Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz Biffs It on Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday

Super Pastor Carl Lentz, from Hillsong New York, was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and presented a confusing version of Christianity that uses some Biblical words, but ultimately had too much in common with Oprah's prominent New Age beliefs, rather than actual Christianity. You can view the entire video here.

It would have been great if Pastor Lentz would have clearly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ; people in Oprah's audience really need to hear it: the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But he didn't. He really appeared like someone attempting to say Christian things that wouldn't offend non-Christians. He also proved himself incapable of disagreement with Oprah-even going so far as to agree with her when she said the Holy Spirit is "a thing, a power, a force," or "divine energy." Lentz agreed and told her "that's exactly what it is: a divine energy." Huh??

Interestingly, just a few weeks ago a major survey was released that showed how a large segment of the Christian population in America believes things that are totally heretical (like the Holy Spirit is a power or force). Carl Lentz proclaimed some of those very same things in this interview. Maybe he was really nervous and forgot what he was saying, but he repeated his murky version of Christianity throughout the entire interview-often getting close to the Gospel without ever proclaiming it. 

In the video below, we've taken clips from this interview to highlight where Lentz biffs it. You may want to find out where he mimics the uninformed Christians in the State of Theology survey.   

Clip 1. His first confused attempt at explaining the "Gospel." Sort of. Kind of. I guess.

Clip 2. Oprah asks him "Do you believe only Christians can be in relationship with God?" His answer comes immediately: "No." Although his response could have been much better, I will cut him a little slack, because this is a tricky question that Oprah seems to be using to test him, or even trap him. Because she never defined what she meant by "relationship with God" I'm not going to make too big of a deal out of this (plus, his response gets even worse). He is obviously very sensitive to the charge that Christians are judgmental and narrow-minded, and he seems to be over-compensating. He then goes on to give a pretty incoherent explanation of Jesus's very clear words "I am the way, the truth and the life..." (without quoting the rest of the verse: "No one comes to the Father but by Me.") He ventures into universalist territory and says "That's what this whole Gospel is based on-it's love..." He seems to be trying to explain something like the Law and the Gospel, but it comes out confusing and contradictory.

Clip 3. This is so unclear that after repeated listening it's still confusing... Let's just move on to the next one.

Clip 4. Here is where Pastor Lentz really jumps the shark. He is the poster boy of hip, trendy pastors and he preaches at the most hip and trendy church on earth: Hillsong New York City. But he actually says that they are teaching the ancient faith and it doesn't need to be hip and trendy. Here's a proposal for Pastor Lentz: remove your rock band, the lighting crew, the dancers, the sound crew, discontinue the slick marketing videos, and start using Hymnals (with good theology). Stop dressing like an attention-starved rock star. Then ask all the celebrities to stay away for a while (so they can be catechized privately). After you've done that, see if your church continues to grow. I dare you. Let's be honest: Hillsong New York City is an entertaining spectacle and you know it. 

Clip 5. Oprah asks him "For you, who is Jesus?" This starts off very clear: "He's God." But then he gives a cluster of incomplete phrases like "He's the answer, He's the sacrifice, He's the atonement, He's the way in..." He's the answer to what? He's the sacrifice for what? He's the atonement for what? He's the way in to what? His comments almost appear as a response to all the "critical Christians" who think he should be more Biblical and traditional. Yes, these are Christian words from the Bible, but he's leaving out the full equation. He could have easily completed his thoughts and said something like: "Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He came to earth as a baby in the miraculous virgin birth, which we celebrate at Christmas, and He was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, but He rose from the dead, which we celebrate at Easter. And He's coming again to judge the living and the dead." 

Clip 6. Oprah cuts him off and inserts her New Age version of faith-which turns Jesus into a mere moral example: "Jesus came to show the way, this is how you do it." Lentz simply agrees with her. Come on Carl, you know this stuff; Jesus came because we can't follow Him good enough; we need a Savior to save us from our sin, not a just moral example to remind us of our sin.

Clip 7. Here's the bizarre Holy Spirit section, where Pastor Lentz repeats the common heresy that the Holy Spirit is a force or energy-not the third Person of the Trinity.

Clip 8. Here's where Lentz gives his hip, cool and utterly wrong explanation of Christianity. He says "because of Jesus you have the right to put your hand up and totally start a new cycle. That, to me, is the essence of what we're trying to do." What is he talking about? A load of laundry?? Lentz says he's "trying to get people to allow God to do what only God can do." This is a pretend God. The true and Living God, revealed by Scripture, spoke the whole universe into existence, and He doesn't need our permission to do anything.

Clip 9. Here Pastor Carl Lentz totally twists God's Word by repeating the idea that "Be still and know that I am God" is about me and my own personal happy place. This verse (Psalm 46:10) is not about your own personal happy place. Read it in context. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”


Charles Finney 1792-1875

Charles Finney 1792-1875

Clip 10. Lentz tells Oprah that starting a "relationship with Jesus" (a phrase that doesn't exist in the Bible) is all about us making a decision and making a commitment, it has nothing to do with God choosing us. It's all up to us. Charles Finney would be proud of this little Pelagian.


Clip 11. Finally, Oprah asks him "Success is?" Lentz says "Seeing other people thrive. That's, for me, I couldn't think of a more successful life than being able to look back and say people's lives were better because they crossed my path." This is what any motivational speaker or leadership guru would say (including Brian Houston). If heaven is real, and if hell is real, why would any pastor not mention his concern for the souls of mankind as his primary goal? Why does Pastor Carl Lentz seem only concerned with the temporal well-being of people, instead of their eternal destination? 

The Gospel is, by definition, exclusionary (see article: Why is Christianity so closed-minded and exclusive?). In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." To his credit, Carl Lentz actually quoted (half of) this verse twice during this interview. But the unbelieving listener would have been given the distinct impression that failing to follow Jesus would only result in a less than ideal life. And besides that, Oprah has established the belief that all religions are, at best, essentially the same, so not choosing Jesus simply leaves open a thousand other spiritual options. This is Oprah Winfrey's show, after all; she is not going to allow the true Gospel (the one she rejected many years ago) to make an appearance while she's in charge. That's why she had Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz as a guest. He was no real threat. In the end, he and Oprah made everyone comfortable with "whatever works for them."


As an interesting side note, Bobbie Houston made the following over-the-top comment on Instagram; it really appears like she made a preemptive strike against the criticism that Pastor Lentz brought upon himself:

Read Bud Ahleim's article about it here: Bobbie Houston: If You Hate Hillsong, You Hate God

Here's a LOT more information about Brian Houston (Carl Lentz's mentor and senior Pastor) and his Hillsong church: "The Brian Houston & Hillsong Cornucopia of False Doctrine,  Abuse, Obfuscation & Money Generation"

For those of you who think it's mean and unloving to criticize Hillsong, Carl Lentz (or any other popular teacher) here's a list of Bible verses to consider: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Carl Lentz or Hillsong, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Finally, here's an important article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

Joyce Meyer Breaks Missouri Law With False Claims to an Earned Degree?

Joyce Meyer teaches heretical "Word of Faith" doctrine; that's nothing new. But she also appears to be violating Missouri law by claiming to have an earned Ph.D. from "Life Christian University" in Florida. LCU has given these honorary degrees to other WOF teachers like Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Benny Hinn and Rodney Howard Brown; as well as fraudulent historian David Barton

Here's an important article from Warren Throckmorton (with links to more articles) about the deception being advanced by Meyer and LCU: Evangelist Joyce Meyer Claims Earned Ph.D. from Life Christian University, Missouri Law Forbids Use of False and Misleading Degrees

For those who think it's mean, judgmental and unloving to criticize Joyce Meyer (or any other popular teacher) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Meyer, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

There's Power in Our Words? Name It and Claim It??

Related to the Code Orange "revival," here are two great videos from When We Understand The Text:

Be sure to check out the latest Fighting for the Faith programs that give detailed explanations of the blatant false teaching and Bible twisting that took place at the recent Code Orange Revival.

CCM Song Critique: "Magnify" by We Are Messengers

Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please keep in mind that these articles will be examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters:

Today we’ll be taking a look at “Magnify” by We Are Messengers which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Musically, the song is quite nice. Emotionally impactful. The singer has a great voice. Lyrically, the song is missing one major ingredient, the Bible. God’s Written Word. The revelation of Christ to His Church. This sort of Bible-less Christianity is the result of American Christianity having been infected by gnostic mysticism. To rescue this song, the listener needs to already know where to look to see Christ. Not in our emotions (not even the positive ones), not in nature (though it declares His Glory), but in the Word of God. As we read Scripture, we rely on God the Holy Spirit to open up our eyes to the Truth that is there, in plain sight. Let’s take a look at the Official Music Video and then the Lyrics.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

Verse 1
I’ve been trying to make sense of the sorrow that I feel
Holding on for life to the only thing that’s real
I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ve barely had a taste
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Verse 2
My sight is incomplete and I’ve made you look small
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long
Re-align where my hope is set, until you’re all that’s left
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Publishing: © 2015 Dayspring Music, LLC (BMI) / So Essential Tunes, Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of So Essential Tunes and Not Just Another Song Publishing adm. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Produced by Jonathan Smith & Casey Brown
Writer(s): Darren Mulligan/Casey Brown/Jonathan Smith



The problem being presented in the song is real. We, sinners, are distracted by our temptation to sin. To worry. To despair. It’s a very real problem that is addressed in Scripture. Let’s look at what Christ taught.

Matthew 6:25-33 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? It means to seek Christ and Him crucified for your sin, repent and be forgiven in His Name. The righteousness of God is the forgiveness He gives to you in exchange for your sin. This is by faith alone in Christ’s finished work on the cross. When our flesh tempts us to earn our own righteousness by some kind of law-keeping,  that’s when the anxiety, fear, and condemnation sets in. Such is the concern we see the Apostle Paul having for the Galatians who were misled back into works-based righteousness by submitting to the Law of circumcision. Paul isn’t only concerned about this unnecessary surgical act, but in the return to Mosaic Law-keeping rather than faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:1-12   | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

These are extremely strong words from Paul, because this is a serious issue.

But, Jorge, what does this have to do with the song? Good question. This is only the first point I want to drive home, that Scripture teaches us to look to Christ and His kingdom rather than ourselves, our good works, our provisions… because to look to anything else is to be severed from Christ. If we’re giving this song its best construction, we have to view the over arching appeal of the song to be anchored in this truth. So, this is a strength in the concept of the song, that we are to be focused on Christ, not our circumstances, emotions, fears, or our own good works (or utter lack thereof).

