We Become Like What We Worship

(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

[My responses to the Islamic quotes below are in brackets [] and in blue.]

I read a book by Patrick Sookhdeo, a convert in his later life from Islam to Christianity, from Muhammad to Christ. The title is The Challenge of Islam to the Church and Its Mission (2009). Since it is an inside story, I found it very interesting. There is an appendix by a German convert to Islam (Dr. Murad Hofmann), titled: “Differences between the Muslim and the Christian Concept of Love,” written in September 2007, and another appendix by the Barnabas Fund, “The Concept of Love in Islam,” which appears to be a Christian organization. As a side matter, the Islam scholar is ignorant to what the Church teaches about the Triune God and what our sources are. He quotes the Book of Mormon several times as if it were Christian. That is incredible ignorance; for no one in recognized any branch of the Christian Church thinks Mormonism and the Book of Mormon are Christian.

What the Islamic scholar said about love in the Koran:

  1. “Allah interacts with His creation in a loving manner and commands the love and affection of all true believers” (p. 146). [How can Allah interact with his creation if he is a monad, only having one person. Love requires at least one other person as the object in order to have love manifested. Love directed toward creation but not toward another person is bazaar, at the least. How can a person [Allah] be fulfilled by things {creation]. But if Allah was always just one person, or not really even a person at all as many of their scholars say, how could he ever have loved anything? Above all, love is relational, between beings, and beings of the same peer. (See below where the Son of God is our peer as man and the Father’s peer as God.) Moreover, if Muslims say that when Allah created, he now can exercise love, we have a god who was made complete by his own creation. By contrast, in the Holy Trinity we have three equal persons, each one having the divine essence in its fullness, and each one loving the other two infinitely. Likewise, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit love their creatures because they first loved one another. So Christians can love this one God in three persons because He FIRST love us (1 John 4:19).]
  2. Regarding Allah, Hofmann says: “Nevertheless, He remains unfathomable, unimaginable, unseizable, incomprehensible, indescribable. . . . we must not coin any similitudes for God” (p. 150). “Therefore, we can legitimately go about defining God in negative terms only, listing what cannot be said of Him. . . .” Yet Muslims are “expected to love Allah more than anything else.” [Muslims are stuck having to “define” their god only in negative terms because he/it is allegedly too mysterious, to vague, too high for humans to know him/it. Yet they are to love this unknown and unknowable God. For instance, they can say that he/it is not bound to his word since he/it is sovereign, but they cannot say for sure that he/it is love.]
  3. “As much as the Christian faith, Islam teaches that the love of God must translate into compassion for man. However, Muslims are a bit more hesitant when it goes to use the word “love.” In general they prefer to designate the same attitude as brother—and sisterhood” (p. 151). “Statements on brotherhood in the Qur’an most explicitly refer to relations between Muslims.” [In other words, there is no statement in the Qur’an to love our neighbor as ourselves. Moreover, we can see why because their god does not love unless loved first. Moreover, Muslims treat their woman badly: if their god does not forgive people in love, and whose word can change at a whim, is it any wonder that Muslim men treat their wives so badly. Indeed, being able to have four wives cheapens their value, and being able to divorce them by saying “I divorce you three times” in the presence of qualified witnesses (four adult males), is whimsical. We can see that Mohammed was the product of his time with polygamy being practiced and coming over into Islam.]
  4. “The idea that God might “love” what He created is not self evident. On the contrary, one might argue that love establishes a longing and dependency between the lover and loved one that is irreconcilable with God” (p. 152). [Now we can see the Islamic sense of love: dependency, rather than mutual self-giving. One can love without dependency by giving oneself to another without asking anything in return.]
  5. “Given the dual nature of Jesus [He does not understand Christianity, for we do not teach that Christ had a single dual nature, for that would be impossible for one nature to be both infinite and finite, but we teach that after the incarnation the Son had two distinct natures joined in the one person of the Son of God.] in the eyes of Christians, his love for mankind may be understood more easily by them as corresponding to the human sentiment which all men and women experience” (p. 152). Hofmann says of the love between us and Jesus that it is a “startling intimacy . . . that for Muslims borders on, or crosses over into, blasphemy.” [I’m not sure what Hofmann means by “intimacy” but surely we Christians enjoy a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit that cannot be had anywhere else. The Son added a sinless human nature to Himself. He has always been one person, and that did not change at His incarnation, but now He is also has two natures: one divine that He has always had and the other human. Islam says Allah is too distant and too unlike us to know us on a personal level, but we know the infinite Father through the limited human nature of the Son and the infinite nature of Son. We go to our heavenly Father through the humanity of the Son who as one person is also “connected” with the Father through His deity. Thus, we have a personal relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, all by the merits of the Son who died on the cross for our sins. Of course, He died in His humanity, not in His deity.]
