Posted in discernment, mark driscoll, merchandise, wolf

The worst thing I’ve ever heard a husband say about his wife: plus, Mark Driscoll and the evangelical industrial complex

Mars Hill church

I’ve written about Mark Driscoll twice in the last week. I promise this won’t become the Mark Driscoll blog, but it seems the Holy Spirit offers me a moment of critical mass, when all of a sudden, the qualms and concerns I’ve had about a particular preacher or writer is enough. And with Mark Driscoll, enough is enough.

I wrote about his self-described (pseudo)-suffering here, whereupon I compared his published list of personal woes to real martyrs’ suffering. I also wrote about him here, where I looked at his plagiarism and other bad fruits, and asked the question, ‘Does the fruit of Mark Driscoll’s works show he is a false pastor and a wolf?” (Answer, yes). 

In that second essay, I listed many examples of a man in a downward spiral, who clearly does not have the Holy Spirit in him and yet is given pass after pass for wild and ungodly behavior against the church, against his sheep, and against Jesus. I’d queried the interwebs in a non-rhetorical question, ‘at what point does the visible church collect its God-given discernment and place a pastor like Mark Driscoll in the wolf category?’

After the initial charge of plagiarism surfaced on the Janet Mefferd show, a second (and third) round surfaced a couple of days later on the same show. Ms Mefferd offered verbal and .pdf proof that there was more plagiarism, this time, not just similar concept, tone, and language, but word-for-word lifting. Mark Driscoll’s book “Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter” had on pages 7 & 8 whole word-for-word paragraphs from different pages that were published in D.A. Carson et al “1 Peter,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), p. 1370. You can see the evidence here.

Janet Mefferd
public Facebook profile

It is plain and clear that the bible says men who are called to pastor should be shepherds after Jesus’s own heart (Jeremiah 3:15). It is also plain and clear that they are held to an extremely high standard: they must be above reproach. (Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:2). Above reproach in the Greek word as it’s used in the NT means blameless, not convictable when a person is properly scrutinized. GotQuestions explains ‘above reproach’ in our terms,

The dictionary defines “reproach” as shame or disgrace or that which brings rebuke or censure upon a person. The Bible speaks of being “above reproach” or “blameless” as one of the distinctive marks of those who aspire to the office of elder or deacon within the church (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7). As such, their work for the church, as well as their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus. This holds true not only within the church, but outside it as well.”

In other words, if you were to look closely at a pastor’s life, there would be nothing you could accuse him or or call him to account over.

This is obviously not the case with Mark Driscoll. He is almost constantly reproved for some kind of bad behavior or other. There have been moral failings, ethical breaches, spiritual irreverence and doctrinal error. He has been counseled by elders of the faith and has ignored their counsel, demonstrating a refusal to submit to authority. The specifics are at this link. Though the sheep bleat and bleat, Mr Driscoll remains, seemingly impervious to the attempts to lever leviathan from his place.

Of all the perplexing and ruinous behaviors in that list which Mr Driscoll has evidenced, there is one which affronts me greatly. It is the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That term was created and expounded upon by Dr John MacArthur in his sermon of the same title delivered in 2011. He had become concerned with the modern mystics (of which Driscoll is one) who claim to receive direct visions and revelation from the Holy Spirit, but which in fact are demonic. Here is Dr MacArthur’s explanation of how and why the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is so deadly:


Wikipedia, Press photo

I’m not here to defend the Holy Spirit, He can defend Himself. But I am here to say that reproaches that are falling on His holy name are falling on me as well, 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.


Mr Driscoll has famously said “I see things” in which he claims all of the above. He claims that the Holy Spirit allows him to view sexual fornication in graphic detail as it happens, ‘like a movie.’ I am astounded the entire Church did not come down on his head in resounding reproaches for making that statement, because it is gross, blasphemous and entirely demonic. Pastor Phil Johnson aptly called Driscoll’s statement, “pornographic divination.”

Yet Driscoll’s claim stood, and like all demonic lies, it was not the first time he has made the claim. In researching this week about the claims of his plagiarism, I came across an excerpt from his book, Real Marriage, published at the beginning of 2012. It is a marital advice book in which the Driscolls reveal graphic details about their own marriage and weave those personal revelations with advice for other couples. I do not recommend the book.

