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In Defense of the Faith

Dave Hunt

Who Is Really Saved?

Question: If a Roman Catholic believes wholeheartedly in the Lord Jesus Christ and is committed to serving Him as his Lord, and if he believes that the only way his sins can be forgiven is through Christ’s death as atonement for those sins, and the believer’s repentance—isn’t he saved? Suppose a person has salvation by faith alone; does he lose that salvation by believing in infant baptism? Does he lose his salvation by believing that communion is really the body and blood of Christ, as the Lord said it was? Does he lose his salvation if he believes in purgatory?

Response: Anyone who believes the gospel, which is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Romans:1:16), is saved, whether he be called Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, or whatever. If, however, a Roman Catholic “believes wholeheartedly in the Lord Jesus Christ,” as you suggest, then he would find himself in irreconcilable conflict with the doctrines and practices of his Church. It is logically impossible for a Roman Catholic to truly believe the gospel that saves and to believe the tenets of Catholicism at the same time, because they are diametrically opposed.

For example, how can a person believe that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins is an accomplished fact of history and that He is now at the Father’s right hand in heaven in a resurrected, glorified body and at the same time believe that He exists bodily on Catholic altars as a wafer, perpetually suffering the agonies of the cross (as Vatican II says) “in the sacrifice of the Mass”?

Quite clearly, both of these contradictory beliefs cannot be maintained at one time. How do we know which one is truly believed by Catholics who profess both? To remain in the Roman Catholic Church and to continue to participate in the “sacrifice of the Mass” would surely indicate faith in the Roman Catholic Church and its dogma rather than in the true biblical gospel.

How can anyone believe that Christ through His sacrifice on the cross “obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews:9:12) and at the same time believe that “the work of our redemption” is still in the process of being accomplished through the Eucharist (as Vatican II says)? How can a person believe that Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is “finished,” as He himself said (John:19:30), and at the same time believe that the Mass is a perpetuation of Christ’s sacrifice? No thinking person could believe both at once.

Vatican II states that in the Mass “Christ perpetuates in an unbloody manner the sacrifice offered on the cross….” How can one “perpetuate” an event that was completed in the past? It is logically impossible. One may remember or memorialize a past event, but one cannot perpetuate it in the present. How can anyone believe that through Christ’s death and resurrection more than 1900 years ago the debt of our sin has been paid in full and at the same time engage in the Mass, which purports to be additional payments on that debt?

The Code of Canon Law declares that “the work of redemption is continually accomplished in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice….” Vatican II says that the Mass is “a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated” and in which “our Lord is immolated…offering himself to the Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests.”

Christ said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest. I give my sheep eternal life and they will never perish.” One cannot believe in Christ while looking to a church—Catholic or other—for salvation.  The many prayers to Mary to “obtain for us forgiveness of sin and eternal life” are in themselves proof that the Catholic has not trusted Christ for his salvation. If I offered to pay in full a debt you owed, would not your continual petitioning of someone else to pay it be sufficient evidence that you neither believed nor accepted my offer?

One cannot believe in Christ alone and at the same time believe in Christ plus baptism and the sacraments and good graces of the Roman Catholic Church. Paul wrote: Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [anathema]. As we said before, so say I now [for emphasis], If any man preach any other gospel unto you…let him be accursed [anathema] (Galatians:1:8,9).

Paul was referring to and cursing those known as Judaizers because they taught that in addition to faith in Christ’s finished work one also had to keep the Jewish law. That small addition destroyed the gospel. Yet the Catholic Church has had 1500 years to add far more to the gospel than the Judaizers ever imagined. That false gospel cannot save, and it merits Paul’s anathema.

Yes, Catholics believe the basics of the gospel: that Christ is God, who came to this earth through the virgin birth, lived a perfect, sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the grave the third day, and is coming again. But that is not all Catholics must believe. To the true gospel Roman Catholicism has added the Mass (as a propitiatory sacrifice by which sins are pardoned), purgatory, indulgences, intercession with Mary, and the necessity of baptism and being in the Church and participating in the “sacraments of the New Law,” which Trent and Vatican II say are essential for salvation.

