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Dec
7

Church Talk not in the Bible

Church Talk not in the Bible Have you ever stopped to consider how many “church words” we use that aren’t found anywhere in the Bible? I’m going to share with you a partial list of terms that Christians say all the time, that you will NOT find in the Word of God. I concede that SOME of these principles are rooted in the teachings of the Bible, the terms, however, are not. MANY of the concepts are not at all supported by the teachings of Scripture, but are, in fact, simply man-made traditions. Man-made tradition isn’t always bad, but when it is elevated to the same level as the teachings of God’s Word, it will inevitably lead to Phariseeism, formalism and pious dogmatism. I understand that asking us to question some of these terms and concepts (to see if they are, in fact, rooted in Biblical commands) will be unsettling to some. I think it is important, at times, to make us uncomfortable as we examine our practices to ensure that they we are not just living out a man-made religion, in the name of Christ. For your consideration, I humbly suggest that the following terms (or phrases) are NOT found anywhere in the Bible (this may surprise you): Pew Hymnbook Steeple Sacrament Pope, Monk, Cardinal, Friar, Nun Pastor (okay, it appears once in the NT)  ______ Senior Pastor Associate Pastor Worship Pastor Reverend Youth Group Sunday School Special Music Worship Team / Praise Band Trinity Rapture Purgatory Eternal Security Accepting Jesus as personal savior Sinner’s Prayer Creed Mass Lent Spiritual Retreat Statement of Faith Candidating Missionary Secretary Offering Plate Choir Robes Church (as a building) Theology Small Group Life Group Seminary Slain in the Spirit Church Board Altar Call Legalism Building Fund Spare the rod, spoil the child God helps those who help themselves Cleanliness is next to godliness Closing eyes to pray Church Service or Worship Service Children’s Church Carry-in-Dinner (Potluck) Fellowship Meal Easter Ash Wednesday Christmas Praying a Hedge of Protection Seed Faith Prayer Warrior / Prayer Partner Accountability Partner Prayer Chain Prayer Request Traveling Mercies Baptismal Clerical Collar Vestments Prayer Covering Spiritual Covering Catechism Session (of Elders) Denomination Millennium Omniscient Omnipresent Devotions Quiet Time Family Altar Social Justice Eschatology Calvinism Arminianism Pentecostal Charismatic Protestant Evangelical Catholic Incarnation Immaculate Conception Worldview Once Saved, Always Saved Ask Jesus into Your Heart Backsliding Confirmation Name it and Claim It Prosperity Gospel Fundamentalist Re-dedication Revival Bible Christianity       …do we have anything left to...
Sep
3

How to Become a Cult Leader (In Seven Easy Lessons)

How to Become a Cult Leader (In Seven Easy Lessons) While I understand that being a cult leader isn’t something to which most people aspire, it seems to me that there are always a number of folks out there (especially religious folks) who are about two steps away from acquiring this infamous distinction; they just don’t know it yet. Or maybe they’ve tried hard and just haven’t had the breaks. Whatever the case, I’m going to help you out by sharing the skinny on what it takes to exercise mind control over other people. (BTW, this article is a satire that contains a serious point stated in an entertaining style. Just have to say that for all my readers who are oblivious to subtleties! 😉 ) Now when I use the term “Cult Leader,” I’m certainly meaning in the classic sense of guys like Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc., but I’m not limiting it to that. The bully tactics described in this essay can also be applied (in a general but lesser extent) to other relationships, utilized by spouses, parents, employers, ministry leaders, or even just controlling friends. Here are the seven strategies you need to develop: Have a Persuasive, Charismatic Personality To begin with you have to be persuasive. People achieve this in different ways. Some use a winsome charm to seduce followers into trusting them. Others use the more enigmatic approach. For example, if you are a man, growing a really long beard and refusing to smile often gives you a certain kind of austere distance that intimidates people into fearing you a bit, and making them suppose you are really wise at the same time (after all, the heavy dudes in the Bible all had beards, right?). It is not uncommon for cult leaders to be a bit eccentric in their style, mannerisms, dress and customs, so don’t be afraid to have a flair for the uncommon and avant-garde. Keeping a bit of a relational distance from your followers, especially at strategic times, can help to create a mystique that is useful. Surround Yourself With “Yes Men” The next big thing is to make sure that nobody in your sphere is ever going to challenge you or call you out. Most healthy Christians will make sure that there is someone in their life who can look them in the eye and tell them they are wrong. However, cult leaders avoid accountability like the plague. They will quickly shun, discredit, slander or dismiss anyone who will challenge...
Mar
11

Accomodation or Confrontation?

