First Baptist Church Sapulpa Celebrates Christmas By Embracing 9 Marks and Cancelling the Membership of the Elderly and Those Who Don’t Give Money

Even though people experiencing dementia become unable to recount what has just happened, they still go through the experience—even without recall.The psychological present lasts about three seconds. We experience the present even when we have dementia. The emotional pain caused by callous treatment or unkind talk occurs during that period. The moods and actions of people with dementia are expressions of what they have experienced, whether they can still use language and recall, or not.”  ― Judy Cornish, The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home link

The little blog that roared and caused FBC Sapulpa to temporarily stop their obsession with 9Marks.

In May 2017, we wrote The Little Blog That Roared.* The Controversy at First Baptist Church, Sapulpa, OK.  The anonymous, lively group of people who run the Sapulpa Messenger became quite concerned that the pastor, Smokey Hurst, was implementing a 9 Marks styled membership. This would include:

  • A church covenant
  • A change in the constitution and bylaws
  • An attempt to impose church discipline on a woman who raised questions about an alleged secret bonus paid to a pastor.

Two threatened lawsuits

A  lawyer associated with the church threatened a lawsuit against the blog which alleged that a businessman in the church took ads for porn sites on his radio station website. Shortly before posting our initial article, the content was removed from the radio station and we have removed the gross ad from our site as well.

The second lawsuit was written about by Sapulpa Messenger in the cleverly titled Getting served by the leaders of the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa has a new meaning!

It’s sad but true.  After some key resignations of staffers and deacons, the remaining leadership of First Baptist Church of Sapulpa is now unrestrained.  Without anyone left to stand in their way they have moved ahead with plans to threaten the entire congregation with legal action if they don’t stop sending emails to The Sapulpa Messenger website.

They rounded up the unsuspecting sheep under the guise of an “information” meeting and proceeded to blast everyone for reading the forbidden information on The Sapulpa Messenger blog.  This attack on the minds of the members was all planned in advance at a private meeting of the “board of directors” aka your beloved elders. The parading of families and children as victims, all shameful emotional appeals, were engineered distractions.  What was most disturbing was that the church floor was given to an attorney who used his time to level legal threats against all of the frightened members.   YOU were forbidden from sending emails.  A look around the room revealed the presence of the giddy church lords, smiling delightfully as some people cowered in terror.

It is important to understand that there are two threats of legal actions against you right now… one from a jaded business owner and one from the church itself.  Both are ludicrous.  Of the two, the church is the entity with the largest potential to financially support a frivolous lawsuit.

Obviously neither of these lawsuits have merit and the church is just blowing smoke. However, there was more turmoil to come.

A public apology was issued by the church for attempting to implement 9 Marks policies but was it merely a delaying tactic?

The Sapulpa Messenger posted FBC Sapulpa mails 9Marks Church Discipline Letters:

Early on we got out in front of this plot at Sapulpa and exposed it to the entire church.  At the time, people were willing to look into the allegation and do their own research.  This led most members to demand an abandonment of the 9Marks.  Eventually enough of the good ol’ Southern Baptists got involved and the pressure became so great that the CEO of FBC Sapulpa was forced to give a public apology.  Not only did this guy apologize  in front of the entire church at a business meeting but he also made a public commitment to NOT pursue the 9Marks agenda.  The church was assured that the 9Marks agenda was over.  This was met with a great sigh of relief by the majority of the church.

After this occurred, a link to the 9 Marks website was removed from the website of the church. As of today, it is still not listed.

The FBC Sapulpa/9Marks game is afoot and being watched by the Sapulpa Messenger.

The Sapulpa Messenger reviewed the following article Why We Disciplined Half Our Church by Mark Dever for Christianity Today. The Sapulpa Messenger quoted this from Dever’s article.

The Messenger believes that a similar move by FBC Sapulpa has been in the works in order to remove the opposition to 9 Marks just like Mark Dever did many years ago in his church.

FBC Sapulpa: the *Merry Christmas* letter from hell.

Here is the letter sent to people on December 11, 2011.

How to respond to this letter: a piece of advice from TWW.

The postcard mentioned in the letter allows a person to return to church but he/she will have to meet with the pastor to discuss it. I would urge people to be quite careful in their response to this letter. If you opt out, remember you have been removed under church discipline. The church could use that against you if you attempt to join another church in the area. Such churches are known to pursue former members to new churches in order to ask the new pastors not to accept them into membership since they are under church discipline.

What would I do? I would simply not respond to the letter. Then, if the church attempted to *discipline* me or my loved one, I would get a lawyer and have him/her explain to the church that they are harassing me. If they do not desist, I would ask my lawyer to proceed to the next step…

What is different about this letter from the one sent by Mark Dever/9Marks to members of Capitol Hill Baptist Church?

One source claimed that, as far as they know,  no one who received the letter was called ahead of time. In this case, the church knew how to get ahold of a number of these people. Why didn’t they do so? My guess is that they didn’t want to deal with the inevitable turmoil that would ensue. So, they chickened out and sent a letter.

However, both churches believe that this letter is a form of church discipline and you should pay attention to this.

Dever claimed that they at least spent months attempting to reach these missing members on the phone and in person.  At FBC Sapulpa we’re told by nearly everyone who received a removal letter that they were not contacted at all.  Many of these people still have the same 224 phone number they’ve had for decades.  It appears there is more interest in removal than in fellowship.  The letter is an empty platitude.  Just like the scattered and disgruntled sheep at Dever’s church, your old friends and family members are about to be disciplined by you and your church.  Sadly, the last word they will hear from the church is that they are being terminated.

Who received this letter?

  1. Elderly and infirm people:

Shame on FBC Sapulpa if this is true. Did they really send this to old and frail people?

According to one source:

One of the letters went to a man in an assisted living facility that is geared for people with dementia and Alzheimer. He is a member of the church and was a faithful deacon for many many years. (the old type that used to help people instead of discipline the dickens out of them) However, I don’t think he has Alzheimers/dementia. I believe he just doesn’t have anyone to help take care of him as he is quite elderly. I say this because he is fully aware of the church situation and is disgusted with this church discipline/9Marks stuff. He is very grieved to see what has become of the church he served in.

Besides him there was another elderly couple that got the letter. One of them DOES have dementia and her husband helps take care of her. Coming to church just isn’t a physical possibility for them anymore.

2. Those who did not contribute to the church.

According to a source, the current church constitution prohibits the pastor, whose name is on this letter, from knowing who gave what. If this is true, then one can assume the pastor ignored this in order to send out this letter.

This is a reference to financial contributions which is something the church constitution expressly prohibits the church staff from looking at for obvious reasons. This leads to favoritism and preferential treatment of the wealthy tithers

Is this membership removal driven by an agenda? If so, what is it?

Is the church getting rid of people who do not support the agenda of the pastors and assorted gospel dudes in charge? According to the Sapulpa Messenger, those over the age of 50 do not support the 9Marks agenda and attendance has been falling. There is suspicion that those who have been asked to leave are those who did not support the 9 Marks view of church membership and did not give money to support it.

It has taken a while to get here but we’re entering the final stages of a thermonuclear church meltdown.  Let’s get real.  It’s not that 50+ year members aren’t attending FBC Sapulpa anymore because they’ve turned their back on God. It is because it is obvious that FBC Sapulpa has become a charade and a tragic joke in the community it once served and people refuse to be associated with it.  Attendance is reaching record lows while pastoral pay is at an all time high. It appears the rich young rulers who have transformed this church into their personal religious social club are still subsidizing their banana republic staff.  As long as their money pays the bills nothing will change.  The pathway to destruction is wide and winding but we’re rolling smoothly down the middle of it.  At FBC Sapulpa there will be discipline and damnation of those who dare to leave.

Prediction

It is my opinion that the church leadership under Pastor Smokey will move to incorporate membership covenants, new bylaws and a consitution once the *discipline” has been completed. There will be a growing emphasis on church discipline and those who stick around better beware,.

My concerns about 9 Marks and their posture to the sick and elderly.

I recently talked with a pastor who has a part time job which entails visiting the elderly and the sick. This church also provides communion to those unable to attend church. Mark Dever is adamantly opposed to providing communion in these circumstances.

According to the 9 Marks website:

It’s a wonderful thing to remember those who are separated from us, especially by disability or age. Prayers, Scripture reading, visits, and encouragements of many kinds properly express Christ’s love and ours for such a brother or sister. But what about “taking them the Lord’s Supper”? No, I don’t think you can serve the Lord’s Supper to one person alone any more than you can baptize an infant. It’s outside the definition of what the Lord Supper is by its very nature. In my mind, therefore, this question is comparable to the question of how we should think about baptizing someone unable to be baptized. In the case of both the person in the nursing home and the person who is unable to be baptized, their inability morally excuses them from the command. It’s the nature of the Lord’s Supper to be an expression of the unity of a congregation (1 Cor. 10:17). While all members of a congregation may never be present, the public meeting should be one of which all members are welcome and most members usually are present. Someone’s inability to assemble with the congregation—we trust then—will be accompanied by God’s special provision for them during their trials or extended absence.”

Jonathan Leeman disagreed with his boss, Dever, but we know who runs the show over there. Leeman stated that doing so is not necessary but they *can* do it. It is obvious that they view communion an an unessential part of Christian life.I don’t.

As a Christian, I find their view of the elderly and infirm as being outside of the body of Christ very, very sad.

Two pastoral caveats to mention: First, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to do this, but, if a person asks for it, I think that a church can. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.

I believe this reflects a broader attitude in which the individual person is not important unless they show up in the actual church building and do their part as ATM’s on legs. Is this simply a means of control? Is there any compassion for those who are suffering and find communion an important part of their faith?

If I were a member of FBC Sapulpa, I would be very, very concerned about the direction that the church is headed in.

I’ll leave you with the last song that Glen Campbell wrote when he realized he had Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2017. FBC Sapulpa leadership should listen to this and consider their position towards the elderly and the infirm who cannot play their game.


Comments

First Baptist Church Sapulpa Celebrates Christmas By Embracing 9 Marks and Cancelling the Membership of the Elderly and Those Who Don’t Give Money — 299 Comments

  1. New Calvinism is all about bringing about a generational shift in belief and practice in non-Calvinist denominations; that’s why reformed pastors use stealth and deception to takeover churches and purge membership rolls. Its followers are primarily Generation X, Y, and Z folks; its leaders really don’t give a whoop about older believers. Do you reckon Pastor Smokey ever visited those members in nursing facilities who received his Merry Christmas letter?

  2. First?

    Did someone on the Twitter machine say that FBC Sapulpa did this in spite of having claimed to cancel the 9Marks program? It’s SOP, of course they should remove dead people from the rolls, and that’s just how reasonable church discipline really is. But they’re waiting to discipline who they really want to discipline, or just for some members to die… See below, really:

    https://www.9marks.org/article/cleaning-rolls/

  3. Stan wrote:

    they’re waiting to discipline who they really want to discipline, or just for some members to die… See below, really:

    https://www.9marks.org/article/cleaning-rolls/

    From the link you provide: “Membership in a church should reflect, as best as possible, membership in Christ’s Kingdom.”

    Actually, they really mean “Membership in ‘our’ church should reflect membership in ‘our’ kingdom” (their kingdom = New Calvinism, of course).

  4. This is consumerism “christianity”. When you are no longer a giving unit or serving in the church, you’re through. You’ve been used up and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper. It happens in many churches not related to 9marx too.

  5. This is far more common than folks realize, one of the worse sins of fellowship one can commit is to be inconvenient.

  6. “It’s not that 50+ year members aren’t attending FBC Sapulpa anymore because they’ve turned their back on God. It is because it is obvious that FBC Sapulpa has become a charade and a tragic joke in the community it once served and people refuse to be associated with it.” (Sapulpa Messenger)

    This is common story across the SBC, as young reformers deceive their way into traditional (non-Calvinist) churches. Older believers are being forced out of or reluctantly leave the churches they served in for years, and the buildings they financed are forfeited to the New Calvinist movement.

  7. Pingback: Sapulpa and World Aghast: FBC Sapulpa featured A SECOND TIME at The Wartburg Watch - The Sapulpa Messenger ICELAND

  8. One day there will be a reckoning.
    Karma and her sister Comeuppance are working on it as we speak.

  9. Max wrote:

    From the link you provide: “Membership in a church should reflect, as best as possible, membership in Christ’s Kingdom.”

    I seem to remember somebody saying “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” But I don’t think they care about His words anyway.

    But their love of money can’t be denied.

  10. Mark Dever had a wealthy neighbor (an unbeliever) who bankrolled and served as treasurer of 9Marks. Why doesn’t this preacher get one too instead of sending shakedown letters to elderly shut-ins?

  11. Greetings to you from FBC Sapulpa!

    Yeah, right. In an earlier life I could have been part of such a fiasco, fortunately I was ground up by same and it opened up my eyes. Odd that I would say fortunate, it was painful at the time but it seems duress can be an effective catalyst to learning.
    What is the big deal about membership that an organization would embarrass itself in such an effort to expunge people from its list? I may have understood once upon a time but that was in another life and now for the life of me I cannot fathom the callous absurdity of it.

  12. I have returned to a Lutheran Church that I am happy to see has a part time pastor who does regular visitation of elderly or long term ill congregants and brings them communion once a month. 9Marks could learn from this example of how to do church.

  13. As to Communion… “where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I Am in the midst of them.” Thus, it WOULD be perfectly appropriate and effectual for a believer to serve and share Communion with a shut in, just as appropriate and effectual as it would be if done with a larger group of people inside a “church” building. The 9 Marks “pushers” are completely off base with regards to this subject.

  14. @ Niteowl:

    Hurrah for your pastor (and I stress: NO irony or sarcasm there) and thankyou for your comment.

    Fundagelicalism is rapidly becoming like the Kingdom of the Beast – in which nobody can buy or sell anything without “666” stamped on their hand or forehead, to mark them as the property of some leader or other. True worshippers, who worship the Father in spirit and in truth and refuse to diminish either by “adding” to them extra man-made conditions, are being driven underground by the circumcision parties like 9Marx.

    Against this backdrop, it’s wonderful to encourage ourselves with stories like this: people whose love for God moves them to acts of kindness for one another instead of loveless acts of corporate “discipline”.

  15. ION: Cricket

    England have temporarily resurged in the 4th test, closing Day 3 on 491-9 with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 244; the overnight lead is 164 and if Cook outlasts Anderson on Day 4 he’ll be the first England player to carry his bat in over 20 years. (The last one was Michael Atherton, who was 228 n.o. against New Zealand in Christchurch in February 1997.)

    This, of course, is a blip. Australia will dig in, rapidly compile a huge second-innings score and skittle England on the final day to complete another easy win in the series whitewash.

  16. This is emblematic of one of my biggest problems with the evangelical church. They are always pushing for narrower and narrower interpretations. They are always trying to be unique and “set apart.” They think they are just one step away from finding the perfect way to do church. They are panacea merchants.

    The problem is, this creates a huge disincentive for someone to point out that the emperor has no clothes. People have staked their whole lives on the fact that they are doing it the one right way.

    Until 2 years ago, I was part of this and supported this adgenda. I was a culture warrior who wanted to press forward in the fight to take more and more of the Bible literally. The problem was, the pain in my life got too big for this small way of thinking. It has been a time of repentance for me: not in the sense that my questioning is wrong, because it isn’t, but repentance in the sense of choosing to agree with Jesus about who he says my Father is. A change of mind; a going home by a new way. That is a harder, but more free road to walk.

  17. IFON: More cricket

    Interested Wartburgers (and I don’t doubt that there are many) can find detailed statistics on cricketers who have carried the bat in Test matches on Wikipedia.

    What is striking about them is the list of match results on occasions where an opener has carried the bat. Of 51 Tests in which this has happened, the successful batsman has been on the losing side on 25 occasions, and on the winning side on only 13 occasions (the remaining 13 matches were, obviously, drawn). The stats are even more stark in ODI’s – 9 out of 11 bat-carriers have been on the losing side, with one match tied (a rare occurrence in limited-overs cricket).

    What this hints is that if you can keep your wicket while all around are losing theirs, then it is quite likely to mean naebdy else in your team is scoring any runs. This is, perhaps, not surprising. If several other batsmen are also contributing, then they are ipso facto spending a significant amount of time at the crease. This means that the sustained concentration and effort needed to be the last man in becomes harder and harder, the more runs your team gets. A team has scored over 400 on only three such occasions.

    IHTIH

  18. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    loveless acts of corporate “discipline”

    “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another” (John 13:25 AMP).

    Love is not a word used to describe New Calvinist church leaders. Purging church rolls of those who disagree with your authoritarian ways is a selfish act used by whippersnapper reformers taking over non-Calvinist churches. Delivering that news by mail to those confined in nursing homes is cold and heartless.

  19. Many years ago I had elderly grandparents who couldn’t attend church. Never once were they removed from membership. My great grandmothers lived less than a block away from the church. The minister came over to see them regularly. Members of the church visited all the time. They weren’t removed from the roles because they couldn’t give or attend the church in person. But they were both pray warriors. Even when they were in nursing homes they prayed for the church and the minister visited them. I would hate to think how this type of behavior would have harmed my 4 grandmothers. My dad is in the hospital and is being put in a nursing home at the end of the week. I think he will go to church services in the home, but he does have Alzheimers. Hard to say. But it’s not about what the church says, it’s about what the individual person thinks. My 6 grandparents (greats included) that are gone now were all christians. No church could ever take away from them their faith in God. That is what matters most.

  20. Wow, wow, wow!!! Is this stuff for real? I mean really??? If the members were not so indoctrinated and afraid a majority could overthrow these idiots and boot them out or at the very least every member leave and then they have nothing but each other. It would actually be a beautiful site to see the entire church body in these churches just denounce membership and all leave. Wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall in a case like that! Then what would these fools do? No people, no church, no MONEY!!!!! I think it certainly would send a very strong message to the rest of the 9marks/ Calvinists controlling donkey butts out there. I really wish this would start happening where entire bodies of members just make a mass exodus.

    I have an idea and I’m just throwing this out there. Maybe we need to get some people together (readers) in places like this to find good bible believing churches (non-Calvinist) in their areas and have a space to post here. I’m not sure how this would work but there are many savvy people here and the deebs already have a good idea of what to stay clear of so this way if members would like to drop these hacks and actually attend a church where they don’t get millstones tied around their necks they can come here and see what churches In their community would be worth a try? Anyone disagree with me or have any ideas or anything to add to this? I would love to see a space where we could go down a list of good bible believing churches in my community.

  21. “Let me be the first to apologize if something occurred to hinder the relationship” (Pastor Smokey)

    The “something” that occurred Pastor is your poor example of leadership, forcing a belief system on folks who don’t want it … instituting practices contrary to the church governance they have known for years … taking over the church they have served faithfully in … making a land grab of resources they financed … forcing old folks out in the last chapter of their life. They don’t want a relationship with you young man!

  22. I had a brief conversation just over a year ago with someone who was distancing themselves from FBC-Sapulpa. It didn’t make any sense. Now it does. It has been a blessing to see this individual continue to minister to God’s people despite this toxic situation.

  23. If I were one of those sitting on the sidelines because of the toxic nature of the leadership and received the letter, I’d them them a check for $1.00 by year end.

  24. Shauna wrote:

    It would actually be a beautiful site to see the entire church body in these churches just denounce membership and all leave. Wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall in a case like that! Then what would these fools do? No people, no church, no MONEY!!!!!

    Unfortunately, it appears that Pastor Smokey has attracted some gullible followers with money to bankroll this rebellion:

    “Attendance is reaching record lows while pastoral pay is at an all time high. It appears the rich young rulers who have transformed this church into their personal religious social club are still subsidizing their banana republic staff. As long as their money pays the bills nothing will change.” (Sapulpa Messenger)

  25. I find it so typical of a Calvinist to talk about the details of weather or not a shut-in should take communion while not even considering if their righteous opinion is right then they should be gathering the body of Christ over at the nursing home once a month and having fellowship? NO LOVE!!!!!
    I have lost a son to this mess and he has become so hard hearted and self righteous that he is all alone now , too pure in his doctrine to allow anyone close to him and his. My heart breaks for him and his family. With the experience I have had over the years with Calvinism I tend to think it draws over thinkers who struggle with the concept of faith, its a false religion! A false assurance!

