Biblical Criticism: The Root of B. B. Warfield’s Cessationism! – John Boruff

BB WarfieldSkepticism About the Bible and Miracles

p. 45 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield admits that the early church’s faith in Mark 16:9-20, and especially v. 17, where Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe,” is what gave them justification for the belief that miracles could be worked by any Christian; and not just the Biblical prophets and apostles. But Warfield, after the manner of a liberal Bible critic, said, “Christ did not utter these words…We see, however, that the belief that Christ uttered these words was a powerful cooperating cause inducing belief in the actual occurrence of the alleged marvels.” That is, the healing miracles witnessed by Augustine and mentioned in book 22 of his City of God and Severus’ Life of Martin. So, this is how Warfield allows himself to continue in this line of thought throughout his whole book, by stating outright that Jesus never really said what was contained in Mark 16:17. This is a satanic maneuver. In Genesis 3:1, the devil said to Eve, “Did God really say?” That’s what he does; he gets you to question the Bible; and to question supernatural interventions of God. And now he would have Christians to even disbelieve the miracle testimonies of Augustine on the basis of German higher criticism. Warfield makes a poor Calvinist to put such a low esteem on Augustine: he’s the guy they base their theology on. Warfield is published by The Banner of Truth Trust, if you didn’t know: which is a strange thought. He’s a hero over at Westminster Theological Seminary and so is Charles Hodge, even though both men accepted theistic evolution. These men are not really conservative Bible believers. They have their extremely weak spots for sure; and it is folly to trust in their teachings wholesale. If a man were to listen to them uncritically, he’d end up a Christian deist, practical atheist, a mainline liberal, a theistic evolutionist, and a Bible critic! “Christ did not utter these words,” he says. Well, then how can he trust the Scripture to be God’s Word? He’s picking and choosing just like a liberal! Just like John Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar! And yet, most Baptists, fundamentalists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, and so-called conservative evangelicals like John MacArthur BASE their anti-Pentecostal cessationist theology on this book!

p. 46 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield quotes Chrysostom making cessationist comments, saying that miracles don’t happen anymore. But just a few pages earlier, he refers to the Life of Martin, who was a contemporary of him, and whose life is filled with miracle stories. Chrysostom (d. 407) lived in Constantinople and Martin of Tours (d. 397) lived in Candes, France. They lived in the same time period: the 4th century. Martin was only 10 or 20 years older than Chrysostom. BUT they lived about 28 hours of driving time away from one another. Since they had no cars back then, that might as well be on the other side of the world. It’s clear that Chrysostom’s comments are no proof for the worldwide cessation of miracles, but proof that in the 4th century, as today, that there were different kinds of pastors and churches: those that lean more in the rationalistic, theological direction and those that lean more in the mystical, charismatic direction. A certain degree of openness is needed to experience miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Martin apparently had that, but Chrysostom didn’t. Martin was like Mike Bickle. Chrysostom was like John MacArthur. They were living at the same time, but they had different beliefs about miracles–and those beliefs determined what kinds of experiences they had. Remember that Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).

Catholic Miracle Workers Were Not Always 100% Pure

p. 58 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield does, however, make a good point on this page. And that is, that no honest Protestant should naively and uncritically accept all reports of Catholic miracles as coming from God, and never as coming from the devil. In my judgment, medieval Catholic miracles were a mixture. Much like the charismatic movement today. You will find miracles of healing and deliverance done in the name of Jesus; and many other wonders in the name of Jesus and to the glory of the Trinity. But you will also find miracles which support doctrines that contradict Scripture. Healings and visions, etc that seem to suggest that its God’s will to pray to certain dead saints and ask them to intercede for you (a kind of Catholic spiritism); for you to pay homage to the Virgin Mary like a goddess; for you to believe in transubstantiation rather than consubstantiation as taught in John 6:63; for you to beat your body with whips; to believe in Purgatory; and to reject justification by faith alone. Whenever a Catholic miracle supports false doctrines such as these, you have my permission to consider it a demonic counterfeit. But here’s the thing, and I know this sounds crazy: I believe that the same Catholic saints that experienced some demonic miracles had also experienced Holy Spirit miracles. It was a mixture. Isn’t it the same with Pentecostals and charismatics today? Don’t you think that when a revival of mystical experiences comes to a church leader, and God starts to give him miraculous gifts: do you think the devil is going to just sit on the sidelines, and let that happen, without him trying to butt in and cause confusion? Nobody’s perfect. It would require perfect holiness and perfect theology to discount demonic miracles and doctrines every single time in your life. 

