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A Christian apologetics ministry dedicated to keeping the "false" out of doctrine

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Papal Confusion on Justification

The Pope, in his address to the general audience in St. Peter’s Square this week, hit the nail on the head when he said "The Letter to the Philippians gives us a moving testimony of Paul's turning from a justice based on the law and achieved by observance of the prescribed works, to a justice based on faith in Christ...." Unfortunately, he missed the nail entirely as he continued his address, defining faith and justification in terms of what we do, rather than in terms of what Christ has done.

Justification is a legal term in which God declares us innocent and thus saved, even though we are guilty. He does this by ignoring our own sin which rightly damns us, and imputing to us Christ’s righteousness. The Bishop of Rome and the Catholic Church, on the other hand, have always required our own works be added to the salvific formula. While they say that salvation begins with grace, it isn’t completed by grace.

The Council of Trent, which ended in 1563, codified Roman Catholic Church doctrine, and it remains the basis for their beliefs. The sixth session of the Council of Trent, discussing justification, states:
CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

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Islam: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

Bridgette Gabriel of ACT! for America, and author of “They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can,” was interviewed by Pastor Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.™ recently. Bridgette calls those Muslims that most people would call “radical” Muslims, “purists,” because they zealously follow the teachings of the Koran. While many Muslims are moderates who do not support violence and believe in the right of others to hold differing religious views, the purists are waging a holy war against Judaism and Christianity, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them. She argues that though these Islamic radicals are in the minority, they should be stopped.

Bridgette rightly points out that while there are pacifist verses in the Koran, they are abrogated by more recent verses in the Koran which incite violence and Jihad. (Not all Muslims agree on the doctrine of Abrogation.) Islam is often characterized as a pacifist religion, yet it is the minority that sometimes shapes the direction of the silent majority. She cites the example of Nazi Germany. The majority of Germans were not Nazis, yet the Nazis were able to accomplish their goals, at least until they were stopped.

Here’s a little of what Bridgette had to say:
...the Muslim Brotherhood Project talks about a two-fold fight against the West, a military Jihad and a cultural Jihad. We know they’re trying to attack us militarily and we’re taking the necessary precautions to prevent such an attack. But the cultural Jihad is moving full force, and we are asleep. And here are some of the examples I talk about in the book. Who would have thought that Sharia Law would come to Harvard University which in 2007 regulated women-only gym hours. An Imam in Des Moines, Iowa gave an opening prayer at the 2008 Iowa legislative session in which he calls on Allah to quote, “Give us victory over those who disbelieve,” end quote – meaning victory over all of us “infidels.” Muslim taxi drivers in Minnesota are refusing to pick up passengers carrying alcohol. The first Islamic public school, the Khalil Gibran Academy in New York City opened in 2007, and was funded by tax dollars. American colleges are designating Islamic prayer rooms on college campuses for use by Muslims only. Islam is being taught in public schools as an official course in elementary, middle, and high schools. Who would have thought one day we’re going to get to a day where the fine line between the separation of church and state is being completely erased by Islam...

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Given the Left Foot of Fellowship

Chris Rosebrough, the host of the Fighting for the Faith radio program, made this comment on his September 18th show:
If you’re going to a Purpose-Driven church and you’re gonna try to combat this as a church congregant, you’re going to be given the left foot of fellowship because that’s what the Purpose-Driven church teaches them to do with people who are dissidents. They don’t tolerate dissidents because you’re supposed to unquestioningly get behind the vision of the pastor.
By Purpose-Driven, Chris means a church that follows the seeker-sensitive blueprint often found in the Church Growth Movement. The term Purpose-Driven comes from Pastor Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Church, and his subsequent book The Purpose-Driven Life. These types of churches often try to recast the die on how a church should look and operate – the technical term is paradigm shift.

In moving a congregation to a more seeker-sensitive "model," many things are thrown out the window. Out go the pulpit, hymns, and the Old Testament Lesson, out go doctrine, unity, and your grandpa’s confession. Out goes the name on the front of the building, and possibly even the cross on the wall. They are replaced by a sermon series on how to solve your problems, praise bands, coffee bar, consultants, and vision. The Gospel is twisted into Law.

