Why Denominations may not be Such a Bad Thing

I don’t really have anything negative to say about denominations. If you look at most, regardless of what they evolved into over time, they were born from a lack of proper attention given to a biblical subject. In other words, they’re here because prior to their existence, we, as the Church, had neglected certain truths and swept them under the rug.

If you think about it, the Bible is a big book. It’s the living Word of God. We have studied it for thousands of years yet continue to mine gold from it’s depths. Like the turning of a diamond before a brilliant light, this Book shines forth seemingly never ending truths as we gaze into it . . .

Dang . . .

Imagine  if I talked like that all the time?

Anyways . . . So it makes sense that we would need various members of the Body to magnify the multiple facets of God’s Word.

In science, you have different studies. Some deal in Chemistry. Others in Biology. Others Meteorology, Anthropology etc. None of these are separate from one another. They do, however all have a different focus. And yet they’re all  working to achieve the same, ultimate, purpose of bringing about good to mankind. The biologist does not get mad or upset when the botanist doesn’t want to focus on  . . .  Eh, whatever it is biologists are into. No, instead he has the bigger picture in mind and knows that even though they are going about it in different ways, they are on the same team, headed toward the same goal.

Maybe we’re Supposed to be Lopsided on our own

The Bible says to no longer know men after the flesh but as New Creations in Christ. We are all members of the same Body and same Family. What happens all too often, however, is instead of seeing ourselves as One, we think that every ministry should be a self sustaining organism. Then we get upset because we don’t feel they emphasize what ought to be how-many-human-body-parts-remain-undiscovered-131111-670x440emphasized. “I don’t like such and such a minister because he doesn’t talk enough about xyz.” “So and so focuses too much on this— not enough on that” etc.  In other words, we’re saying that they’re lopsided and incomplete. And they are.

But if you take that same ministry/minister and place them back in the Body where they should be, viewing them not as a whole but as they actually are—only a part, then a new perspective emerges.

Our Failure to see the Big Picture

The problem is us. It’s our unwillingness to recognize that other believers possess portions of the same truths we do. We want to be the lone ranger standing atop Mount Sinai, with a long flowing beard, dictating everything the Almighty wants to say to His people.

. . . That was a really mangled euphemism— not sure where I was going with it, but you get the idea.

We have this same attitude when we leave a church. We point out all the bad saying, “they don’t do this they don’t teach that. They emphasize this too much they don’t emphasize that enough.” Well, you didn’t feel that way three years prior when you started going, did you? So what happened? You probably grew. You got what you needed. Then the Holy Spirit started taking you in a different direction and you moved on. You should look back in hindsight and thank God for that church instead of criticizing it. I talk to people all the time who say, “I used to like that minister. I’d listen to him all the time. But I can’t anymore. He’s unbalanced.” Well, if God was able to use him to teach and grow you for a season, maybe He’s still using him to teach and grow others who are just entering, or still in that season.

I don’t think we give the Holy Spirit enough credit in these things either. He knows where you need to be and what truths you are ready to accept and so He maneuvers you to that end.

“Well, if its in the Bible, then we should be ready to receive it regardless! If you truly loved God you’d be willing to accept whatever He says.”

Oh brother.

Christians refuse to accept what God says all the time. And i mean . . . All . . . The . . . Time.

If you want to believe you’re an exception to that, I’m not going to wake you up.

Of course, as with anything, what I’ve said on this subject is not all that can or should be said. But my hope is to create a new perspective and maybe rebuild some burned bridges. To remind us we are a family. We should be able to look at all of these ministries and denominations as a gift from God to help us see things that we may have missed otherwise.

And who knows . . . Maybe ignite in us the realization that unity is closer than we thought.

Another Gospel? A Different Jesus?: Why the Hunt for Heresy is in Need of Some Major Clarifying

magnifying-glass

 

Without fail, whenever I bring up this subject, I’m sent a plethora of links to articles and videos that are all missing one thing:

A clear rule of biblical criteria for identifying at what point the Gospel or Jesus  become, “different” and thus damnable.

Seriously guys, if we are going to start a crusade in which we’re making these types of accusations toward others, then it’s imperative that we have Scripture to back us up.

Now, I understand people can take a Bible verse, slap on some commentary, and tell you what it,  “really means.” I get that. I really do.  And that sort of thing can make for a great discussion.  But when we’re dealing in serious issues where we’re charging people with potentially damnable things, you gotta have more.  Folks need to be able to read it in their Bibles for themselves—-without your help as an interpreter.

Why?

Because we have to be sure. There’s a lot at stake here . . .Especially if we’re wrong.

Truth.

Honesty.

Love.

. . . And maybe even our own salvation.

How so?

We have a command to be ever willing to believe the best of every person (1Cor 13 AMP). Sometimes it seems like we practice that passage in reverse, doesn’t it? We’re ever willing to believe and suspect the worst of every person. If you define hate as the opposite of love, then what are we doing when we jump at the opportunity to believe the worst about those with whom we disagree? John said anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and has no eternal life in him—So while we’ve been so quick to bring every one else’ salvation into question . . . Maybe it’s time we were a bit more concerned for our own.

