The Apologetics Group's Weblog (TAG)

August 1, 2010

Go, Stand, Speak and Jeremiah Cry – 2010 Conference in New York Aug 6-7

Why preach in public? Why endure the humiliation, the heat, the cold, the hecklers, etc. When you can just sit in the nice, comfortable pew and enjoy a sermon on the story of John the Baptist for the umpteenth time. Or, why not stand in the pulpit on Sunday and preach to the same crowd as you have for as long as you can remember? Why preach to those who obviously don’t care a whit about what you have to say, and even may be hostile to your message?

“With the public proclamation of sin being openly promoted, taught, practiced, (and celebrated in the public forum, in schools, on television, in every realm of media, in every aspect of our culture, and even in the so called church among so called carnal Christians,) the scriptures call for the message of Christ to be brought to the streets and proclaimed.”

Go Stand Speak 2010 Summit

Go, Stand, Speak Ministries together with JeremiahCry Ministries will be working together to equip others to preach the word to those who are lost during the 2010 Evangelism Conference in Brooklyn, New York August 6-7.

Speakers will include:

Jeff Rose – JeremiahCry Ministries
James White – Alpha and Omega Ministries
Eric Holmberg – The Apologetics Group
Mark Spence – The Way of The Master
Michael Marcavage – Repent America
Jon Speed – The Lost Cause Ministries
Tyler Mcnabb – JeremiahCry Ministries
Pat Necerato -Go, Stand, Speak

If you have a heart for the lost and would like to learn how to reach them with the public proclamation of the Gospel, come join us for this wonderful time of equipping, fellowship, and outreach.

Register here: JeremiahCry.com

To order the DVD, go here:

March 24, 2010

The Bible on Slavery, Sexism and Homosexuality — Bishop N.T. Wright

March 17, 2010

Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism

Just what is “Calvinism?” Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists deny the Arminian definition of free will and label it heresy? Why did the Roman Catholic Church condemn the Reformed teaching of predestination and election and embrace free will theology? And why do so many Protestants, perhaps unwittingly, agree with Rome on this issue?

“Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism” is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. This fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Part One explores the history of the debate. It begins with the pivotal dispute between Augustine and Pelagius and continues through the semi-pelagian controversy; focusing particularly on the debate between Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. Many viewers will be shocked to discover that free-will theology was NOT the doctrine of the Reformation but instead the teaching of an increasingly apostate Roman Catholic Church. The history section ends with a definitive historical explanation of the issues that arose during the Calvinist/Arminian controversy. By examining the five points of Arminianism and the Synod of Dort’s response, the viewer will clearly see that the Protestant Church understood how the Gospel would be compromised if Arminianism prevailed.

Part Two opens the Word of God, our ultimate authority for life and faith. The five points of Arminianism are put on trial as what would later come to be known as the “five points of Calvinism” are clearly and forcefully presented.

Part Three asks and answers the provocative question: If Calvinism is true, if God is absolutely sovereign; then why should we evangelize? It also explores the vital issue of how to and to whom the gospel should be presented so as to be faithful to the great doctrines of God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity, and the miracle of amazing grace.

Rich in graphics, dramatic vignettes, and biblical analogies, Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism also features many of the finest reformed thinkers and pastors of our time: Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. George Grant, Dr. Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Thomas Ascol, Dr. Thomas Nettles, Dr. Roger Schultz, Pastor Walt Chantry, Dr. Joe Morecraft, Dr. Ken Talbot, Pastor Walter Bowie and Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Come learn what the great Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon meant when he said,”…to deny Calvinism is to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“This video series boldly, clearly, and winsomely sets forth the glorious, saving grace of God in its splendor and will help thousands to understand the gospel better and so to be filled with praise for their Savior.” Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, Associate professor of historical theology and social ethics, Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

