Does Teen Mania’s closure signal the end of ‘war’ for evangelicals?

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Airport welcome sign | Photo by debaird via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1JJijhr)

Airport welcome sign | Photo by debaird via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1JJijhr)

It seemed like Teen Mania was poised for explosive growth. Just last year, the evangelistic youth organization changed its name to include the word “International,” a reflection on its strategy to take what had been a successful ministry from Texas to the world at large. “We look forward to partnering with you when we come to your region,” founder Ron Luce wrote in Solutions, a Christian magazine, in May 2014. Just over one year later, Luce announced that Teen Mania is shutting down operations. “Teen Mania has completed this assignment,” he told Christianity Today. What happened?

Ron Luce takes a selfie with a student while a crowd looks on | Image by holyghostthug1 via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1Px4wRu)

Ron Luce takes a selfie with a student while a crowd looks on | Image by holyghostthug1 via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1Px4wRu)

In the beginning was Ron Luce. Born in Northern California, Luce ran away from home at 15 and got involved with drugs and alcohol. At 16, he got involved with Jesus. “I felt God whisper in my heart, ‘Build an army of young people who will change the world,’” he said. In 1986, a few years after graduating from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Luce and his wife Katie started Teen Mania with “nothing more than a hatchback car and a dream to raise up an army of young people who would change the world.” And he found them: More than three million teenagers have attended an “Acquire the Fire” event–an annual youth conference–since it began in 1991. In 1999, Teen Mania held Acquire the Fire at the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the Detroit Lions with a capacity of 82,000. Since 1986, there have been over 500 Acquire the Fire events in North America and, in July of this year, the first international Teen Mania event took place in Yangon, Myanmar, with more than 13,000 attendees. Behind the scenes, though, things weren’t going so well. Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates charities in America, put Teen Mania on its list of “10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble,” noting that not only was Teen Mania insolvent, but its total debts outstripped its assets by $5.2 million. Meanwhile, it was coming under criticism for the tactics used in the Honor Academy, a yearlong post-high school “internship” that involved military-like exercises meant to encourage teens to beat their bodies into submission. And in September of this year, a warrant was issued for Ron Luce’s arrest after he failed to appear at a court hearing for Teen Mania’s failure to repay one its partners after canceling an event.

1986 was a good year to be an evangelical Christian in America. Ronald Reagan was president; the megachurch movement was on the verge of great success; and no one was talking about the rise of the “nones.” The same year that the Luces started Teen Mania, they began organizing mission trips to developing countries and would eventually send more than 75,000 people to 67 countries to build houses for the homeless and share the gospel. “It was during my first trip with Teen Mania that I learned about unreached people groups and knew the Lord was calling me to reach those who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel,” a missions alumnus named Sherry Asprec wrote in a letter Teen Mania posted on their website. The success of the Acquire the Fire conferences led to a television program, atf.tv, and the creation of the Battle Cry Campaign. Battle Cry was a particularly interesting spinoff within Teen Mania. It sought to fight the influence of permissive, liberal culture in America through a series of gatherings and church programs that would encourage youth to stand strong in their faith. “It’s a battle,” Luce told Nightline in 2007. “It’s a spiritual battle. It’s a very real battle for their heart and their soul…but it’s also a cultural battle. We live in a Christian nation with a very un-Christian culture.” Battle Cry Leadership Summits featured Luce as well as a speaker lineup including Ted Haggard and Jerry Falwell, all of whom rallied around cultural decline and waning Christian influence as the reason for the battle. The enemies? Gay marriage, pornography, drug and alcohol use, and abortion, among others. The stakes were high, and the soldiers needed to be well-trained.

That’s where the Honor Academy comes in. Each year during the mid-2000s, nearly a thousand recent high school graduates flocked to the Teen Mania headquarters in East Texas, to take part in a yearlong work and Bible study program. Serious training requires serious obedience, so “interns” (the name given to Honor Academy students) were often required to wake early for an hour of exercise, followed by classes in subjects like “Character Development.” In addition, interns were given the opportunity to participate in an experience called ESOAL–Emotionally Stretching Opportunity of a Lifetime. “In this optional event, we’re placing the participants in very adverse scenarios to stretch them emotionally and physically,” wrote ESOAL facilitator Heath Stoner. (Later, participants would take issue with whether ESOAL was truly optional.) Teen Mania rhetoric was redolent of the battlefield, so in some ways it was no surprise that they would actually recreate the torture of war to purify their interns. There is a Biblical concept, too, of beating one’s body into submission: the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that faith is like a race: “So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.”

