Posted in beth moore, commissioning, Francis Chan, john piper, sbc, Women of Faith

Beth Moore led a "commissioning" for 11,000 women (and men) at Unwrap the Bible conference

“The Commissioning.”

It happened at the Women of Faith “Unwrap the Bible” Conference.

But first, some background.

This past February, just weeks ago, Beth Moore and four other women concluded the Unwrap The Bible event in Houston, and closed it with what the sponsor of the event, Women of Faith, called “A Commissioning”. (??)

“Unwrap the Bible” was touted as America’s largest bible conference, sponsored by “Women of Faith.” (WOF) It was held for two days at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. In addition to five women who were to teach and preach their way through the weekend, WOF used clips from Catholic Mystic Roma Downey’s “The Bible” series to punctuate the biblical “truths” the lineup of teachers was to teach. Downey also promoted the conference prior to its inception. Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, and Sheila Walsh were the 5 scheduled bible teachers. Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria opened the conference with a prayer. Lisa Bevere was on hand too. Eleven-thousand women attended. Here is a photo of Lakewood Church with Beth on the jumbotron-

Screen shot from WOF video

At the very end of the conference, Beth Moore did not offer a benediction for the women, she did not sing a song for them, she did something peculiar. Very peculiar. She held a “commissioning”. At Moore’s insistence, telling women to grab the person next to them, and repeat after her, Moore led the 11,000 women in a ceremony whose likeness I can’t find anywhere in the bible.

At Moore’s command, the 11,000 women dutifully paired up, hugged up, listened and then spoke in unison in call-and-response style with Moore leading them in this “commissioning.” If you’ve never heard of a “commissioning” like this, I haven’t either, because it doesn’t exist. Moore has ripped the normal word from any biblical context and any known ceremony and has redefined it into something a seeker sensitive, New Age, pop psychology, comfy feminist would love. And love it they did.

Screen shot from WOF video

I am not making this up- the Women of Faith intended for the last segment of the conference to be called a “commissioning.” Here is the WOF title card for the video segment:

Here is the Women of Faith web page explanation about it.

Women of Faith Commissioning
Monday, March 17, 2014 By Beth Moore

At last month’s Unwrap the Bible event in Houston, Beth Moore wrapped up the weekend with a “commissioning.” She gathered major points from all the speakers’ messages and had the women in the audience speak them over each other. We loved it and thought you would, too.

I’m sorry, but I don’t love it. Not one word “spoken over the women” at the end of WOF Unwrap the Bible conference that Moore was “commissioning” was scripture. Not one. Many of the concepts in the ceremony were unbiblical, to boot.

How Moore introduced “the commissioning” to the women was:

“This is our way of sending you out with this truth embedded in the marrow of your bones.”

Sounds painful.

It was then that Moore told the women to grab a women next to them and repeat what Moore said to the women they’d grabbed. She would say a line, the 11,000 women would repeat it to the partner they’d grabbed, whether they knew the woman or not, not knowing whether the woman was even saved or not. That’s why there is a space for pauses after each phrase. Here is the transcript.

My dear Sister  Be confident this great day  That your God has chosen you  He can make a miracle  Out of your big mess  He can stand you up straight  And set your feet upon a rock  No matter where you’ve been  Or what you’ve done  You are not dirty  The power of the cross  Has made you clean  When you run out of what it takes  Girlfriend, run to Jesus  Let Jesus turn water into wine  Never forget  You have an enemy  Hell-bent on destroying you  But you have a Savior  Who became earthbound to deliver you  There is restoration and divine destiny for you  Throw your arms wide open and receive in Jesus’ Name  Rip off those expiration dates  God’s promise to you will be fulfilled  Quit just eavesdropping on God  Start leaning in and believing what He says  Impossible is where God starts!  Your God is faithful  He will do it  Do NOT retreat in fear  Now, girlfriend – get out there in that lost world  And show them what a woman looks like  When she unwraps her Bible 

And thus, these women have now been “commissioned.” Did you notice the focus of the commissioning was on the women, and not the Lord? I did. In the bible, men are commissioned to go to the lost world and show Jesus to it by preaching His word. Beth Moore told 11,000 women to go to the lost world and show themselves to it.

