A major ‘Christian’ conference at the Georgia Dome was just concluded this week. It was called Passion 2013 and 60,000 youths attended.
Joining founder and leader Louie Giglio at the conference were the band Jesus Culture, Judah Smith, Chris Tomlin, Lecrae, Francis Chan, John Piper and Beth Moore, plus several other speakers and singers.
As with any large “movement”, or sellout venue that says it features Jesus as its centerpiece, we wish to rejoice. Our hearts want revival. We want to see many come to know Jesus to the salvation of their souls. We love to praise Him in large numbers. But being a discerning Berean, I know that the bible says that the end time will be rife with false movements, false Jesuses being proclaimed and that they will not endure sound doctrine and will heap up teachers to themselves who tell them what they want to hear. So where does Passion 2013 stand in terms of doctrinal purity, safe absorption of its proclamations and general joy in corporate praise?
The alert-meter is off the charts on this one and I am sad to say that from the many hours I’ve invested in listening to what came out of it I have more tears than applause. I will write a series of blog entries addressing some of the major speakers and singers doctrines. I do this so that we can be warned and so that we can begin a rescue operation toward those whom we know who attended or who are influenced by these people. I do this because I love the Jesus of the bible as He has revealed Himself- not as the one experienced by others in visions and signs. I do this because I love my brothers and sisters and do not want to see them stumble over this obstruction satan has put in their way.
Which Jesus was preached at Passion 2013? Let’s find out by looking at what its participants said at the conference and prior in other venues. So who are these people? Let’s begin by looking at a band called “Jesus Culture”
In my first essay reacting to what was taught at Passion 2013, I want to take a look at Jesus Culture’s lead singer, Kim Walker-Smith. After that in subsequent entries I’ll look at Louie Giglio and Judah Smith before concluding.
Kim Walker-Smith [Notice her hyphenated name, and read Genesis 2:24] is a part of the Jesus Culture Band. She is part of a home church called Bethel Church in Redding CA. Smith is a worship leader and/or a “worship pastor” at that same church, which teaches heresies. On her church page she is listed as as “a passionate worship leader with an anointing to bring an entire generation into an encounter with God.” I’m impressed. The Apostles didn’t even have such an anointing.
At a conference called ‘Awakening 2011’ Smith shared with the audience a vision she said she had. It was an experience of cuddling with Jesus, and God was nearby too. She said her vision buoyed her and she lives off it, explaining, “I live off of the encounter … until the next one.” Yet the bible says “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4). This means we don’t live just in the flesh and for the flesh (having adrenaline rushed encounters) but we live by His word.
The problem that comes from living from encounter to encounter is three-fold: first, we live by His word as the bible commands, not by experiences. Second, human nature requires ever bigger rushes. The last one has to be topped. It is the Law of Diminishing returns for an adrenaline junkie. Adrenaline junkies seek encounters or experiences in which a high is produced by epinephrine released by the adrenal gland. It produces a fight-or-flight response (one which Ms Smith admits she felt during each of the encounters she described). The problem is that each ‘high’ has to be succeeded by one with more oomph in order to achieve the same effect. It seems like it would be an upward spiral but it is really a downward one. Third, what happens when the encounters stop? They do and they will. After each high, there is a low. What will sustain her faith then? If you live by the word, it will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35).
Here is a bit of what Mrs Smith said regarding her encounter with Jesus and God:
“This is not a normal thing for me, to have these encounters.” But then later she said “I live off of the encounter … until the next one.” We know from the bible that several righteous men encountered Jesus as He is glorified, but they are few. Few. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John were lifted up and saw Him in heaven. Of those four, three were allowed to relate a small bit of what they saw and Paul was commanded not to speak of it at all. Peter saw a transfigured Christ on earth, Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and Moses encountered God atop Mt Sinai.
In comparing her experience with the ones above from the bible, the two experiences are dramatically different. I’ll summarize what Mrs Walker-Smith has said in her video testimony. Then we will compare her experience to those who experienced God from the bible’s record:
In her vision, she said she saw Jesus and God behind Him. God beckoned for her to come closer. When she did, two questions popped into her mind that she wanted to ask Jesus. One was “How much do you love me, and the other was “What were you thinking when you created me?”
In answering her question as to how much Jesus loved her, Smith said he started stretching out his arms, and it looked like Stretch Armstrong, the superhero cartoon character “whose arms and legs could stretch out like spaghetti noodles. And He’s laughing hysterically.”
A person entering the presence of God and Jesus would become immediately insensate & insensible. But Mrs Smith remained conscious enough in her own flesh to ask Jesus to ‘tell me about me.’ Then she likens him to a cartoon character, and says he laughed hysterically. Hysterical laughter is out-of-control laughter, and Jesus is never out of control.
The bible tells us that if you were one of the FEW men to have seen heaven while still alive that what you see is unlawful to express. (2 Corinthians 12:4). But if directed to tell, the visionary must use many symbols and metaphors to try and get the point across because the scene is so incomprehensible. The writer uses exalted metaphors to convey the inexpressible beauty and holiness of the scene. The writers did not use everyday toys and cartoon characters to convey the scene, in no way is that appropriate. The metaphors themselves that John or Ezekiel used for example were ‘hair white like wool, eyes like a flame, feet like bronze’, (Revelation 1) ‘a brightness all around Him…like a bow in the sky.’ (Ezekiel 1:27-28).
