Do As I Say and Not As I Do: The Tragedy of the James White Interfaith Dialogue and the Pragmatic Defense Offered by Phil Johnson

The current firestorm related to James White’s decision to facilitate an interfaith dialogue with Imam Yasir Qahdi is puzzling in the least and has become a stumbling block for many who do not understand how White cannot understand that he is “dancing with the devil” as the saying goes.  Mr. White’s response to those critical of his decision has been the polar opposite of remorse and he has in fact dug his heels in and maintained that his actions were right and consistent with what Christians should be doing. Is that true? What bridges can be built to people who teach that Christians who do not submit or convert to Islam should be murdered? What madness is this that has gripped Christians today such that they believe the lie that building bridges to nowhere constitute evangelism? I won’t rehash all of Mr. White’s actions related to this in detail. You can read about that here – http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/facts-reveal-james-white-islamic-dupe-clueless-evangelicals-are-desperate-save-his

What I wish to address is the support Mr. White has received. Surprisingly a couple of people with very different perspectives, one might say two people with theological beliefs very much at odds with one another, have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. White’s error. I am speaking of Phil Johnson and Michael Brown. This has added a layer of intrigue to the entire situation but has also served to obfuscate the truth of what critics of White’s decision to promote an interfaith dialogue have been saying. By engaging in what appear to be damage control activities on behalf of Mr. White, Johnson seems to have exposed himself as a hypocrite of the highest order. You can be the judge of whether or not that is true based on the information contained in this article. His previous statements seem to be completely contradictory to his stated position concerning James White’s ecumenicalism, or to use the new and improved phrase, interfaith dialogue.

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Christian Carnival December 2013

Christian Carnival Lion

It is my pleasure to host the December 2013 edition of the Christian Carnival. In this post you will find a collection of articles from many different authors with one thing in common – a desire to see Jesus Christ magnified in every aspect of living. I hope you enjoy the breadth and depth of the Christian faith expressed in what you find and are encouraged in your faith walk by being introduced to new voices in the Christian community.

APOLOGETICS

J. Warner Wallace (pleaseconvinceme.com) provides a good summary and foundation for discussing the need for apologetic training within the church in his article, “Reaching Those Who Are Disinterested.”

Greg West (The Poached Egg) writes about the need for Christian apologists to be “community-minded” concerning mission and focus in “Stepping Up To The Plate: The Call For Community Apologists.”

Tom Gilson hosts a blog site that addresses the Peter Boghossian flavor of “new atheism” – On “Creating Atheists”

BIBLE STUDY

Tim Burns provides us a study in Mark 6 entitled “No Faith No Hope,’ on his Preach the Word blog.

BOOK REVIEWS

Terrell Clemmons takes a look at junk science applied and global warming in her review of Chicken Little Redux.

Jennifer Vaughn Estrada reviews “Why It Doesn’t Matter What You Believe If It’s Not True” on The Chic of Domesticity

My review of Robby Gallaty’s book, “Growing Up: How To Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples.”

CHRISTIAN LIFE INTERSECTING WITH CULTURE

I admit I made this category up “on the fly” but I did so in order to post this link to Leslie Keeney’s blog Ruthless Reading and especially to her post Ruthless Reading: Inerrancy, Black Friday, and Bruce Springsteen. I’m convinced you’ll find something of interest there.

What do you think about the so-called “Christian Hip Hop” music genre?  Read what some are saying in this engaging dialogue – Debatable: Is Christian Hip Hop Ungodly?

Just in time for Christmas – the annual debate about the value of the Christmas story, indeed Christianity, in a scientific age. John Lennox provides the answer: The Magic of Christmas

DEVOTIONS

Ridge Burn’s reminds us to marvel at and take pleasure in the mystery of God in his post Mystery.

Ruth Povey reminds us that we are who God says we are in A Letter to Fill You In.

MUSIC

Hannah Beck is a dynamic young singer and songwriter with a depth of Christian faith uncommon among one so young.  She led worship at a recent women’s conference my fellowship hosted and the ladies were very simply “blown away” by the Lord’s use of Hannah and her music. Check her music ministry out here – Hannah Beck Music

THEOLOGY

Josh Turansky responds to John MacArthur’s recent conference in The Strange Fire Conference and Calvary Chapel

CONTACT US

For more information about the Christian Carnival blog group visit Christian Carnival. If you would like to submit a post for consideration you may do so here – Christian Carnival Submission Form.

IRS Surrenders: Time for Churches to Get ‘Political’ by Matt Barber

The jig is up. The news is out. Pastors across America have called the left’s bluff. The empty words “separation of church and state” – a phrase found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution – have lost their sting.

Yes, “separation” still applies, but only insofar as it requires the state to remain separate from the church. That is to say, that government not interfere with the free exercise of either speech or religion.