But what exactly had happened at this commissioning? Was “the commissioning” at Unwrap the Bible an authoritative sacramental ceremony like baptism? Were they sacred vows like marriage? Was it an ordination ceremony? Unknown.

Was there a responsibility the women must now adopt because they’d uttered a creed and been “commissioned” by someone they consider a leader (and by some random women next to them)? It seemed so, because Moore said that she was “sending them out.” Therefore was it a Missionary Commissioning ceremony, akin to when Timothy had been laid hands on and sent out? (1 Timothy 4:14). Unknown.

Picture Moses standing before 11,000 Israelite women, raising his staff, and telling them, “Start leaning in and believing what He says. Now, girlfriend – get out there in that lost world”


I submit to you that there are two problems with this WOF Commissioning event, and both represent an incremental slide down on the slippery slope of apostasy.

Discerners and watchmen are attuned to the incremental steps away from foundational truth. Most Christians with other gifts are busy employing their other gifts, and don’t notice the slide until a great number of leaps have lurched us downward. But we notice each inch. This is one. So we warn.

The first issue is that while the SBC has been looking north, east, and south to protect doctrine against the inflow of homosexuality, transgenderism, and Calvinists, to the west, the feminists have crept in. I’ve mentioned before that Beth Moore is a neo-feminist. She has usurped the authority of her husband and her home and the church. She teaches and preaches in authority along with men. She is the President of a multi-million dollar corporation, while her husband is the Vice-President. She brought home the bacon while her kids were little, and her husband took care of them while she was frequently away. She says she was a stay-at-home mom, but she lived like a feminist.

Christine Caine is more forward. She plainly states that she believes women should have leadership roles. Caine and Moore, along with many others, are good examples of the curse of Genesis 3: her desire is for her husband and he shall rule over her. (Genesis 3:16) The struggle for women is to submit to Jesus in their God-given roles in life and most importantly, in the church. It has been an age-old struggle, and it has become a pitched battle in many false churches and also some Protestant denominations. These days, most have lost that battle and women have been ordained to serve in leadership roles formerly biblically reserved for men.

Well, the second problem that ties back into the first (ecclesiastical feminism) is that words mean things. They mean things. Any liberal in any realm in the battle for hearts and minds will first seek to change meanings of commonly understood words in order to co-opt the meaning and then to redefine them to their advantage. Example: sodomite—->homosexual—->gay. In the church world, we no longer sin. We make mistakes. We’re no longer Christian. We’re Christ followers.

As the writers said in an essay titled “Redefining Terms” said,

In the political world, terminology is no less important than in the world of the programmer.  However, there has been a systematic effort to obfuscate and confuse terminology in order to usurp hitherto positive meanings and put them in the service of ideals which, in many cases, are opposite to the word’s original meaning.  

Let’s contrast Moore’s commissioning above to a biblical one. Here is a commissioning service from the bible:

“So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. “You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.” (Numbers 27:19-20)

Here is another reference to a commission, Paul reminding Timothy of his commissioning ceremony: 

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. (1 Timothy 1:14)

Or this, when the church chose their first deacons:

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:5-6)

Commissioning means something. It’s serious. Someone in authority gives authority to the ones who have been selected for a particular service, their qualification is affirmed by the whole church, and they are ordained in the work through a ceremony. Ordination means something too. GotQuestions explains a commissioning, this recognition of a man set apart for pastoral ministry, deacon service, or missionary work,

When God calls and qualifies a man for the ministry, it will be apparent both to that man and to the rest of the church. The would-be minister will meet the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9, and he will possess a consuming desire to preach (1 Corinthians 9:16). It is the duty of the church elders, together with the congregation, to recognize and accept the calling. After that, a formal commissioning ceremony—an ordination service—is appropriate, though by no means mandatory. The ordination ceremony itself does not confer any special power; it simply gives public recognition to God’s choice of leadership.

Christian feminists have seen that to redefine ordination into a commissioning is one way to get women into leadership. Moore publicly recognized all those women in a commissioning in a worship service and accompanied the recognition by a spoken creed.

Many denominations have been muddying the two words, most notably when Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York commissioned ordained a female deacon in his church service in 2009. This sparked a heated discussion of commissioning vs. ordination. Here are but two examples-

Tim Keller: The Case for Commissioning (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses
Tim Keller and Confusion Over “Commissioning” (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses

Ordain or commission, either way it is a method for women to adopt leadership roles they were not given by God. But redefining the term away from ordain into commission helps soften the blow.

