66. Francis Chan’s Crazy Love – Chapter 4

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Andy listens to Chapter 4 of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love.

Chan teaches that God’s crazy love for us demands a crazy response from us.  But… too many people who claim to be Christians are responding in lukewarm reciprocation to what the Lord of Hosts has given to us.

In Chapter 4 of Crazy Love, Chan details the profile of a lukewarm person.  The lukewarm person is not the good soil of Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower and Soils.”  The lukewarm person is not a lukewarm Christian, hence Chan is insistant on profiling lukewarm people instead of lukewarm Christians, because lukewarm Christians simply do not exist.  Lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron.

The kicker though is that we all have elements of lukewarmness in our lives, and even Chan admits this in his writing.  Wouldn’t this mean that none of us our saved if lukewarmness was a mark of not being a Christian?  How would we know if we have too much lukewarmness in our lives to be counted among God’s people if just a tinge of lukewarmness was acceptable to God?

The biggest problem with this chapter of Crazy Love is that Chan is pointing us towards ourselves for assurance of our justification and not to Christ and his saving work.  He is saying that fulfillment of the Law on our part is how we can know if we are really saved or not.

Crazy Love is an immensely popular book and Andy knows someone who doubted his salvation after reading it.  Whenever we are pointed to look at ourselves and not to Christ, we will inevitably doubt our salvation if we are are not deceiving ourselves concerning our sinfulness. This is why this episode of Reconnect is so critical.

I received this image on Christmas Day of 2014.  The sender tweeted it to me, sharing that he got the books he requested for gifts!  My book was received among some popular, well known, always in Barnes and Noble authors – Chan and Idleman. 

Reconnect Episode 3: Scientology’s Robot Jesus

Kyle's book, Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew.
Kyle’s book, Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew.

Click here to listen to Episode 3: Scientology’s Robot Jesus (Right click to download).

Click here to listen to Reconnect on iTunes!
Kyle Beshears is the author of Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew.  Robot Jesus is the Jesus of Scientology.  The other three Jesuses are Big Brother Jesus (Mormonism), Archangel Jesus (Jehovah’s Witness), and Silver Medal Jesus (Islam).  For each of these religions he shares their origins, history, teachings, and practices.  Each chapter ends with tips for communicating the Real Jesus of the Bible to each of these religious groups.

Click here to download a free chapter of Robot Jesus, which just so happens to be the chapter on Scientology and Robot Jesus.

Kyle also created the Reconnect logo!  He won a design contest I ran.  His award is getting ten commercial plays on the show during this first year, so you’ll hear more about Kyle’s work via the commercials (and likely much more, since I plan to have him as a guest to cover the other chapters of his book).

Can Sci-Fi Fanboys Allow Co-existence?

Sci-Fi Coexist Bumper StickerCould this happen?

Of course, fans of the X-Files can love the Alien universe.  Plenty of Lord of the Rings fans also read the Star Wars books and follow all of the spin-offs.   Even the most treasonous act of loving Star Wars and Star Trek occurs all of the time.  And the most blasphemous act of all is already set in motion – JJ Abrams who directed the Star Trek remakes is directing the forthcoming Star Wars trilogy.  I know one fanboy who couldn’t sit still in-class when this news was released.  His world had ended.

Of course, this type of co-existence happens in the Sci-fi world.  Geeks, nerds, fanboys can unite over multiple Sci-fi universes and enjoy them at the same time.  But… can those universes actually co-exist with one another.  Could you imagine how it would play out if an alien from the Alien universe entered into the X-Files story arch?  Chris Carter would be strung up before filming even has a chance to begin.  What if some sort of time and dimension jump took place and all of a sudden the Star Trek Enterprise with Captain Kirk was teaming up with the Rebels to fight the Empire?  Fans would not allow this to happen.  Would they?  Could this co-existence really take place?  Could these story-archs all unite without sacrificing something special within each of their unique universes?

So why should we expect this to happen with religions?  Come on!

Could this be a good starting point for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone?

TruthXchange – Only 2 Religions

only 2 religions
Click the image to be taken to the truthXchange website to order this book.

A wonderful lady, Mary, who works at truthXchange was cut off driving on the freeway over a year ago.  The person had one of those Coexist stickers on the back of his car… but then she noticed that it said something different – Contradict. She found my website and shared her ministry with me.  TruthXchange was new to me.  I had never heard of its founder, Dr. Jones before either.  Mary sent me a copy of Only Two Religions.  It’s a user’s guide to the truthXchange Evangelism Tool.  She asked if I could read it and give some feedback.  I finally finished reading it in Dec. 2013, long after receiving it, and I’m just now getting to write something about it.

