Friday, November 18, 2016

A street preacher's thoughts on "BLM are racist thugs" at the University of Oklahoma

On November 16, 2016, two street preachers of some infamy appeared on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to make a name for themselves. I am to some extent familiar with these men as we run in some of the same circles both in real life and on social media. I am compelled to offer some commentary based on a great deal of experience in similar situations, as a preacher, as an alumnus, and as an outside observer, given that the behavior, speech, and underlying theology of these men are awful and the student, faculty, and police response was approximately equally bad. The astute observer is thus left dismayed at how the main victims of the day were truth and righteousness.

First and foremost, any cursory review of my social media presence will reflect that I do frequently engage in street preaching and other community agitation. I stress here that I refuse any and all brotherhood or fellowship with men such as these, and I have done so for a long time (see here for a collection of links and videos substantiating such, notably this video), even to the point of experiencing challenges in mutual friendships I hold with other men whose discernment I would call dangerously immature. I have come into conflict with Larry Street, the preacher wearing a cap and sunglasses, while I was preaching and he was preaching at an Oklahoma City Black Mass. I first met "Brother Jim" Gilles around 1997 when he was preaching in front of OU's Dale Hall and I was a student at OU. As his preaching then is about the same as it is now, I rebutted him in public, especially on his claims that he no longer sins, that he is sinlessly perfect. My arguments were not wrong back then as far as I remember, but I have learned how better to combat ideas such as his in the 19 intervening years.

I have no part with these men and believe them to be dangerous false teachers. Their main message amounts to "stop sinning, sinner", which is far from the content of the main message of the Bible. As if his public proclamations weren't sufficient, Street's Facebook profile is even Gilles for his part denies numerous fundamental biblical doctrines, such as the doctrine of the Trinity. He affirms that works of man (such as water baptism) (in the name of Jesus only, by the way) are necessary pre-requisites for justification, the new birth, the forgiveness of sins, thus perverting the Gospel; in short, he is a Oneness Pentecostal, a heretic. In addition, as mentioned previously, he exalts himself as a sinlessly perfect man, rather than exalting the cross of Christ, thus setting himself up over all the holy men and women recorded in the Scripture (the best of whom, apart from Jesus Christ, are said to be righteous/blameless, which is not equivalent to sinless perfection) and violating numerous Scriptures, not least 2 Corinthians 4:5 and Galatians 6:14.

In keeping with their strategy of self-exaltation, these men consider that attracting a large crowd is an end that justifies whatever means required to achieve it. This is why Jim wears t-shirts declaring "Allah is Satan" with red dashes oozing drops of blood near the neckline, saying "cut along dotted line". This is why they print up needlessly offensive signs such as "BLM are racist thugs" and take them out in public. Their main interest is not to glorify Jesus Christ by saying the things Jesus did and acting the ways He acted. Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the prophets are ever recorded taking a relatively minor societal movement and making it the centerpiece of social agitation. Rather, they generally focused on major, enormous sins that were common to most or all of society, such as child sacrifice, and often proclaimed the biblical response to that evil, the cross of Christ, repentance of sin toward God, the resurrection of Christ, and taking up one's cross to follow Him, leaving behind worldly ways.

Clearly their main desire is to puff themselves up and make people angry rather than to exalt Christ. That is one reason why they took cynical advantage of the shallow idiocy of the majority of our modern culture, leveraging the foolish Black Lives Matter movement and the mass of emotion surrounding it, to criticise the few leaders of that movement. This is not an objectively persuasive argument; while the message on the sign is true in the main, it is irrelevant to the justice of the BLM cause. Far better to demonstrate the hypocrisy inherent in the BLM ideology vis-a-vis its behavior, such as how BLM demonstrators usually take the most action after an incident of supposed police brutality while ignoring the fact that 1/3 of all black babies are aborted in the USA every day. No, they chose to restrict their offense to that which they calculated would maximise the emotional overload. They even calculate the way they talk and the things they say (such as "I don't let women tell me what to do") to enrage and trigger brittle, immature people.

Note also the (unsurprising) inability of liberals to respond in any substantive way. University president and former US Senator and governor of Oklahoma David Boren felt the incident important enough to address the mob in person, which is interesting in and of itself. Boren's speech is full of inane lib-speak. Consider these paraphrased nuggets:

"OU is a family."

A family which one pays to be part of. A family in which sexual assault and immorality are rampant. Hazing, drunkenness, hatred, opposing factions, totally opposite worldviews... apparently families exist where someone merely proclaims they exist.

"These preachers have no right to be here."

Yet the university is public, supported by Oklahoma taxpayers like Larry Street, and its outside spaces are a traditional public forum for free expression of ideas. On what basis does Boren remove that right?

"They preach division."

Jesus did too. Boren conveniently ignores those passages of Scripture so that he can put forward his own ideas of the foundations of unity and what unity is supposed to look like.

"I request as a human being - leave."

Apparently it is "human" and good to plaster over divisions and perpetuate ideas of false peace.

"Diversity is our strength."

The amazing irony is evidently lost on Boren as he preaches diversity while removing dissenters from the grounds of the public university by threat of force. This is the oft-observed tolerance of the intolerant. Diversity for me, not for thee.

Of course, it should surprise no one whose eyes are open that liberals have no good, grown-up answers to problems like police brutality or racism; nor can they countenance enormous problems like the abortion genocide against black people. Yet the saddest part of this entire episode is the response of "Christians" to these preachers of wickedness. It is no surprise that a church culture that itself won't even try to offer real answers to systematic child sacrifice has prepared none of its 20 year old students to deal biblically with men and situations such as these, but it is heartbreaking. That the church people see fit to stand with the liberals and say the things they are saying tells us all we need to know about the health of the churches.

At some point an apparently professing student-athlete and church person by the name of Najee Bissoon stood up to take the megaphone. His message? "There's only one thing that can conquer hate, and that's f*cking love."

As that sinks in, consider that he apparently went on to lead a post-mob prayer circle in which they repeated the same liberal nonsense that Boren had affirmed, frosted lightly with christianoid verbiage. Very little in the way of biblical response is in evidence. Bissoon himself barely even blushed to offer his obscene reply to the preachers' words, yet put himself forward and allowed his to be seen as the Christian and commonsense response. Whether dropping an F-bomb in public in the name of Jesus is as bad as preaching what Larry and Jim preached is beside the point. Bissoon showed what is in his heart (Luke 6:45). When under pressure, it wasn't Holy Spirit that was squeezed out; it was wicked, foul language. I hope someone has gone to Bissoon to call him to repentance, as the profanity came out of him smoothly, by all appearances after much practice. I wonder why no Christian stood up to oppose these men and preach a message of true fidelity to Jesus' Gospel, neither partaking in the lies of the culture as encapsulated by President Boren nor the lies of self-righteous religion as demonstrated by Larry and Jim.