  26. Most churches use their “What We Believe” page to define basic doctrinal stances. While FBC-Sapulpa’s has some of that, they also get off into more “How We Function”:

    “We believe that relationships are the “stuff” of life. Therefore, we design strategies for relationship building so that healthy relationships permeate every aspect of the body life of the church.”

    I find the blending of theology and practical approach on the page to be an indicator that the church is organizationally challenged and lacks solid leadership.

    This following statement, however, is outright disturbing in it’s lack of explanation as to what evaluation, review, and analysis are and how they will be implemented:

    “The concepts of evaluation, critical review and analysis are the formations for an exciting, transforming and supernatural experience with God.”

    Are they making a case for sin sniffing?

    http://fbcsapulpa.com/about-us/what-we-believe/

  27. How heart breaking! My take on what you wrote is that Mark Dever cleaned the roles a little more appropriately than did this church. I have been in “neo-calvinist” churches now for 15 years. I don’t know one yet that throws out elderly people who just can no longer attend. Though I don’t know the details I think this is another case of somewhat rogue disciples of the 9Marks crowd misinterpreting and abusing the principals that they learn for their own aggrandizement. In the two churches that I was involved with every effort was made to contact lapsed members to find out why they no longer attended and see why they didn’t attend any longer. There were “members” who were kept on the roles that probably should have been removed yet through deference to attending older members were kept on the roles. Mark Dever is a lot of things. That he would throw out members who are elderly and just can not attend any longer for health issues would really surprise me.

  28. Stan wrote:

    of course they should remove dead people from the rolls

    But for faithful 9Marxist splinter groups, it’s not so simple: “The outer rings represent meaningless membership… Let’s start from the outside and work in:
    1) Members who are dead. (At my church we found 10!) This outer-most ring should be the easiest to clean up. At you church’s next meeting for conducting business, put these names before the congregation with a motion to remove them from membership in the following meeting. Don’t ask the congregation to immediately remove these names, but give them time to think about the motion.”
    So get this: You’re a meaningless dead “member”. But you can’t simply leave. The congregation has to think about whether or not to let you go between one business meeting and the next! Another article clarifies that the congregation needs “some time to think about what they’re doing and why.” They might vote No! If So,You can’t Go!

  29. “Two pastoral caveats to mention: First, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to do this, but, if a person asks for it, I think that a church can. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.”

    Well, this begs the question. Exactly WHAT extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace does one get if they take it at church? So, I am to ascertain that location matters?

  30. @ Thersites:
    There is a backstory. I followed it on SBC YRR blogs. It goes back to about 2006 or so in that venue. It started with concern about reported SBC numbers not being correct. Fair enough. That is legit. A case was made and everyone agreed but the resolution was passed as “church discipline”. So they got a resolution passed at convention for churches to clean up their rolls. THEN the next big focus was the “church discipline” part. So, you see, the cleaning must go deeper to take “non Christians” or non attendees off the rolls. See how it works? I do give them credit for diabolical cleverness.

    One thing I learned with all this is NEVER trust the original stated intention. It NEVER stops there. Just like when Al Mohler insisted BFM committee had to include an “s” on Priesthood of believer. Who knew where that would take us. Now we know. The masses need a “priest” over them to interpret for them.

    They are a deceptive crafty bunch with the long term in mind. Its uncanny. I don’t believe a word they say.

  31. Sandra wrote:

    This is consumerism “christianity”. When you are no longer a giving unit or serving in the church, you’re through. You’ve been used up and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper. It happens in many churches not related to 9marx too.

    I agree. Churches run on money. Period. That cannot be escaped. And now the big thing is to find alternate sources of income besides pew sitters because its not flowing like it used to.

  32. @ Nancy2 (aka Kevlar):
    My late mother used to facilitate worship services in nursing homes so I don’t get their point, obviously. She did communion, too.

    “Fancy pants” is exactly right because what they say is meaningless when analyzed. It is said that way so people won’t question.

  33. Lydia wrote:

    Sandra wrote:

    I agree. Churches run on money. Period. That cannot be escaped. And now the big thing is to find alternate sources of income besides pew sitters because its not flowing like it used to.

    I was a member of this church until they lost their minds. Your comment above is true. The church is now funded by income from oil leases. They also own an entire city block of rental properties. It is a very wealthy corporation. They don’t need the tithers anymore.

  34. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    closing Day 3 on 491-9 with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 244

    Didn’t he make a 13-part television documentary about America in the ’70’s? He must be pretty old now.

  35. Lydia wrote:

    Sandra wrote:
    This is consumerism “christianity”. When you are no longer a giving unit or serving in the church, you’re through. You’ve been used up and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper. It happens in many churches not related to 9marx too.
    I agree. Churches run on money. Period. That cannot be escaped. And now the big thing is to find alternate sources of income besides pew sitters because its not flowing like it used to.

    I agree 100% and if my spidey senses are on point then if we look at a lot of these 9 marks, Calvinist, controlling churches from the pulpit antics then one has to wonder how is this happening? First I don’t believe these men are self deceived! I believe the congregations are deceived. Why? Because in order for these “Pastors”/ “Elders” to exert control over the body they first need to set themselves up as a corporation non profit or not. Once this is done then of course they need a “legally binding contract” Church Covenant’s for their membership!!! That right there says it all. Unless they are willing to tell their members up front what that document actually means and why the membership classes then they are lying and deceiving the body of Christ, Period!!!! Stop right there because a church built on a lie or a covenant contract brought in under deceptive purposes is already a foundation either planted on sand or wasn’t a rock to begin with. Doctrine and any other belief system in my opinion is non existent at this point! Why? Because if I had known that was what I was signing when I was given an application for membership I would have said NO WAY! So when they do this your right to chose is already taken and you don’t even know it at the time. Yes you can choose not to sign fill one out but the way it was put to me was in a non legal, non threatening form. It was passed off as oh we love you and want to care for you so that if you leave our church we can hand you over to another loving church of your choosing. It gives us an opportunity to love you and come along side of you and that is the way Pastor Ken put it to me. That I was considered a widow and my son an orphan that the church wanted to come along side of us. So with this said who is going to think they are signing a legal contract giving the pastor permission to exercise church discipline over me? Until my child was sexually abused I had no idea churches were going through all of this mess. I was completely clueless for about a year and it took me that long just to figure out what they were doing. It wasn’t until I came here that I began to learn what this was all about! So I say to anyone check doctrinal beliefs however what would that matter if in fact the pastor is already living a complete lie by deceiving his congregation? Anyone can put up a statement of faith that seems alright but if your a liar your a liar and a deceiver!!!
    I have also come to the conclusion that most going to seminary and into the pastoral field are not really called. I believe they see all the perks and cushy job of a pastor along with a nice salary package. The pastor doesn’t do any type of hard labor normally. He gets a nice office and pretty much its a social job. It’s not like it used to be when my former church pastor would come to your house. He would go door to door visiting people. He was at the hospital all the time or in the homes of the elderly. His time was filled with not social gatherings or trips overseas to speak in exotic places but rather in the trenches with his congregation loving and giving the gospel to others. He was selfless and didn’t have a big pay package. His income was dependent upon the provision of the Lord through His church. I can see my former pastor now always smiling always doing something with those in our former church. In my years as a Christian I have never seen anything like what I’m seeing now in the past 13 years. I’m sorry but the local church is not what it used to be and this doctrine of Calvinism has crept in along with 9 marks and among many other strange doctrines and we have allowed it. There seems a to be a complacency in the church and as long as we have our friendships and coffee dates all is good. People consider serving people in the church who really are living pretty well (this is not all churches) rather than going out and meeting the spiritual and physical needs of their communities 12 months out of the year.
    Seriously give me a small group of believers who are passionate about the Lord and His word and I’m there. I prefer a church with no buildings one that is outside and money collected is to meet needs of others and not line the pockets of the pastor or elders. I understand supporting pastors it should be that way however now days its like the corporate world and in my world the church should never be listed as a corporation, period!

  36. Lydia wrote:

    used to facilitate worship services

    There are itinerant pastors who work at their day jobs all week and then run their churches on the weekends. In these churches, all parishioners work at their day jobs, as a matter of fact, and then everyone pitches in with running the church. This is taking place both in rural and urban areas. No one is building a kingdom, however, in these cases. The church is there simply to serve the people.

  37. Lydia wrote:

    Churches run on money.

    If cash is used instead of checks or credit card transactions, there is no tax write-off, but also the church cannot keep track of who gives what. Hence, there is no power base built up with money.

  38. What Happened wrote:

    Spiritual soylent green

    HA! Yeah. Makes me think of the scene in the old film (Soylent Green) where Edward G. Robinson weeps into his hands at the table with Heston asking:

    “…How did we come to this…?”

  39. Bill wrote:

    As to Communion… “where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I Am in the midst of them.” Thus, it WOULD be perfectly appropriate and effectual for a believer to serve and share Communion with a shut in, just as appropriate and effectual as it would be if done with a larger group of people inside a “church” building. The 9 Marks “pushers” are completely off base with regards to this subject.

    So agree. Taking of communion, while a corporate experience, is also singularly, a spiritually, edifying part of worshipping God. Who are these creeps to refuse communion to the elderly, the infirm? Just because one is elderly, doesn’t mean their spiritual soul/heart , ceases to exist.

  40. @ Lydia:
    The Calvinistas would hear that story and want to make sure your mom wasn’t preaching, because we can’t have a woman doing that

  41. Thersites wrote:

    Greetings to you from FBC Sapulpa!

    Yeah, right. In an earlier life I could have been part of such a fiasco, fortunately I was ground up by same and it opened up my eyes. Odd that I would say fortunate, it was painful at the time but it seems duress can be an effective catalyst to learning.
    What is the big deal about membership that an organization would embarrass itself in such an effort to expunge people from its list? I may have understood once upon a time but that was in another life and now for the life of me I cannot fathom the callous absurdity of it.

    What is the big deal about membership?

    It seems to be all about control.

    Oh, they’ll say stuff like, “How do we need who needs care if they don’t become members of the church?” and their membership documents talk about mutual accountability, but I don’t remember anything in Acts or the epistles about people coming to faith and being baptized and swearing an oath and signing a document to join the body of believers…

  42. @ Bill:
    Good point, Bill. We continued to remember the Lord in our own home when we left our then church due to its inappropriate decisions. This scripture was our basis for doing so.

  43. @ Ricco:
    I can assure you she did not care what they thought— nor should we! :o) More like a devotional with tons of hymns usually played on out of tune pianos. She wasn’t the preachy type. One of the homes she did this in weekly for 20 years is where she ended up the last 2 years of her life. Old saints amaze me as they rarely forget the words.

  44. JYJames wrote:

    The church is there simply to serve the people.

    I agree with your sentiments and would amend your statement by saying the church is there to simply serve each other. It sure isn’t there to serve a pastor and his staff.

  45. @ JYJames:
    Mega churches are very well aware of this reality. They usually have a tithing base but the rest comes from people there. That is why they focus on bottoms in the pews at all costs and are constantly upping the game to get them in. People give when they are there. Its uncanny. they will empty their pockets to throw something in. It takes a bunch of people on Monday morning to count all the “change” and prepare it for transport when the armored truck gets there.

  46. Lydia wrote:

    “Two pastoral caveats to mention: First, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to do this, but, if a person asks for it, I think that a church can. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.”

    Well, this begs the question. Exactly WHAT extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace does one get if they take it at church? So, I am to ascertain that location matters?

    From something I remember reading here earlier, location matters (to them)! Doesn’t communion at Mark Dever’s church include reciting the membership covenant together?

    It’s all about being a corporate body, and if you’re not there in person to cement your corporate bodiness by reciting in lock-step the magical incantation, then you are not a useful part of the body.

    Of course, they try to sugarcoat this harsh decision by trying to tell you some nonsense like implying you’ve graduated beyond the need for taking communion…

  47. Refugee wrote:

    Thersites wrote:
    Greetings to you from FBC Sapulpa!

    Yeah, right. In an earlier life I could have been part of such a fiasco, fortunately I was ground up by same and it opened up my eyes. Odd that I would say fortunate, it was painful at the time but it seems duress can be an effective catalyst to learning.
    What is the big deal about membership that an organization would embarrass itself in such an effort to expunge people from its list? I may have understood once upon a time but that was in another life and now for the life of me I cannot fathom the callous absurdity of it.
    What is the big deal about membership?
    It seems to be all about control.
    Oh, they’ll say stuff like, “How do we need who needs care if they don’t become members of the church?” and their membership documents talk about mutual accountability, but I don’t remember anything in Acts or the epistles about people coming to faith and being baptized and swearing an oath and signing a document to join the body of believers…

    Oh my gosh you just made me think of this verse!!! Your right we are not to swear oaths.

    Matthew 5:34-37King James Version (KJV)
    34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
    35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
    36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
    37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

  48. Ken P. wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    closing Day 3 on 491-9 with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 244

    Didn’t he make a 13-part television documentary about America in the ’70’s? He must be pretty old now.

    You’re thinking of Cookie Monster (and the much-missed journalist after whom he was named)…

    Alastair Cooke was well-known over in Blighty for, among other things, his Letter from America which ran for nearly 3000 episodes over half a century. Though he was in fact English by birth, he moved to the states in the 1930’s (I think) and I’d always assumed he was American until 30 seconds ago when I read his Wiki bio. He remains, in my mind (and many others’ too) a symbol of everything that’s best about America.

  49. @ JYJames:
    I have two old friends who are bi vocational pastors in rural churches. They both love it. Everyone pitches in. And frankly, what they are paid barely touches their expenses but that isn’t why they are there. The churches cannot afford someone full time, anyway. They got OUT of full time ministry years ago– on purpose. Somehow the Calvinistas have not gotten a hold of these particular rural churches. Guess they aren’t glamorous enough?

  50. Lydia wrote:

    “Two pastoral caveats to mention: First, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to do this, but, if a person asks for it, I think that a church can. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.”

    What bothered me in the part of the post quoted here was the lack of empathy and compassion implied. There is, it seems, an emphasis on correct doctrine (they need to be taught — “make sure they understand” — that they don’t need to add to their salvation) rather than the comfort and inclusion that can be found in this simple act.

    In an Episcopal church we attended decades ago, there were lay members who would each take a communion kit to nursing homes, hospitals, and shut-ins after the service where the priest had blessed the elements during corporate worship.

    9Marks seems to be more about excluding, actually.

  51. @ Refugee:
    Wonder how often 9 Marks churches have communion? I wonder if I get double blessing as I had it twice Christmas Eve due to vocal obligations at two different denominations. Sadly, at one church, Al Mohler was there, too. Sigh.

  52. @ Shauna:
    Shauna,
    As Max pointed out above, one troubling aspect of this is that for those older folks to walk away often involves turning their backs on a building they financed over a lifetime, investing not only their money but their sweat and time. The building also holds memories, sometimes of generations of family members worshipping together there.of course, once the usurpers have run their course, especially with the cost of real estate in the neighborhoods they seem to favor, they can make a killing in selling the land and building.

    Church buildings make interesting and quirky restaurants, for example. Classrooms can be converted to office space. A sanctuary could become an art gallery… (all uses I’ve seen old church buildings put to)

  53. @ Donna:
    I’m sorry, Donna. I think you have something there, in your analysis of why people are drawn to this kind of theology.

  54. @ Lydia:
    The 9Marks church we attended had it every week. The patriarchal church had it every week as well.

    But then, the Episcopal and Lutheran churches we have attended have weekly communion, too.

    I have heard of churches that only have it at Easter.

    It’s an interesting bit of food for thought. Do people become addicted to the practice? Can it be used as a control mechanism? (I remember us cutting vacation short to be sure we got to church — our local church, that is, not just any church — on Sunday.)

    Do people come to take it for granted if it’s a weekly thing?

    Is it any more special if it is a rarity?

    (I remember one friend telling me it strengthened her —to be able to face and get through the upcoming week.)

  55. @ Shauna:
    Yep.
    Well, in my neck of the woods this is pretty much the case whether you are Calvinist or not. The competition is fierce for pew sitters/money. the megas used to try and convince people they were for the “unchurched” but the truth was most were Catholics, Baptists, etc, who simply added. Many Sunday program volunteers were Catholics who went to Mass on Saturday. They came from everywhere for the “programming” and “entertainment”. It was exciting to be a part of something that big and the kids had their own church complete with a Disney Imagineered theme park!

    The difference is they just wanted you to show up as basically a spectator who opened your purse. They would do the rest. The Calvinistas want to own you. They take over a church or start up a church that is really a Hotel California in the making. they are NEVER upfront about their plans. But they don’t have to be because they were taught that YOU do not know the “true Gospel” so they are really doing you a favor. That is the level of arrogance we are talking about.

    Hope all is well with you!

  56. FBC Saplupa…whats’ with the logo at the top left of their website! Lol. Maybe it’s just me…but that looks like the classic male symbol, times three. How weird! I designed a logo for the church we were part of for 25 years, and it wasn’t anything like that!

    I’ve been a “Done” (from the 8 year church) since March, but I miss simple community, and the awesome choir. I don’t miss the abuse, the control, the “it’s my way or the highway” from church leaders.

    Our family went to a nice neutral site for a Christmas Eve service and listened to a “pastor”, with shades of Driscoll, include seven references or innuendoes to sex in his “sermon”. And according to him Joseph “threw Mary on the donkey”… I was encouraged that my hubby and kids heard it, too. It worries me that I might just be over sensitive. But we won’t be darkening those doors again!

    Happy New Year, TWW!

  57. @ Lydia:
    It seems to be a mix of arrogance and fear, for the ones I’ve known who seemed sincere and caring. Not only do they have the “true” gospel, but the sincere ones seem to grow ever more controlling as their fear grows because of that verse that says leaders or teachers will have to give a greater account.

  58. @ Refugee:
    My Baptist tradition had it quarterly. It was a big deal. the whole service was about it. I don’t think this is something that is or should be regulated– at all. One of the most memorable ones I ever had was at a huge extended family reunion when I was a kid. About 300 people. Another was at a “Fondue” Thanksgiving. We dipped the bread in cheese and drank the real stuff :o)

    But if you and I wanted to eat and drink in remembrance of Him, who is to say we can’t? No one. That is the beauty of our Lord and being a priest in the Holy Priesthood! Amen.

  59. Heather wrote:

    FBC Saplupa…whats’ with the logo at the top left of their website! Lol. Maybe it’s just me…but that looks like the classic male symbol, times three. How weird! I designed a logo for the church we were part of for 25 years, and it wasn’t anything like that!

    I’ve been a “Done” (from the 8 year church) since March, but I miss simple community, and the awesome choir. I don’t miss the abuse, the control, the “it’s my way or the highway” from church leaders.

    Our family went to a nice neutral site for a Christmas Eve service and listened to a “pastor”, with shades of Driscoll, include seven references or innuendoes to sex in his “sermon”. And according to him Joseph “threw Mary on the donkey”… I was encouraged that my hubby and kids heard it, too. It worries me that I might just be over sensitive. But we won’t be darkening those doors again!

    Happy New Year, TWW!

    Augh! That sounds so familiar. I walked out of a Mother’s Day sermon halfway through last year because it seemed to me to be all about sex.

    (I was told later in a discussion of my concerns with the elders that it wasn’t focused on sex! It was about relationships… but it sure sounded like sex to me.)

  60. First Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC, did this shortly after Dennis Darville took up leadership. It was to remove those who may be opposed to the move to the elder system of leadership. I remember getting a call, after I had moved a hundred miles away but had yet to move my membership, asking if I planned on attending again and I told the caller no. He went on to tell me they were calling everyone. The next week there was a vote.

  61. Refugee wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    It seems to be a mix of arrogance and fear, for the ones I’ve known who seemed sincere and caring. Not only do they have the “true” gospel, but the sincere ones seem to grow ever more controlling as their fear grows because of that verse that says leaders or teachers will have to give a greater account.

