The Rebel’s Dictionary: Snoremon

The Rebel’s Dictionary injects humor and satire to made up words. TRD’s goal isn’t to poke fun on individuals or use these words to label a person or entity.  By using funny words as jump off point, TRD aims to discuss issues concerning Christians, the church and Christianity at large. At the end of every entry, TDR includes biblical and practical answers. 

The Rebel’s Dictionary Entry #2

Snoremon (noun) – refers to a sermon that induces sleep to the hearers. It might not be the message itself that pushes the snooze button to the listener because of the different factors involve. It might be the way the sermon is delivered or the length of the sermon (commonly in long messages). Regardless, because of a snoremon, rather than becoming a worship service, the Sunday program becomes a sleep over fellowship.

 

Reality Check: The problem with snoremons is a two way street. It’s not just the pastor’s part but also the pew. A pastor may do the best of his skills to craft and deliver a sermon.  However he can’t control the listeners in other weak areas he or she might have. The best solution is a pastor should diligently polish his messages and the listeners should be a diligent receiver of the message.  Here are some tips that might will help you fight snoremon:

Book Review: Preaching With Passion by Alex Montoya (The book is available at PCBS)

5 Reasons Why Your Sermon is Boring (and 5 Ways to Fix it)

5 Essential Things to Prepare Before Sunday Service 

If you’re a member consider praying for you pastor and for yourself 

Church members should consider practicing this to avoid falling asleep.

Desiring God: Listening to the Word Preached 

 

 

Unveiling Baptist Brider Heresy: Delighting Grace Interviews Zigfred Diaz

lfcma6vThis is the second part of my interview with Zigfred Diaz, author of the paper, Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs. After discussing the Baptist successionism or Landmarkism, Zigfred Diaz focuses on the Baptist Brider teaching. In this teaching which is common to independent fundamental Baptist or Bible Baptist (as they are called here in the Philippines), the true Brider of Christ, who He will marry on the marriage supper for the Lamb in heaven is the Baptist church. Stranger as it may sound, these Baptist group teaches it on the pulpit and in Sunday School. So Zigfred get into the bottom of this and what he unveils is quite surprising.

  By the way, if you haven’t read the first paper on Baptist successionism you can download it here free. Also read the complementary interview with that paper by clicking here. If you want to read the second part, you can download it on the link provided at the end of this interview.

Delighting Grace: Good to have you again pastor. For the record please tell us what’s your motive behind writing a paper about Baptist Brider? 

Zigfred Diaz: Before I get into that, thanks for featuring one of my theological paper again in your blog. You know one of the problems of academic writing is that in most cases only in a few instances will it ever have mass penetration. So I am grateful once again for this opportunity as this will enable a lot of our Baptist bretheren to know about this issue.

Having said that, let’s jump right into the question shall we ? My motive for writing a paper on Baptist Brider is the same as my motive for writing my paper on Baptist successionism/landmarkism. First of all, having come from an independent fundamental Baptist background I am very much familiar and concerned about this false doctrine. I have somehow put it in my “To Do list” (and I have a thousand items there including papers to write hehehe) a long time ago. I am glad that this opportunity came for me to write it. I am very much concerned that a lot of my friends within independent fundamentalists circles has been blindly following that doctrine and a lot of my fellow pastor friends has also been blindly propagating it for whatever reasons they might have. Because I am out of that denomination now (I now pastor a Southern Baptist Church with a decidedly Reformed bent), I can now freely speak freely on certain matters that has been bothering me. (that is why I got out of the independent fundamentalists Baptist group in the first place) It is my hope and prayer that I might be able to shed light on this issue.

Secondly, this is in compliance with my requirements in my ecclesiology and eschatology subject at Veritas International University where I am currently doing my degree in Masters of Divinity majoring in Christian Apologetics. I always love to hit more than two birds with two stones so my writing this paper is one of those moments that I have done exactly just that. When I was going through the course work in my subject on ecclesiology and eschatology, I thought to myself what more better opportunitycan I findfind to write about these two subject areas than in the Baptist Brider issue ? So I am thankful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity.

Delighting Grace:  So from the Landmarkism/Baptist successionism now you are tackling Baptist Brider heresy. So what’s the connection of this subject to Landmarkism?

Zigfred Diaz: Baptism Successionism/Landmarkism is the foundational basis for the Baptist brider heresy. Without it there would be no Baptist Brider heresy. Baptist successionism/landmarkism is a result of poor and unscholarly historical research that forces the issue that Baptist as a denomination can trace an unbroken lineage back to the time of the New Testament church. This distortion of historical facts has resulted into some kind of Baptist elitism that looks down on other denominations resulting to this false and heretical doctrine of the Baptist Brider heresy wherein it is taught that that the local independent Baptist church is the bride of Jesus Christ and that only members of a true local independent Baptist church will be married to Jesus Christ in the Marriage Super of the Lamb as described in Revelation chapter 19. The reasoning behind this of course stems from the claim that “Baptist” is the one true church (the exclusion of all other denominations) and hence is the one true bride of Christ.

A preposterous variant of this false doctrine even teaches that non Baptist denominations will just become “waiters” or “servers” in the marriage supper of the lamb. (Honestly speaking this is so hilarious that I could fall off my chair laughing at the thought of this) The Baptist Brider Heresy has no basis whatsoever in Scriptures and is based on the errors of Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism which in turn has no historical basis whatsoever.

Delighting Grace:  Is the time and process in writing this differ from the previous one?

Zigfred Diaz: Before I answer this question let me just say that I love academic research and research in general. Research helps me learn new things and helps all of us get to the bottom of the truth. Research takes time and the process in most research is more or less the same especially in comparison with my previous paper as they are somewhat related and intertwined subjects.

