By Marsha West
Evangelicalism as a movement is rushing headlong toward theological ambiguity, which is another way of saying apostasy. ~ Michael Horton
The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God. ~ R.C. Sproul
At one time the word evangelical was used to differentiate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Church. For decades evangelicals were often identified with the right-wing of the Republican party as well as the Christian Right. But that ain’t necessarily so anymore.
At one time most evangelicals were primarily interested in electing candidates with Judeo-Christian values….until Purpose-driven pragmatism slithered into the visible Church. Just like the typical pragmatist, Christian pragmatists hold that “the value of something is established by its practicality, functionality, and usefulness. Therefore, that which is impractical is rejected as having lesser value or no value as compared to that which works. Pragmatism has been considered in various fields of study such as law, politics, psychology, religion, and education.” (Source)
So now there’s a battle brewing between the conservatives and the pragmatists. Conservatives insist on applying the “values voter” litmus test to candidates while pragmatists insist on supporting candidates who, they believe, would tenaciously push the conservative agenda through Congress. A candidate’s morals and character is of no particular concern.
Just to be clear, the pragmatist will always insist on compromise.
A Witch’s Brew
Several years ago I penned a piece that I hoped would help explain the downgrade in the Church. I thought supermarket shopping would be a clever way to paint a word picture. In my piece I pointed out that there’s a “diabolically inspired supermarket of truth and error in the postmodern Church.” So take a stroll with me, once again, up and down the aisles as we shop for the ingredients to make Syncretism Stew….
Aisle 1-Mysticism Madness;
Aisle 2-Charismatic Confusion;
Aisle 3-Pentecostal Pandemonium;
Aisle 4-Enlightened Emergents;
Aisle 5-Purpose-driven Pragmatism;
Aisle 6-Secular Strategies…to suck in seekers;
Aisle 7-Twelve-steps…to “group think”
Aisle 8-Preposterous Pop Psychology
Aisle 9-Discernment Disintegration
Aisle 10-Predatory Pastors.
On and on it goes.
And I added this reminder:
The Body of Christ trusts its Shepherds to feed them healthy nutritious foods, yet many of them are literally starving their sheep to death! A diet of “Bible Light” does not nourish the soul – it causes spiritual malnutrition! A shepherd’s job is to lead the flock in Christian life and faith. (Source)
Tragic, isn’t it?
Loose Definitions of Evangelical
Syncretism in evangelicalism started happening when elements of various religious beliefs were integrated into mainline denominations. As syncretism spreads, creeds, confessions and doctrine get tossed aside resulting in a fundamental change of beliefs. When Truth declines, false teaching flourishes. The wily serpent uses syncretism to separate God from His people.
Before I move away from syncretism, I want to stress that evangelicals have been assimilated into the world because of it. More on how assimilation happens in a moment.
So, has evangelical lost its meaning as some suggest? Or is it still possible to nail down the term? The answer is yes and yes. But in order to fully understand what it means we must go back in time to when the movement first began. It is my hope that after reading this article with the simply stated facts it contains and perusing the research articles which are linked, the reader will come to know what evangelical originally stood for; likewise, those who identify as “evangelical Christian” will know if they can truthfully make that claim.
Uber liberal Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein wrote a piece entitled “Why Donald Trump is tearing evangelicals apart.” In it she quotes David Kinnaman, president of the Christian research firm Barna. “Loose definitions of ‘evangelical,’” says Boorstein, “have ballooned the group’s size from a more accurate 7 to 11 percent of the U.S. population to roughly a quarter. Author of a new book about how conservative Christians feel sidelined, Kinnaman said he has talked with and appeared before thousands of people in recent weeks on his book tour “and I’ve not found a single person supporting Trump. How is he a thing among evangelicals?”
According to Boorstein:
Kinnaman said this election “is the most tribal election we’ve ever seen” and will redraw future evangelical lines. Institutional evangelicalism, he said, doesn’t want this because they like the political and cultural power that comes with being perceived as huge.
But, he said, “We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We want to be big, but not too big as to be associated with all that’s wrong with Christianity.”
Kinnaman’s recent experience where he couldn’t find a conservative Christian that supported Donald Trump could be representative of much larger population. I’ll leave that question and the 2016 election until part 2.
What Evangelicals Believe And Why They Believe It
By definition an evangelical is a Bible believing Christian. A true evangelical holds that Scripture is the infallible, inerrant, inspired by the Holy Spirit Word of God. The written Word is the authority by which he lives his life – his “final court of arbitration,” so to speak.
A true evangelical holds to the essential doctrines of the faith which are:
- The Deity of Christ
- Salvation by grace alone
- Resurrection of Christ
- The gospel
- Jesus is the only way to salvation
- Jesus’ virgin birth
- The doctrine of the Trinity
A true evangelical believes the Bible’s teaching on sin and repentance:
We are saved from our sins by trusting in Christ, who bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet 2:24)–not by ceasing sin and doing what is right. When we receive Christ (John 1:12) we are then justified by faith (Rom. 3:28, 4:5, 5:1), and it is the work of God to regenerate us which then enables us to turn from our sins. Therefore, repentance is the result of regeneration (salvation)–not the cause of it. (Source)
In the early stages of the evangelical movement professing evangelicals held the view that Christ had commissioned His followers to evangelize unbelievers through the preaching of the Gospel — salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2:8) The term for this is the Great Commission:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Mat 28:16-20) See also Acts 1:8 and 1 Peter 3:15
The true evangelical Christian believes and acts appropriately on all of the above.
An excerpt from a piece titled “The Alignment of New Evangelicals with Apostasy” expands on who an evangelical is and comments on changes that have been occurring over the past 50 plus years to individuals who are categorized as such:
A person calling himself Evangelical is professing to be committed to the Gospel of Christ as proclaimed in Scripture. The true Gospel demands separation from all who teach another Gospel. As the Apostle declared, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” … “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Without such separation the name Evangelical signifies nothing. “New Evangelicalism”, which willingly compromises with and accommodates another Gospel, has gained ground everywhere, beginning in the early 1960s. Since then, the Evangelical world has changed beyond recognition.
What many people are unaware of is that the word evangelical has been hijacked by liberals/progressives who make no bones about the fact that they out right reject some of the essential doctrines of the faith mentioned above. Because they’re liberals or, as they prefer, post-evangelicals, they deem the Bible’s moral decrees old-fashioned, out-of-date, passé. Moreover, they no longer try to present the Gospel of Christ as a truth claim as they’re partial to a more relative understanding of truth. Because post-evangelicals are steeped in political correctness and pragmatism, they’d never dream of pushing their religious views on someone else, thus they choose not to share the Gospel with the lost. To them it’s no big deal for Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims to remain in their religion for the reason that, to enter heaven, trusting in Christ for salvation isn’t a “must” despite the fact that Jesus clearly stated: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) When Jesus said “No one,” He meant no one.
Many post-evangelicals are universalists. The universalist believes that God so loved the world that He intends to save everybody who ever lived; likewise, upon death each and every one of us loveable creatures will join Him in heaven – and that includes the unrepentant sinner who hasn’t trusted in Christ for salvation. Hell? Haha, the joke’s on those nasty fundamentalist Christians who believe in it. Hell doesn’t exist, say many post-evangelicals.
It should come as no surprise that post-evangelicals support left wing political policies and causes. In fact, many of them hold the opposite views of conservative evangelicals. For example, they support abortion on demand…gun control…the LGBT’s radical agenda which includes same-sex “marriage”…redistribution of wealth…women’s equality…oppose capital punishment…social justice causes…the list goes on.
Confusing isn’t it? The point I’m making is that in this culture when someone says “I’m an evangelical,” it doesn’t really tell us anything.
In Evangelicals Are Politically Irrelevant Fay Voshell helps us to better understand our confusion while at the same time reflecting on how we got to where we now are:
The evangelical call to confront the corruption of culture rather than to rationalize and to assimilate it has been badly weakened over decades. Many evangelicals have absorbed and imitated the celebrity and secularist political culture, swimming with the tide rather than against it.
How did the assimilation of evangelicals into the secularist word happen?
It happened much as the Hellenization of the Jews of the Diaspora occurred. Alexander the Great and his successors insisted Jews assimilate into Greek culture. Circumcision, a religious rite considered barbaric mutilation by the Greeks, was forbidden; Jewish youths were expected to compete naked in Greek games; Jewish holidays were renamed and celebration of them forbidden. Under Antiochus, the Torah was banned under threat of death, and the Sabbath was not to be observed. Much pressure was put on the Jews, who were considered an indigestible cultural subgroup as long as they retained their religious differences, to convert to Greek ways. Many did, seeing that if success was to be had in the Seleucid world, capitulation to Greek mores was necessary. (emphasis added)
Christians in America have been under similar pressure. They have seen their children forbidden to read the bible in public schools, forced to accept “gender free” bathrooms in which ten-year-old girls are to share restroom facilities with grown men who have declared themselves women; seen their holiday celebrating the birth of Christ turned into a secularist Saturnalia; watched as their college-age youths are ordered to stomp on pictures of Jesus, and seen their children forced to study and to recite the tenets of the Muslim faith.