Here’s where the two issues, redefining terms and Christian feminism intersect with Beth Moore and the conference commissioning.

A scan on Wikipedia of the list of women ordained in this century, shows The Lutheran Protestant Church started to ordain women as priests in 1947. In 1972 America’s first female rabbi was ordained by a rabbinical seminary. The next year, a Mennonite church in Illinois followed, ordaining a female pastor. A branch-off of the Latter Day Saints ordained a women in the late 1990s. Methodists ordain women. Seventh Day Adventists, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists have all been accepting of women in leadership roles. The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland stated this year that the Catholic church must ordain women and allow priests to marry in order to survive. Whether false churches or true denominations, every flavor of the spectrum have fallen to the notion that women can and should be ordained to serve in leadership roles in the church. Except the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2000 The Baptist Faith and Message was amended to state, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

So far the SBC has been practically the only denomination of any kind, in any true religion or false, to withstand the onslaught of feminism that hearkens back to Genesis 3 and do not ordain women as pastors or deacons and rarely commission a woman alone for missionary work. Or have they? Does what they say match up with what they do? No.

Beth more preaches in pulpits substituting for men or alongside men, in authority during worship services. Here is Beth Moore with three ordained pastors, leading worship, her bible in hand.

Moore leading worship at the pulpit during Passion Conference 2012.
Screen shot Youtube. L-R, Moore, & actual ordained pastors, Chan, Giglio, Piper

Chan is a graduate of John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, a biblically solid seminary. Giglio is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2011 Pastors Conference. Piper is a Reformed Baptist. All of them have been through training and serve in conservative churches and should know unequivocally that a woman cannot be a pastor, nor serve as a deacon, nor teach in authority over men during worship service. Yet there they are.

The SBC has not rebuked Moore for usurping authority in violation of the bible and their own declared creed. People, it’s always important to see if what they say and what they do match up.

The authors of the Redefining Terms essay said of changing word definitions in the political world,

This is not an academic exercise in semantics. This is about truth, and about a threat as real as any terrorist attack and more immediate because it is covert.

It is exactly the same in the church world. Beth Moore’s ‘Commissioning’ at the end of Unwrap the Bible was not a small thing. She endowed women with a commission, and sent them out. The very act of leading a commissioning ceremony imbues Moore with a tacit authority to do such a thing in the first place. But from where does she receive her authority to commission men and women in the first place? (and yes, there were men in the audience). There was not a pastor with her on the stage. Just Moore, giving a responsibility to 11,000 women, co-opting a term that the rest of the church has understood for millennia, and trivializing it. Trivialize how, you ask?

First, because all commissioning ceremonies in the bible and in solidly doctrinal churches in the centuries since, depend on the Holy Spirit’s selection of individuals for the particular kind of service to Jesus (pastoral, deacon, or missionary). That’s what commissioning services are, a public recognition. The entire congregation recognizes it, and participates in prayer and/or laying on of hands. The men selected for whatever service they are commissioned for (pastor, deacon, missionary), are uniformly recognized as saved, Holy Spirit-selected, and qualified.

Yet Moore told 11,000 women and men to willy-nilly speak words to the person next to them that they might not even know, such as this- “Be confident this great day  That your God has chosen you”. How utterly foolish to say to an unknown, random person that they can be sure God has chosen them! Moore urged women to say “Throw your arms wide open and receive in Jesus’ Name”. Jesus is not a genie and His name is not magic! And receive what, exactly? If they are saved they have already received, if they are not saved, they need to repent first!

And what if I don’t throw my arms open, will I still “receive”? What if the lady next to me I’m parroting this to is not saved? Will she “receive”? And how completely meaningless to say “Rip off those expiration dates Quit just eavesdropping on God”

From the majesty of the commissioning of Numbers 27, to the beauty and authority of this commissioning from Moses to Joshua,

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 31:7)

We have Moore who has NO authority telling a bunch of women that they’re chosen by God to quit eavesdropping and not be dirty and to then she sent them out and…what. To do what? The commissioning was absent any notion of service. But it was filled with self-esteem. So these women left the conference feeling like they’ve been given some authority to do something. They’ve been sent- to show themselves.