After Daniel’s visions of the Ancient of Days, he became “distressed, alarmed and dismayed.” (Daniel 7:15). That sounds bad enough, but the Hebrew says the word alarmed means active suffering and piercing grief. (Strong’s). Yet in Mrs Smith’s visions she giggled like a schoolgirl and cuddled in Jesus’ arms while God roamed around nearby.
Mrs Smith said that she had wanted to ask Jesus two questions but in that first vision had only asked one. She continued in her sharing of her now second vision in which the unasked question was answered: “What were you thinking when you made me”. She said that a few months later she was watching the sun come up early in the morning. “I like to watch the sun come up, which is a miracle in itself … because I am not a morning person.” Oh wait, I thought she was going to praise the creator.
“Again, I felt the presence of the Lord, and I felt like He wanted me to ask that question. Jesus is like, ‘Please, please ask me that question.’ And again he said, ‘Please, please ask me that question.”
The scene she describes here is of a begging Jesus. It continues:
Smith said she’s now standing with Jesus. In front of her is God the father. Jesus’s got a table, and He reaches into His body and clutches his heart and rips a chunk off His heart and throws it on the table… he fashions her out of a clay or play-dough like substance, puts her into a ballerina music box where she begins dancing, and then Jesus begins shouting “who hooooo” while running around with his arms up, continually going around, “woo hoo!” in circles, running around a bunch of times. Smith said he looked like a jack in the box.
“Then I’m in the palm of the Father’s hand…and I see His heart and the outline of his heart and the outline is the chunk he ripped out and he slides me into His heart like a puzzle piece and it’s a perfect fit. Smith said Jesus told her, “I made you because you make me happy.”
A few days ago, I wrote about the Therapeutic Gospel. I noted how the Gnostic changes the emphasis of the Gospel from the work of Jesus to our own worth. I’d said:
The Therapeutic Gospel does something else that’s devastating. It leads us to believe that it is our worth that motivates God’s action to save us. The thinking is, Jesus came to save us because we are so valuable to God. … A good example comes from comparing two parables.
Pastor Wax compares the subtle shift in a counterfeit Gospel from being Christ-centered to man-centered, by comparing the parable of the sheep as they are presented in Luke and in the false Gospel of Thomas. Here is the Gospel of Luke:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7)
The other is from the non-canonical, false Gospel of Thomas.
“Jesus said, “The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine sheep and looked for that one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep, ‘I care for you more than the ninety-nine.'” (FALSE, NON-CANONICAL “Gospel of Thomas”)
What has happened here, said Pr. Wax, is that in the counterfeit Gnostic gospel the point of the parable in the counterfeit is about the worth of the sheep, instead of the work of the Shepherd.
Jesus did not create us because it made Him happy. He made humans so as to bring HIM glory. (Romans 11:36). Do you see the exact Gnostic emphasis that is present in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas is also in Smith’s vision? It was the worth of Kim Walker-Smith that caused Jesus to make her? And in so doing brought Jesus a measure of happiness he had not had before?
This is not possible. It does not line up with the scriptures and if it does not line up with scripture, it is false.
In looking at the biblical record of people who were lifted to heaven or saw Jesus glorified, we compare their reactions with Kim Walker-Smith’s. For example, Isaiah-
Isaiah said, “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
“Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:28b)
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Revelation 1:17). The Greek word “dead” in that verse means literally ‘one that has breathed his last, lifeless‘.
The point is, when men encounter the Christ in all His glory, you become insensate with fear and dumb in the face of His holiness. Even the ones who encountered Him in human form prior to His appearing (Hagar, Jacob, for ex.) were relieved they did not drop down dead. After Hagar’s encounter with Him, she asked (in the Hebrew), “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Of Jacob, it is written, “So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:30)
Just seeing His light, never mind His glorified holy body, caused Paul to fall straight to the ground (Acts 9:3). In Exodus 34:30 the people saw the shining visage of Moses of the glory of God reflected on his face and they were so afraid that Moses had to put a veil over it. The bible consistently records that the first and only reaction of these people who had direct and indirect encounters with God were that they were: a. terrified and b. struck dumb as if dead. So what are we to think of Mrs Smith’s encounter where she cuddled, talked about herself and learned that Jesus wasn’t happy before He made her?
It varies completely from all biblical records of anyone who directly or indirectly encountered the holiness of God. Therefore is it only logical to conclude that her visions are false.
We have become so inured to the notion of sin and by contrast His holiness, that we accept a ridiculous story such as Mrs Smith’s as inspiring or uplifting.
