Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Newsweek on Creciendo en Gracia Cult
The February 5, 2007 issue of Newsweek includes an article on Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda and his Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace) cult: "He Calls Himself God." I've made note of him before, but did not know the following little tidbit from this new article:

A native of Puerto Rico, de Jesus, 60, spent his youth drifting from the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostals to the Baptists. Then one night in 1973, he says, he awoke to a vision of two hulking men at his bedside who announced the arrival of the Lord, who, says de Jesus, "came to me and integrated with me." In the early years after founding Growing in Grace in Miami in 1986, de Jesus didn't claim to be Christ. Instead, he worked as a pastor spreading his doctrine: that under a new covenant with God, there is no sin and no Satan, and people are predestined to be saved. But as his following expanded, his claims did, too. In 1998, de Jesus avowed that he was the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. Two years ago at Growing in Grace's world convention in Venezuela, he declared himself Christ. And just last week, he called himself the Antichrist and revealed a "666" tattooed on his forearm. His explanation: that, as the second coming of Christ, he rejects the continued worship of Jesus of Nazareth.

All I can say is: "Wow!"


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New Internet Filter!
Tominthebox News Network reports on a new internet filtering product: "Net Finney Guards Families Against the Harmful Effects of Calvinism." This post is just too funny!

(HT: The Heidelblog)


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Cultural Relevance or Biblical Faithfulness?
Yesterday, the Resurgence site posted another great article by Ed Stetzer. Stetzer is quickly growing higher on my "must read" list, and his latest contribution is no exception: "Why is cultural relevance a big deal?" While I do not agree with all of his application, he nails the central point. The following is his introductory note:

The scriptures are relevant to this and every culture. They do not need updating, correcting, or revisioning. On the contrary, what needs revisioning is our understanding and obedience to God's word as we live out His mission in context. When we live a humble orthodoxy and humble missiology, we will be salt and light in contemporary culture—a biblically-faithful, culturally-relevant, counter culture. Here is a brief article I wrote for my friends at Catalyst that might be an encouragement.


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Monday, January 29, 2007
The Latest on Mitt and Mormonism
Deseret Morning News released a new article about Mitt Romney and Mormonism yesterday: "LDS affirms neutrality on Romney and others." It mentions the LDS press release on "Political Neutrality," saying:

Top LDS Church leaders are trying to make it clear that Mormon political candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, won't be expected to follow their direction on matters of public policy.

Political observers knowledgeable about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints see the move in a variety of ways, but all agree that an expanded explanation of how the church interacts — or doesn't — with LDS politicians could benefit Romney, or at least give him something to point critics to.

An official church statement, copyrighted in 2006, was posted recently on the LDS Church's Web site. It explains the church does not "attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader." It further explains that while LDS leaders may communicate the church's view to any politician, LDS or not, the church "recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent."

LDS politicians "make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with the publicly stated church position," the statement says.


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Home Again
I've finally arrived home!

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support. The Lord definitely blessed my time in Uganda, and I hope that I'll be able to write more about it soon!

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Thursday, January 11, 2007
Final Prayer Update Before Uganda Trip
As most of you already know, I am leaving for Uganda on Saturday. The following is my final e-mail to the "CFAR Divito" prayer list (to join, simply e-mail me and let me know). I thought some of you might be interested in it as well. Lord willing, I'll begin posting to my blog again when I return.

"O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

"I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ's precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit. Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

"Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God." (A Puritan Prayer)

Hello. I can't believe I am flying out to Uganda the day after tomorrow! What can I say--God is great! The necessary funds have been raised, our preparations are almost complete, and I am about to begin my travel to Kampala, the capital city. Our Lord has provided everything so abundantly that I am truly humbled.

At the same time, my whole family continues to need your prayers throughout my mission trip. Please pray for:

1) Safe travel (including while we are in Uganda)
2) Health
3) The power of the Holy Spirit as I proclaim His Word and refute error
4) Opportunities to evangelize those who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ
5) Being able to meet with others in Uganda to assess needs and develop a strategy
6) Determining my family's possible missionary service in Uganda
7) My family as I am way. Jennifer must be a superwoman to handle our three children alone while pregnant! I love her dearly!!!

We do thank you for your faithful prayers, knowing that this mission trip would not be possible without you.

Additionally, I thought some of you may be interested in discovering more about Uganda. Here are a few resources for you to check out:

A) Learn more about Uganda from the CIA World Factbook on Uganda
B) Read news from Uganda in the New Vision
C) Find out more about missionary work in Uganda through the Uganda Short-term Mission Guide

I am unsure about internet and phone access in Uganda, so this may be the last e-mail I can send until I return. In any case, I am excited and cannot wait to tell you more when I come back!

