Attacking the Church – It is Rarely Doctrinal

Pastor Jon Gleason does an excellent job in this post addressing the issue of church problems being based on doctrine. This is his second article and should be read by all discerning believers. I have chosen to highlight a few parts and added a couple of pictures.

Attacking the Church — It is Rarely Doctrinal

My last post said that church problems are always doctrinal.  It is never accurate to say that a church which is straying in some way is doctrinally sound.  Every church problem is based on an error in applied doctrine.

In this article, it may sound like I’m contradicting that article.  If every church problem is doctrinal, won’t attacks on the church always be doctrinal in nature?  Perhaps — but they rarely start with a doctrinal focus.

Paul and John, in their epistles to the churches, warned of false teachers, sometimes naming them.  Down through the centuries, whether Christianity was persecuted or state-sanctioned, there has always been heresy, there have always been those who tried to come into the church to spread their false doctrine.  Just as there has always been false teachers, there have always been those who would stand against the heresies — and always those who have fallen prey to the wolves.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-300x249

Today, false teaching is gaining traction in many churches.  One can walk into any number of “evangelical” churches and hear a false Gospel preached.  In recent high profile cases, some famous mega-church pastors endorsed a man who spreads false teaching on the Triune nature of our God, and a well-known British evangelical rejected the Biblical teaching on the atonement (and now, he rejects Biblical teaching in other areas as well).  Almost every area of Biblical doctrine is under attack in churches where the Bible was once faithfully taught, often where the stated doctrinal position of the church is still sound.

False teaching seems to be on the rise — but the attack on a church rarely begins with false teaching.  Sound pastors or teachers do not usually wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll change the doctrine I teach going forward,” and begin to promote error.  Faithful church members do not usually say, “I think I’ll stop checking the Scriptures to see if what I’ve been taught is true.”  No one in a true Biblical church suddenly decides, “I think what our church needs is more false teaching.”

The first attack is usually spiritual, not doctrinal.  We have been told not to love the world, but we have accepted the world’s value system, its philosophies, its politics, its entertainment, and its loves.  Too many churches are full of people who love what the world loves and think the way the world thinks.

People don’t say, “Let’s let error come in,” whether it be error that is taught directly or (as I mentioned in yesterday’s article) error that is taught by practice.  But when churches are full of spiritual weaklings who have been drugged and poisoned by the world and the things the world loves, they don’t even see what is happening.

When we spend more time on entertainment and Internet discussion (which is often really just another form of entertainment, even if it is on Christian topics) than we do our Bibles, we become spiritually stunted.  Our minds are not being transformed and renewed, and we don’t even recognise the error when it comes.

The Scriptures warn repeatedly that false teachers will come, and keep coming, and we need to be ready.  The solution is not writing better doctrinal statements or owning more theology books.  That has already been done.  Those who had good doctrinal statements and owned (and even wrote) good theology books have gone into error.

They loved the world, or the praise of man, or their own intellectual or preaching prowess, or pleasure, or another person, or some other thing.  Their hearts grew distant from God as sins of pride or lust or ingratitude or anger took hold — and doctrinal error found fertile soil to produce its bitter harvest.

If our senses are tuned to truth, we’ll recognise when someone tries to give us something besides the truth, even if we don’t know exactly what it is.  If you love a cup of tea, you’ll know when someone gives you one containing a foreign substance.  There will be a taste there, a taste you don’t recognise.  You’ll say, “Hey, something is wrong here!”

Nice_Cup_of_TeaBut if you stop making yourself a cup of tea, you just don’t take the time to do it anymore, you’ll forget the exact taste.  If someone gives you a cup that seems a little off, well, you probably just forgot what it really tastes like, right?  You’ve gotten away from tea drinking these days.  I’m sure it’s fine.

But not only do our hearts grow distant from God, we take from the world and learn to love its loves.  Too easily, we spend Monday through Saturday drinking the spiritual equivalent of anti-freeze.  Our spiritual taste buds become a mess.  A false teacher could put anything in your spiritual cup of tea on Sunday morning, and you’ll never know the difference.  You’ve forgotten what truth tastes like, and learned to like poison.

