Focus on the Family, Bono, & who is a Christian?

This series of posts will look at one issue divided into three parts:

1. Focus on the Family's increasing apostasy
2. Whether Bono is a Christian
3. Lack of discernment in Christians today/ not everyone who claims Jesus is a Christian

Part 1: Focus on the Family

When the History Channel's miniseries "The Bible" came out in the spring of 2013, many individuals, pastors, and churches recommended the series to their flocks, most notably, the Christian organization Focus on the Family (FOTF). Lots of Christians who should have known better declared the series pretty good, or almost good, or nearly good, or good enough... to eat as holy food.

They were wrong. The Bible miniseries was shown to have omitted foundational portions of the Gospel, twisted scripture, presented Jesus incorrectly, and over-or-under dramatized important passages. It was created by people who have shown they do not know Jesus as savior. This kind of half-hearted, casual approach to presenting the Word of God is not acceptable but is inevitable when written by people who don't know Jesus. More on that below.

However, let's begin nearer the beginning. FOTF's downward slide away from the purity of the cross has been going on for a while. No apostasy is sudden. Their eyebrow-raising involvement with The Bible miniseries and the apostates who created it was not the beginning of and obvious lack of discernment. It just takes a while for its sins to arise from the heart and mind and be noticed externally.

In 2008, controversy arose when FOTF interviewed Mormon Glenn Beck and appeared to be endorsing Mormonism. They later pulled the interview down from their website as the heat rose.

Mr. Dan Gilgoff of God & Country was disappointed in FOTF's retraction of the Beck interview, saying that the long-standing pattern of interfaith dialog FOTF had evidenced was squandered in this case. He wrote of then-FOTF President James Dobson, "Dobson deserves credit for helping the evangelical movement build political alliances with other faith traditions, including the Mormons, or Church of Latter-day Saints. ... Focus could have used the Beck episode as another opportunity for interfaith bridge-building, perhaps by leaving the interview up, even if it meant adding a clarification that the organization doesn't endorse Mormonism. Another setback for interfaith dialogue, which seems to be all too rare these days."

If I was an evangelical I would be very worried if I was named as having built political alliances, because that is not our calling.(James 4:4, John 15:19). I would be equally worried about having been identified as engaging in interfaith dialog and being unequally yoked in activities with those who are not of the faith. (2 Corinthians 6:14).

In 2009, FOTF endorsed a book published by Zondervan which promoted the practice of contemplative spirituality. Contemplative spirituality has been amply demonstrated on this and other blogs as a mystical practice originating in the apostate Romans Catholic Church.

In 2008, FOTF hosted Roman Catholic occult writer Anne Rice on the show.  Way of Life writer David Cloud wrote at the time, "The spiritually-dangerous nature of Focus on the Family (FOF) was evident in a reply that was given to a Christian who wrote to them about having Anne Rice, the Roman Catholic author of occultic horror novels, on the Focus radio program. In a reply dated December 3, 2008, Timothy Masters wrote the following for Focus on the Family: "It’s worth adding that anti-Catholic sentiments like those you’ve expressed are more than just uncharitable and un-Christlike. They’re also harmful to the richness of your own Christian experience.  ...  To dismiss the Roman Catholic Church wholesale is to obliterate the first fifteen centuries of Christian history."

Mr Cloud rightly noted of FOTF's response to the concerned listener, "This statement reflects gross ignorance both of the Bible and of church history. The Bible plainly teaches that it is impossible to be saved apart from the one true gospel of the grace of Christ (Galatians 1:8-9). Since the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel of sacramentalism (e.g., the Council of Trent, which has never been rescinded, cursed those who say that salvation is by God’s grace alone), it is impossible to be saved if one believes what Rome teaches."

Later, Mrs Rice publicly quit Christianity. Of course, being a Catholic she already showed she was not a Christain, something the FOTF interview should have been clear about. (1 John 2:19).