The premise is simple.  There are only two religions – One and Two, termed as One-ism or Two-ism.  The truthXchange, pocket-sized evangelism tool, explains it very simply:

One-ism, all is one. We worship and serve creation as divine.  All distinctions must be eliminated.  Through enlightenment, we discover that we also are divine.

Two-ism, all is two.  We worship and serve the eternal personal Creator of all things.  God alone is divine and is distinct from His creation, yet through His Son, Jesus, He is in loving communion with it.

The book addresses the topics of humanity, religions, our problem as humans, and the solution to that problem from both a one-ist view of the world and a two-ist view of the world.  Each section is designed to be read as a group with assignments to do during the week – pretty cool stuff, like looking for one-ist articles and movies to share with the group at the next meeting.

This framework comes from Romans 1:18-25.  This section of scripture states very plainly that all of creation knows there is a God from what has been created, yet men, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and have instead worshiped and served created things, rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.  When the Creator God is denied, men still worship.  The Created becomes the object of worship – creation, nature, is now One, not Two.  When the Creator is not exchanged for a lie, there are Two – Creator and His creation.  This means there are only two religions – worshiping the Creator or worshiping creation.

Dr. Peter Jones explains that “One-ism can be either atheistic (God is nothing and nowhere), or pantheistic (God is everything and everywhere)” (page 9).  From either form of One-ism, mankind’s ultimate problem is that we don’t recognize this all pervasive oneness.  One-ism says that our solution is to turn inward to ourselves – to become enlightened, that together, not separate, we can solve all of our problems.  Either way – atheistic or pantheistic, this is humanism, mankind is now divine.

This is a good starting point for discussing the uniqueness of the Christian truth-claims amongst the world’s religions. Christianity after all is the turning from one’s self (one-ism) and turning to Christ for salvation (two-ism).

I personally struggle with labeling this one-ism and two-ism distinction as justifying that there are only two religions, because I think that Jews and Muslims would be Two-ist in the sense that they recognize that there is a Creator, that God is transcendent and separate from what he has created.  I must not be the only one to have raised this objection or had this question because Appendix 2 in Only 2 Religions is entitled, “Are Judaism and Islam Two-ist?”  The answer seems to lie in the “personal” nature of the Two-ist Creator God.  According to Dr. Jones:

Is the Jewish God personal?  Well, yes it would seem so.  The Old Testament speaks often of God’s love, His compassion and His grace.  Such attributes are indeed personal.  And yet, the same Old Testament Scriptures give hints that God is triune.  The first verses of the Old Testament include the hovering of the Spirit, the power of the Word, and the intentions of God the Creator.  (See also Genesis 1:26 and other plural references for God, Psalms 110 and other passages that clearly speak of the coming Messiah).  We also see that the Messiah must be God himself.  (Isaiah 58).

Essentially, I understand Dr. Jones to be staying that sense the Jews have rejected the God revealed in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) they have rejected the Creator and are now “functioning as One-ist (page 58).  The same explanation also applies to Muslims with their view of Allah, who though He is viewed as transcendent and the Creator of all, “is made out to be so transcendent that no one can actually know anything about him” (page 59).

In conclusion on this question of framing Christianity as the only Two-ist religion, Dr. Jones writes:

Traditional Judaism and Islam claim to be Two-ist, yet both are functionally One-ist and the god they worship lacks both true transcendence and true immanence.  If God is remote, untouchable, impersonal, impotent and silent, there is no hope for any of us!  If He has not come down Himself to rescue us and to restore communion with us, we would have no way of knowing and loving Him. (Page 59)

two religions
This is the inside of the unfolded truthXchange “Only 2 Religions” evangelism tool. Note, they don’t call it a tract.

Because of this hiccup on Judaism and Islam essentially claiming to be Two-ist, I personally don’t like this One-ist and Two-ist framework to say that there are only two religions.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like this framework though.  I was able to use this framework to explain patterns of religions with a man on plane a ride this past winter.  I pulled out the truthXchange “Only 2 Religions” evangelism tool to show the difference between religious pluralism/pantheism/New Age/Hindu thought and practice compared to Christianity.  We went through each of the topics listed in the tool from the “All is One” perspective and the “All is Two” perspective. Having the tool in my pocket was very useful and gave a good visual to our discussion. I then was able to share Romans 1:18-25 to clarify that we all know there is a God from what he has made and that we all worship, we just don’t all worship the one true and living God.  I stressed that we all know there is a God even if we have exchanged that truth for a lie, and that it is through the person of Jesus Christ that the one true God has been personally revealed to us, that Jesus is the invisible image of God made visible to us!