Because of His grace,
John Divito

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Thinking Through the Millennium and Revelation 20
A friend of mine recently asked about my view on the millennium as well as any resources I reccomended for further study on this end times debate. I thought some of you that read my blog may also find my brief response useful, so the following is my reply:

It has taken me several years, much reading, and changing of positions to be comfortable with where I am at now. In any case, I am amillennial. Honestly, I cannot point to a single source that really swung me one way or the other. It was spending time reading and studying the relevant biblical texts in light of the debate. For me, it all began with IVPs The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views. This book was a good overview, but did not convince me (on its own) of amillennialism. I just read a lot from different perspectives over time.

For some good reading on amillennialism, a contemporary defender is Kim Riddlebarger. He has a section of his site devoted to On-Line Resources for Amillennial Eschatology, including "Links to Helpful Books, Essays, and Charts.". He has written a good introductory article, regularly answers questions (part 1 and part 2), and written a book defending amillennialism: A Case for Amillennialism.

In any case, the motherload of eschatology articles online is through You could spend *years* reading through all of these great resources (from different Reformed perspectives).

Sam Waldron has also written an introductory book, The End Times Made Simple. And while I had serious issues with some of it, Stanley Grenz' The Millennial Maze is still a good compare/contrast for a discerning reader.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
"Nice" Christianity?
Yesterday, The Resurgence posted a good entry by David Fairchild from Kaleo Church in San Diego: "Should Christians be 'nice'?" Here is an excerpt:

If we are to preach Christ crucified, we must also preach a Christ that opponents would see as worthy of crucifixion. It is a dangerous thing to speak and teach an unfelt cross. If Christ is to be rejected in our day, let it be for those things He was rejected for in His day, and not because we’re trying to pacify an already hyper-sensitive, politically-correct culture which cries for truth but openly rejects it.

. . . .

Are we to spend our days on this earth passively trying to avoid sin rather than attempting great and glorious things for the One who is in the process of redeeming all things for His glory? Let’s not sit passively and live cautious, careful, nice lives. Let’s not speak of Christ as if we’re in a library or sipping tea in a parlor with well dressed grandmothers who desire to speak of pleasant things that go well with their decaffeinated citrus blends. If we play it safe, we may find that we have spent the best years of our life doing absolutely nothing of merit as we wait for our light to turn green so that we can escape this frightening world. Sure, you might be thought of as a "nice" guy, but don’t assume this has anything to do with being conformed into the image of Christ.


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Monday, January 08, 2007
Open Letter to Local Church Cult
An important open letter was recently released to the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "Local Churches," a cult began by Witness Lee. Over 60 evangelical Christian scholars and ministry leaders from seven nations have signed this letter. Here is its introduction:

Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" (also known as The Lord's Recovery), both founded by the late Witness Lee, have been involved for decades in legal and theological controversies with noted Christian institutions and leaders. In light of this history of litigation and conflict, we the undersigned make this public appeal.

Because the following statements by Witness Lee appear to contradict or compromise essential doctrines of the Christian faith, we respectfully call on the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the "local churches" to disavow and cease to publish these and similar declarations.

(HT: Jeff Downs)


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Mormon on Joseph Smith's Relationship to Jesus
Was Joseph Smith a direct descendant of Jesus? While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never makes such an audacious claim, a Mormon art historian and scholar does in his book Dynasty of the Holy Grail: Mormonism's Sacred Bloodline.

Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article on Vern G. Swanson's attempt to link Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ: "Book says Smith came from Jesus' family tree." The following is the news story's introduction:

Vern G. Swanson, longtime director of the Springville Museum of Art, knows some readers will think he's crazy. Others will be intrigued, and still others may be offended.

That's because Swanson has written a provocative new book theorizing that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, that they bore children and that LDS Church founder Joseph Smith was their direct descendant. Swanson also suggests that this heavenly birthright gave Smith spiritual authority as a prophet and affirms the historical legitimacy of the LDS Church.


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Leaving the Episcopal Church
Today's Washington Post includes a much-needed column: "Why We Left the Episcopal Church." In this piece, former Episcopals John Yates and Os Guinness explain why they left the Episcopal church. They begin by writing:

When even President Gerald Ford's funeral at Washington National Cathedral is not exempt from comment about the crisis in the Episcopal Church, we believe it is time to set the record straight as to why our church and so many others around the country have severed ties with the Episcopal Church. Fundamental to a liberal view of freedom is the right of a person or group to define themselves, to speak for themselves and to not be dehumanized by the definitions and distortions of others. This right we request even of those who differ from us.

The core issue in why we left is not women's leadership. It is not "Episcopalians against equality," as the headline on a recent Post op-ed by Harold Meyerson put it. It is not a "leftward" drift in the church. It is not even primarily ethical -- though the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop was the flash point that showed how far the repudiation of Christian orthodoxy had gone.

The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. Some leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry or with their fingers crossed.


