Posts Tagged ‘apostasy’

Letter to the Editor: Churches Strongly Influenced by “Religious Correctness”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Our Christian churches are being strongly influenced by what I call Religious Correctness. It is similar to Political Correctness.  If you question anything, you are told to sit down and shut up. Do not rock the boat.

I am a former Roman Catholic who now knows and loves Jesus Christ.  In Sunday school class at my church, when I questioned Mother Teresa (soon to become a Catholic saint to whom Catholics can pray), and I also brought up some of the anti-biblical practices of the RCC, I was told that I could either keep quiet or leave.

Besides that, last Sunday’s sermon at that same church was all about getting more of the un-churched in our community to come to church. Nothing about a sinner’s need for a Savior was even mentioned.

The methods of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels for filling churches with more people are being adopted all over America. Instead of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a church is now supposed to be run like a business.  Growth is the most important thing.

Thankfully, the Lord has already led me to a strong Bible-believing church.

Congratulations [on] influencing the Assemblies of God to reconsider joining the growing number of churches in America with anti-Semitic leanings. Keep up your good work.  You are making a difference.

In His name, Mark

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Guest Commentary on Andy Stanley’s Sermon: “Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”

Guest Commentary by Don Jasmin
Fundamental Baptist Ministries
Used with permission.

2 second still shot of Andy Stanley from a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5KsMLZZoWw. used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act

[The following is a] critical evaluation of a sermon by Dr. Andy Stanley, a leading mega-church Emergent pastor on the above title [“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”], along with a scriptural analysis of how the first century Christians actually did speak.

First of all, this writer has absolutely no qualms or quarrel with the above title. It is an excellent theme that this prominent preacher [Andy Stanley] chose. This preacher fully concurs with the theme Dr. Stanley chose. He fully desires to speak in the same way that the first century Christians chose. His disagreement is with the content and meaning of Dr. Stanley’s sermon, not the title or the theme.

“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”—Dr. Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA

The above sermon was delivered at “The Drive” Conference, a “three-day gathering of over 2,400 pastors and church leaders from 25 countries and 700 organizations. The sermon was a supposed “call for believers to re-examine and adapt their approach to communicating the Gospel in a culture where Christians are now the minority.”

Dr. Stanley informed the attendees that Christ declared that his disciples would “take the message to every nation and tribe and tongue,” and they did; Christians “became a majority world religion.” But then “we began to speak with an authority that I don’t think Jesus intended, and we’ve lost a bit of our message and our leverage.”

Stanley’s concern was that unless “evangelicals in particular—change their approach  in communicating with unchurched people, [the] followers of Christ will lose their voice and forfeit opportunities to share the Gospel.” Stanley complained that we “sometimes keep people from ever coming close to church” because “we have given culture a lot of other things to argue with us about.” According to Stanley, believers must experience a dramatic shift, if “we are to speak into the culture of a world that needs to know there is a God in heaven” who “has invited each person to call Him Father.”

Stanley claimed that believers “assume a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, where correctness and accuracy no longer are the key delineators. We can’t take the “I’m right…you’re wrong” approach, which is supposedly one of the major obstacles in winning people. Stanley contended that “a major reason for the decline of the church was that we “have focused too much on policing the behavior of outsiders without looking at the inside.” Stanley alleged that love, prayer and caring for one another are not what outsiders see when “people think of the church.”

Stanley claimed that the reason the church “grew in the first century” is because “women were valued . . . children were treasured . . . and slaves attracted” because “everyone was equal before God.” The need of the church is to “go back and speak the way the first century Christian did.”

Now, all of the above statements may seem plausible, but they are actually a run-around-the basic truth Christ exemplified and actually taught. First, the major problem has NEVER been the culture in society, but the condition of sinners.  The great need has NOT been an over-emphasis on the authoritarian scriptures, but an under-emphasis on an authoritative Saviour. The New Testament Christians did NOT “tiptoe through the tulips,” to proclaim the Gospel message.

Furthermore, God is NOT the spiritual FATHER of all human beings. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” which  actually is not the Lord’s Prayer (that’s in John 17) in Matt. 6 was given to actual disciples who knew God personally as their Heavenly Father. God is only the “Father” of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity”—Eph. 6:24.

