Thursday, January 26, 2006

Church Growth: Is Bigger Always Better?

By: Angela Lee Price

I have been researching Rick Warren's approach to church growth since 2002 when a veteran acquaintance in online discernment, Jewel Grewe of discernment-ministries.com insisted I became aware of the dangers of the Purpose Driven Movement. I would have been comfortable continuing to download enough articles on the Word of Faith theology and other aberrant and heretical teachings to fill another three-inch binder, but no. I had to see what the fuss was all about since many people in Louisville were reading The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, and many African American churches were promoting the "40 Days of Purpose" campaign.

This list of Church Growth Articles is one of the best I've seen on the internet. It contains more than 300 links to reviews, radio interviews and sample chapters from books by various opponents of the Purpose Driven Movement and similar movements.

After reading more material than I dare confess, here are my three primary concerns with the Purpose Driven Movement:

  • Rick Warren's use of The Message translation in The Purpose Driven Life. Many of the articles you are about to read will help those with eyes to see and ears to hear understand that The Message is not The Message from the Lord. What Rick Warren has done in using The Message can be equated to what the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons have done in using their Bibles to explain the gospel. I can't stress how serious this is. I like the King James Bible, and I like some of the modern translations. However, using a particular translation for the sake of being contemporary without regard for the intregity of scripture is wrong. Rick Warren has fueled sales of The Message, and he and Eugene Peterson are going to have to someday account for lying on the Lord and opening the door for so many people to be cursed. A small group studying a particular Bible verse using King James, New International Version, Good News and The New Living Translation , for example, could walk away with one understanding of the verse, and another small group studying that same verse using The Message Translation could walk away with a totally different understanding. If this isn't confusion, I don't know what is. I do know that Jesus Christ is not the author of confusion.
  • Rick Warren misrepresents the gospel message in The Purpose Driven Life. He twists scripture to fit his agenda. He does not speak in certain terms about human depravity, God's wrath and judgment. He, in effect, presents a Crossless Christ and a watered-down gospel. Jesus suffered a bloody death on a horrible cross so that we might have eternal life. Unbelievers need to know this in no uncertain terms. Unbelievers are sinners doomed to eternal separation for God accept they confess their sins, repent and trust in Jesus Christ. There is no formula that can sufficiently help unregenerate man deal with sin save faith in Jesus Christ. We are here for one purpose and that is to worship and glorify God according to His will. Many people, myself included, thought they knew God's will for their lives, only to discover, years later, that the partner they married, the business they started, the type of college they attended, the type of church they attended, the associations they formed, were never God's will for their lives.
  • Rick Warren's endorsement of non-Christians in The Purpose Driven Life. There was no need for Rick Warren to go to those outside of Christianity in order to tell Christians and non-believers how to find their purpose in God. There are enough cutting-edge Christian theologians and pastors who would have been more than happy to have supported him in his endeavors. His endorsements of atheists, new agers, mystics, and non-Christians are extremely problematic, and could have resulted in sending unsuspecting readers into Satan's territory.

Where it not for these concerns, I too, might be on the Purpose Driven bandwagon. Warren's books have considerable appeal. There is no doubt about it. However, knowingly endangering a person's walk with the Lord by recommending his approach to church growth is something I want no part of. Besides, unchurched Harry and Mary don’t live in the ‘hood. Unchurched “Kee Kee” and “Ree Ree” do! Surely, African Americans scholars can offer church growth perspectives tailored to fit the particular needs of the Black Church, or is it that Warren’s sugar is sweeter?

Remember, it is not Buddha, Confuscious, Muhammad, nor New Age that saves. Jesus saves!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The 50 Most Influential Christians In America

By: Angela Lee Price

T.D. Jakes spoke to an audience of more than 19,000 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on May 6, 2005, Kentucky Derby weekend.


The blogosphere is buzzing about the recently released Church Report list of 50 most influential Christians in America. According to their website, The Church Report "is a national magazine that is distributed to over 40,000 senior pastors and Christian leaders from across the United States." Jason Christy is the founding publisher and editor in chief, and well-known researcher Dr. George Barna author, pastor and founder of The Barna Group is one of several staff writers.