    That actually sounds like a grand deception. for them. I keep thinking of the last sermon the YRR guy who took over my last church gave before he left for brighter pastures. A friend of mine sent it to me. I was the most deceptive thing I have ever heard as I did keep up with what was going on there. It was actually full of lies concerning how he “left” the church. It was like he was trying to convince himself. Sad part? They were so thrilled he was leaving NO ONE called him on anything he said. They let it go. It’s like he never existed after he left. Chances are, they will make the same mistake again because they will never analyze what happened. They will view it as a one off.

    And that is the thing. People who invest themselves in a group, don’t want to admit their part in the problems that emerge from the group’s decisions. they don’t want to admit they believed things or people they should have questioned. That is what makes church very scary to me these days. Its voluntary so I don’t have to put up with it anymore.

  62. I can’t imagine how difficult that is however if people will read the covenant contract they signed by becoming members they have no say or ownership of the building they financed, that is the problem it doesn’t belong to any of the members. This means the pastor and his board of directors can do what they please. Is it better they stay for the building or let God honor their giving whether those in charge abuse the funds given in His name? I say they are better off to get out. Also it’s not the building people should be attached to. That’s all I’m saying not being insensitive but rather thinking its better to not be in their grip! Maybe they will miss out on God moving them to a place of worship where they will find peace in worship and fellowship Refugee wrote:

    @ Shauna:
    Shauna,
    As Max pointed out above, one troubling aspect of this is that for those older folks to walk away often involves turning their backs on a building they financed over a lifetime, investing not only their money but their sweat and time. The building also holds memories, sometimes of generations of family members worshipping together there.of course, once the usurpers have run their course, especially with the cost of real estate in the neighborhoods they seem to favor, they can make a killing in selling the land and building.

    Church buildings make interesting and quirky restaurants, for example. Classrooms can be converted to office space. A sanctuary could become an art gallery… (all uses I’ve seen old church buildings put to)

  63. Lydia wrote:

    k in remembrance of Him, who is to say we can’t? No one. That is the beauty of our Lord and being a priest in the Holy Pri

    The very first Lord’s Supper wasn’t in a church building.

  64. Shauna wrote:

    It was passed off as oh we love you and want to care for you so that if you leave our church we can hand you over to another loving church of your choosing. It gives us an opportunity to love you and come along side of you and that is the way Pastor Ken put it to me.

    Yeah, they really cared for you and Billy. “Pastor” Ken is a heretic!

  65. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    The very first Lord’s Supper wasn’t in a church building.

    Christianity started with a meal around a table. Just like the way Judaism started [in a sense] with the Passover meal. You could even say it’s the same covenant meal, just updated a bit.

  66. Hi all
    Well, my double oven decided to honk out on Christmas Eve!!! I am now trying to get a replacement so forgive me for my lack of comments. Will try to do more later today.

  67. Refugee wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    The 9Marks church we attended had it every week. The patriarchal church had it every week as well.

    But then, the Episcopal and Lutheran churches we have attended have weekly communion, too.

    I have heard of churches that only have it at Easter.

    It’s an interesting bit of food for thought. Do people become addicted to the practice? Can it be used as a control mechanism? (I remember us cutting vacation short to be sure we got to church — our local church, that is, not just any church — on Sunday.)

    Do people come to take it for granted if it’s a weekly thing?

    Is it any more special if it is a rarity?

    (I remember one friend telling me it strengthened her —to be able to face and get through the upcoming week.)

    Perhaps I misinterpret some of the responses concerning communion. Are people aware that your opinion of taking it to shut-ins and those who can’t get to the worship service would depend greatly on what view you have of what communion is. If you are a Roman Catholic it would be a big deal. Transubstantiation meaning it is turned into the actual body in blood of Jesus by the priest. Consubstantiation the Lutheran view that the body and blood are present but not the actual elements. Or the Baptist view that it is only a remembrance of the Lord death for our sins. It matters what your view is. Perhaps Catholics and Lutherans think there is a means of grace in it. Baptist generally don’t see it that way.

  68. I’ve been wondering why these Neo-Cal dudes haven’t gotten to our corner of the world, yet. There was an attempted takeover of the main FBC in town, which resulted in a nasty church split, and we do have one NCFIC church, which is it’s own sort of thing. The 9Marks website still lists a church that brought in a pastor from The Masters Seminary to “reform” their church. That lasted about a year, before the few people that were left disbanded. But we don’t have bearded Neo-Cal dudebros.

    Maybe we’re not hip enough for them. Or rich enough. And I’m not complaining.

  69. Oh crap….that is called 9Marxism. The hostile takeover resembles the Bolsheviks of old who hijacked Russia and engineered bloody purges that left tens of millions dead and, to this day, visits poverty and misery on those dealing with the aftermath.

    Is Dever and the 9Marks brigade genocidal? I doubt it. But I also see no Biblical precedent for such church hijackings, let alone that brand of “Church Discipline”. When I read the NT, the only case for the nuclear option–excommunication–is egregious sin.

    A blog that tells the truth about what goes on behind closed doors is not a gossip line, but rather an instrument of transparency.

    FBC Sapulpa owes a mea culpa, and then some.

  70. Refugee wrote:

    A sanctuary could become an art gallery… (all uses I’ve seen old church buildings put to)

    Saw one in the old part of Charleston, S.C. with beautiful stained glass that was converted into a sports bar.

  71. Ken A wrote:

    Perhaps I misinterpret some of the responses concerning communion. Are people aware that your opinion of taking it to shut-ins and those who can’t get to the worship service would depend greatly on what view you have of what communion is

    Why? It seems no matter what the view, the church with that view would make it available (what ever that means they have to do from their view) to those who want to partake but can’t because of health.

  72. Bridget wrote:

    Ken A wrote:

    Perhaps I misinterpret some of the responses concerning communion. Are people aware that your opinion of taking it to shut-ins and those who can’t get to the worship service would depend greatly on what view you have of what communion is

    Why? It seems no matter what the view, the church with that view would make it available (what ever that means they have to do from their view) to those who want to partake but can’t because of health.

    If you don’t think it is the actual body of Jesus or His body is present, only a remembrance, if you believe it is a remembrance that the family celebrates and not a personal means of Grace, it just doesn’t mean the same to take it in a personal setting instead of a corporate setting. In Catholicism it is a “sacrament”. It connects you in some mystical way to the Lord Jesus. I guess Lutherans are similar though I don’t know for sure about Lutherans. Though significant to Baptist they don’t see it as in any way “sacramental”.

  73. The discussion on Communion/Lord’s Supper illustrates the kinds of problems the church is subjected to when authoritarian pastors start reading meaning into scriptures that was never intended. This current crop of over-thinkers have some very disturbing parallels to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day in that they get such myopic vision that they miss the initial intent and meaning.

    I recently heard a series of sermons on a passage from Ephesians in which the pastor parsed, sub-parsed, and re-parsed each verse. By the end, I was convinced that the pastor had now spent much more time discerning a deeper meaning in the passage than Paul spent writing it and had covered several angles that the apostle had probably never considered.

  74. FW Rez wrote:

    By the end, I was convinced that the pastor had now spent much more time discerning a deeper meaning in the passage than Paul spent writing it and had covered several angles that the apostle had probably never considered.

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

    Robert Bork, champion for interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent, makes the following statement….

    “What was once the dominant view of constitutional law–that a judge is to apply the Constitution according to the principles intended by those who ratified the document–is now very much out of favor among the theorists of the field…”

    “… a judge, no matter on what court he sits, may never create new constitutional rights or destroy old ones. Any time he does so, he violates not only the limits to his own authority but, and for that reason, also violates the rights of the legislature and the people.”

    “The notion of a living Constitution seems to appeal to a great many people because the phrase makes it seem that the alternative is a dead Constitution. Indeed, I have no difficulty with the idea that the Constitution lives, only with the notion that it keeps sprouting new heads in accordance with current intellectual and moral fashion.”

  75. Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.

    Reason #387 how Reformed Baptists flirt with Gnosticism: The denial that God uses the material world to convey grace. Ironically, they’ll believe most literally that the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden could convey eternal life to those who eat of its fruit, but that bread and wine can convey Christ’s body and blood? No, never!

    I used to think similarly until I started reading church history and patristic writers for myself. I had no idea that I had failed to take Christ literally at His Word when He said, “This is my body, this is my blood”, and that it was only Gnostic cults in the very beginning who held symbolic beliefs of the Eucharist.

    So sad regardless of their beliefs concerning the Eucharist that they would withhold this from the elderly. What are they even thinking? Why do people even stay in such places? There are so many options. Why stick around with authoritarian jerks? Golly, even my parish priest, who has the Apostolic Succession of the Bishop backing him, would never act this way. If he checks up on me, it’s to make sure I’m not hopsitalized or didn’t die in a car wreck, not to be a control freak and clean up the rolls.

    Why don’t more people ask by what right others assume authority over them? How do we know they are really called by God, such that we should submit to them? These crazy church leaders have done nothing more than set themselves up as mini Popes. And I can think of Popes who have been less authoritarian and more tender towards their flocks than these!

  76. A suggestion. Church members should change their wills and/or trust documents to change any designated gifts to a church. Do not name the church. Rather state “the church, if any, where I am a member in good standing at the time of my death. No money is to go to a church that has placed me “under discipline”; that has dismissed me from membership; or that would not allow my funeral to be held at the church.”

  77. @ Ricco:
    Sorry if it came off as bragging. She would be appalled because she loved every minute. We just don’t realize what we have have until it’s gone. I would give anything to go with her today and carry the grape juice in. 🙂

  78. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Second, you should make sure your “shut-ins” understand that they will not receive any extra transfusion of special or sanctifying grace by receiving the Supper. That’s not what the Supper does.

    Reason #387 how Reformed Baptists flirt with Gnosticism: The denial that God uses the material world to convey grace. Ironically, they’ll believe most literally that the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden could convey eternal life to those who eat of its fruit, but that bread and wine can convey Christ’s body and blood? No, never!

    I used to think similarly until I started reading church history and patristic writers for myself. I had no idea that I had failed to take Christ literally at His Word when He said, “This is my body, this is my blood”, and that it was only Gnostic cults in the very beginning who held symbolic beliefs of the Eucharist.

    So sad regardless of their beliefs concerning the Eucharist that they would withhold this from the elderly. What are they even thinking? Why do people even stay in such places? There are so many options. Why stick around with authoritarian jerks? Golly, even my parish priest, who has the Apostolic Succession of the Bishop backing him, would never act this way. If he checks up on me, it’s to make sure I’m not hopsitalized or didn’t die in a car wreck, not to be a control freak and clean up the rolls.

    Why don’t more people ask by what right others assume authority over them? How do we know they are really called by God, such that we should submit to them? These crazy church leaders have done nothing more than set themselves up as mini Popes. And I can think of Popes who have been less authoritarian and more tender towards their flocks than these!

    Yes the Roman Catholic Church of today is much more tolerant. But, if history is correct they wanted Martin Luther dead. They burned John Hus at the stake and many other examples could be given. All because they dared to disagree with the Roman Catholic teaching. Then at Trent they “anathematized” anyone who disagreed with them. They have never recanted Trent.
    I looked it up in the Baltimore Catechism. If you don’t believe that the Pope is head of the church they “anathematize” you. As one who proudly is one who they “anathematized”, I none the less don’t find them all that tolerant. I am speaking of official Church teaching and not what the average Roman Catholic may or may not believe.

  79. “I used to think similarly until I started reading church history and patristic writers for myself. I had no idea that I had failed to take Christ literally at His Word when He said, “This is my body, this is my blood”, and that it was only Gnostic cults in the very beginning who held symbolic beliefs of the Eucharist.”

    Maybe the question is HOW a piece of bread becomes His body and a sip of wine becomes His blood?

  80. Lydia wrote:

    Maybe the question is HOW a piece of bread becomes His body and a sip of wine becomes His blood?

    +++++

    Or when it “unbecomes” the body and blood of Jesus (mouth, stomach, large intestine, etc.).

  81. Ken A wrote:

    If you don’t think it is the actual body of Jesus or His body is present, only a remembrance, if you believe it is a remembrance that the family celebrates and not a personal means of Grace, it just doesn’t mean the same to take it in a personal setting instead of a corporate setting. In Catholicism it is a “sacrament”. It connects you in some mystical way to the Lord Jesus. I guess Lutherans are similar though I don’t know for sure about Lutherans. Though significant to Baptist they don’t see it as in any way “sacramental”.

    Yes. I understand the different views. However, Jesus initiated communion in a very small, personnel setting. I wonder what Jesus would think or do for those unable to attend a building on Sunday morning? Honestly, withholding communion reminds me of Jesus parables about healing on the Sabbath and Jesus’ anger at the hardness of the religious leader’s hearts.

  82. FW Rez wrote:

    By the end, I was convinced that the pastor had now spent much more time discerning a deeper meaning in the passage than Paul spent writing it and had covered several angles that the apostle had probably never considered.

    I think I’ve heard thousands of these types of sermons 😉

  83. Bridget wrote:

    Ken A wrote:

    unable to attend a building on Sunday morning? Honestly, withholding communion reminds me of Jesus parables about healing on the Sabbath and Jesus’ anger at the hardness of the religious leader’s hearts.

    I am sorry. I just can not understand your point here. How does this relate to “Jesus parables about healing on the Sabbath and Jesus’ anger at the hardness of the religious leader’s hearts.” I honestly would like to know how you see this as relating?

  84. I was threatened through cell phone communication by a deacon and the Senior Pastor in the 9Marks church I was excommunicated from. I felt an urgent need to call the cops after the talk with the Sr. Pastor, but, no witnesses in an electronic voice encounter of such.

  85. I watched this church takeover nonsense by one of the YRR guys.

    Meetings were not called, they were announced by the new preacher. NO clue who authorized the meetings. Held at odd hours (always after dark so the cataract crowd aka seniors could not attend.) Church van not available to pick up members for the meetings. If you “don’t care enough to find a way to attend you should not vote.”

    Upshot was the church name was changed–out with Baptist and in with trendy.
    Congregational governance was gone in favor of elder ruled. (Specifically not elder led.)

    Preceding these votes was the brief announcement on a Sunday that “unless you have signed a card pledging to support the new direction of the church and signed the membership covenant you are hereby resigning your membership and not eligible to vote.” These were supposedly available in the office. Supposedly. Older long time members could not lay hands on one. All in violation of the by laws and church constitution. Preacher forbade any negative speaking anywhere about all this. The sheep complied or left. Only the newer people who had recently joined wound up voting.

    It was simply stealing real estate, and that is all it was. Younger folks that didn’t want to build or buy a building found a nefarious way to steal one.

    Trusting older folks were kicked to the curb.

    But then things went downhill monetarily when the golden set left. Preacher was encouraged to find other employment. Last I heard he, now in his 50’s, cannot find a preaching job anywhere. The younger folks now find him over the hill and he has been kicked to the curb.

  86. Dave A A wrote:
    So get this: You’re a meaningless dead “member”. But you can’t simply leave. The congregation has to think about whether or not to let you go between one business meeting and the next! Another article clarifies that the congregation needs “some time to think about what they’re doing and why.” They might vote No! If So,You can’t Go!

    So I would need to return as a zombie? I always thought the undead cannot enter a church… :P.
    Greetings
    Exing

  87. My mother in law now has a YRR pastor at their church, and is “Thrilled” because they are growing with “hipsters.”
    A mix of old folks and bearded “cool” folks.
    She doesn’t see the bad doctrine, the fact the older people who are the major tithers, are being “edged out.”
    We attended Christmas Eve and the devotion was so far from the Christmas story….I doubt I attend next year’s service. I may either stay “home”, or attend the Methodist church across town.

  88. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Shauna wrote:
    It was passed off as oh we love you and want to care for you so that if you leave our church we can hand you over to another loving church of your choosing. It gives us an opportunity to love you and come along side of you and that is the way Pastor Ken put it to me.
    Yeah, they really cared for you and Billy. “Pastor” Ken is a heretic!

    Yes! I agree with you 100% on this. He has yet to publically apologize to Billy for his slanderous statements against him from the pulpit about him and to the congregation in the email he sent about us!

    Its funny how his perpetrator is in favor of homosexuals and he speaks out against the church anytime there is a controversy regarding the homosexual / transsexual movement. I thought his perpetrator came to the Lord after assaulting Billy, according to Ken Ramey????? He doesn’t have anything to do with the church yet visits when he comes back to see his mother, what is up with that?

    Also my sons perpetrator has created a character in a comic about me with my full name in it, he has assigned a particular female character to me! Needless to say he paints me as a hero, a protector, not taking any crap! He says these things about me in this comic, very strange. I just happened to stumble upon it online.

  89. I think if there are limited assets, either in physical valuable plant or wealthy donors, the neoCals won’t be interested. My solution then, would be for churches to look around for suitable rental spaces and give the offerings away, so as not to be attractive to the wolves.

  90. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Reason #387 how Reformed Baptists flirt with Gnosticism: The denial that God uses the material world to convey grace. Ironically, they’ll believe most literally that the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden could convey eternal life to those who eat of its fruit, but that bread and wine can convey Christ’s body and blood? No, never!

    I’ve gotten the impression they have redefined communion to be a covenant “sign”. Isn’t it Capitol Baptist that recites the church covenant at communion instead of the words of Jesus?

    So, if you are not physically there to state your commitment (and pay your tithe), then you are “out of covenant”. Therefore, you can’t be elect because only the elect are truly committed. It doesn’t make much sense to me, since even many of those pastors will get so feeble that they won’t be able to go to church at the end of their lives, but lots of things they do don’t make sense. That probably hasn’t even occurred to them, since YRRs tend to be young.

  91. K.D. wrote:

    My mother in law now has a YRR pastor at their church, and is “Thrilled” because they are growing with “hipsters.”
    A mix of old folks and bearded “cool” folks.
    She doesn’t see the bad doctrine

    This is a common attitude initially when New Calvinists penetrate a non-Calvinist church. Older folks are just glad to see the younger generations attending church … they don’t realize that aberrant belief and practice are coming in the door with them. As the new reformers become established, the church and its message will never be the same again … too late then for your mother-in-law to turn the tide.

  92. Lydia wrote:

    They are a deceptive crafty bunch with the long term in mind.

    Definitely! In the SBC, they are eating the elephant a bite at a time.

  93. Lydia wrote:

    The Calvinistas want to own you.

    If you allow someone’s weakness to overcome your strength, they own you! New Calvinist pastors who deceive their way into pulpits are weak individuals … weak in character, peddling a weak theology and a weak substitute of the gospel which is not the Gospel. Those who are strong in faith need to stand and reject the young reformers and their message.

  94. Heather wrote:

    Our family went to a nice neutral site for a Christmas Eve service and listened to a “pastor”, with shades of Driscoll, include seven references or innuendoes to sex in his “sermon”. And according to him Joseph “threw Mary on the donkey”… I was encouraged that my hubby and kids heard it, too. It worries me that I might just be over sensitive. But we won’t be darkening those doors again!

    Certainly sounds like a Driscollite. Driscoll’s potty-mouth preaching style continues to live on; what a legacy! Anyone who incorporates sexual innuendos into a Christmas sermon is not only a sick man, but questionable Christian. References to “throwing” Mary onto a donkey is macho complementarianism at its worse. Dear God, deliver us from this madness.

  95. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    Isn’t it Capitol Baptist that recites the church covenant at communion instead of the words of Jesus?

    Yes. See point number 8 here:

    Actually, this is a better reference: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/about-us/what-we-believe/church-covenant/. They don’t recite the covenant instead of the words of Jesus. Rather, they recite the covenant first. I don’t know which is worse. In any case, 9marx is recommending this for all churches.

  96. FW Rez wrote:

    Saw one in the old part of Charleston, S.C. with beautiful stained glass that was converted into a sports bar.

    The Church in times past hindered the proliferation of bars in many American communities. Now the bars are taking over the church. Somewhere along the line we surrendered territory to the enemy.

