NewSpring gets its Catholic vibe on with its veneration of the saints this Easter 46

The Internet laughed at and chided Gary Lamb a few weeks ago when he asked the Twitterverse for ideas on what he could preach on for Easter Sunday. Lamb may have saved himself some grief if he’d just asked his former friend, Perry Noble, who was able to come up with a creative Easter idea without having to subject it to Twitter polling.

At NewSpring this Easter, it’s all about the Smiths.

No joke. Immediately after concluding a series called “No Other Name,” the sermon title for this weekend is “We Are the Smiths.” The church has even created a promotional site where you can start learning about the Smith family to prepare your heart for worship. At NewSpring the focus will be on a staff member who passed away in 2009, not the risen Savior.

NewSpring promotes the Zac Smith story for Easter 2014

NewSpring promotes the Zac Smith story for Easter 2014

For background, Zac Smith was a NewSpring staff member who died of intestinal cancer in 2009, leaving behind a wife and three children. As his illness worsened, he became the subject of a NewSpring video story that was shown at church after his death. According to the claims of the promotional site, thousands of people have been saved as a result of watching Smith’s video.

It is a delicate thing to talk about the death of someone who is beloved by many, so my criticism is not of Zac Smith or any of his surviving family, who obviously want to help tell a story that has been an inspiration to many. My criticism is directed at the church leadership who have decided to take a fine family and elevate their story to a place that it ought not be.

Protestants have long criticized the Catholic Church for its focus on the dead. Dead saints are worshiped. A dead Savior is held before our eyes in art and icons. Whole cathedrals are built on the graves of dead saints and decorated with death-themed effigies. The idea was that the dead had special powers to build faith in the living, so the church honored them as a way of pointing the living to God. NewSpring’s leaders also believe that Zac and his story have special power to bring people to salvation, so they have decided that the story of his death is the perfect message this Easter. Instead of paintings and statues, NewSpring is able to make Zac appear and speak through video.

Smith is so special that the church has been tweeting inspirational sayings of his, including this, which contained a link to their Easter Smith-family page: “Sabbath = oreos, sweet tea and xbox with my boys.” -Zac. (That’s not actually what the Sabbath is, btw.)

NewSpring takes Easter very seriously, seeing it as the best opportunity in the year to invite the unchurched to church. This is why they are promoting the Smiths’ story, which has proven itself to be effective for NewSpring, but this isn’t how Scripture tells us to evangelize. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us what we should preach:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures….

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

NewSpring’s plan this Easter is to make the preaching of Christ’s resurrection of secondary importance because Noble thinks Zac’s story is a better way for people to find salvation. Besides contradicting Paul’s clear example and instruction, the emphasis on Zac and his story has other problems.

Dead saints tell us nothing

The problem with NewSpring or any church praising the dead and using them as objects of faith and hope is that they prove nothing other than they once lived, and now they’re dead. Solomon made the point in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21.

For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?

We can rejoice that Zac professed his belief in Christ while he was alive, but because we can’t follow him after his death, and (except through prerecorded video) he can’t talk to us after his death, we have no certain observable knowledge that his faith profited him anything. For all we know from Zac’s example, he is merely dust right now.

How can we know the answer to Solomon’s question? Who knows what happens to the spirit of man after his death? We would need to learn from someone who has passed through death and come back to life to tell us with certainty what the fate of man was. Solomon uses the question of death and man’s ultimate fate to point us to Jesus, the author and object of our faith. It’s Jesus’ death and resurrection that gives us certainty and hope, not the inconclusive story of a dead Christian.

Life change isn’t the gospel

The church’s description of Zac’s story makes much of the peace he experienced while he was going through his cancerous ordeal.

Zac’s true focus was giving God the glory in everything, even stage IV colon cancer. What if the miracle was Zac’s power to rejoice while he was dying?…

In a video shown at NewSpring Church, Zac declared God’s victory over cancer with the unforgettable words, “God is still God and God is still good.”

His spirit was unbroken to the very end. As the cancer destroyed Zac’s body cell-by-cell, he continued to work, amid pain and exhaustion. He blogged. He wrote poems. He composed music. The disease made Zac, in his own words, “bolder, more brazen.”

Living our our final days with dignity and purpose is entirely commendable. Zac’s attitude to death proves nothing about the truth claims of Christianity. All religions provide hope and purpose for people who are facing death. Even atheists can approach death with calm purpose as they prepare to rejoin the stardust.

Good behavior, even in the face of death, doesn’t prove the truth of Christianity. Yes, it’s a benefit of a sure faith, but it’s not exclusive to Christianity. What is exclusive to Christianity is a central figure who died and rose again, appearing in verifiable form to more than 500 people. That’s the focus of Easter, and it’s what ought to be preached with confidence.

Death shouldn’t be remarkable

Why has the church singled out this particular death story? Noble has said he wants nothing to do with funerals, though he has made a couple of exceptions when the death has generated publicity. Did this get Noble’s attention because it was a staff member rather than a run-of-the-mill parishioner?

(Video of Noble angrily denouncing funerals and condemning churches who do them as raping the bride of Christ. Note that this wasn’t an “out-of-context” clip published by a critic; it was uploaded by NewSpring itself an example of Noble’s great preaching.)

Perhaps because of NewSpring’s young demographic, the church has relatively little experience with death. In a multigenerational church, there should be nothing particularly remarkable about the death of its members, all of whom will one day die. It’s what church is supposed to prepare us for, after all. Based on South Carolina’s mortality rate, if NewSpring had a normally distributed (average age, gender and race) population, it should be performing five funerals a week. If NewSpring reaches its goal of 100,000 members, it will need to handle more than two funerals a day.

The point is that if a single death from five years ago is still significant enough to jettison a Jesus-centered sermon on Easter Sunday, the church may not have thought much about the role that death plays in the life of the church.

The church thought it solved this 500 years ago

The veneration of the saints was one of the problems that the Reformers tried to correct 500 years ago. Like NewSpring, the Catholic church says that honoring dead saints simply holds them up as hopeful examples to believers who could think about them and grow in their faith for Jesus. Despite the intentions to improve believers’ faith, the Reformers worked hard to stamp out the practice, which they considered to be idolatry. To be sure, NewSpring isn’t advocating that we pray to Zac, but it is treating his story as if it had special powers to benefit the living, particularly to bring the unsaved to Christ.

