Defining Deception is the Burden of Every Christian

Defining Deception is the Burden of Every Christian

Defining Deception is an Amazon $1 Best Seller and a timely book that I am proud to be a part of, but that does not mean it was an easy book to support. Every Christian is called to root out deception from the church, but the conflict that inevitably comes between believers is a burden. The hope of Defining Deception is to ensure biblical integrity and preserve the unity we have in the Holy Spirit; however, when power is challenged and wealth endangered, people will not easily accept the humility and sacrifice that comes with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Below is my forward to the book, Defining Deception, and I pray it helps those trapped in deception find freedom in the Bible.

Editor’s Preface

I was born with a nystagmus, a neurological condition which mani­fests itself in uncontrolled movements of my eyes and results in a lack of depth perception and blurry vision. Growing up with a visual impair­ment made me the object of a lot of ridicule and sometimes cruel pranks. Not knowing how much it bothered me, even my friends would some­times tease me. I often felt hurt and isolated. One day I was home alone from school and the 700 Club came on the TV with Pat Robertson of­fering healing to his listeners. I remember thinking, “This is what I need. If only this preacher will call out my name and my illness, then I know God will heal me.” Robertson never called my name, so I dialed the 800 number to ask for healing. I could not make a donation to the ministry, but maybe they would pray for me anyway. Here I was, maybe 10 or 11 years old, hoping that I would be blessed enough to get one of those promised healings. In tears, I hung up the phone. My eyes were not healed. I blamed myself, “God, I promise I won’t sin anymore if you just heal my eyes!” I was devastated and was left with the nagging questions. “God, why don’t you love me enough to heal me? Why is my faith not good enough?”

Fast forward more than a decade to my seminary years at Oral Rob­erts University (ORU). My very first week on campus a woman ap­proached me in the parking lot and asked, “Why do you wear glasses? Don’t you have enough faith to be healed?” While a few less-than kind retorts came to mind, I had grown strong enough in my faith to resist speaking in anger. Her words did not wound me, but I did see—for the first time—how many others were being hurt. Just like that little boy left asking, “God, why is my faith not good enough?” I saw that there were thousands of people left alone with no balm for their tears of self-disdain.

As my seminary education advanced, I saw first-hand the devasta­tion left in the wake of the mystical-miracle prosperity-gospel leaders like Benny Hinn, Oral and Richard Roberts, Joyce Meyer, Carlton Pearson, Paula White, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Marilyn Hickey. These, and many more, came to ORU promising a miracle to anyone who had enough faith or the ability to sow a financial seed into their ministry. I saw all the hurting people behind the curtain who were not helped and subsequently dismissed as people of small faith. My education at the hands of some of the leading Pentecostal/Charismatic scholars in the world helped me discover the hollow word-of-faith theology behind the devastation. Given my own background and education, I am enthusias­tic to serve as the editor for this work by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood because together they offer enriching insight and hope for those invested in this bankrupt theology.

As a kid along for the ride in his childhood years, then as an adult employee, Costi has traveled the world with his Uncle Benny Hinn and seen first-hand the exploitation of thousands with the false gospel of heal­ing and prosperity. Later, Costi was transformed by the power of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and saw the theological errors he’d been ad­hering to. After his conversion, Costi was encouraged to pursue a Master of Divinity degree that enabled him to grow in his faith. At that time of spiritual maturation, Costi found a deep love for Christian history along with the orthodox teachings that have kept the church on course for two-thousand years. Recognizing his own sordid past in promoting the mys­tery-miracle movement, Costi reached out to family members and begged them to stop preaching the prosperity gospel and guaranteeing health and wealth in this life. He pleaded with many to turn to the Scrip­tures on all matters. He also reached out to close family members who partnered with movements like Bethel, Jesus Culture, and the New Ap­ostolic Reformation preachers like Bill Johnson and Todd White. Costi cared about the truth and the spiritual well-being of his family and wanted to see them freed from those oppressive bonds.