One must believe in one or the other of the conflicting gospels: the biblical gospel or the Roman Catholic gospel. One cannot sincerely believe two contradictory propositions at the same time. Anyone who trusts in Christ alone is saved. Sadly, it is at the same time possible to give lip service to the false teachings of one’s church, or not to fully understand its false teachings.  God alone can judge such hearts.

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NewsWatch

Various

Christians Arrested in India for Handing Out Bibles

ChristianPost.com, 10/4/2021, “Christians Arrested in India for Handing Out Bibles” [Excerpts]: Police in India’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh arrested a Pentecostal pastor and two other Christians who were handing out evangelistic booklets and Bibles in villages after radical Hindu nationalists accused them of “forcibly” converting people.... The Rev. Charlie John and two other Christians, Vishal and Keval Ram, were arrested after they distributed Christian literature and Bibles in Lalas village near Rampur city, Asia News reported. “I only offered the Bible, and I gave it to those who freely accept the Good News,” Pastor John was quoted as saying. “If anyone refused, I didn't insist. We did not convert anyone; I'm willing to offer the Bible, which is God's Word, to the police.”

He added, “What we do is share the Good News with people, tell them about Jesus, without forcing anyone to convert. The accusations made against me are totally false; I have never offered money for the conversion of people.” Himachal Pradesh is one of the several Indian states that have “anti-conversion” laws…. The law...states that no one is allowed to use the “threat” of “divine displeasure,” meaning Christians cannot talk about Heaven or Hell, as that would be seen as “forcing” someone to convert…. In 2019, Himachal Pradesh, one of several Indian states, amended its anti-conversion law to make it tougher. Violations are punishable with up to five years in prison. Christians make up about 2.5 percent of India’s population, while Hindus comprise 79.5 percent. 

(https://www.christianpost.com/news/pentecostal-pastor-in-india-arrested-for-passing-out-bibles.html)

Rocks Don’t Bend

CreationMoments.com, 9/29/21, “Rocks Don’t Bend” [Excerpts]: Rock folds always seem to me to make interesting photographs. When I lived in South Wales, there were some very fine examples in the cliffs on the Vale of Glamorgan coast. For the most part, the rock layers seem to run parallel to the beach. Then, suddenly, they bend away, upwards or downwards, in dramatic sweeps. In these bends, the rock layers continue to run parallel.

Standard traditional geology suggests that the layers would have been horizontal when originally formed. The existence of the folds, however, causes more problems for traditional geologists who rely on millions of years for all their explanations. The Encyclopedia Britannica says: “The long linear folds that are characteristic of mountainous regions are believed to have resulted from compressional forces acting parallel to the surface of Earth and at right angles to the fold.” However, it is not difficult to imagine what large compressional forces would do to rock layers. Rocks are not malleable, so the eventual result of such forces would be to crack the layers— and, indeed, such cracks can be found. Parallel bending does not make a lot of sense in a deep-time scenario.

Suppose, instead, that the layers had been recently formed early in the Flood, and forces were applied towards the end of the Flood to layers which were still plastic and had not hardened. These would bend together in parallel folds. The biblical Flood provides the best explanation for how rocks could bend! (Genesis:8:2-3).

(https://creationmoments.com/sermons/rocks-dont-bend/)

Mahmoud Abbas’ Ultimatum to Israel

JihadWatch.org, 9/29/21, “Mahmoud Abbas’ Ultimatum to Israel” [Excerpts]: Mahmoud Abbas has delivered an “ultimatum” to Israel: You have one year to leave what he calls “all the Palestinian territories,” or else. Or else what? Or else he will bring the case before the International Court of Justice….

