War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg to air Monday evenings on the NRB Network

TRFW is excited about the new shows on the NRB Network –

Prime time is heating up with Apologetics programming featuring many great teachers, one of whom we have spotlighted right here on our blog.

War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg will air every Monday evening on the NRB Network – channels 378 on DirecTV and 126 on Sky Angel – 8 pm Central Time, 9 pm Eastern. War of the Worldviews is a new series from well-known Christian cultural apologist, Eric Holmberg (Hell’s Bells 1&2, Sound of War, Red Pill Forum, Marks of a Cult, and more). Eric is the founder and national director of The Apologetics Group and Reel to Real Ministries.

The first show will be Monday, May 17th.
8-9 pm CST
9-10 pm EST

Meant to challenge both the believer and non-believer, this program takes the truth of God’s Word to the frontlines of popular culture, philosophy, theology, and politics.

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and offers non-profit programming distributed through a channel on DIRECTV. Please check your local provider for details.

Watch for updates weekly – invite your family, friends and co-workers to watch!

http://www.nrbnetwork.tv/schedules/Pages/default.aspx

War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg to Air Monday Nights on NRB Network

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Featured Ministry – The Apologetics Group, A Ministry of Eric Holmberg

Many years ago when God first called me out of the darkness (with me very confused as to why he did that…) I saw a film in my church that changed the way I looked at the effects of music on my spiritual life forever. That film was Hell’s Bells, and it opened my eyes to the spiritual war going on that was right in front of me that I’d been totally unaware of. It revolutionized the way I looked at music and made me much more acutely aware of how music effected my life and the lives of my family.

The Apologetics Group, or TAG, once known to many as Reel to Real Ministries, was created by current CEO Eric Holmberg in 2003. Both TAG and Reel to Real have produced presentations such as Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism, The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity & Divinity of Christ, God’s Law and Society, and many more great ministry tools.

Eric’s nearly 30 dedicated years of ministry has produced relevant media which has touched many thousands of lives worldwide. He has worked with some of the Reformed world’s greatest theologians, such as the likes of Dr. George Grant, R.C. Sproul, Dr. Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Ted Baehr… and the list goes on.

Anyone who has ever been to one of Eric’s seminars has had the opportunity to experience Eric’s unique and discerning view of media and popular culture from a Christian worldview. Indeed, if you didn’t leave the seminar changed in some way then perhaps you weren’t really paying close attention…

The focus of Eric’s ministry is educating the Christian (and anyone else who has ears to hear) about the world around them – culture, media, church history, doctrinal issues, the abortion industry, etc. Any of the various DVDs produced by TAG can be utilized in such educational settings as a home school, Sunday school, small groups, and as evangelical presentations or outreaches in a church or on a local high school or college campus.

For more information about The Apologetics Group or Eric Holmberg, check out their official website – The Apologetics Group.

Please note: Eric Holmberg and The Apologetics Group (a subsidiary of Reel to Real Ministries) is located in Tennessee and is not affiliated with the website nicenecouncil.com or it’s DBA parent company, Apologetics Group, Inc., which is located in Virginia.

Hope this clears up any confusion.

The Grace that Saved a Wretch Like Me

By Eric Holmberg
Taken from the Study Guide for “Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism”

I personally experienced the most amazing aspect of God’s good grace in 1980 at the age of 26. In a moment of time I went from being a confident practitioner and apologist for rationalism (unbelief) and immorality − to a man undone. I was very conscious of a supernatural Presence as I knelt in sorrow, weeping as my life of rebellion and profligacy unfolded before me. In my heart I knew that a fork in my life’s road had been reached. I could stay on the path that I had been on…or take the one that had opened up before me in the bright shadow of Calvary’s cross.

I hesitated. I knew that this new way would require that I deny the self I had grown so fond of satisfying; that my lifestyle would have to undergo some profound changes. I didn’t see how I could possibly live up to these challenges. I suddenly became frightened, even sad. I knew deep down that the way of the cross would lead to life. But I also knew that I didn’t have the strength for the journey. The cords of sin I had entangled myself in were too strong.