“I want you to know that ever since my wife and I bought our first copy when it was new and being mentioned in World Magazine, we have been excited about the product. We’ve ordered more copies for friends. This year my church asked if I would facilitate an eight-week discussion using your DVD. Week after week in our Adult Sunday school some twenty or thirty people have sat riveted by your presentation. The message and the abundant quantity of Scripture, the well-known and not so well-known speakers – all of them excellent communicators, as well as the extremely high production quality – camera angles, lighting, sets and sound, the humorous vignettes have captured everyone’s attention. The Doctrines of Grace are, of course, a wonderful gift from our Lord, but your production is an excellent instructional tool, and if others and their churches are benefiting the way we have been, then I think the Lord must be pleased.” Jack Blake, Charlotte, North Carolina

THIS DVD COMES WITH NEW, VASTLY EXPANDED AND IMPROVED STUDY GUIDE FREE! Over 220 pages of study notes, questions and answers, essays, historical notes, and the entire transcript of the video as a downloadable PDF. Get your copy here:
Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism

Product Details

Director: James Gelet
Producer: The Apologetics Group
Encoding: Region Free
Discs: 1
Format: Color
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.33:1
Audio Encoding: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Rated: Unrated (General audience)
Studio: The Apologetics Group
DVD Release Date: October, 2004
Run Time: 4 hours 17 minutes

http://www.theapologeticsgroup.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=219

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(c) The Apologetics Group

The Apologetics Group – through its parent company Reel to Real Ministries, Inc. – is the non-for-profit educational ministry of Eric Holmberg.

October 28, 2009

TAG’S Product Recommendation for November 2009 – How Should We Then Live? with Francis Schaeffer

How Should We Then Live? with Francis Schaeffer

How Shall We Then Live-b

‘I have been working in the field of biblical and cultural apologetics for over two decades and I don’t know of any other modern production that is more essential for the thinking Christian to own, watch, absorb and pass on to others. It was worth hundreds of dollars to me when it was released on VHS. And here it is re-mastered on DVD with convenient chapter points and a Study Guide. Wow!’ Eric Holmberg – video producer; Founder and President of The Apologetics Group

This is Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s spectacular series on the rise and decline of Western culture from a Christian perspective. This special edition includes an intimate in-depth interview with Francis and Edith Schaeffer, which is available only in this package.

How Should We Then Live? presents profound truths in simple language and concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s biblical absolute: the Truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures. Each episode focuses on a significant era of history while presenting answers to modern problems. (Twelve 30-minute episodes. Study guide included.)

Section 1: The Roman Age, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance, The Reformation

Section 2: The Revolutionary Age, The Scientific Age, The Age of Non-Reason, The Age of Fragmentation

Section 3: The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence, Final Choices, and the two-segment interview with Francis & Edith Shaeffer: Living with Suffering & Sickness, God’s Leading in L’Abri & Our Lives.

About the Author and Narrator:
Francis A. Schaeffer – an American Evangelical theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor, is most famous for his writings and his establishment of the L’Abri community in Switzerland. Opposed to theological modernism, Shaeffer promoted an orthodox Protestant faith and a pre-suppositional approach to Christian apologetics, which he believed would answer the questions of the age. A number of scholars credit his ideas with helping spark the rise of the Christian Right in the United States.

Link: How Should We Then Live?

Product Details

Length: 12-30 minutes episodes
Type: DVD-Multi region
Language: English

Please visit our website: The Apologetics Group

June 2, 2009

TAG’s Product Recommendation for June, 2009

Guide to Christian Apologetics-b.jpg

Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics

Finding the right angle from which to approach an unbeliever can be tricky without guidance. Some people simply disbelieve God’s existence, some believe in a different deity (or more than one), and some think that who they worship and who you worship are the same when it is plain to you that they are not. Unbelievers have problems with the reliability of the scriptures, the historicity of Jesus or the problem of pain and suffering. Knowing the basics of these issues and their biblical solutions can greatly enhance your introduction of evangelistic basics, tailored to each person’s mindset. While apologetical arguments are not evangelistic techniques in the strictest sense of the words, the information presented here can go a long way in both your understanding of the worldview of the unbeliever and building your faith to accurately stand up to assaults of modern religions.
Chapters include:
1. What Is Apologetics?
2. The Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence
3. The Teleological Argument for God’s Existence
4. The Axiological Argument for God’s Existence
5. Which God Exists?
6. Where Did the New Testament Come From?
7. Is the New Testament Reliable?
8. ExtraBiblical Evidence for Jesus
9. Is the Old Testament Reliable?
10. The Fulfillment of Prophecy
11. What About Miracles?
12. Was Jesus Raised from Death?
13. Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Is He the Only Way?
14. How can God allow Evil, Pain, and Suffering?

