Category Archives: #THEOLOGY


Labeling Christianity (and/or other religions) the “opium for the people” or the “opiate of the masses” is a fairly common tactic used by those dismissive of religion. Using phrases like this is a way to blow off religion without trying to counter or discuss it. Karl Marx was not the first to use this phrase, but he is the one most people are thinking of when they use this attack. Marx’s contention was that religion gives people artificial, illusory happiness—like opium does to a drug addict—and freeing people from that unrealistic illusion was part of building a better society.

Beginning primarily with Marx, the “opium for the masses” accusation is often used by atheists. Because they reject the existence of God, they have to somehow explain the continuing existence of religion. They see no need for religion, so they do not understand others’ need for it. Marx was not specifying Christianity in his rejection of religion. Rather, he was denouncing religion in general by using “people” in a demeaning sense to mean the poor, ignorant, and easily deceived. The essential argument of the “opium for the masses” saying is that religion is for weak-minded and emotionally disturbed people who need a crutch to get through life. Atheists today make similar claims, such as the idea that “God is an imaginary friend for adults.”

So, is religion nothing but “opium for the masses”? Does religion accomplish nothing but provide an emotional crutch for weak-minded people? A few simple facts will answer the question with a resounding “no.” (1) There are strong logical, scientific, and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. (2) The fact that humanity is damaged and in need of redemption/salvation (the core message of religion) is clearly seen throughout the world. (3) In the history of humanity, the vast majority of the most intellectually brilliant writers and thinkers have been theists. Do some use religion as a crutch? Yes. Does that mean the claims of religion are invalid? No. Religion is the natural response to the evidence for the existence of God and the recognition that we are damaged and in need of repair.

At the same time, we must differentiate between false religion which gives false security—just as opium gives a false sense of well-being—and Christianity, which is the only true religion and the only true hope for mankind. False religion is based on the idea that man, through some kind of effort on his part (works) can make himself acceptable to God. Only Christianity recognizes that man is “dead in trespasses and sins” and is incapable of doing anything worthy of eternity in heaven. Only Christianity offers a solution to the total inability of man—thesubstitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Recommended Resources:Logos Bible SoftwareandJesus Among Other gods by Ravi Zacharias.

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As at least one person noted on Twitter, Pelagius would be proud:


Oh yes, perish the thought of elevating the sovereignty of the Creator, the Savior, the Redeemer, the righteous and thrice-holy God of the universe. Never mind the fact that all things sit in subjection to Him (Eph. 1:21–22). Who are you, oh Steven Furtick, to speak back to God (Rom. 9:20–24)?

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. T he carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation. 

But that is, after all, precisely what Scripture teaches. Even faith is God’s gracious gift to His elect. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). “Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). Therefore no one who is saved has anything to boast about (cf Eph. 2:89). “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). . . . 

Moreover, everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6). . . . 

Paul anticipated the argument against divine sovereignty: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” (v. 19). In other words, doesn’t God’s sovereignty cancel out human responsibility? But rather than offering a philosophical answer or a deep metaphysical argument, Paul simply reprimanded the skeptic: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?” (vv. 20, 21). 

Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have (Rom. 2:1920), so that punishment is just if they reject the light. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (v. 37); “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life” (v. 40); “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v. 44); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (v. 47); and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (v. 65). How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that? In Psalm 50:21 God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:89). 

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33 the apostle writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom. 11:3334).

– John MacArthur, ‘God’s Absolute Sovereignty‘ 

Further Reading
The Sovereignty of God Is the Most Comforting Doctrine
Conversion: Its Source, Sign and Security
Steven Furtick Takes the Code Orange Revival Underground



After God had worked face to face with the first humans, Adam and Eve (thedispensation of Innocence,Genesis 1:28—3:19), they sinned, and all mankind became a fallen race living on a cursed planet. Conditions changed, and all subsequent families on earth were to do good based on what they knew to be right (thedispensation of Conscience,Genesis 3:23—8:19). Mankind again failed to fulfill their responsibility. So God brought a worldwide Flood to wipe out all but eight people. In the next dispensation, God works in a new way with His creation via Human Government.