Here is the notorious top ten and other notables:

  1. T.D. Jakes
  2. Joel Osteen
  3. Billy Graham
  4. Rick Warren
  5. Bill Hybels
  6. Paul Crouch
  7. Joyce Meyers
  8. President George Bush
  9. James Dobson
  10. Chuck Colson

Others on the list:

Eddie Long (18), Robert Schuller (19), John Maxwell (27), Bennie Hinn (30), Creflo Dollar (36), Paula White (37), Ron Parsley (38), Brian McLaren (42), and Dr. Phil McGraw (50).

The Church Report contributes its list of "Christian" influentials to nominations of 150,000 Christians across America and around the world. It must be pointed out, however, that many of the people on the list have written columns for the magazine, therefore, the magazine has to owe its success, to some degree, to the contributions of these high-profile columnists.

Sadly, the list speaks powerfully to the horrible effect the Word of Faith (Prosperity Gospel), Signs and Wonders, Purpose Driven, Emergent Church, and other movements have had on Christianity. Moreover, this list should serve as a wake-up call to African Americans as people of color, the poor and the elderly are disproportionately victimized by "profits" on the list who would have you believe that all roads lead to Heaven, that Jesus was rich, that you are a god, that you should name and claim your blessing and healing, and that you should engage in possibility thinking.

this is an audio post - click to play

Now that you have read this article, we want to hear from you. You do not need to register on Blogger.com to post comments on this blog. You may use your name, or some other name if you choose. Once you have commented, click "publish" and your comments will be sent to me for review. I have added a screening feature to avoid unwanted comments, nonsense, or spammers. I will post opposing comments provided the person is well versed and supports what he/she is saying. This is what blogging is all about. The blog is a tool to promote dialogue,interactive communication, and to help us sharpen our reasoning and communication skills. Remember, iron sharpens iron.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Questions


Below are questions I posed to my WLBJ radio audience the week of January 26, 2004 in preparation for Black History Month, and after reading the book entitled Like A Mighty Stream: The March On Washington, August 28, 1963 by Patrik Henry Bass. Test your knowledge of the March On Washington by answering the questions in the comments section of this post. Your answers will be posted within 24 hours of submission. A copy of the book is my gift to the first person who answers the most number of questions correctly. Answers to all questions will be posted on March 1, 2006. Thank you for visiting this blog and telling your church family, colleagues and co-workers about Jesus Saves Ministries.

1. What year was the Civil Rights Bill passed? 1964
2. Who was A. Phillip Randolph? Originator of the March on Washington idea. He organized the first march in 1941, The March On Washington for Participation in National Defense. He was also president of the Pullman Porters. Randolph called off the first march due to President Roosevelt's issuing of Executive Order 8802 which forbade racial and religious discrimination in war industries, government training programs and government industries.
3. What two events in 1955 gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement? The death of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, and the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white amn on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.
4. Who was Anna Arnold Hedgeman? She was the lone woman on the Central Administrative Committee of the March on Washington, the planning committee. She was responsible for Daisy Bates' Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom being added to the March on Washington program schedule.
5. Name one of three women who provided musical numbers at the March on Washington? Marian Anderson, Eva Jessye and Mahalia Jackson.
6. What church assembled more than 80,000 cheese sandwiches, and packed each bag with a sandwich, marble cake and an apple? Three hundred volunteers at the Riverside Church in New York City. They put all those sandwiches in a refrigerated truck at 4:00 a.m., the morning of the March.
7. Who was Medgar Evers? Mississippi NAACP leader and first martyr of the Civil Rights Movement. He was murdered outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi on June 11, 1963.
8. Name the six black organizers of the March On Washington? A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, John Lewis, Whitney Young, and James Farmer.
9. Name the four white organizers of the March On Washington? Mathew Ahmann, Dr. Eugene Carson Blacke, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, and Walter Reuher.
10. Name one of four women recognized by Daisy Bates at the March on Washington? Diane Nash Bevel, Rosa Parks, Gloria Richardson, and Mrs. Herbert Lee.

Source:
Like A Mighty Stream: The March On Washington, August 28, 1963 by Patrik Henry Bass.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sermon: I AM Not Havin' It!

By: Minister Angela Lee Price

In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This sermon was delivered on January 7, 2005 to the Christian Addiction Ministry Program at St. Stephen Church, Louisville, Kentucky, and on September 27, 2003 at The House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky. An audio excerpt is at the bottom of this post.