I then explained the way I like to classify religions – There are only 2 religions, either “paid” or “not paid.”  I then quoted Romans 4:4-5 to the man, which in paraphrase says that when we work our wages are due to us, but when we don’t work, but trust God who justifies the wicked, we have salvation.  Essentially, all religions besides Christianity require men to work to attain some end goal.  We have been given a bill, a debt if you will, and we must either do yoga as in Hinduism, meditate as in Buddhism, adhere to the Law as in Judaism, follow the Five Pillars as in Islam, or adhere to other practices and rules according to other religions to pay this debt, to earn our way to the highest goal of mankind.  And in the end, no one from any of these religions has any certainty that they have paid the bill in full.  They are left to die in despair.  Or we can turn to Jesus who has paid the bill for us!   Through his life, death, and resurrection, he has paid all of our debts!  In the Christian worldview, our works our worthless.  If we want to trust in them and demand to be paid what we are due, we get and deserve eternal death.  When we turn from our sins, our unrighteous works, and turn to Christ and his righteousness for our hope and glory, we receive an inheritance that comes from the Lord. Death becomes sweet.  To live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Christanity alone stands apart as the only saved by grace, saved by divine redemption, religion.  In this sense there are only two religions “paid” and “not paid.”

I also like to classify religions as either, “from man” or “from God.”  All religions besides Christianity were founded by men, who claimed to be men.  They were either heroes, sages, prophets, or the like, but only in Christianity do we get a religion that is founded by a man who claimed to be God in the flesh.  This is why it should be no surprise that Christianity is the only religion that is “paid” for us by God.

So please, whatever way you want to share it – “One-ism vs. Two-ism” or “Paid vs. Not Paid” or “From Man vs. From God” or through none of these categorical tools- proclaim the Good News that salvation has come to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Do not be ashamed – Romans 1:16.

In conclusion on Dr. Jones’ helpful Only 2 Religions evangelism tool and user’s guide, I think this framework does a great job of explaining why so many in our day and age are turning to homosexuality, religious pluralism, and humanism.  The explanation for the rise of homosexuality in our culture was most helpful to me – and a brand new idea that I hadn’t read from anyone else.  I’ll close by quoting that section:

A One-ist believes that God is no different than creation… which means that he is the one who decides what to worship and usually ends up worshiping himself!  A One-ist will naturally seek to suppress the distinctions God has placed in the world and may be tempted to embody his One-ist tendencies in a One-ist sexuality, such as homosexuality, transgenderism or lesbianism. … A Two-ist recognizes the distinctions God put in the world as a reflection of the distinction between the Creator and the creation.  Sexuality is one of those distinctions, as so a Two-ist rejoices in the sexual differences between men and women and enjoys normal, created sexual relations within the marriage and family structure ordered by the Creator.  … If you believe in a God who is “other,” then you will worship something “other” and will be in human sexual relationship with someone who is “other” (male or female). (pages 33-34)

Watch this following video to get the One-ism vs. Two-ism distinctions directly from truthXchange:

Click here for Only 2 Religions.

Click here to get my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.

Charles Colson – Against the Night #1 – The Ideas that Brought the New Dark Ages

I started reading the late Charles Colson‘s book Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages.  This book was written in 1989, and I’m sure Colson would have far more to say if it were written today.  He writes about the setting sunset and our entrance into the “new dark ages.”  What makes our times dark?  It’s moral decay!  We’ve lost the fundamental truths upon which absolute morality is established.  The age of relativism is bringing down Western society as we know it.

In the first chapter of my soon to be published book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, I address this same problem, but my focus is on religious pluralism more so than moral relativism, but the two go hand in hand.  I trace the origin of this “new dark age” in the West from its religious origins of Hinduism’s influence on Western culture from the transcendentalist movement that began in 19th century through authors such as Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau. Colson begins earlier in 1610 with the French philosopher Rene Descartes.  Descartes came to the conclusion that the one thing he knew was certain was the fact that he doubted.  He could not doubt that he doubted, which led to his classic statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

Colson sees this teaching as the root of our current age of moral decline and loss of truth:

Descartes’s now-famous postulate led to a whole new premise for philosophic thought: man, rather than God, became the fixed point around which everything else revolved; human reason became the foundation upon which a structure of knowledge could be built; and doubt became the highest intellectual virtue. … Men and women could not order their lives according to what they could see for themselves through reason, and the fetters of faith and tradition fell away.  … For centuries people had established their moral standards according to the discerned will of God or by appealing to Aristotelian concepts of virtue.  Now Enlightened thinkers sought to root morality not within a transcendent authority or classical conceptions of virtue, but within the mind and heart of man.  Moral judgments would be measured by what men and women could know or feel for themselves.

