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Friday, August 31, 2018

Does Matthew 7:21 Nullify "Faith Alone"?

  • Scripture Passage Being Discussed:
           -“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Matthew 7:21)
  • Comments On Matthew 7:21:
           -Salvation is obtained by God's grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Romans 4:2-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5-7). Sola Fide ("faith alone") simply means that justification is apart from the merit, not the presence, of good works. Our good works are the evidence, not the cause, of salvation. Good works do accompany faith, in that they are the product of a changed heart.
           -The context of Matthew 7 is about differentiating between true and false Christians. Jesus said, "So by their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). Genuine believers will produce "good fruits" (works) because they are the result of salvation, not the cause. The "will of the Father" is to believe on the name of Jesus Christ (John 6:40).
           -Notice that in verses 22 and 23, professing Christians pointed to their own alleged works of righteousness and were still condemned by God. The problem for these people is that their hearts were not changed. If anything, this passage only enhances the cause behind the "faith only" argument. No Bible believing Christian would suggest that justification does not change our hearts.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

With Call For Pope To Resign, Divisions Within The Catholic Church Explode Into View

"DUBLIN — Pope Francis has long faced criticism from traditionalists — a group that includes academics as well as cardinals — who say the church is too willingly following the whims of the anything-goes modern age.

Much of the dissent has remained within the Vatican walls, as Francis’s opponents worked to stonewall reforms. A few high-ranking church leaders have questioned him publicly about his teachings. But the simmering opposition has suddenly exploded across the Catholic world, with a former Vatican ambassador accusing the pope of covering up sexual abuse — and demanding that Francis step down.

The accusations came in a 7,000-word letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that could be viewed as an act of courage or unprecedented defiance. Either way, it sheds light on the opposition movement, and particularly its insistence that homosexuality within the church — and Francis’s inability to keep it at bay — is to blame for the sexual abuse crisis."

...“We are a step away from schism,” said Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. “I think there is a perception among the pope’s critics that there is vulnerability here — on the part of the pope and in the Vatican generally.”

...In the letter, Viganò goes into detail about years of failures to act within the Vatican bureaucracy, and he describes “dismay and sadness over the enormity of what is happening.” He mentions “homosexual networks” within the church and quotes an academic who cites such networks as a core reason for clergy abuse.

“The seriousness of homosexual behavior must be denounced,” Viganò wrote."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/with-call-for-pope-to-resign-divisions-within-the-catholic-church-explode-into-view/2018/08/27/5f6b2476-a9f7-11e8-9a7d-cd30504ff902_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b46af5629946

Test Your Spiritual Growth

“This, therefore, seems to me to be a very good test of our whole Christian position. Is our spiritual knowledge greater today than it was a year ago? Looking back across let us say ten years in the Christian life, can you say that your spiritual knowledge is greater than it was? I am not asking whether you have a greater knowledge of the letter of the Scripture, as you may have an increasing knowledge of Shakespeare; I am not asking if you have memorized a large number of biblical verses. I am asking whether your spiritual knowledge and understanding have grown? Is your grasp of truth more profound? Do you really feel that you are being led ever onwards, as it were from chamber to chamber in a great mansion, and discovering fresh treasures of wisdom and knowledge? That is the test. ...

“Do we day by day pray to God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to enlighten the eyes of our understanding? It should be our constant daily prayer. We should always preface our reading of the Word by praying for this enlightenment. The constant desire of our lives should be that we might ‘grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.’ ... The fact is that we are but tyros, we are babes, we are merely at the very beginning. We must press on unto perfection. Are we interested in Christian doctrine? Do we really see the importance of it, or do we find it rather boring and dull? Do we always seek some excitement, something to entertain us? Do we realize that, having been saved and called and place in Christ, what God desires is that we should grow in our understanding of truth and of doctrine, that we should become more concerned about this than about anything else, that the ‘eyes of our understanding,’ our comprehension, may be enlightened to that end.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Promise: An Exposition of Ephesians 1, pp.368-369.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Abandoning Our First Love

"In considering the apostasy, we have seen its root in the loss of the first love, whereby a separation was made between the Lord and the Church,— the Head and the body, — and He was hindered in the exercise of His headship. Through the same loss of love, the Holy Ghost, sent by the Son, was unable to fulfill His mission. After a time the expectation of the Lord's speedy return passed away, and also the hope of it; and the Church made it her work to bring all the world under subjection to Christ before His return.

Thus the history of the Church has not been that of a community of one heart and mind, carrying out the will of its Head under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and steadily growing in love, holiness, wisdom, and power; but of a community divided against itself, forgetful of God's purpose, filled with ambition to rule in this world, and covetous of its pleasures and honours. The Holy Ghost has not been able to do His full work in the Church, and therefore her witness to the world has been partial and feeble. The Head, though nominally honoured, has passed more and more from the thought of the Church as her living and ruling Lord, and from the knowledge of men as the King of kings.

We have seen in the movements and tendencies of the present time the preparation for the final fulfillment of the Scripture predictions. Modern pantheistic philosophy is leavening the public mind with its denials of a personal God, of man's moral freedom, and of immortality. Modern science, particularly in its evolutionary phase, is denying a Creator and a creation, and can find in the Universe no Divine purpose, only an endless evolution, in which man appears for a moment as a shining bubble, then disappears for ever. The Bible is put aside by many as a book outgrown, with its doctrine of sin and its legendary miracles and history. Much of modern literature is imbued with the pantheistic spirit, or is critical and skeptical, and, when not positively irreligious is indifferent to religion."

(Samuel Andrews, Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict, “Summary and Conclusion,” part IV, originally published in 1898)

Bewitching Believers Through The Hebrew Roots Movement

"Jewish believer Stephen Katz expresses his concerns when he says, “Much of the Jewish Roots Movement is actually based on later Jewish/rabbinic tradition. More importantly, the question of whether Gentiles need to add Jewish lifestyle and return to Jewish roots was settled by the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15. The remarkable news of the Gospel is that, in Y’shua, Jews and Gentiles have direct access to God” (“The Jewish Roots Movement: Flowers and Thorns,” March 1, 2001).

In practice, many promoters of the HRM draw their content more from Talmudic Judaism than from Old or New Testament Judaism...

...If Telchin’s statistics are even close, it means that up to 95 percent of the attendees at Messianic synagogues are Gentiles and only 5 percent are Jews. This tells us that Gentiles are being “converted” to forms of Judaism that even many Jews reject. That turns Acts 15 on its head. The really big question that Hebrew Roots teachers must answer is, “Why are there far more Gentile believers than Jews in Messianic synagogues and Messianic fellowships?”

One very important and urgent issue that the Hebrew Roots Movement never addresses is—which Judaism? This is the elephant in the room.

It would be more correct to speak of Judaisms. There were different streams of Judaism in the first century. Is it to be the religious Pharisees? And, if so, is it the school of Shammai or Hillel? Or is it the religion of the Sadducees? Why not the Judaism of the Zealots or the Herodians? Is it to be the Judaism of John the Baptist? Better yet, the purists—the separatists called the Essenes. As has been mentioned, any first-century Judaism of any stripe cannot be fully practiced since there is no temple, no priesthood, and no animal sacrifices. Some in the Hebrew Roots Movement seem to be enamored with modern Orthodox Jews. But the large and unanswered question is: which Orthodox group?


