Jul 30, 2010

Christianity Today's Anti-Christianity Today

T. A. McMahonBy T. A. McMahon
The Berean Call

According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.org, "Christianity Today [CT] is an Evangelical Christian periodical based in Carol Stream, IL. It is the flagship publication of its parent company Christianity Today International, claiming readership of 290,000. The founder, Billy Graham, stated that he wanted to 'plant the evangelical flag in the middle-of-the-road, taking the conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems.'

"Today it, and its 13 sister publications, reach well over 2 million readers in its traditional paperbound form, and more than 10 million pageviews per month in their Internet form."
It was right after I became a born-again Christian more than thirty years ago that I encountered my first copy of Christianity Today. Having grown up Roman Catholic, my appetite for anything evangelical was ravenous. Yet even in those early years of my faith, there were things that I read in that magazine that troubled me. I recognized, in Mr. Graham's own words, "a definite liberal approach to social problems" in the promotion of "Christian" psychological counseling (see TBC, July 1999).

Of even more concern, however, were articles that clearly favored Roman Catholicism. This was disconcerting for one who had recently been delivered from the bondage of the false gospel of Rome. I remembered also reading an old quote from Billy Graham, which he had spoken nearly a decade before he started CT. He declared that "The three gravest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity are Communism, Roman Catholicism, and Mohammedanism" (Plains Baptist Challenger, March 1984). Incredibly, years later, among CT's contributing editors and writers were Roman Catholics, including Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus. It was Neuhaus, along with CT editors Chuck Colson, J. I. Packer, Timothy George, Thomas Oden, Richard Mouw, and Mark Noll, among others, who formed, were promoters of, and/or were signers of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium." Their news release proclaimed:
"[L]eading Catholics and evangelicals are asking their flocks for a remarkable leap of faith: to finally accept each other as Christians....[E]vangelicals including Pat Robertson and Charles Colson joined with conservative Roman Catholic leaders today in upholding the ties of faith that bind [them]....They urged Catholics and evangelicals...to stop aggressive proselytization of each other's flocks."
The Catholic bias of CT is reflected in the modus operandi of Graham's crusades: they were, and continue to be, publicized and subsidized by each Catholic diocese where they take place. Additionally, the crusades continue to be outfitted with Catholic counselors who guide those Catholics that "come forward" to return to their local Catholic churches.

The list of Catholic luminaries celebrated by CT includes popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II (Graham told Larry King that he and the pope "agree on almost everything"), Mother Teresa, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Buddhist/Catholic monk Thomas Merton, and mystic Catholic priest Henry Nouwen. Catholic mysticism is further promoted by CT contributing editor Richard Foster, who is the godfather of the modern contemplative/mystical (read "Eastern") movement within evangelical Christianity.

It seems that no voice that advances apostasy has been omitted from CT's list of contributing editors or writers: Ron Sider, President Obama's leftist theologian; Notre Dame professor Mark Noll; Eugene Peterson (who wrote his own bible called The Message); Eastern Orthodox followers Frederica Mathewes-Green and Bradley Nassif; former executive editor Terry Muck (who writes of his love for the Buddha); Leith Anderson (who promotes the experiential over the propositional, i.e., that emergent experience trumps doctrine); and psychology and Bible integrationist Eric L. Johnson, to name but a few.

All of this leads us to Christianity Today's senior managing editor, Mark Galli, and his article of July 15, 2010, titled "Divine Drama Queen," which is his characterization of the God of the Bible. We've reprinted here extensive excerpts of CT's God-demeaning/man-exalting article (albeit reluctantly, due to its wicked content) as further evidence of this "evangelical" magazine's continuing slither into the last days' apostasy. What Galli has written is CT's latest installment of corrupting the faith, generated from decades of undermining the Word of God and distorting the God of the Bible. Editor Galli makes this so obvious that what he writes needs few comments on my part. Nevertheless, his writing is in italics, and my words appear in brackets and regular type:
I like a tranquil, even-keeled, self-controlled God. A God who doesn't fly off the handle at the least provocation. A God who lives one step above the fray. A God who has that British stiff upper lip even when disaster is looming.

