Friday, March 27, 2009

Antimasonic junk part 2

A little item that can be found here. It is from Hank Hanegraaff speaking officially from his position as the head of CRI ministry. So, here we go again with the original being in bold:


Mysterious symbols. Secret rites. Hidden teachings. Is this an accurate portrayal of what Freemasonry is all about? Is Masonry really occultic?

With close to 34,000 lodges around the globe and a membership numbering upwards of 6 million, it is obvious why the Encyclopedia Britannica would dub Freemasonry as the largest world-wide secret society. But just because something is secret does not necessarily mean that it’s occultic. In fact, the majority of Freemasons contend that their organization has no occultic elements whatsoever. However, the deeper we dig into the recesses of Masonic teaching, the more reprehensible the picture becomes.

Christian author John Weldon lists five ways in which Freemasonry fosters occultic involvement among its members: First, Freemasonry supports the now-popular New Age dictum that man houses within himself unlimited power that can be unlocked using specific procedures. Second, Freemasonry espouses a philosophy and a system of symbols which bear a striking resemblance to many of the occultic arts — for example kabbalism, Rosicrucianism, and hermetic philosophy. Third, Freemasonry encourages its members to discover the deeper significance (or “esoteric truths”) lying beneath its ceremonies and symbols. Fourth, Freemasonry promotes the development of altered states of consciousness, an exercise rooted in mysticism. Finally, a number of Masons regard their organization as the vehicle that will lead the world into an age of occultic enlightenment.

Why are so many Masons unaware of this side of Freemasonry?,” one may well ask. The reason is that a large portion of Masons seldom strive to advance beyond the initial ranks or degrees offered within their organization. But as one progresses to higher degrees, more and more details about the underlying foundations of Masonic ideology are gradually revealed, including its occultic dimensions. It is therefore imperative that we warn others about the dangers brewing beneath the surface of the Masonic Lodge.

On Masonry and the occult, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.

Yet more chicken puckey. Same crappy sources that promote the usual lies, but let’s check on Hank’s five points:

1) Really, news to me, but it is interesting how antimasons have so penetrated the “secrets” of Freemasonry that they can always manage to teach something new to Masons about Masonry.

2) Striking or vague? Yes, some symbols are common, but then the cross itself has some pagan interpretations and this says what about the Christian interpretation?

3) News to me, as usual. This one can be considered as having a grain of truth though. There is some urging to think on the meaning of certain symbols, but the meanings are explained, not the attempted New Age link (it was Satanic in earlier decades). For example, the compasses (of Square & Compasses fame) are a symbol to remind Masons to circumscribe their actions and keep their passions within due bounds. Definitely not New Age meditations for esoteric meaning stuff.

4) News to me, really never heard of this.

5) Okay, some “number of Masons” believe this. Since all the secrets are open to the dedicated antimason (otherwise they couldn’t make their pronouncements with any authority), what number? Can it be stated as a percentage or raw number? Can we get an estimate closer than one to some millions? I doubt it, I'm familiar with this kind of argument, it comes from fundy athiests and other lightweights.

Of course, the usual ending of how sincere, devoted Christians, even theologians, ministers and Christian apologists, men of intellectual attainment and spiritual discernment stay members of Freemasonry. How can this be? AHA! They are too stupid and/or ignorant to notice this “problem” with Masonry, even though they are objectively far better qualified than the antiMason is to discern these issues. Oh yeah, if the Mason doesn’t accept this without question, then he just hasn’t “gone far enough” in the degree system. That’s it, case closed. So my question would be: Is it any wonder that the Church today finds itself confused, disoriented and riddled with heresy and heretical teachings?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stumbling Blocks

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Romans 14:13)

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (Romans 14:15) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:20-21)

The entire chapter of Romans 14 is in view here for context, as well as other portions of Scripture (like 1 Corinthians 8). Romans 14 stands up here because it directly discusses the issues between "strong" and "weak" Christians. I've heard Romans 14 referred to more than once as the "law about doubtful things" since it concerns practices and/or beliefs among Christians that are not salvation issues and not otherwise addressed in Scripture.

The first point is that such things are to be left to Christian charity (love) since they do not touch on salvation, God will judge (verses 4 & 12). The second is that the "strong" are not to rub the noses of the "weak" into it (verses 3 & 10). The third is that the "weak" are not to judge the "strong". (verses 3 & 10).

The first point is fairly straightforward, since one of the things that make something doubtful is that there is no direct evidence of bad "fruit" from practice/belief. To determine otherwise and declare it to be something other than doubtful puts the one who declares it in the position of usurping something God Himself has claimed and expressly denied mankind, namely the ability to read the heart of the person.

The second point is so that people new or weak in their faith not be driven away or forced to do things that their conscience does not permit them to do. If you want to give up something for Lent, go right ahead. I'm not going to be one to tell you that you are just practicing papist traditions. If you feel led to it and are doing it through faith as a memorial, then the blessing you reap will be yours.

The third point serves the same point as the second, since both are to prevent the "strong" and the "weak" from tyrannizing the other and forcing them to act against their consciences. In this case, the "weak" cannot simply wave the "stumblingblock banner" and make the "strong" (for the sake of "unity", of course) conform to the "weak" brethren's practices/beliefs.