  97. Stan wrote:

    https://www.9marks.org/article/cleaning-rolls/

    From that link: “These first five categories are the biggest and most obvious targets. There are other categories like “attends, but won’t sign the statement of faith” or “in the area, but cannot attend.” Old age or an infirmity might prevent a member from attending;”
    I think it is rather interesting that the elderly and infirm are not even a point on the list; they are more or less an “also-ran”. Do they really have that little respect for old people?
    “Also, we encourage special charity toward elderly members who have moved out of the area and into retirement homes. Why? They often grew up with a different understanding of church membership and are unlikely to change. Out of love, consider allowing them to remain on the rolls.”
    This sounds like the old and infirm people should be removed but – in order not to discourage to many – one should make exceptions in the beginning.
    To quote Georg Ahlers: “The world’s getting more and more insane.”
    Greetings
    Exing

  98. It’s an easy fix! 🙂 Just don’t go to church. That is what I do. I am so over church! I grew up Old German Baptist Brethren and have gone to all types as an adult (AoG, IFB, Methodist, SB, Catholic, Non denominational…) and just can’t do it anymore. I get far more out of sitting at the bar at the local casino and chatting with others, than I ever do in a church. There is more interaction there, and much cheaper too. 🙂 I know of a pastor from an Acts 29 church plant who has lied through his teeth in his professional career (he has another job outside of pastor) and that has angered me beyond words. He is in a position in the local community and to outright lie, upsets me. I feel he is going to drag the organization down. I am walking away from it because I cannot bear to be a part of it or someone who will blatantly lie while proclaiming to be a, “man of God.”

  99. Exing wrote:

    I think it is rather interesting that the elderly and infirm are not even a point on the list; they are more or less an “also-ran”. Do they really have that little respect for old people?

    They don’t TITHE TITHE TITHE.
    All about the Benjamins, Baby.

  100. Max wrote:

    If you allow someone’s weakness to overcome your strength, they own you!

    That’s the whole point behind Professional Weaker Brethren and/or the Most Easily Offended.

  101. Max wrote:

    Older folks are just glad to see the younger generations attending church … they don’t realize that aberrant belief and practice are coming in the door with them. As the new reformers become established, the church and its message will never be the same again … too late then for your mother-in-law to turn the tide.

    “Tomorrow belongs,
    Tomorrow belongs,
    Tomorrow Belongs To ME!”
    — Cabaret

  102. Glenn wrote:

    I felt an urgent need to call the cops after the talk with the Sr. Pastor, but, no witnesses in an electronic voice encounter of such.

    Feature, not Bug.

  103. One day these leaders are going to be elderly or in an assisted living situation and they’ll wonder why none of their church friends and leaders no longer visit them. Then they’ll get a letter and regret that they ever taught those below them how to operate business. Until then, unfortunately and very sadly, many will get hurt along the way by their hard-heartedness.

  104. An Attorney wrote:

    A suggestion. Church members should change their wills and/or trust documents to change any designated gifts to a church. Do not name the church. Rather state “the church, if any, where I am a member in good standing at the time of my death. No money is to go to a church that has placed me “under discipline”; that has dismissed me from membership; or that would not allow my funeral to be held at the church.”

    Hey! I think i’m going to send your creative idea to every member in our former church lol. It will be worth the $90 bucks in postage….. just to see the “pastor/elders” freak out!

  105. Kathi wrote:

    One day these leaders are going to be elderly or in an assisted living situation and they’ll wonder why none of their church friends and leaders no longer visit them.

    If judging by the “pastor” I experienced, the local church will have all the reserves exhausted, in debt, and the “leader” will have moved on. He was 30 years younger than I so I won’t know his final outcome but all signs point to him taking care of himself.

  106. @ Kathi:

    That’s what I meant by Karma and her sister Comeuppance.
    And this too:

    “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
    — Sonmi-451 —

  107. Max wrote:

    References to “throwing” Mary onto a donkey is macho complementarianism at its worse.

    Men like him have no conscience, no discretion, and no moral compass.

  108. Lydia wrote:

    The churches cannot afford someone full time, anyway. They got OUT of full time ministry years ago– on purpose. Somehow the Calvinistas have not gotten a hold of these particular rural churches. Guess they aren’t glamorous enough?

    This reminds me of the sign outside a dorm room, “These premises protected by extreme poverty”

  109. @ Lydia:
    We are in the process of walking away from one of the more prominent Neo-Cal churches. It is like waking up out of a fog. When you start to realize how much they were controlling you and how everything had an ulterior motive, you do wonder how you could have been duped so easily. When I tell people who are not part of this church why we are leaving, they look at me like I was crazy to stay as long as I did. When I attempt to explain to people still under the Neo-Cal spell why we are leaving, they just can’t grasp it. I explained it to someone I love dearly. Her response was “when you say it like that, it sounds evil”, yet I know she will be in the seats next week. And inevitably someone from the church will throw in the obligatory “You know, no church is perfect”. If all churches are as imperfect as the one we are leaving, I don’t think I can join another.

  110. ishy wrote:

    That probably hasn’t even occurred to them, since YRRs tend to be young.

    They are called Young, Restless and Reformed for a reason. As opposed to the Old, Exhausted and Reformed. Which seems to lead to being Old, Exhausted and Rejected.

    It’s so much simpler being Done.

  111. “Men like him have no conscience, no discretion, and no moral compass.” This is just my personal experience in the religious industry but people like this always do better, and I do mean always.

  112. JYJames wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    used to facilitate worship services

    There are itinerant pastors who work at their day jobs all week and then run their churches on the weekends. In these churches, all parishioners work at their day jobs, as a matter of fact, and then everyone pitches in with running the church. This is taking place both in rural and urban areas. No one is building a kingdom, however, in these cases. The church is there simply to serve the people.

    I go to a church like this.

  113. “But what about “taking them the Lord’s Supper”? No, I don’t think you can serve the Lord’s Supper to one person alone any more than you can baptize an infant. It’s outside the definition of what the Lord Supper is by its very nature.”

    So you can’t proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, a defining characteristic of the act per 1 Cor. 11? I’d say you can.

    So you can’t have fellowship with another person and have this time of remembrance as you break bread, another defining characteristic? Perhaps they haven’t heard of Matthew 18:20, and the two or three believers being gathered and Christ being among them.

    Thus, it looks like one church member taking another church member appears to be quite Bilbical. It may be low on some people’s priority list, but no ones saying everyone has to do that.

  114. ION: Cricket

    Well, Cook did indeed carry his bat, setting a bat-carrying record score in the process.

    My other prediction – of a crushing Australian win – looks set to be stymied by the weather, which wiped out half of yesterday’s play. There may not be enough time for Australia to compile a decisive lead on Day 5, therefore, but with Smith and Warner looking impregnable at the crease, they will easily put the match beyond England’s reach on Saturday afternoon. It’s then a question of 3 possibilities:
     Australia bat out the rest of the day to maintain their psychological stranglehold on the series, but concede the draw;
     Australia hammer their way to a lead of 200 and England collapse to defeat;
     Australia hammer their way to a lead of 200 and England collapse but survive to stumps for a draw

    IHTIH

  115. JDV wrote:

    So you can’t proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, a defining characteristic of the act per 1 Cor. 11? I’d say you can.

    Christ is minimized in everything this group does. Christ’s life and resurrection is not important to them, only His atonement and His “submission” to the Father.

    They’ve redefined communion to be not with God but communion with each other. Or really, absolute submission to leadership. Jesus was just obeying the Father in death and that symbolizes the membership obeying the leadership in the church.

  116. JDV wrote:

    “But what about “taking them the Lord’s Supper”? No, I don’t think you can serve the Lord’s Supper to one person alone any more than you can baptize an infant. It’s outside the definition of what the Lord Supper is by its very nature.”

    I’m entirely with you, JDV (though TBH I’m being a bit lazy borrowing your quote of this paragraph from the thread, so apologies if you or another commenter has already said what I’m about to say).

    There’s something in that quote that is, perhaps, very revealing of the mindset that has crept into fundagelical leaderships recently. It is the idea that they would be “serving” the Lord’s supper to one person.

    No, they wouldn’t. They would be sharing the Lord’s Supper among at least two people. This would be an entirely appropriate demonstration that, as Paul said on at least one occasion (and maybe more that aren’t recorded), the house-bound person is with their fellow-believers in spirit even while absent in body. But they’re not serving it, as though there were something special about themselves and the house-bound believer were less than they.

    And while we’re on the subject, what are they (and others like them) saying about the many other believers in Sapulpa, in “other churches”, with whom they do not share bread and wine? Are they declaring themselves an independent republic within God’s kingdom?

  117. Muff Potter wrote:

    Men like him have no conscience, no discretion, and no moral compass.

    Indeed – these should not be bullets on a pastor’s resume!

  118. drstevej wrote:

    Robert Bork, champion for interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent, makes the following statement….

    *snort*

    I’d just remind people that Bork did not end up on the Supreme Court because his “original intent” was considered so far out of the mainstream that it scared even non-lawyers. I was in law school when his nomination came up and I remember my mother (high school graduate) watching the hearings and expressing her distress about Bork.

    There are different ways of interpreting the Constitution and no one way is correct. I would note that the original intent of the Founders was that chattel slavery was OK, slaves were counted as 3/5ths of citizens, and half the adult citizens (women) were disenfranchised. Those lapses later had to be fixed via constitutional amendments.

    IMO, “original intent” is up there with Scalia’s “natural law” as far as “crazy schemes to interpret the Constitution that the original writers didn’t have in mind.” But that’s just my personal opinion.

  119. Or really, absolute submission to leadership. Jesus was just obeying the Father in death and that symbolizes the membership obeying the leadership in the church.

    Sounds like Rome.

  120. Max wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    My mother in law now has a YRR pastor at their church, and is “Thrilled” because they are growing with “hipsters.”
    A mix of old folks and bearded “cool” folks.
    She doesn’t see the bad doctrine
    This is a common attitude initially when New Calvinists penetrate a non-Calvinist church. Older folks are just glad to see the younger generations attending church … they don’t realize that aberrant belief and practice are coming in the door with them. As the new reformers become established, the church and its message will never be the same again … too late then for your mother-in-law to turn the tide.

    Yup! Happy to see young folks, welcome them, etc. Then, the gauntlet falls, either the old folks conform or they head for the hills. It’s the old, divide and conquer, strategy.

  121. Lydia wrote:

    That is a very healthy way to look at it. Changes the entire paradigm.

    The American church definitely needs a paradigm shift! We need to drop the culturally-relevant hype and return to the ancient paths … before it’s too late. Too many good people in our churches are reluctant to take a stand against the new reformation, lest they offend someone. The average churchman is just too nice to say anything as he witnesses theological shift and ecclesiological drift. Well, it’s time to offend!! When the Trinity is redefined, it’s time to offend … when God’s plan of salvation for ALL people is altered, it’s time to offend … when the Son is subordinated, it’s time to offend … when the name of Jesus is seldom mentioned, it’s time to offend … when the Holy Spirit is relegated to a back pew, it’s time to offend … when female believers are diminished in importance by church teachings, it’s time to offend … when young overlords rule by control, manipulation and intimidation, it’s time to offend … when are youth are held captive by doctrines of grace rather than being captivated by a direct experience of Grace, we need to offend … when older saints are thrown under the bus in favor of a younger pew, it’s time to offend! God, help your Church to stand in the face of aberrant belief and practice. Yep, as the New Year approaches, we need a paradigm shift in our churches … just sitting here until we die is not an option. The precious message of Jesus and His sacrifice for ALL people must be defended and the bearers of another gospel must be offended and silenced.

  122. Lydia wrote:

    @ ishy:
    So basically, communion is just another group control tactic.

    Sick as that is, it’s true. These people live off of control, they thrive on power.

  123. At my Evangelical Bible Church…where my family has attended for five years….we get to vote as ” regular attenders” as we are not members. We are included in all meetings and decisions and no membership is forced or even mentioned from the pulpit.

  124. Mae wrote:

    It’s the old, divide and conquer, strategy.

    It’s a strategy that is working for the New Calvinists. An army of arrogant young whippersnappers are taking over traditional churches unashamedly, causing splits, and capturing church resources they didn’t pay for. What love is this?! Their leaders will pay for this rebellion come Judgment Day.

  125. Abigail wrote:

    At my Evangelical Bible Church…where my family has attended for five years….we get to vote as ” regular attenders” as we are not members.

    The only membership that counts is membership in the Body of Christ.

  126. Thersites wrote:

    This reminds me of the sign outside a dorm room, “These premises protected by extreme poverty”

    Rural churches full of good folks and correct theology are some of the healthiest places to be.

    In the case of New Calvinist takeover of traditional non-Calvinist churches by stealth and deception, perhaps they need to put out a sign I saw at a store: “There is nothing in here worth losing your life over.”

  127. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    There are different ways of interpreting the Constitution and no one way is correct.

    I (not using original intent) interpret this ^^^ is an absolute agreement with my views. After all what you intended to communicate is only one way of viewing the meaning.

    Thanks.

  128. @ Ken A:

    “Missing the forest for the trees,” would be another way to say it. Religious leaders were/are applying doctrines/laws to the point of missing the bigger picture when it comes to communion. This is the same thinking that Jesus was correcting with the Pharisees about healing/ working on the Sabbath.

  129. I am confused. I was taught, and my own reading of the gospels ( the four books that is, not what the neo-calvanist define it as) confirms, JC died so that neither we, nor animals need to die, for our sins. Further, JC says we have acess to heaven and G&d through him and his sacrificial death…. this is further signified by the tearing of the cloak separating the holy of holies in the temple…. we now have “acess”….. and do not need the high priest..

    So, can someone tell me why you have to a “member in good standing”, and have to be present at 9 Marks church to take communion? While I realize “ salvation” does not actually occur during “ communion” it is a serious sacrament which unifies christains around the concept of the concept JC’s sacrifice. Putting man made “ hoops” to jump is, in my mind blasphamy.
    Did not Martin Luther post his 95 thesis, and start the reformation, in part for “ the just shall live by faith”…. i.e. we do not need to go through the priest to access G&d??

  130. @ Max:
    I might add that when I follow my conscience, and the well established physics, that says the earth and universe is old, it is time to offened the people that call me a “ compromiser”… we are called to be truthful…. and speak the truth…

  131. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    Reading the Federalist Papers helps. I don’t think it was meant as gov is our big brother with mandates and crushing regulations to control daily life. Sadly the Constitution means whatever a few unelected decide it means.

  132. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    Putting man-made “hoops” to jump through is, in my mind, blasphemy.

    Mark 7:8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you [Pharisees, Scribes] hold to the tradition of men.” (Jesus said)

  133. Max wrote:

    References to “throwing” Mary onto a donkey is macho complementarianism at its worse. Dear God, deliver us from this madness.

    Only a churl and a lout would refer to the Mother of God in such a fashion.

  134. Lydia wrote:

    I don’t think it was meant as gov is our big brother with mandates and crushing regulations to control daily life.

    When businessmen and investment houses will not restrain themselves in the pursuit of profit, it becomes the legitimate prerogative and domain of Government to do so.

  135. Max wrote:

    We need to drop the culturally-relevant hype and return to the ancient paths … before it’s too late.

    Be careful what you ask for. I discovered that the ancient paths don’t look like what I had hoped for. I was thinking that the early church would look much more Protestant than what I actually found. Just for fun, see if you can find when and where Christianity adopted things like infant baptism, transubstantiation, perpetual virginity of Mary, icons, praying to saints, and the central role of bishops.

  136. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    Did not Martin Luther post his 95 thesis, and start the reformation, in part for “ the just shall live by faith”…. i.e. we do not need to go through the priest to access G&d??

    It’s a cult. They do everything for the purpose of controlling their members, not really because of theology.

  137. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    This is a good comment. I feel kind of caught in between, but maybe that just means I’m in my right place. I love the theology of the patristics, but I don’t know that much about their religious practice. I don’t feel drawn to Catholic or Orthodox practice. Maybe you can relate, and I’d love to hear what you think of this. Maybe constantly looking for the external religious practice to express my inner life is actually a burden that I should lay down.

  138. @ Jeffrey J Chalmers:
    I totally agree. To me, this is classic “fencing the table.” I like the Anglican approach (as I understand it). I attended an Episcopal church for a year, and the vicar always said that it was God’s table and whoever believed was welcome. It makes a lot of sense, especially if you divorce belief from the sinner’s prayer theology that so many hold. The way I see it, if you have enough belief to motivate you to take communion, then you should take communion and I have no right to judge.

  139. Max wrote:

    gullible followers with money to bankroll this

    In other words, as Tony Schwartz put it, “I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed…” July 25, 2016 The New Yorker, “Ghost Writer Tells All”

  140. ishy wrote:

    not really because of theology.

    … but because it’s a business? Communion = Corporate = Business Enterprise?

  141. @ JYJames:

    Oddly enough, I found that article too. You’ll recognise the following quote:

    “He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.” Since most people are “constrained by the truth,” [never mind who’s] indifference to it “gave him a strange advantage.”

    That’s how a lot of false teachers make it in church. They are absolutely comfortable with fabrication. Most people, even some fairly nasty people, are at the very least slightly self-conscious about lying. But false teachers really believe they’re entitled to create their own worlds.

  142. JYJames wrote:

    but because it’s a business? Communion = Corporate = Business Enterprise?

    I think that’s true for some and becomes more true for leaders the larger a church gets and the more money that becomes possible. But most of the YRRs I know joined because they were attracted to the power they are baited with and I guess they figure it’s in a church and “sanctioned” by God. However, most of them don’t get that they will probably never be offered an eldership and they will really end up just as slaves to their leaders. Now, I did go to a New Cal seminary, so most talked in terms of “when I become a pastor” or “when I become an elder”, but of the ones I know, most never achieved that.

    Many of them also seemed very fond of the idea of basically having a female slave for a wife.

    Of the big names, I am pretty sure money is a big, big factor.

  143. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    My apologies, HUG. I have arguably little access to social media. Plus the light of nature leads me to believe that numerous 9Marks propagators are gangster wannabes with law degrees in a Christian veneer. Scary. I shared with the Sr. Pastor of the 9Marks assembly I was in with almost certainly more information than any immature and not-so-genuine Pastor needs to know — and he quite apparently used it against me.

    As I remember it, I was staggering in intermittent pain that was almost excruciating alongside about a mile stretch of roadway in recovery from what was once a smashed bone in one foot and a fracture from the other while dealing with atrophy from five weeks in a wheelchair from the circumstances one Saturday night. A hostile cell phone call came from a deacon and the following one from the Sr. Pastor. It wasn’t the individual words said to me that were obnoxious but it was the insulting contextual language along with their oscillating hollering, growling, and interruptions, accompanied with invasive questions from the Pastor in a perplexing singsong pitch that ended with a shouting accusation that I was deliberately avoiding Sunday services — while I was answering one of his (benevolent?)questions. I countered the accusation with a perhaps similar level of anger. As I was doing so the cell phone connection died.

    I was walking along at about one mile per hour due to the pain and atrophy.

    The flamboyance in the Pastors tone was something I was already rather familiar with. I’ve heard it before, with my medical and economic and especially social difficulties. Like when I shared light with him in earlier times of the fact that I have a history of having been intellectually and socially rejected by blood relatives and coworkers for being averse to homosexuality (and falsely accused of being knowingly hostile to people with homosexual inclinations). I didn’t appreciate promotion of the Kinsey Scale, nor much of the critical sexual theory related to it that my late biological Dad expected me to support. No mentally healthy person desires to be targeted with smarmy singsong ridicule for a string of matters like this kind.

    I was targeted in encounters with simple assault by these two before while physically incapacitated. No harmful physical contact ever occurred from the Pastor and none whatsoever from the deacon. But very seriously insulting and scary under the circumstances.

    Anyway, Happy New Year.

  144. Ricco wrote:

    Maybe constantly looking for the external religious practice to express my inner life is actually a burden that I should lay down.

    The Christian experience is a spiritual journey. Trying to live it out via fleshly religious expressions based on the teachings and traditions of mere men can be a futile exercise.