Scriptures: Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11; 2:4, 6; (NLT); 5:24 (KJV)

Have you ever taken the time to sit and reminisce? If not, you ought to take time to do that. That’s what I have been doing a whole lot of lately. Let God speak to you through that process. He certainly has been speaking to me. Lately, I’ve had time to look at old pictures from back in the day and time to go through my files. I’ve been looking at old report cards, transcripts, awards, and letters of recognition. I reread papers written while working to complete my Communication degree at the University of Louisville.

A program from the Bellarmine Medal Presentation Dinner honoring Jesse L. Jackson, dated March 12, 1979 caught my attention. The program had Rev. Jackson’s picture in it. He had one of those Clarence Williams, III “Mod Squad” afros. I began thinking about what a wonderful job Rev. Jackson did at the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Rev. Jackson knows his history and he brought it to the commenoration. I reflected on how Rev. Jackson, John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, and young leaders all stood in dignity and told the truth about “I Have A Dream,” how that speech is being used against us to brain wash us and we don’t know it. We’re doing Martin Luther King, Jr. and all he stood for an injustice, and we’re doing the King of Kings an injustice when we take them out of context. I looked at the program and began thinking “I am somebody!”

One cannot reflect on the March on Washington without remembering why it had to occur -- lynchings, Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination and racism. And one cannot forget to praise God for the resulting victories, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954, the Civil Rights Bills of 1964 and 1968, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If ever you’ve been falsely accused of something you didn’t do, charged for crimes you didn’t commit. If ever you’ve been treated differently because of the color of your skin, treated differently because of the part of town you live in, and it’s happened not once, not twice, but again and again. If ever you’ve been demoted when you should have been promoted, unjustly fired, let go, downsized, denied unemployment benefits. If ever you’ve lost a love one to or through some senseless crime, and it’s happened not once, not twice, but time after time. If ever you’ve been ostracized, criticized for your Christian beliefs, you know that pain is unreal and sometime there just is no relief!

Look around you. There is too much hatred and bitterness out there. How did it get that way – too much pain, agony, grief, despair, depression I say. It’s dark in America, dark in Louisville - too many people escaping through sex, violence, drugs, and the pill! We need to reclaim our heritage with dignity and say it loud – “I am black! I am proud!” Above all, the whole world has to know I AM not having this mess no mo’! Without justice there is no truth. Without justice there can be no peace.

It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM not havin' it. I’m talking about the Magnificent, Marvelous, Matchless One, the Mighty Judge of Heaven and Hell, the Majestic I AM, the Lover of our souls. It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM when He’s sore, handling His business, settling the score. It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM not taking this mess no more. You see, this mess, it’s happened before and I AM not taking this mess no more!

I AM became angry in the book of Amos. He had Amos pronounce judgment on Judah, Israel as well as on Israel’s neighbors, the people of Damascus Syria, the Philistines in Gaza, the people of Tyre, Edom, Ammom and Moab. Why? They had all sinned again and again. I AM had enough. I AM convicted and condemned them. He sent Amos two years ahead of time to serve notice - Guilty as charged! The sentence death by natural disaster, an earthquake.

What infuriated I AM so? What caused Him to become angry, particularly with the people of Israel? They were caught up in their prosperity. They were oppressing the poor, worshipping idols, dabbling in the occult and other false religions. We’re caught up in all that mess today. Exactly, what did I AM say?

I AM said in chapter 3:9, “My people have forgotten what it means to do right. Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence.” In chapter 6:1 He said, “How terrible it will be for you who lounge in luxury and think you are secure in Jerusalem and Samaria. You are famous and popular in Israel, you to whom the people go for help.”

He called them out, the leaders. The leaders had gotten caught up in their prosperity, their summer homes and winter homes, fine jewelry, fancy cars - their Rose Royces, chauffeured limousines - their expensive minks and furs. They had gotten “stuck on self,” “stuck on stupid,” the men blinded by power and the "bling bling,” the women blinded by power and the “ding-a-ling.”

The people of Amos’ day were delusional, drunk with military power. God warned them about it before through Joel, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. They were all warned, Israel and her enemies. In Amos, the enemies of Israel were being convicted for persecution of God’s people. Edom -- her sin was an unmerciful, unwearied, pursuit of the people of God. The Edomites were cowards. They waited until another enemy came against Judah and Israel and then they jumped in. They were the least courageous. The least courageous are often the cruelest people.

