Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Was Katrina a Judgment of God?

 

Several students of prophecy began to notice a pattern of events where US policy went counter to God’s promise to Israel. Their books are listed below;

Eye to Eye by William (Bill) Koenig. Bill is a White House reporter. You can read his reporting at www.watch.org where you can also order his book.

As America Has Done To Israel by John McTernan. John is a former investigator with the Federal government. His blog is found at http://defendproclaimthefaith.org/blog/

The Israel Omen by David Brennan. You can find his book at www.israelomen.com.

God promised Abraham that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3). Genesis 15:18 says, “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt (the Wadi El Arish) unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

Everyone has heard of The Battle of Armageddon mentioned in Revelation. However, what people don’t understand about that battle is that it is a final attempt by the whole world to “divide my (the Lord’s) land.” Joel 3:2 says, “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”

Each of these men have pointed out that within 24 to 48 hours of our government “making progress,” in moving the process forward in the land for peace policy, some catastrophe has hit our country. Nine of the ten biggest disasters listed on FEMA’s website occurred within 24 hours of our efforts to “divide the land” of Israel. (* see below). Here is a list drawn from their books. Exercise your own discernment in these “coincidences”.

#1 -      On Oct. 30, 1991, George H.W. Bush announced, at the Madrid Peace Conference, a change in US policy on peace in the Middle East. The change was called land for peace. The US government was now advocating the division of the land Israel “occupied” between Israel and a future Palestinian State. As Bush was delivering his speech, the “Perfect Storm” flooded the Bush home in Maine with 30-foot waves.

#2 -      On Aug 24, 1992, round six of the Madrid Peace effort began in DC. The Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to the policy of land for peace. On that same day, Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida causing $1.8 billion in damage.

#3 –     From April 1993 through August 1993, a peace agreement was being negotiated that would cede part of the Promised Land to the Palestinians. During this same period, flood levels were occurring in the Midwest that had not been seen in 500 years.

#4 –     On January 17, 1994, President Clinton met with Syrian President Assad to discuss the return of the Golan Heights. On that same day an earthquake registering 6.7 hit Northridge, CA causing almost $7 billion in damage. Why Northridge? Also scheduled that day, and in that area, was a gay pride parade that had to be cancelled.

#5 -      On January 21, 1998, Prime Minister Netanyahu is rudely treated at the White House. Both President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright refuse to have lunch with him. A few hours later the Lewinsky scandal broke in the media, which crippled the Clinton Presidency for the rest of his tenure.

#6 -      On September 28, 1998, Secretary of State Albright finishes the details of an agreement for Israel’s cession of 13% of Judea and Samaria. On that same day Hurricane George hits the US Gulf Coast and stalls. Also on that day, Clinton met with and Netanyahu to finalize the deal. After the meeting, Arafat addressed the UN on the subject of declaring a Palestinian State by May 1999. As soon as Arafat left the country Hurricane George subsided. FEMA reported the total cost of damages at $2.25 billion.

#7 -      From October 15-22, 1998. On October 15 Arafat meets with Clinton and Netanyahu at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland again to talk about the cession of 13% of Judea and Samaria. The talks were supposed to last for five days. On October 17 torrential rains and tornadoes hit southern Texas. The storms subside on October 22. Clinton declared that area of Texas a major disaster area. Damage was estimated to be over $1 billion.

#8 -      On December 12, 1998, Clinton landed in a Palestinian controlled section of Israel to discuss the “land for peace” policy. On that same day Congress voted four articles of impeachment against him.

#9 -      On May 3, 1999, Yasser Arafat was scheduled to declare a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. On that same day the most powerful tornado ever to hit the US swept across Oklahoma and Kansas. Winds were clocked at 316 miles per hour. Clinton urged Arafat to delay his announcement until December.

#10 -    During the week of October 11, 1999, Jewish settlers were evicted from the West Bank at the urging of the US in its land for peace policy. During the same week the Dow Jones lost 5.7% of its value in the worst week since 1989. On October 15 the Dow lost 266 points and a hurricane slammed into North Carolina. On October 16, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked the California desert but did little damage.

#11 -    On June 5, 2001, George W. Bush sent George Tenet to Israel to implement limits on the use of Israeli land. On the afternoon of that same day Tropical Storm Allison formed off the coast of Texas and moved ashore at Galveston and Houston. So much rain fell that it became known as the “Great Flood of 2001.” FEMA said the costs of the storm came to almost $1.4 billion.

#12 -    On September 10, 2001, George W. Bush prepared to announce his plans for a Palestinian State.