By “all the Palestinian territories,” Abbas means the entire West Bank, where nearly half a million Israelis now live, and East Jerusalem, where nearly a quarter million Jews live. He includes, as “Palestinian territories,” the Old City of Jerusalem, and in that Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism. He doesn’t explain how he expects Israel to uproot and move, within a year, 750,000 of its Jewish citizens from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israelis still remember the national trauma when they removed 8,500 Jews from Gaza in 2005, a trauma they do not wish to repeat….

Perhaps Mahmoud Abbas does not realize it, but the chief feature of the International Court of Justice is that it has no power to enforce its decisions. None.

(https://www.jihadwatch.org/2021/09/mahmoud-abbas-an-ultimatum-to-israel)

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TBC Notes

T. A. McMahon

Your Witness of Peace

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”—John:16:33

What more needs to be said to a world that is majoring in anxiety, fear, and hopelessness? Even many in the church have succumbed to that circumstance. Believers who find themselves in such a condition are not taking the words of Jesus seriously: “…in Me ye might have peace.” Furthermore, they are not of “good cheer.”

Consider what their witness is among the lost. Then consider what it could be if they believed and acted upon what Jesus declared. He has indeed “overcome the world.”

In Christ,

T. A. McMahon

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Quotable

Various

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God—2 Corinthians:7:1

Careless habits and unholy ways are inconsistent with the truth of the new creation. God has given us exceeding great and precious promises, and because of His goodness we owe it to Him to judge in ourselves every tendency to unholiness…. Once we walked according to the lust of the flesh and of the mind. Now we are called to walk in the Spirit that we may not fulfil these unclean desires. “Perfecting holiness” suggests growth, which should be continuous. As we are daily occupied with Christ and walk in the Spirit, reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin but alive to God through Jesus Christ, we shall be kept from sin’s power, and as we go on in faith, we shall enjoy unclouded fellowship with God. —H. A. Ironside

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Letters

Various

Sirs,

I'm finishing up my Th. D. program at Conservative Theological University in Jacksonville, Florida, and I want to express my sincere thanks to Dave Hunt for his most excellent work regarding Calvinism. It did not take me long to realize that I had never heard some of these things before, but I do recognize truth when I see it. Thank you for enlightening me as to the truth of God's Word. SS (email)

Dear TBC,

I have found a Christian home in The Berean Call! I have searched for a church home many times [only] to find that the church I might have wanted to attend was four or five hours away or across the country. I would ask for a prayer, as I am in need of employment, and am at the age where no one really wants to hire me, though I have a lifetime of experience and skills. Point being, I will be a supporter here as soon as I possibly can. Your messages are biblically on point. I have read the Scriptures cover to cover as a letter from God, Jehovah, and I am watching as He fulfills every word of the Scripture. I am anticipating His imminent return! You have most definitely lifted my spirit, and have confirmed that there are others who take the Scriptures literally, testing everything by them. TO (email)

Dear Brothers in Christ,

I want to thank you for the work you are doing. I am blessed by the newsletter. This is one of only a few ministries that I listen to and enjoy. It is obvious that we are in the last days. All these preachers who preach heresy—the Word-Faith movement is big. I can’t believe all the people who embrace it! I think if the Lord raptured the Church today, many churches would still be filled. I could be wrong, but it sure seems like it. FF (FL, prisoner)

Dear TBC,

Just finished reading your last newsletter regarding Christian activism. After finishing it, I read 2 Corinthians 10. I have the Henry Morris Study Bible. His commentary on verse 5 reads as follows: “Thus, we are not to use such carnal weapons as bullets—or even ballots—in our battle for the human mind, but the mighty spiritual weapons in the ‘Whole Armor of God!’” 

