Monthly Archives: September 2014

Classic Catechism Possibly in Third Translation

When my revision of the Catechism of the Free Methodist Church was published in 2006 as Classic Catechism, I had hopes that it would be put to good use in America. To date, it has been used in America – a bit. But what I did not expect was interest in it overseas. Apparently, the question and answer format is still one of the preferred teaching styles abroad. Also a basic, cheap doctrinal resource is needed in places where a pastor may not own any theological books besides a Bible. It is very popular in India (in English) and has been translated into Chin, a language of Myanmar, and recently into Chinese. I have just received word that there are plans to see it translated into Bengali. My hope isClassic Catechism amazon to see it in Spanish in the near future as well.

Revising the old catechism was a labor of love to provide a basic doctrinal teaching tool for teaching my daughter. The revision of questions was extensive as the phrasing, vocabulary, etc. had to be brought from the 1902 way of speaking to present-day usage. Plus I added about 30 new questions to fill in gaps and to better sync it with our Articles of Religion.

If you are interested in reviewing a list of changes I made to the original catechism, read Microsoft Word – Changes List for published catechism. If you want to read a document from a workshop on the Classic Catechism I did at the 2007 General Conference, see (Microsoft Word – Teaching the Classic Catechism – General Conference 20.

The Classic Catechism may be ordered from Amazon and from Wesleyan Publishing House.

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The Perennial All-American Theological Lie: Prosperity Gospel

As a pastor, it is part of my charge to warn my people of false teachings and teachers. This is a hard sell. For so many American Christians imbibe, at least in part, in the prosperity gospel, in one form or another. Like your favorite junk food that you just cannot seem to leave alone, the prosperity message appeals to the American desire to indulge in what feels good and especially to live life comfortably, with minimal physical or financial strain.

Albert Mohler has described well the version of the prosperity message that the the Osteens sell in his essay, The Osteen Predicament – Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel.  Speaking to the congregation, Victoria Osteen recently said,

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God–I mean, that’s one way to look at it–we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we are happy. . . . That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. . . .”

She continued: “So, I want you to know this morning — Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. . . . When you come to church, when you worship him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Mohler comments, “The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth — and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.” 

In his writings, Joel Osteen teaches that believers and non-believers are treated essentially the same before God in terms of potential for prosperity and blessings. Little, if any, mention is made of the need for repentance and faith in Christ, due to the fact that humankind is estranged from God due to sin. In other words, the core message of the Osteens, at least what we see in print and on TV, is not the core message of the gospel. Further, the fact that God does not promise physical and material prosperity to believers in the Bible is ciComfort - God has a wonderfulrcumvented one way or another. One would do well to remember the cover of Ray Comfort’s book, God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, which depicts the stoning of Steven. Certainly the countless Christians throughout the centuries who have loved God with all their heart and yet were impoverished and/or sickly are a testament that there is no formula of faith for accessing and appropriating a comfortable life from God.

Three resources on the unbiblical nature of prosperity theology are the above mentioned book by Comfort, Truth Matters by Russell Morris, and Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff. The dissertation form of Morris’ book can be read for free on the SATS website.

 

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