The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Mormonism”

Audio Series: How to Read the Bible for the First Time…Again

Just this past weekend (04/22/2013), Steve Jeffery, minister of Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Southgate, North London, England, hosted a colloquium for those who wish to experience the Word of God with new eyes.
The event featured special guest speaker Reverend James B Jordan, director of Biblical Horizons and soon to be joining Dr. Peter J Leithart at the Trinity House Institute for Biblical, Liturgical, & Cultural Studies in Birmingham, AL, who gave a four-part lecture entitled How to Read the Bible for the First Time…Again. Read more…

Tim Tebow Cancels Speech at First Baptist Church of Dallas

The New York Jets backup quarterback has cancelled his appearance at the Baptist mega-church in Dallas. The well-known Christian athlete tweeted a short time ago:

 “While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance.

“He continued, “I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!”

The Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Robert Jeffress, has been an outspoken critic of Mitt Romney and suggested in the last campaign that he would prefer to see an orthodox Christian in the White House instead of a Mormon. He has also spoken out against homosexuality and Islam, which has made him a detested name in the politically-correct media.

Undoubtedly there is much that could be said about the star-driven ventures of the evangelical world, and I stand firmly behind critiquing it, however, Tebow’s bailing out of his commitment due to what is perceived to be a strategically wise move for the NFL superstar in unwise. My appreciation for Tebow is known and I can only hope that there are other motives involved, rather than simply avoiding the controversy of associating with a  pastor that has in actuality spoken publicly and truthfully about a host of issues over these last years.

The Role of Heretical Christianity in the Rise of Islam

Although North Africa enjoyed the blessing of the presence of Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo, the impact of these great Catholic leaders was unable to maintain a long-lasting effect. The influence of Vandal Arianism supplanted Trinitarian Catholicism to the point that when the Muslims invaded from the East, there was no sufficient, theological base in the North Africans to resist the new Islamic heresies. Through a series of events, over a couple of centuries, the Byzantine people, and their Catholic culture, had become undesirable to the North Africans. When Vandal Arianism arrived on the scene, the North Africans were emotionally and psychologically prepared to have their Catholic dogma replaced. They did not specifically seek it out, but they were unprepared to repel the Vandal Arian heresy. Upon the acceptance of Vandal Arianism, the North Africans rejected Chalcedonian Christology and therefore, had no problem with the Islamic idea that Jesus was only a great prophet and that Mohammed had come as an even greater, and final, prophet. It was this religious difference between North Africa and the rest of Europe and southwest Asia, rather than any economic or socio-political differences, that opened the door for Islam to nearly eradicate Christianity from northern Africa.

Vandal Arianism developed in the Teutonic regions of northern Europe where Christ was viewed as a step above the average man, rather than a “second degree” God as he was viewed in Hellenic Arianism.  Jesus was a hero, a commander, or king, but not God like the divine All-Father.  This is as clearly heresy as the Hellenic version, albeit distinctive in the details.

In the early 430’s, the Teutonic general, Geiseric moved down through the Iberian Peninsula across the Straits of Gibraltar into North Africa.  By 439 he had conquered North Africa from present-day Mauritania to Tripoli in Libya.  He had become “master of North Africa”.  As surely as modern politicians show favors to those who will be favorable to advance their campaign, Geiseric, a Vandal Arian, promoted his religion in all the cities of his dominion.  Things were much easier for adherents to Vandal Arianism than for those who maintained the Trinitarian Catholic faith. Many clerics were exiled to Italy and the treasures of the local churches confiscated for Arian use.  To portray Geseric and his successors as merely religious zealots would be to oversimplify the matter, for politics played an important role in establishing their rule over the Berber people of North Africa.  With little to no religious allegiance to Rome or Constantinople, a North African ruler could count on that much more fidelity from his constituency. These anti-Catholic moves by the North African leaders, as well as some dumb moves by the Byzantines and Catholics themselves, solidified the shift from Trinitarian Christianity to Vandal Arianism.

