Lauren Daigle and the State of Contemporary Christian Music

A little over a month ago Christian Daigle , award winning Christian singer (on secular and Christian charts) appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show and sang one of her songs from the album “Look Up Child”. She was bashed for even appearing on the show. My question was whether or not a clear presentation of the gospel was anywhere to be found. My assumption was ‘probably not’, given that her host was crazy about her.

What I did do is download all of the lyrics to all of the songs on the “Look Up Child’ album. And gather some statistics using several key words, which could at least tell me if a clear gospel message was present in any of her songs. Here are the numbers for the 11 songs from the album:

  • The word “sin” appears 1 time – “O’er us sin no more hath dominion” in a line from the song “Turn Your Eyes on Jesus” she did NOT even write. but was written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel  Like many others Ms. Daigle just re-styled it and called it her own.
  • “God” appears 1 time in one song.
  • “Jesus” appears in “Turn your eyes on Jesus” (she didn’t write it)
  • “Savior” 3 times
  • “Lord” 1 time
  • “You/your” as reference to God/Jesus 40+ times
  • “Saved” is used 1 time (You saved me, but no mention of from what

Sadly, the above lyrics reflect the tenor of a LOT of today’s so-called worship music. One article expressed the state of things rather well. It was called “32 Lyrics From Lauren Daigle’s ‘Look Up Child’ That Will Put You Squarely In Your Feels”.

These days ‘worship’ is all about our ‘feels’. Whether it’s the lyrics and presentation (Lauren has a tremendous voice!), the rock style music with loud whining chords and pounding drums (that actually drown out the lyrics, or the concert atmosphere, it’s all about the ’feels’.And when the lyrics can be understood, they seem to lack any clear presentation of a solid gospel message, very little actual theology with much of it really BAD theology (God’s love is ‘reckless’?).

The saddest part of all, is the sheer number of professing ‘Christ followers’ who have absolutely no issues with Ms. Daigle or the myriad of other CCM artists just like her. Must be the ‘feels’.

So much for my little rant. There’s nothing personal directed at any particular CCM artist, it just is what it is.

Heavy sigh…………

Dan C.

Farewell, Willow Creek: Where the “Regular” Churches Can Go From Here by Jonathan Aigner

The previous article I posted about WIllow Creek was published in CT Magazine. You can read it here. This article was published at Patheos.com and it takes a different approach to the events at WIllow Creek. I don’t regularly visit Patheos.com, but I found this article quite interesting and I can appreciate much of what the author discusses.

Farewell, Willow Creek: Where the “Regular” Churches Can Go From Here

by Jonathan Aigner

It looks like the beginning of the end at Willow Creek. They aren’t saying that, but I feel like that’s what’s happening.

If so, good riddance.

And you can take the megachurch movement you spawned with you.

I’m sorry if I sound bitter. I’m not, really. More relieved than anything else. Saddened for the stories of abuse, gaslighting, and hero worship. Grieved by the commoditization of human hearts and souls, the theological void, and the liturgical collapse. But relieved that this sad chapter in American religious history is rattling to an end.

Stanley Hauerwas said that the church growth movement was “the death gurgle of a church that had lost its way.”

Well, one of the biggest players is dying a quick death.

It was bound to happen anyway, regardless of the specific failures of Bill Hybels and the inept, buffoonish response of the Willow Creek board.

See, the rest of us are tired. We’re tired of having to compete with the downtown destination or suburban center house of entertainment that calls itself a church. We don’t have the energy, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the desire, but we’ve felt like we’ve had to conform. Because you were growing, and we were shrinking! We felt like we had to do something drastic.

Paranoia struck so deep in our hearts and souls that, in desperation, we cried out for your bag of tricks. So we signed up for your silly, overpriced conferences. We copied the happy, clappy dreck you dared to call worship. We tried to find a charismatic leader like yours. We tried to be a mini-Willow in our own neck of the woods. We gave up ourselves: our message, our mission, our liturgy, our identity.

No more. We’re tired. We’re disillusioned. We’re embarrassed. We’re just done.

After decades of believing churches like Willow Creek had discovered the antidote, after 25 years of copying, emulating, strategizing, and leadership conferencing, we’re finding out that we’ve built our behemoth, nondescript church buildings on the sand like the foolish people we are.

Well, Weeping Willow Creek and all others of its ilk, we’re on to you. We see the chinks in your armor, and they’re gaping open ever wider with each passing day. Another one of your empires has fallen, and others will follow soon.

We should have known all along.

Celebrity pastors cannot possibly be good shepherds to their people.

Attractional worship is only entertainment, nothing more.

A fast food version of Jesus can never be the real version of Jesus.

