All posts filed under: Religious

Was Jesus born in a cave?

Many might be surprised by the notion that Jesus was born in a cave, but essentially that is the claim being made by the Church of the Nativity, located in Bethlehem, that is built over the site of where it believes Mary gave birth to Jesus. The Lord’s actual birthplace was in a cave located below the church’s main altar, that can be accessed by two staircases on either side. In fact, the grotto where it claims Jesus was born is part of a larger network of caves that can be accessed from neighbouring buildings, but is now blocked by gates. But not everyone agrees that Christ was born in a cave. One common argument against it, is that Luke, who provided the most extensive narrative of the events surrounding Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-21), does not mention a cave. Why didn’t he do this? It’s argued that Luke would have mentioned the cave if it was unusual. What was unusual to Luke, is that because there was no room in the inn, Joseph and Mary …

Former Bethel leader talks about the church’s gold-dust glory clouds and grave soaking

Though I have never attended a service at Bethel Church in Redding, California, I have listened to sermons by its founder, Bill Johnson. I am almost hesitant to admit that I actually enjoyed his messages, because in recent years, several have publicly announced that they will no longer be using Bethel worship music in their services. This is due in part to some controversial practices that have showed up a Bethel, including grave soaking, gold-dust glory clouds and what some allege is an over emphasis on angels. The church has also been accused of not calling ambulances when people are in serious need of medical attention. Of course, that is one side of the story. So, I was keenly interested when a former minister at Bethel, Carrie Lloyd, recently wrote an op-ed for Premier Christian, where she addressed several of the mega church’s controversies providing a counterbalance to these accusations: The gold dust There have been several reports of what appears to be gold dust showing up during services. Pastor Johnson referred to it as …

Poll: The vast majority believe governments should not force Americans to violate their religious beliefs

A recent poll by Summit.org, found that the vast majority of Americans believe in religious freedom, despite the messages we are receiving from the mainstream media and some politicians, that Christians must bow to secular authority and opinions. The poll, conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, asked 1,000 Americans, who were likely voters, if they agreed with the statement that government has the right to force religious people to participate in practices that would violate their religious beliefs. Seventy-five percent said that the government does not have the right to force a person to violate their religious beliefs, and only 16% believed that government should be able to do this. Of course, once politics were thrown into the mix, the number varied, with 80% of Republicans and 78% of Independents stating the government does not have the right to violate a person’s religious beliefs. While still in a clear majority, only 64% of Democrats held the same position. And in a second question, people were asked if they agreed with a statement by America’s founders “that …

YouVersion Bible app hits 500,000,000 downloads

Life Church announced on Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021, that its popular Bible app, YouVersion, has been downloaded over 500 million times. The announcement was made in conjunction with its verse of the day: “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Life Church based in Edmond, OK was founded by Pastor Craig Groeshel, and launched the app in 2008. In an interview with the Christian Post, Bobby Gruenewald, who was behind the app’s development, said that their goal was to increase the Bible’s availability to people and hopefully increase people’s readership. But it was a journey. In 2005, Gruenewald, who is a pastor at Life Church, was standing in a security line at Chicago’s O’Hara airport when he came up with the idea of using technology, such as a website, to promote Bible reading. He also came up with a name, and by the time he was …

I Refuse to Accept the Current State of the Church

By Dr. Michael L. Brown I refuse to accept that the Church as we know it in America and the West is the very best the Church will ever be. I refuse to accept that the anemic, divided, often powerless version of the Church that we are so accustomed to seeing here is the only version we will ever see in this world. Not if the Bible is true. Not if Jesus is Lord. Not if the Holy Spirit has been poured out. Not if God’s promises are real. To the contrary, because the Bible is true. And because Jesus is Lord. And because the Holy Spirit has been poured out. And because God’s promises are real. We will see a glorious Church, walking in grace and victory and purity and power. We will see a bride fit for her Groom. We will see the Messianic community that He Himself is building. And the very gates of Hades will not overcome that Church. That is God’s vision and that is God’s promise, because of which …

The benefits of meeting in Jesus’ name

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV) Jesus told His disciples that where two or three gathered in the Lord’s name, Jesus would also be there. And the previous verse suggests that this gathering together should probably include a time of prayer. It tells us several things, but most importantly that we have to deliberately meet together in the Lord’s name. In other words, two or three Christian men watching a football game together does not necessarily qualify as gathering in Jesus name, though it could. Because, there is a church in our city where Christians have developed a home group around football. Though they have this common secular interest, the purpose of the group is spiritual. They are gathering in Jesus’ name. And when we deliberately do this, Jesus says that He will be the …

Despite increasing persecution, Christianity growing in Indonesia

It defies logic, but according to a report by the Indonesian government, the Christian population in that Muslim-dominated country has grown by 1% over the past decade. With just over 86% of Indonesia’s population (272.2 million) identifying as Muslim, the country has the largest muslim population (236 million) of any country in the world. But the growth of Christianity is interesting considering the emergence of several Muslim extremist groups in recent years, that have been ramping up their persecution of Christians. This past spring, the government was forced to increase security for churches during Easter services after two militants, a husband and wife, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic extremist group, ISIS, blew themselves up outside a church the previous Palm Sunday, injuring 20. Yet, despite this growing persecution, International Concern reports that as of June 2021, the government reported that 10.58% of its population is Christian (comprised of 20.4 million protests and 8.4 million Catholics). This is up from 9.87% of its population reporting as Christian in 2010. In real numbers, the Christian …