Grace Driscoll
Source- Mars Hill Press Kit

In that book, Mr Driscoll reveals the following:

One night, as we approached the birth of our first child, Ashley, and the launch of our church, I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was so clear it was like watching a film — something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive. I awoke, threw up, and spent the rest of the night sitting on our couch, praying, hoping it was untrue, and waiting for her to wake up so I could ask her. I asked her if it was true, fearing the answer. Yes, she confessed, it was. Grace started weeping and trying to apologize for lying to me, but I honestly don’t remember the details of the conversation, as I was shell-shocked. Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her.” (p. 11-12, Real Marriage)

Here is a pastor who claims to have the Holy Spirit inside him and claims this Pure Spirit allows him to view other people engaged in sexual congress ‘like a movie.” I find his claim makes me want to throw up. It is completely impossible that the Spirit of all holiness would place pornographic pictures in Driscoll’s head, and  voyeuristically, of other people no less. How is this any different from simply putting in a real porn movie and watching it? But Driscoll claims this is a gift from the Holy Spirit. His statement is a true and explicit example of the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This alone should cause enough warrant to remove Driscoll from pastoring. But wait, it gets worse.

As a Christian, Driscoll says that this demonically delivered porn vision would have been the reason he would have chosen not to marry his wife. However, we rely on the bible to make decisions, not experiences or visions. Every time someone received a vision and decisively went forward on the basis of that, it turned out to be hell itself (Mormonism, Islam, etc). He is showing the entire church through his published book that it is acceptable and holy to receive porn visions, and worse, that it is proper to make decisions based on those visions, and not the bible.

Third, as a husband, he throws aside the sovereignty of God in making the claim that the sexual visions he claims to have had would be enough reason for him not to marry her. That he did marry her is evidence of the sovereignty of God. If God had not wanted Driscoll to marry his wife Grace, he would not have. That he had been married to her for years by the time this vision entered his brain is evidence that this is the woman God has intended him to marry. It should be noted that Driscoll states he was not a virgin when they married, either. Moreover, it is the worst thing I’ve even heard a husband say about his wife, made all the worse because it is in print, and online, forever.

Can you picture Christ saying that about a sinning woman? No. Look what Jesus did say to sinning women: John 8:11, John 4:16-25, Luke 8:2. This is why Driscoll is not a shepherd after Jesus’s own heart.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Ephesians 5:25) 

Carl Trueman made an interesting statement in between the different claims of alleged Driscoll plagiarism that surfaced over the last week. In his short but pointed essay called Judge for Yourselves, Mr Trueman said,

This could well prove an interesting test case for the ethical stature of conservative evangelicalism. Is there an evangelical industrial complex out there or is there a morality which transcends and ultimately regulates the evangelical marketplace?

Ms Mefferd reported that Tyndale, who published Driscoll’s A Call to Resurgence, has committed with Driscoll to publish more of his books in a new imprint called Resurgence Publishing. Last February Driscoll announced,

We’ve reached an agreement with Tyndale House Publishers to publish numerous titles under a new imprint called Resurgence Publishing (the last two books with the Re:Lit name will be released this spring). Tyndale will publish all of my (Pastor Mark’s) work moving forward, in addition to other Resurgence authors whom we’ll announce in the coming months. We’ll kick things off this fall with the launch of my next book.”

This week, Driscoll’s publisher Tyndale said that they have examined the alleged plagiarism evidence and are fine with everything. Everything is hunky dory, please disperse.

Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.” (source)

So we have Mr Trueman’s answer. The “evangelical industrial complex” is alive and well, machinery grinding  our doctrine, the sheep, and lucre-seeking pastors and all, in the ever-eternal pursuit of money.

Discerning book buyers have long wondered why LifeWay continues to publish obvious heretics such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers and the like. Offering heretical books to the sheep for money seems a bad trade compared to the treasures Jesus said are stored up for us. And now Publishing House Tyndale’s weird response to blatant plagiarism is another head-scratching moment in our apostatizing church. Why?

Because Mark Driscoll as merchandise has become more valuable to the money making church than Mark Driscoll as godly pastor is to the ever sanctifying church.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (1 Peter 5:2)

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3)

Posted in merchandise, prophecy

Christemporos- merchandising Christ

I often refer to the prophecy Peter issued regarding the future of the church, and the false teachers who will come. Peter said of these false teachers,

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3).

Making merchandise of “you” means “us.”

I often use the KJV for this verse instead of the usual ESV because it is descriptive in a vivid way. The merchandising of Christianity is a heinous sin that is growing terribly in these last days. The word for exploit in the Greek is emporeuomai, meaning, “I travel as a merchant, engage in trade, I traffic in, make gain or business of.” It is where we get our English word emporium, which means mall or marketplace.

I mentioned this prophecy again, in a recent essay about Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now: The Board Game.” False teachers and false preachers will try to merchandise Christianity by trading on Christ’s name for personal gain, and they will try to make merchandise out of the very sheep.