Since I have already done research and has written a paper on Baptist successionism/Landmarkism which is the foundational core of the Baptist Brider doctrine, the time it took to research and write the paper on this is much lesser. With regards to the process, as mentioned it is more or less the same. This time however I did not go to the Baptist Theological Forum to gather data or information about this issue. I already personally know  that a lot of Baptist especially independent fundamentalists Baptist, hold on to the doctrine. I did engage in private conversations with some people I know in order to verify if the Baptist Brider doctrine they hold on to is the same with what was said in the materials that I will cite in my paper and if there are any variants to the said doctrine. I did already hear several messages from the pulpit advocating the Baptist Brider position when I was still in independent fundamentalist Baptist circles. But that was a long time ago.

In order to have a good and quality research I need to validate the information.Through private conversations with people I personally know, I validated that what I heard before and what I read about what of people hold about the Baptist Brider heresy were more or less the same.

Delighting Grace:  I read the paper and I just can’t believe what I’m reading. Are these Baptist Brider believers not employing sound interpretation and common sense. How did they end up with this messy doctrine?

Zigfred Diaz: That is a very good question.Considering that a lot of these Baptist Briders hold on to unsound interpretation and a lot of the doctrines they hold on to are unscriptural, lacks logic and even defies common sense, in some way I am not surprised anymore. Let me just say this bluntly, sadly common sense is not so common in a lot of doctrines I have encountered in several Baptist denominations.  

When I was still within independent fundamentalists Baptist circles it was very ironic that we were asked to always bring our Bibles in church and one of the reasons for this we were told is that so that we can check if what the pastor is preaching is truly from God’s Words and that somehow he got the interpretation of Scriptures right. However anybody who questions the interpretation will somehow be branded as some kind of a rebel or to use their term “touching” or going against “God’s anointed.”This kind of dictatorial and despotic rule is probably one factor why Baptist Briders ended up with such messy doctrine. (And not only the Baptist Brider Doctrine but other doctrines as well including issues in soteriology, KJV Onlyism, Baptist successionism etc. issues that I have written papers on, I am really serious about turning “Battling Bogus Beliefs” into a book soon).

Nobody dares to question the pastor as he is God’s anointed. It would be good if you have a pastor who really studies the issues, follows what God says and what He really means by what He says and uses sound logic and critical thinking when dealing with certain doctrines and issues. But if you have  a pastor who merely parrots the garbage that is being fed to him in conferences and by other fellow pastors then you have a big problem and the result is churches and denominations that end up with messed up doctrines such as the Baptist Brider heresy. And because nobody dares question the pastor this has produced a kind of anti-scholarship attitude. This kind of attitude has certainly fueled the proliferation of unscriptural, logically unsound and “messy” doctrines as you would call it. In the future I look forward to doing research on Baptist ecclesiology more particularly power structures in Baptist churches and its relation to theology and theopraxy. 

Delighting Grace: Another thing that struck me and I find offensive is calling other non Baptist believers to be “servants” in the marriage supper of the Lamb because they dont belong to a Baptist church. Isn’t that similar to a Mormon teaching on how they treat  white and black skinned people and also Jehovah’s Witnesses 140,000 teachings?

Zigfred Diaz: Well in some sense it is similar to those doctrines. Similar in a sense that certain groups of people are treated a certain way because of a particular doctrine but that such doctrine is based on an erroneous interpretation of Scriptures. The only difference is that in the case of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s witnesses the discriminatory treatment is an actual or experienced reality already considering that Mormons follow certain church policies in dealing with dark skinned people (which critics brand as racial discrimination and which officially the Mormons deny) and in the Jehovah’s witness case only the 144,000 are allowed to partake in the communion.

In the case of Baptist briders there is no actual “discriminatory” practice since the “discrimination” so to speak will supposedly happen in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. There is however a “discriminatory” attitude. The Baptist Brider heresy has produced an elitist attitude and there is no doubt that those who hold on to such attitude do not have much fellowship with other Protestant denominations or even other Baptist denominations. (Just ask pastors in interdenominational local ministerial groups how many Baptist are there or how many Baptist participate in interdenominational evangelistic activities and you will know what I am talking about).

This kind of attitude is doing so much damage to the body of Christ as a whole because instead of us uniting in things that we have in common, those who hold on to Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism and the Brider doctrine have produced an elitist, separatist attitude which in reality has really no Biblical and even historical basis.

Delighting Grace: Another thing I observed in the paper is the use Matt. 16: 18 just like the Roman Catholics Church as the basis of the foundation of their church. Is there any difference between how Baptist Brider proponents and RCC in handling this verse?

Zigfred Diaz: In some sense there is no difference in how Baptist Brider proponents and the Roman Catholic Church handle Mathew 16:18. Both groups are spot on wrong on how they interpret the verse. If we must point out the difference, the difference is probably how and why each of them are wrong. The common and foremost error committed by both groups is of course a wrong interpretation of Scriptures.

For Baptist briders when Jesus Christ said he will build his church they believe that what He established was to use their exact term, a “local New Testament Baptist church.”  This error is based primarily on faulty logic. It is the logical fallacy of equivocation. It is such because since Baptist Briders also hold on to some kind of Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism andin that doctrine one of the foundational things they hold on to is that they believe that since Jesus Christ was Baptized by John the Baptist hence he is a Baptist (just as when somebody is baptized a Roman Catholic, then such person is Roman Catholic) I extensively discussed in my paper the logical fallacy of this reasoning.