As one who ministers fairly regularly in roughly the same spot as these men used, I wonder now how this incident will affect other preachers like me going forward. Usually agitation at Dale Hall goes without opposition from campus police. Apart from that question, how will the student population be pre-disposed to judge anyone who stands in public and raises his voice and says stuff like "sin" and "Jesus"? As a crazy, racist, self-righteous moron, right? But I am none of those things, by God's grace, while Larry and Jim are. Yet Larry and Jim make themselves more visible by their disgraceful behavior.

Humanly speaking, therefore, true Gospel preachers will be viewed with unmerited suspicion by these people who have been exposed to Larry and Jim. In a sense the throngs reveal their hearts in that when righteous agitation exposing things like the sin leading all to Hell and the child sacrifice Holocaust comes their way, they largely ignore it, but when unrighteous agitation on a relatively minor topic crosses their path, they flock to interact, persecute, and be near. Ironically, this is a fulfillment of prophecies from the Apostle Paul -
1 Tim 4:1-2 - But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.

2 Tim 4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Usually those passages are cited to make sense of the huge followings of the likes of Joel Osteen and TD Jakes. The likes of Larry and Jim make a mockery of the Gospel just as JoelO and Jakes do, just in a different way, and people flock to them for similar reasons - to flee from the truth, embrace delusion, and feel justified in doing so.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 - those... perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

It is actually a manifestation of the wrath of God that crowds flock to surround men like Jim and largely ignore righteous Gospel preaching. They can't even be bothered to actively hate the message; they just flit from one entertaining attraction to the next, indifferent, apathetic, and complacent. Wickedness comes in many forms. May God bring Larry and Jim to repentance, and may He deliver us all from all wickedness in all its shapes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Warning Signs - Avoid Jordan Hall

Jordan Hall has done all us the favor of informing us why he and his ministry should be strictly avoided. It turns out that he displays many of the signs of a cult, so watch out!

Just joking. He's actually warning about the Abolish Human Abortion movement, the movement about which he let me stand in his church building and talk to his congregation literally two months ago, only now to throw me away. The man dispenses with friendships quicker than most anyone I've ever met. Just the other day I was "a close friend" of his. Now I'm an anathematised cultist. That sort of turnaround you can't find every day. The man has some problems. Instability, probably some paranoia going on. It's sad, really it is, but it would appear that while I tried (and probably failed in some ways) not to enable his flaws while he still thought I was his friend, he just picks up enablers to surround himself with. Out with Tom Buck and in with Justin Pierce. Out with Dustin Germain and in with Bud Ahlheim. Out with Gene Clyatt and in with Brandon Hines. It will continue, I figure, until God should mercifully intervene to, I hope, break Jordan's heart unto repentance.

But as it turns out, Jordan's self-made, self-serving, ad hoc list of "cult warning signs" isn't quite what he probably hoped it would be when he wrote it, for it exonerates groups that really are cultic while incriminating Jordan's own ministry endeavors as well as, strangely enough, the earliest Christian church of the apostolic era. To see how, let's explore them one by one, but not before you peruse the pre-requisite reading here and pre-requisite viewing here.

1. Sub-Christian sects often purport to be the only authentic believers, and characterize all others as sell-outs, compromised, or watered-down imitations of the real Church or of real Christians. This tactic has been particularly powerful since the Restorationist Movement in the mid-19th Century. They will speak of “restoring” the church and going back to the “real church” that was lost in the Apostolic Age. This belief eventually causes them to reject the Visible Church.
Did the apostolic church of Jesus purport to be such? Yes. So, cult.
Do conservative Bible-believing Christians purport such, over and against liberalism, ecumenism, Rome, and other challengers? Yes. So, cult.

Strangely, an organisation like the LDS Church often does not claim to be the only authentic believers, for various reason. So, I guess the LDS Church is not a cult. 

2. Sub-Christian sects focus on proselytizing believers rather than evangelizing the lost. The false teachers the church was warned about in Acts 20:30 come into the church, appearing to be disciples, only to “draw men after themselves.” Satan desires to destroy Christians, and typically leaves the pagan alone. Sub-Christian sects, like their lord and master, Satan, spends most of their time trying to proselytize professing, church-going Christians rather than win the lost.
Where did Jordan get this idea? I'd be interested in sources for these thoughts of his. It seems like he just made them up, and yet while I have quite a bit of experience with cults myself, I don't know of any special counter-cult background Jordan has that's more substantial than my own. To what cult study is he alluding?

Do Pulpit & Pen and the Polemics Report focus on proselytizing believers rather than evangelizing the lost? Yes, they sure do. So, cult.
Do the vast majority of American churches do the same? What about Jordan's own church? Yes. So, cult.

Interestingly, this pervasive inward focus is one of the main problems for which abolitionists call churches to repentance, but Jordan wants to blame abolitionists for it. And if you're going to try to indicate cultic tendencies on this count, it doesn't make a lot of sense to try to point fingers at a movement that is made up of people who are generally extremely active in public evangelism like AHA.

3. Sub-Christian sects spend an inordinate amount of time lobbying for approval of the church-at-large, desperately asking (or demanding) acceptance. Of extreme strategic importance to the schismatic is having established churches lend the sub-Christian cult credibility or to embrace them as orthodox. A massive amount of time and resources of the sub-Christian sect will be spent trying to project themselves as orthodox. Those within orthodoxy simply don’t have to spend much – if any – time desperately trying to gain acceptance by the established church, but sub-Christian sects have to.
Jordan demonstrates his extremely poor understanding of AHA yet again on this point. In literally no way are abolitionists lobbying for approval of anyone. And if we were, we are amazingly bad at it; you don't generally make friends by calling for repentance of major sins, of apathy, and so on. What facts led Jordan to think that anyone is desperately asking for for acceptance? I can't think of a single one.
Rather, when abolitionists say stuff like "Repent with us", we are inviting others to walk more closely with Jesus and to forsake their sin just as we are trying to do. It is a benefit and a loving act to them. They need to repent. They need to get closer to Jesus and love their neighbor and stop not loving their neighbor. This is a blessing for them. Jordan has never understood that about Church Repent though it has been explained to him numerous times by many people, including myself. That he still complains it's unclear does not speak well to his acumen and/or intellectual honesty.

