The Evangelical Herald
Commentaries on Religious Related News
June 19, 2002 -- Los Angeles Times -- (Column One News)
The Times is reporting that churches no longer preach on the doctrine of hell. This in itself is not so disturbing, what is disturbing is the thought that secular thinking influences what will be preached from the pulpit - as Martin Marty is quoted, "Once pop evangelism went into market analysis, hell was just dropped". Bruce Shelley is quoted, "Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding". It was shocking to know that "megachurches routinely pay for market research on what will draw people to their ministries and keep them coming back (emphasis added)". Seems like these churches are trying to satisfy the deep hunger of better parking spaces, having guitars at services, and having cars greased while in the services. It is a sad commentary of the state of the church and yet a sign of the prophetic times that the world system governs what is preached and taught by the church today. Apparently, political correctness and marketing strategies have replaced the preaching of the unadulterated word of God. (see "The Mega-church in God's Kingdom")
January 7, 2002 -- Christianity Today -- "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" by James A. Beverley
This article is very informative in addressing the different views that the media and Islam thinkers and analysts have projected to the general public on this very important question. It is apparent that the Qur'an advocates Jihad (holy war), but it seems that there is a difference of opinion among these thinkers as to what form or to what extend this war can be carried out. From an Evangelical Christian point of view, we must agree with Robert A. Morley as he is quoted in the article that "Islam" has a "false god, false prophet, and false book". By his example, the founder of Islam set the guidelines of a militant religion and I am sure that all fundamental Muslims identify and believe in Mohammed's example as an authoritative rule for their actions. But contrary to Morley's urging, we have not been called to physical war in a holy crusade. We must not propagate truth through the use of force as Mohammed advocated -- to do so, would identify us with having the same mentality as the apostate church that had replaced the authority of the Scriptures with their own self interest in promoting the "notorious Christian crusades". We have, however, been called to a spiritual war against all falsehood. We must see these religious issues, not from the perspective of political and religious analysts intend to better the world, but from the perspective of an eternal God who has said there is no other way to everlasting life but through Jesus. We must seize the opportunity to expose Islam for what it is and to testify of the real peaceable religion of Christ to all honest hearted Muslims that are seeking a relationship with the true God.
September 25, 2001 -- Los Angeles Times -- Editorial -- "Is God on Our Side? Or is He on Theirs?"
John J. Thatamanil (assistant professor of religious studies at Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss.) poses an interesting question in light of the terrorist attack on September 11th and of the general patriotic response to it. Thatamanil rightly observes that nations often recruit God to be on their side in any political or religious war. History has shown us this truth -- we especially remember that during World War II church leaders were blessing the war effort on both sides of the conflict. Thatamanil goes on to say, "The Bible does offer another vision of God -- a god who calls for justice but whose infinite love cares equally for the just and the unjust. This rhetorical tradition reminds us that God can not be made captive to political or national agendas. According to the Bible: 'You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ...'". In this hour of grief brought on by this act against humanity motivated by false religious fervor, we Christians must agree with Thatamanil, "In times of wrenching grief and anger, it is easy to forget that God's love calls us to check the instinctive furies released when those we cherish have been destroyed. It becomes too easy to bless our causes with unqualified divine approbation only to find ourselves made over in the likeness of those enemies who have injured us". To the question posed, we answer -- God does not take sides in political wars, he does; however take sides: love over hate, truth over error, goodness over evil, spirit over flesh, Christ over Satan. Yet, the battle is not physical (much less violent), but by His Spirit regenerating born-again believers unto His image until He has the final victory in the establishment of His Kingdom. (See "Love Triumphs Over Hate")
July 7, 2001 -- Los Angeles Times -- "Christian Product Sales Put at $4 Billion Plus"
Much to the delight of retail sellers of inspiration, devotions and entertainment; The Times reported that " trade industry officials say Christian product sales exceeded $4 billion in 2000". We wonder if Jesus would be happy that His message that was to be freely given has evolved to an industry based on profit and fame. (See "Cleansing the Temple")
June 8, 2001 -- Los Angeles Times
This news feature describes the worship style of a church in Rancho Cucamonga, California. It characterizes it as "not your grandma's church" in that worship includes video clips of popular movies, secular rock music and rave electronics. The church's pastor states that to reach the new generation, the church must attract young people with what they like. We wonder what would Jesus say about bringing pagan music and entertainment into His Church? The issue seems to be: Must the church become pagan in order to save the pagan? Although the object of all church activity is to save the lost, it is obvious that salvation is understood to bring them into a relationship of a holy God -- a holy God that does not change His attributes, character, and kingdom principles. To ascribe Satanic principles to a holy God, is to reject the Spirit of God for the sake of temporal growth in the church. Church worship styles should strive not "to create a rave excitement", but create a heavenly atmosphere of sanctity, love and humility. (see Come, Let Us Worship Music) What must attract the new generations to a holy God, is the same that has attracted all generations in the past: the Word of God that satisfies all longing for life and truth. (See What Attracts You to Church?)