At work, evangelicals are under constant pressure to be silent about their faith and to stifle talk of sexual morality under threat of losing their jobs or businesses because of so-called “hate speech.” It has been easier to stay silent or to capitulate to the multicultural, secularist world view.
In large numbers, evangelicals have surrendered rather than fight.
I’ll wind this up with a quote from Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure:
Christian authenticity is a set of marks of genuineness. Christ said that we can tell false Christians from real Christians by their fruit. There is fruit that real Christians produce that false Christians cannot. Even those who are in the fires of tribulation, fighting deadly battles against their sin nature will be growing in these areas. Their visible fruit may be small or even embryonic, but it will be there. However, the false believer, since he or she has not the Holy Spirit nor are they regenerate, cannot bear this fruit. It grows only in the hearts of those God has touched with His grace unto the New Birth. (Source)
John MacArthur addresses comments by evangelicalism’s most famous evangelist, Billy Graham, that are clearly out of sync with the biblical gospel.
Biblical Fundamentalism By Gary Gilley
An Evangelical Leader Makes Trump His Golden Calf By Steve Deace
Phil Johnson: “’Evangelical’ support for Trump proves the American evangelical movement isn’t truly_evangelical_ in any historic sense of the word”
Resolution On Moral Character On Public Officials—Southern Baptist Convention
God’s Will in the 2016 US Election By Kathleen Peck
Copyright by Marsha West, 2016. All rights reserved.
I read this article with general agreement and even enthusiasm until I reached the Essentials. Essential, but its very definition means “primary” or of “first order.” Yet these three are somehow relegated to secondary status.
Jesus is the only way to salvation
Jesus’ virgin birth
The doctrine of the Trinity
And I see nothing of Blood Atonement. I find this completely mystifying that any definition of Evangelical can relegate these primary doctrines with overwhelming scriptural support to secondary status. And not to even mention Blood atonement is unforgivable. I read the link on essentials and have to say that CARM misses it by a mile on this.
I agree. Very confusing!
The essentials of the faith came from CARM, a site I trust. I also looked at other sites but agreed with the author Matt Slick’a assessment, so I chose to incorporate it in my piece. I also included a link for those who may have a problem with it. Here’s what Matt wrote (and there’s a lot more to it):
“The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism. These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary. Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential (I call them primary essentials since the Bible declares them as essential). A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines. Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of Scripture that become necessary also and the Trinity being one.” https://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity
Grace & peace,
Please provide the Scriptures that tell us that these five doctrines are the essentials and are the only ones to be considered essential. I’ll help you out a little: THERE ARE NONE. You need to investigate who started this foolishness of primary, secondary, and tertiary doctrinal structuring. You will find no mandate for such a list in the Bible, nor will you find anyone who can definitively tell you which doctrine belongs to which group. Remember also that those doctrines that find themselves in the secondary of tertiary group are up for challenge, debate, ridicule, change, and even deletion from what is consider to be Christian doctrine. You have my email.
I provided the link to CARM, Darrel. Matt Slick offered his view on the essentials and the “secondary essentials.” He wrote:
“Secondary essentials are necessary truths, but there is no self-declared penalty for their denial–yet they are still essential to the Christian faith. Again, by way of example, Jesus says that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6). I call this a secondary essential because there’s no penalty associated with its denial. Nevertheless, it is a statement of absolute truth and is an essential Christian teaching that cannot be denied.”
I have no quarrel with this.
Jack is so very correct. It is disturbing to say the least that those who claim to love and serve Christ are such easy marks for deception, and that from those who also claim to be able to “discern” as they promote the false doctrines of our day in the name of Christ.
The so-called “list” of primary, secondary, tertiary doctrines has been floating about virtually unopposed for too long. The “list” itself is nowhere to be found in specificity, and it’s most celebrated champion (John MacArthur) can’t even say what belongs in the “primary” category, nor have any of his peers attempted to do so with finality. Now we have Matt Slick of CARM trying to define the “list” and he too fails, as will all the others who try to shove this nonsense down the throat of the Church. This “list” is nowhere to be found in Scripture, nor is there even the slightest hint that such a “list” even exists. Therefore those who promote this junk theology do so at their own peril, and those that believe their lies suffer as well.
For those who insist that the “list” is a ‘valid teaching tool’ and therefore sanctioned by the Holy Spirit, please informs us all which of the Biblical doctrines it purports to represent are to be found in the last category, the ‘tertiary’ or third group and by the “list’s” own definition, “third class doctrines.” Who will be brave enough to INSTRUCT THE HOLY SPIRIT on this matter, as He has not seen fit to so Himself?
The proponents of the “list” will flatly state that the “primary” section is “non-negotiable” (never mind that the list provided above is that of “another gospel” and not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ due to the fact that whole Gospel IS NOT represented). They will then proceed to say that the ‘secondary’ & ‘tertiary’ sections (still not clearly made known as to which doctrine belongs where) are left open for “discussion”, they are “negotiable.” The translation for ‘negotiable’ and ‘discussion’ = you can believe whatever you want to believe and we can “dialogue” about it and try to reach a “consensus” (the end of which is to change the Word of God to fit our newly found idol god.
Jack is further correct to point out that there is no mention of the Blood Atonement anywhere in the above “list” provided to us. This has become the new rallying cry of MacArthur’s cult. The lies that MacArthur teaches about the non-necessity of the Blood of Christ are becoming increasingly exposed, yet too many have opted to overlook and even dismiss the facts of JM’s heresy in favor of snuggling up to this doctrine of demons and their favorite false prophet. Also, we find no mention of repentance whatever—another favorite doctrine of demons championed by MacArthur, who says that he never needed to repent, because ne never did anything wrong, nor is he able to remember when he was “saved”.
How did “monotheism” make the cut for ‘primary’ and “Jesus is the only way to salvation” find itself in the #2 position? We find that the virgin birth and the Trinity are relegated to 2nd class doctrines that are (by the definition provided by the proponents of the “list”) up for debate, negotiation, revisions, and maybe even being demoted to the ‘tertiary’ position (maybe the fourth category will be for those doctrines that should be totally ignored and even deleted, if so that would be the longest of the four sections). It is the brave soul or the brazen fool that would undertake the task to “debate” any of these NON-NEGOTIABLE doctrines found in the “secondary” section of Matt Slick’s “list” as provided above.
There are NO negotiable or debatable doctrines in Scripture. There is no such “list” found or sanctioned by the Scriptures. This “list” is the product of evil men who do not know Christ, nor are they known by Him. It’s end game is to cause doubt and is the same game the serpent played so well on Eve in the Garden of Eden—“hath God said?” These wicked men seek to soften the blow that was designed by God to convict men of their sins by saying that “God didn’t really mean what He said and so we will ‘enlighten’ the masses and show them that God is not so demanding of us after all.” By the exclusion of repentance and the Blood Atonement they teach that there is “another” way to God aside from His only appointed means of salvation—Jesus Christ, Him crucified and resurrected. They seek to reduce or do away with all together the OFFENSE OF THE CROSS. What greater wickedness is there?
Syncretism is simply spiritual adultery. We keep Jesus and add other “truths” — just as the ancient Israelites kept Yahweh and added Baal or Molech. The church is unfaithful in the same way when we blend mystical pursuits with the blood of Jesus as the way to access the Father. We also blend philosophy, science (evolution or quantum physics), Old Testament law, mammon (through the prosperity gospel, political ideologies, psychology, and on and on with the truth of the Gospel. When we do this we betray God in the same way a woman who remains in a marriage but has lovers on the sidea betrays her husband. We are UNFAITHFUL.
Evangelicals supporting Trump have nothing to do with the problems facing Evangelicalism. Christians have made choices through history in supporting many civil rulers without endorsement of their personal life.
The problem with Evangelicals are leaders refusing to draw clear lines which includes former Pyromanic antagonist Phil Johnson’s Pastor, John MacArthur, who is still aligning himself with the charismatic approving and leftist social-justice-warriorism-promoting groups such as The Gospel Coalition, Strange Fire or no Strange Fire conference, he is still courting these sources of confusion.
And I’d say statements like Johnson’s, that supporting Trump is what is wrong with Evangelicals, is actually part of the problem. Trump is a political person. Yes, there are some indicators of one’s doctrinal compass regarding political affiliations but not absolutely or definitively and by far, at best can only be a secondary symptom.