The problem with the song is in its offered solution. It suggests that we are somehow supposed to see Christ directly. There is absolutely no mention of finding Him in His Word. The video doesn’t suggest it in any way, nor does it even suggest finding Christ among fellow believers gathered around the Preaching of God’s Word (definition of the Church). This is a giant hole in the theology of this song. To presume to see God apart from where He has revealed Himself is to engage in Mysticism. There is a bit of gnosticism rumbling in the background of this American ideology that is currently driving this closed-Bible Christianity, or even anti-Bible preaching of Andy Stanley.

It is important that we counter and guard against this gnostic mysticism. God has revealed Himself to us. Let’s examine this in steps. God the Father has revealed Himself fully in God the Son, Jesus.

John 14:1-9 | I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?'"

We don’t see Jesus in the flesh today, for He is in Heaven at the Right Hand of the Father. He will return. His Promise is sure. What we have is Christ fully revealed to us in Scripture. To make this case, I’d like to first pull a very clear teaching of Christ to His disciples, one from Luke’s account of the sending out of the Apostles, and another from John’s account of the night He was betrayed.

Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

John 13:20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

And where do we find the teaching of those whom Jesus sent? In the New Testament. Most of the Epistles were written by the Apostles themselves, and the others contain their teaching. Receive their teaching and you receive Christ. Receive Christ and you receive God the Father. How do we receive this? By the work of the Holy Spirit in preserving God’s Word, drawing us, granting us Faith, and delivering the forgiveness and the Righteousness of God (Jesus Christ) to us. He saves us by Grace through Faith.

Romans 10:17 "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."

The flip side of this is that if we reject the teaching of Christ’s Apostles we reject Christ and God the Father. Sidenote: There are no living Apostles. Only charlatans and blasphemers claiming a level of authority they weren’t given, making promises in the name of God that He doesn’t make, twisting scripture to gather disciples unto themselves. These are the same as those against whom Paul was writing to the Galatians. 

Is it wrong to want to see Christ? Absolutely not. We all long to see Him return in the way He has promised in His Word.

Acts 1:10-11 "And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'”

But to attempt to reach around where Christ has told us to find Him (In His Word and in the teaching of His Apostles) is to repeat the error of Thomas.

John 20:28-31 "Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name."

So this is the great error of this song. The attempt to skip right over the Scriptures and to demand to see Christ directly. Those singing the song haven’t seen Him directly, yet they present this as the goal or solution to the problem being presented in the song.


On its own, the song lyric fails to present the Gospel in any meaningful way. However, if we reshape the arch of the song to have all points leading to the Scriptures as the sole solution to the problems presented, we can rescue most of the themes in this song. I’m happy that this song can be rescued, but frustrated that it relies solely on the listener’s solid theology to rescue.

Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

In Christ Jesus,


The Andy Stanley Cornucopia of False Teaching, Fast Talking & Postmodern Ambiguity

Andy Stanley is one of America's top pastors; he is probably one of the top three most influential pastors in the U.S.A. today. Unlike many of the more blatantly heretical pastors that are critiqued on Pirate Christian Media, Stanley has a very mainstream reputation and following. Most Evangelical Christians can't even imagine that he might be leading them astray because much of what he says sounds pretty good; it sounds pretty "normal." He is seen as a pastor who is simply taking traditional, Biblical Christianity into the future by re-packaging it and re-interpreting it for non-Christians. Because Stanley works hard to appeal to a postmodern audience, much of what he says can be interpreted multiple ways, so there is much disagreement about his teaching and what he "actually means." This kind of confusion is not good.

  • On one hand, he says that "it's next to impossible to defend the entire Bible," and says that "the Bible is not the foundation of our faith;" but he later tells his audience how he loves the Bible and reads it every day. The North Point website states "We believe the Bible is without error."

  • He claims that pastors should "take the focus off the Bible on put it on the resurrection," but we know about the resurrection because it's written about in the Bible. Stanley seems incapable of simply saying that the Bible is God's Word and it's historically dependable. 

  • He repeatedly claims that the early church had no Bible at all until well into the third century, even though that is historically incoherent and dishonest. The early church had the separate books of the Bible before they were bound together in one volume.  

  • He invented something he calls "the temple model" and claims that all false religions (including the Old Testament Jewish religion established by God) had a "sacred text," a "sacred space" and a "sacred man." He claims that these three things need to be eliminated, because he thinks that Jesus taught this (even though Jesus never actually taught this). Incidentally, he is still the senior pastor (sacred man) of North Point Church (sacred space) who makes frequent reference to the Bible (sacred text). He has come pretty close to eliminating the Bible, though... 


What is Andy Stanley very clear about? He seems to have tremendous confidence in his own ability to convince everyone of whatever he currently believes is important. He appears to have much more confidence in himself than the Word of God. Judging by the infrequent use of Scripture in his sermons and his willingness to erode confidence in the Bible, it really seems like Andy Stanley is happy to be the focal point of his church. Although he claims to be directing attention to Jesus, it's impossible to know which Jesus he's talking about, because without the objective Word of God as the reference, he ends up making himself the authority over who Jesus really is and what Jesus really taught. 

If the following articles, podcasts and videos are any indication, a substantial case can be made that Andy Stanley is doing more than just explaining the "faith once handing down to the saints" to a new generation. There is troubling evidence that Stanley is trying to change the meaning, definition and purpose of the Church itself.


These articles are from different Christians from various theological and denominational backgrounds (although there's a lot of Baptists), but they all have concerns about the un-Biblical, confusing and sometimes dangerous teachings coming from Andy Stanley: 

"The Bible Says So" Is Enough: A Response to Andy Stanley by Gabe Hughes

For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied… Again by Albert Mohler

Is the Bible Foundational to Christianity? Engaging with Andy Stanley by Michael Kruger

Andy Stanley's Relentless Attacks on Christianity and Covering His Tracks (with links to more articles) by Jeff Maples

Andy Stanley’s Statements about the Bible are not Cutting Edge-They’re Old Liberalism by David Prince

The Always Ambiguous Andy Stanley by Will Sanders

These Words Shall Be on Your Heart by Gabe Hughes

Andy Stanley's Dishonest, Deceptive, and Dangerous Teaching by Philip Lee

"Love the Way You Turn Me On!" at North Point Church in the Museum of Idolatry

Andy Stanley was really right ... and really wrong by Michael Brown

Andy Stanley and the "NEW Hermeneutic" by John Barber

Andy Stanley and the "New" Christianity's "Bibliolatry" by Lighthouse Trails Research

Andy Stanley, Megachurches, and the Bullying of Christ’s Bride by Nate Pickowicz

On the Road to Emmaus: A Response to Andy Stanley's Sermon "The Bible Told Me So" by Rustin Umstattd

Problems at Andy Stanley's North Point Church?(With links to more content) by Christine Pack

Andy Stanley: You’re Not Smart Enough If You’re Not In “One of Our Churches” (Doubling Down on Unnecessary Scripture) by Bud Ahlheim

Deep and Wide book review by Gary Gilley

Andy Stanley’s Apology, and Some Mega-questions for the Megachurch by Jonathan Aigner

SBC Conference: “Get The Spotlight Off The Bible" by Bud Ahlheim

Andy Stanley Trashes Expository Preaching; Calls it “Easy” and “Cheating” by J.D. Hall

Andy Stanley-We Can't Arrive at the Empty Tomb Without the Bible by Josh Buice

Andy Stanley, do you really want Christians to keep Christ out of business? by Bryan Fischer

Andy Stanley Clarifies -Stop Praying for Local Church Revival and Get Busy by David Prince

Superstar Mega-church Preacher Man Andy Stanley: Scripture Can’t Be Defended by Bud Ahlheim

The Care and Feeding of God's Flock by Phil Johnson

Andy Stanley’s Troubling New Sermon by Alexander Griswold

Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism? by Albert Mohler

Andy Did It Again by Todd Pruitt

Andy Stanley’s Troubling Rules on Love, Sex, and Dating by Chelsen Vicari

True Stories from the Messed Up Church: Andy Stanley's North Point Church

Russell Moore, Andy Stanley Our Evangelical Pope? Red Grace Media Podcast

Many Fighting for the Faith Episodes Featuring Andy Stanley by Chris Rosebrough

Here's a YouTube video from James White, who does an extended review of Any Stanley's recent "Who Needs God" series (more Andy Stanley reviews are on his "Alpha & Omega Ministries" channel).

“Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit.”
Clement of Rome

“Read again and again the divine Scriptures; nay, let the Holy Book never be out of your hands. Learn, that you may teach.” Jerome

“We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled.”   Augustine

“Whom God intends to destroy, He gives them leave to play with Scripture.” Martin Luther

“Scripture is the Holy Spirit’s school where everything we need to know is taught and where nothing is taught that is unnecessary.” John Calvin

“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” Jonathan Edwards

“Indeed, since the entirety of Scripture is the Word of the Lord, no testimony could possibly be better, more certain or more efficacious. For if God, who cannot lie, has spoken something in His own Scripture, which is itself the mirror of His will, then it is true.” John Wycliffe

“Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context.” John Wesley

“Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible.” J.C. Ryle

“If we once get above our Bibles and cease making the written Word of God our sole rule as to faith and practice, we shall too lie open to all manner of delusion and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.”  George Whitfield

“The Bible is the Word of God in such a way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks.” B.B. Warfield

"If there be anything in the church to which you belong which is contrary to the inspired Word, leave that church." Charles Spurgeon

“There is not better book with which to defend the Bible than the Bible itself.”  D.L. Moody

"Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life." J. Gresham Machen

“We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion but truth as God has given it in verbalized, propositional form in the Scripture and which we first apprehend with our minds.”  Francis Schaeffer

“There is no substitute for submission to Scripture. Your spiritual health depends on placing the utmost value on the Word of God and obeying it with an eager heart.”  John MacArthur

Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.”  Albert Mohler

Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God. Rebellion against the Scriptures is rebellion against God.”  Kevin DeYoung

"The idea of sola Scriptura is that there is only one written source of divine revelation, which can never be placed on a parallel status with confessional statements, creeds, or the traditions of the church. Scripture alone has the authority to bind the conscience precisely because only Scripture is the written revelation of almighty God." R. C. Sproul  

“The inerrancy of Holy Scripture is the watershed theological issue in the church today–as it has been in every generation since the rise of modern secularism and rationalistic biblical criticism. Every single denomination, theological seminary, and Christian college that has departed from it has begun an inexorable decline and loss of biblical witness. The saving gospel itself cannot be sustained apart from a trustworthy Scripture. Any other position displays appalling naïveté and ignorance of the history of the modern church both in Europe and in America.”  John Warwick Montgomery

"The teacher does well to keep this truth in mind. In our day it has become the fashion to say, 'We believe in a Person (meaning Jesus Christ), not in a Book.' Let us not be taken in by such a remark. We know Jesus only as he is made known by the Book, the Bible. True faith in him is created by the Holy Spirit only through the Book. In most cases, the above reasoning is used to COVER UP AN ATTEMPT TO FASHION A DIFFERENT JESUS AND A DIFFERENT 'FAITH' - BOTH MORE TO ONE'S OWN LIKING."  Werner Franzmann  


"It is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible." Andy Stanley

For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Andy Stanley/North Point Church (or any other popular teacher/church) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend this man's ideas, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Here's a very extensive documentary exposing the problems with the "Seeker-Friendly" church model: Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive

Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

Jennifer LeClaire Gets Discernment 100% WRONG!

