How Common Are U.S. Church Shootings?
May 21, 2018
Rod Waddington photo | Flickr
By Aaron Earls
The Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas marked the fifth intentional shooting that resulted in a death at a U.S. school this year. After three fatal church shootings last year, however, none has occurred so far in 2018.
The Washington Post lists 220 school shootings—59 of which involved at least one fatality—since the Columbine attack on April 20, 1999.
During the same time period, there have been 18 fatal church shootings. The deadliest was the 2017 shooting at First Baptist Sutherland Springs in Texas, with 26 deaths including an unborn child.
Texas—home to the deadliest church shooting and most recent school shooting—has also had more church shootings since 1999 than any other state except Georgia. Both Texas and Georgia have had three church shootings.
World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia has been the site of two incidents.
The two most recent church shootings also took place on the same day—November 5, 2017.
Here are the locations of all the fatal church shootings since Columbine:
1999 Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas
2001 Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky
2002 Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Lynbrook, New York
2003 Turner Monumental AME Church in Kirkwood, Georgia
2005 Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin
2005 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
2006 Zion Hope Missionary Baptist in Detroit, Michigan
2006 Ministry of Jesus Christ Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2007 First Presbyterian Church in Moscow, Idaho
2007 First Congregational Church in Neosho, Missouri
2007 New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado
2008 First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois
2009 Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas
2012 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
2015 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
2017 Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee
2017 First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
2017 St. Alphonsus Church in Fresno, Texas
In addition to these incidents at Christian churches, fatal shootings have happened at other religious sites, including at a Benedictine monastery, a Sikh temple, and an Amish school.
Deadly incidents are on the rise at churches, says Carl Chinn, a church security expert. According to his research, there had never been a mass murder (four or more killed) associated with a faith-based property before 1963. Since then, there have been 14 such incidents.
As of last year, Chinn identified 617 people having been killed in deadly force incidents since 1999 at faith-based properties, including churches.
Despite these numbers, many churches do not make security a priority.
“Most churches spend far more time and money training their choir than they do investing in the safety of their staff and guests,” he says.
Chinn knows pastors often think the odds are in their favor and more than likely they’ll never have to deal with a serious security threat in their church.
“They are absolutely right,” he acknowledges. “Odds are their church will never face a serious threat. But if their congregation does face a serious threat, the odds won’t matter much.”
For those looking to become better prepared, Chinn advises churches to work with other leaders in the area.
“Work with your community first and foremost,” he says. “Know your law enforcement and fellow faith-based safety operators in your area on a first-name basis.”
Working with other safety professionals like those at area schools is also a good idea, according to Chinn. “Don’t be a silo of information,” he says.
For churches looking for simple steps to make themselves more secure, Chinn offers these nine guidelines.
Confirm support from your church’s leadership team.
Do a baseline readiness evaluation.
Start with what you have, where you are.
Keep it simple.
Keep it legal.
Know your insurance agent and policies.
Network with your community.
Train and drill.
Develop policies and procedures.
The key to creating a good safety and security plan is to break the work into manageable pieces. Guidestone’s Property & Casualty Program has several resources to help churches build a safety and security plan.
Securing the Faithful: How Churches Can Best Prepare for the Worst Tragedies
Strangers in a Small Church: Responding to Visitors in an Age of Violence
How Churches Can Prepare for the Worst
The Church Shooting You Didn’t Hear About This Week
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.
American Renewal Project <firstname.lastname@example.org> Apr 24 at 3:15 AM
Nothing could be further from the truth than what comes across as a contest between Democrats and Republicans. In reality, two distinct and immutable religions – Christianity and Secularism – are vying for ideological supremacy in the public square. A better labeling would read: America is smack-dab in the middle of a ‘cultural civil war’. Eventually, one worldview will triumph over the other.
This is by no means a new historical phenomenon, as Spurgeon informs us:
“A medal was struck by Diocletian, which still remains, bearing the inscription, ‘The name of Christians being extinguished’. And in Spain, [a] monumental pillar [was] raised, on which [was] written: ‘Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti, for having adopted Galerius in the east, for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ, for having extended the worship of the gods.’ As a modern writer has elegantly observed: ‘We have here a monument raised by Paganism, over the grave of its vanquished foe. But in this ‘the people imagined a vain thing’; so far from being deceased, Christianity was on the eve of its final and permanent triumph, and the stone guarded a sepulcher empty as the urn that Electra washed with her tears. Neither in Spain, nor elsewhere, can be pointed out the burial place of Christianity; it is not, for the living have no tomb.’” 
Modern Christendom is inclined to blame “humanists, pagans and Muslims, Marxists or other groups for the state of our culture and its idolatrous turn, but God calls His people to first take a long hard look at themselves in accounting for the decline of our social order.” 
America’s founders understood the basic fact that virtue and liberty are inseparably linked, and that freedom “cannot long be preserved in the absence of virtue among the people and their representatives.” 
Liberty depends upon virtue, and virtue depends upon Christianity.
