Archive for February, 2008

What’s your theological worldview?
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You scored as Evangelical Holiness/WesleyanYou are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God’s grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
100%
Neo orthodox
68%
Fundamentalist
61%
Emergent/Postmodern
46%
Reformed Evangelical
32%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
7%
Roman Catholic
7%
Modern Liberal
0%
Classical Liberal
0%

Just for the record, I do not believe that I am totally depraved. Nor do I believe anyone is totally depraved. I cannot earn my salvation, but I can make a choice. –jerry

Friends,

I just read this at Christian Post:

The Rev. John Hagee, a televangelist and pastor of the 17,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, endorsed McCain at a news conference.

“John McCain is a man of principle,” said Hagee, citing McCain’s anti-abortion voting record and his support of Israel.

Hagee is a leader among Christian Zionists and has argued vigorously from the pulpit and in writing for Israel’s right to settle disputed territories.

His endorsement of McCain follows grumbling among other conservative Christian leaders who have suggested possibly running a third-party candidate because of continuing discontent with McCain. Some hope that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, might still mount an improbable comeback.

But Hagee, who gave Huckabee his pulpit for a Sunday in December, said Wednesday he believes that if McCain emphasizes his support for Israel and his 24-year record against abortion, reluctant evangelical voters will be coaxed into the McCain camp.

All I can say is: WOW! This is simply astonishing! John Hagee must not read very much if he things McCain is a ‘man of principle.’

But what is worse is this line: “…Hagee, who gave Huckabee his pulpit for a Sunday in December…” (my emphasis) Huh? I am no liberal, but that has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever read. What right does any politician have to go into any church and ‘take over a pulpit’?

This is, in my humble opinion, fraught with all sorts of dangers. Politicians have no place in the pulpits of churches. This tells me, however, far more about Mr Hagee than it does about McCain. And I was already suspicious of Hagee.

For the record, in case anyone is listening, Hagee’s endorsement of McCain does more harm than good from my perspective. I am suspicious of Hagee’s theological point of view, his dangerous Zionism, and the fact that he surrendered his pulpit to a politician. You know, Ralph Nader may well have a chance in this election. There is no Republican getting my vote and there is no Democrat getting my vote.

Where in the world is Ross Perot!?!?

jerry

Friends,

I have been somewhat following this story of Senator Grassley’s investigations into the likes of Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and the rest of those preachers of the ‘gospel according to Wall Street.’ I am happy to see that the Senator is making some progress.

I was also interested that the story reports this:

Copeland said the ministry fully complies with all laws, and pledged that he would go to jail before turning over names of donors.

“The enemy is not going to steal what the Lord has won through this ministry, and he is not going to use this attack to bring harm to the rest of the churches and ministries in America!” Copeland wrote.

Note to KC: I’d rather have the harm of the enemy than to have your hopeless ‘gospel’. And frankly, the sooner you go to jail the better. Seriously, Kenneth needs to go away–for a long time–to Folsom Prison or Alcatraz or Antarctica. I would just offer this little bit of insight. If Kenneth Copeland has nothing to hide, then why does he not just allow the Senator to be embarrassed by turning over the stuff and proving his innocence in the matter? All KC is doing is stalling for time so he can shred a few more documents.

It is about time someone do something about this banality that Copeland calls ‘gospel’. And since it is quite apparent that no one within the Evangelical community is going to, kudos to the Senator.

On a side note, I figure after the senators in Washington get done with Roger Clemens, Kenneth Copeland, Bill Belichek, and the presidential campaign trail, perhaps they can turn their attention back to the ever increasing cost of a gallon of gasoline. I know that the millionaires in Washington are having no problems buying food and fuel, but those of us who live in the real world are starting to get a little more than concerned. Thank you, Senators for thinking of us…once in a while.

Save us from Steroids. Save us from cheating football coaches. Save us from prosperity preachers. Save us from presidential candidates. But please, whatever you do, don’t address the cost of fuel and food in the country. No really, please don’t.

jerry

PS–there’s only a few people in the world who think KC, BH, CD and the rest are innocent. The rest of us know they are guilty.

