VOL. XIV NO. 20 NEWS & VIEWS, NOTES & QUOTES, TO WARN & INFORM October 15, 1997
RUSSIA RESTRICTS MISSIONARIES—The Russian Orthodox Church has won overwhelming support of parliament for a new law severely restricting mainstream Christian groups. Signed by Yeltsin, the law enshrines the Orthodox church as the preeminent religion, but pledges respect for Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. If the law is strictly enforced, mainline Christian groups cannot have seminaries, public worship services, or invite foreign teachers or missionaries for 15 years. This law protects only those religious bodies that were most loyal to the Soviet state under communism. Many Orthodox Church leaders collaborated with and served the communist KGB. The official registered Baptists also compromised and were used and controlled by the atheistic communist government.
ABORTION MAY BE OK, MAY BE MURDER—It may be legal to pay a doctor to dismember an unborn child by partial-birth abortion, but trying to kill one by taking Tylenol can lead to a murder charge. In California, police arrested and charged a pregnant woman with attempted murder after she drank two-thirds of a bottle of liquid Tylenol with codeine apparently attempting to kill the child in her womb. Calif. defines attempted murder as trying to kill a human being, "or a fetus," with malice aforethought.
BUDDHISM INROADS—Buddhism has replaced New Age religion as the "in" way to be spiritual, and many Hollywood actors strongly pursue it. Actor Richard Gere converted to Tibetan Buddhism in 1984 and has stated that his goal is to become another Buddha. In southern Calif., a Thai Buddhist temple is erected every two months (9/20 World). There are nearly 1,500 Buddhist temples and monasteries in the U.S. Most major U.S. colleges have Buddhist Studies departments. Rock singer Tina Turner, a Buddhist convert, has said: "You decide what's right and wrong." Buddhism focuses on self-improvement and elevates man to be his own authority on spiritual matters.
IN HIS STEPS PROMOTES SOCIAL GOSPEL—Charles M. Sheldon's classic IN HIS STEPS: What Would Jesus Do? is believed to have sold about 30 million copies in over 15 languages in the past 100 years. "WWJD?" bracelets are finding a brisk market today. But the 9/8 Christian News warned: "...In His Steps may be a great novel, [but it] promotes a social gospel rather than the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Walking in the steps of Jesus [as if an unregenerate man could!] is not sufficient. One must trust in His saving merits and vicarious satisfaction to get to Heaven." Sheldon, a Congregational minister, followed the liberal teaching of his day that Christ was merely an example (5/15/89 CC). The book has been promoted by Moody Bible Institute and even by some fundamentalists.
SURPRISING STATISTICS—Chicago has more Poles than San Francisco has people. LA is now the second-largest Iranian city in the world. One-third of the world's Jews live in the U.S. There are more Buddhists in the U.S. than Episcopalians. Muslims will outnumber Presbyterians in the U.S. by the year 2000, U.S. Jews by 2005. 30 percent of international students are Muslims, many from countries violently opposed to Christianity. Over 400,000 international students from 181 countries study at American universities. 40,000 of Red China's future government/business leaders study at U.S. universities. In California, 239 languages are spoken; in New York, 184; in Washington, 181; in Texas, 169. (10/97 Charisma). A mission field at our doorstep!
GAMBLING CAUSES BANKRUPTCY—A new study for the credit-card industry concludes that gambling could be the fastest-growing cause of record rates of bankruptcy in America (9/20 World). Atlantic City bankruptcy rates were 71 percent higher than in any other N.J. county last year. Counties with the highest bankruptcy rates were the counties close to the riverboat casino town of Tunica, Miss. The study suggested a connection between the spread of legalized gambling and the rise of bankruptcies.
EVIL MUSIC, A 'FUNNEL FOR THE GOSPEL'?— Industrial music combines heavy-metal guitars with hammering disco drums and electronically distorted vocals for a style more conducive to anti-Christian themes than Christian ones. But Christian musicians who enjoy its energy are adopting it as a "funnel for the gospel." (2/3/96 World). Generation's bassist admits the "element of evil" in this music "can't be overlooked." But he adds: "I think we are permitted to tap into the darker emotions. I mean, there are dark subjects in the Bible, darker than in any industrial record I've ever heard, which leads me to believe that darkness is a shade we should include in our palette."
ROCK MUSIC A KILLER—A Virginia high school student, convinced that hard-rock, heavy-metal music is bad for the brain, conducted an experiment with mice in a maze. He had to cut his project short because all the mice exposed to hard-rock killed each other, but none of the "classical" mice did. Sword of the Lord editor Dr. Shelton Smith says rock music does kill. He says: "It kills the senses and sensibility. It kills spirituality. It kills morals. It kills incentive. It indeed has caused kids to commit suicide and, in [many] cases, murder as well."
SATANISTS' HALLOWEEN MARCH—Pagans, neopagans, satanists and other occultists have scheduled a nationwide march on Washington, DC for Oct. 31, to "let our nation know we are everywhere" (10/97 Charisma).
FALWELL COZY WITH CHARISMATICS—Dr. Jerry Falwell's charismatic credentials almost equal those of his Southern Baptist ones. His 1987 stint at the helm of the Jim & Tammy Bakker scandal-ridden PTL, and his participation and support of the charismatic Washington For Jesus rally, are but two of many examples of this. We now see in the 10/97 Charisma that he has preached at John & Anne Gimenez's charismatic Rock Church in Virginia Beach. And charismatic leader Stephen Strang, editor of the movement's main magazine (Charisma), recently paid a bridge-building visit to Falwell and came away praising his openness to charismatics. Integrity Music (charismatic) is planning to record a live praise and worship album at Liberty and even Strang said this seemed "incongruous"! Liberty is also working with Integrity to establish a praise and worship institute. In Nov. 1996 Falwell was said to be dually aligned with the Baptist Bible Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention. "Fundamentalists" who continue to feature him in their pulpits do so at great peril to their testimonies, and thus identify themselves with the notorious charismatic movement of our day. We must take the old stance of the boyfriend who told his wavering girlfriend that, "I won't hold your hand until you let go of his."
