Richard Ritenbaugh uses the comments made by one individual arguing against the Philadelphia Church of God's offering a course in Comparative Religion as an example of "proof-texting." Proof-texting is the misleading practice of quoting a Scriptural passage out of context, neglecting its broader context and the import of any figurative language God may have elected to employ in it. This particular individual misapplied God's stricture against learning the idolatrous ways of the pagan, recorded in Deuteronomy 12:30, in his argument against the Comparative Religion course. However, comparing the practices of false religions to the Truth of God's doctrine is not tantamount to indulging in idolatry. The law against learning the way of the pagans was to prevent practicing the way of the pagans. Being aware of and being wary of idolatrous practice is not idolatry per se. From the mid-1960's, Ambassador College and Ambassador University offered comparative religion courses, instruction which was approved by Herbert W. Armstrong. The highly cosmopolitan Apostle Paul was aware of the teachings of pagan philosophers and even quoted them in his Epistles. In doing so, he acted within the scope of "rightly dividing the word of truth." We need to avoid carelessly quoting Scripture out of context.
Martin Collins, continuing his assessment of AI's impact on the well-being of children, points out the rapid implementation of AI-driven voice assistants. Today, some people are talking to voice simulators more frequently than to humans. Tragically, AI virtual assistants tend to make both adults and children curt and rude because they have internalized that they are not interacting with other, feeling, humans. As AI toys befriend children, parents should be alarmed about the values these virtual assistants are 'transparently" teaching them. As AI technology accelerates, gullible humans will be inclined to view these man made devices as deities—animated robotic idols. In doing so, they will come to worship the work of their hands rather than their Creator. Already, one highly placed technocrat has formed a religion called the "Way of the Future," the central tenant of which is the collaboration of humans and their machines in the resolution of societal and environmental challenges, the glorification of intelligence over morals.
Mike Ford, exposing one of the most colossal frauds that ever existed, the global warming hoax perpetrated by pseudo-science, warns us that it has morphed into the fastest growing religion in the world. Proponents of this bogus religion claim that, if we can control our output of carbon dioxide, regulate bovine flatulence, and drive electric cars, we can prevent the oceans from rising, the polar ice-caps from melting, hurricanes from forming, and drought from spreading. President Obama, the Alarmer-in-chief, has proclaimed climate change the biggest danger on the earth, far greater than ISIS and the threat of nuclear war. Michael Bloomberg blamed climate change for Hurricane Sandy while Hillary Clinton attributes Hurricane Matthew to climate change. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and failed Presidential candidate Al Gore have called for stiff fines and imprisonments for climate change deniers, using techniques of harassment and intimidation not unlike the Spanish Inquisition. None of the dire warnings made by Al Gore have ever materialized; as a matter of fact, a large segment of the scientific community fear Global cooling and a new ice age. Climate always changes over time, but human contribution to this change is negligible. Being good stewards of the earth should not lead to the imbalanced practice of making mother-earth our goddess. God, the inventor of climate and weather patterns, is sovereign over the climate and weather; He knows a few more things about it than Al Gore, Barack Obama, or Michael Bloomberg. The nation that obeys God will have favorable weather and climate; the nations that disobeys God will not. Worshiping the earth and rejecting its Creator will bring about disappointing results.
Charles Whitaker observes that modern Israel, instead of expressing righteous indignation at the breaking of God's Covenant expresses a juvenile anger about the consequences of what their sins brought about. Sighing and crying involves far more than wallowing in worldly sorrow. As God's called-out ones, we must realize that on the heels of destruction will come the forces of reconciliation. The forces of destruction and construction will be virtually simultaneous. The knowledge of the Lord will cover the world as the waters of the seas, bringing physical as well as spiritual refreshment to the parched desert, restoring strength to those returning to the Promised Land. In the Day of the Lord, the haughty pride of man (symbolized by his lofty towers, high hills, or mountains) will be promptly leveled or destroyed. After this massive destruction, streams of crystal, restorative water will quickly heal all the broken lives resulting from man's misrule and his false religions. The curative act of restoration will follow quickly on the act of destruction during the Day of the Lord, unlike the unrelieved distress of the Great Tribulation. God's rod of correction is foundational, instrumental in building character, as every parent knows. The blow that God delivers to the Babylonian system will be foundational, laying the groundwork for a better civilization. The old has to go before the new can come. The destruction of the failed evil system ought to come with rejoicing. God's nature has a balance of goodness and severity.