About the Author

Doug Powell has a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He combines expertise in apologetics with professional skills in graphic design and music to create video and internet resources for discipleship and evangelism. His work also includes design of online medical education courses, corporate Web sites, flash animation, and more. Doug’s music is featured on record labels including Mercury and RCA. Rolling Stone magazine said, “Powell makes music that’s larger than life.”

“This guide is exactly what you would expect from Doug: clear, concise reasoning and rhetoric coupled with a flare for design and artistry…an invaluable resource.” Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group

For more great products like this, Go to our website, The Apologetics Group.

August 31, 2008

Be sure to check out our video clip page…

Some of The Apologetics Group (TAG) Video Clips can be found on The Apologetics Group (TAG) Video Clips page.

Check back often as we’ll be adding new clips to the video page periodically.

Thanks – The Apologetics Group Weblog Administrator

August 28, 2008

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 4)

By Eric Holmberg,
The Apologetics Group
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Note from the administrator: This is the 4th and final part of this series.
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I don’t have the space or even all the wisdom necessary to present an exhaustive game plan; but what follows should get us well on our way. First, we must begin with the great admonition and promise found 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Humble yourself. Reread the opening vignette. It’s easy to “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1) and roll our eyes at other people’s foibles. But how would you have done? (And please feel free to substitute ESPN’s Sportscenter for Friends.) Are you able to explain the difference between justification and sanctification? How would you fair in writing six essays on the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2? Don’t shrug it off as just theology. This is boilerplate stuff every Christian should know.

In an attempt to trap Him, Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. The Master asked for a coin and then raised a very profound question: “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22: 20-21)

Pray and ask God a similar question. Whose likeness and inscription has been pressed into the clay of your heart? The world’s? Or God’s? If the former is even an issue ─ if you see that the stain of popular media has done more to color your world than the Word ─ do what God expects of all who “fall short of the glory.”

Repent.

Stop lifting up your soul to what is false. (Psalm 24:4) Purpose to set no unclean thing before your eyes; to hate the work of those who fall away. (Psalm 101: 3) Commit Philippians 4:8 to memory and use it as a yardstick to measure everything before you allow it into the sanctuary of your mind, heart and home.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Next, purpose to obey the Apostle Paul’s admonition to not take part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Hate that which is evil but cling to and encourage what is good. (Rom. 12: 9) Cultivate an atmosphere of “reading” and “listening” rather than “watching” in your life and home. Fill them with good books and music. Tame the television, which for many people may mean getting rid of it for a season (see Matthew 5:30). The technology now exists to block certain channels. There are also devices that filter out bad language. Use them. Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom. Have a family movie night. Go online to research the content of a film before seeing it and then “vote” with your pocketbook by only buying tickets for those that meet the standard of Philippians 4:8. If a good movie is produced, go see it, and encourage others to do the same. Buy it when it comes out on DVD. Make sure that your internet access is filtered or that you install software that keeps track of the web sites that are visited. Create an accountability group within your church. Help your teens understand the nature of the battle and the reasons for your standards by watching and discussing a good teaching video on the subject and then absolutely forbid any music that celebrates sin from being played in your home.

These are just a few ideas. The Holy Spirit will no doubt give you more as you purpose to engage the enemy on what may well be the front in the warfare for our families and our nation. There is simply no way to exaggerate the importance of this battle for the hearts and imaginations of our children and our nation’s citizens.