It’s just trivial and sinful and ugly. The entire Commissioning was a terrible display of what happens when a woman like Moore who has thoroughly usurped authority at home and has been allowed by her denomination to usurp church authority for 20 years. This commissioning fad will infiltrate the SBC and before you know it undiscerning local Baptist churches will be “commissioning” women into leadership roles. Soon after that, they’ll be ordaining them. You’ll see.

May the Lord return before too many more undiscerning women fall into Moore’s snare, and before too many good churches slide one more incremental step away from healthy doctrine into the pit of feminism. The Baptist churches have been so busy holding back the tide of homosexuality they forgot to look out for their wives, and sure enough, their desire is for their husbands and the struggle for power has at long last come to the last bastion of conservative church polity.

It’s my job to tell you, and now I have.


For Further Reading:

Christian feminists like Beth Moore are redefining biblical womanhood

Posted in cessationist, continuationist, john piper, strange fire

John MacArthur and John Piper: lessons from a disagreement over doctrine

EPrata photo

The reverberations from the Strange Fire conference held in southern California at John MacArthur’s church last October go on. The conference was to illustrate the need for a rebuke against the Charismatic movement, which allows for unbiblical practices and so many excesses that the sufficiency of the bible was unknown to millions of people who hold to the ideas within the movement.

As a result, the Strange Fire conference forced the issue. Too many people had either been silent or on the fence as to whether they believe the miracle gifts (tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing and prophecy) are continuing since the first century, or had ceased. (Contnuationist v. Cessationist).

Pastor John Piper is one of those. He believes the miracle gifts continue, and is cautiously open to them as occurring today by the Spirit using men as the vehicle for their manifestation. (Most people believe that God directly performs any and all miracles at any time for His good pleasure and purposes).. Piper is known as a ‘cautious continuationist.’ So is Wayne Grudem, who believes that prophecy is and can be uttered today as a direct revelation from men, but that it can be fallible.

The Strange Fire conference had several goals. One was to present the biblical truth that the miracle spiritual gifts have ceased (healings/miracles, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues.). To this end, the Pastors and speakers at the conference carefully exegeted the passages relevant to the issue and clearly showed that this is so. In addition, the men said that in MOST cases, people who followed these teachings and people who taught these teachings were not saved or that their salvation was in serious doubt. It’s Charismatic Chaos out there as a result, and it has to stop.

The other goal of the conference was to call to account two camps:

–the camp of silent elders of the faith who refuse to condemn the Charismatic Movement and its unbiblical practices, and,

–to address the camp of elders who are trying to stay in the middle, i.e. John Piper.

John MacArthur and the others were firm that opening to the door to the modern day gifts mentioned above was a devastating attack on the sufficiency of scripture. Either the canon is closed and God has ceased speaking new revelation, or He has not. There is no middle ground. Even opening the door a crack in believing there can be new revelation lets in the eventual flood, and that is where we are today.

At one Q&A during Strange Fire, MacArthur was directly asked a pertinent question: “What about Piper?” Piper is on record as seeking the gift of tongues, and of being open to the notion that visions and direct revelation are happening today. He is a continuationist. MacArthur answered that it was a tough question. That Piper no doubt is a brother, and that though Piper personally sought the gifts but doesn’t teach them, he doesn’t promote them nor the unbiblical practices that go with them. MacArthur said “Piper is an anomaly.”

As a rabbit trail to the point I’m making, this brings up an interesting question I’ve been mulling for some time.

–Piper is a continuationist.
–Voddie Baucham is an amillenialist and preaches Revelation as symbol and allegory, not literal
–Martyn Lloyd Jones became a Charismatic-Lite at the end of his life
–John Stott became an annihilationist at the end of his life
–RC Sproul is a post-tribulationist

HOW can such men, all of whom can clearly be seen as brothers of the faith, err on such clearly defined biblical orthodoxy? What does it mean? How can this be? It is completely perplexing.

I contend that in Piper’s case, given his unbiblical stance on continuationism, it opens the door for other less
orthodox things, which Piper has in fact been exhibiting, i.e the Mark Driscoll debacle, the Lectio Divina debacle, and more. But this is a side note. Back to the point:

Piper heard of MacArthur’s comment about Piper’s anomalous stance on the miracle gifts, and responded in writing on his website.