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When Business and Church Merge

Many church denominations have flirted with the Church Growth Movement, and more recently with the Emerging Church. One name that frequently surfaces when discussing business practices or church growth is that of Peter Drucker. Drucker, who is often considered the father of modern business management, has wielded a huge influence on the Church.

Drucker might seem an unusual fit for the Church, but there are many who have modeled their church plans after Drucker’s ideas. His name is often mentioned in Church Growth Movement circles.

In an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone: the emerging church - a new reformation or an end-time deception on the Lighthouse Trails website, Oakland discusses Drucker’s influence among Evangelicals (and thus Lutherans by infiltration). Mr. Oakland describes Peter Drucker’s attraction to mysticism, a practice forbidden by God that is sometimes seen in the Church Growth Movement, and even more common in the Emerging Church. He also relates Drucker’s universalistic leanings and minimization of doctrine. Drucker’s thoughts have lead followers such as Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Bob Buford, Leonard Sweet, and Doug Pagitt to view the Church as an agent of change. That sounds like an odd way to describe the Church, and it is indeed. Instead of the Church as the gathering of all believers under the cross of Christ, it is viewed as a vehicle for paradigm shift for the benefit of society.

Drucker’s ideas on mysticism, interspirituality, and paradigm shift formed an ideal breeding ground for the Emerging Church. As Oakland puts it, “This view of minimizing doctrine would become one of the earmarks of the emerging church, which in reality was to be a testing ground for high-tech marketing skills, business management techniques, and an experience-based religion; but its foundation is flawed with a non-biblical, mystical premise.”

If you’re interested in some of the ideological underpinnings of both the Church Growth Movement and the Emerging Church, these excerpts from Roger Oakland’s book are a good place to start.

Christian Apologetics Ministry Forced To Close

It’s no secret that Christians are often persecuted because of their beliefs.  When it comes to state sponsored religious persecution, a country like China often comes to mind, where professing Christianity is somewhat of a risky business.  Lorri and Kevin MacGregor are two such people.  The twist in their story, however, is that the country they were living in was not China, but Canada.

WorldNetDaily reports that the MacGregor’s long-standing Christian counter-cult and apologetics ministry, MacGregor Ministries, has been shut down.  Canadian hate laws prevented them from pointing out the false teachings of other religions, such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The Canadian government offered them an ultimatum - quit “criticizing” other religions or be shut down.  Rather than compromise the truth, and stop defending the Gospel, they opted to shut down.

The article goes on to state that the same type of persecution may occur in the U.S. within 5-10 years.  While this warning sounds a little far-fetched, there was a failed attempt to pass a hate crimes bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007.

The MacGregors have subsequently moved their operations to the United States, and have resumed operations under a new name, MM Outreach Media Ministries.  While the MacGregors don’t share the exact same beliefs that we do at SoundWitness, they are fellow Christians, and we salute them for their faithfulness.  “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:14)

Written by Scott Diekmann


Issues, Etc. Canceled

Issues, Etc., the Lutheran talk radio program which the LCMS (Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod) called “The Radio Voice of the Lutheran Faith for the 21st Century!,” has been unceremoniously canceled by the LCMS, silencing a discerning voice in the wilderness.  The host, Todd Wilken, and the producer, Jeff Schwarz, were fired. Issues, Etc. has for years provided an invaluable ministry on a broad range of current religious topics, all from a confessional Lutheran perspective.  The show had a huge following, both within the Lutheran community and throughout the worldwide Church as well.  The LCMS states that the show was canceled for “programatic and business reasons.”