The following is Jennifer LeClaire's recent blog post called "When Believers Crucify Each Other in the Name of Discernment," which she posted the morning after our Fighting for the Faith episode called Discerning Discernment aired. That's probably just a coincidence, but in any event, LeClaire gives a textbook example of how to take discernment that's based on the Bible and turn it into a mystical exercise that only finds truth within oneself. Oh, and she has lots of stuff to promote and sell, too.


I have reprinted her article exactly as she published it (advertising links and all), and I will make comments in bold/parenthesis. Here we go...


"Discernment is ever so vital in this hour, but discernment can turn into a critical spirit if it's not bound by love on both sides of the river banks (notice what's missing? The Bible. Of course we should speak the truth in love, but we also need truth that's bigger than us). Indeed, whether you have a discerning heart or the gift of discerning of spirits, there's always the danger of tapping into a faultfinding flow when you should be making intercession (So, instead of "tapping into a faultfinding flow" you should "make intercession..." Hmmm, how about: you should make sense??).

At Awakening House of Prayer—or when I travel as a conference speaker—I discern many things out of order in people's lives. I recognize the spirit of rejection from a mile away and fear from even farther. I can see pride, poor attitudes and people imprisoned to any number of fleshly appetites or demon powers. I've discovered it's easier to grumble and complain about people who behave wrongly than it is to hit my knees with a prayer burden and cry out to God for their freedom. But it's not righteous, so I guard my heart from a critical spirit. (Jennifer "sees things" like a psychic, but she guards her own heart from having a critical spirit when she peers deep into your soul from over a mile away... Wow!) 

Listen to Jennifer's podcast on criticism versus a prophetic spirit.

My spiritual father, Ken Malone, once told me, "People who walk in a high level of discernment need to walk in a higher level of humility. We all have issues and we don't need people to point them out. Those who feel compelled to point out other peoples' flaws constantly are elevating themselves and walking in pride. We need to strengthen people, not criticize and rebuke them as they struggle to gain freedom. There is a fine line between discernment and fault-finding. With discernment, we must walk in a high level of integrity so we don't abuse the gift by always pointing out faults. We must temper our discernment with grace." (Here she makes it clear that discernment has NOTHING to do with upholding God's written Word-it's all about having a mystical gift that requires one to have great humility and integrity. We know that Jennifer has this great humility and integrity... because she tells us about it. Also, she defines discernment as having the ability to see people's flaws-NOT the ability to compare doctrine to God's Word.)

What Discernment Is

Discernment is "the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure," also "an act of perceiving or discerning something," according to Merriam-Webster. Discerning means "able to see and understand people, things or situations clearly and intelligently." 


The Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words reveals that the Greek words for "discern," "discerner" and "discernment" come from several words. Anakrino means "to distinguish, or separate out so as to investigate by looking throughout objects or particulars," hence it signifies "to examine, scrutinize, question, to hold a preliminary judicial examination preceding the trial proper." Diakrino signifies "to separate, discriminate;" then, "to learn by discriminating, to determine, decide." Dokiamazo signifies "to test, prove, scrutinize;" so as "to decide."

Hebrews 4:12 tells us the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We need to let the Lord deal with the hearts of people. He will bring people into your life, at times, so you can discern the spirits and help them break free—not so you can judge their hearts and avoid them like the plague because you have convinced yourself they can't be helped. I've seen too many prophetic people with critical spirits who seek to crucify the very ones God has sent them to help deliver. (So the potential problem with LeClaire's psychic version of discernment is that you'll be tempted to avoid and/or judge people once you see into their hearts like she does. Again, she never mentions the idea that discernment actually involves comparing someone's beliefs to Scripture.)

What Discernment Is Not

John tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). But some with discernment test hearts to see if they are from God, which is not godly. Nobody knows what's really in someone else's heart except God Himself. Judging someone's heart is dangerous. 

Presuming someone has a bad spirit based on a checklist and not direct revelation from God grieves the Lord. (But discernment isn't about whether or not someone has a "bad spirit;" and we should trust God's Word instead of direct revelations.) And even if they do have a bad spirit, we need to separate the principality from the personality, as it were. We need to love the people and hate the demons that hold them in bondage. We need to wage prophetic warfare against the devils! (This is so incoherent that I'm just going move on to the next point-don't judge me!)


Remember what I said previously: Discernment is not a feeling. Discernment is a knowing. If you have a feeling, don't act until the feeling is a knowing. (This is, perhaps, the most horribly subjective thing anyone has ever said in the name of Christ. Can anyone tell the exact difference between a "feeling" and a "knowing?" Nope. Again, NO mention of the Bible as the Truth that we can confidently hold to.) Your emotions will betray your discernment. Likewise, a haughty heart will betray your discernment. A bitter and critical spirit will betray your discernment. You need to see people by the spirit, not by your soul. (No Jennifer, we need to see people through Scripture: we are ALL sinners in need of salvation, we ALL need to have our sins forgiven. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He does not want us to go around peering into each others hearts to determine what particular demon has them in some particular bondage at the moment. This is a bizarre and confusing doctrine that has nothing to do with discernment.)

Beware the critical spirit that masks as discernment. There's a difference between a prophetic spirit and a critical spirit. A critical spirit is not looking for a solution. It just wants to criticize. This comes many times from spiritual pride. A critical spirit finds faults.

A prophetic spirit is filled with hope and redemption because this is the true heart of the Father. A critical spirit shows no hope, or little hope, of redemption. A critical spirit harps on people and creates a gang mentality, looking for agreement from others.

Determine in your heart today to ask God to give you more discernment—and to root any critical spirits out of your heart so He can use you to help set the captives free!" (This is pure bondage, folks. If the only way to know truth is by "determining something in our hearts," than there will always be a million different and conflicting versions of truth. God has given us His Word as Truth. It is outside of us and unchanging; it does not depend on our subjective feelings. God's Truth does not require the magic beans and psychic insights of false prophets who sell conference tickets, books and "prophetic schools" to make lots of money. We can know God's truth by reading God's Word. This is so much better than trying the 900 different techniques that false teachers like Jennifer LeClaire are constantly promoting and selling.)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
— Galatians 1: 6-9
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5: 1
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
— John 8: 36
“Currently, anyone who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is immediately suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ is considered taboo and is outlawed. If anyone holds fast to pure teaching and attempts to fight against any false doctrine, he is put down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. The era in which we live is what the apostle refers to when he says of false teachers that they are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’ The spirit of our time is the same as in the era of Pilate, to whom the Lord had testified that He was the King of Truth in a kingdom of truth and who sneered, ‘What is truth?’

To hate pure doctrine is to hate the truth, for pure doctrine is nothing but the pure Word of God-plain and simple. When people hate pure doctrine, that is proof that we are living in a terribly miserable era. ”

— C. F. W. Walther "Law & Gospel-How to Read and Apply the Bible" Written in 1878

And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.
— Jonathan Edwards written in the 1700's

How to Ignore "Discernment Bloggers" and Stay Comfortably Clueless

Want to stay comfortable in your (theologically shallow & Biblically illiterate) Christian beliefs? Even if those beliefs are not really based on God's Word?? Of course you do! Here's a guide that will keep you in the dark, and will help you to avoid the bothersome content of whichever discernment bloggers are currently bugging you:


  1. Start with this assumption: There aren't any false teachers. With this handy starting point everything else falls comfortably into place. Just tell yourself that people who proclaim a different Gospel are just... different. It's like the difference between hotdogs and hamburgers. If there are no false teachers, then it logically follows that all discernment bloggers are wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!
  2. Go with the group. If the majority agrees with you, you must be right. Remember, Jesus wants you to follow the most popular teachers, even when they twist the Bible. Discernment bloggers are not popular, so they must be wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!
  3. Lump them all together. It's true: some discernment bloggers are too extreme and exaggerate too much, or they go off on some crazy bunny trails; therefore you can ignore everything that every discernment blogger says (see points 1 & 2).
  4. They are mean and angry, therefore, they are wrong. If you think they're mean and angry... well, that means they are mean and angry. Now you won't have to consider what they say! 
  5. Criticize their criticism. Discernment bloggers are not speaking in love when they call out false teachings and teachers, therefore you can ignore the actual content of what they say. Once you understand this you can freely criticize them, because it's not unloving when you and your group does it.
  6. Say something like this: "The Holy Spirit leads me-I don't need all this theological stuff." Remember, the Holy Spirit leads us, but He does it by using God's Word. So if you want to remain clueless, just focus on the thoughts that pop into your head, and avoid the Bible (and it's theology) at all costs. If you do decide to read your Bible, make sure to avoid the actual meaning of passages, which can be determined by simply understanding the context. Instead, use your Bible like a divining rod or a crystal ball, that way the Bible will always agree with you and your ideas!
  7. Give them a label. This is a great thought-stopper. Label all discernment bloggers with a generic and meaningless label so you can comfortably ignore them. Examples:

"He's into those Christian conspiracy theories now, it's really sad." (Hint: never define "Christian conspiracy theory;" this way people who make convincing theological arguments using scripture can be grouped together with Bigfoot hunters and UFO hobbyists.) 

 "She used to be a regular Christian, but now she's into all that weird stuff." (Hint: You get to define what's weird, in order to pacify your pre-existing beliefs)

"He's one of those judgmental, Bible-thumping Christians now. He's a religious Pharisee; he's always quoting Bible verses." (Hint: never define "judgmental" or "Bible-thumping" or "religious Pharisee."  Also, you get to determine the exact number of Bible verses that can be properly quoted before extremism sets in; also, when in doubt just quote "Judge not!")

"Ever since she's been reading those discernment articles she's gotten too negative. God's in control, right? Why worry so much?!" (Hint: if you ever realized how brain-dead the church has become, you'd be "negative" for a while, too. So keep ignoring all the proof that surrounds you, and stay away from your Bible which repeatedly warns you to watch out for false doctrine!)


Okay, in all seriousness, there is a lot to say on this important topic, and yes there are a lot of wacky "discernment bloggers" out there. Here's a pretty in-depth conversation between Chris Rosebrough, Amy Spreeman and Steve Kozar: "Discerning Discernment" on Fighting for the Faith

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
— Galatians 1: 6-9
Currently, anyone who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is immediately suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ is considered taboo and is outlawed. If anyone holds fast to pure teaching and attempts to fight against any false doctrine, he is put down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. The era in which we live is what the apostle refers to when he says of false teachers that they are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’ The spirit of our time is the same as in the era of Pilate, to whom the Lord had testified that He was the King of Truth in a kingdom of truth and who sneered, ‘What is truth?’