I am not arguing that we should not learn about and even honor the memories of saints who have come before us. Biographies and testimonies are useful means by which we learn from others’ good and bad examples. What distinguishes the Zac Smith story is that Noble has decided to turn a biography into a sermon. The family profile page repeatedly emphasizes the saving power of Zac’s story:

Thousands of people trusted in Jesus because of what [Zac] had to say. He could have just died. He could have been alive one minute, and gone the next. The worst thing is to have a meaningless, ordinary life.

[Zac’s son] just has to remember those people changed by Jesus because of his dad’s video.

[Zac’s youngest son] says he wouldn’t choose to have his dad with him if it meant thousands of people wouldn’t have heard about Jesus and wouldn’t have had a chance to go to Heaven.

The clear message from NewSpring is that the purpose of Zac’s death was to bring people to Jesus, so Noble is honoring that purpose by preaching his story again this weekend. Zac’s is certainly an encouraging testimony, but the problem is that Noble is acting as if Zac’s story has more spiritual power than preaching Christ alone. As Paul makes clear, nothing except preaching Christ’s death and resurrection will bring us to salvation, but, for Noble, Scripture alone is considered insufficiently effective for bringing people to salvation.

But, NewSpring will object, we’re just using Zac’s story to point to Jesus; we’re not actually substituting him for Jesus. Based on how they’re promoting the sermon as an opportunity to learn even more about the Smith family, it would seem to be very much about substituting Jesus with Zac. But let’s concede the point that Zac is indeed a useful tool to bring people to Jesus.

The Catholic church also never said they were replacing Jesus with their venerated saints. Yet as Calvin argued, even raising someone to a lesser, helping role was a blasphemous affront to the glory of God.

[The Catholic church does give God] the highest place, but at the same time surrounds him with a tribe of minor deities, among whom it portions out his peculiar offices. In this way, though in a dissembling and crafty manner, the glory of the Godhead is dissected, and not allowed to remain entire…. In the same way, too, for some ages past, departed saints have been exalted to partnership with God, to be worshipped, invoked, and lauded in his stead.

He has been pleased to prescribe in his Law what is lawful and right, and thus restrict men to a certain rule, lest any should allow themselves to devise a worship of their own…. Let it suffice to remember, that whatever offices of piety are bestowed anywhere else than on God alone, are of the nature of sacrilege.

Based on the family profile page, Zac has been bestowed an office of piety in being able to build faith in Christ from the grave. It’s how his whole life is framed, and we are encouraged to shudder at the horror of not living a life like his that could also be used for an Easter sermon. Consider this quote again:

He could have just died. He could have been alive one minute, and gone the next. The worst thing is to have a meaningless, ordinary life.

NewSpring finds meaning in Zac’s early death in that he was able to make this special video that can now be used in worship instead of preached Scripture. The problem here is not with Zac Smith or his personal story of love for God and family. The problem is that Perry Noble is not confident or willing to preach Jesus alone from Scripture alone on NewSpring’s most important evangelistic weekend of the year.

As Paul said, such preaching and believing is in vain.

46 thoughts on “NewSpring gets its Catholic vibe on with its veneration of the saints this Easter

  1. Jordan Apr 17, 2014 10:09 am

    Dr. Duncan,

    As usual, I enjoyed reading this blog post. However, you made the following assertion, in reference to Protestant criticism of Catholics’ veneration of saints: “Dead saints are worshiped.” This assertion is patently false. Quite the contrary, the Catholic Church condemns the worship of anyone or anything but God. As I’m sure you do, the Catholic Church also fully believes in the first commandment: “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.” To your credit, you linked to a reputable Catholic website which explains the Catholic position on the veneration of saints, but I guess you found the arguments unconvincing. While there are Christians of every stripe who deliberately or ignorantly fail to adhere to orthodoxy, I can assure you that the Catholic Church roundly condemns the worship of saints. Happy Holy Thursday!

    • Steve Lumbley Apr 18, 2014 9:12 am

      Jordan, please look up the definition of venerate and compare it to the definition of worship. Those words are interchangeable. To venerate is to worship and to worship is to venerate

      • Jordan Apr 18, 2014 1:40 pm

        Steve,

        As I said earlier, I am perfectly aware of the definitions of “venerate” and “worship.” As I also said earlier, just because the definition of the word “worship” happens to include the word “venerate” doesn’t mean that I am worshiping saints. As I also said earlier, I do not worship saints or Mary and have no intention of ever doing so. God is the only one worthy of our worship. I don’t know any Catholics who think otherwise.

        I think we can probably agree that I know the intent of my heart when I “venerate” saints better than you do. Fortunately for both of us, we are not the judges of our own hearts. God is. So, you are free to think that I am worshiping saints, but God and I know that such is not the case.

        Do you have pictures of your family and loved ones in your home or on your phone (some of whom may have passed away)? Are you tempted to worship those people because of that? My point is simply that looking at a picture does not cause you to worship those people, and looking at a picture of a saint doesn’t make me worship them, either.

  2. JAS Apr 17, 2014 11:21 am

    “The worst thing is to have a meaningless, ordinary life.”

    This is the most frightening thing any Christian could ever hear. The most false Gospel currently being preached. A law statement if there ever was one!

  3. Jason Apr 17, 2014 11:23 am

    Now this is not in historical practice true at all. For over 1500 yrs the Church has held quite a different view in both doctrine and in practice. This was part of the controversy over iconoclasm, particularly in the East, home of most of the icons. It went back and forth between the 5th and 8th centuries until finally it was determined that icons and images are not technically idol worship, HOWEVER, this is overlooking the 2nd Commandment.

    FACT: Re: the 10 Commandments, contrary to Jews and Protestants (and we include Jews here for this instance since they technically had the 10 Commandments before Christianity), Roman Catholics do NOT have the SECOND COMMANDMENT: “Thou Shalt not make unto thee any GRAVEN IMAGE; it is an obomination until the Lord.”