What Andy Stanley Actually says: How He Speaks [links added by LT]

ABOUT THE BIBLE

“At a conference of ‘pastors and teachers’ at the NewSpring Leadership Conference [NLC] in Sept. 2012, Stanley claimed that ‘Pastors should intentionally give unbelievers permission not to believe and not to obey.’ [Ed: Where does the Scripture give such permission?] He also encouraged pastors to STOP USING THE PHRASE ‘THE BIBLE SAYS’ in sermons because it creates a ‘house of cards’ that is easy to knock down.” –  [Christian Post, September 10, 2012, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-your-approach-to-preaching-can-hinder-your-message-81396, emphasis added]

He further told attendees that we should NOT present to our children that “It’s all or nothing,” since there are parts of the O. T. “that’s almost impossible to defend.”  He encouraged preachers: “Don’t cite the Bible, cite its authors.” We should never “point to the Scripture as a whole,” but only to individuals who were eye-witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. – [Ibid, emphasis added]

Stanley also stated that he believes in Christ’s resurrection, but “Not because of B-I-B-L-E.” Stanley said “I don’t know what happened to dinosaurs, and I don’t know anything about Adam and Eve, but I believe Jesus rose from the dead.” – [Ibid, emphasis added]

ABOUT THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST

In a sermon on Dec. 3, 2016, Stanley minimized the Virgin Birth of Christ: “A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that.” “Maybe the thought is, they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.” [Christian Today: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/megachurch.pastor.andy.stanley.claims.christianity.doesnt.hinge.on.birth.of.jesus.sparking.controversy/103385.htm]

ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY

In Apr. 2015, Andy Stanley spoke at the “Catalyst West” at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA where he stated that “the local church should be the ‘safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”  Stanley declared: “We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic—no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay . . . that ends with us.” –  [Christian Post, April 18, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-churches-should-be-safest-place-on-the-planet-for-gay-youth-137739/] [*LT Note: What struggling confused teenagers need is the same as what all people need—that is to realize their sinfulness and need for a Savior, repent and believe in and turn to Jesus Christ by faith, receiving His salvation through grace, asking Him to take over their lives, live inside them, and change them into what He desires for their lives. Providing a “safe” place for teens who are confused about their sexuality is only a truly safe place if it provides them with biblically honest and accurate answers regarding their sin and the solution to that sin.]

ARE THE ABOVE STATEMENTS THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS SPOKE?  READ THE STATEMENTS BELOW TO DISCOVER THE FACTS!

THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS ACTUALLY SPAKE

  1. The first Century believers spoke FAITHFULLY. They never compromised the Gospel doctrines for fear of the opposition and persecution such preaching would bring to their lives. Acts. 8:4 states that “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” They never toned down the Gospel truths simply because it might offend some radical Jews. In I Cor. 4:2, the Apostle Paul stated that “it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”
  2. The first Century Christians spoke FREELY. The first century believers did NOT “hide their light under a bushel” or “tiptoe through the tulips” as many modern compromising Emergent and professing New-Evangelical Christians do.

Acts 4:13 states that when the unbelieving Jews “saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 5:32 states that these first century Christians “daily in the temple, and in every house . . . ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

These early first century Christians did not withhold major biblical truths about Christ’s atonement and resurrection because they were afraid they might offend some potential hearers.  With the Apostle Paul, there was no “cover-up” of the truth because he was afraid it would offend his hearers. Paul boldly declared in Acts 20:20-21 that I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. The first Century saints spoke FERVENTLY: “Life Style Evangelism” and a soft non-“conversational” non-controversial tone was NOT the Gospel these early first century believers proclaimed. These first century saints proclaimed the Gospel message with mighty AUTHORITY & POWER. The Holy Ghost had truly “come upon” them, so that they became bold witnesses wherever they traversed. They were mighty witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—Acts 1:8.”

Finally, it should be noted that the first century Christians spoke (a) authoritatively: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God—Acts 20:27: (b) affectionately: “for the love of Christ constraineth me…II Cor. 5:14a”; (c) Annointedly: “who he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God—II Cor. 1:21.”

CONCLUSION

Let’s truly speak like the first century Christians spoke, not like Andy Stanley and the worldly emergent Christians and the New-Evangelical imitators do today. In Acts chapter two, the Apostle Peter preached a classic sermon dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ based on Ps. 16:8-11, where he spoke “freely” about David’s decease—Acts 2:29—and Christ’s resurrection—Acts 2:30-36.