The New York Times of October 2, 2001 carried an article titled “Before Attacks, U.S. Was Ready to Say It Backed Palestinian State.”

Before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the Bush administration was on the verge of announcing a Middle East diplomatic initiative that would include United States support for the creation of a Palestinian state, administration officials said, and it is now weighing how to revive the plan.”

On September 11, well, you know the rest.

#13 -    On April 30, 2003, the “Quartet” (USA, Russia, the E.U., and the U.N.) kicked off plans for dividing off a large section of the Promised Land to make room for a Palestinian State. According to the Wikipedia entry for the first week of May, 2003, “There were 401 tornado reports in 19…. More severe weather broke out this week alone than any other week in U.S. history. The old record for most tornado reports in one week was 171 during the week of the May 1995 Tornado Outbreak Sequence.”

#14 -    On August 23, 2005, the Israeli government completed the removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza. This was done under pressure from the Bush administration. On that same day Hurricane Katrina formed in the Atlantic and before the hurricane subsided it had resulted in the removal of a percentage of the American population from our Gulf coast equal to the Israeli population that was removed from Gaza. The Bush presidency was never the same after Katrina, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke from which he has never recovered.

#15 -    During the week of July 23, 2007, Quartet envoy Tony Blair traveled to the Middle East to continue the peace process begun at the Annapolis Conference to trade land for peace. During that week the world financial system began its meltdown from which it has never recovered.

#16 -    On April 19, 2010, Israel celebrated its independence. The Jewish lunar calendar does not coincide with our calendar so the observance of their independence day, Passover, or any other Jewish holiday falls on a different day in our calendar. On the same day Israel was celebrating its independence, President Obama announced that the US would not “automatically” support Israel in the UN. This was a fundamental departure from past American policy. On the next day, the Deep Water Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, creating the worst oil spill in US history.

These “coincidences” go on and on. The authors named above have counted up to 90 “coincidences.” At some point one must ask the question, “Is God telling us something?” Even Pavlov’s dogs got his message. It is true that on any given day a weather, earthquake, financial downturn, or other disastrous event will occur somewhere in the world. However, the common points in these coincidences is that it happens within 24 hours, it happens to the party “cursing” Israel, and it is a VERY serious event.


* Top Ten Natural Disasters

Ranked By FEMA Relief Costs

Event
Year
FEMA Funding
Hurricane Katrina
(AL, LA, MS)
2005
$7.2 billion*
Northridge Earthquake
(CA)
1994
$6.961 billion
Hurricane Georges
(AL, FL, LA, MS, PR, VI)
1998
$2.251 billion
Hurricane Ivan
(AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, NJ, NY, PA, TN, WVA)
2004
$1.947 billion**
Hurricane Andrew
(FL, LA)
1992
$1.813 billion
Hurricane Charley
(FL, SC)
2004
$1.559 billion**
Hurricane Frances
(FL, GA, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC)
2004
$1.425 billion**
Hurricane Jeanne
(DE, FL, PR, VI, VA)
2004
$1.407 billion**
Tropical Storm Allison
(FL, LA, MS, PA, TX)
2001
$1.387 billion
Hurricane Hugo
(NC, SC, PR, VI)
1989
$1.307 billion

*Amount obligated from the President's Disaster Relief Fund for FEMA's assistance programs, hazard mitigation grants, federal mission assignments, contractual services and administrative costs as of March 31, 2006. Figures do not include funding provided by other participating federal agencies, such as the disaster loan programs of the Small Business Administration and the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. Note: Funding amounts are stated in nominal dollars, unadjusted for inflation.

**Amount obligated from the President's Disaster Relief Fund for FEMA's assistance programs, hazard mitigation grants, federal mission assignments, contractual services and administrative costs as of May 31, 2005. Figures do not include funding provided by other participating federal agencies, such as the disaster loan programs of the Small Business Administration and the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. Note: Funding amounts are stated in nominal dollars, unadjusted for inflation.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Biblical Basis for the Trinity

