THE THRIVING PORN INDUSTRY—The smut industry now pulls in estimated annual profits of $10 billion. An estimated 25,000 video stores in the U.S. now rent and sell hard-core films (6/2 New American). The U.S. is now by far the world's leading producer of porn, cranking out hard-core videos at the astonishing rate of about 211 new titles each week.

PLAIN TRUTH JOINED NAE, BUT DENIES HELL—The Plain Truth Ministries was formerly known as the Worldwide Church of God. Under its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, it adhered to many heretical doctrines, including denial of the Triune God. After Armstrong's death, under the leadership of its new president, Joseph Tkach, the [cult] supposedly underwent a total transformation, converting to Trinitarian belief and to evangelical Christian doctrine. It was voted into the National Association of Evangelicals in 1997 and soon later adopted the name Plain Truth Ministries. But despite the evangelical affirmations and assertions, it continues to adhere to unbiblical heretical doctrines including the denial of an eternal hell [June-July Fund. Digest]. A 7/03 Chr. Today article shows leaders now debating what to do with the valuable, immaculate 55-acre Ambassador College campus.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, NEW AGE MYSTICISM—A 2002 book A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen is a revealing account of a universal spirituality that has infiltrated much of the church today. This book exposes subtle strategies to compromise the gospel message with Eastern mystical concepts cloaked in the wrappings of contemplative prayer [from back cover]. The underlying premise of contemplative spirituality (promoted throughout evangelicalism) is that all paths lead to God, thus refuting the Cross of Jesus Christ. Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox, and others' teachings are given close scrutiny. The author pulls no punches, and states that contemplative prayer is heretical and is connected to New Age occultism and Eastern mysticism. The subtlety of the contemplative spirituality is evident, e.g., on page 116: "…[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture [it] and then use it…for spreading New Age consciousness!" And, page 117: "This unity of spiritual thought would not be a single one-world denomination but would have a unity-in-diversity agenda." Merton says: "The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others…." Satan is clever! [To order this important book, call toll free: 866/876-3910.]

MEXICO, A CATHOLIC NATION—The July Charisma reported that a growing revival is sweeping through Latin America, "where the majority of believers are Pentecostals." Pastors, leaders, and lay people representing over 20,000 churches converged in the world's largest city (over 23 million) for a March of Glory. This is our neglected mission field.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH HARRY POTTER?—A "huge Harry Potter fan" writes this: "No one can deny that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of books is purely about witchcraft, wizardry and the occult." (6/21 H. Times) Harry and his friends are fond of disrespecting authority, breaking the rules, lying, cheating, stealing and swearing. Harry Potter is dangerous because it popularizes, promotes or even intentionally hides real witchcraft and occult rituals (3/1 CC). It is extremely popular, however. "One of every 10 books bought in the U.S. in 1999 was a Harry Potter."(6/20 H.Times)

COURT STRIKES DOWN STATE ANTI-SODOMY LAWS—The Supreme Court's rejection of state anti-sodomy laws is a decisive endorsement of gay rights. This ruling came just a week after a court in Canada lifted a ban on same-sex marriages. A Canadian observed: "Nowhere in the world has a court ruled the heterosexual definition of marriage violates human rights." Justice Scalia said the U.S. court ruling will lead to government-sanctioned gay marriages (6/27 USA Today). He added: "State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity" are now open to question. CWA chief counsel Jan LaRue said the court "magically discovered a right of privacy that includes sexual perversion." (USA Today). God cast sodomites out of the land in Old Testament times (I Kings 14:24). What about today?

GUNS A DANGER TO CHILDREN?—It is said that guns are a constant danger to children. But: Bathtubs are twice as dangerous to children as guns. Fire is 18 times more dangerous….Cars are 57 times more dangerous. Household cleaners and poisons are twice as dangerous. Defensive gun use stops more crimes than police intervention (8/10/02 World). Defensive gun use by private citizens indicate that as many as 3.6 million crimes annually are prevented by armed citizens.

