Posted in arminianism, calvinism, doctrine, unity

Unity, disunity, and breaking fellowship- a real life tale

 I received an email the other day. It was from a long-time reader/sometime commenter.

Hi there. Would you please be so kind and remove the comments (and my name) that I have made on your blog? I’d do it myself, but I don’t have the same email address anymore in order to do it. I also could not find your email address, hence this message in comment form.

Thanking you,
Commenter

And then he included the links to 30 comments from two years ago. BTW, my email address is in the “About this Blog” tab at the top of the page. I asked in reply, May I ask why?

I do not share in your theology at all and don’t want to be associated with it (the theology) in any way whatsoever. My comments were mostly non-theological, but I want them removed nonetheless.
Greetings,
Commenter

If I am wrong, I want to know. If I need correction, I want to submit to it. I replied, “Thank you for your response. What is it about my theology that troubles you so greatly that you would go to these lengths to disassociate? Is there something unbiblical? Extrabiblical? Aberrant?” He responded:

I am 100% anti-Calvinist and don’t want to be associated with it. Please remove my comments at your earliest convenience.
Regards,
Commenter

Ah. So that’s it.

I replied that there was no need to go to lengths to disassociate from a theology that the Bible presents, even if one holds vehemently to Arminianism. The Bible is also clear about unity. I shared the verse from 1 Corinthians 1:10, noting it’s one verse among many urging unity among the brethren. I said that it seemed an unreasonable request that would cause difficulties in the threaded comment stream, take an undue amount of my time, and that since we all make our own decisions when choosing to comment publicly in online forums, I sadly would not be able to fulfill the request. I said I was truly sorry he decided to leave on that note and urged that he was welcome to read or comment any time. His response was less than hopeful…and less than brotherly.

Elizabeth, really, I want nothing to do with Calvinism, and I am not interested in your defense of the philosophy of Calvinism, or whatever you like to term it. And I’m not interested in debating or arguing; I simply want my comments removed. You don’t have to do it all at once, of course, but my request stands: remove my comments. Take your time with it; there’s no rush.

The correspondence ends here.
Regards,
Commenter

Of course, bullies always change the argument to a straw man. I had not defended Calvinism but had made a biblical appeal to unity as described above.

There are all sorts of false teachers running around proclaiming the need for unity. But theirs is a false unity. Partnering with any other religion that’s clearly false is not a unity. Pasting over deep doctrinal differences in order to promote a shallow harmony is not unity.

However, there’s a unity that IS called for. The Bible is clear that among Christians there will be differences among us over minor or secondary doctrines, but that we are to be humble and love one another. Secondary doctrines are not salvation doctrines. Some call them “non-essential” doctrines, but I don’t like that term because I don’t like to think of any doctrine as being non-essential, though the meaning refers to the belief in the doctrine not being essential to one’s salvation.

Essential doctrines are the ones we split over. Non-essentials are doctrines we do not split over. The website at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry gives the following advice about essential and secondary doctrines. The list from CARM.org includes an explanation, then gives examples of primary non-essentials and secondary non-essentials:

Primary Non-Essentials- (1 John 2:4). Denying these can bring one’s salvation into question since the regenerate seek to live according to God’s Word. Violating them does not automatically mean the person is not saved since Christians fall into various sins. However, abiding in sins with unrepentance would be evidence that the person is not regenerated. Examples: Moral integrity (Exodus 20:1-17). Fidelity in marriage in heterosexual relationships. The condemnation of homosexuality. Inerrancy of the Bible. Baptism is not necessary for salvation (Acts 10:44-48).

I might put inerrancy of the Bible as an essential salvation issue, but then again I’m not a theologian.

Secondary Non-Essentials- Any of them can be denied or affirmed, and regeneration is not in questioned. These are often Denominational Differences: 14) Predestination, election, limited atonement, and free will. 15) Communion every week, monthly, or quarterly, etc. 16) Saturday or Sunday Worship. 17) Pre-, mid-, post-trib rapture. 18) Premillennialism, Amill., Postmill., partial-preterism. 19) Continuation or cessation of the charismatic gifts. 20) Baptism for adults or infants. 21) Musical Instruments in church.

Breaking fellowship over a non-essential doctrine is a shame. Though I’m Reformed, pretribulation, literal Millennial Kingdom, soft dispensationalist, I would not break fellowship over the secondary non-essentials. I would hope that people would not break fellowship with me over those, either.

Good examples to me over the years have been John MacArthur and RC Sproul Sr.’s friendship and warm fellowship despite Sproul’s no-rapture, preterism, paedo-baptism issues and MacArthur holding the opposite view. It’s helpful to me to see them on a panel together, gently chiding and teasing in brotherly love but united over the essential doctrines.

As the visible church has become bloated and is falling away like a black banana peel from the fruit, those who are sound and remain in the faith by standing on the essential doctrines need to demonstrate our love to each other in the cause of Jesus more than ever. We DO need unity. We need to unite around the essentials and monitor the non-essentials and remain faithful to loving each other until or unless the non-essentials in a person or organization become too wayward to overlook.