 

Gulp

 

. . . Moving on

 

 

The Challenge

So I’m putting forth a challenge to all those who are actively involved in this popular practice of accusing folks of preaching a different Jesus/Gospel:

Prove it.

I don’t say that in arrogance. I’m saying it out of obedience to 1 Thessalonians 5 which commands us to test and prove all things.

Quote the statement under investigation and show where in the Bible it’s referred to as another gospel or a different jesus.

Notice I said to quote the statement as opposed to naming the doctrine. Why? Because unfortunately folks often hear something, rearrange it, then run off saying So and So is teaching X, Y, and Z. We’re not interested in that. Let’s play fair here and deal with the actual quote and not your interpretation of it.

Now . . . Here’s what I suspect. And I say, suspect, because I could be wrong. But so far it seeface---nervous_2201894ms that the Bible really does not give a measurable criteria in this area. How could it? If I remember correctly, a different Jesus and another Gospel are terms that only occur once in the Bible. The word, heresy maybe a couple more.

And whenever the Bible is not very specific on a subject—Look out! Because folks just can’t leave it alone. So you’ll often see quite a bit of  shoehorning  going on in order to arrive at conclusions.

That’s right, I said shoehorning— yeah, it’s a word. I looked it up.

Many will ask, “Are you saying there is no way to prove false or unbiblical doctrines with the Bible?” Of course there is.  You can clearly demonstrate erroneous doctrines using the Bible.

All day long.

But critics don’t seem content with this. They have to push it to another level. It can’t be just an erroneous teaching. It must fall under the category of a different gospel or another jesus thus allowing for a more direct personal attack with terms like, “heretic” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Look, we feel strongly about this. I get that. It can be a very emotional subject. But if we are going to insist on using such loaded language, let’s also insist that clear biblical criteria be shown.

And in the event it cannot be . . .

Then we need to serve ourselves up a nice big slice of Humble Pie and repent of this sinful, destructive practice.

In Defense of Victoria Osteen

 

 

Okay so I keep hearing about Victoria Osteen’s statement of, “doing good for you and not for God.” I’ve watched the video clip. I’ve heard what Bill Cosby had to say about it. I’ve seen the reactions and the accusations from the Christian community (which are all done in absolute love and with the best intentions—and not at all because we just don’t like the Osteens).

And I gotta say . . . I agree with Victoria.

. . . At least in part.

Granted, I think if she had it to do over again, she may have reworded it. So far, I have not heard her issue any type of clarification, although that may be forthcoming.

Regardless, if we just take the statement she made, and think about it, there isn’t really that much wrong with it. What this really comes down to is whether its right for Christians to seek rewards by serving God.

“We as Christians need to be Christ centered. Not man centered. Selfless not selfish. Full of Christ not”—-Okay okay, we get it, Mother Theresa.

Fact is, we all serve God for ourselves. Of course, not just for ourselves. But anyone who tries to tell me they are not motivated by the promises of heaven, eternal life, or joy unspeakable I just don’t believe is being honest. A quick way to demonstrate this would be to ask ourselves a simple question: Would I still serve God, if I knew I had to spend my life here on earth completely miserable and then die and be in hell forever?

If you answer, yes, then you’re still trying too hard.

There isn’t anything wrong with seeking rewards. The Bible is full of them. And they are often stated as a means of motivation for obedience to God. Deuteronomy 28 is a good example which culminates in chapter 30 where God says, “I put before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life therefore so that you and your children will live.” He tells Israel why they should choose life—so they will live. The promise of blessings were used as a reason to obey God.

Nearly the entire first half of Proverbs chapter 3 instructs us to keep God’s commandments because they will add riches, health, and longevity to our lives.

Honestly, I just thought of these passages right now. I’m sure if you or anyone else were to sit down and give the topic some consideration, you would realize the Bible validates man’s desire to seek things for himself.

Op!—-Just  thought of another one . . .

Romans 2:6-7(NET)
“He will reward each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek ( SEEK! that means that’s what they’re trying to get from it) glory and honor and immortality,”

I realize the, “In Thing” right now is to be critical of the Osteens . . .  Or any minister who is on television . . . Or, really . . .  Pretty much anyone who isn’t us. But Christians need to remember we are called to love.

“That doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to the evils and deception of false doctrine that itches the ears which froths”—-hold up there, Billy Graham. I did not say it did. But what it does mean is that we must always be willing to believe the best (1Cor 13, AMP). That usually doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  So, chances are, our first reaction to things like this will be the incorrect one.

Let’s just everyone stand back, take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “Did I hear that correctly? Is there something I’m missing? Maybe they misspoke.”

I personally don’t listen to Joel because I have a hard time following what he’s saying. So I’m not at all trying to be a defender of his ministry. But I do believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt.