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. 

And...

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

This article by Steven Kozar

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

Assertion: (noun) a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason:
Without providing any evidence, he made an assertion.

Assumption: (noun) something taken for granted; a supposition:
She didn't check the facts to see if it was true, she just made an assumption.
 

Have you ever received one of those ridiculous emails that claims you are the recipient of a multi-million dollar fortune from somebody in another country? But in order to claim your money you have to send a smaller amount of money to the complete stranger that sent you the email? Emails like this rarely fool people, but they work just enough that different versions of this scam re-emerge from time to time. 

  • The scam emailer is making an assertion. ("I'm telling the truth-really! I've got millions of dollars to give away-trust me!!")
  • The scammer hopes that the recipient will make an assumption. ("This email must be true, I believe it and will send the money") 

The reason these scams don't work most of the time is because the assertion is obviously not true and most people do not assume that it is.

Much of the bad teaching going on in churches has both of these aspects. The pastor/teacher is making assertions and the people listening are simply assuming those assertions must be true. It looks something like this:

  • The pastor/teacher makes an assertion, often quite vigorously; he says it with confidence and emotion or he even claims it came directly from God Himself.
  • The people listening make the assumption that this pastor must be telling the truth. Why would he lie? He's a super nice guy, or he seems very sincere, or he went to some college somewhere... there's a million reasons why people assume they are being told the absolute truth.

Christians often use catch phrases that appear to be true, and the more often these phrases and ideas get repeated the more often they are assumed to be true. Popular pastors often have memes with their own sayings that are nothing more than mere assertions-usually meant to make people feel good.

For example, the following Joel Osteen memes look nice and sound good, but if you click through and read them all, you'll see that they don't say anything Biblical:

All of those sayings are making assertions ("You're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner," etc.) and these assertions are largely derived from a non-Christian, man-centered viewpoint.

  • These assertions are very appealing because they tell us what we want to hear, so...
  • it's no wonder that many people assume they must be true.

If you understand the Word of Faith movement (with some Positive Thinking along side), you'll see how these sayings stem from that belief system.

Now let's click through the ideas expressed in the following memes from Bethel church, where Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton teach:

These memes express a type of mystical, gnostic belief system; really, the only thing they share with Christianity is the use of some similar Bible words and phrases. Notice how the mystical "Yoda" meme actually seems to fit in? A portion of the New Testament was written to combat the gnostic beliefs that were an ongoing threat to the early Church. Here's a basic Christian definition of gnosticism (from the Pirate Lexicon): "Gnosticism is an early heresy which replaced the Gospel with a demand for secret knowledge. Gnostics claimed the only way to be saved was for the spirit to be liberated from the material order, which they considered evil. Elements of Gnosticism remain in modern churches (i.e. personal revelation, secret knowledge and mystical experiences)." Like the previous assertions made by Joel Osteen, these assertions put man at the center of our faith, but on top of that, they denegrade the use of thinking, reasoning and the objective, written Word of God.

This doctrine teaches that doctrine is bad. This teaching teaches that teaching is bad.

This belief says that God wants to be known internally and subjectively through a personal mystical experience. In this religion, He shares His miraculous power only with those who demonstrate the most extreme intimacy, passion and surrender. This has more in common with pagan mysticism and gnosticism than Christianity, but because these assertions are rarely tested, too many people make the assumption that they must be Christian and they must be true. 

Now for a striking contrast, here are some assertions from God's Word:

Titus 2:7-8  “...in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21  “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good...”

1 John 4:1  “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14  “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

2 Timothy 3:12-17  “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Thessalonians 2:15  "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."

1 Corinthians 16:13  "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."

Jude 3  “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

 

  • Notice how these Bible passages teach the importance of sound teaching? And this sound teaching does not come from inside of us; God's Word is independent from us.
  • Notice how these Bible passages teach us to examine everything carefully, and test things? Nowhere does Scripture tell us to mindlessly accept a doctrine from a self-described "prophet" or new "apostle;" instead, we are to be very skeptical of the teachings of men.

One of the fascinating moments captured in the book of Acts is the very brief mention of Paul and Silas visiting the Jewish synagogue in Berea. Acts 17: 11-12 says, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek woman of high standing as well as men."

The Bible encourages us to be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all eagerness, and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

  • We should never just believe the assertions that somebody makes, we should examine the Scriptures to find out if it's true. Period.
  • We should never just assume something is true, instead, we should examine the Scriptures to see if something is true. Period.

God has given us His Word.

He didn't "sort of" give us His Word. He didn't give us His Word with a bunch of exceptions and exclusions, and cause us to become dependent on new "prophets" and "apostles." And He certainly didn't give anyone permission to add or subtract from his Word.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
— Ephesians 2: 19-22
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
— Matthew 7: 24-25
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

Here's an article that explains the false assertions in the messed up church:

 

 

 

 

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

Does This String of Incredible Coincidences Connect Dr. Michael Brown to the NAR?

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 10.44.43 PM.png
  New Apostolic Reformation

New Apostolic Reformation

Dr. Michael Brown is trying very hard to make it appear like the New Apostolic Reformation barely even exists. He's recently completed an entire program devoted to distancing himself from the movement he doesn't think is real. In the process of describing the thing he doesn't believe exists, he ends up explaining some of the core beliefs of the movement itself... you know, the movement that doesn't really exist.

It seems that Dr. Brown fluctuates between two opposing ideas:

  • On one hand, he wants people to believe that the NAR isn't real and if you believe in it you're "chasing shadows." He ridicules NAR critics as "conspiracy theorists," which is really a meaningless smear intended to stop people from even looking into the matter.  
  • On the other hand, he describes the specific ideas coming from the leaders of the NAR (primarily the late C. Peter Wagner) and he makes it clear that he doesn't agree with all of those ideas.

Here's a brief compilation video showing how Dr. Brown contradicts himself on the existence of the NAR:

In Dr. Brown's radio show he described some of the specific beliefs of the NAR and how he doesn't agree with them. While it is very good that Dr. Brown has explained why he doesn't believe in or agree with certain NAR teachings, like "Dominionism" and the NAR's idea of authoritative contemporary Apostles, he knows (and promotes) plenty of NAR leaders who hold to these very views. Looking at all the ways that Dr. Michael Brown is closely associated with the NAR, one would have to believe in a lot of incredible coincidences to think that Brown has nothing to do with the NAR.

Pirate Christian Media has done a lot of research, writing and podcasting on this issue, but Dr. Brown says that we're "not credible" because we're "unethical." Why are we "not credible?" Because he says so. Why are we "unethical?" Because he says so. This is another thought-stopping device. His gullible listeners will hear those accusations and assume they must be true. But we've provided reams of evidence to support our assertions about Dr. Brown (as well as links to more information at other websites). Dr. Brown has such a bias against Pirate Christian Media that when Chris Rice called into his radio show to ask him some tough questions about the prosperity gospel, Brown talked over him and turned off his mic because he thought he was Chris Rosebrough; check out this article to hear that story: The Brown Rice ControversyHere's a series of really good articles and videos about Dr. Michael Brown from Chris Rice's blog: Is Not Satire on Dr. Michael Brown

In this sound clip of Fighting for the Faith, Chris Rosebrough plays an audio clip where Dr. Michael Brown is pretending he knows very little about the "so-called" NAR in a recent podcast, but then in another audio clip from 2010 (seven years earlier) he sounded completely different, like he knew exactly what the NAR was and what the core beliefs were and who the primary leaders were... you know, the movement that doesn't really exist:

 

Let's take a look at the incredible string of coincidences: 

Dr. Michael Brown is published by Destiny House, a New Apostolic Reformation book company that clearly believes its purpose is to publish the "words of God" from the new prophets of God. Here's a post about an article from Destiny House publisher, Larry Sparks: "We Need to Get Weird Again"

Destiny House Publishing is a publisher that publishes Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Danny Silk, T. D. Jakes, Myles Munroe, Sid Roth, Doug Addison, Chuck Pierce, Heidi Baker, James Goll, John Crowder, John & Carol Arnott, Rick Joyner, Patricia King, Todd Bentley, Shawn Bolz, Randy Clark... and DR. MICHAEL BROWN. (What a coincidence, huh?)

Here's a brand new Destiny House book that features Bill Johnson, Lou Engle, James Goll and... DR. MICHAEL BROWN:

 

Dr. Michael Brown has no problem recommending the NAR's new Bible translation called The Passion Translation from Brian Simmons. This is not a real Bible at all, but the work of one man who doesn't know the original languages but nevertheless wrote his own version of the Bible. Adding totally new thoughts, ideas and "revelations" to the Word of God is okay with Dr. Brown (he thinks the Passion Bible is: "passionate, vibrant, powerful, and beautiful;" but admits that it shouldn't be a primary Bible):

The Passion Translation is not just a little different, it actually changes the meaning of passages to fit the agenda of the NAR. Here's an article with just a handful of shocking examples: A New NAR Bible-Drastic Differences by Holly Pivec.  Wanna see what kind of snake-oil salesman Brian Simmons is? Watch him on Sid Roth's TV Show: John Chapter 22 is Really Important (But God Won't Allow Us to Read It Yet)

How_to_Unleash_Your_God_Given_Creativity_Theresa_Dedmon_Sid_Roth_s_It_s_Supernatural.gif

Let's talk a little bit about Sid Roth.

Sid Roth has no problem inviting the very fringe of the fringe of the Hyper-Charismatic, New Apostolic Reformation crowd onto his ridiculous and embarrassing show called "It's Supernatural." If Sid Roth can sell some books, CDs and DVDs, he'll invite anyone with an unbelievable story to come on the show and make some money. This is the worst kind of salesmanship to extract money from the vulnerable and naive. Every show sells something (a book/CD package, usually) that makes outrageous promises that it clearly can't deliver. This is what's known as fraudulent marketing. This is a huckster making money in the name of God. 

Here's an example of all the crazy promises from just one show's product:

"Also, if you buy this $39 book/CD set you will:

  • Partner with His presence!
  • Release His power!
  • Transform your world!
  • Overcome addictions!
  • Be free of anxiety, fear and compulsive desires!
  • Be delivered from mental strongholds, extreme behaviors and sexual sin!
  • You will exercise God's authority in every area of your life and destroy the works of the devil!
  • You will be encouraged to believe for whatever it is you need! 
  • Obtain freedom and receive the power to overcome and end a life of struggling!
  • Put an end to depression, bad habits, sexual bondage, fear and shame!
  • Understand how to end sin at its root!
  • Receive the power to overcome accusation and persecution!
  • Walk in freedom and victory over the works of darkness like never before!"

 

Here are just a few examples of the outrageous things that regularly appear on Sid Roth's show:

Sid Roth has had most of the big names from the NAR on his show, plus some lesser known people as well.

Guess what? Dr. Michael Brown has been on his show a number of times, and they consider each other good friends who've known each other since 1984. Here's a recent show where they're selling his dieting plan:

 

Now here's Dr. Michael Brown on his Facebook wall telling everyone how excited he is to be the guest host of "It's Supernatural:"

Brown08222017a.jpg

By the way, Dr. Brown was happy to have Jonathan Cahn on his on radio show recently, to promote another one of his (unbiblical) "I've Discovered a Secret (again)" books:

 

Here's a (very disturbing) compilation video of NAR superstars Bill & Benni Johnson, Heidi & Rolland Baker and Sid Roth:

Here's Sid Roth selling the false revival of Todd Bentley in 2008, right before the "Lakeland Revival" collapsed into humiliation and bankruptcy after the Charismatic Day of Infamy:

Sid Roth recently had Rodney Howard-Browne on his show, and promoted him as the man behind the "great revivals" of the 1990s:

 

If you're thinking, "Well, Dr. Brown isn't a money-grubbing outrageous TV host like Sid Roth, he probably just goes on Sid's program to preach the Gospel. If Dr. Brown really knew about the contradictory, unbiblical and ridiculous content on Sid Roth's show, he wouldn't have anything to do with it." 

Nope.

Dr. Michael Brown has been extremely clear about his full support and endorsement of his close personal friend Sid Roth. A few years ago Dr. Brown interviewed Sid Roth and put that interview on his YouTube channel. A listener wrote on Dr. Brown's YouTube page to gently warn him that Sid Roth wasn't trustworthy because he doesn't always tell the truth. Dr. Brown responded in the strongest possible terms that he trusted Sid Roth 100%. Here's a screenshot from that page:

MichaelBrownSidRothYoutube.jpg

(Sid Roth is a huge NAR promoter, cheerleader and profiteer... and he's also fully supported by Dr. Michael Brown. What an incredible coincidence, huh?)

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
— 2 Corinthians 2: 17
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
— Romas 16: 18
...and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
— 1 Timothy 6: 5
No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him.
— Luke 16: 13-14

 

 

Michael Brown is a big supporter of Heidi Baker. In this short compilation we hear Dr. Brown wholeheartedly interviewing and endorsing Heidi Baker and her book; then we see him he repeating the story Heidi told him about how she was paralyzed by God for seven days... she couldn't even go to the bathroom:

As one of the leaders of the Brownsville Revival (from the mid 1990s), Dr. Michael Brown says the Holy Spirit can cause staggering, convulsing, laughter, and falling:

Sounds like Dr. Brown is okay with any and all disturbing manifestations, doesn't it? (What an incredible coincidence, huh?)

Here's an interesting way to consider this issue, from Pastor Chris Rosebrough's Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 6.41.22 PM.png

 

A gigantic figure in the New Apostolic Reformation movement is Bill Johnson. Johnson was called an Apostle by C. Peter Wagner at the Todd Bentley commissioning ceremony (also known as The Charismatic Day of Infamy). In Dr. Brown's recent program he mentioned that his critics (tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists) believe that the NAR is a "Dominionist" movement that somehow seeks to "take over the world." He then went on to say that "Nobody I know believes that!" That statement by itself is problematic for Dr. Brown to say, because he always repeats that he has no time to listen to anybody's sermons. He usually refers to Bill Johnson as a solid Christian, but then admits that he really doesn't know what he teaches. This is an obvious deflection technique that Dr. Brown employs a lot.

Here's a quote from page 10 of the Lance Wallnau (also known as "Commander of the Millibars") compilation book (Destiny House, 2013) entitled "Invading Babylon: The Seven Mountain Mandate"

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 11.05.01 AM.png

Notice the second sentence in the second paragraph? "In simple terms, dominion theology is the idea that Christian believers are called to not only preach the Gospel and win converts to Christ but also to establish the Kingdom of God on earth." Here's another strange quote from Lance Wallnau's recent book:

When we set aside our religious agendas to make others a success, we have learned the Kingdom mindset and have become a part of the transformation movement.
— Lance Wallnau: "Invading Babylon: The Seven Mountain Mandate"

Lance Wallnau has spent over a decade promoting and teaching the Seven Mountain Mandate as if it was something from the Bible, and everyone knows this teaching as a form of dominionism. Bill Johnson is in the same camp as Wallnau, otherwise why would they have collaborated on a Seven Mountain Mandate book together? 

