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Who Made God?: And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith
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Who do you trust?

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Rod | 646 comments Mod
Who are your 5 favourite guys theologically?

I came up with this scenario awhile ago. It seems to be working. Here's how it goes:
There are many interpretations of the Bibles themes and theological studies. Almost all great theologians throughout the past differed on many ideas about God and his will. But who has the truth?
I know many people who like many different Christians teachers...yet they don't realize that those teachers often have drastically different teachings about the Bible and God. Is this okay? Maybe. For a time. But wrong is wrong.

So now I put together 5 guys that I mostly trust to have an accurate understanding of God's doings. Here's my guys:

Ravi Zacharias
John MacArthur
R.C. Sproul
Chuck Swindoll
Billy Graham

I have spent years trying to see how much these 5 people agree on theological issues. And there are definitely some disagreements. I know MacArthur and Sproul get together and laugh about some of their differences - they also have friendly debates about them. But these are small differences that do not affect the character of God.
These people also specialize in different areas of ministry. So Reformation theology and scholastics do not apply to all of their lives equally.

If you don't have 5 guys (or girls) go get them. They'll help you find your way through the ever present mess of loving the correct Jesus.
If you do have 5 people you trust - who are they?


Janette Mapes | 88 comments Three years ago my answer would have been very different than it is today. Then I heard a message about taking Jesus out of our designated box & letting Him be God. It was a message about breaking down denominational walls and building up Christians.

I started to realize how I limit God by my traditions, my doctrines, my religion. God is God. He's not the God of the catholics, or the baptists, or the methodists. He's the God of the born again.

You are right, wrong teaching is wrong teaching. But if someone is truly saved by grace maybe it's OK if we don't all do communion the same way, or dress the same way, or worship the same way. Someday when we are all in Heaven (Christians) those things will no longer matter.

That being said, Some of mine are the same as yours & your list is good. But a couple of mine are close mentors of mine. People who I trust to put the truth out there for me & aren't afraid to let me question them or disagree with them.

Billy Graham
John MacArthur
Ravi Zacharias
Bob Youmans
Mark Beers


Rod | 646 comments Mod
I don't think you can go wrong getting spiritual insight from Ravi and John. Billy isn't much of a theologian - but his ministry has been world changing for the last 60 years. Good stuff. (don't tell Billy Graham I said that.)
Thank you for sharing that with us. It inspires me.


message 4: by Brantley (last edited Apr 04, 2012 11:29PM) (new)

Brantley (bditto39) | 5 comments I think that the differences that we find in Christianity should be judged true or false, but if we are too dogmatic as to neglect certain teachers due to things we disagree with them on, then protestants would have seldom a friend in church history until the Reformation. I think that we should definitely draw lines on a lot...I can think of plenty off the top of my head. But I personally see value in what Augustine said in "On Christian Teaching":
"A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who 'though they knew God did not glorify him as God'"

In other words, truth is absolute. So, when a theologian or even non-believer who holds wrong assumptions on one topic discusses another one rightly, that person is speaking the truth. We should be weary about affirming others' beliefs since just because they sound the same as ours, they may not be...such as the Mormon view of God vs. the orthodox Christian view of God. But nonetheless, where there is agreement on truth, it is alright to acknowledge that there is some common ground while looking at the differences. Would I warn the average churchgoer to stay clear of someone who teaches some truth with some non-truth? Yes and no. For those who know the Word and are more mature, I would warn them of his heresy and its implications and encourage them if they continue to listen to him to think carefully about what he says in light of Scripture and orthodox teaching. For example, people ask me about Joyce Meyer and TD Jakes all of the time, and I explain to them the ideas that they hold on some doctrines that are very concerning (oneness theology, word of faith movement, and especially for Jakes, modalism) and they usually listen t those people and pick out things said in their teachings that express those problematic ideas. This is great for the mature in Christ since it gets them thinking about theology and engaging their faith in a practical way, but for the common or less mature person "stay clear" can be a great message.
Some deviations, as you mention, are minor, but some are quite problematic. The difficult part is telling which ones actually matter. I will refrain from that topic here...it is ridiculously long and opinionated.