  1. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD
    1. Deuteronomy 6:4
    2. Isaiah 43:10
    3. Isaiah 44:6-8
  2. OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCES OF THE TRINITY
    1. Genesis 1:1,26,27
    2. Isaiah 6:1-10
    3. Isaiah 48:12-16
    4. Zechariah 2:10-11
(Points I & lll are not contested by those who deny the Trinity, therefore little space is given them here.)
  1. THE FATHER IS GOD
    1. I Peter 1:17
    2. John 5:17-23
  2. THE SON IS GOD
    1. He Is Called God Explicitly
      1. Matthew 1:23, "Emmanuel-God with us."
      2. John 1:1, "The Word was God." (Note: There is no scholarly support for the NWT rendering it "a god." For a thorough treatment of this issue request our study on John 1:1)
      3. John 5:17-23, The Son is "equal" to his Father
      4. John 8:53-59, Jesus is the "I AM" of Exodus 3:1-15
      5. John 10:28-33, Jesus and the Father are equal
      6. John 20:28 "The Lord of me and THE GOD of me."
      7. Romans 9:5, Christ is God over all
      8. Colossians 2:9, All the fullness of deity
      9. Titus 2:13, "our Great God and Saviour."
      10. Hebrews 1:8, "Thy throne O God."
      11. I John 5:20, "The true God."
    2. He Is Described In Terms Reserved Only For God
      1. Creator of ALL Things
        1. John 1:3
        2. Ephesians 3:9
        3. Colossians 1:16,17
        4. Hebrews 2:10
        5. Revelation 3:14
      2. The Almighty
        1. Revelation 1:8 with 21:5-7; and 22:12,13,16,20
      3. The First and Last
        1. Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13 (Compare Isaiah 44:6)
      4. The Exact Representation of The Father
        1. Hebrews 1:3
        2. John 12:45 and 14:6-11
        3. Isaiah 46:9
    3. He Is Worshipped As God. (See Luke 4:8)
      1. Revelation 5:11-13 (Compare Revelation 4:9-11)
      2. Hebrews 1:6
    4. O.T./N.T. Cross-Reference Proves Jesus Is God
      1. Isaiah 40:3 with John 1:23 & 3:28
      2. Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10,11 and Romans 14:11
      3. Isaiah 44:24 with John 1:3
      4. Isaiah 6:1-5 with John 12:37-41
      5. Isaiah 8:13,14 with I Peter 2:7,8
      6. Isaiah 42:8 with John 17:5
      7. Isaiah 60:19 with Luke 2:30-32
      8. Psalms 102:24-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12
      9. Psalms 45:6,7 with Hebrews 1:8,9
      10. Psalms 23:1 with Isaiah 40:10,11 and John 10,11
      11. I Kings 8:39 with Revelation 2:23 
      12. Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:9-13
      13. Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58,59
      14. Malachi 3:1 with Matthew 11:10
      15. Exodus 19:18-21 with Hebrews 12:18-26
      16. Zechariah 12:10 & 13:6,7 with John 19:34-37
      17. Zechariah 14:4,5 with Matthew 24:29-31; Matthew 25:31; Jude 14,15; II Thessalonians  1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-21
    5. Jesus Is God Made Flesh
      1. Philippians 2:5-8: Jesus "being in the form of God" (i.e., deity), did not consider it something to cling to, but emptied himself of his divine glory and perogatives, NOT his divine nature, and took UPON his divine form "the form of a servant" (i.e., humanity), in order to suffer death.
      2. John 1:1,14: "In the beginning was (eternally) the Word and the Word was with God (i.e., the Father and Holy Spirit), and the Word was God (deity)." "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
      3. Hebrews 1:3 and 2:9-18: Jesus is the "EXACT REPRESENTATION of His (God's) VERY BEING" (NWT). No creature could possibly do that! But, Jesus set aside his infinite glory to become one of us so that he could be to us an, example in faith, the perfect sacrifice, our High Priest, Comforter, and Saviour.
    6. Who Is The "Angel Of Jehovah?"
      1. Genesis 16:7-13
      2. Genesis 18:1,13,17,20-22,26,33; 19:24
      3. Genesis 22:11-18
      4. Genesis 31:11-13
      5. Genesis 32:24-30 (compare Hosea 12:4,5)
      6. Genesis 48: 15,16
      7. Exodus 3:1-15 (compare vs. 5 with Joshua 5: 14,15)
      8. Exodus 23:20,21
      9. Judges 6:11-23
Note: In these passages the "Angel of Jehovah" speaks as Jehovah, is called Jehovah, does the works of Jehovah, and is worshipped by those to whom He appears. He is Jesus, the Son of God. "Angel" means "messenger" and is applied to the angelic beings, men (evangelists), and to God (see above)
    1. Answers To Common Antitrinitarian Prooftexts
      1. John 14:28 "My Father is greater than I." Just as the husband is positionally greater than the wife so the Father is greater the the Son. Both husband and wife are equally human as the Father and Son are equally divine.
      2. Colossians 1:15 "the Firstborn of all creation." "Firstborn" (Gr. Prototokos), not "first created" (Gr. "Protoktistos"). Firstborn is term that means first in importance. These scriptures bear that out: Genesis 41:51,52 with Jeremiah 31:9; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Exodus 4:22; and Job 18:13.
      3. Revelation 3:14 "the beginning of the creation of God." We derive many words such as architect, archangel, arch-rival, from the Greek word "arche" translated "beginning" in this verse. It means "origin," "source," "chief," and "ruler." Jesus is the origin of ALL, or the creator.
  1. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD
    1. He Is Called God
      1. Acts 5:3,4 Lying to the Spirit is lying to God
      2. II Corinthians 3:17 "The Lord is that Spirit." (compare this with Exodus 34:29-35)
    2. He Is Omnipotent
      1. Isaiah 40:12-14 (See Romans 11:34 and I Corinthians 2:16)
    3. He Is Omniscient
      1. I Corinthians 2:10,11 Isaiah 40: 13,14
    4. He Is Omnipresent
      1. Psalm 139:7
    5. He Is Eternal
      1. Hebrews 9:14
    6. He Has The Attributes Of Personality
      1. Intellect
        1. Romans 8:27, "The MIND of the Spirit."
        2. I Corinthians 2:10-12, The Spirit "KNOWS."
      2. Will
        1. I Corinthians 12:11, "The Spirit WILLS."
      3. Emotion
        1. Ephesians 4:30, "GRIEVE" not the Spirit
      4. His Self-Cognizance Is Shown By These Actions:
        1. He Speaks
          1. Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 21:11
          2. Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22
        2. He Teaches
          1. Luke 12:12
          2. John 14:26
          3. I John 2:26,27
        3. Says "I"
          1. Acts 10:20
    7. If the Holy Spirit is a self-cognizant personality, and is also eternal, then He must be God, for God is the only eternal being.

