ISLAM & CHRISTIANITY EQUAL RELIGIONS?—Fuller Seminary has received a $1 million grant from the Justice Department to help fund a project aimed at calming relations between Christians and Muslims, seeming to promote the idea that the two are equally acceptable religions. Its proposed interfaith code of ethics rejects offensive statements about each other's faiths, affirms a mutual belief in one God, and pledges not to proselytize. Nearly 100 retired SBC missionaries signed a plea in June asking Christian leaders to refrain from making inflammatory public statements about Islam which would harm missionary work in Muslim lands (1/3/04 World). An SBC spokesman said "for Fuller to declare that Christians and Muslims worship the same God would be a radical departure."(12/8 Agape) The Council on Amer.-Islamic Relations is demanding an apology from Paul Harvey for referring to Islam as "a religion which encourages killing."

CHINA CRUSHES HOUSE CHURCHES—Inside sources say Red China is crushing the house church movement. It considers unregistered churches political subversives. Protestant churches can register only through the China Christian Council and its related Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Both closely cooperate with the Communist regime, which forbids worship outside state-backed official "patriotic" religious bodies (1/04 Chr. Today). Worship is allowed only in government-monitored churches, temples, and mosques. In a two-month period beginning last mid-August, authorities closed or bulldozed over 100 churches in one town. (12/23 Huntsville Times). Today, about 15 million Protestants and 10 million Catholics worship in the official churches. Millions more belong to unofficial house churches.

FAITH-BASED FUNDING RULES STILL APPLY—In 2000 Congress voted to give $600,000 to fund Bowery Mission's summer camp for at-risk youth through the Dept. of Justice. But a Justice Dept. bureaucrat said Bowery couldn't receive the money unless it stopped hiring only Christians. Bowery said that would destroy its mission. After a year of wrangling, Justice let the grant go through on a one-time deal (Jan. '04). So all the rules are still in effect and Christian organizations can't get Justice Department grants if they hire only Christians. Washington runs what it funds!

PAY-OFF YEAR FOR RCC—Last year was pay-out year for the Roman Catholic Church. U.S. dioceses agreed to pay alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse nearly $100 million, probably millions more undisclosed, and the end is nowhere in sight. The Boston archdiocese alone paid out $10 million in 2002 to 86 alleged victims of priest John Geoghan, who was killed in prison. It agreed in September to pay $85 million to 552 people to settle claims. (12/27 World).

JOHN MacARTHUR ON CATHOLICISM—Mike Gendron had the following "Quick Quote" by John MacArthur in his Jan-Feb Proclaiming the Gospel: "Catholicism is a false system. It is not the church of Christ, it is the church of anti-Christ. If you follow Catholic theology you'll go to hell. I am not saying that to be unkind but to be truthful. Being truthful is the only way to be kind. People need to come out of that system. It is a system that exalts Mary and it is a system of paganism mingled with pseudo-Christianity." "…[T]he truth shall make you free."

TOLKIEN, LORD OF THE RINGS—Despite the PG-13 rating and occultic imagery presented in J.R.R. Tolkien's popular book and movie trilogies, many evangelical Christians have highly praised the "Lord of the Rings" as harmless fantasy. The third movie ("Return of the King") was released in Dec. 2003. We ran an article in the July 2003 CC warning of the danger, and David Cloud did an incisive analysis of the series, and commented thusly: "Though not as overtly and sympathetically occultic as the Harry Potter series, Tolkien's fantasies are unscriptural and present a very dangerous message." Tolkien was a Catholic and many of the "Lord of the Rings" heroes are wizards and witches.

FALWELL PRAISES RICK WARREN'S GROWTH METHODS—Dr. Jerry Falwell and other Southern Baptist leaders have highly praised Rick Warren's pragmatic philosophy of ministry and unbiblical, marketing-inspired methods for church growth. Fundamentalists must beware of Warren's "Purpose-Driven" methods and inaccurate theology, and for Falwell's influence and compromise. Secular marketing strategies, capitulation to an ungodly culture and meeting the perceived needs of the unregenerate may result in higher "numbers" at church, but the implementation of such "methods" does not glorify God nor accomplish His work in the way He desires. (Foundation).

DEAN THINKS HOMOSEXUALITY NO SIN?—Presidential candidate Howard Dean stated the following in his views on homosexuality: "From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin he would not have created gay people." This is similar to the old "born that way" argument that winds up blaming God for a wicked life-style. We have said over and over (e.g., 6-1-95 CC): "It is absurd, unscriptural and blasphemous to suggest that the homosexual is not responsible for his perverted life-style, or that an adulterer is not to blame for his sin. To do so implies that God is to blame. If a person was born without a choice in the matter, God (under the Law) would never have required the death penalty for homosexuality. Capital punishment was for crimes a person committed voluntarily (see Lev. 20, etc.)." Life-style choices stem from our volition.

TORONTO DROPS LAUGHTER & BIZARRE NOISES—A decade ago charismatic worshippers at a small church near Toronto's airport began laughing uncontrollably. They also made animal noises – braying, barking, howling and roaring. They collapsed to the floor, staggered as if drunk, shook and jerked; wept, wailed and yelped. Faces contorted, groans, and bodies prone on the floor, "slain in the spirit." (12/27 HT) These wild manifestations were called "Holy laughter," "laughing revival," "signs and wonders," etc., but now dubbed "the Toronto Blessing." In 1996, the church was kicked out of the Vineyard movement for being too extreme.