Church problems may always be doctrinal — but the attacks on churches almost always start on a spiritual level (not a doctrinal one) in turning our love, ever so slightly, away from the Lord to other things.  It starts slowly, deceptively, insidiously growing, until we either don’t care or don’t notice when error shows up.  We’ve been drugged by false loves, the love of the world, and the enemy can do with us what he wishes — as long as he keeps supplying the drug.

When we get to that state, the adversary could easily get us to leave the church, but he’s in no hurry to do that.  He can use us to destroy from within.  We won’t recognise error any longer, or care about it.  There are things we want, now, things we love, and we’ll be in favour of anyone who provides them.  If we can get those things we want and love in the church, all the better — we’ll be able to drift along feeling good about ourselves spiritually as we pursue the loves we got from the world.  If anyone says anything, tries to warn us, we might even get angry — “It tastes good to me, and I like it!”

In fact, if the church only had teachers who said the things we love are ok, are Christian, are actually what the church SHOULD be doing, that would be best of all!  Give me my loves in a Christian flavour, please!

We’ll be ready allies for the false teachers when they show up.  One should be along any day now.

Colossians 3:1-4

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Iocane Powder – Holy Ghost Movie

In the movie Princess Bride, the Dread Pirate Roberts is in a battle of wits with Vizzini. Pouring two goblets of wine, he laces the cups with poison. Speaking to Vizzini he says: “Iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.”

Of course, Vizzini loses the game and dies from drinking the poison. The heroine, Buttercup speaks to the Dread Pirate Roberts and says, “And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.”

To which the Dread Pirate Roberts responds, “They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to Iocane powder.”

wesley-iocane

With that introduction, I want to share the caveat that I have not watched the movie, but neither did I go to see much-hyped “Son of God” by Roma Downey or “Noah” with Russell Crowe. That may turn some of the readers off, but before you go, I want to also say that I have never spiked my cup of tea with strychnine or cyanide or even “Iocane powder” to see if it really is poison like experts tell us it is.

Neither have I sought to “build up an immunity” to the Iocane powders that are invading the evangelical church of America. There are some things that we just understand are not good for us.

What I have done is spent time reading and studying the Word of God. This accomplishes several things. First, when heresy comes along, I do not have to worry about getting sick from the Iocane powder. I recognize it for what it is and instead of trying to see if my immune system is strong enough to handle another dose of poison, I avoid it altogether.

The church is being inundated with slick, social media driven, so-called Christian movies. They are taking the church by storm, and to some, this is a good thing. But to others, like myself, we are watching a largely biblically illiterate church membership being fed more Iocane powder. The results are predictable. The more Iocane powder that is being drunk is turning churches into havens for worldliness, rank ungodliness, and a demeaning of the true holiness of the Triune God.

For the sake of time and space, I intend to point out a few huge doctrinal problems with the movie with the prayer that you and anybody you know will stay away from this movie. Review these words with a discerning spirit and see if what you are hearing about the movie is merely hype or whether it has been dead-reckoned with the Word of God. Please, please, PLEASE, let the true Holy Spirit be your Guide as you peruse the wonderful words of life that God has left to us. This is His love letter and His only Guide as we walk the dark shadows of this life.

Sadly, I know that some are going to go and watch the movie and come out thinking and saying things like, “Isn’t the Holy Ghost great?” Or, “I want more of the Holy Ghost in my life.” Or, “I am so glad that there are great Christian movies that are being made and I hope that others will go see this and come to Christ.” – THAT would be a TRAGEDY!

iocanequote

So, let’s begin with the dissection.

The trailer opens with Bill Johnson, who styles himself as the pastor of Bethel Church, Redding, California. We could stop right here and end the post because this was enough to send the red flag of HERESY flying from the ramparts. We have addressed the problems and the false teaching of Bethel Church Redding at Defending Contending on many occasions.

The cast is a veritable who’s who of people within the Signs and Wonders movement that has been sweeping throughout the world. The list even includes several pastors from the false ranks of the Vineyard and Willow Creek religious organizations. Our website at Defending Contending has spent several years warning our readers of the heresies and errors that this movement has perpetrated on its followers.

One person that caught my eye was William P. Young, author of “The Shack Outhouse.” This book that does not belong in any true Christian bookstore is nothing more than blasphemy but which has made its author a large amount of money. Here is an excerpt from “Writer’s Digest” magazine dated 2009. “In Young’s story, Jesus is a dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jewish man who thwarts Mack’s expectation of a hunky blonde Jesus. God isn’t a white-haired wizard figure, but rather a matronly black woman who calls herself “Papa” in an attempt to challenge Mack’s preconceived notions. The Holy Spirit is a transparent creature named Sarayu who can’t be seen directly.”