Conclusion

"So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God." (from The Athanasian Creed)


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Trinity, the Gospel, the Church and the Resurrection in the Old Testament

Types in the Bible are a form of prophecy. Here is one that is central to the fundamental message of God providing the redemption price in the Bible.

Genesis 15:2 - And Abram said, "My Lord, What can you give me seeing that I go childless, and the steward of my house is the Damascene Eliezer?" Eliezer was more like a business partner who would inherit Abraham’s estate if Abraham did not have his own offspring.

Genesis 22:1-19

The offering of Isaac is a recognized “type/prophecy” of God the Father (represented by Abraham) sending His only begotten Son (represented by Isaac) to die for our sins. But there is far more to this type acted out by Abraham of God’s plan of salvation which demonstrates at the very beginning of Israel as God’s Chosen People that He would send Jesus to die and rise from the dead. Consider how could such a plan be told in such detail 2000 years before the time of Christ?

The plan of salvation, acted out by Abraham, was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus. After His death Jesus appeared to many of His disciples and then ascended to heaven (Acts 2). Since His death the Church has been established by God the Holy Spirit calling out those in the world, both Jew and Gentile, to be the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11 and John 14:16,17) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (paraclete = helper, comforter, advocate), that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

Genesis 22 (italics and underlining mine)
And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (This mountain [ridgeline] has three peaks, Mt. Zion on the south, the Temple Mount, and Golgotha to the north of the Temple Mount).
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; (typifies Jesus carrying His cross to Calvary) and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself (provide FOR Himself, or provide HIMSELF?) a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. (Abraham KNEW God had to resolve this command by either resurrecting Isaac, or providing an alternative, because God had promised descendents through Isaac.)
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord (probably Jesus Himself) called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns (not by his wool for that would have made the ram unclean for sacrifice): and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen (2000 years later).
15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men (where is Isaac? Why is he omitted from the story of Abraham coming down the mountain? Because Christ ascended to heaven after His resurrection), and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

Continuing the “type/story” in Genesis 24 Abraham calls Eliezer and makes him promise to go to Haran to find a bride for Isaac. Eliezer returns later with Rebekah. The name Eliezer means “helper.” So Eliezer is a type of the Holy Spirit calling out a bride (Rebekah) for Christ.

In these events in the life of Abraham we see the Trinity (Abraham = Father; Isaac = Jesus; Eliezer = the Holy Spirit), the Church (i.e., Rebekah = the Bride of Christ), the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and on the very ground God set aside for it long before. These “types” are prophecy in story, in history, and even in people’s names. This is the kind of internal unity that convinces me the Bible is from a divine author. The Jews, who killed the prophets and even Jesus, would not even know they were writing God’s plan of salvation when they lived this, and wrote this.

But the above is just a tiny sample of many such “hidden below the surface” types.