In the complex world of Jewish Orthodoxy, there are a myriad of competing groups with different dress and different traditions, all claiming to have their corner on the truth.

What we are dealing with is both foundational and fundamental. Is it to be synagogue or church? The Jews had a practice that if anyone professed Christ they were to be thrown out of the synagogue (John 9:22). Yet those in the HRM would try to pretend that synagogues are good places to be—or at least to emulate or push their way back in. Can we merge church and synagogue? Should we? We need to remember that Jesus said clearly, “On this rock I will build my church.” He did not say, “I will build my synagogue."


https://www.thebereancall.org/content/january-2014-bewitching-believers-hebrew-roots

Monday, August 27, 2018

Stay Away From The One New Man "Bible"

       The One New Man Bible, translated in 2011 by William J. Morford, is a product of both the Hebrew Roots Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation.

Image result for one new man bible       This translation is essentially an effort to make the New Testament Hebrew. It goes on at length to define the meaning of various Hebrew words, while seemingly ignoring the reality that the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek. For example, it constantly renders the name of Jesus in the Hebrew "Yeshua". That is not a name which Christians would ordinarily ascribe to Christ.

       The underlying concern with the Hebrew Roots Movement is that it poses a direct threat to the gospel by encouraging Christians to observe Mosaic customs. It is claimed by adherents that Jesus Christ did not terminate the Old Covenant, but rather reaffirmed it and expanded upon its message. It is claimed by adherents of the Hebrew Roots Movement that Christianity has apostatized from its original Jewish roots through the incorporation of Greco-Roman philosophy. But these claims do not withstand scrutiny when compared to the New Testament itself.

        Consider, for instance, that the Apostle Paul taught uncircumcised people need not seek fleshly circumcision (1 Corinthians 7:17-19). Thus, Gentiles should not seek to become Jews. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ includes both the Jew and the Gentile (Galatians 3:26-28). We are united as one under His divine kingship. Nowhere does Scripture require that Gentiles keep the Law (Romans 7:6). We are not under Law but under a dispensation of grace (Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:16-18). Christ is the end of the Law to all who believe (Romans 10:3-4). The gospel does not depend on the works of the Law (Romans 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 2:16-21). We are not sanctified by the works of the Law (Galatians 3:1-6). The very reason that Paul sharply rebuked the churches of Galatia in one of his epistles is that they were reverting back to customs, practices, and traditions instituted in the Old Testament. He even called doing such the preaching of "another gospel" (Galatians 1:8-9). The epistle to the Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians to not revert to the Jewish religious system. There is nothing wrong with Christians identifying with Israel, but it is a completely different ballpark for us to be identifying as Israel. Those who wish to keep the Law must also do so perfectly (Romans 3:20; Galatians 5:1-3; James 2:10-11), which is impossible due to us having a sin nature. The Jerusalem Council was convened to address the Judaizers who claimed that one need be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-5; 10-11). The Hebrew Roots Movement is extremely dangerous, and emphatically condemned by the New Testament.

        Additionally, this whole "new man" business seems to be influenced by the charismatics, and is in fact commended wholeheartedly by them. See this lengthy article for more details:

        https://churchwatchcentral.com/2018/02/12/the-one-new-man-heresy-the-driving-theology-behind-narpostolic-unity-mainstreaming-of-hrm/

        The One New Man Bible is promoted by the false charismatic prophet Sid Roth, who also promotes the works of William Morford.

        It would be interesting to note what a person in a forum said concerning the author of the translation being reviewed in this article:

        "I just looked at the link in the OP and it gives a little information on the guy behind the book. He believes the Trinity is wrong. He says he believes in the “Oneness” of God. He thinks the HS is feminine. I think you need to walk...uh...run away from this mess of a book. Check out the questions and replies after the short article. Sounds like he is too caught up in the errors of rabbis."

        In view of the presented information, it would certainly be wise for one to avoid reading the One New Man Bible. It should evoke concern in us for all those who are studying from it.

        If a person is looking for a reputable "Jewish" translation so as to gain a deeper understanding of the culture in which the Bible was written, then he or she may very well be interested in studying the Jewish New Testament translated by David H. Stern, a Messianic Jew. One could also purchase the Jewish Study Bible, which is the Jewish Publication Society's translation of the Tanakh with commentaries. Its audience is Jews.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

"Our Reasoning Capacities Are Highly Unreliable"

"But the real surprise is that Oppy apparently rejects the assumption. He says it’s obvious (!) that our reasoning capacities are “highly unreliable” in the domain of philosophy. Yet he makes this claim as part of a philosophical rebuttal of Plantinga and Reppert, in the course of a philosophical case for naturalism, in a philosophical book written by a professional philosopher. If our reasoning capacities are highly unreliable in the domain of philosophy, what on earth does Oppy think he’s doing? This isn’t so much cutting the branch you’re sitting on as felling the tree and grinding the stump.

...Still, Oppy’s right about one thing: if our cognitive faculties are the product of undirected naturalistic evolution — which is to say, if evolutionary naturalism is true — then it’s highly unlikely that those faculties are reliable when it comes to philosophical matters. That’s a big problem for philosophical naturalists like Oppy."


Professor James Anderson, Adventures in Branch-Cutting

The Sinner's Prayer--Is It Biblical?

          There is a fairly recent development that has pervaded mainstream evangelical witnessing methods known as the sinner's prayer, which is a recited gospel invitation meant to convict unbelievers of sin and assure new converts of having fellowship with God. We frequently hear zealous pastors during their sermons calling people in their audiences to repeat after them a formulaic prayer with the intention of ensuring the salvation of listeners.

          The first and foremost problem with the notion of a sinner's prayer is that nowhere does the New Testament assure people of salvation on the basis that they recited a prayer. Scripture nowhere guarantees salvation to people who recite a specific sequence of words. Nowhere do we see the apostles in the Book of Acts assuring people of salvation simply because they recited a prayer. There is neither a prescription nor a description of using sinner's prayer evangelism in Scripture.

          Justification in the sight of God is not obtained via formulaic means, but by His grace through faith in the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ. If there exists biblical evidence for reciting a sinner's prayer, then why did the Apostle Paul fail to mention such a concept in his basic presentation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)?

          Furthermore, the sinner's prayer has given many unsaved individuals a false assurance of salvation. It has given people a false sense of security in regards to their true standing with the Lord. That is certainly a spiritually dangerous state to be entrapped in. At best, the sinner's prayer contains elements of truth mixed with error.

           This is not to communicate the idea that every person who has recited a sinner's prayer is a false convert, but rather that we should cease implementing that witnessing approach because it is unbiblical and deceptive. It was not until the nineteenth century when a lawyer named Charles Finney invented the sinner's prayer. The concept was drastically popularized by evangelists such as Billy Graham.

           It certainly is biblical to guide somebody in prayer or repentance. It is certainly biblical for a sinner to ask God for His forgiveness. The confession of sin is biblical. But assuring a person salvation on the basis of repeating a prayer is wrong. We are saved by the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel (Romans 1:16-17). We receive Christ by faith (John 1:12-13). It would be wise for us all to examine our doctrine to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). 