Myron CopeFriends,

I just read this at espn.com:

PITTSBURGH — Myron Cope, the screechy-voiced announcer whose colorful catch phrases and twirling Terrible Towel became symbols of the Pittsburgh Steelers during an unrivaled 35 seasons in the broadcast booth, has died. He was 79.

Cope died Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb, Joe Gordon, a former Steelers executive and a longtime friend of Cope’s, told The Associated Press. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

For local coverage, click at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Legendary Broadcaster Myron Cope Dies at 79.

“Double Yoi” it was called both times, the second an updated version of the original 2002 volume, the title immortalizing one of Mr. Cope’s signature exclamations, which, along with “Okle-dokle,” “Dumbkopf!”, and “How do?”, became so familiar to his radio and TV audiences.

As a Steelers fan and a former resident of the Youngstown area who grew up listening to Myron Cope, I will say: You will be missed. What a sad day this is.

jerry

Friends,

Even though this post is a little late, I would be remiss if I didn’t include on this blog a small tribute to one of my favorite musicians. Today is Johnny Cash’s Birthday.

There’s nothing like the pure sound of his voice and the simply strums and picks of his guitar. And June Carter? What a voice!

And finally, well, what’s Life Under the Blue Sky without the Gospel?

Thanks to Johnny Cash for so much simple, wonderful, thoughtful music.

jerry

Friends,

This says a lot: Global Warming!

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January “was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.”

What are we going to do!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Sincerely,

Someone Who Doesn’t Believe the Hype of a Failed Senator from Tennessee and the Intellectual Elite in Hollywood

PS–If Global Warming is a Political Hoax, then I think Al Gore should have to give back his Oscar or Emmy or whatever stupid award he was given–Oh, yeah, the Nobel.

Friends, here is part three of what was a planned four week series of sermons on Servanthood in the Church. This sermon comes from Matthew 20:20-28. It discusses the seeming absurdity of what Jesus calls us to as Christians: Serving for nothing else but the glory of God. Jesus models this in His own life, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” –jerry PS–All Scripture references in this message are from the ASV.

The Cross of Christ and the Root of All Service or The Imitation of Christ
Matthew 20:20-28
Spiritual Disciplines 1.3

Prayer

Our Father,

You created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. You created the sky and the seas and all that is in them. We thank you O God for blessing upon blessing that you have released upon us in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sovereign Lord, the world has risen up against you in all their fury. But You, O Lord, sit enthroned in heaven—you scoff at the petty and meaningless rattling of the sabers of men.

Holy God, it is because of your providence that we live and move and have our being. It is because you send the rain and the snow on the righteous and the unrighteous alike that we can continue enjoying the blessings you also send.

You are righteous in all your judgments, perfect in all your ways, you are just in all your decisions. What is left for us to do but surrender to your will, to cry out for mercy, to serve you with gladness, joy, and humility. We, the Body of Christ, your saints, your saved ones, surrender ourselves to the scrutiny and judgment of your Word.

May you be exalted and glorified in all that we say and do here this day. Amen.

_____________________

Matthew 20:20-28 Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, worshipping and asking a certain thing of him. (21)And he said unto her, What wouldest thou? She saith unto him, Command that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand, and one on thy left hand, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? They say unto him, We are able. He saith unto them, My cup indeed ye shall drink: but to sit on my right hand, and on myleft hand, is not mine to give; but for whom it hath been prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation concerning the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

“There were thirteen men in an upper room—how many servants and how many Lords? ‘One Lord and twelve servants’ sounds like the right answer, but is it? The truth is, there were twelve lords and one Servant! Only one man in the room knew anything about service.”—Jim McQuiggan, God of the Towel, 127

_____________________

I can probably think of more jobs I would rather not do than do. I would probably rather not be a preacher. I know how that sounds, but it doesn’t sound quite like it is meant. Preaching is the easy part, and I have consistently said through the years that I love preaching and teaching, but all the other stuff gets in the way.

I have to confess that lately church has been getting in the way of service. Lately, church has been getting in the way of ministry, of faith, of Christianity. What James and John found so easy in this episode I understand well. Don’t you?

Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

And James and John confidently answered, “We can.”

Who of us would have answered differently? Frankly, you have to admit, it is a lot easier to think of going down in a blaze of glory than it is to imagine laboring away for many, many years and seeing no real achievement or accomplishment. Serving in obscurity is a lot more difficult than dying for a cause.

Then Jesus confirms for them, “You will drink the cup I will drink. But you won’t get out of it what you want.”

Jesus turns this whole ‘dying for a cause’ thing upside down. Thus I suppose it is a lot more difficult to die for a cause when you won’t get out of it what you want than it is to die for a cause and get everything you want. James and John wanted fame, power, the right and the left. Jesus said they would drink the cup and still remain in relative obscurity.

In other words, their death’s wouldn’t gain them anything in Jesus’ Name.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think James and John were sincere. This is why Matthew tells us, “When the other disciples heard…they were indignant.” I read this like, “They were jealous that they hadn’t thought of it first.”

This just leads me to think that the opening quote is correct: there were 12 lords, and one servant.

And so Jesus says that their lives are not to be conducted like that of the ‘gentiles.’ Jesus said that if they wanted to achieve the sort of power and fame and ambition they were seeking by sitting at his right and left then were going to have to do things that did not involve his right and left, did not involve even drinking the cup that Jesus was drinking.

So I don’t think Jesus is saying anything like, ‘Don’t have ambition,’ or ‘Don’t seek greatness.’ No on the contrary, Jesus has no problem with his people seeking greatness or having ambition. He says as much doesn’t he, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Nothing wrong with ambition. Nothing wrong with greatness. Nothing wrong with wanting to be noticed. But the way to go about getting noticed is to get unnoticed, to get hidden, to be least. If you want to be first, you must be last. If you want to be the master, you must be the slave. But even within this I sense that Jesus is not saying, “Seek greatness by being least.” It’s not like we are to use selflessness merely as a means to an end.

No I sense in his statements here not ambition, but simply the humility of a life that is so consumed with care and compassion and justice for others that it matters little if anything at all what place we come in or how great of a name we end up having for ourselves. We don’t serve so that when we are dead and gone people will continue to serve in our name or continue to revere our name or continue to honor our name or ever start doing those sorts of things.

We serve with only one ambition and that is the ambition of Christ. There is not a more backward way of looking at things that I can imagine. And how does Scripture, let alone simply preachers like me, convince people in this generation, in this culture, in this country—born and bred as we are on the standard of ‘get all I can while I can get it’—that the way to first is by the last, the way to great is by the way to least, the way to ambition is through an ambitionless service to the least of all people’s on this planet—many of whom, more often than not, will take advantage of your kindness and generosity, and continue to sap your strength until you have nothing more to give?

How, just how does that work in our culture? And what sort of God demands such impossibilities from people like you and me who are the very ones who want to ‘get all we can while we can get it’? And how do you suppose that this God who demands such things is going to convince us?

____________________

So Jesus says, in order to demonstrate his justification for demanding such an attitude from us, the following, “Just as the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Huh?

Philippians 2:1-11If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doingnothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; (4) not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. (5) Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Oh, so it’s just that easy is it? We are to simply have an ‘attitude’ like that of Jesus. I have to be honest with you: I’m not thoroughly persuaded by such an argument. Are we merely to read this statement and accept it and live it? Is it enough?

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew tells us that the very path Jesus himself took to exaltation went through Calvary. It went through the cross Jesus said that the very ‘model’ his disciples had to follow to greatness went through the cross; went through death. The disciples are strangely quiet after this episode.

And everything inside of me wants to rage and kick against it. I say, “I don’t mind death if it gets me something.” Jesus says my death will not be about me. He told Peter that in John 21:

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Everything inside me says: this is not the way. Everything inside of me says: You can go your own way. Everything inside of me says: It’s your life and you can live it your way, for yourself, for no one else. You don’t have to serve. Look I’m not talking about merely making breakfast for someone although I’m not excluding that. I’m not talking about merely buffing someone’s dirty shoes although I’m not excluding that. I’m not talking about merelystacking folding chairs. Jesus defined service, Jesus defined servanthood, Jesus defined being last: “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” The sort of service Jesus is talking about isthe sort of service that involves the loss of life. I don’t know that you and I are going to give our lives as ransoms in the sense that Jesus gave his life as a ransom. Surely we cannot save the world from sin. But our servanthood is no less a life giving action than was that of Jesus the Son of God.