For decades, hard-left anti-theist groups like the ACLU, People for the American Way (PFAW) and Barry Lynn’s Americans United (AU) have employed a cynical disinformation scheme intended to intimidate clergy into silence on issues of morality, culture and Christian civic involvement – issues that are not political so much as they have been politicized, issues that are inherently “religious.”

AU, for instance, recently sent 60,000 letters to churches across the nation warning pastors, priests and rabbis that “If the IRS determines that your house of worship has engaged in unlawful intervention, it can revoke the institution’s tax-exempt status.”

That’s a lie.

Despite hundreds of thousands of threatening letters sent by these liberal outfits (and as many complaints filed with the IRS) not a single church has ever lost tax-exemption for socio-political activity – zip, zero, nada. Not even for endorsing candidates from the pulpit. The left has cried wolf far too many times. No one will come running. Especially not the IRS.

That’s because churches, unlike other nonprofit organizations, don’t need a letter of tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service. Churches are constitutionally tax-exempt simply by virtue of existence. It’s automatic. The only way the IRS could revoke a church’s tax-exempt status would be to disband the church, which, obviously, the government has no authority to do. It’s simple. Pastors, if you get a letter from the ACLU, PFAW or AU, I suggest a singular use for it: bird-cage liner.

Keeping all this in mind, something I’ve long expected has finally occurred. A little over a week ago, the IRS ran up the white flag. That bureaucratic bully we all love to hate announced that, for the indefinite future, it is “holding any potential church audits in abeyance,” for violating its arbitrary “no politicking” rule.

This rule stems from the blatantly unconstitutional “Johnson Amendment,” which, in 1954, was introduced by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time, Johnson was facing opposition from Christians and anti-Communists. He pushed the rule through in an effort to muzzle them.

Unfortunately, his scheme has achieved much success. That is, until now. I suspect the realization that it lacks constitutional authority to yank any church’s tax exemption for “politicking” has prompted the IRS to finally lay down its arms.

But there’s a back story. Since 2008, the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has spearheaded a First Amendment exercise called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Since then, thousands of pastors across America have boldly exercised their guaranteed constitutional rights by addressing “political” issues from the pulpit. This has included directly endorsing candidates. These pastors have dared the IRS to come after them and, not surprisingly, the IRS has balked.

Essentially, the goal was twofold. First, it was hoped that if the IRS tried, somehow, to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status, that church could sue and, once and for all, have the Johnson Amendment ruled unconstitutional.

The second possibility was that, rather than having the “no politicking” rule completely thrown out, the IRS would choose, instead, the path of least resistance – that it would simply do nothing. It has chosen door No. 2. Not only has the IRS done nothing, it has, at least for now, completely thrown in the towel.

The next step is to repeal the toothless Johnson Amendment. This will do away with any residual confusion. A Republican-led Congress and a President Romney could do just that.

Indeed, the staggering gravity of Tuesday’s election has weighed heavily on the hearts of spiritual leaders who, hitherto, have remained completely apolitical. Obama’s unprecedented attacks on life, freedom, faith and family have prompted the Rev. Billy Graham, for instance, to run full-page advertisements in newspapers across the country, urging voters to choose candidates who support biblical values of life, natural marriage, and religious liberty.

People are taking notice.

“This is unprecedented for the world’s best-known evangelist,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Billy Graham has always steered clear of politics. In reality, Billy Graham has merely raised his prophetic voice like any preacher should when biblical and moral values are placed in jeopardy by politicians.”

John MacArthur, a well-known pastor and author who, over the years, has spoken out against Christian political advocacy, has also had a dramatic change of heart. “I was amazed that one of the historic parties in the U.S. adopted the sins of Romans 1 as their platform,” MacArthur said of the DNC in a recent Sunday morning sermon. “This is a new day in our country. Parties that used to differ on economics, now differ dramatically on issues that invade the realm of God’s law and morality.”

”I am beginning to see more and more pastors waking up and realizing that biblical and moral issues are under attack and they have no choice but to speak,” noted Staver. “This isn’t politics; it is biblical and moral issues that have been politicized.”

In 1980, Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, along with other venerable Christian leaders, was central to placing Ronald Reagan in the White House. Today’s socio-political stage is strikingly similar. Pastors are poised to do the same thing for Mitt Romney.

At the time, Falwell gave a rousing call to arms: “What is wrong in America today?” he asked. “We preachers – and there are 340,000 of us who pastor churches – we hold the nation in our hand. And I say this to every preacher: We are going to stand accountable before God if we do not stand up and be counted.”

Pastors, stand up and be counted. The IRS muzzle has been removed. The choice is clear.

You know what to do.

Now go and do it.