In this video, Bill Johnson says this: "When the kingdom of God is preached there are automatically, when the Kingdom is preached effectively, there’s automatically, miracles signs and wonders to support the message. So when the Bible says when the kingdom of God will be preached throughout all the earth and the end will come is actually stating there will be full on manifestation and demonstration of the reality of God's dominion breaking into every culture, every society confronting every illness, every part of broken humanity, that will take place before the end comes. An effective preaching of the Gospel always brings the king into the room."

He's a confusing video from Wallnau at MorningStar Ministries, talking about how Christians are supposed to be taking over the seven mountains:

Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’
— Jesus in John 18:36

Dr. Brown thinks so highly of Lance "Commander of the Millibars" Wallnau that he had him as a featured guest on his show recently:

This "Dominionist," "Seven Mountain Mandate" teaching is prominent with many NAR leaders, including Lance Wallnau, Bill Johnson and this next guy, another close friend of Dr. Brown: Rick Joyner.

Dr. Michael Brown explains that although the (semi-fictitious) NAR believes that the "new Apostles on earth today are equivalent to the original Apostles in the New Testament," he rejects that belief and he doesn't think any of his friends really believe that either. No, Dr. Brown, you have plenty of friends that believe we're in a special new end-time season where God is giving us new Apostles who are equivalent to the (real) Apostles.

Here's a quote from the introduction of Rick Joyner's book (MorningStar, 2006), "The Apostolic Ministry"

One of the most important events at the end of the church age will be the restoration of the apostolic ministry to the church. The ministry that opened the church age will be the one that closes it. The raising up of a victorious church, demonstrating for all time to all creation that truth will prevail over lies and righteousness will prevail over iniquity, will be the completed job of the apostolic ministry.
— Rick Joyner, "The Apostolic Ministry"

Rick Joyner is at the core of the Hyper-Charismatic New Apostolic Reformation (but he's on the outer fringe of anything resembling Christianity); he was also one of the "Apostles" present for the commissioning ceremony for Todd Bentley (also known as The Charismatic Day of Infamy). Joyner claims to have trances that lead him to have direct contact with God and the original Apostles; he has written extensively about these visions in a series of best-selling books that would make probably make Joseph Smith cringe. His most popular book is The Final Quest, and it is a frightening and nightmarish story of Christians engaged in an end-times civil war where the Bible-believing Christians are killed by the "spirit-lead" Christians. It is a book of 100% new revelation that any Bible-believing Christian should treat as the worst kind of heresy imaginable.

Here's a recent video of Dr. Michael Brown promoting Rick Joyner and his MorningStar Ministries:

 

WARNING: This is (seriously) a very disturbing video of a "worship time" at Rick Joyner's MorningStar Ministries:

(Rick Joyner 's "ministry" is so far out there on the fringe that a voodoo ritual is considered "Christian worship," but it's also something Dr. Brown actively encourages people to send money to... what an incredible coincidence, huh?)

 

The New Apostolic Reformation, as defined by C. Peter Wagner, was the Charismatic movement that he and others originally called The Third Wave, but after the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival in the mid to late 1990's, he came up with the name New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner believed the next big revival was the Lakeland Outpouring of 2008, but it completely imploded after The Charismatic Day of Infamy, where Todd Bentley was exposed as a fraud, adulterer and drunkard. Ever since the previous "revivals" fizzled, those leaders have been trying to start a new one. They've even got a new "super revival" coming up soon: "Light The Fire Again" (because all the other attempts to light the fire by renting stadiums and printing up fliers and building websites and producing emotionally manipulative videos and hiring emotional speakers and rock bands... has not yet lit the fire).

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 6.12.48 PM.png

Notice that it says: "We are believing God to begin anew the mighty move of his Holy Spirit that swept across the earth at the close of the last century?" That's a direct reference to the Toronto and Brownsville "revivals" (and probably Smithton, too). A bunch of the leaders from that time are having a "reunion show" to talk about the good old days and get people all worked up again. Maybe they'll slay people in the spirit or get 'em down on all fours so they can bark like dogs again. By the way, you'll have to buy tickets for this "mighty move of the Holy Spirit" ($199).

Guess who is speaking at this reunion show? Yes, many of the original leaders of that "mighty move of God" that C. Peter Wagner called The New Apostolic Reformation...

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.08.06 PM.png

Yep, that is the one and only Dr. Michael Brown, prominent speaker at the Toronto reunion show. He's gonna hang out with NAR leaders Randy Clark, Rick Joyner, John Kilpatrick, John Arnott... (What an incredible coincidence, huh?)

Speaking of John Arnott, he and his wife Carol were just recently "lighting the fire" on a special edition of Sid Roth's show:

 

There is a movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, but it is a loosely-knit movement with no official leader or official doctrinal statement. A number of the key NAR beliefs originated in the New Order of the Latter Rain movement, which had splintered from the Pentecostal movement in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Latter Rain ideas were condemned by the Assemblies of God, but they've survived and flourished in spite of that.

Here's an official statement from the Assemblies of God: Endtime Revival: Spirit-led & Spirit-controlled. Some of the ideas that have come from the New Order of the Latter Rain are: the passing of an anointing by the laying on of hands; new revelations and "prophetic words" for the end times generation; a new generation of "manifested sons of God;" adherence to specially anointed end-times Prophets and Apostles; and supernatural healing as normative and expected. On top of those NOLR beliefs, here are some of the ideas that most NAR leaders believe:

  • A belief that "ordinary" church growth is not good enough, we must have "revival" which is more "radical" and always involves fire of some sort.
  • A belief that supernatural signs & wonders must be the practice of every Christian (regular Christians are to be pitied because they're not "on fire").
  • A belief that the Holy Spirit is always desiring more attention for Himself, and He wants to make you do awkward, weird and humiliating stuff... because He wants to have greater intimacy with you. This same Holy Spirit can't function unless you attend manipulative "revival" conferences with speakers who yell a lot and rock bands who perform music from Hillsong and/or Jesus Culture.
  • A belief that God really wants to give us this revival, but Christians haven't done enough to make it happen. We're not "hungry" enough, we're not "desperate" enough, we haven't "surrendered" enough, we're not "willing to burn" enough. We have to keep going to the next big conference or rally because each one is "The Most Important Event of Our Lifetime."
  • A belief that we are to work toward, and expect, a "billion-soul harvest" sometime (very) soon. 
  • A belief that all of these crazy ideas are valid, in spite of the fact that they are not found in God's Word.
6746014183_e1c43de16c_b.jpg

The Bible does NOT put these requirements on us.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

He did not die on the cross so we could run around for the rest of our life trying to "burn more" or "really go after Him" or repeatedly ask for "more Lord, more" or any such thing. On top of that, the Bible makes no mention of a "billion soul harvest," no matter how much Lou Engle yells about it as he rocks back and forth. The billion soul harvest was made up in the twisted mind of false prophet, Bob Jones.