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” (Luke 9:49)

There were false teachers in the NT and there were many false prophets in the OT. In both Testaments, these false ones claim to speak in Jesus’ name but do not truly represent Him. Now of this particular man in the Luke 9:49 verse, if he had not truly been one of His faithful, God would not have given the man the ability to cast out demons, and Jesus would not have answered by saying the 12 must accept him. Don’t misunderstand Luke to be a verse that urges acceptance of false teachers. We still use discernment to determine false from true representatives of Jesus. The man in Luke 9:49 was true and Jesus said that he was part of the brethren because he was not against Jesus.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures says of this verse

suggested that the Twelve were not to see themselves as God’s exclusive representatives. Rather they should have rejoiced that the power of God was being manifested on earth by others as well. If they manifested that attitude, it would show that they were truly trying to be of service to the Messiah.

And this from pastor-teacher John MacArthur,

even though we might not agree with methods, we might not agree with style, if they’re for Christ, we’re for them, but with the proviso that they’re really for Christ because they’re committed to the truth. ~John MacArthur

Be committed to the truth first, and then be committed to all those who embrace the truth. Even us poor, deluded Reformed folk.

EPrata photo

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How can the church achieve a true, biblical unity?

Posted in bible, church, discernment, disharmony, factions, prophecy, unity

When unity is not preferred

Are there factions in your church? EPrata photo

Factions in church are a deed of the flesh.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (Galatians 5:20)

Here, the progression is given. Enmities result in strife, then morphs into jealousy, which are inward attitudes. Eventually the inward attitude becomes outward behavior in the form of fits of anger, then progresses to disputes, entrenched into dissensions (which literally means here ‘standing apart’), and then these harden into factions.

The word factions in Greek as it’s used here in the Galatians verse means ‘personal choice due to strong opinion’. As an example to show rivalries gravitating to factions, some Jews chose to be Sadducees as opposed to Pharisees. Pharisees believed in an afterlife containing rewards for the righteous and and punishments for the wicked, and had added many traditions to the faith. Sadducees believed only the Torah and therefore no afterlife. Little discussed in the Bible but existing at the same time as the Pharisees and Sadducees were two other factions within Judaism, the Zealots and the Essenes. These four factions had splintered the religion as given by God to Moses and the Prophets. The dividing lines were hard and fast until it came to Jesus and then the adage ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ came to life and they set aside their jealousies and rivalries to kill their Messiah.

One wonders if the Sadducees and Pharisees had not spent hundreds of years in jealousies and rivalries they might have been thinking straight regarding who Jesus is when He came. But anyway…that’s a speculation. The lesson here is that Paul warns that these attitudes become entrenched, and then make an outward progression into undesirable behavior.

Is your church splitting due to rivalries or dissensions?
EPrata photo

Factionism is often mentioned in the New Testament. Because humans populate the church, the sinful tendency to divide along theological, moral, or just plain silly lines is always present. Paul chastised the Corinthians for ‘following’ preferred teachers, Peter, Apollos, himself, or none at all and only Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:12). He reminded them that Christ has not been divided, then he reminded them in Whose name they had been baptized.

In another case of mentioned factionalism, in Apostolic authority Paul pleaded with Euodia and Syntyche to set aside their differences and come together. (Philippians 4:2). As Pulpit Commentary says, “Their dissensions disturbed the peace of the Church.” Paul called them sisters and so they were believers risking a church unity that is desirable and should be sought after by all members, not pursuing disharmony and upset by entrenching into their own supposed correct positions on whatever it was they were arguing about.

Ephesians speaks to the importance of unity in the church. Paul says we should be-

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

 In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul says for there to be no divisions among us-

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

We do this through love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:14), forbearing and forgiving one another, (Colossians 3:13). And so on and so on. Unity is important.

The Christian life is marked with a thin line, on which we stay only through the grace of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit, and our diligence in searching the Word. Because … the opposite of the above is also true. There are times we are NOT supposed to unite. At times, we are supposed to mark those who cause divisions and avoid them. (Romans 16:17). We’re called to shake the dust off and go away from those who won’t listen (Mark 6:11). Paul and Peter didn’t hold back when warning the members of those who put stumbling-blocks in their way, they variously called them dogs in vomit, blots, and blemishes. Even gangrene and cursed ones. Those are warnings not to unite, or even tolerate (Revelation 2:20).

But those are unbelievers mentioned in those verses. What about believers? Should we pursue unity at all costs with believers? No. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul urged,

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

The 2 Thessalonians verse is about believers and it is a command! In Matthew 18, the last part of the multi-step process for dealing with sin in a believer is to treat them as a pagan or a tax-collector if the sinner refuses to heed.  (Matthew 18:17).

In another Thessalonians verse, Paul reiterates how to treat believers, in this case idlers who were using the church as a welfare state.

Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. (2 Thessalonians 3:14 )

So when do we do what? How do we know when to pursue unity and when to allow separation? It is especially hard when we are being told by the shallow end of the church culture that any disunity whatsoever is to be avoided.

It’s obvious that there are different kinds of unity. We unite in Christ into one body in theological unity in the Gospel, forbearing and overlooking the theological points of disagreement where possible and are “non-essential.” We do not overlook sin but we display some patience with people in the process of helping them overcome it, especially the babes in Christ. In this, the moral imperative is strict; help, point out, warn, all the while forbearing in love as they are given a chance to rectify. However, we never overlook persistent or flagrant or rebellious sin. Ever.

Who are the peacemakers among you?