“Take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow me.” This is the essence of servanthood in the Kingdom of God. This is the attitude we are to have in ourselves. This is the manner in which we demonstrate our allegiance to Christ, our understanding of His commands, and our complete submission to His will. It doesn’t get much clearer than this.

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Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his lord; neither one that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them. (John 13:13-16)

I know you are familiar with these Scriptures. I have read them to you a hundred times. You have read them to yourselves a thousand times. But ask yourself, even as I ask myself: Have I really, actually, truly surrendered my life to Jesus Christ? Have I really given my life for many? Have we drank the cup that Jesus drank.

I’m not trying to guilt you into anything. Remember, this is an attitude Paul says we are to have within us. I cannot guilt you into an attitude that you don’t want. But the Holy Spirit will.

All I am asking you to do this morning is evaluate the nature of your relationship with Christ. The sacrificial life won’t save you. It won’t gain you heaven, it won’t neglect you hell. All you are is all you are because of the grace of Jesus. What I am asking in this short series of sermons on Servanthood is simply this: What are you doing with what Jesus gave you?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

I came across this story at the Christian Post concerning the nation of Jordan and the expulsion of Christians. The article says:

The Muslim-majority country of Jordan acknowledged Wednesday that it expelled foreign Christians for illegal preaching under what it claims was the guise of charity work.

The announcement is the first official acknowledgment that the government has clamped down on several foreign Christian preachers. Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Christians had come to Jordan under the “pretext of charitable and voluntary activities, but they had violated the law by undertaking preaching activities and were expelled,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

Under Jordanian law, conversion from Islam to Christianity is not allowed in Muslim conservative Jordan and foreign missionary groups are banned from seeking converts, according to Agence France-Presse. But the government must sanction preaching and any religious activity, whether Christian or Muslim

In January, the Christian persecution watchdog group Compass Direct News reported that at least 27 expatriate Christian families and individuals were refused residence permits last year. The foreign Christians include Americans, Europeans, South Koreans, Egyptians, Sudanese and Iraqis.

This isn’t the entire story which you should read for context, but it does help us understand a little of what is going on in foreign nations with regard to those who practice Christian faith: It is tough. We hear of such stories all the time. You rarely hear of Muslims being expelled from a nation, you never hear of an atheist being expelled from a country, and so the story goes. But by goodness if you are a Christian, you are ripe for the picking.

I contrast this with another story I read at the Christian Post about a certain ‘prosperity gospel preacher’ named Mac Hammond who has evidently ordered the sale of the private business jet belonging to the ‘ministry.’ Says the article:

Church spokesman the Rev. Brian Sullivan says Living Word has also cut its hour long Sunday morning television broadcast to 30 minutes to save money.

He says the church has fallen $40,000 to $70,000 short of its weekly budget in recent weeks, and the church is adjusting its budget accordingly.

Sullivan said the church’s problems could be a combination of the recession and the recent bad publicity about churches preaching prosperity gospel, which holds that God wants his followers to flourish financially.

Well, I have to be honest with you, I was going to have some sympathy for someone tonight and now I am confused. I just don’t know where my sympathy should be or who I should suffer with. On the one hand, there are some brothers and sisters in Christ who are homeless and being persecuted for preaching the Gospel and for ‘breaking the law’ and on the other hand there is a brother in Christ who has to sell his luxurious travelling coach because his budget is $40-$70k short.  This is really difficult. If you happen to have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the reply section. Until then, I am simply going to withhold all sympathy, all empathy, and all apathy.

jerry

Friends,

The Junior High school where I work 2.5 hours each day is currently doing a fundraiser for hungry children. There is a long colorful chain of paper links hanging in the hallway and in the cafeteria. The sign says, ‘Each link represents 10 children who die each day from hunger.’ Another sign says, ‘15,000 kids die each day from hunger.’ (I actually think they probably die from starvation, but that’s a small thing isn’t it?)