  145. Muff Potter wrote:

    Only a churl and a lout would refer to the Mother of God in such a fashion.

    These young whippersnappers appear to have no boundaries. If they have been sovereignly elected, then anything they say and do must have been predestined. If they believe that Jesus is subordinate to the Father, then Mary can be diminished too.

  146. Administering communion, as the word suggests, involves being a minister to someone’s needs. Pastors of the ilk described here are not ministers. They do not care for the sheep, minister to the sheep, serve the sheep in their flock. Rather, they rule and lord over their flock. Saying that serving communion, and other acts of ministering, can only be done in the setting of the large congregation is a cop out. “Where two or more are gathered in my name…” right? Pastors of this kind don’t want to be bothered by what is rightly considered to be pastoral duties. They just want to be the CEO who orders the group around. They thrive on power and authority, not ministry.

  147. Max wrote:

    These young whippersnappers appear to have no boundaries. If they have been sovereignly elected, then anything they say and do must have been predestined. If they believe that Jesus is subordinate to the Father, then Mary can be diminished too.

    As I’ve commented here before Max, their religion is Not Sustainable, and it will not last.

  148. Mae wrote:

    Max wrote:
    K.D. wrote:
    My mother in law now has a YRR pastor at their church, and is “Thrilled” because they are growing with “hipsters.”
    A mix of old folks and bearded “cool” folks.
    She doesn’t see the bad doctrine
    This is a common attitude initially when New Calvinists penetrate a non-Calvinist church. Older folks are just glad to see the younger generations attending church … they don’t realize that aberrant belief and practice are coming in the door with them. As the new reformers become established, the church and its message will never be the same again … too late then for your mother-in-law to turn the tide.
    Yup! Happy to see young folks, welcome them, etc. Then, the gauntlet falls, either the old folks conform or they head for the hills. It’s the old, divide and conquer, strategy.

    And they see me as a grouch for pointing this out…..Even said it’s just because you are no longer ” Baptist.”

  149. Muff Potter wrote:

    Max wrote:
    These young whippersnappers appear to have no boundaries. If they have been sovereignly elected, then anything they say and do must have been predestined. If they believe that Jesus is subordinate to the Father, then Mary can be diminished too.
    As I’ve commented here before Max, their religion is Not Sustainable, and it will not last.

    But how many people will be destroyed in their wake? That’s the upsetting/sad part.

  150. Muff Potter wrote:

    it becomes the legitimate prerogative and domain of Government to do so

    You will have to admit they do a pretty bad job of it also.

  151. Thersites wrote:

    You will have to admit they do a pretty bad job of it also.

    My dad used to tell me that we should be glad we don’t get all the government we pay for.

  152. I just went on the church’s website and see the pastor played football at Univ. Of Oklahoma. Do you folks understand how ga-ga people in Texas or Oklahoma go over a former football player at places like OU or Texas or A&M?
    In many cases they lose any common sense. I’ve seen it time and time again.
    It’s this whole football is on equal footing with Jesus…..Jesus? Football? Often they are one in the same in this part of the world.

  153. Lydia wrote:

    Maybe the question is HOW a piece of bread becomes His body and a sip of wine becomes His blood?

    And maybe it is not a question to be answered, or a ‘problem’ to be solved, but a Mystery, not admitting of intellectual closure.

  154. K.D. wrote:

    But how many people will be destroyed in their wake?

    When the New Calvinism bubble breaks (it will), a great multitude of followers from Generation X, Y, and Z will be disillusioned and discouraged. They will represent one of the greatest mission fields on the planet for the true Gospel, but may never try church again.

  155. K.D. wrote:

    the pastor played football at Univ. Of Oklahoma

    New Calvinism is a cult of personality, with numerous celebrity leaders. Their followers are essentially groupies.

  156. Ricco wrote:

    This is a good comment. I feel kind of caught in between, but maybe that just means I’m in my right place. I love the theology of the patristics, but I don’t know that much about their religious practice. I don’t feel drawn to Catholic or Orthodox practice. Maybe you can relate, and I’d love to hear what you think of this.

    My answer could set off a firestorm, but I’ll give it a go anyway. The military once had a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I am now wondering if that policy should apply to Christian history. A number of years ago I started investigating theology and Christian history because I was hoping to find the right expression of Christianity. But by now I almost wish that I hadn’t looked, mostly because I found so many things that I now wish I did not know. Ignorance truly is bliss in this case. I’ve heard that chicken farmers won’t eat store-bought chicken because they know what goes on behind the scenes. I am kind of feeling like that with the various expressions of Christianity that all claim to be the true expression of Christianity. In a nutshell, the church has never gotten it right – everywhere one looks both in time and location one will find problems in the church. Many problems. But that does not invalidate Christianity.

    I think the biggest question one needs to ask on this journey is “Says who?” In the Protestant tradition the answer to that question normally ends up with “the Bible says so.” To which I reply, “says who?” since there are thousands of Protestant denominations who come to different conclusions, all while reading the same Bible. But it gets worse – who says that the 27 books of the New Testament are the right books? The history of the development of the New Testament canon is very interesting, but in the end, how do we know that they got it right? We basically have to trust the discernment of the early church fathers. So for now let’s press the “I believe” button and say that they got it right. Now what do we do with the other ideas I mentioned in my earlier comment? Protestants normally reject most of those beliefs/practices (too “Catholic”). But why? Says who? The same church fathers who gave us the NT also seemed to teach all of those things I mentioned. So if we accept the NT, why should we not also accept infant Baptism, the perpetual virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, icons, etc.? (All of these were in place before Constantine, as demonstrated by the writings of pre-Constantine church fathers.) Alternatively, if we reject those things, why should we accept the NT as authoritative? All kinds of people will provide all kinds of answers, but it still boils down to “says who?” Why should I believe anyone’s answers? Even my own?

    After I put my nose to the grindstone to investigate theology and church history I finally looked up and found myself in the middle of a minefield with no obvious path of escape. Around the edge of minefield are many Christian people, each telling me they know the way out, but the answers are all different. Which voice is right? Says who?

    I am still a member of and attend a SBC church in the Bible belt that has not yet gone down the YRR path (but is drifting toward it). I no longer feel comfortable there because I’ve learned too much. Eastern Orthodoxy is very tempting to me right now because I find their theology so incredibly solid. But I don’t yet feel comfortable with all of their traditions and practices (even though I can understand the reasons for them), and I question the historical veracity of their traditions. It’s pretty much the same for all Christian traditions I look at – I see fatal flaws in all of them. I feel like I am in the middle of a home remodeling project where the house is no longer livable, there is no going back to what it was, and it’s hard to see how it will ever become livable again given what I now know about the project.

    My cynical advice is “don’t ask questions and don’t do any reading from the early church fathers.” Because I have not lost faith in Jesus I believe that in time I will find resolution. In a twisted sort of way, my faith in Jesus is stronger than ever, but my joy in the church experience has never been worse. I wish I had better thoughts for you.

  157. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):

    I have had a similar experience, over decades of reading church history and church fathers. I have ended up with the simplest Gospel understand of what Christ was getting at.

    I read the Gospels continually, and simply can not understand where all the hierarchy, power structures, fancy vestments, wealth hoarding, wacko systematic theology, etc. come from. The Christianity that I see in the Gospels, and have felt all my life, is so simple. Every church I have ever encountered gunks it up with all sorts of stuff that I just can’t imagine Jesus thinking very highly about.

    And then I see the pure, rotten, cynical evil of the YRR crowd, and I wonder why anyone, but anyone, puts up with that abuse. Because it is all voluntary submission (in the beginning, anyway), just like any other cult – because that’s what it is. But you can walk away from it.

    So I am basically done with ‘Christianity’. I simply love Jesus, and try to be a follower of The Way, as they used to say back at the beginning.

  158. @ roebuck:
    This is really interesting. The thing I have never understood about Catholicism is this: how do we get from Jesus walking with his disciples all the way to the robes and hats and fancy buildings in just a few hundred years. It’s hard to imagine that this is what Jesus had in mind. Maybe it was, but it doesn’t “taste” right, for lack of a better term. Too much hierarchy, corruption, and behavior control. I’m not picking on Catholics, they just claim unbroken apostolic succession all the way from Peter.

  159. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    Thanks Ken F! I always appreciate your comments. I put myself through college working on a turkey farm. I still eat turkey, I just try to separate those memories from the act of eating.

    One of the things I appreciate about Baxter Kruger and Paul Young is they always insist they are not trying to start a new denomination. At first this frustrated me. I want to attend the denomination that gets it right. Then I quickly realized it was exactly this thinking that got me in trouble in the first place.

    What I think I want is a church with some doctrinal humility. Allow people to question. Don’t micromanage what people believe in the name of discipleship. Actually do theology, but listen more than demand. Allow friendships to develop naturally rather than creating small groups and telling people “these are your friends” like a one year old’s birthday party. Don’t worry about church growth and church planting: if it happens, ok, but don’t turn it into an idol. Be willing to destroy the whole thing to do justice by any one innocent person who is hurt.

    I don’t know if this ever can exist. If I never find it, I’m trying to develop some confidence in my beliefs and a willingness to love people even if I believe radically different things. Evangelicals are “my people” and they need love too.

    This Christmas, I felt I had more to celebrate than ever before. Now that I’m not a Calvinist, I believe Jesus’ death accomplished something objective for the whole world. That is something to celebrate!!

  160. Ricco wrote:

    What I think I want is a church with some doctrinal humility. Allow people to question. Don’t micromanage what people believe in the name of discipleship. Actually do theology, but listen more than demand. Allow friendships to develop naturally rather than creating small groups and telling people “these are your friends” like a one year old’s birthday party. Don’t worry about church growth and church planting: if it happens, ok, but don’t turn it into an idol. Be willing to destroy the whole thing to do justice by any one innocent person who is hurt.

    I think these are all really good things to look for. Hard to find, though. I would add to my list pastors who visit the sick and members who share what they have with those less fortunate. Most churches are so insular that they never go outside their walls.

  161. ishy wrote:

    I think these are all really good things to look for. Hard to find, though. I would add to my list pastors who visit the sick and members who share what they have with those less fortunate.

    That was the church I grew up in. Just the old New England church on the green (founded in 1639). I reckon the church building and property were all paid for 😉

  162. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Ricco wrote:
    This is a good comment. I feel kind of caught in between, but maybe that just means I’m in my right place. I love the theology of the patristics, but I don’t know that much about their religious practice. I don’t feel drawn to Catholic or Orthodox practice. Maybe you can relate, and I’d love to hear what you think of this.
    My answer could set off a firestorm, but I’ll give it a go anyway. The military once had a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I am now wondering if that policy should apply to Christian history. A number of years ago I started investigating theology and Christian history because I was hoping to find the right expression of Christianity. But by now I almost wish that I hadn’t looked, mostly because I found so many things that I now wish I did not know. Ignorance truly is bliss in this case. I’ve heard that chicken farmers won’t eat store-bought chicken because they know what goes on behind the scenes. I am kind of feeling like that with the various expressions of Christianity that all claim to be the true expression of Christianity. In a nutshell, the church has never gotten it right – everywhere one looks both in time and location one will find problems in the church. Many problems. But that does not invalidate Christianity.
    I think the biggest question one needs to ask on this journey is “Says who?” In the Protestant tradition the answer to that question normally ends up with “the Bible says so.” To which I reply, “says who?” since there are thousands of Protestant denominations who come to different conclusions, all while reading the same Bible. But it gets worse – who says that the 27 books of the New Testament are the right books? The history of the development of the New Testament canon is very interesting, but in the end, how do we know that they got it right? We basically have to trust the discernment of the early church fathers. So for now let’s press the “I believe” button and say that they got it right. Now what do we do with the other ideas I mentioned in my earlier comment? Protestants normally reject most of those beliefs/practices (too “Catholic”). But why? Says who? The same church fathers who gave us the NT also seemed to teach all of those things I mentioned. So if we accept the NT, why should we not also accept infant Baptism, the perpetual virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, icons, etc.? (All of these were in place before Constantine, as demonstrated by the writings of pre-Constantine church fathers.) Alternatively, if we reject those things, why should we accept the NT as authoritative? All kinds of people will provide all kinds of answers, but it still boils down to “says who?” Why should I believe anyone’s answers? Even my own?
    After I put my nose to the grindstone to investigate theology and church history I finally looked up and found myself in the middle of a minefield with no obvious path of escape. Around the edge of minefield are many Christian people, each telling me they know the way out, but the answers are all different. Which voice is right? Says who?
    I am still a member of and attend a SBC church in the Bible belt that has not yet gone down the YRR path (but is drifting toward it). I no longer feel comfortable there because I’ve learned too much. Eastern Orthodoxy is very tempting to me right now because I find their theology so incredibly solid. But I don’t yet feel comfortable with all of their traditions and practices (even though I can understand the reasons for them), and I question the historical veracity of their traditions. It’s pretty much the same for all Christian traditions I look at – I see fatal flaws in all of them. I feel like I am in the middle of a home remodeling project where the house is no longer livable, there is no going back to what it was, and it’s hard to see how it will ever become livable again given what I now know about the project.
    My cynical advice is “don’t ask questions and don’t do any reading from the early church fathers.” Because I have not lost faith in Jesus I believe that in time I will find resolution. In a twisted sort of way, my faith in Jesus is stronger than ever, but my joy in the church experience has never been worse. I wish I had better thoughts for you.

    I was taking an elective in SWBTS taught by what might have been ” THE” SBC scholar on the Early Church. I completed seminary with the same problem. I am still in limbo on where to go. This is 30 years later. If you really study church history it will leave you with so many questions. I looked hard at the Orthodox Church, but the local one is affliated with Syrian Orthodox and is and always has been more political than religious……So here I am, name still on the SBC rolls.
    Yes, Jesus is stronger than ever, but the church is fuller now with false prophets and crooks. And sadly, I see it getting worse before it even has a chance of getting better.

  163. roebuck wrote:

    I am basically done with ‘Christianity’. I simply love Jesus, and try to be a follower of The Way, as they used to say back at the beginning.

    An increasing number of believers are coming to the realization that 21st century Christianity is not very Christian in a lot of ways, falling short of the pattern set forth in Scripture. The just shall live by faith … not theology … not tradition. The Gospel really is simple enough for a child to understand … it’s about relationship not religion.

  164. @ Ricco:
    I very much like your thoughts. Churchianity would be much more encouraging if this way if thinking would get more traction.

  165. Max wrote:

    The just shall live by faith … not theology … not tradition.

    The challenge is everything that is good in Christianity is based on tradition. If we throw away tradition we throw away the Bible, the sermon on the mount, all the teachings of the apostles, everything. Christianity does not exist at all without tradition. The issue seems to be which traditions to keep and which to discard. This is very difficult to sort out, and the more I investigate the more it looks like a Gordian knot. At least at this point for me.

  166. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    If we throw away tradition we throw away the Bible, the sermon on the mount, all the teachings of the apostles, everything.

    That’s not the “tradition” I’m referring to. From the Reformation forward, the teachings and traditions of men have proliferated and become a maze for believers to negotiate. There are some 30,000 Christian denominations and organizations on planet earth. Which one has a corner on the Truth? To find that, one still has to turn the clock back to the account of the early church as recorded in Scripture, with each believer digging his own well and relying on the Holy Spirit as teacher, rather than trusting the interpretations of men. That’s not to say that a believer cannot be a part of a local church formed by religious tradition, but don’t put your hope in that alone – my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I say that as one who served faithfully in SBC for 60+ years, but knowing all along that the churches I attended weren’t always the Church in belief and practice.

  167. Ricco wrote:

    @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    Thanks Ken F! I always appreciate your comments. I put myself through college working on a turkey farm. I still eat turkey, I just try to separate those memories from the act of eating.
    One of the things I appreciate about Baxter Kruger and Paul Young is they always insist they are not trying to start a new denomination. At first this frustrated me. I want to attend the denomination that gets it right. Then I quickly realized it was exactly this thinking that got me in trouble in the first place.
    What I think I want is a church with some doctrinal humility. Allow people to question. Don’t micromanage what people believe in the name of discipleship. Actually do theology, but listen more than demand. Allow friendships to develop naturally rather than creating small groups and telling people “these are your friends” like a one year old’s birthday party. Don’t worry about church growth and church planting: if it happens, ok, but don’t turn it into an idol. Be willing to destroy the whole thing to do justice by any one innocent person who is hurt.
    I don’t know if this ever can exist. If I never find it, I’m trying to develop some confidence in my beliefs and a willingness to love people even if I believe radically different things. Evangelicals are “my people” and they need love too.
    This Christmas, I felt I had more to celebrate than ever before. Now that I’m not a Calvinist, I believe Jesus’ death accomplished something objective for the whole world. That is something to celebrate!!

    …….
    How wonderful to read of your Christmas celebration!

  168. Max wrote:

    The just shall live by faith … not theology … not tradition. The Gospel really is simple enough for a child to understand … it’s about relationship not religion.

    Yes, Max. And it’s gotten so over-complicated. Why does it always seem to go that way? Perhaps one reason is that the simple words of Christ are so radical that most people – I’d go so far as to say most Christians – can not even take them on board…

  169. Lydia wrote:

    Wonder how often 9 Marks churches have communion?

    I, quite unknowingly, attended a 9Marx church for about 3 years. I took Communion once during that entire time.

    I’m trying to think of a sermon/message where the Lord’s Supper/Communion was talked about as an important thing to partake in as a Christian, but nothing comes immediately to mind. In fact, I cannot recall a single time where any emphasis was placed on Communion.

  170. roebuck wrote:

    the simple words of Christ are so radical that most people – I’d go so far as to say most Christians – can not even take them on board…

    It’s impossible to take the words of Christ “on board” without the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would send another, the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all Truth. Doing church has become an exercise of trying to figure things out in our intellect, rather than by the Spirit. It takes the Truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become Revealed Truth. Our Christian journey is guided by revealed Truth, not acquired knowledge about the Truth.

  171. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    They are absolutely comfortable with fabrication … false teachers really believe they’re entitled to create their own worlds.

    The mix of what is of God and what is fabricated “magical” thinking can be highly convoluted in so-called “spirit-led” communities – unless God has left (like the wheels left the Temple in Ezekiel) and there is no God there, only “magical” thinking.

  172. Max wrote:

    From the Reformation forward, the teachings and traditions of men have proliferated and become a maze for believers to negotiate.

    “Maze” is the right word. I’ve noticed a recent trend is for churches to not just provide a statement of faith, but to also provide a list of “distinctives.” It’s now in fashion for churches to show how they are different from every other church. That makes no sense to me, unless they are trying to follow some kind of a commercial business model.

  173. Max wrote:

    It’s impossible to take the words of Christ “on board” without the Holy Spirit.

    Exactly – in fact, that seems to me to be the nub of the Christian faith.

  174. @ Max:

    Amen Max. You’re right on the money. The unseen supernatural force that draws people to Jesus of Nazareth is Holy in and of itself. If it weren’t, there would be no draw other than the intellectual footnotes you’ve mentioned.

  175. @ Max:

    “Doing church has become an exercise of trying to figure things out in our intellect, rather than by the Spirit. It takes the Truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become Revealed Truth. Our Christian journey is guided by revealed Truth, not acquired knowledge about the Truth.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i agree — but i wonder….

    if a random sample of 100 people all figure things out by the spirit, taking truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become revealed Truth, and the conclusions are contradictory, what would you make of that?

  176. @ roebuck:

    “And it’s gotten so over-complicated. Why does it always seem to go that way?”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    indeed, over-complicated. i’m not exactly sure why. i think Americans tend to take themselves very seriously (or so my friends and relatives from overseas tell me — they find it comical, actually). i think that has something to do with it.

    i think monetizing faith also has something to do with it — christianity is now a commercial venture.

    someone takes something simple and straightforward that works fine, and they invent problems, scare everyone with these new problems they didn’t know they had, and then they usher in their new product which solves these manufactured problems.

    kind of like Father Sarducci’s “Mr. Tea”. (because pouring hot water over tea leaves is loaded with problems that must be solved!)

