Posted in discernment, false, glittering generality, louie giglio, passion 2013

Part 2: Discerning a Gnostic conference called "Passion 2013," Louie Giglio

Louie Giglio is a 54 year old pastor of Pastor of Passion City Church in the Atlanta area which he founded in 2008. Prior to that Giglio was a pastor at Andy Stanley’s North Point Church for 13 years, itself an emergent-leaning church with a mystical bent. He is Speaker/Founder of the Passion Movement. The Passion Movement is most publicly seen in the large conferences held at the first of each year and is so named after the year. Passion 2013 just concluded this week in Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta paper reported that 60,000 youths attended.

Mr Giglio’s main ministry began in and continues to be aimed at Christian youth- especially college aged students through young adult.

More than 170,000 people from more than 130 countries watched part of the Passion 2013 conference online. His “Laminin” sermon has attracted over 3 million views on Youtube. If you would like another take on the Giglio laminin sermon, I point you to the essay Laminin and the Cross at the science-oriented website Answers in Genesis, where we are specifically cautioned against looking for signs in the world OR in science via Mr Giglio’s laminin doctrine.

This blogger had this to say about the Inadequacies of Evidentialism (i.e. ‘Laminin proof’):

And though I would imagine his ministry has been a blessing to many folks over the years, he is one of those type of speakers who will sensationalize Christian “evidences,” like the laminin molecule, in order to make God appear to be really cool and neat-o. But this misappropriation of Christian evidence has some hidden dangers that will undo your credibility as a messenger for God.

First, it capitulates to the culture, particularly the teen culture who already think being a Christian is “squaresville.” Though there is good intentions with the attempt to show that believing in Jesus doesn’t make a person an “L7,” what happens when smug and surly Devon goes home after one of these Giglio conferences where he opines on the shape of the laminin molecule, does an internet search only to discover that Giglio exaggerated his proof? All that shows is Christians can lie.

Secondly, the illustration merely trivializes the Gospel. Honestly, does the laminin molecule have to look like a cross in order for God to be a perfect creator? How does a cross shaped molecule help God out exactly? How does it make God more real? Isn’t the fact that there is a complex, self-replicating molecule to begin with proof enough for God’s hand in all of life?

I agree.

So the statistics show us that Pastor Giglio is popular and has influence. The facts show that his most famous sermon is a bit off-center and exaggerated, with a wrong emphasis. With such numbers it behooves us to take a look at what he is preaching to these multitudes of youth, many of whom reside in my own state of Georgia.

The Passion 2013 website says “At the heart of it all, Passion exists to see a generation stake their lives on what matters most. For us, that’s the fame of the One who rescues and restores, and the privilege we have to fully leverage our lives by amplifying His name in everything we do.”

This is something I have read frequently that Giglio and the people associated with Giglio say. It is that what they do is for the fame of Jesus. On the surface it looks like bringing fame to Jesus is a good thing. But words matter. I say again, words matter. Jesus doesn’t need fame. He had fame. (Luke 4:14). Fame is fleeting and fame is fickle. We do not need to bring Him fame.What we bring Jesus is glory.

Puritan Thomas Watson wrote in his sermon, “Man’s Chief End is to Glorify God“,

The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11. “That God in all things may be glorified.” The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. l Cor. 10:31. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

Jesus does not need us to bring Him fame.

To continue, Mr Giglio has gone the way of people who teach, preach and expect to hear divine audible voices directly telling them what to do specifically and in individual circumstances. And not that they can expect this voice just once, but often. At last year’s Passion 2012 conference, Mr Giglio said, “How many of you heard the voice of God speak specifically, clearly, directly, and personally, to you? Can you just put a hand up? I’d like you to share it. Can you put a hand up for a minute?” … “God spoke to me.” Don’t let the voice of the darkness, tell you that you are not worth that God would not speak to you. Don’t let him tell you, you don’t matter. God spoke to you.”

He teaches youth that it is normative to hear God, and worse, the flip side of his teaching is that if you do NOT hear God, there is something wrong with you. Apparently Mr Giglio has full confidence in his ability to detect the Voice. At a conference in GA in March 2012, Mr Giglio was interviewed by his friend Andy Stanley. Mr Giglio said, “The upside to planting a church at 50 years old – You care less about what other people think. You have more confidence in your ability to hear from Jesus.”

The ability to hear His voice- through the scripture and no other place- comes from the Holy Spirit. Not ourselves.

That was a short overview. Now to the Passion 2013 conference.

I was struck by the catch-phrases Mr Giglio used throughout his session one teaching. He kept saying God is “the God who does of immeasurably more” and that phrase was a main tenet of the talk. I hesitate to say it was a sermon.

By definition if you have more of something you have to already have had a quantity to measure against. That’s how you know you got more. But Mr Giglio never defined what he meant by this term. He didn’t define it from scripture or use it in context . (It was from Ephesians 3:20). It was not concrete, it was nebulous. More than what? If I don’t get more, am I doing it wrong?