  6. Yet Hofmann maintains that when the Qur’an says that Allah loves, it must mean that Allah “approves” someone, for love involves commitment and is subject to change that cannot be true of one who is immutable. Then Hofmann documents from many passages from the Qur’an that Allah does NOT love unbelievers or transgressors (p. 153). [That is contra the Bible that says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And very telling, Hofmann says that Allah will love us if we first love him, the very opposite of 1 John 4:19 in the Bible where we read: “We love Him BECAUSE He first loved us.” In the Gospel, the Triune God is the One who initiates love and we sinners respond in kind. Then Hofmann gives away the Islamic view of love.] After quoting some verses from the Qur’an about Allah loving people and creation, he says: “Admittedly, these quotations could be seen as proof for a love of God for His creation comparable to the love human beings are capable of. But this interpretation must be ruled out as incompatible with the very nature of God as sublime and totally self-sufficient.” Then Hofmann admits: “. . . the concept of loving one’s enemy is nowhere to be found in Islamic doctrine” (p. 154). [He then admits that it is constitutionally impossible for humans to love their enemies. That is why ISIS and al queda hate us so much and want to murder us—their god is like that.]
  7. The Barnabas Fund’s says of their book: “The Qur’an never states that God is love” (p. 158). It is insightful when the Fund proclaims that Allah’s love is from his will (he rewards those who act upright) but not from his nature, revealing that Allah’s does not have love as part of his attributes. [Is there any wonder that al qaeda and ISIS hate those they attack and seek to murder them with bombs, suicide bombers, decapitation, raping women, killing children, etc. They have become like the god they worship, full of anger, hate, and demands for submission, etc.] The Qur’an is clear: “He loves not those who reject faith” (Q 30:45). Again, God’s love for the Muslim who follows Muhammad “is a reward rather than a relationship” (p. 159). [In Islam Allah reveals himself through his law, his commands, which call for submission and obedience. By contrast, in Christianity we have a personal relationship with the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loved us so much that He sent His divine Son to live and die for our sins. A god who is always shouting commands and demanding obedience, and will throw you in hell if you don’t please him, makes for a people who are the same. So save yourself by obedience to God's law is the Galatian heresy that the Apostle Paul confronted in Galatians.]
  8. Again, the Barnabas Fund proclaims: “in Islam God reveals himself mainly through his law (shari‘a) which calls for submission and obedience. While in Christianity God is personal and establishes personal relationships of love with humans, in classical Islam god is seen as totally self-contained and beyond personal relationships. In Islam, although Allah loves certain Muslim people of whom he approves, he is not bound to love them even if they deserve his love. Ultimately God is not obliged to do anything, but acts as he wills, sometimes in an entirely capricious manner” contrary to what he says will happen (p. 160). “The role of humans is to submit, fear, and obey God and his law” (p. 160).
  9. Regarding amputation, stoning, and flogging as required by shari’a law, the leader of the Islamic Center of South Plains in Lubbock, TX, claimed that “harshness was part of shari‘a and any attempt at softening it was giving in to Western Christian concepts which were incompatible with Islam.” The Islamic leader stated that “personalized faith, like that of Christians, leads to corruption and immorality. He preferred the detachment and severity of Islam, citing the Qur‘anic verse: “And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [The Barnabas Fund explains: “In this view, harshness rather than love and mercy are at the heart of Islam. The inference is that Christianity is weak and contemptible because it has love and mercy at its core” (pp. 160-161).]
  10. [Let us Christians know and revel in the grace of the Triune God revealed to us in the Incarnation, and that the persons of the Holy Trinity are one in being and essence, sharing the very same divine nature, yet they desire to have a relationship with us sinners, which can be done through the One who is both God (the Father’s peer) and man (our peer). Therefore, we know how to love one another because we have learned it from the God we worship with each Person of the Holy Trinity loving the other persons, but there is no instance where one Person is said to love Himself. There is no self-love by the Members of the Holy Trinity, as there has to be in Allah with only one person, but each person of the Holy Trinity loves the other two and seeks to exalt them. (Read John 14, 16.)]



