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Will Nobody Listen?

Normal Price: $12. Special offer: $8

Release date: September 2013.

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Many a person will explode in frustration: “I can’t do it any more. Nobody will listen. There’s no end in sight. I’m finished.”

This is a common complaint of people driven to despair. It doesn’t matter what the cause of the despair, but the potential for extreme action to try to gain attention—to be heard—as a last ditch desperate effort, is disturbing.

The greatest difficulty with trying to help these people is the possibility of (inter alia):

exaggerated stories to try to be convincing,

raising of all types of issues that are extraneous to the immediate situation,

threats of suicide or murder—extremes to try to highlight the desperation of the case,

summoning the “sure-fire” point-scoring triggers from years ago,

AND in addition, often the projection of personal guilt into the situation, leading to either:

Most pastors carefully avoid these conflict situations, rationalising that they are called to preach and teach, many refusing even the simplest visitation, let alone any counselling, especially if it is time-consuming—even if effective.

Over more than forty years of pastoral care and counselling, I have come to benefit from some proven strategies that have had lasting results with great benefit to those concerned.

The process is simple and efficient, but requires pastoral commitment, and a love for people.

It requires care and exactness, careful listening, and the willingness to devote time to help those in need. 

But the results are worth it:

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Condemned Already

Fully revised—March 2011.
132 pages. Normal Price $10.00 Special Offer $6.00.

condemnedBook_sml.jpgAt most evangelistic meetings, the preacher is at pains to demonstrate that all are sinners, and that each person needs to repent of his own (personal) sin, and to individually accept the redemptive sacrifice of Christ for himself. Respondees are usually counselled using verses like Ezekiel 18:4 (The soul who sins is the one who will die) and Romans 3:23 (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). Deuteronomy 24:16 could be added: Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.

But in many cases there is apparent unwitting duplicity. Although personal culpability for sin has been enjoined on the sinner, the common belief is that it is really Adam’s sin that is the problem. Adam’s sin has caused all men to be condemned, not in fact their own sin. If true, that leads to deception in evangelism. No one is able to respond.

"Two questions demand answer, first, how we can be responsible for a depraved nature which we did not personally and consciously originate; and, secondly, how God can justly charge to our account the sin of the first father of the race." (Strong 1907, 593)

More basic, the general picture of salvation in the context of the doctrine of original sin, is that all men have become sinners, not so much on their own account, but in some way due to their descending from Adam, and that Christ's one death on the cross accounts for all sins of all men of all time.

This general statement, in spite of voluminous attempted theological reasoning, seems to fall short of adequately addressing a number of issues of a significant and disturbing theological nature. 

If Adam sinned a sin for which he alone was responsible, why should any other man also be held culpable for Adam’s sin? (This is the problem of "Alien Guilt"). How can God be considered just when He is deemed to have condemned all men of all time for one man's indiscretion? Is the individual man responsible for his own sin, or is he Condemned Already?

"History has recorded the persistent revulsion many have felt at the apparent impropriety of being divinely condemned for an occurrence prior to their birth and for which they made no conscious choice." (Otto 1990, 205).

Alternatively and significantly, if an individual man is held to be responsible and culpable for his own sin, when did he first sin in order to become a sinner, thus deserving of spiritual separation from God? We must identify a CAUSATIVE sin which takes a man from innocence to being a sinner, and when this took place. Was it at birth, by the act of conception (which would remove his personal culpability for this causative sin), after birth, at some nebulous “age of accountability”, or at some other time?

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Tongues: Confused by Ecstasy

Fully revised—May 2011.
542 pages. Normal Price $15.00 Special Offer $10.00

 

tonguesBook_sml.jpgThe focus of this study is upon ecstasy as the confusing antecedent of Corinthian glossolalia. Most commentators accept ecstasy as the most significant characteristic of the Corinthian Christian glossolalic phenomenon. This assumption is questioned in this research, because it needs to be clarified. It is contended that ecstasy is the confusing element because it was characteristic of the contemporary Corinthian mystery religious practice and that that background was carried into the Corinthian church thus colouring Paul's treatment of the subject. It is not to be seen as an essential element of glossolalia.