The church growth movement leads to a bloated, unhealthy body of people who don’t really understand what they’ve signed up for.

Capitalism does not hold the keys to evangelism.

The Pastor as CEO idea will always fail, often with far-reaching, disastrous results.

Big churches are not good role models for the rest of our churches. In fact, their methods will ruin us, too, if we’re not careful.

Though Willow Creek and those like it may crumble and fall, the church will go on. God will preserve it, and none else can stop it. We know that the cosmic renewal, redemption, and restoration has already begun, set in motion by God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ.

But here in this culture, it must almost begin anew. The megachurch movement was nothing more than a last ditch effort to save a church created in our own image. The calling is clear: Christ must be born again within us.

So church, it’s time to rediscover your sacred, holy identity. It was never just about filling pews. Go on about the gospel that still calls to you. Go on with your liturgy. Preach the Word, administer the sacraments. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God, even as it become more novel, more strange, and more isolating. Spread the great and glorious news that Jesus Christ has brought into this world, even when your culture no longer gives it lip service.

After all, church, what does it proffer you if you gain thousands of butts in your seats, but give up your heart and soul?

Nothing. In fact, church, you lose, and you lose big.

Adding more campuses is not discipleship.

Hiring more staff is not church growth.

Getting more butts in the seats is not evangelism.

So free yourselves from the church growth obsession.

Free yourselves from your slavery to numbers. Free yourselves from the neurotic counting. Free yourselves from the mind-numbing, maddening task of data disaggregation. Release yourselves from the anxiety over empty pews. Realize that you don’t have to keep wondering what you will eat or drink or wear if your budgets shrink.

Remove the [obsession with church] growth.

Free yourselves from what your Americanized gospel thinks of as success, because if you don’t, you may just end up in the same boat as this giant.

Resist the temptation to use worship as a hook, a holy bait-and-switch. Because your message is sounding more and more like an unwanted, confrontational Amway spiel. It sounds like you want people in your services because you’ve got some property for sale somewhere that’s too good to be true.

Free yourselves for the higher calling of the Gospel of Christ. Be who you are called to be. Stop counting. Stop strategizing. Jesus promises that he is engaging enough, even though the most numerically successful churches claim otherwise.

Maybe it’s time we stop trying to top him, and just take him at his word.

__________

Photo:
wikipedia

“The Healing of Willow Creek” by Mark Galli

This is an article published in CT Magazine that speaks of what happened  with Bill Hybels and Willow Creek up to this point in time that looks at it through the lens of “loyalty”.

The Healing of Willow Creek

Misguided loyalty harmed this historic congregation. True loyalty can redeem it.

Mark Galli| August 13, 2018

The Healing of Willow Creek

Image: JLM

In light of the resignation of its pastoral staff and elder board, it’s time to rally around Willow Creek Community Church with support and prayers. With those resignations, and the repentance they suggest, Willow has an opportunity to enter into a new fruitful season of ministry.

Let’s ponder what has happened in the last few months and why, because a simplistic reading of the events will only tempt Willow—and any Christian institution in a similar crisis—to react in such a way that the fruitful season will wither away all too quickly. Many women have come forward and said Bill Hybels has abused his power and sexually harassed female colleagues. The current leadership, pastors and elder board, have failed early to take seriously the accusations being brought forth. We are wise to try our best to grasp the moral and psychological complexities of what has taken place, so deep redemption can take place.

Rediscovering True Loyalty

Given the number of troubling testimonies about Hybels’s behavior, it’s easy to forget we’re still dealing with allegations and not proven fact. Many are of the opinion—me included—that he is guilty. Hybels, however, continues to deny many of the most serious allegations. It’s not merely an American thing but is also required of Christian charity: The accused are entitled to their day in court. For independent churches in Willow’s situation, that court is the sort of independent investigation that Willow has at long last commissioned. An independent investigation will hopefully be able to bring to light the full truth of the matter. The choice of the organization to investigate, as well as its work, are certainly matters to keep in prayer.

The current pastoral leaders and the board have shown both courage and humility in resigning. That in itself is an act of repentance, and for that we can be grateful. Without excusing the leadership, we do well, however, to note why staff and boards who otherwise show signs of wisdom are tempted in a crisis to downplay accusations and protect their leader at all costs, for they do it often.

One reason for many is loyalty. Loyalty is an especially precious virtue in mission-driven organizations, especially in an age when missions are so easily undermined. We do not want to hire staff or form boards whose first instinct is to suspect the leader of the worst after every accusation.