Here's the "prophet" Bob Jones, at Rick Joyner's MorningStar Ministries making that "billion soul" prediction, just like he did for decades before:

This is the same "seer-prophet" that sat right next to Todd Bentley and couldn't "see" that he was a fraud:

Bob Jones, Todd Bentley, Rick Joyner, Patricia King, Heidi Baker, Randy Clark, Bill Johnson, Sid Roth, Lou Engle, John & Carol Arnott, Kris Vallotton, Chuck Pierce, Todd White, Benny Hinn, Lance Wallnau, Mike Bickle, Che Ahn, James Goll, Shawn Bolz, Cindy Jacobs... these are people who have similar beliefs and practices (and there are thousands more like them, with millions and millions of followers). There is not a secret conspiracy joining them together in a specific plot to do some horrible thing that is deeply hidden.

Nope.

These are just people who have certain theological beliefs that are similar and, we at Pirate Christian Media believe, wrong. There are plenty of true Pentecostals who also believe some of these teachings are wrong (like the Assemblies of God!), so this is not an issue of cessationism versus continuationism as Dr. Brown wants everyone to think. We believe these ideas are not supported by God's Word, and we believe that millions of people are being harmed greatly by these false teachings.

Dr. Michael Brown has made it clear that he rejects some of the beliefs of this NAR group, like the specific dominionist beliefs that most of them hold to, and the belief that modern day apostles are somehow authoritative like the New Testament Apostles. We are happy to know where he stands on these issues.

But in most other matters, it seems that Dr. Michael Brown has a lot in common with these people. He wants all of the other connections to be seen as coincidences. That's a LOT of coincidences. There could be ten more articles just like this one with more and more evidence of Dr. Brown's approval and participation in these NAR teachings. 

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

— 1 John 4: 1

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

— 1 Corinthians 14: 33

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?”

— Jeremiah 5: 30-31

“And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken.”

— Ezekiel 22: 28

“Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.”

— Lamentations 2: 14

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

— Matthew 24: 2


Here are a few really helpful videos from Chris Rosebrough addressing this issue:

 

Here's a great resource with a lot of information about the history of the New Apostolic Reformation and its origins in the New Order of the Latter Rain: What is the NAR?

Here's a gigantic article that Dr. Brown probably hopes you never read: Dr. Michael Brown Ruins His Credibility on His Own Facebook Wall, Then Deletes All the Evidence

Dr. Michael Brown Refutes "Weather Warriors" (Like Lance Wallnau) But Still Supports Jennifer "Sneaky Squid" LeClaire

Well this is interesting.

Dr. Michael Brown has no problem believing in the "Sneaky Squid Spirit" because his senior editor at Charisma Magazine, Jennifer LeClaire, claims that this demonic creature exists. Brown believes that the Reformation principle of "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture Alone) means that we should listen to new prophetic words that aren't in the Bible. I know, I know, that makes no sense at all, but let's just keep going here...

Recently Dr. Brown had a short conversation with the "Museum Boy," Chris Rice, about whether or not Christians could command hurricanes and control the weather. To his credit, Dr. Brown basically said the same thing that we've been saying: "No, God is sovereign. We can certainly ask for God to be merciful, but we cannot command the weather." Here's the audio of that conversation (note that Dr. Brown makes yet another attempt to push his charismatic "Signs and Wonders" views into the dialogue):

 

Now, for contrast, here's Lance "Commander of the Millibars" Wallnau saying the exact opposite of Dr. Brown:

 

Kat Kerr, who commanded the hurricane to go into the Atlantic and dissipate, used the same bad Dominionism theology as Lance Wallnau (and failed miserably but took credit for somehow saving Florida):

 

This is pretty confusing. Dr. Michael Brown does not believe Christians can command the weather, but Lance Wallnau (and many other hyper-charismatics like him) believes we can be just like Jesus and command the weather. Doesn't it seem strange that these two guys are so far apart on such a basic issue? After all, they are both charismatic leaders who work together at times. Wallnau was just on Dr. Brown's radio show:

 

Here's Lance Wallnau promoting Dr. Brown on his website:

 

Think about this: Dr. Michael Brown has clearly and repeatedly supported Jennifer LeClaire and her ridiculous and unbiblical "Sneaky Squid Spirit," but he doesn't believe in the Word of Faith teaching that Christians can command hurricanes.

Hyper-charismatics often make great claims about how much closer they are to God and how the Holy Spirit gives them the "special knowledge" that non-charismatic Christians don't get. But in this situation, it seems very strange that in all of their "speaking in tongues," "prophetic words" and "declaring and decreeing," they have not only failed to control the weather, they've failed to have agreement on such a fundamental issue as our ability to command storms and "do greater things than Jesus did." 

How can someone as intelligent as Dr. Michael Brown give such a reasonable and biblical answer about our inability to duplicate Jesus and command the weather, but still have such difficulty admitting that his senior editor, Jennifer LeClaire, doesn't speak for God when she invents crazy stuff like the "Sneaky Squid Spirit??"

Here's an article about Word of Faith "Superstar" Kenneth Copeland claiming authority over the hurricanes (and failing completely, just like everyone else): Word of Faith Superstar Kenneth Copeland Proven 100% WRONG (and Nobody Cares)

Even more difficult to understand is how Dr. Brown can give his wholehearted endorsement of Bill (and his wife Benni) Johnson and Heidi (and her husband Rolland) Bakker. Watch the following disturbing video of these four people saying and doing some extremely creepy things (Dr. Michael Brown refuses to watch this because he is too important and too busy):


Here are a number of episodes of Fighting for the Faith that discuss Dr. Michael Brown and the Sneaky Squid Spirit: Fighting for the Faith

Here's an extensive article with more links about Dr. Brown and the Sneaky Squid: Michael Brown Can't Defend "Sneaky Squid Spirit"-Repeatedly Changes the Subject

Here's a related article from the Museum of Idolatry: Delusion on Parade: Word of Faith "Weather Warriors" Ignore Reality

"Reading the Bible With Jesus in Mind"-Guest Post By Mitch Schultz

One of the most common errors in the Pop Evangelical Church is the elevation of man (with its constant emphasis on our supposed "Destiny") and the depreciation of Jesus Christ and the great work He accomplished for us on the cross. 

Here's a great little guest post from our Mitch Schultz of Fruitful Vine Ministry:

"There are two ways to read the Bible. To see what it says about us, or what it says about Jesus. Reading the Bible with you in mind leads to a self-centered, empty and meaningless pursuit. Some refer to this as narcissistic eisegesis. (Eisegesis reads yourself into the text while exegesis seeks to read what’s out of the text.) Reading the Bible with Jesus in mind is selfless and comes with unimaginable gain, Jesus Himself. Michael Horton claims that the Bible is not about us, it’s for us. The Bible is the story of Jesus, for us. God’s revelation of Himself through the pages of scripture is an invitation to know Him, and by knowing Him, discover ourselves. You discover yourself best when you seek to know Him first. The only way to truly discover yourself, sinful and in need of a savior, is to begin with Jesus. 

There are plenty of preachers, too many, who approach the Bible looking to see what it offers to make life better and easier.  Bryan Wolfmueller in his book, Has American Christianity Failed? refers to this as a moral reading of the Bible. Many take passages meant to relate a historic story, or serve as a type and shadow of Christ, and allegorize for today, thus promoting a theology for now never intended in the text. This is as futile as looking at a road map to try to understand what’s wrong with your car. We are not David, and Goliath is not our financial giant, easily knocked down by one stone called faith, or a second stone called prayer, a third stone call trust, a fourth named hope or that fifth called patience. (Yes, I actually heard it preached like that once.) The Bible was not written to help you lead a better, healthier more fulfilling life. It was written to know God, His commands, and by consequence to understand our problem, that we are hopelessly sinful and in need of a Savior. And in scripture God has revealed to us that Savior. 