But, I generally have two lists of theologians/teachers I turn to: one for the average person who asks me what they should read, and one for those who want to dig a little more into theology, philosophy, apologetics, etc. and are more familiar with right theology and Scripture. I don't do this for elitism or to sound superior, for other believers are far wiser in other fields of study than I (such as law, business, engineering, etc.). I make two lists for accessibility to information for the person I am sharing with. My job is to study theology. If my neighbor is a meteorologist, I would expect him to recommend reading material and resources on the topic that do not assume that I know very much about jet streams, barometric pressure, etc. I try to do the same with books I recommend to people about Christianity. But, for the record, I read all of these authors, and I consider myself above neither them nor their works despite the list they fall on! They are all fantastic authors whom any believer can humbly learn from!
Without further adieu, here are the lists (popular being for the average person I meet who wants a great Christian book to read, and academic being for those who want something a little more in-depth):


Popular:
-Ravi Zacharias (fantastic apologist!)
-Lee Strobel (his works and DVD's cite good sources, and he seems to be a good author as well)
-John Piper (not too hip on his Calvinism, but great preacher and writer regardless! Great emphasis on the Gospel and evangelism!)
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon (I know he's old and hard to read, but the guy knew the Word and how to preach it!)
-A. W. Tozer (A very enjoyable and convicting preacher and writer)


Academic: (extremely hard to choose only 5...)
-Millard J. Erickson (great systematic theologian)
-F.F. Bruce (fantastic NT Scholar)
-C.S. Lewis (good for everyone, but sometimes hard to read)
-Craig Keener (we may disagree some, but the guy is insanely thorough on everything he writes...a 1000 page commentary on the first 2 chapters of Acts?!?!?! CRAZY THOROUGH!!!)
-William Lane Craig (one of the best apologists with resources for laymen and scholars alike!)


I feel like I could not fit enough people in (especially since I only hit a small handful of areas of study with a limit of five), so this list could easily change with more information of who is requesting a book and what topic it is on.
Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of the other guys you have mentioned as well! MacArthur, Sproul, Graham, and Swindoll are on my shelf too.
Nonetheless, I turn to these guys for good teaching and insight more often than others.


Johnnie (Berfer) John Frame (ethics)
Gary North (economics)
RC Sproul (theology)
John Piper (sermons)
Sinclair Fergueson (general knowledge)
Pastor Viggiano (sermons and application)

Among those references I trust
John Gill (puritan-baptist)
John Owen (puritan-presbyterian)
John Calvin (Institutes)
Matthew Henry (general and postmil)
Hodge (American Presbyterian theologian)
Bahnsen (ethics)
Van Til (apologetics/philosophy)

Those I have reservations but use
Kline (covenant structure and history but NOT Ethics)
Vos (historical redemption but lacks antithesis)
Poythress (structures but not historical redemptive)


Rod | 646 comments Mod
Its great to see those names everyone. i've read many of them, but a few are new to me. Many years ago Lee Strobel's books introduced me to all sorts of names worth reading.

I like your idea of two lists Brantley. I have two lists generally:
Apologetics/theology.............and evangelism.

Many evangelists seem to stay on the light side of theology. I put Billy Graham, Charles/Andy Stanley, Greg Laurie and many others on the one side. These people seldom feed my intellect - but they sure help my heart and ministry.
Its awesome when a theologian can touch peoples hearts. But not always possible. Some issues are very scholastic.

Then there's people like Peter Kreeft who I enjoy but am not sure what to do with. Fun stuff!


message 7: by J.D. (last edited Mar 13, 2013 07:19PM) (new)

J.D. White (Writer_of_Ivarun) Cool! some great names up here :)

Personally, within the last couple of years the Lord has been using the following men to help me grow and learn:

Voddie T. Baucham Jr.
Paul David Washer
John Piper
Eric Ludy
(Though I am of the opinion that they are better preachers than they are writers ;P ;)

And of Course Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon...

Though I've also learned a lot through and from R.C. Sproul and David Platt . . . I'm still planning on reading a lot of the older writers: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, etc... and have heard some good things about John MacArthur and Wayne Grudem :)

Oh, and more recently I've read some real good stuff by A W Tozer, too (The Knowledge of the Holy) :)


Rod | 646 comments Mod
I love watching John Piper on youtube. He's awesome!

I'll have to look into Baucham, Washer, and Ludy - I haven't come across any of their stuff.

I'm going to have to look into Millard J. Erickson. Thanks for recommending him Brantley.

It's great that you mentioned Sinclair Ferguson Johnnie. Everyone should listen to him. Endlessly entertaining.


Kelsi | 4 comments I'm not sure if 100% trust anyone. :,) I have favorite authors but I read many many christian books by many different authors. But I try and always read with discernment and keep the scriptures first. I don't always agree with ALL of what some of the authors I read teach, but it's not huge issues. Here are some I'd my recent favorites.