The kids are trying to raise $365.00 in American currency which, according to the colorful poster-board signs hung carefully, conspicuously, and strategically around the lunchroom announce that $365.00 will feed one hungry child for one year. That’s three meals per day, I reckon, at 33.3 cents per meal. The kids at the school where I work buy one lunch for $2.75. So, one lunch would buy, according my calculations, about 8 meals for one of these unidentified starving children who are, according to another sign, getting by eating mud cookies. 

I contrast this with an article I saw at Christian Post about a poor ‘Prosperity preacher‘ who has been, I am sad to report, reduced to such poverty that he is having to sell his ‘private business jet.’ Here’s a blurb:

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) — Dwindling donations to the Living Word Christian Center in this Twin Cities suburb have prompted its high-profile pastor, Mac Hammond, to put his private business jet on the market.

Church spokesman the Rev. Brian Sullivan says Living Word has also cut its hourlong Sunday morning television broadcast to 30 minutes to save money.

He says the church has fallen $40,000 to $70,000 short of its weekly budget in recent weeks, and the church is adjusting its budget accordingly.

I don’t want to be mean about this, so here’s what I’m going to suggest. Perhaps the Living Word Christian Center needs our help. Lord knows that I don’t want any preachers, since I am a preacher myself, suffering necessarily or unnecessarily because they are short a mere 40-70K on their budget. I guess the Lord doesn’t want that ministry to be prosperous just now. Thankfully,

Sullivan said the church is aggressively marketing the jet, and the money raised from the sale would be reinvested in the ministry.

I’m going to pray extra hard that this private jet is sold. You know, I was going to buy a lunch at the school tomorrow when I work. The price of an adult lunch is a bit more than the price of a children’s lunch, but the food’s not that bad. Now I’m torn. I don’t know if I should sink that $3.25 into a school lunch for myself, into the big plastic water bottle for the starving children somewhere in the world, or if I should send it to the good Rev Hammond for his ailing ministry. I’m torn.

If you happen to read this, and you happen to have a word from the Lord on this for me, please let me know. This is a difficult decision.

_________________

I hope the jet doesn’t sell. I hope the ‘ministry’ goes belly up. I hope the ‘center’ closes its doors. I hope the ‘Rev’ has to get a real job. And I hope Senator Grassley amps up his investigation. I hope his television program goes off the air completely.

_________________

Someone hacked my blog. Who wrote that? Well, I’m, sorry for the Rev Hammond. I hope things work out for him and his important work in the Lord. Can you believe this poor man actually has to sell his private business jet? What’s worse, is that Jesus had to walk everywhere he went. If only the Son of God had thought to have a private jet and a television show. If only Jesus had been less concerned about children and more concerned about the business of ministry. If only. 

jerry

Lord, forgive me this blasphemy. Forgive me this sarcasm. Forgive me Lord. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Friends,

These guys will probably never know how much they have meant to my faith when I was a difficult, rebellious teenager.

They retired last year and I, like many others, miss them dearly. So here at this blog, I can say thanks. Thank you Petra for keeping the Word of God alive in me through your music.

jerry

Friends,

Some of you will appreciate this more than others.

 jerry

Friends,

My buddy Jeff at atheocracy tagged me into a fun game. Here’s the gist from his blog:

The rules are very straightforward and go as follows: 1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Here’s what I posted:

This is from a commentary I am reading James D G Dunn, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, page 123:

“This is an appropriate note on which to wind up this brief reference to the mystery of God’s purpose shaped from before the ages and generations and now moving towards its eschatological climax. ‘Christ in you’ spans the full sweep of time, God’s creative power in Christ determining end as well as beginning and blending the individual into the harmony of the divine composition. The hoped-for ‘gory’ again ties the whole process into God: such glory can only be God’s (’the wealth of glory’).”

(The next sentence reads: “It is the radiant energy which first accomplished creation and which will accomplish its consummation.”)

He is commenting on Colossians chapter 1, verse 27.