A right view of self leads to an encounter with Jesus on every page of scripture. 

Several years ago I decided to read the Old Testament looking for Jesus in every story. The scriptures came alive. I’m not just permitted to do this, but instructed to. You remember Jesus walked with two men who seemed perplexed by all the events surrounding his resurrection. When their eyes were finally opened, Jesus took the rest of the journey, explaining to them how all scriptures prepared for and pointed to him. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) Think about it. Every story and every event in the Old Testament either was about Jesus, or pointed to him. Consider, too, these words from John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (Note the contrast between using scripture for your own end – eternal life – instead of knowing him –bear witness about me.) 

If the Bible is about Jesus, we should read it with him in mind, not us. If you read scripture as a way to live better, you’ll end up in a dark place, for the Bible paints a pretty dismal picture of man. If you really want to look for yourself in scripture, here’s what you find; “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18). Clearly, to read the Bible looking for encouragement and personal affirmation, outside of Christ the Savior, is a pretty disappointing exercise. 

It’s tempting, for example, and on the surface, logical, to go to passages where barren women received the provisions of a miracle birth and take that to mean God will meet you in all your equally barren situations. However, God put those stories in the Old Testament to point us to the most amazing, unbelievable miracle of all history; the impossible birth of Jesus to a virgin. Those stories, where barren women get pregnant, were meant to point us to the birth of Jesus, not to promise us that each time life gives us a short end of the stick, he will deliver. (Pun intended).

Recently, a famous female speaker used the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6 and took every point of the narrative to show what God will do if we give him the little we have, like the boy gave Jesus all he had. This story, though, has nothing to do with that. The moment the attention shifted away from Jesus to the boy, his two fish and five loaves, the speaker stepped onto a narcissistic, self-indulging path, and the story bogged down completely in a muddy and sluggish trap where we, not Jesus, become what the story is about. It’s a pitiful place to walk. It completely misses the whole point of the story, which Jesus quite clearly explains as the narrative expands. 

A thorough and complete reading of this story tells us what this miracle was meant to teach, and it’s a story for us, not about us. Later in John 6:35 he explains that he is the bread of life.  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The whole miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 was to teach that truth. Sandwiched in this story is another, often misunderstood and misapplied wonder work of Jesus. When the disciples left Jesus following the feeding, and were alone in a boat, a fierce and unexpected storm swept over them. In their panic they saw what they thought was a ghost, but it was in fact Jesus. That part of the story is not a place for us to turn when financial or health or relationship storms rock our world. This is a story about Jesus and his power over nature and his demand that we acknowledge him to be God, like Peter did. But it was also when the storm calmed that Jesus referred to the miracle of the feeding, pointing to their lack of faith in both instances. …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,  for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:50-53) So the miracle of the feeding did two things: showed them their hardness of heart, their sin, and revealed himself to them as the bread of life, the one who came to save them by offering eternal life.  This grand story was written to show his disciples that he is God, they are not – they are sinners – and that he came to offer eternal life. And his provision to the 5,000, and his great display of power over sin showed that he had the authority to offer that promise of eternal life. 

The point of both stories, the feeding and the storm, was to prove that Jesus is the bread of life who promises eternal life to those who take him in (eat his bread) and that he has the power over death (calming the storm.) 

The beauty of this approach is once we truly meet Jesus in this way, by making the Bible about him, not us, we get to bring ourselves, our problems and all life’s challenges to someone who is bigger than us, sovereign, just, good and fully in control. There is no guarantee he will resolve our current problem, but I didn’t go looking for that. I came looking for him and meeting him in the scriptures is enough. 

When my son Travis was dying of cancer I rushed often to the story of Jairus who in Mark 5 pleaded for Jesus to heal his daughter. Now, I did not run to Jairus with my need, I ran with Jairus to Jesus. Honestly, I never expected Jesus to heal Travis like he healed Jarius’s daughter. I simply went to this passage to meet again the same Jesus who looks with compassion on his children and whom I trust has the right authority, the appropriate power and who can sovereignly give me, what he wants and bring me to that place where whatever the outcome, I will love him all the more. And I do.

There is great value in reading the Bible with Jesus in mind. You might not get what you want for this life, but it’s the way to truly meet him." -Mitch Shultz 

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
 -A.B. Simpson (1843-1919; founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance)  

(Mitch wrote "Part One" to this article last year)

A Manifesto of Christian Discernment

We will maintain a healthy skepticism towards all the big-name leaders in the church. No matter how famous a Christian celebrity might be, we refuse to be gullible just because someone has become a "brand name." 

We will check everything any pastor/teacher says against God's Word, and when it comes to the most powerful, multimillionaire "Super Pastors," we will assume the worst until convinced otherwise. 

  "Pastor" David Hughes

"Pastor" David Hughes

We refuse to be impressed or motivated by storytelling, drama and entertainment. God and His written Word is the only acceptable focus of a worship service-not the manipulations of men. We will not tolerate idiotic stunts in order to "bring the unsaved to church." We will not tolerate false humility and claims of direct revelation from any pastor/teacher. Any pastor/teacher that claims to hear "something new" directly from God will be immediately disqualified. No second chances.

We don't need you.  We understand that you need a constant influx of new and gullible listeners, but we refuse to participate. 

  "Pastor" Steven Furtick

"Pastor" Steven Furtick

A pulpit and a microphone should only be used to direct attention to Christ, not towards a pastor who loves the attention of an audience. A large church platform does not give any pastor the right to amass power and enlarge their bank account. Pastors must tell the truth, all the time-not just when it advances their career.

  "Pastor" ED YOUNG JR.

"Pastor" ED YOUNG JR.

  • Stop telling people "it's all about Jesus" when you actually talk more about yourself and your ideas. 
  • Stop bragging about how much you're doing for God. 
  • Stop bragging about how great your church is. 
  • Stop bragging about how you started out with just a few people meeting in your living room and "now we have (x) number of people coming!" 
  • Stop bragging about the guest speaker-he's a sinner, too. (We know you just want to get invited to his church so you can make a pile of money.)
  • Stop bragging about your best-selling book. 
  • Stop bragging about your celebrity friends.
  "Pastor" Eddie Long (who died mysteriously)

"Pastor" Eddie Long (who died mysteriously)

Pastor, you're a sinner that deserves God's wrath, just like the rest of us. Jesus took the punishment we deserve upon Himself to set us free from sin and death; you didn't do anything. Either tell us about the true Gospel or we will go elsewhere, with zero regrets. 

We are all on equal footing; no pastor should be getting rich from his parishioners. (Read: A Biblical Guide to the Prosperity Gospel)

  • You are not a rock star, you're a servant of Jesus Christ.
  • You are not a CEO, you're a servant of Jesus Christ.
  • You are not a motivational speaker, you're a servant of Jesus Christ. 
  The ridiculous and obscene mansion of "Pastor" T. D. Jakes

The ridiculous and obscene mansion of "Pastor" T. D. Jakes

Any pastor/teacher who misuses the Bible should be removed from ministry. Period. We realize that this rarely takes place, but we will work towards that goal, as much as possible.