And then the grace became even more amazing as a still small voice spoke to my heart. I couldn’t make the journey in my own strength, I realized in a flash of understanding. But I wouldn’t have to. A greater One would walk with me and in His strength I would be made strong. Words of adoration and commitment to the One who sacrificed His life for mine sprang up from my heart…and the rest as they say is history. What was dead became alive and a whole new person was born.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…”

I jumped with both feet into this new world that had opened up before me. I got involved in a campus outreach and began training for vocational ministry. The church I was a part of was full of revival fires and zeal for the LORD’s house. And passion for “saving the lost” and making them into true disciples was the outflow of this zeal. I was introduced to the writings of Charles Finney and other leaders of the second Great Awakening. (I heard of some of those involved with the first Great Awakening, too, though not as much.) In time I *began ministering ((myself)) on university campuses and later in other churches, developing the multi-media tools that would eventually lead to the establishment of Reel to Real Ministries and The Apologetics Group. God graciously used these live seminars as tools to lead many to faith in Christ.

But how exactly did these salvations come about? What was the ordo salutis: the causal order that turns a fallen man into a child of God? At the time, the answer seemed simple, even commonsensical to me. Jesus died a sacrificial death to atone for the sins of all mankind; that God (who is love) loves everyone and desires that all people will be saved. But at the same time he doesn’t want to compromise our free will. (He doesn’t want robots worshipping Him after all.) Through the preaching of the gospel the way of salvation is presented to man. Through this same preaching people become aware of their sins and receive the grace necessary, if they so desire, to turn from their sins and receive the gift of Christ’s righteousness. Some choose life and the blessing of heaven, others reject God’s mercy and by default opt for death and the curse of hell. What could be simpler and ultimately fairer? God makes the way of salvation open before all men and then presents us with a real choice…and we choose.

And it all seemed to work. I was honored to present this way of salvation to people individually as well as in groups and to then lead many in the sinner’s prayer: having them repent (turn from) their sins, commit their lives to Christ so that they would then be “saved” or born again. And many apparently were as they brought forth and are still producing the fruit of a transformed life. They really did get saved.

Over time, however, my understanding of the ordo salutis began to undergo some subtle modifications. Many were brought about by verses I read in the Bible. Did God really love everyone? (Prov. 6:17; Rom. 9:13) Could God’s will really be frustrated by a man? (Luke 1:17; Rom. 9: 20,21) And how well did the most famous conversion in the Bible fit into the steps of salvation I had been trained to accept? (Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9) But then there was also the impact of the writings of earlier champions of the faith. I had taken C.S. Lewis’ admonition to prefer older writings that have withstood the test of time over the unproven ruminations of the latest popular writer. As I read the insights of Augustine, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and others, I found that the God of these saints of old seemed much bigger, more awesome, more mysterious and more sovereign than the One I had heard preached. My views concerning the nature of God, man and salvation continued to evolve.

And one day, it all just made sense and I found myself in the camp that I used to warn others against. I had become “Reformed.”

What follows is an exploration and explanation of the Reformed faith, what many call “Calvinism” after the name of the great Protestant reformer who so powerfully systematized its teachings. It is offered, in the words of the Mayflower Compact, “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith.” As I will explain in the introduction of the video, it is in no way intended as a screed against advocates of Arminian (“free will”) salvation or to impugn their salvation, spiritual maturity or zeal for the Lord and His kingdom. Some of the godliest people and most effective soul-winners I know stand on the other side of this theological divide.