But don't Pulpit & Pen and Polemics Report fit this description? Yes, they do. They love to keep pastors like Emilio Ramos comfy and happy where they are. They love to accept invitations to conferences like NorCal Fire and put on conferences like Reformation: Montana. Other people whom they admire, like Dr James White, regularly mention (almost as a badge of honor) that they don't get invited to "the big conferences", that they're just small fries, and then when they review the stupidities uttered by some Big Shot, they shake their heads and mutter "theology matters." Why do they do that? Is it because they are a cult?

And don't P&P and PR spend a "massive amount of time and resources" on trying to affirm orthodoxy in contrast to others? It sounds like this is true of them.

4. Sub-Christian sects engage in victory-by-victimhood, projecting themselves as virtuous and long-suffering victims of marginalization or mistreatment. These sects “cry foul” at every given opportunity, clinging to the status of victimization in order to signal help from unsuspecting Christians who are drawn in at the accusation of mistreatment, playing on the good but naive intentions of believers. It could be called the “Servetus Syndrome,” in which five-hundred years after the death of a heretic, people still give sympathy and credence to one who (although he should not have been burned at the stake) was still a heretic and should have been marked as a schismatic and shunned from society. Every accusation against the sect is met with charges of “slander” or “persecution,” a martyr-syndrome that manifests itself in crying for help from well-meaning believers.
All it will take is a little bit of time watching someone like Jordan Hall, or BibleThumping Wingnut, or Matt Slick, or James White, to know that this description fits them perfectly.
As for abolitionists, I suppose it isn't false that when strawmen are erected, we like to point them out. How is this a bad thing or the mark of a cult, precisely? Is it true that abolitionist cry foul at every opportunity? Can Jordan document such a thing?
Also consider the Catch-22 here - if abolitionists didn't try to show why false accusations are false, wouldn't those who are determined to oppose us jump up and down and claim victory? "I suggested that ___ and ___ were true, and the abolitionists didn't deny them!"

Finally, it's a commonly known fact of history that the apostolic church faced not only persecution but also lies from within and without. Many of the New Testament writings are meant to overturn falsehoods arising even from within the ranks of the believers. I guess the earliest church was a cult. They should never have spoken up to define true doctrine or call for consistency on the part of their opponents. Since they did, though, they were a cult.

5. Sub-Christian sects engage in double-dog daring “are you saying I’m not a brother in Christ” strategy designed to force the critic to anathematize or accept them. A very popular tactic, these schismatics will demand that you call them a “Brother in Christ” or a “fellow Christian” or dare you to say they aren’t. If you concede they seem to be a fellow Christian because the confess orthodoxy on certain soteriological matters, then their charge is that you’re “attacking fellow Christians” and YOU will be made out to be the schismatic. If you say they aren’t Christians, then they’ll demand you explain why, given they agree with this point of theology or that point of theology. They’ll then make you to be an uncharitable curmudgeon. Don’t fall for this. You are not obligated to affirm or disavow anyone’s salvation based upon their profession alone (heretics lie).
I'd like to see Jordan document that this is a common occurrence. I don't think it is. I rarely see such a thing. It's one thing to ask if someone thinks someone else is a brother in Christ. It's quite another to demand or dare the same.

This double-talk on Jordan's part is so sad because the accusation takes a virtuous action and calls it evil. Just because someone disagrees about a certain tenet of abolitionism, for example, doesn't mean that they are unregenerate, and I don't know of any abolitionists who think it does. So when we say "We're brothers in Christ, aren't we?", it's an appeal to the commonality of the Gospel and the Word of God to which we all hold. Yet Jordan loves to chide abolitionists for equating the Gospel with abolitionism, even though we don't. And the proof we don't is that we seek common ground with others who profess the Gospel. But Jordan here uses that against us.

It reminds me of Matthew 11:16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Jordan says: "You are not obligated to affirm or disavow anyone’s salvation based upon their profession alone."
Fine. Should we give someone the benefit of the doubt, at least, when they profess the Gospel, without evidence that they don't actually love Jesus?
6. Sub-Christian sects make their beliefs as nebulous and ill-defined as possible, so as to confuse their opponents and make them harder to discern. They claim “straw man” at virtually every criticism, yet don’t define their convictions clearly enough to be properly understood. Schismatics do not like confessions or exhaustive faith statements, because they like to have beliefs that are fluid and ill-defined. Because their goal is achieving for themselves their own disciples, they find that a wide and shallow theology is more conducive to accomplishing their goals, as it is less exclusive as to who can follow them.
It's hard to take this seriously, since there are probably hundreds of hours of abolitionist lectures online and our myriad websites include tens of thousands of words describing what we believe and why. Many abolitionists are on social media a lot and are immediately available to answer questions almost 24/7. The amount of literature about abolitionism dwarfs the relatively paltry offering of, say, the London Baptist Confession of 1689.

Further, this objection once again exonerates the LDS Church or the Watchtower. I guess they're not cults.

And would Jordan go so far as to say that most American churches are cults, since their online professions of faith definitely qualify as "nebulous"? If not, why not?

Finally, it's laughable to suggest abolitionists seek a wide and shallow theology. That describes the pro-life movement! You know, the thing against whose ideology abolitionism is at war?

7. Sub-Christian sects commonly twist words and phrases from their intended meanings (also known as ‘equivocation’) to make themselves appear orthodox. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses advertise celebrating Easter, but only speak of the crucifixion because they don’t believe in a bodily resurrection – and yet, people seeing their fliers at Easter time assume they believe in the resurrection. AHA speaks of their protests (which include picket signs and disrupting church services) as mere “exhortation.” Andy Stanley claims he believes in “inerrancy,” but means that term far different from the way others understand it. Again, this is to fool people into assuming their orthodoxy.
The blindness this paragraph indicates is amazing. Jordan regularly redefines words, including "cult" and "organization", just because he has some bizarre motivation to slander abolitionists. He also redefines "preach" like the rest of American churches do, in a very self-serving way I might add, and "deacon". He also regularly cites Hebrews 13:17 and inserts the word "elder", even though that word does not appear anywhere in the entire epistle. He regularly confuses the concepts of the invisible universal church and visible local churches in his discussions of ecclesiology, to a degree and with a frequency that suggests nothing short of extreme ineptitude.