Anthony has dedicated many years to his theological training and is pursuing his doctorate at Gateway Seminary. To match his education, Anthony has ministered with young adults in America and Asia since 2002. He founded a weekly ministry that reached more than 2,000 col­lege students in 2007, he continues to speak at national conferences, and joined with Costi in the early years of a church plant in 2012. They’ve served together at Mission Bible Church of Tustin, CA ever since.

Anthony’s awareness of the modern mystical-miracle movement be­gan during his time serving college students who regularly approached him with a message they “heard from the Lord.” In early 2012 a youth musician attempted to counsel Anthony on Bill Johnson’s doctrine of apostolic succession, suggesting that their church “needed an apostle.” But it wasn’t until 2014 that Anthony began writing extensively against Bethel’s errors, and this only after a valued church member described immense confusion due to Bethel’s media podcasts and music. At this point it became clear to Anthony that false teachers were, in fact, using global media to target the core of local churches. After working with thousands of young adults bridging two continents, Anthony knows firsthand the destruction that results from those who rely upon subjec­tive experience as the barometer of truth. In accordance with Titus 1:11, he believes that these false teachers must be held to account.

The heart of both Costi and Anthony is to help those caught in deception discover that they are not alone. There is a real power in sal­vation and a real hope in Jesus Christ that far outweighs the temporal prosperity they have been promised. It is my own prayer that everyone who reads this book will come away with a new-found hope in the Gos­pel of Jesus Christ that does not impute shame, but instead frees us from the shackles of these mystical-miracle movements.

 

[BOOK REVIEW] Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality

[BOOK REVIEW] Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality

Nancy Pearcey (Director, Center for Christian Worldview, Scholar-in-Residence, and Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University) in her newest book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, continues to set herself apart as a high level scholar able to convey complex issues with simple clarity understandable to the average reader. This book, along with her other fine works, deals with some deeply controversial issues facing Christians in their daily life. The strength of her work is that Pearcey is able to move the reader beyond the overly simplistic moral “do’s and don’ts” and ground her arguments in a deeper worldview that equips readers to apply her ides to a broad spectrum of social issues not covered in the book itself. Pearcey writes:

We live in a moral wasteland where human beings are desperately seeking answers to hard questions about life and sexuality. But there is hope. In the wasteland we can cultivate a garden. We can discover a reality-based morality that expresses a positive, life-affirming view of the human person— one that is more inspiring, more appealing, and more liberating than the secular worldview (16).

Pearcey’s use of Schaeffer’s Upper and Lower story paradigm resonates with my own study over the years. She smartly discerns the problem for all those who have adopted the dualistic ethic common in our world—even amongst Christians:

The problem is that many people treat morality as a list of rules. But in reality, every moral system rests on a worldview. In every decision we make, we are not just deciding what we want to do. We are expressing our view of the purpose of human life (11).

I give Pearcey’s book 5 Starts and encourage every Christian wanting to understand what is at stake in our discussions of transgenderism, gender identity, and human dignity to pick up a copy. The book will definitely join my list of recommend reading for my future coursework on ethics because Pearcey addresses some important issues that some older books on ethics do not. Pearcey’s overall philosophical approach in Love Thy Body may just force me to make it required reading for an upcoming course.

[BOOK REVIEW] Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration

[BOOK REVIEW] Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration

Copan, Paul and William Lane Craig. Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration. Logos ed. Leicester, England Grand Rapids, MI: Apollos; Baker Academic, 2004.

In this book, Copan and Craig bring to bear the most recent biblical scholarship, philosophy and scientific foundation for understanding what Genesis 1 teaches about creation. This view provides a counterpoint to the tradition of thinkers like Schleiermacher who argued for a detemproalized creation which has no connection to philosophy or science, but is only concerned with religious experience. Specifically, Copan and Craig endeavor to give reason to accept the idea that the God of the Hebrew scripture created the material world from nothing. This book is broken down into eight chapters. Chapters 1 through three provide the biblical and extrabiblical witness to creation ex nihilo, chapters 4 through 6 give a philosophical underpinning for the book’s thesis, and the final chapters 7 and 8 provide the scientific and naturalistic evidence for the thesis.

Chapter 1 makes the case that creation ex nihilo is the best interpretation of the teachings of the Old Testament. The chapter offers three lines of reasoning. First, the cosmology of Genesis is distinct from other Ancient Near Eastern mythology in its assertion of both monotheism and a contingent creation distinct from the creator. Second, the Hebrew word for creation, bārāʾ reinforces the cosmological idea that God created purely from his word and not from any existing material reality. Third, in a two-stage process, the Hebrew God created all matter and then organized it into the universe.

Chapter 2 surveys key passages from John 1:3, Romans 4:17, Hebrews 11:3 and a series of other verse that reinforce the Old Testament concept of creation ex nihilo. These NT verses, according to Copan and Craig, mirror the explicit teaching of the Old Testament of a God who is both distinct from all he created and whose creation remains contingent on his being. One key argument is that “Either creatio ex nihilo is true, or God is not all-powerful. But God is truly all-powerful” therefore, creation ex nihilo is an indirect, yet clear, teaching of the NT.[1]

Chapter 3 provides insight from other non-biblical literature that supports the Hebraic concept of creation ex nihilo. The three main sources for the study are the Apocrypha, later Jewish sources such as Josephus, Philo, Gamaliel II, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Medieval Jewish exegetes and the Church Fathers. These early sources reinforce the Hebrew cosmological worldview that God is the uncreated beginning for all matter. These sources, including the Church Fathers, confirm that the biblical doctrine of ex nihilo makes the most sense of the biblical teachings of God’s sovereignty, freedom, eternality, and necessity.

Chapters 4, 5 and 6 provide a deeper philosophic understanding and foundation for creation ex nihilo. The Scripture makes a distinction between the concepts of God as creator and conserver which many scholars and philosophers tend to conflate. God as creator and patient preserver implies an A-theory of time and objective temporal becoming. Competing solutions to the problem of divine aseity are argued among Platonists and anti-Platonists. Copan and Craig concede they do not have an authoritative answer for theists looking to explain abstract objects but posit the most promising solution lies in a nominalist or conceptualist account. Considering there are a variety of plausible solutions, there is a valid reason to accept the concept of ex nihilo. Philosophic support for an uncreated creator and a created universe are supported two basic arguments:[2]

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.

And the second syllogism is similarly argued:[3]

  1. The series of events in time is a collection formed by successive addition.
  2. A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.
  3. Therefore, the series of events in time cannot be actually infinite.

Both arguments form the logical foundation for belief in the aseity of God and creation ex nihilo.

The final two chapters 7 and 8 provide a scientific foundation for accepting creation ex nihilo. Here the authors argue that standard Big Bang cosmology of an expanding universe and the principles of thermodynamics demonstrates the universe must have a beginning. Therefore, the theistic assertion of creation from nothing by an uncreated creator cannot be contradicted by the best empirical evidence. The authors finally address three arguments against creation ex nihilo; a self-created universe, supernaturalistic and naturalistic alternatives. The authors conclude that these theories are not as straightforward as the ones posited in previous chapters nor are they supported by the best scientific evidence. Therefore, creation ex nihilo is the most plausible biblical, philosophic, and scientific answer to the cosmos.

I give Copan and Craig’s book Creation out of Nothing: book 5 stars for anyone interested in discovering the biblical, scientific and philosophic foundations for creatio ex nihilo.

BUY IT NOW


Footnotes

[1] Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration, Logos ed. (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Apollos; Baker Academic, 2004), 91.

[2] Ibid., 200.

[3] Ibid., 211.