RNS Interview Reveals The Message Author Eugene Peterson Changes Mind About “Gay” Issues/Marriage

LTRP Note: The following news story from Religion News Service is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. The Message “Bible” has had a huge impact on Christianity. Famous pastors, like Rick Warren, have quoted from it extensively, which has played a huge role in developing the present-day nearly apostate church. It’s too bad more Christians didn’t take heed to some of the warnings about Eugene Peterson and The Message over the past several years (see article links below).

Eugene Peterson – Photo: Creative Commons

“Eugene Peterson on changing his mind about same-sex issues and marriage”

By Jonathan Merritt
Religion News Service

When a journalist has a chance to interview a paragon of the Christian faith like Eugene Peterson, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect questions. I’d asked him about why he was leaving the public eye and if he was afraid of death. I’d asked him about Donald Trump and the state of American Christianity. But there was one more topic I wanted to cover: same-sex relationships and marriage.

It’s one of the hottest topics in the church today, and given Peterson’s vast influence among both pastors and laypeople, I knew his opinion would impact the conversation. Though he has had a long career, I couldn’t find his position on the matter either online or in print. I did discover that “The Message,” Peterson’s popular paraphrase of the Bible, doesn’t use the word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in key texts. Click here to continue reading.

Articles Warning About Eugene Peterson and The Message:
The New Age Implications of The Message “Bible’s” “As Above, So Below”

BOOKLET: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth

Southern Baptist Convention Rejects Gender-Neutral NIV Bible But Embraces The Message, Renovare Bible, and Contemplative Books

WARNING: Modern-Day “Bible” Versions Used to Promote Liberal Agenda

Message Bible for Little Kids Instructs on Contemplative Meditation

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

The Perfect Spiritual Storm Looming

By T.A. McMahon
The Berean Call

Perfect storm defined: a mixture of seemingly varied events that converge together creating a greater magnitude of devastation.

I remember as though it were yesterday a conversation I had with Dave Hunt not too long after he had moved to Bend, Oregon. He wanted me to move to Bend also that we might continue communicating with those who had responded favorably to the book I’d had the privilege of co-authoring with him, The Seduction of Christianity. That book and many of his later books, articles, and sermons gave insights into most of the things that would prove to be portents of the developing apostasy that we see moving ahead at overwhelming speed and in wide circulation today.

In our 25 years of ministering through The Berean Call, we have extensively covered various aspects of the apostasy. Although some of the highly promoted deviations from Scripture have had their heyday and then appeared to have faded, in fact they have simply undergone alterations, changed players, assimilated other heresies, adjusted to the times, and become more devious, i.e., hidden in plain sight. One example of this is the Word/Faith Movement (W/FM). The popular leaders of days past included Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Charles Capps, David (formerly Paul) Yonggi Cho, and Gloria and Kenneth Copeland. The Copelands are still around, along with their followers, and are promoting the same false teaching, but the W/FM has expanded to the Faith Healing Movement, the Prosperity Teachings, the Positive Confession Movement, and the Inner Healing Movement, all of which have been raised to a new level of sophistication as major tactics of the Adversary. These perversions of the Word of God originated when Satan deceived Eve in Genesis:3:1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
See All…
with his words, “Yea, hath God said…?” Questioning and then repudiating what God has declared has been Satan’s strategy from the beginning and will continue until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

That Deceiver and Father of Lies has also employed a host of seemingly diverse deceptions that are nevertheless connected. The Word/Faith teachings are not merely a perversion of biblical faith, but they are of late gleaned from the mind science cults, with concepts that go back to Hinduism and other Eastern mystical religions. The teachings of this movement are found within Transcendentalism and New Thought, as well as the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society brought Eastern spiritual beliefs into mainstream America. Click here to continue reading.

The Silent Church in the Day of Apostasy

By Warren B. Smith
(author of False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? )

bigstockphoto

Traditional Christian believers frequently mention the analogy of the frog that is so slowly and gradually boiled in a kettle of water that it dies before ever realizing what is going on. Yet many believers fail to realize that the very same thing is happening to them as they tell that story. How else do you explain the rapid rise of the “new gospel” movement with hardly a word of concern within the church about what’s been happening? As “new gospel” advocates continue to publish bestselling books and flock to the airwaves in ever-increasing numbers to advance their cause, there is a strange silence in the church. Does the church have any idea what is going on?