Friday, August 24, 2018

What Causes People To Join Cults

"The history of the past demonstrates clearly that there are certain times when the cults become an exceptional danger. This is always the case in times of crisis and of trouble, times of war or the threat of war. There is no difficulty in understanding why this is so from the mere standpoint of psychology. Whenever men are hard pressed or in trouble, they always want to find relief, help, comfort and guidance. That provides the opportunity for the wiles of the devil in the form of cults. This happens also, of course, in times of bereavement, sorrow, or ill-health, or in the event of some mishap in life, or some business anxiety or worry, or anything that makes life difficult for men and women. Under such conditions the cults tend to flourish and to thrive."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Christian Warfare: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10-13,” pg.123

Correcting Misunderstandings Regarding 2 John 9-11

"A loving approach to cultists may be thought contradictory to 2 John 9-11: If anyone does not bring the teaching of Christ’s true deity and humanity, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Since itinerate teachers were not given salaries, but hospitality, to put them up was to support them in their non-Christian cause. The principle here is not to share or support their deceptive work (verse 11). Christians ought not to give money or goods to cultists. However, compassionately and patiently seeking to help them understand and receive the gospel in no way aids or abets their cause."

Gordon R. Lewis, Confronting the Cults, pg.12

The Smithsonian Institute Statement On The Bible

"On the other hand, much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the old testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories.

‘These Biblical records can be and are used as are other ancient documents in archaeological work. For the most part, historical events described took place and the peoples cited really existed."

https://www.csnradio.com/tema/links/SmithsonianLetter.pdf

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Spurious Origin Of Mary's Perpetual Virginity

  • Discussion:
          -The Roman Catholic dogma that Mary remained a virgin throughout her lifetime was most likely a consequence of the early church adopting low views regarding human sexuality and marriage. The rise of asceticism, monasticism, and already existing gnostic beliefs played a foundational role in the development of Mary's perpetual virginity. Many early Christians embraced positions on the issue of marriage verses virginity that we would readily discard as being totally unbiblical, irrational, and even extreme.

          For example, the church father Jerome vigorously argued marriage as being inferior to virginity and celibacy. Others such as Athanasius and John of Damascus taught that the concept of marriage was derived from original sin. Augustine thought that it was impossible to engage in marital relations without also having ungodly lusts. Basil claimed that although he personally rejected the teaching, many in his day believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary.

          After centuries of christological disputes, the Second Council of Constantinople officially declared the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ to be "ever virgin".

          Perhaps a source which sparked the development of Roman Catholic Marian theology was the small Arabian cult known as the Collyridians, which appointed woman to be priests so as to offer sacrifices of bread to Mary. They worshiped her, and also believed her to be a perpetual virgin.

          Additionally, it would be wise for one to consider this excerpt from the late second to mid third century scholar Origen:

          “And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or The Book of James, that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end.” (Commentary on Matthew, 17)

          Notice how the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church defends the perpetual virginity of Mary:

          "Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary". They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression." (CCC # 500)

          Thus, we see that Romish apologists have resorted to apocryphal literature in order to substantiate their claims. Even the Roman Catholic New American Bible makes it crystal clear that Mary did not remain a virgin her entire life:

          "He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus" (Matthew 1:25)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Scientology: From Science Fiction to Space-age Religion

Summary

The Church of Scientology is a controversial new religion developed by L. Ron Hubbard as an extension of his earlier psychological theories of Dianetics. Drawing on ideas from Buddhist and Hindu religious philosophy, science fiction, and Western concepts in psychology and science, L. Ron Hubbard produced a religion that sees all human beings as immortal spirits (thetans) who have forgotten their identity and become deceived by the very universe they mentally emanated in order to amuse themselves. Scientology claims it can free the thetan to realize his or her true nature and powers through certain controversial procedures that allegedly heal the mind and free the spirit.

Although the church claims its beliefs are not incompatible with Christian faith, an evaluation of what Scientology teaches in the areas of God, man, the creation, salvation, and death proves this is not so. Scientology is a powerful new religion whose teachings are inconsistent with the beliefs of orthodox Christian faith.

Ours is an age of religious cacophony, as was the Roman Empire of Christ's time. From agnosticism to Hegelianism, from devil-worship to scientific rationalism, from theosophical cults to philosophies of process: virtually any world view conceivable is offered to modern man in the pluralistic marketplace of ideas. Our age is indeed in ideological and societal agony, grasping at anything and everything that can conceivably offer the ecstasy of a cosmic relationship or of a comprehensive Weltanschauung [world view]. -- John Warwick Montgomery.[1]

One of the most intriguing and controversial items found in today's religious marketplace is The Church of Scientology. The church was founded by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986) in California in the 1950s as an extension of his earlier nonreligious theory of Dianetics.[2] (Dianetics is believed to deals with mind and body; Scientology with the human spirit, although they necessarily overlap in places. According to the church, technically, "para-Scientology" is that branch of Scientology involving past lives, mysticism, the occult, and so forth.[3] For our purposes, the term Scientology is employed in its broadest sense.)

Today Scientology boasts over 700 centers in 65 countries and is one of the wealthiest of the new religions. Celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Sonny Bono are only a few of the Hollywood faithful who actively endorse Scientology. But this new religion also has its critics, as still-circulated issues of Readers Digest (May 1980, September 1981) and Time magazine (May 6, 1991) reveal.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENTOLOGY

The basic tenets of Scientology result from an eclectic mixture of Eastern philosophy and the personal research of Hubbard into a variety of disciplines, as well as the "data" uncovered from "auditing." Auditing is Scientology's "counseling" or extensive examination of the present life and "past lives" of the "preclear," or initiate. In one of its many definitions, Hubbard has described Scientology as "the Western Anglicized continuance of many earlier forms of wisdom."[4] These include the Vedas, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Gnosticism and early Greek civilization; and the teachings of Jesus, Nietzsche, and Freud. According to Hubbard, "Scientology has accomplished the goal of religion expressed in all Man's written history, the freeing of the soul by wisdom."[5]

Scientology divides the mind into two components -- the analytic and the reactive, roughly parallel to the conscious or rational mind and unconscious or irrational mind. Experiences of extreme shock, pain, or unconsciousness cause "engrams," or sensory impressions, to be recorded in the reactive mind. These mental pictures are, in turn, the cause of our emotional and even many physical problems today.[6] They can be dislodged only through Scientology.[7]

While these memory pictures are perfectly recorded, they lay dormant in the brain until restimulated by a similar incident. When restimulated, they cause conditioned, stimulus-response behavior which is counterproductive to one's well-being. Thus, when the brain sees a similar situation to a past threatening experience -- even though it is not now a threat to survival, it responds as if it were, producing a form of inappropriate and self-defeating behavior. For example, a boy falls out of a tree just as a red car passes by and is knocked unconscious. Later, even as a man, red cars (even red things) may restimulate the episode in various ways and cause irrational reactions. This man may thus refuse to ride in a red car and may even get ill or dizzy when confronted with the possibility.

