The apologetic testimonies of Hank Hanegraaff, Gretchen Passantino Coburn, and Fuller Theological Seminary in defense of the Local Churches are highly problematic. As I explained in my previous post, they lack serious argument to justify the about-face of those who (in the case of Hanegraaff and Passantino Coburn) for years deemed the Local Churches, at the very least, theologically unsound. But there is something else that makes these testimonies problematic and even troublesome. There is something oddly familiar about them. Specifically, what general and unsubstantiated claims that these evangelicals make about the Local Churches eerily parallel claims that some evangelicals have also been making about the Mormon religion—as well as some claims that Mormon apologists have made. Indeed, in one instance it is the same evangelical making these claims in both cases. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for January, 2009
On December 22, the FAIR Blog—part of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, a pro-Mormonism web site—offered a response to my series of posts here on Mormonism and apostles. The author of the blog, identified as Keller, summarizes my argument as follows:
Bowman’s posts so far have argued that contemporary Mormon practice deviates from what he finds in early Christianity: 1) Ordination to a priesthood office wasn’t always done by the laying on of hands by one holding the authority to do so and 2) The office of apostle in the sense of being a spokesman for the Lord was not meant to continue as such. Such deviations, he contends, make it impossible for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make unique truth claims about exclusively having priesthood authority.
Keller’s first point in his summary of my view is a bit off, confusing at least some of his readers. Thus, a Mormon named Lance Starr comments, “I haven’t read Bowman’s arguments but isn’t he undermining [his] own evangelical position by arguing for any ordinations at all?” Evangelicals have somewhat varying views on the subject of ordination, but the point I had made was that the New Testament never associates a human ordination ceremony or rite (involving the laying on of hands) with a man becoming an apostle of Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry »
According to an article posted online two days ago at Christianity Today, “Two notable critics have changed their minds on the controversial ‘local churches’ movement that follow the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.” The two critics are Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI), and Gretchen Passantino Coburn, director of Answers in Action (AIA). The article refers to a booklet to which Hanegraaff and Passantino Coburn contributed and that the Defense and Confirmation Project, a pro-Local Churches group, published in November 2007. Entitled The Local Churches: “Genuine Believers and Fellow Members of the Body of Christ”, the booklet includes “Testimonies” (as the title page quite correctly calls them) from Hanegraaff, Passantino Coburn, and Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller’s contribution is a statement representing the assessment of Richard Mouw, the school’s president, and two other Fuller professors.
I have been quite reluctant to enter the fray of this debate, which has actually been going on for several years, but have decided now to say something. Read the rest of this entry »
NOTE: This is a special blog entry from Joel B. Groat, the Coordinator for International Ministries for the Institute for Religious Research.
Fox News ran a story last week with the headline, “Tom Hanks Says Mormon Supporters of Proposition 8 ‘Un-American’”. The article quotes Hanks as saying, “the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen. There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them.” Now Tom is one of my favorite actors, right up there with Jimmy Stewart, but is he listening to himself? Read the rest of this entry »
After a bit of a hiatus during which those of us at the Institute for Religious Research have been reflecting on the direction our organization is headed, I wish to resume this blog with some thoughts on the notion of being an apologist. Although some of us actually consider the role of a Christian apologist to be an honorable vocation and ministry, the term apologist is now largely used as a pejorative.