DASCHLE NO LONGER CATHOLIC—Sen. Tom Daschle's home Catholic diocese in So. Dakota sent him a letter directing to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church This isn't exactly excommunication, which is unnecessary, since he made himself ineligible for communion almost 20 years ago with his divorce and remarriage. The report cited his consistent political opposition to Catholic teachings on moral issues, especially abortion (7/03 Baptist Bulletin). But what about Ted Kennedy? Isn't he guilty of worse? Why give him a free pass?

LARRY BURKETT DIES—After a long battle with cancer and heart disease, Larry Burkett died July 4. He joined Campus Crusade staff in 1973. In 1976, this ministry became Christian Financial Concepts, and later, Crown Financial Ministries. He authored over 70 books and was on over 1,000 radio stations.

HAGEE SAYS IF MEMBERS AREN'T PROSPERING, IT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT GIVING—Popular charismatic preacher Dr. John Hagee boldly condemns sin, but beware of certain of his teachings. In a recent interview with a San Antonio paper, he told his audience: "When you give, it qualifies you to receive God's abundance." He said: "If God gives to you before you give to him, God himself will become a liar. …If you're not prospering, it's because you're not giving." (7/7 Chr. News) This seems rather strong and presumptive language and, does giving automatically qualify us to receive "God's abundance"? We are unworthy and undeserving of the least of His favors. Dr. Jerry Falwell last year invited Hagee to bring a Patriotic Message at his Independence Day Celebration (July 3). A 1994 Falwell paper had featured an article suggesting Hagee is probably a heretic. (8/02 CC)

JOYCE MEYER, POPULAR CHARISMATIC MINISTERCharisma magazine calls Joyce Meyer "America's most popular woman minister." Other cited sources in the July 7 Christian News say she "deviates widely from the Scripture in her teachings on demons and other matters." Her teaching is a "mass of contradictions and confusion." Her "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" came at age 36. She claims special ongoing messages, not from the Word…but from angels. Meyer is "mired in…mysticism." She, John Hagee, and other charismatic leaders are said to be living rather "high on the hog."

BEESON ECUMENICAL EXTRAVAGANZA—Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Wycliffe Hall of Oxford are sponsoring an ecumenical conference in Oct. on GOD The Holy Trinity: A Conference on Faith & Christian Life, Birmingham, Ala. Beeson's Dean, Timothy George, writes: "This conference brings together Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Christians to celebrate the most fundamental reality of biblical faith, namely, the one God of holiness and love: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In liberal theologies of the past, the Trinity was frequently regarded as an outmoded dogma with little relevance to spirituality or contemporary church life…." Speakers include: George, Avery Cardinal Dulles [RC Jesuit], J.I. Packer, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. [Calvin Seminary president], Alister McGrath, and Frederica Matthewes-Green [NPR]. George hopes this conference will encourage the kind of ecumenical engagement that will be helpful. Beeson is a member of the NAE and is part of Samford Univ. [The latter was until recently an SBC school, may still be, or may be joining the moderate/liberal CBF breakaway faction from the SBC.]

WCC POWERFUL COMMITTEE TO MEET IN GENEVA—American Council of Christian Churches Exec. Secretary Dr. Ralph Colas reports that the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches will meet at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, Switzerland from Aug. 26-Sept. 2, 2003. Among business the powerful committee will deal with is the matter of electing a new General Secretary. Dr. Konrad Raiser will end his time as General Secretary at the end of 2003. Some have suggested that someone from the USA will be chosen at this Central Committee Meeting. The theme for the next WCC Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2006 will be selected. "Caring For Life" will be the topic for the plenary sessions in Geneva. That in itself is an oxymoron since the WCC defends a woman's choice to have an abortion. If it cared for life, it would cry out against the murder of the unborn. The WCC continues to reach out to Pentecostals and Evangelicals to further broaden its ecumenical base. A full report of the Geneva meeting will be forthcoming from the ACCC.