Johnson has supported John Piper for decades, a man whose hermeneutic is disastrous and novel and errant Christian Hedonism, charismaticism and newest endeavour of liberal social gospelism has and is misleading Christians and damaging lives which should have been met with not just refutation and condemnation in abundance but disavowing of any endorsement of Piper as a source of doctrine. None of that exists, just complaints about Piper sharing platforms with Rick Warren.
I agree with the point regarding TGC and JP. It is sad to see the likes of TGC and JP (and his connecting hedonism with our Lord’s Name, plus other stuff mentioned earlier). The variety of writers for TGC reflects a maze of confusion, unbiblical opinions, and border-line feminism. I stay away from that website and its ‘teachers’.
The ‘world’ is watching us and we need to remember we are ambassadors for Jesus, our King. We are to be ready, watching, staying alert, and as Jesus told us to always ‘consider carefully what you hear’.
“Babylon” means “confusion”, and now it’s taken over the so called “church” in America. Everyone follows this one or that one. Very few churches stick to the real gospel. There are NO CELEBRITY PASTORS! We’re supposed to follow Jesus! If a person is making money off selling books, they are making merchandise out of you. Almost every aisle at the “Christian bookstore” is the HERESY AISLE!
This country is under judgement from God. While it is a noble thing to pray for peace, it is against the bible which predicts wars and rumors of wars right up till the end. So to try to stop a one world government is against the will of God, as noble as it is. As heart wrenching as it is to see the nation we once knew to be a great nation that helped take the gospel to other nations and maintain peace in the world deteriorate into a bunch of uninformed masses just seeking pleasure and money and not caring that our nation has thrown God in the garbage heap with the 60 million aborted babies. Legal “gay marriage” etc etc. Drugs= sorcery in the bible and the bible says about Mystery Babylon “By her sorcery (drugs, witchcraft as in the charismatic church) she has deceived all nations” Revelation 17 and “her sins have reached heaven” Revelation 18.
You can’t stop the hand of God from judging us for our sins. You can vote for whoever you want, but no matter what, God’s word will come true as it has in the past at a rate of 100%.
If Trump wins, he will have to build a wall that goes 100 feet below the surface as the Mexican drug cartels have dozens if not hundreds of tunnels underground to bring in the drugs to meet the great demand for them in America. Did you know that with only 5% of the worlds population, America consumes 65% of the worlds drugs (legal and illegal)? If there weren’t such a great demand for drugs, the cartels wouldn’t have reason to get them to us through any means possible.
I think if Trump wins, something will happen to him and Cruz (globalist) or another globalist will take over POTUS. There will be a one world government, one world economy and one world religion, as prophesied in the Bible.
Excellent comment Denise. The visible ‘church’ is a chaotic mess, following men and exalting celeb pastors upon pedestals regardless of their false teachings. ALL comments here are most excellent, it is encouraging to know there is a remnant that isn’t being fooled by what is passing itself off as ‘Christian’ and ‘Evangelical’ in America. Much of what labels itself as Christian is anything but, discernment is greatly needed and given to His true sheep.
We must keep in mind this world is not our home, so to try and hang on to a nation that despises God and rebels and drinks down iniquity like water is pointless. We pray for mercy for the lost, and we pray for our Lord to come. Things will grow increasingly worse as we draw closer to His coming. America is a vile, wicked, godless nation that slaughters the unborn without any remorse, that condones perversion of homosexuals as they attempt to re-define marriage under the guise of ‘rights’, that pursues the lusts of the heart – sex, drugs, materialism, mammon and self. Those are the ‘gods’ of this nation; not one ‘big name’ celebrity pastor has attempted to call this nation to repentance. Why? Because they are not called by God to preach to begin with. They are pursuing the same things the world chases after.
Judgment will be swift and severe on this nation, and rightly so. May God have mercy.
Thank you to Denise, Lyn and all others.. As Lyn says ..it is encouraging to read these comments. I continue to pray for family to see the truth, to seek after God, and repent – trusting fully in Jesus… There is a great falling away from Truth; however, we know how this will all end and read in Rev. 19:1 – “a voice of a great multitude in heaven saying: “Allelujah! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God!”
[If a person is making money off selling books, they are making merchandise out of you.]
Denise, please don’t make blanket statements like this. I understand what you mean about the heretical books and the “fluff” books that fill the bookstore shelves, but there are some very solid books out there that are helpful to Christians in their understanding of the faith. It does take money to print books, so charging something to make up for that is reasonable.
I find it ironic that many here read and link to articles on the web that are helpful to them. My question is, if you could find a book that was comprised of similar teachings that you couldn’t readily find on the web, would you buy it? It is hypocritical to scold Christians for writing books and then read (and like) hundreds of articles on the web that might just as easily be only published in book form. For example, if someone hadn’t published a bunch of AW Pink articles on the web and you could only get them by buying books, I bet many of you would buy the books.
Just a reminder not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and to be careful not to throw around such all-encompassing statements. Thanks for listening…
I did not scold Christians for writing books, I scolded CELEBRITY PASTORS, you know, Piper, Warren, Osteen (your best hair now) etc etc, not the likes of Spurgeon, who did not seek celebrity but it was thrust on him, he was chosen by God to preach to the people who were so depressed, every family losing someone due to the prevailing cholera outbreak and plagues in England. Spurgeon had mentioned how distasteful it was to have thousands coming to hear his sermons. He often said he’d like to come to America and live on a quiet farm but had to follow what God called him to do. There’s Tozer’s “The Purpose of Man” which is about how we were made to worship God, it’s not about us! There’s Oswald Chambers, AW Pink, etc, great men of God, Ravenhill, etc.
Shame shame shame on these so called “pastors” living the high life in their mansions….failing to tell people to take up their cross and deny themselves, but rather how God wants them to be rich and successful. To clarify, I am not against ALL Christian books, just the ones in the heresy aisle which takes up most of the “Christian Bookstores” in churches next to the Starbucks Coffee, outside the theater room….
[We’re supposed to follow Jesus!]
Denise, are you saying that those who are called to be pastor-teachers are all usurping God’s position? Did not God give some to be pastor-teachers? Yes, if the pastor teaches heresy, we turn from it. But to make a blanket statement that we’re supposed to follow Jesus is misleading. Of course, we follow the Lord Yeshua and since He appointed some to be pastor-teachers, then we are following Yeshua as we respect those whom He has appointed.
Absolutely, many of those who call themselves pastors are not appointed by God and we mark and avoid. But it is rebellious to say that we only follow Jesus to the exclusion of the pastor-teacher He has appointed. If this is not what you meant to say, then please be careful next time before you post your comments. Thanks…
I don’t find scriptural support to state we must follow those who teach. Let’s recall the words of the Apostle Paul
1Co 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
1Co 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
1Co 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
1Co 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
1Co 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
I think you may be reading more into Denise’s comments than what’s actually there. There are multitudes who claim to be called to preach, and yet, they preach falsely and with no unction. Where is the biblical command to follow a preacher? Perhaps you should heed your own advice and be careful as well.
First, I said, in my last paragraph to mark and avoid those who are false teachers, who are not called by God to preach.
Second, Paul tells his converts to follow him (2 Thess. 3:7-9, 1 Cor. 4:15-17, 1 Cor. 11:1-2, Philippians 3:17, just to list a few). You just quoted Paul and Paul was a man. We follow him because Paul is our Apostle and we are to heed him as he wrote the doctrines for this dispensation of grace. Next, we can, and should, heed the teachings of those who teach Paul’s doctrines. If any pastor-teacher today faithfully teaches Paul’s doctrines, then we would be in a tenuous position before Christ to explain why we thought we could claim that we need no one to teach us. Do you know all things? Could you not benefit from a true teacher?
Third, you know that Paul appointed elders in the churches and charged Timothy and Titus to do so, as well. Are you saying that if God calls a man to be a pastor, you shouldn’t heed his words? Test his words against the Scriptures, yes, by all means, but to make a blanket statement that we are not to follow anyone is a bit much.
Finally, it is ironic that you quote from 1 Cor. 1, in which Paul chastises them for being carnal by claiming that some of them were better than others because they only followed Christ. Isn’t that what Denise says she’s doing? Only following Christ? You need to have a better understanding of the letters to the Corinthians to know what Paul was getting at. If you’re really interested in understanding those verses you quoted, you need to read both epistles carefully, and read them in the context of Paul’s ministry.