by Brother Andrew

These two religions are remarkably similar, and both are Christian heresies. It appears that Satan saw that Islam worked so well in the East with Mohammed in the seventh century that he cloned the same approach in the USA with Joseph Smith in the 18th century who founded the Mormons.

The following article was written by Brother Andrew, and can be accessed at this site:


http://www.bible.ca/islam/islamic-mormonism-similarities.htm. (Accessed April 18, 2010, slightly edited his article.)


  1. The followers of Muhammad and Joseph Smith both killed innocent “infidels” on the same date of 9/11. On September 11, 1857, Mormon militia massacred about 140 men, women and children under the authority of Brigham Young. However, 17 very young children were spared and adopted into Mormon families. They were sold to the highest Mormon family bidder and resold and traded many times afterwards. This event is called “The Mountain Meadows Massacre.” Mormon leaders engaged in a deliberate rewriting of history to deny they were behind the murders. On September 11, 2001 Muhammad’s followers, using the Koran as a guide, sent two airplanes into the World Trade Center killing 3,000 innocent men, women and children. Muslims today have a Ph.D. rewriting history and preach in the mosques that Jews were actually driving the planes, not Muslim terrorists. (Incredibly, many Muslims today deny the Jewish Holocaust, which shows how subjective Muslims are in their approach to history. Since they are repeating the Holocaust, they don’t want to be identified with it so they deny it ever happened.)
  2. Both were allegedly visited by an angel. Joseph Smith was visited by the angel “Moroni” and Muhammad by Gabriel. Galatians 1:6-9 says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
  3. Each has a holy city: Mormons have Salt Lake City and Muslims have Mecca. Both are copying the Judeo-Christian religion with its Jerusalem, though now for Christians Jerusalem is not the holy city, though it was in the past. We now have the New Jerusalem, which is figurative for the Church. (Hebrews 12:22; Gal. 4:25-26; Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10)
  4. Both were allegedly given visions, and in both cases we must believe the word of one man, unlike the Bible that has hundreds of witnesses over centuries of time in various geographical locations.
  5. Both were told that no true religion existed on the earth. In the published account of his life, Joseph Smith related that he became very disturbed when he was a youth because of the “strife among the different denominations,” and this “cry and tumult” led him to ask God “which of all the sects were right — and which I should join.” He was told that he must “join none of them, for they were all wrong . . . that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt. . . .” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:8-19) N. J. Dawood says that Mohammed was also concerned with the fact that the Jews and Christians had “divided themselves into schismatic sects.” In the scriptures given by Mohammed, we read: “Yet the Sects are divided concerning Jesus. . . . Truly, the unbelievers are in the grossest error.” (The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood, Surah 19, p. 34) In Surah 30, page 190, this warning appears: “Do not split up your religion into sects, each exulting in its own beliefs.” In Surah 3, page 398, we read: “The only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam. Those to whom the Scriptures [i.e., Jews and Christians] were given disagreed among themselves through jealousy only after knowledge had been given them.” (But which sect of Islam is correct, Sunnis, ISIS, Shiites?)
  6. Immediately after the death of Muhammad and Smith, a fight broke out among the “faithful converts” as to who would succeed Muhammad and Smith. Both groups were plunged into irreparable division that has endured ever since. Islam and Mormonism both have squabbles among themselves as to who is the one true splinter group of their prophet! As soon as each leader died, the movement split. The true lineage of Joseph Smith went to Independence, MO, but Brigham Young took most of the Mormons to Salt Lake City, UT. When Mohammed died, the movement split into two major groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites, with many smaller groups now existing.
  7. Both Muslims and Mormons were to restore the long lost faith as the one true religion. Islam makes the claim that Adam and Abraham were Muslims, a claim that is as ridiculous as it is undocumented from either history or archaeology. Mormons make the unsubstantiated claim that the church in the first century was Mormon.
  8. Both wrote a book that claims to be inspired by God.
  9. Both claimed to be illiterate or uneducated and used this as proof the book was inspired. “How could an illiterate man write the Koran or the Book of Mormon?” Joseph Smith is claimed to have had only a third grade education.
  10. Both claimed the Bible was lost, altered, corrupted and unreliable.
  11. Both claimed their holy book was the most correct and perfect book on earth.
  12. Both claimed that their new “Bible” was based upon a record stored in heaven. With Islam, it is the “mother book” that resides in heaven with God. With Mormonism, it is the golden Nephi plates that the angel Moroni took back to heaven.
  13. Both claim that the versions they have in our hands today are identical to what the prophet revealed and that parts are not lost, altered, and corrupted. The Mormon claim is proven false by a book called 3913 Changes to Book of Mormon by Sandra Tanner. The Islamic claim is proven false by a book (In Arabic language) called, Making Easy the Readings of What Has Been Sent Down by Muhammad Fahd Khaaruun. Both books show that the copy of the book of Mormon and the Koran used today are different from what was originally used when each religion was started.
  14. Both claimed to be the ultimate prophet of God.
  15. Both claimed they were persecuted because of their pure faith.
  16. Both were polygamists who had many wives.
  17. Both borrowed from paganism/polytheism. Muhammad incorporated the polytheistic moon god called “Allah” and “Allah’s three daughters” into Islam. Basically Muhammad chose Allah from within 350 known gods that were worshipped in Arabia and proclaimed the moon god to be the greatest and only God. Smith borrowed from a doctrine called “pyramidology” and the Masons and other magic systems.
  18. Both received “after the fact corrective revelations” from God. Muhammad retracted the Satanic verses and Mormons retracted Smith’s divine order mandating polygamy.


“As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi . . . which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again — and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated . . . I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, Preface)

19. Mormons, contrary to the Bible, “baptize the dead,” which is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 15:29, but says nothing about what it means or even that it is required. But Mormons have developed a whole theology on this one verse, and so they gather genealogies of all men who live on earth. This contradicts the Bible: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9). While the Bible says avoid focusing on genealogies, the Mormon church makes it their central focus of mission. Mormons have even been criticized for baptizing, by proxy, the Jews who had died in Nazi Holocaust camps. When lists of genealogies are collected, living Mormons are baptized on behalf of those on the lists, who have already died. In this way, Mormons view every man who lived, as being Mormons. In the same way Muslims claim that all men are born Muslims and when they learn the truth of Christianity, they are apostatizing from their first faith. Muslims re-write history by proclaiming Jesus and the Apostles were Muslims in a similar way that Mormons are baptized by proxy for dead Jews (for example) with the expectation they will be Mormons in the next life. Yet gathering of large genealogical lists no more makes dead people Mormons in the next life, than re-writing history makes Jesus into a Muslim.