What you find when you listen to scripture twisters, is that they unhitch a verse, or worse, a partial verse, from its context. They then use these well known phrases in their talks so they can sound godly but deny its power. It is a technique that politicians and propagandists use and it is called the tactic of the Glittering Generality.

“Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly-valued concepts and beliefs that they carry conviction without supporting information or reason. Such highly-valued concepts attract general approval and acclaim. Their appeal is to emotions such as love of country and home, and desire for peace, freedom, glory, and honor. They ask for approval without examination of the reason. They are typically used by politicians and propagandists. … A glittering generality has two qualities- it is vague and it has positive connotations. … [they] are terms with which people all over the world have powerful associations, and they may have trouble disagreeing with them. However, these words are highly abstract and ambiguous, and meaningful differences exist regarding what they actually mean or should mean in the real world.”

George Orwell described such words at length in his essay “Politics and the English Language.” He said these words and phrases, “are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object”. When used by a preacher unhitching the meaning of the scripture from context, it also unhitches it from pointing to the discoverable object, in this case, Jesus. Orwell continued, ” Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”

When politicians use glittering generalities they do so to appeal to the widest audience possible without causing an offense to as few people as possible. Emergent/Mystical preachers do the same, and in his session one talk, Mr Giglio and his immeasurably more not only was a hit, the phrase is taking on a life of its own on Twitter.

The key is that without precisely dividing the word as preachers are supposed to do, which would include a specific application of the meaning of this phrase from Ephesians in context, we now have thousands of kids running all around believing God will do immeasurably more in their lives, each having a different definition about what that is. Some might believe is it more finances. Others, more health. Others, to stamp out a social ill, still others may hope to receive immeasurably more visions. Politicians and propagandists have made use of the glittering generality for years but now it seems, they must make room for the Southern preacher. I literally lost count of how many times Giglio said it.

In the same session, Mr Giglio discussed his ministry and the impetus for it. It is that millions of young adults “don’t have a clue as to why they’re on this planet.” Again as with any Gnostic doctrine, the emphasis is always shifted away from Jesus toward the human. I would be happier if he had said he had a burden for young people because “they don’t know Jesus”. But in emphasizing their purposelessness in preparing to solve their problem as to why they are on this planet, scriptures can be done away with in the movement toward works. And make no mistake, works is the mantra of the Passion conferences.

The focus this year as last year is to eradicate the sex trade in the world. The focus these youths had been set toward was not to correctly proclaim the Jesus of the bible but to solve a cultural ill. Three million dollars was called for and the day after the conference closed, over three million dollars was gotten.

Of all the world’s ills, child abuse and the sex trade, especially in children, make me fall down in horror. No one more than me would love to eradicate it. I am not saying that trying to do good is bad.

But the reason Christians are on the earth is to proclaim Jesus. Jesus could have eradicated poverty. He could have stopped slavery. He didn’t He said “the poor will always be among us.” (Matthew 26:11). And apparently Mr Giglio had not read Revelation 18:13, where in the future a healthy slave trade is part of the going economy of the world and is taken down by Jesus Himself. We are not here to solve the world’s problems.

The slavery is a symptom. The root cause is our sin. Do they not believe that when the Restrainer is taken out of the way, and sin is allowed to burst through in all its evil, that when the wars of the Tribulation occur, that the parties will be adhering to the Geneva convention? No, every person on the losing side of every war in the Tribulation will become a slave.

The goal today is to preach Christ crucified so that millions can be saved before the judgment comes.

Continuing, in his talk, Mr Giglio did say that he had directly heard from Jesus and that he had received “confirmation” that the conference was to be about solely the person of Jesus Christ, and that he and his wife “wanted to inspire a generation to cash in little dreams and to make the focus of their life’s goal to make Jesus known in their generation.”

First, any get-together of Christians should solely be about the person of Jesus Christ. One does not need direct revelation from Jesus to tell a person that. I included Mr Giglio’s age up above for a reason. If this was a new preacher or a young preacher perhaps these statements could be forgiven as youthful immaturity. But Mr Giglio is 54 years of age and finished bible college 25 years ago. He should already know that the purpose of conferences is to put Jesus at the center. And as for making Jesus known to a generation…that is in the bible too. All he needs to do is cite the verse. (Mark 16:15). But instead Mr Giglio went on for 20 minutes about his personal vision where he got this information. So it ends up being about Giglio, not Jesus- exactly the opposite of what he said he wanted it to be about.

He had said way back at the beginning to open to Ezekiel 37, but there was a long intervening period of time when he talked about himself. When he did preach the valley of dry bones, he allegorized it, as many emergent/Gnostic preachers do. He talked a lot about our “foolishness” and did not use the word sin. (OK, once.) Beth Moore does that when she preaches our ‘pits’. Joel Osteen fails completely to make mention that we sin, only infrequently alluding to our “mistakes.” See? Words matter. We have three of the nation’s most popular preachers choosing not to use the hard word ‘sin’. So you see the trajectory.