These truths have now been stripped from government-controlled education. Christians have surrendered the ministry of civil government to secularists, who are in rebellion against God. Secularism has brought to bear its own religious, ethical, and political doctrines in America.
Under the influence of pietism the scope of spiritual engagement in America has been reduced to “his or her personal life, family life, and the affairs of the church as an ecclesiastical organization.”  No wonder that Secularism managed to hijack the founders’ master plan.
Americans want God’s help, but not His holiness. The nation reckons that it is useful to have God on its side. To honor God, to all appearances, we attend church on Christmas and Easter, say a prayer for the right parking spot, or ask the pastor to bless a marriage or a new home. But what we really want is a God who will help us to get our own way. We call for a God to help us getting things done, as long as we can keep our own views and live our own lives. 
As a result, America has reached a tipping point as God is beginning to assign His time-tested veterans to the front ranks. This battle for the Soul of America will unfold over the next thirty years, and God’s plans are not transparent.
A.W. Pink describes the spirit and training of those whom God is moving to the frontlines. 
“It is this very loneliness of the saint that serves to make manifest the genuineness of his faith. There is nothing remarkable in one believing what all his associates believe, but to have faith when surrounded by skeptics, is something noteworthy. To stand alone, to be the solitary champion of a righteous cause when all others are federated unto evil, is a rare sight. Yet such was Rahab. There were none in Jericho with whom she could have fellowship, none there to encourage her heart and strengthen her hands by their godly counsel and example: all the more opportunity for her to prove the sufficiency of Divine grace! Scan slowly the list presented in Hebrews 11, and then recall the recorded circumstances of each. With whom did Abel, Enoch, Noah have spiritual communion? From what brethren did Joseph, Moses, Gideon receive any help along the way? Who were the ones who encouraged and emboldened Elijah, Daniel, Nehemiah? Then think it not strange that you are called to walk almost if not entirely alone, that you meet with scarcely any like-minded or any who are capable of giving you a lift along the road.”
Secularism’s destruction of America’s once biblically-based culture can be counteracted by:
• Reestablishing prayer in America’s churches, led by the senior pastor.
• Men and Women of Issachar running for local office: city councils, school boards, parks and recreation, etc.
[Please note that filing deadlines in many parts of the country take place in June. Pastors who don’t feel called to run are requested to recruit a member of their congregation.]
Gideons and Rahabs are now moving toward the civil government frontline. “It will require courage, fortitude and unwavering biblical faithfulness to rouse the church again to her mission in a generation that has lost its way in idolatry, and where a many prophet and priest have said ‘peace peace, when there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:14).” 
American Renewal Project
 The Treasury of David, Charles H. Spurgeon
[2-3] Joseph Boot, The Mission of God, A Manifesto Of Hope For Society
 Archie P. Jones, Forward to The Christian Life and Character Of The Civil Institutions Of The United States, Benjamin F. Morris, 1864
 Boot, The Mission of God
 Keith Krell, 1 Samuel
 A.W. Pink, Gleanings From Joshua
 Boot, The Mission of God
American Renewal Project
815-A Brazos Street | Number 69 | Austin, TX | 78701
Few American Churchgoers Familiar With ‘Great Commission’
By PNW Staff April 05, 2018
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A new study conducted by Barna, in conjunction with Seed Company, on various aspects related to the spread of the Gospel is raising alarm bells.
The new report titled Translating the Great Commission makes the case that many Christians have forgotten one of the great exhortations of Jesus when He commanded all Christians to “go and make disciples of all nations”.
Every religion has a unique character whether it be for domination of the earthly realm, preservation of a nation or salvation of souls, and Christianity is distinctly the latter with Matthew 28:18-20 representing the clearest example of what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission.
Barna surveyed 1,004 church-going Christians from across the nation to arrive at their conclusions about the state of Gospel preaching, and while what they found leaves some room for interpretation, it also gives one pause to stop and consider the state of Christianity in America.
They found that 51% of respondents had never heard the term “the Great Commission” while another 25% claimed to have heard it but did not know its meaning. Another 6% of Christians thought they knew what it meant, but were not sure.
Only 17% of church-going Christians said that they both recognized and understood the concept of the Great Commission.
When framed as a matching exercise in which survey takers were asked to connect the term with corresponding Bible passages, 94% of the 17% of Christians who recognized the term were able to match it with the correct Biblical passage (Matthew 28:18-20), which leaves roughly 160 Christians out of every 1,000 who understand one of the central tenants of faith: to spread the Gospel to all nations.
The survey found that older church-goers were more likely to respond positively to questions regarding knowledge of the Great Commission (29% elders, 26% baby boomers, 17% generation X, and 10% millennials) but the Barna study authors were also forced to conclude that the use of the term itself could have been a key factor.
The authors speculate that some of the younger Christians may very well know that Jesus commanded all Christians to make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them to obey the commandments of the Lord, even though they might not use the term Great Commission.