    Catholics tend to split and divide one commandment into two in order to get to ten. The point is, they don’t have the prohibition vs. Graven Images, which is Idolatry and is an abomination unto God.

    The VATICAN ITSELF, is built on the tomb of Peter the Apostle. His VENERATION DAY is June 29. They venerate his bones on that day. As Dr. Duncan stated, many medieval cathedrals were built on the bones and bodies of dead saints presumed to be the various apostles or post-church fathers or whatever.

    RELICS: These were venerated. Modern example: Shroud of Turin. This is venerated and worshipped as if it were a part of God himself.

    Veneration = worship. Genuflection and bowing down to a statue (and idol) made of stone, wood, gold, etc. is NO DIFFERENT than Buddhists praying unto their separate dieties.

    From the bible standpoint, showing ANY form of veneration to anyone other than God HImself is blasphemous, idolatrous, and is an abomination unto the Lord. Veneration of the Dead as symbolized in a chunk of wood, clay, gold, silver, stone, etc or any carved substance is deceptive

    Anyone who claims that the Church for the last several centuries did not worship saints is either: lying, deceived, or ignorant of history.

    There is a reason why Calvin wrote a tretise on Graven Images.

    There is a reason why Zwingli in Zurich encouraged the churches to burn and destroy the chunks of wood in their churches. Get rid of the idolatry and the blasphemy vs God.
    in Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 5:8-10 commands, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” God has given His church the moral Law to promote holiness. Holiness is the sum of the Law, and if we were to follow it perfectly, we would be perfectly holy as God is (Lev. 19:2)

    We as Christians would quite rightly condemn the Greeks and Romans who worshipped their images of Zeus and Jupiter. We would quite rightly preach vs those who worship images of Krishna, Shiva, and Buddha, and others in Asia.

    When the Church claims “We never ever tell people to worship images. Worship only God.”
    That is merely good cop, bad cop. History tells another story because it demonstrates what the Church has always considered to be Orthopraxy (correct and orthodox practice for worship).

    It is sad that Perry Noble apparently doesn’t feel that the bible alone is enough to preach on Easter Wkend itself. He should look to Christ Alone, the King of Kings and the risen Savior for that Gospel story continues to live from everlasting to everlasting.

    “As soon as anyone has devised an image of God, they have instituted false worship.”—John Calvin

    • Jordan Apr 17, 2014 11:39 am

      Jason,

      You are right to point out that for over 1500 years, the Church venerated saints and relics. Why do you think that the earliest Christians, who were closest in time to Jesus and the Apostles, did such a thing? Why do many modern Protestants now find this practice objectionable, over and against 1500+ years of Christian practice? Could it be that Jesus gave us these saints and relics to point us toward Him?

      Next, in regard to your comment on the Ten Commandments, how do you know how to divide Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 into ten distinct commandments? The Bible itself does not explicitly divide these verses (which originally were just one block of text without numbered verses) into distinct commands. And, your assertion that “Roman Catholics do NOT have the SECOND COMMANDMENT” is of course demonstrably false. Simply search Deuteronomy 20 in a Catholic translation on biblegateway.com and you will see that Catholics do in fact have the commandment you reference.

      Finally, your assertion that “Veneration = worship” is also incorrect. Do you cry foul every year on Presidents’ Day when Americans honor (venerate) our past leaders? Do you have pictures of family or other loved ones in your home or on your phone? Does such a practice lead you to worship those people? Of course not. So it is with images of saints in Catholicism. Seeing an image of a saint no more makes me worship him or her than you seeing a picture of a loved one or past president makes you worship them.

  4. Charles Grant Apr 17, 2014 11:35 am

    Interesting read but I would like to hear the actual sermon Perry preaches this weekend before coming to a conclusion. If he takes the route that you’ve discussed here then I would have some problems with that message.

  5. James Duncan Apr 17, 2014 1:00 pm

    Jordan, you are correct in supposing that I don’t buy the RC argument even though I understand it. The link before the Calvin quote talks about the same thing. Calvin understands the argument that it’s not technically worship, but argues that in practice it is, a position that Jason also appears to hold.

    Charles, what they do this weekend will be interesting, though I thought it was worth commenting on based solely on how they’re promoting it. They are telling every NewSpringer what to expect so they can invite as many people as possible, and they know that first-timers won’t be offended by a traditional and biblical sermon brimming with the actual story of Easter.

    JAS, you’re right. It’s a breathtaking statement. Imagine if the writer of Ecclesiastes saw that quote. He realized that we all have forgettable, vanity-filled ordinary lives, yet our hope and meaning is found in Christ, not in ourselves.

  6. Fr. Bryan O Apr 17, 2014 1:15 pm

    The problem with NewSpring or any church praising the dead and using them as objects of faith and hope is that they prove nothing other than they once lived, and now they’re dead.

    Uh, actually that isn’t true at all. The lives of the Saints teach us about the power of the Gospel. Saints aren’t saints simply because they had a particular talent for doing good things. Saints are saints because God made them Holy. The life death and resurrection was applied to their life, such that their love for God and love for neighbor (which, as you know, is the fulfillment of the law) reached such great heights that it became stronger than their fears. They were set free by Jesus to live like Jesus.

    The lives of the saints give us hope. Their lives are stories of the Gospel working in the lives of real people – people who aren’t so different than any of us. I’m proud to be a Catholic priest and I’m proud for the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel at work in their lives.

    • James Duncan Apr 17, 2014 1:42 pm

      Fr. Bryan, I agree that the Holy Spirit changes lives, but life change can never prove ultimate things. By preaching changed lives instead of the cross and empty tomb, Christianity makes no higher truth claim than any other religion that also changes lives (and all do). Consider how much life change belief in Santa Claus creates, yet we wouldn’t argue that the obvious and verifiable life change proclaims the existence of Santa.

      The glory of the cross is that we have objective verification of the truth that underlies our faith. As Paul says, that’s the primary argument that trumps all others.

      BravoBereans, “striving” is a great word to describe the basic philosophy of these movements. It seems very exhausting to me.

      Arthur, No, we shouldn’t discard the stories in the Bible. Those are the ones we’re supposed to preach.