December 4, 2000 -- Christianity Today -- "Anonymous Are the Peacemakers" by Gerald Shenk
The article rightly observes that world peace among the nations and people groups is often attributed to the anonymous workings of dedicated people who are driven by prayer, love, and justice. However, the article seems to concentrate on the political activism of a few religious leaders. It does not observe that political activism for peace is not a substitute for the teachings of Jesus that His followers were not to rely on violence for their well-being and the establishment of His Kingdom. The real anonymous peacekeepers are all the little people who in their hearts have laid down their arms and seek a peace loving lifestyle. If all true Christians would be obedient to our Lord's tender and gentle teachings toward all men, strife and conflict would greatly diminish.
June 26, 2000 -- ABC World News -- "The Search for Jesus" with Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings' attempt to search for the historical Jesus illustrates a secular man's wisdom as foolishness. Whereas he gives the impression that his search is from an unbiased journalist, we can see that his preconceived ideas as to who Jesus was are shown by the "scholars" he chose to interview. Had he really wanted to report from an unbiased viewpoint, he would have given equal time to conservative and liberal scholars without personal comment. The questions he raised are questions that are designed to doubt the Bible as the inspired revelation of God. The scholars interviewed arrived to conclusions based on assumptions and speculations in archeology, political history, and psychology. These conclusions, however, clearly show that these scholars are tied to the earthly intellectual academia and have no insight into the spiritual realm. "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1Cor. 1:20)
May 5, 2000 -- Christianity Today -- "This World is Not My Home" -- by Richard J. Mouw
Professor Mouw's study of a Christian's place as exiles in a worldly culture is an interesting study in itself of how theologians complicate the simple teachings of Christ. In the world of academia, this is done by addressing various ideas on the subject held by other theologians, citing historical culture trends, and by the use of theological jargon. To the best that a layman can understand, he informs us that liberals who emphasized the social gospel are now more inclined to believe in the exile mentality. Many evangelicals, on the other hand, are now more inclined to address the gospel to culture activism. He seems to conclude that Christians need to see themselves as both exiles and culture movers. Hopefully, this advice will not encourage evangelicals to try to live in two worlds of equal focus. Jesus revealed to us the eternal kingdom not only as the focus that will govern all earthly activities, but as a real kingdom that is worth our love, interest, devotion, and that will drive our hope and faith.
Mar. 26, 2000 -- L.A. Times -- Opinion
Michael Ramirez accurately portrays the Hollywood motion picture industry as he illustrates the Oscars in the trash container and captioned "Best Oscar for sex, violence and depravity". Hopefully, born-again believers do not contribute to the propagation of this trash.
Mar.25, 2000 -- L.A. Times, Pope Savors Pastoral Pursuits During His Visit To The Galilee
Pope John Paul II's visit to the Holy Land epitomizes the "Pilgrimage" syndrome for many in the Catholic and Protestant faiths. In an effort to make their belief system more of a reality, thousands flock to shrines and relics that they can see and touch. Hopefully, this experience will help them grow in the faith, although Christ, nor the apostles, taught that Christian growth came by pilgrimages or relics. Unfortunately, many of our evangelical brethren are succumbing to this syndrome. The scriptures are clear, Christian growth in faith and practice only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit as we submit to His leading and make His kingdom real in our lives.
Mar. 8, 2000 -- L. A. Times, Bishop Mahoney Apologizes
As part of the Roman Catholic Church's Jubilee celebration of the year 2000, Bishop Mahoney has been moved to apologize for past mistakes of his church. Although we concur that all Christian leaders should humble themselves and face the fact that they are humans prone to sin, we noticed that the issues for apologies were temporal and politically correct for our age. The church has arrived to this state because of its involvement in social/political issues that it feels is necessary for a better world. Let us hope that all true repentance be motivated, not due to political correctness, but because of our dishonoring of our eternal King as measured in the Word of God.
Feb. 28,2000 -- L.A. Times, Cal Thomas Column
Cal Thomas brings out the great truth that our Christian faith can not be politicized. He rightly states that the gospel is jeopardized when temporal political objectives are sought using the church as a political tool. Christians must not be divided on political lines. We have been called to bring people into the eternal kingdom by proclaiming the kingship of Jesus Christ. Christ did not call us to change our temporal world through the political arena, but as this kingdom becomes more real to more people we can be sure that our temporal world will be affected for the better. (see "Change the World?")