Allow me to close this chapter by briefly recounting two great stories from our past; stories that can not only instruct but also inspire us to persevere in what may look at times like a lost cause.

Did you know that this is not the first time the motion picture industry has debased both itself and this country? Amid the profligacy of the “roaring twenties” and the growing influence of an increasingly nihilistic European film industry, studios began to experiment with everything from nudity to occult themes in the years leading up to the Great Depression. The Church in those days, however, was not willing to simply “swallow and follow.” As a result, millions of people stopped going to the movies. Faced with financial ruin, the studios asked some Christian leaders to step in and help make sure that their films passed muster. And so was born the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Office.

For over three decades (1933-1966), these offices reviewed almost every screenplay and unfinished film to ensure that Biblical standards of morality were respected. And thus began the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” when, as Dr. Ted Baehr likes to say, “Mr. Smith (went) to Washington, It (was) a Wonderful Life and The Bells of St. Mary’s rang out across the land.”

Now note something very important here. What happened? What brought this Golden Age to an end? Simple ─ the salt lost is savor! Influenced by the cancers of modernism and liberal theology, the National Council of Churches shut down the PFO. And how long did it take for the meat to begin to rot? Well, in 1965 the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. The next year, the one that saw the withdrawal of Christians from Hollywood, A Man for All Seasons ─ a film that virtually teemed with biblical themes ─ won the award. But within just three years (1969) an X-rated excursion into nihilism, despair and homosexuality (Midnight Cowboy) came out on top. And this film was far from being an anomaly. The same period also saw Oscar nods for Bonnie and Clyde (antihero, violence, sex), The Wild Bunch (violence) and Rosemary’s Baby (sex, occult).

As Pogo famously declared: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

A similar lesson – one with a happier ending – can be learned from the testimony of a brave monk who around 400 AD chose martyrdom over compromise with the spirit of popular entertainment. Throughout the previous century-and-a-half, the Roman Empire had begun to embrace the Christian religion it had once persecuted. But as the Church became socially acceptable, many people became members who were either not born again or were not prepared to embrace the disciplines of the Christian life. And so a great deal of compromise began to creep into the Church. By the end of the fourth century, many church-goers thought nothing of attending the gladiatorial games, celebrating the shedding of blood in the same arenas where Christians were once martyred for their faith.

Enter Telemachus (also known as Almachius), an ascetic from the eastern region of the empire. Arriving in Rome, he decided to visit a stadium to see what had so captured the hearts and imaginations of the Roman citizenry. Confronted by the specter of two combatants battling to the death while the blood-drunk crowd roared their approval, Telemachus jumped into arena and sought to stop the contest, chastising the audience for their lust and violation of the Sixth Commandment. The spectators turned on him, surging into the arena and collecting stones as they went. Soon the brave monk laid dead, another blood-washed martyr for the cause of Christ.

The story does not end here, however. When the Emperor Honorius learned of Telemachus’ sacrifice, he hailed him as a hero and a true soldier of the cross. In 404 AD, Honorius issued an imperial decree outlawing the gladiatorial games throughout the empire. The monk’s intercession had carried the day and transformed the culture.

May God raise up from within the ranks of His Church today an army of Telemachuses.

We can be silent no more.

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Some related reading sources:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Neil Postman, Penguin Books, 1986.) This is a wonderful book every thinking Christian should digest. It is also worth noting here a distinction Postman makes in it: “amuse” (a-muse) means literally to stop thinking or reflecting.

W.B. Yeats “Meditations in time of Civil War”

Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (Vintage; September 1, 1992)

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Some Interesting Facts and Figures:

According to numbers crunched by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a New York-based investment bank that specializes in media companies, Americans spent 120 hours a person a year reading consumer books in 1998; by 2003, the number of hours had fallen to 106. By 2006, the projected number of hours we spend reading will be 103. In contrast, television-watching took up 1,551 hours of our time in 1998, and is expected to rise to 1,679 hours two years from now. Internet use is also skyrocketing, from 54 hours in 1998 to a projected 213 hours in 2006.