Dem lawmaker calls for men to receive vasectomies after 3 children

According to Faithwire, a Democrat lawmaker in Pennsylvania has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would force men who have had either three children or are above the age of 40 (which ever comes first) to have a vasectomy. The bill introduced by Rep Chris Rabb (D), that refers to men as inseminators, requires them to have a vasectomy within six weeks of the birth of a third child. It would also give women who get pregnant the right to sue any man in violation of the above restrictions and also offers a $10,000 reward to any person who exposes a man in violation of the law. The proposed legislation was a mocking response to a bill recently passed in Texas prohibiting abortions after the baby has its first heart beat that typically takes place around the sixth week. Missing in all of this is any serious discussion on when life begins in the womb. READ: Dem Lawmaker Calls for Mandatory Vasectomies After Limited Number of Children RELATED: ‘You’ve got to be really …

Analyzing the Election Results in California and Canada, and the Attitude of Faith vs Fear

by Dr. Michael L. Brown Americans are not happy. We do not like all the COVID restrictions. We resent the latest lockdowns. We plan to resist the mandate. We are beyond the breaking point. At least that’s the impression I get as I read reports on conservative websites and interact with friends and colleagues. But exit poll results from California tell a very different story, with confirmation from Canada as well. I’m talking about the rejection of the efforts to recall Gov. Newsom in California and the reelection of Prime Minister Trudeau in Canada, where the COVID restrictions have been much more comprehensive and oppressive. Yet in both cases, it appears that a majority of voters affirmed the way COVID was being handled in their state and nation, respectively. According to ABC News, “Just about 3 in 10 said Newsom’s pandemic control measures are too strict, countering a key argument in the recall drive against him. A broad 70% supported the state’s student mask mandate and 63% sided with the governor in seeing vaccination as …

HS football team gathers for prayer after school board orders ban on teacher-led prayer

After a Tennessee school board told teachers and coaches last week that they could no longer lead their school teams in prayer, several players, cheerleaders, fans and parents associated with Putnam County football team took matters into their own hands and gathered on the field after a recent game to pray.

Mile-wide Christians

A recent poll conducted by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University headed by George Barna uncovered some questionable beliefs about those who self-identify as Christians in America. In the poll, about 69% of Americans (176 million) self-identified as Christian. And though that number seem impressive, it falls inline with that old saying of being a mile wide, but only one inch deep. The poll revealed that self-identification does not necessarily refer to a Biblical definition of Christianity. They are Christian only in the sense that they grew up in what could loosely be described as a Christian home. They don’t regularly attend religious services, but if they did, it would be a Christian one. So in that sense they follow the Christian tradition, more than they follow Christian beliefs. And this showed up, as the poll exposed the actual beliefs of these self-identifying Christians: For example, 72% of self-identified Christians believe that everyone is basically good. And this almost perfectly corresponds with their response to the another question, where only 34% said that …

Seven soldiers spontaneously baptized at Fort Irwin. Is this part of a bigger ‘Kingdom of God’ strategy?

According to a recent Facebook post, seven soldiers stationed at Fort Irwin, a US military base located in California, were recently baptized by Chaplains in a make shift baptismal tanks after they spontaneously requested water baptism. Faithit reports that the news was shared on Facebook by 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Infantry Division that posted: “With no chapel or equipment to facilitate, our chaplains came together and created a makeshift tub at the National Training Center/Fort Irwin and got the job done. A fine example of Lancers being experts at their chosen field craft!” Since it was first reported on Aug 30, 2021, the post has received over 77,000 shares, 3,000 comments and 21,000 likes. Fort Irwin is a major training base for the US military and is located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. Because of its massive size, 1,000 square miles, it provides training in multiple facets including manoeuvres, air combat, air support tactics and urban warfare. Each month, between 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers rotate through the base’s National …

Kanye West’s album DONDA has Biblical themes as it sets records on Spotify and Apple

Pop star, rapper Kanye West, 44, has seen a bit of controversy in recent months, but it certainly hasn’t harmed the sales of his most recent 27-song album release, DONDA, named after his mother who died in 2007. The album, released on Sunday, Aug 29, 2021, broke the Spotify record set earlier this year by Olivia Rodrigo’s album, Sour, for being the most streamed album in the first 24 hours following its release. It is also breaking records on Apple, where it became the number one song in over 150 countries during the same period, as it was streamed over 60 million times. In 2019, Kanye released a worship album, Jesus is King, that was also hugely popular and became the first album to simultaneously Top the Billboard 200, Top Gospel Albums, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Top Christian Albums and Top Rap Albums. Premier Christian News reports though not an overtly-worship album, DONDA has several Biblical-themed songs including Jesus Lord, Lord I Need You, Praise God, Keep My Spirit Alive, I know God Breathed On and …

Atheists have faith, 85% believe in aliens

I recently read an interesting article published by Religion News Service that reported on a Pew survey conducted this year on the belief in alien life. While atheists enjoy mocking Christians because of our belief in God, the poll found that atheists, despite their claims of being evidence-based, also have faith, as most believe in the existence of aliens. According to Pew’s survey conducted in 2021, 85% of atheists/agnostics said they believed in little green men. But they weren’t alone, as the same survey revealed that 80% of nones, those with no religious affiliation, also claimed they believe in aliens. Though certainly not as high, overall 57% of Christians similarly claimed they believed in the possibility of life on other planets, but when broken down by religious affiliation, Evangelicals at 40% were among the lowest to hold such an opinion. And if a survey conducted in 2014 by Astronomer David Weintraub is any indication, atheists’ belief in aliens is growing. The Vanderbilt University professor conducted a similar survey for his book, Religions and Extraterrestrial life, …