20. Both the Islam and Mormon religions have those who follow the “original doctrine” of the founding leaders and like these founding leaders, are violent, polygamists, and have revelations from God justifying their evil actions.

21. Both Muslims and Mormons (and Jehovah’s Witnesses) have progressive revelation. JW’s call it “new light.” Muslims call it “Nasikh.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were once instructed to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and salute the flag, but “new light” changed all that. Mormons, like all Muslims, were originally polygamists until “The Manifesto” against polygamy came as a revelation to John Taylor, over 40 years after Smith’s death, on the eve of the US government outlawing the practice of polygamy. New revelation always replaces older revelation that became inconvenient to the prophet.

22. Both require faith in a prophet outside the Bible to go to heaven. The Mormons require faith in Joseph Smith and the Muslims faith that Mohammed was God’s final prophet.

(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

Muslims constantly put down the Christian view of atonement, saying that their god Allah just forgives our sins without atonement, without justice being fulfilled. But if Allah forgives without justice, we have a compromised god, one that forgives based on what? The Muslim view is that forgiveness is based on human works. But how can a finite human satisfy the justice of an infinite God, and if that justice does not need satisfying, why do Muslims say that people go to hell? Is there justice after all?

Moreover, their god is not even a person in any meaningful sense so how could one be reconciled to him/it? Only persons can be reconciled. One is not reconciled to a chair or nondescript being.

One wonderful aspect of the Holy Trinity is that He is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and one Person (Son) can establish both justice and mercy for us with another Person (the Father, three persons in one being). We can (and do) have a relationship with the Father through the merits of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Since one man sinned that brought death (Adam), so one Man died to kill sin and bring us life and righteousness (Last Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45, 47). Moreover, the Christian atonement is a free gift, not something we earn, if we could. Here is what the Bible says:

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

Notice the highlighted words. WHOM God the Father set forth, which means a person (Son of God) was offered to a person (God the Father). Our justice and mercy is a Person, the Son of God. PROPITIATION is upholding justice, taking the punishment, which a Person (Son of God) did by voluntarily giving His life’s blood for us. DEMONSTRATE HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, which refers to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, upholding the Father’s infinite righteousness by dying in our place, taking our judgment. And my favorite statement in the Bible is THAT HE MIGHT BE JUST AND THE JUSTIFIER OF THE ONE WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS! Christians receive both justice and justification! We receive justice in Jesus, who took our judgment, and we receive justification by faith in Jesus, who imputes to us His justice or justification. At the Cross where Jesus died, mercy and justice kiss one another (Psalm 85:10). We, as sinful persons, are accepted by God through the justice/justification of Jesus, the Lamb of God!

Why do Christians offer other people and other religions peace and love while people like Al Qaeda and ISIS murder everyone? They murder other Muslims, Christians, and all religions different from their brand of Islam. And when I say murder, I mean decapitating people, crucifying Christians, raping and brutally chopping women to pieces, giving Christians one opportunity to convert to Islam or be killed, murdering children, and so on. They continually offer blood atonement to their angry god; and since it does not satisfy, they keep offering it. The only sure way for them to go to heaven is to offer to Allah their own blood in a jihad as a self-atonement while murdering a non-Muslim.

We now have thousands of them doing just that to untold thousands of Christians and other Muslims in Iraq, Syria , against the Jews in the Gaza Strip, whom they vow to “wipe [Israel] off the map,” etc. They are as evil as anyone in history, including the Romans who crucified millions, especially Christians, and the Barbarians. The only difference between them and Hitler is the degree to which they have murdered people, but they are gaining on Hitler. Their approach in kind is the same—kill all Jews and Christians–only the degree of mayhem is less, for now. Is it any wonder they deny the Holocaust: they are repeating it and don’t want the identification.

But know for sure that Muslims believe in atonement; it is just not done by their god but by themselves to a god who only knows how to give commandments, not one who knows how to love. (See my next blog on Islam and the Love of God.)

We become like what we worship, and those Muslims who worship an angry god who only gives commands, become like him/it: full of wrath, judgment, anger, death, and full of commands and demands. Here is what we read of such false religions:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Christians offer life, love, and mercy; Muslims offer death, hate, and slaughter, each according to his God. The fruit reveals the root. AMEN.




(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

Once upon a time, there was the great Reformation that formally began under Martin Luther when he nailed up the 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, challenging the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding Indulgences. An Indulgence is a work a Christian does to lessen the time he must stay in purgatory to be cleanses of his sins before he can go to heave. The Reformation, practically speaking, began at least 200 years earlier under John Wycliff in the 1300s and Jon Hus in the 1400s, both of whom were declared heretics by Rome. By the time of the Reformation, Wycliff was dead, but they exhumed his bones to undo his Christian burial. Hus, even though Rome gave him safe conduct to and from his meeting, was burned at the stake. So were Anglican scholars Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer in the 1500s.

The title of this article is Doctrine versus Experience, but the word “versus” need not be there. Indeed, Paul—and the Bible in general—do not see a necessary contrast between doctrine and experience, and Paul bases experience on doctrine.