Ultimately, what you believe about who gets to define terms will decide whether you think this point has merit. If you think that Muslims get to say that "Jesus" is a mere prophet, if you think that Mormons get to tell you what "monotheism" means, if you think that Jews get to tell you what "Temple" means, then I guess you'll agree with Jordan here. But if you think that it is important to understand what your interlocutor believes before you engage their position so as to avoid erecting a strawman, you'll think that Jordan's point here is foolish. Abolitionists do not believe they are protesting churches. We are exhorting them as fellow Christians. Jordan doesn't like those words, but that is not our problem. He needs to argue, not assume, that his definition is the one that ought to be used. He can assert "equivocation" all he wants; he needs to demonstrate it is equivocation.

8. Sub-Christian sects are dishonest about the details of how their organization or ‘fellowship’ operate. They want to purport that their sect is just another church, but in order to continue the charade, have to conceal the real truth regarding the details of their organization. Those who follow after them will find out the details after they’ve already been inducted. Pay close attention as to how many people leave the organizations once they’ve joined. Often, the sub-Christian sects have “large back doors” through which a sizable proportion of their converts leave after being within them long enough find out their real beliefs.
Oh, does that mean that Jordan has already released or is willing to release at a moment's notice the financial details of his church, his salary, and the expenditures involved in Reformation: Montana? I'd like to see those put out there.

To what facts would Jordan point to indicate that abolitionists are dishonest about these details? All anyone need do is ask. AHA is not an organization. It is a movement. There are churches and abolitionist societies that adhere to the ideology. They all operate somewhat differently. There exists a store that so far is the main provider of so-called AHA Gear, but that could change in the future. It is run out of Norman, OK, in a retail space that it rents that sometimes our church also uses to assemble and inside of which sometimes we make videos. How is any of this mystical or weird?

Jordan says: "Pay close attention as to how many people leave the organizations once they’ve joined."

Yes, pay close attention to how many have left Jordan's church.
How a former elder has tried to get Jordan fired. How a former deacon has also caused major trouble for him at his church. How his church is shrinking. Look at how many people who used to blog for P&P no longer do - Kofi Adu-Boahen, Tom Buck, Dustin Germain, Cameron Dobbins, Gene Clyatt, and more. I guess Jordan is part of a cult. Large back door and all.

Jordan makes a major blunder in saying: "They want to purport that their sect is just another church".
This is wrong wrong wrong wrong. Nobody is saying that AHA is a church! We don't even say it's an organization! We say it isn't one! What we keep saying is that AHA is a movement among people of God, and thus since we are regenerate people of God, it is part of the Bride of Christ that is rising up. Literally nobody is saying that AHA is a church.

Finally, this seems to strike against one of the mainstream, and actual, definitions of what constitutes a cult. One of the real markers of a cult is the manipulation by leaders and peers of those who might show a wavering allegiance to the cult, so pressure is brought to bear to make sure they don't leave the fold. As a result, cults usually have small back doors. This is further evidence that Jordan is just making this stuff up as he goes.

9. Sub-Christian sects portray their beliefs as common or ordinary as a means to deflect criticism. Theonomists – those who believe the Mosaic judicial law (including penology) is obligatory for all nations and times – will say that the term “theonomy” is limited to its etymological definition of “God’s Law,” when in fact it means far more than that. AHA claims that the organization is synonymous with abortion abolition, when in the fact the majority of its work is directed towards converting Christians to Sectarian Minimalism and following after their leaders. These sects reduce their beliefs to a simple, often-repeatable mantra that lacks controversy, hiding their actual beliefs and intentions.
It is very difficult to see how this point can be harmonised with points #1 and #4.
Further, Jordan here condemns the Apostle Paul, of whom it says in Acts 24:

10When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
      “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12“Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13“Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16“In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17“Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia— 19who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20“Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”

Jordan says: "AHA claims that the organization is synonymous with abortion abolition"

Not only have abolitionists claimed that, but we have argued for it. Where are Jordan's counterarguments? Or is he twisting the word "abolition" because it sounds cool and he wants to be an abolitionist too, just without the icky parts?

Jordan says: "when in the fact the majority of its work is directed towards converting Christians to Sectarian Minimalism and following after their leaders"

Jordan has been told that the majority of abolitionists do not hold to an ecclesiology that would match his "Sectarian Minimalism". He has been told numerous times. He does not care.
I challenge anyone to review our website, our material, our videos, and our public proclamations to see how true this is. It isn't true. I personally can't recall a time I discussed ecclesiology for more than a few seconds with anyone on the street! Not even once! Where is Jordan's evidence?

Finally, the notion that we try to inculcate some sort of unthinking obedience to leaders is beyond laughable. Not even Jordan thinks this! Otherwise he wouldn't attack us for "Sectarian Minimalism"! You can't have both unquestioning obedience to leaders and "Sectarian Minimalism". You have to pick one accusation and stick with it. That Jordan tries to pin both of them on abolitionists is more evidence that he is not arguing in good faith.
In point of fact, "following after their leaders" is precisely what he tells us over and over that we should do. In this matter, he and his church and P&P and PR are a lot more cultic than abolitionists, for they seek to establish and maintain a church structure in which the leaders hold a very powerful sway. Listen to how papist Jordan sounds in this podcast and tell me I'm wrong.

Jordan asserts: "These sects reduce their beliefs to a simple, often-repeatable mantra that lacks controversy, hiding their actual beliefs and intentions."

So Jordan evidently believes that abolitionists' real aim is to get everyone to agree with the ecclesiology to which only some within even the body of abolitionists in Norman, OK adhere. We are sure doing a good job of hiding our real aim in that case! Such a good job that it virtually never comes up.
10. Sub-Christian sects prefer to project themselves as movements or ideologies rather than as organizations, in order to insulate themselves from criticism. Almost every sub-Christian sect in the last 170 years (since the Restorationist Movement) has claimed that their sect was just a grass-roots or “organic” movement, repudiating “organizationalism” or “insitutionalism.” They repudiate the label of organization (or denomination, etc…) even though they fit the qualifications of such. This way, they can argue that it is a move of the Holy Spirit and not the subtle guise of spiritual schemers. This also insulates the organization from criticism regarding the claims of more honest members, who are sure to be radicalized and ostracized for their unorthodoxy.
Or maybe it's because AHA actually is a movement/ideology and not an organization. In what real way does such a setup actually insulate anyone from criticism, anyway? Jordan doesn't seem to have had difficulty figuring out who at least some of the leading / most influential abolitionists are. We get criticised all the time. I'd love some of that insulation I ordered right about now, please. I want my money back.