Airport welcome sign | Photo by debaird via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1JJijhr)

Airport welcome sign | Photo by debaird via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1JJijhr)

Donors gave and gave to Teen Mania. As Christianity Today noted, Teen Mania recorded a revenue of $23.1 million in 2001; six years later, in 2007, it was $35.6 million. It was endorsed by such conservative luminaries as George W. Bush and Franklin Graham, and wealthy evangelicals saw Teen Mania’s mission as a natural extension of their faith. But the organization spent money almost as quickly as it came in–their 2007 IRS form 990 shows that their expenses were $22.7 million. By 2011, ProPublica reports show, Teen Mania spent over $16 million but brought in only $15.3 million, leaving them with a net income of negative $1.3 million.

According to Dan McLeod, who was Teen Mania’s CFO from 2012-4, “the Honor Academy was the most profitable of the arms” of the ministry. In its heyday, the Honor Academy brought seven-figure profits to Teen Mania–in 2014, its last year of operation, interns paid $8,400 to participate. In 2010, a local Texas television station investigated the ESOAL experience, observing how it pushed teens to physical breaking points, including vomiting, sprains, and sleep deprivation. Interns had to ring a bell if they chose to stop at any point, and leaders hung signs on campus that read, “I cannot quit. I will not quit. Quitting is not an option.” The report led to a rebranding in which ESOAL was changed to PEARL—Physical, Emotional, and Relational Learning—but the damage was done. Watchdog websites sprung up, and some alumni started sharing their stories of time at the Honor Academy. Heath Stoner, the facilitator who write about ESOAL on his blog, was a name that came up frequently; one video shows him asking a participant why he is crying. “Now these critters haven’t eaten. They eat on grain products,” Stoner can be heard saying to the scared intern as someone else pours what looks to be flour into the confined space the intern has crawled into. “You might want to keep that powder off your face,” Stoner says. “Those rodents like to bite.”

Training for battle is serious business. When you see your faith as a war, like Ron Luce did, every moment is an opportunity for victory. It doesn’t matter if the interns are young—aren’t our men and women in uniform the same age? What matters is that they’re prepared. That’s what Luce envisioned, and for nearly thirty years, that’s what Teen Mania did. Preparation for the battle, it turned out, was the battle itself. Addie Zierman, a Christian writer and blogger, wrote in her book When We Were on Fire about her experience with Teen Mania. She went to Acquire the Fire and on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and her older boyfriend spent a year at the Honor Academy. “I lost track of how many times God ‘told him to break up with me’ and then changed his mind over that couple of years,” she told me. Over time, Zierman began to see the lasting legacy of Teen Mania in her life. “Teen Mania trafficked in the emotions and passion of young people and set up an expectation of faith and the Christian self that is both unrealistic and dangerous.” (A group of Honor Academy alumni have set up a website detailing their grievances with Teen Mania and Ron Luce.)

There are several youth-oriented parachurch organizations that have done well over the last few decades; groups like Young Life, a youth ministry that puts on weekly meetings and summer camps, and InterVarsity, a college ministry that has worked intentionally to foster multi-ethnic communities on Christian campuses. Both organizations were founded in 1941 and have been able to weather the changing Christian culture because they did not depend entirely on being relevant to the trends of their eras. Where Teen Mania fought the culture wars, Young Life and Intervarsity tended to keep their focus on welcoming newcomers and sharing the gospel.

Although Ron Luce would want us to believe that Teen Mania is closing because they accomplished the mission they set out for, the numbers tell a very different story. After years of declining revenue and waning influence, there was little demand for the product Teen Mania was putting out. Evangelical Christianity in America is changing, and young people are growing up in a different, more pluralistic society than those who were raised in the 1980s and 90s. The closing of Teen Mania is part of a shift in evangelical engagement in public life—younger Christians no longer want to fight the culture wars that their parents did with the Moral Majority. They are more likely to be accepting of homosexuality than their parents were, and they recognize that America’s religious pluralism requires sensitivity, not emotionally manipulative evangelistic tactics.

Back in 2005, Teen Mania launched www.battlecry.com as an alternative Christian social media: “Let MySpace be His space” was the tagline. If you were to type the URL into your browser today, you would find a blank white page. The “Acquire the Fire” website has replaced its splashy home page with a press release about the number of people their events reached. Like the ministry itself, its digital footprint is fading quickly. Soon, all that will be left of Teen Mania is the memory.