Friday, July 9, 2010

My Story by David Smith

Note: Videos of David's story and others can be viewed at the end of this post.


I was born into a Catholic family, the son of a mother from the Caribbean island of Trinidad who was raised Catholic, and a father who was brought up Methodist and converted to Catholicism when he married my mother.

There was really nothing out of the ordinary about my religious development at home, except that looking back I could point out that I was definitely taught about the importance of “The Church” as opposed to the importance of Jesus Christ.

I was placed in Sunday School as a child, made my First Confession, then my First Communion, and later was part of the Catholic Life Teen Program in High School. I made my Confirmation my senior year, a little later than usual, but I took the initiative to have it done because I felt it was something important enough to me to pursue.

I eventually left the Catholic Church in pursuit of an Eastern expression of Christianity. I was once again focusing on joining the right Church rather than knowing Christ personally. After some time at my local Greek Orthodox parish I was introduced to St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ. I eventually became a disciple of the Abbot.

After an initial period of a month or so, I began to be indoctrinated with teachings I was told not to reveal to anyone outside of the monastery’s inner circle. I was taught to believe in conspiracy theories (some of which were that man never landed on the moon, that America is made up of a shadow government that is run by Masons and Jews) and that the Protocols of Zion are an authentic document rather than a work of racist fiction.

I was told that unless you give up sexual relations with your spouse, you cannot be holy in this life, while at the same time being taught that I should ceaselessly struggle to achieve holiness in this life no matter what the cost.

I was taught to flagellate myself with electrical cord when I had sinful thoughts and that this was normal behavior that Saints indulged in.

I was taught to be obedient to my spiritual father as if he were Jesus Christ and that without his prayers I would not make it through the toll-houses when I die (the toll-houses are demonic checkpoints after you die where demons assess your life and try to hold you from getting to Heaven because of your sins). This was the justification used to get me to be obedient to the teachings I have related.

I was taught to believe that there is a “shadow government” that is supposedly in operation in the world that is made up of Masons, the Illuminati, and “the Jews”. This “shadow government” was said to control all of the governments of the world. I was told that part of their plan to do population control was to vaccinate the masses with immunizations that were deadly. Many of us were told never to immunize our children, that we should only use holistic remedies for our illnesses unless the doctor could be trusted, and avoid Jewish doctors whenever possible (because in the Protocols one of the plots to kill Gentiles was via Jewish doctors who killed Gentile babies and adults whenever possible).

Elder Ephraim, the founder of St. Anthony’s, teaches in his book that elders are hierarchically the final successors of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit. Having been taught this, there was a while where in my mind he had Apostolic authority to teach that the demons will drag me to hell when I die because I won’t be able to ascend through the toll-houses without my spiritual father’s prayers if I disobey him. “Elder” Ephraim’s book also says that we should never tolerate anyone who speaks against an “elder” because such a person is an antichrist and we should oppose them immediately. I didn’t want to become an “antichrist”.

I was told that television, except for nature shows and things like that, were evil and that the best thing to do was to get rid of my TV. I was told the same thing about literature and music. I was taught not to read any secular literature and was told that the Bible and the Fathers of the Church were all I needed to read. They said all music except for classical music and Orthodox Church music was a product of the Fall and not to listen to anything but that. Not having a television and not being able to listen to the radio, my main source of cultural information became e-mail and the telephone, or spending time with someone from the monastery.

We had to get a blessing from our spiritual father for everything, whether it was dressing differently, changing jobs, selling our car, etc. I had to get a blessing even regarding what I could drink during the day and how many meals I could eat. All of this is called “voluntary” obedience by the way, except that you’ll go to hell if you’re not obedient because obedience fulfills all of the commandments of Christ.

I was refused a blessing to sell my car even though it kept breaking down on me and was the only means of transportation for my wife and I to get to work. We missed time from work because of all the break-downs, which meant we missed pay. This also caused us to nearly get fired, and put us so far behind in bills that we lost all of our savings. We eventually had to quit that job since they were going to fire us. Even though we finally decided to get a new vehicle just before that, it was repossessed later on due to our lack of ability to pay since we had lost our income.

The Abbot and I would talk a lot about the end of the world. He would mention it in confession often. He said all the monks would be martyred at St. Anthony’s by being hung from the telephone poles. He also told me one year that by the summertime Turkey would invade Greece over a dispute about the island of Cyprus and there would be a great war that Greece would win (I was given copies of these prophecies that the monastery had translated from the Greek text of St. Kosmas Aitolos’s book to put on a website I used to run with the Abbot’s blessing) and the city of Constantinople would be liberated and returned to the Greeks. When it didn’t happen I went to the Abbot and asked him why, and he said he told me that just to be cautious. He had seemed pretty serious at the time he told me, however. He also told me on one occasion that I would most likely be “martyred”, which stayed with me for a long time. I really believed that I should prepare to die.

