Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Open Letter to Liberty University Administration

Note: I wrote about this issue here, and I challenged people to write emails here. I will be emailing this letter to Johnnie Moore and Jerry Falwell Jr. tomorrow morning. Please join me!

Dear Johnnie Moore and Jerry Falwell Jr.,

In 2004 I began my journey at Liberty University as a calloused, apathetic, individual. Through the ministry of fellow students and professors I began to understand the importance of the Gospel, which God used to break down my apathy. Because of my experiences at Liberty, it saddens me to see that Liberty allowed Glenn Beck to preach a religious message in Convocation.

Mormons are not evangelical Christians and do not have the same beliefs that Christians do. In his sermon Glenn Beck said that he was from a "Christian denomination." At Liberty I was taught that Mormonism is a cult and that they deny salvation by grace through faith, along with holding many other false beliefs.

Paul in the book of Galatians has this to say: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9). You may say that Glenn Beck preached a gospel message that is the same as the one that Paul preached, but the Mormon church adds works as a necessary part of salvation. In fact, they mean different things when they use terminology (i.e. "atonement," "gospel," "etc.") that is also used by conservative evangelical Christians.

Unless Liberty University publicly repudiates the claims of Glenn Beck that Mormonism is a denomination of Christianity, many people may be misled. This is a serious issue, ultimately, because it is a Gospel issue. According to the Bible, Mormons are false teachers, not Christians. I respectfully request that the University make a public statement concerning the false teaching of Mormons, and clearly explain the difference in belief between the University and Glenn Beck on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Tad Caldwell
Class of 2008

Friday, May 2, 2014

Liberty University Email Campaign

Note: If you do not know what all the fuss is about go here.

It seems as if the leadership of Liberty University has forgotten that Mormonism is a cult.  I was taught in multiple classes at Liberty University that Mormonism, because of its abandonment of the Gospel of grace, is a cult.

Inviting Glenn Beck to speak in convocation, and allowing him to give a religious message was a horrible decision, and one that is contrary to the vision of Liberty's founding. Ultimately the Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as the Jesus of the Bible.

Something at Liberty needs to change. I am recommending that every student, alumnus, faculty, staff, or donor to Liberty University who has an issue with the recent actions of giving a false teacher a platform speak, send an email to the university on Monday, May 5th. I think a concerted effort of 100 people or more all writing on the same day will have more effect than emails trickling in over a few weeks.

At a minimum, I want the faculty at least to disagree with the statement by Glenn Beck that Mormonism is a Christian denomination, and I want them to officially state that the Mormon church is a cult.

This is a Gospel issue, and in being a Gospel issue we should focus on the Gospel in our emails. The main focus of these emails should be that Mormonism denies salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Tips for these emails:

1. Be polite
There is no need to type in all caps, or to sound angry or mean. We are correcting falsehood, and we want Liberty University to do the same thing.

2. Be firm
Be firm on the Gospel. Pointedly, but respectfully, explain how Mormons deny the truth of the Gospel according to the Word of God.

3. Make no personal attacks
Follow Paul's example in Galatians 2. We are not upset because we are somehow better than those who made these decisions; we are upset because they are neglecting the Gospel that brings us all together. Remind them that unity apart from unity in the Gospel is a false unity.

The best person to send these emails to seems to be Johnny Moore whose email address is:

If anyone has an email address for Jerry Falwell Jr. please post in the comments and I will add it to this post.

Share this with others who are connected with Liberty for maximum effectiveness!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Christianity and Politics

There is a problem in evangelical Christianity in America.

We have become too intertwined in American politics.  Outsiders, at times, view Republicans and Christians as the same thing. 

Let me give two examples of how evangelical Christians have recently been too intertwined in politics.

1. Sarah Palin (former Republican vice presidential candidate and loved by many evangelical Christians) said:
"Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."

The comparison of the Christian idea of baptizing with a method of torture should sicken every single Christian, but since many Christians have forgotten the Gospel and instead look to the State to save them they cheer. Those who disagree with this concept may be labeled pacifists or liberals. Instead of torturing people maybe we should be praying for the salvation of their souls.  As Joe Carter said in his blog post on this issue: "If we are to preserve our own humanity we must not forget that our enemy differs from us in degree, not in kind. Like us, our enemies need to accept Jesus and to be baptized by water and the Spirit. "

2. Liberty University allowing a Mormon, Glen Beck, to speak in Convocation.
Glen Beck is a well-known political commentator and Mormon. Mormons deny the truth of the Gospel of grace and instead supplant it with a false gospel of works. They deny the essential deity of Jesus, and thus deny the essentials of what it means to be Christian. Yet Liberty University, in putting the politics ahead of the Gospel, gave him a platform to speak his heresy. And Liberty University only has positive things to say about his convocation message. When Beck says "gospel" he does not mean the good news that Jesus Christ kept the law for us, then died taking our punishment upon himself. This is a major oversight by Liberty University and is just further evidence of politics being considered more important than the Gospel.

What should we do then, as Christians?

1. Repent of conflating gospel and politics.
There is no problem with Christians being involved in politics, but politics should never be considered the end game of Christians. A government run by Christians would still have problems, and until we have a government run by Christ (when he returns and sets up his eternal kingdom) we will have problems. No one will ever be saved from eternal damnation by a good government, but only by Jesus. Christians thinking they can make moral people by using the government are deluded, and even if they could make people moral it would not accomplish anything other then sending outward morally people to hell.