“Are you saying that if God calls a man to be a pastor, you shouldn’t heed his words?” – nowhere did I state that, nor did Denise. The word that needs to be highlighted is “IF”. Concerning ‘following’ various supposed men of God, Paul was not endorsing such, he was scolding those who do this practice. Not sure where you get the idea he was scolding them for only following Christ, that isn’t what the text implies at all. Matthew Henry has excellent commentary on 1 Cor. 1
“They quarrelled about their ministers. Paul and Apollos were both faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy: but those who were disposed to be contentious broke into parties, and set their ministers at the head of their several factions: some cried up Paul, perhaps as the most sublime and spiritual teacher; others cried up Apollos, perhaps as the most eloquent speaker; some Cephas, or Peter, perhaps for the authority of his age, or because he was the apostle of the circumcision; and some were for none of them, but Christ only. So liable are the best things in the world to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions, which are at perfect harmony with themselves and one another, to be made the engines of variance, discord, and contention. This is no reproach to our religion, but a very melancholy evidence of the corruption and depravity of human nature. Note, How far will pride carry Christians in opposition to one another! Even so far as to set Christ and his own apostles at variance, and make them rivals and competitors.
He expostulates with them upon their discord and quarrels: “Is Christ divided? No, there is but one Christ, and therefore Christians should be on one heart. Was Paul crucified for you? Was he your sacrifice and atonement? Did I ever pretend to be your saviour, or any more than his minister? Or, were you baptized in the name of Paul? Were you devoted to my service, or engaged to be my disciples, by that sacred rite? Did I challenge that right in you, or dependence from you, which is the proper claim of your God and Redeemer?” No; ministers, however instrumental they are of good to us, are not to be put in Christ’s stead. They are not to usurp Christ’s authority, nor encourage any thing in the people that looks like transferring his authority to them. He is our Saviour and sacrifice, he is our Lord and guide. And happy were it for the churches if there were no name of distinction among them, as Christ is not divided.” M. Henry
Denise’s point was simply this – considering that multitudes today do not preach true truth, it is best to follow Christ alone. Again, there is no biblical command to follow any mortal man. Yes, we can benefit from the teachings of God’s true ministers, but we aren’t to follow them as our leader. That is dangerously close to what the RCC does with it’s ‘Pope’.
God says he “hates” the “Doctrine of the Nicolatians” in Revelation 2:12, 15. This is referring to lording it over the laity. This is exactly what the RCC does with it’s ‘Pope”. God hates this! I see too many churches today that have this control thing going on. Paul said he was “chief among sinners”. I’m not seeing a lot of humility among these “celebrity pastors”.
1 Peter 5:3 says “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. … Do not lord it over the people entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock.”
I am blessed to have a 75 year old pastor/teacher at my non denominational community church who is very humble. He would not even let me put his name on a flyer I made for an outreach to the community “Harvest Day” which was a free Thanksgiving Dinner. He wants them to hear the Word, not his name.
We don’t have a bookstore but simply a library with books by both sides of the election debate, Wesley and Spurgeon and other great Christian writers that people can borrow for free, keep as long as they like and return when finished. You have to sign a book if you take one and check it off when you return it.
There is a younger pastor that preaches on Sunday evenings, and if he becomes pastor when mine dies (he said the Lord doesn’t want him to retire), I won’t be attending this church. The guy seems to love the lord and is into discipling, etc etc…but he introduces “Christian Movies” such as the “War Room” and bought materials from LIFEWAY (ugh!) for the people to buy. I don’t like Christian movies because they are so wrong on so many doctrines. This guy actually LIKED “the Passion of the Christ”!! You know the one, with an “all porn star cast” Google “Mel Gibson’s House of Porn”. Monica Belucci was the number one hard core porn star in Italy, and cleared out the Cannes Film Festival (250 people walked out, 20 needed medical attention, and this crowd is not easy to upset) during her 10 minute uncut sodomy scene in an “art movie” a few years before she played Mary Magdaline in “Passion”. SO MUCH WRONG, Mary, the Mother of Jesus licks His blood while He’s on the cross! His blood was all over her face… No law keeping Jew would eat blood, it’s forbidden to even eat the blood of a clean animal! Deuteronomy 12:23 “But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat”. So this new guy really doesn’t know the bible too well and does no research on the crap he is feeding the flock with. Beth Moore, really?
It will be hard to find another church, I’m just praying my current pastor lives a long long time.
Attention webmaster! I did not put ANY VIDEOS in my reply, please remove them.
Thanks for this post that clarifies your thoughts concerning pastors. I’m thankful to hear that God has put a faithful pastor in your path and that you are enjoying fellowship with the brethren. Praise God!
I agree with you that a good many pastors are wrong either in doctrine or practice, or both. It is grieving to hear so many horror stories. Let us pray that these questionable pastors be humbled by God. Let us pray that God would raise up more godly men.
I agree with you about the Christian movies. Some are okay, but most of them are doctrinally unsound. There’s no need for a pastor to introduce movies to make a point when the proper exposition of the Bible is so much more edifying.
I spoke out about The Passion of the Christ when it came out. I was in a denomination then that was outspoken against Catholicism and yet, the pastor and his wife were promoting the movie. They both said they loved it and didn’t see anything Catholic in it. I pointed out all the Catholic teachings in it, but they didn’t see what I was saying. Very sad indeed that those who should have keen discernment are so very blind to certain things.
I’m praying with you that God will keep your pastor in the way of truth and do so for a good long time!
First, I don’t get how the changed supposed meaning of “evangelical” has any relevance whatsoever to an individual being a Christian. Didn’t some man somewhere invent the word? Did Jesus ask His people to define themselves in this way? If not, then why have we done this or attempting to resurrect what Jesus never commissioned?
Secondly, the picture above makes me shiver, and this has nothing to do with what party Ronald Reagan belonged to. Has our calling as believers now or ever included helping particular candidates become elected for a secular office? What would this have in common to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ by the way? What Jesus preoccupied with such worldly foolishness?
Thirdly, I can hardly believe the criticisms about JM and others got posted here, and I love it! None of these men are truly accountable to those they claim to serve- only to those they appoint in serving them or upon their own boards within the context of their own creations. Now while we’re at it, “Are the very named and titled churches and/or religious organizations men build with bricks that constantly divide Christians from one another even sanctioned by heaven at all? You sure? Do they not all completely compete with Jesus Himself for the authority only He possesses, the resources of men and influence upon men and societies? Yes they do, and therefore these men are not following in a manner worthy of the gospel they claim to uphold. It’s not enough to have the message of reconciliation correct, the practice thereof is equally important and far more repressed by religious men than the supposed practice of being an evangelical will ever be.
Lastly, I too love the comments herein. Seems as if not everyone has drunk or continues to drink the past or present evangelical Kool-Aid and its institutional mindset. I know who I’m following and it sure ain’t some modern day self-appointed religious leader building their own empire on earth. Somehow that just doesn’t jive with “take up your cross daily and follow Me.”
Lyn, for some reason, this blog would not let me reply directly to your comment, so I hope you see this way down the thread here.
[Concerning ‘following’ various supposed men of God, Paul was not endorsing such, he was scolding those who do this practice.]
If you stop at the chastisement of 1 Cor. 1, or even at Paul’s exhortation of 1 Cor. 3, then you miss his further exhortation of 1 Cor. 4, where he says, “…for in Christ Jesus, I begat you through the gospel. I beseech you, therefore, be imitators of me.” And if Paul was not their Apostle, then he had no right to teach them at all. Paul’s claim was that he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, sent by the Ascended Christ with the mysteries of the dispensation of grace. We follow Paul because he is our Apostle.
Notice 1 Corinthians 3:10, which you stopped short of quoting: “According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation: and another builds thereon…” Paul laid the foundation in Corinth, not Cephas and not Christ (directly). Paul laid the foundation; he is our Apostle. He is not saying, in chapter 1, that the Corinthians were not to follow him and then two chapters later say the opposite! No, he is warning them not to be carnal by following the teachings of the false apostles who were claiming to be an extension of Christ’s ministry; hence, “of Christ.” Those who were “of Paul” and “of Apollos” were not to separate themselves from the other factions but were to disciple them in Paul’s teachings, to help them to not be swayed by the false apostles.
The chastisement of 1 Cor. 1 has to do with the false apostles who were causing divisions within the church. Their doctrine was that of the Law as taught by Christ in His earthly ministry. The false apostles were claiming that Paul was not qualified to be an Apostle because he did not walk with Christ in His earthly ministry, nor was he commissioned by the Twelve (Galatians 1:1). The false apostles were Judaizers who were successful in drawing in some of those in the Corinthian church, those who claimed they were “of Cephas” and “of Christ.”
The general exhortation of both Corinthian epistles is that the Corinthian believers were not to be persuaded by the false apostles but by Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. The false apostles were causing divisions by claiming that Paul was not a legitimate apostle but that they (the Judaizers) were legitimate apostles, particularly because they were bringing a message of legalism, connecting themselves with the ministries of Christ and Peter, two ministries with which Paul had little to no connection. Paul gets a bit sarcastic in 2 Corinthians 10:7 when he pointedly asks the “of Christ” sect to consider that Paul is also of Christ and has authority, not because he walked with Christ or with the Twelve, but because he was commissioned by the Ascended Christ, something the false apostles could not, or would not, understand.