However, in Piper’s response, there were assumptions and misinterpretations Piper made in the piece, not having heard MacArthur directly via the mediacast now available. So MacArthur addressed the issue, both Piper’s continuationism, and Piper’s misinterpretation of MacArthur’s comments, on a 4-part blog essay in much further depth. Here they are-

Piper reaction #4

MacArthur speaks eloquently about the church and protecting the purity of her doctrines, and of keeping boundary lines set for who belongs in it and who don’t belong in it. He is very biblical on church discipline in his personal dealings at Grace Community Church, and very firm on the issue in general across denominations especially concerning doctrine. Phil Johnson said in this essay for MacArthur said a few years ago about “Unity Across Denomination Lines

The limits on this trans-denominational unity are set by Scripture itself. We cannot welcome into our circle of fellowship people who deny truths that are essential to the gospel (2 John 7-11); and we cannot embrace people who affirm a gospel Scripture condemns (Gal. 1:18-19). The gospel and all truths essential to it are therefore nonnegotiable points of doctrine, and unity on these matters is a prerequisite to any other kind of unity.”

The issue of whether the miracle spiritual gifts were ceased or continuing has become a global phenomenon and a divisive issue which was confusing the sheep and undermining the sufficiency of scripture on such a widespread basis that MacArthur called it a ‘flood’. There are no boundary lines anymore and suddenly, everything is acceptable.

EPrata photo

MacArthur said that his primary concern with the Charismatic movement is that though it claims to be a movement of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does His work through the Word, not through miracles.

He does His work through the scriptures. What that mean is, through a true interpretation of the scriptures. The meaning of the scripture IS the divine revelation. If you don’t get the meaning right, you don’t have the powerful revelation. So, how can you have a ‘move of the Holy Spirit,’ and have a wrong understanding of scripture?” (source)

That gap is exactly where John Piper falls. He has not only been silent about the ridiculous Charismatic excesses in our denomination and within conservative circles, but has perpetuated confusion by seeking tongues and claiming we hear from God via the Roman Catholic practice of Lectio Divina. And the issue is such that when our elders have such drastically wrong interpretations of scripture (Piper on tongues, Grudem on fallible modern prophecy) it causes division and confusion for those who are younger, weak or stumbling. That was the question the man at the Strange Fire Q&A was asking. “What about Piper?”

The friendship between these two elders of our faith, MacArthur and Piper, is just as strong as ever. Both men will appear at the Together 4 The Gospel conference in Louisville KY next week. MacArthur considers Piper a brother and Piper is grateful for MacArthur. In this way, though doctrine is important to contend for, the exhibition of patience and grace between the two men as they have this very public discussion is a worthy one to follow and its pattern to adopt.

Ultimately, doctrine matters. You know, the Gospel is doctrine. The Word must be interpreted rightly, and defended strongly because it is our fence around the boundary of the church. That’s why these things are so important to talk about.

EPrata photo

Posted in charismatic, continuationism, john piper, spiritual gifts

Cessationism versus continuationism

A conference called Strange Fire, held at John MacArthur’s church last fall and attended by notable keynote Christian pastors, there has been an ongoing fire of its own. The conference was to expose the heresies of the Charismatic movement and to explain biblically why continuationism has a falsely interpreted basis.

Continuationism is the hallmark of the Charismatics and to a degree the word faith believers also. It holds that the first century apostles’ healings, direct prophecies, and other miracles are normative to every Christian’s experience. Cessationism holds that the miracle spiritual gifts were for a foundation only, alive in the first century apostles and designees only and ceased after the foundation of the church was laid the the bible was completed.

A lot of ink has been spilled in the debate prior to and subsequent from the conference. It is still raging. But there was one comment I enjoyed for its succinct biblical explanation of why these miracle gifts have ceased. It is from a blog essay posted this week by John MacArthur, who is following up on some things from the conference regarding John Piper. I encourage you to go to the essay and its follow up and read the piece in its entirety.

The comment I enjoyed is here, #44 by comment moderator Gabriel Powell. He was responding to the people who embrace continuationism by saying that to reject cessationism is to reject the Holy Spirit entirely.

