Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things have gotten so busy around here, I can’t possibly keep up with all the comments. What amazes me is that this controversy has been out in the public domain for several years now. Craig Hazen’s actions are nothing new . . . so it must be a new audience.

If so, my article accomplished all that I hoped it would. It is refreshing to see the interest. People are thinking and that’s a good thing. I don’t mind critics posting their opinions, but repetitive posting is a bit well. . . boring, so don’t be surprised if you rant repeatedly and it disappears.

One thing I've noticed is that all of the pro-Hazen posts ignore this Scripture:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you."
I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty." 2 Cor 6:14-18

Matthew Henry's Commentary has some interesting insight on these verses:

“It is wrong for good people to join in affinity with the wicked

and profane . . .

Much less should we join in religious communion with them; we must not join with them in their idolatrous services, nor concur with them in their false worship, nor any abominations; we must not confound together the table of the Lord and the table of devils, the house of God and the house of Rimmon. The apostle gives several good reasons against this corrupt mixture.

1. It is a very great absurdity . . . joining righteousness with unrighteousness (v. 14, 15).

2. It is a dishonour to the Christian's profession (v. 16); for Christians are by profession, and should be in reality, the temples of the living God. . . .

3. There is a great deal of danger in communicating with unbelievers and idolators, danger of being defiled and of being rejected; therefore the exhortation is (v. 17) to come out from among them, and keep at a due distance, to be separate, as one would avoid the society of those who have the leprosy or the plague, for fear of taking infection, and not to touch the unclean thing, lest we be defiled.

4. It is base ingratitude to God for all the favours he has bestowed upon believers and promised to them, v. 18.

Again, not one of Craig Hazen's supporters even tried to refute this Scripture.

I will be addressing some of the posts made by the Hazen team in the next day or so. Their charity toward Mormons is only outdone by their lack of charity toward believers. Some might say they are guilty of the same sin they lay at my door.

From Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)


Dwayna Litz said...

Well said, Jill.

I must say that losing respect for "leaders" and no longer wanting to listen to their sermons or lectures continues to be a very uneasy experience and pruing ground for me.

I used to sit in hours and hours of bumper to bumper traffic to go to Biola to LEARN at a conference on apologetics. It was worth it to me before I knew of the chicanery behind the scenes...

I was being myopic and immature in hindsight to assume that just because someone teaches something about God well that he or she lives it by the example of humility or that he or she would share in the sufferings of Christ to the degree of surrendering their own reputations to Him and the praise of their associates in academia.

Now, it is sad to not even want to hear a CD from the same teachers I waited in stand still traffic to hear back then.

It is like losing friends....I never knew.

10:49 AM  
John Willis said...

Jill wrote: One thing I've noticed is that all of the pro-Hazen posts ignore this Scripture...(2 COR 14)

Mrs. Rische - that is simply not true. I have personally challenged your reference to this scripture here as well as at 'christian worldview network'.

From earlier posts at your blog....The citation of 2 Cor. 6 could apply, but the argument for how it in fact does apply is not given here. All we are left with, then, is a string of out-of-context quotations and a forceful conclusion. (Ref: Blogger 'Paul', Blaspheme 101)

Your assumption that the burden of proof is on Dr. Hazen or "his supporters" (whatever that means), to show that he isn't a blasphemer, anytime you feel like crying foul is just ridiculous. You haven't given anyone a compelling reason to believe you are interpreting this scripture correctly. As you are applying this scripture in support of a serious charge one would expect you to have thought this through. However, when scripture references are simply thrown out without supporting arguments and consideration of the weakness of your position, the appearance that your readers should accept your conclusion on "faith" is apparent.

As you correctly noted, your illconceived charge of "blasphemy" against Dr. Hazen is not new. I'm sure your an expert on the interpretation of this verse by now.

Perhaps you can start by stating the historical and textual context of 2 COR 14 and explain how the verses before and after support your interpretation.


11:49 AM  
Bill said...

I am new to your blog. I am, of course, familiar with Walter Martin and his ministry. I got here through a link on the STR blog. After reading through several posts on the subject of Dr. Hazen and the subsequent comments, I find myself disheartened. It's depressing to see God's leaders fighting amoungst themselves instead of fighting against the devil. I've read enough. I won't be back.

4:08 PM  
James said...

Couldn't agree more with Bill.

4:10 PM  
Martin James said...

Yes, this site has been rather strong as of late. I am sorry people feel uncomfortable with it though. For me it has been refreshing. I find so much of today’s evangelicalism to be white-washed-make-me-feel-good nonsense.

As I have thought about all of this, this analogy has come to my mind. It seems that some believers think it is OK to do missionary dating, i.e. a believer ought to date unbelievers for the purpose of bringing them to Christ. It seems that this is what Mr. Hazen has done. What it usually does to a man or woman in a dating relationship is introduce compromise. I think Mr. Hazen has fallen into the same trap.