On the other hand as mentioned, aside from mainly a wrong interpretation of Scriptures,the Roman Catholic’s error is also some kind of historical theology and for ordinary Roman Catholic most definitely a church history error. Too much emphasis is given on the Apostle Peter. Let me quote from a paper I also wrote on this, but I will not dwell on this much considering this is not the main subject of this interview. It is entitled “Probing Peter’s Papacy:An examination of Roman Catholic and Protestant views on Mathew 16:13-20.” We could discuss more of this in another interview. Anyway here it is:

The strength of the Roman Catholic view is also its weakness as too much emphasis and importance is being given to the Apostle Peter. As discussed in the first Protestant view, Peter himself never referred to himself as “the rock” upon which the Church is built but constantly referred to Christ being the chief cornerstone. While admittedly, the Apostle Peter is always mentioned first in Scriptures and regarded widely as the outspoken leader of the apostles, nowhere in Scriptures can we read that the other Apostles gave the highest regards for Peter just like what the Roman Catholic Church has conferred upon him. Carson in the Expositor’s commentary rightly describes Peter as “first among equals.”  But take note that it was not only Peter that is regarded as the leader among the Apostles. Aside from the fact that the Apostles seemed to “rule” over the church as a group together with other elders, James the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ who was not one of the original 12 and the Apostle John were regarded by the Apostle Paul as the “pillars” of the early church in Galatians 2:9. The Apostle Peter and James seemed to be the lead facilitators in the first church council, the council at Jerusalem and it was James who gave the closing statement and a seeming final judgment on the matter at hand. When Peter was imprisoned and released by an angel, he sent word to “James and to the brethren” about his release. (Acts 12:17) Let me add further that the early church fathers points to James as the First Bishop of the first Christian Church, the church at Jerusalem.”

Delighting Grace: Again thank you for answering some questions. So please invite our reader to download Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs part 2 which is about the Baptist Brider heresy.

Zigfred Diaz: You are most welcome I invite you all to download my paper dealing with Baptist Bogus Beliefs. This time tackling the Baptist Brider doctrine. Please share this with everybody you know who holds on to this erroneous doctrine. It is really my heart’s desire that this doctrine by refuted and that pastors will stop teaching it in churches as it has done so much damage to the body of Christ and to all of us Baptist collectively. You can download it here.

Delighting Grace: So guys download the free paper and share it to people trap in this false teaching. As Zigfred Diaz will tackles another issue, Delighting Grace will hopefully cover it also.

Book Review: Defining Deception by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood

foups7mWhat does a fading infamous faith healer do to be back in the limelight, be relevant today and to the coming decade? And what does a popular NAR leader do to go to the next level of his already established ministries? Well collaboration with others is what they need. And collaboration is what they did…with each other! Bill Johnson and Benny Hinn join together to further strengthen their ministries. This and other issues are discussed in Defining Deception  by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood as they dig deep on the dangerous movement of Third Wave/NAR .

Defining Deception is not no holds barred bashing or tell all book by two guys who are formerly connected with the movement (especially Costi Hinn).   It’s a careful, sensitive and loving evaluation of Third Wave/NAR blended with personal insights and excellent apologetics. The book is mostly about Bill Johnson, Bethel Church and Jesus Culture but according to the authors, its for the Christians who embraces Sola Scriptura and considers the Bible as the deciding rule of faith and practice ( pg. x). As you read this engaging book, you see the lies and deception of the personalities in this movement that undermines the authority of the Scripture. Ample biblical response are sandwiched in every points they are addressing.

But before they address the present day movement, the authors leads the readers a few decades back to see how this movement was born and the personalities of the past behind it. There can never be a Third Wave/NAR without looking at the roots. The rest of the book discusses how up and coming prosperity preachers and the icons of this movement intersect as it furthers strengthen itself for the dawning of a new decade.

The authors are generous to provide an excellent appendix. Aside from the testimonies (Appendix 1), they gave us a primer on the Charismatic Movement with Appendix 2 to 5. So if you’re done with the book and still lost of all of these, the appendixes will be your map to lead you in the right direction. You don’t need a supplimental book to make sense of this book.

 Defining Deception is a trailblazer for other books that will address this issue as it sets the right tone on exposing this dangerous movement. It’s also a beacon of light for the coming decade as it warns Christians on what steps this movement will take. If you picked up this book because of the “Hinn” in Costi Hinn, you wont be disappointed with its balance of expośe and apologetics. But more than that, it is a must read book fot every Christians concerning the New Apostolic Reformation.

My verdict:

5 out of 5

The Quotable Round-Up #107

falwffcSomeone ask me if I can have a copy of a book that I own. I know this sister in Christ is a single mom and making ends meet with here kids. Rather give her a e-book copy or tell her it’s available at a Christian bookstore, I’m happy to give it away to her. So I plan to give a book this coming Sunday. This got me thinking. Am I willing to give up books for someone who really wants one? Am I ready to empty my bookshelf for a fellow Christian. I know some of you bought books that are rare and expensive but books are still books. You can still but it and own it again. Also it’s much better to keep in mind that someone may be in need of a book. So I must consider buying an extra book when I go to the bookstore in that way if someone ask me one I have something to bless that person.

Anyways, here’s some quotes from the book by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood  Defining Deception. Order the book on Amazon by clicking this link.

“If personal experience becomes our final guide to truth, no one is left who can discern what is a gift of God from what is a Trojan horse attack from the devil, or from what is a lie from within our own heart.”

“False teachers are good communicators who understand how to manipulate feelings without directly addressing the need for individuals to pursue holiness. To do this they use highly stylized preaching and engaging music content that promises people immediate pleasure and prosperity-be it emotional or physical.”