When I read my Bible, though, I keep running into a different God, and I'm not pleased. This God says he "hates" sin. Well, he usually yells it. Read the prophets. It's just one harangue after another, all in loud decibels. And when the shouting is over, then comes the pouting.

Take his conversation with Hosea....He orders Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife; she becomes a symbol of Israel's unfaithfulness to God. This is no down-on-her-luck-but-with-a-heart-of-gold prostitute like those so often portrayed in movies. This is some sleazy woman who, even when given a chance at a decent life, keeps "whoring."

God then tells Hosea to have children with this woman. When the children are born, he tells Hosea to call the first Jezreel, explaining, "I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel." The second, God calls No Mercy, because "I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all." The third he calls Not My People, "for you are not my people, and I am not your God" (Hosea 1:1-9).

This God is like the volatile Italian woman who, upon discovering her husband's unfaithfulness, yells and throws dishes, refuses to sleep in the same bed, and doesn't speak to him for 40 days and 40 nights.
[I refrained from drawing conclusions up to this point on my first reading of this article because I suspected that Galli would indicate his own misunderstanding of God. I guessed wrong. This is the kind of blasphemy that one would expect from militant atheists and humanists, such as Richard Dawkins, or foul-mouthed, Christ-mocking comedians like Bill Maher. It is total blasphemy - a mischaracterization of God as well as a denigration of His perfectly holy character.]
We may think this a crude depiction, except that Jesus - God with us - seems to suffer the same emotional imbalance. He rants about Pharisees and Scribes - or "snakes" and "hypocrites," as he calls them. So upset is he over sacrilege in the Temple, he overturns tables and drives people out with a whip. And then we find him lamenting, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate!"(Matthew 23:37-38). This God knows nothing about being a non-anxious presence. This is a very anxious God, indeed.
[It's difficult to restrain anger here. The Creator of the universe, the sacrificial Lamb of God, who paid the full penalty for our sins, and His Father, who sent Him to the Cross for our sake - they suffer from "emotional imbalance"?! They - whose Word tells us to be anxious for nothing - they are anxious?]
I'd rather have a God who takes sin in stride. Why can't he relax and recognize that to err is human. I mean, you don't find us flawed humans freaking out about one another's sins. You don't see us wrathful, indignant, and pouting. Why can't God almighty just chill out and realize we're just human?
[Has the reader been manipulated by Galli into fleshing out his own similar thoughts about God? Will he now set the record straight?]
It's that little phrase, "we're just human," that may be the rub with God. Sin seems to be a big deal to God because apparently we're a big deal to him. That little phrase, "we're just human," signals that we may not be as big a deal to ourselves....[God] believes that to be human is to be destined for glory. As Peter put it, he has "called us to his own glory and excellence," that we "may become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
[So much for repenting of the character assassination of God the Father and God the Son. Instead, Galli panders to mankind's self-image, dangling before us the "glory" of humanity. He then leads the reader to the next step, self-deification - the same lie that Satan offered to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5).]
That's right: he [God] thinks "just humans" can become nothing less than gods. Not in the sense of beings who should be worshipped, but beings who have become, in the fullest sense, bearers of the image and likeness of their Creator....He created beings with deep awareness of themselves and their Creator, who could envision the absolute heights they could scale and the perfect love they could enjoy, and who knew they could have all this forever and ever....
[Nowhere in Scripture do you find the word "god" (with a lowercase "g" ) ever used to denote a righteous person or entity.]
...And yet God gambled. He has thrown everything into this grand enterprise. He made the creation of these beings not a matter of course or compromise, but a matter of life or death. Everything was on the line with this roll of the dice. To win meant for these creatures a bliss that only God knows. To lose meant death and eternal destruction. There was no holding back. God was going to make human glory a winner-take-all proposition, even if it killed him.
[God gambled? Does he mean that God doesn't know how things will turn out? This is the heresy of Open Theism, which denies God's omniscience - denies that He is the God of prophecy as He proclaimed in Isaiah 46:9-10: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done...."]
So when things start going south, we find him throwing dishes and slamming doors....God rants at us as an Olympian curses himself for losing concentration during a crucial part of the race. Or as a novelist chastises herself for lazy writing. For the righteous perfectionist (versus the neurotic perfectionist), every detail matters. God wants nothing less than perfection, because he knows that perfection is the only way for us to become what he created us to become: godlike.
[Galli must be having flashbacks to his college Greek mythology classes. At least I hope that's his excuse. Of course, he could plead insanity. How much more irrational could one be than to posit a "righteous perfectionist" who throws dishes, slams doors, rants, and curses himself. Again, this is unashamed blasphemy. It is anti-Christianity from Christianity Today.]
When the stakes are so high, of course, the consequence of failure, even in the smallest detail, spells disaster. It's like a space shuttle - one of the most sophisticated and marvelous of machines - crashing to earth because of a faulty oil ring. When God sees the space shuttle hurtling toward its destruction, he weeps, he rants, he pulls his hair out. And something inside him dies. Our God cares about us frail, fickle, weak human beings because he knows something we often forget: we're not "just human." He'll go to any length to get us to grasp and live into our glory, even if it kills him.
[Our glory? What about the glory of God that Galli has dragged through the gutter of his paganized imagination?]
This is why the Bible traffics in such dramatic language. There is nothing cautious, careful, or reasonable about the human enterprise. It's about being lost or saved. Living in darkness or in light. Knowing despair or being filled with hope. Death or life. The Bible is not interested in a religion that merely improves the human condition, or makes life manageable. It's not about success or happiness or helping us all get along. These are paltry aspirations. No, what God wants is to raise the dead and make gods out of sinners.
[No! Once again, that was Satan's goal.]
So what we have, for better or worse, is a melodramatic God. He yells and throws dishes, and walks off in a huff, slamming the door behind him-and then he turns around and gives his life for us. In a foreshadowing of Jesus, he says to Israel through Hosea: "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?...for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath" (Hosea 11:8-9). He's anything but calm and collected, reassuring and reasonable. He's as mercurial as gods go.