And here is the rub, because loyalty is more complex than we first imagine. We tend to think that loyalty means always taking the side of the leader to whom we want to be faithful. Loyalty instead means doing everything in your power to make the leader not only a better one but a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s not unlike patriotism for one’s country. The true patriot loves his country; so much so that he will speak out when he believes the country is doing wrong, to call the nation to adhere to its deepest ideals.

In the face of substantive accusations, then, it is not a betrayal to look seriously at accusations in a way that the truth will come forth and not be covered up. It is an act of loyalty—for the sake of the leader’s integrity.

Loyalty to the leader continues and drives even deeper when it appears that the leader is guilty of a shameful offense. That’s when the leader needs the loyalty of a true friend. This doesn’t mean denying or excusing wrong behavior. At such times, it means standing with them, praying for and with them as they begin to wrestle with wrongdoing and hesitantly, awkwardly try to repent. Because it is inevitable that in such crises, leaders usually do not have the spiritual wherewithal to confront every aspect of their sins immediately. Repentance is a hard and fearsome thing. We need God’s powerful grace to repent, and that grace is often communicated by patient and loving counselors who can help lead us to a proper and deep repentance.

But loyalty is more complex still. Pastoral staff and boards are also called to be loyal to their congregations. This is one reason leadership at every level is so hard and why it tests the best of men and women. Staff and boards often feel they have to choose between loyalty to their leader or to their congregations they are called to serve, and they often end up choosing one or the other. This is what has happened at Willow, and not only with the board. People are either for the congregation, and especially the women who have come forward, or they have been for the staff, board, and Hybels. But loyalty and love require that we parse how and in what ways we need to be loyal to all parties, even when we believe one party has made grievous errors of judgment or has been immoral.

Of course, all these loyalties are grounded in our loyalty—that is, faithfulness—to Jesus Christ, who has demonstrated his loyalty to us, even while we were sinners.

Going Forward

Some have said that Willow staff and elders have been too loyal to Hybels, and some argue that boards should not be so loyal. As the argument above suggests, we beg to differ. Instead, we believe boards should be even more deeply loyal to their congregations and to their pastors—with all that loyalty requires.

One question now is who is going to be loyal to those who have just resigned? And to Bill Hybels and his family? And what does loyalty look like now for those who remain and those who will be called into leadership? Who will be approaching any who have erred and sinned and have wreaked havoc? Is there anyone offering them prayer and support, inviting them out for coffee and conversation, being willing to listen to their story—all the while prodding them to deeper repentance and righteousness?

Many are saddened and rightly angry at the way the initial accusers of Hybels have been either ignored or slandered. That is a terrible thing. But it would only make matters worse if those we believe who have acted disgracefully are shunned in turn.

More than anyone, of course, the accusers of Hybels—those women who have apparently been bullied or sexually harassed—need people to rally around them. This nearly goes without saying. But the gospel calls some of us to rally around the accused and guilty, as well. What loyalty and love looks like in each situation is different, but in the end it should be a combination of honesty and grace, tough love and tender mercy, that leads one and all into a deeper relationship with God.

In short, our love and loyalty must span the breadth of innocence and wrongdoing, of wisdom and malfeasance, if we are to discover a redemption that truly heals.

In this painful moment, Willow has been given a divine opportunity—that is, a chance to be born again. It is entering into a season of self-reflection and repentance, which begins with that independent investigation. If it allows it to be a season, not something to be rushed though, it will see the slow and steady growth of grace set deep roots. May our prayer simply be the promise of the Lord in Amos (9:14–15), when he announced he would bring his people back from exile:

They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them.

Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.

California Wildfires and Bethel’s ‘Miracle Workers’

The catastrophic fires raging in California have resulted in Christians all over the world to pray for God’s sovereign intervention and protection for everyone affected, both victims and responders.

An article at Pulpit & Pen had this to say concerning the California wildfires and the leader of Beth, Redding, Bill Johnson:

Bill Johnson, the leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, claims that God has given complete power regarding what happens on Earth to man. Charismatics, like Johnson – especially those who teach Word-Faith theology, believe that they can exercise control over disease, sickness, and even weather. Bethel Church is the leading proponent of “teaching the miraculous” in the world. With the Carr fire consuming land near their headquarters and in their home county and outskirts of the city, Bethel leaders and members have been decreeing and declaring their power over the fire, calling down rain and demanding that wind stop. Unsurprisingly, their ability to control that which is controlled by God alone has proven futile, and 25 Bethel leaders have lost homes in the fire.

Bill Johnson has even told his congregation/followers that God is in charge, but not in control:

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The article continues:

The Bible likens prophets and supposed miracle-workers who claim to perform feats that they cannot and false teachers as being like “clouds without water,” an analogy that is fitting as Bethel pastors call down rain that doesn’t come.