To quote C.F.W. Walther:

"Manifold are the difficult and arduous tasks of a minister of Jesus Christ; but the most difficult and arduous of all, beyond question, is the task of proclaiming the pure doctrine of the Gospel of Christ and at the same time exposing, refuting, and rejecting teachings that are contrary to the Gospel.  The minister who does this will discover by practical experience the truth of the old saying: Veritas odium parit (telling the truth makes enemies)."
If you are interested in hearing radio programming which defends the Gospel and refutes contrary teachings, I suggest you email your objections regarding the cancelation of Issues, Etc.  to the following two gentlemen:

Mr. David Strand, Executive Director, LCMS Board for Communication Services:

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod:

The LCMS also stated: “We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future.”  I can’t imagine what that will be, or how it could replace what we’ve lost.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”   1 Timothy 4:16

Written by Scott Diekmann

Pastor Rick Warren: Promoting Works Righteousness?

If life is a test, as Pastor Rick Warren, the Purpose-Driven guru, preaches, I’m in trouble.  I checked my score, and right now I’m getting an F.  Where do I sign up to take the test again?

Chris Rosebrough, at his website A Little Leaven, has released a video in which Pastor Warren preaches:
And God says during your lifetime on earth, I’m gonna test you, and I’m gonna see how you use, responsibly, the gifts that I’ve put into your life... Because life is a test... Some of you are actually getting into this test a little late, and so you’ve got some makin’ up to do.  And you didn’t realize that life was a test.  And so now, in the later stage of your life, you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got because God says He’s watching...
God is watching.  He watched as Jesus was hanged on a cross outside the wall of the city, as blood and sweat ran down our Savior’s body.  He watched as Jesus became a curse for us.  He watched as He crushed Him and caused Him to suffer. He watched as Jesus cried out “It is finished.”  At that moment, Jesus, the Son of God, died.  And with Him, all Christians died.  And with Him, all Christians are raised to new life through our Baptism.  The written code, that was against us and stood opposed to us, was canceled.  God now sees us covered by the blood of the lamb.  He sees us as sin-free.  By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone we are given a crown of life.

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Christian “Phishing” Scams

You’ve heard of phishing, in which you receive a legitimate appearing email from a company claiming that your account has been compromised, or that you’ve won something.  For verification, they ask you to supply your account number, password, or other personal information.  If you do, you’re committing financial “suicide,” because you’ve just been scammed.

In the same way, there are “Christian” phishing scams.  The bait seems legitimate, but once you start to nibble, you’re committing spiritual “suicide.”  One of these “Christian” phishing scams is that of Ronald Dart and his “Born to Win” radio program, which “can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.”

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Mother Teresa: Her Inner Turmoil

Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun whose lifelong work with the downtrodden inspired millions of people, has been revealed in a new book to have had a near-fifty-year battle with a weak faith.  The book, entitled Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, reveals her spiritual misery through her letters written to confidants: "Where is my faith?"  "...why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?"

There has been much speculation on how Mother Teresa's outward demeanor was so at odds with her inner struggle of doubt and pain.  Could it be that her doubt and pain were caused by her own inability to seek God where He promises to be found?

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Contacting the dead

James Van Praagh, the renowned medium, psychic, and co-producer of the CBS drama “Ghost Whisperer,” was interviewed on the FOX News Channel recently. He provided a few noteworthy soundbites:
“I see dead people, feel dead people, and hear dead people.”

“I say that Jesus was a medium, because Jesus was able to contact the people in spirit.”

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The James Cameron documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”:
More holes than Swiss cheese

You undoubtedly witnessed the hype preceding the documentary film which aired on the Discovery Channel in March of 2007 entitled “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.”  Produced by James Cameron of “Titanic” fame, and Simcha Jacobovici, this documentary was artfully done. It was artful in its ability to cobble together the comments of a group of scholars who often had doubts, completely disagreed with, or didn’t know, the central thesis of the documentary, and yet make these scholars to appear as if they agreed with the main thesis.

The sensationalistic claim the show made was that the “family tomb” of Jesus had been discovered in Jerusalem, complete with Jesus’ bones, those of His “wife” Mary Magdalene, those of His son Judah, and several others; never mind that this “discovery” actually occurred 27 years earlier with little fanfare.

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