Pastors:

  • Stop taking Bible verses out of context to support your own personal agenda. 
  • Stop spending so much time putting on a good show each Sunday that you're not studying the Bible. 
  • Stop emphasizing leadership skills as if you were running a large corporation; you're cheapening the church and starving your sheep. 
  • Stop using marketing gimmicks and promotional tricks to imitate a genuine work of God. 
  • Stop apologizing for the Bible while you pander to newcomers who aren't being told the full story of their sin and need for salvation. 
  • Stop embarrassing us by trying to be cool, relevant and modern. Just preach the Word.
  • Stop thinking that nobody will show up if you don't tickle people's ears to get them in the door. 
  • Stop relying on musicians to create a fake "Holy Spirit;" you should be more concerned about the Biblical training (and eternal fate) of these musicians rather than just using them as part of the Sunday morning "show."
  • Stop giving motivational speeches that promise success in the name of God.
  • Stop telling people to tithe in order to get God to do something. God is sovereign.
  • Stop using tithing as a false promise of guaranteed prosperity to your parishioners and as a means to fill your own wallet. If you didn't have such an expensive "church" to run, you wouldn't need so much money.
  • Stop manipulating people-start serving them.
  • Stop pointing to yourself-point to Jesus.
  • Stop referring to your own thoughts and ideas-start referring to God's Word alone.
  • Stop putting people under the burden of the Law-point people to the freedom that only the Gospel brings.

In Conclusion, 

We will seek out the pastor who faithfully serves God and proclaims repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name. God's Word alone will be our guide. It will be our joy to serve faithfully under a real, Biblical pastor, no matter what. God help us all, in the great name of Jesus.

 


Titus 1:7-11  “For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

James 3: 1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." 

Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:16  "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Romans 16:18  “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

2 Corinthians 2:17  “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
 

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

A Very Confused "Word of Faith" Man Writes Me An Email

Here's an email I just received from a well-meaning, but very confused man; he didn't write this to ask my opinion or start a conversation-he wrote this to correct me. Specifically, he wanted to correct my recent article The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards-Let It Fall and Be Free. I decided to respond to his false "Word of Faith" doctrine in this article, because I hope it will be helpful for people who are trying to think through these issues. This man's words are in bold and my comments are in italics and in parenthesis:

Hi Steven,
While you likely meant well with your post titled the "Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards", you are actually doing more harm than good. While there are many excesses and problems in the charismatic church, there is an underlying spiritual reality that they have built these ministries upon
(this is simply a gigantic assertion; this "underlying spiritual reality" is never defined or proven from Scripture). Think about how Satan operates - he takes something good that God has created and provided and corrupts it and distorts it so that it no longer functions properly. In doing so, Satan is then able to discredit God's original working or plan or intention and seed the sin of unbelief in its place (so these charismatics are almost completely smothered in the lies of Satan, but they also have great power against Satan?). By going along with the lie that there is so much smoke in the church and no real fire, you are promoting the anti-christ agenda (No, I'm pointing people back to Christ and Him crucified for our sins, as opposed to the confusing charismatic world that is largely incapable of fending off imposters and frauds and is often guilty of ignoring Christ and Him crucified for our sins.).

It is really hard to separate the false from the true, and in fact without the Holy Spirit's guidance and the Bible as a spiritual mirror it is impossible
(Actually, it's not that hard, charismatics make it hard by constantly adding new revelation that competes with God's Word. They love their personal revelation and signs and wonders so much that simple Bible study is neglected, or the Bible gets misinterpreted in order to confirm their false teachings.). Take 'word of faith' doctrine as one example. Word of faith teaches that God created the universe by speaking it into existence, and He created us in His image and likeness. Given that Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth from the Father and made us joint heirs with Him, we also have access to that same power (That's just another ridiculous assertion. Let's use that same deeply flawed logic in a similar way: "Given that Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth from the Father and made us joint heirs with Him, we also have the ability to raise ourselves from the dead." or: "..we also have the ability to throw ourselves down from the pinnacle of the temple so the angels can catch us."). If you study the relevant Scriptures (Chapter and verse, please..), you will find that this is unrestricted power and authority (Really? UNRESTRICTED POWER AND AUTHORITY?? Why didn't Jesus or any of the Apostles tell us about our ability to speak things into existence with our unrestricted power and authority?). Now if you stumble over the sin of unbelief by refusing to believe what the Bible says this regard, you will not be able to activate your faith so as to speak and receive from the Father (Why are you bothering to write this email? Why argue your point using thoughts and words? Why are you not using your UNLIMITED POWER AND AUTHORITY to declare whatever it is you want to come true? You should just "declare that Steven Kozar will remove his article from the internet because it is causing unbelief!" Don't you have enough faith?)

While it is true that many teachers have abused this spiritual truth (What "spiritual truth?" The spiritual truth of casting spells with our unlimited power & authority?) by pandering to baser human nature while teaching this, that abuse does not invalidate the teachings found in Scripture (except that they are not found in Scripture). However, if we fall into unbelief on account of that abuse then that biblical truth is nullified and can have no power in our lives. See Psalms 78:41 and following verses for context and Hebrews 3 for further Biblical discussion of this concept. (These verses have NOTHING to do with Word of Faith doctrine or how we must activate our faith so we can have unlimited power & authority. These verses are about becoming disobedient and having a hardened heart. Wait a minute-is that supposed to be for me?!)

Kind regards,

(I didn't include his name)

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
— 2 Thessalonians 2: 11-12

The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards: Let It Fall and Be Free

If you've been a part of a church that adheres to some of the "New Apostolic Reformation/Signs and Wonders" teachings, there's a good chance that you have nagging doubts and concerns that keep popping up from somewhere in the back of your mind.

That's actually good.

For example, you've been told something like this: The Christian who gets baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaks in tongues and then... jumps aboard the hyper-charismatic NAR/Signs & Wonders bandwagon, will get a bunch of things that "regular" Christians don't have. You've gone to a lot of services, conferences & revival meetings so you can get "the anointing," and you've read a lot of "anointed" books and watched a lot of "anointed" TV and video presentations. And now you're supposed to have more. More blessings; more power; more prosperity; more confidence; more effectiveness; more intimacy with God... on top of that you've been taught to keep asking God for more because God is waiting to see how hungry and desperate you are before He does anything more

But admit it, you don't really have more of those things. In fact, you probably have more questions, more confusion, and more doubts.

  • You've heard these teachers prophesy about things that didn't come true at all.
  • You've been promised things that you didn't receive.
  • You've "sowed financial seeds" into ministries with zero results.
  • You've used the "power of your words" to claim things that you never got.
  • You've been given "prophetic words" that were basically just cheap fortune-telling tricks (without the crystal ball). 
  • You've tried to "speak things into existence" with zero success, but you're afraid to say anything because you've been taught that you'd be making things even worse if you speak about it.
  • You've been told that God really really really wants to make all your dreams come true. Really.
  • You were supposed to have something "activated" (faith; understanding; miracles; anointing...) but nothing actually happened. Nagging doubts are all that got "activated."
  • There was supposed to be a "shift in the atmosphere" but you're not even sure what that means.
  • You've been told about the gigantic new "move of the spirit" that's right around the corner... for a decade or two (or three) now.
  • You've been told that being a Christian is all about finding your Destiny So You Can Change The World. How's that working for you? Are you exhausted and disillusioned yet?
  • You've been wondering why the people on stage have all of these amazing stories to tell, but God hasn't done those things in your life. "What's wrong with me?" is a common thought of yours.
  • You've got a stack of books and/or DVDs that claim to give you the magic formula that leads to more. But only the person selling those things got more... of your money. 

