Counterfeit vs Truth

A few years ago I wrote a lot about the false beliefs and practices of extreme charismatics. Recently I’ve been writing quite a bit about the equally false beliefs of cessationists.

I see these vastly different groups as the opposite sides of the SAME counterfeit coin – a coin minted to dishonour the Holy Spirit.

Almost five years ago I wrote the following article. It seems relevant enough to recent discussion to repost it and add the question: How much do we genuinely desire the Truth?

TRUTH or Tolerance and Compromise?

(originally posted here 26 May 2009 http://onefiles.blogspot.com.au/2009/05/truth-or-tolerance-and-compromise.html )

17 jan 2It is becoming increasing evident that the teachings of men have replaced the authority of scripture in the church’s theological foundations. The evidence has become overwhelming. Rather than accept and trust scripture, people will go to all kinds of lengths to explain why it doesn’t mean what it is clearly saying.

We have Calvinism redefining salvation and the means by which God has made it available. Then there are the extreme charismatics who have redefined signs and wonders and have turned God’s love into an expression of His desperation to be accepted. And what about the “extreme prophetic” and the “New Apostolic Reformation”? They’ve created new definitions of the prophetic and apostolic.

No matter which direction we turn there’s someone trying to improve on the truth God has provided in His written word.

I don’t know how many feel the same kind of frustration that I’ve been experiencing increasingly over the last year. From regular involvement with a variety of blogs and forums I’m coming across more and more people who are content to tolerate clear cut doctrinal error.
The first clear (recent) examples came in response to concerns about Todd Bentley and his Lakeland “revival”. No matter how weird and perverse things became there were always those who jumped up to defend what was happening. No matter how aberrant the preaching; no matter how many flaky prophecies were given; no matter how much occultic mysticism was mixed with a sampling of bible quotes – there was always a stridently vocal cheer squad singing the “revival’s” praises and condemning the ‘heresy hunters”.
Even Bentley’s open immorality was not enough to open the eyes of many. Instead the support continues.

But the modern day charismanic circus is only one aspect of the problem. The deceiver knows that you can’t tempt everyone with the same flavours. There are other things he provides for the unwary to taste. Those without a sweet tooth, who are not attracted to fluffy, sugary carnival treats, might prefer something a bit meatier; something with more substance. While the extreme charismatics prefer a scripture-lite approach that shuns “traditional interpretations”, others cling to traditional teachings as if they have the authority of scripture itself. They prize scripture – as long as it’s been filtered through a trained and ordained intermediary. We are made to think scripture is beyond the average believer and contains mysteries that are best left to those more qualified to seek out its truths.
And so centuries’ old traditions are passed from generation to generation and defended ferociously should they be challenged.

My personal journey over this last year (and more) has included experience with these opposite extremes of Christian tradition. One group interprets scripture through a centuries old theological system while the other group seems to make things up as they go along.

One group gives lip service to the authority of scripture while in reality authority is given to their theological tradition and how IT interprets scripture.
The other group gives lip service to scripture while in reality giving authority to spiritual experiences and glib clichés.

One group esteems long dead theologians the other adores the flamboyant man (or woman) of the hour.

In these different groups it seems that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are pitted against each other. One is governed by established doctrines, and interprets scripture according to those doctrines. The other is governed by “the Spirit” and interprets scripture according to “spiritual” revelation.

There are obviously some very distinct and irreconcilable differences between these two groups. And yet they have at least one common factor. Both in reality have applied some kind of condition to their approach to scripture that takes away the average believer’s relationship with God’s word. Those average believers are TOLD what can be believed and how it should be believed. They are told that scripture doesn’t necessarily mean what it seems to mean, promoting the understanding that a (traditionally) college trained or a (charismatically) anointed teacher is required to convey what scripture really saying.

Of course, the extent of how this affects the church is immense and it would be impossible to go into every aspect of the problem. But to the person who wants to know and understand the truth, and is willing to spend the time and make the effort required, the truth is easily accessible. Everyone reading this blog has the means and the ability to search the scriptures for themselves because they can obviously read. But are they willing to utilise that ability?

To a great degree we have been conditioned to believe that scripture is hard to understand and that we need someone to explain it all and to share its hidden secrets. We lack confidence. But we should recognise that it is not only a lack of confidence in ourselves – we are lacking confidence in the God who desires to make Himself known through the revelation of scripture. We lack confidence in the One who promised to send His Spirit to be our teacher, and we lack confidence in His Spirit’s ability and willingness to teach us.