René Descartes
René Descartes – Is this the man we can blame for our current state of moral decay and loss of the belief absolute truth within our culture?

I find it interesting that Colson traces the problem back to a philosophy that ultimately strips God from the picture and makes Man the end all, be all of determining reality, and I traced the problem back to a religion that says everything is divine and thus each of us is God!  The two go hand in hand.  One reached the mind through philosophy and the other spoke to the heart through an Eastern religion that is experiential.  The one, two punch combo that has knocked us down.  Are we going to get up?  Are you we going to fight back?  We must reclaim absolute truth, not for ourselves, but for all of mankind who needs a saving relationship with God.

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises.  He is patient!  He desires that no one perishes, but that everyone comes to eternal life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

Reza Aslan’s Interview on Fox and his new book Zealot!

An interview on Fox News of Reza Aslan and his new book Zealot has received numerous social media posts recently.  Here is a copy of the interview that currently has over 2 million views:

The interviewer is slammed for asking him again and again why he is writing this book as a Muslim.  I think Reza’s answers could have been much better, but the interviewer just keeps asking the same question again and again and it gets nowhere and we don’t get to learn much of what Reza actually believes concerning the life of Jesus.

What stood out the most to me in the interview is that Reza states that it is a fundamental truth that everyone agrees that Jesus was crucified, but that’s not the Muslim belief and teaching of Islam as he also states! Reza must mean that every historian believes Jesus was crucified.

Why do Muslims believe Jesus wasn’t crucified?  Sura 4:157-158 clearly states that he wasn’t.  These two verses read:

“That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not -Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”

This leads me to believe that Reza is a very liberal Muslim.  It even makes me think that he isn’t Muslim at all to so openly deny a teaching of the Qur’an like this.  However, I was told that there were different Muslim interpretations on this passage.  I however don’t think that Jesus actually being crucified was one of them.  Some Muslim scholars believe that Jesus never died and others believe that he died of natural causes, but which Muslim scholar besides Reza believes that Jesus was crucified.

Before Reza I have only read Muslim teachers and Muslims I have spoken with to hold to the interpretation that Jesus did not die, at all! According to Adil Salahi who wrote on this topic on Muslim.org says that there are two views within Islam. He writes:

“The first, which is held by a majority of scholars, is that Jesus Christ did not die but was raised by Allah and that he will make a second coming at a time determined by Allah, when he will be preaching the message of Islam. The other view is that Jesus Christ died a natural death after Allah had saved him from his enemies. Both groups of scholars agree that Jesus Christ was neither killed nor crucified. Needless to say, those who subscribe to the second view do not speak of a second coming of Jesus Christ.” (http://www.muslim.org/islam/deathjarab.htm)

It appears as if Reza has an interpretation which does not fit with the interpretations of mainstream Muslim scholars on the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadiths, so I’m very interested to read his book to see where else he skews not only on orthodox Islam but also Christianity. I wish the interviewer allowed him to get into such things, but it would have been nice if he had answered her question in a better fashion by just saying, “As a Muslim, I’m very deeply concerned with and interested in the person and history of Jesus (peace be upon him) because there is more in the Qur’an about Jesus (peace be upon him) than Muhammad (peace be upon him) and since the teachings of Christianity contradict the teachings in the Qur’an I have every right and interest as a religious scholar, Muslim, or any person interested in seeking religious and historical truth to research the life of Jesus.” I think if he had answered in such a way it would have shut down her stupid string of questions. She clearly is very ignorant on the subject of religious studies and the desire that any religious adherent should have in researching the claims of religions other than their own.

If Reza and other Muslim scholars are beginning to say that Jesus was crucified then it seems like a direct leave from the direct statements of Sura 4:157-158. I see where there is room for Jesus to have died a natural death in that passage, but there is clearly no room given for him to have died by crucifixion. I have never met a Muslim who has read the Qur’an to say that Jesus died of natural causes, much less that he was crucified, and these were leaders of Muslim unions on college campuses and teachers from whyislam.org who I invited to my world religions class to speak. You can check out their website and they very clearly state that Jesus did not die! (http://www.whyislam.org/submission/prophethood-in-islam/jesus-peace-be-upon-him/jesus/) They leave no room for any other interpretation. I’m afraid to say that Reza doesn’t seem very reliable as a Muslim theologian.