So be careful when using the word unity. Just like there is with any human involvement with anything, there are gradations and nuances. During the hopefully short period when situations are being addressed and resolved there will be some disharmony. Depending on the maturity of the church, in some places this disharmony will be more evident than others. Of course overall given human penchant for selfishness, there will be seasons of unity and seasons of disharmony in any church for whatever reason. Even these take time to settle.

While unity is to be pursued and factionalism is to be avoided, sometimes the Lord uses it to the good. There IS a good that comes with factions in churches. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19,

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

In verse 18 Paul strongly chastises the divisive Corinthians by saying when they get together for the Lord’s supper it is for the WORSE! How would you like to hear your pastor say that? “Y’all make Christianity worse when you’re together, you big ole bunch of squabbling firecrackers.”

Matthew Henry says, “The apostle rebukes the disorders in their partaking of the Lord’s supper. The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make us better, will be apt to make us worse.”

Yet in the next breath Paul says something very interesting:

“There MUST be factions”

Here, the word factions is heresies. It indicates a worse state than in verse 18, which was divisions. In verse 19 divisions have become heresies. Now the problem mirrors the Sadducees and Pharisees, with the hard and fast and permanent division in the faith. One faith then becomes two, or nearly so. Schism, because of heresy.

Yet why would Paul say ‘there MUST be heresies’ (factions)? I thought we were to avoid disharmony and pursue unity? This may sound abrupt or unbelievable to innocent ears, but God actually intended for there to be factions. Because, how are we to know who the peacemakers are if there is never any disruption to the peace? How are we to know to whom ministries should be given if there is never an opportunity for one to display wisdom or patience? Divisions and disharmony is the way Jesus uses circumstances to reveal genuine believers.

If you pardon the long excerpt, after reading widely and wrestling with writing an explanation myself, I have found no better explanation than Pastor John MacArthur’s. Here is his commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:19, ‘there must be factions’:

The Celebration of the Lord’s Supper part 1

Now, he goes further in verse 19. And this is really an interesting statement. He says, “I believe it for this reason, I believe it because there must be also heresies among you that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.” Boy, that is a strange statement, folks. Did you hear what he said? He says the reason I believe you’ve got division is because there must be division among you so that the ones who are approved might be made manifest. 

You say, “Is he saying that the church has to have heresy?” Yes. What does the word “heresy” mean? I’m glad you asked because that’s very important. The word “heresy” doesn’t mean totally what we’ve made it mean today. The word “heresy” basically means, it comes from a root that stresses the idea of a choice, choosing. It simply means a choice of a group who hold a given opinion. I’ll tell you how you’ll understand it. It’s translated again and again in the gospels by the word “sect.” It’s a group of people who hold an opinion. It doesn’t have to be bad. It doesn’t mean that it’s good. It’s used in a neutral sense in, say, Acts 24. It talks about the sect of the Nazarenes. 

 

It isn’t necessarily bad. It’s used in a bad sense in Galatians 5:20 where it refers to one of the works of the flesh, is hairesis, or heresies, or what it means is differences of opinion. And there it has to do with the selfish contention, has to do with a self-centered factious clique kind of thing, and that’s its use here. 

There has to be contention, if you will. Or there has to be factions in the church. There has to be problems in the church. There has to be differences of opinions in the church. You say, “Well, why? I mean, you just said in 1 Corinthians1:10 get rid of them all, now you’re saying they’ve got to be there. … Well, what’s he saying here?” No, he’s saying it has to be that they who are approved might be manifest among you. 

Now, wait a minute. Paul says I believe there are those groups because they’re necessary. Now, notice the statement, “there must be.” That’s dei. D-E-I in the Greek. It is a word that means it is necessary. “It is necessary”, and then you should translate the word factions, that’s how it should be. It is necessary that there be factions among you. That little word “it is necessary” is used again and again and again in the new Testament. A very common particle; very, very, very useful. And in many of its uses, it singles out something that is necessary because of the will of God. It is used of something that is necessary because of the will of God. For example, it is necessary that Jesus suffer and, right, and die and rise again. It is necessary that I go to Jerusalem. You find that little particle again and again and again connected with something that Jesus must do because that is God’s will.

And here we have the same thing. It is necessary. Why? Because God is doing something that needs it. What’s He doing? He is approving certain people and making them manifest to you. How? Because when problems arrive and when factions arrive you will soon find out who the good folks are, the dokimoi: the approved, the tested, the gold who come out of the fire purified. Evil is necessary to manifest good. 

You don’t know who the peacemakers are in your church unless you need somebody to make the peace, right? You don’t know who the people are who show the love in the church unless you know how they’ve been related to the people who don’t show it. You see, it’s adversity and struggle and contention that causes the true leadership, the true godly people, the true walking in the Spirit folks to rise to the top and be visible to everybody. Trouble has a way of manifesting personality and it has a way also of manifesting spirituality. The dokimoi are the ones that hang in there and give evidence of walking in the Spirit in the midst of a difficult situation

Perhaps your church has had a change of leadership or a change of heart and now wants to root out female leadership that had infiltrated. This will cause disharmony. Unity will be shattered. There will inevitably be some who don’t appreciate the change of direction nor the removal of women. As is the way of rivalries some will go around gossiping and complaining and mounting up for sides to be taken. The Lord uses this time of factioning and disruption to manifest true believers. Whatever the Godly reason that unity has been interrupted, and there are oh, so many possibilities, Jesus will use it to show to one and all who the genuine ones are.