I was listening to a great sermon this week called “Beware of False Prophets.” In that sermon I learned about the Didache and about the term Christemporos. Here is a quote from that sermon:

In the year 100, the year of our Lord a 100 A.D. we have the earliest of the Christian writings that we know about and it’s called the Didachē. And by the year 100 the church had been formed and it was beginning to try to help itself to, to stay away from false prophets, and so in the Didachē there’s a section where the church instructed itself as to how to deal with false prophets. It uses a term to describe them and the term I think is interesting it’s Christemporos, and that Greek word means Christ merchants, Christ merchants. They used Christ, they trade in Christ, they sell Christ for personal gain, they pad their pockets, they build their empires. They are the, they are the happy Holy Spirit healers and they are the positive thinkers and they are the people who just wind up on the gravy train end of it, sucking it all up, the Christ merchants. And I’m telling you there are so many people in the world today and even in our own country who are using Jesus Christ as a product to pad their pockets, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable. And every area from books to music to preaching in churches and television and radio it’s on and on ad infinitum ad nauseam.

Christ peddler. Of course, you recognize the ’emporos’ part of the term, like emporium, it means “a merchant using a particular venue to trade.” Of course that venue is Christ. How blasphemous, horrible, and sickening.

The first recorded Christ-monger, or one who trades on the name of Christ for personal gain or other vain reasons is found in Acts 8: Simon the Magician. He tried to buy the Holy Spirit.

Using Jesus Christ to pad their pockets…can there be a worse blasphemy? To market and trade on the name of Jesus for money? To extract money from people, especially the poor and the vulnerable and the sick, so you can own a gold commode? Justin Peters is a pastor specializing in discernment teachings, and at the Strange Fire conference in October Pastor Peters played a clip of one recent prosperity preacher preying specifically on widows. The preacher said something like this ‘You’re poor, you’re widowed, not knowing where your next dollar is coming from. So send in your seed money and watch it grow…”

Pastor Peters gently reminded us all of how Jesus feels about preying on the vulnerable.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:22-24)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5)

In general, Pastor Peters teaches constantly that there are attempts to redefine biblical Christianity by teaching dangerous doctrines designed to distort the Gospel and to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, the desperate, the sick, and the widows. Since Simon the Magician existed in the early days of the church, unscrupulous people have tried to gain from Christianity. This sickness and blasphemy has been with us since the beginning.

Today, we have celebrity pastors flogging their book from the pulpit, preaching gimmicks on tv, merchandising the latest fad, and making merchandise out of the sheep, even extracting a widow’s last dollar or preying on the crippled and sick for cash.

Please be aware of the merchandising of Christ and the emporium of Christianity, and keep things pure. Our treasure IS Christ, and our inheritance IS His glory, and it is the privilege of being with Him forever. What a treasure He is. Watch your money and your motivations for spending and for giving, spend and give in His name and for His glory. Greedy wolves try to trade on His name, but don’t be a part of it.

Posted in false teacher, merchandise, prophecy

Your Best Life Now: the Board Game

Published in 2006 and placed into the Museum of Idolatry in 2007, we find the artifact of “Your Best Life Now: The Board Game” still being sold on Amazon today. Apparently the Prosperity Gospel’s attraction does not wane but only grows more attractive with age.

A person named David Harrison wrote a review of the game on Amazon,
This was bought as a joke gift for a friend. Joel has popularized a gospel message that promises an easy, comfortable, and prosperous lifestyle to the Christian. He ignores the fact that God’s primary purpose for us is to make the glory of God known to the world, and instead, Joel promotes an idea that loving God will result in making more money. This game gives us a great example of what is wrong with the prosperity gospel.

This person wrote a hilariously sarcastic review,
This game doesn’t have the same style as those of the Reformation and even earlier. Augustine’s “Hungry, Hungry Bishop of Hippo” set a standard to which Osteen can only dream.

What is the most tragic thing on this page? The fact that such a “game” exists? Yes that’s tragic but…the fact that there exists a five-star review? Yes, that is bad also, but…the fact that even 7 years after this game was published it is still popular enough to have “ONLY 1 LEFT IN STOCK”?!?! We have a winner.

I continue to look toward my go-to prophecy, which I believe is being fulfilled in accelerating train style each day,

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3 KJV)

I always use the KJV for this verse because the language is more descriptive. The Greek word for ‘merchandise’ is emporeuomai, from which we get the word emporium, or mall. It literally means “I travel as a merchant, engage in trade; I traffic in, make gain or business of”. We can see the devastating fulfillment of this prophecy any time we go to a Christian bookstore, especially a Lifeway store.

