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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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    • ‘American Gospel’ Blows a Hole in the Prosperity Gospel

      After years of watching the prosperity “gospel” advance in America, Africa, and beyond, a backlash is coming—one grounded in the Word of God and the gospel of grace. It’s thrilling to see. The new documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone, directed by Brandon Kimber, takes aim at this scourge. America has always been a pragmatic, can-do kind of country, and the film argues that the material focus of the prosperity “gospel” suits American culture. In offering this searing critique, which applies not merely to “them” out there but to us (for many of us love money and ease more than we might be comfortable admitting), Kimber first establishes what the true gospel is: good news centered in the finished work of Christ. Standing in the place of sinners like us, Jesus has absorbed the perfect wrath of the Father and made a way out of hell and into heaven. When we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior by God-given faith, we are instantly justified and counted righteous in God’s sight, the very merit of Christ’s now being our own (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 5:1–2; Eph. 2:8–9). Numerous evangelical theologians and pastors comment on this truth in the film, together building a clear and potent case for faith in Christ. True Stories of True Faith American Gospel traces the stories of real Christians whose lives have intersected with prosperity teaching in some way. One woman sobs as she recounts how health-and-wealth teaching ripped her life apart, piece by piece, until she had nothing. The film also introduces us to Katherine Berger, a woman suffering from numerous dreaded illnesses—one after another, it seems—who nonetheless radiates bright faith in God. Also prominent in the film is Costi Hinn, nephew of faith-healer Benny Hinn. Costi served on his uncle’s team as a “catcher” who witnessed apparent miracles around the clock. His testimony—soon to release as a book—takes us into the seamy experience of the faith-healer, an enterprise that preys on the poor and suffering to enrich the flush and covetous. The moment that crystallizes the shameful nature of faith-healing comes when Costi discusses how Benny Hinn would (and does) “heal” people with minor ailments. When it came to terminally ill children and other sufferers facing profound challenges, the “healer” refused. This was the first jarring note in Costi’s young life that eventually led him out of prosperity religion (and that’s what it is—a different religion than biblical Christianity). American Gospel does not hold back; the camera pans back to the outer boundaries of auditoriums at Hinn crusades, where desperate parents cradle diseased children, ignored, unwanted, and unhealed. We watch this, and we hear Justin Peters testify to this experience personally, and we cannot help but feel both sadness and righteous anger—Christ’s own anger. The money-changers are still in the temple, still making God’s name a mockery. This is an exact parallel of what Jesus did not do. He did not enter the ministry to make money. He did not work in the name of God to be popular and liked. He did not heal those who could do anything for him. Rather, he came to the physically and spiritually poor and made eucatastrophes of them all—not only addressing their bodies but, in many cases, saving their souls. He was not in it for himself; he was in it for the Father’s greater glory and the sinner’s true salvation. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). Sadly, Christ’s name is invoked by “faith healers” like Hinn and others whose ministries don’t reflect him. Call Your Skeptical Friends American Gospel succeeds in its mission. It shows the spiritual and even eternal stakes of prosperity religion. It reveals the danger of allowing any endeavor, however virtuous on the surface, to seep into the preaching and application of the biblical gospel. The movie champions the true, saving gospel, and it unpacks this message with clarity and conviction. Here’s hoping many viewers will come across American Gospel on various streaming platforms (iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo), and that Christians will find opportunities to watch the film with unbelieving neighbors and friends. The prosperity “gospel” is a great foil by which to evangelize, for it is patently a sham to many outside of the church. A film like this could be a great apologetic for those with a skeptical bent, for example. Though nicely shot and edited, the film could be a bit tighter, and the summation of the gospel message takes some time to unfold. So many voices speaking to different issues can begin to send the brain whirling, though I did appreciate how Kimber mixes in Christian leaders both well known and also lesser known. As is not uncommon today, American Gospel presents the gospel message primarily in terms of justification, which is the heart of the euangelion but not the doctrinal sum. The film references the local church but could say more about its importance. Similarly, the moral implications of the gospel are somewhat muted in American Gospel. If we must not make the moral dimension of Scripture the point of every passage, neither should we lose sight of it. But these are small critiques, not major ones. High Stakes The prosperity gospel comes with a terrific cost, as all false teaching does; it does not merely ruin intellectual systems, it ruins individual lives. We see this firsthand in the film. American Gospel does not merely “destroy arguments” of the prosperity kind in keeping with apostolic aims (2 Cor. 10:4–5). It also shows us that the natural man craves miracles: healing, wealth, favor, better “benefits” and sales “commissions” (this is literally what a Bethel pastor leads a congregation to ask God for), a life stripped free of suffering and challenge. But the miracles God brings in most of our lives are often quite different: quieter, less showy, but powered by the saving gospel. Instead of immediate healing, Christians may well be called to persevere in suffering. Instead of wealth, we may be called to learn contentment in our situation. Instead of coming back from the dead as in “heaven tourism” books, we must all face death and square with mortality. Instead of the cessation of trials upon the exercise of faith, we may be called to endure trials over the long haul. Instead of undimmed favor with power-brokers, we may be called to anonymity and unappreciated toil. Instead of a life of globe-hopping circuit-riding, we may be called to tuck in with our families (especially our children) and love them well, normal day by normal day. Instead of experiencing an unbroken string of personal triumphs, we may take many hits as we await the ultimate cosmic triumph of our warrior-savior, Christ Jesus. These are “ordinary miracles,” the very work of God in us. God will do as he wishes with each one of us. True believers may prosper in earthly terms (this is not uncommon, and our God is a very, very generous and wonder-working God)—or they may not. The point is this: Let us be careful about which gospel we follow. Let us follow the true gospel, not the American one. Let us not believe in secular Christianity, which is what prosperity religion really offers. To this and every other counterfeit we offer not faith, but truth spoken in love—truth calibrated to destroy the lies of the Devil and to rescue the ones who are perishing. View the full article

