Some Protestants Might Show Up to Mark Driscoll's Church Easter Sunday

Plans are still coming together but at least one protestant will greet the Easter Sunday meeting of The Trinity Church on Sunday. Las Vegas resident and Mars Hill critic Bob Sluys plans to show up at The Trinity Church with signs to express his views about Mark Driscoll’s new venture.
Sluys has been busy making signs for the grand opening.
bob sluys
Driscoll has been advertising the first meeting with promises of a “free carnival.”

Well, everybody loves a carnival.
Those interested in what Sluys is doing, can contact him via email.

Glenn Beck Says God Divinely Anointed Ted Cruz to be President

Glenn Beck counters Baylor history professor Thomas Kidd for saying Cruz hasn’t been divinely anointed. With the #wifewars2016 and National Enquirer and all, this has to be one of the strangest presidential races ever.
John Kasich, anyone?

Ted Cruz's Religious Liberty Guidelines Target Gays and Miss the Mark

Awhile back, Ted Cruz formed a committee to advise him on religious liberty issues. However, looking at their initial recommendations released yesterday, it appears the committee had a dual role — religious liberty and discrimination against GLBT folk.  Here is the press release from the Cruz campaign:
cruz logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Alice Stewart, (202) 365-5654
News Release Catherine Frazier, (512) 751-5984
March 24, 2016
 Cruz Welcomes Initial Religious Liberty Recommendations from Advisory Council  
Cruz: “As We Celebrate Spiritual Freedom During Easter, We Remember that Religious Liberty is the First American Freedom”
HOUSTON, Texas – Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz today received initial recommendations from his Religious Liberty Advisory Council, formed last month to advise his campaign and future administration on policies to defend religious liberty domestically and internationally.
“During this Holy Week, as Christians prepare to celebrate spiritual freedom in Christ, we remember also that religious liberty is the first American freedom,” said Cruz. “I thank this learned and committed group of leaders for their wise recommendations, and as president I will be proud to work with them to protect our religious liberty. Defending religious liberty has been a lifelong passion, and I’ve been blessed to help win national victories, preserving the Texas Ten Commandments monument, the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial.”
The recommendations comprise 15 initial actions, both legislative and executive, to emphasize and bolster the freedom of religion in the United States. Included are the following proposals:

  • Issue an executive order preventing the federal government from discriminating against Americans who believe that marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman.
  • Reinstate thorough and protective conscience rights protections in federal healthcare programs.
  • Direct the Department of Health and Human Services to exempt all employers who object for moral and religious reasons from any contraception mandate.
  • Update and revise military regulations to reflect a robust constitutional understanding of the first amendment rights of military personnel, particularly chaplains.
  • Pass the First Amendment Defense Act “to prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage.”
  • Direct the IRS to publicly clarify the generous rights of non-profits and religious leaders to engage in political speech without compromising their tax-exempt status.
  • Rescind executive orders which limit the government from partnering with faith-based non-profit organizations.
  • Order the Department of Education to issue guidelines which accurately address the rights of students, teachers, and other school personnel to live out their faith in a school setting.

“Our constitutional liberties should not be subject to the whims of the current administration,” Cruz continued. “Whether Hobby Lobby or the Little Sisters of the Poor, people of faith should not be made to bow down at the altar of political correctness. As president, I have pledged on my first day in office to rescind every single one of President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions, and to direct every federal agency to respect and protect the religious liberty of every American.”
Yesterday, oral arguments were presented before the Supreme Court in the religious liberty case Zubik vs. Burwell, which includes the appeals of Little Sisters of the Poor and Priests for Life for their right to serve the needy without suffering conscience violations from government. As Cruz has often said, “Mr. President, if you’re litigating against nuns, you’re probably doing something wrong.”
More than 46,000 Americans have joined the campaign’s Faith and Religious Liberty coalition.

The 15 initial actions provide a few more specifics. These two seem to have nothing to do with religious liberty and everything to do with discriminating against gays.

Rescind Executive Order 13672, which had (without adequate religious exemptions) required certain federal contractors to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the alternative, create significantly larger and robust exemptions for religious organizations and businesses falling under the authority of Executive Order 13672.
Direct all federal agencies to stop interpreting “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and/or“gender identity” where the term “sex” refers to a protected class in federal law. Prioritize this effort at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Education,Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It is hard to imagine how requiring government contractors to be fair to gays infringes on anyone’s religious liberty. Contractors should not be allowed to fire a gay person simply for being gay. Cruz and company have singled out gays as the only group who can be discriminated against under these recommendations.
These recommendations are inconsistent with Ronald Reagan’s beliefs about discrimination and gays. Reagan opposed job discrimination against gays and as California governor opposed a ballot initiative which would have forbid gays from becoming teachers.
I generally favor an expanded ability of healthcare providers to decline to participate in procedures which violate their conscience.
An interesting effect of some of these planks, if implemented in an unbiased manner, is that all adherents of all religions would be freer to proselytize on the job or in the military. Chaplains have been limited from proselytizing by military guidelines. Christian chaplains have complained that they can’t share the Gospel. However, these guidelines also keep non-Christian chaplains from trying to convert Christians. Cruz’s team would open things up for lots of efforts to convert soldiers to various faiths. Personally, I prefer restrictions on workplace “soul winning” as helping to prevent religious coercion from superiors.
On the whole these guidelines target gays and would create more opportunities for religious coercion on the job.

