Want More Info on:
|Come visit Dr Matt at Facebook!|
Dr Matt's Latest Offering
The Real Heart of the Matter:
Rebuttal to Shawn McCraney's "Heart of the Matter," July 8th
Shawn wrote an excellent letter to a gay woman who complained about Christian insensitivity to her plight of being gay. McCraney's response was right on. Now, here are a few issues where Shawn's views are NOT in alignment with Bible Teachings. McCraney asserts the following:
** "Christianity is not defined by goodness or badness."
On his Heart of the Matter TV show, Shawn said that "Christianity is not defined by personal opinion," and then he ironically proceeded to give his personal opinion about the meaning of being "Christian." How do I know it was his opinion? Because Mr. McCraney didn't quote the Bible or offer verse citations, as he made his personal points about being "Christian."
Dr Matt's Bible-Based Rebuttal: Let's begin by quoting what Shawn McCraney said on the issue of being "Christian."
I will not attempt to pit my opinion against McCraney's — an approach that is pointless. Instead, let's look to Jesus for the answers we seek! Who better to define Christianity than . . . Christ? When defining the Lord's Gospel, it is wise to quote the Lord.
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
This means, those who profess to be "Christian" with their lips, but are not "continuing" in the words of Christ by their deeds . . . are NOT Christ's "disciples indeed." What did Christ mean when he said "my word." Here's a Bible passage that lays the foundation of Christian belief:
"And God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
Continuing in the "word" of Christ begins with believing in the Son of God. Now what did Jesus mean when He said believeth in Him? Jesus gave us a direct definition:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me,
Thus, Christ is consistent in expressing His doctrine: He reiterates the principle of continuing in "my word," with another call to action: "the works that I do shall he do also." What it means to believe in Christ, as defined by the Savior Himself, has a pro-active meaning — a definition that rejects passiveness and hypocrisy.
Again in matters of Christianity, it is wise to let Jesus speak for Himself? We should all look to Christ to know the doctrines of His Gospel. In contrast, some teach "for doctrines the commandments of men." Jesus called out hypocrites who gave empty lip service to God, but their hearts were set in keeping the traditions of men:
"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders . . . [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, . . . And [Jesus] said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7: 5-9)
The Bible clearly persuades against leaning to our own logic:
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
Again let the Lord define the meaning of discipleship — pushing aside personal opinion and explanations that "lean" unto our "own understanding." Faithful souls who prayerfully study "the works" that Christ did and strive to walk in His same footsteps (1 Peter 2: 21) are the true followers of Christ. According to the Savior's teachings, the term "Christian" is an appropriate term for the people who ACTUALLY FOLLOW.
In light of the words of Christ, Shawn sticks his foot in his mouth by concluding that "Christianity is not defined by goodness or badness." In defining the meaning of being "Christian" as he does, McCraney teaches "for doctrines the commandments of men" and leans unto his "own understanding" — rather than looking to the Lord and trusting in His explicit directives.
Believing in Christ is a good thing; Christ taught that true believers will do "the works" that he did. So, in fact, Christ directly declared that "being good" is at the center of "being Christian." Contrast this with the gospel according to Shawn:
"Christianity is not defined by goodness or badness. . . .
Did Shawn forget the parable of the sheep and the goats? "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me?" In this parable, Christ foreshadows the day of Judgment when He will separate those that "believeth in Him" from those that "believeth not" (see John 3: 15-18, 39)
James taught that "pure religion" meant visiting "the homeless, the naked, and the widows." And Paul preached "Though I speak with the tongue of angels, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13) — part of that nothingness is NOT being Christian.
Thus, people may "call" themselves Christians, but unless their actions align to the teachings of Jesus, the title doesn't really apply — according to Christ's given criteria.
Shawn provides his own opinion and criteria by saying: "Good Christians and Bad Christians, but Christians none the less?" I'll trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean upon His words and His teachings . . . and leave Shawn McCraney to his personal opinions.
The war of words continues: Latter-day Saints, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) claim to be Christians, but some Evangelical Christians insist they are not. Who is right?
Answer: It's not up to the Latter-day Saints or the Evangelical Christians (or any other religious group) to decide the answer to this question; instead, it is up to Christ. Let Jesus speak for Himself. It is perfectly superior to let The Judge . . . judge who He considers His Followers — who is Christian! It is superior to let the Savior establish the definition and standards of Christianity — and Jesus had already done precisely that!
* * * * * * *
It's curious when various groups — who claim to follow Jesus and claim to represent Him — preach doctrines that do not square with the words of Jesus. Again, what Shawn McCraney failed to do was let Jesus speak for Himself.