They are clouds without water, carried along by the wind; fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead after being uprooted – Jude 1:12

The proven track record of being incapable of performing miracles did not stop Bethel Church from crying out to the weather, like Jesus in places like Mark 4:35-41. The Internet has abounded with examples of misled charismatics feeling they control the weather. While we all should rightly understand that God both controls the weather and does answer prayers, it is different than individuals claiming authority over the wind and tempests under the assumption that they are little gods.

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Obviously, the decrees and declarations have not worked. Several homes of Bethel staffers have been destroyed, as well as the homes of dozens of members.

Certainly, God can bring beauty out of the ashes. Some at Bethel are predicting and hoping for a great move of God, the likes of which have never been seen. Such revival would indeed be a wonderful thing.

What we have not seen are articles expressing doubt concerning the validity of Bethel teachings concerning the miraculous and how believers are supposed to operate in the ‘supernatural’ as a normal part of their Christian walk. How will this effect the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM)?

One might think that the failure of all the decreeing & declaring that the wind and fire cease would cause a bit of reflection on the part of those attending BSSM, as well as those trying to get up enough money to attend and become miracle workers. Perhaps some will be driven to really study their Bibles and come to realize they have been hoodwinked into drinking the poisonous Kool-Aid served up regularly by Bill Johnson and the other leaders at Bethel. One can only hope and pray. Time will tell.

In the meantime, continue to pray for the situation in California, all those affected by the fires, all of the first responders and firefighters. Pray also that God would remove a great cancer from the professing church, as the true children of God who have been deceived by all that is Bethel (including the Pied Piper that is Jesus Culture) are awakened by the Holy Spirit and flee from the flames of heresy.

Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

I believe this to the question at the core of the current kerfuffle in the PCA concerning a July 26-28 event to be held at Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri – the  Revoice Conference. All of the criticisms aside (and there are many), as well as the defenders comments (here is one), the real issue is whether seemingly natural (born with) human affections can be sinful, along with the inevitable temptations and sinful behavior that often follows giving in to temptation.

That, my friends. is THE question at hand. I’ve read more than a few articles on the subject, and what follows, posted at Purely Presbyterian seem to have hit the proverbial nail squarely on its head. Read on.

 

Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

Some otherwise conservative Christians are beginning to take a compromising stance on homosexuality. They claim that only homosexual behavior is sinful and that same sex attraction (SSA) is a “sign of brokenness” similar to feelings of grief or sadness, or as one proponent put it, that having SSA is being “born in a broken condition… that does not represent flourishing” similar to being born blind. They claim it is a negative result of the Fall, but not inherently sinful. So their advice for Christians who are same sex attracted is to remain celibate and that their SSA is not sinful and doesn’t need to be repented of.

One pastoral candidate was asked if he believed that “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts, and desires are sinful.” To which he answered: “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.” [1]

Anglican minister Sam Allberry describes what same sex attraction is, “I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that, I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex,” [2] but also claims it is a “form of temptation” and that he is “uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin.” [3]

The following points will demonstrate how unbiblical and dangerous those ideas are.

What is Same Sex Attraction?

“Same sex attraction” is an ambiguous term, what does it mean? This is one fundamental part of the problem with discussions on this topic. Worldly terminology and worldly concepts are often used rather than Biblical ones. Calling it an “attraction” makes it seem no different than how a man could notice the objective beauty of a woman without lusting after her in his heart, however this is inaccurate.

When we ask if same sex attraction is sinful, the question is not whether finding someone objectively beautiful is sinful. A man could be attracted to women and men in this sense and no one would say it is sinful. For example,  David is described as “a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance” (1 Sam. 17:42), mothers can say that their children are handsome or beautiful, etc. This is clearly not the sense of the term when talking about same sex attraction, or else it is a pointless distinction because everyone experiences this.

Same Sex Attraction is not a Temptation

Some [4] have suggested that SSA is a merely temptation and since Jesus was tempted and remained sinless, being attracted to the same sex is not sinful. However, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between temptation and desire.

Temptation is the “solicitation of the passions” [5] or an enticement of a desire (whether that desire is good or bad). “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). One can not be tempted by something one does not desire. Jesus’ desire for food was not sinful (Mat. 4:3), but it is sinful to desire an excess of something good (Col. 3:5), or to desire a particular thing that is not yours to desire (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17).

Additionally, some desires are sinful in and of themselves because there is no particular circumstance wherein it would be lawful to have it. The Bible describes same sex attraction as the habitual desire for “strange flesh” (Jude 7), having “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26), or being “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3). Temptation for something that is wrong in its very essence (such as sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.) is an enticement of a desire for that thing, thus the temptation is drawing from an already wicked desire. The desire for sin is itself sinful.

