anthony wood, Bethel, Bible Study, biblical illiteracy, Christian Social Media, Costi Hinn, defining deception, Discernment, echo chamber, Evangelism, Extra biblical revelation, False doctrine, False teachers, False Teaching, god told me, Heresy, holy huddle, Jesus Culture, joy behar mike pence, NAR, New Apostolic Reformation, Share the Gospel, the view, Women's Bible Study
Some days you wake up and you just don’t know what to write about, and it’s a beautiful fall day – which is rare as hens’ teeth in south Louisiana – and you just don’t feel like writing, anyway. Writer’s block: it’s the bane of a blogger’s existence.
I have a Google Docs file I’ve entitled “Scratch Pad”. Whenever I get a good idea for an article, I jot down the gist of it there. Then, when it’s one of those “meh” weeks when I’m not overwhelmingly passionate about anything in particular, I can thumb through those ideas for some inspiration.
It’s one of those “meh” weeks.
I started sifting through my scratch pad, and I noticed some of those article starters had been on the list for a while, mostly because they could really be addressed in a paragraph or two and didn’t need to be stretched out into a whole article.
(Are you bored, yet? I feel like you’re bored. I’m already bored and I’m the one writing this thing.)
So today is going to be a “clean out the fridge” day with some short random ramblings and ruminations on a variety of topics, with maybe a helpful resource thrown in here and there if I think about it. I’m just going to set it all out there on the counter and, hopefully, you’ll see something that looks appetizing.
This may or may not become a regular (monthly or every other month or whenever) feature. I don’t know. It depends on how often I wake up feeling “meh” and whether or not y’all like it, so shoot me some feedback on this one, and we’ll go from there.
Helloooooooo? Is anybody still with me?
I see that hand!
Here we go…
The apostle Paula
There’s this…lady…on Twitter. She’s very sincere and passionate about her theology – most of which seems to be pretty doctrinally sound. I have no doubt that she has the best of intentions with her tweets, and that she’s a sister in Christ, but…well, let’s just say she has some…um…issues…which, at this point, she’s not willing to be discipled out of. She’s kind of a Servus Christi meets Steven Anderson meets Westboro (so EVERYTHING SHE TWEETS IS IN ALL CAPS AND VERY EXTREME AND INTENSE) but with fairly decent theology.
A while back, she asked me something along the lines of (I forgot to bookmark her question to me) what I thought of the way she presented the gospel to the lost (which included a lot of in depth Reformed theological concepts). This was my answer to her, in case it might be helpful to you…
OK, everything you’ve said is technically biblically correct and that’s really good! But it’s not just about having the facts right. If you want to be an effective witness you have to have the facts right AND the right approach. And I know you want to be effective- also good!
If I could just offer you a few things to think about:
–Reformed theology is great. I believe it. I think everybody should believe it. But lost people aren’t going to get it (1 Corinthians 2:14). They aren’t going to understand terms like sheep, elect, justification, etc., and that’s OK. They can learn that after they’re saved. I would suggest finding a way to simplify – not water down – just explain things in a simpler way that even a child could understand: “God is perfect and holy. You’re not because you’ve sinned by lying, coveting, etc. The punishment for sin is an eternity in Hell. Jesus paid the penalty for your sin by His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection so you don’t have to spend eternity in Hell. If you turn sorrowfully from your sin and trust in His finished work on the cross, He will save and forgive you.” Something like that.
–It could just be the way you’re coming across on Twitter, and maybe you don’t sound like this in real life, but you’re coming across as judgmental and condemning rather than, “I love you and I can’t bear the thought of you continuing in this life or in eternity without Jesus.” Most people today are really looking for somebody to love them. It’s like the old saying goes: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
–I think it would be better to leave off the persecution part [she had included something in the gospel presentation about how Christians should expect to be harshly persecuted], NOT because it isn’t true, but because repentance and trusting Christ is overwhelming enough for the moment. Persecution is not something we hide and we definitely don’t go the other way and tell people everything will be awesome if they get saved, but you don’t want to put a fire hose up to the mouth of a baby who can barely handle a bottle, either.
She didn’t agree with me, said I was peddling a seeker-driven, watered down gospel that would send people to Hell, and decided she needed to harass me on a regular basis, so, unfortunately, I had to part ways with her. Eh, what can you do? 🤷
A book report
My reading habits have been terrible over the past couple of years. I blame social media and TV. (Embarrassingly, that’s one of the main reasons that, with extremely rare exception, I don’t write solicited book reviews.)
But I had been wanting to get my hands on Costi Hinn’s and Anthony Wood’s book, Defining Deception, ever since it first came out. I finally got around to ordering it, I just finished reading it, and now I want to commend it to you.
It’s good. Get it. Read it.
If your church uses Bethel or Jesus Culture music, give a copy to your pastor and minister of music. (Actually, get all of your pastors copies anyway. It’s Pastor Appreciation Month, and I don’t know a pastor who doesn’t love a good book.)
First of all, it’s short. I mean, if it were any shorter, it would be a booklet, not a book. So even if you’re a reading schlub like me, you could finish it in under a week. Some of you book nerds could sit down and finish it in a couple of hours.