“It isn’t uncommon for someone questioning the unbiblical practice inside these mystical-miracle churches to be threatened with the three C’s: cancer, curses and catastrophic events. Any of these tragedies” may happen to you” if you dare to speak out against an anointed leader. When you are living under a leader who uses these tactics, it feels a lot more like you are a member of a mafia than a biblical ministry.”

“In prosperity gospel circles, the love of money is prevalent and such love is unapologetic. It can actually be a form of competition to see who God is blessing the most!”

“The past century of Pentecostal/ Charismatic history is absolutely heart-breaking. Millions have lived and died under the guile of false teachers and millions more continue on the path of destruction. Christians need accurate information so they can make informed decisions with regards to the misleading miracles and exercise discernment with any teacher who claims to have a heritage from these teachers. Furthermore, true believers need to be prayerful, faithful, and resilient in reaching out to those caught in this net of deceit.”

“True New Testament miracles always pointed to the person of Christ. Therefore, if the glory of God and the Good News of Christ aren’t clarified or enhanced by a supposedly extraordinary act, it isn’t a miracle of God. Yet, if it’s not of God, then who is it from?”

“The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that Gospel power is evidenced in monetary gain, a life without sickness, Twitter followers, or responses to an altar call. In fact, the Bible depicts the life of those faithful to the Gospel as likely to lead to poverty, abuse by authorities and persecution.” 

The Freebie Round-Up #28

9qvq3xlHello guys! It’s pay day today and I have hunch that you’ll be at the nearest mall buying stuff. Does visiting your local bookstore and picking up a book in your checklist? What books will you buy then?  If books are not in your shopping list, well check these list of freebies that wont burn your wallet. And if your new here to this post or you missed out other freebie round-ups, check the links to those post at the end of this article.

FREE Hand outs and powerpoint presentations of “Gospel Centered Counseling and Gospel Conversations” – From Dr. Bob Kellermen, his ministry offers this free counseling presentation complete with hand outs. If you scroll down some more, you’ll find other free resources that will equip the church.

FREE “The Wicket Gate” Magazine – Download the current issue and back issues of this magazine for free. The magazine contains interesting lectures, stories, sermons from Dr. Nick Needham and W. J. Seaton.

FREE hand outs and audio downloads of “Why These Books? Introduction to OT and NT Canon” –  It’s a free seminar that tackles questions like “What exactly is a canon?”, “Who pick out the books?” and many others that you might be also thinking. So check this free resource from Christ Cambridge Church and Dr. Greg Lainer.

FREE e-book “Pray For Your Daughter” from Borrowed Light – Mike Leake made a series of these books (for the spouse, purity, church etc.,) and you can find all of it here on this link. But I’ll just focus this one 31 days prayer challenge for your daughter. May this free e-book bless you and your daughter as you pray for her for the entire month.

FREE audio download of “Understanding Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses – Glad to see Credo Courses being generous again, as it brings back the free audio download of the lecture of Dr. Robert Bowman. Get to know and defend your faith with the two leading American religious cult in the world.

FREE video series download of “Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theology” by R. C. Sproul – Now for something heavy! Ligonier gave us Steve Lawson last week then this one (and another one below). I’m so eager to check this free videos out. Better create an account so you can save it for later use.

FREE e-book “The Prayer of the Lord” by R. C. Sproul – Better get this one because it will expire within 4 days. I’m stoked at what Ligonier is giving away. Looking forward for more in the coming week.

Do you want more freebies? Check out these past blog post:

Freebie Round-Up #27

Freebie Round-Up # 26

Freebie Round-Up # 25

Freebie Round-Up # 24

Freebie Round-Up # 23

Freebie Round-Up # 22

Freebie Round-Up # 21

Freebie Round-Up # 20

Freebie Round-Up # 19

Freebie Round-Up # 18

The Freebie Round-Up #17

The Freebie Round-Up #16

The Freebie Round-Up #15

The Freebie Round-Up #14

The Digital Round-Up # 18

q5fmhucHello there! Here’s “The Digital Round-Up” to give you some of my favorite freebies, articles and everything in between. What do you think of it? Eclectic? Weird? Interesting? I just want to know. So please, please, please do me a favor and post your comments about this post at the comment section. Thank you and God bless!

Free “Reflection’s on Prophecy” Vance Havner – From the late preacher’s newspaper write ups on prophecy, collected in this volume.

All Five Points of Calvinism in John Chapter 10 – Here’s doctrine of grace in a nutshell in just one chapter. Short but great read.

4 Big Heresies Still Alive in the Church – Dont call it a comeback but these obsolete beliefs are always prevalent in the church. All we have to do is know them and combat them with the Word of God.

16 Things You Can do this Week to Get Unstuck in Your Sermon Prep – Let Lane Sebring lays some awesome tips to get up and finish your message for Sunday.

Toys in the Temple: Worldly Recreations and the Lord’s Day – drawing from the Puritan minds, here’s a biblical approach on why we should skip recreations during Sunday.

Preachers, Offend People on Sunday – What is the most offensive point in your sermon? The gospel of course! J. A. Medders list down the reasons why the gospel is offensive.

How the Superheroes of Literature can Save you from Grammar Nazis – No this not about Superman or comics, its about those classic authors of the past and how their masterpiece can help you defeat the Grammar Nazis.

 

 

 

 

The Quotable Round-Up (Filipino Edition #1)

tpn6bjcIsang mapagpalang araw sa ating lahat. Ito ang unang Filipino edisyon ng “The Quotable Round-Up” at akoy natutuwa dahil sa aking ibabahaging quotes. Mula ito sa kilalang pastor at teacher na si John MacArthur hango sa kanyang aklat na “Usapang God’s Will”. Isinalin at nilimbag ito ng OMFLit at mabibili ito sa PCBS, NBS, Pandayan Bookshop at online. Nawa pagpalain kayo ng mga quotes na ito at bumili ng kopya ng aklat na ito.