Sexual Attraction is an Affection

Affection is “A bent of mind towards a particular object, holding a middle place between disposition, which is natural, and passion, which is excited by the presence of its exciting object. affection is a permanent bent of the mind, formed by the presence of an object, or by some act of another person, and existing without the presence of its object….Desire; inclination; propensity, good or evil; as, virtuous or vile affections. Romans 1:31. Galatians 5:24.” [6]

Affections can be good or bad in themselves. They are good when they are directed at something good (e.g. 1 Chron. 29:3; Col. 3:2), they are bad when they are excessive (e.g. “inordinate affection,” Col. 3:5) or directed at something sinful (e.g. “vile affections,” Rom. 1:26, or being “without natural affection,” Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3).

Same Sex Attraction is a “Vile Affection

Homosexual desire is not analogous to heterosexual desire. Man desiring woman is not sinful in itself because that is the way God made men (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). Man desiring man is sinful in itself because it is not the way God made men, so Scripture calls it “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26). Heterosexual desire is often sinful because it is misdirected in a particular or excessive way (e.g. toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse), not because it is sinful in essence; but homosexual desire is sinful in its very essence, just as pedophile or bestial desires are. Whether homosexual proclivity is innate in some people or acquired, the proclivity itself is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26) and must be repented of. This is not true of heterosexual proclivity, which is natural and good by God’s design.

The affection for the opposite sex is a natural and good inclination of the human mind, because that is how God made men and women (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). The affection for the same sex is an “unnatural” and “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26) of the human mind because it militates against God’s design for human sexuality. Same sex attraction is sinful in itself while opposite sex attraction is not.

Opposite sex attraction only becomes sinful in two ways: 1) when the passions are aroused in an excessive way, what the Bible calls “inordinate affection” or “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5), or 2) when it is misdirected to an inappropriate particular object, such as toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17). It is not sinful in the abstract, nor when husbands and wives are attracted to each other, but same sex attraction can never be lawful in any circumstance.

Concupiscence is “Lust; unlawful or irregular desire of sexual pleasure. In a more general sense, the coveting of carnal things, or an irregular appetite for worldly good; inclination for unlawful enjoyments…’sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.’ Romans 7:8.” [7]

“There is a difference in saying ‘I have this propensity, but I believe it is wrong’ and saying ‘I have this propensity and I believe it’s alright.’”

Matt Moore on Being Gay and a Christian but Says it’s a Sin

Sin is in the Heart, Not Just the Actions

Sin is not exclusive to the actions. Evil deeds and thoughts proceed from the heart (Mat. 15:18-19; Jer. 17:9; Mat. 7:16-18). Not only are our deeds sinful, the thoughts and desires are sinful as well. “The Law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14), “and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures (Deut. 6:5; Mat. 22:37-39; Mat. 5:27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44)” (WLC Q. 99). The seventh commandment requires “chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior (1 Thess. 4:4; Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 7:34; Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:2)” (WLC Q. 138) and forbids “all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections (Mat. 5:28; Mat. 15:19; Col. 3:5)” (WLC Q. 139), it is not restricted to outward behavior. If someone desires to have sex with children or animals they are still sinning even if they don’t physically act on it. This is true for every other sin as well.

Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Pharisees that sin was only in the actions and not also in the heart. Unrighteous anger is a sin of the 6th commandment and is murder of the heart (Mat. 5:21-22). Lusting after a woman who is not your spouse is a sin of the 7th commandment and is adultery of the heart (Mat. 5:27-28; Job 31:1). “Inordinate affection” and “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5)  are sins of the desires and of the mind. Part of being in Christ is to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), not just the external actions. All of this is true for the sin of homosexuality as well.

Same Sex Attraction Needs to be Repented of

Having SSA does not necessarily mean that someone is reprobate, but a regenerate heart will be struggling against it, not embracing and identifying oneself by it; crying out to God for repentance from it, not making excuses for it. Christians who are attracted to the same sex must recognize that that attraction is sinful, turn away from it, and strive to mortify it by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

In order to kill our flesh, we need to get to the root, our hearts (Mat. 7:16-20), where sinful sexual desires begin. In the case of homosexuality, sinful desires begin with the sin of same sex attraction. One must believe that his or her sinful desires are in fact sinful and beg God for the grace to repent from them and mortify them. How long that takes and the degree of success is up to God and that individual, it may not happen instantly, and it won’t happen completely in this life until we are perfected in glory (1 Cor. 15:54).

Celibacy, refraining from homosexual acts, is not enough, we must “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14).