When my mother was homeless I was refused a blessing to go and help her over and over again. I finally decided to just go. My wife spoke to the Abbot about it in confession and he gave his blessing grudgingly.

My wife and I had to confess all of our sexual activity including what went on, where we touched, and so forth. We had to confess any secular music we listened to, any TV shows or movies we watched, and anywhere that we went that wasn’t “approved”. I was even told once that I should never laugh, so anytime I found something funny I had to confess that I had "laughed frivolously".

I was required to confess all of my thoughts, both good and bad, in confession. If I couldn’t confess directly, it had to be over the phone, and if I couldn’t confess by phone I had to write everything down and mail it to my spiritual father. It’s very humiliating sending your private thoughts through the mail, but with everything they teach about obedience the rationale was that it was a small price to pay for absolution and eternal life. In the case that my spiritual father was not available there were only certain “approved” priests I could confess to.

It was a nightmare once we were in the inner circle of the monastery. Our lives deteriorated rapidly, our health was affected, and we were slowly being isolated from family and friends. Eventually, I decided to get my family away from their influence. Having moved to Florida after 2 years of going to St. Anthony’s weekly, I was able to spend 5 more years under their influence but out of their immediate reach. I thought I would be able to leave quietly and not tell anyone that I was leaving. I thought I would just disappear and never go back.

It didn’t work. Because of some families whose children had been influenced by the monastery, I decided to speak out, even going on television in Tucson to talk on air about St. Anthony’s teachings. The backlash was very intense. I was called a liar, my life was threatened, and even Orthodox clergy who had never met me were calling me “demonic.”

At the time, I didn’t realize that St. Anthony’s was a cult. I simply thought it was an Eastern Orthodox group that was not a healthy place to be. It was when leaving began to take a very heavy toll on my wife and I that I realized it might have been worse than I thought. I was having nightmares regularly, panic attacks, severe depression set in, I was having suicidal thoughts, trouble controlling my anger, and I started drifting toward atheism.

It wasn’t until a parent who had lost their child to St. Anthony’s convinced me that it was a cult that I started to see any progress. He gave me literature showing what a cult is, pointed me in the direction of leading authors, and from there I found Combating Cult Mind Control by Dr. Steven Hassan.

The process for recovery was long and hard. My wife and I endured setback after setback, lots of periods of suicidal thoughts, and constant battles with depression and wrestling with the idea of God.

Through the contacts listed by Dr. Steven Hassan, I eventually reached out to the Watchman Fellowship. I’m very glad I did. I needed to know Christ; not a church, not religion, not the “right path”, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Spiritual Abuse Recovery workbook allowed me to take what I had learned from Dr. Hassan’s material and face God again. It restored my faith in Christ’s message as good news, rather than a nightmare, and gave me the strength to help lift my family out of bondage to the cult once and for all. I feel like an empowered Christian again.

It’s been a long, hard road out of the cult, a journey that took over 3 years and carried with it a lot of tears, self-doubt, and setbacks. I truly felt while I was going through it as if I were literally in hell. But the good news is Christ is greater than hell, so it wasn’t a place my family and I had to stay. He brought us out safely and we’ve been able to grow stronger than we’ve ever been.

It’s not an easy path, but recovery is possible, and God is definitely with those who travel on it, always protecting, always guiding, and always loving.

video video

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Future Face of Evangelism?

What if you lived in a country where your Christian faith was held by less than 5% of the population? How would that affect your methods of evangelism? And what if the religious views of the population at large were hostile to Christianity? It is hard for us in North America to conceive of this situation but it is reality in many countries of the world.

The above description fits most of the nations of the world that are dominated by Islam, Hinduism, or, Buddhism. But, it is also becoming more the case in many European countries where Christianity used to be the dominant faith. What happened in Europe? Could it happen here?

Perhaps the reason for Europe turning away from Christianity is the religious disillusionment resulting from two devastating world wars. This was a form of continental version of the question “Where was God when it hurt?” America was spared much of that. However, we are dealing with the moral relativism that has the effect of making all truth claims equal, or for the secularist, equally unimportant.

Besides the effect of secularization and moral relativism we also face the unprecedented growth of alternative religions competing with Christianity. Americans in the past held to a Christian consensus, or worldview. Even the non-Christian in America would agree that the God of Christianity was the God they would put their faith in if they were going to be religious. Even though there were cults and alternative religions from the early years of our nation they were extremely small as a percentage of the population and had little influence.