On top of these personal difficulties and inconsistencies, you've watched men and women who were supposed to be great spiritual leaders prove themselves to be regular sinners with all of their divorces, financial scandals and confusing teachings that seem to get made up on the spot. These are the people who claim to have great power because they get "built up in the Holy Spirit" by speaking in tongues, and they know the secret key to "resist the devil" and get radical results. Bill Johnson even claims that he can change the atmosphere of a room just by walking in the door. They know exactly how to brag about their amazing walk with God while maintaining a facade of humility.

But lets be honest. These are people just telling stories on a stage; they're really professional speakers. They have little to no proof of all the amazing things they claim to have done. All the miracles happen somewhere else (and nobody takes a video). These people are very good at telling compelling stories. They are very good at sounding humble as they attract and retain more followers for themselves. "Aw shucks, it's all the Lord; but He works through me a lot more than He does through you" is the overall attitude.

  • These kind of false teachers have to keep propping each other up with endorsements and guest speaking invitations for each other.
  • They have to keep talking about the new and better thing (that they just invented), so that you'll continue showing up for the next meeting or conference.
  • They have to use and repeat spiritual sounding catch-phrases, in order to replace the sound teachings of scripture.
  • They have to have yet another "greatest conference ever" (until the next one) so that they can make money by selling more tickets and books.
  • They require an audience full of gullible and emotionally dependent people. "Just Trust Us" is the underlying theme to everything they say and do. 
  • They have to promote all this stuff with very expensive and manipulative video commercials that constantly tug at your heartstrings.
  • The one thing they can't have is this: you realizing that your ears are getting tickled, while your soul is being drained.
Pop_Haydn_the_Shell_Game_by_Billy_Baque.JPG

It's a house of cards.

 

You've been tricked. You've been sold a bill of goods. You've been bamboozled.

 

Now it's time to move on and find rest. Rest in the true freedom that comes from the unaltered Gospel: Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. You've been forgiven of your sins, not because of anything you've done, but because Jesus took your place on the cross. You can stop trying to be more desperate to show God how serious you are (yet again). You can stop trying to be more passionate than you were the last time you mustered up a bunch of passion. You can stop trying so hard to feel something to convince yourself of God's presence. You can stop wondering why you still haven't gotten your "breakthrough." You can stop trying to get a "fresh word from the Lord." You can stop trying to figure out your Destiny so you can Change The World. 

God does not require these things from you, and He never has. You've been ensnared by the teachings of men. 

bible-quotes-about-flowers-quotesgram.jpeg

So here's the bottom line to this article: If you're confused by all the stuff you've been taught, start reading your Bible again, and stop listening to all the people who've been telling you these things. Just take a little time off and see what happens. Here's a truly radical idea: read entire books of the New Testament all of the way through (most of them are really short). If God's Word is actually God's Word, then He will you use it to speak to you. Stop trying to hear God's voice in your constantly changing imagination; the Word of God is unchanging and it's outside of you, and that's a very good thing. Clear out all the false teachings that have cluttered up your mind and discover the simple Gospel message. 

He's given you His Word, now simply read it and be free!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
— Ephesians 2: 4-10
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
— John 15: 26
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
— Colossians 2: 18-19
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
— 1 Timothy 6: 3-5
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

If you found this interesting and thought-provoking, you might also enjoy the following articles:

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

Cognitive Dissonance and the Silly Putty Jesus

The false teachers who have invaded many of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches do NOT want you to know about The Charismatic Day of Infamy!

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

Assertion: (noun) a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason:
Without providing any evidence, he made an assertion.

Assumption: (noun) something taken for granted; a supposition:
She didn't check the facts to see if it was true, she just made an assumption.
 

Have you ever received one of those ridiculous emails that claims you are the recipient of a multi-million dollar fortune from somebody in another country? But in order to claim your money you have to send a smaller amount of money to the complete stranger that sent you the email? Emails like this rarely fool people, but they work just enough that different versions of this scam re-emerge from time to time. 

  • The scam emailer is making an assertion. ("I'm telling the truth-really! I've got millions of dollars to give away-trust me!!")
  • The scammer hopes that the recipient will make an assumption. ("This email must be true, I believe it and will send the money") 

The reason these scams don't work most of the time is because the assertion is obviously not true and most people do not assume that it is.

Much of the bad teaching going on in churches has both of these aspects. The pastor/teacher is making assertions and the people listening are simply assuming those assertions must be true. It looks something like this:

  • The pastor/teacher makes an assertion, often quite vigorously; he says it with confidence and emotion or he even claims it came directly from God Himself.
  • The people listening make the assumption that this pastor must be telling the truth. Why would he lie? He's a super nice guy, or he seems very sincere, or he went to some college somewhere... there's a million reasons why people assume they are being told the absolute truth.

Christians often use catch phrases that appear to be true, and the more often these phrases and ideas get repeated the more often they are assumed to be true. Popular pastors often have memes with their own sayings that are nothing more than mere assertions-usually meant to make people feel good.

For example, the following Joel Osteen memes look nice and sound good, but if you click through and read them all, you'll see that they don't say anything Biblical:

All of those sayings are making assertions ("You're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner," etc.) and these assertions are largely derived from a non-Christian, man-centered viewpoint.

  • These assertions are very appealing because they tell us what we want to hear, so...
  • it's no wonder that many people assume they must be true.

If you understand the Word of Faith movement (with some Positive Thinking along side), you'll see how these sayings stem from that belief system.

Now let's click through the ideas expressed in the following memes from Bethel church, where Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton teach:

These memes express a type of mystical, gnostic belief system; really, the only thing they share with Christianity is the use of some similar Bible words and phrases. Notice how the mystical "Yoda" meme actually seems to fit in? A portion of the New Testament was written to combat the gnostic beliefs that were an ongoing threat to the early Church. Here's a basic Christian definition of gnosticism (from the Pirate Lexicon): "Gnosticism is an early heresy which replaced the Gospel with a demand for secret knowledge. Gnostics claimed the only way to be saved was for the spirit to be liberated from the material order, which they considered evil. Elements of Gnosticism remain in modern churches (i.e. personal revelation, secret knowledge and mystical experiences)." Like the previous assertions made by Joel Osteen, these assertions put man at the center of our faith, but on top of that, they denegrade the use of thinking, reasoning and the objective, written Word of God.

This doctrine teaches that doctrine is bad. This teaching teaches that teaching is bad.

This belief says that God wants to be known internally and subjectively through a personal mystical experience. In this religion, He shares His miraculous power only with those who demonstrate the most extreme intimacy, passion and surrender. This has more in common with pagan mysticism and gnosticism than Christianity, but because these assertions are rarely tested, too many people make the assumption that they must be Christian and they must be true. 

Now for a striking contrast, here are some assertions from God's Word:

Titus 2:7-8  “...in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21  “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good...”

1 John 4:1  “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14  “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

2 Timothy 3:12-17  “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Thessalonians 2:15  "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."

1 Corinthians 16:13  "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."

Jude 3  “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

 

  • Notice how these Bible passages teach the importance of sound teaching? And this sound teaching does not come from inside of us; God's Word is independent from us.
  • Notice how these Bible passages teach us to examine everything carefully, and test things? Nowhere does Scripture tell us to mindlessly accept a doctrine from a self-described "prophet" or new "apostle;" instead, we are to be very skeptical of the teachings of men.