So often we have heard the impassioned refrain, “We can never let what happened in Germany ever happen again.” And with all of the Holocaust memorials, survivor testimonies, and multitudinous books on the subject, we have done a pretty good job of convincing ourselves that we will never make the same mistakes the German people did in allowing someone like Hitler to rise in their midst. We think that Americans would never stand by and allow something like that to happen here in our country. Our democratic processes and old-fashioned common sense would never allow it.

In the introduction to a 1999 publication (Sixth Pressing) of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Konrad Heiden describes how everything that Hitler was about to do was telegraphed in his early writings:

For years Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. For in its pages Hitler announced – long before he came to power – a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few among its readers had the courage to believe it. Once again it was demonstrated that there was no more effective method of concealment than the broadest publicity.2
Somehow, Christians don’t seem to grasp Jesus’ warnings about the tremendous deception that characterizes the time of the end. Perhaps deceived into thinking that we can’t be deceived, we don’t take seriously enough His warnings that a Hitler-like antichrist figure will one day rise to rule the world – and that many people calling themselves “Christians” will support this spiritual counterfeit who will actually come in the name of Christ. Our adversary wants us to believe that these warnings are for another people at another time. Yet through Scripture, and in our heart of hearts, the Spirit of God tells us that they are not. As we study the Bible, and as we watch and pray and observe the events all around us, we come to understand that these future times described by Jesus are now suddenly and undeniably upon us.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns of their vulnerability and susceptibility to false teaching in the name of Jesus. He suggests that if someone approached them with “another gospel,” “another Jesus” and “another spirit” they might very well go along with it (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Earlier in that same letter Paul had indirectly encouraged the Corinthians not to be ignorant of their adversary’s schemes and devices, lest they be taken advantage of (2 Corinthians 2:11). Paul told the Ephesians that it is a shame that we even have to talk about the things of darkness, but when we expose them they are brought into the light (Ephesians 5:12-13). He also told them that he had not ceased to warn them night and day for three years that men who were “grievous wolves” would “arise” in the Church “speaking perverse things” as they attempted to lead men away from their faith and into the enemy’s camp (Acts 20:29-31). Let us beware of these same warnings today.

And it is, indeed, very disturbing to see many Christian leaders today using many of the same words and expressions commonly used by their “new gospel” counterparts. “New revelation” describing how a great “move of God” is going to take believers “pregnant with destiny” to “a new spiritual level” and into a “new dimension” sounds a lot more like the “new gospel” than the traditional Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are Christian leaders leading the church ever closer to the cross, or ever closer to the “Planetary Pentecost”? Why is there almost no call for spiritual discernment within the Church (except to warn believers not to be deceived into doubting their appointed Christian leaders)? Why is spiritual experience taking precedence over spiritual discernment? Why are there so few warnings about a counterfeit “new gospel” movement that maligns the person of Jesus Christ and threatens the lives of His followers? Why is “new revelation” in many ministries starting to supersede God’s written Word? Why are Christians only being prepared for blessings and not for persecution? What in the world is going on?

Expecting only revival, will the church be deceived by one who will come in the name of Christ and pretend to be Christ? Caught unawares, will the church mistake the counterfeit Christ’s “Planetary Pentecost” for the great “move of God” they had been told to expect? Are we getting set up for the great delusion described in the Bible? Is there any good reason not at least to consider that possibility?

The prophet Daniel makes mention of the God of “forces” in conjunction with antichrist (Daniel 11:38). The “God” of the “new gospel” asks [New Ager] Neale Donald Walsch, “What if I am not a ‘man’ at all, but rather, a Force?”3 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles states that there is an “irresistible Force” within each person.4 Marianne Williamson explains that this “universal force” can be “activated” within each person and has “the power to make all things right.”5 The “new gospel Christ” tells Barbara Marx Hubbard that on the day of “Planetary Pentecost” a “planetary smile” will flash across the face of all mankind; that an “uncontrollable joy” that he describes as the “joy of the force” will “ripple” through the one body of humanity.6 Benjamin Creme describes the event “as a Pentecostal experience for all.”7 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles tells how the world ends in “peace” and “laughter.”8

Has anyone wondered whether this same “Force” may be counterfeiting the Holy Spirit in churches and may be producing “revivals” and “moves of God” that are not really “revivals” or “moves of God” at all? Is the “God of forces” in the process of preparing the Church for the “Planetary Pentecost”? Should we not be doing a more thorough job of testing the spirits? Have we put our faith and trust in Christian “leaders” rather than in God? Have we all talked ourselves out of the end times? Have we all agreed that persecution is not something we need to be concerned about? Have we prayed to God that we would not be deluded or deceived?

