This series outlines the history of liberal criticism in the church, it fallacious premises and anti-semitic motivating forces, and then proposes some solutions as to how it can be refuted soundly and systematically rooted out of the popular culture.
How liberal academic criticism of the New Testament was co-opted by the anti-semitic 19th century German Higher Critics
All but vanquished in the early 20th century, liberal criticism has experienced a revival in the last 50 years on three fronts – among the intellectual academicians, among liberal “mainline” Protestant churches and in the popular media. The main tenets of liberalism – that Jesus was merely a man and not the Son of God risen from the dead in conquest over sin and death; that the received text of the Bible is unreliable and historically inaccurate; that the miraculous events of scripture did not really occur, but were merely stories told to embellish legendary events – are popular in small pockets of the church especially among British and European denominations and among the faculty of large secular universities with Divinity Schools.
In America, the conservative evangelical churches are far outpacing the growth of liberal denominations to the point where the mainline is no longer the “mainstream.” However, the viewpoints expressed in the books and articles of a liberal elite are given credence by the popular media over their conservative evangelical counterparts, even though the actual numbers of the liberal professors of religion are far fewer than the faculty at more numerous conservative Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
Most conservative Christians in America don’t understand exactly how liberalism within the church began and why its influence is still being felt. We tend to simply dismiss the liberals as skeptics and atheists, as wolves in sheep’s clothing, without giving them a hearing. However, when a group like the Jesus Seminar gets its press releases published far and wide, when books like The Da Vinci Code become runaway bestsellers with movie blockbusters and a myriad of television documentaries in tow, evangelicals chafe at the very suggestion that the biblical doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is not a settled issue among lettered churchmen. Even among those who claim to be conservatives, a “neo-orthodox” influence is felt in the form of a low view of the inerrancy of scripture.
The three greatest controversies in the church began early in its history. The Gnostic threat actually preceded Christianity. Gnosticism was actually a broad tendency in several eastern religions that had infected the Hellenistic Jews in the few centuries prior to Christ. Gnosticism in the church later gave way to Arianism and Pelagianism.
In his History of Redemption, Jonathan Edwards notes the irony that the Arian and Pelagian threats came only after several centuries of Jewish and Roman persecution had failed to quench the revival fire of the early church.
After the destruction of the heathen Roman Empire, Satan infested the church with heresies. Though there had been so glorious a work of God in delivering the church from her heathen persecutors, and overthrowing the heathen empire…. But the church soon began to be greatly infested with heresies; the two principal, and those which did most infest the church, were the Arian and Pelagian.
Indeed, the second century Church Father, Tertullian of Carthage, noted that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” It turned out that heresy within the church was its gravest threat. Gnosticism in its various forms — Mithraism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, etc. —was a threat to the church from the beginning because these mystery religions influenced nearly every world religion at the time including Judaism. However, the later “Christian” Gnostics did not deny the deity of Christ, but instead perverted the nature of the Godhead and the Incarnation by deemphasizing either the material or spiritual aspect of Jesus.
Likewise, Arianism was a heresy that denied a proper understanding of the Trinity, while Pelagianism compromised the Gospel by denying salvation by free grace. None of these heresies denied that Jesus was divine. Although there have been numerous atheist, pagan, Jewish and Muslim skeptics throughout history, the idea that Jesus was fully God and fully man was a settled issue among Christians long before the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D.
Even if we consider the Enlightenment thinkers, rationalists, Deists and free-thinkers of the 1600s and 1700s, who denied the deity of Christ, the attacks were from those rightly called “infidels” — those against the faith — rather than from churchmen who had become liberalized in their interpretation of scripture.
Then beginning in the early 1800s, a group of German theologians began to reexamine and deconstruct the history of the Old and New Covenant Church and along with it question the reliability, integrity and historicity of most of the Bible. Here was the first time in history that skeptics and doubters arose within the church. As Jonathan Edwards noted, it is as though the devil decided that attacks from without could not fail, so therefore he once again fought a battle from within.
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Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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