Since immigration has become a wide open door, both legal and illegal, we find ourselves in the company of immigrants who bring their native faith with them. Many of these immigrants come from countries that are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or something else. They have added their numbers to the religious pluralism that has grown exponentially in just the last few decades.

Americans, on the other hand, have walked away from many of the basic tenets of Christianity as well as church attendance. George Barna in his research of religious trends in America has documented this dramatic drift away from our evangelical heritage. At a speaking engagement in Missouri I overheard part of a conversation at a restaurant on the subject of religion. The only statement I heard completely was, “I think you should just do your best, be a good person, and God will accept you.” There are so many a priori assumptions in that statement that it is hard to know where to begin. But it is commonplace today.

In past decades Christian evangelism assumed a Christian consensus and got directly to the point of the sinner putting his faith in Christ. That may no longer be possible. We live in what is being called a “post Christian” America, where the Christian consensus is a memory. There has even been discussion among Christian leaders that one day we will find that evangelism is a hate crime because it says that another religion is false. But the Bible does not let us water down our message like that. We will have to defy laws that restrict the gospel. We will also have to present the gospel message as if the person had never heard of Jesus, or didn’t know God required exclusive devotion. There are no "religious buffets" in the gospel where one can take a little New Age, some relativistic "truth", while trying to keep "sweet Jesus."

Jesus said of the Pharisees that they compassed land and sea to make one convert and when he was converted he was doubly a child of hell as before (Matthew 23:15). Why was he doubly a child of hell after his Pharisaical conversion? It is my opinion that commitment to a belief system has a binding effect on a person’s ability to process truth claims. No one lets go of a firmly held conviction without a struggle. Now this believer in “another gospel” is not like the American who would believe the Christian gospel if he were to be a believer at all. Now he must be pried away from that belief before he can be open to the gospel of Christ. This is the essence of counter-cult evangelism.

In the future our evangelistic methods will have to assume that the non-Christian adheres to another faith that is contradictory to Christianity. That type of evangelism will call for knowledge of alternative beliefs, refutational information, relationship skills with people of non-Christian faiths, and most important, a good working knowledge of Christian doctrine and history.

Watchman Fellowship offers training in such evangelism. We have been doing this sort of training across America in both large and small churches. There is a growing awareness of its need in many parts of the country where religious pluralism is the norm. There is less of it in the Bible Belt because we are still somewhat insulated. But, eventually even Georgia will feel these “winds of doctrine” blowing through the Church.

If you wish to have Watchman Fellowship come to your church for training and awareness contact us

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Watchtower Fulfills Endtime Prophecy!

In Luke 21 Jesus tells His disciples there will be a number of signs to watch for when the “end” comes. One of these signs is in verse 8 which says, “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them” (KJV). The American Standard Version (1901) renders the second underlined phrase as, “the time is at hand.”

The warning seems very clear for us. Is there anyone who has said, “I am Christ” and “The time is at hand?” It would make discernment of false Christ’s and false prophets very simple if we could just identify the people, or groups, that have said this.

In the text quoted the word Christ is in Italics in the KJV to indicate that it is supplied by the translator to finish the meaning. Other translations will supply he to finish the meaning. The Greek simply says, “I am.”

The second phrase is also rendered differently. In the Weymouth translation it says, “The time is close at hand.” The New English Bible says, “The Day is upon us.” The bottom line is that false spiritual leaders will claim a divine authority for themselves and point to an apocalyptic crisis to be avoided as a means of attracting followers.

From its very beginning the Watchtower Society has pointed to the coming of Armageddon as the crisis to avoid. Charles T. Russell’s seven volume commentary Studies In The Scriptures are full of evidence of this apocalyptic message. And, of course, the means of avoidance is to join the Watchtower Society.

A good example of Russell’s apocalyptic warning is found in Volume 2 of the Studies where he said, “Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to be begin the exercise of power in A. D. 1878, and that the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A. D. 1914, with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced” (page 101).

Volume 2 of the Studies in the Scriptures is titled The Time Is At Hand. That is part one of the Watchtower’s fulfillment of Jesus predictive warning.

But, what about the claim to be “Christ?” We know the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ, and that they say Jesus became the Christ at his baptism. But, do they also claim to be the “Christ?”