In this sense, we are all more or less conditioned beings -- "machines" that simply respond to their operator (i.e., the reactive mind). Scientology believes this restimulation is fairly automatic. In other words, we are not free beings: we are slaves of an "aberrated" (reactive) mind. Scientology maintains that through Dianetic and/or Scientology therapy, we can be directly exposed to our engrams, "erase" them, and become "clear," or in control of our behavior ("at cause") rather than at the mercy of a damaged reactive mind ("at effect").

Unfortunately, Scientology informs us, through reincarnation we have all been accumulating engrams for trillions of years. Thus, to resolve hidden engrams, not only must the initiate be mentally whisked back to reexperience the damaging events of this life, but of many past lives as well.

According to Scientology, each person is really a thetan, an immortal spirit who has been so damaged by engrams that he has forgotten he is immortal and even forgotten he is a thetan. Thetans have absolute control over their bodies, but, sadly, they think they are bodies (a terrible fate) and hence are bound by the MEST (matter, energy, space, time) universe. Each time a body dies, the thetan must enter another body, but this brings with it all its trillions of years' accumulation of engrams. Thetans thus are no longer free, but are in bondage to the material universe.[8] Scientology claims it can free the thetan.

THEOLOGICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS

In light of the religious claims of Scientology I will emphasize the theological presuppositions of the church in six fundamental categories -- God, man, creation, salvation, death, and the supernatural.

God

In the Church of Scientology the concept of God would appear to be panentheistic (believing that all finite entities are within, but not identical to, God),[9] although monotheism could also be assumed. What the church refers to as "the Supreme Being" is purposely left undefined and not particularly relevant in Scientology theory or practice. It is variously implied to be, or referred to as, "Nature," "Infinity," "the Eighth Dynamic," "all Theta" (life), and so forth. Usually the individual Scientologist is free to interpret God in whatever manner he or she wishes.[10]

Man

Scientology maintains that in his true nature, man is not the limited and pitiful body and ego he mistakenly imagines himself to be. He is a thetan whose fundamental nature is basically good and divine. He is not morally fallen; rather he is simply ignorant of his own perfection. His only "Fall" was into matter, not sin. How did this Fall come about?

Apparently, trillions of years ago thetans became bored, so they emanated mental universes to play in and amuse themselves. Soon, however, they became more and more entranced in their own creation until they were so conditioned by the manifestations of their own thought processes that they lost all awareness of their true identity and spiritual nature.[11]

They became hypnotized and trapped by MEST. Compounding the problem was the accumulation of endless engrams throughout trillions of years of existence. The final result was a pitiful creature indeed -- a materially enslaved entity existing as a mere stimulus-response machine. Today only slavery to the reactive mind and bondage to the MEST universe (i.e., the physical body and environment) are what remain of once glorious spiritual beings. Thus, the Scientology concept of man is described in Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age as follows:

The PERSON in Scientology is (and discovers himself to be) a Thetan (spiritual being) of infinite creative potential who acts in, but is not part of, the physical universe....

The Eternal Indestructible Self (Atman) of the Hindu Upanishads early foreshadowed the Scientology concept of the Thetan....

The Thetan is also considered to be the innate source of his own projected universe, which overlaps the created universes of other Thetans in a great community of souls. Thus is formed the world of the senses, in relation to which, like the Hindu "Lila," or "Divine Play," each Thetan plays the Game of Life in concert with its spiritual partners....

As a Being descends...into Materiality, the manifestations of his communication become heavier and more dense, and his experience of reality deteriorates.[12]

Creation

The universe was not created by a single supreme being ex nihilo (out of nothing), thus having a separate existence of its own. Instead, the Scientology universe constitutes a subjective, mental emanation or "projection" of the thetans, having merely an agreed-upon (and not actual) reality. Thus, the entire physical universe is a Game, a product of thetan ingenuity (designed for escaping boredom) which apparently emanates from an original thetan consensus to "create" in pre-history.[13]

As a product of thetan minds, the universe is capable of endless manipulation by an aware or spiritually enlightened thetan. Thus, Scientologists may view psychic powers developed through their church practices as a confirmation of this teaching. But for a densely ignorant thetan (principally, all non-Scientologists) the universe is a deceptive and deadly spiritual trap. Ignorant thetans are bound by engrams and think they are only physical bodies. As a result, they are weak, impotent creatures enslaved to a material universe that inhibits self-realization of their nature as an immortal spirit.[14] In essence, the material creation as we know it is not only an illusion but also a positive evil -- that is, a powerfully destructive barrier one must overcome in order to advance spiritually.[15]

Salvation

This pitiful thetan slavery to MEST and his own conditioned ignorance continued for millennia until L. Ron Hubbard discovered the secret nature of humankind and pioneered a solution to the thetan's misery by developing a universal plan of salvation. Through Scientology auditing, engrams may be neutralized and the thetan made increasingly self-aware or "enlightened." By various techniques a practical methodology was developed to enable the initiate to recognize his (or her) spiritual existence, to separate from the MEST body, and to begin to exert mental control over the MEST universe. In other words, the initiate may eventually achieve a state of "clear" and then, by progressing through numerous levels of "Operating Thetan" ("OT"), increasingly achieve self-realization. (An "Operating Thetan" is one who is more and more aware of and "operating" according to his true thetan abilities.)

Death

Death for Scientology is sometimes a blessing, for it may permit the release of the soul from the prison of the body (i.e., the evolution of the thetan [soul] into a higher state of awareness). Nevertheless, in another sense death is an event so appallingly ordinary (indeed, one which each person has passed through trillions of times) that it is, in effect, an irrelevant incident, almost inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.[16]

The Occult

The employment of psychic powers and out-of-body episodes (e.g., as a means for the thetan to re-realize his or her true powers) is indicative of the church's acceptance of the realm of the occult. Further, Hubbard's own son goes so far as to affirm that "black magic is the inner core of Scientology."[17] Hubbard himself allegedly confessed that a spirit entity guided him throughout his life[18] and a number of scholarly researchers have verified the occult nature of Scientology.[19]

CRITIQUE

Despite many successful attempts by the Church of Scientology to inhibit criticism,[20] there remains a sizable literature available to the researcher. Particularly helpful are: (1) government investigations and reports, (2) transcripts of innumerable court proceedings (whether Scientology functions as plaintiff or defendant), (3) scholarly review in any number of fields related to Scientology theory (e.g., philosophy, medicine, psychology, sociology, theology, ethics), (4) analysis by the popular press and investigative reporting, in both printed and visual media, and (5) the published literature of current and former members.[21]

Scientology and/or Dianetics are certainly not without testable claims, even though the church alleges Hubbard has at no time made any claims for them.[22] Still, Hubbard believed -- among many other things -- that his philosophy and methodology (1) are superior in mental health expertise, (2) (Dianetics) can be 100 percent successful and increase one's I.Q., (3) can solve humankind's major problems, and (4) are a rational and proven science (except where they impinge on the study of the spirit).[23] But before Dianetics had evolved into Scientology, it had been examined and critiqued by a variety of investigators and invalidated as to its basic claims.[24]

Neither are most of the claims of Scientology established. For example, one of the great legal minds of our century is Oxford educated Lord Chancellor Hailsham. He has twice held the highest office open to lawyers in England, that of Lord Chancellor, as well as being the Minister of Education and Minister of Science and Technology. He comments, "I do not find [Scientology's] philosophical conceptions adequate to support [its] theories...the factual basis on which they claim to have produced good results on individuals do not seem to me to be fully substantiated."[25]

As to its mental health claims, the application of Scientology techniques has allegedly harmed some people. Problems can arise from occult activity, Scientology processes, and auditor inexperience.[26] They include hallucinations and irrational behavior, severe disorientation, strange bodily sensations, physical and mental illness, unconsciousness, and suicide.[27] (As the notes will reveal, most of the above hazards were admitted by Hubbard himself, although he maintained they only occurred through misapplication of the "technology" of Scientology.)