  • Bill

    Interesting stuff. I enjoy following you on Twitter. I was a youth pastor when TM came into their heyday. Maybe it was just me, but I found their constant emphasis and verbiage about “battles” and “wars” exhausting. The comment about TM trafficking in emotion and passion was quite telling. I’m sure, there were many that were touched. I’m also sure that many (including me) were pushed back. I hope and pray the best for Ron and others connected. As a Lead pastor now I see the value of places for teens to connect and be encouraged, but I’m over the relentless hype and build up. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m from Northern California, but perhaps it only played really well in the Bible Belt and conservative regions.

  • Phil Alan

    In the early 1980s as a youth leader at a Baptist Church I helped one of the girls in my youth group go on a missions trip to Guatemala with Teen Mania. I think the slogan was “Get dirty for God.” There she helped build an orphanage and do some evangelism through the churches. From her account of it, it was a very rewarding time for her spiritually. As far as I know she has continued to grow in her faith and has raised a Christian family with her husband who later entered the same youth group. Bob Dylan wrote “the times they are a changin.” This is certainly true of the Evangelical church from the 1970s to the present. Knowledge of the scriptures and spiritual discernment as a gift of the Holy Spirit are sadly lacking.These are being replaced with sensitivity to and acceptance of others sins in avoidance of speaking the truth in love to bring men, women and children out of darkness into the light of Christ which I wrote of in “The 1960s Social Movements:Pathways to the Final…

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Just like Promise Keepers, there’s often an indistinguishable line between a religious movement and a grift.

  • Tracy Hanson

    Selling strong emotions to vulnerable children is as dirty a business as selling drugs. It’s all addiction and thrills. Emotionalism is not faith or spiritual practice. It’s dancing with the devil, hoping he’ll line the pocket.

  • Several years ago, my husband, Doug Duncan, and I did a weekend workshop with several Teen Mania alumni. My husband and I are mental health professionals and worked with these alumni to process their spiritually abusive experience in the Honor Academy. A documentary, “Mind Over Mania,” was aired on MSNBC. The spiritual abusive suffered by alumni of Teen Mania was atrocious. Many of these alumni who became a part of Teen Mania to deepen their understanding of God, now are unable to reconnect with their God and Father because of Ron Luce’s abusive organization. I hope he is enjoying the financial largesse that he has garnered from his exploitation of these innocent young people.

  • I wouldn’t worry too much about the Luces. They have a golden parachute somewhere, a gullible churchianity to cast New Things before and a mailing list database drawn from it that would make Robert Tilton green with envy.

  • Rick

    Very well said, Tracy. I would go as far to say it is abusive. Faith and spiritual practice need discernment, which takes time, and there is no exact timeline one must follow. Emotionalism does not allow for discernment.

  • samuel johnston

    It has always been thus. In his Republic, Plato warns that the priests should never be allowed to touch gold. Jesus certainly never did. It is easy to see where Christanity failed this simple test.

  • “they recognize that America’s religious pluralism requires sensitivity, not emotionally manipulative evangelistic tactics.”

    Bingo.
    Christians keep forgetting where such emotional, manipulative tactics come from:

    “Hate your parents…hate your life or you are not worthy of me.” – JESUS (Luke 14:26)
    “I have come to bring fire…I am so constrained! I am impatient to bring not peace but ANGUISH!” – JESUS (Luke 12:49-51)
    “…gather those who do not abide in me. They are like withered branches…they shall be burned in the fire.” – JESUS (John 15:6)

    Terrifying nonsense.

  • Phil Alan

    Thinking in worldly terms, would you put anyone or anything above your own father? God is our Father and we are not to put anyone or anything before Him.

    This world is not a mistake, a chance development. It was created by God who alone has the right to judge everything, but has given all judgement to His Son.

    The Apostle Paul also thought Christianity was nonsense until he was blinded by a Light from heaven and then did more than any other person has ever done in spreading the Gospel, that God has come to bring reconciliation to mankind through the cross, and that He has chosen one man alone, Christ Jesus to judge the world in righteousness.

    The things of God are not easily understood except by the Spirit of God revealing them to you.

