Tag Archives: theology

Liberty University and Benny Hinn: A Match Made in Confusion

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 4.20.27 PM (2)Today the announcement that Liberty University was partnering with Benny Hinn Ministries hit the interwebs. The relationship seemed official. The course material bears the name “Liberty University.” There is even a mock diploma with the name and apparent official seal of LU. The provost of Liberty is in the video with Hinn and a prominent Liberty donor endorsing the partnership. There have been past internet grumblings of associations between late Liberty founder, Jerry Falwell, and Hinn but we all know how hyperbolic the internet can be.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 3.21.09 PMMany (most?) evangelicals would consider Hinn’s theology and ministry practices to be clearly aberrant. Sproul has argued that heresy is a fair description of Hinn’s teachings (not too mention his lavish lifestyle and spending). Especially those associated with the more conservative strains of American Evangelicalism (e.g., Liberty University) have been quick to denounce the word-faith theology and pseudo-miraculous claims of Hinn. So any such partnership would immediately cause shock.

Within minutes of the announcement there were affirmations and denials of such a partnership. Liberty issued a statement:

Liberty University is not partnering with Benny Hinn.  Liberty transferred the operations of Liberty Home Bible Institute, a non-accredited biblical studies certificate program, to Mr. Dan Reber a number of years ago.  It is our understanding that LHBI’s new operators are working with Benny Hinn but LHBI is no longer operated by Liberty University.  Mr. Reber was granted certain licensing rights to use Liberty’s name because the Liberty name was deeply imbedded in LHBI course materials.  He was also required to obtain permission from Liberty University for any changes in marketing of the courses and Liberty University is investigating to determine whether this new marketing approach violates the terms of its agreement with Mr. Reber.”

The statement echoes the problem with the partnership. Liberty does not want to be connected to Hinn. Liberty definitely needs to investigate. Yet, while Liberty claims LHBI is no longer operated by the university, their website implies something different. Not only is LHBI on the liberty.edu website, it boasts that an LHBI degree is transferrable toward an LU degree. Further, the current Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Liberty University Provost is seen in the video endorsing this partnership.

So what hath Lynchburg to do with Hinn? In my opinion: too much.

There is no place for LU or its subsidiary institutions, much less its prominent faculty to sacrifice Biblical fidelity and sound Christian theology at the altar of a pragmatic partnership with a theologically and ethically suspect televangelist.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 4.19.59 PM*Besides, we all know that Hinn is really from the dark side.

 

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Do we overvalue freedom?

A recent Time magazine article profiled Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Freedom.

“It seemed to me,” Franzen says, “that if we were going to be elevating freedom to the defining principle of what we’re about as a culture and a nation, we ought to take a careful look at what freedom in practice brings.”  The weird thing about the freedom of Freedom is that what it doesn’t bring is

Cover of

happiness.  For Franzen’s characters, too much freedom is an empty, dangerously entropic thing… No one is freer than a person with no moral beliefs.  “One of the ways of surrendering freedom is to actually have convictions,” Franzen says.  “And a way of further surrendering freedom is to spend quite a bit of time acting on those convictions.”

These are provocative and jarring statements for those of who are rapidly devoted to our independence.  As a nation we often centralize the virtue of freedom.  After all, it is our freedom that is central to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

I can anticipate the objection from my Christian friends: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).  No matter that such a verse is often taken out of context.  Remember that Paul urges everyone to use their Christian freedom as a means to sacrificial service (Galatians 5:13).

Freedom for most Americans means freedom from — from responsibility (e.g., marriage, family, employer, rules, etc.), from tyranny, from authority.  As American Christians most of us have uncritically imbibed this idea that freedom in the Christian life is freedom from sin, freedom guilt, and freedom for fear.  All of these things are true.  As Christians we are free from many things.  However, to define freedom as merely from is incomplete.  We are free for.

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness… But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6: 18, 22).

How can freedom lead to slavery? Freedom from sin leads to willing submission to God.  “I have been bought with a price” and, therefore, am willing to serve God.  I am free to serve God and to serve others.  Jesus willingly sacrificed his heavenly status and comfortable position for my redemption (Philippians 2).  Am I willing to sacrifice my freedom for him?  Am I willing to sacrifice my freedom for others?

Self-sacrificial love that values the gospel above all personal fulfillment and comfort is the greatest testimony of the self-sacrificial love of Jesus.

Schmorgesborg of Reading Recommendations

Right now I am reading through several books.  I am finishing up Brevard Childs’ interesting study of the book of Isaiah in which he explores The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture.  This book is part touches on issues of Biblical theology, hermeneutics, patristic theology, history, philology, exegesis, and much more.

On a more practical level, I picked up Michael Lawrence’s newest publication, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church:  A Guide for Ministry. Due to my current course of study, Iam interested to see just how Lawrence treats this important subject.  Further, I am planning on attending The IX Marks conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on this very topic in the fall.

I am also getting a chance to sit down with Dave Black’s The Jesus Paradigm. He is one of my favorite professors and bloggers and I expect to be thoroughly challenged as I read this work.  While I’m at it, I’d encourage you to pray for Dave and his wife, BeckyLynn, as they travel to Ethiopia.  You can read more about their work in Ethiopia at his website.

Kevin Vanhoozer on Pauline Perspectives

I recently watched Kevin Vanhoozer’s presentation, “Wrighting the Wrongs of the Reformation?  The State of the Union with Christ in St. Paul and in Protestant Soteriology,” given at the 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference last month (audio or video can be found at Wheaton’s website).  Vanhoozer offers a humorous and helpful overview of the differences between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ perspectives on Paul.  In the process he clarifies where both camps have misunderstood each other and offers ways forward in the discussion of justification, salvation, and the mission of God.

Below is embedded the audio and video of his talk.

Vanhoozer Video