One more thing… I don’t mean this to be offensive, but some of you guys who have PhD’s are really arrogant. I am not against education (I have a Masters degree) but some of you folks need to quite your tenured day job, come off of your pedestal, and rub elbows with the majority of the world like Jesus did.

Grace and peace,

6:23 PM  
Francis J. Beckwith said...

Mr. Willis' comments are right on the money. It is, of course, possible that Jill's employment of the passages she quotes may be applicable in this case. But if it were that simple, so obvious that anyone with a Bible and the ability to read could see it without assistance or direction, there would be no for Jill to conscript the services of Matthew Henry, a Puritan with an understanding of civil society and the church that goes no deeper than the 16th century.

Remember that Paul uses a metaphor that has its roots in Duet. 22:10. Old Testament professor Dennis Bratcher does a nice job of teasing out this metaphor in the cultural context in which Paul wrote his letter: http://cresourcei.org/yoked.html I'm not sure I agree with everything Professor Bratcher says. But my point is that Jill must do more than simply pull out a sequence of Bible verses and then tell us it applies in the case of Mr. Hazen. That's not how one ought to do theology or approach a brother who is doing important work.

Substantively Jill has no case against Craig Hazen. Read the prayer carefully. Craig employs Joseph Smith in the same way that Paul employed a Greek poet on Mars Hill. But unlike Paul, Hazen does not cite Smith as someone who stumbled upon the truth. He merely employs the story of Smith in his petition to God. He actually doesn't even say that he believes that Smith really prayed to God. He says "the Mormon Scriptures say...." Craig's prayer is carefully written so that he uses a familiar Mormon narrative, making no assent to its truth, while offering a prayer to the Lord to impart His wisdom to all those present. That's not blasphemy. That's being wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

8:11 PM  
Tom said...


I think that a lot of us would like to see you engage in a more serious and detailed way with Francis Beckwith and John Willis' comments.

Specifically their challenge to produce some actual evidence of this purported blasphemy, and to provide a more secure biblical interpretation of 2 Cor 14.

Engaging properly with critics is a key part of communicating with integrity and honesty.

What else is beneath the surface of all this I wonder?


10:31 PM  
Jessica said...


I just wanted you to know I really admire what your doing!!! I'll be praying for God to continue doing great things through you. I will also be praying that the people debating against you will have their eyes opened!

God bless,

11:50 AM  
Rhology said...

Dr Beckwith/others,

How would this situation and your reaction to it be different were Dr. Hazen to participate in an Evangelicals And Hindus Together ceremony along w/ many prominent brahmans at the Ganges River and were to craft a closing prayer that wouldn't offend the listening Hindus, asking God to bless the proceedings?


6:04 PM  
Francis J. Beckwith said...

"How would this situation and your reaction to it be different were Dr. Hazen to participate in an Evangelicals And Hindus Together ceremony along w/ many prominent brahmans at the Ganges River and were to craft a closing prayer that wouldn't offend the listening Hindus, asking God to bless the proceedings?"

The analogy is flawed. First, Hazen did not participate in a Evangelicals and Mormons Together "ceremony." It was an event that included prayer and preaching. The word "ceremony" carries with it the connotation of having a sort of liturgical or sacramental function. Hazen did not participate in LDS communion, baptism, a wedding, or an ordination, all of which are ceremonial, and would clearly raise questions. Second, Hazen crafted a closing prayer that was biblically sound while at the same time did not needlessly offend his hosts. Surely you are not suggesting that a Christian has a moral duty to offend? Yes, sometimes a Christian may offend as an unintended consequence of doing the right thing. But it does not follow from that that the absence of offense is evidence that a wrong was committed.

When one is unsure of how to interpret an event, and when reasonable people disagree, should not one be charitable and give the participants the benefit of the doubt?

An orchestra has many instruments, and sometimes includes a clanging cymbal, and that contributes to the wonder of the sound. But an entire orchestra of clanging cymbals is painful and unattractive.

12:35 AM  
Rhology said...

Dr Beckwith,

Very well, let us change the word "ceremony" to "time of prayer and preaching," as in:

How would this situation and your reaction to it be different were Dr. Hazen to participate in an Evangelicals And Hindus Together time of prayer and preaching along w/ many prominent brahmans at the Ganges River and were to craft a closing prayer that wouldn't offend the listening Hindus, asking God to bless the proceedings?