    • Rich Apr 17, 2014 3:26 pm

      Lives of saints as defined by the Catholic Church? I don’t believe I have it wrong, but isn’t it the Catholic Church that determines who the saints are? If I have this correct, you point out who the saits are and then you claim that the Gospel is working in their lives. That is self serving to a fault. Explains how the Gospel gets distorted. I believe all of the saints of the Catholic Church are dead, and the saints as defined by scripture can be alive as we speak/type.

  7. BravoBereans Apr 17, 2014 1:30 pm

    Yikes…Just the fact that “meaningless” and “ordinary” appear in that statement virtually interchangeably. (Seems to be a trend in Nobles sermons- “religious people/Pharisees, Christian/NS owner)

    It usually seems that this type of message is quite popular among leaders who consider their ministries to be extraordinary. Since Christ never decried nor gave any warning signs of The dangers of “ordinary living”, can only assume that it is the extraordinary leaders who lay down these expectations for the rest of us to strive for.

  8. Arthur Ramsey Apr 17, 2014 1:34 pm

    While I dislike what I see out of NewSpring and I disagree with a good deal of Catholic practice, this post seems to be kind of “reaching”. Not knowing how the pastor might use the example outside of your assumptions really doesn’t really give much to go on.

    If we’re going to ignore all dead men’s stories, shouldn’t we discard everything except the words of Jesus (probably not a bad idea in some ways.)

  9. Fr. Bryan O Apr 17, 2014 2:07 pm

    Dr. Duncan,

    I didn’t intend to equate the Gospel with “Life change.” Life change is not the entire Gospel. But it is a part of the Gospel, is it not?

    But there is a difference between the life change offered in the Gospel and the life change offered by other religions and self help programs. Other religions offer steps and learned changes in behavior (all of which can have value). But ultimately the life change offered by the Gospel is that the same love that Jesus has for the Father and other people is implanted into our hearts. (That is the doctrine of justification by faith promoted by Catholics, and I understand it is different from Calvin’s doctrine of imputation by faith alone in which we receive a mere forensic declaration of righteousness before God. If we are going to examine the Catholic practice of venerating the saints it should be viewed in light of Catholic definitions and theological suppositions).

    So my point here is to say that Catholics do not view the life change of the saints as being the same type of life change offered by other ways of life. It might look the same in some ways, but it comes through a very different means/process.

  10. Neal Apr 17, 2014 2:15 pm

    Every time I hear megachurch pastors preach about living extraordinary lives I think of this from Paul:

    1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
    Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

    It’s scary how many people follow those that preach things contrary to scripture.

  11. mary willis Apr 17, 2014 2:29 pm

    Having left Catholicism after 20 years I can say they do worship Saints and mostly Mary. They have statues of Saints with kneelers and candles in front of them; people leave flowers. Read the Baltimore Catechism if you want to see what they believe. If your saved you will come out from the Catholic church.

    • Jordan Apr 17, 2014 5:48 pm

      mary willis,

      I am truly saddened to hear that you had a bad experience with the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, Christians sometimes don’t act very much like their namesake, and people are driven away from the Church. I’m glad to hear that you haven’t left the faith entirely.

      My story is very much the opposite of yours. I will be joining the Catholic Church very soon after 25 years in Protestant churches. It’s hard to adequately describe the joy I have found by digging deeper into my Christian faith and coming to Catholicism. I am more excited than ever to be a Christian.

      I would like to gently point out that the official teaching of the Church, the Catechism, condemns the worship of saints. In fact, in order to join the Catholic Church, I have to affirm that I believe in all the Church’s teachings, so it would be impossible for me to join the Church if I believed that worshipping saints was morally acceptable.

  12. Jason Apr 17, 2014 3:25 pm

    Amen, Mary Willis, amen.

    In practice, RC does not use the orthodox 2nd Commandment: “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them. (Deut. 5:8-9).

    This is not something that we ‘suddenly lo and behold’ decided to be against. The Reformers (not just the 16th century ones) were vs this for over 1500 years time. There were Church councils from the 5th and periodically would be held on the issue of Icons/Images in worship up to the 8th century. At first, there was unanimity that this was wrong and wasn’t tolerated.

    But then again, several things in RC have “suddenly” been found to be biblical because His Holiness speaks in Ex Cathedra and anyone who objects is anathema.

    I withheld mentioning that the celebration of the Mass/Eucharist borders (if we want to be technical with the bible) on Idolatry, since the host is WORSHIPPED because it is considered to be LITERALLY the body and blood of Christ.

    This is paganism. Barbarism.

    Transubstantiation, (which wasnt even canonical until the 4th Latern Council of 1215) cannot be denied or all RC’s risk anathema (being excommunicated).

    No, Jordan, I am quite right to point out that the RC TODAY/RIGHT NOW STILL practices the worshipping of graven images. Perhaps not in your particular more enlightened parish, but across the world they still do hold this practice in their worship. It is not corrected and the Church has had many centuries to do so.

    Veneration as found in the dictionary: from Latin vener?tus, past participle of vener?r? to solicit the goodwill of (a god), WORSHIP. Nice try though.

    History more than conclusively proves that worshipping of graven images is idolatry (if we want to go to the bible for right practice and right worship).

    Mariolatry is only the most prominent example of about the last 2 centuries. The trend is to downplay the various saints of old for the “Co-Redemptress of Christ” “Queen of Heaven” , these are titles of WORSHIP and thus is idolatry.

    Why did I always assume that Christ, and not Mary, died on the Cross and was resurrected from the dead for the sins of the world? There is one mediator between God and Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Adoration and veneration are terms of worship, similar to the time of Daniel and King Nebukunezzar (sp). made a giant golden idol and commanded all to bow down. There is no difference. Calvin well understood this issue, as did Zwingli since they observed it throughout their lives.

    Ask yourself this: If it’s “no big deal and not really a form of worship” Then get rid of the statues, the icons, the images, the paintings in the RC churches. Get rid of them. IF its no big deal, then that wouldn’t really be a problem.

    Only those who worship and venerate idols will continue to hold and cling to dear life onto that which is a sin. Deut. 5:8-9.

    I do pray for Perry Noble. Before I read your posts, Dr Duncan, I had frankly never heard of him (non SC). It is a shame. He seems like if he ever decided to get an actual advanced seminary degree he could probably be on the level of Dr John MacArthur in preaching the Gospel.