The Israelites - God "gave it" to them, too, for being “punch drunk” with military power and might. We read in chapter 6 beginning at verse 12: “Can horses gallop over rocks? Can oxen be used to plow rocks? Stupid even to ask – but that’s how stupid you are when you turn justice into poison and make bitter the sweet fruit of righteousness. And just as stupid is this bragging about your conquest of Lo-debar (nothing). You boast, “Didn’t we take Karnaim (horns) by our own strength and power?” Don’t they sound like a country you know today, always hollerin', “We’re big and we’re bad and that’s a fact, we ain’t never scared, never scared of Sadam, Iraq!”

The people of Judah and Israel were committing idolatry, dabbling in the occult and astrology. In chapter 5:25 “God said, “ Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, your real interest was in your pagan gods – Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god – the images you yourselves made.” I AM not only called out their sins, He named names – Sakkuth and Kaiwan. The Matthew Henry Commentary says God was possibly talking about sun worship and worship of the planet Saturn, the highest of the planets. Astrology, the worship of the sun, moon, stars and planets is the oldest kind of idolatry. It continues to today.

It’s dark outside and it’s partly our own fault. We are not standing for truth and justice like we’ve been taught Instead, Christians are drunk and out of their minds, stumbling, staggering, and falling dead in the streets. We keep looking for the next miracle with our name on it, asking God to bless us indeed. He won’t bless us if we don’t care to read. We need to read in His Word about the works He’s already done. We were taught a long time ago to name and claim, yes – name and claim our history, our heritage, this is our fame! Name and reclaim Martin, Marcus, Malcolm, DuBois and Booker T., too, reclaim Harriet, Sojourner, Ella and Fannie Lou, reclaim Tubman, please, so that we can get off this boat! It’s got too many holes, and it can’t stay afloat!

We have never seen so many trying situations, but we have God our side, love and peace in our hearts, and I AM as our God. Amos tells us that the foundation of truth rest on justice, with privilege comes responsibilities and failure to live up to responsibilities brings judgment. Amos tells us God calls whom He chooses to the ministry. Amos tells us to rest assured. I AM did not have it then. I AM not havin' it now. Amos tells us justice will prevail! Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream! Amen.

This is an excerpt from a sermon delivered on September 27, 2003 at The House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Note: This sermon was also delivered on January 7, 2005 at St. Stephen Church, Louisville, Kentucky to the Christian Addiction Ministry Program.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Book Review: Stony The Road We Trod

By: Angela Lee Price




I highly recommend the book, published in 1991, entitled Stony The Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation, edited by Cain Hope Felder. It is a collaboration between several African American Bible scholars, and contains essays by Thomas Hoyt, Jr., William H. Myers, Renita Weems, Vincent Wimbush, David T. Shannon, Cain Hope Felder, Charles B. Copher, Randall C. Bailey, John W. Waters, Clarice J. Martin, and Lloyd A. Lewis. All of these scholars have Ph.D.s in their fields.

Stony The Road We Trod not only reflects fabulous critics on New Testament interpretation, but also contains brilliant Old Testament critics, including Charles B. Copher’s “The Black Presence in the Old Testament,” and Randall C. Bailey’s “Beyond Identification: The Use of Africans in Old Testament Poetry and Narratives.”

African American women will appreciate Stony’s presentation of women in the Bible and womanist perspectives in essays by John W. Waters, Renita Weems and Clarice Martin.

I feel strongly that African American scholars are not being supported through the purchase of their books as they should. Dr. Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist Bible College in Nashville made this point eloquently in his November 17, 2005 sermon entitled "Preaching Freedom Today." He was the keynote speaker for Simmons College of Kentucky's Founder's Day observance. He stated in the evening address that, and I am paraphrasing, we are too busy gobbling up material by people like Robert Schuller, Steven Covey, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Charles Stanley, and others as if black theologians and black poets haven't written anything. I agree with Dr. Harris. When African Americans purchase materials by white authors exclusively, or in preference to African American contributions, we not only deny the critical abilities of people of color, but also contribute to the proliferation of, to use Dr. Harris' words of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, "non-prophetic discourse," prevalent today.

About the Editor:
Cain Hope Felder is Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at the School of Divinity, Howard University, Washington, D.C., and Editor of The Journal of Religious Thought. He is also author of Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class, Family.