But we must be careful to define these two things. Doctrine is easy enough: it is what Holy Scripture tells us about God, ourselves, the Son of God, sin, and so on. Experience is how we live in light of such unchanging truths. The problem develops when we try to establish doctrine based on our experience, or when we think that doctrine is just spouting off propositions about God with no thought of living for Him or having His joy, peace, love, etc manifested in our lives. Experience without doctrine is heat without light; enthusiasm without knowledge quickly leads one into heresies of all kinds. Doctrine without experience is cold, ineffective, quickly becomes mean spirited, like quoting Greek conjugations just with the idea of getting them over. Once learned and recited, they can be quickly discarded.

We have both kinds of Christians in various denominations, and though I’ll give some examples (from my denomination also, the Reformed Episcopal Church), I do not mean that there are not fine exceptions in each denomination. On the one hand, in Presbyterianism, there can be—and too often are—egg head Christians, those who have knowledge without love. These people love to blast other Christians, demonstrating how much more knowledge they have than other Christians, as if propositions alone meant one knew and loved God. As I grew up, we used to say one could know God with his head but not his heart, and is that not what St. Paul stated?

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2).

One the one hand, though I’m not charismatic, what are we to think of the experience of millions of charismatics worldwide who claim to be able to heal others and to speak in tongues? Does experience have no place?

On the other hand, in Charismatic circles there is the tendency to derive doctrine from one’s experience. I’ve heard many times, “I know tongues are for today because I have experienced them.” No amount of biblical exegesis would convince Charismatics otherwise. My point is that this is a wrong priority.

Surely, there must be a balance somewhere. As Presbyterian theologian James Henley Thornwell (died 1862) stated:

Truth must be exhibited warm and glowing from the fullness of the Christian heart. It must be not nakedly truth, but truth according to godliness. The writer must know it, because he has been taught by the Spirit and feels its power. This living consciousness of its preciousness and sweetness and glory is absolutely essential to save a system from the imputation of a frozen formalism. Infuse life, and you have a noble organism. (The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell, 1:35)

So what is the point? It is that we must have objective truth based on the unchanging written word, but also truth that moves us, that has the fire of the heart and the Holy Spirit to make us new. It is a shame to hear the word written, confessed, sung, preached, and tasted in communion, and have the people sit like a pile of stones with grim faces, afraid to express any emotion lest they be considered weird. I’d rather be weird for Jesus. But emotion in itself without truth means nothing, and truth without emotion is deal formalism, but at least the latter has the gospel.

I took some postulants to the ministry to a church growth seminar provided by the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America), of which we (Reformed Episcopal Church) are a part. We were supposed to hear about how to do church growth. Instead, we constantly heard “God told me” such, how one pastor followed the leading of the Spirit with subjective feelings and grew a church. What was conspicuous by its absence was anything from God’s written word. Another told us how to receive the Holy Spirit, as if we could be Christians without Him: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). It seems that just using the Bible and common sense is not enough, but we must divine God’s will apart from Holy Scripture. How is one to know that it was God speaking to him and not the pizza one had?

Now consider this experience: I’m not charismatic, but there has been a phenomenon in the last 100 years as noted by several modern church historians. Throughout our planet, there has been a huge movement of charismatics, a movement of the Holy Spirit they would say, a revival of huge proportions.

But consider that what the historians report (Alister McGrath; Christianity’s Dangerous Idea; Philip, The Next Christendom): of the two billion Christians in the world, about half of those are Protestants, and of those more than half are charismatic in some form. They may be distinct, independent churches, various denominations, or within various denominations, and virtually all denominations, such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, to some extent Eastern Orthodox, and even the Roman Catholic Church, have had charismatic growth. Though we may question some of their “experience” with good doctrine, yet how are we to account for so many coming to know Christ? Of course, we all know that no church is infallible; even Rome does not claim that except for the Pope and that on rare occasions. Is it possible that many can be converted without their doctrine being perfect? I suggest there is no other way any of us are converted to Christ except through imperfect humans with imperfect doctrine.

And what is their origin? We now know they came from everywhere, at the same time, and independent of one another. As modern church historian Alister McGrath has recently stated:

A number of roughly contemporary movements with recognizable shared beliefs and expectations emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century, but without any obvious indication of reciprocal causality.

The picture that is now becoming clear is that a series of local “Pentecostalisms” emerging in the first decade of the twentieth century. The 1906 revival at Azusa Street was one of them. So was the 1903 revival in Pyongyand, Korea; the 1906-7 revival at Pandira Ramabai’s Mukti Mission in Poona India. The Manchurian revival of 1908; the revival in Valparaiso, Chile, in 1909; the revival that broke out in the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, and the Liberian Kru in 1914; and other revivals in Norway, China, Venezuela and elsewhere. (Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, p. 422).

The Pentecostal movement is leading the way south of our border and in Africa. Moreover, there are numerous Muslims who are saying that Jesus has appeared to them, telling them to leave Mohammad and seek out Jesus in some particular church, and they are being converted to Christ. But—and here is the point—they begin to read the Bible, to trust in the Triune God, and to worship with other believers. If one of them came to my church, I would not want to try to talk him out of his vision but to point him to Holy Scripture and to worship.