The element of linguistic doubt across generations is the one major caveat of the study but, even correcting for that, there are significant percentages of Christians in every generation that neither recognize the term nor can match it to its Biblical passage—numbers that leave us to ponder the consequences for Christianity.
So, what can be done?
First, the term itself has become perhaps misunderstood due to linguistic drift. We seldom use the term “commission” today outside the military and I would venture to guess that a majority of young adults would struggle precisely to define the term by itself, even outside a Biblical context.
Many people need to be re-educated with what this term actually means to see this great mission as the cause of all Christian good in the world. Christians aren’t made for simply sitting in Church pews, they are made for creating disciples and bringing the kingdom of God to Earth. Care about social justice? Worried about racism, mass incarceration or a drug crisis? Want to help desperate immigrants or the destitute living on the streets?
The answer is the Great Commission. Just as the tax collector Zacchaeus in the Book of Luke who gave up half his wealth, when the Word is truly received transformative change is possible. Imagine how entire systems of injustice would fall away if we truly made new disciples who obeyed God’s Word to the letter? God’s Word is the most powerful tool for social justice and societal change the world has ever known, and this change of perspective is key.
Finally, we need to take the cause to heart. Yes, our personal relationship with the Lord is a fundamental aspect of faith. Yes, the Church is a central component of our lives. But at the forefront of it all should be the Great Commission to build the Kingdom of God one life at a time, creating thousands of new disciples everyday who can themselves keep the commandments and spread the love of Jesus further.
But this requires real action. It requires donating our resources, sacrificing our time and living bold lives of true Christian conviction in which we evangelize in both word and deed.
Matthew 28 is no vision of a lonely monastery. This active, outward-looking faith is truly the great mission of Christians here on Earth.
A Blog by Steven Kozar
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
— 2 Timothy 4:3-4
March 08, 2017
The Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven Cornucopia of False Doctrine
The “attractional” church model is so common that it’s practically the norm; most Christians have assumed that it is the only valid way to “do church” nowadays, or they don’t even know that other legitimate options exist. What is it? Simply put, this model of church starts with the idea that “normal” church is unattractive and can’t bring in new people, so exciting new ideas must be implemented in order to get people in the door. Once people show up for the attractive and entertaining aspects, they’ll eventually hear a gospel message and they’ll “accept Jesus in their hearts” (or something to that effect).
This philosophy makes a number of assertions and assumptions right from the start:
The needs and sensibilities of the unbeliever should determine the strategy of the church.
All of the churches in history (up till now) were doing it wrong: too old-fashioned, too boring, too stiff, too negative, too much doctrine, too ritualistic, etc.
People would be glad to go to church, but it’s just too “churchy.” All we need to do is tone down all the religious stuff, make it fun and “relevant” and people will show up.
A church should focus on meeting people’s needs through “life skills,” “success,” “psychological therapy” and “leadership” training, and it should help it’s members become “purpose-driven” people who can “accomplish their destiny.” A church doesn’t need to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins anymore; or if it does, it must radically alter the language to appease unbelievers.
Numerical growth is proof of God’s blessing; lack of numerical growth is proof that God is not involved.
In order to build the church, God needs “vision-casting” pastors, and these pastors must then command their followers to do the work required by the “vision” that God gave them.
Robert Schuller (1926-2015) is probably the man most responsible for establishing the Attractional, Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven church model; although a case could be made that Henry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) really laid the foundation. Schuller removed many of the “negative” aspects of Christianity like Christ dying on the cross to atone for our sin, hell, God’s anger and God’s wrath; and replaced it with the Positive Thinking philosophy he borrowed directly from his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). Here’s an article with more detail: Robert Schuller and The Seeker Sensitive Church-The Roots and Fruits of Robert Schuller’s Version of Theological Liberalism by Bob DeWaay
At a very fundamental level, Schuller believed that because modern people didn’t care about their eternal salvation anymore, the church should reach them by appealing to the things that did matter to them; things like their self-esteem and their earthly success and happiness.
“The church must develop a theology for mission. I don’t think it’s done that. I accept John 3:16 as a good one if people have a fear of hell. Maybe they have, but I find a lot of secular people haven’t. At what point can I find a button to push so that I can reach them? I think their desire for self-esteem is that button.”
— Robert Schuller interviewed in Christianity Today, Aug. 10,1984
“I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and hence counterproductive to the evangelistic enterprise than the unchristian, uncouth strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.”
— Robert Schuller “Dr. Schuller Comments,” (letter to the editor), Christianity Today, October 5, 1984, pp. 12-13
A New Reformation? The Christian Research Institute Examines the Theology of Robert Schuller
After Schuller established the Crystal Cathedral and his T.V. Show “The Hour of Power” there were two young pastors who took his ideas and implemented them on an even larger scale: Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Both of these men learned about growing a church directly from Schuller when they were starting their new churches. Although Schuller was often viewed with skepticism by many Evangelicals (because he had so clearly altered and reduced the Gospel message), both Hybels and Warren have maintained more mainstream reputations as genuine Evangelicals and have escaped much scrutiny. But when examined more carefully, the Mega-Church/Attractional model they brought to full fruition in Willow Creek Church (Hybels) and Saddleback Church (Warren) is not really an orthodox, Biblical Church; it’s a strange hybrid that ends up creating more problems than it solves.