Has the Iocane powder made you throw up yet in your morning breakfast?

If you have any more questions about “The Shack”, we recommend you go this blogpost. Read and weep at what is being found in so-called Christian bookstores.

On the promotional website for the movie, the question is asked, “Why is it called Holy Ghost?” Here is part of the director’s answer, “Early on in the film Darren claims that his desire is to ‘make God famous.’”

Seriously?!

The next question asks, “What do you mean when you say ‘led by the Holy Spirit’?” This is very telling. Here Darren claims that God still speaks to people through many different ways. He employs prayer walking and forms of contemplative mysticism to attain a “dialogue back and forth with God.” In his own words,

“Sometimes he heard a still, small voice in his head; sometimes he and those around him had dreams directing them where to go; sometimes he would get a familiar feeling in his stomach that, in the past, always told him that God was on something.”

These are the words of somebody who does not discern truth through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. In John 16:8, Jesus tells His disciples that they will be guided into all truth and that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of coming judgment. The Holy Spirit is not a Jedi force. He is the 3rd Person of the Trinity. He is equally God just as God the Father is and as is God the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ).

Feeling the effects of the Iocane powder yet?

iocaine powder

The trailer continues with people seeking to “impart” the Spirit of God to anonymous individuals that they stop on the street. This can be seen as the main characters walk up to somebody, rub their hands together to generate heat, and supposedly transfer the Holy Spirit to those who have experienced no new birth. This is heresy. Only God has the ability to make a person a new creation in Christ and when they become one of His children, then they are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.

Michael W. Smith states that he wants to come to the point where he never ever is offended by anyone again. This goes completely contrary to what we saw in the life of the early New Testament Church and the writings of the apostles. The gospel will always cause offense, and we, who are true believers, will be offended when the Triune Godhead, His Word, and His Church is slandered.

One final point – Korn! Where in the world do we begin? This band has stated repeatedly that there inspiration is a long list of heavy metal bands whose life and lyrics are totally opposed to everything that is pure and holy. A quick perusal of their lyrics and music genre will show the discerning reader that Korn is NOT led by the Holy Spirit of God. They are perverse, vulgar, and are leading people astray from the Bible just as Bill Johnson, William Young, Michael W. Smith, and others are.

Now you have a choice. You can THINK you are building up a resistance to Iocane powder or you can flee back to the Word of God. You can swallow the lies that continue to penetrate the church through the filters of hell, or you can strive for a life of holiness that is based on the ONLY way that God speaks to us today – through His perfect, inerrant, and infallible Word, the Bible.

I have used this illustration before and conclude because I think it is so appropriate. Suppose I had a barrel of apples sitting on my porch and inside just one of those apples, I had placed one drop of cyanide. I invite you to take one, but tell you first that you need to know that somewhere in the barrel is one apple with just one drop of poison. However, don’t worry, the chances of you picking that one apple is very slim, so enjoy whatever apple you want to eat.

Nobody in their right mind would dive into that apple barrel to even touch the apples, much less have a desire to eat one. As a sane, rational human, you know that the entire barrel has now been tainted. It would be dangerous to attempt even one small bite.

Friends, listen to me. The barrel of apples has been tainted with more than just one drop of poison. It is riddled with the Iocane poison of the world. What is being offered will kill you just as surely with one drop as with an entire cup of poison. Flee from heresy. Run back to the Lord Jesus Christ and plead with Him for mercy and forgiveness. There is true healing at the cross, not in the heresy that is being put on offer by the makers of this most recent cinematic drivel.

This is the bottom line – the “Holy Ghost” is poison. It is Iocane powder and it is NOT of God. It will NOT present the true gospel, because the characters do NOT have a true gospel to present. They are heresy spreaders. False teachers. Wolves in sheep’s clothing leading Christians astray.

J. C. Ryle on the Acceptance of False Teachers

JC Ryle“Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be carried away!””

~ J.C. Ryle

Is Jesus Culture Just Another Christian Band?

