articles from the Headline News and International columns of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 6: Number 4, 1993.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
The 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions Met in Chicago August 28 to September 4, Involving Religious Leaders from Every Corner of the Globe and Virtually Every Imaginable Faith.
The August 30 New York Times reports, "On Saturday [the 28th], Buddhist monks, Hindu swamis and Muslim imams, along with Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Bahais, Theosophists and goddess worshipers, joined more familiar religious figures like Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, to begin eight days of prayer, meditation, and dialogue with 6,000 participants at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel." Among the featured speakers were the Dalai Lama, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Robert Muller, and Global 2000 Report director Dr. Gerald O. Barney.
The meeting marked the centennial of the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions -- a landmark in American religious history. "Besides signaling a place for Catholicism and Judaism in the American religious mainstream, the 1893 Parliament introduced Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Bahai to a wide public, aiding their growth on these shores."
The Times noted a key difference between the two Parliaments. "The handful of people representing Hinduism and Buddhism in 1893 or the sole Muslim -- an American convert -- would today find at least tens of thousands of fellow believers in the Chicago area alone.... There are more than a dozen Hindu places of worship around the city and suburbs, 28 Buddhist organizations, and scores of mosques."
CRI president Hank Hanegraaff and editor-in-chief Elliot Miller attended the historic meeting. An in-depth analysis of the event will appear in an upcoming Christian Research Journal.
Televangelist Benny Hinn Has Publicly Renounced Faith Theology.
The August 16, 1993 issue of Christianity Today reported that Benny Hinn has apparently responded to admonitions from Hank Hanegraaff and evangelist James Robison by repenting of teaching the Faith message -- including positive confession, the prosperity gospel, and the right-to-be-healed concept.
Robison, who contacted Hinn after reading Hanegraaff's book Christianity in Crisis, is quoted in the article as saying, "I told Benny that every time I prayed for him, the Lord showed me his displeasure over what he was doing. I didn't want to see Benny continue in his slaughter of the innocent sheep." Robison said he brought the same message to televangelists Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Larry Lea, but none of them responded to the warning. Hinn, Robison said, reacted differently.
Robison reports that "Benny went to pieces and was very contrite....I told him God didn't anoint him to preach erroneous teachings and perform extravagant theatrics like knocking people down, waving his coat around, and blowing on people, and if he continued, his ministry would be destroyed within three years."
In front of a jolted and teary-eyed congregation at the 7,000-member Orlando Christian Center, Hinn censured the Faith movement. "It's faith, faith, faith and no Jesus anywhere. We have to have faith in Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. So, where do I stand on faith? Stop seeking faith and start seeking the Lord! The word-of-faith message is New Age and it doesn't work. I'm going to stop preaching healing and start preaching Jesus," Christianity Today reports.
Hanegraaff says there is only one way for Hinn to demonstrate his rectitude: "The real test is whether Benny will pull his books. In other words, will he continue to sell books that promote the very thing he says he is turning away from?"
Massachusetts' Highest Court Has Reversed Its Conviction of Christian Scientists David and Ginger Twitchell over the Death of Their 2-year-old Son, Robyn.
A previous issue of the Christian Research Newsletter reported that the Twitchells relied on the healing practices of Christian Science for their son who had a bowel obstruction -- but he died in 1986.
The August 12, 1993 Orange County Register reports that David and Ginger Twitchell had earlier been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years' probation in the death of their son. But in a 6-1 decision, "the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the verdict on a narrow point of view. The justices said the Twitchells 'reasonably believed' they could rely on spiritual treatment without fear of criminal prosecution because a church publication the father had read suggested as much. That argument should have been presented to the jury, the court said."
The article also notes that "the court didn't rule out all prosecutions of parents who rely on spiritual healing. It said they can be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter if they are found to be 'wanton and reckless' in their care of a child."
Raids Rock COG
A police raid in Argentina may spell disaster for a notorious cult's recent efforts to reform its unsavory image.
On September 2, 180 officials raided a complex of seven residences in an upscale Buenos Aires neighborhood which housed the Argentine headquarters of "The Family" -- better known as the Children of God (COG), Family of Love, or Heaven's Magic.
According to initial news reports, authorities detained 30 adults, took 268 children into protective custody, and seized an undisclosed number of allegedly pornographic videos and other materials. As the Newsletter went to press, 17 of the adults (including two Americans) faced charges of sodomy, kidnapping children, and involuntary servitude.
According to the New York Times, "the impetus for the investigation came from pleas by two American families who had failed to get the group to give back their children." The Times quoted an Argentine judge as saying that minors in the sect were discovered living in "cramped quarters, many of them underfed and poorly clothed." A Reuters dispatch told of "grisly details" emerging "about hard-core videos of sex between adults and children" and Argentine officials' claims that "at least some of the children...appear to be mentally impaired." The Brazilian newsweekly Veja reported that authorities apprehended at least one video showing scenes of boys masturbating before adults, and another depicting sexual acts between a father and his daughter.
Those who have studied the cult's literature over the years are not surprised at reports that such vile materials have been confiscated. Letters from the group's fugitive founder, "Moses" David Berg, have regularly featured randy sexual tales and advice -- from accounts of Berg having intercourse with spirits of the dead to the emphatic encouragement of sex among young children. Homemade videos smuggled out of the cult depict women and little girls performing stripteases for Berg's pleasure.
Although for years the group operated underground because of persistent police and press investigations, in recent months The Family ("a fellowship of Christian missionary communities") has boldly sought to distance itself from its former image through a flurry of press releases and a more open approach to reporters.
But suddenly, the sect has again found itself the subject of lurid headlines around the globe characterizing it as a "sex cult." To make matters worse, on September 7 police in the Paraguayan capital of Asunciun raided a home allegedly owned by the COG as part of an investigation on charges similar to those in the Argentine case. Meanwhile, on September 14 Argentine authorities asked Interpol to assist in tracking Berg down on an international arrest warrant.
-- Paul Carden
End of document, CRN0070A.TXT (original CRI file name), "What's New In The Headlines" and "Raids Rock COG" release A, July 15, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
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