  177. @ ishy:

    “Be willing to destroy the whole thing to do justice by any one innocent person who is hurt.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    there is too much invested for this to happen, and so the mission becomes self-perpetuation. too much personal investment in expensive church buildings to give them up. but more than that, too much personal investment in expensive christian careers to give them up:

    –seminary is expensive
    –perhaps the wife had to fund it; it was expensive to her in more ways than one
    –the only way to make good on seminary is to perpetuate the church career and the paycheck
    –the paycheck funds a certain kind of lifestyle for the professional christian and his family
    –all the professional christian’s skills and knowledge are in one basket: church, which doesn’t transfer well to other industries

  178. @ Ricco:

    sorry, above comment was in response to Ricco.

    sorry for my string of comments — it’s still relatively early where i am. wide awake…

  179. Max wrote:

    Jesus said He would send another, the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all Truth. Doing church has become an exercise of trying to figure things out in our intellect, rather than by the Spirit. It takes the Truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become Revealed Truth. Our Christian journey is guided by revealed Truth, not acquired knowledge about the Truth.

    I lost count of the number of times I was told I was “trying to work it out in my intellect” while attending Restoration-type churches. This generally followed my failure to fall over, shake and bark like a fish when somebody prayed for me in a setting in which all the spiritual people produced those kind of manifestations. What was actually happening was that I was using my [god-given] intellect to examine what was going on around me, and measure the claims against the reality. Well, we all know what that means in an authoritarian church.

    Certainly in the house-church movements here in the UK, “the spirit” and “the intellect” were (and possibly still are) widely considered to be fundamentally at odds with each other. That is, wherever the new testament says “the flesh”, the house church reads “the intellect”. There are historical reasons behind this, I think, which I won’t go into here.

    That said, I don’t fundamentally disagree with you. I think I’d phrase it thus: doing church has become an exercise in following pre-determined rules, whereby the various denominations determine once and for all time the definitive algorithm whereby God is allowed to act. Which is necessary, because that airy-fairy nonsense in the new testament about “love”, “joy”, “peace” and so on being the “fruit” of the spirit isn’t good enough, any more than an invisible God is any use. You’ve got to have a God you can see.

  180. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    @ roebuck:

    I am in that same boat with you all, but the boat is pretty big you know, so it feels a bit different for me.

    I never gave much of a thought to the history of Christianity beyond the basics until I looked into Catholicism. During RCIA the priest was a converted conservative protestant who was also a history buff and incidentally a spell binding teacher who thought we needed to know how and why the CC developed certain ideas and practices over time. So he told us. It was interesting; it made sense; but to me it also placed numerous ideas and practices outside the realm of necessary ‘truth’ and into the realm of optional tradition (little ‘t’). I too read a bit of the ante-nicene writings, and way too much about the politics of Nicea. Then I ran into Ehrman and ran into the concept that there was a lot of serious disagreement between various groups from the very get go, with what he calls the proto-catholic? church. One group basically won out and got the power, some groups disappeared, one went back to Judaism but entire individual agreement on all issues has never-never-never been attained. Aha, and aha.

    I participate in a denom which utilizes tradition; conducts ‘mass’ almost as a cultural art form; has a set of denominational ideas which individuals often largely ignore; has made a name for itself by being wishy-washy on some stuff; and which has a bunch of extra-biblical ideas which I find useful, like the idea of written prayers which can be recited as a devotional practice either habitually or as needed. There are no covenants to sign or doctrine police. There is way too much toleration of what appears to be foolishness-but who am I to say what may seem foolish to somebody else or what meets some human need which I do not happen to experience. And there is an emphasis on good works mostly for the poor and disadvantaged. And I think, there is some good here and as for the rest, so what? I like pretty things, I value personal liberty, and I am enriched by the complexities whether or not they mean anything to me personally, and we must not neglect the common welfare-officially.

    But it is not Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is a reality which exists at its core in a different realm of reality that just the realm of ideas and practices. I hesitate to use the word ‘Spirit’ because people abuse the concept horribly. None the less we are told to worship God in Spirit and Truth. The rest, in my opinion, is cultural-perhaps useful and perhaps not, but cultural. It is part of being human in a creation which God himself declared to be a good thing originally. This too will pass. But God/ Spirit/ Truth lasts forever-is Ultimate Reality Itself; of which we only get a glimpse at this stage of the game. Eventually when we are indeed ‘saved’ and when creation itself is restored and when we see Him as He is, then it will make sense. But until then we are limited while nevertheless being however basically captured by God/ Spirit/ Truth which/who will not let loose of us it seems.

  181. elastigirl wrote:

    –seminary is expensive
    –perhaps the wife had to fund it; it was expensive to her in more ways than one
    –the only way to make good on seminary is to perpetuate the church career and the paycheck
    –the paycheck funds a certain kind of lifestyle for the professional christian and his family

    I went to SEBTS. This is actually not really true at all if you are Southern Baptist. The denomination funds most of your seminary. Now, a lot of seminary wives did support their husbands, but most New Cals are avidly against wives ever leaving the home. However, they are very good about supporting their wannabes, so often they got hired to ministry positions when others who didn’t buy in did not. And those ministry positions often involved very little work. You don’t really come out of an SBC seminary in huge debt unless you did a very poor job of managing your money or you were already in huge debt from college.

    Then we look at the salaries many of these pastors make and sometimes they are in the 3 digits. Nobody really “needs” that much. And many of these pastors are making 3-4 times what the average member of their congregation is making and yet they write a lot of stuff on how you should be giving so much to the church. Look at Driscoll, who did a huge financial campaign for “missions” then that money just disappeared.

  182. okrapod wrote:

    One group basically won out and got the power, some groups disappeared, one went back to Judaism but entire individual agreement on all issues has never-never-never been attained.

    Sometimes it’s good for certain groups to lose because of the harm they do (such as groups highlighted here on TWW). Since all major branches of Christianity trace their roots to the winning side of those ecumenical councils, we should all hope that the right side “won.” Arianism almost won over trinitarianism. That would have made things turn out differently.

  183. okrapod wrote:

    Being a follower of Jesus is a reality which exists at its core in a different realm of reality than just the realm of ideas and practices.

    Amen! Well said! I’m convinced that most church folks never experience this reality, preferring external practice over internal presence. Pursuing religion vs. relationship is a world of difference in the Christian journey. Multitudes “get religion” without ever encountering Jesus.

  184. elastigirl wrote:

    if a random sample of 100 people all figure things out by the spirit, taking truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become revealed Truth, and the conclusions are contradictory, what would you make of that?

    There is one Spirit and one Truth, with no contradictions in revelation to those who genuinely humble themselves, pray, and seek God’s face.

  185. Max wrote:

    so spiritually minded that your brains fall out

    Or, park one’s brains at the curb before entering.

  186. Max wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Agreed. It’s possible to become so spiritually minded that your brains fall out.

    As my father quoted: ” so heavenly minded, no earthly good.”

  187. Max wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    Being a follower of Jesus is a reality which exists at its core in a different realm of reality than just the realm of ideas and practices.
    Amen! Well said! I’m convinced that most church folks never experience this reality, preferring external practice over internal presence. Pursuing religion vs. relationship is a world of difference in the Christian journey. Multitudes “get religion” without ever encountering Jesus.

    It gets confusing. I know I’ve struggled to keep religion, traditions, cultural/ ethnic,* stuff *, from not becoming the emphasis of my core belief in, Jesus saves.

  188. Mae wrote:

    I’ve struggled to keep religion, traditions, cultural/ ethnic,* stuff *, from not becoming the emphasis of my core belief in, Jesus saves.

    Mae, believers who keep the Main Thing the main thing can survive in organized religion. It may prove frustrating, but it’s possible. I’ve done it for 60+ years as a Southern Baptist!

  189. JYJames wrote:

    Max wrote:

    so spiritually minded that your brains fall out

    Or, park one’s brains at the curb before entering.

    Whenever anyone in a christian organisation states that you don’t have to kiss your brains goodbye to become a christian, I immediately know they kissed their brains goodbye when they became a christian. It’s just one of those claims that is tacitly self-refuting, along with “Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you anything”.

    Actually, maybe the next Joshua Harris could write a book called I Kissed Thinking Goodbye.

  190. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    maybe the next Joshua Harris could write a book called I Kissed Thinking Goodbye

    Yes, it could be prerequisite reading prior to attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  191. elastigirl wrote:

    i agree — but i wonder….
    if a random sample of 100 people all figure things out by the spirit, taking truth combined with the Spirit of Truth to become revealed Truth, and the conclusions are contradictory, what would you make of that?

    OK; so Ken F has risked setting off a firestorm (but actually set off a very fruitful and honest discussion), so here’s my wee detonator.

    I’m quite convinced the Holy Spirit purposefully leads different people to interpret the same passages of scribsher in different, and even contradictory, ways. And I’m not, on this occasion, trying to funny or ironic or clever. I genuinely believe this.

    The crucial point behind this is the well-known By THIS everyone will know that you are my disciples: that you love one another. Emphasis added there, of course, but our discipleship is demonstrated not by our doctrinal conformity or our taste in music, but our love for one another. Pursuing that thought: if you love those who love you, what good is that? Even Marq Driskle does that (outwardly at least). It’s easy to walk in step with, or respect, or love, people who I agree with. It’s much harder to give preference in honour to people I don’t agree with, and exponentially much harder still for a coherent local church to be built out of people who disagree doctrinally, but love one another enough to let one another speak and produce fruit. In fact, most people would say that’s impossible, and would even quote a scribsher for it. So the acid test of whether believers really do have the Spirit of a Man who is God, rose from the dead, and lives forever and ever – WTF is all that about?? – is whether they can do this impossible thing.

    Back to your question. Two people, both with hearts and minds set on following Jesus, come to the scribshers and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through them. He shows them different perspectives on it, because what really matters to him is not that we have some technically correct specification for God (as if there were any such thing) but that we love one another. That’s why, ultimately, he gave us scribsher in the first place. So it seems to me, anyway.

  192. ION: Climbing

    So, Lesley and I are just back from the last wee climbing-session of 2017; we didn’t have very long so we did a few wee jug-hauls just to maintain a bit of fitness. As a final bit of fun before we went off to pick up our niece (who’s now SuperMario-ing with our daughter), though, I thought I’d have a quick bash at the impossible new round-holded 6c on route 19. You know, the one with the insane sideways reach off a layaway/rockover immediately – indeed, inevitably – followed by a huge barn-door to the left.

    Well, it took a couple of thoughtful moments hanging on the rope – specifically, the aforesaid monster reach, and the monster reach/dyno up to the finishing jug – but I actually did all the moves. SO, a route I had thought impossible should now go early in the new year. <yorkshire>Ah were reet chuffed wi that, me.</yorkshire>

    IHTIH

  193. @ Max:

    yes, God wouldn’t be God if he contradicted himself/herself (i can’t believe God is male). but even there, that wouldn’t be a contradiction — i think God is both. i think God is so enormous, i imagine ultimate truth is not without what would appear to us to be square circles.

    i tend to think that with human variety (personality, aptitude, unique perspective, varying levels of sensitivity and intuition), people pick up on different aspects of God/truth. perhaps some pick up on the square, some pick up on the circle. maybe some pick up on squarish circles or circle-ish squares. i reckon most pick up on short lines and arcs.

    i think what matters, and what is easier to calibrate, is philadelphia, treating others the way ‘you’ would want to be treated.

    And of course loving God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind — although what that means and what it looks like is abstract enough to invite rulesrulesrules which people invent to control & oppress others with.

    all to say, doctrine schmoctrine. something basic and general is needed, but not much more. not doctrinefestivals of competing new and improved, each with exclusive claims to being the right one people need to align with (or else!!)

    and then they pass out hats, different colors, so everyone can pick sides and know who to stay away from. who to cheer and who to jeer. who to fire and who to hire. who is ‘in like flynn’ and who is ‘dead to me’.

    practically-speaking, it devours all the resources (money, time, energy, focus). meanwhile, the problems which bring suffering to human beings are ignored.

  194. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    This generally followed my failure to fall over, shake and bark like a fish when somebody prayed for me in a setting in which all the spiritual people produced those kind of manifestations.

    Agreed. I can get behind what works for others. I can dig it. That’s fine, that’s great, and if it works for them, glory hallelujah.
    But when they (generic they) say it’s gotta’ work for you (generic you) too, I balk and red flags go up.

  195. ishy wrote:

    Now, a lot of seminary wives did support their husbands, but most New Cals are avidly against wives ever leaving the home.

    I swear them guys would be much happier and more fulfilled in their own christian Pakistan so to speak.

    ishy wrote:

    Then we look at the salaries many of these pastors make and sometimes they are in the 3 digits. Nobody really “needs” that much. And many of these pastors are making 3-4 times what the average member of their congregation is making and yet they write a lot of stuff on how you should be giving so much to the church. Look at Driscoll, who did a huge financial campaign for “missions” then that money just disappeared.

    This is why the tax laws for non-profit religious exemptions needs to be revamped so that they (religious non-profits) must abide by the same disclosure rules that non-religious non-profit groups must follow.

  196. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’m quite convinced the Holy Spirit purposefully leads different people to interpret the same passages of scribsher in different, and even contradictory, ways. And I’m not, on this occasion, trying to funny or ironic or clever. I genuinely believe this.

    I’m thinking you are right. I do believe that Jesus lived and died for all mankind, not just for those lucky enough to be born into the right time and place to hear about him. I’m betting (along with the Orthodox) that God is the “lover of mankind” and that he has all of this figured out even if we don’t. I’m sure that doctrine matters at some point. But I also wonder if all our doctrinal wrangling appears to God as if we are a bunch of toddlers trying to explain how the world works – cute but not technically accurate.

    That pesky command to love is really the key. It’s much easier to be docrtinally correct than it is to be loving (at least for me).

  197. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’m quite convinced the Holy Spirit purposefully leads different people to interpret the same passages of scribsher in different, and even contradictory, ways.

    Hmmmm. That perspective then begs the question “Can God contradict Himself?” The short answer from what I know about God is “No”.

    The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one. The Word of God ‘is’ the Son of God. The Three are One. They are in agreement on every jot and tittle of the inspired Scripture. The Word of God ‘is’ the Son of God. Consider:

    “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (John 12:49-50)

    “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:10-11)

    “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

    Does God contradict Himself through the Son, the Spirit, and/or the Scripture? No. There’s really only one way to interpret Scripture – I’ve missed it several times by not relying on the Spirit to teach me. I may have a pea brain, but the Creator of the Universe lives within me. All I know about Him is in my “knower” and I can’t un-know what I’ve learned. He’s never contradicted Himself when He’s spoken to me through prayer, Scripture reading, through other believers, through life circumstances, or sitting on a stump down by the trout stream.

  198. Max wrote:

    That perspective then begs the question “Can God contradict Himself?” The short answer from what I know about God is “No”.

    What are your thoughts on how it is possible for sincere believers to have contradictory beliefs? I’m not trying to be difficult. I’ve seen and experienced this. If the same spirit is leading people to contradictory conclusions, what are we to make if it? If the answer is one is right and the other is wrong, who decides which one is right?

  199. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    If the answer is one is right and the other is wrong, who decides which one is right?

    To which, I offer another short answer: “God”

    Some would argue that the great multitude of religious tribes are just different manifestations of the same truth. I suppose if the essentials of faith agree, there would be some truth to that. But, as we all know, not all manifestations of Christian expression hold true to the truth in belief and practice … providing plenty of the fodder for watchblogs.

    The Berean Christians were recognized as being more noble than the rest because they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching was true. We should follow their example … the enemy of the Cross does his best work disguised as a pastor, even if he sounds like Paul.

  200. @ Max:

    Well, then there is this also: that maybe neither of some opposing ideas is correct. It seems to me that sometimes people are so anxious to have the right answer that they come to conclusions without adequate evidence.

    As I have said, I am now homeschooling a sixth grader, and in the ‘how to think’ aspects of the curricula they keep presenting some simple concept and then say which answer is correct: ‘a’ or ‘b’ or ‘inadequate information’. IMO the concept of ‘inadequate information’ sometimes gets lost in the enthusiasm for having an answer. For example, the questions of the ‘end times’ is one on which we do not have adequate information to answer all the questions that we ask.

    I don’t think the Spirit intentionally directs one person toward some understanding ‘a’ and intentionally directs another person to a contradictory understanding of ‘b’ regarding the same thing; but I do think that people come to their own conclusions and then say that it was where the Spirit that led them to that conclusion, whether it was the Spirit or whether it was just their own thinking that led them there.

  201. Max wrote:

    Hmmmm. That perspective then begs the question “Can God contradict Himself?” The short answer from what I know about God is “No”.

    Actually, it begins with that question, and answers it.

    God’s words can easily be taken out of context to support the accusation that he has contradicted himself (or some variation on that theme). I’m not saying you’re doing this, but you’ve undoubtedly come across what I mean in the shape of, for instance, people claiming that scripture X contradicts scripture Y which supposedly proves there’s no God. These don’t prove that God “contradicts” himself in any meaningful sense, but they do show that God can say different things to different people in different circumstances. Consider, for instance, what it means to “remember the Sabbath”, or whether we as [male] gentile believers need to be circumcised or not.

    On that latter point, I note the exact circumstances under which the first apostles and elders decided we did not – namely, in response to something the Holy Spirit had done among them. And yet he always seemed so clear about it before – it only saved Moses’ life at the last second. Does that imply that God “contradicts” himself? Again, no. But by the same token, to forbid God from contradicting himself is very different from forbidding him from bringing the sacred writings (that he owns) to life as he sees fit.

    Much depends on why God actually gave us the scribshers. If they were to serve as the ultimate revelation of himself, then to my mind that would have very serious implications if two believers disagreed on them in any sense. At least one of those believers, and maybe both, would be an idolater. On the other hand, if they were given to serve as a testimony about Jesus, who himself is the ultimate revelation of who the Father is, that has to impact the way I view scribsher.

    I hope this makes some sense (though it’s late in Scotland).

  202. okrapod wrote:

    I do think that people come to their own conclusions and then say that it was where the Spirit that led them to that conclusion, whether it was the Spirit or whether it was just their own thinking that led them there

    During the past 500 years, a good man here and there ventured out on his own to chart the course for a new Protestant denomination or organization (there are now 30,000 worldwide). This new thing, of course, had to be slightly different from the rest in order to give it its own identity. So doctrines were drafted based on that man’s understanding of the Scriptures to serve as distinctives separating his thing from the pack. Sometimes, the Spirit has been involved in that effort, sometimes not. Do any on the menu of church choices in your community have a corner on the truth? Or just a little slice of it? Where would Jesus go to church if he came to your town? If the Main Thing is the main thing … if the name of Jesus is lifted above all others … if the Gospel message is offered to ALL people, of ALL tribes, in ALL nations … if the Cross is raised as their only hope … if lost folks are reached for Christ and equipped to do the work of the ministry (every believer is a priest) … if the pulpit is not an authoritarian overlord over the pew … then I can pretty well put up with any of them, forgiving them from not agreeing with me in ‘every’ jot and tittle.

  203. Max wrote:

    To which, I offer another short answer: “God”

    Thank you for your thoughts. I hope I don’t come across as difficult or disrespectful. Part of my problem is having been educated as both a mathematician and and an engineer (two related but contradictory fields). This causes me to look at underlying assumptions, definitions, and the logical implications of ideas. I humorously and respectfully observe that your short answer is something like an answer a mathematician would offer: both 100% true and completely useless. Now let me try to explain.

    As I wrote earlier, my deep dive into Christian history and theology has left me in the middle of a minefield with no obvious way of escape. Because Orthodox theology seems so solid I took the next step and have been meeting with an Orthodox priest and attending Orthodox services when I can. The priest (and about half the congregation) are converts from various Protestant denominations. My Protestant friends and family members warn me that there is no spiritual life in those dead traditions and ceremonies. But the Orthodox tell me that there is no spiritual life outside of those traditions and ceremonies. These are completely contradictory positions – who is right? Both validate their beliefs about their experiences from the Bible and the witness of the Holy Spirit. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit is leading people to contradictory beliefs? Does it mean both sides are deceived? Why does the same Holy Spirit lead sincere God-seekers to such polar opposites? What authority decides who is right?