I would add that this would be "a closing prayer that was biblically sound while at the same time did not needlessly offend his hosts".
I have no doubt that you realise that the truth of the Gospel would be an offense to Hindus. And outside of a situation where you are put in the position of defending a buddy in the 'big-time' apologetics community, you would say the same about LDS people. But when face to face w/ merely a mom & pop organisation headed up by one or two people w/ keyboard and blog, for some reason that gets lost.
The point is - why go to SLC and this event in the 1st place? Why pray? Why pray a prayer that neglects to express the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, which is an offense to the mind that hates God (like LDS minds), and which is Dr Hazen's job and stated purpose to proclaim?
Prayer and preaching are very important and spiritual exercises of the Christian life, and they are sthg that we have no business sharing w/ enemies of God. Would you not agree?

Please note that it's not just Dr Hazen's actions to which I (and I am sure Mrs. Martin-Rische) object. From Dr Mouw:

MOUW: In just a month and a half we will greet the year 2005, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During this year there will be many occasions to pay special attention to Joseph's life and teachings, and I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events.

MOUW: What a wonderful thing it is that we can meet together to talk about the Lord Jesus and about who he is and what he has done on **our** behalf. (emph. mine)

MOUW: I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: "we know," Joseph said, "that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God." And then he added: "And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, and we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength."

And his 'clarifications' here:
http://tinyurl.com/yovaq8 (which I am unsure are 100% true, but the above quotes are sufficient, I should think)

DR BECKWITH: When one is unsure of how to interpret an event, and when reasonable people disagree, should not one be charitable and give the participants the benefit of the doubt?
RHOLOGY: I am not unsure how to interpret an event where a prominent leader goes into a house of worship or a bldg closely related to worship of a pagan group and prays and gives his blessing to the proceedings. Attend, fine. Pray and act like we're all good together? No.

All that to say, I am amazed that you have come down so hard on this issue here.


8:09 AM  
Jill Martin Rische said...

Respectful, succinct, logical and supported.

Very well stated, Alan.

Thanks for posting,


2:25 PM  
Tartanarmy said...

MOUW--Man are those his comments?
I am trying to follow some of what is going on here, which I stumbled upon.


6:16 PM  
Paul said...

While it is commendable to offer a somewhat more extensive treatment of this passage from 2 Corinthians, the exposition here is lacking. Specifically, it does not discern from the text what type of "affinity with the wicked" or "communicating with unbelievers and idolaters" is being warned against. Is it wrong to attend a religious event organized by unbelievers? Is it wrong to attend an informational event organized by unbelievers? Is it OK to attend but not OK to participate? Is it OK for unbelievers to attend religious events organized by Christians?

The Apostle Paul would not have had in his mind any such type of "joint event" as the one in question in these arguments. Given the idolatry in Corinth, he is most likely warning the Corinthian believers not to go to the pagan worship feasts and participate with the pagans in their depravity. Yet here we do not have Dr. Hazen attending Mormon ceremonies and participating with them in their depravity, so the passage does not apply as clearly and directly as you charge.

That does not mean that it doesn't apply at all. Certainly there are principles that can be drawn from Scripture as to what is appropriate contact with unbelievers ("I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some") and what is not appropriate contact with unbelievers ("Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers").

Whatever conclusion you come to on that issue as it applies to Dr. Hagen, it seems unfair to use such a strong charge as blasphemy. Certainly we must grant that the intent of Dr. Hagen and the other Christian organizers and participants in this event was evangelistic, building bridges of dialog so that the truth of Jesus Christ may be presented in a way that may win some for Him. Even if they have gone too far in "becoming all things to all men", you go too far in charging them with blasphemy without evidence that they have clearly and intentionally maligned the name of the Lord.

You have not been fair in saying that "all of the pro-Hazen posts ignore this Scripture". When you originally cited it, you gave it entirely without explanation of what it means, how it applied to the original audience, and how it applies today. Yet you expect others to take up the burden of explaining that text and showing that it does not apply in the way that you simply declared that it did. This just isn't fair. If you offer it as evidence for your case, you bear the responsibility for showing how it supports your argument. (HT to John for noting this above.)

10:42 AM  
truthster said...

Craig Hazen and Frank Beckwith were co-students for awhile getting a Master's in apologetics. Craig did not have a strong theological background or understanding, but that doesn't matter it seems in Christians' lack of discernment for hiring and advancing. He was elevated to teach courses to Master's students, when he only was one himself. They needed an administrator, someone who would look the part of a nice, responsible, respectable school. Frank and Craig fit the looks, but not the theology.

You cannot be a speaker, teacher, leader within Christianity when your theology is messed up. All Christians are supposed to understand one Gospel, the same Gospel, but it gets sold out by supposed leaders like this.

I say, get the students in, teach them, if they don't get it, believe it, then don't hire them! Don't let them represent Christianity, because they're not!

We all grow in our knowledge of our Faith, hopefully, so sometimes when we get moved up, or allowed opportunities to minister, it can be the Lord opening the door. But it's not the Lord who opens doors where the flesh and false doctrines are glorified rather than Christ.