WCC PROGRAM HAS ANTI-AMERICAN SLANT—World Council of Churches committees are meeting in New York City to plan a year-long series of events as part of the WCC's "Decade to Overcome Violence"—events that will target the U.S. as a proponent of violence ( 1/13 AgapePress). Over 30 denominations (mainly mainline/liberal Protestant) belong to the left-wing WCC. In the past it has largely ignored human rights violations and aggression by the old Soviet bloc and instead focused on the sins, real and imagined, of the U.S. and its allies. In its supposed passion for social justice, it seems to ignore crimes and oppressions of communist and Islamic dictatorships against Christians. (ACCC Exec. Sec'y Dr. Ralph Colas has provided first-hand coverage of most recent key meetings, and many reports are available on WCC's apostasy.

CORNERSTONE APPOINTS FAGERSTROM PRES. OF GRTS—Cornerstone University has appointed Dr. Doug Fagerstrom as the new president of Grand Rapids Theol. Seminary. His background and associations with New Evangelicals clearly reveal his stance. He has ministered (and was ordained) in Wooddale Church (Minneapolis) pastored by Leith Anderson who recently served a stint as interim head of the NAE; served at Calvary Church (Grand Rapids); attended Denver and Bethel seminaries; and has a doctor of ministry degree from Northern Bapt. Theol. Seminary (Amer. Baptist, Chicago). His bio lists "drama in worship" as an area of expertise. Considered alone, it may appear we're overdoing it a bit here, but as a package, it looks new-evangelical.

GRAHAM CRUSADE SET FOR JUNE, KANSAS CITY—Billy Graham's 415th crusade is scheduled for Kansas City, Mo., June 17-20. He recently suffered a broken hip when he fell in a hotel room, at Jacksonville, Fla. near Mayo Clinic. The hip required a partial replacement surgery. The hospital expects a complete recovery, and he at age 85 plans to be at the crusade as scheduled.

—At the 2003 GARBC Annual Conference the Council of Eighteen voted to no longer partner with Cedarville University, due to the recent partnering relationship between CU and the Ohio Southern Baptist Convention. One hundred twenty GARBC messengers voted to sever the relationship, and 180 voted to delay action until its 2004 meeting. The Council of Eighteen met in November and voted to recommend to the 2004 GARBC messengers that the Partnering Policy be repealed. Should that vote carry, no formal partnering relationships will exist between the Association and agencies, and no listing of agencies will appear in GARBC publications (Jan. Baptist Bulletin). But what about Western Baptist College, another GARBC partner which recently linked with Northwest Baptist Convention (SBC)? No mention was made of it, and our query to the BB office was not answered.

SBC TO DEPART BWA—The Southern Baptist Convention is almost certain to drop out of the Baptist World Alliance this year, saying it is becoming too liberal and "openly advocating aberrant and dangerous theologies." (12/20/03 HT) Since the SBC is the BWA's largest and most generous member this would be a huge blow to the BWA which received $300,000 last year from it. The alliance is understandably upset. Its leader Denton Lotz called it a tragic move that would "bring a schism within the life of our worldwide Baptist family and thus is a sin against love." But James Draper, an SBC leader, says the alliance "seems to have lost its doctrinal moorings and shows no desire to engage in the kinds of discussions that would return the organization to its biblical foundation." See 2 Cor. 6:14-17.

RC BISHOP REFUSES COMMUNION TO PRO-ABORTION POLITICIANS—A pro-life group is praising a Roman Catholic bishop for using the authority of his office to deal with what it calls a public scandal. Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wis., has issued a formal decree barring pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving Communion. (1/13 RT), Per Burke, a Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion or euthanasia, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal for others. Since Amer. Life League's effort began last year, it has identified over 500 state and federal officeholders who claim to be Catholic while making public pronouncements on abortion that are contrary to Church teachings. ALL will continue to publish the names of public officials who claim the Catholic faith, yet ignore the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life. We will continue to…send a loud and clear message to all Catholic public officials: "You cannot be pro-abortion and Catholic."

NRB CONFERENCE—This takes place in Charlotte this year (Feb. 13-18) and, true to form, includes ecumenical speakers and CCM singers. Speakers include: Chuck Swindoll, Franklin Graham, Adrian Rogers, John Piper, Michael Cassidy, Chip Ingram, and Janet Parshall. Music by: Talley Trio, Larnelle Harris, and Stuart Neill. Pres. Bush and Tom DeLay are invited. Dr. Colas will attend with press credentials.

MAXWELL & NEW AGE—A Nov. Faith And Freedom article lists three disturbing things about popular author John Maxwell. First is the manner in which he handles the Scriptures to "teach" his principles is sometimes egregiously mistaken…. Second he either implicitly or explicitly endorses some New Age teachers and doctrines. Third in addition to the New Age elements peppered throughout his material, Maxwell also employs questionable theological doctrines, such as the mistaken notion of the miraculous, a conspicuous absence of the cross, and questionable psychological doctrines (self-esteem, etc.).

WITH INTEGRITY—Jim and Una Wendorf have an "online source for Bibles, Christian books, CD's, music, and gifts you trust." Web address:
withintegrity.org Phone 800/699-2623

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