Thanks, Brother Tom! LT (email)

Dear TBC,

Thank you so much for this ministry, and thank you, Lord, for Brother Hunt, who has been—even in death—my disciple/teacher. I know the Holy Spirit caused me to happen upon him years ago on a discernment ministry on TV. My husband, who passed away on October 3, 2020, grew in God’s Word thanks in part to this truthful ministry. I praise God for you all! I am watching and re-watching these podcasts, so please never remove them. TM (email)

Hello,

I wanted to say thank you for your 2021 conference. I am working my way through it and have appreciated the speakers, pastors, and the content provided. I listened to “Global Challenges to the Gospel” with Brother Elijah. I was concerned when I heard about his concern and Wycliffe Bible translators not providing accurate Bible translations to Muslim people. I had to look into it. I have not done a thorough investigation, but did find this article that I thought was worth sharing. I feel that, from the article, Wycliffe is trying (or already has done so, considering the article is from 2012) to make the correction on something that happened, which also does not sound like it was entirely their fault. Please read their response to the allegations, concerns, and questions they have fielded. CN (email)

Hello Friends,

Your ministry is such a true blessing to me. So many years have gone by since I first saw Dave on TV (mid-1980s). I thank God for leading my husband and I to the Berean Call. Your ministry has helped me so much and I continue to read Dave’s books when I have questions or concerns. 

Thank you, Tom, for continuing to stand firm regarding the Bible as the truth. Preach the true Gospel as you always do! You are not being too harsh or sharp with the tongue. YS (MN)

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Question: When the Bible refers to "sleep," what does it mean?

TBC Staff

Question: “Sleep” seems to be a key word in 1 Thessalonians:4:13-17. What does “sleep” mean in that context?

Response: The term is actually “which sleep in Jesus” (v. 14). “Sleep” is often used to signify “death”: “the maid is not dead, but sleepeth” (Matthew:9:24); “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him.” [They thought that he had meant “taking rest” in sleep.] 

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (John:11:11-14). Sleep is only necessary for bodies, which tire, but not for souls and spirits. Therefore, “sleep” can only refer to the body that is in the grave awaiting the resurrection. Although the body is dead, the thinking person who once lived in that body is still conscious but now freed from bodily limitations and constraints. The phrase “asleep in Jesus” refers to believers who have died trusting in Christ and are now secure in Him for all eternity.

The rich man’s body lay in the grave, but his “soul and spirit” (1 Thessalonians:5:23; Hebrews:4:12) were conscious in hell and in torment (Luke:16:19-31). The Christian’s soul and spirit, when separated from the body through death, go immediately into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians:5:8); “…having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians:1:23-24).

Unquestionably, Paul is expressing the desire for his soul and spirit to depart the flesh of his body in order to be with Christ in heaven. And just as obviously, he expects to be conscious in the presence of his Lord. To be “with Christ” could hardly mean anything to someone who was unconscious!

Nor could Paul possibly consider an unconscious state of “soul sleep” to be “far better” than remaining alive to serve Christ and the church! The statement “them which also sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians:4:14) refers to the souls and spirits of believers in Christ whose bodies have been “asleep” in the grave. These souls and spirits have been present with Him in heaven in that “far better” state of “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Paul declares that the souls and spirits of those who died with faith in Christ are reunited with their resurrected bodies, which are raised to life at the Rapture—then caught up to heaven with those in Christ who have not died but are likewise transformed into Christ’s image at that glorious moment.

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Question: Should pastors have degrees?

TBC Staff

Question: My church seems to believe that one must be a “scholar” or a “theologian” to be a pastor or Bible teacher. It even seems to be implied that those without such degrees are not competent to question what those holding theological and psychological degrees teach from the Bible. What is your opinion?

Response: No degree spiritually qualifies the one to whose name it is attached. Yet that is the mentality today. Some pastors, authors, and conference speakers are going to diploma mills to purchase a “Dr.” to put in front of their names! Just those two letters seem to elevate the individual to a newly perceived level of biblical understanding and spiritual authority.

