The way Jesus treated the woman who was caught in adultery is a powerful example of grace in action. But all too often we hesitate to follow Jesus’ powerful words.
Every Christian knows what “grace” means, but does anybody fully comprehend it? I have studied “grace” in depth in recent weeks 1, but the more I study, the more I realize how little I understand the depths of God’s “manifold” 2 (multi-colored) grace. I have long been grieved by witnessing so much destruction and pain springing from a weak, one-dimensional view of “grace,” but I am beginning to see that the true scriptural concept of “grace” itself contains the seeds which bear the potential to end abortion in the church.
It’s not unusual for pastors to focus on grace if they mention abortion. Typically, pastors are painfully aware of the fact that hearts of women 3 in their own congregation are experiencing raw pain because they have aborted their children. Being sensitive to the concerns of such hurting women, pastors focus on bringing healing and restoration to those in the congregation who have committed abortion, so pastors preach a message of “grace, not guilt.” But what does grace mean outside the context of guilt, or what does forgiveness mean without repentance? Continue reading →
My study has involved not only scripture but secular Greek literature, in an effort to try to understand how the word χάρις (“charis”) would have been understood by those who first read New Testament books. My study is far from complete — in fact, I suspect that it will never end. ↩
“Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship.” Words like this have been spoken often in the churches I have attended throughout my life.
I don’t know where this slogan first came from, but it seems to me that it became more popular through Scott Wesley Brown’s song “I’m Not Religious, I Just Love the Lord.” That song was certainly heard often in our home when I was growing up, in addition to being on my parents’ radio station.
Respected pastors (such as Ed Young) continue to teach that “What separates Christianity from other religions is the fact that it’s actually not a religion. Jesus was the most anti-religion person that ever lived. Religion is a set of man-made do’s and don’ts in order to appease God.”
A recent Washington Post article examining the faith of Senator Ted Cruz (the first Republican presidential candidate for 2016) noted that Cruz was echoing “common evangelical lingo” when he emphasized “relationship” instead of “religion.” (It seems that this question of relationship-versus-religion may become a topic of discussion during the coming campaign.)
When God heard the cries of the oppressed Israelites in Egypt, He raised up Moses to deliver His message “let My people go” to Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler (Exodus 3:7-10). Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to submit to Moses’ demands brought a series of divine plagues upon Egypt, finally resulting in the destruction of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (moments after Moses and the Israelites had miraculously crossed over on dry land).
Many great Bible teachers have taught that God preemptively hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as if God’s sovereign ability to overrule the will of man (and the glory He would receive through the Exodus) is the only story here. But such an emphasis hides a key truth about the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart — a truth which should serve as a warning to any of us who have allowed our hearts to become hard toward the cries of the children who are oppressed today by abortion. Continue reading →
In this 13 minute video, Tim Palmquist (flanked by two City Council members) speaks at the Victorville March for Life, which was held on January 19, 2014 in front of the new Victorville Planned Parenthood mega center. (For the best experience, please consider watching the video with captions turned on.)
The wide spectrum of points covered in this brief pep talk include:
Why there is hope for the future of our cities and nation
Why pastors can’t dismiss their responsibility to confront abortion deaths
Why God will not only judge individuals, but also cities — and churches!
Why it is so dangerous to look at abortion as a “personal” issue of “choice”
How we have been a part of changing the landscape of the pro-life movement
Tim sent this message to local pastors on January 6, 2014:
Our Lord has charged us with the divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). But all too often it seems that Christians in our community are reinforcing demonic strongholds instead of seeking to tear them down.
“A stronghold is a mind set impregnated with hopelessness that causes the believer to accept as unchangeable something that he/she knows is contrary to the will of God.”
(Ed Silvoso, quoted in Possessing the Gates of the Enemy: A Training Manual for Militant Intercession by Cindy Jacobs).
Do we believe that it is God’s will for babies to be aborted in Bakersfield? Do we believe that God wills that those who attend our churches participate in abortions? Do we believe that God wants His people to speak up for the innocent children who cannot speak for themselves? Do we believe that we honor God by enabling members of our congregation to “sin that grace may abound”? Do we accept as “unchangeable” the continuation of the carnage of abortion (nationally, locally, and in our own congregations)? Continue reading →
Terri Palmquist ministers outside the Bakersfield FPA abortion center while friends from a different religious tradition pray nearby.
Every 40 Days for Life campaign seems to have its own unique positives and negatives. Although we experienced incredible blessings during this (our eleventh) campaign, for most of the campaign I was physically ill. But what bothered me even more than my physical problems was my sadness over the fact that some people who were very important parts of past campaigns have decided to no longer participate in 40 Days for Life.
What is even more tragic to me is the reason that they left.
A few days before the beginning of this campaign, we met with a pastor who explained why he will no longer participate in 40 Days for Life. The essence of his concern related to doctrinal purity: the importance of focusing on saving souls and not just saving babies. Continue reading →
Breakpoint, a ministry founded by the late Chuck Colson, recently featured Rolley Haggard’s open letter to pastors asking them to consider using their pulpits for a “one minute strategy” to end abortion.
Laura Hope Smith, a Christian mother who died on an abortion table
Commenting on this strategy, someone representing themselves as Steven E. Ray, Director of Messiah Missions and pastor for over 30 years, defended the silent pulpits, saying “When confronted on an issue, we should have a Godly response, but to use the pulpit or our efforts to proclaim or rally against the ills of society as an end in itself, such has been the misdirected purpose and ruin of the church…. As for me and my house, we choose not to get consumed by spiritually blinding tangents, but preach only Christ and Him crucified.”