John Piper
C.S. Lewis
Kyle Idleman (I'm really liking his god's at war book)
Eric and Leslie Ludy
Franchis Chan


Troy (lasseignetroy) | 29 comments John Piper, D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Chan, Kevin DeYoung, Augustine, John Calvin, Mark Driscoll, Michael Horton, Lewis & Tolkien, Tim Keller and John Owen


Rod | 646 comments Mod
WHAT? Troy you didn't mention Chuck Swindoll - YOU HEATHEN!

Just kidding. :D


message 12: by Troy (last edited Aug 16, 2013 07:15PM) (new)

Troy (lasseignetroy) | 29 comments Read a few Swindoll books years ago and used to listen to him on the radio alot. He's got some good things to say.


Rod | 646 comments Mod
Everybody's gotta like Chuck. He's like the perfect Grandpa of theology.

I'm enjoying Michael Horton right now as well. Some great stuff.


Troy (lasseignetroy) | 29 comments That would be R.C. Sproul and/or John Piper for me. Yes, Michael Horton is pretty amazing. My friend brought me back a copy of his big book when he went to visit his brother for his graduation at Westminster in California and got to meet him.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi guys!! I am still trying to understand John MacArthur. Would you put him on the same spectrum as John Calvin or not?


Cpt. | 2 comments John MacArthur is someone known more for what he doesn't believe, it seems, as that's where he's been most outspoken. Cessationism, the belief that the Holy Spirit no longer manifests the same way as He did in the early church, is in essence not only a doctrine of error, but it omits entire chapters of the New Testament from being applicable for the believer (indeed, I know a cessationist pastor who does not preach the book of Acts).

"Knowledge puffs up." MacArthur seems to struggle a lot with the fact that the supernatural is more real than the natural (2 Cor. 4:18) and so he gives in to his natural mind - which, however brilliant it may be, after all is the fleshly mind. We're called to walk in the spirit, and we know that the spirit is at odds with the flesh. So if we cling to our sharp intellect rather than the Spirit, we are actually at war against the things of God. And that I believe is where MacArthur has fallen into deception.

I used to wonder how anyone could take cessationism seriously - to me, it's like trying to make a case for the Big Bang Theory. But I realize now that when someone diminishes or distorts the role of the Holy Spirit in their personal theology, they cut off His witness, thereby denying themselves His illumination. So a cessationist might spend hours a day in the Word, but really he is reading his Bible with blinders on.

I bless my brother John and honor him, and I do not disagree that there is hypocrisy and error in other parts of the church where he's found fault. But to grieve the Holy Spirit by distorting who He is and His power and authority that is to come against the darkness of TODAY is every bit as bad, if not worse, than other abuses in the church.


Rod | 646 comments Mod
That's some fun argumentation Cpt. :D

Good question Annetta:
"I am still trying to understand John MacArthur."

Me too. And i've been listening to him for over 5 years. A good way too know a theologian and Pastor is to see who their friends are. Which is kind of the point of this thread.

If someone claims to like Benny Hinn and R.C. Sproul then there's a huge comical problem scholastically. The same goes for Kenneth Copeland and Billy Graham, or Todd Bentley and Chuck Swindoll. Or possibly the Pope and Ravi Zacharias. You get the idea.

John MacArthur is hated by many people who claim to be Christians. Which is very interesting - Because John has an amazing collection of Christian friends and Authors who trust his ministry and theology.

John is all about the Bible. The whole Bible...and nothing but the Bible. So you won't catch him selling Harry Potter magic and Charismatic feel good emotions over trusted historical Biblical thought.
______________________________________________________


Rod | 646 comments Mod
I see your point Cpt. (what does Cpt. actually stand for?)

You are all about the magic: Let experience prove truth. If it feels good then it must be good right?!

You don't have the slightest idea what God is up to. The Holy Spirit is not here to make us bark like dogs and shake spastic-ally on a church floor to show us divine truth. You have reduced the Holy Spirit's incredible ability to reveal God to us through thought, logic, love and insight to basically a New Age validation of truth through assumed behavior. Good luck with that. (I have watched many Christians go through this - it ends badly.)

John MacArthur (and I) both know how busy and important the Spirit of God is in this day and age. Busy doing important things for God's eternal Glory. Not wasting time playing stupid human tricks of false healings and foolish needy emotional cult games.
_____________________________________________________

Cpt. quote:
" So a cessationist might spend hours a day in the Word, but really he is reading his Bible with blinders on."