Pursue unity when possible,
but not at the expense of truth

Now the opposite could be happening. Maybe a disharmony is occurring not for a Godly reason but because the leadership wants to initiate or perpetuate a false doctrine. Maybe the genuine ones have warned, pleaded, prayed, and offered proofs. Yet despite the true believers’ attempts to sway them from their willful path, they insist. During this time also, there will be disunity. Sides will be taken. The patient yet firm stand of the genuine ones will be noticed and remembered either now or later. And if not on this side of the veil, then certainly at the Bema seat.

Now for one last, important thought. The crux of this essay. After all this, if you are still with me, dear reader, please take this thought with you as I close. If God says there must be heresies in order to manifest true believers, isn’t it to satan’s advantage to whitewash all divisions so that true believers will NOT be made manifest? Couldn’t it be that this culture’s current insistence in unity at all costs be a satanic ploy to intimidate the genuine ones so they are not made manifest?

I understand that when Jesus wants something to happen, He will make it happen. I am not saying satan has power to controvert Jesus. But think on it. If Jesus as the Head uses divisions and heresies to advance His church by manifesting true believers, it is in satan’s evil interest not to let that happen.

So keep that in mind when you hear “unity at all costs!” As I said at the outset, unity is preferred, but not at the expense of tolerating false doctrine. Unite is not preferred when it’s a ploy to silence the ones who Jesus intends to stand apart as genuine.

When Brothers Dwell in Unity
A Song of Ascents. Of David.

133 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity![a]
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore
. Psalm 133

And yet you know that when rivalries come and the Lord uses you to be seen as genuine, the period of testing is sometimes painful. But Peter has encouragement–

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Posted in beth moore, discernment, doctrine, false teacher, Joyce Meyer, unity

Discerning Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer’s discussion on "Enjoying Everyday Life" about "unity"

On August 18, 2014 I published an essay regarding the joining of Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer on Meyer’s television program, “Enjoying Everyday Life”. Moore and Meyer, along with friend Christine Caine, had tweeted excitedly about Moore’s interview on Meyer’s program and upcoming broadcast of that interview. The topic was “unity.”

Most discerning Christians know and understand that Meyer is a false teacher. She does not preach the same Jesus as revealed in the bible. Some discerning folks know and understand that Moore is also false, but many more were until lately reluctant to declare her so, instead of being just wayward, misguided, or temporarily mistaken.

Wheat or tare? Emmer wheat, Persian, darnel?
A skilled eye can tell. Public domain

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-18)

It takes time for fruit to ripen. And so Moore’s has ripened to the point where we can now detect whether her fruit is bad or good. For the record, it’s bad.

When Moore joined Meyer on Enjoying Everyday Life, it was another nail in the coffin, so to speak.

The actual program aired yesterday, October 31. It is currently available here.

I watched it, and here is a review of the program.

Meyer opened the show by saying “Today we’re going to talk about unity and peace and getting along, what could be accomplished if we could all get along and work together? How can we avoid allowing our differences to hinder us in bringing the gospel to a lost and hurting world?”

Meyer included Moore’s bio in her opening introduction, saying in part, “She ministers to women of all faith backgrounds. She has a heart for unity in the body of Christ and a vision to reach women of all denominations.”

This sounds very good, and is actually fairly biblical – unless you know that Moore includes Catholics as a regular Christian denomination. This fact is not stated in the video.

Joyce Meyer gave a personal anecdote to start, beginning the discussion of unity as unity within the home. Meyer said she has learned to “Keep the strife out of your life. I’ve discovered Jesus works in an atmosphere of peace, not turmoil and anger. What have you discovered [Beth Moore] along these lines in your walk with God?”

For those who may be anticipating an essay full of biblical debunkings of plainly heretical or false statements either or both ladies made during the interview, you will be disappointed. They made no outward heretical or false statements, except the one above and perhaps one other.

Rather, they alluded to things, they skirted issues, they were cloaked and guarded, they were non-specific; so that if one was unaware of the previous contexts in which they taught, or previous situations in which they had been called to account, nothing untoward seemed to be said. This is even more dangerous than plainly speaking heresy, because satan is subtle. (Genesis 3:1)

This will be a discernment lesson on how to be discerning not with what a false teacher says, but on what a false teacher does NOT say. False teachers have to be right some of the time. Even a broken watch is right twice ever 24 hours.

As for the ridiculous opener from Meyer stating that Jesus worked in an atmosphere of peace, it can be plainly seen from scripture that Meyer is totally wrong.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-3).

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (Luke 12:51)

The “atmosphere” in which Jesus worked was filled with anguish, strife, perplexity, anger, and death. The Pharisees tried to kill Jesus a number of times. They even tried to kill Lazarus. (John 12:10). Even though Jesus healed the terrible demoniac the Gadarenes were all so afraid of, they asked Jesus  to leave town! Meyer’s assertion is biblically unfounded and patently ridiculous.