First Amazon Review for #EldersLead

First Amazon Review for #EldersLead

My newest book, Elders Lead a Healthy Family,  is now out on Amazon.com and here is the first review:

Dr. J. R. Miller has written a book that directly challenges an average American evangelical status quo: the supposed office of pastor. In Elders Lead a Healthy Family, the popular “CEO” church-leadership model is directly, yet respectfully, critiqued and contrasted with a shared elder-leadership structure more faithful to New Testament ecclesiology. No more “senior pastors,” “associate pastors,” and the like, for church polity—a model that more closely resembles Western corporate business structures than the plurality of elders portrayed in Acts and Paul’s pastoral epistles. Rather, Jesus alone is the “Senior Pastor” (1 Peter 5:4), and all those serving as leaders in the church are His equal under-shepherds. With this in mind, Miller promotes a structure where the local church resembles a family fellowship rather than assuming a leadership model with one man on top followed by lower-tiered clergy (which effectively returns us to the pre-Reformation clergy / laity divide). Far from being a free-flowing, leader-less frenzy, however, the author takes us back to how the NT defines and describes the office of elder, and a plurality of elders–who serve more as “big brothers” than a special class of ordained clergy.

Because Dr. Miller actually practices what he preaches—a shared leadership model with a plurality of elders all bearing the burden (…even the weekly preaching!)—I cannot recommend this book enough. Here is a true practitioner of elder-led churches with a wealth of pastoral and academic experience that only adds undoubted credentials to the book. And, for those interested in the perspective of a real-life working “elder’s wife” (contra. “pastor’s wife”), Dr. Miller’s wife, Suzanne, adds a priceless chapter of her own which is itself worth the price of the book. Rather than merely talking about “shared leadership” or a “plurality of elders,” which are common buzz-words with today’s non-denominational pastoral teams, Dr. Miller’s Elders Lead a Healthy Family actually outline’s what it looks like–and how the church functions better by it to the glory of her Chief Shepherd.

The Hidden Codes of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

The Hidden Codes of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

The topic of secret codes hidden in the Bible has been around for centuries, but came to a head in 1998 with the publication of Dan Brown’s book. Now, almost 20 years later folks are still wondering about those secret “bible codes.”  Since this topic remains alive, I am reposting this response on a previous blog for everyone to consider.

In terms of Mathematics, I think “bible codes” are a bunch of bunk; theologically, they are silly; biblically, they are condemned as numerology. It’s fair to say that I have developed a fairly strong opinion on them because I have seen them as a source of deception to God’s people.

But honestly it is not even worth my time to do a serious review of this silliness. The best way to illustrate how dumb the “bible codes” are, is to show you how the same methodology of discovering “hidden codes” can be done with the book Moby Dick.

I am quoting below only a small excerpt from one of my favorite sites on this topic. They do a great job of finding the “hidden” codes you never knew were there.

A brief summary of the codes claims is that the Hebrew text of the Bible (especially of the Torah, the first five books) contain intentional coincidences of words or phrases that appear as letters with equal spacing.

The most serious claim of scientific evidence for the Codes was made by three Israelis: Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg (WRR). They claim that biographical information about medieval rabbis is “encoded” in the Hebrew text of Genesis. Specifically, the rabbis’ names and other appellations are claimed to be encoded closer to their dates of birth and death than should be expected by chance. WRR’s “experiment” appeared in the respectable journal Statistical Science in 1994.

We have performed many independent scientific tests of the Bible Codes claims. All of them failed to detect anything not easily explained by random chance. These experiments are not to be confused with the demonstrations of trickery that we have constructed in War and Peace.

All of those experiments, and all the other experiments we have conducted, failed to find any “codes” above chance levels.

Picture 1The book “The Bible Code” by Michael Drosnin has been the most successful mass-market book about the Torah Codes. Alas, all semblence of scientific method is missing, and all of the important codes proponents have disowned him. By repeated examples, we prove that Drosnin did not find anything that can’t be found in any book, even in English.