Jordan claims AHA fits the qualifications of an organization. How so? Let him bring forth his evidence. Let him show also how Calvinism isn't an organization by the same standards.

Leaders of institutional churches insulate themselves from criticism all the time by hiding behind their office and their "authority", and Jordan is no exception. This is thus a hypocritical accusation.

Jordan makes a prediction: "regarding the claims of more honest members, who are sure to be radicalized and ostracized for their unorthodoxy."
So... P&P has never tried to insulate itself from criticism by former contributors? Sure it has. This is hypocrisy yet again. But as for AHA, we can only guess what Jordan means by "radicalized". Does he mean that certain members might become even more peacenik and non-violent than they currently are? God forbid such a terrible thing!

11. Sub-Christian sects have a tendency to rove in packs in social media, and they call for help from fellow sectarians in the event of argumentation.  Infiltrating one social media group at a time, the sect targets seemingly vulnerable subjects and strategically “run together” to intimidate, annoy, or in some way coerce Christians into either following after them or risk being abused, shamed or shunned if they speak out against them. This is a very successful and common strategy, as it appears the movement is far larger, when it only has a small handful of highly motivated adherents.
Does Jordan mean like #the15? All you need do is listen to some older Pulpit & Pen podcasts to hear Jordan refer repeatedly to how he is able to marshal together social media followers to involve themselves in some social media skirmish. Jordan put together just such a social media takeover of at least one running hashtag (one example: #askrickjoyner). So I guess Jordan is part of a cult. What hypocrisy on his part! His hypocrisy is furthered by the statement "This is a very successful and common strategy, as it appears the movement is far larger, when it only has a small handful of highly motivated adherents." Such is precisely true of P&P and #the15! Does Jordan care?

In reality, there is nothing wrong with this. So many people have access to social media; why not use it to contend for truth? The fact that most people adhere to false beliefs is no reason not to speak up for that which is true!

Jordan says: "the sect targets seemingly vulnerable subjects"
Where is his evidence that this is something abolitionists have done and focused on? It just sounds like unsubstantiated well-poisoning.

Jordan says: "to intimidate, annoy, or in some way coerce Christians into either following after them or risk being abused, shamed or shunned if they speak out against them"
As if most people don't look at P&P and PR as exercises in intimidation, annoyance, or coercion that lead to abuse, shame, and shunning. Is Jordan even reading the words he is writing?
And what would be some examples of abolitionists intimidating or coercing people into some sort of action? I'd like to see that. If he means a few people holding signs outside a church building on Sunday morning, making no move to go inside, making no threatening gestures of any kind, all the while vastly outnumbered by the congregation as well as the police officers that the congregation usually summons (in violation of 1 Cor 6, by the way), then there is little to say in response to such limp-wristed foolishness.

Finally, the Bible tells us that we are to admonish and teach and sharpen each other and help each other to grow in understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints. Often one person will not be able to think of all the pertinent angles to a given question or challenge, which is why it can be helpful for others to chime in and offer their own thoughts. That's just Bible. What's wrong with that? How is it a mark of a cult? Do JWs or LDS do this? I've not met many, but I've seen a lot of Reformed people do it. Are they cultists?

I've seen a lot of abolitionists get intimidated and coerced to pipe down about AHA in numerous Facebook groups, like the Reformed Pub and the Pulpit Bunker, lest the admins kick the offenders. By Jordan's standard, these admins are cultists.

12. Sub-Christian sects often try to win arguments through a victory-by-volume approach to argumentation. The schismatics produce an over-abundance of blogs, articles, books, videos and (in 2016) Internet memes to simply repeat over and again the same talking points. Schismatics, because they are by nature law-oriented and works-focused (as opposed to being Gospel-focused) are highly motivated (their righteousness depends on it), deeply fanatical, tireless individuals who will dedicate the many hours upon hours necessary to win a single argument. Their goal, after all, is building up their organization. Schismatics often believe they’ve won an argument simply because they’ve used more words.
Such as spending 114 pages in pdf format to talk about one single debate like Jordan did? That a guy who has made a name for himself by writing long articles and doing regular podcasts could say this with a straight face doesn't speak well of his objectivity. Do P&P and PR repeat over and again the same talking points? Yes, they do. Is that bad? No! But Jordan says it is a mark of a cult, so I guess he is a cultist.

Jordan asserts: "because they are by nature law-oriented and works-focused (as opposed to being Gospel-focused)"

Where is his evidence? His mere say-so should not suffice for any lover of truth.

Jordan says: "Schismatics often believe they’ve won an argument simply because they’ve used more words."

That may be. What is his evidence it is true of any abolitionist?

Amazingly, Jordan says: "Their goal, after all, is building up their organization"

Yet in his post from April 2016 titled "Goodbye", Jordan said this:
"There’s Gospel to preach, souls to save, kids to rear, a wife to adore, animals to hunt, guns to shoot, lawns to mow and a church to pastor."

What he means is: He has among familial responsibilities and leisure, an organization to build up. So it's OK for him, but not OK for abolitionists, do I have that right? (And no, AHA is still not an organization.)

Notably, Jordan is obviously ashamed of this post, because even though it was live on the Internet as of the morning of 24 September 2016, the URL now redirects to a totally different article. He is trying to erase the past. Tell me that's not cultic behavior! Fortunately, the article lives on at and in my personal hard drive.

Notice also from the same defunct article:
"If I had one regret (and trust me, I have many), it would be that our polemics has not been seasoned with enough grace."

It doesn't seem he meant it, for he has moved in the course of just over a month from calling me a "close friend" to a cultist and anathema. That is not how stable people act, and it isn't biblical behavior.

To sum up, Jordan Hall's article is an ad hoc, self-serving mess and is devoid of any serious love of truth. The heart and mind of a man who could write such a thing is in several ways laid bare by that which he expresses. God help him. I truly greatly fear for the soul of a man I once trusted and counted a friend.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cults, Hypocrisy, and Jordan Hall

It's not always clear what is and isn't a cult, but thanks to the keen powers of discernment being exercised by the likes of Jordan Hall these days, those lines of demarcation are being illuminated more and more.