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, attended Robert Schuller’s “Institute for Church Growth” in 1979 while Warren was in his last year of seminary. In a 2002 interview for Christianity Today Magazine, Kay Warren said this of their visit to the institute: “He (Schuller) had a profound effect on Rick. We were captivated by his positive appeal to non-believers. I never looked back.” (Christianity Today, Nov. 18, 2002) Rick Warren, however, has been strangely silent about the obvious influence that Schuller has had on him.
A big problem with the Mega-Church message is that it’s a watered-down and neutered message. This Christianity is focused on meeting the “felt needs” of people, but the Gospel message is about how Christ gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t die on the cross to give us purpose or make us successful. The true and complete Gospel must be preached so that people can hear the Word of God and can understand the weight of their sin; it’s only from that point that people have the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. In the worse case, “Mega-Church” scenario, the message confuses people into thinking that becoming a Christian is simply “accepting” Jesus so that He can make you more complete, or more satisfied. As an example of this, Rick Warren had a chance to preach a gospel message to a gigantic audience at a TED Talk in 2008, but he choose to preach a feel-good, non-Christian message instead:
“So the good life is not about looking good, feeling good, or having the goods. It’s about being good and doing good. The bottom line is that God gets pleasure watching you be you. Why? He made you. And when you do what you are made to do, He goes, ‘That’s my boy.’ ‘That’s my girl.’ You are using the talent and the ability that God gave you. So my advice to you is look at what is in your hand, your identity, your influence, your income. And say, ‘It’s not about me; it’s about making the world a better place. Thank you.”
— Rick Warren, TED Talk, February, 2006
(Here’s the complete TED Talk given by Rick Warren in February, 2006)
Here’s an example of Andy Stanley freely admitting that he uses “attractional” messages to get people to attend his Mega-Church:
“People are not on a truth quest; they are on a happiness quest. They will continue to attend your church – even if they don’t share your beliefs – as long as they find the content engaging and helpful.”
— Andy Stanley
One of the most striking characteristics of the Attractive, Seeker-Friendly church is the constant emphasis on LEADERSHIP. This is not surprising, since much of the philosophy behind this church model is not based on the Bible-it’s based on business principles. The non-Christian business guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) has probably had more influence on this idea of church than any single pastor. Read: Peter Drucker’s Mega-Church Legacy. Both Hybels and Warren refer to Drucker as their primary mentor. Here’s a quote from Bill Hybels book “Courageous Leadership” that clearly portrays his near-idolatry of leadership:
“I believe that the great tragedy of the church in our time has been its failure to recognize the importance of the spiritual gift of leadership. It appears to me that only a fraction of pastors worldwide are exercising the spiritual gift of leadership, organizing the church around it, and deploying church members through it. The results, in terms of church growth and worldwide spiritual impact, are staggering.”
— Bill Hybels
The following articles are from various people coming from various theological backgrounds who all agree that the “attractional” “seeker-friendly” “purpose-driven” church model should be reconsidered:
Redefining the Church-The Church Growth Movement’s Unbiblical Definition of the Church by Bob DeWaay
Straight Talk About the Seeker Church Movement by Grace to You Ministries
Schuller Planted, Hybels Watered, Warren (Peter Drucker) Gives The Increase by Orrel Steinkamp
Many Articles about the Unbiblical Nature of the Church Growth Movement by Deception in the Church
The Problems With The Purpose-Driven Definition of a Christ Follower
Why I Left Your Seeker-Friendly Church
The Church Growth Movement: An Analysis of Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” Church Growth Strategy by Dennis Castella
Seeker Movement on Critical Issues Commentary Radio (5 different shows)
The Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement on Critical Issues Commentary Radio (4 different shows)
Celebrity Pastor is Not a Biblical Church Office by Elliott Nesch
“Church… Business… What’s the Difference?” Confused Willow Creek Leadership Conference by Steven Kozar
Bill Hybels Talks About Popeye (Much) More Than Jesus in the Museum of Idolatry
Bill Hybels: “God Uses a Re-Crafted Schedule to Transform Lives” in the Museum of Idolatry
Resistance is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into the Community (Fighting for the Faith with more links)
The Andy Stanley Cornucopia of False Teaching, Fast Talking and Postmodern Ambiguity
Seeker-Sensual Church Growth (Fighting for the Faith Episode with Rosebrough, Kozar and Spreeman)
Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity by Marsha West
The following video from our friend Elliot Nesch, is probably the most careful and comprehensive examination of the mega-church model available on the internet. This is three hours of very important material; every Christian should watch this (and then watch it again!):
The following two videos are based on the excellent “White Horse Inn” radio program:
Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven, Cornucopia
Getting Booted From Elevation Church
Podcast: Marcia Montenegro Talks …
© Steven Kozar for Pirate Christian Media. Read a little about Steve on “Kozar’s Korner.” Prints of his paintings are available on our Bakesale and on his art website stevenkozar.com. His original paintings are represented in London by The Plus One Gallery.