In 2011, FOTF declared that they had lost their fight against homosexual marriage, blaming the culture as being too overwhelming. FOTF President Jim Daly said at that time, "We're winning the younger generation on abortion, at least in theory. What about same-sex marriage? We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture."

The world is a system which satan rules and therefore we must be in it but apart from it, that's "where we are in the culture." (John 17:14-15)

Yet the article's author says "Daly has taken a more conciliatory approach to to traditional hot-button issues than his predecessor at Focus, James Dobson, so perhaps it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see him speak so candidly."

Again, I would be very worried if the ultra-liberal publication Mother Jones was saying if I, someone who declares myself and my organization as evangelical, was being conciliatory on hot-button issues.

In early 2013, the FOTF organization took part in the History Channel miniseries development and promotion of "The Bible" as I mentioned at the start. This raised many eyebrows.

As a matter of fact FOTF was one of the organizations behind the series on the consulting level. They were supposed to be overseers of the theology. The problem was, that oneness pentecostal believer TD Jakes and prosperity/word of faith promoter Joel Osteen, and rabbis and Catholics were also theological overseers. Mr Jakes & Mr Osteen are not known for their solid preaching of the whole counsel of God, and Catholics and rabbis do not subscribe to a saving doctrine of Jesus Christ alone.

Devastatingly, Matt Kaufman of Focus on the Family's blog wrote that "Part of the reason for the ratings is that viewers have a degree of trust in the people behind the series. Producer Mark Burnett (Survivor) and his wife, Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel), are Christians who consulted with ministry leaders (including Focus on the Family President Jim Daly) during its development. So going in to the series, Christian viewers got strong signals of the producers' good intentions. That's not something they normally can expect from Hollywood."

Good intentions mean nothing. Proper execution is all. Preaching the whole counsel of God in spirit and in truth is what matters. (Acts 20:27, John 4:24, Philippians 3:3)

It also matters that FOTF lent its credible name to a project that blasphemed Jesus, yet many people took their endorsement and watched a program that did more harm than good. That is why it is especially devastating when a formerly credible organization becomes unequally yoked with unbelievers. Downey and Burnett are most certainly not Christians. I can say that with biblical confidence because neither Downey nor Burnett evidenced the fruit of the spirit in their production. I say this also because they adhere to doctrines which do not save, including Catholicism and New Age spirituality. For FOTF to bring them and their false doctrines under the umbrella of our faith is devastating to the faith and shows a massive lack of discernment.

Doing this also muddies the waters on who a Christian IS.

In mid-2013, FOTF did it again. They had already brought in Anne Rice, Roma Downey, and Mark Burnett under the umbrella of our faith, and this week, they brought Irish singer Bono under the umbrella.

Bono is not a Christian, despite what FOTF President Mr Daly asserts. Bono is well-known for his well-intended work on many social activist causes, including HIV awareness and reducing poverty. However, despite naming Jesus as atoning savior, the blend of beliefs that Bono has stated in this week's interview as well as previous interviews unfortunately demonstrates more confusion than belief.

Obviously impressed with Bono, FOTF President Daly wrote a piece in the Washington Post subsequent to his interview with Bono, titled, "Why Orthodox Christians Should Appreciate An Unorthodox Bono". Her is how Focus on the Family presented Mr Daly's piece on their blog, accompanied by this week's Time Magazine cover: (click for larger)

FOTF has swallowed the blue pill of "social justice" as being the proper expression of Christianity, and lost their discernment of who is a Christian. It is Jesus who saves the world, not a confused Irish rock star.

Next up, looking at why Bono is not a Christian, and why it matters.

Part 2 here
Part 3 here

Further Reading:

The End Time: Why I am not watching History Channel's "The Bible"

The End Time: Why I am not watching The History Channel's "The Bible", part 2

The End Time: Watching The Bible miniseries is like eating brownies 

What does the bible say about social justice?