Recently, in my monthly letter to our AiG support base (and it was published on our website), I commented on and quoted from Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis. He has made a number of negative comments about me and AiG. In response to my letter, Dr. McGrath wrote the following:
I should add that, while Ken Ham quotes a longer explanation of why I feel it is appropriate to remain within the Christian tradition even when my views change, one thing he edited out was my reference to having a life-changing religious experience. And since he didn't include my testimony about how I became a born again Christian, in the interest of giving the full picture, I am sharing that link to a post where I talk about that. (http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/10/ignorance-and-creationism-response-to.html)I decided to read his testimony about how he became a “born-again Christian.” As I read it, I realized that it really is a warning for the contemporary church; I have noticed, over the past few years in particular, a trend in the contemporary church: many churches emphasize the singing praises aspect of the service as more important than the Bible teaching.
Now I am not against praising the Lord in song! I love singing praises to the Lord. However, over the past years (and it happened again recently in a church I visited), I have often heard people in a church tell me that what is often called “worship” (with the “praise and worship team”) is the most important part of the church service. (By the way, worship encompasses much more than just singing praises.) I am not saying such singing is not important, of course, but I have noticed that it seems the teaching of the Word of God in certain churches is considered secondary to the praise and worship time. We do need to remember that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
I suggest you read his entire “testimony” at the link above. Here is just an excerpt:
. . . It was at this point that I happened to tune to a college radio station during an hour when they broadcast contemporary Christian music. I was struck by the music, because although I believed in God, I didn't find myself able to actually sing about it - it was as though these people had something real that they had experienced and yet I had not. I even tried forming a Christian band with a friend of mine, and when we asked another student, she thought it was weird because, from her perspective, we weren't even Christians. She did, however, invite us to a concert at her church (a Pentecostal church). To make a long story short, we went, and I was very moved by it. I went to the morning service the next day (Sunday), and as so often in stories like this one, I cannot remember what the sermon was about. What I do remember is that, after the service, I called out to God in my heart and said something like "God, I don't know what your way of living is, but mine isn't working, so whatever your way is, I want to try it". At that moment, a sense of peace washed over me.To me this kind of testimony is a warning to the contemporary church, as it appears to me this testimony involves some sort of experience or feelings. He is trying to come to God through experience, but what is missing? Not one verse of Scripture was quoted—not one. What also was missing were any mention of words like these: sin, repentance, salvation, faith, Jesus—the Son of God, grace, and belief.
There is no mention of Jesus—no doctrine of humanity (that man is fallen), and no doctrine of the Son (we can only come to God the Father through the Son).
. . . that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9)Of course there are many many other Scripture references I could use, but the point is that some experience through music is not how a person becomes a born again Christian. There is not one reference to such in Scripture in the testimony, yet there are those people in the contemporary church today who will give a testimony like that of Dr. McGrath’s above.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Sadly in much of the church today, there is a famine as described in Amos 8:11—a famine “of hearing the words of the LORD.”
Oh how the church needs to make the teaching of the Word a priority; yes, we can sing praises to our Lord, and we should, but we need the preaching of the Word to dominate our churches once again.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,