The Bereans certainly had no theological degrees. Yet they checked out the great Apostle Paul’s preaching against scripture and were commended for doing so (Acts:17:11). Every Christian is both qualified and obligated to do the same with every Bible teacher and preacher, no matter how highly regarded or academically certified. No one is immune from error or correction.

Nor were the disciples “theologians” or “scholars.” Among them were fishermen, a tax gatherer, etc. The idea that those who have academic degrees from theological seminaries have thereby a monopoly on interpreting the Bible is both illogical and unscriptural. Such elitism is simply the Protestant version of Roman Catholicism’s claim that its hierarchy of bishops, cardinals, and popes alone can interpret Scripture. Christian leaders should be respected and honored, but this regard should not be based on degrees they may have acquired, but on the extent to which they demonstrate godly lives, biblically qualified and consistent leadership skills, and the teaching of sound doctrine based on their study of the Word.

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Question: Did Jesus go to hell?

TBC Staff

Question: Recently I read that when Jesus died spiritually, He took both the first and second death—the grave and the Lake of Fire—upon Himself. I have also heard the claim that Jesus died spiritually. Was the Trinity separated? If the Spirit of God died, who was in charge of the universe while God was dead?

Response: Confusion arises because “Jesus Died Spiritually” is the label attached to the heresy taught by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other “word-faith teachers.” They claim that our redemption comes not from Christ’s death upon the cross but from His being tortured by Satan in hell for three days and nights. Copeland, for example, says: 

“He allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell as if He were the most wicked sinner who ever lived…. Every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him…they tortured Him beyond anything that anybody has ever conceived…. In a thunder of spiritual force, the voice of God spoke to the death-whipped, broken, punished spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly, His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life…. He was being reborn before the devil’s very eyes…. Jesus Christ dragged Satan up and down the halls of hell…. Jesus…was raised up a born-again man…. The day I realized that a born-again man had defeated Satan, hell, and death, I got so excited…!” (Believer’s Voice of Victory, September 1991)

It is both fanciful nonsense and heresy to teach that our redemption comes through Satan torturing Jesus in hell. That would make Satan our co-redeemer! If he didn’t torture Jesus enough, we wouldn’t be saved—and if he did, do we thank him? Blasphemy! Satan isn’t the proprietor of hell. Nor will Satan torture the damned but will himself be tortured with “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew:25:41) when death and hell have been “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation:20:14).

Before He died, Jesus cried in triumph, “It is finished!” (John:19:30), indicating that our redemption had been accomplished on the Cross. Christ told the thief on the cross who believed in Him, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke:23:43), not in hell! He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke:23:46). Yet Hagin, Copeland, et al., say He ended up, instead, in the hands of Satan in hell.

Did Jesus die “spiritually”? The Bible says that He “taste[d] death for every man” (Hebrews:2:9). All that we deserved He endured, which must have included death to His human body, soul, and spirit. God the Father and the Holy Spirit didn’t die; Christ did. Was the Trinity, then, separated? No, God is One.

Yet Jesus did cry in agony, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm:22:1; Matthew:27:46; Mark:15:34). It is a mystery beyond our comprehension, as is the statement that “it pleased the Lord [Yahweh] to bruise him, he hath put him to grief…when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah:53:10). We only know and believe that the full penalty demanded by God’s infinite justice was paid by Christ upon the cross, and that “He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians:5:21). Christ was punished by God as though He were sin itself so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life as a free gift of His grace.

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Counseling in the Church: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — Part Two

T. A. McMahon

There’s a saying that underscores what the Scriptures declare continually: The Bible is not a book that men could write if they would…or would write if they could. Regarding the first part of the saying, finite man obviously lacks the omniscience of our infinite God, so he cannot know the hearts and minds of his fellow man.

As to the latter part, fallen prideful man would hardly be inclined to expose his wickedness, as is presented in Matthew:15:18-20 and numerous other places: “…[t]hose things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man….”