2. Repent of legalism.
Adding moral stipulations to the Bible is wrong. Saying that good Christians should vote in a certain way is a form of legalism. The Bible does not specifically say how a Christian should vote, and Christians may end up landing on different positions politically. This does not make one Christian better than another. When the Bible is silent on an issue, like it ultimately is on so many issues, we can not make our personal decision "law" for other Christians to follow. To take this a step further, it is also not a moral imperative for a Christian to vote at all!

3. Stop thinking of America as a special or Christian nation.
The kingdom of God is not of this world, and America is not a Christian nation.  It never has been, and never will be, because there is no such thing.  America is not promised prosperity if it turns to Christ, and is not promised destruction if it does not. God has not made a covenant with America, and America does not replace Israel. 

4. Focus on the propagation of the Gospel, not a political movement.
Let us tell our nation, and our world of the good news of Jesus' sacrifice instead of spending so much time focused on politics. Let us never stop spreading this Good News. Let us fulfill the great commission of Mathew 28 by making disciples, and helping others grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dug Down Deep Trailer

This is one of the books I posted about yesterday. It is a great place to start, and this trailer for the book should pique your interest. Check it out.

Friday, January 31, 2014

4 Books for Introductory Studies in Theology

I have spent the last couple days talking about the importance of theology. First by a simply proposition and then second by way of the Jenga analogy. I hope that someone out there wants to study and know God a little more because of those articles. Remember that we cannot claim to know God without knowing about God, just like we cannot really claim to know a person without knowing quite a bit about them. So here are a few resources to get you started.

1. A Bible
Yes, I know, pretty cliche huh? While we may know some things about God apart from the Bible, by observing creation, we cannot really know God without reading the Bible. Every other resource I mention on this list is merely a tool to help you understand what the Bible has to say about God. The Bible is God's self revelation, it is where he chooses to reveal certain aspects of his character. He is beyond us and we can never know everything there is to know about him, but we can get a good start. The Bible is inerrant, and it is infallible. You may disagree with some things said in some of the other books on this list (I know I do), but the Bible does not give you that option. I would advise a study Bible, like the ESV Study Bible, which gives helpful background information at the beginning of each book which can help bridge the cultural and historical gap.

2. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Packer in this book postulates that we were made to know God. This book is not a theological textbook, but is instead a series of 22 short chapters on varied theological points. Each one is less then ten pages long, and easily read in one sitting.

3. Truth for All Mankind by John Calvin
The subtitles of this book, "A Brief Outline of The Christian Faith", really explains what this book about. This very short book is a great summary of the doctrines of the Christian faith. In some ways it is a very short version of John Calvin's magnum opus The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin has a way of opening your eyes to the grandeur of God.

4. Dug Down Deep by Josh Harris
This book is half introduction to theology and half the story of Josh Harris. This book explains theological ideas and terms in easy to understand language. I took a group of teenagers through this book when I was a youth pastor, and it challenged me as well as them.  Not only does this book explain theological truth, it also explains why it matters.

All of these books are great additions to anyone Christian's library. Even if you are an astute theologian these books may affirm your study of God, and remind you of why you study God. If you are a new Christian these books will help you worship God more deeply.

I would love to hear from some of you, what books of this kind do you recommend?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Jenga Analogy

Imagine a set of Jenga blocks each with a different doctrine of the Christian faith written on them. One might say "penal substitution" and another might say the "inerrancy of scripture" or "the bodily resurrection of Jesus" or the "virgin birth of Christ." These jenga blocks form a tower, and this tower is the Christian life. At the top of the tower you might have things like eschatology and mode of baptism, and at the bottom you have your more central beliefs that the other beliefs build on. For instance you have "inerrancy of scripture", and "salvation by faith", and "penal substitution", towards the bottom of the tower.

You could possibly remove a couple of these blocks from various places on the tower, especially the blocks towards the top, and continue to live the Christian life. With each removal of a doctrine the tower gets less and less stable. The very bottom row of blocks are practically impossible to remove because of how important they are to the Christian faith. This is why it is so important to know what we believe. To study God. The more things we fail to believe about God, whether through lack of knowledge or denial, the less capable we are of living the Christian life and the more unstable we become.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Theology, Not Just Preacher Talk

I was once talking to another pastor about the inerrancy of Scripture (which is the belief that Scripture is completely and totally without error in its original manuscripts) with a group of other Christians present. One of the other Christians said that we were engaging in "preacher talk," and insinuated that this issue was not important to anyone who was not in the ministry.

The belief that theology is not important to the average Christian is blatantly false. Theology is knowledge of God and His Word.  How can we worship what we do not know?  We all have ideas about God.  The real question becomes where did these ideas come from. We can hold to "folk" theology which is just tradition and people's best guesses at what God is like, we can make up what we think God is like or we can study his inerrant Word and determine what God is like from that.

As Joshua Harris says in the first chapter of Dug Down Deep:
"I've come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live.  What you believe about God's nature--what He is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him--affects every part of your life. Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong.

What we believe will eventually be revealed by how we act. To worship God and to live as we are called we must understand who He is as revealed by His Word.

Coming up soon: a resource list for knowing God, and a post about the Jenga Analogy (how mysterious!)