Were all these movements gospel centered, with the Son of God presented as the center? I don’t know, but we do know that the Holy Spirit exalts Him (John 16:14). Pentecostal or charismatic growth has been explosive the last hundred years, especially the last 50 years (in my lifetime). It is Protestant, holding practically to the Apostles’ Creed, though perhaps they do not say it in their worship services. Of course, there are heresies, such as the “Oneness” movement spawned by charismatics, who deny the Holy Trinity, believing that Jesus is the Father and is the Holy Spirit. In other words, God is role playing, not having three persons but one who manifest Himself as three different persons at various times. But this is a small movement, and Protestantism has had its heresies that it has created before Pentecostalism came along, though Pentecostalism itself is not a heresy. Moreover, the word-faith movement also tends to be heretical, saying either that the Son of God was not God while on earth or at least did not manifest His divine attributes while on earth. They say things like Jesus did his miracles only by the power of the Holy Scripture, not by His own attributes; and since we have the same Holy Spirit, we can do all that He did. Since charismatics are long on experience and short on doctrine, they are easy prey to those who claim to have the same kinds of experiences. I’ve written a book on the word-faith movement: (http://www.footstoolpublications.com/AdPages/Man_as_God.htm).

I repeat that I am not charismatic, and I could never hold to their view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (my doctrine over their experience), but can we not at least recognize that something most unusual has happened, that millions of people have come to Christ through this movement? God has been striking straight blows with crooked sticks for many centuries. Pentecostalism began all over the world at the same time, with basically the same expressions, and with the same basic gospel? How do we explain that? My view is that their sensationalism is wrong but their gospel emphasis a good one.

Those who reject charismatics based on their doctrine do not seem to understand that what really matters, according to the Church for the past 2,000 years, has been given to us in the three creeds, especially the Nicene Creed, but the Apostles’ Creed and Athanasian Creed also. It is not the claiming of supernatural gifts that makes one heretical (or orthodox) but the denial of the historic Church’s teaching as given in the creeds. I may disagree with someone over speaking in tongues and over the so-called “word of knowledge” they allegedly receive, but that does not mean they are condemned as heretics to suffer in hell forever. Orthodoxy is the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Son of God, His death and resurrection, Ascension, Second Coming, forgiveness of sins, and Church and Sacraments that make up the essence of the Gospel—not tongues.

For me, doctrine is always the foundation for experience, never the reverse. The bottom line for me is to obey Holy Scripture, obey those over me in the Lord (Heb. 13:7, 17), and do what I like. AMEN.

Every once in a while I come across and excellent article that must be shared. Take at look at this world view in action with modern day liberals. Look for this title at:


Progressive Xenophobia Rising

21 May 2014 (continued from 21 May 2014)

(Curtis Crenshaw, from my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, available here)

From Fox News, from Bill O’Reilly, from CNN, to American Family Association, I’m constantly hearing about Christian “values,” even from Christian news media, with the assumption that values are based on natural moral law.

Last time we talked about natural moral law, what it is, and how that there is really no such thing. This time we shall look at biblical “natural” law, which is far different from what many think.

What Is Biblical Natural Law?

But in another sense we can say there is natural moral law if by that we mean that we are made in God’s image, consequently we have the “memory” as it were of His morality stamped in us. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel (Romans 2:14-16).

The passage teaches us several things. First, the law that Paul says the Gentiles have is nothing other than God’s commandments; that is clear from the context. In the verses that follow, Paul mentions stealing, adultery, idolatry, and perhaps other commandments. It is therefore not a different law, a “neutral” moral law that the Gentiles or non-Christians dreamed up or discovered.

Second, Paul does not say they have the law in their hearts but the “work of the law written in their hearts,” which is its effects. In other words, the very fact that they have a conscience that accuses and excuses indicates that they are made in His image. Animals don’t think about and debate morality. Accusations and excuses are activities that evidence moral consciousness, the only rationale of which is the effect of God’s law in their hearts.[1] And the fact that their conscience functions with the assumptions of God’s Ten Commandments indicates that they really know God, at least in one sense (Romans 1:21). But they don’t want to know Him because they love their sin (John 3:19-20) so they suppress the truth about Him and His morality. Here is how Paul put it earlier in Romans:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

God’s existence and morality are “clearly seen” in creation, but they do not want it so they “suppress” it by means of unrighteous practices, saying that they are “free” to do as they like. Sinning boldly is a challenge to God that He is not in charge; they are, and they will have no consequences to their rebellion. Likewise, the Triune God is “manifest in them,” in their conscience as seen in trying to suppress His knowledge as they try to get rid of this constant reminder by giving themselves over to wickedness. Their sinful desires are driving their minds; they are not neutrally investigating morality. Their minds are enslaved to their immorality. What their hearts love, their wills embrace, and their minds justify. They suppress God’s existence by devising alternative theories for our existence, such as evolution, which leaves them “free” to devise alternative theories of morality. In the same passage, here is what Paul says they wish to practice:

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [females] exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [males], leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (Romans 1:26-27).