Following one of our recent posts on the Passion 2013 conference, one of the issues that came to light is the concern over the worship group “Jesus Culture.” This group has grown immensely in popularity among evangelical youth. Yet many are not aware of the fact that they originate out of the Bethel Church in Redding, California which is known for its false teachings about signs and wonders and is part of the heretical “New Apostolic Reformation” movement. The following video does a very good job exposing the background of Jesus Culture and why discerning Christians should be very concerned about them. Please take the time to watch and learn.

Stay the Course and Never Compromise!

In light of some of the recent posts and comments, I would like to share a few thoughts from my heart, but I want to do so by beginning with a story.

Over five years ago, an unknown blogger started an unknown blog that would eventually become very well known with thousands of readers. The unknown blogger was The Pilgrim and he began a blog that was then called Reformation Nation. Five years later, the site has been visited almost 3 million times, has over 25,000 published comments, spams innumerable, and people who are either still with us or have left angry, mad, or upset.

In late 2007, I was pastoring a small mission work and the Pilgrim, along with his family, wandered in on a Wednesday evening and listened to an exposition from Psalm 1. That night began what has become a very close friendship that climaxed, in my estimation, with one of the best memories of my life. He decided to join my wife and I on a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. This was not easy for him as he had never been outside the USA, much less having been on an airplane.

The blog quickly became Defending Contending and I was invited to be the first of several contributors that would join in the fight. The Pilgrim and his family became a very important part of our ministry and in various ways they became a huge encouragement to us and still are to this day. Those times as a mission pastor were not easy, and there were times that I wanted to quit. I wondered whether it was worth the fight. Yet through it all, the Pilgrim was one of the few who always sought to give encouragement no matter how he was feeling, and no matter what he and his family were going through.

One of his catchphrases was and still is, “Stay the course, Never Compromise!”

NoCompromiseThis little phrase encouraged me, as it has others, not to give up when the going was tough. It encouraged me when my health had declined to the point that I wondered whether I would make it back to the US. It encouraged me when we wrote blogs that seemed like they only garnered bad comments, or when we were concerned that the fight should be left to others, or when the thought that giving up was more than passing jumble of words. Yes, there were times when we both wondered if we were going overboard. In our minds, we thought at times that maybe it would be easier to follow the sage advice, “If you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em!”

But then, I would remember the phrase again, “Stay the course, Never Compromise!” Either the Pilgrim would have to remind me, or I would seek to remind him.

Was it necessary? Was it worth the fight? Have we stayed the course? Have we sought to compromise?

I believe the answer is and remains that it was necessary, it has been worth the fight, we have sought to stay the course, and to the best of our knowledge we have tried not to compromise.

The purpose of this post and the lengthy introduction and story is to talk about the Pilgrim’s little phrase that has meant so much to me and to others.

First, what does it mean to stay the course and what course are we meant to be taking? After all, there are many blogs out there. There are many paths that can be taken. Some would make us popular and the blog could probably have become very famous had we made some different decisions. So, what course are we to stay?

The apostle Paul never set out to be popular, and it was clear from his writings that he never had a mega-church. He never saw his letters become best-sellers. He never owned his own personal Learjet and was never chauffeured around in bullet-proof vehicles. His final days did not live up to the vague, empty promises made by the health, wealth, and prosperity proponents of the 21st century. In fact, his final days were not spent in luxury but in the damp, dank interior of the Mamertine Prison in Rome. Then for the sake of the Master for whom he was nothing but a slave, he became a martyr and was beheaded at the command of Nero.

Yet, he stayed the course. Listen to what he had to say in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Notice that his course was not to enjoy life. It was not to have his best life now. It was not to be fulfilled or to build his self-esteem so he could feel better about himself.

Paul was a servant. Actually, he was more than a servant; he was a bondslave. He was a doulos of Jesus Christ and of such had no control over what he could say or do or even how he could live. He recognized his position and rejoiced that he was even called upon to suffer just as the disciples of Christ had done when they were beaten for giving forth the precious words of life.

He actually notes about himself in 2 Cor. 10:10, “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” It would appear that Paul never read the great Roman philosopher Dalius Carnegius scroll entitled, “How to Win Friends and Influence Senators!” If he did, it certainly did not make an impression on him.