Posted by Gabriel Powell | Tuesday, March 11, 2014at 3:47 PM

It seems like there is some confusion over what cessationism rejects. While there are clear differences between the two theological positions, the reality of miracles and healing is not one of them.

Cessationism affirms that God maintains the power to heal and perform miracles. What we deny is that the “gifts” to perform signs and wonders which were so prevalent and normative in the 1st century church are still prevalent and normative today.

God’s character remains the same (which is the point of “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever”), but He deals with His people in unique ways at unique times (Hebrews 1:1).

Posted in exodus international, john piper, nancy leigh demoss

Three articles showing the deep apostasy of our times

Here are some really, REALLY good articles for you.

The interesting thing to me about these end times is that many a ministry is that formerly solid people suddenly take a turn to the left and swerve away from their formerly solid position. Each of the three articles below demonstrates some sort of apostasy.

Source Wikimedia Commons

Paul tells Timothy that some “have swerved from the truth”. (2 Timothy 2:18). In the Greek the word literally means to go astray, to miss the mark, have faulty aim.

In the game of darts, you notice the highest amount of points and the most sought after section of the board is the bull’s eye. It is also the smallest part of the board. To make a bull’s eye you have to aim carefully and pay attention. Jesus said the way is narrow and few find it, (Matthew 7:13-14). In darts, the bull’s eye is small and few land there.

Many of us have had sad concerns about the direction Dr. Piper has been taking in his ministry and approach to the Gospel. This truthful but gentle write-up cogently explains why, and comes with links so you can check it out for yourself. Sunny Shell: “Why I no longer follow John Piper or “Desiring God” ministry“. She says,

“I share all this to show you much Piper and his ministry “Desiring God” has, in some ways (not all), been led away from sola scriptura (Scripture alone), so that you might be more discerning about following their ministry (writings, sermons, etc.).”

The Sola Sisters are three sisters who formerly were New Age/Pagan. Their writings are about discussions regarding false teachings coming into today’s Church. Today they wrote about Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and the book The Circle Maker.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss Endorsing Chalk Circles? Mercy.
“I have never bothered to address the problems with the bookThe Circle Maker, because the whole concept of “circle making” was simply so patently pagan and ridiculous on the face of it that I assumed it would be obvious to any Christian how unbiblical this book was. When Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough and Pastor Tim Challies both thoroughly exposed the theological issues with the book (links below), I continued to assume this was a “no-brainer” for most Christians. Sadly however, I am getting more and more emails from people saying that their church leaders are recommending The Circle Maker, doing a Bible study with it, passing it out, etc.”

Erin Benziger is a Christian journalist writing about the topics of the day on her blog and at Christian Research Network. Just to show you how far the apostasy has gone, I offer this article to you in which it is reported that

Following Apology to Gay Community, Exodus International Announces It Will Close Its Doors
“Exodus International, “the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality,” announced late Wednesday, 19 June, that it is closing its doors. The announcement came just hours after the group’s president, Alan Chambers, issued a formal apology to members of the LGBTQ community who “have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message.”

In other words, ‘we were wrong, and being gay is OK.’

Always be girded with truth. Your aim will be true if you always keep your eye on Jesus. Stay in the word, that is how to stay aimed at the narrow road of truth we must walk until the day He calls us home. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures.” More to the point, Spurgeon said, “He is not the God of apostates, for he hath said, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38).

Our highest aim should be to please Him. Walk the narrow way solemnly and intentionally, staying focused on Him and His word. Pray ceaselessly to Him to keep you in His path, because we see above, straying can happen to anyone.

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, john piper, lectio divina, ravi zacharias

Why are mature men of the faith suddenly seeming to go off the narrow road of orthodoxy and saying or doing wacky things?

I’ve been watching the Christian field with perplexity and dismay lately. It seems that the organizations an individuals we rely on suddenly take a left turn and drive pell mell off the road. They had been doctrinally steady for years and decades, and then suddenly they are doing strange practices or recommending heretics.

It makes me scratch my head, for sure. Why do mature leaders of our faith suddenly go wacky in the doctrine department? How does this happen? That is what this blog entry will seek to discover.