Even the Best Pentecostal Healers Were Not 100% Pure

Look at Smith Wigglesworth for example. No Pentecostal would say he wasn’t used by God’s Spirit to heal thousands of people; and yet, there were many times when he felt a compulsion to punch people where they hurt the most, and this would be followed by a healing! To me, that is a far cry from Jesus putting mud on a blind person’s eyes. That seems to be a mixture of demonic influence with the gifts of the Spirit. On no one point has Wigglesworth received more criticism than on this one: mainly because the rudeness of the action is so contrary to the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, etc. Many charismatics revere Derek Prince as the man who revived deliverance ministry in the 1970s; but Prince fell into errors just like the rest of us. For a while, his teachings sparked the shepherding movement, which led to an excessive authoritarianism in charismatic churches. When he saw how bad it had gotten, he repented and publicly apologized for it. Prince also believed that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamite race of men; that is, the ghosts of evil Neanderthals (or something like that), that lived before Adam and Eve. This belief in a pre-Adamite race was popularized by a number of people before Prince, who believed in theistic evolution, including the fundamentalist R. A. Torrey. But no serious charismatic Christian would say that Prince was not a prince among men who had prevailed with God. There has arisen no one else with a more legitimate deliverance ministry, in power, scope, and influence than him; at least in recent times. Every person that has sought to cast out demons since the ’70s has looked back to him for influence and guidance in some way.

Work Cited

B. B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918.

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Miracles of St. Hilarion in Epidaurus – St. Jerome

Originally from here.

39. He therefore brought him to Epidaurus, a town in Dalmatia, where he stayed for a few days in the country near, but could not be hid. An enormous serpent, of the sort which the people of those parts call boas because they are so large that they often swallow oxen, was ravaging the whole province far and wide, and was devouring not only flocks and herds, but husbandmen and shepherds who were drawn in by the force of its breathing. He ordered a pyre to be prepared for it, then sent up a prayer to Christ, called forth the reptile, bade it climb the pile of wood, and then applied the fire. And so before all the people he burnt the savage beast to ashes. But now he began anxiously to ask what he was to do, whither to betake himself. Once more he prepared for flight, and in thought ranged through solitary lands, grieving that his miracles could speak of him though his tongue was silent.

40. At that time there was an earthquake over the whole world, following on the death of Julian, which caused the sea to burst its bounds, and left ships hanging on the edge of mountain steeps. It seemed as though God were threatening a second deluge, or all things were returning to original chaos. When the people of Epidaurus saw this, I mean the roaring waves and heaving waters and the swirling billows mountain-high dashing on the shore, fearing that what they saw had happened elsewhere might befall them and their town be utterly destroyed, they made their way to the old man, and as if preparing for a battle placed him on the shore. After making the sign of the cross three times on the sand, he faced the sea, stretched out his hands, and no one would believe to what a height the swelling sea stood like a wall before him. It roared for a long time as if indignant at the barrier, then little by little sank to its level. Epidaurus and all the region roundabout tell the story to this day, and mothers teach their children to hand down the remembrance of it to posterity. Verily, what was said to the Apostles, If you have faith, you shall say to this mountain, Remove into the sea, and it shall be done, may be even literally fulfilled, provided one has such faith as the Lord commanded the Apostles to have. For what difference does it make whether a mountain descends into the sea, or huge mountains of waters everywhere else fluid suddenly become hard as rock at the old man’s feet?

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James Goll: Is He Still a True Prophet? – John Boruff

James GollI’m inclined to think that James Goll is a still true prophet, although at times, he’s been misguided and has made some mistakes. It’s late 2018 and Michael Brown, the watchdog of the charismatic movement, has endorsed Goll’s latest edition of his book Praying with God’s Heart.

Goll, Che Ann, C. Peter Wagner: the latter two endorsing Goll’s site–all who were part of the so-called Revival Alliance that prophesied great things over Todd Bentley while he was secretly getting drunk and committing adultery during the 2008 Lakeland Revival. Goll, Ann, and Wagner must not have known what Bentley was doing behind closed doors. Goll seems to have cleaned up his act and his ministry associations. His website looks a lot more professional as does his ministry team. However, he still has Mark Virkler’s influence: another endorser of his site: and is charging hundreds of dollars for webinars on dream interpretation. Doesn’t sound like, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). I don’t like that.

