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June 26, 2006
Where Are the Bereans Today?

By Pastor Ralph Ovadal

"But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,
and are convinced of the law as transgressors." James 2:9

The last four decades has seen an explosion of evangelical radio and television stations and networks in America. A coadjutant of the Christian radio network boom has been the rise of seemingly Teflon-coated Christian celebrity personalities. The Apostle Paul was held accountable to the Scriptures by the Bereans, and rightfully so; but these Christian radio personalities seem immune to any such standard. Certainly, we are not to bite and devour one another or be gnat strainers; but just as certainly, we are to prove all things by the Scriptures and are not to swallow camels out of partiality for personalities. We all make some mistakes; but when compromise and error is weaved throughout the warp and woof of a man's ministry, that man needs to make things right, or else Christians must not support his ministry or minister with him, for that matter. However, when it comes to being held accountable to a scriptural standard, one would be tempted to think that the conservative Christian celebrities—they cannot rightly be called fundamentalists—are pushing the envelope to see just how much their gullible, star-struck audiences will swallow.

Dr. D. James Kennedy is a prime example of this phenomenon. Kennedy is the pastor of the 10,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is also the founder and head of Coral Ridge Ministries. Under the umbrella of that ministry are a number of ministry works. These include Dr. Kennedy's weekly one-hour television program, his daily half-hour radio program, and a daily ninety-second Kennedy radio commentary. All of those programs are heard nationwide. The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship and the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ are also divisions of Coral Ridge Ministries but with separate web sites.

Dr. Kennedy is no doubt a very influential, powerful person, but he is not using his position and stature to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints"—quite the opposite. On the one hand, Kennedy identifies himself with the heroes of the Reformation, even posting Luther's Ninety-Five Theses on his Coral Ridge Ministries web site. On the other hand, Dr. Kennedy has done much to advance the cause of popery among American evangelicals. Over the years, he has been involved in one ecumenical effort after another and has presented on his radio and television programs Catholics as Christians. One can also find quotes from "Mother" Teresa and the pope and letters from Roman Catholic fans on the web sites of Kennedy's several ministries. His Reclaiming America web site features a "gospel" message from Pope Benedict XVI which begins: "Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is." Dr. Kennedy supports many other proudly ecumenical ministries such as Heartbeat International, a crisis pregnancy center network. We could make a long list of, not simply questionable comments or long-past blunders by Kennedy, but blatant promotions of the Roman Catholic religion in violation of the Word of God. But with space limits in mind, I will simply list just several recent examples in which D. James Kennedy has served the cause of the pope while claiming to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and earnestly contend for the faith of the gospel.

In 2002, Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries produced and aired on television to a national audience a special titled What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? This program was hosted by Dr. Kennedy and was billed by him as an effort to "present the Gospel to the nation in a most unique and compelling manner." Among featured speakers whom Kennedy recruited to "present the Gospel" on What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? was the Catholic theologian "Father" Francis Martin! The documentary, which was rich with idolatrous, Romish pictures of "Jesus," also included a glowing endorsement of "Mother" Many-Ways-to-God Teresa's work in Calcutta.

In 2004, Dr. Kennedy enthusiastically promoted the Roman Catholic evangelistic film The Passion of the Christ.

In 2005, Kennedy was a featured speaker at the Traditional Values Coalition Inauguration Gala which was opened in prayer by one of his allies in the "cultural wars," Catholic priest Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life. (See the book More Than These.) One could hope that Kennedy was caught off guard by Pavone's appearance, and when the chance presented itself, he at least drew a sharp line of demarcation between him and the priest; but of course, that is not the case.

In 2006, Dr. Kennedy responded to the Da Vinci Code controversy by producing another one of his one-hour television documentaries and, in his defense of Christianity, included at least two Roman Catholic speakers.

I am not a listener of Dr. Kennedy's nationally broadcast radio program, Truths That Transform; but recently, I did hear an April 23, 2006 edition, "Crimes in the Name of Christianity." In that program, Dr. Kennedy dealt with charges that Christians have committed atrocities such as the Crusades and the Inquisition. He began by addressing the Crusade issue this way: "Oh, you talk about Christianity, but look at the Crusades. What a horrible spot on the history of mankind. Well, how shall we answer that question, What about the Crusades? Well, let me make a suggestion. When they ask you that question, I would recommend that you simply respond, Which crusade did you have in mind? Are you talking about the crusade of the Muslims to take over the Holy Land and all of the sacred places of Christianity? Or are you talking about the later crusade of Christians to take them back? Which one were you referring to?"

