SECOND THOUGHTS ON ABORTION—Some crisis pregnancy centers have found that when a woman thinking about abortion sees a sonogram of her unborn child, the image frequently creates a bond and gives a troubled woman new courage (1/22 World). Many women and their partners change their minds about aborting their child when they see their child's image on the sonogram screen.

NO SANCTITY OF LIFE—Residents of Houston found 13 discarded babies over a period of 10 months. Three were dead (1/26 World). A Web site for the U.S. National Institute of Health includes a notice offering aborted baby parts for research purposes (1/00 Bapt. Banner). Big money is to be made in selling baby body parts. This is technically illegal, but they get around it by "donating" organs and then receiving a "site fee." Abandoning babies, harvesting body parts, how low can we sink?

FCC REVERSES RULING—Last month the Federal Communications Commission abruptly reversed its controversial decision that limited Christian preaching and worship services on noncommercial TV stations.

HELL IS NOT A LITERAL PLACE?U. S. News & World Report for Jan. 31 quoted a Jesuit magazine with close ties to the Vatican as saying: "Hell is not a 'place' but a 'state,' a person's 'state of being,' in which a person suffers from the deprivation of God." Pope John Paul II told a Vatican audience that "rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitely separate themselves from God." He said hell is "not a punishment imposed externally by God" but is the natural consequence of the unrepentant sinner's choice to live apart from God. The USN&WR article said: "While Martin Luther and John Calvin regarded hell as a real place they believed its fiery torments were figurative." Billy Graham has questioned the fire of hell. Clark Pinnock asks, "How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness" as to inflict "everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been?" He said a God who would do such a thing is "more nearly like Satan than like God." John Stott said in biblical imagery, fire's main function is to destroy and that while the fire of hell may be eternal and unquenchable, "it would be very odd if what is thrown into it proves indestructible." The Biblical hell is a literal place of everlasting fiery torment.

BOOKLET—Dr. Cathy Burns has a new 24-page booklet that explains occult terms. Order from: Sharing, 212 E. 7th St., Mt. Carmel, PA 17851. She has books on Masonry, Mormonism, and books/booklets on a variety of subjects.

DUMB TO GIVE NEEDLES TO DRUG USERS—Since 1994 the Baltimore City Needle Exchange Program has distributed over two million syringes to some 10,000 addicts. There is plenty of evidence that it didn't work as it was supposed to. Many addicts share their clean needles with others, and sell them to buy drugs (2/00 R. Digest). In Vancouver's program, HIV rates among drug users soared from 2 percent in 1988 to 23 percent in 1997. One drug addict said he was glad the exchange exists, but that what he needed was help breaking his habit, not easier access to more needles. "This program is not helping your addiction," he said, "It's just giving you an endless supply of clean needles with which to put the drugs into your veins."

PRIESTS DIE OF AIDS AT HIGH RATE—Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. are dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than the general population and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates (1/31 HT). Several hundreds have died since the mid-1980s and hundreds more now live with HIV. Most priests with AIDS contracted it through same-sex (homosexual) relations. Catholics forbid priests to marry heterosexually. "Forbidding to marry" is linked with "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1-3). 1 Cor. 7:1-9 teaches, to avoid fornication, if a person cannot have self-control, then it is better to marry than to burn with sinful lust.

WHY NOT TO SUPPORT COLSON—In a recent book Chuck Colson said: "The most hopeful words from any Christian leader today have come from Pope John Paul II." (Jan-Feb Proclaiming the Gospel) A California couple gave the following reasons for withdrawing support from Chuck Colson and his Prison Fellowship: "1) Mr. Colson's high view of Roman Catholicism and the Pope; 2) His inclusion of Catholics as Christians in his writings and statements; 3) His participation in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together accords; 4) The inclusion of Roman Catholics in the leadership of Prison Fellowship; and 5) The obfuscation of PF's statement of faith [where 'justification' is designed to be acceptable to RCs]."

SPONG RETIRES BUT WON'T SHUT UP—Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong retired last month, but will lecture for the next few months at Harvard. He dismisses "old notions of heaven and hell" and eternal punishment or reward. He has debunked the virginity of Mary and the resurrection of Jesus, declared all morality relative to time and place, and said that God as a being to pray to "is dead." (1/29 H. Times). Spong has said he "would choose to loathe rather than to worship a deity who required the sacrifice of his son." (6/15/98 Chr. Today) He ordained the nation's first openly homosexual priest.

MacARTHUR CANCELS AS MOODY SPEAKER—Dr. John MacArthur was listed in a full-page ad in the Jan-Feb Moody Monthly as a speaker for the Moody Bible Institute's Founder's Week conference (see 2/1 CC). But a Jan. 28 e-mail from Moody stated: "Mr. MacArthur canceled his appearance at Founder's Week recently due to his doctor's recommendation [recent knee surgery]. …James MacDonald and Larry Crabb will be taking over his spots on the schedule." MacArthur spoke at the 1996 Moody Founder's Week conference (12/95 Moody). In addition to ecumenical speakers listed in the 2/1 CC, the MBI Web site also listed Renald Showers and Jim Cymbala (a "charismatic" per Sept. 15 CC) as speakers.