[Again, there is no biblical command to follow any mortal man. Yes, we can benefit from the teachings of God’s true ministers, but we aren’t to follow them as our leader.]
Lyn, are the sheep not to follow the shepherd? Does Christ Himself not tell Peter to feed His sheep? Doesn’t Peter tell his readers to obey their elders? You say that there’s no command to follow a man, but you seem to be ignoring these obvious examples. You also ignored the examples I gave concerning Paul’s instructions for the appointment of elders and deacons. You also are ignoring Paul’s teaching that God has given some to be pastor-teachers. It is an office appointed by God. Are you saying that the only true men of God died out in the first century?
I agree with you that not all elders/shepherds are true men of God. I already said that we must test the words of the pastor-teachers to see if they are men of God. I never said to blindly follow anyone who claims to be a man of God. If they are, though, then we should be thankful to God for them and give them their due respect. If God places us in a church with a true man of God, then it behooves us to do everything we can to help that pastor-teacher shepherd the flock. Granted, there seems to be very few true shepherds, but they are out there.
You still have not provided scriptural support that specifies we ‘follow’ another mortal being. Obey does NOT equal ‘follow’. We only obey what is said if it lines up with scripture, and because it is God’s word, not because some man said so. I am not ignoring the fact that God gifts the church with teachers, I am stating we are not to follow them as we would Christ. You have no valid argument friend, you are adding to scripture and pulling verses out of context and saying we must follow men. We must obey God’s word, as it is written and preached. Is it God’s word or man’s? Here is a reminder from Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Here are the definitions of the words follow and obey, first, follow – to engage in as a calling or way of life, to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple.
Obey- to listen, to harken, to obey, be obedient to, submit to.
These words do not have similar meanings at all, nor do they apply to mortal men. We are to obey God’s word, not the men who preach the word. You have much confusion in your understanding of who our Master is.
Lyn, perhaps I should remind you of how all this began. Denise said that “we’re supposed to follow Jesus,” not pastors.
My response to Denise:
[Denise, are you saying that those who are called to be pastor-teachers are all usurping God’s position? Did not God give some to be pastor-teachers? Yes, if the pastor teaches heresy, we turn from it. But to make a blanket statement that we’re supposed to follow Jesus is misleading. Of course, we follow the Lord Yeshua and since He appointed some to be pastor-teachers, then we are following Yeshua as we respect those whom He has appointed.
[Absolutely, many of those who call themselves pastors are not appointed by God and we mark and avoid. But it is rebellious to say that we only follow Jesus to the exclusion of the pastor-teacher He has appointed. If this is not what you meant to say, then please be careful next time before you post your comments. Thanks…]
I notice that Denise never came back. I would have appreciated her response. I asked her for clarification, giving her the benefit of the doubt. I sincerely wanted to understand her statement.
Instead, you came to her defense, taking Scriptures out of context. I gave you many Scriptures to show that we are to follow Paul as he followed Christ, inasmuch as Paul is the Apostle of the Gentiles. We follow Christ by following Paul’s doctrines and manner of living. We cannot know Christ apart from Paul. Paul is the Church’s antitype to Israel’s Moses. By extension, and to a large extent, we are following Christ by heeding the Pauline pastor-teachers He has appointed.
To Belorac. There may be pastor-teachers worth following, I have one at my church as I’ve said. I visited several churches and ALL OF THEM were not speaking the truth. The point is, people need to be told to read the bible, not books. I believed in a lot of false teachings when I bought books and followed the crowd… Then as I read through the bible, all of it, all of Jeremiah, all of Isaiah, etc God began revealing the thread through all of it, He just poured out knowledge I’d not have learned through any other means but reading the bible. So most people, like I was, lack discernment that only comes through studying the bible at length. ” God rewards those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11:16
Attending church once a week or reading devotionals about “you” or “your walk” or made just for “women” is not gonna do it! I read Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” and was corrected, convicted, ended up many days crying in prayer for things I’d done even long ago, that I was forgiven for, and it put GOD on top, not me, my life, my marriage, etc.
“Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:7
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” I Corinthians 1:21 We see here that even a fool can preach and if he preaches the Word God will use that to convict people of sin and save them!
It’s the HEARING of the PREACHING that saves, you don’t have to be a theologian to be redeemed, you just have to believe! So I’m sure many are saved even though they are following someone whose teachings are false, they are leading them away from God. If they’re truly saved, as some point they will recognize that and stop following the false ones, read the Word and seek out the truth on their own.
Then instead of believing whatever So and So says, and saying “I sat under So and So” they will actually learn that the bible is all connected, it’s all one thing, God’s message to us about our sin and His Son. Any pastor who is not telling his flock to read the word on their own, with prayer, in quietness instead of “Check out my new book in the bookstore” is a hireling.
Lyn, thanks for your definition of “follow.” I agree with you that we are not to “follow,” to become a disciple of a man, in the way you have defined it. I absolutely agree with you.
Denise’s comment, however, was not that straight forward. She said, “Everyone follows this one or that one. …We’re supposed to follow Jesus!”
When she says, “Everyone follows this one or that one,” I didn’t take that as her saying that every Christian is putting himself in the position of a disciple of the teacher as he listens to that teacher. Was she really saying that all Christians [everyone] are not following Jesus but are only following pastors or teachers? I agree with her that we only “follow,” in the Biblical sense of being a disciple, the Lord Yeshua, but I was taking her use of “follow” in the previous sentence as simply heed, or listen to.
And if she’s saying that every Christian [everyone] has been duped and is viewing himself as a disciple of the pastor, rather than the disciple of the Lord, then she is wrong and should not use such blanket statements. This is why I wanted her to clarify.
It would be nice to ‘clear the air’ and to know just who it is of the current crop of pastor/teacher that you would recommend as worthy to be followed as you have described. On the international scene we find every flavor of “Christianity” hawking the ecumenical, one world religion, with their own nonsense that we ‘all worship the same god’ (small ‘g’ intended). On the national scene we find much the same, but worse because America has exported to every nation on this planet some version of the “other gospel” which is gladly received by all because that ‘other gospel’ does not speak of nor require repentance, muchless holy living. All this being churned out on a daily basis from hundreds of seminaries across this land. It has been stealthily taught that the only requirement of a man to be a ‘pastor/teacher’ is a seminary degree and from that time forward all that he says is to be accepted as “gospel truth” no matter how far from the Truth he really is.
Then there is the local scene where being anything that resembles a Berean will get you at least one trip to the spiritual wood-shed, and if you do not capitulate to the unbiblical demands and lies of this “pastor/teacher” you can only expect further shunning and evisceration to the point of ‘excommunication’ from their “fellowship”—if it comes to that one should rejoice greatly, Matt.5:11 & 12. No God-called man of God will ever object to the honest inquiry of one of his sheep. If he is called of God he will be able to teach, with longsuffering of the other’s biblical ignorance, in order to bring that person to a more full understanding of the Word. Again, I would ask you to name such a person anywhere in Christendom today.
It would be lovely to have a man that could be trusted to speak only the biblical truth. Often time one may think they have found such a man, but after a time you may begin to notice “inconsistencies”, they may ‘tweak’ the Word in order make their own (unbiblical) point, they may quote people who sound good on the surface but a closer examination of that person’s beliefs reveals too many dark areas, They will use flattery to disarm one’s concerns and make light of the legitimate questions you may pose. The more you question this “pastor/teacher” the more you will be treated to their own version of infallibility, with the undertone of “how dare you (a pew sitter) question me (a well educated, highly ‘respected pastor/teacher’)?
In this day and age of apostasy it is difficult, nearly impossible to find a faithful, God-called man who teaches the Truth. I know of NONE on the national/international scene who do so. I knew of three, perhaps four locally (most have passed on) who MAY fit the bill. Elijah complained that he was all alone in his service to God, but was reprimanded by the Lord and told that He had reserved for Himself 7000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal 1Kings 19:18 and Rom. 11:3 & 4.
Our ultimate and final Pastor/Teacher is Christ Jesus the Lord. He has given us the Helper (John 15:26) to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Was it not this same Helper who convicted you of your sins and brought you to Christ (John 16:8-11). Is it not the same Helper who declares to us the things of Christ (John16:14)? Later in John 21:15-17, the Lord instructs Peter to “Feed My lambs”; “Tend My sheep”; and “Feed My sheep” to which Peter was obedient. But Peter’s obedience was not without the Spirit’s supplied unction, the key ingredient absent today’s crop of self-anointed ‘preachers’. You have stated that we, as part of the church, are obligated to follow our pastor/teacher with only a tepid disclaimer as to the trustworthiness of such a man. The general tenor of your thoughts seems to be that today’s p/t are somehow equal in stature, in faithfulness, and in truth to Paul just because they are a p/t. But this is a very dangerous fallacy you have put forth, simply because the current p/t is little more than a hireling, seeking his own, and not concerned with the health of his ‘ flock’.
