is the motioningand moving of the Spirit unto the ends for which the Wordis directed. Here the preacher is confident of the work heis about. He knows that the Word going forth is not goingto return to God void. (Isa. 55:11) It will accomplish allit is set to do. Here the preacher rests in a quietassurance. He is backed by the promise that God is at workwhile he is about worship. In this he knows he is aplanter. Seeds are sown and fruit will result. Yet, thefruit may not be seen for weeks, months or even years.Still, the preacher rests confident in who God is and whatHe has promised. God is at work and the preacher gloriesin that work like a vessel that is used by the hand to belifted to the thirsty mouth.

The preacher is worshipping in all of this. He is experiencing the pleasure of God upon himself as the Word of God rains down upon the people. Preaching as worship also gives something away. Preachers give away what they have and what they know. Jesus told the apostles in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.” They were to preach Christ to the peoples, towns and cities; preaching is giving. What were they giving? They were giving forgiveness of sins in the power of the Lord Christ. Not that a preacher “gives up” what he has, but his exaltation of God in preaching by the Spirit gives the hearing soul the illumination it needs to respond to Jesus Christ, the enthroned God on high. As he is edifying the congregation of saints in preaching, he is running over onto them with doctrines, commands, rebukes, exhortations, and the like, with a joy and concern for the souls of his hearers through his own worship. He desires that they take their cup and fill it up from that God which pours forth from his own soul, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ultimate end of this worship is to glorify God. As with all things, preaching is seen as that which ought to glorify God, yet specifically as God’s special means of revealing himself through the Bible. Romans 10:14 makes this apparent, “How shall they call on him whom they have not believed?” The answer is through hearing the Word of God in the act of preaching; “…And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Sinners are commonly converted by means of the preached Word. In the act of worship, the preacher gains worshippers for the Father. He is used as the instrumental means whereby the Spirit of God will effectuate the instrumental cause of conversion in the soul of the hearer—the preached Word , the Word of truth. Then in verse 15, quoting Isaiah 52:7, we find the preaching already has the mindset of “glad tidings and good things” and is sharing, giving away, those things to the hearers in the joy of his worship with knowing this about God.

1 Corinthians chapter 1 shows the progression of this idea of preaching as worship, if one understands what worship is about. In verses 18-25 we see Paul stating that the when the “power of the cross” is preached, it is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. Paul identifies the power of the cross as Christ crucified—that truth he knows intimately through conversion, and experimentally as a preacher. He then moves from preaching Christ to the application of Christ’s redemption to base and lowly“things” (which are those converted sinners), in verses 26-31. Yet in verses 30-31 we see that one of the ends ofpreaching is the glorification of God by debased convertedsinners. Preaching Christ ultimately brings forth thefruit of glorifying Christ by converted people. Then Paulquotes Jeremiah 9:23-24 in verse 31, “He who glories lethim glory in the Lord.” This is the expression of worship.The preacher does this while preaching Christ, andconverted sinners do this following conversion. One knowsof the glories already and is expressing them, and theother receives the glories, is changed by the glories ofGod, and then now expresses them thereafter.

To summarize the idea, worship in the pulpit is exercised by those who know the saving power of Christ, and express that power through the spoken word, molded by the written revelation of God in the Bible. No preacher has the market on new doctrine. New doctrine is nothing more than heresy. Preachers are really God-appointed plagiarists. The preacher, in his act of preaching, communicates the Bible (the knowledge he has gained of God) to the hearers. His worship becomes their worship. Preaching is worship.