John Ritenbaugh, suggests that, although humanism as a philosophy came onto American campuses approximately 50 years ago, it has been a part of the world's culture since 1600, when technology enabled secular universities to counter-attack the explosion of Biblical knowledge, unleashed by the Protestant Reformation. Actually, humanism has been alive and well for thousands of years. American culture, steeped in materialistic humanism, is decidedly non-Christian in its current outlook, as Satan has achieved a measure of success by twisting and distorting the information disseminated by secular universities, savagely destroying faith and creating doubt in God's existence, let alone His ultimate authority.
Martin Collins, continuing his expose of the United Nations Environmental Project, a movement which has evolved into a pagan earth worship, a religion attempting to impose a kind of earth-worship with a new covenant with mother earth. This movement espouses a new environmental ethic, an eco-spirituality designed to enforce a global reference for earth and an international, intercultural, and interfaith earth sabbath. UNEP has targeted the seemingly naïve leaders of the mainstream Protestant churches, which have already fallen for the surreptitious "Only One Earth" pitch, confessing their collective environmental sins, agreeing to decorate their churches with pictures of the earth and share their worship with other species. God's instructions to mankind included subduing the earth, tending and keeping it, but not to worship it as a kind of pagan goddess.
Martin Collins, reminding us there will be an obsession with earth worship at the end times, elevating the environment with the flora and fauna above the Creator, identifies this eco-idolatry with the judgment of the Sixth Trumpet or the second woe. The eco-feminist worldview despises the alleged hegemony of the male dominated patriarchic religions, Judaism and Christianity, attempting to replace them with an environmental earth-goddess worldview. The United Nations Environmental Program, with its eco-feministic outlook, desires to: 1) Replace the concept of a sovereign God ruling over nature with a co-evolutionary or mother-earth centered community, 2) create a view of the world as an organic living whole, manifesting energy, spirit, agency and creativity, 3) replace the view of animals, plants, and minerals being utilitarian possessions of human beings with a view of all things having intrinsic value to be respected and celebrated for their own being (as viewed by animal rights movements), 4) foster the idea that humans must see themselves as holistically interdependent with nature, 5) reject the idea of patriarchic dominance which has been characterized as the root of all false religion, 6) reject Western (especially the allegedly exclusivist, 'racist' white Christian 'male dominated') culture, replacing it with a diversity of human cultures, and 7) rejection of the survival-of-the fittest mind-set with participatory, community-based welfare (Socialism, Communism, and 'progressivism'). The mother-earth, Gaia idea is the cornerstone of this transformation. The United Nations Environmental Program desires an extermination of the Western Christian view on earth, replacing it with 'positive pagan' and New Age worldviews. Tree worship, to the environmentalists, encompasses three worlds: the underworld, world, and heavens, connecting the living and the dead. The origin of the 'Christmas tree' goes back long before the birth of Christ. Tree worship is a part of every culture on earth, with the evergreen as emblem
Martin Collins, acknowledging that Ancient Israel was guilty of adulterous, idolatrous, environmental earth worship, as demonstrated by Jeremiah 3:6-9, having led previously to God's issuing her a certificate of divorce, claims that eco-spirituality—a global environmental ethic based on the worship of "Mother Earth," emphasizing bio-diversity—is about to eclipse the Judeo-Christian religion and ethic. The earth worshipers have vilified Western religion, especially Christianity, for selfishly raping the earth of its resources, flora, and fauna, for the sake of 'racist' white men. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) castigates Christianity for selfishly destroying Mother Earth, but gives praise to Eastern philosophies regarding certain animals as sacred and revering the soil as a goddess. The misguided proponents of the earth worshipers fail to understand that we cannot take care of the earth by worshiping it as an idol, but must transfer that devotion to the Creator of the earth and the universe.