Clearly the Bible is at odds with psychology’s view of the nature of man, which this pseudo-science proclaims is inherently good. Therefore, any issues adversely affecting our lives are said to be caused by external factors, i.e., parents, friends, enemies, our environment, the media, etc. Moreover, the issue of sin cannot even be addressed in psychotherapy (except for those therapists who will negatively point to belief in it as an obstruction to achieving a healthy mental condition).

Numerous other problems with psychological counseling have been presented in the many volumes authored by Dr. Martin and Deidre Bobgan and a host of others, including books by various researchers and academics. Even so, common sense is often a valued means for discerning what’s wrong with psychotherapy. For the believer in Jesus Christ and His Word, he or she is without excuse regarding turning from God’s Word to psychological counseling for help related to mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.

For all the claims of believing in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, many, including biblical Christians and pastors, do not hold fast to the sufficiency of the Word of God, which the Bible claims. “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter:1:3).

For a believer, what does not pertain to “life and godliness”? Isn’t the Bible wholly sufficient to meet the needs of our Christian walk? For example, Psalm:119:9 declares, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Psalm:1:1 adds an instruction that certainly relates to psychological counseling: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Even a cursory review of the lives of the founders of psychotherapy and their latter-day disciples reveal their blatant ungodliness, let alone their false teachings. Consider 2 Timothy:3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

What could psychological counseling possibly supply regarding “instruction in righteousness” and the enablement of a counselee to manifest “good works”? Nothing…and worse. The entire field of psychotherapy is spiritually bankrupt, creates confusion and hopelessness, intimidates through its deception and promotions, and keeps people in mental and emotional bondage. Many years ago, secular psychologist Dr. O. Hobart Mowrer, definitely not a biblical Christian, asked this question: “Has evangelical religion sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage?”

Time has shown that the answer is “yes!” That’s the bad of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” that has influenced counseling in the church. There is much more that could be said to inform Christians about the unbiblical teachings and practices of psychotherapy. And most of those things can be readily discerned by simply being a Berean (Acts:17:10-11), those who compared what they were being taught with what the Word of God teaches. Furthermore, as has been noted, a biblical Christian has no grounds for turning to psychological counseling.

Yet many would agree and declare with great assurance that they have turned from psychology to one of the programs that are a part of the Biblical Counseling Movement. That would include the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), and the Biblical Counseling Foundation (BCF). That may seem to be a good thing but sadly, it’s rarely the case.

What’s the problem?

Biblical counseling programs look to the Bible, for the most part, for its teachings about the curse of sin, the fallen nature of man, the ways and means of how we can be reconciled to God, and receiving the gift of eternal life by putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. And they are acutely aware that such beliefs are rejected by the psychological approach to counseling. Nevertheless, they have drifted (maybe even rushed!) into some of the methods of clinical counseling that inevitably are counterproductive regarding the spiritual welfare of those involved, and that includes both the biblical counselor and the counselees.

There are a host of practices performed in Biblical Counseling that have no basis in the Scriptures. They include searching one’s past to discover the basis for one’s sin issues through personal data inventory (PDI), setting up a position of counselor within a fellowship, females counseling males and vice-versa, charging for counseling services, either within the church or external to the church, obtaining licenses from the state in order to counsel, earning degrees and certification in counseling, scheduled fifty-minute counseling sessions, and maintaining an air of professionalism.

None of those things can be found in the Bible as relating to ministering to brothers and sisters in Christ. They are in fact the modus operandi of psychological counseling that inevitably compromises biblical truth. As destructive as they are to ministering biblically—and they are really bad—they are not the ugly part, although they are related.

“Problem-centered counseling” is the chief cause of the ugliness.

The Bobgans underscore the unbiblical facets of problem-centered counseling in their books Christ-centered Ministry versus Problem-centered Counseling and Stop Counseling! Start Ministering! They begin by making an important point in their distinction between the terms “counseling” and “ministering.”