CALVINISM CAUSING RIFT IN SBC?—Currently two of the Southern Baptist Convention's six seminary presidents are proponents of Reformed theology - Southern's R. Albert Mohler, and Midwestern's Mark T. Coppenger (10/6 Chr. Today). "Limited atonement" was an amplified theme at the July Founders Conference at the SBC's Samford University (Birmingham). Iain Murray (Scotland) was a speaker. This conference is a loose-knit network of SB Calvinists who say their doctrine was the theology of most early SBC leaders (8/5 Ind. Baptist). But this is disputed. Former SBC president Jerry Vines asks: "Are you a Calvinist, or are you an Arminian? If you are either, you are a religious humanist, because that is a man-centered theology instead of a God-centered theology. I could care less what Calvin believed, and I could care less what Arminius believed. I want to know what the revealed Word of God has to say." Southwestern's retired church history professor William R. Estep warns of the "Calvinizing of Southern Baptists."
GRAHAM AND CATHOLIC UNIVERSALISM—The following are Dr. Billy Graham's answers from a May 31 television interview by Dr. Robert Schuller (5-6/97 Foundation): "I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the Body of Christ....They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they don't have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven....They've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they've tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community...." Dr. Robert Kofahl, says: "The doctrine that Dr. Graham expressed...is exactly what the Pope and the Ecumenical Institute in Rome have been teaching for years. This is the idea that any pagan, practicing idolatrous worship, having no slightest knowledge of the Bible, the gospel of grace, or the Person and name and redeeming work of Jesus Christ - if he is a 'good person' and if he is sincere in whatever he may believe - is automatically 'redeemed by the blood of Christ.'"
NATIONAL BAPTISTS FORGIVE LYONS—At its annual meeting last month, the National Baptist Convention USA, the nation's largest black Baptist denom, voted to forgive its scandal-plagued president Rev. Henry Lyons for numerous alleged improprieties (9/1 CC). An Ethics Commission headed by Rev. E.V. Hill recommended this.
FULLER SEMINARY'S PLUNGE—Fuller Theological Seminary was founded in 1947 to promote Biblical inerrancy. But under Pres. David Allan Hubbard it repudiated inerrancy and has become "a headquarters for indoctrinating students in ecumenism, psychology, and charismatic heresies" (see 2/1 CC). In Dec. 1995 it hosted a World Council of Churches meeting. It supports women's ordination. Its current president, Richard Mouw, said those who shaped Fuller from the beginning wanted it to be an agent for change (10/6 Chr. Today). He said: "Early on, the school backed away from the separatism and dispensationalism that had been associated with fundamentalism of the 1940s, adopting a more conciliatory posture." Fuller's radio ministry lost 100,000 names from its mailing list in 1955 when some seminary faculty members endorsed the Revised Standard Version.
CHANGES WITHIN THE SBC—Trustees of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board have approved recommending LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention as the new name for the 106-year-old agency. The salary of its president, James T. Draper, was recently raised to over $200,000 a year. O. S. Hawkins recently resigned as pastor of First Baptist, Dallas, the Criswell Church, to head up the SBC Annuity Board. His salary is similarly high. Meanwhile, the executive committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention approved a proposal to maintain but modify the GBC's relationship with Mercer University. The report said Mercer Pres. R. Kirby Godsey's views "dramatically deviate from orthodoxy...." (Ala. Baptist). The committee also proposed changes to Mercer's trustee board.
LIBERTY U. GETS SURPRISE GIFT—Since 1990 Liberty University has reduced its debt load from $110 million to $10 million. In August a judge approved the sale of $22 million in outstanding bonds to a family that wished to remain anonymous. The family purchased the bonds and donated them back to the university. Liberty has grown to 14,000 students, its largest student body ever.
LEE COLLEGE—The Church of God (Cleveland, TN) is the oldest Pentecostal organization in the world. Its Lee College (now a university) in recent years has edged ever closer into the charismatic movement. Today Lee trains 85 percent of its students for secular professions. Rich and Helen DeVos, owners of Amway, are perhaps Lee University's largest supporters. Its president, Paul Conn, was a speaker at the 3/95 NAE convention in Louisville. The 10/97 Charisma says Conn is proud of Lee's inclusive policy. Last year, speakers included Jack Hayford and Tony Campolo. Singers included Babbie Mason and Bill Gaither. Lee also now is said to have "a more relaxed atmosphere," and has liberalized certain dress and movie taboos "to meet modern demands."
FLIGHT ATTENDANT TO SUE SCHULLER—The flight attendant who accused Dr. Robert H. Schuller of assaulting him in June plans to file a $5 million lawsuit against him (9/15 Chr. News). He says Schuller drank alcohol, and shook him vigorously, causing injuries and pain. Schuller is pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and an "advisor" to President Clinton. Dr. Allen P. Dickerson says (9/97 Maranatha Baptist Watchman) Schuller "who has such a loving ministry that he will never preach on the wrath of God for fear of driving people away from God and will never call lost people sinners, lost his cool...."
BWM MEETING—Dr. Paul Auckland and Faith Baptist Church of Sellersville, PA will host the 37th annual meeting of Baptist World Mission, Oct. 19-22. The CC editor's daughter and family are members of FBC, and his pastor, Dr. Greg McLaughlin, is one of the speakers.
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