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Friday, January 05, 2007
Charles Finney and the Gospel
Reformed Perspectives Magazine continues to post great material on its web site. The latest issue (Volume 9, Number 2) includes articles such as: Hugh Martin, "Atonement and the Covenant of Grace;" Loraine Boettner, "Limited Atonement;" and R.L. Dabney, "Nature of Christ's Sacrifice."

But one article stands out in its importance today: David H. Linden, "Charles Finney’s Doctrine of Justification." This article is essential reading for anyone involved in contemporary evangelicalism. Here is Liden's accurate and candid conclusion:

Charles Finney was passionate in his disagreement with the learning and heritage of the reformers. He dismissed their return to Scripture and Christ-centered grace. In its place he urged the vagaries of his own thought, thinking heavily colored by Enlightenment views of human reason. Holy things such as the very thought that Another could represent us, obey for us, and die for us, were all treated with arrogant disdain. The promise of the gospel was replaced with the pretense of our righteousness, a burden unbearable to every sinner. To this evil he then added an explanation of the cross as something without power to remove sin, bring us to God or remove our guilt. Finney exclaimed that nothing at all in the mediatorial work of Christ, procures our standing with God. The proper response to such a gospel from "America’s Greatest Revivalist" is rejection of his error and disgust for profaning the work of our Lord.

Yet the virus of Finney is still present in the evangelical bloodstream. It shows up whenever God’s love is presented detached from the violence of the wrath of God’s fury against our sin on the cross, where God smote the Holy One Who became sin for us. The cross is the gospel. God’s love is never at variance with His loving His own grace and justice. Gracious love and retributive justice are not at odds with each other. One is the well spring of the other because God expressed love by providing the atonement. Whenever one is detached from the other, a Finney-like reduction of the gospel is with us still. The cross is rooted in God’s love and is God’s declared means of saving, yet Finney insisted the ground of justification is love and not the cross alone. What God has channeled through the cross, Finney detours around it, bringing the love of God to wicked sinners with sin yet unatoned for, never realizing that a crossless contact with God would incinerate us for our sin. We need our Mediator. God can be approached in no other way, nor does He approach us in any other way.

Finney’s intuition did not reveal the gospel to him, so he concocted a non-atoning atonement. A failure to proclaim the cross in its necessity, centrality and effectiveness as the climax of our Savior’s lifelong obedience, is to give up the real ground of our justification. In Christ’s obedience we rest from our worries and our works. Only one clean law-keeping life has occurred in the filth of human history. That righteousness of His is there in the gospel for all who will in faith embrace it. At Calvary, the only hell on earth to precede the Judgment Day has already happened. That too will replace all the hells of all who believe God’s promise. But poor Charles Finney denied both the doing and the dying of Christ. He led people away from Christ, and led sinners to, of all things, themselves! Our great high priest learned obedience in His days on earth and in His sacrifice met the law’s penalties. Yet Finney told people to bring to God their own obedience and held out forgiveness with sin not paid for. It is difficult to imagine a more through denial of justification by faith alone by anyone purported to be an evangelist.

He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In our tolerant age of discomfort with God’s doctrines coupled with our principle of avoiding almost all disagreement, Finney’s denials are allowed to sit unnoticed in our evangelical Hall of Fame. The laudatory language should stop. The gospel treasure he denied should be mined in God’s Word again with due diligence, articulate definition, and joyful proclamation. In all this, Finney is no role model for us. We should admit at last that Charles Grandison Finney was a false prophet, an evangelist who did not believe nor preach the gospel.


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The Joys of Fatherhood (Part 5)
Here is the final video in the "Daddy Survival Guide" series. The previous videos included: part one, part two, part three, and part four.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007
Bruce Ware on the Lord's Day
The Resurgence posted its first Heidelberg Project podcast from Bruce Ware: "Lord's Day 1." It's on my MP3 player!


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The Joys of Fatherhood (Part 4)
This is the next-to-last video in the "Daddy Survival Guide" video series. Here are the previous videos: part one, part two, and part three.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The Joys of Fatherhood (Part 3)
Here is part three of the video series "Daddy Survival Guide." Don't forget part one and part two.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The Joys of Fatherhood (Part 2)
Today, I bring you part two of the video series "Daddy Survival Guide." To see part one, click here.

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Monday, January 01, 2007
The Joys of Fatherhood (Part 1)
As I look forward to the New Year, I also look back and see the blessing that God has given me in being a father. I enjoy the fact that He has given me this time of raising children for His glory, and look forward to another year of fatherhood.

Nevertheless, nobody said that it would be easy. Fatherhood continues to be a challenge. Therefore, I was rolling on the floor as I identified with the fathers in this series of videos. As a result, I plan on posting one video a day this week.

(Of course, I do not advocate fathers being stay-at-home dads, but these videos still ring close to home!)

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About Me


I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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