So now I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints isn't a cult! Thanks Jordan!

Address: 50 N West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 (with a branch in my own community as well, at the corner of Elm and Lindsey!)
Year of origin: 1830
Head elder to whom to submit and under whose teaching to sit: Thomas S. Monson

Hooray for good discerning skills!

I can imagine how this conversation might have gone some time ago:

"Hey, early Christian in the year 84 AD! Tell me where your church meets and who your elders are!"
"Um, who are you?"

Speaking of which, Jordan's church has been around for ~30 years, and yet he likes to speak of individual visible local churches as though they were the institutions that Christ founded... ~2000 years ago. One can only guess at how Jordan thinks to resolve this -ahem- slight chronological discrepancy. It is doubtful that Jesus ever set foot in North America, still more doubtful that if He had, He spoke to a bunch of lily-white oilmen in the eastern Montana prairie, so as to found The Church Christ Founded® near Sidney, MT. So how does Jordan's church derive its authority to claim that it is The Church Christ Founded®?

One guesses it is because it was planted by someone else who had authority to plant churches (whatever that means; I'd like to see that notion derived from Scripture). But what about that planter? Was his church planted by someone who had authority to do so and how did he obtain the authority to plant churches? After all, Jordan is on record saying that Jesus gave the keys of binding and loosing to the church, by which Jordan means local churches and not the apostles or the invisible universal church.

So, presumably Jordan can trace the succession of church planters all the way back to Peter and the other apostles. I'd like to see that list. I guess it would be pretty long since his church was only founded ~30 years ago. That's around 1950 years, give or take, to account for! Yikes. And of course, one wonders what would set Jordan's own doctrine of apostolic succession apart from that of Rome or the Eastern Conciliarist churches. He'll say that they're antichrist and so they don't get to play, but who is he to make such an authoritative declaration?

This is what happens when you get addicted to authority rather than truth. Strangely, we've seen it in the Reformed camp, which should be the bulwark against Romanism, yet they have proven very susceptible to repeat one of Rome's main errors. Even more strangely, we've seen it from the likes of Jon Speed and of Jordan Hall, who pretty much hate each other. But all can unite and agree to hate abolitionists. We make all sorts of people uncomfortable. Like Jesus did.

But if one needed any further signal as to Jordan's instability, one need look little further than this post from April 2016, only five months ago, in which he said this:

 "The podcast and Polemics Report, which takes hardly no time from me at all, for now will continue, at least until I tire of that, too. Everything else stops. Now. And I sleep well, having fought the fight. I fought it imperfectly. But I fought it. I’m pretty much done, now."

And yet here we find him enmeshed in a very extensive way in frequent social media accusations against abolitionists. Not that they actually share much real information; approximately 40% of the words he uses are "cult" or "cultist". He doesn't say much else. But the point is that he posts very frequently. It's like he never left. Or changed his mind radically in a few months' time. He was pretty much done. Now he isn't. 

I pray his double-mindedness will cease, and soon.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Abortion: The Evil of Our Age (Revised)

Improving on the talk I delivered with the same title some time ago, here is what I hope to be a definitive treatment of the topic.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Jon Speed vs Shane Dodson

Jon Speed in May 2013:

"There is nothing that can be done to make this a true church."

(Referring to the so-called "Door of Hope" church in Norman, OK, the church of which I myself am now a part.)

Shane Dodson now:
And my church does indeed do those things. Awesome! Shane Dodson Seal of Approval achieved!

Also, the vast majority of American churches never preach the Gospel since preaching is not the action of standing in a building and speaking to the same believers over and over again.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ephesians 4 and the abdication of Christian responsibility via the "fivefold ministry"

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors (shepherds) and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ...

So read verses 11-12 of Ephesians 4. Commonly Western Christians take this passage as a confirmation of the ecclesiological structures in the midst of which they have grown up and which enjoy a remarkable ubiquity across denominational lines. Almost everyone takes for granted, for example, that "pastor" or that which is its de facto equivalent (like priest, or elder) is an office instituted by the New Testament for local churches. To paraphrase my friend Matthew Martellus, by "office", we might mean a position whose character is largely invariant with respect to the individual who fills that position. In other words, an "office" functions the same way (more or less) regardless of who is filling said office and which is generally independent of the people who fill them, which is why they have rules and procedures of succession.

When one asks for scriptural support for the idea of ecclesiastical offices, usually the first passage cited in response is Ephesians 4:10-16. Smuggled along for the ride is the idea that these "offices", or at least one or two of them, were meant by God to remain in place unto perpetuity in most every instance of local church, from the writing of the New Testament until the Parousia. But is this the case? Let us examine the passage in detail.

Verses 1-6 - a call to and explanation of unity

1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
The regenerate have been called to the new birth, to regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By His movement and power, He has grafted people into the True Vine and made them partakers of His divine nature, adopting us as children and giving us union with Christ so that we are His Body. This is our calling - the high calling of Jesus. Paul urges us in v1 to walk in a manner worthy of this calling. Humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance are essential for the loving creation and maintenance of unity within the different human beings that constitute the Body of Christ. We are to bear with each other in love and maintain true peace, reflecting between each other the peace that Jesus has instituted between us and God and within our own hearts. With that in mind, we move to the next:

Verses 7-10 - God gives immeasurable grace

7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
Though we are united with Christ and with each other through Christ, we are to exercise the different gifts that God gave. This is why unity must be carefully preserved, as the differences between people can lead to conflict. We must take thoughts captive to obedience to Christ when tempted to divide from other believers. God gave gifts to His people through Christ's ascension and the subsequent giving of the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, and indwell us. As a matter of fact, 1 Corinthians 12:11 informs us that it is the Holy Spirit Himself who distributes these gifts as He wills.

Note that the word used here is "gifts", not "office". The Greek of the New Testament does not use a word that can be translated directly in such a way as to match the English word "office". The NASB uses "office" four times in the New Testament . Twice it refers to the "office of priest", which phrase is covered by one Greek word. In Acts 1, Judas' "office" (that is, "episkope") was to be transferred to someone else to fulfill prophecy, and then interestingly, 1 Timothy 3, the translators insert "office of" where the same word ("episkope") appears, but don't stop with "office", going on to add "...of overseer", thus translating the same word with a significantly different expression at 1 Tim 3 than that which they used anywhere else in the New Testament. At any rate, if God had intended to communicate the idea that in Ephesians 4 He was instituting something like what Matthias ended up fulfilling, He could have used "episkope" or something. Instead, what we see in Ephesians 4 is δίδωμι ("gave"), δωρεά ("gift"), and δόμα (again, "gift"), not to mention "grace" that was given.