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Shorter Version Of Seeker Sensitive/Purpose Driven Video Above:
Luther’s Sola Fide
Posted: 31 Oct 2017 02:06 AM PDT
500 years ago today, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. This marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In his publication, Luther criticized the sale of indulgences, the papal pardons which reduced the amount of punishment for sins in Purgatory. We can all appreciate Luther’s challenge to papal authority, specifically toward the Roman Catholic Church about the selling of papal pardons to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But did the Reformation get us back to biblical Christianity?
The Protestant position would come to incorporate doctrinal changes such as sola fide, or justification by faith alone. Sola fide has been a hallmark of Protestant theology since the beginning of the Reformation. For Luther, faith alone is specifically contrasted with good works. In his preface to Romans, Luther said, “faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law.” By “faith alone” the Reformers clearly meant belief or trust, apart from anything else. According to Luther, good works have nothing to do with our salvation other than being the result of saving faith. Sola fide is thus formulated in the Augsburg Confession of Faith as follows:
[T]his faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone. (Augsburg Confession of Faith, Article VI)
Luther was so insistent that justification was by faith alone and not works that, when translating Romans 3:28 into German, he added the word allein (“alone”), so that the verse would read: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith [alone] without the deeds of the law.” But the word “alone” is not present in the Greek text. This also brought Paul in direct contradiction to James. Church Historian Philip Schaff summarized:
The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther’s version is the famous interpolation of the word alone in Rom. 3:28, by which he intended to emphasize his solifidian doctrine of justification, on the plea that the German idiom required the insertion for the sake of clearness. But he thereby brought Paul into direct verbal conflict with James, who says (James 2:24), “by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an “epistle of straw,” because it had no evangelical character. (History of the Christian Church, Book 7, Chapter 4)
Ironically, the only place “faith alone” appears as a phrase in the New Testament is in James 2:24: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (NET, or “faith only” in the KJV). James also says: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). In context, James wrote:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:14-26)
Most Protestants argue that James is merely attacking an empty faith. In order to agree with Luther, they say, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” But here is an obvious contradiction of terms in order to agree with Luther’s interpretation of Romans 3:28. In the end, an “empty faith” is nothing other than “faith alone” or “faith without works.” And James tells us that “faith alone” cannot save.
Taken at face value, James 2:14-26 contradicts Martin Luther’s doctrine of sola fide. How did Luther reconcile this glaring conflict? He sought to expel the Epistle of James from the New Testament canon. In his Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, Luther said that the Epistle of James was “not the writing of any apostle.” Luther went on to question the authority of James:
Flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture, it ascribes righteousness to works, and says that Abraham was justified by his works, in that he offered his son Isaac, though St. Paul, on the contrary, teaches, in Romans 4:2, that Abraham was justified without works, by faith alone, before he offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15:6. . . .
I cannot put him [James] among the chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from putting him where he pleases and estimating him as he pleases; for there are many good sayings in him.
Luther not only questioned the authority of James, but also of Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation. Moreover, in his Preface to the New Testament, Martin Luther wrote:
In a word, St. John’s Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul’s Epistles, especially Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first Epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that it is necessary and good for you to know, even though you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ Epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to them; for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.
But Paul doesn’t have to conflict with James. The most satisfactory solution to the alleged contradiction between Paul and James is that Paul was referring to the “works” of the Law of Moses, especially circumcision (cf. Romans 4:2, 6, 9-12; Galatians 2:6-10, 12, 16; 3:2, 5, 10). On the other hand, James was referring to good “works” or works of obedience to God (James 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24). The raging issue for the first century Church was whether or not Gentiles needed to keep the works of the Law of Moses, i.e., circumcision (Acts 15). Preaching at Antioch, Paul said, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
The Scriptures have a much broader view of justification than Luther’s doctrine of sola fide. The Greek word dikaioō (translated “justified” throughout Romans 3 and James 2) also occurs in other passages without reference to faith. For example, Jesus said, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). Even Paul said, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13).
Again, James also says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? . . . Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:21, 24-25).
The Greek words dikaioō (“justified”) and dikaiosynē (“righteousness”) both come from the root word dikaios which is normally translated “righteous” or “just.” In this broader sense, justification is the righteousness acceptable to God, more in line with the use of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
John says: “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29); “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 John 3:10).
The Scriptures deny that one is justified by faith alone. Indeed, “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Though our good works do not earn or merit our salvation, our obedience is in cooperation with divine grace, working together with God for our salvation (see Philippians 2:12-13).
On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we can appreciate Martin Luther for his challenge to reform the Roman Catholic Church and papal abuses. But we must not simply reject the infallibility of the Pope in order to embrace the infallibility of the Reformer. Pope Leo X was not infallible, and neither is Luther. Unfortunately, many Protestants hold to Luther’s doctrine of sola fide as if it were an infallible interpretation of the Scriptures. Let’s be honest with what the Scriptures actually say and reform our own lives accordingly, by the grace of God.