“Counseling” is a word that carries a lot of baggage, often bringing to mind psychological ways and means when that is never intended. They chose to distinguish the term counseling (because it is generic enough to cover both psychological and biblical counseling) and ministering, because it puts the emphasis on Christ and the teachings of His Word.

So, when does biblical counseling not become biblical ministering? In two very critical areas. First and foremost, when the counseling becomes problem-centered. Predictably, that leads away from a focus that is Jesus-centered and obedience-to-His-Word oriented. As the Bobgans point out, “We contend that as long as personal ministry remains problem-centered, and therefore person-focused, there will be less spiritual growth and more superficial fixing of the flesh.” Once a problem is “fixed,” it usually lingers on and comes up in future counseling sessions. Whether the counselor is secular or biblical he or she becomes the “fixer.” And the approach becomes a revolving door of dealing with new problem after problem.

On the other hand, the ministering approach focuses primarily on encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ to strengthen their walk with Him, thereby maturing the believer in the faith and attaining to godliness. Remember, godliness is one of the traits gained for believers in the verse telling us of the sufficiency of God’s Word (2 Peter:1:3). That will not only help reduce life’s troubles without the need for specifically addressing each one, but it will eliminate many future issues from developing and rearing their ugly heads. Besides that, it does away with dependence upon a fellow human being as the “fixer” and shifts one’s reliance to the Holy Spirit, where it should be.

The problem-centered method is common in the Biblical Counseling Movement, and that may seem reasonable to some. Counseling is in the business of resolving problems. Right? No, not according to Scripture. The problem-centered method is not biblical and has created situations that foster sin rather than bringing about repentance. And it often gets really ugly. For example, counseling, as we noted, is talk therapy. It is conversation. The counselor, in attempting to resolve the conflict between a husband and wife, has them air their problems (which is a problem in itself). That nearly always produces accusations, one against the other, which often results in consequences found and condemned in Ephesians:4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”

The problem-centered exchange between the counselees often exhibits sins such as slander, self-serving biases, backbiting, blame-shifting, etc. Rather than a biblical counselor halting the sinful speaking, he or she often fosters it by asking probing questions that supposedly give insights that reveal the heart of the problem. The methodology of exploring problems in depth in search of solutions related to sin is an act of vanity. It goes nowhere and, in the process, it exacerbates the conflict. Furthermore, and most important, it’s a diversion from what the Bible clearly says, which can be understood and obeyed without difficulty.

Problem-centered counseling rarely, if ever, directs the counselees past the problems to Christ himself and their walk with Him. Some of the Biblical Counseling organizations have produced videos utilizing their people role playing as counselees. What’s presented in their own productions shows clearly their approach to counseling as I’ve just described. The Bobgans “are not saying ‘Do not talk about problems.’ We do listen to problems; but the way we respond and the direction we take differ from those in the biblical counseling movement.” The ministering approach does not major in addressing problems in contrast to the biblical counseling movement’s problem-centered approach. The goal of the ministering approach is to “turn the attention back to the Lord and His Word and the daily walk as soon as possible and as often as necessary. Of course there are exceptions, as when immediate action needs to be taken. For instance, if gross sin has been committed, such as a crime, physical or sexual abuse, or unfaithfulness in a marriage, there must be evidence and there must be action beyond the conversation of personal ministry.”

What of the good in regard to counseling in the church? I know of some, who, although they don’t make the distinctions between the terms “counseling” and “ministering,” nevertheless do not subscribe to either psychological counseling or the hybrid of that found in the Biblical Counseling Movement. They do not refer their people out to professional psychotherapists, do not set apart individuals as counselors, nor do they adhere to any methodology of counseling.

They believe that the full counsel of God, taught through verse-by-verse sermons, Bible studies with like-minded believers, individuals studying the Scripture, much time spent in prayer, and obedience to the Scriptures through the power of the Holy Spirit enables all biblical Christians to be fruitful and productive in their life in Christ. Those things are sufficient in dealing with life’s problems.