Claiming that SSA is merely a temptation or a morally neutral “brokenness” from the Fall is unbiblical, deceptive, and eternally dangerous for the souls who struggle with this particular sin. Soothing same sex attracted people’s consciences by telling them that it’s just a “broken condition” or merely a temptation and not sinful unless they act on it is only going to damn them to Hell. They need to be admonished to cry out to God for repentance!

“From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:13-16‬ ‭



[1] What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[2] Statement at General Synod (video clip).

[3] Sam Allberry, White Horse Inn, Same-Sex Attraction, Sunday, 27 Sep 2015.

[4] Committee on Judicial Business (CJB) of an unnamed Presbytery in the PCA; What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[5] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Temptation.

[6] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Affection.

[7] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Concupiscence.


See also Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burke and Heath Lambert

Four Propositions on Homosexuality and Holiness by Rick Phillips

Sin, Salvation, Same-Sex Attraction by Jonathan Williams

Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful? by Denny Burke

Does The Gospel Coalition Believe in the Heinousness of Homosexuality? by Rev. Shawn Mathis

The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion

A Christian movement characterized by multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism.

Interview by Bob Smietana| August 3, 2017, Christianity Today

A quiet revolution is taking place in America religion, say Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, authors of The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape.

Largely behind the scenes, a group of mostly self-proclaimed “apostles,” leading ministries from North Carolina to Southern California, has attracted millions of followers with promises of direct access to God through signs and wonders.

Their movement, which Christerson and Flory called “Independent Network Charismatic” or “INC” Christianity, has become one of the fastest-growing faith groups in the United States. Apostles like Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, and Ché Ahn claim millions of followers. They’re also aided by an army of fellow ministers who fall under their “spiritual covering.”

Many of these apostles run megachurches, including Bethel Church in Redding California, HRock Church in Pasadena, and the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. But their real power lies in their innovative approach to selling faith. They’ve combined multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism to connect directly with millions of spiritual customers. That allows them to reap millions in donations, conference fees, and book and DVD sales. And because these INC apostles claim to get direction straight from God, they operate with almost no oversight.

Nashville-based religion writer Bob Smietana spoke with Christerson (professor of sociology at Biola University) and Flory (senior director of research and evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California) about the appeal—and danger—of these burgeoning movements.

What’s the difference between INC Christians and the prosperity gospel movement or megachurch networks like the Association of Related Churches (ARC)?

Christerson: Probably the closest kinship would be prosperity gospel movement. But it’s a little different in that the INC movement has a network that cooperates more often. My sense of the prosperity gospel is that it consists of individual entrepreneurs, TV preachers, and megachurch leaders, but there’s not as much cooperation.

Also, the theology is different. The prosperity gospel would focus more on the individual’s health and wealth. This group is unique in that they really think God has put these apostles on earth to basically transform the world. It’s a sort of trickle-down Christianity, where these apostles are at the top of the mountain, exercising this power from the top down. That’s how the kingdom of God comes in.

Ironically, this group isn’t really focused on building up big congregations. Their ideas are spreading through other means, like high-profile conferences and the media products that they are selling.

Flory: These apostles are able to access a lot more money, because they are operating with a pay-for-service model, rather than relying on people’s donations and their goodwill. Congregations bend over backwards to keep people happy and keep the butts in the seats; people don’t have to pay unless they feel like it. But this is a completely different financial model, and it tends to generate much more money.

How do the people in this group identify themselves? Are they Pentecostals? Charismatics? INC Christians?

Christerson: They would use the word prophetic or apostolic—or they would align themselves with one of the apostles. They would say, “I am a follower of Bill Johnson,” or Mike Bickle, or Cindy Jacobs. People would tell us, “he’s my apostle” or “he’s my prophet.” The other term we hear a lot is “spiritual covering”: There’s this idea that you are under spiritual covering of your specific apostle or prophet. A related term is “impartation.” The apostles basically impart their power to you. If you are under them, the power that they have straight from God trickles down to you.

They consciously avoid any kind of formal organization or denomination. They see the strength of weak ties—it allows them room to experiment and to work with all kinds of different people. They can focus on putting together these big events—they don’t have to support a staff or donate to a seminary. They can just go straight to the marketing activities.

How do you become an apostle? What’s the process?

Christerson: It’s all sort of self-appointed. Leaders in the moment would say that people are recognized as apostles because of the influence that they have—not only over your own congregation but over other leaders. But there’s definitely a good deal of self-appointing going on. Peter Wagner, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, referred to himself as a “super apostle,” because he was influential with a bunch of other apostles.

Ironically, this group isn’t really focused on building up big congregations. Their ideas are spreading through other means, like high-profile conferences and the media products that they are selling.