History also reveals that he somehow overlooked another popular speaker’s scroll entitled, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Listen to another passage from Paul’s writing from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Paul made it clear what the course was. It was to know NOTHING BUT Jesus Christ and him CRUCIFIED! That was definitely not a popular subject matter. Nobody liked crucifixion. I am sure that everybody did not want to be reminded that the Christian walk was not a bed of roses. There may have been some that thought that following Christ was easy as long as they could first go and bury their dead. Or, maybe it was necessary to first throw a party or to sell off the family business?

After the events of Acts 5 and the account of Ananias and Sapphira, there was no doubt that staying the course meant that people FEARED to join themselves unto the number of those who claimed to be followers of The Way. They were afraid to claim something that they were not just as Ananias and Sapphira had done. It cost that couple their lives when they lied to the Holy Spirit. God knew they were phonies and their lives did not match up what they claimed. There was no desire for forgiveness ever recorded, but the church remained pure and continued to grow.

Those who joined themselves to the church were not looking for fame or fortune. They didn’t come for the lattes, mochas, or cool, hip, relevant messages preached by a guy wearing a “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt. To join the early New Testament church meant you knew you might leave home for a church service and that you could be lion food that same night. They also knew what it meant to “stay the course.”

not-persecuted Staying the course meant being willing to take a stand when it is not popular. Staying the course means that you will gain the strength necessary to stare evil in the face, even if it means you must give your life for the testimony of Jesus Christ. When you stay the course, it means that you DO NOT QUIT doing what is right. A saying I heard all growing up is worth repeating, “Two wrongs NEVER make a right.”

Paul had only one desire and that was to finish the course. He did not start out well being a religious leader and putting believers to death. Although he did not start well, he wanted to finish well and with that in mind, he concludes his ministry with 2 Tim. 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Notice that he tells young Timothy that he “kept the faith.” This is where the rest of the Pilgrim’s favorite phrase comes in – “NEVER COMPROMISE!”

Today, as a blogger, it would be easy for us to stop telling the truth. It would be easy for us to join with others and seek to hold hands with all denominations and religions all for the sake of unity, but done at the expense of doctrinal purity.

But, it would be compromise!

At DefCon, we could openly embrace all those who claim to know Jesus simply because they know what His name is, yet have no evidence of fruit.

But, it would be compromise!

We could change from being a blog that takes a stand for truth and only give nice fluffy messages about how our readers could live their best lives now.

But, it would be compromise!

We could tell our readers how much God loves you that He has a wonderful plan for their lives that includes no hardships. That would be to join the mainstream of what passes for evangelical Christianity.

And, it would be compromise!

We could refrain from Paul’s admonition to warn others of the wolves that are desirous of eating the flock.

But, it would be compromise!

Yes, there are many things we could do differently that would please many of our former readers. There are areas of doctrine that could be ignored and whole passages of Scripture completely obliterated from our Bibles all for the sake of unity. We could refrain from warning others of the coming wrath of God. We could refrain from shedding tears at the apostasy that is so prevalent in modern churches. We could keep from warning others that it is only going to get worse.

But, it would be compromise!

To compromise is to give up on God! It is to give up on the Scriptures! It is to say to the world that the world is more important than the truth of God’s Holy infallible and inerrant words. To compromise means that we would have to stop telling people of the dangers of the cults and religions that are taking their people down to hell. To compromise does not necessarily mean huge changes overnight. Compromise takes shape just one small step at a time, but the end result is still the same! DESTRUCTION!

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces down to the very core of our being. To compromise means that we would no longer believe in the regenerating power of God to break the dead heart of stone and make a new creation in Christ. You see to compromise means that we would be admitting that God is NOT the same yesterday, today or forever. It would mean that we believe that the message has to be different because of the changing times.

To compromise means that we will not have stayed the course. We must learn and pray that God will give us the grace, the strength, the humility AND the boldness to stand alongside the Martin Luther’s of the world who have come and gone. We must learn to re-echo those famous words with the same fervor and passion of those who were willing to DIE for their faith.

NoCompromise To compromise means that we do not count as dear that great cloud of witnesses who laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel. It means that we do not stand with our fellow brothers and sisters around the world who suffer today for their faith. It also means that we show to the world that our faith is only for when it is an easy walk, not a path wrought with difficulties, trials, and tribulations.

Listen again to the words of a man, who like Paul, refused to compromise.