Nevertheless, all ideas have consequences, whether intended or not. And I think we can all agree that ideas concerning the nature of God, man and redemption from sin likely have among the greatest consequences of all. The participants in this video believe that the unintended after-affects of Arminianism have been great and have compromised both the Gospel message and, as a result, the experiment in Christian liberty that is (was?) the West (Christendom it was once called) and most specifically America. Whichever side you fall on now − or after you have watched the video and done this workbook − we owe it to our God and the generation we have been called to serve to carefully consider these great themes. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Prov. 25:2)

I close with a challenging thought. As I write this we have embarked on what may be the most daunting production we have ever undertaken. Called The Real Jihad: The War Behind the War, one of its key contentions is that Islam is a “polished knife” (Eze. 21: 8-10) that has been raised up against the West by the LORD to challenge and chastise our growing idolatries. (Along with scripture verses and the many lessons of history, we will set out the chilling parallels between the “gaps in our wall” — those specific collective idolatries that have breached the hedge of God’s covenantal protection — and the tactical strengths of the jihadists. The parallels are extremely sobering and we believe a secondary proof of our thesis.) Like all chastisements from a loving, holy God, their purpose is restorative: to force us to confront our sins that we might turn in repentance and see our country healed by God. (2 Chr. 7:14). But if we refuse to repent, God’s longer term purpose for chastisement will enter the picture : that is that He will allow the seeds of destruction that we have sown to reach full maturity. The America that we know and love, with it freedoms and prosperity, will disappear. Our (and Europe’s) primary redemptive purpose at this point will be to serve as a warning to future generations: this is what happens to nations that are blessed by God and then forget and turn from the One who was the ultimate source of those blessings.

The connection here to the themes of Amazing Grace and this workbook is that in the confrontation with Islam we are ultimately engaged in a struggle between competing gods and worldviews. There is no question that the West’s primary deity — the idol of humanism and multiculturalism — is no match for the transcendent, unapologetically all-subjecting god of Islam. But as the Church wakes-up and strengthens the things that remain (Rev. 3:2; Father, we pray that it happens!), as we (figuratively speaking) ascend Mount Carmel to confront the prophets of Baal, we had better make sure that the God we both call upon and present to the watching world (particularly the Muslim world) is the true God, the One who answers with fire. A God who is not completely sovereign, who offers the hope of salvation but is not all-powerful to secure it, who knocks on the doors of sinners’ hearts asking to come in and then walks away sad when He is turned down, who is impotent (to some degree at least) to subdue nations through His covenant people before a Devil who somehow has the power to overcome the world through his, will never be able to topple the fierce desert deity that Mohammed presented to the world.

May the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, lead us all into a true knowledge and deeper intimacy with the One who is mighty to save…and will do so to the uttermost. (Isa. 63:1; Heb. 7:25)
_________ ___________ _________ _________ _________ __________ __________

1. I speak humanly here. God knows everything past, present and future and only has one will and plan. But we don’t know the specifics of it and never know how our response to the details of covenantal history as it unfolds will precisely impact the future. But we do know many things about God and His promises concerning what will happen if, for example, we humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wickedness. (2 Chr. 7:14) All we can do is what we can do: obey God, repent when we need to, focus on the Great Commission by winning souls and discipling nations (beginning, of course, with our own) and rest in the knowledge that all things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

Be sure to visit the Reformed Faith Weblog Home Page for devotionals, news and commentary.

Mandibular Mojo: Why Christians Need Strong Meat by Eric Holmberg

By Eric Holmberg
The Apologetics Group (TAG)

Many people are troubled by the amount of controversy and debate that seems to arise from the Bible. Why can’t Christianity’s truths be clearer and less complicated? (That is one of the things that makes Islam such a potent ideology; you can learn everything you need to know − and many of its leaders would say should know − in a few hours or less.) Mystery seems to bleed from all around its edges.

Well first we need to keep in mind that many of the most fundamental truths of our faith are, in fact, simple enough that even a child or the mentally handicapped can embrace them. They are things known more by the heart than by the mind. And they are powerful to save. Thankfully we are redeemed by grace through faith, not because every “i” is dotted and “t” crossed properly in our systematic theology.

Second, when an eternal, infallible, infinitely wise God who can create and sustain an unimaginably vast universe by the word of His power while simultaneously knowing each of us down to the thoughts of our hearts, when that God decides to intersect with our finite, fallen and fallible world and worldviews by revealing Himself through His Word or through the Incarnation, we should expect that sparks should fly! (Personally, I find the mystery of the Trinity very satisfying and consoling for this very reason. Any God that I can get my puny mind around can’t be God!)