    I would also suppose that Perry Noble is not a cessationist? Probably not.

  13. Jordan Apr 17, 2014 6:15 pm

    Jason,

    Would you please point me to some official Church teaching that approves or promotes the worship of saints? I agree with you: if the Church taught such a thing, it would be very troubling. You asserted that such a practice might not happen in my “enlightened parish,” but that it occurs in other parishes. First, I can assure you that my parish is no more “enlightened” than any other I have attended. Second, one of the many beauties of the Catholic Church is that every parish throughout the world ascribes to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which condemns the worship of saints. Of course, there will always be people of every religion who are not faithful to their religion’s doctrine, but a failure to adhere to doctrine has no necessary connection to the truth or falsehood of a doctrine. I’m sure we can agree that you and I fail to perfectly follow the example Christ set for us, but that doesn’t mean that Christ wasn’t perfect or that He wasn’t the Messiah.

    You made some vague references to church councils that supposedly rejected the use of images and veneration of saints. Do you have any specific examples? There have always been individuals who have taught heretical doctrine, but thanks be to God, He gave us a Church to define orthodoxy and reject false doctrine. For example, Arius was a 4th century heretic who taught that Jesus was subordinate to God the Father. We can probably agree that the Church rightfully rejected his teaching as heretical, and we accept Jesus a equal to God (the Trinity). Similarly, you could probably find some individuals who taught that we shouldn’t incorporate images or veneration of saints into Christian lives. Like the idea that Jesus is less than God, such an idea is misguided and unorthodox.

    Further, a simple google search will reveal early Christian writings that approve of both images and veneration of saints. So, it would be more accurate for you to say that it is the Protestant churches who have not made the correction, despite many centuries to do so. The Catholic Church is simply continuing the practice of the earliest Christians in using images and venerating saints.

    Still further, the fact that you found a dictionary with the word “worship” included in the definition of “veneration” in no way means that I (or any other Catholic) is worshiping a saint when we say that we are venerating saints. I do not worship saints and I have no intention of ever doing so. I don’t know any Catholics who worship saints either. Saints are simply “the cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) that surround us and through their intercession help us be more like Christ.

    Next, you state “I withheld mentioning that the celebration of the Mass/Eucharist borders (if we want to be technical with the bible) on Idolatry.” Actually, if we want to be technical with the Bible, we have to believe the words of Jesus in the Bible when he says “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” John 6:53-54. I would be interested to hear what you think about this passage. It seems like your objections to transubstantiation are the same as those who grumbled and left when Jesus spoke those words 2000 years ago.

    Finally, you assert that the title “Queen of Heaven” is a title of worship and thus idolatrous. Again, that title is Biblical. Revelation 12:1 says “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars . . . . And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” Clearly, the woman is Mary (as she gave birth to a son who rules all the nations), and she is in heaven with a crown on her head. Seems like “Queen of Heaven” is an appropriate title then, according to the Bible. Interestingly, both Calvin and Luther had no problem with Marian devotion. They both refer to her as “Mother of God” and, I think, “Queen of Heaven” as well. It was only later Protestants who decided to continue jettisoning orthodoxy that rejected Marian devotion.

  14. Rich Apr 17, 2014 8:21 pm

    If the image in revelation 12:1 was suppose to be called “the queen of heaven” don’t you think that perhaps it might have been mentioned?

    The only place that speaks of a queen of heaven is in Jeremiah, and Jeremiah doesn’t speak well of this false deity.

    Scripture takes a lot of words to say that GOD hates other gods, and people that worship other gods. I wouldn’t make up things about Mary, what we know from scripture is all that we are to know. He says away from me I never knew you for a reason, making things up is right up there at the top of the list, kind of like leading little children the wrong way. Get your necks ready for a mil stone.

    PS Jesus doesn’t like Titles. He said it wasn’t to be that way among us.

    • Jordan Apr 17, 2014 9:18 pm

      “If the image in revelation 12:1 was suppose to be called “the queen of heaven” don’t you think that perhaps it might have been mentioned?”

      Rich,

      In short, my answer to your question is “no.” Do you believe in the Trinity? How about the Incarnation? Why? Those terms aren’t mentioned in the Bible. The author of Revelation sees the woman in heaven, whose son is Jesus, and who has a crown on her head. Queen of Heaven. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

      “PS Jesus doesn’t like Titles. He said it wasn’t to be that way among us.”

      If Jesus doesn’t like titles, why did he give himself two titles in Matthew 12:8 (Son of Man and Lord of the Sabbath)? And He didn’t just give Himself titles, either. In Matthew 16:18, He changes Simon’s name to Peter (literally, “rock”), because Peter was the rock on which Christ would build His church.

  15. Jason Apr 17, 2014 9:19 pm

    Notice that Jordan does NOT finish the quote from the Gospels re: the last supper. In fact, I’d have been quite surprised if you had bothered to quote these folowing words:

    “THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME”. (Luke 22:19) He says it (at least in my bible) both times regarding the bread and the wine. It is the thing Signified and it is a metaphor (which, most folks over about the age of 9 could figure it out assuming that their IQs are of a proper level as well). The metaphor that the Thing is SYMBOLIZING the body and the blood of Our Lord. Each time we partake we are to remember his words as well as He is the Lamb of God has taken the Sins away from the world.

    “This do in remembrance of me; that is, eat this bread in remembrance of my love to you, and in commemoration of my body being offered up for you. Observe this ordinance in the manner I now institute it, in time to come, in memory of what I am about to do for you; for this direction does not only regard the present time and action, but is intended as a rule to be observed by the churches of Christ in all ages, to his second coming: and it is to be observed, that the Lord’s supper is not a reiteration, but a commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ.(Gill’s Exposition on the Bible).

    Rather, it is the barbaric paganism of worshipping mere elements of bread an wine that were mumbo jumboed over by a cleric that are NOW magically transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
    In other words, via the Mass, Christ is LITERALLY being crucified again each and every time transubstantiation occurs. Sorry dude, Christ died only once on the Cross. He’s not down here; He’s seated at the Father’s Right Hand and no human agent can pull Him down to Earth.