Faith & Works – Harmonizing Paul & James
The post Luther’s Sola Fide appeared
The above is very good theology. My simple mind interprets it succinctly as follows: We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:17,21; Ephesians 2:8-10), but a genuine saving faith is always accompanied by works. Specifically, please note Ephesians 2:10. It is true that Martin Luther is NOT a Protestant Pope, and he erred in his disparaging comments in reference to the book of James. A genuine saving faith and works are like a horse and carriage or love and marriage. They mesh together beautifully and naturally. You cannot have one without the other. Should not the numerous exploits of the faithful saints described graphically in the “Hall of Faith,” Hebrews 11, convince us of this? Pastor Steve <><
Traveling throughout our nation can be a real eye opener, in reference to the spiritual direction of our country. A secular education, technological advances, and a life filled with more time engaged in trivial pursuits, just as in the days previous to the flood of Noah, can rapidly contribute to the decay of the soul of man and society in general. Let me consider the ethnic demographic group that I am a part of: Caucasian. Within the younger element of this particular sect of people, I have noticed a lack of an understanding of simple moral absolutes, the work ethic, a drive for a legitimate career, and social intercourse. Millenials are the least religious generation in American history, and do not attend church. Furthermore, many other people groups moving into our nation, seem to have much stronger family values and a much better glue to our human need for faith. We live in an area with a great many Ukrainian people who have moved to America a generation ago. A typical weekend around one of their homes, will reveal perhaps four to six vehicles of their extended family all visiting one another. That represents our nation that I remember as a lad in the fifties and early sixties. So goes the family, so goes the nation. I had the privilege to speak in one of their churches a few years ago on a Sunday evening on “Superbowl Sunday,” whereby most Americans were transfixed on the great National Football League (NFL) god. The fact is, I spoke while the game was being played, and the church was filled with Slavic believers from Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine who cared not to worship sports on the Lord’s day. I am now experiencing another similar blessing during our current travels. We are in Danbury, Connecticut, and I went for a walk downtown. I first saw an historical sign, depicting how the British took over the town and local armory in 1777, and I kept on walking down Main Street. What I passed truly amazed me. I saw three Ecuadorian restaurants, followed by a couple of more representing Brazilian cuisine, a Mexican establishment, one representing the Philippines, and yet another called the Salvador restaurant. There is a large Brazilian and Hispanic population in Danbury. Furthermore, I saw school buses, letting off Hispanic children who were dressed in uniform. Their decorum and demeanor were excellent. I was flabbergasted. Wow! How beautiful. I learned later that their schools are extremely good. I also learned from our son, that the Hispanics moved out of New York City and the fast paced lifestyle, seeking a slower pace and cheaper living, that are more conducive to family and child rearing. In addition, I passed a plethora of Hispanic Christian churches of all types and denominations – from well established churches to storefront churches. Hispanic businesses of all kinds, all closed on Sunday, dotted downtown Danbury. Yes, a walk down Main Street gave me hope for the salvation of this country, and the evidence of God at work, and answering my prayers for this sin sick nation! I hope and pray that this experience is a microcosm of what is/will happen all over this country. Thank you Jesus. Amen and amen.
In His Service, Pastor Steve <><
Pray For Revival In America!
“It is truly amazing to witness the age division within today’s Christian Church in America. Our most committed members are all over sixty years of age. I have seen this phenomenon personally during our last twenty years of Christian service. Just yesterday (9/24/17), a crazed gunman shot up a church near Nashville, Tennessee, and nearly all of the victims were over sixty years of age because they were the nucleus of the parishioners. The younger attenders in church today, usually do only that – attend occasionally with zero commitment or ministry. I call this mindset “touch base Christianity.” Praise the Lord for the exceptions, as there are many, especially in larger churches. We should not be surprised at the advance of Islam, if this trend holds and creates a spiritual vacuum. Here is a point to ponder – Are Muslims more committed to a lie than Christians are to the truth? Food for thought.”
Blessings, Pastor Steve <><
The seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, reveal many characteristics of the church, both good and bad. We can use these churches as a check against our own respective vineyards today, since our churches are similar to the early church. You may see traits of your church in several of these examples. Dr. Henry M. Morris III from the Institute For Creation Research (ICR) wrote the seven sketches of the churches below in the devotional “Days Of Praise.” They are all listed below. Afterwards, enjoy the superb video of The Seven Churches. In Christ, Pastor Steve
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; . . . I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16)
The Lord Jesus used intense language to rebuke this church, the last of the seven He had John write to in the book of Revelation. Laodicea was dangerously near the brink of being disavowed by He who is the Head of the church.