Human Government is the third dispensation (Genesis 8:20to 11:9).

Stewards:Noahand his descendants
The Period: From the Flood to the confusion of tongues at Babel, about 429 years
Responsibility: To scatter and multiply (Genesis 9)
Failure: Refusal to scatter and the building of thetower of Babel(Genesis 11:1-4)
Judgment: Confusion of languages (Genesis 11:5-9)
Grace:Abrahamis chosen—the start of the Jewish race (Genesis 12:1-3)

After the Flood God stepped back from directly judging men untilthe Second Coming; thus, a human agency known as civil government was divinely appointed to restrain evil and protect man from his own sinful nature. Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives began to repopulate the earth. Shem would become the father of the brown or Mediterranean region dwellers and eventually the Jews (Semiticcomes from the Latin word for “Shem”). Ham fathered the black race, and Japheth fathered the Anglo or white race, which would become the Europeans.

Noah and his family had practical knowledge of the failure under the dispensation of Conscience, and God made them responsible to protect the sanctity of human life. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). In this way, God established the orderly rule of mankind for the good of society.Capital punishmentis the most potent function of human government, and it presupposes all forms of legislation, organization, and enforcement. In the New Testament (Romans 13), man is still responsible to use this authority to enforce righteousness. In other words, God’s command inGenesis 9:6has not been rescinded.

Sin (called “lawlessness” in1 John 3:4) continued in the third dispensation. In fact, the time of Human Government was characterized by great idolatry and moral degradation. The height of disobedience was the rebellion against God at Babel—mankind built a tower to “make ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Staying in one place was the one thing God told themnotto do.

To enforce His command, God divided humanity into different language groups, and His sovereign will to populate the whole earth was accomplished. God also established a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by water. His grace continued to be shown through His chosen people, beginning with Abraham.

Recommended Resources:Logos Bible SoftwareandDispensationalism by Charles Ryrie.



One might think that a man’s dinner menu isn’t exactly newsworthy. That is, unless you’re the pope. Apparently if you wear a big, sparkly hat and allow millions of people to call you Holy Father, then what you put into your mouth is worthy of a news write-up by Religion News Service

Baked skinless chicken, salad, fruit and a glass of simple wine hardly seems like food fit for a king. But it does seem to be a meal fit for a pope. 

Pope Francis is becoming well known for his simple tastes: As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he carried his own bags when traveling, preferred public transportation to chauffeur-driven limousines, and, the stories go, cooks meals for himself. 

His humble lifestyle extends to the kitchen, a stark contrast with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who before becoming pope relished feasting on fettuccine with shrimp, zucchini and saffron.


photo credit: amanky via photopin cc

Look, we get it. We’re supposed to revere Pope Francis not just because he’s miraculously been granted powers of infallibility, but because he’s ‘humble.’ Never mind the fact that the very office of pope is an ostentatious one. Let’s face it, humble popes don’t exist.

And if we’re going to judge a man’s humility by his menu, well, then us bloggers ought to be some of the most humble men and women of them all. Sure, Pope Francis used to live in a little apartment, take the bus, and eats skinless chicken and salad. But us bloggers live in our mother’s basements, spend our days in a beanbag chair, and maintain a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew. I mean, if we want to have a humility contest, who do you really think is going to win? The guy in the robes with a massive silver cross around his neck, or the sweatpants-wearing blogger?