To hate pure doctrine is to hate the truth, for pure doctrine is nothing but the pure Word of God-plain and simple. When people hate pure doctrine, that is proof that we are living in a terribly miserable era.
— C. F. W. Walther "Law & Gospel-How to Read and Apply the Bible" Written in 1878

The Steven Furtick Cornucopia of False Teaching, Egomania and Hair Gel

Steven Furtick is a rock star among pop Evangelical megachurch pastors. The church he founded in 2006, "Elevation Church," is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the USA. Although he actually has a Masters of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he preaches a "Word of Faith" type of Christianity and considers T.D. Jakes (a Trinity-denying modalist) as his role model. Furtick does not have an in-church board of elders that can hold him accountable, instead he has a corporate board comprised of other mega-church pastors; as a result he makes an undisclosed salary and lives in a 16,000 square foot mansion. He also gets extremely lucrative speaking engagements from his fellow megachurch pastors, and he speaks at many of the largest "Christian" conferences around the world.

Steven Furtick's sermons are full of Christian words and imagery, but he ultimately preaches a narcissistic gospel devoid of much Biblical truth; instead he uses manipulative speeches that "work the crowd" with spectacular success. Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention done little to hold Furtick and his church to the Biblical orthodoxy they are typically known for.

The following is a list of articles from Christians coming from different denominational and theological backgrounds, who all agree that Steven Furtick is not to be wholly trusted as a Biblically sound pastor:


Early in his career, Steven Furtick made a very hip spoken word  video called "Hey Haters" that was later re-mixed with his actual words being replaced with a crazy cartoon voice. The resulting video made him look so ridiculous that he never made another such video. Enjoy the Max Holiday version of "Hey Haters" below:

For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Steven Furtick (or any other church leader) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend this video, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

The New Apostolic Reformation Is Like The Blues Brothers Movie

The New Apostolic Reformation is kind of like the storyline of the Blues Brothers movie.

  • The Blues Brothers movie starts out with Elwood Blues picking up his brother, Jake, from prison.
  • They make an obligatory visit to see "The Penguin"-she's the nun who runs the Catholic school they once attended. When she tells them the school needs to raise $5,000 in a week or else it will have to close, they decide to help raise the money somehow.
  • They visit a church where Jake has a mystical vision, and believes that God told him to "get the band back together" as a way to raise the money.
  • Once Jake and Elwood Blues "got their vision from God" there was no stopping them-they went on a wild and ridiculous rampage in order to accomplish their mission.
  • They manipulated, black-mailed and over-promised rewards in order to convince their former band mates to join them on their mission.
  • Their final appeal to convince anyone to join them was: "We're on a mission from God."

The leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (the NAR) are like the Blues Brothers:

  • Some of them began their "ministry" after getting out of jail. Todd Bentley served time for committing sexual assault against a young boy; he started his "ministry" about 5 years after that. Some of them practically brag about their prior lives of drug-addiction and/or crime in order to somehow validate their ministry.
  • They all claim that their ministry is validated by personal, mystical messages they received directly from God. They will say anything to compel others to join them (and send money their way), because they claim it's all God's plan.
  • These churches and ministries feel no compulsion to carefully submit to the authority of God's Word-the Bible. Instead, they've been on a wild and ridiculous rampage in order to accomplish their mission. 
  • A tremendous amount of damage has been done by these false prophets and false teachers. There is a vast number of people whose lives have been deeply troubled by their experience with these "ministries," but those stories rarely get heard. In many cases, people are too confused and/or ashamed by their weird experiences to even talk about them.
  • People and God's Word are used as props. As long as gullible followers keep showing up at their never-ending conferences and buying their books, DVDs and other worthless crap, they will continue on their crazy rampage.

But here's the BIG difference between The Blues Brothers and the NAR:

  • The Blues Brothers is just a silly movie (with some great music, btw), but the "New Apostolic Reformation" is REAL.
  • The damage it's doing is REAL.
  • The twisting of God's Word is REAL.
  • The continual list of false prophecies and predictions is REAL.
  • The wrecked churches, wrecked ministers and wrecked lives are REAL.


If Jake and Elwood could talk, I think they might say something like this: "Hey you guys, we are pretend characters in a movie-we can't do any harm. All those people escaping the crashing cars in a nick of time were stuntmen, nobody ever gotten hurt. But the New Apostolic Reformation is real, and it will hurt you."

Cognitive Dissonance and the Silly Putty Jesus

Jesus Christ (the actual God/Man of the Bible) is not a mythical being that we've created; He is the second person of the Holy Trinity-the Godhead. However, the Jesus of Pop Evangelicalism is, too often, a cartoon character that adapts and adjusts to us, in order to meet our felt needs. 

He's like Silly Putty. We can bend him into any shape we want-we can even even press him against any image and he'll take on that image like a cheap copier. He's very accommodating of our every whim and fantasy, and he's a very useful tool of the Evangelical Industrial Complex. There's only one small problem: he isn't real. At all.

     Pop Evangelicalism should be busy eliminating the Silly Putty Jesus; after all, aren't Evangelicals supposed to be the ones following the Bible very closely? Are Evangelicals examining the evidence to see if something is really Biblical anymore? Does Jesus really exist to "make our dreams come true?" Did Jesus die on the cross to "give us a sense of purpose and community" or to help us promote "leadership principles?" Did the Sovereign Maker of the Universe come and take on flesh and die on the cross so that we could become:

    "Empowered Dreamers of Destiny?" or

             "Prophets of Global Awakening?" or

                        "Radical Worshipers of the Heavenly Realm?" or,

                                 (just insert whatever non-Biblical, yet spiritual sounding, phrase pops into your head...)

No, Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.
— 1 Timothy 1: 15-16
But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
— 2 Timothy 1: 10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
— 1 John 4: 10
God has placed a special dream in your heart, so that you can fulfill your great destiny. God is waiting for YOU to go out there and really make a difference!
— Says NO passage in the Bible

     In psychology, the term "cognitive dissonance" describes the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Dr. Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance (which was developed in the late 1950's) focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to reduce this dissonance, in any number of ways. It's painful to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. One can either change one's beliefs in order to make them consistent or one can make some other superficial adjustment.

     When confronted with the false "Silly Putty Jesus" Evangelical Christians tend to react in two different ways: they either recommit to their false beliefs with increased fervor (often by invalidating the messenger who delivers the uncomfortable truth; i.e. "that blogger is just a mean jerk!"), or they give up on Christianity altogether (which they've mistakenly believed was owned and operated by the Silly Putty Jesus, and thus, all their dreams have not come true).

     It's very interesting to note that Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance was formulated during research for the 1956 book "When Prophecy Fails." Festinger and his collaborators, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter, examined conditions under which disconfirmation of beliefs leads to increased conviction in such beliefs. The group studied a small apocalyptic cult led by Dorothy Martin (under the pseudonym Marion Keech in the book), a suburban housewife. Martin claimed to have received messages from "the Guardians," a group of superior beings from another planet. The messages purportedly said that a flood would destroy the world on December 21st.

     As a side note, Dorothy Martin received her messages by utilizing an "automatic writing" (demonic) technique just like Sarah Young, who wrote the "Jesus Calling" book that Evangelicals have made a runaway best-seller.

     Anyway, the three psychologists and several other assistants infiltrated Dorothy Martin's group incognito, where they observed the group firsthand for months before and after the predicted apocalypse. Many of the group members quit their jobs and sold their possessions in preparation for the predicted "End of the World." When the prophesied doomsday came and went, Martin claimed that the world was spared because of the "force of good and light" that the group members had spread throughout the world. Rather than abandoning their discredited beliefs, group members adhered to them even more strongly and began proselytizing with increased fervor.

     So, these people had experienced tremendous cognitive dissonance when their leader was proven utterly wrong; so they increased activity and fervor in order to compensate for their internal discomfort. Hmmm....

     Doesn't this sound like a lot of church services where the goal is to prop-up shallow beliefs and bad theology with emotionalism and spiritual cheer-leading? And in the charismatic Evangelical church, there have been so many false prophets saying so many false things that it's impossible to even keep track of it all. How many of the "New Apostles" have said false things that don't line up with scripture? All of them have. How many of the "New Apostles" have made false prophecies that haven't come true? All of them have. Yet they keep "preaching" and getting richer, as they ride the conference circuit. Sound Biblical teaching has been replaced with: "Speaking my dream into existence" and "declaring and decreeing my destiny" and "My time of special anointing is about to be birthed..." These ideas came from the world of sorcery and New Thought, but they've been accommodated by charismatic churches for decades, and now many "mainline" Evangelical churches have accepted and adopted these charismatic practices and beliefs without pause. Why? Because it's "what people want" and it "brings in the numbers."

     More recently, another psychological study found that playing pleasant music (Mozart, in the study) can decrease cognitive dissonance. In other words, if one is holding two or more conflicting beliefs simultaneously, the resulting tension can be decreased by listening to soft, or pleasant music. Of course, the best thing to do would be to eliminate whatever false belief is causing all the trouble! And yet, perhaps, this helps explain why a soft rock "praise band" is a vital part of any Evangelical service nowadays. While the parishioner sits and listens to a sermon that conflicts with Biblical Christianity (usually in a subtle, sneaky way), he is eventually lulled into compliance by an emotional chord progression played repeatedly in the background.

     As an accomplished musician I know about this from playing for many years on the worship team. We musicians would often be out in the lobby talking and eating donuts during the sermon, but we had to watch for the pastor's signal to come up and play while he delivered his emotional ending plea. Charismatic churches compound this charade by calling any emotional response "The Holy Spirit," or by saying "you could really feel the Holy Spirit fall down during the service this morning!" Do we really believe the Holy Spirit was somewhere (up in the rafters maybe?) and by playing a certain type of music that we can "call Him down" as if we had some kind of mystical God whistle? In truth, emotional music is, well, emotional. That's why can you feel very similar feelings at any concert when certain similar music is being played. In the modern church, this is plain old emotional manipulation, and it's been a hallmark of American Evangelicalism ever since the days of Charles Finney.