    Rich, I agree with you about the part that we shouldn’t make up things regarding Mary. This would include such made up things as The Immaculate Conception; the Pepetual Virginity (even though she bore Jesus’ brothers, as in SIBLINGS); her being literally transported into Heaven. The Bible says nothing at all whatsoever about these made up doctrines because they simply didn’t happen.

    However way they say it, “Hail Mary or Ave Maria” Full of Grace PRAY FOR US SINNERS….””””

    THIS IS WORSHIP. WORSHIPPING SOMEONE OTHER THAN GOD the Father. This is blasphemy, heresy, and idolatry. There is but one mediator between God and Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1st Tim. 2:5).

    Truly sometimes, we must wonder if they are even reading the same Scriptures as us but then considering how the Church burnt William Tyndale and others for the “heresy” of translating the Bible out of Latin, it does make one pause and wonder.

    “The first representations of Christ are of heretical and pagan origin. The Gnostic sect of the Carpocratians worshipped crowned pictures of Christ, together with images of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and other sages, and asserted that Pilate had caused a portrait of Christ to be made. In the same spirit of pantheistic hero-worship the emperor Alexander Severus (A.D. 222–235) set up in his domestic chapel for his adoration the images of Abraham, Orpheus, Apollonius, and Christ.[15] The iconoclastic Synod of 754 denounced image-worship as a relapse into heathen idolatry, which the devil had smuggled into the church in the place of the worship of God alone in spirit and in truth. The iconoclastic party, however, was not consistent; for it adhered to saint-worship which is the root of image-worship, and instead of sweeping away all religious symbols, it retained the sign of the cross with all its superstitious uses, and justified this exception by the Scripture passages on the efficacy of the cross, though these refer to the sacrifice of the cross, and not to the sign.[16] The same theories and parties reappeared again in the age of the Reformation: the Roman as well as the Greek church adhered to image-worship with an occasional feeble protest against its abuses, and encouraged the development of fine arts, especially in Italy; the radical Reformers (Carlstadt, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox) renewed the iconoclastic theory and removed, in an orderly way, the pictures from the churches, as favoring a refined species of idolatry and hindering a spiritual worship.”[17] The history of the image-controversy embraces three periods: 1) The war upon images and the abolition of image-worship by the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 726–754. 2) The reaction in favor of image-worship, and its solemn sanction by the second Council of Nicaea, A.D. 754–787. 3) The renewed conflict of the two parties and the final triumph of image-worship, A.D. 842.[18] This alone, however, did not warrant images of Christ. For, in the first place, authentic accounts of the personal appearance of Jesus were lacking; and furthermore it seemed incompetent to human art duly to set forth Him in whom the whole fullness of the Godhead and of perfect sinless humanity dwelt in unity. The church historian Eusebius declared himself in the strongest manner against images of Christ in a letter to the empress Constantia (the widow of Licinius and sister of Constantine), who had asked him for such an image. Christ, says he, has laid aside His earthly servant-form, and Paul exhorts us to cleave no longer to the sensible; and the transcendent glory of His heavenly body cannot be conceived nor represented by man; besides, the second commandment forbids the making to ourselves any likeness of anything in heaven or in earth. He had taken away from a lady an image of Christ and of Paul, lest it should seem as if Christians, like the idolaters, carried their God about in images. Believers ought rather to fix their mental eye, above all, upon the divinity of Christ, and, for this purpose, to purify their hearts; since only the pure in heart shall see God.[19] The prevalent spirit of the age already very decidedly favored this material representation as a powerful help to virtue and devotion, especially for the uneducated classes, whence the use of images, in fact, mainly proceeded.[20]

    It is without a doubt that history proves the use of images and pictures of Jesus Christ for any purpose was of pagan origins and then later approved by the Roman Catholic Church. (Church Historian Phillip Schaaf)

    Bottom line: The first 3 centuries post-Gospel period icons and images were contra and NOT used in orthodox worship and there was no uniform agreement to use them.

    Augustine of Hippo (4th c.)
    “Thus, they erred, who sought Christ and his apostles not in the sacred writings, but on painted walls.”

    Council of Elibertine
    “Pictures ought not to be in churches, nor any object of adoration or praise be painted on the walls.”

    John Calvin (16th c.)
    Treatise on Relics
    “As soon as anyone has devised an image of God, they have instituted false worship. The object of Moses is to restrain the rashness of men, lest they should travesty God’s glory by their imaginations.”

    The church in the beginning tolerated these abuses, as a temporary evil, but was afterwards unable to remove them; and they became so strong, particularly during the prevailing ignorance of the middle ages, that the church ended by legalizing, through her decrees, that at which she did nothing but wink at first. I shall endeavor to give my readers a rapid sketch of the rise, progress, and final
    establishment of the Pagan practices which not only continue to prevail in the Western as well as in the Eastern church, but have been of late, notwithstanding the boasted progress of intellect in our days, manifested in as bold as successful a manner. (Page 8)

    It appears, however, that the use of pictures was creeping into the church already in the third century, because the council of Elvira in Spain, held in 305, especially forbids to have any picture in the Christian churches. (Page 11)
    Such a practice was, however, fraught with the greatest danger, as experience has but too much proved. It was replacing intellect by sight. Instead of elevating man towards God, it was bringing down the Deity to the level of his finite intellect, and it could not but powerfully contribute to the rapid spread of a pagan anthropomorphism in the church. (Page 11)

    Now, the origin and root of this evil, has been, that, instead of discerning Jesus Christ in his Word, his Sacraments, and his Spiritual Graces, the world has, according to its ‘custom, amused itself with his clothes, shirts, and sheets, leaving thus the principal to follow the accessory. (Page 133)

    I know well that there is a certain appearance of real devotion and zeal in the allegation, that the relics of Jesus Christ are preserved on account of the honor that is rendered to him, and in order the better to preserve his memory. But it is necessary to consider what St Paul says, that every service of God invented by man, whatever appearance of wisdom it may have, is nothing better than vanity and foolishness, if it has no other foundation than our own devising. (Page 133)

  16. Ella Apr 17, 2014 9:46 pm

    It doesn’t take someone who has been deeply involved in the catholic church to know that they worship Mary and the saints. There are very popular and mainstream prayers to her and they have a saint of everything imaginable. Saint of the eyes, ears, finances, children, etc that you’re supposed to pray to and they believe they intervene to fix your problems. How is that any different than me carving an idol from a block of wood & praying for it to fix my problems? Answer- it is no different. It’s full out idolatry. There is only one God we should be praying to, everyone else is dead and can do nothing. My mother had been raised catholic and tells me she was encouraged to pray to Mary, saints, statues, pictures and all with candles lit and holding a rosary. There was no repentance of your sins to Christ, it was 10 Hail Marys and you were forgiven. Point to the Bible verse where hailing Mary will give us forgiveness. There isn’t one verse. Mary trumps Jesus in the catholic church and it’s idolatrous.