Michael Brown, in his YouTube videos on Bill Johnson and Bethel Church for Q&A, has gone on record for saying that Goll and company’s commissioning of Todd Bentley was divine punishment on the charismatic movement. Perhaps exposing it to embarrassment for its reckless attitude towards prophetic ministry.

We can only hope that Goll’s attitude towards Bentley and John Crowder has changed. I’ve always liked what James Goll has had to say about dreams and visions, even since 2006 when he was on Elijah List videos. He was one of the key guys to open my eyes to the prophetic. However there are a few things you need to stay leery of in Goll’s writings: namely his book references. He does a great job at cleaning material up for an evangelical charismatic audience, but not so great a job at warning about some of the books he refers people to read:

1. In The Seer he refers to Kenneth Hagin as a prophet (pp. 18, 87, 139, 140). Actually, Hagin was more of a pagan than a Pentecostal. A modern Balaam who preached about “holy greed” and prosperity theology more than anyone. Also, what some people don’t know, is that Hagin was a major plagiarist, an out and out liar. Many of his writings were copied word-for-word from E.W. Kenyon’s writings and passed off as if Hagin wrote them: see D.R. McConnell’s A Different Gospel.

2. In Dream Language, he refers his readers to Morton Kelsey’s God, Dreams, and Revelation, but puts no qualifiers on Kelsey either (p. 63). Randy Clark is another big Kelsey fan. The problem with Kelsey’s writings though, is that he was a Jungian, as was also Herman Riffel (Dream Interpretation), John Sanford (Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language), and a number of other writers in that school. They are basically guys from a mainline liberal Christian background who tapped into the spiritual dimension of dreams. But they are more influenced by self-centered ego interpretations of dreams than by seeing anything divine or demonic in them. Or if they try to see anything divine or demonic, they do so in an indirect sense, and basically leave you with the impression that all dreams come from your own brain. Of course, Kelsey is a whole lot more academic and historical than most charismatic writers, which is why he has such an appeal for serious charismatic theologians. But watch out! Kelsey’s writings not only have ego-centric Jungian psychology, but also universalistic religious pluralism, endorsement of Zen and yoga practices (The Other Side of Silence), and parapsychology understandings of supernatural experiences, like being psychic, having ESP, telekinesis (Healing and Christianity), etc. Just watch out.

But when it comes to Goll’s writings, he tends to leave a lot of that objectional stuff out. And in that sense, he’s very Wesleyan. Take a look at John Wesley’s “Christian Library” sometime; very similar in some ways.

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Why Some People Don’t Get Miraculous Gifts – John Boruff

“You always resist the Holy Spirit!” –Acts 7:51

When it comes to my relationship with God, my Christian life, most of the time I’ve been focused on myself: meaning, that I’m focused on how I’m doing with God: is my conscience clean?, etc, or to consider if evil influences are coming against my spiritual growth. It’s at those times, when I consider evil influences, that my attention turns towards the people that are producing those influences; and by turning my attention to them, I tend to pray for them to change, or will preach to them, explaining what the Bible says about such an issue, usually with the same result that Jesus said would happen to those who throw pearls to swine: they turn against me and rend me to pieces with their words. And in the course of such contradictory conversations, I suppose, it becomes evident that they are pigs of the spirit, wallowing in the mud of their sins, having no desire to be washed by the water of the Word. To put it as plainly as possible, there is only one main reason why people don’t get baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit: they love their sin and have no desire to get rid of it. There are as many reasons for why people are not Spirit-baptized as there are numbers of sins. The ten commandments named the top ten sins that are the most offensive to God (Exod. 20:1-17); and I suppose it is from here that all the other specific sins, both major and minor, grow out from: the sin of paganism, the sin of idolatry, the sin of blasphemy, the sin of avoiding church or devotional activities, the sin of dishonoring parents, the sin of murder, the sin of adultery, the sin of stealing, the sin of false accusation, and the sin of jealousy for another person’s possessions.