Shawn spent much time explaining the difference between "fact" and "personal opinion," illustrating this difference with examples from C. S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity." After laying the logical foundation for differentiating "fact" vs. "opinion," again, it is ironic that Shawn then proceeds to spout his opinion of what being "Christian" means, and concludes: "this is Biblical" — without ever quoting the Bible.
Because McCraney's focus was not solely upon the task of defining the meaning of being "Christian" (especially, bringing to light the Biblical Foundations of that meaning), Shawn gravitated to what he typically does — take swipes at so-called Mormonism. Of this tendency to find fault, C. S. Lewis said:
"I think we may accept it as a rule that whenever a person's
Different from what McCraney tends to do, I am pointing out the inconsistencies of Shawn McCraney's words compared to the teachings of the Bible — I'm not picking apart a "religion" per se, nor do I care to. Taking swipes at so-called "Mormonism" is what McCraney does; in contrast, I am providing a rebuttal to his rants . . . to keep things fair and balanced.
I say "so-called Mormonism" because WHATEVER definition Shawn brings to that term, doesn't necessarily represent what I believe. And who best to declare what a Mormon believe . . . than a Mormon!
In like manner, I'll let the Catholics represent their own religious perspectives; and I expect Evangelical Christians to declare their own religious principles too — instead of putting words in their mouths, as Shawn McCraney likes to do for Latter-day Saints.
If you've watched McCraney's show, you'll observe how he spends much time spouting erroneous representations of "Mormon" belief, only to knock down the "straw man" that he stands up, a few moments later. Latter-day Saint Doctrines are best represented by the direct words of the General Leadership of the Church and the body of Canonized Scripture — and not by Shawn McCraney's inaccurate and idle paraphrasing.
Reality Check. Surprise, surprise . . . I'm a "Mormon," and I don't believe in "Mormonism" at all. Instead, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and all the words of Christ as declared by His own mouth and by the mouth of His prophets since the world began until today.
No, I don't believe in Mormonism! The pure truths of God are not to be found within "isms" created by men. So, Shawn can bash so-called "Mormonism" until he's blue in the face. I believe in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as established by the word of God in the Bible.
Diverted by his personal agenda, Shawn made the erroneous assertion that the things that Latter-day Saints do today . . . are NOT what early "Christians" practiced, nor were they taught by Christ. Since Mormons believe in and practice the Law of Tithing, Shawn takes a swipe at the Biblical practice of Tithing.
More Logical Flaws: Instead of arguing this point back and forth, using my words versus Shawn's words, let's go straight to the Bible to resolve this matter. Let the Bible have the final say: weighing McCraney's opinions about being Christian against God's Word. McCraney says:
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles directed the affairs of the Church that Christ established:
"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common" (Acts 4: 32).
It is true that giving 10% of profit and/or possessions was NOT the law established by Christ and administered through His Apostles. New Testament Christians lived a higher law than Tithing: Instead of giving 10% . . . they gave 100%. And when Ananias and his wife Sapphira failed to give all to the Church, they both fell dead.
"A certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?. . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things" (Acts 5: 1-5).
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? . . . Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost" (Acts 5: 7-10).
According to the Bible, "Christians" during New Testament times were expected to give all they possessed to the Church, and share all things "in common." So based upon the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira due to their disobedience, would you venture to guess that giving all to the Church, was pleasing to God?
The Bible also makes clear that the Lord God will direct the affairs of His Church and His people, through His chosen prophets, according to His wisdom. The Lord declares higher laws as His followers can obey them. And when His people were especially stiff-necked and hard-hearted, He gave them a lower law to live — as in the case of the children of Israel and the Law of Moses.
God's Governing Principle is thus: "milk before meat." An infinitely wise God does not require His followers to "run faster than ye are able."
Tithing is the law that the Lord has given for the saints of His Church in these latter days. And when the saints are ready and willing to receive the higher law of sharing "all things common," . . . that will be the law that all "Christians" will live, when the Lord Jesus Christ declares it.
Let's look to the Bible to clarify the teachings of the Bible, instead of just accepting Shawn's personal opinion on the matter. Let's quote the Bible directly and listen to the words of Christ as He speaks directly to the doctrines of Christianity.
The Apostle Paul begins most of his epistles the same way: "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." If the Father and the Son were the same Person, then why does the Apostle Paul expressly speak as if there are TWO? Now, don't even attempt to answer this question with the logic of your mortal mind; instead, look to the Bible for sure answers.