  17. James Duncan Apr 17, 2014 9:52 pm

    I appreciate the passion for this topic, but it’s unlikely that we’re going to wrestle the Catholic-Protestant dispute to the ground in this single post, so I’m going to call a timeout on the general question of whether the RC church worships Mary or the saints.

    We are not going to change the RC church, but maybe we can slow the progression of Protestant churches to Catholic practices. Let’s keep the focus on that.

    General comments on the Catholics and saint worship probably won’t be posted from here on out.

  18. Jason Apr 17, 2014 11:58 pm

    Dr. Duncan,

    Fair enough and obviously we should keep the focus where it belongs.

    My question to you re: Perry Noble. Is it fair to assume that Perry Noble is not a cessationist? I never heard of him until I first read your blog some time ago but I would have to assume that if he has invited various WOF persons such as Robert Morris to speak at his church then the answer is no.

    Thank you.

  19. Fr. Bryan O. Apr 18, 2014 12:46 am

    Well, the best arguments you have are just straw man arguments, so if that is where we live it, I’m ok. Fallacies won’t last forever.

  20. Rich Apr 18, 2014 7:23 am

    “maybe we can slow the progression of Protestant churches to Catholic practices. Let’s keep the focus on that.”

    I have a feeling that as long as the Clery/Laity system is in control, all efforts to slow things down will be for the most part not noticed. One person to control thousands, change the one person and the thousands will follow. The thousands are fead what they want, and in exchange they will repeat the montra they have been given. Today the standard has become, how large, how much money, how many branches. The schooled person in business, communications, and just an all around fired up speaker is the winner of the day. A bit of schooling in some religion will help, but not required once you get going, as the Bible will be a prop for your ideas instead of the source of your knowledge. When it comes to numbers, how many of the thousands that had eaten, were actually at the cross. Kind of follows what is going on today, lots of feeding going on but when something needs to go to the cross, not many people show up, but why should they, with all these “Things” to do. Lets see, after service I need to go home and ask Mr. Smith to interceed for me, so He will take care of something that is really not on the list of things that Jesus would handle, after all why burden the King. I have a Bible that was made without that guidance, good thing I have the teachings of men to follow, or what would I do?

  21. Clark Apr 18, 2014 7:25 am

    I have been quite uncomfortable with the title of our Easter Services. My initial reaction was negative, because I actually see how Mr. Smiths wife behaves each Sunday. Not a very nice lady. Certainly not personable. However, I will hope for the best and comment further once I attend the service.

  22. Rich Apr 18, 2014 8:59 am

    “People can only take us so far. If our spiritual life depends on being in constant contact with people then what happens when people are not around?”

    I was reading this at another site, and realize the answer was exactly what goes on in this and other churches, we bring up the dead people to fill the void. It really shouldn’t have to be said but Christ isn’t dead. People that have passed on, are dead, and we don’t even know how they are going to fair out when the tares are seperated from the wheat, or the goats from the sheep. Why someone thinks they can say what ever they want about a person that is dead, and because they are dead we are suppose to believe it’s true, is beyond me. I have a hard time with the live ones that say one thing and show a different or no fruit.

  23. BravoBereans Apr 18, 2014 11:08 am

    Dr. D- I think you nailed it in your wording “slow the progression”. It seems an unavoidable eventuality.
    And how sad that the methodologies that lead ultimately to a reversal of the Reformation are being taught unnoticed, unquestioned, or even accidentally from Megachurch pulpits all over the nation.
    The prolific crowd-pleasing preaching of “don’t judge”, “religious people are phonies”, “studying doctrine is a pompous distraction”, “Real Christians Serve people”, (the last one’s particularly dangerous at a time when the Pope is so strikingly service-oriented)
    Anyway, all these topics and ways of thinking- cultivating a generation ripe for the reversal of the Reformation- we’re being disarmed.

  24. Jason Apr 18, 2014 11:46 am

    Rich,

    Interesting point re: the dead, but like you state, Christ isn’t dead, He’s Alive. But also, so are the dead, they just aren’t here among us now. They’re now part of the afterlife and awaiting final judgment.

    Probably the reason folks say what they want to about the dead is that since they’re no longer here they can’t respond.

    Dr. Duncan. Thank you for letting me know that Perry Noble isn’t a cessationist. I had heard some clip from somewhere with him making disparaging remarks regarding seminary and theological training in general. Whenever I hear that sort of talk I immediately think ‘Oh, oh, WOF, Pentecostal, or typical Charismatic’ since those are the usual suspects who tend to put down higher theological training and learning.

    For anyone interested in sound theological training but at a popular level Dr. Peter Williams lecture at Lanier Theological LIbrary “Evidences for the Resurrection” on Youtube. Dr. Williams is a professor at Cambridge U. and is head warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge. He can read and translate the bible into about a dozen languages, yet is just as able a public speaker as Furtick, Noble, etc. but obviously of a much higher learning curve. Other youtube talks by Dr. Williams are “Can we trust the Scriptures”; and “Combating the new atheists” (among others, just youtube Peter J Williams).

    If you were to compare Perry Noble and Dr. Peter Williams (both men are about the same age) in content, I daresay that many would be more uplifted and enlightened by Dr. Williams without question.