In my personal life, I have seen a number of people, in a number of situations get trapped in any of these sins, or their offshoots, and get locked into one of them, so much so that it seemed to prevent them receiving the Holy Spirit in the fullest measure; or at least in the sense that they were capable of having Pentecostal experiences. Each person is different and that means that each one usually has that one sin that dominates over the other ones. Human minds are too simple to carry too many sins at once: it seems that its usually just one dominating sin—a sin that so easily entangles, a besetting sin—that entraps certain people, and prevents them from entering in a fully mystical life, complete with supernatural experiences, even if they are occasional. Such things as feeling the presence of God, speaking in tongues and the joy that comes from that, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, dreams and visions, the voice of God, visions of angels and demons, successful prayers for healing or casting out demons, experiences with prophecy being foretold and then seeing a fulfillment of it, even if its minor, Biblical and personal coincidences seen as signs from God, confirmations, directions, divine interventions, guidance, financial providence of a dramatic nature, etc. This whole element of the supernatural, Pentecostal, and charismatic aspects of life in the Holy Spirit are cut off from them; and I have often wondered if there are main reasons why these people don’t experience these things.

I’m inclined to think that UNBELIEF is the main reason why people don’t have supernatural experiences, which I guess is a form of pagan idolatry, and would go against the first two commandments that offend God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Unbelief puts people into a spiritually unreceptive frame of mind. That is, an unwillingness to believe, have faith in God, or trust in the Bible for what it actually says, particularly what it says about supernatural phenomena. Part of this could be unintentional, due to upbringing: 1. Liberal mainline Christians have a very rationalistic, naturalistic, materialistic, deistic, science-based view of the world; it is natural for them to give a “natural explanation” to paranormal phenomena every single time, for fear of being considered superstitious or unwise. Rudolph Bultmann is leader of this view: he popularized the idea among liberals that the supernatural things in the Bible were just legends or a kind of Judeo-Christian mythology, like the Greek myths. Since Jesus pretty much made it a rule that faith was necessary for healing and casting out demons (Mark 16), it follows that this rule of faith would apply to pretty much every other miraculous gift that could come from God to increase that level of faith. The apostles asked, “Increase our faith!” and so Jesus will for those who really mean it; but not for those who persistently take the opposite stance. 2. Scientific people who advocate scientism: “I believe in science;” those people are generally Darwinists, or atheistic evolutionists, like Richard Dawkins. They only believe in the physical world, their churches are museums of natural history, their prophets are evolutionary biologists; and since God is part of the non-physical world, they reject Him and everything spiritual. Again, it could be due to upbringing and environment, but there are also plenty of people in this category who have seen the true Gospel preached on TV and they have turned it off every time. 3. Fundamentalists, or Calvinistic evangelicals who believe in the doctrines of dispensationalism and cessationism, as taught in B. B. Warfield’s Counterfeit Miracles and John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos. They are unwilling to accept any testimonies of miracle stories, both ancient and modern, both Catholic and Pentecostal, simply because they hold to a theological belief that the first century was the only period of time in which the miraculous gifts were experienced by people. That is, during the time of the gospels and the book of Acts. They say this because they believe God gave these gifts to authenticate the original apostles of Christ as sent from God and as being given authority to write the New Testament, such as Paul, Peter, John, etc. Although the New Testament does not state this as the reason for miraculous gifts, it is the best explanation that fundamentalists have come up with for why people never see any miracles happening in their churches today. But to point out a few holes in their belief, if only in passing, see Thomas Boys’ The Suppressed Evidence; it shows that although Augustine, Luther, and Calvin all went through periods of doubt in the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit in their lives, it also shows that later in their lives they experienced supernatural things and changed their minds. It also shows that the first Presbyterian group, known as the Covenanters and then led by John Knox, were very open to charismatic experiences, particularly visions that revealed the locations of and manners in which divine retribution against their enemies would be carried out by God. The fact that Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Knox all received supernatural experiences of the Holy Spirit at some points in their lives; and the fact that many healing testimonies are mentioned in Augustine’s City of God, book 22, chapter 8, is to basically cut down the entire tree upon which the theology of cessationism has grown.