Hopefully, the Lord will use these two articles to speak to those who have been confused by, even deceived by, practices and experiences they have had either as counselors or counselees and be encouraged to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians:5:21).

I believe the Bobgans have pointed the church back to the old paths, which the Holy Spirit inspired the prophet Jeremiah both to restore and to warn his people. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah:6:16). My prayer is that the church will not respond as the Israelites did: “But they said, We will not walk therein.”

I can’t think of a better way to end this message than to quote the conclusion given in the Bobgans’ book Stop Counseling! Start Ministering! 

“We urge all believers to grow in grace, in faith, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to be ready to minister to one another as the Lord provides opportunities and wisdom. New believers can certainly testify of the Lord’s work in them, which can be a great encouragement to others. As believers talk with one another, they will find opportunities to give a word of comfort, encouragement, and exhortation.

“They may have opportunities to remind one another of essential truths of Scripture that need to be emphasized. And, they may find themselves sought out for personal ministry by those who are enduring trials and various problems of living. Those who are trusting the Lord and His Word, who are giving themselves as ready vessels for the Holy Spirit to work through them, and who have been walking daily with the Lord through both sunny and stormy days are equipped to minister in some of the most difficult situations that fellow believers may be experiencing.

“We thank God for those individuals who, without counseling certificates, degrees, manuals, books, or programs, are not intimidated by a lack of counseling education and training and who minister to others just as believers were doing prior to the rise of the psychological and biblical counseling movements. We say to all who have been prepared by the Lord and are dependent on Him rather than on the wisdom of men: Go forth and minister by grace through faith.”

TBC

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Read Gender Studies in Kabul!

TBC Staff

Why not apply for a Masters Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies at Kabul University? [At the time of this writing in August] the course is currently advertised on the university’s website.

You’ll be engaged in a program which is obviously essential to any progressive nation, in the exotic atmosphere of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Anyone who cannot see how much of a win-win that is must be short of imagination.

In 2017, seven women and 14 men graduated from the course. In 2018 that had risen to 39 women and 22 men achieving either a First or a Second. You will clearly be in impeccable feminist company.

Kabul University reckons this is ‘a new field which can be effective in the consolidation of rights and placement of women’. But also, ‘it can be considered as an increase in the quality of social sciences for the scientific community of Afghanistan’. Of course it can.

Gender and Women’s Studies was certainly a new field for Afghanistan when the Kabul University webpage was written on the inception of the course in 2015. However, it is relatively recent in the West as well.

Women’s Studies begins with the assumption that women are victims of discrimination in society. Its feminist protagonists view society as male-dominated. The ‘patriarchy’, male succession, real or supposed wage inequality, lack of women in society’s leadership roles all become huge problems. Men are seen as having privileges which they will not relinquish voluntarily and must be forced to give up.

The Biblical assumption is that men lead and women bear children and look after the home. That being said, the Bible is clear that both sexes are in it together. In the Bible we see a woman in leadership (complaining that no man would would do the job), and we see women in business. Neither Deborah nor the wife of Proverbs 31 seem to have needed a degree in Women’s Studies to make a success of it.

Feminist antagonism, setting the sexes at each other’s throats, is divisive, ungodly and a waste of everyone’s time.

Gender studies goes further in tearing up scripture. Gender roles become culturally-conditioned rather than God-given. Numerous studies have now shown that left to their own devices, and in general, boys [go] for motor or building toys to play with while girls choose dolls. But Gender Studies will have none of that.

And if gender roles are imposed by society it follows they can be overturned. Women can rule or assert ‘girl power’. Go one step further and one’s gender itself can be chosen.

Clearly, you will have to hurry to put in an application...

Unless the Taliban have turned over a completely new leaf, It is beyond doubt the course will be shut down as soon as they spot it. In that event, it is a good job we have saved the webpage for posterity.

https://www.christianvoice.org.uk/index.php/read-gender-studies-in-kabul/

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