  25. Bill Heiden Apr 18, 2014 1:20 pm

    Rich:
    You said “Scripture takes a lot of words to say that GOD hates other gods, and people that worship other gods”. Scripture uses many words that make it quite clear that God does not hate anything of His creation (though He the Old Testament does suggest that He was disappointed with some of His creation from time to time), that God is the essence of Love.

    He Loves all His children, even those who adore other Gods. Christ, when asked by the Pharisee, gave us the two most important commandments- To Love God above all and to Love each other. God is Love!

    What I understand to be unique to the Judeo-Christian understanding of God is that God created us to be in communion with Him and has constantly reached out to us to draw us into Him.

    HUMANS throughout history have used God as an excuse for hatred, leading to subjugation, impoverishment and war. Christians have been as bad about this as any. I suspect that God is disappointed by this.

    It is nearly as clear that you are quite angry (hateful?). I pray that you can find Christ’s peace this Easter.

  26. Jason Apr 18, 2014 4:26 pm

    Steve,

    You and i both know the definition of veneration it is worship, pure and simple. Deut 5:8-9 (God’s own words) are quite clear enough for ages 8 and up.

    Semantic twists, bends and stretches is nothing new. In our modern day we had a president during the late 90s who debated the definition of “is” so debating what is universally agreed upon what a word like veneration and worship is not to be unexpected or shocking.

    Attempting to make an “apples to broccoli” comment such as if you have a photograph of your family members is bogus. Historical and alleged historical persons who lived some numerous centuries ago

    We are not building statues to our families and bowing down at the statue; we are not leaving flowers at the altar built next to the statue; we are not kneeling in prayer and praying to the statue ER…asking for mediation cause we don’t believe we can pray to God directly in the name of Christ.

    The family members we know (or knew if they’ve passed on) on a personal level. Nobody alive on the earth today personally knew Patrick; Andrew; Cicilia; George; Lawrence; Loyola; or Mary, etc. since they all lived centuries ago and THUS are NOT family members (they aren’t directly related by bloodline DNA).

    We also have 1500 plus yrs of church history to examine right practice and right worship and what we see in practice is exactly as John Calvin said. Right practice leads to right worship and false worship leads to false worship.

    As Dr. Duncan has stated, all we can do is make sure these paganistic practices of heretical superstition do not creep into our churches.

    May we all be vigilant and ever watching.

    Happy Good Friday to all!

  27. Clark Apr 18, 2014 7:22 pm

    OK. It’s official. About 45 minutes into the message, one of Zac Smiths sons states almost word for word “God gave himself as a sacrifice for lots of people, and my dad kinda did the same thing”. There is no context that will change his meaning. The child was trying to articulate that his dad’s death had a purpose, but the film crew should have edited the comment or something. That’s total blasphemy even if was not intended to be on the part of the child. I fault the leadership for allowing that to remain in the segment without clarification.

    • James Duncan Apr 18, 2014 10:18 pm

      Thank you, Clark. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, given that that was the basic theme of the profile pages. They have no excuse that it comes from a child. It’s what they taught him, but they also decided to keep it in the video. I wouldn’t be surprised if they fed him the line in the first place, so we’re allowed to treat the statement and criticize it as if it came from Perry Noble himself. We won’t blame the child.

      As you say, it does make it official. Zac has special power, along with Jesus, to bring people to salvation. It’s how the Catholic church understands its saints, too.

      It’s also terribly emotionally manipulative. People are being asked to respond to this “gospel” so that Zac’s death won’t have been in vain.

  28. Junius Apr 18, 2014 8:23 pm

    Dr. Duncan,

    Thank you for the courage to tackle this delicate matter that NewSpring has created. I was quite aghast to see NewSpring to take this route and use the late Mr. Smith’s story as their Easter centerpiece.

    Clark, that is quite sad to hear.

  29. Jason Apr 19, 2014 5:54 pm

    It is almost without realizing it, NS is turning Zac Smith into a symbol. The Communists and Fascists were quite adept at doing this during the previous century. To them, individuals do not exist except to symbolize the revolution, the message, and the ultimate goal.

    NS won’t be responding to the Gospel but rather instead to a symbol “urging” them to respond because HE, Zac, a former member is telling them from beyond the grave. Instead of holy relics, NS now has Zac’s “holy” videotaped testimony.

    I thought his playing of Highway to Hell during Easter was bad enough but this certainly ranks up there as well.

    What is it with PN? Is it just “Well, the bible’s too boring for 2014 and we gotta snap it up some to help God out.” Cause that is what it appears to be.

    I wonder if Noble will use this testimony during Easter from now on and not just for this year. He could do this for the next 20yrs. time.

    And, the discussion at the church as well as online remains NOT on Christ the Savior BUT on Zac the Symbol of “Go ahead, folks, come to Jesus because you have more word that Heaven is for Real.”

  30. Humblylearning Apr 19, 2014 8:06 pm

    I watched the sermon for myself about a half an hour ago and from what I saw it did seem quite emotionally manipulative. People weren’t asked to respond to the call of the Gospel that is the story of Jesus, but based on if the story of the Smiths spoke to them. I say that of course in no way disrespecting the Smiths story and the loss they suffered, which I’m glad they appear to have mostly healed from, but the Gospel is what an unbeliever is supposed to respond to in making the choice to become a follower of Christ, and it just seemed to be almost an afterthought or a footnote with the whole emotion inducing story of the Smiths being the centerpiece. I was honestly rather confused with what the meaning behind the video was after it was finished. The whole theme of the video and the sermon was essentially “the best is yet to come”, and I wasn’t quite sure if they were referring to some kind of earthly triumph or heaven.

    It became clear what Mr. Noble was referring to when he stated something really quite alarming. He stated that the best thing about being a Christian is not getting to go to heaven, but the good things that happen on this side of eternity. That’s essentially stating that having eternal salvation is less important than all the “best things yet to come” your going to receive on earth when you make the choice to become a Christian. It’s disappointing to see once again see someone making Christianity all about receiving earthly blessings, and less about living for God daily through following the teachings of Christ and resting our hope in an eternal salvation that we have in the future regardless of if we ever receive some kind of earthly triumph of blessings. I really pray that those who inevitably got sucked in by all the emotion we’ll be able to understand the true Gospel and what it really means to be a follower of Christ.

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