Hi Darrel, I agree with you, there are perhaps only a handful of men, relatively speaking, who know the truth. What I am getting at is that God has appointed P/Ts and as long as the Church is on this earth, we should be faithful to what God has set forth. It is rebellious to say that there is not a single man on earth that fits the bill because man is fallible; therefore, no man will perfectly teach the Word, so I will only follow Jesus.
You say that the general tenor of my thoughts seems to be that today’s p/ts are equal to Paul because they are p/ts. Darrel, please re-read what I’ve written. I have said repeatedly that if any many brings to me doctrines that are not Pauline, then I have no obligation to heed his words. If, however, a teacher is faithful to Pauline doctrine, then I am thankful to God for this and am willing to listen and learn. I’m not elevating any man to the level of the Apostle Paul, just giving a man his due if he has obviously been appointed by God to teach His truth. Denise seemed to be saying that this is not possible, that there are no (or not enough?) of these men, so we should only follow Jesus. I was simply looking for Denise to clarify her statement.
Thanks for listening, Darrel.
It seems that you are trying to set a very dangerous precedent with your “Pauline” statement. Paul was not and is not the final authority even though his letters were no doubt inspired of the Hoy Spirit. All the other writers of the NT (and the OT) were also inspired of the Holy Spirit but there is no indication from you that you take that into consideration. Was not Peter a p/t? James? John? Jude? Noting the time stamp of your last two comments it makes me wonder if you actually read what I said or simply scanned it in hast. You did not see fit to address the Scriptures relating to this thread from John 15 & 16 & 21; nor do I see any attempt to answer the most important question posed to you: who do you consider to be a valid, Biblical P/T in our day? Please do not be rude, the question was not rude, it’s just a question.
Please provide the Scripture(s) that would tell me that I am in “rebellion” for saying that ‘not a single man on earth fits the bill’, especially since I did not say that (see paragraph four of my comment above).
Darrel, I said in my response to you that I agreed with you. I’m not sure why that’s now a problem.
I’m also not sure what I said that was rude. My response to you was with kindness, just a conversation.
This all started when Denise seemed to be saying that there were no true pastors and that we’re only to follow Jesus. I wanted her to explain what she meant. She seemed to be saying, “There is not a single man on earth that fits the bill because man is fallible; therefore, no man will perfectly teach the Word, so I will only follow Jesus.” Why do you think I was attributing this to you?
To answer your question, I know of no man alive today who is teaching Pauline doctrine, but the closest that I have come across who are now all dead would be Darby, Chafer, and Newell. There may be many local pastors who are faithfully teaching Pauline doctrine, but I don’t know them because they’re obviously not big-name guys and that’s probably a good thing.
Denise’s comment was simple: “There are NO CELEBRITY PASTORS! We’re supposed to follow Jesus!” The validity of this statement is seen every day in the religious world of today’s “church”. 1 Cor.11:1 says “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” Eph.5:1 “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.” Consider also Eph. 5:21; Phil. 2:3 and especially Phil. 2:5-8. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us to place a man in any capacity above the Lord, p/t or not. We are told to ‘esteem’, ‘acknowledge’, and ‘receive’ godly men as pointed out in 1 Thess. 5:12 & 13; 1 Cor. 16:18; and Phil. 2:29. Perhaps it was not your intent to elevate men, p/t’s, elders, deacons, etc. to a level not sanctioned by the Scriptures but that is the way it came across at first. Thank you for the clarification in your last comment and for answering my question. Darby I’ve read, don’t know the other two.
The phrase “Pauline doctrine” is disturbing in that Paul did not expound all there is to know concerning our Lord. True, nothing he said was contrary to the Word as a whole, but the phrase itself tends to make one think that the other writers of the NT were somehow lesser or inferior to Paul, which should never be imagined. I’ve only heard the phrase used by seminary grads as they attempt to pump themselves up to their peers and/or their ‘flock’. I trust that is not the case with you. One’s formal education must be kept in perspective as pertaining to the Lord—Phil.3:3-8—and sadly nearly all (really all?) seminary grads are described by Matt. 23:15. If Paul is to be an example to us then we should not leave out Gal. 1:11-24. I wonder how much time Paul spent “unlearning” what he had been taught by the elites of Israel (Gamaliel, Acts 22:3). I say these things not from criticism, but concern.
I actually think I haven’t made enough of Paul here (not as a man, but speaking of his ministry, his doctrines, his pattern of life). Let me ask you this. If you remove Paul’s epistles, what would you know concerning the Church and your faith as a Christian?
You’d know the death, burial, and resurrection; the forgiveness of your sins; that the Lord Yeshua is the only way to the Father; the virgin birth and deity of Christ; some understanding of the indwelling Holy Spirit; maybe a few other things, but these are the essentials that you may glean that pertain to your Christian faith.
Without the unique and yes, superior, ministry of Paul, you would not know the following:
– Justification (in full; forgiven in His death, but justified by His resurrection; this is not explained by other NT writers)
– You are under Grace not Law (you may discern this from John’s Gospel if you’re blessed by God to see it; the Twelve didn’t see it for many years as they continued to keep the Law).
– Sanctification only through the Spirit, not Law (again, not explained by other NT writers)
– The new nature
– Headship of Adam vs Headship of Christ
– The old nature battle with the new nature
– The reckoning of the old man as dead; therefore, dead to the law that was suited to the flesh
– Identification through death and resurrection of Christ (to live is Christ)
– Freed from the power of sin (not just the penalty as revealed by other NT writers)
– Glorification (the translation of this body into the likeness of His body, free of the old nature)
– The Church itself, the Body of Christ (how it functions, not just fellowship, but as an actual unit as a body attached to a head)
– One new man in Christ, Jew and Gentile as one
– The rapture of the Church
– The hardening of Israel with the intervening Church Age before the restoration of Israel
– The Gentiles in the position of mercy in this dispensation of Grace
– The inheritance of the saints, the riches of His glory; our inheritance in Him and His inheritance in us
– The Church as a testimony of God to the angelic host (both elect and fallen) and all of creation
– The specifics of Church life, such as qualifications for elders and deacons
There is more, of course, but I think you get the idea. Paul says that if he had not been obedient to the revelation given him to go to Jerusalem in AD 51, Christianity would have essentially died out due to the many Jerusalem believers who thought it necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and put them under the Law for salvation (Acts 15:1-6, Galatians 2:1-5). Paul (not the Twelve) was commissioned to go to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Acts 22:22, Galatians 2:9).
Paul is our Apostle, delivering to us the doctrines pertinent to the Body of Christ (Galatians 1:11-12, 1 Corinthians 3:10, Romans 15:15-18, Romans 15:20-21, Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:1-9, Colossians 1:23-27). Paul’s ministry was all about pointing us to Christ and our life in Him. Paul was the prototype of what God would do in all believers (1 Timothy 1:16; notice the play on words, chief [first] of sinners, but protos [prototype] of those who would thereafter believe). The Twelve had received the teaching of Christ on earth, but Paul is the one who received the teaching of Christ from Heaven, the substance of which was not revealed to the Twelve. In this way, it is superior to the writings of the others. Peter, in AD 65 just before his martyrdom, tells his readers (all Jewish, not Gentile) to now turn to Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Thanks for the discussion. I appreciate your generosity, brother.
I cannot and will not dispute the writings of the Holy Spirit by Paul as found in the NT. I cannot help but to take great issue with your statement “…Christianity would have essentially died out…” since it ignores the words of the Lord Jesus found in Matt.16:18. You referenced Acts 15:1-6 to bolster this idea, but the reading should not stop at verse six, rather take into account the entire chapter. Just because a few “believing Pharisees” tried to place the Gentiles back under the Law does not mean that it was sanctioned by Peter, James, and the rest of the Apostles in Jerusalem. The fact is that they refuted the Pharisee’s nonsense plainly as seen in the letter they sent to the Gentiles affected by the lie. By drawing such a stretched out conclusion that “Christianity would die out” had not Paul been obedient is to negate the Sovereignty of God by placing a desired outcome in the hands of a man who ‘could’ thwart the desires and designs of the Almighty by his rebellion. Such a thing is not to be found anywhere in the Scriptures (Isa. 46:10) but rather the precise opposite; God does as HE pleases. This is one of the age-old traps of Arminianism that man can by his own “free-will” not only dispute with God, but also prevail.
