Church bombings show intention and pattern

The fire bomb attacks on churches were not spontaneous expressions of outrage and violence of common folk, but deliberate, intentional, strategic acts of violence to damage religious harmony that have largely prevailed since the federation was formed. The avoidance of death seemed to be deliberately calibrated to make all parties open to concessions without triggering a religious war. This was probably masterminded by one who knew what he was doing, and he is educated and not a village folk. It was deliberate because it showed a multi-denominational pattern.

One was a charismatic church: the Metro Tabernacle church in Kuala Lumpur. Another was the Assumption Catholic church in Petaling Jaya, though the explosive that was thrown into the church compound did not explode. The third was an attack on a Brethren church called Life chapel in Petaling Jaya where a Molotov cocktail damaged the porch. The latest was a Lutheran church, the Good Shepherd Lutheran church, in south west Kuala Lumpur. Petrol bombs were thrown into the windows of the first and second floors of the buildings but they narrowly missed.

How many denominations are there in Malaysia? Will the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists or Anglicans be next in line? Watch and pray.

Meanwhile, Rev Ong Sek Leong, the Malaysian pastor of Metro Tabernacle church spoke for all Malaysian Christians and citizens of all races and religions when he responded to what had happened to the church he pastored.

Contemporary megachurch first founded by a woman

Aimee Semple MacPhersonThe men may not like to read this but it was a woman who birthed what I believe was the precursor to the contemporary megachurch. This woman’s name was Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). After a short stint as a missionary’s wife was curtailed by her husband’s death, and a period of fruitful itinerant evangelistic preaching, she decided to base herself in Los Angeles, California. There she built an enormous church with a seating capacity of 5,300. The Angelus Temple, which was completed in 1923, became a forerunner of contemporary megachurches of today.

Drama and entertainment in the service of the gospel

She incorporated Hollywood entertainment and theatrics to attract and hold the attention of the crowds. Once she had a giant whale built on stage and she dressed up as Jonah to preach. Another time she preached to the LA Police and came on stage on a motorbike in police uniform, dismounted it, blew the aimee with King Kongwhistle, and shouted:”Stop! You are breaking the law! ” That’s drama for you. According to Wikipedia, her “illustrated sermons attracted people from the entertainment industry, looking to see a “show” that rivaled what Hollywood had to offer. These famous stage productions drew people who would never have thought to enter a church, and then presented them with her interpretation of the message of salvation. McPherson believed that the Gospel was to be presented at every opportunity, and used worldly means at her disposal to present it to as many people as possible”. She preached a gospel of love and reconciliation and grace, unlike the many preaching the hell and brimstone gospel. “McPherson was famous both inside and outside of rfalling under powereligious circles. Every city where services were held usually had civic leaders in attendance, as well as pastors representing the local churches of every denomination. She made sure that Angelus Temple was represented in local parades and entered floats into the famous Rose Parade in Pasadena”.

Multi-gifted megachurch leader with a social conscience

Her messages were accompanied with signs following: people were “slain in the Spirit”, “drunk in spirit”, healed, speaking in tongues and other supernatural phenomena. The church was filled to capacity three times each day, seven days a week.

“She was also very skillful at fundraising. Collections were taken at every meeting, usually with the admonishment of “no coins, please”. When the $1.5 million Angelus Temple opened its doors, construction was already entirely paid for through private donations.”(Wikipedia)

She started a social and educational center for mid-western immigrants to California and during the Great Depression she supplied free hot meals for thousands of poor and hungry people.Angelus Temple

She started a Bible School to train pastors and missionaries and by 1944 over 4000 have graduated from its doors. She also planted many satellite churches in the pattern of the Salvation Army and they evolved into a denomination called the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

When it came to communications Aimee was way ahead of many: she wrote scores of books, 180 songs, 7 sacred operas. She also published the weekly Foursquare Crusader and a monthly magazine called “Bridal Call”. She also began broadcasting on radio in its infancy in the early ’20s. McPherson was the first woman in history to preach a radio sermon, and with the opening of Foursquare Gospel-owned KFSG (now KXOL) on and was also the first woman to be granted a broadcast license by the Federal Radio Commission.

But her life was marked by controversy: her divorces, a suspicious kidnap and an alleged adulterous relationship, and her death from sedatives. Read more about Aimee Semple MacPherson (Wikipedia).

The contemporary model of the megachurch is not a new idea: it’s almost a century-old!

And it was founded by a woman!

(This article was first published on the 28th Jan 2008.)

Holy Communion: body and blood of Christ

( In 14th September 2007, I posted this piece in the old blogpastor, which I have now revised and re-published.)

Holy communionDon’t miss this excellent post of the different views of holy communion by Alex Tang of Random Musings. It includes the view of Joseph Prince of New Creation Church.

John Piper’s view is the best fit and description of wrpf’s belief and practice regarding holy communion. John Piper writes:

“Let me read the key sentence from the Elder Affirmation of Faith once more and then show you in the Bible where it comes from. “Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ’s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually, in that, by faith, they are nourished with the benefits He obtained through His death, and thus grow in grace.”

Where does this idea of “partaking of Christ’s body and blood . . . spiritually . . . by faith” come from? The closest text to support this is in the previous chapter: 1 Corinthians 10:16-18. As I read it, ask, “What does ‘participation’ mean?”

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ (koinōnia estin tou haimatos tou Christou)? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (ouchi koinōnia tou sōmatos tou Christou estin)? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar (koinōnia tou thusiastēriou)?

Here is something much deeper than remembering. Here are believers—those who trust and treasure Jesus Christ—and Paul says that they are participating in the body and blood of Christ. Literally, they are experiencing a sharing (koinōnia) in his body and blood. They are experiencing a partnership in his death.

Partaking of Christ’s Body and Blood, Spiritually, By Faith

And what does this participation/sharing/partnership mean? I think verse 18 gives us the clue because it uses a similar word, but compares it to what happens in the Jewish sacrifices: “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants [a form of the same word] in the altar?” What does sharer/participant/partner in the altar mean? It means that they are sharing in or benefiting from what happened on the altar. They are enjoying, for example, forgiveness and restored fellowship with God.

So I take verse 16 and 17 to mean that when believers eat the bread and drink the cup physically we do another kind of eating and drinking spiritually. We eat and drink—that is, we take into our lives—what happened on the cross. By faith—by trusting in all that God is for us in Jesus—we nourish ourselves with the benefits that Jesus obtained for us when he bled and died on the cross.

This is why we lead you in various focuses at the Lord’s table from month to month (peace with God, joy in Christ, hope for the future, freedom from fear, security in adversity, guidance in perplexity, healing from sickness, victory in temptation, etc.). Because when Jesus died, his shed blood and broken body, offered up in his death on our behalf, purchased all the promises of God. Paul says, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Every gift of God, and all our joyful fellowship with God, was obtained by the blood of Jesus. When Paul says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” he means: Do we not at the Lord’s table feast spiritually by faith on every spiritual blessing bought by the body and blood of Christ? No unbeliever can do that. The devil can’t do it. It is a gift for the family. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we feast spiritually by faith on all the promises of God bought by the blood of Jesus.”

John Piper’s full article is titled, “Why and how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper”.