It’s easy to see the advantages for leaders—it’s great to be the guy at the top of the pyramid since they get all the cash and no one tells them what to do. But it also seems like lay people really like this model. What do they get out of it?

Christerson: For the young people, they’re searching for meaning, and they’re also looking for adventure and excitement. These kinds of churches appeal to them in ways that traditional congregations just can’t. They are not merely trying to learn how to know God, live a godly life, or share their faith with other people. They really believe they are participating in this cosmic spiritual battle to transform the world. They are involved in this battle for whole cities and nations.

And then you have the appeal of direct access to God—getting direct downloads from God. God is going to talk to me and tell me what to do. Or my leader is getting direct downloads. For many people, that’s more exciting than a 45-minute sermon examining the Greek terms from Paul’s writings.

INC movements don’t have same “priesthood of all believers” theology as the Protestant Reformers, because power is still flowing down from particular apostles, and then others can access it. There is definitely a hierarchy. But since they are not building institutions, there is a lot of freedom for people to experiment with the tools they get from these apostles. So that opens up a lot of opportunities for people to lead, innovate, and create their own way of doing Christianity. That participatory aspect is a major part of the appeal.

Rather than traditional worship services, many megachurches say they have “experiences.” What kind of experiences are INC churches trying to create?

Christerson: The traditional megachurch uses music and exciting preaching from great communicators. But we found that wasn’t the case with these INC-lings. They are actually not very exciting preachers. That really surprised us. For them, it’s all about encountering these supernatural manifestations. That’s the exciting experience.

It’s very spontaneous. We went to a conference where a number of apostles were speaking and Bill Johnson was doing a Bible teaching. He had probably talked 20 or 30 minutes, and you could feel the restlessness in the room. He said, “I know you are just waiting for me to stop preaching because you want the power. But just hang with me here.” People weren’t there to listen to him. What they wanted was for him to lay hands on them.

After he finished, people came up to the stage, and they were being slain in the spirit. People were falling down and getting healed. That’s what they are there for. They don’t want to sit and watch other people. They want to access the power themselves to make a difference in the world.

Flory: The desire for this kind of experience is broader than just this group. It works out in interesting ways among these INC Christians, but we see it across different religious groups that we have studied at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Particularly among evangelicals, we’re seeing a more experiential, embodied way of understanding religion.

It’s remarkable how effectively INC personalities can get their message out without owning a television studio or buying airtime. How do they manage?

Flory: INC leaders have leveraged digital technology to get their message out—smartphones in particular, where you can get anything you want as long as you have some kind of digital connection. That just expands the world exponentially for these people.

Christerson: It’s also basically free to put your product out there. IHOP is particularly good at doing that. They say their website—in terms of viewed video content—is one of the top 50 websites in the world.

Between the internet and the conferences, they have figured out ways to leverage that big, exhilarating, hyped-up experience you get in a stadium venue. That’s where their networking comes into play. They can bring in four or five apostles, and then their followers flock to see them. People have these significant experiences that juice them up to contact the apostles over the internet. If they can go to a conference two or three times a year to get a new jolt, that becomes the new rhythm, as opposed the weekly rhythm of church life.

Let’s talk about the “7 mountains” theology, which is popular in these circles. On some levels, it sounds like theocracy. Christians are in charge of every part of life: the “mountains” of business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion. On the other hand, it sounds like there’s no actual plan—aside from putting these Christians in charge. So what’s going on?

Christerson: They really believe that God is behind it all, that he is appointing people into these high positions, and that they will know what to do when they get there. They will be listening to God, and he will use them to supernaturally make America or the world into the kingdom of God. Some of the people that they claim are in these high position—like Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, and Rick Perry—are part of the Trump administration. But they are not Pentecostals, and they have nothing to do with these groups. The movement just latches on to them and claims God is using Trump to bring in the kingdom.

Some INC people describe Trump as a King Cyrus figure—he’s not one of us, but God is using him to defeat our enemies and restore our nation. If Trump collapses or gets impeached, they will not look very good. Some of them have staked their reputation on Trump’s performance, but not all of them.

They don’t have policy goals, other than anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage sentiments. They don’t have an idea of what it takes to reduce poverty or curb international conflict. None of that is even on their radar.

It’s a very different approach than other religious groups take. If it’s the Catholic Church, the religious right, or the religious left, they actually have a strategy. They have think-tanks and organizations, and they’re involved at different levels with political parties. This is nothing like that.