    I am with Paul. I have seen both the darkness and the light. I prefer the light to the darkness and to trust in Christ than to trust in anything else, even my own self. I hope that God will reveal this to you before the great day of…

  • Atheist Max

    @Phil Alan,

    “I am with Paul….I prefer..to trust in Christ than to trust in anything else.”

    The world is full of religions – each of them are man made ideas. You have chosen a very cruel and dangerous one:

    “..Go and tell him his fault.” – JESUS (Matthew 18:15)

    “DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ANYONE…IF HE IS GUILTY..” – PAUL (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Avoid Them” (Romans 16:17)
    “For whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 1:11)
    “Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” – PAUL (1 Corinthians 1:13)
    “have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” – PAUL (2 Thessalonian 3:14)
    “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” – PAUL (1 Corinthians 16:22)
    “Shun any brother..not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” – PAUL (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

    “Don’t waste….on the people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!” – JESUS (Mat 7:6)

  • Phil Alan

    “The world is full of religions – each of them are man made ideas.” – Max

    Your thesis demonstrates your ignorance of the spiritual world which is the force behind all religions. The true religion of the Judeo-Christian Bible is inspired by the Spirit who made them all (i.e., all spirits) and everything else, both visible and invisible.

    The bible teaches that “the fool has said in his heart there is no God.” To believe in no Creator is like believing that a house or city can build itself and sustain itself.

    “You have chosen a very cruel and dangerous one:” – Max

    True Christianity helped to civilize a barbaric world but a world of peace, love and truth will not be fully realized until Christ reigns with all of His enemies put under His feet. His enemies are those who follow Satan their instigator, the father of lies who has the entire world under his curtain of sinful rebellion against God and deception.

  • Phil Alan,

    “inspired by the Spirit who made them”

    There is no evidence of a Spirit making anything. You are merely being poetic.

    “To believe in no Creator is like believing that a house or city can build itself and sustain itself.”

    There is no evidence anything is sustained by a Creator. Science explains everything. Again, you are only being poetic.

    “True Christianity helped to civilize a barbaric world”

    No. Christianity stifled human progress for thousands of years.
    It is one of countless fossilized, flawed philosophies – dangerous to think it is not man made.

    “a world of peace, love and truth will not be fully realized until Christ reigns”

    Wrong. Theocracy has always devolved into misery and fascism. Christian dictatorships have been horrible. Jesus would be the worst dictator of them all.
    “Execute them all in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

  • Phil Alan

    “Jesus was led like a sheep to the slaughter yet He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53

    Jesus had more brain power than either you or I. (He has been remembered and revered for millennia, and you and I will not be remembered at all. Why? because He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah as well as His own prophecies for the future.) He could have used persuasion to forgo the cross yet He allowed Himself to be delivered up for our sins.

    He did not open His mouth so that He would accomplish the work of saving you and I from our sin and ignorance, proving to be God by rising from the dead on the 3rd day as He prophesied.

    Jesus/God will judge the world in righteousness and this is the only day of salvation in which you can recognize and receive Him as LORD. He will put all of His enemies under His feet. His enemies are those that reject His gift of grace.

    What a friend we have in Jesus.

  • “Jesus had more brain power than either you or I.”
    Wrong. He didn’t know the mustard seed is not the smallest. Nor that his parables would lead to mass murder.

    you and I will not be remembered at all.”
    So what? Honesty is a better thing to be remembered for.
    Jesus is remembered for impeding civilization. Like the Crusades.

    “He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies”
    No. He was invented from them.
    “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -(Leviticus 19:17–18)

    “He..delivered up for our sins.”
    Fiction. And it isn’t a sacrifice to die if you are raised to live forever later. Children with bone cancer have worse agony than Jesus.

    “proving to be God by rising..on the 3rd day.”
    Fiction. It was created from Jonah (1:17) which was stolen from Gilgamesh.

    “receive Him as LORD.”
    Fiction. Like Gandalf.

    “He will put all of His enemies under His feet.”
    Revenge fantasy disguised as love.

  • Phil Alan

    I believe in a God who reveals Himself and who says, that He is with the humble and contrite of heart, and if we draw near to Him He will draw near to us. This I have confirmed through my own personal experiences with Him.

    However, if you are purely a cosmic coincidence as you believe you are then your comments are as meaningless and irrelevant as you and me.

    Science is the precise study of complex coincidental conundrums which can never be solved because they have no inherent meaning. If they are not coincidental then the force behind their intricate structure is God (even Einstein thought so) .. Who indeed IS.

    The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.