“Huwag mong i-water down ang gospel. Kung nakakasakit ang katotohanan, hayaan mong makasakit ito. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; hayaan mong sila naman muna ang maoffend.” — John MacArthur, “Usapang God’s Will”

“Alam mo kung ano ang Spirit-filled life? It is living every moment as though katabi mo si Jesus Christ!” — John MacArthur, Usapang God’s Will

“Hindi nila pini-persecute ang Christians dahil ayaw nila sa mga ito; pini-persecute nila ang Christians dahil ayaw nila kay Jesus.” — John MacArthur, “Usapang God’s Will”

“Kasama sa evangelism ang pamumuhay ng isang godly life sa gitna ng isang ungoldy world. At dahil diyan, magkakaroon ng persecution, dahil ayaw ng mundo kay Jesus.”
— John MacArthur, “Usapang God’s Will”

“Kung hindi mo pa ikino-commit ang buhay mo kay Jesus Christ, wala kang maasahan sa Diyos. He owes you nothing. Wala Siyang ni katiting na obligation sa iyo.”
— John MacArthur, “Usapang God’s Will”

Debate Aftermath: Delighting Grace Interviews Bro. Conley of TrueIglesia.org

bibletable_zps8tfmjbivTwo weeks after the debate between Christian apologist Dr. James White and INC minister Joe Ventilacion, we can still feel the heat of it as discussions spills over the social media about this religious group in the Philippines. In this interview, we will talk to from someone who witnessed the debate first hand. Conley of True Iglesia Ministry will  fill us in with the behind the scenes on this Trinity Debate.

By the way, you might want to check my first interview with Bro. Conley about True Iglesia by clicking this link: https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/finding-the-true-church-delighting-grace-interviews-conley-of-trueiglesia-org/
Delighting Grace: First off we from the Philippines is quite clueless of this debate. So we want to know how this debate came about?

Bro. Conley: In 2011, the Iglesia Ni Cristo bought the small ghost town of [Scenic, South Dakota](
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenic,_South_Dakota), about an hour away from [Rapid City]. It was not clear what they intended to do with the town and it remains unclear what their plans are. I’m not convinced they have clear plans; however, they have taken this venture seriously enough to send Joe Ventilacion, their principal debator, to be the resident minister at the closest locale.


As a side note, in the past, Ventilacion has gone by “Jose”, but has recently started going by “Joe”. The whole church seems to be adopting more culturally sensitive branding. In English-speaking regions, I see their banners more frequently have “Church of Christ” on them than they used to.


Continuing on, the [South Dakota Apologetics](
http://sdapologetics.com/) group encountered the INC at a yearly Christian music festival in Rapid City, spoke with them, and quickly discovered that their beliefs were way outside the pale of orthodoxy, especially in regards to the Trinity. They additionally discovered that the INC had been engaging the Native American population in the area, adding confusion about Christianity to the mission field. SD Apologetics asked Ventilacion if he would be willing to debate (he was), and they asked White if he would be willing to come debate (he was). In 2014, my friend Nic (who also works on True Iglesia) and I had asked Dr. White if he would be willing to debate the INC, and at the time, he said no. However, I think the personal appeal about the damage the INC was doing in the region spoke to Dr. White’s heart and he responded.


Delighting Grace: I see. How was the crowd before, during and after the debate? Do you feel some sort of heat in the air or is the room so quite?


Bro. Conley: Before the debate, the INC crowd was somewhat aggressive. Nic and I had banners and tracts that advertised True Iglesia, and this made many of them quite upset. Several came over to us and told us that our tracts were untruthful. We asked what was untruthful, but no on was able to produce a clear answer. One man said that the comic portrays the typical member as never reading the Bible, but he reads the Bible every day. When I asked him what book of the Bible he had been reading lately, he didn’t have an answer.


Several people stole tracts when we weren’t looking. There is a post on FB from an INC member admitting to this. Someone else saw tracts in a trashcan cut up with scissors. Many would come by and take a handful of tracts at a time. We would say “Isa lang po!”, and they might put one back, but they would run away with several.
During the debate, the atmosphere was intense as well. The recording does not pick up too much of it, but the INC audience had some significant responses at various points. In addition to answer the Ventilacion’s questions, they would say “aww” at the end of every cross examination, as though if he had had one more minute, Ventilacion would have been able to defeat White.


After the debate, unfortunately, the INC members seemed to feel that they had won. I spoke with several who said they were very happy with how it went. When I would ask people why they felt it went well, the most common answer I got was “Dr. White was not even able to find the word ‘Trinity’ in the Bible!” Of course, that wasn’t the point of the debate. The word “Bible” is not even in the Bible. I am praying that a few open minded people will have heard the truth despite this tendency of the INC to shut their ears and declare victory.


Delighting Grace: Wow. What was your first impression of JV as the debate begins? How about James White is he tense or relax?
Bro. Conley: I only encountered Dr. White before the debate, not Mr. Ventilacion. White has debated over 150 times, so he was focused, calm, and ready. During White’s opening statement, Ventilacion often made what appeared to be nervous smiles. If you listened to the debate, you will know that in the opening statement, White short-circuited all the arguments that Ventilacion would make. White very clearly said that if the focus was on proving monotheism or that there are distinctions between the Father and the Son, it would show that Ventilacion has no idea what was being discussed. Of course, this was the entirety of Ventilacion’s argument. White said that if John 17:3 were to be brought up, it would show that Ventilacion was not engaging the doctrine of the Trinity. Of course, this is where he immediately went.
Delighting Grace: In one point of the debate, JV told the crowd that INC doesn’t base their doctrine on grammar. Some of us was shocked with that. What’s your reaction with that statement as you sat there?