The first part of the discussion the two women had was about their own coming to terms with how to biblically nurture peace and unity within the home, as wives. Moore said that she harangued her husband (who had come from “a different background spiritually” and “accepted Christ” when he and Beth were dating) to go to church, and it was when she prayed and left it to Jesus that her husband started coming around. She said that she stopped trying to control him and quit trying to change him and began respecting the man God had sent to her life. Meyer said the same, that when she concentrated on being a godly wife instead of trying to change her husband, peace reigned in the home. These are good thoughts and actions for women to take. I agreed with them.

The second part of the interview was when the two women began to discuss unity in the body of Christ. However, they never defined the body of Christ. We know from following Moore that Moore considers Catholics part of the body of Christ. A person who came in cold to the broadcast or was otherwise unaware of this belief of Moore’s would never know this.

After the break Meyer asked, “How can we have more unity in the Body of Christ? Or even unity within one church?”

A good question. There is nothing wrong with and everything right with unity among the brothers. 1 Corinthians 1:10 makes an appeal for unity among the brothers. Psalm 133:1 promises blessings for those who dwell in unity.

Moore replied: “Even the topic of unity causes division! Disunity is not the heart of Christ, it is the will of God to be unified.”

Sometimes the topic of unity does indeed cause division, lol. However neither woman biblically defined unity. Meyer said that though she married a Lutheran and was involved in the Lutheran church for years, and Moore is a Baptist, and they might not agree on “every little point of doctrine” they would still consider themselves loving sisters in the faith.

There was only vague talk of denominations, but no declaration of the biblical standard under which someone would be considered in the body of Christ.

Here is where they strayed from the center line of biblical truth, though. Meyer said even though she might disagree with Moore over doctrine,

“I agree with your heart and your spirit and with your teaching in the Body of Christ. People disagree over little things.”

Doctrine isn’t a little thing.

Moore replied, “The witness of our disunity is deplorable. Throw down those denominational lines. It is insulting to Christ to be separate. … We love the same Jesus. We love the same scriptures. … Even if we did not have that in common, if we could say our salvation is found in Christ if He died and rose again and how to be saved and Jesus sits at right hand of God, then that is my sister, my brother.” “I would serve anywhere and anybody even if they didn’t have close to the same belief system.”

And here is the danger. Mormons claim Jesus is the source of salvation and that He died and rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father. So do Jehovah’s Witnesses. So do Catholics. Their discussion alluded to the fact that we must be united at the expense of doctrine. They intimated that we must have harmony with anyone who simply claims Jesus. Even if they “don’t have close to the same belief system.”

So one wonders, how far afield does one go in order to unite, and where does one draw the line? Does one even draw a line? One could not tell from their discussion. The bible is clear, there MUST be divisions. There must not be an unequal yoking in service. Neither woman made that distinction which of course is totally unhelpful. The statement of Moore’s that she would serve alongside anyone even if they don’t have close to the same belief system is unbiblical. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says,

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

There are supposed to be divisions along doctrinal lines. It is what makes us Christians. The women taught during their discussion that the only doctrinal line is whether someone mumbles the magic password: ‘Jesus’ and that’s it. The Pope invokes Jesus. Muslims invoke Jesus. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, even Presbyterian USA denomination invoke Jesus. But it is not the same Jesus.

There are many who “claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (Titus 1:16)

Good fruit? Bad fruit? Worm in fruit? Inspect before ingesting!

Over the years, both Meyer and Moore have made unbiblical statements, and they have been soundly criticized for it. Neither woman likes that. For a while the pair discussed rebukes they’ve received and they condemned these rebukes as disunity within the body. Using cloaked and non-specific language, Meyer said,

“How can we possibly say we love one another if all we do is find fault and differences and be judgmental and critical and say things about people when we have no knowledge of what they’re talking about? I know of you, I know your reputation, but I don’t know YOU yet, in order for that to happen time has to be spent together. It’s unfair for people to have an opinion when they haven’t spent time. People have so many opinions they don’t know anything about me or even you and they know nothing about. They don’t know me at all. They’ve never asked me a question. They think something that is uninformed and they pass it along from person to person. God doesn’t agree with me about everything but we have a good relationship.”

The context for her comment was that people see her on TV or read her books or see something she said and are critical of it and she believes this unfair. Why is this unfair, according to Meyer? Meyer used the verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:12 Amplified Bible, which says,

Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]—your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you.

Her point was that unless one has “gotten to know” her, they cannot and should not reprove her. Of course, the standard translations do not translate it “get to know.” They all say, honor, or respect, or acknowledge or appreciate or know or recognize. The commentaries explain:

Matthew Henry: The people should honour and love their ministers, because their business is the welfare of mens’ souls. And the people should be at peace among themselves, doing all they can to guard against any differences. But love of peace must not make us wink at sin.

Meyer’s statement is even more ridiculous considering that she is NOT submitted to a pastor and does NOT attend a church where a pastor could get to know her and rebuke her if differences in doctrine arose. The only church she ever attended was a Lutheran church for a few short years, then shortly switched to a non-denominational church where she taught a bible class, and then became associate pastor. We know from the bible that women pastors are unbiblical. When her class grew large, she quit the church and founded her own ministry, first on radio then took it to TV. Her statement about getting to know someone and spending time before criticizing was hypocritical in the extreme. Why? She has insulated herself from being able to be gotten to personally, and therefore has added a barrier over which no one would ever be able to reach in order to even begin to criticize. A neat trick. (Source below)

We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you stay apart from every brother who leads an unruly life, not according to the tradition which you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6) If you have someone in your church who is teaching error, you cannot have unity with that individual. If you have someone who is leading an unruly or sinful life, you cannot have fellowship with that individual. So what we’re talking about here is the pursuit of the true unity of the Spirit, that belongs to those who surround the truth, and affirm it, and who live godly lives. ~John MacArthur

Moore agreed with Meyer. She said, “I get weary at things taken out of context, that people have quoted me about…even when WE choose to love one another and unite together people in those camps will be disunified. This is the time on the kingdom calendar to come together.”