And when faced with these sparks, what should be our response?

For those who have a real relationship with God and have grown to the point where they can endure “strong meat” (Heb. 5:12-14), God, in effect, says “Chase the mystery!” (Pro. 25:2) Exercise those powers of understanding and discernment. Grow up. Work those jaw muscles. Don’t you know that one day you will judge angels? There is work to be done in preparation for the challenges of the Great Commission (imagine discipling entire nations), not to mention ruling with Christ in the age to come. Are you going to stop and stare at this obstacle, this mystery, and then shrug and turn around? Or you going to be a man or woman after My own heart and press on?

Too many choose the easy way. And it is not unusual to see them try to justify their reluctance by quoting scripture; for example the first part of the Lord’s well-known admonition in Isaiah 55: 8 & 9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“Well, the secret things belong to God (Deut. 29:29),” they often say. “Calvinism vs. Arminianism, predestination, those freaky verses in the Old Testament, the problem of evil, the book of Revelation and end-times matters, Paul’s ‘hard sayings,’ all those things are beyond our grasp even as the heavens are above the earth. Let’s just love the Lord and avoid disputing about these things.”

But in this they ignore the words of God that follow in verses 10 and 11:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

In other words, we when see that we are bumping up against the ceiling of our human reasoning and we know that God’s ways are waiting for us somewhere above, we should not look back to the ground in surrender. It is the glory of a king to search out the matter; to seek to know God’s ways. We should turn instead to the Word, humbly and in great faith, knowing that it will not return void. For in the same way that water (O cleansing, life-giving water!) comes down from the natural heavens and causes the land to bring forth fruit, so will the living Word that proceeds from the realms of glory transform us and bring us into greater levels of maturity and understanding.

And don’t be surprised if the understanding you end up gaining tends to offend the natural mind. His ways are higher than ours, after all. In truth, I have found that the closer you get to what Francis Schaeffer called “true truth,” the more the earth-born mind will squirm in discomfort.

Augustine and Anselm were right: Credo ut intelligam. We believe − we have faith in God and His Word − in order to understand.

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Eric Holmberg is the Founder and President of The Apologetics Group, the production arm of Reel to Real Ministries, Inc. He has the produced and (co)authored films such as Amazing Grace ~ The History and Theology of Calvinism; Marks of a Cult; Hell’s Bells I & II, and dozens of other Christian educational videos that have been viewed worldwide. His ministry to the body of Christ has spanned nearly 3 decades. Eric and his wife, Ronda, live in the Nashville, Tennessee area.

For more info, visit The Apologetics Group Website – http://www.TheApologeticsGroup.com

(c)Eric Holmberg

Be sure to visit the Reformed Faith Weblog Home Page for devotionals, news and commentary.

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 4)

By Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group
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Note from the administrator: This is the 4th and final part of this series.
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I don’t have the space or even all the wisdom necessary to present an exhaustive game plan; but what follows should get us well on our way. First, we must begin with the great admonition and promise found 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Humble yourself. Reread the opening vignette. It’s easy to “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1) and roll our eyes at other people’s foibles. But how would you have done? (And please feel free to substitute ESPN’s Sportscenter for Friends.) Are you able to explain the difference between justification and sanctification? How would you fair in writing six essays on the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2? Don’t shrug it off as just theology. This is boilerplate stuff every Christian should know.

In an attempt to trap Him, Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. The Master asked for a coin and then raised a very profound question: “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22: 20-21)

Pray and ask God a similar question. Whose likeness and inscription has been pressed into the clay of your heart? The world’s? Or God’s? If the former is even an issue ─ if you see that the stain of popular media has done more to color your world than the Word ─ do what God expects of all who “fall short of the glory.”

Repent.