“Reading at Risk,” a new survey released in July of 2004 by the National Endowment for the Arts using data collected by the Census Bureau, shows that the percentage of Americans who read novels, short stories, plays or poetry — and, in fact, any sort of book — has steadily declined in the past two decades. The drop-off was especially noticeable among young adults, with literary reading among 18-to-24-year-olds dropping from almost 60 percent in 1982 to about 43 percent in 2002.

“The Dutch philosopher-historian Johan Huizinga, in his epochal book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, discovered that the word “fun” was of recent origin and that o other language had an exact equivalent to the English meaning, leading him to speculate that fun was neither readily understood nor fully accepted until the twentieth century.” (from Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (Neal Gabler, Vintage Books USA; February 29, 2000)
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From the Administrator:
Though the content is PG-13, I would recommend the DVD, Hell’s Bells 2 – The Power and Spirit of Popular Music.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, and has been involved in areas of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He is a writer, producer, documentarian and Christian cultural apologist, and has produced and directed dozens of documentaries and seminars that have touched thousands of lives around the world.

August 27, 2008

The Enemy In Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 3)

By Eric Holmberg

Allow me to begin with story. In 1936, Spain was ravaged by a great civil war. Emilio Mola, one of the leaders of the Nationalist Army under the command of Francisco Franco, surrounded the capital city of Madrid with columns to the north, south, east and west. When asked from which direction he expected the city to be taken, Mola replied “le quinta columna.” This “fifth column” was made up of the spies and propaganda he had managed to plant within the city of Madrid itself.

Can I tell you that there is a civil war going on for the destiny of this nation and the planet ─ one that this generation will lose if the “fifth column” of worldliness continues to flourish in our hearts? Like it or not, God himself has set enmity between the “seed of the woman” (the Church) and “the seed of the serpent.” (Genesis 3:15) And when left unchecked, the spiritual “entropy” that characterizes the fallen world of man will always move towards great disorder and chaos – towards a place where the “imaginations of men’s hearts will be on evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And out of these imaginations, the “culture” will inevitably arise.

Now culture is a difficult thing to describe because it involves so many things. Taken from the Latin root “cultus,” it originally meant a system of religious belief and rituals. And while today it is commonly used to describe a lot more than this ─ things like aesthetics, ethics, language, etiquette, etc. ─ at bottom the Latin definition still serves us well. Why? Because each of these other aspects of culture flow from the religious presuppositions that form the majority report of a particular society. To use the phrase made famous by Henry van Til: “culture is religion externalized.”

Another thing we need to understand about culture today is just how powerful and almost omnipresent it has become. By faith and through the revealed Word we understand that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). But from a strictly temporal perspective, modern technology has been able to create a culture of entertainment that could easily cop this verse and use it as a sales slogan for potential advertisers. (I’m reminded here of the famous quote by Bob Pittman, co-founder of MTV: “We don’t shoot for the fourteen-year-olds. We own them!”) As ubiquitous as the air we breathe, digitized information is constantly bombarding us from every side ─ clamoring, cajoling, mesmerizing, titillating, propagandizing ─ threatening and very often succeeding in molding us into its image. (see Romans 12:2: “And don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed…”)

And it is not just the obvious things like violence, blasphemy and pornography that have seduced us. Perhaps even more destructive is something a great Russian writer predicted would happen. Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed that when untethered from the Christian worldview, art would begin by imitating life. But then life would start to imitate art and then would finally draw the very reason for its existence from the arts. Historian Daniel Boorstin sounded a similar alarm when he warned that Americans increasingly live in a world where fantasy is more real than reality. “We risk,” he said, “being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

I call this parallel universe in which our culture has come to live the “Great Substitution.” And the fallout from this substitution is among the most profound challenges facing the Church today.

“I” has taken the place of “We”. One need only consider the Army’s new recruiting motto: An Army of One. What an insane concession to the spirit of the age!