Matthew 18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12 have no application to a public leader and his or her public writings. Whatsoever. 

Both women are public teachers, and their teaching must be examined. Both teach unbiblical things, and both have been reproved, rebuked, judged, and criticised. This is biblical. However, in their pursuit of unity, they include themselves under the overly-large doctrinal and denominational umbrella, and claim that to even criticize at all is ‘unfair’ and promotes ‘disunity.’

Moore and Meyer discussing the ‘unfairness’ of being criticized

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Tim. 6:3-5).

Their discussion was pointed about including any and all ‘denominations’ (and we know they mean Catholics) into the fold, disregard doctrinal differences, and claim that love will triumph over all.

Here is what John MacArthur said about the kind of false unity Meyer and Moore promoted:

There is a drive today in evangelicalism – and what a bland term that has become. But there is a drive in evangelicalism for an ecumenism that ignores sound doctrine, that overlooks error, and accepts even what we would deem as heresy. There is a kind of evangelical ecumenism that says we’re all one, and we need to enjoy one another without regard for any of our doctrinal differences. That is a false, and unbiblical, and displeasing unity, if indeed it is unity at all, in the sense that it dishonors and displeases the Lord. There is another kind of striving for unity that wants to disregard iniquity, and embrace everybody no matter whether they are walking in obedience to the Word of God or not, overlooking their sin and their iniquity.

But quite the contrary – the Scripture says if there is someone in your midst, according to Titus chapter 3, teaching error, if there is a heretic there, admonish him once, admonish him twice, and then put him out. He’s forfeited a right to lay any claim to acceptance within that unity.

The discernment lesson comes where we understand that in their televised discussion, Meyer and Moore taught unity through love, but not in doctrine. They failed to mention that there are many scriptures, and the above is just one, where the one preaching a different doctrine is to be put out…not tolerated…called to repent…confronted…handed over to satan. They failed to mark their discussion by presenting scripture on both sides of the scale. The failed to define unity, did not define the Body of Christ, and did not warn listeners about the dangers of overlooking sin and false doctrine. Discernment is about what false teachers say and what false teachers don’t say. That is the true both sides of the scale.

For example, both women talked about Luke 10, where Jesus sent 72 disciples out two by two. They said that if the disciples came to a town and were received, that was good. But it was so peaceful if they were not received because all they had to do is shake the dust off their feet. How peaceful and non-confrontational … but they did not read to the end of the passage, where Jesus said, “I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Not so peaceful after all, when Jesus said that those who reject Him and His doctrine will be judged more severely than the town that was burned to the ground in fire and brimstone.

Matthew 11:20-23 expounds more:
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

Jesus was warning those towns that failure to accept His doctrine and truths by repenting of sin and believing on Him would result in hell and permanent cursing of their town. Jesus was drawing the lines of division: who would be cursed and who would be blessed and which behavior results in both. The townspeople had accepted the miracles but rejected Jesus. Standing with one foot on both sides is not unity. Jesus was all about one or the other. Yet Moore and Meyer taught that love while overlooking doctrinal differences is all one needs to be unified. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In conclusion, Moore and Meyer taught that unity above doctrine was paramount, blindly accepting anyone who says “Jesus” is our duty, serving alongside anyone even if they have a wildly divergent belief system is OK, pursuing peace and love across all denominational lines without regard to the nuts and bolts of a person’s adherence to the bible is a given, and that to criticize one’s doctrine without spending time to get to know them is unfair.

All of the above was cloaked in loving language and even some tears at times. It seemed Christian-y, it was kind of bible-ish. But it wasn’t. It was what they did not say that was the problem.

How can a person know what someone is not saying? Know what the bible says. And listen for the whole story from your teachers.

At the end of the discussion, Moore laid the syrup on Meyer. Moore said,

“I’m astounded at the magnitude of what you’ve done, through God. I asked God how to bless you, Joyce, in my hotel room this morning. I offer you my respect. I offer you my esteem. I say to you, you are a mighty woman of God, you have run a race well.”

This should nail it for those who still may be unsure of Moore’s proclivities. Meyer is an obvious, rank heretic. For Moore to publicly lay on her esteem, respect, and proclaim Meyer a woman of God shows a massive lack of discernment or else a massively pragmatic conscience in unbelief. (2 Peter 2:3).

As an aside, we know that the last few years Moore has been reaching out to Catholics. I got curious as to what the Catholics think of Moore. There are many women Catholic forums and there is often a question from one Catholic woman to another as to the value of Moore’s studies or as a Catholic, whether one should partake of Moore’s studies. The verdict from most forums I scanned? Catholic women see Moore as biblically shallow, overly sentimental, given to emotionalism with not much bible. Their general consensus was that Moore is a motivational speaker but in no way a bible teacher. That is pretty discerning for women who aren’t even saved. Here is what one Catholic woman wrote:

Let me stress, her underlying message seems okay, but her delivery bothers me. She could write some great self-help books from a Christian perspective but her Bible study method is lacking. What bothers me: She comes up with a theory and then searches for scripture to back-up her theory. Seems backwards, but whatever. At the end of lesson 5 she asks everyone to stand up and repeat a pledge/prayer. If I’m going to make a pledge before the Lord I’d like to know what I’m pledging.