Stop lifting up your soul to what is false. (Psalm 24:4) Purpose to set no unclean thing before your eyes; to hate the work of those who fall away. (Psalm 101: 3) Commit Philippians 4:8 to memory and use it as a yardstick to measure everything before you allow it into the sanctuary of your mind, heart and home.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Next, purpose to obey the Apostle Paul’s admonition to not take part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Hate that which is evil but cling to and encourage what is good. (Rom. 12: 9) Cultivate an atmosphere of “reading” and “listening” rather than “watching” in your life and home. Fill them with good books and music. Tame the television, which for many people may mean getting rid of it for a season (see Matthew 5:30). The technology now exists to block certain channels. There are also devices that filter out bad language. Use them. Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom. Have a family movie night. Go online to research the content of a film before seeing it and then “vote” with your pocketbook by only buying tickets for those that meet the standard of Philippians 4:8. If a good movie is produced, go see it, and encourage others to do the same. Buy it when it comes out on DVD. Make sure that your internet access is filtered or that you install software that keeps track of the web sites that are visited. Create an accountability group within your church. Help your teens understand the nature of the battle and the reasons for your standards by watching and discussing a good teaching video on the subject and then absolutely forbid any music that celebrates sin from being played in your home.

These are just a few ideas. The Holy Spirit will no doubt give you more as you purpose to engage the enemy on what may well be the front in the warfare for our families and our nation. There is simply no way to exaggerate the importance of this battle for the hearts and imaginations of our children and our nation’s citizens.

Allow me to close this chapter by briefly recounting two great stories from our past; stories that can not only instruct but also inspire us to persevere in what may look at times like a lost cause.

Did you know that this is not the first time the motion picture industry has debased both itself and this country? Amid the profligacy of the “roaring twenties” and the growing influence of an increasingly nihilistic European film industry, studios began to experiment with everything from nudity to occult themes in the years leading up to the Great Depression. The Church in those days, however, was not willing to simply “swallow and follow.” As a result, millions of people stopped going to the movies. Faced with financial ruin, the studios asked some Christian leaders to step in and help make sure that their films passed muster. And so was born the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Office.

For over three decades (1933-1966), these offices reviewed almost every screenplay and unfinished film to ensure that Biblical standards of morality were respected. And thus began the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” when, as Dr. Ted Baehr likes to say, “Mr. Smith (went) to Washington, It (was) a Wonderful Life and The Bells of St. Mary’s rang out across the land.”

Now note something very important here. What happened? What brought this Golden Age to an end? Simple ─ the salt lost is savor! Influenced by the cancers of modernism and liberal theology, the National Council of Churches shut down the PFO. And how long did it take for the meat to begin to rot? Well, in 1965 the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. The next year, the one that saw the withdrawal of Christians from Hollywood, A Man for All Seasons ─ a film that virtually teemed with biblical themes ─ won the award. But within just three years (1969) an X-rated excursion into nihilism, despair and homosexuality (Midnight Cowboy) came out on top. And this film was far from being an anomaly. The same period also saw Oscar nods for Bonnie and Clyde (antihero, violence, sex), The Wild Bunch (violence) and Rosemary’s Baby (sex, occult).

As Pogo famously declared: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

A similar lesson – one with a happier ending – can be learned from the testimony of a brave monk who around 400 AD chose martyrdom over compromise with the spirit of popular entertainment. Throughout the previous century-and-a-half, the Roman Empire had begun to embrace the Christian religion it had once persecuted. But as the Church became socially acceptable, many people became members who were either not born again or were not prepared to embrace the disciplines of the Christian life. And so a great deal of compromise began to creep into the Church. By the end of the fourth century, many church-goers thought nothing of attending the gladiatorial games, celebrating the shedding of blood in the same arenas where Christians were once martyred for their faith.

Enter Telemachus (also known as Almachius), an ascetic from the eastern region of the empire. Arriving in Rome, he decided to visit a stadium to see what had so captured the hearts and imaginations of the Roman citizenry. Confronted by the specter of two combatants battling to the death while the blood-drunk crowd roared their approval, Telemachus jumped into arena and sought to stop the contest, chastising the audience for their lust and violation of the Sixth Commandment. The spectators turned on him, surging into the arena and collecting stones as they went. Soon the brave monk laid dead, another blood-washed martyr for the cause of Christ.