    They have mouths, but do not speak;

    they have eyes, but do not see;

    they have ears, but do not hear,

    nor is there any breath in their mouths.

    Those who make them become like them,

    so do all who trust in them.

    Blessed be the Lord from Zion,

    he who dwells in…

  • @Phil,

    “if you are purely a cosmic coincidence as you believe you are then your comments are as meaningless and irrelevant as you and me.”

    Not true at all! Plenty of meaning is found within life. Why is that not enough for you? Who says meaning is found in a failing, tinkering, hide-and-seek God fairy who hates humanity? It isn’t believable.

    Meanwhile, blood sacrifice is a dangerous, horrible, inhumane idea – clearly invented by barbaric primitives thousands of years ago. Decency thrives IN SPITE OF (not at the direction of) such depravity.

    the force behind their intricate structure is God (even Einstein thought so).
    No. Einstein was an Atheist because he did not believe in any god – he used the word god as I do, as a metaphor like ‘melting pot’ or ‘the big apple’.
    Nobody would pray to a melting pot or an apple or a god (if they care to think).

    Your message is cruel and indifferent to human suffering.

  • Phil Alan

    “Who says meaning is found in a failing, tinkering, hide-and-seek God fairy who hates humanity? It isn’t believable.” It is believable to those who have faith. “For without faith it is impossible to please God. For all who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11 Abraham is one example of such faith, as was Moses,among others

    The bible does not teach that God hates humanity, it teaches exactly the opposite that God fiercely loves humanity, created in His own image.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent NOT His Son into the world to CONDEMN the world BUT that the world through Him might be SAVED.” John 3: 16-17

    What God hates is those who do not recognize Him as God but rebel against His will and provoke others to do so as well.

    God is not hidden from those who know Him, only from…

  • larry

    Yes, of course if one’s father is abusive and violent. Since in this case “God’s chosen representative” was a serial child abuser and grifter.

    Your need to accept authority unquestionably, without reflection or evaluation is a terrible moral failing. Following arbitrary rules without consideration is not morality.

    Excusing and minimizing clear emotional and physical abuse is reprehensible. Acting in God’s name does not absolve terrible acts, no matter how many times you tell yourself otherwise.

  • Phil,

    “The bible does not teach that God hates humanity, it teaches exactly the opposite”
    He (supposedly) drowned the entirety of humanity. So…God loves us the same way a loving husband beats his wife.

    “… God fiercely loves humanity, created in His own image.”
    No evidence for those claims. It may be true that a man named Jesus died a bloody, agonizing death on a cross to make God happy…if so, Jesus was loved in the same way Hitler loved Jews by slaughtering them.
    That is no kind of love I would want for anyone.

    Love is something which happens between two people who feel safe and supportive of each other. Not under threats of unforgiveness!
    “Believe in me or be condemned to the fires of Hell” – JESUS (Mark 16:16)

    That is NOT love. Religion has no love in it.

  • Phil Alan

    “He (supposedly) drowned the entirety of humanity.” -Max
    True. All except for Noah, a righteous man and his family of eight were saved by entering into the Ark to escape the judgment of God. God’s judgement is always just and justifiable. The just shall live by faith (in God).
    Jesus is God in human flesh who took our place of judgement so that we may not have to suffer the consequences of our rebellion against God. It pleased the Father to bruise Him so that He would in eternity be glorified by those who have come to Him, Our Savior from sin by faith.
    “Love is something which happens between two people who feel safe and supportive of each other.”- Max What happens Max when they no longer feel safe or supportive. Do they divorce & become enemies? God is always faithful to those who put their trust in Him by coming to Him through faith in Christ. God’s love is unconditional (agape) love.Your heart is bitter and hard so for that reason you can not come to God unless you humble…

  • PHIL,

    “God is always faithful”
    How do you know this?
    What is ‘God’?
    Where is your ‘God’?

    Why did Jesus lie to his disciples?
    “After telling them ‘I will not go to the festival’ Jesus went to the festival anyway, but only in secret.” (John 7:8-13)
    God commands Raping in daylight

    “Thus says God, ‘I will bring evil….your neighbor shall rape your wives with their sex in broad daylight. ” – GOD (2 Samuel 12:11)
    What is trustworthy about a God who commands rape? God commands rape very frequently. Isn’t that just some nonsense which a barbarian would write?

    Why would anyone trust a god who lies or commands rapes?