Interesting. Would that all women who are genuinely saved be so diligent about who they should follow into studies and so discerning about Beth Moore.

Another lady said Moore taught that,

“The Bible is Complete and Fully Sufficient.” Ironically, she can’t make this point without referencing 8 sources outside scripture.”

One Catholic woman on a forum inquisitive about Moore and whether her study would be profitable for her, a Catholic, said “I looked her up on Google, and found that she is a Southern Baptist speaker. The Statement of Faith of her organization was quite encouraging, as she does not include a “Bible is the Sole Source of Authority” point.”

And that says it all. If a teacher’s statement of faith page encourages people outside the faith, the teacher is doing something wrong. What is NOT there in a person’s teaching is just as important as what is.

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To gain discernment, just ask!

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments. (Psalms 119:66)

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From a news article about Joyce Meyer from 2003:

It was while at Life Christian that Meyer began one of the more unusual chapters of her early ministry.

In an audiotape series called “How to Fight the Devil and Win,” Meyer recalled how she read a book on freeing people from demons. She saw the book as a revelation from God and began what she called a “deliverance ministry,” much of it out of the family’s home on Codorniz Lane in Fenton.

“I had every person, I think, anywhere within 10 miles who had a demon come knocking at my door wanting deliverance,” she said. “And I was staying up half the night, almost every night, Dave and I were, casting out devils.”

She said she got on people’s backs and rode them “all over the house, with these demons of anger and fear and violence … you know our kids are back there sleeping and we’re in the living room screaming at demons half the night. …

In November 1998, Meyer made the big time with a cover story in Charisma & Christian Life magazine, one of the nation’s leading publications for followers of the charismatic movement. On its cover, the magazine called Meyer “America’s most popular woman minister.”

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For Further Reading:

At what point does one declare a teacher like Beth Moore false? Here’s some help.

John Stackhouse: Why I Criticize in Public

Posted in Christ follower, discernment, Jesus follower, unity

Update & Further Thoughts on Do you "follow Jesus"? Or are you "saved by Jesus?

A few days ago I wrote about the trend of the young millennials calling themselves Jesus followers instead of Christians. Jesus followers are almost uniformly young, claim that the ‘baggage’ of the label ‘Christian’ weighs down their walk, and they’d rather be in a relationship than in a religion with rules.

I liked the essay I wrote and I posted it, but I still did some research, feeling like a piece was missing from my thought process. Turns out there was. And here it is:

Church. The Body.

Millennials who claim to be following Jesus almost always leave the ecclesiology out of their walk.

This term today of ‘following Jesus’ is so common out in the world! Most millennials are spouting this. Of course there is baggage in the term Christian. Of course there are rules. That is the point, but most Millennials want the soft, gentle parts of the relationship without the hard parts of the religion. And they bristle at the doctrines of sin and judgment. Most are not saved.

Here is a short essay on the subject of Christ follower or Christian by Tyler Braun, who wrote “Why Holiness Matters” from Moody Press. His thoughts crystallized some things for me.

Christ Follower or Christian by Tyler

Spend some time on Facebook and look at the religious views of many and you will quickly learn that there is a trend to be a “Christ Follower,” “Follower of Christ,” or “Follower of Jesus” rather than a “Christian.” You might be asking why… I think this is something common in the younger generations who are unhappy with the way Christians have represented their faith in the past. So rather than being grouped with the “Christians” they’d rather keep the religion out of it in order to only follow Jesus.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this practice of denying being a “Christian” in order to be a “Christ follower” is completely wrong. About the only positive I can see is the extra emphasis on following Jesus. There are many people who do not hold to any of the basic tenets of the Christian faith who are “following Jesus.” Why is it wrong?

–It isolates. Meaning that part of being a Christ follower is being in relationship with fellow Christians, not just those who follow Jesus the way we do.

–It segregates. The Christian faith has enough division. There is no need for there to be a division in how we state what we are as believers.

That’s good. Very good.

Here is a snippet from Time Magazine reporting on the trend that also crystallized the final thoughts about this trend for me:

…some also worry that “follower of Jesus” diverts people from the fundamentals. “Two questions constantly come up,” says Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. “The first is Christology. What about the full divinity of Christ? How much can you keep that in the background? Second, what’s the role of the church in all this?”

Horse with blinkers, or blinders CC by Steve

Again, very good. Many ‘Christ followers’ are like the horse with blinders, following only the straight line ahead, one horse unto itself, unmindful of those who are next to him or behind him. To some extent we adults have caused this. Millennials go to large para-church conferences like Passion, which they believe is church but is not church. Except for their youth minister, Passion doesn’t even allow parents or adults to attend with their children! Millennials attend Rock the Universe concerts that are promoted as Praise weekends, which they believe is church but is not church. The Mars Hill mentality of music as worship they believe is church but is not church. An even to some extent, separating the youths from the regular congregation as an entity unto themselves, sequestered in their own buildings, without the benefit of older role models to view and interact with, they believe is church but often is not church.