The story does not end here, however. When the Emperor Honorius learned of Telemachus’ sacrifice, he hailed him as a hero and a true soldier of the cross. In 404 AD, Honorius issued an imperial decree outlawing the gladiatorial games throughout the empire. The monk’s intercession had carried the day and transformed the culture.

May God raise up from within the ranks of His Church today an army of Telemachuses.

We can be silent no more.

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Some related reading sources:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Neil Postman, Penguin Books, 1986.) This is a wonderful book every thinking Christian should digest. It is also worth noting here a distinction Postman makes in it: “amuse” (a-muse) means literally to stop thinking or reflecting.

W.B. Yeats “Meditations in time of Civil War”

Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (Vintage; September 1, 1992)

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Some Interesting Facts and Figures:

According to numbers crunched by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a New York-based investment bank that specializes in media companies, Americans spent 120 hours a person a year reading consumer books in 1998; by 2003, the number of hours had fallen to 106. By 2006, the projected number of hours we spend reading will be 103. In contrast, television-watching took up 1,551 hours of our time in 1998, and is expected to rise to 1,679 hours two years from now. Internet use is also skyrocketing, from 54 hours in 1998 to a projected 213 hours in 2006.

“Reading at Risk,” a new survey released in July of 2004 by the National Endowment for the Arts using data collected by the Census Bureau, shows that the percentage of Americans who read novels, short stories, plays or poetry — and, in fact, any sort of book — has steadily declined in the past two decades. The drop-off was especially noticeable among young adults, with literary reading among 18-to-24-year-olds dropping from almost 60 percent in 1982 to about 43 percent in 2002.

“The Dutch philosopher-historian Johan Huizinga, in his epochal book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, discovered that the word “fun” was of recent origin and that o other language had an exact equivalent to the English meaning, leading him to speculate that fun was neither readily understood nor fully accepted until the twentieth century.” (from Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (Neal Gabler, Vintage Books USA; February 29, 2000)
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From the Administrator:
Though the content is PG-13, I would recommend the DVD, Hell’s Bells 2 – The Power and Spirit of Popular Music.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, and has been involved in areas of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He is a writer, producer, documentarian and Christian cultural apologist, and has produced and directed dozens of documentaries and seminars that have touched thousands of lives around the world.

For more information, go to:

The Enemy In Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 3)

Note from Reformed Faith Administrator: This is part 3 of an article by Eric Holmberg. I will be presenting it in four parts.
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Pt. 3…

Allow me to begin with story. In 1936, Spain was ravaged by a great civil war. Emilio Mola, one of the leaders of the Nationalist Army under the command of Francisco Franco, surrounded the capital city of Madrid with columns to the north, south, east and west. When asked from which direction he expected the city to be taken, Mola replied “le quinta columna.” This “fifth column” was made up of the spies and propaganda he had managed to plant within the city of Madrid itself.

Can I tell you that there is a civil war going on for the destiny of this nation and the planet ─ one that this generation will lose if the “fifth column” of worldliness continues to flourish in our hearts? Like it or not, God himself has set enmity between the “seed of the woman” (the Church) and “the seed of the serpent.” (Genesis 3:15) And when left unchecked, the spiritual “entropy” that characterizes the fallen world of man will always move towards great disorder and chaos – towards a place where the “imaginations of men’s hearts will be on evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And out of these imaginations, the “culture” will inevitably arise.

Now culture is a difficult thing to describe because it involves so many things. Taken from the Latin root “cultus,” it originally meant a system of religious belief and rituals. And while today it is commonly used to describe a lot more than this ─ things like aesthetics, ethics, language, etiquette, etc. ─ at bottom the Latin definition still serves us well. Why? Because each of these other aspects of culture flow from the religious presuppositions that form the majority report of a particular society. To use the phrase made famous by Henry van Til: “culture is religion externalized.”

