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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ted Haggard Squirms, Barbara Walters Squeals, Evangelicals Saddened

This is a post I intended to write a long time ago, but due to the hectic holiday schedule and other commitments, I have not been able to do so. The much-anticipated ABC special by Barbara Walters called "Heaven--Where Is It? How Do We Get There?" aired December 20, 2005. While there are many angles to address this special and many points to make, I want to simply address the evangelical representation (since I am an evangelical) by Ted Haggard - President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and pastor of New Life Church (Colorado Springs, CO). (Because I have not been able to retrieve transcripts of the special, I am having to refer to my short-hand notes from that night.) When Barbara Walters asked Haggard about heaven, he states that heaven is an actual place, that there is a first, second, and third heaven. He adds that heaven is not an abstract idea but a physical place. Kudos to Haggard. However, problems quickly arise as Walters questions Haggard about how one goes to heaven. When asked about how one goes to heaven, Haggard responds by saying that there is only one guarantee for heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Haggard adds that outside of Christ you don't have assurance you are going to heaven. Again, Haggard later emphasizes that if you do not believe in Jesus there is no guarantee that you are going to heaven. Haggard finishes by saying that those who do not believe in Jesus will be left to work out their eternal life on their own. Now is the evangelical position on salvation? I don't think so. This is the second special in two months on evangelicals as Haggard as the mouthpiece of evangelicalism, and both times I wish I could have put duct tape over the T.V. screen in hopes that he would not make the matter any worse. You would think that in all of the evangelical world we could have a spokesman who would represent evangelicalism with more theological precision and biblical fidelity, but it appears it doesn't bother the NAE enough to do anything about it. What is with this guarantee and assurance talk? Christian soteriology is more than just a guarantee and assurance. Haggard denies the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in saying that Muslims and Jews have to work out salvation on their own. He denies the necessity of explicit saving faith for salvation in that he adds that they must "work it out on their own." He undermines the supremacy of Jesus Christ as the only locus and mediator between God and man with the implication that although there is not guarantee, there is the possibility of salvation apart from his life, death, and resurrection. We need to be pin-point clear on this: there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ. He is the only way to heaven. Not only is there no guarantee of salvation apart from receiving Him as Savior and Lord, there is no possibility either. I understand that there are some in the evangelical camp who would argue for inclusivism and would endorse Haggard's statements, but there is very little support both biblically and confessionally for this position. I am saddened to think that 14 million+ people heard a misrepresentation of salvation and have in their mind, "Well, it's good to know that I don't have to believe in Jesus to be saved. While there is no guarantee or assurance, I've got a good chance to get into heaven on my own." I don't believe heaven nor its King was smiling on this. Secondly, Walters asked Haggard on whether those who do not believe in Jesus will go do hell. Haggard replies that "yes" those who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell. That's great, but does not that not contradict his prior statement that there is the possibility of salvation apart from believing in Jesus and that one can work it out on his own? She continues by asking, "But what if the god is not Jesus Christ? What if it's a different god? Do they go to Hell?" Haggard squirms, saying "I think so." "You do?" Walter pirks up. Haggard squirms again, "Unfortunately." Walters, then upset over the answer squeals in criticism, asking "Is it not judgmental to say that 'your way is the only way?' Does God mean for you to be judgmental?" Haggard replies, "Well, I -- I don't mean to be judgmental, but there are certain things that are true. If you drink water, you'll be healthier. If you drink drano, you won't. And somebody may look at that and say, but I have a conviction that drinking drano will be wonderful for me. Well, and I would be judgmental and probably narrow-minded and say, you know what, you really need to set aside the drinking of drano and drink some water. I don't want to communicate a bad attitude or anything like that, but the issue is this is a guarantee for eternal life." In an attempt to accommodate a cultural of pluralism, Haggard here gives hesitant and regretful responses which Christians have boldly and unapologetically proclaimed as unadulterated truth. It seems as though Haggard is more concerned with upsetting America and her prophetess Walters than the Lord God Almighty. Whose wrath are we more afraid of? Popular appeal by a worldly culture under the captive rule of Satan or the sovereign Lord and Judge over all? I agree that evangelicals should not present a pompous, arrogant, or elitist mentality, but humbly but boldly proclaiming the truth is not being effeminate or a scissy either. Maybe that is why Paul prayed in Ephesians 6 19:20 - and [pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Or when Peter and John were arrested and beaten in Acts 4:1-31, especially 29-31- And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Where is that type of boldness? That type of concern for "the name of your holy servant Jesus?" If anything, we should pray and pray hard for those who speak on behalf of Christ and His Church that they would speak boldly and clearly the truths we profess in Scripture and hold so dear. Contemporary Christianity needs a recovery of biblical bodaciousness in the midst of a pervasively pluralistic paradigm. Ironically, however, when the Muslim stated that those who do not believe in Mohammed will go to hell, Walters for some reason was not judgmental. Is there an anti-Christian bias here? I will leave that for you to decide. It was good to hear, however, that other religions in the world are accurately stately that they also believe there is only one way to heaven (contra John Hick, Paul Knitter, et al.). As our culture grows increasingly secular, and as the religions of the world continue to try to syncretize, Christians have to make a decision on whether they will stand up for the truth and be counted for the sake of Christ Jesus or falter and fumble the faith which has been so sacrificially been handed down to us. To read more, see: BP - Do all roads really lead to heaven? BP - Heaven no closer after Barbara Walters’ special Paleoevangelical - "Heaven is a place where you can eat what you want and never get heavy." Slice of Laodicea - Heaven: Have It Your Way Beliefnet - 'Heaven Is a Place Where You Are Happy' NewsBusters - Barbara Walters Presses Christian As "Judgmental," But Not Islamic Terrorist

2 Comments:

Anonymous iconoclasm said...

What a doof! As I see it, the only purpose of having presidents of these organizations is to represent their members and say intelligent things in public venues. If you can't do that with Barbara Walters, who is an easier interview than your own mother, what good are you?

1/02/2006 04:36:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Iconoclasm,

As it has been aware to all of us, the mass media has picked up on the renewal of spirituality and religiosity in America with specials almost on a weekly basis. I also realize that they are trying to present evangelicals as right-wing kook fundamentals who are intolerable and unintelligent. I am frustrated that we are not doing a very good job of presenting our faith with a reasonable, well-articulated answer to the questions being asked. I know of several leading evangelical theologians and pastors who would serve this cause well, but for some reason (probably political) they would never be asked to be a part of such a "special."

1/02/2006 05:24:00 AM

 

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