Mohammed crafted his vision in 610 A.D., and within 80 years of his death in 632 A.D., his followers had spread the Muslim religion and kingdom throughout the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa and Spain.  Although the Byzantine generals and troops put up a fight every step of the way, the Arian predisposition of the Berber peoples in North Africa made them prime candidates for conversion to the Muslim faith.  This predisposition to a subordinate Christology aligned them more closely with an Islamic view of Jesus than a Catholic one.  The Quran refers to Jesus as a Prophet and the son of the virgin Mary but also says that Mohammed was a greater servant of God than Jesus. The Vandal Arian heresy had primed the pump for the next greater one than Jesus to come along.  As C.J. Speel surmises,

“Conversion from Teutonic Arianism, the faith of the bulk of North Africa’s population from ca. 450 to ca. 670 A.D., to Islam was an easy step.  In Teutonic Arianism Jesus was not God; neither was He the “Second degree” God of Arius, a philosophical logos.  He was a great tribal leader, or healer, or commander, an historical figure, a man who was manifested as the Son of God. Islam did not seriously alter this picture of Jesus; it simply added another and even more distinguished figure—the Prophet of Mecca to whom was revealed in most recent times the will of God.”

By 698 A.D. Carthage had fallen to Muslim invaders and has not yet risen from the ashes.  This is not simply an accounting of things that happened a long time ago on a continent far, far away.  We are not only concerned for the conversion of North Africans to Christianity, but we must take note of the current state of Christianity in our own land.  If a shift from the Trinitarian Catholic Faith of the historic creeds of the church is a tell-tale sign of what is coming, then we need to hang on tight.  This ride is about to get a lot bumpier.

For example, we are not too far removed from the Republican Mormon that was offered to us for consideration last November.  He was weighed in balances and found wanting, but the sobering thing is that he accomplished being the last “conservative” on the scale.  What are conservative Americans attempting to accomplish if a Mormon is the man for the job?  Trinitarian Christianity cannot be anywhere but on the fringes of American culture if Mitt Romney made it as far as he did.  Not to mention the support he received from overtly Christian organizations like Billy Graham’s, who removed Mormonism from its list of cults on their website a few months before the election.  “Christian” leaders like Joel Osteen, the pastor of a Houston church, with about a million members, says that “Mitt Romney is a believer in Christ like me.”  If Osteen was the exception rather than the rule, it would be different, but American Christians bought it hook, line and sinker, and sent Romney up against Obama.  As least the Vandal Arians imposed the rule on the North Africans as their conquerors, as opposed to the GOP, who has willingly traded Nicaea and Chalcedon for some golden plates found buried on a hill in New York.

This is not meant to be a harsh judgment of folks who view the General Election as a zero-sum game, and therefore felt compelled to vote for one of the two options, however abhorrent the choices were.  It’s not the individual’s vote in November that is as disconcerting as the fact that Romney was ever considered viable by the conservative populace.

I did not intend for this to end up being a rant about last November as much as a recognition that America is following in the footsteps of the North African culture, which has not known Christendom for over 1300 years.  She walked away from orthodoxy and God let her keep walking.  America is just a flash in the pan compared to many cultures, and we’ve already walked away.

Speel II, C.J. “The Disappearance of Christianity from North Africa in the Wake of the Rise of Islam.” Church History 29, no. 4 (1960): 379-397. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3161925. Accessed February 1, 2013.

Don’t Open the Pandora’s Box of Future Obamas

At this point, it is unlikely anyone will not have their minds made up, one way or another, but I will offer my two cents anyway.
Only the most deluded fan-boys of the Republican Party are actually excited about voting for Mitt Romney. Anyone worth paying attention to that is voting for Romney are voting for him out of fear and/or hatred of Barack Obama. To these people, the certain continuation of undeclared drone wars, Obamacare, multi-trillion dollar deficits, manipulated currency and interest rates, and government-protected abortion, to name a few things, under Romney, plays little role in their calculation. To them Obama is antichrist and Romney is de facto messiah.

The problem with this type of thinking is that it reduces modern American electoral history to one election, with no reference to any elections in the past or in the future. But God did not create the world on January 20, 2009. Barack Obama came from somewhere. He came from the abject failure on every issue the George W. Bush administration touched. Only those who worship at the church of the Republican Party dispute this. To everyone else, Barack Obama is simply compassionate conservatism in full bloom.

The idea that Mitt Romney is a celestially married George W. Bush clone with rhetoric upgrades is not really a subject of much debate even among those die-hard adherents of the cult of Saint Dubya. The real debate should be over who the certain failures of the Romney Administration will bring us in 2016 or 2020. Despite what many may think. There are things worse than Obama. They reside in a Pandora’s Box that only Republicans like Bush and Romney can open. Whoever follows Romney will be worse than Barack Obama.