HEAVEN WRONG PLACE FOR GRAHAM? —Dr. Billy Graham voiced this concern in a Jan. 2 interview with Fox News' Tony Snow (see 1/15 CC). George Zeller observes: "1. Graham is indicating by these statements that he does not have or enjoy full assurance of his salvation. How can a true believer think that God may someday say to him, 'You are in the wrong place.' How different from Paul's statements of assurance found in 2 Tim. 1:12, Phil. 1:6 and 2 Tim. 4:7-8. 2. I can imagine a true believer saying this: 'Lord, I know that I am in the wrong place. I deserve to be in the lake of fire to suffer eternal punishment and to be separated from you forever. But by Your wonderful grace you have saved me and redeemed me and I belong to You forever.' But this is not quite what Graham said. 3. Graham, by his words, totally misrepresented the true gospel of God's grace. He gives the impression that whether or not a person gets to heaven depends on how good or how saintly the person has lived. Graham is to be commended for acknowledging his lack of personal righteousness and his lack of goodness but a true believer should also be quick to confess that by the grace of God he is clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is only because of Christ that he is fit for heaven. 4. 'I'm not a Mother Teresa.' How can we point to Mother Teresa as an example of someone who is saintly enough to enter heaven? Graham regrets that he has not measured up to her standard of saintliness. This again misrepresents the true gospel. Mother Teresa was a woman who devoted her life to helping those who are poor and needy and suffering and she was a remarkable woman in many ways, but such good works do not contribute in any way to one's salvation or entrance into heaven (see Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Rom. 4:1-5). Also if Mother Teresa holds firmly to Roman Catholic doctrine, then it is certain that she herself is not saved and will not qualify for heaven. Why would any Bible believer point to a good Roman Catholic as an example of a person good enough to get to heaven? What the Roman Catholic Church teaches about how a person can get to heaven and what the Bible says about [it] are diametrically opposed. 5. What an opportunity Graham lost! He was being interviewed on a national network and asked about heaven, and he totally failed to point out God's simple plan of salvation. He failed totally to point to Christ and Him alone as the sinner's only hope. He failed to clearly define God's so-great and so-gracious salvation. The interview was a disaster and totally muddled the true gospel of grace. Can we perhaps blame this on senility or dementia caused by old age or is Graham really this unclear about the gospel in his own mind?"

GODSEY'S UNBELIEF—Mercer University (SB) Pres. Kirby Godsey argues in a book that "Jesus is not God; Jesus did not have to die;" dismisses the virgin birth as unimportant; rejects repentance and accepting Jesus as "the basis for salvation;" and claims that "doctrinal soundness is arrogant theological nonsense." (1/00 Bapt. Banner). The liberal CBF is housed in a Mercer building.

ANOTHER CHURCH LEAVES GARBC—Middletown Road Baptist Church [Pittsburgh—Jeff Kistler, pastor] voted Jan. 26 to withdraw from the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. A resolution which passed unanimously stated: "This action is taken after years of study, discussion, and prayer. It is our observation that this fellowship of churches no longer stands Biblically and doctrinally, on the historic principles on which it was originally established. Noticeably weak and almost nonexistent is the organization's position and practice of Biblical separation. Likewise, we have seen the Association minimize the Biblical importance and primacy that the Lord has placed upon the ministry and mission of the local church. We take this action with great sadness and deep regret. However we must, for as a church we are determined and committed to maintain the Biblical stand that was once very evident in the GARBC but is currently lacking. We will currently maintain our fellowship with the PARBC and with the Association of Independent Baptist Churches of W. Pennsylvania with due vigilance."

CORNERSTONE SPEAKERS INCLUDE ED DOBSON—Cornerstone University, still a GARBC-approved school, has the following speakers for its Bible conference Feb. 21-25: Drs. Ed Dobson, Dick Gregory (IFCA), Charles Ware, and Bill Rudd. Ware platform-shares with ecumenicals (see 2/15/98 CC). Rudd served on the GARBC's Council of 18. Busloads of men from his church attended a Promise Keepers rally (see 8/1/96 CC). Dobson's new-evangelical associations are a matter of long record (e.g., see 4/15/94, 10/1/95, 5/15/96 CCs). He is pastor of Calvary Church (Grand Rapids), and a former assistant to Jerry Falwell. He (& Catholics) is listed as an Advisory Editor of Christianity Today, whose founder and board chairman is Billy Graham. Dobson was MBI's 1993 Pastor of the Year. The GARBC still tolerates inclusivism.

PINNOCK AN APOSTATE?—Clark Pinnock, professor of theology at McMaster Divinity School (Canada), has been called an apostate (see 4/15/92 CC), and perhaps for good reason. In the 1960s he was a conservative professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary (SBC), but underwent a change in the 1970s and 1980s which led to a highly unorthodox understanding of such doctrines as biblical inspiration and the nature of hell. He presented a paper at the recent Evangelical Theological Society calling for a "more inclusive" evangelical understanding of last things which includes the salvation of many who never come to faith in Christ (1/00 Bapt. Banner). He said "God has more than one covenant and more than one people." He spoke of "various paths to Jesus Christ," and said many pagans already belong to God's kingdom. Rejecting justification through faith alone, he said God's standard of judgment is the individual's "participation in Christ's loving way of life which manifests itself in the service of others."

CRISWELL CHURCH EXAMINES SBC TIES—First Baptist Church (Dallas), which counts Billy Graham as a member, was pastored for almost five decades by Dr. W. A. Criswell. Mac Brunson the current pastor recently presented the results of a year-long study by an FBC deacon committee (1/00 Baptist Banner). The 18-page report contains 100 documented sources linking nearly 100 Baptist General Convention of Texas leaders to the moderate/liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Texas Baptists Committed, two organizations of SBC liberals/moderates opposed to the main "conservative" SBC, and a host of theologically and politically liberal groups also critical of the SBC's conservative stances on biblical and moral concerns. First Baptist-Dallas voted Nov. 17 to loosen its ties with the BGCT and join the new more conservative Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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