Bro. Conley: That was a pretty incredible gaff, but I understand what Ventilacion meant. Basically, he is saying that there are concerns to consider in addition to grammar that may require us to have some flexibility with how we read Scripture. However, it really is true that the INC’s presuppositions are so incredibly strong that they are not willing to allow the Bible to speak for itself; they demand what it must say. It is not merely that they have concerns in addition to grammar, but that at many points they are willing to entirely discard with grammar. If we don’t let God speak for himself, all we have are the words of men.

Delighting Grace: Did you get to talk to some INC members in that debate?
Bro. Conley: Yes! Because INC members believe that only a minister can explain the Bible, debates are one of the few times that they open up to discuss their faith. I was very happy for this opportunity.


Most of the members I spoke to were very hostile, especially the older ones. A lot of the conversations I had were similar to the one about Bible reading that I described earlier. Another question I would often ask is “what is the gospel”? I’ve never had an INC member—even an INC minister—provide an answer, so it gives me a good opportunity to explain that the gospel is the good news that even though we are sinners incapable of doing anything that could in any way merit salvation, God sent his Son to die so that those who trust in him alone for their salvation (not the church, not baptism, etc.) can have eternal life.


On the other hand, the younger INC members were very friendly. One commented that she liked my shirt (it has a Filipino flag design). Another discussed Nic’s camera with him. However, only one that I spoke to seemed truly open. He was a teenager who was trying to figure out whether or not he would stay in the INC. I told him an open mind is a good mind. I’ve been praying for him.

Delighting Grace: Will be praying for that teen. What’s your favorite moment of the debate and why?
Bro. Conley: I’d have to say it was the gospel presentations. Not only did White explain why the Trinity is biblical, he explained why it is essential to the gospel. If you don’t have the true Jesus, you do not have a Jesus that saves. If you do not believe that Jesus is the great I AM, you will die in your sins (Joh 8:24).


Other moments include the very memorable “we do not base our doctrine on grammar” gaff, and the discussion about Hebrews 1:10-12. The last time I spoke to you, I had mentioned that I believe this to be the most powerful passage when discussing the deity of Christ with the INC. They have no answer to explain why Jesus is said to be the eternal one who created the heavens and the earth in that passage. They have no scripted response. Ventilacion was unable to do anything except avoid the question.

Delighting Grace: I see that your ministry or website, True Iglesia is there on the location of the debate. Which is cool by the way. So how did you prepare to make your ministry presence be felt by those attending?
Bro. Conley: Nic and I coordinated with SD Apologetics in order to work alongside them as associate members. My wife (who did all the art for the comic) made a couple of banners that we could put up, and she also ordered a batch of printed versions of the comic. Nic and I also recorded [a pre-debate podcast episode]( http://www.regularreformed.com/2017/03/28/episode-40-true-iglesia/) with the Regular Reformed Guys. I was astounded at how many INC members and non-members alike had listened to that episode prior to coming to the debate. A lot of people used it in order to prepare. Even Dr. White said he listened to it multiple times in order to prepare, so I am very thankful to the Regular Reformed Guys for asking us on to their show.
Delighting Grace: Wow that so great! True Iglesia is an awesome website in reaching out INC.Also the social media accounts of True Iglesia is valuable specially during the debate. How did it do in terms views and visitors both website and social media? What are the reactions of the readers and followers of your platforms?
Bro. Conley: The traffic we received wasn’t quite what we had during the INC centennial in 2014, but it has been significant. We are still currently receiving about 8x the traffic that we normally get.


We have received a few encouraging responses from fellow Christians telling us they’ve been blessed by our efforts. From the INC, we are largely getting hostile comments, even several deceitful comments. One group published a fake quote from SD Apologetics conceding victory. Another person posted a picture of White talking to Ventilacion and claimed that Dr. White had decided to convert and wanted to sign up for INC Bible studies.

Delighting Grace: I followed those forgeries over Facebook. How important is this debate for Christians and to INC members?
Bro. Conley: For the Christians around Rapid City, they considered this a very important opportunity to engage with their neighbors whose beliefs they were unaware of. They were all very pleased to meet and speak to INC members.
For the INC, the event seemed to have a far greater importance. The way they brought so many people and hyped up the event, I am under the impression that they are using this event to give their organization some sort of legitimacy. I was told by one member that they had been teaching on the Trinity and talking about the debate for weeks. Given that all their members are required to have regular attendance, and all their worship services have synchronized content, that means that every member was hearing about this. They additionally associate Scenic, SD with some secret plan of God, so they likely see this event as a sign of something to come for that venture.
Delighting Grace: How can a Christian make much of this debate as they study God’s Word and do apologetics?
Bro. Conley: There are several takeaways I would offer:


  1. The gospel is of prime importance when defending the faith. Evangelism cannot be divorced from apologetics.

  2. Truthfulness is key to the Christian walk. Some consider it acceptable to bend the truth when defending the faith, but that gives a bad testimony to Christ. The distinction between White and Ventilacion was clear in this regard. The debate trickery of false dichotomies and interruptions was strong on the INC side.

  3. To those seriously considering apologetics or ministry in general, it is important to know the original languages. They are frequently abused, so it is good to have a firm handle on them.

  4. Beyond this, I imagine many Christian had not heard several of the arguments that Dr. White made. I would recommend going back and walking through them (2Pe 1; Joh 12; Heb 1; Php 2).
    Delighting Grace: Those takeaways are great. One last question and its a biggie. This is a burning question for us all, do you think their will be a round 2 of the debate?