Gospel for Asia on the Front Page of the Hindustan Times

You can find the online article here. Thanks to an Indian reader, below I have an image of the front page.
You can see the entire front page here and page 6 here with the rest of the story.

Hindustan Times Covers Gospel for Asia Scandal

primeministerKPThe second largest paper in India — Hindustan Times — has a front page story out today with a summary of the Gospel for Asia scandal.
In it, we learn that GFA-India was contacted but without comment. GFA-Canada’s director Pat Emerick’s comments are getting more surreal. He told reporter Anirudh Bhattacharyya that the accusations again GFA are false and “even absurd, and we’ve communicated that clearly.”
Note to Mr. Emerick: engaging in clear communication is the last thing I could say about GFA.
This well written article should raise the profile of the situation internationally.

If Trump is Responsible for His Rallies, Then Shouldn't Cruz Be Responsible for His Advisors?

Donald Trump has taken righteous heat for the violence at his rallies. Telling his violent supporters that he will pay their legal bills is outrageous. Predicting riots if he isn’t nominated is likely to be taken as a coded message by his supporters. Trump tells his crowds that protesters are bad people and get what they deserve. He does bear some responsibility for his rallies and the general decline in discourse during the 2016 campaign. Some evangelical leaders are pretty upset about it (see the video of Al Mohler and John MacArthur below).
Earlier today a reader sent a link to Steve Deace’s public Facebook page where he carries on the low level of discourse. Given Ted Cruz’s embrace and praise of Deace and Deace’s representation of Cruz, does Cruz have any responsibility to disavow comments like this? Just one will illustrate:
Deace Buttermilk
It was Cruz’s surrogate Glenn Beck who called John Kasich “delusional” and a “son of a bitch” recently because Kasich wouldn’t bow out of the race with not a peep from Cruz.*
My point is not that name calling and crude humor doesn’t happen in politics or any other domain as far as that goes (cue Mark Driscoll’s William Wallace III). However, if blame is going to be assigned for the crude rhetoric in the campaign, then let’s cast a wider net. Furthermore, I can understand the passions which give rise to these outbursts. For myself, I am beyond angry at the choices in front of me and specifically worried that my party might actually nominate someone who wants to commit the nation to mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants. However, if I ever resort to sexual innuendo and crass name calling, please readers call me out on it.
Mohler and MacArthur on the campaign.
I want to hasten to add that my objection to Trump and Cruz isn’t primarily a moralistic one. I do object to the gutter politics and rhetoric but the larger problem is their approach to the presidency and policies. They promise things that are never going to happen and act as if we don’t have a legislative branch. I am not sure their followers understand how a bill becomes law. Trump seems like he can wave a wand and it will happen and Cruz has not displayed the skills for compromise, and in fact seems to hold such skills in disdain.
*Although not the subject of this post, I also think Cruz has responsibility to correct the errors of those who speak on his behalf at his rallies such as Glenn Beck. Beck’s misrepresentation of history in his stories about George Washington should have resulted in a public acknowledgement and apology from Beck and Cruz.  Beck stopped telling that particular false story only after Huffington Post called him out.

Is John Kasich Now the Anti-Establishment Candidate?

Today Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz. No doubt he did it in a misguided effort to stop Trump. However, if one believes the polls, GOP leaders have picked the wrong candidate to win in November.
John Kasich consistently beats Clinton in the polls, including the most recent three polls.
On average, Kasich leads Clinton by over 5 points. Cruz on the other hand consistently loses to Clinton in a head to head match up.
Now that the establishment is moving toward Cruz, Kasich has become the anti-establishment candidate. I plan to vote for him in the PA primary and hope he stays in the race despite the calls from his opponents to exit. Cruz and Trump are equally flawed candidates and Kasich should stay in to make that clear.
Given their lateness, the endorsements aren’t coming to Cruz because he is a great option. The fear is that Trump will get enough delegates to win. However, if Cruz enters the convention with a large number of delegates and prime endorsements, he will have legitimate reason to claim he can unite the party. To me, it seems unlikely he could ever do it.
Kasich, on the other hand, is conservative enough to appeal to all but the fringe (who now like Cruz) but, as the polls show, can attract enough independents and democrats to win. Some large delegate rich states are out there. If the GOP leaders were principled and smart, they would unite behind Kasich and help him win enough delegates to make sure Trump doesn’t win. By backing Cruz, they may also get to a second ballot at the convention but with an emboldened Cruz who will be a hard sell to the American people.
For me, Cruz is not only unelectable, he is unacceptable. His position on immigration, his unrealistic promises, his lack of experience, and his shady advisors make him a non-starter. If Cruz or Trump are nominated by the GOP, this Republican will vote third party or write someone in come November.