One reason the Apostle Paul speaks of TWO is because Christ speaks of TWO distinct persons, when referring to Himself as opposed to His Father. Christ consistently differentiates Himself from His Father, and also maintains that they share a perfect unity of compassion and purpose:
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: . . . O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. . . . I pray for [the Apostles]: . . . Sanctify them through thy truth:
Neither pray I for [the Apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. . . . that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17: 1-23)
For those who insist that the Father and the Son are the SAME person, then to be consistent, they must also conclude that Christ is praying for His 12 Apostles, and all those who "shall believe on me through their word," to become ONE in substance — ONE in person.
The erroneous notion that the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are ONE in substance runs contrary to numerous accounts that people and prophets have recorded as to visitations of God and angels.
In the vast majority of accounts, God and angels appear as individual persons with bodily attributes: face, hands, feet, eyes and hair, etc. Further, the accounts of thousands of ordinary people who have survived near-death experiences, consistently speak of seeing family, friends, angels, and God, as individual persons — NOT lumped into ONE substance.
Because "isms" are creations and categories of mortal minds, it is a waste of time to import ism-interpretations into the Bible — falsely assuming that God thinks like humans think (see Isaiah 55: 8-9). The scriptures teach that mortal wisdom is unstable:
"Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man,
"For we . . . which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus,
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor. 3: 19)
To import "isms" into the word of God . . . is to taint the truths of God; instead of speculating upon the mortal categories of Monotheism and Polytheism, it is better to simply accept Bible accounts at face value: The Bible speaks of three Gods:
God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost
The Bible also teaches that the Father and the Son are "one" and that there is only "one" God. But before we start hyperventilating about the meaning of "one," let's allow heart rates to relax and take a big breath — and let the meaning of "one" be established and clarified by the Bible. Remember, personal interpretations of the Bible are expressly prohibited (1 Peter 2: 20-21).
The Biblical Meaning of the Word . . . One. The Bible speaks of a man "cleaving" to his wife, and becoming "one flesh." Does this mean that two partners in marriage, dissolve into one substance . . . simply because the word "one" is used? Of course not! In this instance, the term "one flesh" is a descriptive metaphor that refers to at least two aspects of being married:
* One Flesh suggests intimate sexual bonding between spouses, and
Two "2" individuals bonded together in marriage do not need to dissolve into one substance, in order for the description of "one" or "one flesh" to be applicable—and the same is true of the three "3" Divine Individuals that comprise One Godhead.
It is of paramount important that we put all conjecture and logical machination of what "one God" might mean, and let the Son of God speak for Himself! Let our Lord and Savior define the meaning of the word "one" when used to describe the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus can speak for Himself and it behooves all who claim to be His Followers . . . to let the Savior establish His own doctrine.
Which brings us to our Second point: The meaning of "one" is given by the Son of God Himself. Let' revisit the word that Jesus prayed to His Father in Gethsemane:
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me
When the Savior prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Son of God explicitly clarified how He and His Father are "one." In contrast, nowhere in the Bible does it state that God the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are one in substance — the Bible doesn't say it, because 3 Divine Persons combined into one substance is NOT the truth about the nature of God; this is a false conclusion of the Nicene Creed:
"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father . . ."
Based upon this Creed, so-called "Biblical Christianity" holds to a Trinity conception of the Father and His Son, that runs contrary to Bible teachings; and the basis of this Trinity interpretation hinges upon the meaning of one word — the word "one."
In all ages of time before, God's pure truths have been revealed by the Almighty through His chosen prophets. In contrast, the Trinitarian view of God did NOT come this way; instead, the Trinity interpretation was forged by consensus vote among Christian bishops at the First Council of Nicaea — a city in ancient Bithynia which is present-day Iznik in Turkey. This Council of Christian bishops was organized under the direction of Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
The doctrines of God are not established by majority vote among men; clearly, through millennia of time, God has established His will and ways through chosen prophets. Thus, contrary to the Almighty's precedent pattern, the First Council of Nicaea brought forth the will of Emperor Constantine — and not the will of God.
On that note, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only organization on the earth to proclaim that the Lord Jesus Christ actively leads the Church that bears His Name, through prophets that the Savior Himself has chosen, as in days of old.
What the Bible means by the word "one" is further explained in the second installment of Dr Matt's Rebuttal to Shawn McCraney: The Trinity: A Non-Biblical Notion — an answer to McCraney's version of Biblical Christianity . . . as rebutted by the Bible, ironically. Thus the term "Biblical Christianity" is an Oxymoron in this particular case.
"Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
"Mastering a challenging situation
"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
If these ideas resonate and ring true,
Changing Your Stripes is a