Flory: In some ways, it’s a really romantic vision. For most of the 20th century, most Pentecostals and evangelicals were pre-millennial—they imagined that God’s reign would appear in full only after the second coming of Christ. But the INC movement is explicitly post-millennial. In their minds, God’s kingdom can come to earth before Christ returns—and, by the way, it will be in America. There is this interesting combination of America first, Americans as God’s chosen people, and a romantic vision of God working it out through the people he chooses.

Do INC leaders engage in any self-reflection about the dangers of holding major power without oversight?

Christerson: I haven’t seen a lot of self-awareness on their part. They think they are an instrument of God—and that’s all they need. There’s a suspicion of any kind of accountability structures, because these limit the power of God working through individuals. When you have a church board and an elder board that hires a pastor, then that pastor can’t do the things that God is telling him to do—because he has to go to the board to get everything approved. The real danger, they would say, is when institutions become more powerful than the individuals that God calls.

But they do seem different than the prosperity gospel preachers, in that wealth isn’t flaunted.

Christerson: Peter Wagner talked about the differences between the two groups. He said that the prosperity gospel thought that money was a blessing for the sake of blessing. For his own New Apostolic Reformed movement, the prosperity comes from God in order to transform the world for God.

Interestingly, INC leaders think that the business world is the key to all of this—because wealth is more powerful than all other forms of power. They anticipate this huge transfer of wealth to believers. But they see this wealth as an instrument for bringing about God’s kingdom on earth.

For prosperity preacher, it’s more that God is going to bless me individually to show me favor and to show that he is God. We didn’t get that from the INC leaders. They dress casually and don’t drive expansive cars or fly in their own planes.

Many INC apostles are very successful. So why have they stayed out of the spotlight, at least in the broader culture?

Christerson: One reason this movement hasn’t gotten a lot of press is that the leaders don’t seek it out. They have their own networks for disseminating information and getting attention. They are not sending our press releases. For example, they had this Asuza Now conference at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and it drew 50,000 people on a rainy day—if not for the bad weather, the crowd probably would have been even bigger. And it didn’t even make the Los Angeles Times. Fifty thousand people show up for an apostle’s conference at the LA Coliseum, and nobody covered it. That was mind-boggling to me.

They don’t seem to be on anybody’s radar, in part because they are not promoting themselves through normal institutional channels.

And yet they do seem like friendly people, at least in public. And they seem to lack the kind of ostentatiousness that turns people off from prosperity gospel preachers or televangelists.

Christerson: They are super down-to-earth. And there isn’t the angry edge we’ve seen from certain religious-right activists or the more traditional pre-millennial dispensationalists who want to fight evil. For these guys, God’s taking over the world, and they are just riding the wave.

Source CT Article

Other NAR related links:

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church

The New Apostolic Reformation (Many Articles and Links) by Sandy Simpson

Interview with Sandy Simpson (with outline and additional links) on Echo Zoe Radio

The New Apostolic Reformation (Multiple Articles) by 4 Truth Ministry

List of Direct Quotes from C. Peter Wagner by The Zedekiah List

The New Apostolic Reformation by Apologetics Index

The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation by Bob Dewaay

The Changing of the Apostolic Guard: 13 Names to Watch by Holly Pivec

The Apostles Who Don’t Do Anything by Grace to You

Interview With Caryl Matrisciana: New Apostolic Reformation by Amy Spreeman

Dominionism and The NAR by Berean Research

Apostles and Prophets are the Foundation of the Church by Bob Dewaay

The New Apostolic Church Movement by Let Us Reason

What Is The New Apostolic Reformation? by Got Questions

Do Miracles, Signs and Wonders Create Faith? by Robert Liichow

Christianity Today Should Correct Heidi Baker NAR Story by Talk To Action

Debunking the Seven Mountains Mandate and the NAR by Chris Rosebrough

What’s Wrong With the Passion (NAR)”Translation” Bible?

The New Apostolic End Times Scripture by Steven Kozar

C. Peter Wagner’s Apostolic Movement on Issues, Etc.

The Apostolic and Prophetic Movement by Keith Gibson

Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church by Tony Miano

The Latter Rain Movement on Issues, Etc.

The History of the Renewal Movement: Interview with Lyndon Unger on Echoe Zoe Radio (with links and notes)

The NAR: A Warning About Latter Day Apostles by Orrel Steinkamp

What Is Dominionism? by Apprising

I Refuse to Believe Bob Jones-I’m Staying Home by Steven Kozar

What Is The NAR? by Asleep No More

C. Peter Wagner Spins the NAR by Herescope

The NAR-You Will Know Them by Their Nuts by Church Watch Central

HAW and WOF NARpostles by Church Watch Central

The New Order of the Latter Rain by Spirit Watch

Quick Thoughts: What is the Seven Mountain Mandate? by Lyndon Unger

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

— Galatians 1:6-9