Well, it’s about time for me to go prepare a humble lunch, so while I do that, please go ahead and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

  • The Cripplegate has had a few really good articles about Roman Catholicism, the papacy, etc. In this one, Steve Meister talks about alleviating the protestant inferiority complex. He also rightly observes, “Since the Pope misrepresents the evangel, the gospel, I fail to grasp how he could ever excite evangelicals.”
  • I’ve heard a lot of Christians praising the television show Duck Dynasty. I’ve never watched it myself, but those who do may want to examine just what kind of a gospel the Duck Dynasty family proclaims.
  • The Mormons have once again changed their scriptures, specifically updating references to blacks and to polygamy. Kinda makes you extra thankful to know that the true and living Word of God never changes, doesn’t it?
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • I’ve always said ‘Earth Hour’ — those 60 minutes every year where everyone is supposed to sit in the dark and not use any electricity — was utterly ridiculous. (In fact, I usually celebrate by turning on as many lights and electrical appliances as possible). Turns out it’s not just ridiculous,it’s downright backwards.
  • Only Carl Trueman could write a blog post entitled, “The Yuck Factor” and still have it be taken seriously (as it should be).
  • Former ‘pastor’ Jack Schaap has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his relationship with a minor.
  • The University of Tennessee has withdrawn some of the funds from its upcoming ‘Sex Week’ event. Organizers only have a few days to find over $11,000. Good, I hope it gets canceled.
  • Speaking of gay marriage, this North Carolina church has promised to stop performing marriages until gay marriage is permitted.
  • Back to ‘The Bible’ miniseries: there’s a little—no, a hugesomething missing in the scene of the Last Supper.
  • Never make a Gospel appeal to people’s emotions: 



Each dispensation has a God-ordained responsibility, stewards (people commanded to fulfill that responsibility), a failure on mankind’s part, God’s judgment, and, finally, evidence of God’s grace. In the dispensation of Promise, God works in yet another unique way with man. This dispensation begins with the call ofAbraham. It is called the dispensation of “Promise” because of thecovenant made with Abraham, who lived in the “land of promise” (Hebrews 6:13;11:9). Unconditional promises, both physical and spiritual, were made to Abraham and his descendants Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3;15:4-21;17:1-8;22:15-19).

The fourth dispensation is that of Promise—Genesis 11:10toExodus 19:4.

Stewards: The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
The Period: From the call of Abraham to Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai, a period of about 430 years
Responsibility: Dwell in Canaan (Genesis 12:1-7)
Failure: Dwelt in Egypt (Genesis 12:10;46:6)
Judgment: Egyptian bondage (Exodus 1:8-14)
Grace: Moses the deliverer is sent (Exodus 3:6-10)

The promise God made to Abraham was that he would be the father of a great nation, that God would bless Abraham and his descendants, and that the whole earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-3). As the patriarch, Abraham had failure in his life, notably in fathering Ishmael (Genesis 16), going to Egypt (Genesis 12:10), and deceiving others about his wife, Sarah (Genesis 20:2).Isaacfailed in similar manner, andJacobwas an outright deceiver.

Later, the Hebrew people were faced with a test: would they believe the promise God gave to Abraham to protect, bless, and guide them, or would they not believe? They chose not to believe the promise and took upon themselves the bondage of law and separation from God (Exodus 19:10-13,18,21;12:19). Still, God provided grace throughMoses, through Passover protection, and through the miraculous meeting of their material needs (Exodus 12–18). InExodus 19:4God reminds the Israelites of His grace to them: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

The dispensation of Promise ended at Mt. Sinai, where God gave Abraham’s people the Law to govern them in yet another manner.

Recommended Resources:Logos Bible SoftwareandDispensationalism by Charles Ryrie.

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By Nathan Jones
Evangelist & Web Minister
Dr. David Reagan and I were delighted to have as our guest on this week’s Christ in Prophecy Warren Smith, the author of the book The Light That Was Dark. This fascinating book tells Warren’s touching story of how, in his search for a Savior, he got sidetracked into the occultic darkness of the New Age Movement. From his many years of experience under that influence, Warren now has dedicated his life to warning Christians about the dangers of the New Age and help us recognize how we can avoid these satanic influences from creeping into our churches.

Basic Characteristics

Dr. Reagan: Warren, tell us, what are some of the basic characteristics of the New Age Movement?