Another thing we need to understand about culture today is just how powerful and almost omnipresent it has become. By faith and through the revealed Word we understand that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). But from a strictly temporal perspective, modern technology has been able to create a culture of entertainment that could easily cop this verse and use it as a sales slogan for potential advertisers. (I’m reminded here of the famous quote by Bob Pittman, co-founder of MTV: “We don’t shoot for the fourteen-year-olds. We own them!”) As ubiquitous as the air we breathe, digitized information is constantly bombarding us from every side ─ clamoring, cajoling, mesmerizing, titillating, propagandizing ─ threatening and very often succeeding in molding us into its image. (see Romans 12:2: “And don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed…”)

And it is not just the obvious things like violence, blasphemy and pornography that have seduced us. Perhaps even more destructive is something a great Russian writer predicted would happen. Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed that when untethered from the Christian worldview, art would begin by imitating life. But then life would start to imitate art and then would finally draw the very reason for its existence from the arts. Historian Daniel Boorstin sounded a similar alarm when he warned that Americans increasingly live in a world where fantasy is more real than reality. “We risk,” he said, “being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

I call this parallel universe in which our culture has come to live the “Great Substitution.” And the fallout from this substitution is among the most profound challenges facing the Church today.

“I” has taken the place of “We”. One need only consider the Army’s new recruiting motto: An Army of One. What an insane concession to the spirit of the age!

Art ─ which in the Christian tradition was to provide ekstasis; the opportunity to “stand outside ourselves” and gain insight into the wonder of life ─ has been replaced by entertainment (from inter (among); tenere (to hold) ─ something that draws us into ourselves; denying us new perspectives and the opportunity to grow.

The Image has been substituted for the Logos (Word). In the beginning was the Word, which was God and then became flesh and dwelt among us through the Incarnation. (John 1:1&14) It is no accident that we do not know what Jesus looked like or that the Ten Commandments forbid creating images of the invisible God. When it comes to the real business of knowing and worshipping the Trinity, the keys are the Word read and meditated upon, the Word sung (worship), and the Word signified in the sacraments. As images have more and more pushed the written word aside, the logos/logic centers of our minds have grown dull from disuse. The results of this substitution have been disastrous. Even the capacity for Truth (an enterprise that requires logic) has fallen in the post-modern public square. (Isaiah 59:15) And within the Church, the hard work of diligently training our senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:15) has been replaced by mushy sentimentality.

Character has been trumped by celebrity. Why are so many people more likely to spend time meditating on the dating habits of some Hollywood profligate than on the scriptural principles that will help them make sure that their own marriages will succeed?

Fun (a word with a very recent origin) has taken the place of happiness. It is no longer just teens who are willing to jettison the hard work and delayed gratification necessary to enjoy the truly “good life.” More and more adults are willing to sell their divine birthright for a mess of “ready-in-a-minute” porridge.

Sound-bytes have replaced discourse. MTV-style “bumpers” and jump-cuts can now be seen in everything from sports coverage to news broadcasts and children’s programming. We are fast becoming a nation of “watchers” with the attention span of a circus of fleas. What ill-wind blows through the body politic when the average network sound-byte from presidential campaigns dropped from 40 seconds in 1968 to under 7 seconds today?

Covetousness has been substituted for profitable stewardship with contentment. Think about it: millions actually pay extra money to buy name-brand clothing for no other reason than to advertise that they wear name-brand clothing!

Agape love (love reflecting the character of God and rooted in covenant commitment) has been pushed aside by eros ─ an obsession with our own erotic or emotional satisfaction. The late, great prophet to the 20th century, Malcolm Muggeridge perhaps said it best: “The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.”

These substitutions did not “just happen.” They were manufactured with the same satanic genius that gave us Babel’s Tower and Aaron’s calf. The serpent took what were good, God-given desires (we are, after all, called to help build a Holy City whose capstone (Christ) reaches into the throne room of heaven; we are supposed to have a “feast to the Lord”) and ─ like in the Garden of Eden ─ tilted those desires ever so slightly on their axis. Once the center of God’s will is compromised, the trajectory of the culture will move slowly but progressively away from the Sun of Righteousness. As with the proverbial frog in the kettle, the fires of spiritual deception will be turned up gradually so as not to catch our attention. And that’s how we find ourselves today, facing desires that have all but undergone the complete transformation into their satanic substitutes.