Several years ago in my book, The Light That Was Dark, I wrote the following: “Clearly many who said they were of ‘the faith’ would soon become a part of the deception too, if they weren’t already.”

Were we already witnessing the great “falling away” predicted in the Bible? Was the “mystery of iniquity” talked about in the Scriptures already doing its deceptive work with “all power and signs and lying wonders” . . . ? Would people calling themselves Christians abandon their faith in the Bible and the Bible’s Christ? Would they join an ecumenical movement that in the name of love and God and unity would sacrifice the truth of the Bible and perhaps one day merge with the new age itself?

Jesus warned that such a faith would lead not to life but to ultimate destruction: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).9

Could it be that the reason the church is so unaware of the “new gospel” movement is because it is being led by that same spirit and heading down that same broad way? Is it happening now, right in front of our very own eyes?

(For more information, read False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care by Warren B. Smith)

Notes:
1. NBC News “Special Report: America on Alert,” Tom Brokaw hosting Marianne Williamson as guest, September 16, 2001 broadcast transcript (Livingston, New Jersey: Burrelle’s Information Services).
2. Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf (Sixth Pressing), translated by Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.: Mariner Books, 1999), p.xv.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 3, p. 325.
4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Text) p. 479.
5. Marianne Williamson, Healing the Soul of America, p. 13.
6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, p. 243.
7. Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission: Volume Two (Los Angeles: Share International Foundation, 1993), p. 239.
8. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Manual for Teachers) p. 37.
9. Warren B.  Smith, The Light That Was Dark, p. 150.

Guest Commentary – Welcome to Rome!

By Judson Casjens
Guest Commentary

Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-7, 2017, found that a “leftward movement in perceptions of what is morally acceptable has been ongoing,” with a shift in 13 of 19 issues over time (since 2001). In another section of the same poll, Gallup found that just 24 percent believe the Bible is the literal word of God—the lowest in Gallup’s 40 years of asking Americans about their biblical beliefs.

On several key social issues Americans responded in the most recent survey that it is morally acceptable to use birth control (91%), get divorced (73%), engage in opposite-sex sexual acts outside marriage (69%), engage in same-sex sexual acts (63%), have a baby outside of marriage (62%), commit physician-assisted suicide (57%), view pornography (36%) and practice polygamy (17%).

Southern Evangelical Seminary President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land said the Gallup findings on social issues and faith in the Bible’s validity are certainly linked:

bigstockphoto.com

“There’s been a marked movement left in everything except adultery,” Land said of the surveys. “Cheating on one’s husband or wife still remains taboo. But as more and more people view the Bible as a book of fables, we can see an increasing level of paganism of the United States. The apostle Paul would recognize contemporary America because it looks a lot like ancient Rome and Corinth—except with modern conveniences.”

Land went on to say:

“The precipitous decline in traditional Judeo-Christian morality on these social issues is directly related to the decline in belief in the Bible’s moral authority,” Land said. “Besides the shift left in these crucial social issues, the decrease in the belief in the Bible as the literal, authoritative Word of God is even more alarming. It says something alarming about our culture, when for the first time in 40 years, biblical skepticism has surpassed biblical literalism. We can hope that the half who fall in the middle, believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, stay true to that conviction and are even strengthened in their belief of the Bible.”—excerpted from Southern Evangelical Seminary e-mail (5/22/2017) (quoted for informational purposes)

+++++++++++++++++++

Where do we go from here? The proverbial snowball is rolling downhill and getting ever larger, and one can discern from reading about various nations, including Israel, in Scripture that the ending is not very pleasant. History demonstrates time and again that at the end is no revival, but rather judgement. While Gallup’s poll above includes evangelicals and non-evangelicals, other polls of evangelicals only don’t appear very encouraging either. For the most part, they merely reflect what is stated above. Land is correct in his assessment of the connection between people’s view of the Bible and moral decline. And if this is true, what we are seeing is only symptomatic and not the genuine cause.