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    • Transgender Dad Is Raising 5-Year-Old Transgender Child

      The transgender father of a 5-year-old boy who wants to be a girl says he did not talk his child into becoming transgender, too. View the full article

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    • American Psychological Association Deems 'Traditional Masculinity Harmful'

      The American Psychological Association released a set of guidelines for physicians who work with boys and men where they marked traditional masculinity as “harmful.” View the full article

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    • Support For Border Wall Jumps As More American Blame Trump For Shutdown

      By Chris White - Support for a proposed border wall has increased since January 2018, even as more Americans are blaming President Donald Trump for the partial shutdown, according to a Washington Post poll published Sunday. Trump’s wall is winning adherents as support has increased over the past year. Nearly 42 percent of subjects say they support a wall, which is up from 34 percent currently last year. Slightly more than half of Americans (54 percent) oppose the idea, down from a high of 63 percent in 2018. The debate is a partisan one, the poll shows. Nearly 27 percent of the 54 percent of people who oppose the wall say Democrats should continue to resist Trump’s demands for $5.4 billion for the barrier, while another 23 percent believe Democratic lawmakers should compromise. Democrats appear more willing to compromise. Slightly more than 42 percent of Democrats who oppose the wall say lawmakers should resist, while 37 percent say they should be more conciliatory. About 58 percent Republicans support the wall and say Trump should demand funding, compared with 22 percent who say he should cave on the barrier. Trump should refrain from championing the new level of support, however, as the poll notes areas of concern for the president. For instance, more than half of Americans (53 percent) say Trump and the Republicans are at fault for the government shutdown, and 29 percent blame the Democrats in Congress. The president told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the shutdown could last nearly a year. The WaPo-ABC poll was conducted Jan. 8-11 among a random sample of 788 Americans – the results had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected] Support For Border Wall Jumps As More American Blame Trump For Shutdown is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more. View the original full article

      in Political Conservative News

    • Homeschooling Parents in Germany Lose Right to Educate Their Children

      The Story: A European court ruled that German authorities are allowed to forcibly remove children from their home if the parents homeschool. Could that happen in the United States? The Background: On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Germany’s ban on homeschooling did not violate a family’s fundamental rights. Germany is one of the few European countries that penalizes families who want to homeschool. According to Alliance Defending Freedom International, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family in August 2013. The authorities brutally removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatized. The children were ultimately returned to their parents, but their legal status remained unclear. After courts in Germany ruled in favor of the government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to take up the case in August 2016. The family still has the option of bringing the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, the highest level of the court. “This ruling ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International. “This judgement is a huge setback, but we will not give up the fight to protect the fundamental right of parents to homeschool their children in Germany and across Europe,” added Mike Donnelly, international homeschooling expert and director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association. The Wunderlichs have only been given partial custody and must send their children to a government-approved education program. Why It Matters: Although this case is in Europe, it’s a reminder of how fragile parental rights are in America. In 2010, a U.S. immigration judge granted political asylum to a German family who fled to America because, like the Wunderlichs, they were unable to homeschool their children. The judge ruled they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. The judge also denounced the German policy, saying it was, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.” President Obama’s Justice Department disagreed, and argued that the family should be denied asylum based on their contention that governments may legitimately use its authority to force parents to send their kids to government-sanctioned schools. On appeal the the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Justice Department and denied the asylum: The German law does not on its face single out any protected group, and the Romeikes have not provided sufficient evidence to show that the law’s application turns on prohibited classifications or animus based on any prohibited ground. For these reasons, we deny the Romeikes’ petition. As many Western nations have made clear, parents are not a “protected group.” Our duties and rights as parents are circumscribed by the cultural norms of the secular public. This is true even in the United States, as late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia repeatedly warned us. For example, in November 2015 Justice Scalia told an audience at Georgetown University Law Center that there is no U.S. constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Although Scalia believed the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, it is not a right necessarily protected by the Constitution, since many “important rights are not contained there.” “For example, my right to raise my children the way I want,” Scalia said. “To teach them what I want them taught, not what Big Brother says. That is not there.” As I noted last year, a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States last year relating to parental rights is pending in the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Most Christian parents have not even heard of this bill, much less asked their legislators to advance its passage. Because so few of us know about it, the legislation will likely continue to languish and be forgotten—only to be dusted off after a Supreme Court ruling further jeopardizes parental rights. Unfortunately, by then it may be too late. A Supreme Court ruling undermining parental rights would make it nearly impossible to pass such an amendment in the future. We didn’t heed Justice Scalia’s warning before his death. But we still have an opportunity to protect the rights of parents before the court decides the state, rather than parents, should decide what’s best for our children. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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