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Badly brought-up kid runs away from home and indulges in cheap thrills: sex, drugs and setting up an authoritarian organization with himself as Leader.

    Ho hum.

    -dlj.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    ““Jesus was led like a sheep to the slaughter yet He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53 ”

    Phil,

    Your quote is bogus on its face. Isaiah lived 800 years before Jesus was born. He couldn’t write about Jesus in the past tense.

    You are simply a forger, and assume your audience to be fools.

    -dlj.

  • Phil Alan

    “Your quote is bogus on its face. Isaiah lived 800 years before Jesus was born. He couldn’t write about Jesus in the past tense.” dlj

    Of course Isaiah could write about Jesus in the past tense. The same God who appeared in the flesh in Christ Jesus said, “Before Abraham was I AM.” God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He knows all .. past, present, and future and He reveals the future to His prophets to give proof that He knows and controls all things.

    “You are simply a forger, and assume your audience to be fools.” dlj

    God has given us the Scriptures, which He entrusted to the Jews, with His revealed Word, and this includes the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. The Scriptures are God’s special revelation to open blind eyes to the Truth. However, as Jesus told the Pharisees who disputed His claim to be God who forgives sin, “if you say you can see, then your sin remains.” Only a fool would believe in his heart that there is no God for the very heavens declare…

  • Phil Alan

    As Jesus said “You do err not knowing the Scriptures.”

    The Bible attests to and demonstrates God’s faithfulness and His inability to sin. He is holy and righteous in all His ways so you can trust in Him with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. I can attest to God’s faithfulness to me as well.

    Jesus statement has been misconstrued as a lie. He said I am not yet going up to the festival. He did not want to accompany His brethren but to go in secret so as not to bring attention to Himself until the proper time.

    God punished King David for taking Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The punishment included rebellion within his own household including his son Absalom’s revolt against his father. God knew Absalom’s heart and permitted him to bring this temporary devastation on David’s house in retribution for his despising God by committing adultery and being responsible for the early death of Uriah to cover up his sin by putting him into the heat of…

  • @Phil,

    “He did not want to accompany His brethren but to go in secret so as not to bring attention to Himself until the proper time”

    Now you are being dishonest.
    <b"Jesus said, ‘I AM NOT GOING TO THE FESTIVAL’…but then he went anyway in secret.” – (JOHN 7:8)

    JESUS LIED to his friends.

    And I’m shocked you think RAPE is not evil!
    Does your family know about your endorsement of RAPE?

  • “Jesus said, ‘I AM NOT GOING TO THE FESTIVAL’…but then he went anyway in secret.” – (JOHN 7:8)

    JESUS told a lie. You cannot deny that.

  • Phil Alan

    “I go not up to the feast .. ” Max

    Yes this was a stumbling block for Bertrand Russel as well as for you but it is not for me. Read it in the original Hebrew and the earliest manuscripts not your modern paraphrase. “I go not up to the feast at this time.”

    Of course rape is evil. God permits evil to happen but still judges men for doing so. (He doesn’t control us. We can exercise our own will just as you do in refusing to acknowledge God’s existence.) Absalom got away with nothing. He hung from a tree by his hair (i.e., cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree) and was pierced with three darts through his heart by Joab, the head of David’s Army much to the King’s dismay. He loved his son just as God loves us despite our sins and rebellion against Him.

  • @Phil:

    “Of course rape is evil…”

    Yet Your God commands evil!
    He commands rape, genocide, mass murder, torture, sorcery and sex with strangers, infanticide, mass rape, mass enslavement of thousands of people, he even commands pedophilia!! Sex with little girls!

    – where did you get the idea he wasn’t a bad god?

  • @Phil,

    “God is always faithful”

    You are obviously not referring to the God of the Bible:

    “Lord GOD shall send STRONG LIES”
    “…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
    (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
    So free will is a lie.

    “O Lord, thou hast deceived me.” (Jeremiah 20:7)
    God deceives.

    “It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you” – Jesus (John 15:16 )
    So free will is a lie.

    “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7-8)
    Yet children died of bone cancer anyway. Despite parent’s prayers.

    Loads of nonsense.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Phil,

    I’m afraid you’re wrong. That is not how the world works.

    Past. Present. Future. In that order.

    Your stuff? Word salad. Very silly. But not a valid excuse for publishing forged variations on the Bible. That, I think, might be considered blasphemy.

    -dlj.

  • Phil Alan

    Since you refuse to believe .. only time will reveal this to you.