[God is] like the crazy uncle in the family. At some point, you have to let your friends know about him, but you'd just as soon avoid having to introduce him.

I much prefer reasonable religion with reasonable expectations, and a God who doesn't get bent out of shape every time his people trip up. But then again, I don't love as God loves. Not God. Not others. Not myself.
[So, are we to suppose that Galli was just trying to get our attention with his blasphemies for effect? Did we misunderstand his "literary cleverness"? No. What he paraded before us was a mockery of God akin to what Jesus suffered from those who gathered to watch Him being crucified and to what every God-hating humanist has since voiced.]
The road to hell is paved with reasonable religion with a non-anxious god. Most days, I'm pretty happy driving down that road. But I keep running into this Crazy Fellow along the way. At every stop light, he jumps up and down to get my attention. He pounds on my window asking me where the heck I think I'm going. He stands on the front bumper, shouting at me to turn around. When all else fails, he throws himself in front of the car. He's such a drama queen.
[Galli is "pretty happy" driving down the road to hell? God is a Crazy Fellow? God is a Drama Queen? I have two suggestions: 1) Send your reaction to Galli's article to the founder and honorary chairman of CT, Billy Graham, noting what seems to be the ultimate degeneration of what he started, and 2) Pray for Mark Galli, that he will repent. "[Regarding the wicked] there is no fear of God before his eyes" (Ps 36:1).

(Billy Graham's address: BGEA, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201)

Related Links
An Introduction to the Open Theism Controversy - SpiritandTruth.org (Andy Woods)
Catholic Questions - GotQuestions.org
The Shameful Social Gospel - The Berean Call (T.A. McMahon)
Showtime for the Sheep? The Church and the Passion of the Christ - T.A. McMahon (Book)