That leaves occultists, Catholics, and Pentecostals as the remaining groups of people who experience supernatural things. I will allow that both Catholics and Pentecostals can be filled with the Holy Spirit and have miraculous gifts; but in the case of Catholic charismatics, they would have to be the types that put the Virgin Mary on the shelf of their devotional life and allow Jesus to be the center of it. When it comes to occult people, New Agers, and Wiccans, at least these people are supernaturally minded and are open to “ESP” or “psychic” experiences. They just need to embrace the Gospel and repent from witchcraft; and when they do that, they should make a pretty smooth transition into Pentecostal experiences, because they are not the types of people to just be loaded down with scientism and unbelief about the supernatural. I think in one way or another that was the category I was in when I gave my life to Christ when I was 14. I had been primed into supernatural ideas by Goosebumps books and Stephen King movies; and was fascinated by supernatural ideas, and I believed in their reality. You just have to be the mystical type to let the door swing open to these things once you come to Christ. If there’s anything keeping you from this, then it would be an area of your life you should get straight with God about.

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The Christian Man: Against His Worldly Counterparts – John Boruff

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” –1 Corinthians 16:13

Jocks: Usually Aggressive and Mean-Spirited Men

In my personal view, white male jocks and their older peers are usually the worst kind of men. Wikipedia rightly says that this category of men are characterized by behavior that is aggressive, arrogant, mean, egocentric, easily offended, and short-tempered. These men are macho, they don’t cry, they’re afraid to hug or show affection, they are gay-bashers, and they bully people. But surprisingly, despite all of these negative characteristics, they are popular. But maybe that is because most of the world system is overrun by football and jock culture—and most of the world is comprised of people who would rather treat you like dirt than by people who are looking for a new friend. Maybe with the exception of some guys with a background in track and field, or other solo sports, like skateboarding—but generally those involved aggressive sports in the past or present—football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, boxing, etc—you’re going to find totally arrogant jerks; and sad to say, from school to the workplace, they generally don’t change the way they act. Football guys especially, I think, are the worst type of guys to be around. They are so often no more than arrogant, competitive, annoying bullies that walk around with a sense of entitlement, pushing others around, belittling them.

Control Freaks and Gold Diggers: The Worst Kind of Women

As for the worst kind of women, I would have to say it’s the women that find themselves attracted to these mean jock types, because they probably have similar personalities. These I would have to say are generally control freaks—a type that is so impossible to put up with: but it seems to be in women with different interests and backgrounds; second to that, I’d say the gold diggers are the second worst kind of woman, but not every woman has the opportunity to be a greedy gold digger, although I would say that gold diggers are a type of control freak.

Hipsters and Jesus Freaks: My Favorites

As for the best kind of people, I’d like to say that I prefer hipsters—especially Christian hipsters—because hipsters tend to care about friendship—they don’t really insult each other. They show respect to each other; they hate bullies and oppressors; they are generally sexually straight, but they show gay people respect as human beings; they love rock music and all its variations; they are open to paranormal phenomena and spirituality; they are emotionally expressive, creative, and sometimes intellectual (but just shy of being nerdy); they read and talk about interesting things, etc. I’ve always gravitated towards hipsters, because I’ve found them to be the kindest, and emotionally the healthiest to be around. The obvious drawbacks of the hipster culture are fornication, drug use, and profanity—all three of which open the door to association with drug dealers and criminals. (But you find that in jock culture too.) So, really “Jesus freak” hipsters are the safest to be with, socially, culturally, psychologically, emotionally, and yes spiritually. I’m glad to say we had more than a few of these present at our wedding. I would like to make one exception: fake hipsters. These are the pretentious posers who only imitate hipsters in the external sense—like their clothing styles, their music, and their slang, etc. But they haven’t gone all the way to embrace the ethos of anti-materialism, emotional expression, friendship seeking, creativity in the arts, etc. They just copy clothing styles and things. A true hipster embraces the ideology; it’s really a personality type—it’s not just a youth culture, a fashion statement, or a preference for bands like the Beatles or Nirvana. It’s a personality type that manifests itself in different ways, is all. So, if you come across a snobby hipster that looks down on someone—nope, that’s not a true hipster. They just bought the t-shirt—they don’t get it.

From Jocks to Yuppies: The Toxification of the Workplace

Those who were jocks—primarily concerned with talking about sports and not much else than that—once they graduate from college, and become successful in the workplace, they still mainly only talk about sports, much to the grievance of every non-jock that works with them. They are the yuppies. The jock-to-yuppie phenomenon in America is tragically prevalent; and I think it’s to blame for why so many companies have so many macho jerks intoxicating the work environment. Jocks, once they graduate from college, and enter the workplace and become young upwardly mobile professionals (yuppies)—they fill the place with the same aggression and competitive spirit that they had on the football field, and seem to be incapable of thinking of anything else other than those subjects as they allude to their job. The manager is like a football coach, the workers are like football players, the sales group is a “team,” and so forth. It’s enough to make a non-jock guy puke, roll his eyes, walk outside, puke again, go home and sulk.