Money tends to corrupt faith and the faithful. We are warned over this so many times. Money itself is not bad. The love of money is. (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus was righteously wrathful over the merchandising of faith in the Temple, and cleansed it with a whip. (John 2:13-22). Ananias and Sapphira became the first Christians in the Church killed for their hypocrisy and it was over the money they’d held back and lying about it. (Acts 5:1-2). The Rich Young Man refused to believe in the Messiah who was standing in front of Him, in favor of the property he owned far off. (Matthew 19:22). Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:19-20).

The mixture of money and faith usually ends up being tragic if one is not careful.

And now we see not just greed and interest in personal wealth climbing to stratospheric proportions but the faithful actually being made merchandise out of.

The next time you enter a Christian bookstore, see how long it takes you to be distracted from buying a serious theological book which will edify you (if they even have any in the store anymore) in favor of buying something tangential, like a game or a praise CD or a gizmo or a piece of jewelry or a set of greeting cards or a huge bejewled cross or a birdhouse or … anyway, the tangential things are seeded around the store like sirens. And I don’t mean the loud clanging bells, I mean the seductive sea creatures who tried to lure mythological Odysseus off his path and onto the shoals in shipwreck.

The Siren: John William Waterhouse, ~1900

A siren call means something that is alluring. It is dangerous and potentially deadly. Even if you know better, the siren call is hard to resist. In Greek mythology, the sirens who allured were sea nymphs beguiling enough to begin with, but with even more enticing voices.” (source)

The Sirens were luscious sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death with a bewitching songs. As Walter Copland Perry observed: “Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption.”

Merchandising is today’s mythological Sirens. And the wolves do it via smooth talk and flattery- their voices. (Romans 16:8; Psalm 12:2; Colossians 2:4)

The greedy wolves seek to exploit the faith and the faithful with bewitching merchandising songs which lure you from the aisles of the bookstore to the shoal infested waters of games, trinkets, and fluff-filled books that tickle your ears with doctrines of devils and distract you into a fatal lethargy.

Stay vigilant! Don’t buy the merchandise, but more importantly, don’t BE the merchandise.

Posted in cross, horizontal cross, jewelry, merchandise, sideways cross

The latest Christian fad- Is wearing a sideways (horizontal) cross good, or bad?

Kelly Ripa has one. Taylor Jacobson, Rachel Zoe’s assistant has one. Jessica Biel wears it too. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez, Kourtney Kardashian, Jillian Michaels…all sport one. (And if you know who those people are, more power to you.) It has been described as “wildly popular”, “the hottest trend,” “totally cute”, and the “in fashion.” What is it? The sideways cross necklace.

Any time there is innovation related to anything in Christianity, we perk up. Our first question should be “What does it mean?” Why do we ask this first? We must be reverent–

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” (Hebrews 12:28)

“And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” (Revelation 19:5).

Fads are nothing new. They affect Christianity just as they affect the world. Most often, fads are related to doctrine, movements, or worldwide phenomena in the ecclesiology department, affecting preaching. As Phil Johnson says of fads,

“In the past two decades we have seen a relentless parade of phony miraculous phenomena, and literally millions of Christians have jumped on this bandwagon, running from one charismatic fad to another, desperately trying to get in on the latest display of divine power.”

But there are Christian merchandising fads, too. Love Dare diaries from Fireproof, Courageous Decree, WWJD bracelets, prayer blankets… fads, fads, fads. As Phil Johnson asked in 2005 of the merchandising fads, “Shall we sell our birthright for a mess of faddage?

“So why has the recent culture of American evangelicalism—a movement supposedly based on a commitment to timeless truths—been so susceptible to fads? Why are evangelical churches so keen to jump on every bandwagon? Why do our people so eagerly rush to buy the latest book, CD, or cheap bit of knockoff merchandise concocted by the marketing geniuses who have taken over the Christian publishing industry?”

Some of the beginner-level fads have seemed harmless enough—evangelical kitsch like Kinkade paintings, Precious Moments® collectibles, singing songbooks, moralizing vegetables, bumper stickers, Naugahyde® Bible covers, and whatnot. Such fads themselves, taken individually, may not seem worth complaining about at all. But collectively, they have created an appetite for “the ugly and the superficial.” They have spawned more and more fads. Somewhere along the line, evangelicals got the notion that all the fads were good, because the relentless parade of bandwagons gave the illusion that evangelicals were gaining significant influence and visibility. No bandwagon was too weird to get in the parade. And the bigger, the better.