Notice how I translated “women” and “men” above as “females” and “males.” There were several choices Paul the Apostle had in words for women and men, but he uses the rare word for “female” and the more certain word for “male” because he is making a deliberate connection to Genesis 1:27 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament where these same Greek words are used:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The original creation, Paul implies, was one male and one female. That is the standard.

Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, demonstrates from dozens of sources from classical Greek (Plato and others), from Jewish sources between the Old and New Testaments, and from those outside the New Testament who nevertheless lived during the time of the Apostles,[2] that “natural use” and “against nature” were set phrases that referred to heterosexual and homosexual behavior respectively with no known exceptions.[3]

But the point is that they cannot live in God’s world without assuming His existence and His morality, for they self-destruct (“receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”). This “error” would seem to be apostasy from God, then “burning,” which is ever increasing and intense lusts that can never be satisfied, that finally leads to diseases from aberrant sexual practices (Exodus 15:26; Leviticus 26:16) and to final judgment at the Last Day. Moreover, such practices lead them to mental distress, depression, and to suicide, which is very high among homosexuals. LGBT insider Tammy Bruce reports that male homosexuals are pursuing unprotected sex even when they know it will lead to disease,[4] which is a death wish. This is a rebellion to God that they can do as they please without consequences. His response is to turn them over to their lusts for destruction and to a warped mind:

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves . . . 26  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions . . . 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).

This dishonoring of God leads to the dishonoring of self. Though not every idolater gives himself (or herself) to same sex unions, Paul seems to be saying that just as those who reject God suppress the truth about Him (v. 18), so many who reject Him also suppress the truth about same sex unions. Therefore, three times we see that God gave them over to their lusts and to a debased and warped mind. If they reject Him, His creation, and His morality, He will reject them, but if they reach out to Him, He will forgive and heal (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

To put it another way, if one loses sight of the vertical, he loses sight of the horizontal. If one denies the Christian God and creation, he denies human relationships. If one cannot define the vertical, he cannot define the horizontal, for the vertical is the standard of measure for the horizontal. If there is no God who created us male and female and told us to fill the earth with children, then we can redefine the family to be two of the same gender who by definition cannot produce prodigy to fill the earth. Thus, their kingdom self-destructs.

Therefore, in two areas they suppress the truth so as to distort the natural law of their conscience: (1) they devise alternatives theories of our origin, denying creation and the Creator, (2) which in turn leads them to devise alternative theories of morality, denying their conscience, the image of God within them, and God’s morality.

Secularists accuse Christians of trying to impose “religion” on society, for wanting to impose our morality. First, as we in Part 1, there is only one morality—God’s. Second, if God’s morality is the only one, He has already imposed it. Third, the secularists are imposing their ungodly immorality on society, and they are doing so in the name of their god—secularism. It is not a question of imposing; it is only a question of WHO is imposing WHAT.

Of course we can argue for God’s morality to our culture without using Scripture, but we cannot argue for it without assuming Scripture.[5] Christians become embarrassed over believing the Bible so they want to distance themselves from it when dealing with non-Christians. It seems better to assume it and then argue one’s case, for that is what God Himself does in scripture. Non-Christians don’t get to determine the evidence or how we present it to them—God does.

Thus, there is no natural, morally neutral moral law that is for all faiths, for each law-giver would imply another god. We would then have many gods, all competing for worshippers.

Become like what they worship. If one worships secularism, he’ll impose that morality. If one worships the Triune God, he’ll recognize God’s law as the standard. Human nature is fallen, which means the hearts of all people are sinful so that there is no neutral moral law code in our hearts but rather a law giver over our hearts—the Triune God. To assert that there is neutral morality implies a god who is neutral, but we have seen that such thinking is rebellious to the one and only Triune God who is infinitely holy, not neutral. Muslims murder innocent people, treat women terribly, and “marry” little girls before puberty because Mohammed was a pedophile. Moreover, Allah does not love and with only one person in him (it), even he/it is not a person and does not value relationships.

Here is how Jeremiah put it:

The heart isdeceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Amen. Ω


[1] John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1959), 1:55-56.

[2] Such as Philo and Josephus.

[3] Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville: Abington Press, 2001), 500 plus pages. See especially chapter four.

[4] Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003), p. 96ff. The movement is known as “bareback,” risking and even seeking to get some disease as a badge of honor to one’s freedom and challenge to God’s authority. (See my comments on this book in the Bibliography at the end of the book.)

[5] John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), p. 242ff.

20 May 2014

(Curtis Crenshaw, from my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, available here)

From Fox News, from Bill O’Reilly, from CNN, to American Family Association, I’m constantly hearing about Christian “values,” even from Christian news media, with the assumption that values are based on natural moral law.

But what is natural law? (1) With some, natural law is the right of the individual to decide moral issues without judges or legislation getting in the way. It is just the individual and his conscience. There is no static set of timeless truths, but each individual and each culture morphs into various standards according to the times. Thus for someone to tell a woman that she should not have an abortion is a violation of her right to choose for herself; it is forcing one’s morality on another. Of course, they don’t want to talk about forcing their morality of choice on a baby who then dies. This choice is especially demanded in the area of sexuality. This is what Judge Bork in his excellent book Slouching Towards Gomorrah calls a radical egalitarianism, which means no one can say anyone is wrong about their choices, for all are equal, and there is no God. But if each can choose, what should we do about murder? Government steps in, as it should, but this only reveals that it is impossible to have complete autonomy; there must be limits on what one can choose. How do we define those limits?[1]

(2) With others natural law is the government ruling according to social norms, and the Constitution must be interpreted by those norms. In this view, the Constitution is reinterpreted with each new generation, and this is the way it should be, they think. But this means the Constitution is not really a binding standard, just a wax nose to be manipulated.