John Ritenbaugh, expanding on the consequences of the secular humanists becoming the dominant religion of the land, suggests that the mantra of tolerance expressed by leftist progressives does not reflect real tolerance at all (which is connoted by the terms forbearance and long-suffering), but instead an adamant hatred of anything associated with God and His words. Recent federal judge persecution of small business individuals (bakers, photographers, and farmers) refusing to offer their services to homosexuals, or federal judges forbidding the words "God" or "bless you" in the public school system, while tolerating radical Islam, evolution, and militant environmentalism (pagan earth worship), indicate that the secular humanist leaders, while pretending to teach tolerance, are actually unabashedly promoting hatred for Almighty God and anyone who has the audacity to follow Him. God's way of life clashes with the world because Satan is influencing the minds of the current leaders and the gullible people who follow their lies. As God's called-out ones, we cannot allow our minds to be brainwashed with Satan's religion, progressive secular humanism.
Richard Ritenbaugh, cuing in on the "What is truth?" episode in John 18:32-37, suggests that John wants us to ask that question of ourselves. Pilate seemed to believe that all the charges against Jesus were built up on lies and trumped-up charges. Jesus, conversely, was the perfect witness and embodiment of the truth—the truth and the way to eternal life. Pontius Pilate was a Roman prefect, probably involved in intrigue and shady backroom deals. The reason behind Pilate's question—- the tone of voice he used when he asked "What is truth?", has been a matter of perennial speculation: Did he ask it sincerely, sarcastically, wistfully, curiously, or impatiently? Pilate realized that Jesus did not have a political motive. Perhaps, Pilate asked the question in a skeptical, world-weary, futile manner, despairing of ever finding a true legitimate answer, feeling that everybody shades their own realities to suit themselves and their preconceptions. Deceit is our most grave problem as we continue in the world and in the church. Post-modern standards deny the existence of truth. Some secular humanists, who control much of higher education, feel that some truths (as practiced by Christians) should not be tolerated. The Olivet Prophecy places deceit at the top of the dangers confronting Christians, who, at the end-times, will be living in the deluge of information age or the disinformation age, powerful enough to deceive the very elect. Satan wants to flood the environment of our minds with a deluge of lies. If a person practices what he preaches, he is likely to tell the truth; we judge by the fruit produced. We have to analyze everything we see and hear, filtering it through the standards and principles of the Holy Scripture, realizing that we have generally not been taught to do this. False teachers tend to chip away at truth one little piece at a time, trying to find an angle to cast doubt on the integrity of the entirety of our belief system. God's Word is the only pure thing in which we
David C. Grabbe: The landscape of religion is shifting. While Christendom has claimed the largest number of adherents for centuries, present trends strongly indicate that we are living in a religious axial period, a time when the old order and powers decay and are replaced by new powers. Barring a radical course correction, adherents of Islam will outnumber professing Christians very shortly—perhaps in as few as twenty years. ...
Jesus' Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13 warns us that there will be false brethren within the church. Using the example of Christ Himself, Ted Bowling shows that the Bible also tells us how to interact with them in a godly manner.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the scripture commanding the saving of second tithe, focuses on the admonition that we learn to fear God, having awe, respect, with a certain measure of dread. We are admonished to internalize the book of Deuteronomy in preparation for our future leadership roles. In one sense, Deuteronomy serves as the Reader's Digest Condensed Book or the Cliff Notes, outlining the details for our salvation, providing us instructions for our relationship to God and our guidebook to the Promised Land. Deviating from this set of instructions leads to apostasy, idolatry or spiritual adultery, a situation in which physical Israel perennially found itself, having become repeatedly immersed in degenerate heathen religious practices. Ezekiel 16 is directed to modern Israel, a people who have outstripped their ancestors in their zeal to defile themselves in a moral and spiritual cesspool. Unfortunately, all of us have been tainted by this degenerate culture. Modern Israel's major sin is idolatry. Once the First Commandment is broken, the others topple like a house of cards. Most of the world worships pictures or sculptures of gods and lords. Those who trust these false entities are as good as dead. There is no alternative to worshipping the one true God. Israel's propensity for idolatry is deeply ingrained in them, impatiently and emotionally clamoring for something they could see—a malleable idol. Unfortunately, this propensity toward idolatry is part of human nature, a natural extension of self-centered coveting; transforming ourselves into the god we serve. God will not brook competition under any circumstances, demanding total destruction of all alternative forms and methods of worship—no form of syncretism with anything pagan whatsoever.