Johnson goes on to say that somewhere along the line bandwagons become Trojan horses. I recommend Pastor Johnson’s essay in its entirety. He sure can write. (His retirement from blogging left a huge hole! Wah!)

Is it bad to wear a sideways necklace? I’d written a few days ago about hair, clothes and jewelry, here: “Adorned in Christ, how should we dress for Holy Week?” In that essay I’d mentioned, ” 1 Timothy 2:9 says “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” and went through the historical reasons for that admonition and the one in 1 Peter 3:3.

So we ask again, is it bad or wrong to wear a sideways cross necklace? is it respectable apparel?

I looked for a definitive interpretation of the horizontal cross, and though a definitive one was lacking, I found the following in most places I looked:

One interpretation holds that wearing the cross sideways means that “humanity is positioned right in the middle of heaven and hell. This makes it a neutral symbol.”

This seems like an innocuous and even a pleasant notion. But, no, there is no neutrality. There is no middle road. In fact this is an insidious teaching that is contrary to what the bible teaches. Either you believe and you’re saved as a son of God, or you do not believe and you are condemned already as a child of hell. (John 3:18, Matthew 23:15, Hebrews 3:19). Humanity is already in either heaven or hell.

Another interpretation holds that: “Because of this meaning, some people say that wearing a sideways cross necklace means that you are aware of your place in this existence; And that you are grounded here on earth.”

Again this is contrary to what the bible teaches. Christians who believe by faith in the Gospel have a home in heaven. This earth is not our home. (Hebrews 13:14). We are not to love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15). If you are a Christian wearing a sideways necklace to show you are grounded here on earth, either you have a flawed idea of what Christianity is or you have no clue about the glory that awaits.

“There are also people who believe that the sideways orientation of a necklace symbolizes Jesus Christ carrying the cross, this is one of my favorite interpretations.”

But He is not still carrying the cross. He died and rose again from an upright cross, declaring that it is finished. (John 19:30). That trumps the Savior’s carrying of it.

“It has also been based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The horizontal orientation of the necklace connotes that Jesus Christ has actually risen and that the cross has already been laid down to signify that humanity has been saved.”

This is also a false notion. It sounds Christian-y but it is actually untrue. First, He didn’t lay down the cross. And nether are we commanded to lay it down, we are to take it up (Mark 8:34).

Secondly, humanity has not been saved, only those who are in Christ are saved. For the unsaved billions, a sideways cross would be a futile symbol. What about them?

No, more to the point, if you’re going to symbolize things, ‘Lay down your arms” means it is being dispensed with. It is over. Done. Fighting is stopped. You accede, acquiesce, quit, surrender.
Yet Christians are called to pick up our cross, not lay it down. (Luke 9:23). We are called to arm ourselves and fight, taking up the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Wearing a sideways, laying down cross seems antithetical to what we are called to do in scripture.

And how many times are we called to stand? We are not standing in our own strength, either, but stand in Jesus. (Romans 14:4). His cross is still standing! Why would we ever signal that we are laying down our Christianity?

If you are not all that into symbolical interpretations of these things, and just want to wear a horizontal cross without all the hoo-haa, then before wearing sideways cross jewelry, ask yourself these questions:

Does it make you, the wearer, consumed with how the jewelry makes you look? (1 Peter 3:3).

It’s trendy, but should we join hands with the world and monkey with the 2000 year old symbol of our faith just to be “in”?

Would you be offended if your church laid the cross at the church altar on its side?

Is it a silent statement against Christianity, a jewelry wearer’s rebellion?

Is it making a commodity out of the Gospel by monkeying with its traditionality for the sake of fashion and money? Remember, Nadab and Abihu innovated a sacrificial service, and were killed for it. (Leviticus 10:1-2). Not that I am saying you will be killed by God if you wear a sideways cross, certainly, but is innovation proper? God gave us our faith, the holy bible, and its symbols. The most important one is the cross. God didn’t have Jesus die on a guillotine, or by the sword. He died on a cross, and that was for a specific, holy, perfect reason. Do you really want to innovate that, when God set it forth in perfection in the first place?

If there is this much confusion about its meaning, can it be good?

Does it exalt Jesus? Or bring confusion to the symbol and its universally understood meaning for the past 2000 years?

Are you succumbing to a merchandising fad? “That is the culture the evangelical movement deliberately created when it accepted the notion that religion is something to be peddled and sold to consumers like a commodity. That was a major philosophical shift that created an environment where unspiritual and unscrupulous men could easily make merchandise of the gospel.” ~Phil Johnson

The bible says that there will be fads and they come on the backs of greedy teachers bringing false words- “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3).