Here are some thoughts on how to fend off cognitive dissonance for good:

1. Diligently eliminate all false teachings from you life.

 This is what God's Word tells us to do. This will probably take some time and effort-do it anyway. This will also probably make you unpopular with some people-do it anyway. As a start, check out all of this Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know! Even though Jesus and the Apostles tell us repeatedly to "watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing" we've been told by Evangelical "experts" to do the opposite; we've been told to always (and only) be accepting, non-judgmental and positive. As for me, I've been more at peace than ever before by ignoring all the "experts." If Jesus is the head of the church, shouldn't Jesus be the head of the church? Why are we allowing "vision-casting" pastors to promote the Silly Putty Jesus? Probably because he tells us whatever we want to hear. But it's all deception, and true freedom comes from the true Gospel.

2. Question everything.

 Seriously. Question your own presumptions before you even start asking questions. For example: instead of saying, "I want to go to a church where the pastor can really keep my attention with exciting and humorous sermons" or "I want to go to a church that I'm comfortable with" or "I want to go to a church that's relevant to my needs" you should be saying "I want to go to a church that carefully follows God's Word-no matter what!" The pastor who keeps your attention with his exciting and humorous sermons is quite possibly preventing you from hearing about Christ and Him crucified for your sins.  Is hearing a little pep talk about improving your life skills a good enough reason to attend church? Do you really expect so little from the God of the Universe? Question everything, but make the Bible your final authority. Which leads to the last point...

3. Stop following the teachings of men. 

Do you want to follow Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior? Great! That means taking up your cross and denying yourself, it doesn't mean "having your best life now." Evangelicals believe that the Bible is God's Word, yet they read it very infrequently, and then they often misunderstand it when they do. It's not a "manual for life" or a set of instructions for "achieving you dreams." It is God revealing Himself through the redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ. He came to earth by taking on human flesh through a virgin birth; He lived an amazing life full of astounding miracles; He had authority and wisdom far beyond any human; He died on the cross where He took our sins upon Himself, and then He was raised from the dead. And then He gave us His Word: His unchanging and objective Word. We need not live in doubt anymore.

That's enough.

              Actually, that's much, much more than enough!

Why would we add anything to this? What pathetic "new" teaching of man could possibly be better than the true Gospel? When we focus on the shocking, stunning and truly wonderful miracle of Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins and the complete, final and unconditional forgiveness we've been granted, we won't have any need for the shallow teachings of man to tickle our ears.

Leave the Silly Putty Jesus behind, and find true freedom, forgiveness and hope in the real Jesus!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Romans 5: 1


Here's an article about cognitive dissonance that might be of interest:

Creating Straw Men from Cognitive Dissonance

Here's another article (with links to more articles) that should be useful:

Confirmation Bias: Why You are Protecting Your False Beliefs


The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem

Dear Fellow Christian,

Let's be brutally honest, you've got a difficult road ahead of you. You no longer live in a culture that tolerates Christian beliefs very much, you've got secularists and atheists breathing down your neck, and you're loosing your sons and daughters to the surrounding pagan culture at an alarming rate. There are a lot of things that the Evangelical church is struggling with at this point in history. In the many attempts to remain effective, relevant, and frankly, to try and stay ahead of declining membership, many churches have adopted a solution that is making things even worse-they're throwing gasoline on this raging fire.

Here at Pirate Christian Media we are constantly trying to sound a warning to the church: "You are way off course-you're in great danger!!" is the message we often proclaim. We provide evidence and convincing proofs. On "Fighting for the Faith" Chris Rosebrough plays (and then carefully critiques) hour after hour of sermons from the biggest and most popular pastors in the world. These sermons are terrible. These pastors are using the Bible as a prop-they often don't even read it at all. These pastors are clearly misusing God's Word to say whatever they want to say-to get what they want to get. The proof is abundant and it's overwhelming. If you haven't listened to Fighting for the Faith I expect you to read the previous four sentences with great skepticism. Fine. Listen to a couple dozen episodes and come back to this when you're done (and presumably queazy). 

Having enough proof of the false-teaching is not the problem; in fact, it's not even very hard to prove these "super-pastors" are misusing God's Word. Anyone who simply reads their Bible can see what's going on most of the time. So yes, there's a Really Big Problem in the church: False-teaching is the new normal in many mega-churches. Google any list of the "Biggest Mega-Pastors in America" and you'll notice how just about every single one of them has been exposed as a false-teacher on Fighting for the Faith (and some other good podcasts and blogs, too). All sorts of false-teaching is also the norm in many best-selling "Christian" books that are published by "Christian" publishers, and things are really bad on "Christian" television. False teaching is the new normal and it's everywhere, but that's not the Gigantic problem.

The Gigantic Problem is that you're being systematically convinced that sound doctrine is the problem.

You're being told, over and over again, that we need to skim even more lightly across the surface of Christianity and "just love and accept each other no matter what we believe; after all, isn't that what Jesus is all about?..." Churches, pastors and Christians that refuse to take a stand on the meaning of God's Word are not helping anyone-they're making things worse. When they go along with this confusing idea of doctrinal ambiguity, they're throwing gas on a dangerous fire.  

This strange new version of Christianity can only be passed off to a church that has rejected God's Word. And make no mistake about it: The American Evangelical Church has abandoned God's Word. It almost never comes right out and says so, but it has. But that's why it's so hard for most Christians to see what's right in front of them: everyone assumes that everything is Biblical and, therefore, everything is okay. Almost never do these false-teachers come right out and proclaim their abandonment of the Bible, because that would set off alarms and they would lose their audience. So a very thin facade covers up a very obvious and overwhelming issue: False-teaching (of many varieties) is the new normal. And the thin facade covering up this obvious false-teaching? Often, it's just the use of the adjective "Biblical." As long as a false-teacher sticks the word "Biblical" in front of their twisted teaching, most people smile and nod in agreement. 

I truly wish more people would say things like:

  • "I wonder if what this guy is saying is really Biblical?" 
  • "I wonder why this pastor sounds exactly like a motivational speaker with Jesus tacked on at the very end?"
  • "I wonder if this teacher is being accurate with the text? It seems like he's inserting his own meaning into what the Bible says." 
  • "I wonder if this guy is just proof-texting the Bible to make it say what he wants it to say?" 
  • "I wonder if this lady really knows what she's talking about-she talks so fast I can't even keep up with half of what she's saying! I'm gonna check my Bible and test what she's saying." 
  • "I wonder why this supposedly 'new and better' version of Christianity never existed for all of church history... until now?" 
  • "I wonder why this guy always hears a 'fresh new word from God' at exactly the same time as his latest book comes out?"
  • "Isn't it a strange coincidence that this pastor suddenly changed his view about an important issue and adopted the exact same viewpoint of the surrounding culture?"
  • "If it's so important for me to emotionally experience the "Presence" of God, why didn't Jesus or the Apostles ever mention it? Why is the church now sounding like the New Age movement??"

Most of the time people don't want to believe bad news-especially bad news that seriously affects their whole view of the world. But when there's really bad news they really don't want to believe it. Having to admit that your favorite pastor/author/teacher is wrong is just too hard for many people to accept. But one's feelings about reality should never be a cover-up for reality itself

Something is true because it's actually true-whether you like it or not.

Something is false because it's actually false-whether you like it or not. 


Something is Biblical because it's actually Biblical, whether you like it or not... no matter what some slick, over-paid and overly-confident pastor might say, even when he's in an expensive and emotionally manipulative video full of half-truths, careful editing and compelling music. 

The Bible makes it ridiculously clear that sound doctrine is vital and essential. It's not just a nice hobby for theologians and Bible nerds. Jesus made it ridiculously clear that we should watch out for false teachers-He warns us to not get mislead by them. Then the Apostles did the same thing. But a lot of people are ignoring Jesus and His Apostles (who wrote the New Testament) and following the teachings of men (and quite a few woman, too).

  • If you listen to many of these super pastors, you'd think there were all sorts of Bible verses instructing us to skip God's Word and follow whatever our pastor says-especially if he seems really sincere (and can muster up tears at the conclusion of his sermons).
  • If you evaluate the modern Evangelical church, you'd think there were lots of Bible verses telling us to "make it up as you go-as long as your heart is sincere and you seem to be getting results."
  • If you read many of the Christian best-selling books you'd think that the Bible says: "Listen for your own personal messages from God, because this Bible isn't really good enough."
  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible teaches everyone to navigate this life, and all of eternity based on our feelings, thoughts and personal experiences, because "God just wants us to be happy."
  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible is a success guide to help you achieve the American Dream (and maybe improve your sex life). 
  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible says, "listen to the most popular and convincing false teachers, because even though they twist God's Word, they have some good things to say, too."
  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the God of Scripture, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny reside in the same realm; along with the ability to "speak things into existence" and "discover your Destiny" so you can "become a Champion!"
  • Here's an entire article full of things that aren't in the Bible (but you'd think they were).

Underneath these really bad ideas is the gigantic bad idea that "doctrine doesn't matter-doctrine is the problem." Doctrine is just another word for teaching. The Christian Church gets its teachings from the Bible, and the Bible demands that we adhere to sound doctrine. You cannot bypass the Bible and "just follow Jesus." Sorry, but Jesus never taught that, the Apostles never taught that, and God's Word-The Holy Bible-does not teach that. Does this sound legalistic to you? That's probably because of all the bad doctrine (bad "teaching") that you've received. God demands sound doctrine (good "theology") because He wants you to know the Truth. Remember, the Truth can set you free-but it has to be the Truth. 

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’
— John 14: 6,7

Think about it: Doesn't it make sense that God would want us to know what's true and avoid everything that's false? And if God has given us His Word, shouldn't we listen to it-instead of the teachings of mere men? The very Good News is that God Himself has intervened into human history and given us His Word; and His Word tells us about the amazing and shockingly Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, who died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

Now here's something you really need to read (I dare you to read through the entire page):

Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!

Here's another article that might add more clarity to this topic:

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

Here are a couple of videos that provide convincing evidence of the fallen state of the church:

Church of Tares: PurposeDriven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth & New World Order

The Real Roots of the Emergent Church

Here's an interview with Dr. David Wells on Issues, Etc.: 

The Decline of American Evangelicalism

Here is a recently completed survey of the Evangelical landscape that shows how confused Christians are:

The State of Theology

Congratulations! You've Abandoned Christianity in One Sentence!

This was posted on Facebook by someone who, as far as I know, used to profess (or still does) to being a Christian. I'm guessing that this is a quote they found from someone else:

This one sentence has it all: blasphemy, the elevation of personal choice over the sovereignty of God, the complete rejection of our need for salvation... it's quite stunning. Let's look at this sentence a little deeper:

First of all, there is the "issue of God" phrase; isn't this is an arrogant and blasphemous thing to say? Who can reduce the Creator of the Universe down to an "issue?" It's like saying:

"Listen everyone, I know that billions of people have written, speculated and philosophized about God for all of human history, and I know that God has revealed Himself in His Holy Word, but we can just skip all of that: I'm gonna summarize God for you now, since my knowledge is above all people throughout history and even above God Himself..."