Such churches believe they “have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Worldly wealth, extensive property, and popular recognition blinded these members and their leaders to their true spiritual condition. They failed to understand that, from the Lord’s perspective, they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
The cause of this terrible spiritual destitution is being spiritually tepid. It’s like expecting a glass of cold water or a cup of hot tea but finding everything at room temperature. This church “tasted” just like the world around them. They were neither godly nor in rebellion—just “nice people” who blended in well with the community. Their spiritual reputation did not smell either like life or death (2 Corinthians 2:16).
Despite the Lord’s distaste for such a condition, He loved and counseled them to “buy” from Him the gold of the Kingdom’s true wealth, righteous clothing that would cover their shameful exposure of worldly behavior, and to anoint their spiritual eyes so that they could see eternal values rather than temporal things.
As the Lord graciously closed His letter, He “stands at the door” of the church, waiting for anyone to open and let Him in (Revelation 3:20). Tepid spirituality keeps the Lord outside. What a shame that such could ever be said about any church. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; . . . I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)
Philadelphia and Smryna are the only churches that did not receive warnings from the Lord in the seven letters recorded in Revelation. Philadelphia had “a little strength” because they had built their church on the two foundations of the Word of God and the name of the Lord Jesus.
The foundation of Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation of the writings of the “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) that are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) make the church “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Philadelphia had faithfully held these eternal principles and was therefore given an “open door.”
The Lord’s introduction to Philadelphia cites the “Key of David,” suggesting a reference to the treasure house of the king (1 Kings 7:51) and to Christ’s authority as the heir to the kingdom (Isaiah 22:22). The treasure of the eternal Kingdom is not physical riches but the gold, silver, and precious stones of God-ordained work for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
But just as the talents and the pounds granted to the servants in the parables (Matthew 25; Luke 19), the open door is an opportunity to use the resources of the King for His benefit—not a guarantee of success. The Lord grants the resources, but the work and the use of those resources are our responsibility. We will be held accountable.
If we use those resources well, even those of the “synagogue of Satan” will “come and worship” (Revelation 3:9) and “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1)
The church at Sardis received the saddest of the Lord’s seven letters in Revelation. Sardis seemed to want to remain known as a “live” church, but the Lord saw their real testimony and reputation and concluded that they were “dead.” Many such places around the world today are enshrined with stained glass, statuary, crosses, and inscriptions that have the “name” of Christianity emblazoned throughout their property, yet they are dead spiritually. Such churches might be compared to the monuments and gravestones erected in cemeteries to honor the memories of faithful men and women of past generations who were alive for a time with a solid reputation for godliness yet whose families have drifted away from the Lord.
Yet, “even in Sardis” there was a small number who had remained faithful in spite of the drift of the church itself, as there are also in families now adrift but with a Christian heritage. The advice to Sardis (and certainly to families as well) is this: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3).
The Philippian church received the same counsel: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The verb is “do.” Heritage is wonderful, but each church—and each of us—will be held accountable for what is actually done. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:18-20)
The Lord Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest among the seven recorded in Revelation. Although they were faithful in their works to the city, had a strong charity among themselves, and were evidently growing in their reputation and perhaps even in number, the Lord Jesus used some very harsh language to rebuke their behavior.
Whether or not the woman who held influence in the church was actually named Jezebel, she had entrenched herself as a prophetess. Her namesake in the Old Testament (1 Kings) was the wicked queen and wife of King Ahab of Israel during the days of Elijah. Her evil deeds are recorded throughout seven chapters—more than any other woman in Israel’s history!
The Jezebel of Thyatira had been allowed “to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). It is not clear if the Lord spoke of physical fornication among the church members, but the practice of sacrificing to idols was a serious rebellion against the second commandment and a clear violation of God’s Word (Exodus 20:4-5).
Those who were committing “adultery with her” (Revelation 2:22) had entered into “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). Whether this behavior was a physical practice or not (as was common among the pagan religions of the day), it is most certainly identified as spiritual adultery when those who name the name of Christ worship other gods (Jeremiah 3:1, 20; Hosea 9:1; etc.). May God protect us from such horrible leadership. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; . . . I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith . . . . But I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:12-14)
Retaining a clear identity as a church of the Lord Jesus in an evil environment is worthy of commendation. And indeed, this body of believers at Pergamos held fast to its Christian name—even in a city that was known (at least by God) as the place where Satan had his “seat.” One of their members, Antipas, was killed for his faith. Yet, the church at Pergamos remained faithful with a spiritual testimony, a small light in a sea of wickedness.
But perhaps because of the pressure surrounding them, the Lord warned them that they were allowing two destructive doctrines to flourish among them. The first was compromising with “wages of unrighteousness,” exemplified by Balaam, which had become entrenched among the church (2 Peter 2:15). The second was the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” which their sister church in Ephesus also confronted (Revelation 2:15, 6).
Balaam was a well-known prophet who willingly accepted an assignment with an enemy of God’s people so that he could receive a large sum of money (Numbers 22). And, even though God would not permit Israel to be cursed, as the enemy wanted, Balaam continued to promote his “error,” and Israel lapsed into grave sin (Jude 1:11).