Christian Masculinity Versus Worldly Ideas

The important thing to take away from my criticism of jocks is the following: it’s not that sports are bad. Honestly, football could be harmless fun if that’s all we would let football be. Although it’s not for me personally, because I think it’s just a boring game: you throw the ball, catch the ball, run a little bit, tackle, get tackled, walk around, and repeat it over and over again. The problem really has to do with modern American ideas about what it means to be a “real man.” The same manifestations of jerkiness can also be found in the military and the workplace. There’s confusion and misinformation about manliness; and as always, we can correct it by looking at the Bible for guidance. What God says about manliness is all that matters.

Worldly people in American culture think of a real man in different ways: bodybuilder physique, chiseled jawline, masculine facial features, a confident attitude, a “take charge” leader mentality; but it unfortunately gets warped into something worse by something like 30% of the male population: it turns into a macho man mentality–a jerky, cocky a-hole mentality, for lack of a cleaner expression. This is seen in verbal and emotional abuse, sometimes physical violence, narcissism (preoccupation with physical appearance), machiavellianism (manipulation), and psychopathy (hurtful behavior marked by a lack of regret, compassion, or sympathy). Relationship gurus say that a “real man” is a nice guy who has a relaxed but confident attitude. I can agree with that, but I think God has more to say about it. So let’s allow the Bible help us to filter out which characteristics to cling to as Christian men; and which ones to get rid of. Because obviously, there is a right way to be a man and a wrong way to be a man (Prov. 14:12)–and the Bible is the only way we can find that out…

1. Men are strong (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Kings 2:2); both in body and their mental state: they are practically fearless.

2. Men are not childish, but adults (1 Cor. 13:11); they are capable of intelligent thought and self-control, unlike little boys.

3. Men are prepared to fight, if necessary (Job 38:3); they take measures to defend themselves and their loved ones.

4. Men are leaders of women and children (Isa. 3:12); and it is tragic if it is the other way around (1 Tim. 2:12).

5. Men respect women (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19); and they are sensitive to meet their needs.

6. Men pursue righteousness and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).

7. Men train their children with both nurture and admonition (Eph. 6:4).

8. Men imitate Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1): which seems to fit into the hipster culture by the way, much more than the jock culture. Which picture below looks like the Jesus in the Bible?

Jesus on a Donkey  Jesus Playing Football

9. Men do not practice homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9-10); are not transvestites, and do not imitate anything that is female in nature; it is manly to desire to be “one flesh” with a wife (Gen. 2:24).

10. Men are brothers with other men (Rom. 12:10); they are confident about their strength, intelligence, and leadership; and tend to have brotherhood with other men that share these same values.

Any Examples?

To me, the clearest, most concrete examples of Christian masculinity are found in the Lord Jesus; and following after Him, the twelve apostles, Paul, certain legendary missionaries, saints, and revivalists, such as the Covenanters depicted in John Howie’s The Scots Worthies, many of the Puritan preachers who were persecuted for their faith, etc. There are others I could mention: preachers whose sermons I like, but can’t put down here, because I know that some of those preachers were too rough in their lives to imitate. What am I aiming for? I am aiming at all those preachers who have stayed the course, pursued a Gospel-centered revival ministry despite years of opposition, have gained the respect of their wives and kids, and have proven themselves to be good family men. These are the kinds of men I would like to honor: these are the men imitating Christ and leading Christian families. These are the men all men should want to be. Sort of like Mister Rogers, but a bit more manly than that–kind, approachable, while at the same time strong and confident, an attitude like Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.

Charles Ingalls

For the development of a theology on Christian manhood, try taking a look at Adam Clarke’s Christian Theology, chs. 20-21, Larry Christensen’s The Christian Family, chs. 4-5, and John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, chs. 10, 17, 23, Appendix 1.