Our age is more technologically advanced than any that man has previously known. ...
When Satan confronted humanity's first parents, Adam and Eve, he fed them three heresies that he continues to promote to deceive the world today. David Grabbe expounds on these three lies, revealing how Gnosticism incorporated them into its parasitic philosophy and way of life.
Gnosticism is very much in vogue today in books and movies, and perhaps surprisingly, in the belief systems of many people who profess to be Christian.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Psalm 50:21-22, states that the new paradigm or outcome-based religion has reconfigured God into something that He is not, something far inferior to God's nature, leading to degenerate behavior on the part of the worshiper, promoting the shameless "feel good" indulgence of the flesh, exalting carnality and human nature while shamelessly rejecting God's truth. Outcome based religion promotes death because it rejects God's correction. Its thinking is that God is altogether like us. Outcome based religion exalts numerical growth and feeling good over the truth of God, promoting the use of modern psychology and general systems theories over biblical doctrine. This religion, like historical Gnosticism, uses familiar religious terminology, but with totally different meanings or points of reference. The foundational sin of the purpose driven church is idolatry, rejecting any doctrine which threatens their growth or unity. This practice seems right to them, but we must remember that Satan's modus operandi is based on deception. Much of the thrust of their approach is to appeal to feelings. Satan‚s pattern of destruction consists of infiltration from within and distraction from without.
John Ritenbaugh warns about the dangers of the emerging, new paradigm, purpose driven, outcome-based churches. The fourth descriptor was borrowed from a movement in modern education, emphasizing that the ends justify the means, glorifying political correctness, tolerance for all manner of perversion, and relativistic human philosophy. People who have embraced these concepts are oblivious to their obligations to Almighty God, but instead have been enticed to return to the rudiments of this world, based upon Satanic demon worship, leading us away from a wholesome relationship with Christ and into a pragmatic compromising with sin. We have an obligation to strive for the faith once delivered, continually yielding to the sound scriptural doctrine and to the leadership of Christ. The purpose driven church derives its momentum from human psychology and modern marketing efforts rather than upon God's calling and His truth. The emerging church, not wanting to alienate anybody, has turned its back on sound biblical doctrine, becoming a social, religious, do-good institution, embracing flawed human reason as its only moral barometer.
John Ritenbaugh insists that God holds mankind responsible for knowing about Him and His divine attributes. Moral and spiritual deterioration begins when one does not live up to what he knows to be right. Deep within every human being is a consciousness of God based upon the public revelation of creation as well as the spirit of man—a basic conscience as a guide—not limited to converted people. Conscience, unfortunately, is always subject to education combined with what we choose to believe. The United States is plunging into a cesspool of immorality despite a so-called 'new-paradigm church,' 'emerging church' or 'outcome based religion' which is based on Satan's Gnostic education, stealing the name 'Christian,' while systematically rejecting God's truth. The truth is unacceptable to human nature. Unity cannot be achieved because of the problems of sin that drives all to seek their own way. The whole world, by rejecting the knowledge of God, is spurning God's gift of unity. It has been that way from the beginning when Adam and Eve didn't believe God enough to submit to Him. The human heart is incredibly sick; we desperately need a savior.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI made the Catholic Church—and the Catholic faith—front-page news around the globe. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: According to both American political parties, we have just endured "the most important" campaign and election in our nation's history, certainly in our lifetimes. ...
