Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Truth Matters: 7 Pastoral Pieces Of Advice On False Teachers

Some very dear friends of ours who are also strong supporters of the ministry here graciously provided to my wife and I free tickets to a popular annual Bible conference sponsored by Precept Ministries International, a Bible teaching ministry founded by the legendary Kay Arthur. Kay and her faithful staff have devoted themselves quietly and passionately to teaching how to inductively study the Bible and glean truth from it in a balanced and reasonable way that helps ground Christians in solid Biblical understanding. I have lived in Tennessee for over 20 years and have encountered hundreds of people who have been deeply enriched by her work - even though I myself have never read her work nor done any of her studies, although I've glanced through several of them. Theirs is a blessed and wonderful ministry doing perhaps more good than any of us will ever realize this side of heaven.

I have long incorporated inductive study into my own devotional life, and while it may not be follow the same pattern as a Precept study, the results, I believe have been the same. My rooting and grounding in the Word of God has been the only thing that has kept me focused all the while beholding the seductions and deceptions of so many across the years, from Alice Bailey's metaphysical Maitreyan babble to Paula White's godtalk about Christians being "elohim" .. to God alone be the Glory, for in Him alone is Truth.

Among the many wonderful teachings that various Christian ministers and speakers shared there was a choice talk called "Truth Matters" by a fine Christian pastor I'd never heard of before by the name of Crawford Loritts. It was a sobering pastoral warning on how false teaching wielded by false teachers has become a powerful force that has laid waste the faith of so many believers who were caught unaware by it. Based out of Romans 16:17-20, it was a great talk that, suddently, became absolutely absorbing when the good Pastor Loritts smiled and advised us that he had something further to say to us" "This isn't in the powerpoint .. here's seven pieces of advise about false teaching .."

For the next 20 minutes, Pastor Loritts shared from a deep well of experienced contention with deceptive teachers and teachings that deserves to be remembered. He recalled how a cultic group penetrated a fellowship gathering of black ministers in Chicago in 1981 and had to be squarely dealt with. He revealed a rich mine of dearly bought pastoral warning every Christian believer needs to memorize, incorporate and pass on. And for me, what was so striking is Loritts' depth of insight on how deceptive teaching uses the dimension of interpersonal relationships to magnify itself .. a growth medium upon which the social diseases of cultic mind control and religious abuse thrive. Had more Christians who have become cult members been made aware of these, the predations of the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Moonies, Remnant Fellowship "saints" and a host of other "Bible cults" would have far fewer successes.

But enough of my rambling. Let the good Pastor Loritts share : these were gleaned from notes I took of his talk on August 17:

1) Be careful of people you don't know who want to go immediately into intimate communication with you.

2) Be careful of those who want you to disclose more about yourself than they are willing to disclose about themselves.

3) Be careful of those who use experiences, special insights and new kinds of information to control you.

4) Be careful of those who promote a teaching or an emphasis not widely accepted by the church or mature believers.

5) Be careful of those who seem to isolate you from family and friends through their contacts with you and their new circles of associates.

6) Don't give control of your mind and thought to anyone but the Lord - "loyalty" should never be considered to be blind obedience.

7) Never stop seeking true, honest fellowship with healthy and mature Christians who don't practice any of the above.

Say amen, somebody. You can get a CD copy of this talk by contacting Precept at the link above. That's better preaching in 1 hour then you'd hear in several on TBN or in a BYU Chapel.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Sign Of The End Time Apostasy: Very Bad Theology On Church Signs

"Discouragement is faith in the devil!"

This kind of jolting and confrontational rhetoric, based upon a certain and all too familiar black and white worldview found in Evangelical circles as well as in the Word of Faith Movement, was seen posted on a church sign erected outside a large church as Joy and I returned from Chattanooga. We won't say where the church is to spare them from any further embarassment, but it's a well known one in the area here.

It's the kind of thing you'd expect to hear from a bellicose, fire tongued preachin' clone of Gregory Dickow, Joyce Meyers or Kenneth Copeland whose endless verbosity about faith includes harangues like this one seen on the sign. I've heard Faith teachers fill their homespun homilies with provocative statements like these meant to jar their starry eyed disciples on to newer depths of commitment to the concepts of "faith" they push ("You'll be hung by your tongue!" "Have faith in your faith!" etc.). I've seen this kind of stuff planted firmly in the "outreach" of Faith church's signs posted for all the world to see and be "inspired" by.

The core thought that this church thought important enough to shout out to the whole community around it seems to be that if someone is discouraged, as if that wasn't bad enough, they've committed a horrifying abomination. If someone is struggling in faith or is depressed by their situation, despairing of whatever issue faces them, the sign screams that they actually are abandoning God and exercising faith in the person, power and principles of Old Scratch himself, the devil. The implications of this are absolutely beyond belief, an unconscionably direct assault on the hearts and minds of those who drive by this church every day. If being discouraged means I've become allied with the minions of Satan by a so-called "faith" in him, then the entire world at some point apostasizes simply by surrendering to human nature. Everyone goes through this as the common lot of mankind, including Biblical figures like David and Job, the apostles' of Jesus' day and so many others. This has never apparently mattered to Faith teachers who unblushingly go on to criticize, insult and deride those who offer any kind of objection to those fantasies they pass off as cutting edge expositions of spiritual reality.

The absurdity of this position is beyond question - it says that to fall to one's human weakness is Satanic. Who will visit a church or accept its' ministry with that kind of thinking brazenly posted outside its doors?

But it gets even better .. well, actually WORSE. What makes this fascinating is that the church WASN'T Pentecostal or Charismatic, but is a large Baptist church, part of an Evangelical movement that claims a fidelity to Scripture and Biblical truth above question. This church's "outreach" sign has a theology that says that to be human and feel disappointment, discouragement and despair is not only unspiritual but is a sign of allegience to Satan himself, thus adding the lowest kind of insult to injury. I guess this church thought this was meant to inspire and edify. Personally, I think it to be arrogantly insensitive and spiritually immature AT BEST .. and it speaks volumes about just how shortsightedly stupid Christian "faith" can seem when trying to make a statement in the marketplaces of the world.

I'm a minister. I believe in the Body of Christ. There's a lot of wonderful and truly inspirational things going on in world missions, discipleship and church growth as well as evangelistic outreach that show that for all of our warts, the Church is indeed still moving forward with the business of the Kingdom of God on the royal road to Heaven. But this nauseatingly sign, however, is a great illustration of how many speed bumps and potholes are on the way .. and how incredibly bad the Church still is at sounding out clear messages to a world that looks to it, sees this kind of junk, and looks the other way. I am sure that is precisely what this church, unintentionally, is doing even as we speak.