Warren Smith: In 2 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul talks about the simplicity in Christ. There is a simplicity in deception as well. So, it’s really important that people don’t get confused.

There are so many different aspects of the deception of the New Age, what is now being called the New Spirituality, and even the New Worldview. New World Religion was the phrase used for a while, but a New Worldview is easier for people to remember.

Christians are being guided into this New Worldview thinking they will help the world come to peace. But, remember that in Daniel 8 we are told that the Antichrist is going to have a wonderful deception. He literally will destroy “wonderfully,” for by peace he shall destroy many.

All these deceptive end times teachings are heading up to where the world is going to be told to get in line, and “atonement” will be a word that will be used. But, those of us who were in the New Age understand that it is “at-one-ment”, not atonement, so much as “at-one-ment.” In other words, the New Age teaches that we are all one because God is in everyone and everything. And, when we recognize our oneness, we can all come together and help achieve world peace. Some Christian leaders are even buying into this by having materials that bring this oneness and this god-in-everything teaching into the Church.

Dr. Reagan: Let’s dwell a little bit longer here on the fundamental characteristics of the Movement. You boiled it all down to that the fundamental teaching of the New Age is God that He is in everything and is in us. That’s what Shirley MacLaine was doing when she stood on the seashore and yelled, “I am god, I am god, I am god!”

Warren Smith: She was the one who put that teaching forward back in 1987 on television. She may have become the butt of late night jokes, like in David Letterman’s jokes, but she’s the one primarily responsible for outing that teaching and getting the conversation going. That’s the big word these days — conversation. “Let’s have a conversation,” which really means, “Let’s see what we can do to compromise. Let’s get it all on the table and see what we can come up with.” That’s the idea that we can all move forward.

The year Shirley MacLaine started off teaching that we are all gods, that was in 1987, and that was the same year that Marilyn Ferguson the author of The Aquarian Conspiracy was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, on an episode entitled “The New Age Movement.” Back in 1980, Marilyn Ferguson wrote her book The Aquarian Conspiracy and in that book she said that basically we have a great idea, a great heretical idea, of God within and God is in everything. She said basically, “We are not going to be able to pull this off right away, but over time if it is widely publicized we will be able to have our way.” I mean, it was an outrageous thing to claim!

Actually, a lot of New Age leaders today are very upset that Ferguson used the word “conspiracy” in the title of her book, because it actually plays into the reality that there truly is a conspiracy, and the conspiracy is to get this great heretical idea that God indwells His creation and that God is in everyone and everything. She was trying to be cute.

The Shack

Nathan Jones: For awhile there, almost every church was preaching from and every Christian bookstore was carrying The Shack.

Warren Smith: The Shack was a very popular book, not only in the Christian world, but it was actually at the top of the New Age bestseller list as well.

People will claim, “Well, but Jesus is in there.” But, what a lot of people don’t understand is that from what I think was on page 112, the Jesus of The Shack said, “God who is the ground of all being dwells in and around and through all things.” Then, if you look carefully at the book when the word “Creation” is brought up, a capital “C” is used. Those of us from the New Age know that when you see creation with a capital “C”, it means that God indwells His creation.

Dr. Reagan: That is very different from what the Bible teaches. God is not indwelling His creation, right?

Warren Smith: No. Psalm 39:5 tells us, “Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Or, in John 2:24-25, Jesus said referring to Jesus, “He did not commit himself to men because he knew what was in men.” Now, why would that be said if God is in man? Why wouldn’t He be emphasizing that? Instead, Jesus was actually saying to the effect, “Watch out! Men amongst themselves can be very dangerous.” That is what Jesus was teaching. So, no, God is not within each person.

Deceptive Teachers

Dr. Reagan: Oprah Winfrey, she has been sort of a high priestess of this whole New Age Movement, with one New Age writer and speaker after another being paraded on her program. Would you quickly mention some other New Age names from the secular world that people might recognize that they should be aware of?