Jehovah’s Witnesses call the members of the 144,000, and more specifically the members of their Governing Body, the Anointed. ‘Christ’ means anointed in Greek. In The New World, published in 1942, this statement is made regarding the 144,000, “These must all be anointed with God’s spirit, that is, officially commissioned as spirit-begotten witnesses of Jehovah God. Hence, the Christ, or The Anointed One, is a collective or composite company, Christ Jesus being the Head, and the 144,000 members of his church being the body” (page 96).

This is something the Watchtower has taught since it’s beginning but is little used by Christians witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is almost completely unknown by the rank and file Jehovah’s Witness. The Watchtower Society has placed the 144,000 and the Governing Body especially, on the same plane with Jesus Christ.

There is much more to this subject but I will conclude with this last quote the most important parts of which I have highlighted.

“It is thus seen that the Church in the flesh (the Christ in the flesh, Head and body) is the Elijah or forerunner of the Church in glory, Jehovah’s Anointed. Not the nominal church, but the really consecrated Church, which on the other side of the tomb will be the great Anointed Deliverer, - these constitute the Elijah…. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostles, and all the faithful in Christ Jesus since, are of this great antitypical Elijah, prophet or teacher – the same class (Head and body) which shall shortly compose the King of Glory…. Let us not be misunderstood: We have heretofore shown that God’s plan does not extend to the converting of the world during the Gospel age. He did not intend it to do so, but merely designed the selection and trial of the Church now, and the blessing of the world through the Church, the Christ, in an age to follow this” (page 252).

That last quote came from Volume 2 of the Studies in the Scriptures, which is titled The Time Is At Hand. There you have in the very title of the book part two of Jesus predictive warning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brainwashing

There is a psychological term for this gradual acceptance of something that would not otherwise be believed. It is cognitive dissonance theory. Leon Festinger described it in his book When Prophecy Fails. Festinger described three elements of social psychology, and behavior modification techniques, at work in group dynamics, and in the case described in his book, a cult milieu.

He said that if you can control Behavior, Thought, and Emotions, and, you can get a group of people to do very bizarre and wrong things. Festinger said that if one of the three elements is changed the other two would be powerfully influenced to come into agreement with it. People don’t like being hypocritical, after all. Steven Hassan, author of Combating Cult Mind Control, added a fourth criterion, Information, for the acronym BITE.

When someone is recruited into a mind-controlling cult their behavior and personality begin to change dramatically. Someone who has known this person for years will be struck with the significance of the change and comment that “they are just not the person I used to know. What happened?” It is commonly called brainwashing, but is also known as mind control and thought reform.

New recruits to totalistic groups experience this “thought reform” as the starting point in behavior modification. It begins with acceptance of a totally new premise underlying the cult worldview. That premise could be that all of current Christianity is apostate necessitating a restoration. Or, it could be that God only speaks to and through a particular chosen leader and you must listen to him to hear God. This premise then becomes the foundation that must be laid for the acceptance of the teachings and practices espoused by the group. If you have accepted the premise then follow-through on the secondary teachings and life style practices must follow or the recruit will be in a continual state of cognitive dissonance, or hypocrisy, in layman’s terms.

The elements of thought reform or mind control were laid out in the research of Dr. Robert J. Lifton who studied the returning POWs after the Korean War.


Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Mind Control

Milieu Control – the control of the environment including information, associations, time, and energy work to exclude any opportunity for opposition while also promoting the ‘party line’.

Mystical Manipulation – this is the ‘higher calling’ for the follower to be a part of a utopian goal which requires his full devotion. The followers see the leaders as having achieved this higher calling hence they are worthy to be followed.

The Demand For Purity – the utopian goal can only be achieved by purity of devotion. Any failure to succeed means impurity exists somewhere and will be searched out by those in control.

The Cult of Confession – Failure to succeed means confessions must be made. Any weakness or failures, real or perceived, are to be confessed for the sake of the group. Even confessions where no wrong was actually done can spur the group to more purity.

The Sacred Science – The ideology, doctrine and mission of the group are so sacred that they must not be doubted or questioned. To do so is one of the worst offenses possible. However, without the option of questioning, a lie cannot be uncovered.

Loading the Language – Certain words and phrases are so loaded with meaning that stark choices are implied leading to the end of critical thinking.

Doctrine Over Person – What you see, hear or think is irrelevant in the face of the group’s doctrine. You must submerge your opinions in the group’s worldview.

The Dispensing of Existence – Only those who are committed to the group are valued. Those who oppose or betray the group can be dismissed, defamed, disfellowshipped, or killed.

Conclusion:

The antidote to this process is truth, unimpeachably presented. When a cultist sees the truth as truth then a similar process by which he was recruited begins to set him free. He doesn’t want to by a hypocrite after all.