It's easy for Hazen to make mistakes like the Mormon thing, because he is not seeing with the true understanding of the Gospel in the Scriptures. While he has the passages, and on paper considers them Final Authority, that does not mean he understands them accurately yet.

His lack of fast repentance is a sign. Had it been a Christian who understood the issues, and fellow believers like here pointed it out, we may have been blind to it, but wow, thank you for showing me!Man I'm sorry Lord, and I'm writing a letter to the Mormons et al, because I was blind, etc. We don't have the fruits of mature Christians in these instances, our "leaders."

Hazen's specialty in teaching wasn't the Gospel, but about different apologetic issues. They should go hand in hand, but they rarely do. Many of our famous speakers and professors don't truly represent the Biblical data of the Gospel. They can give the evidences for the resurrection, but not give a Biblical view of salvation. He does it like many, many Protestants are now guilty of doing: not fitting the pieces together accurately.

We have Scripture to accurately represent God's will for us. We are to all read and be taught the same Gospel, the same Jesus, and then go out and spread that same message. Instead we break off into small sects, like Hazen's. Or we go off into philosophy, like Beckwith. Neither of which has the blessing of God because they are not accurately presenting Christ to the world.

We all still need, whatever business we are in, be it College President or Professor or Author or toilet-scrubber to know the correct Gospel the Holy Spirit breathed through the human authors into our Scripture's writings. 'Many will say Lord, Lord, but He will say He never knew' you.

Knowledge is not some epistemological area into which Beckwith and Hazen and philosophic or apologetic topics tread; it is first and foremost described by God in Scripture. We can know what He wants us to know, and He has kept that information in the 66 books in our Bible. You do not need a Master's course, or degrees, only a heart praying and seeking God for His truth found in Jesus Christ as revealed in Holy Scripture. But that knowledge must be that of true salvation given the world solely through Jesus Christ's atonement, which is offered to the world because of God's love and grace, and received into our lives by our trusting Him for these promises to be true, our faith which is not a work, but a gift.

Different Christians have different gifts, differently given by God, but we are all equal, for God is not partial. We all should have the same Savior, the same Gospel, the same Faith, and prove that love through service to others. But Hazen is not "a brother doing important work" as Beckwith claims, when his fruit, the results of his beliefs, are not good, and are not even recognized by him or Beckwith as evil.

That's how hard we get, fast, unintentionally, when the entire Church is divided into a zillion sects with only a few holding on to the Word correctly. Are we saved because of correct doctrine, if that correct doctrine means do we believe in the right Jesus, saving us with the right salvation, the salvation that is not one of the Law, not one of works, but the one of Faith and His accomplishment of the salvation for us.

We are in sinful natures, and each of us is going to have problem areas in their lives. We tend to see more clearly how others fail, but we need to consider ourselves, lest we commit the same things. We are one body of Christ if we believe He died and rose again for our sins, a core, foundational set of beliefs to be a Christian which cannot be dismissed or not-learned-but-still-you-are-one. We are saved by faith alone.

The sinner woman weeping at Jesus feet, wetting them with her tears,drying them with her hair...was she some doctrinal student "knowing" this stuff? No, but she knew what we do when we have true Faith: She KNEW she was a sinner, knew she needed God's mercy, knew there was no hope for her unless the words she had heard of Jesus were true, knew that He could and would provide her the grace she needed only because He could because He was God Himself. Jesus told her that her sins were forgiven, her faith had saved her. She was overjoyed from forgiveness and aware of her sins, weeping from both, the constant state of Faith of the humble Christian, rarely the state seen from professors and speakers and leaders in the Body.

Repent! All sinners, let's turn to Christ anew, while there is still today, and receive His mercy, then live our lives with EVIDENCE for others.

Also, "Clearly and intentinally miligning the Lord" is not the criteria Biblically for blasphemy. Someone can malign the Lord, but they're not sent to hell for that. They're sent to hell for refusing all the Holy Spirit's witnessing to them of Who Jesus is, and those who disagree are blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the one unforgiveable sin.

Why is it unforgiveable? Because we are taking all that God has done for us in Christ, and chosen not to believe, chosen not to accept, chosen to reject His salvation offered solely through faith, not works; chosen to reject His salvation revealed solely in Scripture inspired by Him; chosen to reject the very Gospel, and in doing so we are choosing to stay in our sins, without the real Christ of the Bible, and so we have no other forgiveness available, and we have blasphemed eternally.

We are fallen sinners, and will make doctrinal mistakes, but we are to have the true Gospel, or we have no Gospel at all. We are covered by the righteousness of Christ when we accept His death for us and repent and believe, turning to Him in faith. But without that true faith, when we turn to Him otherwise, it is some sort of a manmade religion, and we have no righteous covering of Christ because we have no true faith, so the doctrinal errors matter greatly.

1:41 AM  

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