Hubbard also claimed that Scientology is a proven science that is rational and utilizes scientific principles. However, Hubbard's methods contradict this assertion and reveal that scientifically his research methodology is questionable or unreliable.[28] Even his own son claims that for the multimillion bestseller Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health he did no research at all....what he did, really, was take bits and pieces from other people and put them together in a blender and stir them all up -- and out came Dianetics! All the examples in the book -- some 200 "real-life experiences" -- were just the result of his obsessions with abortions and unconscious states....In fact, the vast majority of those incidents were invented off the top of his head. The rest stem from his own secret life, which was deeply involved in the occult and black magic. That involvement goes back to when he was sixteen.[29]

Further, researchers who have examined the only "scientific" instrument in Scientology allegedly capable of producing "data" have concluded it is useless as to its claimed abilities. This instrument is the "E-meter," an electric meter which is used to "locate" engrams. The E-meter accurately measures variations in the electrical resistance of the human body, like a galvanometer. But "none of the Scientology theories associated with, or claims made for, the E-meter is justified. They are contrary to expert evidence...."[30]

Scientology Ethics

Scientology maintains a strong position outwardly on ethical issues:

The practice of Scientology results in a higher level of ethics and integrity....[31]

Millions already believe the Ethics of Scientology carry more weight and honesty than the traditional and confused laws of nations.[32]

The Church of Scientology International memberships -- your link to other honest ethical people.[33]

Unfortunately, Scientology does not always live up well to its own ethical confessions, partly because its ethics seem to be valid only for those it deems worthy of them. For example, critics of the church may be treated as enemies.[34]

We should also note that Scientology has its own unique definitions for terms. Thus words used in the above quotations -- such as ethics -- carry not only accepted meanings but also Scientological ones.[35]

Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

This brings us to a related problem in Scientology: its subjective use of terms so that data is manipulated to conform to the alleged discoveries and truths of Scientology. Perhaps the most fruitful area to begin with is by noting Hubbard's expertise as a science fiction writer. In fact, many of the themes one finds in Scientology can also be found in his science fiction works.[36]

For Hubbard "life is a game," and this is about the only thing that gives it any real meaning.[37] The various exploits of thetans in the past trillions of years are their lila (or sport) -- the games they play to keep eternal boredom at bay. Certainly many critics would contend that the adventures of thetans -- as chronicled in, for example, Hubbard's A History of Man and Have You Lived Before This Life? -- should be ranked among his science fiction work. From the latter book consider one alleged "past life" incident of a Scientology counselee as uncovered by a Scientology auditor using his E-meter:

The preclear was on Mars without a body 469,476,600 years ago, creating havoc, destroying a bridge and buildings. The people were called by an alarm to temple. PC [preclear] went and broke the back pew, and the Temple tower. He wandered in town and saw a doll in a window, and got entrapped [inside the doll] trying to move its limbs. People seized it, beat it up, and threw the doll out of the window (30 ft. drop). The doll was taken roughly to the Temple, and was zapped by a bishop's gun while the congregation chanted "God is Love." When the people left, the doll, out of control, staggered out and was run over by a large car and a steamroller. It was then taken back to the Bishop, who ordered it to be taken (in a lorry with others) to dig trenches or ditches for 2,000 years. (The whole incident took nearly 2,000,000 years.) Then it was taken and the body was removed and the PC was promised a robot body. The thetan (PC) went up to an implant station and was put into an ice-cube and went by flying saucer and was dropped at Planet ZX 432.[38]

Hubbard himself confesses that truth is so strange one cannot actually distinguish between science fiction and science fact (a revelation he also found useful for rejecting or manipulating the "illusions" of conventional knowledge). For example, Hubbard once noted, "One of the closest pieces of work to a thetan is Alice in Wonderland....He can mock up [invent, make] white rabbits and caterpillars and Mad Hatters. He'd find himself right in his element."[39] And, "When you look at man's location in the MEST Universe and what he has or has not been through the picture is just incredibly wild...it's just too fantastic for words, so of course, nobody would believe it."[40]

If we recall Hubbard's teaching on the material creation we remember it is an illusion: "The MEST universe can be established easily to be an illusion...."[41] It is not that the universe does not exist, rather, it has no objective, independent reality. It is a frivolous mental game created and played by thetans. Conventional reality simply results from the primordial thetan agreement ("mock-up") and no more.[42] Thus, "objective" reality is simply a temporary subjective manifestation of the mind of thetans.

Such a universe, of course, cannot give true objective knowledge about things, for things per se have no independent existence and are capable of endless manipulation by an aware thetan. For Hubbard, only an unaberrated thetan (i.e., one who by means of Scientology is truly enlightened) knows things as they really are and, apparently, Hubbard was the most enlightened thetan of all. Thus, for Scientologists who agree, that which Hubbard says is true is that which really is true, no matter how fantastic or disharmonious with currently accepted knowledge.[43]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CHRISTIANITY

Despite the fact that as late as 1971 (close to 20 years after the Church of Scientology was founded) at least one book by Hubbard carried the straightforward claim that "Scientology...is not a religion,"[44] it has become a religion and one in competition with the Christian church. Consider a survey conducted by the Church of Scientology itself. This poll, which involved over 3,000 members, determined that the background of Scientologists is predominantly Christian (roughly 40 percent Protestant and 26 percent Catholic). A full 70 percent of those with Christian backgrounds affirmed that they still considered themselves practicing members of their Christian faith, which means that almost half (47 percent) of those polled still consider themselves Christian.[45]

These findings combined with the additional facts that 37 percent of those surveyed had received college degrees and 80 percent were from the middle class indicate that Scientology constitutes an appealing and powerful organization with an educated class of people, most of whom have been recruited from Christian churches. And yet the response of Christianity to this situation has been almost nonexistent. Just as the Scientologist who considers him or herself a Christian does not recognize the inconsistency of that position, the Christian church has not yet recognized the risk Scientology poses to its own fold.

In a rational universe two contrary religions might be false, but both cannot be true. Thus, if the Christian world view is true (and I have shown elsewhere how this may be reasonably established on revelational-empirical grounds -- using the strict measure of legal criteria[46]), then that which contradicts it cannot be true.

In the area of theology, there are several key issues that people have pondered most consistently -- and most personally. They concern the area of theology proper (the existence and nature of God) as well as the questions of revealed theology (does God exist for me?), anthropology (who or what am I?), soteriology (how can I be saved?), and thanatology (what happens when I die?).

These questions raise the issues of the nature of God, man, salvation, and death. No issues are more fundamental or important -- for to answer these questions in error will, like a philosophical leaven, spread corruption throughout one's world view. Below we will briefly compare and contrast Scientology's answers to the questions with the answers provided in the Bible.