Misinterpretation of this subject is one of the largest problems in modern churches, where for the sake of "unity" the second point is emphasized and the third point is ignored. Known as reducing to the lowest common denominator, it stifles the growth of Christians and makes for the "seeker friendly" movement which perverts the Gospel in favor of turning churches into clubs where "felt needs" can be "met" without the "nasty bits" of Scripture. Even in church bodies that haven't turned down that road, you can still find the "politically correct" view that one must never give offense! Excuse me?! Just because someone is offended, we shouldn't mention or "promote" (a buzzword for suppress in many cases) practice X? When we have a Message that is an offense to the wisdom of the world? See how it starts?

I'm going to digress a bit here, because those that know me who might be reading this could get the impression that I consider myself one of the "strong" and not one of the "weak". In some things, I do consider myself "strong" (although I've had that opinion changed before as I've gained more understanding) and in others I know myself to definitely be "weak".

For example, reading Scripture and praying should be (and often are) a joy and pleasure. At times though, they seem to be a burden and not worth doing. So I opt out to a "weak" position of simply doing them by rote, because God says to. Why do I do something that could be considered legalistic or Pharisaical (observing the form without regard to the Spirit)? Because experience has shown me that in these cases, if I wait until the mood strikes, it is a long time in coming and I still feel unfulfilled, but when I follow what God says to do, the joy returns much faster and I learn much more.

Now we can move on to the crux of the matter. When does something that is doubtful become something that makes my brother stumble and therefore something I should refrain from doing?

Here we must discern what the issue is. What is its source? How good are the facts backing the issue up? If the issue is offensive because of pronouncements by people, writings or simply something heard (gossip), then we can evaluate. If the claims of doubtfulness on an issue are based on lies, then just because some Christian claims this issue to be a stumbling block for them, should it be considered so? If something is thought to be un- or anti-Christian because of these lies, can stumbling block status be claimed for it? Should we, as Christians, give into a lie in the interests of "unity"? Does the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ need to be "defended" by a lie? Does the Church of Jesus Christ need to be kept "pure" by a lie?

I don't think so. A lie has nothing of the Truth in it and so is contrary to Christianity (1 John 2:21). In fact, following a lie and a liar has been spoken against directly: Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:41-47)

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:14-15)

Should we, as Christians, when we find a situation like this based on a lie give in to the "offended" ones in a congregation or point out the lie?

If we do give into the lie for the sake of the "offended" ones who are in ignorance of the truth instead of educating them in the truth (perhaps because it is easy that way), then do we put a block in front of the brother who is the one who has the "offensive" issue?

I know, some will say "just go find another church", but I'm one who doesn't believe in that kind of "buffet Christianity". Most especially when I know that the place that I am at is the place where He wants me to be.

Antimasonic junk part 1

This appears to have been lifted from some Presbyterian group report in 1942, but the antimasonic website I originally got it from had no citation for where it came from. Points from the document are made in bold.

Some opening points:

1) Even though well written, this document fails utterly to consider the basic fact that what any Mason says about Masonry is simply that Mason’s opinion when he writes in areas outside of the landmarks and basics of Freemasonry. This is most especially true when speaking of "mystical" areas.

2) As a Mason, I find it sad that despite the claims of writers such as these to be godly and impartial, I can usually immediately or with a trivial amount of research spot omissions and glossing over of portions of rituals and Masonic books that make points like these obviously self-refuting. It gives the appearance that the writers are ignorant at best and liars at worst.

3) The scholarship of the antimason rivals the scholarship of pop antiChristian writers. If one agrees with the level of scholarship in The Da Vinci Code, then this is no problem. Change contexts and redefining terms into something other than their original meaning is not honest scholarship.

Masonry also lays claim to universalism, but its universalism differs radically from that of Christianity in that it denies Christian particularism and exclusivism.

No, it does not deny it, it simply does not address it. Masonry acknowledges the Creator (“Grand/Great Architect of the Universe” or GAOTU) as He reveals Himself in nature. From the Christian perspective this would be a preChristian belief not something in “competition”. It is simply why every man is not excused because creation itself declares the Creator.

Christianity claims to have the only true book, the Bible. Masonry places this book on a par with the sacred books of other religions.

Correct since Masonry does not elevate itself to make those kinds of distinctions since it is not a religion in and of itself. This is a category error since Freemasonry specifically does NOT choose to operate at that level organizationally, but leaves such determinations to the individual Mason.

Christianity lays claim to the only true God, the God of the Bible, and denounces all other Gods as idols. Masonry recognizes the Gods of all religions.

No, it only recognizes the Creator and leaves the rest of the “details” to the individual Mason. Again, this goes beyond the scope of Freemasonry to judge.

Christianity describes God as the Father of Jesus Christ and of those who through faith in Him have received the right to be called the sons of God. The God of Masonry is the universal father of all mankind.