Dr. Kennedy then went on to defend the Crusades without mentioning that they were the popes' crusades; they were not "Christian" crusades and certainly were not conducted in a Christian fashion. He finished the crusade segment with this comment: "So, what about the Crusades? Well, which crusade did you have in mind? The Muslim crusade that took the Holy Land and the holy places away from the Christians or the later Christian crusade that endeavored to take them back?" A better answer by Dr. Kennedy would have been, "Well, which crusade do you have in mind? The popes' bloody, ungodly crusades in the Middle East or the popes' bloody, ungodly crusades against the Lord's people in Europe, such as the Waldenses? As a Christian minister, I abhor the Crusades along with every other abominable crime committed by the antichrist papacy in the name of Christ."

Kennedy's "sacred places of Christianity" and "holy places" comments show that the yeast of Romanism has been working in his mind and heart. The Lord has not seen fit to preserve for us such places as the tomb of Jesus, much less His burial shroud or relics from His cross, no matter what the Romanists claim, since many would worship the things and the place instead of the Person. The true "holy place" is New Zion, the Church of Jesus Christ. Our "sacred places" are the sites where the blood of Christian martyrs was shed in times past, usually by Romanists.

By the way, under "About Our Logo" on Dr. Kennedy's Center for Christian Statesmanship web site, we find this: "At the crest's foundation is a crusader's shield, rich in heritage and ancient significance."

In the same Truths That Transform program, Dr. Kennedy spent seven minutes telling Christians how to explain the Inquisition to unbelievers. It was, he explained, the work of "nominal Christians," not true believers. Not once did Kennedy utter any such words as pope, Roman Catholic, papacy, Romanism, or Rome. Not once did he give any inkling whatsoever that the Inquisition was directed by the pope and carried out by his priests!

Dr. D. James Kennedy, held by many American evangelicals to be a great Christian statesman and one of the foremost defenders of the Christian faith, clearly is a double-minded man whose thinking and ministry have been leavened by his ecumenical efforts with Roman Catholics. Those who insist that they are able to indulge in ministry relationships forbidden by God and still not be polluted with error—yea, even begin to promote error themselves—ought to take heed to the tragic example of Dr. D. James Kennedy. The man has been cross-pollinated with Romanism due to his reliance on Roman Catholic help in his ministry efforts.

In the example of Dr. Kennedy, we have a vivid warning of even the personal dangers inherent in yoking with unbelievers and communing with darkness. The man who would "reclaim America for Christ" apparently has lost so much discernment that he is willing to assist Rome's attack upon the essential doctrine of justification. Let me explain briefly what I mean. Coral Ridge Ministries sells the GOD'S WORD bible. Amazingly, the producers of this translation arrogantly claim a registered trademark on its name, GOD'S WORD. Dr. Kennedy's endorsement of the GOD'S WORD translation appears on his own ministry web site and on the web site of Green Key Books, which markets the translation.

A lengthy paper could be written on this translation; but to keep this article from becoming too lengthy, I will simply point out that the translation team of the "bible" about which we are speaking and which Dr. Kennedy promotes has replaced justification and justified with approval and approved. In other words, even though it is a nonsensical translation of the Greek, Christians and the unsaved are taught by that corrupt translation that sinners must seek to gain God's "approval" in order to enter the kingdom of heaven when in reality it is Christ's righteousness that they must have imputed to them in order to be declared just by God and adopted as His child. Thus the critical doctrine of justification is tossed in the trash bin on the whims of a few men who apparently have no fear of God and certainly do not tremble before His Word. The absolute need of sinners to be declared just by God based on the merits of Christ is forgotten in favor of sinners simply seeking God's "approval." Clearly, anything which weakens the doctrine of justification, not to mention the authority of the Scriptures themselves, is useful to the cause of Rome. Nevertheless, D. James Kennedy, who would have us believe that he is a descendant of the Reformers, endorses and markets a bible which grossly and openly attacks the doctrine of justification. Of course, he also markets other perversions of the Bible, including the NIV and the NLT.

It is difficult to believe how deeply into error Dr. D. James Kennedy has sunk. But it is even more difficult to believe what license conservative and even some fundamentalist Christians have given Kennedy by being willing to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to his error, apparently based on Dr. Kennedy's conservative Christian credentials and celebrity status. The noble Bereans would not give even the Apostle Paul a free pass. American evangelicals as a whole are clearly far from noble and getting further from Scripture every day.

 

Related articles
Reclaiming America for Whom?
The Bride Betrayed

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This web site contains references to Wisconsin Christians United (WCU). That ministry, which was founded by Ralph Ovadal in 1993, has been included as a ministry of Pilgrims Covenant Church since April 1, 2005. 

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