God

As noted, Scientology is fundamentally panentheistic. It teaches that there are a multitude of thetans who, "collectively" with all life, could be said to comprise the Supreme Being (see note 9). This contradicts the biblical teaching that there is only one sovereign and perfect Creator God from all eternity -- without beginning or end, immutable, who exists in three Persons, and is infinitely holy, just, and loving (e.g., Gen. 1:1; Isa. 43:10-11; Acts 5:3-4; Isa. 61:8; Mal. 3:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Titus 2:13; 1 John 4:8-10).

Man

Scientology teaches that man is an immortal spirit like the atman in Hinduism. As in Hinduism, man may be considered a deity of sorts who has forgotten he is divine.

The Bible rejects the idea that man is an ignorant god who needs only enlightenment or self-realization. Man is a creation of God, made in God's image. His problems do not result from engrams or boredom, but from sin and self-centeredness (Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1-3).

If there is one supporting pillar of Scientology upon which everything rests, it is the concept of thetans. Nearly everything of importance in Scientology is predicated on the existence of thetans and their conforming to the status Hubbard has given them. Obviously, if there is no thetan as Hubbard defines it, the practices of Scientology are without justification.

Consider the biblical view. There is only one eternal God in the universe (Isa. 43:10-11). He created man (body and spirit) as a finite creature at a point in time (Gen. 2:7). Hence it is impossible that divine beings such as Scientology's thetans can exist. Biblically then, Scientology's philosophy, techniques, solutions to problems, and final goals are based upon underlying presuppositions that are inherently incorrect.

Put more simply, if no thetan exists, then most of Scientology is based on error. For "almost the entirety of Scientology consists of discovery and refinements of methods whereby the Thetan can be persuaded to relinquish his self-imposed limitations."[47]

Nevertheless, because Scientology deals with the mind and certain practical considerations (e.g., communication skills) it may also use or discover relevant information about human psychology. Unfortunately, if such data is placed into an overall world view that is false or questionable, even though the data may be true, it may be misused in support of an errant philosophy.

For example, during Scientology counseling, the auditor (counselor) may extract certain feelings or information from the initiate that indicate an irrational fear of falling and a problem with vertigo. This observation may be true. But because the more enlightened auditor has already interpreted the initiate as a thetan ignorant of its many lifetimes, and because his E-meter has supposedly "located" an engram (the incident related to experiencing dizziness) from ten trillion years ago, the auditor may interpret such information wrongly -- as a past-life incident where the person is falling out of a spaceship.

If we realize that the entire purpose of Scientology is to help a (biblically) nonexistent thetan realize its true nature, we must conclude that it does not deal in the realm of reality. If no thetan exists, what else may a Christian inquirer into Scientology conclude?

Salvation

Salvation in Scientology progresses from personal ignorance and bondage to matter into gnostic enlightenment and freedom from the MEST body and universe. At an ultimate cost of tens of thousands of dollars, one is progressively "saved" from engrams by knowledge (Scientology beliefs) through good works (Scientology auditing and practice, etc.) to arrive at the highest state of "operating thetan."

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is a free gift. One is redeemed from sin on the principle of grace, simply through faith in Christ's atonement (Eph. 2:8-9; John 6:47; Heb. 11:1; 1 John 2:2).

Death

Scientology claims that death is endlessly repeatable through reincarnation and is hence almost inconsequential. Death, however, is at least potentially beneficial in that it may permit the release of the soul from the prison of the body.

Biblically, death is a one-time event that carries either the most sublime of blessings (eternal heaven) or the most horrible of consequences (eternal hell). Death leads to an irreversible fate for both the saved and the lost and thus human beings have one lifetime only to make their peace with God (Heb. 9:27; Matt. 25:46; Luke 26:19-31; Rev. 20:10-15).

In conclusion, Scientology does not conform in basic world view or particular teaching with Judeo-Christian revelation in any sense; indeed, examined as a whole, it fundamentally rejects Christian faith. Hubbard rejected Christ's deity and mission as figments of unenlightened minds and therefore Hubbard's philosophy "is not interested in saving man, but it can do much to prevent him from being 'saved.'"[48]

We may observe that Scientology does entertain a fine goal in attempting to improve the world and man's lot within it, whether materially or spiritually. Many practitioners are dedicated and selfless in seeking such ends. Nevertheless, each Scientologist must weigh the scales of his or her own conscience to determine the best manner in which to achieve such goals. If man is not a thetan as Scientology claims, but a fallen being in need of redemption as Christianity teaches, what will have been the fruit of a lifetime of work?

It would be wise for Scientologists with a Christian background (indeed, for all Scientologists) to listen to the words of Jesus afresh:"For what will a man be profited if he gain the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26) And, "This is eternal life, to know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent." (John 17:3)