How did we even get in this mess, anyway? So long as Evangelical Christians are a guaranteed voting bloc for the Republican candidate, no matter how truly awful he may be, this cycle will continue. Lucy will continue to pull the football away. It is time to stop being Charlie Brown. Evangelical Christians will never have an effect on American Presidential politics so long as they are guaranteed Republican votes. Until there is uncertainty among Republicans as to whether or not we will vote for their candidate, or dare I say, actual certainty we will not vote for their candidate, so long as they campaign to keep our government doing things that God hates, we will continue to have Barack Obamas. So, for all those who truly want to rid our country of Barack Obamas forever:
this election, don’t vote for Romney.

The Mormon Thing No One Talks About

With a plethora of Romney apologists in the internet, Mormonism couldn’t be happier. The distinctly American religion has found its way to the American audience. Mormonism continues to grow in America. CBN reports “that if present trends continue there could be 265 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) worldwide by 2080.” That is a staggering number!

Evangelicals find Mormonism largely non-threatening. After all, what is threatening about well-dressed young men handing tracts at your door on a Saturday morning? Make no mistake. Mormonism is a threat to the well-being of this country. It may even be a greater threat than Islam. I say that because the majority of Americans are vaccinated against Islamic talking points. Most Americans view Islam for what it is: a religion shaped by Sharia Law whose purposes are dominion-oriented. Further, Americans are– by and large–incapable of distinguishing between between different branches and schools of thought within Islam. In their mind, Islam is Islam. They blow up things, and that is the core of their philosophy. Sometimes ignorance can be good.

On the other hand, Americans are hardly able to differentiate between a cult and Orthodox Christianity. This is seen in religious polling, when pollsters include Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and non-affirming Trinitarians under the “Christian” category.

Very few have considered the claims of Mormonism. Apart from the polygamy aspect–which is no longer practiced in mainstream Mormonism in the 21st century– evangelicals can offer no sound apologetic against it. Hank Hanegraaff summarizes the absurdity and confusion of the Book of Mormon:

How millions can take the Book of Mormon seriously is almost beyond comprehension. While Smith referred to it as “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion,” its flaws run the gamut from the serious to the silly. In the category of serious we find that Ether 3:14 (“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, I am the Father and the Son”) is modalistic and militates against Trinitarian theology, while Alma 11:44 (“Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God”) is basi­cally consistent with the biblical doc­trine of the Trinity.

In the category of silly is the account in Alma 44 of a man who becomes irate after being scalped and stirs up his soldiers to fight “more powerfully.” And in Ether 15 we read of a man who struggles to catch his breath after having his head cut off. The Book of Mormon has now been altered over 4,000 times to compensate for Smith’s poor command of English, as well as for the numerous errors and incon­sistencies it presented.

After having read several classic books on cults over the years, after listening to dozens of debates, after having taken two classes on cults in college, and after interacting extensively with the average American evangelical, I can say that Mormonism will only continue to rise.

What does this mean?

This means that with a Romney victory on November 6th evangelical pastors will need to do a lot more homework. They will need to instruct their flocks with greater precision, and perhaps Trinitarian theology will need to be more foundational than a systematic category. Trinitarianism will need to be the source of life and worship; the very pattern of existence and human relationships.

With Obama at least we knew that liberal christianity is just that: liberal. At least we knew that he was going to always misuse the Sermon on the Mount. At least we knew that he was going to open his wings to religious diversity and ecumenicism. At least we knew that he was a fulfillment of Machen’s dire warnings about liberalism. At least we knew his social and moral agenda. But with Romney, what do we know? Will a moderate appoint other moderates to the Supreme Court? Will he appoint someone like Roberts who stabbed the conservative heart through legislative technicalities? Will he fill the White House with General Authorities of the Mormon Church? In particular, who will be his spiritual advisers?

And when that happens will evangelicals separate religion from policy? Do we truly believe evangelicals have been discipled under Kuyperianism long enough to discern right from wrong? Truth from error? Trinitarianism from Non?

The Mormon thing is actually an important thing to discuss. There is more at stake than the economy in this election. There is the future of the Church, her members, and the responsibility to present a God who is One and Three.

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