Bro. Conley: I hope so! The next day after the debate, Dr. White spoke with Mr. Ventilacion, and Ventilacion said that if they would do a debate in San Diego, he could bring 3,000 people. However, it is not a simple task to debate the INC since it is not easy to study the INC. Because their clearest material is only accessible to the ministers, in order to study them, you have to wade through hundreds of magazines and videos, or attend Bible studies in person. That’s the route I took, and it consumed a large portion of my time. Dr. White is a busy man, and he said he would only be willing to consider it if they would let him have a copy of their book titled The Fundamental Beliefs of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. They refused to do so. We can pray that someone would provide him a copy anyway! Maybe we can have an even bigger round 2 then. I’m hoping for a different topic, like whether you need a messenger in order to understand the Bible, whether official church membership is necessary for salvation, or how one can have peace with God. [As of this writing, by God’s grace, South Dakota Apologetics have obtained the said book.]
Delighting Grace: Again thank you Bro. Conley for this interview. So guys check out True Iglesia at www.trueiglesia.org. Read comicbook which is awesome. And oh dont forget to watch the debate by clicking this link: https://youtu.be/ZnElgAnN414

Finding the “True Church”: Delighting Grace Interviews Conley of TrueIglesia.org

There have been lots of apologetics resources concerning the group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). But I came across at this webcomic http://www.trueiglesia.org. I find it very helpful for us Christians who wants to share the gospel to our INC friends. I had an e-mail interview with its creator, Conley, and we talk about his ministry and how to reach the INC for Christ:
Delighting Grace: First of all, its a pleasure chatting with you about your ministry that has a heart for INC members. So how did you get interested in reaching out this group?
Conley: Like the comic describes, I studied the INC while in the US and that’s also where I created the website.  There is a significant INC presence in the San Francisco Bay area and I can even walk a couple of miles to get to the nearest one here in Mountain View.  My subsequent trip to the Philippines during July was primarily to strengthen relationships with some churches I would like to partner with in future evangelistic efforts.  I hope to move to the Philippines permanently so that I can study the various sects that have sprung up there and publish resources to respond to their claims.  My trip wasn’t entirely unrelated to the centennial, but I didn’t have a chance to spend much time interacting with INC members over the course of the month.
Delighting Grace: Why a webcomic to reach the member of this church? As I read your webcomic, you made mentioned Comicon and for sure I think you love comicbooks.
Conley: A Filipino I had met on a previous trip suggested that I make a comic to keep the attention of the younger members.  It really did turn out to be a good idea.  Due to the format, I honestly think it’s one of the gentlest responses to the INC that exists on the web.  I do enjoy comic books myself, although I have never actually been to Comic Con.  Regarding the creation of the comic, I wrote the storyboard, my wife made the illustrations, a Pinoy brother at my church in California translated, and several other members of my church edited. It was a church effort, which is a huge blessing.
Delighting Grace: Is their a culture and language barrier as far as communicating to them the gospel and orthodox Christianity? Its pretty obvious that most INC followers are Pinoys. Maybe some non-Pilipino believers may have encountered this group and wants to share God’s love to them?.
Conley: Yes, there are some significant cultural and language barriers inengaging INC members at several levels. First, part of what has given INC doctrine so much success is largely that it relies on English-based equivocation, which easily goes undetected by those who speak English as a second language.  An example: the phrase “ends of the earth” refers to the distant parts of the globe while the phrase “ends of the world” refers to a future time.  The INC says that the words “earth” and “world” are synonyms, so therefore certain verses in the Bible that talk about the “ends of the earth” are referring to a future time — specifically a time when the INC would be founded.  The fact that the INC uses English translations of scripture to make these arguments makes it difficult for ESL people to catch the fallacy.

Another language barrier exists in their rhetorical vocabulary.  They don’t think that they “interpret” things, which is silly since that word simply means to ascribe meaning.  They equate “understanding” with “believing” and say that someone who doesn’t believe doesn’t understand.  I’ve had to learn how to avoid these problems words in order to avoid unnecessary hangups.

Coming from the other side of things, there’s a large cultural barrier in working with evangelical churches in the Philippines to try to share the gospel with the INC.  In the US, it’s perfectly permissible to go outside of a large event (like the centennial) and pass out tracts.  In the Philippines, that wouldn’t be considered as appropriate.  Additionally, few Filipino evangelicals are willing to engage in a polemic and speak out against false faiths.  Part of this is fear of persecution, but a lot of it is simply an eastern form of respect.  There are good sides and bad sides to that aspect of the culture.
Delighting Grace: Do you still have communication with them? How are they now?
Conley: I’ve since managed to speak with a couple of the INC members I met during my studies.  Unfortunately, not much has changed, but we can pray that God will send someone to water the planted seeds.
Delighting Grace: Can you give us tips on how to share the gospel with these friends of ours?
Conley: Here’s some tips on how to share the gospel to an INC member:
Personal preparation:
1. Read and know your Bible.  I can’t stress this enough.  INC members make the error of paying lip service to the Bible while they rarely read it.  It’s easy to think that we are better than them on this account, but ask yourself: how often do you really read and study the Bible?  Do you know it well enough that you could tell me the theme of Galatians or be able to characterize John as compared to the other gospels?  Knowing a few verses isn’t the same as reading and knowing scripture.
2. Pray for INC members.  This is an area where I fall very short.  We must acknowledge that it’s only God who can change the heart and part of acknowledging that is by going to him in prayer.
3. Be bold and have a heavenly perspective.  I know that many Filipinos are intimidated by the INC or even afraid of persecution, but if we believe the promises of Scripture, there is no reason to fear.  (Hebrews 13:5-6; Matthew 5:10)

When evangelizing:
1. Focus on helping the other party understand, not on winning an argument.  Too many times I see Christians present the truth to INC members in a way that is harsh and isn’t really focused on helping them.  We should by no means compromise on the truth, but a gentle response turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1) and causes people to listen.