In your last paragraph you state “…it is superior to the writings of others.” Referring to Paul’s writings being somehow “superior” to that of the other NT writers to which, again, I must take great exception. Since you suggested I imagine the NT without Paul’s letters, you likewise imagine the NT with Paul being it’s only author. Where is the birth, life, crucifixion of Christ to be found? What of the resurrection, ascension, and the acceptance of Christ’s oblation by the Father in heaven as found in Hebrews? What of the impending wrath of God on His enemies? It is ludicrous to try and imagine the Word of God minus any of it’s 66 Books. By saying that Paul’s writings are somehow “superior to the writings of others” is coming dangerously close to insulting the Spirit of Grace since it was He who wrote the Word by moving the ‘holy men of God’ to do His bidding—2Peter 1:19-21 and 2Tim. 3:16 & 17.
Also, this can be seen as a stealthy, backdoor attack on the sufficiency of the whole of Scripture, if one writer of the Word is to be considered “superior” to another, that leaves the ‘other writer’ in an inferior position which brings about questions as to the authenticity of his words which would eventually lead one to another stretched out conclusion that he cannot really trust the Bible as the Word of God. I doubt seriously that this is your intention or that such a thing has even crossed your mind. Nonetheless, it is the consequence of such thinking.
In no way do I diminish Paul’s words. Nor can I place one human author of the Word above another. It is the Holy Spirit that wrote the Word by the hand of man. “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven.” Psa.119:89 I hope you will reconsider your words.
Even calling it “Pauline Doctrine” is against the word of God.
“For ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The fact that God knocked Paul off his horse and blinded him (to show him his spiritual blindness concerning the Christians” tells me that whether it is Paul, James, John or Moses, it’s all to be treated as the Word of God.
I agree with Maggie, some people just like to type and be argumentative over non salvation issues.
Denise, “Pauline doctrine” is just a term to encompass those specific doctrines which are found only in Paul’s epistles. There are the Petrine and Johanine writings, as well, and some of the things we see in Peter’s and John’s epistles are unique to them. If these terms bother you, I cannot apologize because these are just terms that are commonly used and understood in Christianity.
I hope you can bear with me in grace.
Darrel, Paul says that if he had not gone to Jerusalem by revelation, the truth of the gospel would not have continued unto Galatia (Galatians 2:5). Paul had gone through the region of Galatia in AD 44-46. After he returned to Antioch (Syria), the Judaizers came there to corrupt Paul’s work. In AD 51, Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem to hash it all out.
Notice, in Acts 15, that the Jerusalem Apostles and elders had not even considered that there was a problem with believers keeping the Law until Paul shows up in AD 51 and tells them that the Gentiles are being saved in his ministry wholly apart from the Law. The Pharisees insisted on the Law, but Peter remembers the time that he had gone to Cornelius’ house (while Peter was still keeping the Law, mind you) and those Gentiles had received the Spirit even though they weren’t true Proselytes.
Then James is reminded by the Spirit that God would call out a people for His Name from among the Gentiles. Based on the evidence that Paul presented that Gentiles were being saved apart from the Law, the Jerusalem elders agreed that the Gentiles didn’t need to proselytize first.
If Paul had not gone to Jerusalem and presented to them the Gospel he preached among the Gentiles, along with Titus as proof that a Gentile didn’t need to be circumcised to be saved, the truth of the Gospel would have been corrupted! If Paul had not insisted on his Gospel of Grace among the Gentiles, the Judaizers would have had free reign to continue to corrupt Paul’s work. If Paul had capitulated in Antioch and not gone to Jerusalem, the Judaizers would have continued unabated.
So, when Paul returns to the region of Galatia later that year (AD 51), he is able to do so with the good news that the Jerusalem Apostles were not insisting that the Gentiles be put under the Law. Of course, this didn’t stop some of the Judaizers from corrupting Paul’s work everywhere he went for the rest of his ministry. The point is that Paul’s obedience to the revelation in AD 51 is what kept the Judaizers from winning the Law battle.
If the Judaizers had been successful in “putting Paul out of business,” we would not have his epistles. Without Paul’s epistles, we would have scant knowledge of Christianity. God saw fit, in His sovereignty, to raise up Paul to be the bearer of the essential doctrines of Christianity. God, in His sovereignty, also raised up the Judaizers (and later, the Essene/Gnostic philosophers) to challenge Paul, causing Paul to write all those epistles. The manifold wisdom of God!
Everything that you mentioned as being essential to Christianity is found in Paul’s epistles. The death, burial, resurrection and ascension: Romans 3:24-26, Romans 4:24-25, Romans 5:6-10, Romans 6:3-10, 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 1:1-4, Galatians 2:21, Galatians 3:13, Galatians 6:14, Ephesians 1:19-20, Ephesians 2:13-15, Ephesians 4:9-10, Philippians 2:8-11, Colossians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:10, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, 1 Timothy 6:13, 2 Timothy 2:8, Titus 2:14.
The deity of Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:19, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 2:9, Titus 2:13. The wrath of God: Romans 1:18, Romans 2:5-8, Romans 5:9, Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:4-6, Philippians 3:18-19, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
You are correct, Darrel, that I am not saying that the rest of Scripture is inferior as to its inspiration or its authorship or its reliability! All of the Scriptures are profitable, but they are profitable for different reasons under different circumstances. For example, I would hope you wouldn’t go to Leviticus to find out what foods you can eat. Paul tells us that there are no restrictions on foods in this dispensation of grace (other than that we should not stumble the weaker brother who does not understand this). Paul’s doctrines, therefore, are superior, in the sense that they supercede the foregoing dispensation of Law. Paul’s doctrines are for the Body of Christ, specifically. While we can, and should, read all of the Bible and glean spiritual application, we must go to Paul first and then see how the rest of Scripture fits with what Paul has been commissioned to teach the Body.
Well, you don’t HAVE to follow dietary laws but if you do you will be healthier than if you eat shellfish and pork. Jesus said “I came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it”
And He also said “For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled” Matthew 5:18
Has all prophecy been fulfilled? Has heaven and earth passed away?
So many people think that the law is obsolete when the bible says “what is becoming obsolete” in Galatians.
We are no longer under the CURSE of the law, which refers to what they called “GATES” around the law. These are things the Pharisees forced people to do in order that they wouldn’t break the actual law. Things like “wash your hands, circle the table three times, then wash your hands again before eating”. This ridiculousness was begun (probably innocently enough) by Nehemiah, who rebuilt the temple and restored Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 13:9 “As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day.”
Seemed like a good idea at the time, but God wanted people to not buy or sell on the Sabbath day to honor Him from their own volition, not because they had no choice because no merchants could enter the city.
So the Law itself still stands, we all know no one can keep the whole law, and it never saved anyone. We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ.
I gave the wrong scripture for Nehemiah’s inadvertently beginning o the “GATES” laws. The verse is Nehemiah 13:19 Sorry!
Gal.2:5 DOES NOT say what you want it to say in order fit the profile of the “superior” words, actions, and ministry of Paul. It is beyond reason to say that if Paul had not gone to Jerusalem that Gospel would not have continued (it would have FAILED) in Galatia. That conclusion IS NOT in the text, but is borne from your imagination.
Likewise, your rendition of Acts 15 is faulty when you say that the Apostles did not consider it a problem that the Gentiles were being required to keep the law. Again, the text DOES NOT say that. Verse five and six give the answer that you have otherwise ignored. The local Pharisees demanded that the Law be kept by the Gentiles (V.5) and the apostles and elders “came together to consider the matter.” Paul is nowhere to be found, but Peter is and speaks to the condemnation of the law-keeping Pharisees in V.10 “why do you test God?” V. 12 Barnabas and Paul tell of the miracles wrought by God through them with not even a hint P & B “saving the Gospel” for the Gentiles as you would have people erroneously believe. Then the letter was crafted and sent to the Gentile believers, and on it goes without even the slightest hint of Paul being the one who “saved the day for the Gospel to the Gentiles”.
Since you give no reference for this new found belief of the indispensability of Paul are we to conclude that it is a product of your own imagination? Or is there some seminary professor and his books that taught this nonsense to you? Such fantasy did not come straight from the Scriptures because not only have you never made the case for this nonsense, there is no case to be made because it just ain’t so. When it comes to the Gospel there is only one Man who is indispensable, the Man Christ Jesus, somehow and for whatever reason you have included Paul.
“We must go to Paul first…” The words of a man who with all his learning has never come to a knowledge of the truth. Someone has put this garbage in your head; garbage because you attempt to make Paul and his writings “superior” to the rest of Scripture, a thing never seen in the Bible. Then lastly, you contradict your own words: “…Paul has been commissioned to teach the Body.” Earlier, you said he was the apostle to Gentiles only. So which is it, the whole Body of Christ or just the Gentiles?