The comments attributed to Pastor Ray motivated me to write what follows below. I posted this on the Breakpoint website and also sent a message to Messiah Missions requesting a response from Pastor Ray. Later that day, I received an email from Messiah Missions, stating “I am Pastor Steven Ray, and am appalled that someone used my name…. We do not need this type of negative commentary associated with our ministry.”
Sadly, the comments of whoever represented themselves as Pastor Ray do accurately reflect the position of many pastors, so my response below is still valid:
Too often we see abortion as a societal “issue.” But in today’s world, it is first and foremost a church issue. Continue reading →
For most of my life, the topic of Calvinism was not much of a concern to me. The arrogance of a Calvinist friend in High School had little influence on me, and certainly seemed to me not to be something I could attribute to God’s “glory.” Calvinist Harold Camping‘s false prophecies about the rapture and/or the return of Christ (dating back to 1984) didn’t help my impression of Calvinism, and I certainly saw no reason to glorify God for them. I was grieved by Camping’s deceptions, especially because it brought harm to Family Radio, the ministry my father Richard Palmquist began (which he was forced to leave in 1965, leaving Camping at the helm). The passion which characterized most of my father’s life was bringing glory to God, and he passed that passion along to me.
But the time that Calvinism really hit home for me — when I really began to see it as a poison — was in 2002, after meeting with local pastors Continue reading →
In an online discussion with pastors after the Chuck Smith scandal, one of the pastors asked me to share my thoughts on whether or not forgiveness is available to the believer who plans to sin. This is a key question, not only in relation to the advice Pastor Chuck gave to a vulnerable pregnant woman, but because we see so many women entering abortion chambers empowered to kill their babies because of their overwhelming assurance that God will forgive them. Although one of the pastors in the discussion deemed this a “theological train wreck,” I thought it might be worth posting here for your consideration. What follows is an edited version of what I wrote to these pastors:
You asked me to share my thoughts on whether or not forgiveness is available to the believer who plans to sin. To help you understand my thoughts on that question, I suppose I must begin by briefly explaining some thoughts on grace. Too often we view grace in the primary context of forgiveness of sins, and by so doing we make grace (practically speaking) an enabler of sin (by cushioning its blow). But God’s grace is not given to enable us to do evil, but to do good. (Perhaps that will be seen as a radical thought, because of Romans 3:12, but stay with me here. Let’s consider a bigger scriptural perspective on what is “good.”) Continue reading →
Do pro-life pastors offer pro-life counsel to women who are experiencing difficult pregnancies?
Certainly, pro-life pastors would unequivocally answer “yes” to that statement. Yet I also believe that a significant number of babies are aborted because of the counsel provided by many of these same pastors.
A recent case in point is the counsel provided last week by Pastor Chuck Smith on his radio program Pastor’s Perspective. (Some apparently don’t recognize his name, but as the founder and leader of the Calvary Chapel movement for over four decades, Pastor Chuck has undoubtedly been one of the most influential Christian leaders of the last half-century — I doubt that there are many churches in our nation which have not in been influenced in some way by the ministries born under his leadership.)
After a week of mounting controversy, Pastor Chuck still maintains that the counsel which he provided to “Nicki in Riverside” was consistent with his pro-life stand. This is clearly not a case of a mental slip-up by an elderly pastor as some are suggesting. No, the problem is much bigger than that. Few have detected how this reflects upon counsel typically provided by other pro-life pastors.
Nicki: “…We learned that we have conjoined twins who share one body but have two heads. The life expectancy is not very good….”
Pastor Chuck: “…if you go ahead and decide to allow the doctors to perform an abortion on this fetus that is just not developing right and has no chance of living, that I’m sure the Lord will say, Neither do I condemn you….”
After being given repeated opportunities to clarify his original counsel to Nicki, Pastor Chuck continues to insist that he did not counsel her to abort her baby, and that Christians across the nation are guilty of falsely accusing their brethren (himself and Pastor Don Stewart, host of Pastor’s Perspective). But we don’t even need to argue this point. Even if we assume a pure, life-affirming intention in the hearts of pastors Chuck Smith and Don Stewart in handling Nicki’s call, could it be that their counsel had a deadly result? Could Nicki be expected to respond to their counsel by deciding to end her babies’ lives? Could she have done so while stating honestly her belief that these high-profile pastors advised her that it was permissible to do so? Could it be that the counsel of these pastors gave her courage to commit abortion when she would have otherwise continued to maintain that she did not want an abortion? Furthermore, would their counsel have led her to assert that she could be confident in God’s grace even while willingly walking into a dangerous killing center and submitting her body — her Holy Spirit-filled temple — to the knife of an unscrupulous abortionist? If so, did these shepherds (pastors) fail to fulfill their scriptural obligations to protect their sheep?
I believe that an accurate assessment of this situation would require “yes” answers to all of these questions. Furthermore, I believe that many pro-life pastors throughout our nation, if they are honest with themselves, would need to answer “yes” to these questions in relation to counsel that they themselves have offered to vulnerable pregnant women.
My belief is based not upon conjecture, but upon decades of experience with pregnant Christian women entering abortion chambers. Many times we have been told, “I talked to my pastor about this, and he recommended abortion.” We have even witnessed pastors bringing women from their church into killing centers (and even after being “caught in the act” at the abortion center, these pastors continue to insist that they are pro-life). Continue reading →