2. Focus on gospel issues, not on tangential issues.  I see many Christians focus on disproving INC prophecies or criticizing the behavior of certain ministers.  There is certainly a time and a place for this if done appropriately, but I worry that people focus on these things just to tear down the other party and then are left in a situation that isn’t conducive to building a positive case for the gospel.  If instead you focus on their view of Jesus, you can give them a true Jesus.  If you focus on their works righteousness, you can give them Christ’s righteousness.  These things can cut to the heart in a way that talking about the meanings of Hebrew words or newspaper headlines cannot.

3. Focus on scripture, not on human philosophy.  Faith comes through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), not though some other means.  Make sure your defense is based on the Bible and not own your own way of reasoning to truth.

4. A very practical tip: I personally think that Hebrews 1:10 is one of the best verses you can share with an INC member.
“8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
10 And,
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;”

In this verse, the Father clearly and directly says that the Son created the universe, something they reject.  The INC tends to get distracted by verse 8, where the Son is called God — they have arguments to say that’s mistranslated, but very few have ever considered Hebrews 1:10.  They will try to go to other passages, but if you can keep them focused on this one, they will have no choice but to face the fact that Jesus is the creator.
Delighting Grace: Thank you, Conley. Please invite them to you website and also your social media accounts.
Conley: You read the comic and learn more about this ministry at trueiglesia.org.  In addition to the comic, the site has nearly 100 published articles that may be helpful for anyone struggling with particular contentions that come up in INC discussions.  We also have a Facebook page with over 50,000 likes (facebook.com/trueiglesia) and a twitter account (twitter.com/trueiglesia).  During the day in the US, I’m available in our chatroom at trueiglesia.org/chat.

Delighting Grace: Any last words for our readers and of course our Iglesia ni Cristo friends?
Conley: To my brothers in Christ: be bold, regardless of how other faiths treat you.  Some people are goats and some people are sheep, but remember that Paul was a sheep even while he persecuted the church. There are many in the INC who are just like he was, a sinner destined for grace.
To my friends in the INC: I hope that as time progresses we can have some healthy dialogue that hasn’t really existed in the past.  As always, I would encourage you to read the Bible.  If you have not read the book of John before, I’d encourage you to start there.  May God bless you.

 

4 Essential Websites for Reaching Out Jehovah’s Witnesses

Recently I posted the 5 Essential Websites for Reaching Out Mormons as a response to their recent presence in the media. Now we focus on another cult, the Jehovah’s Witness (JW’s) or The Watchtower Literature and Tract Society. Unlike Mormons, they are more zealous in their belief that I think you may have encountered them as they visit your home or received their attractive (but deadly) literatures. So I handpicked the following sites for you to be aware of this group and take actions. As a matter of fact, there are lots of great JW’s websites for you to visit. I choose the following due to their free resources that I personally use to inform or to reach out JW’s. So here the 4 website that will arm you the next time a JW’s come at your door:

Witnesses for Jesus Inc. (www.4jehovah.org or http://www.4witnesses.org) – a “one stop shop” for all your Jehovah’s Witnesses needs. Features lots of sections to check out including FAQ, Ex-JW support group, testimonies,  articles etc. Tracts in business card size for witnessing JW’s are the best. You can ask an information pack by mail for free (and I encourage you to do so).

Tower to Truth Ministries (www.towertotruth.net)– Fran Shankey is the director of this ministry. This website dishes out articles, downloadable audio testimonies and witnessing tips. Don’t miss Shankey’s program “Test All Things” that you will love as he interviews ex-JW’s and debunk false teachings of that cult. A very helpful program for us to learn more about this cult.

First and Last Ministries (www.firstandlast.org.uk)- a UK based apologetics ministry that is geared in exposing the fallacies of the Watchtower Society. Now with a clean looking website, this ministry stands out because of various downloadable tracts and literatures that are free and can be ordered by mail (so you can reproduce it and give to your JW’s friend). A must read (or rather must for witnessing JW’s) is their 2 page literature called “AWARE” (a take on the Watchtower magazine “AWAKE”). You’ll surely love the materials available in this website.

Midwest Christian Outreach (www.midwestoutreach.org)- The husband and wife tandem of Don and Joy Veinot heads this ministry. Now with its recent website facelift, the website is now more useful and has more information to check out. I admire how they write about topics especially the Watchtower Society in their journal, Midwest Christian Outreach Journal. The Veinots writes with biblical, hard hitting apologetics but still the love for the people trap in cults are there. You can download for free the journal or request it by mail. I suggest picking the issues with the Jehovah’s Witness as topics. Then request the documentations mentioned on that article. They will send you a mail of the requested documentations containing JW sources (JW magazine articles, tracts, and booklets that are recent or way back a century ago!). You can study for yourself or share it to refute claims of the Watchtower. My favorite is the issue were they response to the anti-Trinity booklet of the JW. They send me an inch thick of documentation. You won’t be disappointed.

Additional Resources

The One Minute Apologist Videos

Downloadable JW Money tracts and checks

If you love the Ray Comfort money tracts well you’ll love this also. Their own version of money tracts and bank checks that are eye catching and easy to give away.Click here to view and download it.

Has a Jehovah’s Witness visited your home lately? How did you response to their teachings? Did it go well? Please post it on the comment section.