Veteran Missionary Claims Co-Authorship of Gospel for Asia Founder K.P. Yohannan's First Three Books

bill bray
Billy Bray – source: Facebook

Billy Bray is a veteran missionary who goes way back with Gospel for Asia’s founder K.P. Yohannan. Bray told me that he was one of the early advocates of the indigenous movement in missions. About his relationship with Yohannan, Bray said:

I actually lived with K.P. for several months in India, and then with K.P. and Gisela in their house for six weeks while writing the first book. I was K.P.’s team leader on the first OM team to Rajasthan and helped recruit him into Operation Mobilization when he was only 15 years of age. So that book — and all three books, were written out of a deep personal friendship with K.P. and his family. In fact, I started work on the first book with him before Gospel for Asia was even named while he was living in Oklahoma, and before there were any GFA staff.

Bray told me he wrote “every word” of K.P. Yohannan’s book Revolution in World Missions and also wrote much of the following two books credited to Yohannan. Even though he said he wrote every word of the book, he didn’t describe it as ghostwriting. Bray told me:

Although I did the first drafts of all three of K.P. Yohannan’s books for Creation House, it was always a collaboration, not ghost-writing. I was paid for the work and given acknowledgement in all three of the books.

Writing “every word” sounded like ghostwriting to me so I was curious about how Bray felt the authorship should have been described. Below is Bray’s description of each book he worked on.

So, if I did the work today, I would insist on the following, more accurate bylines to describe the authorship of these books:
For THE COMING REVOLUTION IN WORLD MISSIONS: God’s Third Wave (c) 1986, it should have been properly attributed “By K.P. Yohannan as told to Billy Bray”. In the Acknowledgements section of the first edition K.P. correctly listed me first among those who helped him editorially using these words, “Of those especially close to me during the long writing, editing and review of this manuscript, I would like to thank William T. Bray, (David and Karen Mains, Gayle Erwin, Dave Hicks and Margaret Bennett for their honest criticism and unwavering support of this entire project).” The parenthesis are mine.
I arranged for David and Karen Mains to write the foreword and for the publication of the book with Cliff Dudley and Bob Walker in Carol Stream where I was working at Christian Life Magazine and Creation House. K.P. also thanks others who were involved in the typing and reading of the manuscript including Larry Jerden and Heidi Chupp (among others).
I was something of a photojournalist in those days and a number of my photos appeared in the first editions of the book, always without credit as well.
For THE ROAD TO REALITY: Coming Home to Jesus from the Unreal World (c) 1988, it should have been properly attributed “By K.P. Yohannan with Billy Bray.” In the acknowledgements, K.P. credits my role as follows “However, I especially want to thank those who were closest to me during the months of writing and editing this manuscript, William T. Bray and Robert Walker.”
Again, I worked with K.P. and Creation house to acquire the endorsement of Erwin Lutzer who was already a fan of K.P. and Bob Finley and Bob Walker — all of which were leading supporters of the indigenous movement in missions by then. This book reflects most accurately the spiritual motivation that both K.P. and I shared at the time, a product of our years under the spiritual influence of Bakht Singh, George Verwer and Bob Finley.
For the third book, then titled WHY THE WORLD WAITS: Exposing the Realty of Modern Missions (c) 1991, it should have properly been attributed to the authors as follows, “By Billy Bray and K.P. Yohannan.” After vicious criticism from the missions establishment at the time, which I thankfully escaped since my name was not on the book, it was revised and published under a softer title.
On the acknowledgements page dated March, 1991, he [Yohannan] first thanked Robert Walker and Murray at Creation for their editorial input and courage and then he credits me only as “Bill — for your help in gathering information and for your most valuable suggestions.” He goes on to thank the staff, and during part of the writing of this book, I was also employed on staff at the GFA headquarters in Carrollton at the Walnut Plaza offices. That is perhaps why he felt less of a need to acknowledge my outlining and writing the first two drafts of this title.
This account, to my best knowledge and recollection, is the truth behind these first three books. I thank the Lord for the privilege of being an intimate part of them — and even though they have been edited and revised over the years by many hands for marketing and fundraising purposes, I stand by the original text in the first editions. I would be happy to discuss them further and hope that the original versions will be preserved as much as possible for academic reasons in the years to come.
And of course, I wish I had 50 cents royalty for every copy sold! It would come in handy now as I am trying to produce a book a year for the cause of Christ as long as the Lord gives me strength and health. One thing I have learned from writing the K.P. Yohannan series is the amazing power of a book to change minds and the course of history!”
“Dear Lord, we acknowledge our commitment to You is so shallow. We say we love You, but our actions betray us. Open our eyes so we see time and eternity as You see it. Forgive us for forgetting we are only strangers and pilgrims on this earth. How foolish we are, oh Lord, to store up treasure on this earth and fight to save our life and preserve it, when You tell us we will lose our life if we try to do that. We ask You, dear Lord, to forgive us and help us to walk in Your footsteps–forsaking all, denying ourselves, carrying our crosses daily and loving You supremely so Your causes might be furthered in this dark and dying world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” (Our closing prayer from the first book.)