It's not just blasphemy, it's also a strangely casual kind of blasphemy; like God isn't even real anyway, so "what's the big deal?"

Now about this phrase "what could happen if we die," First off, the words "could" and "if" really need to be replaced by the words "will" and "when." Or wait, maybe this person has the ability to live forever; come to think of it, they did have the "issue of God" all figured out...

I'm guessing that because this person thinks the idea of God punishing us sinful humans is extremely unpopular and old-fashioned, it can be disregarded like a bad sitcom from the 90's. Here's the clever logic involved: "We (the modern and smart people) don't like God's punishment, (His wrath, His judgement, hell, etc.) therefore, it doesn't exist." 

See how clever it is?

Let's try using this clever idea in a different form: "I don't like having to pay Federal Income Tax, therefore, it doesn't exist." (Please consult your personal tax consultant before attempting this yourself).

Lastly, since these new, smarter people don't have to worry about dying and they've eliminated any resulting eternal consequences of sin using their sheer mind-power, they are free to move on to the really important matter: "what could happen if we actually choose to live." Wow! I didn't even know we could choose to live; last time I checked we had to be born from our parents. These people really are smarter and better!!

Seriously, after completely rejecting the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture, this is all they've got?? This is, at best, the title of an out-of-print self-help book. This isn't a brilliant new philosophy of life that answers all the questions plaguing mankind; this is more like re-hashed and vapid liberal Protestantism from the 1920's (see the link below for proof).

But much, much worse, this way of thinking says to Jesus Christ, the Son of God who took upon Himself the sins of the world: "No thank you; your death was in vain. We don't need forgiveness or salvation; we're just going to choose to actually live."

This is nothing less than a complete rejection of the shocking and unfathomable free gift of salvation bought on the cross. 

Please, if you think your good choices are what life is all about, I urge you to start reading the Bible again, and come out of the demonic fog that surrounds you and repent, before it's too late.

““Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.””

— Galatians 1:3-8

This "new and better" Christianity is not new and it's not better; it's been around for a long time. For instance, here's an amazing short summary of J. Gresham Mechen's 1923 book "Christianity and Liberalism."

Are There New Apostles on Earth Today? WWUTT Video

One of the "New Apostolic Reformation" beliefs that should be completely rejected is the ridiculous claim that there are apostles living today that are equivalent to the original (real) Apostles from the New Testament. Here's a quick little WWUTT video on this topic:

"Not Feeling It"-The Gospel for Everyone Else

I know you’re out there. In fact, I know there are untold millions of you out there.

You’ve heard about the need for “intimacy with God” and “having a personal relationship with God” and how “it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship,” and you're just not feeling it. You’ve maybe even mustered up the courage to admit to a close friend or pastor that you’re not getting the feelings that everyone else is getting. Maybe you’ve been reassured that “feelings come and go but God’s love never changes!” But the unspoken answer underneath that pat-answer is this: “keep trying and maybe someday you’ll be intimate with God like the rest of us.” 

Which is a profoundly sad thought. It’s like God has His omnipotent hands tied; “He’s trying to be intimate with you, but you need to do your part…”

And God’s Word says none of these things. You’ve been taught a pack of lies. Seriously.

You’ve been taught the latest version of Gnosticism or Mysticism or Pietism or Semi-Pelagianism or some other “ism” that’s been circulating since the very start of the Christian Church; but it’s been firmly declared as un-biblical heresy in the first few centuries of church history. But since the modern Evangelical church usually ignores theology, church history and often even the Bible itself, it’s no wonder that bad ideas that can be easily refuted are not. Instead, these bad ideas flourish and grow under the profitable nurturing of false teachers disguised as pastors (often with good intentions).

If you’ve been hurt, confused or frustrated by your lack of emotional experiences with God, this little article is for you. You're the person out in the lobby getting some coffee while the "worship service" keeps going and going... and going. I've been out there with you.

You are not the problem. 

The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for keeping people under a burden-a heavy load-that they would not move.

Today, the latest version of a Pharisee is always telling you that you need something more-something bigger and better. "More Lord, more..."

Something Super Spiritual. Something Really Deep. The Next Level. A New Secret to really getting close to God...

So here’s the real Good News:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.”

— Ephesians 2:4-9

True Christianity is God coming and rescuing us from sin and death. It’s God doing 100% and us doing 0%.

Just believe-and be free! 

(This article is written for Christians, so I'm simplifying a bit; technically I should be mentioning repentance and baptism, but hopefully you get the point)

Just believe. That isn’t just enough-it’s much, much more than enough! 

In fact, it seems just too good to be true...

So, in our tiny human brains we feel compelled to “do our part” and show God we “really mean business!” We actually like it when pastors put us back under the Law so that we can show how serious we are about serving God. We actually like it when the pastor gets all worked up and “really preaches it” about our need to “do more for God.” And our refusal to accept the total and complete gift of salvation rears its ugly head when we think we can get even closer to God by our subjective and ambiguous mystical experiences. And, to make matters worse, we sometimes look down on our fellow believer who actually admits that they don’t “feel” intimate with God.

Jesus never said: “Someday I’m going to require my followers to muster up a great deal of emotional fervor so that my love can really be felt.”

Jesus never said: “If you really love me and want to be close to me you will have an intimate encounter with me during an extended quiet time (or worship service, or special Intimacy Conference...).”

Jesus never said: “It’s not enough to just read my Word; you need to go beyond my Word and experience me in a personal way.”

Jesus did say: “Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

That’s intimacy with God; instituted by God; described in God’s Word. Your intense and dramatic feelings: Optional.

You can stop following the teachings of men and be truly free. 

It is finished, indeed!


Also, here's a great episode of The White Horse Inn on this topic:

"Faith and Experience"

CCM Song Critique: "Exhale" by Plumb

Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please keep in mind that these articles will be examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters:

Today we’ll be taking a look at “Exhale” by Plumb which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine. (This article is from 2015)

I confess: I have a soft-spot for electronica/techno. As such, I generally enjoy Plumb’s music as it is often very easy to remix into multi-various grooves and progressions. However, that’s not why we are discussing these songs here. The first time I heard this song on the radio was in my car, and I came in at the Bridge. I had really hoped the rest of the song better explained what it was to “breathe in [God’s] Grace and exhale.“ Let’s take a look at it.

Official Music Video

Lyrcs (via KLove)


It’s okay
To not be okay
This is a safe place
This is a safe place
Don’t be afraid
Don’t be ashamed
There’s still hope here
There’s still hope here
No matter what you’ve done
Or who you are
Everyone is welcome
In His arms

Just let go
Let His love wrap around you
And hold you close
Get lost in the surrender
Breathe it in, until your heart breaks
And exhale, exhale

[verse 2]
Spirit come
Tear down the walls
That only you can
That only you can
Reconcile, this heart to yours
Right now God, right now

Oh God
We breathe in your grace
We breathe in your grace
And exhale
Oh God
We do not exist for us
But to share your grace and love
And exhale

Publishing: Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg
PUBLISHER: © 2015 ShoeCrazy Publishing (adm. by Curb Congregation Songs) (SESAC)/ Meaux Hits, Red Red Soda Pop, Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Tunes, Countless Wonder Publishing, Fots Music All rights reserved. Used by permission. International Copyright Secured.
Writer(s): Tiffany Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg


Okay, so let’s talk about some of the overtones in the lyrics of this song. What is the setting for this dialog? Is this intended to be a song sung by the Church to the unbeliever? If so, what is the message, that’s it’s okay to be an unbeliever in the House of God? The song is designed to progress from a call to come into the Church (verse 1 and chorus) to imploring the Holy Spirit to come and reconcile us to him (verse 2) and then experience His presence (chorus, bridge, chorus). It is designed to move the listener’s emotions through the mystical gauntlet so they can feel the presence of God. Sadly, this progression takes place without confession, repentance, nor the pronouncement of forgiveness. There is no Gospel preached here, yet the song progresses to breathing in God’s Grace and exhaling for those who are not okay.

Verse 1. What does it mean when you tell everyone, “it’s okay to not be okay?" Seriously, that statement doesn’t have any internal meaning… it is an oxymoron. Meaning has to be brought into the statement. Maybe the intent is to say to someone they don’t need to be perfect to come to Church. Maybe this is a vague attempt to invoke Jesus’ response to the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:9-13 (ESV) | Jesus Calls Matthew

9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

If that was the intent, “it’s okay to not be okay” is a huge miss. Jesus wasn’t saying “it’s okay to be sick”… nor was He saying “it’s okay to be a sinner”… He said He came to call the sinners out of their sin, like a physician brings the person out of his sickness. Jesus preached repentance. It’s not okay, to not be okay… but by the Grace of God, Jesus laid down His life as a substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s Wrath against sin on His body, so that we might be forgiven by grace, through faith, as a Gift from God. The hard truth of Law is that not everyone is welcome in His arms.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Even in this wonderful passage of God’s wonderful Grace, there is a separation, a dividing line of faith. When Christ returns, He will come to pronounce Judgment on the children of faith and of unbelief (Matthew 25:31-46).

Chorus. So what are we telling the people to let go of? Their sin? Their unbelief? Is it up the unbeliever to simply let go of their unbelief? Is that within their power to do? No. Now, to a certain extent, we can ask the unbeliever to listen to the Word of God being preached… but only the Holy Spirit can open his/her ears to the Truth of the word of Christ. We must preach, they must listen, God must do the work of regeneration.

Romans 10:5-21 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
    with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
    I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Verse 2 (an oddly shortened verse). The verse comes in sideways and falls on its face, in my opinion. The tone is irreverent and screams Word of Faith and Presence theology (the Bethel variety). Is God the Holy Spirit one to respond to our commands to come in and tear down the walls that only he can? What walls might those be? Our unbelief? Only God can open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf… only God can raise the dead to life and grant Faith to the unbeliever. I’d like to think that is what is intended by these lines, but I don’t have any reasons to draw this understanding from the song. Reconcile this heart to yours… what does that mean? As if that weren’t brazen enough, Plumb then insists that God do this now… right now.

Okay, so let us extend grace here and expand on the idea of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (ESV) | The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is my sincere prayer, than whenever this part of the song plays on the radio, that your mind will rest in these Words, not wandering in the emotionally mystical goo that the song seems to stir.

Bridge. This is the climax of the song. In seekerville churches, the goal of this part is to move folks to throw themselves at the altar (foot of the stage) and soak in the presence of the spirit. It’s emotionalism, manipulated by powerful music. But there is at least, one redeeming message, we do not exist for us, but to share your grace and love. A pity this wasn’t explored better in this song. Our calling to share the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Love of God the Father is not one than can be fulfilled by emotion alone. In fact, the calling is difficult to embrace emotionally, since our emotions are so fickle and fleshly. We were called to preach the Gospel, to preach the Word of Christ, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit to do so. The Holy Spirit isn’t an emotion, or an experience, but a Person of the Godhead.