NOTES

1 John Warwick Montgomery, Faith Founded on Fact (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1978), 152-53.
2 L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics Today (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1975), III; and LRH Personal Secretary Office, ed., What Is Scientology? (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1978) 209; cf. Christopher Evans, Cults of Unreason (New York: Dell, 1975), 17-134 for early problems and controversies.
3 L. Ron Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability (Los Angeles: The Publications Organization Worldwide, 1968), 189.
4 Ibid., 177.
5 Ibid., 180; cf. Church of Scientology Information Service, Department of Archives, Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age (1974), 3-17.
6 Impact or injury must be involved for an engram to register. "The engram is the single and sole source of aberration and psychosomatic illness." (Hubbard, Dianetics Today, 43, 47; cf. 37-106 and especially 38-59.)
7 E.g., Hubbard, Dianetics Today, 947-51; L. Ron Hubbard, The Volunteer Minister's Handbook (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1976), 551-52; cf. the comments of former 14-year member Cyril Vosper in The Mind Benders (London: Neville Spearman, 1971), 164-66, and member Peter Gillham in Telling It Like It Is: A Course in Scientology Dissemination (Phoenix: Institute of Applied Philosophy, 1972), 26.
8 See L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: A History of Man (Sussex, England: L. Ron Hubbard Communications office, 1961), 12-76, especially 53-60 for a discussion of alleged evolutionary dynamics and their impact on one's current life. Cf. the discussion in Evans, 38-47 and Roy Wallis, The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), 103-4.
9 On panentheism see Scientology: A World Religion Emerges, 21-24; L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1975), 429; L. Ron Hubbard, Ceremonies of the Founding of the Church of Scientology (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1971), 41; Reality magazine, no. 121, 3; Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 277; Advance, no. 35, 14-15; no. 36, 6.
10 Hubbard, What Is Scientology? 200. Wallis (112n.) observes that God "does not figure greatly in either theory or practice."
11 See notes 8 and 9.
12 Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age, 21-24.
13 Ibid. Cf. Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 9-21; Hubbard, Technical Dictionary, 432; and L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008 (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1967), 106-8.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid. and L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought (Los Angeles: American St. Hill Organization, 1971), 91, 98; Edward Lefson and Ruth Minshull, comps. When in Doubt Communicate: Quotations from the Works of L. Ron Hubbard (Ann Arbor, MI: Scientology Ann Arbor, 1969), 73, 123; Advance, no. 19, 114.
16 E.g., cf. L. Ron Hubbard, "Death," Advance, no. 24, 9, 22 and L. Ron Hubbard, Have You Lived Before This Life? (Los Angeles: The Church of Scientology of California, Department of Publications Worldwide, 1968), passim.
17 "Penthouse Interview: L. Ron Hubbard, Jr.," Penthouse, June 1983, 113 (CRI files). Cf. Brent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1987), 307, 333.
18 Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., 256.
19 E.g., Wallis, 122; Harriet Whitehead, "Reasonably Fantastic: Some Perspectives on Scientology, Science Fiction and Occultism," in Irving Zaretsky and Mark P. Leon, Religious Movements in Contemporary America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974), 582.
20 See Reader's Digest, May 1980, September 1981; Newsweek, 20 November 1978; Christianity Today, 20 February 1975.
21 Among the official government reports are those by Australia (1965), Britain (1971), South Africa (1972), and New Zealand (1969). Popular press reports include Today's Health, December 1968; Life, 15 November 1968; Parents magazine, June 1969; Christianity Today, 21 November 1969; The Nation, 22 May 1972; Reader's Digest, May 1980, September 1981; as well as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, London Sunday Times, Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg Times, etc. Among critical books are Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman? Vosper, The Mind Benders; George Malko, Scientology: The Now Religion; Robert Kaufman, Inside Scientology; and Evans, Cults of Unreason. Among television investigations are ABC News Close-Up, New Religions: Holiness or Heresy? 2 September 1976, and NBC Primetime Saturday, 14 June 1980. Scholarly treatments include Wallis, The Road to Total Freedom.
22 What Is Scientology? 5.
23 The tremendous extent of Hubbard's claims can be found in ibid. and L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics Today, VIII, 94, 108-15, 618, 962; Handbook for Preclears (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1971), 5-6; L. Ron Hubbard, Self-Analysis (Los Angeles: The Church of Scientology of California, 1968), 178; Evans, 78-79; L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought(Los Angeles: American St. Hill Organization, 1971), 119; L. Ron Hubbard, Science of Survival (Sussex, England: L. Ron Hubbard College of Scientology, 1951), 3; Advance, no. 25, 4, 16; Hubbard,Dianetics Today, 115; Advance, no. 43, back cover; no. 25, 4-5, 16; no. 55, 18; What Is Scientology? 199; Evans, 78-79; L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-80, 7; L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008 (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1952), 47.
24 See "Book Review," Journal of the American Medical Association, 29 July 1950, 1220-2; Post-Graduate Medicine, October 1950; Newsweek, 16 October 1950; "Dianetics," Consumer Reports, August 1951; "Questions and Answers," Today's Health, November 1950; Robert Lee Smith, "Scientology," Today's Health, December 1968; Anderson, 94-97.
25 Lord Chancellor Hailsham, "The Door Wherein I Went," The Simon Greenleaf Law Review 4, 1984-85, 51.
26 E.g., John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Facts on the Occult (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1992); L. Ron Hubbard, The Book of Case Remedies, Clearing Series 2, expanded ed. (Los Angeles: American St. Hill Organization, 1971), insert A3 (after p. 24); L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics 55! (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1973 edition), 157-59; Hubbard, Scientology: A History of Man, 50; Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 1, 134, 171; Hubbard, Dianetics Today, 466, 933; Vosper, 98.
27 Anderson, 12, 83, 92, 126, 133; Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 149, 175-76, 241, 267; Hubbard, Scientology 8-80, 52-53; Hubbard, Dianetics 55! 167-69; cf. Hubbard, Scientology: A History of Man, 75; Hubbard, Dianetics Today, 535, 623; Robert Kaufman, Inside Scientology: How I Joined Scientology and Became Superhuman (New York: Olympia Press, 1972), 153, 160, 164, 200-201, 219-24, 241; Book of Case Remedies, Second Series, expanded ed., 29; Technical Dictionary, 209-10, 365; Hubbard, Have You Lived Before This Life? 170; Reader's Digest, May 1980, 89; September 1981, 28; Willamette Week (Portland, OR), 3 September 1979, 15.
28 E.g., Vosper, 78-79; Anderson, 95-97, passim.
29 Penthouse, 113; cf. Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., 270-71.
30 Kevin Anderson, Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology (Melbourne: AC Brooks Government Printer, 1965), no. 9, 95-97. This report is difficult to locate but contains invaluable information. Cf. Evans, 63-66; Wallis, 197.
31 What Is Scientology? 77.
32 Vosper, 132.
33 Source magazine, no. 22, 1.
34 See Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics (Los Angeles: American St. Hill Organization, 1973), 49; Richard Behar, "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power," Time, 6 May 1991, 50-57; Eugene H. Methvin, "Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult," Readers Digest, May 1980, 86-91 (part 2: Sept. 1981, 75-80).
35 For illustrations see the definitions in the Scientology Technical Dictionary.
36 Compare Scientology theory with Hubbard's science fiction works, e.g., Ole Doc Methuselah, Slaves of Sleep, Death's Deputy, The Final Blackout, The Dangerous Dimension, The Tramp, Fear, King Slayer, and Typewriter in the Sky.
37 E.g., L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: A New Slant on Life (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill organization, 1971), 38-39; Lefson and Minshull, 40.
38 Hubbard, Have You Lived Before This Life? 63-64.
39 L. Ron Hubbard, "Making an O.T. -- Part Two," Advance, no. 33, 6.
40 L. Ron Hubbard, "What's Wrong with This Universe?" Advance, no. 45, 4.
41 Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008, 133.
42 Ibid., 106-8; Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 249.
43 See e.g., Vosper, 28-42; Wallis, 249-50.
44 Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, 1971 printing or earlier, 251.
45 What Is Scientology? 246-47; cf. Wallis, 72.
46 E.g., see John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Do the Resurrection Accounts Conflict and What Proof Is There That Jesus Rose from the Dead? (Chattanooga, TN: Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, 1990, esp. section III).
47 Vosper, 31.
48 Hubbard, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (Sussex, England: Publications Organization Worldwide, 1968), 105. Cf. 408; Hubbard, The Volunteer Minister's Handbook, 348-49; Wallis, 104.

By John Weldon, Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Passion Translation Exposed

"Another new custom Bible is The Passion Translation by NAR [New Apostolic Reformation] Apostle Brian Simmons. In [commentator] Holly Pivec’s "Important facts about The Passion Translation" she points out that Brian claims Jesus appeared to him and blew on him to commission Brian to write this new translation. She continues:

He says: “he breathed on me so that I would do the project, and I felt downloads coming, instantly. I received downloads. It was like, I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better, to understand the scriptures better and hopefully to translate.”

On this same TV program, Simmons claimed Jesus revealed to him a new chapter of the Bible. This happened when he was translated to the library of heaven where he saw more books than you can imagine. One stood out called John 22. It told about the greatest revival the world is yet to see. God promised Simmons that one day He’ll bring Simmons back to heaven and give him this book.

Alisa Childers points out in “Here’s Why Christians Should Be Concerned About The Passion Translation of the Bible” “…the sole translator of TPT, Brian Simmons, is not trained in the biblical languages, and lacks the credentials necessary to produce an accurate translation of the Bible.”