This book review featured in the January, 2006 Jesus Saves Newsletter.

Now that you have read this article, I want to hear from you. You don't need to register on Blogger to post comments on my site. You can use your name, or some other name if you choose. Once you are comfortable with what you want to say, click "publish" and the comments will be sent to me for review. I have added a screening feature to avoid unwanted comments, nonsense, or spammers. I will post opposing comments provided the person is well versed and supports what he/she is saying. This is what blogging is all about. The blog is a tool to promote dialogue,interactive communication, and to help us sharpen our reasoning and communication skills. Remember, iron sharpens iron.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ease On Down the Road...to Heaven?!

By: Angela Lee Price

Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? If so, praise God! Apparently, an overwhelming majority of professing Christians believe all roads lead to heaven.

In a September 5, 2005 Newsweek Spirituality in America Special Report, Christians and non-Christians were asked a number of questions pertaining to their spiritual beliefs including “Can a good person who doesn’t share your religious beliefs attain salvation or go to heaven?” Approximately 79% of those polled answered “yes.”

Respondents by category:
Evangelical Protestants, 68%;
Non-evangelical Protestants, 83%;
Roman Catholics, 91%;
Non-Christians, 73%.

It is no wonder then that popular mega church televangelist Joel Osteen can answer “I don’t know” when asked this question on Larry King Live and still continue to pack the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and command a large television audience each week.

Here is an excerpt of the transcript from the June 20, 2005 Larry King interview with Joel Osteen:

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

Since Joel Osteen knows what the Bible teaches why didn’t he just say there is only on way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ? Here is an excerpt from a conversation Jesus had with his disciples from John 14:5-9 (NIV):

THOMAS: Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?

JESUS: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.

PHILLIP: Lord, show us the Father, and this will be enough for us.

JESUS: “Don’t you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father.”

When prominent pastors profess to speak for Jesus Christ, but do not speak the entire truth of the gospel, Christians should be outraged enough to defend the faith. But, then again, how can they when so many don’t know what the Christian faith is all about.

In the June 20th interview, Osteen’s responses to other questions were equally troubling. They reflected support for the prosperity gospel and a lukewarm concern for the plight of African Americans:

KING: The Senate apologized last week for slavery. You think the Southern Baptists and a lot of the churches in the South owe some apology, too?

OSTEEN: I've never thought about it. Because I just didn't -- wasn't raised in it.
KING: But you know its history.

OSTEEN: Oh, absolutely. I think that it would never hurt; anything we could do to make mends, the better it can be. That's what I love about our church. It's made up of all different races. That's what life should all be about. That's what God wants it to be.

KING: Doesn't it hurt you that people 50 years ago talking about God and Christ also didn't -- Martin Luther King call 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning the most segregated hour in America? Does it bother you to know that predecessors of yours ...

OSTEEN: Yeah, absolutely bothers me. It's not right. It's a shame, and I don't know how they could do it with a pure heart to God but, you know what? It happened.

In a subsequent Larry King Live interview on September 11, 2005 entitled “Interview with the Dalai Lama; Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; America Remembers 9/11,” Osteen’s remarks were completely void of the mention of suffering as an essential of the Christian faith. In response to the question of why a good God would allowed News Orleans to flood, once again, he responded “I don’t know,” and failed to mention Job’s suffering, and America’s judgment as possible answers.

One thing is for sure, it is through diligent study of the Word of God that one discovers that by following the yellow brick road one will not get to heaven.

To view the entire transcript from the Larry King Live Joel Osteen interview on June 20, 2005, go to www.transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html To read the September 11, 2005 interview, go to www.transcripts.cnn.com/transcripts/0509/11/lkl.01.html.

This article featured in the January, 2006 Jesus Saves Newsletter.

Now that you have read this article, I want to hear from you. You don't need to register on Blogger to post comments on my site, although you may need to do that on other sites on Blogger. You can use your name, or some other name if you wish. Once you are comfortable with what you want to say, click "publish" and the comments will be sent to me for review. I have added a screening feature to avoid unwanted comments, nonsense, or spammers. I will post opposing comments provided the person is well versed and supports what he/she is saying. This is what blogging is all about. The blog is a tool to promote dialogue,interactive communication, and to help us sharpen our reasoning and communication skills. Remember, iron sharpens iron.

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