BOOKS TO CONSIDER—David Norris has some booklets that can be downloaded free, and a new book dealing with decision-making, friendships, etc., is promoted at his Web site: www.emotionsanddecisions.com. *** Dr. Lance Ketchum (Exec. Sec'y, Minn. Baptist Assoc.) has a new Web site for Disciple Maker Ministries' Bible Study materials. The URL is: www.disciplemakerministries.org/index.htm

HYBELS' WILLOW CREEK LEADERSHIP SUMMIT—More than 30,000 leaders and emerging leaders across North America will attend the annual Leadership Summit, a gathering of church and business leaders across the globe, August 7-9. It originates from Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago) and is beamed by satellite to 60 locations in U.S. and Canada. Speakers include: Hybels, Karen Hughes (former presidential adviser to George W. Bush), Andy Stanley (pastor, North Point Community Church near Atlanta), Jim Collins, and A.R. Bernard. The Willow Creek Association is organizing Leadership Summit 2003. It is a multi-denominational worldwide network of over 9,500 churches (includes cults—see 12/1/96 & 6/1/00 CCs) and is currently growing at a rate of a thousand churches a year. Hybels is a perennial speaker for liberal Robert Schuller.

CORNERSTONE PRESIDENT & CULTURAL MANDATE—Dr. Rex Rogers—president of Cornerstone University, which until recently was a GARBC-approved school—calls for an unscriptural "cultural mandate" to redeem culture (Summer '03 ABWE Message). To a point, there's nothing wrong in trying to make the world a better place, but to put this alongside the Great Commission as an equal duty is wrong. God gave Adam, before the Fall, a different commission or mandate. But we are not called to "Christianize" society and correct its ills. We have a mandate to minister for our Master and to get the gospel over the world. Some New Evangelicals and liberals tend to concern themselves more with the cultural mandate, and tread dangerously close to a Social Gospel.

CEDARVILLE NO LONGER FUNDAMENTALIST—On Jan. 3, 2003, the Web site of the Ohio organization of the Southern Baptist Convention stated that Cedarville University had entered a partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (see July CC). Pastor John Ashbrook in an Ohio Bible Fellowship pamphlet writes: "Cedarville can no longer be considered a fundamentalist school….[I]t will no longer instruct young pastors to separate from apostasy." Get this pamphlet which also has a report on Wheaton College's recently relaxed conduct code. Order it from OBF Visitor, 3865 No. High St., Columbus, OH 43214, 25 for $6.00.

CAMPOLO APOLOGIZES FOR INTEMPERATE REMARKS—In a July 3 letter to [Southern] Baptist Press, popular liberal new-evangelical Tony Campolo apologized for the "intemperate manner in which I spoke of those who differ with me" on the issues of homosexuality and women in ministry (7/14 Chr. News). The comments were made in his address to the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a breakaway faction from the SBC. He said: "I do believe that organizations and social structures that deny women the right to exercise spiritual gifts and actualize their spiritual potentialities are sinful, evil, and even instruments of the devil."

U. METHODISTS DROP HERESY CHARGES AGAINST BISHOP SPRAGUE—United Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of Chicago came under fire last year for a new book where he referred to the "myth of the Virgin Birth." He also questioned the bodily resurrection, the role of Jesus in salvation, and recently said the god of Islam is the God of the Bible. But church members who sided with Sprague said room must be made for different interpretations of Scripture.

IBFNA CONFERENCE—We were able to attend the recent Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America (IBFNA) in Norwich, CT but for various reasons were unable to attend the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (in Concord, NH) as we usually do each year. We were blessed by the preaching and unity, and the resolve to "champion the cause of Separation in a time when churches, schools and other ministries are yielding to the maddening throng of contemporary worship, worldliness and selling out of the truth." Resolutions on Cedarville, Separation, Harold Camping, etc. were passed. We need to support the IBFNA and pray for its leaders.

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