Another thing that sets TPT apart from these other single-author translations is that Simmons claims that Jesus visited him personally, took him to the library of heaven, and asked him to write the translation. He claims to have received “downloads,” and “secrets of the Hebrew language” from Jesus Himself. Simmons even admitted that he has minimal background in biblical languages and needed the Lord’s help to translate.

That is the advantage of producing a custom Bible. You don’t need to be bothered with such mundane things as knowing the original languages, and in fact, knowing the original languages would almost certainly be an impediment to your imagination, or whatever entity is downloading information to your mind. It frees you up to add new bible chapters – or at least teach others that there are unrevealed chapters which will be added as an update later. Who can deny your experience? Who can argue with your own custom Bible? It’s a very convenient new tool to let NAR Apostles and prophets off the hook for being false prophets by simply rewording the warning Jesus gave in Matthew7:15 and following:

Constantly be on your guard against phony prophets. They come disguised as lambs, appearing to be genuine, but on the inside, they are like wild, ravenous wolves! You can spot them by their actions, for the fruits of their character will be obvious. (TPB)


The passage in the real bible is actually a warning to be on guard for FALSE PROPHETS – which of course the NAR prophets are! The definitions of false prophets are given by Moses in Deuteronomy 13 and 18. The hearers of Jesus’ warning would have had these passages memorized. The warning has nothing to do with the so-called “fruits of one’s character.” One cannot judge a false prophet by his ungodly or bad “character,” since, as Jesus points out, they will look just like sheep!! Sheep are true believers. These false prophets would seem outwardly like Godly men, doing good works while hiding their true characters! The false prophets that Jesus warned would come would probably be carrying Bibles, claiming to do miracles, utilizing Christian lingo, acting nice and Christian-y, and maybe even casting out demons in Jesus’ name. In fact, that is what Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23:

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

http://midwestoutreach.org/2018/06/28/the-custom-bible-company/

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Biblical Exhortations Against Materialism

"Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens." (Proverbs 23:5)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Calvinism Redefines The Meaning Of Being Dead To Sin

  • Introduction:
          -Calvinists interpret the word "dead" in texts such as Ephesians 2:1 to mean that man has been so corrupted by sin since birth that he cannot possibly respond to the callings of God. This is the premise upon which one argues regeneration preceding faith, and thus the entirety of the Calvinist systematic.
          -While we agree that man cannot merit his own salvation, there is simply no scriptural evidence supporting Calvinist claims of man in his sinful nature not having the capacity to recognize his problem of sin in light of divine revelation. That position can be described as extreme.
          -We absolutely need the regenerating work of God, but that does not negate our responsibility of repenting and believing on the gospel for salvation. Man can still accept the means of redemption that God has provided. Being dead to sin means living in rebellion against God. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts our hearts of sin.
  • The Scripture Tells Us To Seek And Turn To God And His Righteousness:
          -"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." (Psalm 9:10)
          -"The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing." (Psalm 34:10)
          -"Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;Let those who love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!" (Psalm 40:16)
          -"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
          -"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him." (Lamentations 3:25)
          -"Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips." (Hosea 14:1-2)
          -"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
          -"that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." (Acts 17:27)
          -"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:8)
  • The Scriptures Tell Us To Come To God:
              -"Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)
              -"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." (John 6:35)
              -"Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger." (Zephaniah 2:3)
              -"The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." (Revelation 22:17)
    • The Scriptures Exhort Mankind To Return To The Lord And Repent:
              -"For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9)       
              -"Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to You;
    For You are the Lord our God." (Jeremiah 3:22)

              -"From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
              -"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
              -"for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:24)
              -"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent." (Acts 17:30)
              -“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’" (Revelation 3:1-6)
    • Whosoever Shall Call Upon The Name Of The Lord Will Be Saved:
              -"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
              -“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
              -"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13)
    • God Excepts Us To Make Decisions And Scripture Contains Conditional Statements:
              -“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
              -"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
              -"If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
              -"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    The Calvinist Misuse Of Acts 13:48

    • Discussion:
              -Perhaps the strongest proof-text for Calvinistic unconditional election is Acts 13:48:

              "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

              The context of Acts 13 is about the preaching of the gospel by Paul and Barnabas. It was preached first to the Jews in the Synagogues who rejected the message, and then to the Gentiles who embraced the divine revelation of God. That is precisely the message conveyed by the text of Acts 13:48 in its respective context. Consider the gospel presentation delivered by the Apostle Paul prior to him articulating the statement being addressed in this article:

              "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’” (Acts 13:38-41)

              He delivered a thought-provoking sermon to the Jews on salvation being given by the Lord to "everyone who believes", thereby demonstrating that choosing to believe is a necessary condition in order for election to take place. This is contrary to any Calvinist notion of God before the foundation of the world decreeing that various individuals be a part of the saved or part of the damned. Warnings of perishing eternally in the afterlife were uttered to those who were scoffing at the message of the gospel. The people who reject the gospel are under condemnation by God. Faith is the fundamental element in election. Paul and Barnabas went to the Synagogue on the upcoming Sabbath at the request of many Jews, and to their jealously several individuals from Antioch attended (Acts 13:46-48). Verse forty-six is absolutely critical in understanding Acts 13:48:

               "Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46)

              The Jews rejected the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. So the two traveled elsewhere to evangelize the Gentiles. That is precisely the meaning of Acts 13:48. That is what the surrounding context of the passage being discussed is about. The Gentiles received the gospel with great joy and readiness of mind through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They were glorifying the Lord as a result of Him offering to them the opportunity of salvation. This is about the Gentiles believing after the rejection of the gospel by the Jews. There exists a systematic contrast in the reaction of both groups. This has nothing to do with some predetermined decree. Nevertheless, Calvinists heavily emphasize the word "appointed" in Acts 13:48 in isolation of context to support their doctrine of unconditional election. Consider these observations by Dr. Jack Cottrell on the Greek word for "ordained":

              "The key lies in the form of the main Greek verb, tassō. The basic meaning of this verb is “to place, to order, to appoint, to ordain, to determine, to arrange in order.” As it appears in this text, the verb form is the participle tetagmenoi. It is simply assumed that this is the PASSIVE form of the verb, thus: “to be appointed, to be ordained, to be destined.” What is often forgotten is that in the Greek language, often the passive and the middle form of verbs are spelled exactly the same way. That is the case here. The word tetagmenoi can also be the MIDDLE form of the verb. Here is the main point: that is how it should be understood in Acts 13:48."

              In other words, the text is simply telling us that the Gentiles have now been set into a position where they can receive the gospel and have fellowship with God. He is now allowing the Gentiles to inherit eternal life in the name of Christ. Nowhere does the context mention a divine decree. Nowhere is man's alleged inability to respond to the callings of God implied in this text. Nowhere does Acts 13:48 state that one must be elected in order to believe, or even that all who are chosen will believe. It does not state that faith is a gift of God. The fact that the Apostle Paul stressed the human responsibility to believe on the gospel for salvation in Acts 13:46 is proof in itself that God has not predetermined since the beginning of time who is saved or damned. It is only speaking of a particular location during a period of time. The truth of the matter is that Calvinists are only reading their doctrine of unconditional election into this passage of Scripture. It is simply not taught there.