The conditioning process that has distanced us from scripture has also worked by giving us an expectation of how scripture should be approached. Our exposure to scripture has been through “texts” – often meaning isolated verses that are expounded upon at length by an appointed teacher of the word. In most cases little attention is given to context and meaning is given to the selected “text” that indicates some kind of special insight has been needed to get to what was really meant by that text.
Through this experience, we ourselves then try to delve into parts of scripture according to the same method used by the teacher. We dig around and try to find the deeper things hidden within those parts of scripture. And this is usually done before the student has developed even a rudimentary understanding of how the whole bible fits together, and what its overall revelation is about.
There is little understanding of how God has related to mankind throughout history and there is little understanding about the significance of God’s relationship with Israel. To most believers, the Old Testament account is a total mystery – beyond a few half remembered stories of certain bible characters.

Now I’ve waffled on and on about this for long enough. A lot of it I’ve touched upon before on this blog and on others. But is the message getting through? Is what I’m saying having any effect?
It seems not. From what I’ve read elsewhere people are quite content to cling to their personal traditions and to tolerate the traditions of others. Relativism is alive and thriving within the “church” and it has been demonstrated time and again in some of the responses my writings have received.
While I have made it abundantly clear that I am totally opposed to Calvinism and its abhorrent “doctrines of grace” – those Calvinists that have been most ferocious in their responses to me have at least shown a devotion to those things that they believe. They recognise the exclusivity of their beliefs and see little room for compromise. The same can not be said for so many others who demonstrate (though they would surely deny it) that they accept the relativity of “truth” – that what is true for one person is okay for that person, and what is true for me is okay for me. There is a clear opposition to any idea of bringing correction to others – such actions would be seen as divisive, and it seems like division should be avoided at all costs, even if it meant compromising on the truth.

Recently I have seen time and again how people will twist scripture in every direction possible to avoid accepting what it clearly states. All kinds of mental and logical gymnastics are performed to come to an understanding that contradicts or ignores what would be unavoidable if only the actual words of scripture were accepted for what they actually said.
Why do so many persist with this wilful blindness? And why do so many let them persist, all in the name of keeping the peace?

The Whole Truth Or Its Nothing Like the Truth!

Word_2A few years ago, I went through a time of re-evaluating my understanding of scripture. I saw it being used very legalistically and reacted against that practice. I began to question the idea that scripture should be called the “word of God” and received a very harsh backlash from a few members of a forum I frequented, even though I didn’t deny the authority and inspiration of scripture.
Essentially I now think most of the argument was more about semantics and terminology than honestly addressing the nature of scripture.

Not long after this I came face to face with another view point, where scripture was taken extremely lightly and was seen as being secondary to the “voice of the Spirit”. It led to all kinds of strange beliefs and practices and attempts to bring correction through appeals to scripture were dismissed.

These experiences showed me the dangers of extremes.
One extreme takes every word as being individually God inspired and therefore containing the full authority of God. It leads to taking individual verses out of their intended context and trying to apply them in some way in our lives. It reduces scripture to a collection of instructions or individual stand-alone truths that must be held in all circumstances regardless of intended context.

The other extreme sees scripture as out-dated and almost irrelevant because we now have the Spirit to teach and guide, we just need to follow His leading. Of course that relationship with the Spirit is true (or should be) – but part of His Spiritual leading comes through the scriptures He inspired. We can’t cast aside His previous revelation as being no longer relevant in order to follow a “new” thing totally separated from revelation already provided.

A dangerous side of this is found in the SELECTIVE approach to scripture where some think they can pick and choose which parts are relevant today, which parts are REALLY inspired, and which parts are not. This often leads to adding new “truths” in place of scripture and progresses to practices and beliefs contrary to the scriptural revelation of God’s character. Look up the antics of people like Todd Bentley and John Crowder to see examples of this.

I am convinced that scripture needs to be seen as a whole revelation and reliance on “texts” needs to end. We at least need a basic overview of the bible. I see that is much more important than familiarity with individual “memory verses”. How do the Bible’s parts fit together? How does the story of God’s relationship with mankind progress from creation (Genesis) right through to the end of the book of Revelation?
Where do the prophets fit into the history? During which period were they prophesying? Pre-exile, post-exile, or during the exile? We don’t need to be experts on these things, but a little knowledge of the flow of scripture and how different parts relate to each other helps increase our understanding of God and His purposes: in other words what scripture is REALLY revealing.