Here is the most compelling reason not to wear a sideways cross!

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” 
John 3:14, Numbers 21:9
Posted in bible miniseries, exploitation, history channel, merchandise, roma downey

First the Bible Miniseries – and now the Bible Miniseries Computer Game

Timothy Dalrymple has the story at Patheos:

The Bible Miniseries – the Computer Game
March 21, 2013 By Timothy Dalrymple
“Brent Dusing is the founder and CEO of Lightside Games, which seeks to make computer games (so far they’ve mostly been Facebook-based games) that involve players in the stories of the Bible. Their Journey of Moses and Journey of Jesus have both been phenomenally successful. Now they’ve partnered with the History Channel’s Bible miniseries to create a hidden-object game — called Light the Way — that families can enjoy alongside the miniseries.”

After a lengthier introduction which I only pasted a portion of above, Mr Dalrymple entered a Q&A session with the game’s developer, of which I excerpt below:

Tell me how this partnership with The History Channel series came about?

“We knew some people involved with the Bible miniseries and began a discussion with them. Then I met Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and I was struck by their genuine love of God and their passion for making a great product. Lightside was established on the principal [sic] of making games that are fun, high quality, and biblically authentic. We’re really excited to be working with Mark and everyone else on this partnership.”

As for passion in making a product of Jesus and the Bible, the actual bible predicts this day would come-

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3- KJV)

“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:3 ESV).

What was it like to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey?  

“There was an event organized by Focus on the Family. I was really struck by their genuine passion for the love of God. I spent a few minutes talking with Roma, and she’s really been working hard to make the film resonate God’s love.”

And here we see the leaven spreading throughout he loaf. Focus on the Family has for years been a conservative, biblical program. However, something went awry when the folks behind the program entered into a partnership with the History Channel people. The actual bible says,

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? ” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a) .

And as Paul says, false teachings spread like gangrene-

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.” (2 Timothy 2:16-17).

The Interview between Dalrymple and the Bible Game developer continues-

Can you explain the concept of a hidden object game?

“I think the best metaphor is Where’s Waldo? If you remember those books, you’d look for where he’s hiding. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the scenes from the Bible series, and there are hidden objects inside of them. The faster you find the objects, and the fewer mistakes you make, the higher your score is. The images are presented in order, and of course there’s a narrator; in the beginning of the story it’s Daniel, and later Mary Magdalene. So they narrate the story for the player, and as the player gets the story they walk through the major events of the Bible and explain the thoughts and emotions and feelings of these real people who were going through God’s work in their lives.”

How can they tell what the bible people were thinking and feeling?? The bible says they cannot, it is only speculation and myths.

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. ” (1 Timothy 3-4).

I hope that we have reverence for the awesome and holy God that is our Savior Jesus. More than in a video game.

I use the scriptures to show the true-life examples of what is occurring. When the bible says do not be unequally yoked, this is what it means: a Christian, well-regarded organization and a bunch of pagans mixing light and darkness. When the bible says that partnership will yield gangrene, myths, and speculations, this is what results:

Fear the LORD!

“Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4).

Posted in false teachers, merchandise, priscilla shirer, prophecy, rob bell

Peter’s prophecy fulfilled: False teachers who make merchandise of you

Here is a prophecy in 2 Peter 2:3 that has recently come to my attention. Read it in different translations:

“In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (NIV)

“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (ESV)

And my favorite translation of the verse;

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (KJV)

Looking at the verse in context, Peter is warning about false teachers to come. The ESV’s heading for the entire chapter is called “False Prophets and Teachers” and the chapter goes on to describe all the qualities of false teachers and prophets who are prophesied to come. Peter opens with chapter 1 in reminding the brethren that our salvation is sure, and that Christ’s word in the prophetic is glorious. He tells us in chapter 2 about those prophecies, namely focusing on the false teachers and prophets, and then continues the thought in chapter 3, reminding the brethren to think on these things and be duly warned. He then reassures the church that the Day of the Lord will come, and all the false teachers and prophets will be dealt with in due time.

We are told in His word that what will happen is that false teachers will make the Word a merchandise and they will exploit the believers. They do this because they are greedy. When it happens it will not be because they made a mistake, or briefly had a period of a wayward interpretations, or due to Christian immaturity. The bible says they do it on purpose and they do because they want money.

So back to the verse. Are the brethren exploited? Is the word being merchandised? Yes.

The consumerism in current Christianity bothered me when I attended the Beth Moore live weekend “bible study” at the Time Warner Arena. The slickness of the extravaganza was shocking, and the prices of food the vendors were charging really made me think of the moneylenders in the temple.