Disinterested and Absentee Fathers

Extract from pages 384-385 in ch. 23, “Where’s Dad?” by Weldon Hardenbrook in John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

I humbly but firmly submit that the soul of our nation is in crisis in large part because American men have—from ignorance and for various and sometimes even subconscious reasons—abandoned their God-given role of fatherhood. They have discarded the notion of being responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of those around them.
  A series of historical events, beginning at the Industrial Revolution, traversing the search for American independence and the Second Great Awakening, and culminating in Victorianism, has had the net result of disestablishing American men from a true role of fatherhood and moral leadership in our land. The American male, at one time the ever present guide of the close-knit colonial family, left his family for the factory and the materialistic lure that the Industrial Revolution brought. The most numerous and most active members of the church, the men—who commonly debated theology in the colonial marketplace—were, in time, to be found arguing business practices in the tavern. The fathers who labored hard to instill the value of cooperation in their offspring, in time gave their children the example of unlimited individual competition. Men who once taught their children respect and obedience toward godly authority came to act as though independence were a national virtue. Men who once had an active hand in the education of their sons relegated this responsibility to a public school system dominated by female teachers and feminine learning patterns. Once the leaders of social progress, American men came to look on social reform and mercy movements as women’s work and, in time, became themselves the objects of that social reform, in the case of movements such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
  Over the course of 150 years, from the mid-eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, American men walked out on their God-given responsibility for moral and spiritual leadership in the homes, schools, and Sunday schools of the nation. As sociologist Lawrence Fuchs notes, “The ground work for the 20th-century fatherless home was set. By the end of the 19th century for the first time it was socially and morally acceptable for men not to be involved with their families.”

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The Pharisaical Spirit – John Boruff

God’s heart is grieved and rain falls from the sky when He sees the abuse and activity of a Pharisaical spirit at work in any church.* That rain is the tears of God and is not the rain of a blessing, but is the sadness of God expressing itself in nature. Those of His prophets who have the Holy Spirit can partake of this grief in their emotions, and they can weep like Jesus did, and cry, “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets!” (Matt. 23:37). Who is it? It is the Pharisees that do this, but under that external façade, is a kind of religious demon, or group of demons, which I will call Pharisaical spirits (Matt. 12:45). The Pharisees mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are definitely not the first people to be under the influence of these evil spirits. Jesus implied that other people had been guided by these spirits before them—namely, their forefathers who had been responsible for slaying many of the Old Testament prophets (Matt. 23:29-36). In this they are shown to be prophet killers: in fact, if they could have their way, all of the activities of the Pharisaical spirit seem to point to the final outcome of stamping out the gift of prophecy, the influence of prophets, and drive toward the martyrdom of saints or the killing of prophets—not the least of which was the Son of God Himself. If they can’t physically kill a prophet, then they will try to fire him or ruin his reputation.

All of their malevolent words and actions are essentially persecuting in nature; but they also have the nature of trying to enter in contentious conversations with God’s prophets, to trap them in their words (Matt. 22:15-22), and finally build a case against them, so they can take some kind of formal action against them, and bring them into some kind of council and accuse them, and sentence them. They are very accusatory and litigious and they get a high off of this. They are heresy hunters for sure; but worse than that, they are also hunters of true prophets, and they can accomplish this just as easily as they attack rank heretics, by showing that these saints and prophets have dreams and visions that are not already written down in the Bible, and they can make the case that these prophets are going beyond what is written and are hence really heretics: merely because they’ve seen visions. This was what happened when David Wilkerson’s The Vision came out in 1973 and he lost a lot of his supporters in Assemblies of God leadership (Gary Wilkerson’s David Wilkerson, p. 174). The problem is, there is nothing in his series of visions that contradict the Word of God: in fact, they only served to enforce it, confirm it, and make more real the prophecies of God’s Word concerning the last days. I believe that when Annas, Caiaphas, and the Pharisees of the first century died, their demons flew out of their bodies, and sought other religious leaders to inhabit and influence; and I believe this has been going on for two thousand years (Matt. 12:43-45). You can see the face of the Pharisees in the corrupt Catholic priests before and during the Reformation; in the Anglican priests during the Puritan and Methodist revivals; you can find the Pharisaical spirit in the “proper” clergymen who opposed evangelical revivals in the United States from the Great Awakening to the Brownsville Revival.

As we wrap up this study on pastoral abuse, true Christians can only do themselves a favor to acknowledge what the Bible says concerning the marks of a Pharisaical spirit:

1. There is no fruit of the Spirit: no love, peace, or joy that surpasses understanding, no patience, no gentleness, or kindness, or goodness (Matt. 3:7; Gal. 5:22-23).