Substituting the doctrinal words for less loaded ones is a common tactic. Making fuzzy the hard words is a favored tactic because the person wants to please and not divide. It is a way to make hard doctrines sound ticklish to itching ears. (2 Timothy 4:3). Below, Giglio is softening the doctrines and making mush out of the rightly divided word. Giglio continued in his talk–

“Many of us came to the door in captivity. We got to the dome but we came in captivity, we didn’t come free and clear. Something has a grip on us. When you trace that back there could be events and circumstances, for sure, but at the end of the day it is because of our foolishness that we forget what God is. And that’s what his people did. They were dragged of into captivity into foreign lands. God intervened. He sent a voice.”

That makes no sense. Then Giglio read from Ezekiel 36:24-27.

“I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules…”

But he stopped short of where God said they shall live in His land. God was speaking of a definite time and place and a promise given to the Israelites. Not the Gentiles. If we are to see the promises given to the Gentiles we turn to the New Testament and it is better preached from there. Many preachers these days allegorize and spiritualize the events in the Old Testament and make incorrect application to the church of today. The verse ends with this, which shows it is not for us but for the Jews–

You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”

Far be it for a Emergent/Gnostic preacher to say that we are evil and that God is ashamed of us. When was the last time you heard any preacher of stature preach that?

He resumed his talk by saying, “That’s what God does. When God sends a voice, that voice announces that God wants to come, and when God wants to come, God wants to breathe, and when God breathes, He breathes on hard-hearted people, on stone-hearted people, and He takes out of us the hardness and he puts into us beating living life. And that’s the Gospel.”

That is not the Gospel. Anyone there who heard that would not understand one thing about what Giglio said, because it wasn’t scripture. THIS is the Gospel–

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The Gospel according to Giglio is that ‘I was foolish so God breathed on me’.

Other perplexing phrases from the opening session at Passion 2013 by Louie Giglio:

–Jesus rocks into the moment and the disciples are all in a wad.
–God was breathing into the vision
–That verse was birthed in us
–It all has to do with the voice. I heard a voice intervening into foolishness.
–Worship is when we give God His breath back

None of that makes any sense. God is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33). If the word is being handled rightly, it will always make sense.

In his final prayer, Giglio prayed:

–Do you think your dreams can live? (It is not about my dreams, it is about God’s will)
–God believes in you (remember the Gnostic shifts the emphasis from the work of the Shepherd to the worth of the sheep)
–Can your memories be restored? (what does that have to do with anything?)
–Lord, come and speak (Giglio teaches that audible hearing of God’s voice is the norm. It isn’t)

Other concerning items from Mr Giglio of late outside this year’s Passion 2013 are that last year he invited John Piper and Beth Moore to perform and lead the audience at Passion 2012 in the pagan/Mystical practice Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is a clear attack on the sufficiency of scripture. It is a pagan Roman Catholic practice and is to be avoided. Church Leaders blog covers this concerning event well, and at the end asks some excellent questions to Mr Giglio.

Mr Giglio has been aligning more with Prosperity Gospel preacher Joel Osteen, preaching at Lakewood in May 2012.

In closing, I have a warning and an encouragement. The warning is that any pastor can drift. Any Christian can drift. As any car driver, boat owner, pilot, or farmer knows, one moment of inattention can cause you to get off course. Unless that course is corrected, you wind up over time far from your intended destination. Christian life is a series of immediate course corrections. We do this by repenting, praying, and constantly reading the bible. Attend a local church so that you can be accountable and so you can hear the word of God rightly preached.

But if that course correction is allowed to fester, like a disease, it grows in you. The disease makes the person sicker and sicker. In Christian life, one unconfessed sin, one time we adhered to a false doctrine, can cause others to immediately come in. Satan wants to capture you into a snare, and false teaching is the way to do it. If Mr Giglio began well, he is not finishing well. He is drifting.

Undiscerning Christians tend to take take snapshots and stop there. If they find that their one time investigative results into a particular preacher or teacher was doctrinally sound, they take a mental snapshot and stay with that assessment forever. But the Christian should be armed with a sounding line. That is the line which sailors of old threw out constantly to see how deep the bottom was. When the depth got too shallow, they sounded the alarm and changed direction. Without throwing out the sounding line, they would run aground and maybe sink. But constant vigilance allowed them to always know how deep they were in it, and whether they were navigating safe waters.

Christians need to be like that. If they ever only threw out the line once they would not have an up-to-date data on how deep or shallow the waters were of someone’s preaching. Mr Giglio needs to take the measure of the shallow waters he is navigating. He needs to get back deeply into the word. The encouraging thing is that he, and any person who follows teachings of his or like his, will be forgiven if they repent. Jesus told the church at Pergamum who were holding to a false teaching to repent (Revelation 2:15-16.) To the church at Thyatyra Jesus told them He gave much time to repent of their false prophesying. (Revelation 2:21). To the church at Ephesus who forsook their first love, He called out to them to repent. (Revelation 2:5). That is how Good Jesus is. But with each church in need of repentance there also came a warning of judgment if they failed to set aside their undoctrinal ways. That is how holy Jesus is.

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Part 1: Jesus Culture and Kim Walker-Smith
Part 3: Conclusion

 

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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.