One of the fascinating moments captured in the book of Acts is the very brief mention of Paul and Silas visiting the Jewish synagogue in Berea. Acts 17: 11-12 says, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek woman of high standing as well as men."

The Bible encourages us to be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all eagerness, and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

  • We should never just believe the assertions that somebody makes, we should examine the Scriptures to find out if it's true. Period.
  • We should never just assume something is true, instead, we should examine the Scriptures to see if something is true. Period.

God has given us His Word.

He didn't "sort of" give us His Word. He didn't give us His Word with a bunch of exceptions and exclusions, and cause us to become dependent on new "prophets" and "apostles." And He certainly didn't give anyone permission to add or subtract from his Word.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
— Ephesians 2: 19-22
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
— Matthew 7: 24-25
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

Here's an article that explains the false assertions in the messed up church:

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." 

JOIN JENNIFER ON FACEBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL COMMENTARY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. CLICK HERE.

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!)

CHECK OUT JENNIFER'S PROPHETIC TRAINING SCHOOL.

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, @Aspree 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

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

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

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. 

And...

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."

"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"

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. ;)

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

"Confirmation bias" is the name for a very common trait that all human beings share. When we favor information that validates our pre-existing beliefs but refuse to consider information that threatens our pre-existing beliefs, we are demonstrating confirmation bias; other names are confirmatory bias, myside bias or subjective validation. 

Here's a very short video explanation:

 

It is very difficult for people to change their mind; this is part of our fallen condition as sinners. There isn't much difference between Christians and non-Christians in this regard; we all tend to stick with our pre-existing ideas (also called our presuppositions, the things we "pre-suppose"). On top of this common human trait is the way we stick to whatever "our group" says, especially when "our group" is closely connected to our essential spiritual development. 

For example, someone who has become a Christian in a particular church will feel a strong attachment to that church and its particular beliefs, especially if the pastor keeps reinforcing those particular beliefs, week after week. In many churches, the Sunday service is specifically geared towards reinforcing the importance and validity of that church, and its particular beliefs.  How many times have you heard testimonials about how wonderful your church is? Add in some emotional background music to those tearful stories and it becomes almost impossible for anyone to objectively evaluate the things being taught. Is your pastor and/or church teaching sound doctrine that actually comes from the Bible? Most people want to believe that, yes, their church is really Biblical, and usually that's all that is necessary: if you really believe your church is Biblical, you'll never check your Bible to see what God's Word actually says. And if you're presented with Biblical evidence that threatens your beliefs, you'll ignore it and explain it away. To do otherwise would be very uncomfortable.

So an unwavering belief in your church and your pastor is, all too often, a self-contained cluster of presuppositions based on years of personal experience. What does that personal experience entail? Much of it is listening to your pastor at your church tell you how to understand God, the church, the Bible... pretty much everything. This kind of "thought loop" is very hard to escape from; it's a type of blindness that disguises itself as clarity and certainty.

Additionally, the emotional tug of nostalgia often prevents you from learning the truth. If you've formed your essential spiritual beliefs at a church where you have fond memories, you will probably ignore whatever false doctrine you might have learned there; in fact, you will defend that false doctrine regardless of what the Bible says. But please understand:

God's Word is high above the teachings of any man, and your emotional attachment to any pastor, teacher or church needs to STOP at the very point where the two collide.

Are you interested in finding out if what you believe is actually in the Bible (or not)? Here's an article where a bunch of commonly held "Christian" beliefs are compared with the Bible: 

"Bible-Believing" Christian??

On the subject of nostalgia, have you noticed how pastors will preach "sermons" with topics that will appeal to your feelings of nostalgia? "Gag Me With A Spoon: An 80's Approach to Knowing God's Will" is a fake sermon title I just made up, but it might as well be real. The exaggerated claim to "make Christianity relevant" is most often just an attempt to keep you: 

  • showing up (for the entertainment/spectacle/novelty),
  • signing up (you better get involved, because you've been sent on a guilt trip) and finally,
  • shutting up (because you've been told to be an obedient part of the team).

Your function is to conform to the pastor/leader, and then he confirms his particular beliefs week after week (as he waves a Bible around like a prop). This is how the monster of your confirmation bias gets well fed. 

On top of this appeal to your nostalgia is the even more emotional appeal (and near-constant repetition) of the worship songs. Is it really necessary for the praise band to repeatedly play the Dsus, Em7, C2 chord progression quietly in the background while the pastor wraps up his sermon? Yes! How else can a non-Biblical point be reinforced? How else can you "feel" the Holy Spirit? This is Manipulation 101; it's a form of hypnosis.

If you've read this far into this article and these ideas are new to you, you're possibly experiencing some "cognitive dissonance." This is what happens when we try and hold two different beliefs at the same time; it's like saying "I believe two plus two equals four, but I also believe it equals five." Our minds have a hard time doing that (which is a good thing!), but we tend to blame someone or something else instead of admitting that one of the thoughts has to be deleted. Here's an article that goes into more detail about this:

 

Most Christians will proclaim that they believe the Bible, first and foremost; and they're certain that their pastor or favorite teacher is following the Bible, too. If that describes you, let me issue a challenge to you (see if this applies to you):

When you are confronted with undeniable proof that your favorite pastor/teacher is actually saying stuff that isn't in the Bible at all, and when you discover that they're actually contradicting the Bible, you will say something like, "Well... I know pastor so-and-so, and he knows what he's doing; he's a good man and I trust him!" When you are doing this, you are putting the teachings of a man above the Word of God. You are just exhibiting a spiritualized version of confirmation bias. Many of the most popular and famous pastors/teachers in the world of pop evangelicalism are "teaching for shameful gain the things they ought not" and they are getting away with it, all the way to the bank.

  •  They are getting filthy rich, flying around the world and living like rock stars.
  • They are accountable to no one, except a board full of yes men (often other mega-church pastors).
  • They live luxuriously in gigantic mansions.
  • They teach the false doctrine of "tithing as proven investment scheme" in order to get your money.
  • They manipulate people by constantly claiming to "hear from God," while ignoring and/or twisting God's actual Word.
  • They make millions on the conference/book-selling circuit because they are part of a "club" where they speak at each other's mega-churches and receive sacks full of tax-free cash they call "free will offerings." That's also why they never criticize each other ("you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"). 
  • They don't actually study the Bible very much, instead they focus on make convincing speeches that continue to suck people into the bondage of false teaching. Hyper-emotionalism, made-up stories, plagiarism, stand-up comedy ripoffs... whatever works.
  • They are driving people away from true Christianity and setting them up for a life of deception, confusion, false promises and a false Gospel.
  • And you're the reason they are getting away with it.

For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
— 1 Corinthians 11: 19
And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
— 2 Thessaloninas 2: 11-12

Maybe it's time for you to take a stand and agree with the "Manifesto of Christian Discernment"

 

Here's an amazing sermon/article written in the mid 1800s by C. F. W. Walther called, "The Sheep Judge Their Shepherd;" which is even more applicable for today's church.

Here's an article to help you see through all the deception in the church today: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

Here's an article that the mega/super pastors don't want you to read: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

Here's an article that proves that many pastors/teachers are twisting the Bible: Frequently Abused and Misused Bible Verses.