This is not just bad teaching, it is dangerous. Dangerous because at the root of this is the pride of supposed superiority to brothers and sisters in Christ. To believe and teach that Paul is somehow “superior” to all others cannot but help to foster the same narcissistic view of one’s own self. It has it’s root in the same old self-esteem nonsense taught by psychologists, psychiatrists, and philosophers going all the way back to Cain. IT IS NOT BIBLICAL and should therefore be thrown out.
Way to go Darrel! You guys don’t quote much scripture so I’ll do it for y’all!
Romans 2:11 “For there is no partiality with God.”
Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”
Job 34:19 “who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?”
Acts 10:34 “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.”
Deuteronomy 1:17 “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.”
From my perspective, voicing concern about Paul unlearning what he had previously learned, as well as questioning the place of Paul’s doctrine and the office given to the church of pastor-teachers, has driven this discussion into the ditch.
Thanks, Amy. It did bother me only because the videos were unrelated to the text and omitted words that needed to be there. Thanks for explaining and God bless!
~ Denise Rittler
Darrel, walk through Acts 15 again. It is now about AD 50, twenty years after the Cross. Luke says that some men from Judea had gone to Antioch (Syria), teaching the Gentiles there that they must by circumcised to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had “no small dissension” with these Judaizers. Paul and Barnabas then went up to Jerusalem in AD 51 (taking Titus with them, Galatians 2:1). P & B rehearsed to the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem all that God was doing among the Gentiles under the ministry of Paul and Barnabas.
“But,” then some of the Pharisee believers (in the meeting with P & B, and all the elders) rose up and said that the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses (v. 5). So, here we see that these Pharisees were in agreement with those who had gone to Antioch (Syria), corrupting Paul’s Gospel there. Now, in verse 6, after two different positions had been stated — P & B saying that God was saving Gentiles apart from the Law and now the Pharisees contending for the Law — the Apostles and elders then gathered to consider this matter. It is only logical that they had not considered it before because if they had, they would have had a ready answer. They had no answer and so they had to take up the issue for discussion. They had to consider the matter. So, here they are meeting and Peter stands up (v. 7), the Spirit obviously bringing to his remembrance the time he had gone to Cornelius’ house (about 10 years earlier), how the Spirit fell on Cornelius even though he hadn’t been circumcised. Therefore, Peter reasons, Paul must be correct and we must not burden the Gentiles with the Law.
Please read Acts 15 now, in conjunction with Paul’s account of that same meeting as he relates it in Galatians 2. In Galatians, Paul says that at the conclusion of this meeting, the Apostles agreed that they would continue to go to the Jews while Paul would continue to go to the Gentiles.
In Galatians 2:5, Paul says that he did not subject himself to the Judaizers so that the truth of the Gospel would continue with them (the Galatian believers). Paul writes this epistle, still contending for this truth of the Gospel, because there were Judaizers in Galatia teaching circumcision, as well as the keeping of feasts and Sabbaths. Paul is telling these believers that he had already fought that fight, that the Apostles had shook hands with Paul, that Paul’s Gospel was sufficient — no Law-keeping necessary. And now, these Galatian believers were still falling prey to the false teachings of the Judaizers (Galatians 1:6).
Darrel, this is all very basic; I’m not sure why you’re not seeing the plain narrative as given by Luke and Paul.
As to Paul being the Apostle to the Gentiles, see Acts 9:15. Compare this with Galatians 2:9. The Twelve agreed to continue to go to Jews only, while Paul would go to the Gentiles (plus, kings and Israel). See also Romans 11:13, Romans 15:15-18, Ephesians 3:1-9, Colossians 1:23-27, 1 Timothy 2:7. Nowhere will you find the other Apostles teaching Gentiles (aside from the Cornelius event). James’ epistle is addressed to the twelve tribes, Peter’s two epistles are to the Jews in the Diaspora. John’s epistles are distinctly Jewish. There is no contradiction between Paul being commissioned to go to the Gentiles and Paul having the doctrines for the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is made up of Jews and Gentiles, but the vast majority of Christians are Gentiles. The distinction to be made is that Paul went to Gentiles and Jews, while the Twelve went only to Jews (and agreed, by handshake, to do so).
I find it ironic that this original article was about Evangelicalism fractured, but it is readily apparent that it is fractured because so many have decided to view Paul as just another Apostle (some aren’t even that nice to him). But the Ascended Christ gave the mysteries of the Church to Paul to give to us. Just as Israel killed the prophets sent to them, the Church is essentially ignoring the prophet sent to them. If Christians would just heed Paul, there would be no confusion as to legalism, the social gospel, and kingdom now/dominionism, all of which get their doctrines from, primarily, the synoptic gospels, pre-Cross. Christianity is post-Cross.
You seem to be getting more agitated and that’s okay. I’m not looking for you to believe me; I would rather that you read these Scriptures and honestly assess them. You’re an intelligent man and these Scriptures are plain.
There are many “tells” of a false prophet. You have employed several.
You sow discord among the brethren by calling into question the balance of the NT apart from Paul’s portion as being inferior to Paul’s writings (“In this way it is superior to the writings of others” your comment from 4-2-16 @11:07 AM). Paul makes no such claim, nor is that idea present in any part of the Word of God.
Deceiving the hearts of the simple by flattery is a great wickedness—Rom. 16:18. Flattery is used to disarm an otherwise skeptical person of the dangers present around any false prophet. It is also a key ingredient of the anti-Christ as seen in Dan. 11:21, 32 & 34 KJV. See also Job 17:5 and Job 32:21 & 22 and find out what our Lord thinks of the use of flattery. You have used flattery with Denise, Lyn, and me—keep your flattery for yourself Psa. 5:8 & 9. For others who read here check your concordance to see all the condemnation that flattery will bring a man.
Attempts by you to change the Word have already been revealed by some of the commenters on this thread. You use the same tactic as did the serpent in the Garden of Eden to deceive Eve into eating the forbidden fruit (1 Tim. 2:13 &14) all in an effort to set up Paul as an idol to be worshipped above the Lord Jesus because, as you say, his writings were “superior” to the other writers of the NT.
Your passion is yourself, not the Lord Jesus, not the defending of the faith, not the Word of God (except your own specially chosen portion, Paul’s writings). You seek to portray yourself as some sort of religious intellect that can persuade others to your own, albeit convoluted, way of thinking. When your initial words fail, you move on to flattery, when that fails you change the subject and always you twist the Word to your own false premise and doctrine. Your use of the word “Yeshua” speaks volumes as if the Name Jesus is inferior to Yeshua and by using Yeshua it makes you intellectually and religiously superior to others. This you do by ignoring Acts 4:11 & 12 and Phil. 2:9-11.
When shown from Scripture the errors of your thinking and teaching you refuse to acknowledge your errors and repent. Instead, you redouble your efforts to convince others that your newly formed idol-Paul-is to be worshipped as “superior” to all others. Does that include the Lord Jesus? The born again are forbidden to have further dealings with such a person—Titus 3:10 & 11.
Included in your newly formed idol of Paul is the teaching that the rest of the NT is inferior to Paul’s words, thus bringing into question not only the rest of the NT as being valid, but the entire Canon of Scripture. It is sowing a seed of doubt in the minds of the people who actually love the Lord Jesus—a doubt that will be overcome. By doing this you have sullied the rest of the Word of God in the minds of some. It is a mockery of the Word for you to do so and will not go unpunished–Gal. 6:7.
You can hide your wickedness from me and others, but you cannot hide it from the Holy Spirit—Mark 4:21 & 22. It will be exposed-Eph. 5:11. The instability of your double-mindedness is increasing obvious: there is only One that is Superior, Jesus Christ, but you have attempted to elevate Paul to that status just like someone else did in Isaiah 14. As “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8) so the call is to repent of this double-mindedness in James 4:8.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” Matt. 12:37. There is no need to level an accusation against you, you have accused yourself by your own words. May it please the Lord to grant you repentance.
Overall a great article Marsha. The point I took from it is that there are certain things that are absolutes to the evangelical Christian’s faith. I consider the banter of “primary, secondary … ‘ to lack significance when regarding the main thrust of the article.
That is, that those of us who call ourselves evangelicals must hold to the teaching of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible, and inspired by the Holy Spirit word of God. By definition an evangelical is a Bible believing Christian”. Our own personal list of “essentials” notwithstanding.
Besides, most of those lecturing you on your list of essentials are steeped in the legalism that Paul rejected as spiritual adultery in **Rom.7:1-7** anyway.
This certainly disqualifies the cults, Catholicism included in that, and the eastern religions.
Thanks for both of your excellent articles! I have been researching why there is such a great divide in the evangelical community regarding Trump. Why? Because I have two friends who are Christians, and one has chosen to support Trump unconditionally while the other supports Cruz and can’t even imagine why any Christian would ever trust Donald Trump!
You have masterfully described the reasons! I linked to both of your articles (and included some excerpts) in the comment section of my blog.