The center-piece of the book is a “prediction” of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The following challenge was made by Michael Drosnin:

When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I’ll believe them. (Newsweek, Jun 9, 1997)

Note that English with the vowels included is far less flexible than Hebrew when it comes to making letters into words. Nevertheless, without further ado, we present our answer to Mr Drosnin’s challenge.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

gandhi

The Reverend Martin Luther King

king
John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy was shot in the head by an assassin who quietly waited in a concealed place. It was in Texas, November 1963, during a presidential motorcade.

kennedy2 kennedy1 kennedy3

Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln was shot dead on April 14, 1865.

lincoln1

Yitzhak Rabin

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead on November 4, 1995. His assassin was Igal Amir, who fired three shots of which one hit Rabin fatally in the chest. Amir was a student at Bar-Ilan University, and associated with an underground group Eyal which modelled itself on a historical terrorist group called Lehi. Amir was angered by Rabin’s role in the “Peace Process” and especially by the Oslo accords.

rabin

Princess Dianna

Lady Diana, a member of the British royal family, died in a car accident together with her boyfriend Dodi and the driver Henri Paul. As the text says, she was at last mortal in these jaws of death.The site even goes on to compare Moby Dick and the Bible. Which book do you think reveals the hidden hand of God?

diana

Due to the fierce competition between Genesis and Moby Dick for the title of supreme source of codes, we thought we would ask each of these sources about the other.

As we expected, both agree that Moby Dick is the champion.

What Genesis says about Moby Dick

mdcodes

What Moby Dick says about the Bible

nocode1 nocode2

The second picture shows a clear admonition from The Great Moby that we should read the actual text of the Bible and not look for codes in it.

The above summary was adapted from several pages on the website for the “Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes” by Brendan McKay and Friends

You really must check out THE REST OF THEIR SITE. The above adaptation is only a very small portion of the real math behind their debunking of the otherwise popular “Bible Code” mythology.

This post is the best summary anyone can give of the books and people who try to manipulate the Bible. Please don’t be fooled any longer!

Bible Study Software Christmas Giveaway

Bible Study Software Christmas Giveaway

If you’re already familiar with Logos Bible Software, and you understand the value that Logos Cloud adds to your library, you are more than welcome to skip below to the Logos Cloud Christmas Giveaway.

As both a church planter and graduate professor I have the privilege of daily working with people from diverse backgrounds; each with a unique set of Bible study needs. Over the years, Logos Bible Software has helped all of these folks read, understand and apply the truth of Scripture to their unique context.

  • Are you a community group leader preparing study lessons each week or a pastor/elder preparing the next sermon?
  • What about a scholar or student who frequently has too many books to carry?
  • Or are you someone who’s simply passionate about God’s word?

If you’re like most, and your top priority is to better engage with the Word, then do yourself a favor and start your free month of Logos Cloud.

logos-cloud-essentials-lgWith Logos Cloud you have all of your favorite books on Christian living, comprehensive Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, and more in an easily searchable digital format. Logos Cloud does away with endless page turning and dead­end searching. While using Logos Cloud, you will discover exactly what you’re looking for every time.

Plus, Logos Cloud will never become old technology. Every six weeks you’ll get new updates, features, tools, and more. And every month new titles will be added to your library, so it grows with you. No matter where you are in your Bible study, Logos Cloud is here to help you find your way faster, engage with scripture easier, and experience unbelievably powerful Bible study every day. Simply put, Logos Cloud grows with you to meet your growing need.

Logos Cloud is on a mission to make Bible study better and more accessible to all, that’s why there aren’t any contracts or fees. You can cancel at any time. If aren’t using Logos Cloud yet, get started with a free month today. If you already own Logos on your desktop, then Logos Clouds integrates seamlessly into your existing software and adds to your Library.

Check out this Features page for more details.

Packages

Logos CLOUD comes in 4 packages, CLICK HERE to get a free month trial of the Essentials, PlusPremium or Professional package.

Giveaway: Enter to Win!

Enter below to win a FREE YEAR of Logos CLOUD Premium.

Win a Logos Cloud Premium Annual Subscription from Dr. Miller

p

Review Disclaimer

Dr. Miller was a former Logos Employee from 2010 through 2011. He was provided a free copy of the product for review purposes. Dr. Miller is also a published author with Logos Bible Software.

Pin It on Pinterest