(3) With still others, natural law can be an unchanging norm that is discovered by some human process that is devoid of divine input. They would say that there are moral absolutes, such as not murdering one another. But there are so many things that people cannot agree to that this is hopeless.

The problem with natural law in each case is that man discovers it based on who he is rather than it being revealed based on who God is. Suppose all morality was just natural law, which means we just discover it by ourselves, or make it up as we go along. (a) The first problem is the source for it, for if the world is just molecules in motion, how could immaterial morality arise from matter? If nature is all there is, then the way things are is the way they should be.[2] Thus if one is born homosexual, that is the way it should be. Of course, we deny that one is born homosexual but that people choose that lifestyle.

(b) A second problem, if morality is just discovered, is that morality is only conventions agreed to, for the moment. How do we get others to “discover” it, and who will enforce it? What happens if we can’t agree? If no one enforces it, then we have nothing. If we just discover it, how do we explain that all cultures punish people for murder and theft, and look down on adultery? This flux of morality would be like the murderer who thought it was unfair to be prosecuted because he was doing what was “natural,” according to what his wisdom had discovered. Some were predators and some prey. He was a predator, so why punish him for doing what was natural? We don’t punish wolves for being wolves, do we? Moreover, if morality was just a product of people thinking it up, whose thoughts would prevail? It would seem that we would be subject to majority vote so that the next time a Hitler arose, if he had enough votes, murdering Jews and Christians would be acceptable. But we all know that no amount of rational argument can justify murder, or can it? (Can you say “abortion”?)

(c) A third problem is that if moral law is based on human nature, whose human nature? The position usually assumes evolution, which means human nature is constantly changing as it evolves. In fact, some will be more morally advanced than others in their genetic evolution, and all will be different a thousand years from now. What will morality be like then? By contrast, we can trace God’s absolute moral law back thousands of years from now, and it has not changed because He has not changed.

“Modernist lawmaking is based not on morality but on ‘utility’ and ‘rights.’ ”[3] In other words, it is very subjective; it is not concerned with righteousness but with what makes people feel good, what people want. When we give up the objective standard of righteousness, society goes to war to fight over whose rights get upheld and whose rights are violated. This view creates moral civil war. People will say dumb things like “two people can do what they wish as long as it does not hurt anyone.” But that is just the point: All sin hurts those who do it and consequently those around them with whom they have interaction, both public and private. Since morality is a revelation of the character of the Triune God, it is not discoverable; He must reveal Himself to us.

Natural moral law has so far led us in the West to abortion, and is leading us to the destruction of the family with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual). It is time we Christians stop catering to the arguments of those who hate God and stand for His law-word. The world has values that constantly change. Christians are adopting their language, trying to appease them, and imposing a Christian standard of “values” on the world. Rather, we Christians could not impose a standard on the world if we had the opportunity; God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, has already imposed His moral standard, His character, and that is the standard by which we shall be judged. It has been clearly revealed to us in Holy Scripture.

The world tries to have “values,” which reveals that they hate God and are in rebellion. They self-destruct against the rocks of God’s law. Moreover, Christians do not have values either, but only the law-word of the great King. In other words, there is only one morality: God’s character, which does not change.

Another way to say the same thing is that morality is persons in relationship. Morality does not exists in the abstract, but it is assumed by persons who are in some relationship, as employee, spouse, sibling, citizens, and so forth. Thus, to speak of natural law as if it exists apart from persons is nonsense. There is only one perfect moral character, God’s, and thus only one moral law code, God’s. Every law enacted by mankind is either an application of God’s character or an act of rebellion against His character. There are no other options. There are no “values” that we can pick and choose but only the Ten Commandments of the Great King—nothing else. His character rules because He rules. Therefore, let us not talk of the world’s values or the Christian’s values but only the absolute, unbending and unchangeable moral law of the one God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. People are always bellowing that Christians are trying to impose their standards on the world, but the fact is that God has already imposed His moral character on the world. In fact, no one can be in any relationship without a moral standard, and each person seeks to make his moral standard the norm. The irony is that at the same time that liberals accuse us of imposing their morality on them, they are doing the same with their immorality. It can’t be otherwise. Every law enacted in Congress is someone’s morality (or immorality) imposed on the minority.

(to be continued next time) Ω


[1] Another way to say this is to ask if law is normative or descriptive? If it is normative, there is an unchangeable standard; but if it is just descriptive, then it only “describes” what people do. Those who take surveys to see what people and do and make standards from those surveys are idolaters, using man as the measure of morality.

[2] Philosophers say it this way: What is, is the way it ought to be. Watch for my booklet Is, Can, Ought on my website (www.ftstl.com).

[3] Philip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 139.


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