Now, for my 5 tags: Joe MartinoTim Reed, Michael Spencer, Chris Rosebrough, Jason Goroncy.

Have fun.

jerry

Friends,

It has always been a popular thing to make movies about Jesus. Mel Gibson made one and so have many others. Now it turns out that Muslims are getting in on the action. This link connects to an interview with an Iranian man who made a film about Jesus ‘from a Muslim point of view’:

A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. “The Messiah,” which some consider as Iran’s answer to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” won an award at Rome’s Religion Today Film Festival for generating interfaith dialogue.

The movie will be adapted into a television series to be shown on Iranian TV later this year.

Filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh spoke to ABC’s Lara Setrakian in Tehran.

There is so much wrong with this man’s understanding of Jesus and Christianity that I hardly know where to begin so I will restrict myself to a few observations:

The gist of what his movie is about is this: virtually everything, according to him, is left the same. The glaring exception is the crucifixion of Jesus. He said:

NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.

NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.

LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.

NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified]. 

This is exactly why the Koran is not the Word of God in any sense whatsoever. The crucifixion is not only Biblical, Theological, and Necessary, but it is historical. 

If this is what he put in his film, then he did not make a movie about Jesus of Nazareth. If this is his film, then he is not making a film that is worth anything. If this is what he put in his film, then it has nothing to do with Christians, Christianity, the church of Jesus Christ, Christ of the Scripture, Jesus the Son of God. It is another piece of Satanic propaganda (see below) intended to accomplish no meaningful purpose in this world. It matters little what the Koran says about Jesus because what matters is what the Christian Scriptures say about Jesus and they declare emphatically that Jesus was crucified. History declares that Jesus was crucified. It matters nill if the Koran or the Muslim respect Jesus and Mary. Jesus didn’t come to earth for mere respect. I don’t know why Christians would want to see a movie that has effectively removed any possibility of salvation because that is the state of the Christian if Christ has not been crucified. If Jesus has not been crucified then he has not been resurrected. If Jesus has not been resurrected from the dead, then Christians are without hope. We may as well party it up if Christ has not been Resurrected from the dead. (See the Scripture quote from Corinthians below.)

He goes on to answer a question concerning the sort of feedback he has received from Christians:

NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].

Well, since he has not ‘found one case among practicing Christians who are offended’ let me be the first! I will gladly be the first to announce without reservation that this film is blasphemous! There is no Koran based ending to the Gospel. The Gospel and the Koran stand in complete opposition to one another. There is only the Gospel ending to the Gospel. What the Koran does not understand is that our sin must be dealt with and if it has not been dealt with, and is not dealt with in the death of Christ then we, and all of humanity from the beginning until the end, are simply obligated to be 100% obedient to the law. (And no one is nor can anyone be.) In other words, if we are not justified by the death of Christ then we are without hope in the world. Law cannot be a substitute for grace. I am offended because in creating a Christ in his own image, this man is attempting to rob the world of the only hope it has to be lifted out of this abomination of sin we call happiness.

So if there is no death of Christ as this man is purporting in his film, then exactly how will we be saved from our sins? There can be no dialogue. I’m not so much offended or outraged as much as I am saddened. I’m not shivering with anger as much as I am shuddering with fear at the consequences for humanity if Christ was not crucified. I am saddened because this sort of teaching takes away all hope of eternal life, all hope of rescue from sin, all hope of resurrection, all hope of escaping the penalty of sin–death. There can be no alternate ending to the story of Jesus. The only ending is an empty tomb that he Resurrected from after he was crucified.

Now, there are two stories in Matthew’s Gospel that at first appearance may not have anything in common. Here they are. The first is from Matthew 4 where Jesus is being tempted by Satan. The second is Jesus’ first announcement of his impending crucifixion and Peter’s response.

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9″All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

Next, Matthew 16:

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-28)

What these stories have in common is this: both the Devil and Peter were attempting to persuade Jesus to avoid the cross! Even back then the idea was to create a cross-less Jesus! Muslims preach the same thing: A Cross-less Jesus. The filmmaker says, in response to a question about the Mel Gibson film:

NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it’s the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have … according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?