Warren Smith: Sure. Oprah had M. Scott Peck on her program back in the early 90’s. A lot of people don’t realize, though Scott Peck described himself as a Christian, he is really more of kind of like an emerging contemplative New Age Christian, because in his book he said, “God is within everybody.” He actually laid out a plan when he said, “We’re in crisis!” That’s also what The Aquarian Conspiracysaid to the effect, “We are in crisis and we need to have a new way of looking at things. We need a new worldview.”

What Peck basically said was, “Our salvation lies in community.” He didn’t say “in Jesus Christ,” but in community. He said that due to the duress of these times, we need to change some of our rules; and yes, that includes the Church. So, he too was introducing this idea of God-in-all.

I wrote an article years ago about M. Scott Peck and the Community of the Cosmic Christ. Starting off the article, there was a big quote by Peck saying that the mystical prophet who is bringing forth this idea of sort of a quantum leap into a new level of understanding was the Catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He was the father of the New Age Movement. The titleThe Aquarian Conspiracy was taken by Chardin. Chardin said, “This soul must be a conspiracy of individuals.” And Chardin’s teachings are simply this — that God is in every atom.

Nathan Jones: That rather sounds like Star Wars which is pantheism, right?

Warren Smith: May the force be with you! Yes, this force is God penetrating His creation, but that He comes in various ways.

Other New Age teachers are Deepak Chopra, Betty Eadie and Shirley MacLaine.

Dr. Oz

Warren Smith: Mehmet Oz, of the Dr. Oz fame, was for five years featured on Oprah Winfrey. Now he has his own program. Dr. Oz is probably one of the more dangerous, and I say that carefully, occultists out there. He has endorsed a book by a psychic by the name of Ainslie MacLeod. The book is called The Instruction. Dr. Oz has a front cover endorsement. In that book the psychic refers to spirit guides 175 times, with 40 before you get to chapter one. He talks about past lives. He encourages the reader to get into meditation and to contact their spirit guides.

Dr. Oz has also brought forward transcendental meditation,which Oz says he does. This is known as reiki, which is a very dangerous sort of body treatment that includes spirit guides. The reiki practitioners make it very clear that spirit guides are involved in that process.

Dr. Reagan: But these people are so nice, loving, and so smooth.

Warren Smith: In my days when I was a social worker and also in the New Age, some people thought I was kind of nice. But, as you know, niceness doesn’t have much to do with it. We have some pastors out there who seem pretty nice, but they are bringing a lot of this New Age teaching into their churches.

Dr. Reagan: In fact, the Antichrist is going to be very nice.

Warren Smith: Back to Dr. Oz, he teaches New Age through holistic health. One well known pastor actually said that if you try to change your diet you’ll have to be careful, because you could end up changing your worldview. That very well could happen. With Dr. Oz, one well known Christian pastor has actually brought him into his church to teach his congregation how to be healthy!

Lord Maitreya

Nathan Jones: Speaking of the Antichrist, you always hear in the New Age Movement of this Lord Maitreya. Can you explain a little to me if he is supposed to be the Antichrist, or as New Agers believe, he is the Messiah of the New Age Movement?

Warren Smith: Benjamin Creme was like Maitreya’s John the Baptist. In 1982, there was a full page ad in newspapers all around the world saying, “The Christ is here, and he is waiting to be called forth.” Benjamin Creme was on coast to coast radio probably four or five times over the last decade saying the very same thing. He was saying that Maitreya is still waiting to be called forth. A lot of people have just dismissed it as a bad joke.

What I show in my book is that what Maitreya teaches is absolutely consistent with A Course in Miracles, with New Age Leader Barbara Marx Hubbard’s teachings, with Neale Donald Walsch’sConversations With God, and with everything that Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Oz are teaching.

It’s all the same bottom line — New Age teachings.

Watch the full interview with Warren Smith!
Watch Christ in Prophecy

The Cripplegate on Cessation and Continuation

The Cripplegate on Cessation and Continuation