As Christ, the last Adam, died for all men (although not all will receive His sacrifice), so all men are descended from the first Adam and are made in the image of God. To deny this would be to repeat the error of Cain when he asked if he was his brother’s keeper. I addressed the other issue with this kind of comment here. Simply put, God is my Father and all Christians are to be my brothers, but what do I call the man who provided the genetic material to make me? (IOW, "fathered" me.) What do I call fellow veterans from the military? What do I call my male siblings? Am I damned to hell and a questionable Christian because I call my male siblings "brother" and the man responsible for half of my DNA "father"?

Christianity holds that only the worship of the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture is true worship. Masonry honors as true worship the worship of numerous other deities.

Again confusion about where Freemasonry draws the line. Masonry, as an organization, does not make this distinction, but leaves it to the individual Mason. It seems a definition error also. Any man can truly worship anything, but as to whether or not it is valid or simply praying to the dark is beyond the scope of what Freemasonry judges.

Christianity recognizes but one Saviour, Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. Masonry recognizes many saviours.

No. Same error again between organizational position and individual position.

Christianity acknowledges but one way of salvation, that of grace through faith. Masonry rejects this way and substitutes for it salvation by works and character.

No, Freemasonry has no plan of salvation, that is left to the individual Mason’s religion to outline. I’m mildly surprised by this continual “missing” of the point of James’ discussion of faith and works. Faith saves, but faith without works is empty. You do not do works to be saved (as a Christian), but a proof of your salvation is your works or fruits.

Christianity teaches the brotherhood of those who believe in Christ, the communion of saints, the church universal, the one body of Christ. Masonry teaches the brotherhood of Masons and the universal brotherhood of man.

Same error. Big difference between brotherhood in the body of Christ and the brotherhood of all humanity made in the image of God.

Christianity glories in being the one truly universal religion. Masonry would rob Christianity of this glory and appropriate it to itself.

No. Masonry stops at general revelation (that the creation reveals a Creator) and does not get into special revelation such as given in the Bible (or any other writings). This also appears to be forcing a particular definition on the phrase "universal religion", mainly for effect. Last I heard, Christianity considers itself to be the one true religion, but not to be the universal one. After all, I can point out a few people who might just disagree on that. They happen to not be Christians.

Christianity maintains that it is the only true religion. Masonry denies this claim and boasts of being Religion itself.

Freemasonry’s level of religion, including not being a religion, can be considered the one universal one knowable to all men regardless of knowledge of any other special revelation (see Romans 1:20). The most base pagan has access to this level of religious knowledge as well as the most holy Christian saint. What Christianity has is the special revelation given us in the Scriptures. Masonry does not judge that level.

What gets me, I have pointed out a number of things that appear to be either ignorance or lies in these points. So, if you are trying to make a case to me and the first things I read are false, what does that say about the rest of your "case"?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Defending the Gospel: Using Doctrine

Exposing false teachings, correcting understanding and refuting false accusations can be done using Biblical doctrine.

Stephen: Acts 6:8-7:60

Stephen is one of the first deacons and part of what he did was dispute with members of the synagogue of the Libertines (6:8-9). This is an interesting synagogue since the reference to Cilicia (where Tarsus was located) and his appearance later means that this was probably the synagogue Saul was a member of and overseen by the Gamaliel the Pharisee (see Acts 5:34-40), teacher of Paul (see Acts 22:3).

The key verse for this first part is verse 10: And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. There were two things mentioned, wisdom and Spirit. Spirit we know as Christians, but what is this wisdom? Since Spirit is already mentioned, it isn't the speaking of the Spirit, it must be something else.

After being refuted the Jews paid off people to be false witnesses while seizing and dragging Stephen before the council to be accused of blasphemy. When questioned, Stephen responded with the speech in Acts 7:2-53 in which he summarizes the way Jewish doctrine leads to Christ and how the Jews killed Him like they do all the prophets God sends. (see Luke 20:9-15). Stephen handily refuted not only the original Jews but the council itself. The result?

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. (Act 7:54)

Then the Jews martyred Stephen for having a vision of the glorified Christ which the Jews rejected since they had already rejected Christ.

So, the source of the wisdom of Stephen? Yes, in the end it is God, but that would be excluded since the Spirit is also mentioned. So it is knowledge of Scripture and the Biblical doctrines contained in it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Being "attacked" by Satan

One often hears of a believer being "under attack" by Satan. It might be a family, group, church, city, country or denomination. Although it does happen (and I think more frequently than most know), I don't like the term or the claim in regards to a situation, at least as I normally hear it applied to anything other than perfectly smooth sailing in life. Why?

But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. (Mark 3:29-30)

Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10 have similar verses but I find this one the clearest, because it most clearly states that attributing the works of the Spirit to Satan is the unpardonable sin. Remember that God will also correct us and that it is a correction to be borne:

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. (Deuteronomy 8:5-6)

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
(Proverbs 3:11-12)

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Is the struggle you face now the Lord chastising you? Is it the Lord strengthening you for further duties down the road? Is it the Spirit working on you for your growth? If yes, then by claiming it as a "Satanic attack", you are skirting closely to blaspheming the Spirit at the very least.

Remember, this isn't to say that Satan isn't attacking you, but don't fall into the habit of blaming Satan for everything that happens to you.