Verses 11-13 - the gifts God gave and why He gave them

11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
God gives gifts for a purpose. What is that purpose for which He gave these gifts of people as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers? Verse 12 - for the equipping of the saints. Equipping for what? For the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ. We might presume that is perpetual enough, but let's look further down the passage as we continue. Paul goes on to indicate that there is a set of end goals that we are to attain via these gifts, in verse 13 and following:
--unity of the faith
--knowledge of the Son of God
--the full Christ-like stature

Those are good things because they make us like Jesus, of course, but there is more to the story.

Verses 14-16 - the desired result

14As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Once we have attained to unity, knowledge, maturity, and full stature as mentioned above, there will be tangible, visible results in every individual and group of individuals who have attained thereto. Namely:
--no longer children
--no longer tossed around by every wind of doctrine
--or by men's trickery or crafty scheming
--speaking the truth in love
--growing up in all aspects to Christ-likeness

And then, notice what happens at this point, which leads into my central contention - when this whole body in question, which we could say for short is an assembly of Christians in a particular area, has attained to these things, then each individual part exercises his or her gifts properly, in love, and causes the body to build itself up. But what was the point of the "fivefold ministry" as described earlier in the passage? Precisely that - to build up the body and equip it. Equip it for what? To build itself up in love. Thus we transition from a few people in a given body given by God to serve as examples and train less mature believers in that assembly... with the goal of turning them into fully-functioning believers who build each other up in love, every member exercising his/her gift(s) to build up everyone else.

Notice that this is what "we are to" do. That is a command - grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head - Christ. The whole body partakes of His life-giving sap and thus builds itself up by every part building up the other parts. Mutual love and benefit, rather than a top-down hierarchy.

"Until we all attain"

Let's go back and check another angle from the previous section. Notice that in v11-13 "He gave...for ...equipping (and) building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to" the aforementioned goals. Why does it say "until" rather than something else like "and continuing on past our attainment of" those things?

The word μέχρι is translated "until" here. At the linked page are listed all the occurrences of this word in the New Testament. Most NT occurrences** indicate that the action ceases after the event μέχρι (until) which the previous state of affairs obtained. μέχρι is used in the New Testament to indicate cessation. Let's check a few examples:

--Mark 13:30 - Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Will the generation pass away after those things are all fulfilled? Yes.

--Acts 20:7 - On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
Did Paul keep talking after midnight? No; he stopped at midnight.

--1 Timothy 6:14 - that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ...
This exhortation won't mean much in the New Jerusalem, the final resurrected state.

And Ephesians 4:13 says that God gave those gifts until we attain to the desired goals, and we ought to expect that the situation will change/cease after the scenario that precedes μέχρι has completed. So if you're equipped for the work of service and are mature and are building up people in the body, then that's the point of those gifts, the point for them is fulfilled, and something better has come - a mature believer. And when a whole assembly achieves this maturity, as we are all commanded to strive for, those gifts are fulfilled and are unnecessary, for that body is building itself up in love, in all aspects. Those gifts' utility has come to an end in this case, which is Paul's express hope for the believers in Ephesus.

Even though not every single usage of μέχρι does indeed connote a cessation, the context of the passage does not support a competing interpretation. Are we supposed to believe that the Apostle Paul meant to communicate that once we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ, that nothing changes? Why then did he entirely neglect to mention the utility and purpose of these gifts once maturity is attained? If he thought that the gifts bring us to a purpose and then that purpose is reached, and then the gifts' purpose morphs into something else, he does not seem to have told anyone what that second purpose is.

One may argue that nobody ever actually attains to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. In that case, what good are these gifts, since the purpose of God fails? And what good are the gifted people, since they themselves are not mature? How can they help anyone else? Such an argument proves too much.

Modern American Churches

Let's compare that to the more prevalent current situation in virtually all local assemblies. Almost nobody functions like this. Few people zealously reach for full maturity but rather are dependent on the pastor and leadership, who, let's be honest, have numerous vested interests in keeping the laity in a state of perpetual immaturity. The few Christians whom the rest of the people identify as having a zeal for God are pushed inexorably to seminary. If they know an evangelist (which "office" itself is suspiciously* very rare compared to how many self-proclaimed "pastors" there are out there), the rest of the church people generally content themselves with patting him on the back and affirming his "calling" but show no desire to join and help him; the best he is usually able to get is a small team of people who "hold the rope" for him in prayer. And even then, most of the time the "evangelist" just travels around and delivers lectures to gatherings of mostly church people in other localities rather than going out consistently and frequently to evangelise lost people.

The presence of "evangelist" in the list of gifts is, by the way, another good reason to doubt the reliability of the generally-accepted modern American interpretation of this passage. There are tens of thousands of pastors out there. If there are hundreds of evangelists, there aren't a lot of hundreds. Is that because pastors are more needed than evangelists? In a nation where less than 10% of the population is credibly born again, that seems unlikely. Even if they were, are 100 pastors needed for every one evangelist? Could it rather be that getting a job as a pastor appeals more to the wallet and ego of people who just sank 3+ years of their lives in seminary than taking on the role of constantly bringing the Gospel to the world of lost people who hate it? It is likely in my considered opinion that the spate of pastors in the modern American churches is present largely because of something other than "gifting"; if it were gifting from the Holy Spirit, I'd expect to see a lot more evangelists and a lot more pastors who strongly encourage and assist those evangelists. We see the opposite, however.

Church life is centered around a precious few, who lead, cast vision, set up the Sunday rigmarole, and approve all the inward-facing programs into which the passive congregants are funneled to give them the illusion of business in kingdom work. Most everyone sits and soaks during the main assembly times. Real fellowship and accountability are in most cases illusory. Very few grow in real ways because to grow you have to exercise. The leadership all too rarely leads by example; rather they lead by position and by saying lofty words up on stage on Sunday morning. Thus people don't fulfill the Great Commission; how can they teach others to obey all Christ commanded when they're not trying to do so themselves? Thus whole assemblies refuse to please God. Thus the main source of light in our culture is incredibly dim.