“The church itself is a dark and modern giant auditorium, with theater-style seats, an impressive sound system, and big flat-screen TV’s everywhere. It looks like the kind of place you might see a concert in, but not somewhere you’d expect to go to church. The prominently featured indie-style rock band felt right at home here, as did the theatrics that followed.” Millennial aged Mars Hill church goer.
We’ve given them para-church, home groups, praise group weekends, Walks to Emmaus and Chrysalis, and rock concerts, so is it any wonder they reject rules, religion, worship, and submission to the church leadership? Is it any wonder they eschew the word Christian as baggage, want to ‘follow’ Christ, and go off on their own? Is it any wonder they have no clue of what it means to be part of a body submitting to leadership, and not just a singular follower blissfully doing their own thing?

Not a Christian, But a Christ-Follower? 
The downside of trying to re-brand your Christian identity

And the effort to uproot Jesus from the church makes as much sense as loving someone’s head, but not their body; or admiring Thomas Jefferson and sneering at the Constitution. Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone and head of the church. Without the people Jesus comes from, without the people Jesus births into the world, there is no Jesus. The people Jesus births into the world are called “Christian.”

We’re either all Christ followers or none of us are. We are all in a body, with Jesus as its Head. That body is called church, and church has rules as does our life. The relationship we have is to Christ, but it is also to each other. Christ followers, please heed this passage:

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Original essay: Do you “follow Jesus”? Or are you “saved by Jesus?”

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Further reading-

Liberals change word meanings with intent to deceive

The cults are infamous for perverting historically accepted biblical terms. “Is it any wonder then,” said the late Christian apologist/polemicist Dr. Walter Martin in The Riddle of Semantics, “that orthodox Christians feel called upon to openly denounce such perversions of clearly defined and historically accepted biblical terminology, and claim that the cults have no rights — scholastically, biblically, or linguistically — to redefine biblical terms as they do?” (Source)

Posted in atonement, discernment, division, unity

Unity among the body, no divisions

It is important to pursue unity. It is equally important to know exactly what unity you’re pursuing. Paul said,

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Though the liberal, the post-modernist, emerging church would like it to, the verse does not stop here:

‘I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united.’

No. Scriptures say we are to be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. Mindless unity among any person whether or not someone professes all the Gospel is not what is in view here. So what does ‘the same mind’ mean? Matthew Henry’s Commentary says,

In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy; but those disposed to be contentious, broke into parties. So liable are the best things to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions made engines of discord and contention. Satan has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as one of his chief devices against the gospel.

You see his point. Satan even uses the Gospel to divide. We must agree on the greater things and to do that, we must know what they are.

Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Much happens before two people arrive somewhere and then go forth together. They individually and then together study on where they are to go, and what they are to do, how they will get there, and at what time. How will they know where they are going unless they consult and agree, and are friends? Of first importance is that the individual agrees with God in all His statutes, and then the two who are to go walking agree with the basis for their appointment. Then they walk. No one arrives at the designated place and one says to the other, “Ready to go get our haircut?” and the other says, “But I thought we were going to the movies?” They know why they are there and where they are to go.

It is this kind of agreement that Paul has in mind in instructing the Corinthians. He doesn’t mean unite with all who profess Christ so that there will be no divisions. Divisions are inevitable and never let a post-modernist liberal tell you otherwise. The Gospel divides. (Matthew 10: 34-37; John 7: 5). Those who adhere to it are always offending those who don’t, even within the church of Christ, for there are many tares.

A mindless unity would indicate Paul was saying the Corinthians should unite with Judaizers, Gnostics, and Nicolaitans, so that the body is not divided. But uniting with false professors always divides anyway, that’s what Matthew Henry was saying when he explained that satan uses the Gospel to divide. Division is not the issue. If there are divisions over doctrine, that is good. If there is division among those who agree, it is bad. There’s a huge difference.

Biblical unity is not nor should be mindless. It is a problem when it is not of same mind and not of same judgment, meaning of the same doctrine and same discipline.

In modern days, false teachers urge us to unite with Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, any and all people who speak the name God and mention Christ, but in fact there is NO agreement behind it. We hear people say “The three Abrahamic religions” and claim “we worship the same God.” Therefore they are not of the same mind and the same judgment. They cannot go walking with a true Christian.

If those I mentioned above agree and then meet to go walking, they will find that they are in fact divided. “I thought we were going to Kolob?” The other one says, “But I thought we were headed to Purgatory?” while the third remarks, “No, I thought we were going to Mecca.” And the fourth comments “But we should go to the Western Wall and then to synagogue…” You see? They do not agree after all and should not go walking. There is no unity there.

CC photo by supernovaK

Whenever someone tells you that we should unite in order to reduce division, refer them to Paul’s full exhortation and ask what it means to be united in same mind and same judgment. And in case we ourselves are not sure, please listen to this fantastic sermon from Phil Johnson, who goes over exactly what the Gospel is, and the things of first importance that make up its necessary elements. After hearing this, you will know what it means to have same mind and same judgment with other Christians, united in His atoning, bloody death and glorious resurrection.

Things of First Importance (Phil Johnson)
1 Corinthians 15: 1-5

“Walking” by Katherine Johnson, CC photo