I’m here to tell you that the water is boiling! It’s time to crawl out of the acid bath of popular culture and once again be about our Father’s business; discipling nations rather than being discipled by them!

How can we fulfill this call?

(To be continued…)
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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the last part coming soon…

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. Check out his website at

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 2)

Eric Holmberg
Note from Reformed Faith Administrator: This is part 2 of an article by Eric Holmberg. I will be presenting it in several parts…

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ATTENTION: WARNING! This post contains “adult content” references that could be considered offensive. However, I present them here unedited since they are, in reality, a direct reflection of the crassness of our present day culture, and Mr. Holmberg has used them as an illustration of this very phenomenon. Please consider yourself warned. If you are easily offended, you should go read something else. I’m serious. However, if you want to actually DO something to change the culture, and don’t really know what is going on out there, then read on… but you are still warned.)
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By Eric Holmberg, Founder, The Apologetics Group

We have “evolved” from a time (1939) when Rhett Butler’s use of the word “damn” (Gone With the Wind) was met with a collective gasp ─ to a “dumb and dumber, numb and number” culture where:

A popular comedy network broadcasted an uncensored, animated film that featured almost 500 hard-core obscenities and referred to God as both a “wimp,” a “bitch” and “faggot.” The movie, particularly popular with young people, took in over $52 million at the box office.
The highest-grossing “family movie” of all time (E.T., 1982) had an eleven-year-old star who used a grotesque homosexual reference in talking to his brother.

Two of the most popular teen films of the 90’s went for “laughs” by featuring a character who masturbated into a family desert (American Pie) and one who unwittingly styled her hair with male ejaculate (There’s Something About Mary).

The blockbuster The Silence of the Lambs (1991) managed to make a psychopathic murderer and cannibal one of the surprise “sex symbols” of the year. A decade later, the sequel (Hannibal) depicted this same monster sedating a victim and slowly removing and cooking portions of his brain and then feeding it back to him.

The average young person will have watched 200,000 violent acts ─including 16,000 murders ─ by the time he or she graduates from high school. Almost two-thirds of the scenes in prime-time television include some reference to sex; 28% of these will put the primary emphasis on sex. And when intercourse takes place, it is four to eight times as likely to occur between unmarried people as between a husband and wife.

Pornography is now a $10 billion dollar business, larger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined. It is estimated that 60 percent of all web sites are sexual in nature. Now with just a click of a mouse button (often unwittingly), anyone (including children) can have ready access to hard-core sex acts, bestiality, bondage and domination, sadomasochism (including actual torture and mutilation of women for sexual pleasure), scatological acts (defecating and urinating on men or women for sexual pleasure), and child pornography.

I could easily fill page after page with these types of sobering examples and statistics; examples that become even scarier when we consider that there are now virtually thousands of studies proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that this media programming is accomplishing just that: “programming” an entire generation to think and act in ways that are “earthly, sensuous and demonic.” (James 3:15)

What can be done to reverse this trend?

Implicit in every other chapter in this book is the call for the God’s people to repent. We have seen, for example, humanists reinterpret the Constitution and suppress our religious freedoms. But in large part this has happened because “while the enemy came and sowed tares, men slept.” (Matt. 13:25) Similarly, we can watch as the institution of marriage is attacked by unrighteous laws and our culture’s hell-bent desire to remove every barrier to sexual and emotional freedom ─ and yet also know that the enemy’s progress has come as the Church has “sworn for peace” and embraced the culture of divorce rather than the cross. On and on it goes.

With love in my heart for God’s people and zeal for the purity of His house, I want the Holy Spirit to “contend with us” as we look at the enemy in our midst ─ hearts and minds that know more about the flickering shadows of a world at war with God than they do of the “language of heaven.”

(Pt. 3 coming soon…)
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“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the third part soon.
Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out his website at