What this means for true believers is that rather than supporting various crusades and rally’s around the country which purport to create a voice on various moral issues, we instead need to focus upon becoming holy in our lives and obedient insofar as the true Gospel is concerned. We can “clean up” the country, even get some laws changed; but then where are we? Using the examples of Jesus and the early Church, where do we find the effort and focus? Let me assure one and all that it was not cleaning up and changing paganism for the purpose of complimenting Christianity, but rather leading holy lives and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and using every effort in the spread of that very same Gospel . . . period. And the world of that day was not turned upside down by grandiose crusades or “festivals,” but by people like you and I relating to others just like you and I, and so the Gospel spread. We have turned way too much over to the so-called “professionals” and in so doing have diminished our own value, responsibility, and role in the spread of God’s kingdom.

Not at all unlike Israel of old, today’s evangelicalism is ever turning a deaf ear to God’s Words and warnings, the past polls of evangelicals only have shown similar movement away from the Bible as being verbally inspired and therefore as having diminished authority, all of which is playing a large part in the church’s drift away from biblical orthodoxy. In the middle of all this, the ecumenical push for unity is contributing mightily because all this “togetherness” requires the message of the one and only way of salvation not be mentioned, much less pressed; this movement seeks to find spiritual value and even instruction apart from Gospel truth, which by definition means paganism. James asks some rather pointed questions:

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:11-12)

What on earth are we doing by mixing and blending Truth with error and then calling it love and unity? Of necessity, the true Gospel must be the first casualty in this type of endeavor. The ideas of political correctness and tolerance in true Christianity for the purposes of being non-offensive are unknown in the whole of Scripture; the Gospel message is offensive for it declares that one is an offense to God, under condemnation already, and there is nothing one can do except trust in the provision made by God’s Son Jesus Christ—something the Catholic Church has declared “anathema” at least three times in Vatican II documents because theirs is a “works-based” system of salvation (sacramental).

What we find so prevalent in evangelicalism today is a refusal to notice and react when God’s Word is relegated to some mere movement, error, or teaching. When Israel had changed internally due to the admission of pagan practices and beliefs, even to the point of worshipping foreign goddesses, Yahweh sent the prophet Isaiah along with others, but what God said to Isaiah regarding His purposes and Israel’s response needs to be given very careful consideration:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate. (Isaiah 6:9-11)

In a similar discussion with His disciples in which their relationship with the world was discussed, Jesus uttered these thought-provoking words:

 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:22-25)

We have become so focused upon “results” that we have forgotten that irrespective of another’s response, witness and testimony must be faithfully given, and that even rejection serves God’s purposes in that an opportunity for repentance has been given. That was Isaiah’s ministry, and that is a very sobering thought. So to all out there attempting to be faithful, don’t be discouraged due to little or negative response, even from evangelicals; in many ways, this is our calling.

Letter to the Editor: In Search of a Church – One Family’s Painful Journey

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

When I met my husband in 2005, I was attending a nondenominational church while he attended a local megachurch. During our attendance at his church, it was discovered that sexual sin was being allowed by the leadership among servers in the children’s ministry, so we went back to what had been my home church. What happened there turned out to be the test of our Christian lives.

My nondenominational home church started making changes, mostly subtle, a tad unusual, but nothing overtly alarming or distressing. For example, they started reading from The Book of Common Prayers. Popular authors like John Ortberg and Gary Thomas were taught, and since they sounded good and got the stamp of approval from our leaders, we followed along. Here’s a surprising change, coming from a nondenominational church with Missionary denominational roots: they started practicing Lent and even had an Ash Wednesday service. My mother was raised Roman Catholic and hates that religion (not Catholics). I was raised to avoid any and all things Catholic (except Catholics!) So I listened intently when a pastor informed us about the Ash Wednesday service. It was justified with “our church fathers did it, so we will.” Naively, a friend and I decided that reasoning was fine. I was heavily pregnant with my second child that evening. As they were calling people up to get ashes on their forehead, pew by pew, I was having contractions. When they were just a few pews away, we had to leave due to my contractions. The Lord was working to reveal something to my heart, something about WHY He would prevent me from participating in this ceremony, but I couldn’t connect the dots at the time.

Sometime soon after our second child was born, my mom became practically unhinged with concern. She was listening to radio teaching while she was driving, and someone reported that Lynne Hybels said she had no problem with referring to Mary as “Queen of Heaven.” Ma pulled over to the side of the road, the sensation being like a punch in the stomach. See, this title is given by Catholics to Mary and is unabashedly heretical. Lynne Hybels, however, is the wife of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

The broadcast recommended a book for understanding this movement within Christendom: Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. She was truly alarmed as she finished this book. She begged George (my husband) and I to read it. Quite honestly, we made excuses and dragged our feet about reading it because we knew there was something seriously wrong. When I finally read just the first chapter, the awful feeling in my gut gave way to tears: I could see my beloved home church in just the first few pages. Faith Undone (and then A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen) gave us the worldview “lens” through which we will view Christianity and these times in which we live until the day we see Jesus.