Accomodation or Confrontation? I recently watched, once again, a video presentation of Dr. Francis Schaeffer‘s last public meeting before he died in 1984. I was stunned, again, by the precision of his insights into his era, and ours. Dr. Schaeffer’s last two books, The Great Evangelical Disaster and A Christian Manifesto, were nothing short of prophetic. As he approached his death, after fifty years of his ministry, he observed that Evangelicalism over that time could be summarized primarily by one term: Accommodation. There is a syncretism, a relativism within the Western church that accepts and capitulates to the trends of the secular society around it. Dr. Schaeffer had pointed out in his previous book, The God Who Is There, that the true, confessing Church is the last holdout against despair in any given culture. The gospel has a restraining influence on a culture, like a dam holding back the flood of secularism. When worldliness and accommodation have infiltrated the church, a culture has gone as low as it can go morally. Dr. Schaeffer summarized the evangelical situation in 1984 by saying, “The grossest form of worldliness is conforming to the form of worldliness that exists in it’s own generation. If that is true, then we must say that Evangelicalism is as worldly as it can possibly be!” What Should We Then Do? The solution given at that time was that young evangelicals (and old ones) should rise up and confront the worldly church with the truth of God’s Word. (John 17:3, 2 Thess. 3:14-15) More than trying to change the culture, Dr. Schaeffer said the more immediate task at hand was to seek reformation within the church. After Schaeffer’s death, there was an increase in young Christian leaders who really understood the importance of, as Schaeffer would say, “The lordship of Jesus Christ over the totality of life.” Many, if not most, of the ministries that are really making an impact in our world today were inspired, to a great extent, by the message of Francis Schaeffer. In our day, we see passing on of many of the older leaders in the Christian world. In recent memory we’ve seen the home-goings of leaders like Adrian Rogers, Charles Colson, Jerry Falwell, Elisabeth Elliot, D. James Kennedy, and others. Who will take the baton in the next generation and carry the truth of the gospel without compromise? Truth is, by definition, exclusive. To claim that something is true, the antithesis of it must be, according to the Law of...
Jul
13

Two Ways American Christians have Impoverished Themselves

The reporter asked the man on the street, “What you think about the rampant Ignorance and Apathy of our day?” To which the man replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It is one thing when you have something important taken from you by force. We call that tyranny. It is another when you voluntarily throw it away because you don’t value it. The ignorant and apathetic American Church in the 21st Century has voluntarily impoverished itself by disconnecting from two important influences that would help her become more mature and informed. 1. We are almost completely ignorant of Church History. The Postmodern American church acts as though we are the first generation of Christians to ever walk God’s sod. We feel that we must continually reinvent the wheel of theology, worship and practice. Seldom do we stop to consider that nearly all of the major issues of the Christian life have already been explored, pondered, taught, debated and revisited over and over again since the early church. It is quite clear that many Christians throughout time have gotten the wrong answers to many of life’s probing theological questions, but many also got them right. We would do well to listen to the conversations of those who have gone before us. When you understand where you have come from (as The Church) you can far better understand how you should live today. American Christianity has a fixation with the new and novel. Whatever is contemporary, hip, novel and trendy is deemed admirable. This calls to mind the old adage, “Anything that is true isn’t new.” Yes, culture is constantly emerging, and we need to be able to communicate a timeless message to those who, in Ravi Zacharias‘ words, “Hear with their eyes and think with their emotions.” Style and form need some license to be a bit fluid and relative. However, we are in grave danger of the Medium becoming the Message, and the true meaning of our words being swallowed up by the noise and busyness of our presentation. 2. We fail to draw from the strengths of the International Church. I think there is something intrinsically arrogant about being an American. We are born being told that we are the best, the greatest, the smartest, the most powerful, the wealthiest (okay, we WERE the wealthiest), and the coolest people on earth. Because of the effectiveness of the modern missionary movement, which was largely launched from Great Britain, Holland and...
Jun
3

Should Christian Ministries Seek 501-C-3 Status with IRS?

Athanatos Christian Ministries, an apologetics ministry based out of Wisconsin, is one of the few Christian ministries that not only does not have tax exempt status, but deliberately refused to pursue it. In light of revelations that the IRS has been targeting conservative organizations based on their beliefs, ACM’s decision, made in 2008, now seems prescient. On the ‘donation’ section of ACM’s website, there is this simple statement: “In order to operate unmuzzled, ACM is NOT tax exempt.” ACM’s Executive Director, Anthony Horvath, explains, “While it does not appear that tax-exempt status was originally meant to stifle free speech, it is evident that it has become a way to silence the opposition while hiding behind and inside a bureaucracy.” However, Horvath believes the real harm has come from the self-censoring that organizations have engaged in long before the Obama administration decided to turn the bureaucratic machinery against his “enemies list.” Horvath says, “Churches and other tax-exempt organizations have refrained from aggressively stating their beliefs on important issues in order to retain their tax status. Has it been worth it?” According to Horvath, ACM chose not to pursue tax-exempt status to ensure that it would never have to make such a “devil’s bargain.” Horvath believes that 501c3 status would have forced him to be silent on issues he believes are extremely important, or tip-toe around a topic instead of being direct. “I did not want my tax status held as a club over my head, just waiting for the day when some atheist or pro-choice organization decides I had gone over the line. ACM pays its taxes, therefore ACM speaks its mind,” Horvath says. Horvath urges Christians to think carefully about the practical implications of tax policies. In 2010, Worldnetdaily.com published one of his columns urging Christians to develop a theology of taxation, warning that “Christians should carefully test their attitudes about taxation” or risk participating in tyranny. ACM is presently engaged in its annual funding drive, reminding potential donors that operating ‘unmuzzled’ allows Horvath to advocate for pro-life issues and “connect the dots” between one’s worldview and the implications of that worldview. Horvath is available for interviews and may be reached atdirector@athanatosministries.org or 202-697-4623. ACM’s website is www.athanatosministries.org.   Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and Site Editor for...

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© Israel Wayne.