Ephesians 4:10-16 is often used to justify this situation, and few are in a position to challenge that interpretation because they have already abdicated their responsibility to accurately handle the word of truth, which would show them (if they had eyes to see) that the pastor in their life is telling them a self-serving falsehood.

Are You Equipped or Aren't You?

But in reality, according to what we've seen, if you're equipped for the work of service and the other elements of the mature person are descriptive of you, the gifts God gave to bring about that maturity in you have been fulfilled. Now, to maintain, you are to build up the other people around you as they build you up, growing them into maturity and maintaining and sharpening maturity. Further, one who is mature in the faith has a good understanding of how to carry out and has experience in carrying out the functions that apostles/prophets/evangelists/pastors/teachers do. They repeat the words of God. They counsel people to forsake sin and forgive each other. They speak prophetically into the culture and into sinful situations. They evangelise regularly. They teach and admonish others and themselves are taught and admonished.

The body thus builds itself up because they are mature and they speak the truth in love and they are equipped for service/worship, they are not tossed about, each part works properly, etc. When new believers come into fellowship, the body as a whole builds them up. Of course everyone needs sharpening, and the body is where that happens. As new believers are still children and immature, they need a more pastoral role so certain parts of the body take on that role vis-à-vis that immature person to make them mature, and then they gradually withdraw from that sort of oversight role as the person matures and functions as s/he is supposed to within the body.

None of this should be taken to mean that I necessarily think that the Spirit later withdraws His gifts once bestowed, but then again, while it is often taken for granted that these are permanent from conversion until death, is such a thing expressly taught in the New Testament? I can't think of a passage that says so, and there is some scriptural evidence that this might be the case. For example, consider Acts 19:11-12 - "God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out." Compare that occurrence relatively early in his ministry to his inability to heal later in life, related in 2 Timothy 4:20 - "Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus." Or consider the case of Acts 14:11-18 in which Paul, who spoke "in tongues more than all of you" (1 Corinthians 14:18) seems unable to understand the words of the people of Lystra for quite some time, unaware that they were affirming that Barnabas and Paul were gods of the Greek pantheon. Finally, let us ask ourselves why 1 Corinthians 14:1 exhorts us to earnestly desire especially the gift of prophecy, as if we did not have it before. Thus there is scriptural evidence to lead us to the conclusion that spiritual gifts may not be as fixed as we often think of them.

That being the case, what in the Scripture would make us believe that these gifts of, say, pastor and evangelist are perpetual, especially when we have evidence that they are in fact given for a purpose and that God intends for that purpose to be fulfilled and when we see in the American churches plenty of demonstration that the perpetual-pastor / fivefold ministry teaching has as a primary effect the neutralisation of the salt that the people of God are supposed to be?

However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!”
--Numbers 11:26-29

*Being an evangelist doesn't sound as attractive to people as being a pastor, because it usually invokes the spectre of casting aside fear of man and regularly going out to engage lost people you don't know with the Gospel, which is a fearful thing and can lead to confrontation, debate, and sometimes persecution. Further, it is a well-paid gig less commonly than being a pastor is. Tons of people claim to be "called" to be a pastor, and I don't believe those "callings" are legitimate; they are not from God but are from another source. I think that if God were in the business of doing what everyone says He is, He would call a much higher evangelist:pastor ratio than is currently evidenced in American Christianity. Which leads to my suspicion that "the calling of pastor" is something that most people simply imagine is the case.

**This article originally read "every single one", but after publication I was made aware that the readout from Blue Letter Bible upon which I had relied for my analysis had not displayed all NT occurrences of "mechri". It appears that there are two or three that do indeed indicate continuing action after the "until" point is reached. For this reason, I have adjusted my argument.

Andrew Rappaport thinks abortion is no big deal

Andrew Rappaport Abortion has NEVER been the definition of the church.
No one in history has abortion been a definition of the church so aha need to make this case. Since no where in Scripture is abortion ever an issue. Child sacrifice is always that the killing as part of the worship to a false deity and that is not abortion though aha twists it to make that argument

I am sharing because as you can see here AHA is attempting to redefine the church to justify the sin of protesting the church so that they can call these church false churches. I am calling aha to repent
LikeReply4 hrs
Matt Ferro Andrew Rappaport What are the qualifications for a church to be a "Biblical" or "true" or "good" one that abolitionists should not call to repentance?
LikeReply3 hrs
Andrew Rappaport Matt Ferro the gospel not a non-issue from a biblical perspective. AHA twists the Bibke to make abortion a major issue when that was never the issue in the Bible
LikeReply2 hrs
Rhology \\Abortion has NEVER been the definition of the church.\\

Nobody is saying that. One reason is that I am not entirely sure what this statement is intended to communicate.

\\Since no where in Scripture is abortion ever an issue. Child sacrifice is always that the killing as part of the worship to a false deity and that is not abortion though aha twists it to make that argument \\

T. Russell Hunter corrected you on this before, and so did Jordan Hall, for crying out loud.
Psalm 106: 37They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters *****to the demons*****,

38And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with the blood.

39Thus they became unclean in their practices,
And played the harlot in their deeds.

40Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people
And He abhorred His inheritance.

Also, just b/c someone murders someone else in the name of or for the commendation of a false god doesn't mean it isn't murder. This point is not only weirdly obscure, it's also totally irrelevant.

\\AHA is attempting to redefine the church\\

I totally disagree. We are calling the church to be biblical and to hate the things God hates and love the things God loves.
He commands we love our neighbors as ourselves. Who is more in need of love than our preborn neighbors?

\\the sin of protesting the church\\

You keep saying this but never proving it. I keep challenging you to debate me on the topic and you make fun of me and mock me.
Further, you say "the" church. Which one? Do you mean "the sin of protesting churches"? It's OK to stand outside literally NO churches in the USA to call them to repentance?
Also, you disingenuously continue to use loaded words that we reject, like "protest", thus burning a strawman, which shows how weak your position is.

\\the gospel not a non-issue from a biblical perspective.\\

1) Abolitionists love and proclaim the Gospel all the time. Read our website.
2) So if a church believes the Gospel, everyone should just ignore any other sin that church may ever commit or be involved in.
3) Did you just say that child sacrifice is a non-issue from a biblical perspective?

\\when that was never the issue in the Bible\\

So... child sacrifice was never the issue in the Bible.
What about loving your neighbor as yourself?
LikeReplyCommented on by Alan MaricleJust now