    Of course the answer to this is “God.” But based on the human history or religion, either God is a terrible communicator or we humans are terrible listeners. How can so many people get it wrong so often? So while I believe you are right in stating God is the one who decides, the problem remains: which one of us knows exactly what God is saying? If the authority is scripture, there is the problem of many different religions having their own authoritative revealed texts. If the authority is internal spiritual conviction, I have Muslim friends who have deeply spiritual convictions that Islam is the true path. I’m sure that every religion can state the same, otherwise those religions would die off. The cannot all be right given the fact that they contradict each other.

    I don’t believe that there are many paths to God. I do believe that Christianity has the only true explanation for the current state of mankind and the solution for redemption (but I have to caveat that – I think the early church view allows for much more freedom of thought than what is allowed in most Protestant denominations). I also strongly suspect that every single person will be given the opportunity for salvation through Jesus, even if they don’t hear about him in their earthly life. This belief of mine makes me a heretic by most Protestant standards, but this view is allowed in Orthodoxy. Which view is right? Says who? For now I think I’ll just have to accept that I am a work in progress, with more questions than answers.

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and have benefited from the various discussions on TWW. This site attracts quite an eclectic mix of people. I think we all benefit from this.

  204. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I lost count of the number of times I was told I was “trying to work it out in my intellect” while attending Restoration-type churches. This generally followed my failure to fall over, shake and bark like a fish when somebody prayed for me in a setting in which all the spiritual people produced those kind of manifestations.

    “Restoration-type church” is Scots for “Fringe Charismatic”?

  205. elastigirl wrote:

    @ ishy:

    “Be willing to destroy the whole thing to do justice by any one innocent person who is hurt.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    there is too much invested for this to happen, and so the mission becomes self-perpetuation. too much personal investment in expensive church buildings to give them up. but more than that, too much personal investment in expensive christian careers to give them up:

    Until you end up with the Vietcong proverb:
    “Better to kill a hundred innocents than let one enemy escape.”

  206. Lita wrote:

    I, quite unknowingly, attended a 9Marx church for about 3 years. I took Communion once during that entire time.

    I’m trying to think of a sermon/message where the Lord’s Supper/Communion was talked about as an important thing to partake in as a Christian, but nothing comes immediately to mind. In fact, I cannot recall a single time where any emphasis was placed on Communion.

    Maybe it’s their way of saying “NO POPERY!”?

  207. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I appreciate and have benefited from the various discussions on TWW. This site attracts quite an eclectic mix of people. I think we all benefit from this.

    Amen! I truly believe that God speaks to us and through us as believers interact on this forum.

    Happy New Year, Ken.

  208. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Part of my problem is having been educated as both a mathematician and and an engineer (two related but contradictory fields).

    Ummm, well, that may be so. In my field we go with whatever works, regardless of whether we totally understand it or not, and regardless of whether the same thing works for everybody or only for some, and regardless of the fact that we know that processes are in place that can make what works today not work tomorrow. And the decisions as to what works, or may work, are based on mountains of statistics and ultimately on trial and error with the individual patient/ situation.

    I am inclined to think that perhaps in areas in which Jesus furnished no adequate explanations to the level which people who want comprehensive answers may wish he had, then perhaps there is a reason for that. And perhaps the reason for that might be that more comprehensive answers are not necessary; maybe what works is the answer. Jesus talked about follow ‘me’. Okay. Then he said wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit. Okay. But I don’t see where he said to be sure to get all the questions answered and then pursue the ‘right’ solutions to the questions. His message was more simple than that, and apparently there was a lot more space for being practical than theoretical when compared to modern Christianity. And I note that when people said they wanted to follow him, they did not always get the same answer as the last person who said that .

    I hope you can find what you are looking for, but I am not convinced that having the so called right answers is the right approach to the condition of humanity or to the God/ human relationship.

  209. brian wrote:

    first

    okrapod wrote:

    I hope you can find what you are looking for, but I am not convinced that having the so called right answers is the right approach to the condition of humanity or to the God/ human relationship.

    My right brain agrees with you. But my left brain is having difficulty with this. I probably need to learn how to engage my right brain a bit more…

  210. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    brian wrote:

    first

    Sorry Brian. When I use my phone to reply I sometimes forget to refresh after using my “cheat” to get go the bottom of the post.

  211. ___

    “Pay it Forward?”

    hmmm…

    Once again this familiar church dilemma necessitates the need of doing due diligence when it comes to hiring new 501(c)3 church leadership individuals.

    A common way that information asymmetry between a pastoral candidate and the church congregation can be addressed is through a legally binding warranty, such as a guarantee of satisfaction. But without such a safeguard in place the ancient rule (buyer beware) applies, and the church congregation should certainly beware.

    – –

  212. Max wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    I’ve struggled to keep religion, traditions, cultural/ ethnic,* stuff *, from not becoming the emphasis of my core belief in, Jesus saves.
    Mae, believers who keep the Main Thing the main thing can survive in organized religion. It may prove frustrating, but it’s possible. I’ve done it for 60+ years as a Southern Baptist!

    Takes a good amount of discipline to not let these things creep in. It can be, in the short term anyway, easier to conform then revolt.
    I too have been mostly able ( had some lapses ) to keep my identity in Christ paramount. I rather believe though, it is God himself, who helps me maintain any semblance of basic, core beliefs , while tossing others. ( that and God, for whatever reasons, gave me a temperament with a good bull $*it meter attached.)

  213. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Max wrote:
    That perspective then begs the question “Can God contradict Himself?” The short answer from what I know about God is “No”.
    What are your thoughts on how it is possible for sincere believers to have contradictory beliefs? I’m not trying to be difficult. I’ve seen and experienced this. If the same spirit is leading people to contradictory conclusions, what are we to make if it? If the answer is one is right and the other is wrong, who decides which one is right?

    Does it have to be between, right or wrong? If the core Christian persuasions agree on salvation in Christ, the rest (by me) can be tolerated/accepted. I may think some doctrines are way off,( odious to me ) but can still believe the person, their religious affiliation, holds the basic truth of, Jesus being the savior of all people, of the world.
    Sometimes I do believe our heritage, biology, can play a role in how well our heart/soul accommodates differences.
    I am a first generation scots/ulster Irish, American. Lots of Presbyterians, Anglicans, in the family….along with their various traditions, opinions, etc. I’ll probably never become a Pentecostal, and have totally rejected Presbyterian leanings. However, I loved my Presbyterian grandmother, who was not a hard core Calvinist. My SIL, is a first generation Albanian American, she’s orthodox. My BIL, is a 2nd generation, Lithuanian, he’s RC. My husband is 2nd generation Irish, raised RC but after salvation, mostly Baptist.
    Together we bring a lot of differences to the family table but all of us know the Lord, accept his death and resurrection, as the only means of salvation.
    It’s also a safe bet that in any religious institution, organization, church, chapel, etc. their will be those attendees who have no other desire then to get you to repudiate your beliefs
    ( mine too ) and join their band…they love victory laps over such things.

  214. Mae wrote:

    Does it have to be between, right or wrong? If the core Christian persuasions agree on salvation in Christ, the rest (by me) can be tolerated/accepted. I may think some doctrines are way off,( odious to me ) but can still believe the person, their religious affiliation, holds the basic truth of, Jesus being the savior of all people, of the world.

    The central message of the Bible is redemption … a scarlet thread is woven throughout the whole of Scripture. It’s crucial for any organization to get the salvation message right … not nearly right, but right! Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” I may not agree with everything Spurgeon said, but he got that right! Gathering with the “almost right” can cripple your spiritual walk.

    Most of Christendom agrees that God’s plan of salvation is for ALL people of ALL tribes of ALL nations. Whosoever will may come! This is essential truth that cannot be diluted in any way. We may disagree on non-essentials like form of baptism, whether or not we should have musical instruments in church, what day is the Sabbath, etc. … but we cannot disagree on the message of the Cross of Christ! That’s why most of Christendom has rejected the core tenets of reformed theology, which limits Christ’s atonement only for a predestined elect – tossing aside man’s free will to receive or refuse Christ’s gift of salvation. Fortunately, adherents to this theology still represents less than 10% of Protestants worldwide. That’s why watchblogs like TWW and their band of faithful followers continue to sound the warnings about New Calvinism, along with other aberrations of faith – whose message is another gospel which is not the Gospel (Jesus saves to the uttermost!).

  215. Mae wrote:

    a good bull $*it meter

    And that folks is a good working definition for discernment. Keep your antenna up and your radar tuned in, BS is flowing in American pulpits.

  216. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Restoration-type church” is Scots for “Fringe Charismatic”?

    I tend not to use the label “charismatic” any more because it means irreconcilably different things to different people and, for that matter, on different sides of the atlantic. In particular, it is often used as a shorthand for believers who reject the authority of scripture in favour of subjective private religious experience.

    Forgive me if you already know part or all of this, but as a very brief historical summary:
     During the 1960’s in the UK, many people in non-pentecostal denominations began to experience what has generally been described as the baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, rather like in Asuza Street way back when;
     These experiences were accompanied by the other manifestations of the spirit described by Paul in 1 Corinthians;
     They happened even in denominations that were either specifically cessationist or else at least had little or no history of experiencing or pursuing the manifestations of the spirit;
     Although they are actually “manifestations” (greek: phaneroses) of the spirit, and the grace gifts (charismata) are actually in Romans 12 (helping, encouraging, giving etc), for some reason you may know better than I, these manifestations are known as “the charismata”…
     … and the broader phenomenon became known variously as the charismatic renewal, the charismatic movement, the renewal movement, and similar.

    Not surprisingly, if you start speaking in tongues in a church that doesn’t believe in speaking in tongues, that’s going to cause friction. If you actually heal the sick it’s going to cause even more friction. Inevitably, people left their denominations. Sometimes they were expelled as heretics, probably sometimes they left in pride because their denominations weren’t as spiritual as they were, often they left with considerable sorrow at the fact that they could not square their experience of God with their denominational affiliation. Many of them, if the testimonies I’ve heard are in any way representative, found themselves revisiting scripture and concluding that their beliefs about it had been wrong.

    These people found themselves cast somewhat adrift from the rest of the church. Inevitably, they found one another. Long story short, they began to coalesce into what became known as the house church movement, mainly because the new church congregations didn’t have buildings but started out in one another’s homes. (In practice, I think most of them met in school halls!) They also developed theological standpoints that went beyond God_still_heals_today. One of these theological streams held that God was restoring much (or all) that the church had lost, one way or another, since new testament times. Hence, Restorationism.

    IHTIH…

  217. Max wrote:

    the enemy of the Cross does his best work disguised as a pastor, even if he sounds like Paul.

    Bold statement. Wolves in sheep attire.

  218. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Max wrote:

    Hmmmm. That perspective then begs the question “Can God contradict Himself?” The short answer from what I know about God is “No”.

    Actually, it begins with that question, and answers it.

    God’s words can easily be taken out of context to support the accusation that he has contradicted himself (or some variation on that theme). I’m not saying you’re doing this, but you’ve undoubtedly come across what I mean in the shape of, for instance, people claiming that scripture X contradicts scripture Y which supposedly proves there’s no God. These don’t prove that God “contradicts” himself in any meaningful sense, but they do show that God can say different things to different people in different circumstances. Consider, for instance, what it means to “remember the Sabbath”, or whether we as [male] gentile believers need to be circumcised or not.

    On that latter point, I note the exact circumstances under which the first apostles and elders decided we did not – namely, in response to something the Holy Spirit had done among them. And yet he always seemed so clear about it before – it only saved Moses’ life at the last second. Does that imply that God “contradicts” himself? Again, no. But by the same token, to forbid God from contradicting himself is very different from forbidding him from bringing the sacred writings (that he owns) to life as he sees fit.

    Much depends on why God actually gave us the scribshers. If they were to serve as the ultimate revelation of himself, then to my mind that would have very serious implications if two believers disagreed on them in any sense. At least one of those believers, and maybe both, would be an idolater. On the other hand, if they were given to serve as a testimony about Jesus, who himself is the ultimate revelation of who the Father is, that has to impact the way I view scribsher.

    I hope this makes some sense (though it’s late in Scotland).

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and nothing was made apart from him that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4)

    If the “word” of God refers to “scriptures”, that doesn’t really make any sense. But if the Word is Jesus (e.g., the divine person of the son), then that is the lens through which the “word” (lowercass) ought to be viewed.

    But of course, what I just wrote would get me blasted as a blasphemer and idolater in some circles — because I have the audacity to say the “word” (scribsher) is not as important as Jesus, the true Word. And I find that accusation quite ironic…

  219. okrapod wrote:

    I hope you can find what you are looking for, but I am not convinced that having the so called right answers is the right approach to the condition of humanity or to the God/ human relationship.

    I concur. We humans crave answers and certainty. If anything, life has taught me that there is no such thing as a sure thing in the great roulette wheel of life, or Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.

  220. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    It would be great if those people were comfortable with that uncertainty and didn’t try to build a new system. It’s the most human thing to do to take something that happened and build an institution that will make it happen again. The me of a couple years ago would have joined in with gusto. Now, my faith in religion has been destroyed.

  221. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    As a Catholic I would say that you don’t know what the experience of being within the apostolic church and receiving sacramental grace is like until you join and receive, in this case, the sacrament of charismation (confirmation), absolution, and the Eucharist. Once within, if the Orthoodox and Catholic teachings are correct, faithful adherence to the best of your ability and life long reception of the sacraments should transform you. Of course you have to make the decision to enter into the sacramental world of the Church. The Orthodox Church has this life. I say go for it.

  222. DW wrote:

    As a Catholic I would say that you don’t know what the experience of being within the apostolic church and receiving sacramental grace is like until you join and receive, in this case, the sacrament of charismation (confirmation), absolution, and the Eucharist.

    I heard it this way once: You cannot understand Orthodoxy from the outside, and you cannot explain if from the inside. So your advice makes a lot of sense, but I have not yet finished counting the cost of jumping in with both feet. One thing I very much like about Orthodoxy is its patience. I’ve been told “come and see” (mirroring John 1:39). They don’t seem to be a rush to convert anyone quickly. No sales pressure.

    On the other hand, there is a lot about it I don’t understand and I don’t want to jump into it half-hearted. This morning I stumbled across the 20 Toll Houses controversy. This could be a deal breaker for me. I thought Catholic purgatory was weird, but this is way weirder. I have yet to find anything in Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy that did not make sense after explanation (even if I didn’t agree with it). But this could be it.

    As much as I would like for Christianity to be much simpler, I am wondering if the struggle is part of the process. Maybe faith would be meaningless without it.

  223. Mae wrote:

    Does it have to be between, right or wrong?

    I’ve been hoping that it does not have to be. But based on my experience as a Christian for more than 30 years, it’s looking a lot like it does. For example, when I questioned penal substitutionary atonement in my church it did not go well for me.

  224. okrapod wrote:

    In my field we go with whatever works, regardless of whether we totally understand it or not,

    This is pretty much how engineers work – they use math even if they don’t understand why it works. For math geeks I highly recommend “Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty”
    by Morris Kline. In an nutshell, it describes how mathematicians nearly lost their sanity trying to understand how calculus works because of its use of infinities and infinitesimals (I guess this assumes that mathematicians are sane to begin with). While the mathematicians were pulling out their hair trying to explain it the engineers and physicists pressed on with no worries because the results were so good. In my job I am more of an engineer. If I could be less of a mathematician in my theology I would probably be much happier.

  225. @ Ricco:

    The me of 30 years ago did join in, although it was a long story.

    I have mixed feelings about the restoration movement. I endured by far the worst experiences of my life in it; bullying and abuse, orchestrated slander, relentless personal contempt. But I also met some phenomenally courageous thinkers, who were willing to risk everything to put their faith into action, to learn from what happened, and to keep pursuing God until the things set out in the pages of scripture were brought to life around them.

    The great flaw of the restoration movement was the way it embraced of the clergy/laity divide. And what I mean by this is that it embraced it in reality despite denying it in doctrine. So, instead of popes, bishops and priests, it had apostles, prophets and pastors. There are always honourable exceptions, and we’re still in close touch with some of those honourable exceptions. But far too often, Instead of equipping the saints for the work of service, these men were the elite and the “saints” were just human fodder to resource them.

    There’s a long-standing saying that people don’t value what they get for nothing. Because our tithes and offerings were freely on tap and our labour and service was cheap, our time and gifts were squandered on low-value programs or discarded altogether, just as we ourselves were. I read an article a few months ago on the experiences of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Think Vietnam. Among many terrible experiences they described, both on the battlefield and after they returned, the word that jumped out at me most was “expendable”. I don’t feel inclined to draw a straight line between my experience and theirs. But it struck a chord.

  226. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    Does it have to be between, right or wrong?
    I’ve been hoping that it does not have to be. But based on my experience as a Christian for more than 30 years, it’s looking a lot like it does. For example, when I questioned penal substitutionary atonement in my church it did not go well for me.

    I understand such questioning would not go well in some circles. I too have had some less then pleasant experiences with pastors, elders, deacons over doctrinal practices. ( and I’m 67 and female, an obstacle.)
    These days, I pray a lot for my own faithfulness to Christ, to be gracious, forgiving of others. I’m not timid to refute what I believe to be heresy but I do try to be kind when doing so.
    I’m mostly at peace knowing I don’t have all my theological ducks in a row. I love the Lord, He loves, died for me, that is enough for me to rest in when feeling restless.

  227. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    I read about that controversy. It is not Orthodox teaching and no hierarch (bishop) in an official Orthodox church would support it. Official being those in communion with Constantinople. The benefit of having a formal structure is that it resists such foolishness. Talk about it with the local priest.

  228. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Mae wrote:

    Does it have to be between, right or wrong?

    Ken F Wrote
    I’ve been hoping that it does not have to be. But based on my experience as a Christian for more than 30 years, it’s looking a lot like it does. For example, when I questioned penal substitutionary atonement in my church it did not go well for me.

    There is likely a distribution in the population of those who want things concrete vs those who can live with uncertainty. Unfortunately the institutional church may select out the latter. You probably won’t get far in many a “church” if you differ on their doctrine even if your alternative is equally accepted in “the Church”. Similarly for a pastor or priest there is a lot of constraint on your freedom to change your mind when some changes could lead to the loss of your livelihood.
    We are a herd species and there are likely far more who believe in concrete black and white terms than those who would would separate from their tribe and leave in question or figure it out for themselves. Unfortunately institutions compound this by attracting and rewarding partisans. I wonder if there isn’t a “free thinkers need not apply” sign hung outside, one of those unwritten rules you find out about after you have transgressed.

  229. Ricco wrote:

    Now, my faith in religion has been destroyed.

    Mine too. But not Jesus of Nazareth. I trust in his very literal and bodily person. And in nothing more.

  230. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Thanks for your comment. I get what you were saying about the clergy/laity divide. I’ve been in Anabaptist and Evangelical churches my whole life, and that divide has always been there. The Mennonites (my original denomination) were so thrilled to have a famous theologian that they excused John Howard Yoder’s creepy behavior and sexual assult for decades.

    Here is my question: did the Stott/Lloyd-Jones conflict play into this. Lloyd-Jones wanted all the evangelicals to leave the Anglican Church, and Stott opposed him. I was wondering if the effects of this conflict lead to some of these groups like the Restoration and the rise of people like Terry Virgo.

    I just read Your God is too Small by J.B. Phillips for the first time. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Unlike so many evangelicals, Phillips presents a broad Christianity that people across the spectrum could agree with. I wish the church could be more like this book. In church this morning, I was wishing the pastor would help us learn more about who God is and leave the application up to individuals lead by the Holy Spirit.

  231. Ricco wrote:

    I was wishing the pastor would help us learn more about who God is and leave the application up to individuals lead by the Holy Spirit.

    Is it a safe assumption a pastor knows more about “who God is” to be an effective guide?

  232. @ Thersites:
    I would assume that through their study of theology and scripture they would be able to help with that. That might be too optimistic of an assumption.