Art ─ which in the Christian tradition was to provide ekstasis; the opportunity to “stand outside ourselves” and gain insight into the wonder of life ─ has been replaced by entertainment (from inter (among); tenere (to hold) ─ something that draws us into ourselves; denying us new perspectives and the opportunity to grow.

The Image has been substituted for the Logos (Word). In the beginning was the Word, which was God and then became flesh and dwelt among us through the Incarnation. (John 1:1&14) It is no accident that we do not know what Jesus looked like or that the Ten Commandments forbid creating images of the invisible God. When it comes to the real business of knowing and worshipping the Trinity, the keys are the Word read and meditated upon, the Word sung (worship), and the Word signified in the sacraments. As images have more and more pushed the written word aside, the logos/logic centers of our minds have grown dull from disuse. The results of this substitution have been disastrous. Even the capacity for Truth (an enterprise that requires logic) has fallen in the post-modern public square. (Isaiah 59:15) And within the Church, the hard work of diligently training our senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:15) has been replaced by mushy sentimentality.

Character has been trumped by celebrity. Why are so many people more likely to spend time meditating on the dating habits of some Hollywood profligate than on the scriptural principles that will help them make sure that their own marriages will succeed?

Fun (a word with a very recent origin) has taken the place of happiness. It is no longer just teens who are willing to jettison the hard work and delayed gratification necessary to enjoy the truly “good life.” More and more adults are willing to sell their divine birthright for a mess of “ready-in-a-minute” porridge.

Sound-bytes have replaced discourse. MTV-style “bumpers” and jump-cuts can now be seen in everything from sports coverage to news broadcasts and children’s programming. We are fast becoming a nation of “watchers” with the attention span of a circus of fleas. What ill-wind blows through the body politic when the average network sound-byte from presidential campaigns dropped from 40 seconds in 1968 to under 7 seconds today?

Covetousness has been substituted for profitable stewardship with contentment. Think about it: millions actually pay extra money to buy name-brand clothing for no other reason than to advertise that they wear name-brand clothing!

Agape love (love reflecting the character of God and rooted in covenant commitment) has been pushed aside by eros ─ an obsession with our own erotic or emotional satisfaction. The late, great prophet to the 20th century, Malcolm Muggeridge perhaps said it best: “The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.”

These substitutions did not “just happen.” They were manufactured with the same satanic genius that gave us Babel’s Tower and Aaron’s calf. The serpent took what were good, God-given desires (we are, after all, called to help build a Holy City whose capstone (Christ) reaches into the throne room of heaven; we are supposed to have a “feast to the Lord”) and ─ like in the Garden of Eden ─ tilted those desires ever so slightly on their axis. Once the center of God’s will is compromised, the trajectory of the culture will move slowly but progressively away from the Sun of Righteousness. As with the proverbial frog in the kettle, the fires of spiritual deception will be turned up gradually so as not to catch our attention. And that’s how we find ourselves today, facing desires that have all but undergone the complete transformation into their satanic substitutes.

I’m here to tell you that the water is boiling! It’s time to crawl out of the acid bath of popular culture and once again be about our Father’s business; discipling nations rather than being discipled by them!

How can we fulfill this call?

(To be continued…)
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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the last part coming soon…

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. Check out his website at The Apologetics Group Official Website.

August 26, 2008

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 2)

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ATTENTION: WARNING! This post contains “adult content” references that could be considered offensive. However, I present them here unedited since they are, in reality, a direct reflection of the crassness of our present day culture, and Mr. Holmberg has used them as an illustration of this very phenomenon. Please consider yourself warned. If you are easily offended, you should go read something else. I’m serious. However, if you want to actually DO something to change the culture, and don’t really know what is going on out there, then read on… but you are still warned.)
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By Eric Holmberg

We have “evolved” from a time (1939) when Rhett Butler’s use of the word “damn” (Gone With the Wind) was met with a collective gasp ─ to a “dumb and dumber, numb and number” culture where:

A popular comedy network broadcasted an uncensored, animated film that featured almost 500 hard-core obscenities and referred to God as both a “wimp,” a “bitch” and “faggot.” The movie, particularly popular with young people, took in over $52 million at the box office.
The highest-grossing “family movie” of all time (E.T., 1982) had an eleven-year-old star who used a grotesque homosexual reference in talking to his brother.