Not much is written in Scripture about the Nicolaitanes. The word basically means “conquer the people.” This early teaching developed into a strong hierarchy of church polity over the next decades, and by the end of the second century, it was well established in the major cities. Jesus taught against such leadership (Matthew 20:26-27) and clearly said that He hated it (Revelation 2:6). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; . . . I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) . . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8-10)
The Lord Jesus recognized this struggling church, which is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, as one of only two churches mentioned in the book of Revelation that did not receive any warning or condemnation.
He saw them very differently than our “church growth” movement might today. Many tend to envy the churches with big auditoriums or grand building programs. Most of the world praises those churches that are “emerging” from the restraints of godliness and churches that are “driven” to attract and please the ungodly.
Smyrna was poor, troubled by those who hated God’s message, and suffered tribulation for their works. Some were thrown into prison for their willingness to be identified with the truth. Generations have passed since anything like that has happened to churches in the Western world. Those countries that persecute Christians today seem only like scattered incidents that have little bearing on the day-to-day life of “civilized” nations. May God protect us from such attitudes.
But the One who walks among the “candlestick” churches of Revelation (His churches) saw Smyrna as rich and worthy of a crown of life. He praised this little church and encouraged them to remain “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). When the King gives out His rewards from the great judgment seat, these faithful, poor, persecuted, troubled, and imprisoned souls will enter eternity with great riches and joyful liberty in the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;. . . I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:1-2)
This church, founded by the apostle Paul, had grown in its doctrinal precision and careful attention to the words of Scripture. They were intensely focused on purity of leadership and were vigilant against any form of false teaching. Most of us would find that kind of church a refreshing example to follow in these days of indifferent (and often heretical) theology.
They hated the “deeds of the Nicolaitanes,” which was a horrible practice that the Lord Himself hated (Revelation 2:6). Peter had warned against this domineering attitude in his first general letter to the churches when he insisted that the elders of the churches should not be “lords over God’s heritage, but [be] ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).
Ephesus was a “good” church, but the risen Lord Jesus had “somewhat against” them. Apparently, amid all of their careful attention to doctrine and to purity of leadership lifestyle, they had “left [their] first love” (Revelation 2:4). They had fallen from the deep bond of love they had demonstrated years earlier when Paul called the elders to Miletus to encourage and exhort them to remain faithful to “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They were so much in tune with Paul’s heart for the gospel that they “all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him” (Acts 20:37).
The drift away from that “first love” was so serious that the Lord warned Ephesus to repent or He would take away their “candlestick” (Revelation 2:5)—their authority to represent Christ as one of His churches. Cold, precise doctrine must never take away our love for people or for the truth. HMM III
This topic is addressed elsewhere on this blog site. The following is a parallel view that I totally concur with.
WHY I EXPOSE ERROR AND WARN BELIEVERS
I am grieved for those who cannot understand my concerns and my warnings. I am not “attacking” the ministers who are obviously in error. I have nothing against them personally. I praise the Lord for every good thing in them and for every soul saved under their ministries. But souls saved are “in spite of “, not “because of ” many of their messages. God’s Word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) I cannot and will not ignore the things they are doing “publicly” which I believe will eventually destroy thousands of sound churches and which will break down Godly walls between truth and error.
There are also those who are heretics deceiving the masses. Those ministers who deny the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible, the Virgin Birth, the Lordship of Christ, the Blood Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection, the Eternal Sonship, ect. These I reject and alert others of their heresy.
The Bible commands men of God to judge the teaching and ministries of other men in order to protect the truth and the people of God. We are to mark those who cause divisions contrary to apostolic doctrine (Romans 16:17). This requires a careful examination and evaluation. The believers in the church at Corinth were instructed to judge one another (1 Cor. 14:29). That principle applies also to ministries outside of one’s own church, especially to very “public ministries” which influence vast numbers of people.
Paul rebuked Peter publicly for his hypocrisy. (Gal. 2:11-14). Was Paul “attacking” Peter? Of course not. He was bringing him back to the truth.
Truth is more important than unity because without truth men cannot be saved and walk in the will of God. It is truth, not unity, which is the light in this dark world. John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). God tells me to mark and avoid those who teach contrary to the apostolic doctrine (Romans 16:17). He tells me to earnestly CONTEND for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). “Contend” means to strive, to fight. Trouble and striving are not wrong in themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ stirred up much trouble, as did all of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. Trouble is not wrong, when it is caused by contending for the truth. . The Lord God has put a love in my heart for His Truth. He imparted to me the spirit described by King David: “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
Ever since I was saved I have had something within me that has stirred me up for the Truth. I believe that Something is the Holy Spirit. One of His names is the Spirit of TRUTH (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13 )
Matt 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (KJV)
This verse is directed to those whose brother offended them “personally”. It does not tell us how to handle “public hypocrisy or false teachings”.
Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (KJV)
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: (KJV)
Titus 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. (KJV)
Titus 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. (KJV)
Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; (KJV)
I cannot stop their mouths but I can try and warn as many people as I can.
Editor, Christian News & Views