It stands to reason that babes in Christ lack some discernment because discernment is a skill. It comes with testing, with age, with study, with prayer, and by the Holy Spirit. It is why there are pastors and elders who are given instruction on how to behave with and teach the younger ones. Not that younger Christians can’t have discernment, but it is a skill that is refined with practice.

However the perplexity comes when the mature ones who should know better suddenly start displaying a lack of discernment. Let me offer a few recent examples:

–Focus on the Family has been a strongly mature and reliable biblical resource for families 35 years, but there are some with influence at the organization who have fallen hook, line, and sinker for Roma Downey and her Bible miniseries crowd. They have endorsed, even backed the series, and hosted a function to match up Downey and Burnett with gaming folks to create The Bible miniseries computer game, a game like “Where’s Waldo”.

Answers in Genesis is an organization founded 35 years ago by Ken Ham. It is dedicated to bible apologetics with a particular focus on supporting young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. They have been strongly biblical for decades. Yet at least one reviewer on staff deemed the bible miniseries fairly acceptable, mostly because it played to their bias and presented Noah and the flood as historical. They stated,

“Nevertheless, even as a stand-alone production, The Bible will likely lead many to Christ. Why? Because it presents the Bible’s history as real history—instead of eroding trust in God’s Word from the very first verse…”

I believe the series has shown itself undeniably to have eroded the word of God. As a matter of fact, it has eroded it so much that AIG says the following in the same review, prior to the above statement:

“It unfortunately lacks a clear presentation of the gospel message like that included at the end of the 1979 Jesus Film AIG also notes because the mini­series has about 4,100 years of history to cover in just 10 hours, many of the events are compressed and shuffled, resulting in “a few things out of order and even a few outright discrepancies with biblical history.”

“Obviously, if you or your children are troubled by the presence of some factual errors, then you should consider not watching the film,” AIG notes.

We don’t come to faith because we believe the bible is historical fact. We don’t say, ‘hey it was pretty good, despite being unclear on that whole Gospel thing’. We don’t say, “gee, despite getting some things flat out wrong, the bible miniseries was acceptable!” We don’t say, “If you’re overly sensitive to our inerrant bible having error polluted by pagans with an antichrist agenda, maybe it’s not a good idea to watch it, but for the rest of us who don’t mind our blood-bought word presented corruptedly, it’ll be a comfy evening with the telly!” Except…they did say it.

–John Piper has been a pastor for 30 years and has authored 50 books. He is well regarded as a pastor, having just retired this month. Yet of late has participated in a Lectio Divina, a Catholic mystical practice involving prayer, endorsed it and offered resources on his website on how to perform it, and hobnobs with heretics, all at this late date in his career. (He retired this week).

If you don’t know what Lectio Divina is or contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) know that it is a method of prayer that does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied but a is mystical exercise of substituting for study an intuitive experience of having emptied the mind to receive a special revelation from God directly. The following bloggers have explained why Contemplative prayer and lectio divina are bad.

Sola Sisters: Piper encouraging Lectio Divina
Do Not Be Surprised: Biblical silence vs. mystical silence.
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Centering prayer
Wretched Radio explains contemplative prayer and discusses Piper’s promotion of Lectio Divina at the Passion 2012 conference.

–Ravi Zacharias is a Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and host of the radio program Let My People Think. He is a high-end intellectual, brilliant and wise, gentle and profound. He has stood on the bible and its doctrines as the only truth for decades.

That is why I was stunned when he appeared on heretic Joyce Meyer’s show and worse, said she was “a great bible teacher” and that “God was using her”. I can understand if he wanted to appear on her program to reach her lost followers, John MacArthur was asked to speak at the Mormon temple and they still invited him after he stated he was going to present the Gospel and say what he had planned to say. But this wasn’t that. It was Ravi endorsing Meyer as a bible teacher and announcing that God was using her. I went totally off my rocker when I saw that.

Youtube link here

If it is news to you that Joyce Meyer is a heretic, go to CARM to read why. Also in Justin Peters’ updated bible teaching titled A Call For Discernment, he uses Meyer’s material to show why and where it is false.

We are all scratching our heads, saying WHAAAAT is going on? It is a fact that these strange and unsettling things are happening. My question is, why?