Two of the most popular teen films of the 90’s went for “laughs” by featuring a character who masturbated into a family desert (American Pie) and one who unwittingly styled her hair with male ejaculate (There’s Something About Mary).

The blockbuster The Silence of the Lambs (1991) managed to make a psychopathic murderer and cannibal one of the surprise “sex symbols” of the year. A decade later, the sequel (Hannibal) depicted this same monster sedating a victim and slowly removing and cooking portions of his brain and then feeding it back to him.

The average young person will have watched 200,000 violent acts ─including 16,000 murders ─ by the time he or she graduates from high school. Almost two-thirds of the scenes in prime-time television include some reference to sex; 28% of these will put the primary emphasis on sex. And when intercourse takes place, it is four to eight times as likely to occur between unmarried people as between a husband and wife.

Pornography is now a $10 billion dollar business, larger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined. It is estimated that 60 percent of all web sites are sexual in nature. Now with just a click of a mouse button (often unwittingly), anyone (including children) can have ready access to hard-core sex acts, bestiality, bondage and domination, sadomasochism (including actual torture and mutilation of women for sexual pleasure), scatological acts (defecating and urinating on men or women for sexual pleasure), and child pornography.

I could easily fill page after page with these types of sobering examples and statistics; examples that become even scarier when we consider that there are now virtually thousands of studies proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that this media programming is accomplishing just that: “programming” an entire generation to think and act in ways that are “earthly, sensuous and demonic.” (James 3:15)

What can be done to reverse this trend?

Implicit in every other chapter in this book is the call for the God’s people to repent. We have seen, for example, humanists reinterpret the Constitution and suppress our religious freedoms. But in large part this has happened because “while the enemy came and sowed tares, men slept.” (Matt. 13:25) Similarly, we can watch as the institution of marriage is attacked by unrighteous laws and our culture’s hell-bent desire to remove every barrier to sexual and emotional freedom ─ and yet also know that the enemy’s progress has come as the Church has “sworn for peace” and embraced the culture of divorce rather than the cross. On and on it goes.

With love in my heart for God’s people and zeal for the purity of His house, I want the Holy Spirit to “contend with us” as we look at the enemy in our midst ─ hearts and minds that know more about the flickering shadows of a world at war with God than they do of the “language of heaven.”

(Pt. 3 coming soon…)
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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the third part soon.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out the official website at The Apologetics Group.

August 25, 2008

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 1)

By Eric Holmberg

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Who’s the character in Seinfeld with the funny hair?” A chorus of hands shot up excitedly. “Kramer!” came the almost universal reply. “What time does Friends come on?” Again, there was no hesitation. “Eight!” “Thursday nights.” “NBC,” offered one young lady, nailing the coordinates in both space and time.

“Complete this line from Spiderman: ‘With great power comes….?” “Great responsibility!” over seventy-five voices cried in unison.

“Now can someone tell me the difference between rap and hip-hop? Or emo and goth?” There was a brief silence as the audience cast about for the best spokesman to address the nuances of the question. But after a few initial observations were made, the response again became lively and democratic. Person after person shared either their thoughts on the distinctions or at least illustrated them by identifying their favorite artists in each category.

“OK,” the speaker said. “Let’s now take the advice of Colossians 3:2 and turn our minds from the things of man and consider the kingdom of heaven. Who was the man of God in the Old Testament who had no hair?”

Silence.

“What hour of the day did Jesus die on the cross?” Emboldened by the narrow range of possible answers, a few hands went up and numbers were offered. But it was obvious that nobody really knew.

“Complete this line from Proverbs 3: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and….”

“…obey Him?” the NBC girl offered hopefully.