When the Fireproof movie came out I was struck by the push to buy the DVD, the books, the “Love Dare” diary. I mentioned that in another blog post, that fads in Christianity seem to come with their own cottage industry or marketing and merchandising of trinkets.

Same with the Courageous merchandise. You can buy a pack, complete with The Resolution For Men Book, the Resolution Certificate print (as seen in the movie) and the FREE Bonus I Resolve/I Will wristband. Hurry while supplies last.

Then I read of all these mega-church pastors who quit their post at a church to go on book tours.

There is nothing wrong with a pastor writing a book. Nothing. What the prophecy says is that they will be false, they will write false things, and make merchandise out of the false words and they will exploit the people who support them. And that, my brethren, is exactly what is happening today.

Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in MI, recently released the heretical book, Love Wins. Love Wins impugns the character of God by saying that hell is not real.

After the book was a runaway success, Bell resigned the ministry and went on a tour. An article in Crosswalk noted, “Bell’s resignation makes him the latest in a string a celebrity pastors who have said goodbye to weekly sermons, potluck dinners and other staples of church life. “A New Kind of Christianity” author Brian McLaren, “Crazy Love” author Francis Chan, “Deep Church” author Jim Belcher and the popular British Bible scholar N.T. Wright have all left their church leadership positions in recent years.”

Bell left his church “to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities.”

The article states, “For pastors with ambitions to reach huge audiences, there’s often no better platform than the megachurch, which has given rise to powerhouse media empires from T.D. Jakes to Max Lucado to Joel Osteen and many others. But some high-profile pastors are opting to leave congregational ministry altogether to pursue publishing and other media ventures full time.”

Media empires is right. And the article correctly noted that the mega-church has become a ‘platform’ from which to launch that media empire, make a lot of money, and go on tour, leaving the picked-over flock behind.

Speaking of cottage industry, never mind the packets, kits, trinkets, and books, there are new businesses springing up to support the business of Christianity. For example, Alive Communications is a Colorado Springs, Colo., literary agency that represents megachurch pastors. Now pastors need agents? Apparently so.

Even the woman are getting in on it. Priscilla Shirer, daughter of popular preacher Tony Evans, is also her own cottage industry. “Conservative Bible teachers like Shirer have built a new paradigm for feminine preaching, an ingenious blend of traditional revivalism, modern therapeutic culture and the gabby intimacy of Oprah. … This theology has spawned a subculture of Bible studies, conferences, ministries, religious retreats and literature ranging from Christian fitness books to Christian romance novels, all produced by and for evangelical women.” (source)

Above, Priscilla Shirer, source

For the women who go on tour, this cottage industry is at the expense of biblical womanhood. The article notes that Mr Shirer spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla’s speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally. “Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother.”

And don’t forget to pick up your Shirer “I Am Resolved” tee shirt on your way out.

After Rob Bell left in a cloud of dust for his book and speaking tour, the remaining pastor at Mars Hill shortly decided to leave also. Shane Hipps said he enjoys “serving the broader church” by speaking and writing. The ‘broader church’ is code for, well, the world. Hipps worried that if he accepted the new role as main teacher after Rob Bell’s departure to serve the world, (they don’t call them preachers at Mars Hill), “I would have to dramatically reduce my service to the broader church which is an integral part of my sense of call.” Translation: I will have to be accountable to the elders and I’d have to curtail my book tours. Ix-nay on the teaching-ay. Who wants to be stuck at a podium preaching week after week when you can be a media darling and start an empire? Good bye Mars Hill, hello new book, “Selling Water by the River: A book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way.”

This writer below in the next article asks a good question, many good questions as a matter of fact. Who decided that these particular teachers speak for the local church?

None dare Call It Marketing: Lifeway, Beth Moore and the conspiracy to take over your church

“The idea of a celebrity Bible teacher, a teacher who teaches thousands and thousands of people through media, isn’t antithetical to the Bible’s presentation of discipleship, but it certainly isn’t normative. It’s not what the Bible has in mind. And one of the reasons is this: The ministry of the “celebrity” Bible teacher tends to undermine the ministry of the local church pastor.” … “What I will ask, however, is whether my fellow Christians have the courage to admit that Beth Moore and Rick Warren and the next publishing superstars are, in large part, promoted by Lifeway for profits? Not chosen by God, but chosen by Lifeway and other publishers for potential book sales? Lifeway would say chosen and promoted for the good of my church. Well, if it’s profitable. If you can’t see that, you’re naive.” … I’m distressed that Christian media’s capitalistic agenda has become the source of an unquestioned spiritual authority in so many churches.”