The number one issue related to the church, pastors answer when asked, is that its people lack discernment. As John MacArthur says

“Today’s church is like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who could tell the difference between superficial things like pleasant and stormy weather, but not between truth and error (Matt. 16:1-3). So many churches have relinquished biblical ethics and doctrine, a deep reverence and worship of God, repentance over sin, humility toward God and fellow believers, and a profound understanding of God’s character and work. All that has resulted in a low-level commitment to holy living.”

However, the men I’ve quoted are individuals or are with credible organizations. It does not seem to me that Ravi Zacharias has made a low-level commitment to holy living. Nor John Piper. So what’s the deal?

Tim Challies wrote a book on discernment. He says that lack of discernment leads to backsliding. That is a good thought. Personally, I think that backsliding, or unaddressed sin, also leads to a lack of discernment. I do know that the bible says we cannot be mature without discernment, but the perplexing lack of discernment we are seeing is from many mature, elder pastors and men of the faith who have demonstrated steadily mature discernment for decades. Could it be they have had a failure to repent of some unaddressed sin which is causing dullness of hearing? Perhaps. Hebrews 5:11-14 says–

Warning Against Apostasy—  About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The writer of Hebrews here is talking of a regression. They should be more advanced than they were but the writer despaired of even going forward with what he originally wanted to say because they had become ‘dull of hearing’ and it would be pointless. What causes dullness of hearing? I think anyone can make a mistake, and anyone can have an unaddressed sin in their life. But if one does not repent of it, compounds the tendency to regress back to milk, and the refusal/inability to hear leads to more drifting. This is a deadly trajectory. Again we go to Hebrews, this time chapter 2.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4)

At The Expository Files we read, “The first reason for this exhortation is that there is a real danger of “drifting.” It is actually possible for us to “drift away” from our salvation. In 2:3 we learn that we can “neglect” our salvation. Later in 3:12-14 we are told that we can “depart” from God. In 6:4-6 we are told that we can so “fall away” that it becomes impossible to renew us again to repentance. And then in 10:26:27 we are told that we can reach a point where the sacrifice of Christ is no longer available for our sins. So the danger of “drifting” is very real!

(Go here to see how the Hebrews verse is NOT talking about a solid Christian losing their salvation)

The verse does not say we plunge. It doesn’t say we plummet out of faith. It seems to happen slowly. We drift. It happens when we neglect, and we fail to pay attention.

In the novel “Watership Down” a fictional story of rabbits searching for a new field to create a warren in, they would entertain each other with tales and myths. They had sayings. One of them was about the weather, and the onset of bad news, “One cloud feels lonely.” Let’s change that to my own motto, “One sin feels lonely”.

If there is a sin, and it’s not addressed, it hardens us a little bit. It makes us a little bit sluggish in the spiritual department. We get wax in our ears. Jeremiah 7:11 says “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.” You refuse to pay attention, and your ears get dull. More sins come. Just look at what happened in the Garden, and pretty quickly, too. Genesis 3. They disobeyed, they blamed, they hid. By the next generation, there was murder. It doesn’t take long for sin to pile on!

Matthew 13:15 also speaks of the hard hear and dull ears. In all three cases, (Hebrews, Jeremiah, Matthew) it was the person’s refusal to hear. They did it deliberately either through neglect or through rebellion.

This drifting, this regressing, is a process. It’s spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:13 “while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Once the trajectory is begun, they go from bad to worse.

It is really important for a mature person who deviates from the solid food of doctrine, if not caught early, will fall away and it will be impossible to restore them to repentance. Hebrews goes on in chapter 6 thus:

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

So you see the danger. When we see mature elders suddenly veer off, it is either they were false all along and their true colors are coming out (something I hesitate to believe in the above cases) or they have some unrepented-of sin, have become dull, neglected some aspect of their faith walk, and are sliding and drifting away. In the latter case, perhaps when we see a perplexing behavior or doctrine come out of them that makes us scratch our heads, that is the first signal. The check engine light just came on, and it better get checked, because one sin feels lonely.

It always strikes us at the heart when a person is uncovered who suddenly seems to be lacking in the discernment department, and disheartening too. However, we have the privilege of praying for them and others that we may know who seem to suddenly be coming up with unorthodox behavior or doctrines. We can ask for discernment (wisdom). The glory is that Jesus promised to deliver it to us if we ask. (James 1:5).