The song is, ultimately, too vague and emotional. If I could rewrite this song, I’d take the theme of breathing in God’s grace and tie it to listening to the Word of Christ, being filled with faith that only He can give and exhaling confession and repentance. Then in the second verse I’d connect breathing in God’s grace with receiving forgiveness by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, being filled by Promise with God the Holy Spirit, and exhaling the love for our neighbor because He first Loved us. Finally, breathing in God’s grace would return to breathing in God’s Word, growing in the knowledge of Christ and the exhale would be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth, to all of creation. I hope that if you’re caught listening to this song as it plays on Christian radio, your mind might be filled with the Truth of God’s Word, whether it be what we’ve explored here or what you’ve read in your Bible. Please don’t marinade in mindless surrender to emotional manipulation… such mysticism has done great damage to the Body of Christ.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) | The Example of Christ

15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

In Christ Jesus, Jorge Rodriguez

Charismatic Bullying From the Pulpit

 The following is a real devotional email sent by the pastor of a large charismatic church to his congregation. This pastor had recently been confronted by a few of his church members who didn't like his "Signs and Wonders/Rick Joyner/Bill Johnson/IHOP" teachings and asked that he only use the Bible and stop referencing those other teachers and teachings. He was never asked to adopt a cessationist position; just to hold more closely to Scripture alone. Several weeks after he had the meeting with those people, he wrote this devotional message/email and then preached a sermon based on it. I think this is a good example of what happens when a pastor wants to divert attention away from a valid theological discussion and continue teaching his version of "Signs and Wonders" Christianity. His original article is in bold; I will make comments (in parenthesis) throughout the article. This article originally appeared in October of 2014.



                       A Personal Relationship

          "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." John 5: 39 
(This verse is the "set-up" for the rest of the article; it's supposed to make Christians who demand adherence to the Bible look like Pharisees, but it's taken completely out of context. These Pharisees were unwilling to recognize that the Messiah had come-it was Jesus! The Scriptures pointed directly to Jesus and they were guilty of not going to Him. Jesus was not saying that you should come to Him instead of the Scriptures, He was saying that they should have found him in the Scriptures.)

       I believe many things about my wife, Jane (not real name). Some are just facts, like her birthday, her place of birth, her parents' names, and her general history which anyone who is interested could easily learn.  Other things require more personal involvement like knowing her character and her heart's desires.  My current beliefs about her are numerous, but my relationship isn't with my beliefs about Jane, it's with her.  She's a person.  Because of this reality, my beliefs are always growing and deepening as we walk together. (This line of thinking utilizes the common method of telling stories instead of teaching from the Bible; this way you can make any point about anything. The implication here seems to be that the Bible is not enough-it's just a bunch of facts and figures about God. We can't really know God through the Bible-we need a "relationship" with Him; which appears to be shorthand for "a subjective experience of God.")

          But what if I no longer lived with my wife?  Wouldn't my belief system become static?  I would still believe things, but they wouldn't deepen or grow because of a lack of present experience with her.  In the text above, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees because their relationship isn't with God Himself; it's only with their beliefs about Him. (God was rebuking the Pharisees because their relationship was only with their beliefs about God? What the?? No, that's totally wrong!! Their beliefs were just plain wrong-they didn't believe in Jesus! This is not hard to understand. This is a total mishandling God's Word. This is such a gigantic error that I really want to end the critique right here... but let's keep going.)

          There is a great danger in evangelical Christianity today of making our beliefs about God an idol that takes the place of an actual relationship with Christ. (Where do we read about this "belief in God" idol in the Bible?) How can I tell if I'm in danger of this idol? Here are five symptoms:

1.     We become unteachable. We no longer believe what we read in the Bible; we only read what we already believe. (Yes, we should want people to accurately and faithfully understand God's word-not read into it whatever they want, this is very true. But how does this pastor define "unteachable?" He could be referring to anyone that disagrees with him; hmmm...)

2.     We become divisive with Christians that don't believe exactly what we believe about God and Christ.  We're experts and everyone else needs to listen to us to get it right. (This point is very important for what it doesn't say; it fails to mention that some people want a teaching to line up with Scripture. These people aren't commended for being good Bereans, they're condemned for being "experts" who want everyone to listen to them. What if they really just want everyone to listen to the Bible?)

3.    We become suspicious of any fresh moving of the Holy Spirit that doesn't fit into our box of who we think God is and how He should act. (Just as in the previous point, this fails to mention that people might be suspicious of a so-called "fresh move of the Holy Spirit" not because it doesn't "fit into our box," but because it is false and/or doesn't line up with Scripture. This pastor believes that subjective experiences are good and acceptable, but an objective evaluation of an experience compared against Scripture is to be avoided. No wonder so many people leave Charismatic churches confused and hurt.)

4.     We find ourselves bored with worship because our hearts actually love what we believe about God more than we love God Himself. (This point is just too weird to analyse very much. Somehow, this pastor can see into the hearts and minds of people and discover that they love their beliefs so much that they become bored with worship... insert creepy 50's Sci-fi music here.)


5.     We realize we're no longer growing. We're no longer amazed by God or ever surprised by anything He does. We're sure we're doctrinally "right", but if we're dead, we can't be right because Jesus came to give life. (Let me see if I understand this; I need to be surprised or amazed by something God does in the present tense to prove that I'm growing? And if I'm sure I'm doctrinally "right" that proves that I'm dead. I would think that Jesus coming to earth as a virgin-born baby, living an amazing life full of teachings and miracles, giving His life on the cross as a penalty for our sins, rising from the dead on the third day, etc. etc. are all good enough things to embrace, celebrate and remember for all of our days, aren't they? Is it not enough to be surprised and amazed by what He's already done? Do we really need something "new" to validate our faith?  Does "growing" mean that we should adopt new and different beliefs every time the latest "prophet" has a "word for us?" The clear implication here is that just studying God's Word isn't enough to get "God's Word;"  we need extra-biblical revelation through some kind of subjective experience. Is it any wonder that Christians are biblically and theologically ignorant? If you put Post-Modern Subjectivity and Hyper-Charismatic Anti-Theology into a blender this is the kind of nonsense that comes out...)

The Scriptures are not an end in themselves, they direct us into a personal relationship with the God who loves us and died for us.  We all know "in part" and the even the part we think we know is only a seed of all that is true about the transcendent, majestic, unchanging, and uncreated God of the universe.  I think we would all do well to examine our hearts and humble ourselves before Him every day acknowledging that the mystery of who He is in Himself goes far beyond our present beliefs about Him. (But does it go beyond God's Word??)  Getting to knowHim is the greatest adventure of our lives and will last for all eternity! 
(After His resurrection, Jesus met two of His followers on the road to Emmaus and didn't reveal himself; He first asked them a series of questions to see what they knew and believed about Himself. When they said that they basically didn't know what was going on even though the empty tomb had been discovered and angels had said He was risen, Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself." Luke 24: 25-26.

Why did Jesus do this? Didn't He know that "the Scriptures are not an end in themselves, they direct us into a personal relationship with God..." like this pastor claims? Jesus wasted all that time explaining the Scriptures when He should have been developing His personal relationship with them. They could have, I don't know, exchanged recipes or sung show tunes together-that would have been more personal.) 

     Here's what God's Word says: "Now He said to them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sin would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:44-48  "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Btw, here's a follow-up article I wrote about this same pastor: Hey Pastors-Wanna Protect False Teachers? Here's Your Template! 

This is not intended to be a personal attack on this particular pastor; I'm using this to explain vital differences in theology, and to explain how bad theology (un-Biblical teachings) can be promoted and protected.

Oswald Chambers: Personal Piety Combined With Flawed Theology

This is NOT an article about another crazy false teacher; instead, this is a more subtle topic. Please read and consider this excellent and thoughtful article from Bob Dewaay at Critical Issues Commentary:

Oswald Chambers: Personal Piety Combined With Flawed Theology

Oswald Chambers in 1906

Oswald Chambers in 1906

For more clarity on the issue of Pietism:

Here is another article by Bob DeWaay called: How Pietism Deceives Christians

Here is a video explaining the origins of Pietism by Ryan Reeves: Lutheran Pietism

Here is a great lecture by Rod Rosenbladt against Pietism on Issues, Etc.

Here's a short article from Pastor Matt Richard: Keswick Theology: The Exhaustion of Trying to Yield More, Surrender More, And Let Go-Let God

A "Personal Relationship With Christ"-Burden or Biblical?

Here is a guest article from Matthew Garnett, who has a terrific podcast (featured on Pirate Christian Radio) called "In Layman's Terms." I've written on this topic a little bit (Not Feeling It-The Gospel for Everyone Else), but I think maybe Matthew hit the nail on the head. The Bible does not mention a "personal relationship with Christ," even though we've all heard that phrase a million times. The Bible does not mention our need to "spend enough time with God so that you develop an intimate relationship with Him," yet that kind of language permeates Pop Evangelicalism. With those kinds of ideas being so common and prevalent, could it be that you've been given a burden that doesn't come from God? -Steven Kozar  

What’s more work? Religion or a Relationship?

I suppose that depends. If your idea of “religion” is a god or gods who demand services from you in order that the god(s) will look with favor upon you, then it sounds like you’re in for some hard labor. Then again, these kinds of religions are often very good about spelling out exactly what it is that the god(s) demand. Practices such as praying toward a certain geographical location, meditation, giving 10% of your income (pre-tax, of course), and the like, might give practitioners of particular religions the clear sense of what it takes to please their god(s).

Want to please your god(s)? Do A, B, and C. Fail to do A, B, or C, and you will displease the god(s). Yes, it might be a lot of work, but at least you know what the score is.

What about a “relationship?"

For those of you are married, you certainly know that a marriage can be a great deal of work. To boot, you don’t have the benefit of always knowing what it is that will please your better half from one day to the next. One day, your husband is thrilled with the fact you took the time to tidy up his study. The next day, he’s enraged that he can’t find his keys because you moved them in the process of tidying up the study! (I speak from experience of course...)

The problem with understanding God in terms of “relationship” is twofold:

One is that “relationship” usually demands something from you. It implies that you do “your part” in the relationship. After all, “relationships” are a two way street. Call me crazy, but a “relationship with God” is starting to sound a lot like “religion." Only in the “religion” you have some sense of when you might be pleasing God by your devotional activity. In the “relationship” you can never be quite sure if you've done your part enough-especially when the other party (God) isn't speaking clear and audible words to you.