It’s basically a primer on the New Apostolic Reformation, using Bethel as the iconic NAR exemplar (which it is). You get a history of the NAR including key figures in its founding and growth, an explanation of the theological problems and heresies within the movement, a brief course in basic pneumatology, several appendices which answer more specific questions readers might have, and more. And it’s all helpfully written at a level any Joe or Jane in the pew without a seminary degree can understand.
This NAR garbage is making its way into average churches like yours. Read up and be prepared.
Remember earlier this year when Vice President Pence had made some sort of comment about God speaking to him and The View’s maven of mockery, Joy Behar, chortled:
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing for Jesus to talk to you. That’s mental illness…”
(I told you some of this stuff had been sitting in the hopper for a while.)
It pains me to have to say this because I despise everything Joy stands for, as well as her smug, derisive, self-righteous, condescending, supercilious, insulting attitude toward anything conservative or Christian, but unless Brother Mike was talking about God speaking to Him through Scripture…
…she was technically right.
Ouch. That hurt more than I thought it would.
Now, hang on before you start hurling those stones at me. I’m not saying that otherwise sane people who think they’re hearing God speak to them are mentally ill. They’re theologically wrong, but they’re not insane.
Here’s where she’s technically correct. In the era in which Joy came of age – before everybody and their dog started receiving extra-biblical revelation – if you were hearing voices in your head that nobody else could hear, whether you said it was God, or the devil, or Elvis talking to you, you were carted off to to a nice little institution and sedated. Heavily.
I happen to know this because when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in psychology (toward the end of that era), I did a lot of course work in abnormal psych (no idea where I was going with that, I just found it gruesomely interesting) and hearing non-existent voices telling you what to do was one of the criteria that pointed toward a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis.
I don’t know if Joy or anybody else mentioned that, but that was my first impression of her comment about mental illness. I’ve been saying the same thing ever since I was in college- if Christians keep claiming they’re hearing God speak audibly to them, the world is going to start thinking they’re crazy. Because when it comes down to the price of eggs, there’s no outwardly demonstrable difference between observing a sane person hearing God tell her what to do and observing a schizophrenic hearing God tell her what to do. In the world’s eyes- why are we calling the first person a Christian and the second person insane?
Just one more reason to stick to sola Scriptura and the sufficiency of Scripture.
Is there an echo in here?
Sometimes I think social media has warped people’s brains.
Let me ask you something: If a pugnacious stranger knocked on your front door and started yelling at you, insulting you, and spewing all kinds of unbiblical garbage, would you welcome him into your living room with a humble smile on your face and put up with being treated that way on the off chance that you might learn something from his perspective on the issue, or to prove to others how open-minded you are?
Yeah, I wouldn’t either. In fact, I’d lock the door and probably call the police.
And yet those very people (and various SuperChristians who are apparently way more spiritually mature than I am, at least in their own opinion) demand that that kind of behavior be graciously tolerated and accepted on Twitter and Facebook, sneeringly accusing those of us who either refuse to engage with them, or block them, of living in a little “Christian bubble” or “holy huddle” or “echo chamber”.
Look, if you’re on social media for the purpose of verbally abusing people who think differently from you or to argue with strangers, I guess that’s your business (although if you claim to be a Christian you need to stop doing those things and repent), but that’s not why I’m on social media.
I’m on social media to keep up with far away friends and family, to promote my ministry, to help people I can help (who want to be helped), and to network and fellowship with like-minded Believers.
I’ve had lots of wonderful conversations with kind and polite people – Believers and unbelievers – who see things differently than I do, and I’m all for that.
But I’m not going to engage with rude, abusive people who are out looking for a fight. I’m just not. That would ruin the enjoyment I get out of social media. And if you want to call that “living in an echo chamber”, go right ahead. That doesn’t shame me in the least. I have nothing to prove about my level of open-mindedness and there’s nothing in Scripture that says I have to engage with people like that or subject myself to their abuse in order for God to consider me loving or tolerant or open-minded. The End.
A plea to the pastors
One of my recent Twitter threads:
Pastors- The women of your church need to be taught how to properly handle/study the Bible itself. Not Bible study books/DVDs – the Bible.
Many of them are so biblically ignorant I can’t explain to them why their favorite teacher is a false teacher because they have no frame of reference for comprehending such a thing and therefore just assume I’m (or anyone else who warns them is) being mean and hateful. They believe anything the false teacher says, not because she’s biblical, but because they like her and she makes them feel good.
For. the. love. please stop depending on canned studies (even the few doctrinally sound ones out there) in your women’s Bible study/Sunday school classes and get someone to teach who actually knows how to teach God’s Word and can teach them how to study God’s Word for themselves at home.
They are falling for false doctrine either because no one has properly taught them the gospel and they’re false converts or because they don’t know enough of the Bible to know that what they’re hearing conflicts with God’s Word. I can’t even simply tell women to compare what they’re hearing to Scripture because they have no idea what that means, why they should do it, or how to do it.
Don’t just assume they know the gospel or know their Bibles or are getting what you’re preaching. Some of them are not. A lady I know recently told me how excited she was about the new Joyce Meyer book she had just ordered. This was after three years of her faithfully sitting under doctrinally sound preaching. You’ve got to be intentional and proactive and make sure they are being properly trained in God’s Word.
I know I’m preaching to the choir with most of the pastors who follow me and are already doing a great job of training the women in your church. But if you could just double check to make sure. Please. We’re losing a generation of women to “feel-ology” and it breaks my heart.