Additionally I have seen the importance of recognising what scripture ACTUALLY says; accepting it literally unless context makes it clear that other meaning should be sought (clear symbolism for example or things expressed as poetry).

Too often people ignore the literal message because it challenges what they want to believe. They then choose to interpret what they read to make it more palatable.

Truth and Lies: Consequences

A long time ago I said the Todd Bentley “revival” was a clear dividing line. It was so far from the truth that it was no longer deception. It was a clear choice between truth and lie.

I see the same thing being displayed with the Obama situation. I have seen “christians” accepting and promoting clear and blatant lies about Obama, and even when evidence is show to prove they have been wrong, they choose to hold onto the lies.

That is a serious situation with eternal consequences.

I am not a supporter of Obama and this has nothing to do with political preference.

14 Blessed (happy and to be envied) are those who cleanse their garments, that they may have the authority and right to [approach] the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the city.

15 [But] without are the dogs and those who practice sorceries (magic arts) and impurity [the lewd, adulterers] and the murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and deals in falsehood (untruth, error, deception, cheating).

Revelation 22:14-16 (AMP)

Holy Laughter and the Toronto Legacy: a few thoughts

I can’t really comment on what happened at the beginning of the Toronto thing. I was distanced from it by almost a decade. I’ve only seen the fruit that came out of it many years later.

What could have started with a genuine experience of God moved on to something that clearly wasn’t of God. Man has a tendency to take things into his own hands and try to control them; to make them work at will, turning relationship into procedure, hoping to bring about an expected outcome on demand.

Laughter in a church context was around long before Toronto (there are several historical examples). It also happened in a church that I used to attend. I was there from the late 70s and most of the 80s. The laughing happened before I had joined them and it wasn’t widespread. It affected a small number of people and it was seen as a spontaneous outpouring of joy from young, new believers. No one tried to make it into something that ought to be experienced by all.

Things may have worked out differently if the church leadership had turned their focus onto the laughter and had encouraged everyone else to join in. Maybe the “Toronto blessing” would have come two decades earlier (in the 70s) and be known as the “Wollongong Blessing”.

But I think there were some big changes over the next two decades that made the Pentecostal/charismatic church more open to exaggerating those experiences beyond any initial Divine involvement. It probably couldn’t have gone to the same extremes (and so widespread) in the 1970s or before.

These days NOTHING done by “Christians” and claimed as the work of the Holy Spirit would surprise me. While Toronto itself may no longer have the same prominent profile, it spawned several influential descendants who continue to spread a  gospel different to the one preached by Jesus and the apostles. Those churches accept and promote all manner of new and not so wonderful things, attributing them to the Holy Spirit even when those thing are at odds with His character – note: there’s a clue to His character in His name.

Elijah? No Way!!!

Please please make the time to read the excellent document here.

27 pages of a personal testimony full of insight and wisdom.

“My 7 Years Working for the Elijah List” By Kevin Kleint

http://www.honorofkings.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/My-7-Years-Working-for-the-Elijah-List.pdf

Also see here if you’d like to make comment on Kevin’s site.:

http://www.honorofkings.org/elijahlist/

 

Some Prefer Wolves

Todd Bentley continues his assault on the truth.

see the article linked below:

Todd Bentley Kicks and Punches the Sick at God’s Command, British MP Seeks to Ban Him

If a little voice in the back of your head told you to kick a woman in the face, most of us would quickly suppress the idea. But for Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries, who is also a televangelist covered with body tattoos and facial piercings, that voice is none other than the voice of God.

See full article here:

 http://bannerministries.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/dont-support-this-clown/

 

Around the time of  Bentley’s “revival” at Lakeland I became aware of a clear dividing line where the difference between doctrinal and prophetic truth and falsehood was so obvious that people were no longer being deceived. They were willingly choosing a clearly false path. That  willing choice continues today.

People choose the lie instead of the truth because they are not interested in the Truth.

I’ve seen this happening time and again where CLEARLY false doctrine, practices and prophecies are promoted and defended.

There is no need to bother with sheep’s clothing when so many people clearly prefer wolves.

We ALL have a decision to make. Where are our hearts focused?
Do we have a love of the truth?
Or do we prefer something else?

God will honour our choice between the two.