    The other main role I see for a pastor is caring for the congregation. I’m in a church now where we talk a lot about how we all need to care for each other. How it’s not just the pastor who should be taking care of people. I do agree with this, but we all have jobs whereas that is the pastor’s job. I’ve been trying to think about what I would want to hear from the pulpit since I am frustrated with some of the sin-sniffing life applications that I often hear.

  233. ___

    “Learn what the Calvinists teach before it is too late…”

    hmmm…

    Notice: Pastor Search Committees are often unaware of what some 501(c)3 pastoral applicants believe about soteriology and God’s genuine self-sacrificial love for all people.

    Examine the extent of the Calvinist message:

    Dort, Westminster confession of faith, the doctrines of grace, tulip, reformed theology., John Calvin’s ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’…

    Even in their ‘stealth mode’, it is easy to spot this religious nonsense with a trained understanding …

    The touch off:

    They love to push the sovereignty of god thing in conjunction with the excessive SIN thingy. god is great, your a worm stuff… & SIN, SIN, SIN, Ad nauseam They push it until the cows come home, the chickens come home to roost, etc.

    Beware!

    🙁

    – –

  234. Ricco wrote:

    Here is my question: did the Stott/Lloyd-Jones conflict play into this. Lloyd-Jones wanted all the evangelicals to leave the Anglican Church, and Stott opposed him. I was wondering if the effects of this conflict lead to some of these groups like the Restoration and the rise of people like Terry Virgo.

    The restoration movement really started gathering momentum in the 1980’s, a few years after the conflict whereof you spake. I never heard the Lloyd-Jones/Stott disagreement mentioned specifically, but the background dilemma, of whether to leave or stay if you felt your local denominational subgroup was in sin or compromise, certainly formed a big part of the backdrop. Unsurprisingly, both sides of the stay / leave argument became increasingly clear that Scripture agreed with them.

    Kind of by its very nature, the house church movement had a strong representation of people who’d left the mainstream denominations, and especially the C of E. In many towns, there was a lot of hostility and ill-feeling between the existing church groups and the new ones. More recently, I’ve heard some much better stories, directly from those involved, where established denominational groups and newly-planted ones have grown genuinely close.

  235. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I have mixed feelings about the restoration movement. I endured by far the worst experiences of my life in it … to learn from what happened, and to keep pursuing God …

    I believe that God allows us to go through aberrations of faith to sharpen our spiritual senses to discern truth from error as we press forward in our Christian walk. When disillusionment sets in, some folks drop out altogether; others press on in their pursuit of God to experience the reality of living in a relationship with Him, rather than putting our hope in religious movements. As we mature, we can better discern if a movement is a “God thing” or just another flash in the plan to lure believers off track.

    When I was a teenager (and a ‘good’ church boy), I responded to peer pressure and got drunk on whiskey. My parents had a rule that I was supposed to be home by 11:00 PM … I returned home that night at 1:00 AM! When I got out of my friend’s car at home, I was deathly ill and proceeded to shrubbery near the driveway to vomit. I then quietly made my way to the front door, realizing I was late and hoping to slip in unnoticed. My Dad was sitting on the front porch! He greeted me with “Son, did you learn you lesson tonight?” … to which I responded “Yes sir.” He then walked to the door and as he opened it, turned to say “You broke your Mother’s heart tonight.” That pierced my soul like a knife. I was left in the yard to collect my thoughts. Nothing else was ever said or done as discipline for my disobedience. I never got drunk on whiskey again – the thought of breaking my Mother’s heart was a sufficient deterrent. In my Christian journey, I have too often heard another voice along the way “Son, did you learn your lesson?”

  236. DW wrote:

    I read about that controversy. It is not Orthodox teaching and no hierarch (bishop) in an official Orthodox church would support it.

    I hope you are right, but I am no so sure based on what I have been able to find so far. This book seems to be fueling the debate: https://www.amazon.com/Departure-According-Teaching-Orthodox-Church/dp/1945699000/. It claims “Full endorsements by eight Orthodox hierarchs.”

    As I was discussing this with my wife this morning she suggested that the parable of the wheat and the tares might address this. I was hoping Christianity would be less polluted by weird ideas, but it looks like all Christian traditions developed baggage over the years – some worse than others. We even see this in the Bible in Paul’s letters, so it is not new. What a mess.

  237. Ricco wrote:

    I just read Your God is too Small by J.B. Phillips for the first time. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

    I’ll look for it. I’ve certainly benefited from J.B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament … which I encourage others to read.

  238. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    This is pretty much how engineers work – they use math even if they don’t understand why it works. For math geeks I highly recommend “Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty”

    Now I’m intrigued. I wonder if Kline’s dissatisfaction with the way Mathematics is taught these days mirrors my own pissed-off quotient.
    You might enjoy NJ Wildberger’s lectures. He runs a Lyceum of sorts on You Tube.

  239. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The me of 30 years ago did join in, although it was a long story.

    Indeed it is difficult, or maybe sometimes impossible, to assess the health of an org without getting involved or trying it out. There can be smoke and mirrors, layers of truth or deception to uncover.

    Sinek alludes to this with examples of decision-making of leadership (when a family has financial difficulty do they abandon a kid to keep the Mercedes? or switch to generic rather than name-brand to keep the family intact? What are their values, he asks).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efGLdwPOWSw

  240. Ricco wrote:

    I would assume that through their study of theology and scripture they would be able to help with that. That might be too optimistic of an assumption.

    The other main role I see for a pastor is caring for the congregation.

    This points up one of the dichotomies of Christians, we speak of a “relationship” with God yet a relatively short seminary experience will trump 40 years of living in the “relationship”. In the church I left the 30 year old pastor was “in charge” and everyone deferred to his wisdom, head spins. I’ve read many biographies and am quite familiar with many historical figures but that does not compare with those who actually knew or experienced the people. It is a mix, education and experience, but I’ve come to prefer the latter.

  241. Re the frequency of communion: when I became SBC in 1968, and before that in years of attendance, SBC churches practiced closed communion. So it was scheduled but if someone “out of fellowship” aka not a member of that church was present it was scrubbed. I never took communion until 1977 and that in a Methodist church. With many long distance moves and many churches, I only took communion in a Baptist church in two of them. It isn’t something new to have it very infrequently since to them it is an ordinance, not a sacrament.

    If I ever have to choose a new church, my first question re sermons will be: did they try to tell me how to do life, how church should be done, or did they tell me about Jesus. Only the last is what I will be looking for.

  242. JYJames wrote:

    Indeed it is difficult, or maybe sometimes impossible, to assess the health of an org without getting involved or trying it out. There can be smoke and mirrors, layers of truth or deception to uncover.

    Very true. I think in the case of the restoration movement, it was layers of truth and deception, rather like the field in the parable of the wheat and weeds (or tares, or darnel, or ζιζάνια or whatever – anyway, you know the one I mean). Or, perhaps a better example might be the crowds that followed Jesus; between them, they had just about every human motive under the sun. The weeds that grew up don’t mean that the whole movement was a workOfSatan, nor do the good things that happened mean that the movement was theLordsAnointed and untouchable. I realise you’re not saying either, but I’ve heard both – probably you have as well.

  243. linda wrote:

    If I ever have to choose a new church, my first question re sermons will be: did they try to tell me how to do life, how church should be done, or did they tell me about Jesus. Only the last is what I will be looking for.

    Only the last matters in eternity. A hundred years from now, it won’t matter how I did life or how I did church, but did I know Jesus.

  244. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    This morning I stumbled across the 20 Toll Houses controversy. This could be a deal breaker for me. I thought Catholic purgatory was weird, but this is way weirder.

    Looked up “20 Toll Houses”. It IS weird.
    Reminded me of the Hours of the Night in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, where the dead have to pass test after test as they journey through the Underworld; fail any and goodbye any afterlife.

  245. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    the crowds that followed Jesus; between them, they had just about every human motive under the sun

    Very true. And who declares or reveals their motives from the get-go?

    Jesus saw what lies beneath, however, i.e.: Matt 19:16–30, Mark 10:17–31, Luke 18:18–30.

  246. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Looked up “20 Toll Houses”. It IS weird.
    Reminded me of the Hours of the Night in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, where the dead have to pass test after test as they journey through the Underworld; fail any and goodbye any afterlife.

    This makes sense since it seems to have originated with the Egyptian desert ascetics. It also seems to have a bit of Gnosticism – special knowledge is required for safe passage. It also seems to pave the way for abusive control because it requires unquestionable allegiance to a spiritual authority. This really is a mess.

    From what I’ve read on it today and yesterday, it looks like there are three basic camps within Orthodoxy: 1) those who insist on literal toll-houses, 2) those who insist it is heresy, and 3) those that accept it in a metaphorical sense but reject it in a literal sense. It also seems to be more associated with the Russian Orthodox church and not so much with Antiochian or Greek.

    I need to get back to work – too much time off enabled me to look at this.

  247. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    It also seems to pave the way for abusive control because it requires unquestionable allegiance to a spiritual authority. This really is a mess.

    It can be shown many times over that fear is probably theee most powerful motivator in any control based religion.
    It works like a charm and is guaranteed to produce compliant and docile serfs.

  248. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    But based on the human history or religion, either God is a terrible communicator or we humans are terrible listeners.

    This made me think of King Saul, who was told specifically to kill even the cattle in one instance but didn’t. I’ll go with terrible listeners.

  249. ___

    “Calvinism Is Not Safe”

    (Corrected copy)

    hmmm…

    This is the Christianity the Calvinists believe and ultimately teach: If their god has not chosen you to be of the elect from before the foundation of the world, you have absolutely no hope but to live a life apart from the grace of their god and die an eternal death of torment. This soteriology forms the core of their faux religious belief system. (1)

    ___
    (1) “Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.” http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html

    John Calvin created a false religious system (soteriology) for his followers. This false religion was produced by way of fourth century Augustinian Gnosticism. Augustinian Gnosticism was to be the core of his “Institutes Of The Christian Religion”.

    To follow Calvin’s writings is to follow Augustine’s writings. Both present a false representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and both distorted and challenged His words as presented in the New Testament writings.

    Beware!

    ;-(

    – –

  250. Sopwith wrote:

    They love to push the sovereignty of god thing in conjunction with the excessive SIN thingy. god is great, your a worm stuff… & SIN, SIN, SIN, Ad nauseam They push it until the cows come home, the chickens come home to roost, etc.

    And so how is an Arminian outfit any better? In the Calvary Chapel brand for instance, I can never be ‘good enough’, and because I can’t be ‘perfect’, god had to kill his beautiful Son by brutal torture in order to appease his wrath toward me.
    The markers are the same Sopy, and the way I see it, any ‘differences’ are purely cosmetic.

  251. JDV wrote:

    This made me think of King Saul, who was told specifically to kill even the cattle in one instance but didn’t.

    Who told him to do all the killing? Was it God or was it Samuel?

  252. Sòpwith wrote:

    John Calvin created a false religious system (soteriology) for his followers.

    That’s why less than 10% of Protestants are Calvinists.

  253. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    This makes sense since it seems to have originated with the Egyptian desert ascetics. It also seems to have a bit of Gnosticism – special knowledge is required for safe passage.

    Same with the Egyptian Book of the Dead; it contained spells/prayers/charms that would be needed to pass each test. That’s why it was included in the burial goods — a crib sheet for the Twelve Hours of the Underworld.

  254. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    From what I’ve read on it today and yesterday, it looks like there are three basic camps within Orthodoxy: 1) those who insist on literal toll-houses, 2) those who insist it is heresy, and 3) those that accept it in a metaphorical sense but reject it in a literal sense. It also seems to be more associated with the Russian Orthodox church and not so much with Antiochian or Greek.

    Every church that’s been around long enough accumulates some pretty WEIRD ideas. (Look at Dispy/Rapture Fever among Christians without a modifier and some of the elaborate Medieval angelology and demonology.) Just I thought the Orthodox way to flake out was “Monk-a-bee”, acting like an ascetic monk in all but name (or placing yourself under an abbot’s or bishop’s authority like a real monk); Catholics, it’s some form of “Mary Channeling” Marian Visions; Evangelicals, End Time Prophecy mania.

    Though the 20 Toll House association with RUSSIAN Orthodox is interesting. Has anyone investigated why Russian Orthodox are more likely to go for it? Russian Orthodoxy has a long track record of sucking up to secular Power, whether the Autocrat of All Russia is Tsar or Putin; is that a factor? (I don’t see how…)

  255. Muff Potter wrote:

    It can be shown many times over that fear is probably theee most powerful motivator in any control based religion.
    It works like a charm and is guaranteed to produce compliant and docile serfs.

    “FEAR ALWAYS WORKS!”
    — Acting Mayor Bellwether, Zootopia

  256. Lots of things would be different if profit were taken out of the equation.

    I’m going to date myself here, but some of us can remember the Church before she was mass marketed. And before keeping an individual 501(c)3 alive and kicking and growing was the goal of the local church.

    We remember when each local church was busy proclaiming what they believed was the truth. So no, the RCC were not going to do a “simple folk mass” to keep the boomer hippie kids in church. And the local nonCalvinist SBC church would not teach predestination because some yuppies said they liked that. The local Methodist church was big on repentance from sin and also on the idea sin could cause you to lose your salvation. The local AoG made a big deal out of speaking in tongues and would have stomped Word of Faith teaching into the ground.

    But then came CCM, Christian Seminars, Christian book clubs out the wazoo, and tacky Jesus Junk (trade marked, all of them.)

    Suddenly just a Bible, a hymnal, and the distinct theology of each denomination were not enough. Forget winning the lost–it is slow going to turn a lost person into a tithing unit. But if we can sheep steal ready made tithing units who cares what they believe about Jesus?

    So now we have a sort of mish moshed take your pick vapid moralistic (but not too moral) therapeutic (Bible or psychology mode, who cares) deism designed to allow each of us to “have a God moment” and “feel good about ourselves.”

    May God send us some Wesley’s, even some Comfort’s, some people to get our eyes off our navels and on to the One True God with repentance for sin and faith in Jesus.

    Whether or not it is popular.

  257. ___

    “A Seventeen Century Scratch Off”

    (Governing Dynamics: Ignore the Theologian)

    hmmm…

    Muff Potter on Tue Jan 02, 2018 at 11:53 AM – makes an interesting inquiry:

    Beginning with Sòpwith’s comment: “They love to push the sovereignty of god thing in conjunction with the excessive SIN thingy. god is great, your a worm stuff… & SIN, SIN, SIN, Ad nauseam They push it until the cows come home, the chickens come home to roost, etc.”

    Muff Potter’s question: “And so how is an Arminian outfit any better? The markers are the same Sòpy, and the way I see it, any ‘differences’ are purely cosmetic.”

    Ans. You are correct …almost.

    ***

    Historical Stats:

    John Calvin – died- 27May1654
    Jacobus Arminius – died -19October1609
    The Synod of Dort – convened 1618-1619 ; It was an international Synod held in Dordrecht by the Dutch Reformed Church, designed to settle a divisive controversy (a dispute) initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The results was to settle the dispute on what the ultimate state religion was to be.

    ***

    Academic foot note: In 2014 the first entire critical edition of the Acts and Documents of the Synod of Dort was published; Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618–1619) Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser, Herman Selderhuis (eds.) Vol. I, CVII, 539 pag. ISBN 978-3-525-55078-6 Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen

    ***

    Skreeeeeetch!

    simple.

    Both the theological system of Calvinism, and it’s rebuttal Arminianism are scriptural fatally flawed: just in different ways… These argument(s) has/have been doing a tap dance on Christianity for centuries. Both are theological straw men. Both the thoughts and reasoning of men. Both require the ‘Breath Of Fresh Air’ from the throne of Almighty God…

    ***

    How can people be so heartless?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uZDF4wlmIdY

    Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, love your neighbor as yourself, read your bible…follow its instructions , and Always pray, don’t forget to ‘hope’ in the fulfillment of the promise(s) of God yet to come.

    (See your bible for details)

    God Almighty is forever faithful…

    Whom Christ sets free, is free indeed!

    Muff, Adam Smith was wrong, why not Calvin and Arminius…

    Blessings & Happiness in da new year!

    da da da datz all folks!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8WxY7VEIbQg

    ATB

    Sòpy

    😉

    – –

  258. ___

    “A Seventeen Century Scratch Off”

    (Corrected copy)

    (Governing Dynamics: Ignore the Theologian)

    hmmm…

    Muff Potter on Tue Jan 02, 2018 at 11:53 AM – makes an interesting inquiry:

    Beginning with Sòpwith’s comment: “They love to push the sovereignty of god thing in conjunction with the excessive SIN thingy. god is great, your a worm stuff… & SIN, SIN, SIN, Ad nauseam They push it until the cows come home, the chickens come home to roost, etc.”

    Muff Potter’s question: “And so how is an Arminian outfit any better? The markers are the same Sòpy, and the way I see it, any ‘differences’ are purely cosmetic.”

    Ans. You are correct …almost.

    ***

    Historical Stats:

    John Calvin – died- 27May1654
    Jacobus Arminius – died -19October1609
    The Synod of Dort – convened 1618-1619 ; It was an international Synod held in Dordrecht by the Dutch Reformed Church, designed to settle a divisive controversy (a dispute) initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The results was to settle the dispute on what the ultimate state religion was to be.

    ***

    Academic foot note: In 2014 the first entire critical edition of the Acts and Documents of the Synod of Dort was published; Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618–1619) Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser, Herman Selderhuis (eds.) Vol. I, CVII, 539 pag. ISBN 978-3-525-55078-6 Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen

    ***

    Skreeeeeetch!

    simple.

    Both the theological system of Calvinism, and it’s rebuttal Arminianism are scriptural fatally flawed: just in different ways… These argument(s) has/have been doing a tap dance on Christianity for centuries. Both are theological straw men. Both the thoughts and reasoning of men. Both require the ‘Breath Of Fresh Air’ from the throne of Almighty God…

    ***

    How can people be so heartless?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uZDF4wlmIdY

    Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, love your neighbor as yourself, read your bible…follow its instructions , and Always pray, don’t forget to ‘hope’ in the fulfillment of the promise(s) of God yet to come.

    (See your bible for details)

    God Almighty is forever faithful…

    Whom Christ sets free, is free indeed!

    Muff, Adam Smith was wrong, why not Calvin and Arminius…

    Blessings & Happiness in da new year!

    da da da datz all folks!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8WxY7VEIbQg

    ATB

    Sòpy

    😉

    – –

  259. ___

    “A Morbid Jumble Of Disputation And Argument, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Max

    Sòpwith “John Calvin created a false religious system (soteriology) for his followers.”

    Max: “That’s why less than 10% of Protestants are Calvinists.”

    Max,

    Developing cancer requires only a few itty bitty phony cells.

    ***

    “…if anyone tries to teach some doctrinal novelty which is not compatible with sound teaching (which we base on Christ’s own words and which leads to Christ-like living), then he is a conceited idiot! His mind is a morbid jumble of disputation and argument, things which lead to nothing but jealousy, quarrelling, insults and malicious innuendoes—continual wrangling, in fact, among men of warped minds who have lost their real hold on the truth but hope to make some profit out of the Christian religion.” – J.B. Phillips; The New Testament For Schools

    You can’t ‘Hyde’? (1)

    hmmm…

    …be careful of the bait.

    ATB

    Sòpy
    ___
    (1) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zqqZ0yFqY04

    😉

    – –

  260. linda wrote:

    turn a lost person into a tithing unit …

    … as opposed to saving a soul and discipleship so they would be bound for Heaven (rather than discipleship to cement their weekly tithe).

  261. There’s only one mark of a Christian people, and it’s not Dever, but Jesus who decides.

    They will know we are Christians by our love.

    FINALLY having the courage to apply that test has changed my life for the better.

    If you can’t see the love in it, it ain’t Jesus, period.

  262. @ Max:
    @ Sòpwith:

    Why are only 10% of Protestants Calvinists? “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

  263. Freddie M wrote:

    @ Max:
    @ Sòpwith:

    Why are only 10% of Protestants Calvinists? “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

    Sounds like something a Calvinista would say.

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