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand for I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”

To my fellow contributors, nobody said it would ever be easy. There are far too many who have given up already, and I for one do not want to be just another web statistic. I do not want people to say, “DefCon used to stand for the truth, but they gave up. They quit! They compromised for the sake of getting more readers!”

With God as our helper, we will stay the course and we will never compromise. I would hope that if we ever veer from our path that somebody else would be granted the strength to call us on the carpet. If we ever cease to use the Word of God as our mainstay, then I hope that somebody will seek to remind us of our duty and our call to be obedient servants. Our goal should be not to gain or hear the praise of man but to hear those wonderful words one day in eternity, “Well done, you were a good and faithful servant!”

Soldiers have no recourse to change their orders like so many are doing today. 2 Timothy 2 tells us that we are called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. No soldier that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this world. Our Commander in Chief has not authorized easy deployments, nor has He changed the battle plan!

To conclude, we at Defending Contending make no apologies for our stand for truth. Our conscience is captive to the Word of God. Our prayer is that we will continue to walk the paths that have been walked before us. Our prayer is that our words will give strength and courage to those who follow us, and that they too will heed the words of our dear friend and brother, The Pilgrim,

“STAY THE COURSE, AND NEVER COMPROMISE!”

Can We Call Them Brothers in Christ?

John-Piper-Rick-Warren3Recently, we received an email here at DefCon that I believe addressed a very valid and important question.  The reader asked our opinion on a discussion he was having with someone regarding Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll and John Piper. The question asked during his discussion was how can a Christian call any of these men a “true brother in Christ,” especially given the various concerns raised about them, even here on this blog. As the head administrator of this site, the task was mine to attempt to answer this particular question. After thinking the matter through, I responded to our reader with what I believe is a balanced and biblical stance on the matter. My desire is to share that response here on DefCon so that others who have a similar question may benefit from it. My response was a follows:

“Hello there. This is the Chris Hohnholz, the head administrator of DefCon. Thanks much for writing to us. I have given your email a lot of thought and will do my best to give you a decent answer. Before I do though, I want to make it clear that I am speaking only for myself. Even though I run this blog, I do not claim to speak for all the writers, not even the author of the article you linked. I say that as a means of ensuring that anything that I might blow it on is not conveyed to my writers.

mark-driscollMy thought on this is that there is a difference between not supporting or endorsing a pastor and declaring that said pastor is not a brother in Christ. To give a separate example, I’m sure you are aware of the chaos James MacDonald has caused with his Elephant Room nonsense. In years past, he has been considered a respected pastor. Even folks of a reformed theology have at least considered him within orthodoxy. Yet with his endorsing pastors who are questionable, and now declaring T.D. Jakes (who is a heretic) to be within the camp, he is NOT someone we would support or endorse. However, does his current sinful behavior mean he is not saved. I do not believe we can declare that at this time. If he truly is saved, I believe the Holy Spirit will bring him into repentance. If he is not, I think we will see him walk further and further from the truth. But until one or the other happens, I will not declare he is not a brother, but I will warn folks against what he is doing.

I think much can be said of the three pastors you have written Todd about. With Warren, I really worry about him because everything he is about is antithetical to the Bible. I think his smiling and charismatic personality carries with it a dangerous man-centered message that will definitely lead people and ministries astray. That alone makes me wonder about his salvation, but I would stop short of that because I simply haven’t seen him teach anything that is directly heretical. Much the same with Driscoll. He teaches orthodox messages, but his willingness to taint that message with foul language, to give graphic sexual messages and his unbiblical “visions” from God make him someone I wouldn’t endorse at all. But I really don’t know about him not being a brother. Is he simply just ignorant on these things or is he deliberately teaching things that will one day bear out as heretical. I can only say that we should be warning folks against him. Piper is the one who really perplexes me. He has preached so many great and godly messages that still continue to edify the saints. Yet, he is willing to lock arms with folks like Warren, he is willing to appear in conferences where contemplative prayer is going on without so much as a peep in refutation. He is giving those folks a platform that they never should have. I do believe Piper is a brother, but he is flat out wrong in what he is doing. As such, I don’t support what he is doing.

I do not know if this answer helps you in any way, but I believe that until these men either establish themselves as heretical or they repent and prove themselves as faithful brethren, our best bet is to warn against what they have said or done, but to reserve judgment of their state of salvation.

Again, I am thankful for your writing to us and am equally grateful for your support of our blog. May God bless you.