Sober and grieving, we had to address the issues at my church. We penned a letter to all the pastors, buying and sharing informational books on this movement, and asking for answers. We were ignored. A year later, a respected person there raised concerns about us, and then we were called. That meeting with the senior and another pastor revealed that the senior pastor did breath prayers (mystical prayer), and their pride was palpable. It was our second blow dealt by leaders we had loved and trusted.

Then we tried a small satellite campus church of a large, local Missionary church. This time we had books ready and interviewed the pastor. He assured us he wouldn’t do anything to bring in bad teaching or hurt the church, being dismissive of our concerns. That church lasted a few months until, and this was after our thorough warning of this apostasy was given to the pastor, he allowed blatant Catholic imagery during the worship time. We got up and left.

Ma had found our next church home. Life was good at this new Missionary church. Then came the new, permanent pastor. Dutifully, we met with him, explaining this heretical movement, offering books, discussing as much as we could. We had three meetings with him and various church leaders. We gave lists of compromised teachers, too. We were assured—again—that our church body wouldn’t be led astray. Soon thereafter, our pastor unashamedly started teaching Rick Warren material. He made it clear that he admired that original megachurch we had attended and wanted our current Missionary church to be like theirs. We were told privately in a meeting with him and his wife that a church like that megachurch could reach many more people than George and I ever could.

Ma had left before us and had found what would turn out to be our last home church, a fundamental Bible church north of town. Ma pointedly asked this new pastor about the Emergent Church movement. Essentially, he said it was wrong and wouldn’t allow it, so we headed there next.

We cautiously considered membership after truly getting to know the pastor and doctrines. We did become members, which was no small decision for a family having been repeatedly betrayed by several churches in the recent past. We were absolutely serious about this new fundamental Bible church being our church home and fighting this apostasy as much as possible. It was even agreed upon by the pastor that me and Ma, knowledgeable about the Emergent movement, would be “watchmen on the wall” for our leaders. Then came Priscilla Shirer’s third book study in January. This started a whole domino effect in our household. We all three researched her. Shirer is definitely contemplative. We all agreed that none of us could sit under her teaching.

Ma compiled her evidence for the leaders, but they decided her warning was unfounded. The Lord has since made it clear that the elders did not have unity about allowing Shirer’s material. We wondered how the numerous articles warning against Shirer would give them peace about allowing her material.

As we researched Shirer, we discovered trouble with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who is the popular teacher/author of Revive Our Hearts, a sub-organization under Life Action Ministries. She promoted circle-making prayer, and she favorably quoted Richard Foster and Brother Lawrence. Those men are/were mystics, and circle-making prayer echoes the pagan, occultic practice of circle-making/power circles.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Also, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11). If we see this rotten fruit and taste the bitter water of this apostasy, we cannot sit under that authority any longer.

George’s and my decision to leave our last church home came down to 1) the leadership was acting in disunity, which is sin, and 2) compromised, heretical teaching was coming in to our church through Life Action Ministries.

We fully believe that if you are wondering for yourself if you are being called to take a stand against this apostasy, just humbly ask the Lord for wisdom. Humility is essential here. Yet this stand we are proposing is no small task. In Matthew 10, the Lord warns that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing people from those whom they love most dearly for His namesake. Everything and everyone must be laid down at the altar; we can hold nothing back. Personally, we cannot count the relationships that have been lost or damaged due to our stand, nor can we express the personal toll this has taken on us. But by God’s grace, we endeavor to surrender all. Jesus is worth it!

Our last pastor looked us straight in the eye and said he was not willing to consider that Life Action Ministries is compromised; he “knows their heart,” that they are good. We said we will come back in a heartbeat if/when he is willing to objectively research them. Until then, we cannot submit to his (or by association, their) authority. It’s just that simple for us.

We contend that this is THE end times’ apostasy that Jesus warned of in Mark 13:22, where, if possible, even the very elect will be led astray. How in the world could we knowingly participate in this?

B.J.


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