Well, the reason is simple: To save humanity from sin, its guilt and its power. That’s why he was bloodied ‘that way.’ If Jesus ascended to heaven without being crucified then we are hopeless. It is not the wrong story: It’s the only story! It’s the only hope we have! Oh Lord have mercy! Here’s what the apostle wrote:

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

. . .

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7, 12-28)

There is so much wrong with what that man (the Iranian filmmaker) is saying that it boggles the mind. But I’m not raising a voice of protest. No, I’m raising a cry of mercy. I’m crying out to the Lord for the poor souls who will see this film an accept it as truth. There is only one Gospel and there can be no other versions of it warned the apostle. Those who publish alternative Gospels are, according to the apostle, anathema; condemned.

Only the death of Jesus Messiah provides sufficient atonement for the sins of this world’s inhabitants. If Jesus has not been crucified, he is not the Messiah. And if He is not the Messiah, the Son of God, then we are without hope–that is, the entire world from the beginning until the end. What a sad, sad story this is. I pray this film will be a failure. I pray it will be rejected. I pray it will be destroyed before it is ever shown to anyone. I pray for the Muslims who think that their system of works righteousness is superior to the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

PS–The article mentions something called ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ For more information in this ‘Gospel’ (and why it is not a Gospel) click here. The article concludes:

The Gospel of Barnabas is not an authentic Gospel of Jesus. The author does not understand the language, history or geography of the 1st century A.D., and there is no ancient evidence for the book. The internal evidence of the book suggests it was written in the 14th century and there are Muslim scholars who agree with this dating. The book is a rewrite of the Biblical Gospel most likely by a Muslim who wanted to portray Jesus as a Muslim who taught Islam and predicted the coming of Muhammad. This type of rewriting has been done elsewhere by Muslims in the Gospel According to Islam. This type of behaviour is disgraceful, and it is disgraceful for Muslims to continue to publish, promote and distribute this false Scripture.

Friends,

Here’s a fun story. Not only are there strippers for Jesus, but now they are making a movie about them. Here’s a glimpse:

The documentary, “The Pussycat Preacher,” which was released Friday, follows ex-stripper Heather Veitch as she struggles to start a ministry for women in the sex industry. The film chronicles the formation of the ministry JC (Jesus Christ)’s Girls – from Veitch gaining acceptance from other women at her church to bringing a few women from church to minister at strip clubs.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the ministry is its method of evangelizing those in the sex industry.

Veitch and her team, mostly women from her church, go to strip clubs and hire strippers for private lap dances. But instead of getting a dance, they use the time to talk to the strippers about God. They also invite the strippers, without pressuring them, to go to church and “check it out.”

You know, I’m glad someone is going into these places and attempting to make disciples. I know there are people in strips clubs who need to hear the Gospel, I know they are not going to come to church on Sundays, I know that I cannot go to them, but here’s a woman who can! I’m sure a lot of people will be hateful towards this woman for doing what she’s doing, but I say that as long as Christ Jesus is being preached she should be encouraged with our prayers and we should praise God that He has raised her up to do this. I do pray that Christ is exalted in her life and the lives of those she ministers to in His Name.

Would that more people had such courage, you know, the courage to reach the truly lost who are still living under the dominion of darkness. Would…

jerry

PS–Here’s the link to her site: JC’s Girls

PPS–This is a sex story that the church can legitimately talk about on Sundays. People being rescued from a life of sexual slavery is much better than so-called challenges that have been written about here and elsewhere.

Friends,

Well, I have been amped up about the new Knight Rider series debuting on NBC tonight. So, I settled into my recliner, all distractions put away, ready to watch. 5 minutes into the show were introduced to a lesbian character and a naked blonde girl in her bed.

So much for the new Knight Rider series.

I just cannot believe it. I simply cannot believe a great series, with so much potential, has been ruined so quickly. 5 minutes into the show. Television sucks. Can’t even watch Knight Rider without there being some form of sexual stupidity involved. I just cannot believe it.

So much for the new Knight Rider series. Here’s to hoping it fails miserably.

jerry