Chris Hohnholz
DefCon Administrator”

What Will it Take?

question-mark3-misallphotoWell, as we set upon the end of one year and the beginning of another, I cannot help but look back and reflect on this last year.  I think we can safely say that we have seen definitive evidence of the decline of the church’s influence in the American culture.  With the re-election of a president that is one of the most pro-abortion, anti-life records in political history, a president who has openly promoted the profanation of marriage by endorsing homosexual unions, it has become clear that our country has embraced a non-Christian ideology.  This is not major news, many Christians have been sounding the alarm for years, but it has gone unheeded.  But now as we face a new year before us, my question for the church in America is “What is it going to take?”

Consider this, we have seen the growth of megachurches and seeker friendly country clubs for years now.  Every week, hundreds, even thousands of people walk the aisles, prayer “the prayer,” sign a card and are proclaimed “Christians” in their congregations.  Those people are never taught about sin, righteousness, judgment, condemnation, the wrath of God, repentance or the sacrifice of Christ.  Instead, they are given gospel-light messages that consist of Christ loving them so much that He’d rather die than live without them.  They are told that God only has their best life in mind and all they have to do is follow a ten step program to get a better job, better marriage, or better kids.  There is no call to holiness, no attempt to cause the people to question their worldly mindsets, no testing to see if they are actually in the faith.  What is left are a room full of goats who have been mesmerized into believing they are in fact sheep.

In these same churches, the sheep that do exist are either marginalized or simply shoved out the door to make way for the vision of the “goat-herder in chief.”  This has allowed the growth of these country clubs masquerading as churches to go virtually unchecked.  With little to no opposition inside the churches, they grow like a virus in a compromised immune system, with almost the same deadly effect.  The more churches that adopt worldly advertisement growth techniques, the less the true Word of God is preached.  The less it is preached, the worse the compromise within the body and the more sin is tolerated.  The end results are people who claim to be Christian, or even “spiritual,” but who have no personal sense of the wickedness of their sin.  Thus they allow and even promote blatantly sinful behavior. Can the re-election of a man who is anti-christian, anti-life and pro-homosexuality be a surprise then?

That is not to say that there are no real Christians in America.  They are still many sound biblical churches faithfully preaching the Word of God.  But I fear that even truly born again Christians have become more affected by worldly philosophy than they realize.  Go into most churches today and ask Christians what is more loving, to confront sin and unrighteousness boldly, pointing people to the need of Christ’s propitiatory death on the cross, or to win friends through kind works, easing them into the gospel.  Inevitably, many will choose the latter.  Most Christians today have succumbed to the world’s belief that it is simply unkind to point out sin and to warn of the judgment to come.  They believe the message is “too harsh” and will drive people away.  The result is that a small percentage of truly born again Christians are going out of their way to share the gospel with the lost in our country.  And an equally small number are trying to call out the churches who aren’t even on the biblical program.

So how did this year end with the country embracing a false Christian president who embraces universalism, denounces true Christianity, promotes murder of the unborn and homosexuality?  Simply because the church has allowed our influence to wane.  We have allowed the propagation of false churches by not calling out with a unified voice against them.  We have not resoundingly called them false teachers and have been willing to work in conjunction with them as “co-belligerents.”  As they grew, we simply let them go on unchecked.  Additionally, we have not combated the false gospel of “Jesus loves you just the way you are,” with the bold proclamation that all mankind is deserving of the wrath of God and the only escape is Jesus Christ.

The American culture has watched a watered down version of the gospel propagate throughout the country and sees it for the phony message that it is.  They have no desire to be a part of it and walk further and further away from it.  Yet, the true gospel has not been preached with boldness and regularity.  The true church has involved itself in any number of other activities – politics, protests, Tea Parties, etc. – yet does not offer the true message of salvation to a world immersing itself in sin.  The country sees the true church as harsh and judgmental for it does not call to the world in compassion to the Savior.

So today, on December 31, 2012, I ask you as a member of the true church of Jesus Christ, “What will it take?”  Will you, in this next year, be willing to step up to the plate?  Will you stand against the false gospel of the country club churches?  Will you call them out for the false teachers they are?  Will you work to make sure your church steers away from such nonsense?  Will you get you and your congregation worked up to preach the true gospel to a lost and dying people?  If not, what will it take?