  • Phil Alan

    God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. His mind is infinite, ours is finite. The delusion comes from mans’ thinking that he can save himself and that he will not be judged for his wickedness. Your claim that God is wicked or that He condones wickedness is inspired by Satan. God permits the wicked to reap the fruit of their own evil for their refusal to repent of their sins. Just look at Kim Jong Un thinking that his H bomb will make the world a better place for him, N Korea or for others. He is of his father the devil.

  • Phil,

    “God’s ways are higher than our ways”
    Then how do you claim to know what they are?

    “His mind is infinite, ours is finite.”
    How did you determine this if your mind is finite?

    “The delusion comes from mans’ thinking that he can save himself”
    That is a hopeless message you are offering.

    “Your claim that God is wicked…is inspired by Satan.”
    You already agreed your god commanded wicked things; rape, genocide, etc. Don’t blame Satan.

    “God permits the wicked….”
    I thought god’s ways were beyond our understanding. Which is it?

    “Just look at Kim Jong Un…he is of the devil”
    North Korea is just another religion with an earth god and a strict dogma; like Stalin, Pol Pot and Jesus “Believe or Die” – theocratic cults thrive on blind fear and devotion.

    instead of being stuck in dogmatic nonsense.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    “Since you refuse to believe .. only time will reveal this to you ”

    Phil,

    You’re confused. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrew 1.1

    That the past comes before the present on this Earth is not hoped for, it is observed. It is not invisible, it is seen every moment of every day.

    Wake up to reality. Use your faith for things that you need to make up your mind about as principles, sure, but don’t — I say this carefully — don’t for Christ’s sake let it get in the way of your ability to observe how the world works.

    Don’t in God’s name use it as an excuse for posting forgeries, your own invented version of the Bible.

    Best wishes,

    -dlj.

  • Phil Alan

    Time actually comes to us from the future, into the present, and then to the past. The God of the future knows what will happen before it comes to be and eventually becomes history. The bible demonstrates His authenticity because it shows that He knows all things before they actually occur, including the occupation of the land by Israel, the worldwide spread of the Church, the fall of the Roman Empire, and even the end of the age as we know it.

    Perhaps the Moody Blues understood this, hence they named one of their albums Days of Future Past.

    It is also interesting that the Christian God is Triune: Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one God in three persons in the Godhead.

    As such God has left His “three in one” imprint in many ways in the natural world that He created. Time is 3 .. past, present, future.
    Space is 3 .. length, depth and height. Matter is 3 .. energy, motion, phenomena. All 3 are foundational structural aspects of the present world that He founded by His…

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Max,

    Here is a quote from Phil, and your limp reply:

    ‘“The delusion comes from mans’ thinking that he can save himself”
    That is a hopeless message you are offering.”

    I think you’re missing the point and giving him a free ride. Salvation is not an offering of hope, it is a mechanism of extortion based on the threat of damnation. This is the core proposition of Paulianity, the main American religious cult.

    The deal is real-lee crude: 1.) You’re going to Hell, a place I invented. 2.) I have a magic solution to save you from this horrid fate. 3.) Line up and pay here. 3a.) But wait. There;’s more. During your period of temporary relief, you get to sneer at all the people who haven’t paid us off. You can call them sinners, damned, and so on. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

    You can’t expect any hope from paying off that racket. The best possibility is temporary relief, don’t you think? Only temporary. They’ll be back next week.

    -dlj.

  • Since I don’t believe in ‘salvation’ at all, my use of the terms ‘save himself’ or to ‘save oneself’ is only in regard to humanity dealing with its natural dilemmas.

  • David

    Showing people how to break the chains of religious nonsense is not a self-centered endeavor.

  • Phil Alan

    The idea that “religion is nonsense” contradicts your own belief that mankind evolved from lower forms of life because evolution dictates a movement from “the lesser” to “the greater. This would make religious belief and expression “superior” (i.e., so it can’t be nonsense) to the primitive behaviors of chimps and other animals, who can little appreciate the universe or themselves, yet who by the very complexity of their design demonstrate the wisdom and intellect of a Creator. As an aside, note that these also exhibit “self-centered” behaviors as does man. In the thinking of evolution, “survival of the fittest” requires self-centeredness to work. In trying to turn the world away from religion your own motives are self-centered as well because you believe doing so will improve the condition for the world and for yourselves. You are wrong but you are free to believe whatever you will.