Richard Ritenbaugh reflects that, over a period of time, we can become an aficionado, learning to evaluate works of art, distinguishing the works of one artist from another, or perhaps a mediocre from a quality work. Likewise, our spiritual works (as evidenced in the systematic chronological appraisal of the works of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 - including the Ephesus- the "crusty old soldiers" who left their first love, Smyrna - "sheep to the slaughter"-suffering continual tribulation but conquering in the process, Pergamos, "Spiritual Descendants of Lot" - or cultural compromisers, Thyatira- idolatrous worldly Christians "Married to the enemy," Sardis "Dead and Deader," living on past reputation, Philadelphia, the weak but faithful " Little engine that could" , and the self-centered "Good for nothing idle rich" ) also have come under close meticulous scrutiny or appraisal by Almighty God. Contrary to Protestant understanding, our works emphatically do count - showing or demonstrating (not just telling) that we will be obedient.
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing on the second beast of Revelation 13:11-18, offers his speculative interpretation. Both beasts appear to be end-time entities (having a brief but horrifying 3 1/2-year tenure), serving as counterfeits of the Two Witnesses. Both beasts derive their power from Satan the Devil. The first beast rises out of volatile, ever-changing political turmoil, while the second rises out of an entrenched, worldwide religious system, totally opposed to God's laws. The second beast will be able to perform lying wonders, have capital authority over the lives of "heretics," and cause an identifying "mark" on the forehead (representing thoughts or attitudes) and right hand (representing physical activities) of those who voluntarily take it. The number 666 seems to represent the number of ultimate human "perfection" (humanism) apart from God—as opposed to the number of ultimate godly perfection.
At God's command, the white horse and its rider gallop over the earth 'conquering and to conquer.' Richard Ritenbaugh analyzes the symbolism of this horseman, a precursor of the destruction that is wrought by its fellows.
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon the big lie ('you will not surely die'—Genesis 3:4) of inherent immortal life (an immortal soul). This dangerous false belief, held by the majority of Christian-professing denominations, has led to an acceleration of sin and the danger of eternal oblivion. Sin kills, and we are not immortal. Contrary to Socrates and Plato's misconceptions about inherent immortality, only God can give eternal life, and it has specific conditions (overcoming sin and growing spiritually). Death is not a friend or a liberator, but as Jesus understood at the time of his crucifixion, a bitter enemy, a tool of Satan, and a cruel instrument of separation. Only through God's divine act of resurrection can we hope to attain eternal life. We desperately need to do a thorough self-examination, properly discerning Christ's sacrifice, and strive mightily to overcome sin, the destroyer of life.
John Ritenbaugh highlights a dangerous flaw in our evaluation of religious truth. If the God of the Bible (who cannot lie and is not a God of confusion) were involved in the religions of the world—mainstream Christianity and Islam - there would be no strife between them. The bitter fruits indicate that the god of both of them is not the God of the Bible, but instead the ruler of this world, Satan the Devil, who inspires warfare and adversarial relationships. The false teachings of this world's belief systems can adversely erode and destroy the faith in members of the greater church of God. "The Way" is distinct from the world's belief systems, polluted by the tolerant and inclusive attitudes of the liberal far left - a position shockingly embraced by a large segment of evangelical, born-again Christians.
Halloween has become the second-most popular holiday on the calendar in recent years—even to the point that Christian churches sponser parties on it. Richard Ritenbaugh shows, however, that this night of ghouls not only lacks biblical foundation, but the Bible warns us against participating in such activities.
Martin G. Collins: While suffering under the tyrannical, secular regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people were more personally free from the murderous, religious radicals of the various Islamic sects. ...
We live in a day of increasing knowledge—to the point that we are increasingly overloaded with information. Richard Ritenbaugh argues that these and other modern factors lend themselves to deception, yet this is one of the primary end-time trends that Jesus warns us against!
John Ritenbaugh defines the world as the aggregate (total, mass) of things seen and temporal, having a powerful magnetic appeal to the carnal mind (or the spirit in man), including entertainment, fame, academic knowledge, material possessions, etc. Because we find ourselves immersed in this world's system (constituting a virtual Trojan Horse within our minds), we must realize we are walking on a razor's edge with the Kingdom of God on one side, and the world with all its sensual magnetic charms on the other side. Our marching orders are to seek the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and to walk by faith rather than by sight (II Corinthians 4:18).
Revelation 17 depicts a fallen woman astride a beast, drunk with the blood of God's saints. Whom does this image represent? "Christian" history makes the answer plain!