In addition to Bray, I have spoken to another writer who claims to have written several other Yohannan books. If these claims are true, it may be that the 250 books Yohannan claims to have written are collaborations using his sermons or interviews as source material. Ghostwriting is writing

K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube
K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube

original material without attribution so it is hard for me not to use that word.
I asked Bray why Yohannan was chosen as the author when Bray was the writer. He said the publisher and the advocates of the indigenous mission movement wanted an indigenous pastor as the figure head of the movement. Having Yohannan as the author created that perception and recognized his potential.
Since I don’t have much knowledge of the history of missions, I can’t speak to the wisdom of the indigenous movement. However, I can say that what is going on in India now under Gospel for Asia and Believers’ Church seems inconsistent with what I am reading in Revolution.  I hope to explain my reasons for saying that in a future post.
Bray has a book coming out any day now titled How I Discovered the Power of a Yielded Life in which he provides even more detail about his authorship of Yohannan’s books and the indigenous mission movement.
Here is the Acknowledgments page of the first edition of Revolution in World Missions.
I have confirmed with two other people listed on this page and one other who was involved in GFA from the beginning that the information related here by Bill Bray is accurate.

Hunter Frederick Issues Final Statement on Behalf of Tullian Tchividjian

This was just released by Hunter Frederick of Frederick Associates, a firm hired by Tullian Tchividjian to handle public relations.
According to Frederick, this will be the last time Tullian Tchividjian will speak on this matter.
Addressing another media report, Frederick said Coral Ridge leaders did not ask him to keep his improper relationships secret from his wife.

Gospel for Asia: Ganga River Project Donation Raises Questions About Priorities and Promises

primeministerKPI reported last week that K.P. Yohannan met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the meeting, Yohannan gave 1 crore rupees (just shy of $150,000) to the Ganga Cleanliness Project.
Compared to the millions still banked in India, $15ok isn’t a large sum.
Still, I wonder if donors intended those funds to help save the Ganga River. I also wonder what that money could have done for people.
While I was wondering, I thought of a story I read awhile back on the GFA website. The story of Lakshimi and her sister goes like this:

Nine-year-old Lakshmi works in a factory as a cigarette roller. She tells her sister’s story:

My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.
I don’t care about school or playing. I don’t care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home from the bonded labor man. For 600 rupees I can bring her home—that is our only chance to get her back.
We don’t have 600 rupees…we will never have 600 rupees [the equivalent of U.S.$14].

This story and another one I will tell below break my heart.
If the story of Lakshmi is true, nearly 11,000 kids could be rescued with a Ganga River sized donation. There is something sad and sickening about K.P. Yohannan currying favor with the Prime Minister while GFA offices all over the world beg for more money to help poor children.
The other story comes from an Indian observer of the Bridge of Hope program. A young elementary school aged boy named Sayaan Ali needed treatment for a kidney stone. He was a Bridge of Hope kid. His parents were not able to afford this treatment (about $1000 USD) so they requested help from their Bridge of Hope center and the local Believers’ Church diocese. Tragically, the Diocese failed to act on the request and the boy wasted away until he recently died a painful death. There was no bridge of hope for this young boy. His parents are devastated and the Prime Minister has another $150k for the Ganga River.
Believers’ Church and K.P. Yohannan own several state of the art hospitals which could have provided the care. These hospitals have been touted as means to minister to poor children like Sayaan. If only Sayaan and Lakshmi were important politicians, perhaps the church would have noticed.
Money really isn’t the issue for K.P. Yohannan and Believers’ Church. According to publicly available Indian government documents, GFA and ministry partners have just over $74-million sitting in bank accounts.
Shame on GFA and Believers Church for their photo ops with power. I call on K.P. Yohannan to answer for his use of donor funds and stop hiding behind his nameless board of directors.