I have yet to see a charismatic Christian really spend hours a day with his Bible. That gets in the way of Holy Spirit fun time. The Bible is often abused and neglected for the sake of people's emotional insecurities and longing for approval and acceptance amongst their religiously confused peers.

I asked my very charismatic non-cessationist Mother to name one Apologetic Christian book written by a Charismatic...she could not name a single one. Why?
Because there's no reason for them to write one - you don't need logic, reason, scholarship, or factual historic proof if you have Harry Potter magic and experience. Why bother to explain the great depth of Biblical history and facts if you can make your religious buddy laugh like a hyena and garble like a demon possessed A.D.D. kid on Crack.

The real problem is:
What happens when the magic stops? (Satan's fun time.)
I often see the shallow faith cease. As soon as the healings don't work neither does the Bible studies and cultic worship services sustain their charm.

Yet the Power and logic of God's Word does not cease - I've been enjoying it for over 30 years.
Your chosen beliefs are very dangerous Cpt. - be careful.


message 19: by Troy (last edited Aug 25, 2013 04:40PM) (new)

Troy (lasseignetroy) | 29 comments It's like I always say: Jesus never said: Be ye transfigured by the removal of your minds. Even when I was still among "charasmatic" circles, I understood that you get into dangerous territory believing every spirit without testing them. When charisma turned into charismania, that's when I got out. Even though John MacArthur is not among my favorite people (and not because he's a cessationist and I'm not), I have to admit that he's very solid, and part of that is who he considers to be his contemporaries - all my favorite teachers who base their teachings on thousands of years of rock solid orthodoxy.


Rod | 646 comments Mod
Well said Troy, I was just thinking that. MacArthur is often quoting Spurgeon and numerous other trusted Christian thinkers throughout history. He doesn't claim to be original or modern. Just same old thousand year biblical core that can easily be traced back to the first century writers.
Charismatic believers have a history of chaos and heresy. Look carefully everyone.


message 21: by Cpt. (last edited Aug 27, 2013 01:26PM) (new)

Cpt. | 2 comments What you as my accuser suggest is your business, and on your head. But I truly hope no non-believers read what has just been written on this thread. It is one thing to disagree, but to throw wild accusations without any foreknowledge and to twist words and wield sarcasm is certainly not the spirit of Jesus Christ.

When truth is presented, the religious spirit manifests. It comes from within those who see themselves as authorities on religion. Through the Pharisees with Jesus, and the Sadducees and Sanhedrin with the apostles. It is clearly active on this thread. And, it is recognizable with its bitter anger and accusatory nature. It doesn't bother me what you say about me personally. That the world might see your words and attribute them to those that bear the name of Christ, however, is grievous.


Rod | 646 comments Mod
Thanks for responding Cpt.

No anger here. I see all this as fun. :D (any conversation is good conversation.)

If I am wrong about something please correct (as you attempted to do.) You are correct that some of my accusations are wild...they are also accurate. I have attended many Charismatic churches and observed and read a great deal of their foolishness. I realize there is a wide variety of those who love gifts of the Spirit. As long as the gift and the Spirit are properly and Biblically understood they are indeed a blessing.

I don't think I was being sarcastic. Possibly?! Mostly just brutally honest. Many people find that offensive - but i'm okay with it.

I don't think I said much about you personally. I don't know you. I do recall saying:
"You don't have the slightest idea what God is up to."

Yep, I definitely said that. But that's more theological than personal. I didn't insult your looks or math skills - you may even be a good driver and chess player.


Rod | 646 comments Mod
Cpt. quote:
"When truth is presented, the religious spirit manifests."

Now this is interesting. What does it mean? What Bible verse justifies that?


I poked around on google looking for Biblical insight - all I found was abused Bible verses being dragged through the mud of Charismatic emotionalism.

2 Timothy really clears alot of this up. If you read if properly.

1:5-
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

I like the self-control part. That really comes in handy. But be careful about the FANNING INTO FLAMES bit - have a fire extinguisher handy if you read that literally.
(It really means to develop and use your skills. FYI)


Rod | 646 comments Mod
All of 2 Timothy is pretty awesome in this regard.

2 Timothy 4:
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


Jill | 9 comments So unable to come up with definitive lists, but Lewis, Tozer, and Keller make a good trinity to start with :) Thank you for including the possibility of women, though no one has, that I've seen. Anyone? Please?


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Authors mentioned in this topic

C.S. Lewis (other topics)
Charles H. Spurgeon (other topics)
A.W. Tozer (other topics)
Ravi Zacharias (other topics)
William Lane Craig (other topics)
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