What does God see in Israel that so affronts Him that He has to swear "by His holiness"? Israel had every opportunity that the Gentiles did not have: His calling, His promises, His Word, His laws. He gave the Israelites these gifts to help them develop into His sons and daughters, but God sees them as diametrically opposite of Himself. Should not God expect to see some of His characteristics in His sons?
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that a recurring pattern God uses is to set apart one group of people to become a blessing to the rest of the world by keeping His covenant, providing a good example. Ancient Israel was asked to purge the land of Gentile customs and practices. In the New Testament, the church (the Israel of God) was asked to come out of the world, having as little contact as possible with its political, educational, and social institutions (with its unseen spiritual influences). Like Nehemiah, our worldview has to stem from a fear of God. Adopting the world's standards automatically makes one an enemy of God. Our enemy is not the people of the world, but the subtle satanic spiritual influences that determine their attitudes and values. Our intimate fellowship should not be with the world, but be concentrated upon God and those who have made the Covenant with God, loving them as we would ourselves.
John Ritenbaugh stresses that the Sabbath is the major means by which God protects His investment, the spiritual creation of His family. The Sabbath, far from being the least of the commandments, is a special creation, a very specific period of holy time (only God can set apart something as holy) given to all of mankind, reminding us that God does not stop creating, but elevates His attention to spiritual creation, providing us with unified instruction designed to free us from sin, celebrate life, develop a special relationship with Him, providing a major tool for our conversion, sanctification, and ultimate glorification. No other commandment so specifically defines God's purpose. Breaking the Sabbath is tantamount to idolatry.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the false religions embraced by the descendants of Jacob are not preparing God's people for the harsh punishment God will surely bring to modern Israel. Amos indicts rampant dishonest practices in modern Israel, placing dishonest gain above honesty, morality, or ethics, and arrogantly and covetously exploiting the needy for profit. Competition-eat or be eaten- becomes the dominant business ethic in modern Israel. Amos suggests that a major contributory cause of natural disasters (earthquakes, drought, famines, and floods) is the epidemic of immorality omnipresent in the land of Jacob (totally neutralizing the otherwise positive effects of prosperity and technology)Prophecy should serve as a prod or motivation to prepare appropriately for the future, zealously guarding the truth against a counterfeit (politically active or influential) syncretistic pagan religion [patterned after the manner of Jeroboam I], safeguarding against an impending famine of the word. God will demolish this satanic religious-political system, re-gathering a repentant bruised and battered remnant of His people.
John Ritenbaugh observes that the people to whom Amos addresses have the mistaken assumption that because they have made the covenant with God that they complacently bask in a kind of divine favoritism—God's country, God's people, God's church. God's holy and spiritual law, describing and defining His standard of holiness, His character, nature, or essence, serves as the template into which our character needs to be formed or molded. The combination of the redeeming and the law-giving aspects of God's nature determines the plumb line against which all of us are judged. Jacob's descendents, embracing false religion (after the idolatrous, syncretistic manner of Jeroboam I) have severely placed a strain upon God's patience. As members of the Israel of God, we must assiduously measure up to God's plumb line, insisting upon positive moral purity in all our thoughts and behaviors, avoiding sin by doing good—a course that will put us totally out of sync with the rest of society—a society ripe in sin and immorality, begging for harsh correction.
John Ritenbaugh warns that the pride of Jacob (or his offspring) coupled with the incredible ability to make tremendous technological advances, blinds Israel to its devastating moral deficit. Amos begins with a description or cataloging of the sins of Israel's enemies, followed by a harsh indictment of its own sins and a roar of wrath (or justice), followed by the encirclement by its enemies and its ultimate fall. Thankfully, after punishing His people, God will redeem them and faithfully fulfill His covenant with them. God, in His sovereignty, will do what He must to bring Abraham's seed to repentance and salvation, including allowing crisis, hardship, humiliation, and calamity. As the Israel of God, we dare not complacently take our special covenant-relationship for granted, realizing that His plumbline (a combination of grace and law) will measure us, testing our spirituality while showing absolutely no favoritism or partiality. We need to see ourselves from God's perspective.
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