“Sorry, although obeying Him is certainly a good idea. OK, someone explain to me the difference between justification and sanctification.”

The silence among the church’s college group was now deafening.

In the last chapter of the book that bears his name, the great reformer Nehemiah addressed an evil that had grown up among the Jewish people. As they had intermarried with neighboring pagan tribes, their children were no longer able to read or speak the language of Scripture. Instead, the tongue of Ashdod (Heb. “destruction”) had won the day. The City of Man was again moving toward the day when it could conquer the newly restored City of God.

How did Nehemiah respond to this great danger?

“And I contended with them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair; and I made them take an oath in the name of God (to stop). Nehemiah 13:25

I can identify with Nehemiah’s passion ─ even if his methods would get me into a world of trouble! (How far we have fallen! Many Christians today would leave the church if their pastor dared to just preach a sermon suggesting that they may need to repent.) I too can no longer be silent as I watch the salt losing its savor, compromised by its conformity to the image (and the images) of this world. And I can no longer stand idly by and watch the “meat” of culture progressively decay, nurturing an army of maggots that spread the disease of perversion, idolatry and violence throughout America and the rest of the world.

I will be silent no more.

Michael Medved’s Hollywood vs. America and the writings of Dr. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission, among others, have done an good job of documenting the blasphemous, relativistic, humanistic, sexually perverse, violent, occultic, and profane proclivities of a culture obsessed ─ in the words of Neil Postman ─ with “amusing itself to death.” One would have to be waking up from a decades-long coma to not know that a walk down the aisle of a local video store or a scan through the internet or the channels on your cable box is to see the words of the poet William B. Yeats ─ no friend of Biblical morality ─ fulfilled:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.

Consider just one “snapshot” of the American psyche. The Superbowl has been called our greatest game, pastime, and ritual ─ a super-sized and super-charged “public square” where advertisers wait in line to pay $75,000.00 a second to wave their product before the eyes of 130 million people in the US and five-times that from around the world. The climax of the 2004 half-time show─where a platinum-selling singer exposed the breast of another “superstar” while singing about getting her naked─ was just one more flashing sign warning us of our culture’s long descent into the abyss of nihilism and amorality.

Five years before, the whole world was subjected to the surreal spectacle of dozens of dancers wearing S&M inspired outfits writhing to the “music” of a band (KISS) that just a few decades before was almost universally condemned for their violent, occultic, and sexually charged lyrics and fantastically debauched lifestyles. Holiday Inn, an all-American hotel chain founded by a Christian, chose as their entry into the sweepstakes of Superbowl advertising a media spot with a transsexual-theme. One of Budweiser’s 2004 ads alluded to bestiality. Two other companies hawked drugs touted to help men with “erectile dysfunction.” And even before the infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” almost a billion people were assaulted with Janet Jackson singing about a man’s “package” (street slang for “sex organ”) and how she was gonna have to ride it tonight; a self-described “bad boy” (with illegitimate children and a penchant for carrying guns and throwing parties where nude women cavort in the pool) bragging that he’s half man, half drugs. Ask the clubs – bad boy, that’s whassup; another rapper grabbing his crotch while asking his dance partner to take off all (her) clothes; and a self-avowed “pimp” and “trailer-trash” porn connoisseur (whose hit album featured such pleasant sounding ditties as F**k That and F**k You Blind) performing a medley extolling the virtues of “crackheads,” “crooked cops,” “hookers,” and pornography.

Could there be more than a little irony in the fact that this took place as roughly the same number of people around the world celebrated the most important feast of Islam: Eid-al-Adha, the day where Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac? Even as our troops watched the Superbowl in Iraq─there to defend “truth, justice and the American way”─we were displaying to the Arab world the ugly side of that way. Like-it-or-not, the conflict in Iraq is seen by the majority of Muslims as a religious war; a struggle between good and evil, Allah and Satan. And there we stood, giving ample evidence that our culture had indeed become demonic.

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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the second part soon.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out his website at The Apologetics Group.

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