  • @David Lloyd-Jones,

    That’s fine. But for the record, “Salvation” is a made up word about an imaginary thing as you probably know – I don’t believe in it but Phil seems to care about it.

  • @Phil,

    “..contradicts your own belief that mankind evolved from lower forms of life”
    Evolution isn’t a belief. It is the name we give to the evidence.

    “chimps…. who by the complexity of their design demonstrate the wisdom and intellect of a Creator.”
    Wrong. You don’t understand Evolution.

    “survival of the fittest” requires self-centeredness to work.”
    NO. Random genetic mutation PLUS natural selection only determine who has sex. Fittest refers to what ‘fits’ the natural environment. Evolution doesn’t care about “self” only “selecting” the right gene..

    “In trying to turn the world away from religion your own motives are self-centered”
    YES – I care about saving other people from wasting 50 years in Christianity – as I DID!
    Jesus is way over-rated in the USA and religion is nonsense.
    And it has no place in intelligent public discourse.

  • Phil Alan

    There is no evidence for the evolution from “nothing” into mankind.

    What little “evidence” science points to has to do with “natural selection” which God built into the many species for their survival. Each have been given the ability to adapt to various earth conditions but not to change from one species to another.

    I have been a Christian for over 50 years also and my understanding of my God and the world has grown especially over the last two decades. There are spiritual powers as the bible teaches that are working very hard to plunge mankind into apostasy and ruin. As you know the bible teaches that perilous times will come and that men will become lovers of themselves more than lovers of God and that many will depart from the faith (of Christ) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. I have encountered these spirits and demons first hand but do not give heed to them for greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.

  • @Phil:

    “There is no evidence for the evolution from “nothing” into mankind.”
    Of course there is! That is precisely what the evidence shows! AAARGH!

    “There are spiritual powers as the bible teaches that are working very hard to plunge mankind into apostasy and ruin.”

    Where? You describe a fantasy not reality.
    I see a world which is generally on the right track with people living longer and fewer wars than ever – impeded only in those places where superstition (nonsense about spirits) prevents decent government, reason and goodness.

    Government is failing only in those countries where religion and dogmatic superstition are strong.

  • Phil Alan

    Isn’t it ironic that those countries that appear to be the most sane today (i.e., Great Britian, the Nordic countries, and North America except for the incessant violence of late in the US) and on the right track with their democratic forms of governing were led that way by their own Christianization? However, these are now departing from the faith of their own parents, grandparents and forefathers in droves. Yet it was the same forefathers who brought sanity to a world of superstition by trusting in a God and His Son who brings light out of darkness, and good out of evil. But now these “sane ones” are creeping steadily into darkness forgetting the One who had led them out of it (as Israel forgot YHWH), and these nations will again move back into superstition, even as America is now doing in following eastern religious practices such as zen, yoga, New Age and also pure adulterated voodoo, witchcraft and Wicca.

  • @Phil,
    “Isn’t it ironic that those countries…were led that way by their own Christianization?”
    NO. You have it completely BACKWARDS!
    They have become peaceful since abandoning religion – These are mostly Atheist countries:
    Norway, Netherlands,
    Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland.

    ‘Christendom’ blew itself up 80 years ago! WWI was entirely Christian war against other Christians! Did you already forget your history?
    WWII was Aryan Christians vs. Humanity.

    Humanity defeated religion. But it will have to do it all over again – because religion keeps rearing its ugliness in new forms.

    Europe has abandoned religion almost completely. That is why it is finally peaceful.
    But Islam (just another bad idea) promises to ruin everything all over again.

    Belief in gods is silly but dangerous.
    Religion is not true. It should be abandoned.

  • Phil Alan

    I can no longer locate your message which states that Adolf Hitler was an Aryan Christian and that WWII was a war between Christianity (led by Hitler) and humanity. Perhaps you used some common sense and deleted it. And who do you mean by Humanity- Harry Truman & Churchill or Hirohito? Hitler as you well know is not an example of a Christian. He was in fact an anti-Christ mad man who thought he would reign for a 1000 yrs. Other bad examples of “Christians” who are actually anti-Christian are John Lennon, David Bowie, Elton John to name a few musicians, besides Hitler and Pol Pot. Any “good” these have done for humanity .. which they haven’t .. can not be compared with the marvelous transformation that the LORD Jesus Christ makes in the lives of those who totally put their faith and trust in Him as their Lord and Savior. These are the salt of the earth.