Me too.

John MacArthur exposits the Peter verse, “The operating motive, the underlying cause. Verse 3, “And in greed they will exploit you with false words.” Here’s another component that you need to know about. What drives them on the inside to do what they do? Listen very carefully. They’re not driven by immorality. They’re not driven by aselgeia, sexual immorality. You can do that by yourself. That’s not going to make you a false teacher. You can be immoral all alone in your own little world with just the people you choose to be immoral with, you don’t need to be a false teacher to be immoral. And if all they wanted to do was fulfill their sensual desire, they wouldn’t need to be a false teacher. But there’s another component. What is it? Greed…greed.”

“The driving force of their enterprise to be teachers is not the love of the truth, it’s not submission to the Lord, it’s not even sexual immorality, they can do that in the pew. The driving force is money. The word pleonexiameans uncontrolled greed. They’re expert at it. They’re in it to accumulate money. And watch them, they do. Verse 14 of the same chapter, “Their eyes are full of adultery…obviously…they never cease from sin, they never submit to lordship, they entice unstable souls…why do they do that?…because their hearts…boy, this is really graphic..are trained in…what?…greed.” They’re experts at it. They can con money out of anybody. They want money. They want money. They want your money. They want anybody’s money.’ … “They exploit you, they get rich off you with false words.”

Now you might deduce that I am offended at Christian merchandising of God’s word. That I am concerned with women who have their own cottage industries of tours of ‘bible studies” and products at the expense of their children, their husbands and their husbands’ jobs. But this next bit really gets me.

“Bell’s 2009 project, Drops Like Stars, explores the links between creativity and suffering. Drops Like Stars was an international tour and a book, initially handwritten by Bell, with photographs. The title of the project comes from a young child’s view of raindrops on a window at night. Rather than focusing on the conundrum of why an all-powerful God would allow suffering, Bell instead looks at the creativity, empathy, new connections, and growth that can spring from suffering. When asked in an interview how he had become interested in suffering, Bell replied that as a pastor he had been given a front row seat in the most poignant moment’s of people’s lives. At the same time he was doing lectures on creativity and realized, “There was a connection between these two halves of my life – all these connections between suffering and art-making.” (source)

He had a ‘front row seat’ to people’s spiritual and emotional pain, and decided to make money off it. This right there is a fulfillment of the worst kind of the prophecy Peter warned us about.

Though Bell’s book is a sad instance of the merchandising of God’s word and exploitation of His people, this one is just plain silly and ridiculous:

Pastors, at a loss for how to lead your church? Call Will Mancini, Clarity Evangelist. He will help you discover a unique vision for your church, and sell you a Unique Vision Kit, to boot.

Your church’s Unique Vision Kit
CHURCH UNIQUE BOOK: (1) Written to help you find your Church Unique and live a vision that creates a stunningly unique, movement-oriented church. (The Church Unique Vision Kit includes one copy of the book.)
LEADERS GUIDE: (1) Step by step instructions for the leader of the Church Unique Vision Pathway process. Everything you need to lead 8 vision clarifying team sessions.
DVD: (1) Video teaching from Will Mancini provides insight, encouragement, and inspiration.
PARTICIPANT GUIDE: (9) Map, journal, and sketch book to help each team member participate effectively in the vision clarification process. (Pick up your own 3 ring binders at your favorite office supply retailer.)
VISION DECK: (1) 52 optional exercises to inspire visionary teams.
JOE GROW: (9) Bendable figure empowers teams to explore the impact of vision on real people.
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VISION FRAMES: (9) Customizable frame for team participants to record the vision outcomes.
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ROLE CARDS: (9) One laminated role card with key responsibilities for each team member.
MISSION CARDS: (9) One wallet sized card for each person to record your unique mission.
WALL CHARTS: (18) Posters that illustrate key concepts in the Vision Pathway Process as well as charts to capture your unique vision. (Pick up additional flip charts or blank sheets of newsprint to record ideas at your favorite office supply retailer.)

The 2 Peter 2:3 verse says “they will exploit you” or “they will make merchandise of you” and the Greek word for exploit is emporeusontai, from which we get the English word emporium. Emporium is a term used for a store selling a wide variety of goods, and for marketplaces or trading centers.

Making money is no problem. Writing a book is no problem. Having money is no problem. Being a megachurch pastor is not a problem (usually). But false teachers will come in, and not sparing the flock, they will exploit the Word and the people for their greedy purposes. I believe it is clear that it is happening to a high degree today. All I can say is,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)