Most commentators agree that the glossolalic phenomenon in the Acts is different from that at Corinth. What then is a valid charismatic glossolalia? It is contended that the Acts draws attention to the only authentic cases (and they are three) of glossolalia in the Bible. The book of First Corinthians gives a corrective to an abuse, with no clear authentication of a gift. Paul gives guidelines necessitated by the background of religious ecstasy. Hence, instead of proposing ground rules for a valid spiritual expression, it becomes apparent that First Corinthians is giving a restrained corrective against an abuse of contemporary culture that masqueraded as an authentic Christian experience. It is ecstasy that is the confusing element to this picture.

It should be added, that the Acts experiences speak of valid one-stage linguistic phenomena, whilst the gift to the church in 1 Corinthians is clearly a two-stage phenomenon.

Bergsma, reflecting on the repetitious and almost daily “unsignificant (sic) revelations” of modern glossolalists, believes that they are “misguided or … presumptuous. It is like the Himalayan Mountain in obstetrical labour and producing a mouse!” The preoccupation and emphasis is out of all proportion to the minimal benefits derived, and indeed the mischief it generates.

The overall significance of the study is to provide a basis for authenticating a valid glossolalic expression, and all this comes from the foundation of the test case in Corinth, which in turn is dependent upon an understanding of ecstasy in the antecedent Mystery Religions of Corinthian contemporary society.

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Let God Speak - extended 


 Let God Speak: His Word is Authority

  

Released March 2015. 200 pages.

Normal Price $10. Special Introductory offer $6.

 

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If we accept that the Bible is inspired and therefore infallible, inerrant, and authoritative, how are we to interpret the Bible so that we let God speak with authority?
We need to consciously set up rules of interpretation for the bible. This is the study of HERMENEUTICS. Hermeneutics is a general principle that applies to all subjects which require interpretation - whether art, literature, scientific criteria, legal documents, translation, computers, etc.
That theological discipline which takes as its goal the proper interpretation of Scripture is (biblical) hermeneutics. A solid hermeneutics is the root of all good exegesis and exegesis is the foundation of all truly Biblical preaching.
Ramm 1971, 8.
The second chapter of the book deals with this matter of hermeneutics. This is the next foundational step, after Inspiration. An uncertain hermeneutic leaves the student of the bible in very uncertain territory that is very unstable.
Amongst methods of interpretation, the allegorical method stands out as one of the most insidious and dangerous. Instead of God being the author of the bible, the mind of the interpreter becomes supreme. Note the following example.

An illustration of the allegorical method is Origen's treatment of Genesis 24:16, “[Rebecca was] a virgin, neither had any man known her”; which means, says Origen, that Christ is the husband of the soul when it is converted and that Satan becomes the husband of the soul when it falls away.
Ramm 1971, 97.
Since there are no rules for the deductions of the interpreter, there are no rules to test him! As a system, it puts itself beyond all well-defined principles and laws.
Since there is no basis for my choice, no one can criticize me!
This position claims unlimited licence, with no checks at all.

i. It disregards the common and obvious significance of words, and indulges in fanciful speculation, that has no basis in fact.
ii. It disregards the legitimate meaning of the author and foists into it whatever the interpreter desires.

This method has serious implications for theology and preaching.
We note this problem particularly in the denial of Christ's humanity (the historical Jesus) in favour of the purportedly more spiritual concept of "the Christ of faith".
This argument then extends to Christ's resurrection (and other areas). The Church of England Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Dr. David Jenkins said:
I don't think it means a physical resurrection. It means a spiritual, a transforming resurrection, a real resurrection.
... I don't think it means a physical resurrection at all. It's a real presence, a real renewal of personality which is now transformed, to be alive for ever. 
Quoted in the Brisbane Courier Mail, 27th March 1989.
Apparently a physical resurrection is not a real resurrection! The historical physical resurrection is ignored/denied.
Since the Bible IS (as distinct from "contains" or "becomes") the word of God, then God means what He says, and we must interpret the Bible literally (Milne 1982, 45) if we are to let Him speak.
By this statement it is affirmed that in the first instance God has said what He has said irrespective of subjective understanding, accurate exegesis or otherwise. If we quote any word, phrase or passage from the Bible, then it stands literally as God's spoken word. We then clearly differentiate this from what we understand by it.
This matter of literal interpretation is carefully examined as the prerequisite for sound biblical exegesis—the subject of the final chapter, with worked examples.

  Let God Speak - read extended excerpts