The second problem is that this notion of “relationship” implies that our deepest problem as human beings is that we’re lonely and need a friend. While I certainly do not want to diminish the need for relationships, I am convinced, when it comes to God, that this is in fact not our deepest need as human beings. Consider the paralytic dropped through the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching one sunny Galilean day. (Mark 2)

After much effort from friends to see the man healed, Jesus says to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven." (v.5) If Jesus knew that this man’s deepest need was indeed not his paralysis but the forgiveness of his sins, then surely we must conclude that our loneliness is not our genuine problem, but indeed it's the forgiveness of our sins. We don’t need a “relationship” with God as much as we need something else: as His enemies, we need peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins.

Enter the true religion. The Christian religion.

St. James teaches us in his epistle, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

True religion is service and love, not toward God, but toward one’s neighbor. And that’s just for starters. Think about the Man who actually perfectly fulfilled St. James’ definition of a “religious” person here. Who bridles His tongue perfectly? Who never deceives His own heart? Who visits widows and orphans in their affliction? Who kept Himself unstained from the world?

No one but Jesus.

There is only one religion in the world where God becomes the servant to help and please us with His actions in contrast to the religions of the world, the flesh, and the devil, where we are required to help and please a god or gods with our actions. Furthermore, there is only one religion in the world where its primary practices are gifts that meet and serve our needs and not the god(s).

Think of the Christian religion’s encouragement to know and to study the Scriptures. “…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3) We don’t read and study the Bible so God will be impressed with us. We don’t study the Scriptures thinking that in so doing, God will have some special favor on us. We read and study the Bible because it is a gift from our Father.

Think about that in the context of St. James’ words to us. True religion “visits orphans.” God by His word to us visits us who were once indeed orphans who are now true sons and daughters of His.

Think of the Christian religion’s encouragement for us to gather with other believers in our local churches/parishes. This isn’t a demand from God in order that He’d be pleased with us that week, but a gift that we might know we aren’t alone in this fallen world. He gathers us again so we can, without doubt, hear His voice in His Word.

We Christians don’t go to church to pay homage to God. We go there because it is there that He serves us-it is His very nature to do so. There He feeds us with His very body and blood, given to us for the forgiveness of our sins. He reassures us of His peace in the absolution of all of our sins. He reminds us that we are baptized and He has placed His name on us and given us the Holy Spirit. (By the way, did you ever wonder why it’s called a “church service?" It ain’t because we’re serving God. It’s because He’s serving us!)

Here's the one time "relationship" appears in the bible (from the NASB exhaustive concordance)

Here's the one time "relationship" appears in the bible (from the NASB exhaustive concordance)

If there is a “relationship” at all to be had here, it is a one way relationship. A “relationship” where God in Christ does all the giving and nothing is required of us. Call it what you will, but calling it simply a “relationship” doesn’t describe it accurately. At all.

A “relationship” demands something of you. And in this case, with God, it demands something that you simply do not have the capacity to give. I’ll stick with religion. True religion as St. James describes. Where we who were once orphans are tenderly visited by our heavenly Father. Where He gives us gifts of His Word, of the fellowship of all the saints of Christ, and reassures us of that service with His very body and blood to us and promises time and again to meet our deepest need: the forgiveness of all of our sins.

Many fear religion because this word has been perverted into having Christians believe that in order to have favor with God they must study their Bibles, attend church, and give their money. It somehow seems more palatable to call it a “relationship” and run away from the word "religion." It seems clear to me that this is not a very good solution.

Maybe we should come up with a better word, but until then realize that the Scriptures, the Church, and the Sacraments are pure Gospel gifts to us from a God who loves and serves His once orphaned, but now adopted sons and daughters. These aren’t demands of God to be fulfilled by us, but are manifestations of His love and help for us.



Jesus teaches us that: “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” In my estimation, “relationship” can simply be another form of false religion. I embrace the true religion of Christianity and accept as pure gift the practices that have adorned our Lord’s Church since way before the word "relationship" became enshrined. I hope you do as well!

-Matthew Garnett

Here's another good article to add some clarity to this topic: "It's a Relationship, Not a Religion"

Lastly, here's an instructive video by Sonseed that should help you understand your relationship with Jesus. ;)

True Stories from the Messed Up Church: Andy Stanley's North Point Church

This is the first in a new series of posts from real people who will tell their story of God's grace drawing them back to the Gospel.

Confessions of a Former Member of Andy Stanley’s Church

By Janine Jensen

When I was in my 20s, I lived in Atlanta and attended Andy Stanley’s church (this would be in the early 1990's). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a part of the "messed up church." 

Last year, Andy Stanley preached about the “Temple Model” and more recently said “you’re selfish if you don’t go to a big church.” Perhaps it would be interesting if I shared my experience of being a part of Andy’s church when it first got started.

Northpoint Church is a huge place. Services are held in three large rooms, simulcast with Andy navigating between rooms. We watch on the big multimedia screens.  It’s very exciting, and keeps you on your toes. Before the service starts, there is a huge countdown clock on the screen. The clock counts down the minutes and seconds until the service starts. It creates anticipation, like watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Time Square. Yes, something is about to happen that will knock our socks off. 

Going to church is like “Black Friday” at the mall.  There are people in front of you, next to you, and behind you.  Everyone is trying to get into the sanctuary.  Ushers are everywhere, directing traffic and handing out bulletins, making sure that every seat is filled, with no empty chairs. They have an overflow room for latecomers. Children go to Sunday school while the adults attend the service. With the wall-to-wall multimedia screens, even the people in the back can see what’s going on. There is a live band on stage. The lights are cut low, and there’s a spotlight on the stage. It’s more like a rock concert or Broadway show, than a worship service. When the band starts playing, the crowd quiets down and focuses on the stage. There is a euphoric feeling in the air, like we’re all in this together.

Andy Stanley appears on stage, and opens with a “shout out” or personal anecdote.  It’s unclear whether he is in your room or another one.  He jumps between rooms, appearing on the stage like a rock star. Yes, Andy’s a rock star that everyone adores, and Christianity is his platform. 

Occasionally, the service features a drama skit.  It’s a spur-of-the moment thing that catches you off-guard. You never know what will happen next. One time, there was a heckler in the back, shouting, “This is no place for a Christian! You are the anti-Christ!”  I remember thinking, “You can’t fool me, and I know this is a skit!” But it turns out he was the real deal and the ushers grabbed him and escorted him out. 

I don’t know if things have changed since I left Northpoint church, but back then, Sunday school was set up like a night club. The room was dimly lit, with a disco ball on the ceiling. There were flashes of neon lights, and everyone hovered around the refreshment tables.   They had a dry ice machine cranked up, which made it to look like there was a cloud of smoke on the floor. That was our mingling time. There was contemporary Christian music playing in the background. Eventually, the program started. Someone jumped on the center stage, and shared the announcements. Then we’d go to Sunday school classes, usually sorted by topic. 

No one dared to say it, but the atmosphere was like a bar scene.  They assumed that’s what people wanted.  And surely, with so many people flocking to the church, a nightclub atmosphere is what works. It draws folks in and keeps them coming back for more.

When Andy Stanley gave his “temple model” sermons, he said that all trappings of traditional church should be eliminated.  He definitely practices what he preaches! He likes to play contemporary music instead of hymns, and sermons are more like stand-up comedy routines or motivational messages. 

But is it necessary?  Do Christian singles really need a night club atmosphere in order to feel comfortable? Do we need to follow a worldly formula, or everyone will pack up and go home? 

The Sunday school topical classes were interesting, some even provided in-depth Biblical teaching. That was a breath of fresh air, because the sermons (the ones preached in the auditorium) were mostly stories, anecdotes and musings about life, with a few Bible verses thrown in for good measure. The Bible was treated like a reference book. We rarely, if ever, were given chapter by chapter, verse by verse exegesis. The preacher (be it Andy Stanley, or one of the other pastors on staff) spoke about life principles, often extracted from movies, secular songs, or TV shows. 

I’m still trying to put the pieces together of what happened. Honestly, I had a really good time at Andy Stanley’s church; I met wonderful people and had a blast in Sunday School and church.  I enjoyed the uplifting music, and was exposed to mostly “light” Christian theology. 

 At the same time, I experienced a dumbing down of the gospel. Although it was never directly said, the implication was that the Bible is cryptic and complex. It is hard to understand and no longer culturally relevant. Everything needed to be re-positioned in a cool, hip and contemporary context.  The rationale: People love rock concerts and night clubs. That’s where people have a good time. Let’s make church like that. If people have a good time, they will come back for more.

Andy Stanley’s church also conditions its people to think of ministry in a secular context. You start to think that that’s the way people get saved. That is what attracts people. That is what leads them to Christ. You start to think that evangelism doesn’t work any other way. You start to think that people can’t relate to a minister wearing a suit.  And gosh, a minister wearing a robe or liturgical garments? No way, no how! That type of minister is considered unapproachable, out of touch with reality, and can’t relate to young people. Yes, contemporary is the only way to go. 

Andy Stanley contends that traditional church is what holds people back. It keeps them away.  In reality, it is the sinful heart of man that keeps people away from church. I eventually learned by listening to “Fighting for the Faith,” that the unregenerate man hates God. That’s why he isn’t interested in church. I never heard that taught at North Point Church; I never heard verses like Romans 3: 11-12 which says: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 

Looking back, I wonder why I attended that church. Why did I stay there for so long? Short answer: It was fun, exciting and entertaining.  It was a great way to meet people and make new friends. That’s probably the case with most people. They may realize that they’re not getting much of out the sermons. They’re not learning much at all. But they keep coming back for the good times. The thrill of the band playing contemporary music, or their favorite rock tune. That rock concert experience can be so exciting. It’s fun being with all your friends. 

And there, I was, caught up in it all. I kept coming back Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year. And I didn’t even realize what I know now. I was spending all my time at the messed up church.  

I was a part of a church that used a worldly atmosphere to draw me in, and kept me coming back for more.  I now realize that hip and fun doesn’t necessarily mean orthodox and sound teaching.  

After listening to “Fighting for the Faith,” my attitude changed about contemporary versus traditional church.  As I became more discerning, I no longer want to be a part of a church that takes its cues from popular culture, movies, and rock music.  I became weary of scripture twisting that I experienced in church, particularly when verses are taken out of context. I find myself becoming irritated when the minister focuses more on personal anecdotes rather than Scripture itself.

It’s funny how my perspective and desires have changed.  I now crave a structured and historical worship service.  I love in-depth preaching, standing when Scripture is read, singing hymns, responsive reading, and heartfelt prayers.  I crave hearing Scripture read and preached in context. I want to understand who God is and how He operates. Yes, no more messed up church for me!

But getting back to my story: I eventually left Atlanta and North Point Church, but I still had more to learn. The worst was yet to come-this time at another hip new church; but this one was in South Carolina...

(To be continued. Janine Jensen is a pseudonym)