2. There is an element of showmanship, of being a religious show off: to make a public demonstration of their ability to pray, fast, or wear fine church clothes (Matt. 6:5, 16).

3. There is a nitpicky attitude, of making mountains out of molehills; focusing on minor issues, and ignoring major issues; being extremely judgmental of others who don’t fall in line with their foolish opinions and practices that don’t even center around true kindness or righteousness (Matt. 7:5).

4. They are prophet killers: either of their bodies or their reputations (Matt. 21:33-45).

5. They are adulterous: since they have no guidance or consolations of the Holy Ghost, what else can they do but resort to fornication or adultery for comfort? (Matt. 19:3; cp. 12:39).

6. They are authoritarian: they literally worship the idea of authority. They push others around, they are pushy, rude individuals; if they do attain to a level of leadership through arrogant self-promotion, then they imbibe the Pharisaical spirit at its greatest depth and give into a power trip that never goes away (Matt. 21:23).

7. They are unrepentant: and why should they repent? They think they are always right; and after all that hard work at getting into a place of authority, do you think they have the presence of mind to be humble and contrite or even transparent with others about their sins? No sir! (Matt. 21:32).

8. They obsess over the condition of their church building, in an unhealthy way. They seem to think that the building itself is more valuable than mystical experiences with the Holy Spirit. And so while they are busying themselves with blessing the house of God, praying for the house of God, and fundraising for the house of God—they also find the time to preach against charismatic prophets and mystics that might have found their way into their church (Matt. 12:6-7; 27:62).

9. They abuse their church members, if not physically, as that has happened in some very extreme cases—then definitely verbally and emotionally, and sometimes sexually. They can even bring themselves to go to bars, hang out with drunkards, and get drunk themselves, and be back in time for Sunday morning service (Matt. 24:49).

10. If they have to, then they will resort to bribes, lies, and false accusations to snuff out their enemies—no doubt, enemies that they have created by their annoying and controversial attitudes (Matt. 28:12).

11. They are in a state of damnation, on their way to Hell (Matt. 24:51).

12. They reject the deity of Christ and demonize the Holy Spirit: though I wouldn’t say that “Christian pharisees” always do this in doctrine, but definitely in practice (Matt. 9:3; 12:24).

13. Their hearts are far from God (Matt. 15:8);  they talk about sports a lot; and often have worldly, macho attitudes. Although I will admit the sports aspect is not mentioned in the gospels, nor do you see it often in church history, other than King James’ Book of Sports: which was originally a measure against nitpicky Puritans who preached against playing sports on Sunday, because they saw it as a violation of the Sabbath day’s rest. Still, in modern times, a Christian man can easily observe that other Christians or church leaders who happen to be football, baseball, or basketball fans, etc, or tend to fall in the “jock” category, tend to give into a lot of the same spirits or attitudes held in common with the Pharisees: namely–the spirits of competition, authoritarianism, abuse, aggression, murderous or violent spirits, one-upmanship, cockiness, pride, arrogance, showmanship, greed, etc. The references to football plays during church services and sermons are too innumerable to mention, far exceeding Paul’s passing reference that a failing boxer is beating into the air (1 Cor. 9:26), even as these worldly-minded men often do with their empty speeches. The Puritans mainly opposed football because of its violent nature:

In 1531 the Puritan preacher, Thomas Eliot, argued that football caused “beastly fury and extreme violence.” In 1572 the Bishop of Rochester demanded a new campaign to suppress this “evil game.” In his book, The Anatomie of Abuses (1583) Philip Stubbs argued that “football playing and other devilish pastimes…withdraweth us from godliness, either upon the Sabbath or any other day.” Stubbs was also concerned about the injuries that were taking place: “sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms, sometimes one part is thrust out of joint, sometimes the noses gush out with blood…Football encourages envy and hatred…sometimes fighting, murder and a great loss of blood” (John Simkin, “Football and the Church” in The Encyclopedia of British Football, 1997).

14. They don’t practice what they preach: there’s a disconnect between orthodoxy and orthopraxy (Matt. 23:3).

15. They are sly political schemers, bent on entrapping and incriminating God’s prophets (Matt. 26:3).

 


*Most of my Biblical proofs on the Pharisees here are from the Gospel of Matthew.

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Donald Gee’s “Concerning Spiritual Gifts” – ch. 8 – Discerning of Spirits – John Boruff

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