The problem with destructive heresies are that many are brought secretly. 2 Peter 2:1 says
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”
Mrs Smith isn’t saying outright that “I deny the Master.” That is not how false teachers work. Don’t expect the most subtle creature in the garden to cause his minions to outright deny the Master. How she does it is that in her vision description, she is denying the Master by telling us that we can expect encounters like these and that we live off them. She is denying the Master because He is the Word, not the experience– but she exalts the experience and not the Word. The word confirms the word, (2 Timothy 3:16) the experience does not confirm the word. (2 Peter 1:19). If in that verse Peter wouldn’t even use his experience to confirm a truth nor would Paul (2 Corinthians 12:6) then what are we to say of Mrs Smith? Everything she does and says implicitly and explicitly denies the sufficiency of Scripture- and that denies the Master.
Additionally, the heresies she holds in her heart are secret because of 2 Timothy 3:5. Outwardly the Jesus Culture songs appear to have a form of godliness via their lyrics, but they deny God’s power by being sung from a heart that does not rest on the knowledge of this same Jesus we know through His word. If you hadn’t googled about her and watched this testimony of her vision, you would think that the song I linked to above, “Where you go I’ll go” was good. Its outward form of godliness seems OK but inwardly there is a ravenous wolf waiting to spring. That wolf is the exaltation of personal experience as a validation of the word to the exclusion of the word itself by the person who wrote it and sings it. The filter of flesh that the song comes from has been polluted with leaven.
Jesus said, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ (Matthew 15:18)
In 2011 John MacArthur preached about the Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He was not referring specifically to Smith and Jesus Culture, and their songs but was in general preaching against the incorrect attribution of things of satan to the Spirit. There are too many false visions and signs plaguing the church today.
“…and mostly this comes in the professing church from Pentecostals and Charismatics who feel they have free license to abuse the Holy Spirit and even blaspheme His holy name. And they do it constantly. How do they do it? By attributing to the Holy Spirit words that He didn’t say, deeds that He didn’t do, and experiences that He didn’t produce, attributing to the Holy Spirit that which is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Endless human experiences, emotional experiences, bizarre experiences and demonic experiences are said to come from the Holy Spirit…visions, revelations, voices from heaven, messages from the Spirit through transcendental means, dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out of body experiences, trips to heaven, anointings, miracles. All false, all lies, all deceptions attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit.”
“Satan is alive and well and the work of Satan is being attributed to the Holy Spirit, that is a serious blasphemy just as attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit is a serious blasphemy.”
The tongue corrupts the whole person.
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)
Like any invasive species, the invasion is first undetectable (secretly brought in). For example, zebra mussels. The invasive species may attach to a large container ship which appears mighty and powerful but undetected the mussel colony grows and eventually the prop and the rudder will be frozen in a mass of mussels as solid as cement.
Before you know it, your pipe or prop is clogged and the water will not flow. If the living water does not flow, the machine or the organism it’s attached to dies.
Paul used the metaphor of gangrene, and Jesus used the example of leaven spoiling the whole loaf and the tares choking out the wheat. In all cases, the invading organism chokes off the life supply of the home organism and the home organism dies.
Are you getting my theme? Untreated false leaven brings death.
That is what accepting a song does that’s written from a heart that obviously does not understand who Jesus is. It may seem innocuous to the church body but it is in actuality brought by an invading organism bent on your destruction. It is not just a song like a tare is not just a tare.
The heartbreak is that people like the folks in Jesus Culture are probably not cackling vultures twirling their mustaches like Snidely Whiplash in back rooms and applauding their satanic success. They may not even know they are bringing destructive heresies. They are like the container ship that under its waterline had some zebra mussels clinging to it, unbenownst to them. “Human beings who promote paganism, the occult, and various other ungodly and immoral movements and programs are but the dupes of Satan and his demons. They are trapped by their sins and weaknesses into unwittingly helping to fulfill his schemes.” (source)
But if they go too far down this path, extricating them will be a hard go. They will be trapped. Here is what you need to do, as do I:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-3)
On a personal note, I found this entire exercise difficult. I watched hours of the conference at Passion, read reactions to it and listened to interviews. It is hard to see so many of our children being drawn away. It physically hurts. My laptop is covered in tears. I take no glee in bringing this message out. All those youths and youth pastors and speakers and bands need rescuing. They need to be rescued, cared for back in the doctrinally sanitary hospital of their home church, but the sanitation of each home church is increasingly compromised these days. I fear for those kids and I mourn the blasphemies done to the Spirit when calling the devil’s work His work.
I look at the photo above of the 60,000 in attendance and I faint at the knowledge at how insidiously satan has infiltrated poisonous leaven into our churches via the youth. Each youth and youth pastor and person attending carries back to their home church (if they have one) a tiny zebra mussel nestled in their bilge, waiting to multiply and then choke the flow of water through the veins of the church.
I plan a few more blog entries reacting to the Passion 2013 conference. One will focus on Louie Giglio. Another on Judah Smith and also be a summary conclusion. Pray that eyes will be opened to the heresies and blasphemies being done to our precious Jesus and in the name of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is more powerful than satan and His Holy Spirit destroys strongholds! Pray, people!
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Part 2: Discerning a Gnostic conference called “Passion 2013,” Louie Giglio
Part 3: Conclusion