Engaging with Imperfection

On a previous thread, Muppet said:

The Church has been full of imperfections and incorrect teaching since its inception. The Body continues to grow however and moves towards maturity and unity.

How are we supposed to engage with such imperfection? We’re a living part of this Church, we / God must be doing something right. I wish I knew what it was, the tape series would make a motsa!!!

Perhaps another current issue, is will the imperfect ever become perfect – can we make it happen? Aren’t there a few teachings about perfecting the Bride around at the moment?

Somehow or other, the Church survives and moves forward. Movements come and go – perhaps faster now than ever due to technology. Regardless of this, people who desire to follow Christ remain and do the works prepared in advance for them.

Does anyone have any answers to Muppet’s question?



112 thoughts on “Engaging with Imperfection

  1. I was being a little tongue in cheek!

    But it appears to me that the spirit of truth is easier to share than doctrinal truth. Similarly, the spirit of unity transcends denominations and fads etc.

    The reality that lies behind what we do is the person of Jesus. Even if we disagree about the details of what we do.

    I saw a video recently of a young man preaching to African villagers who hadn’t heard the gospel. People were getting saved and then followed up by local pastors. His message was extremely simple, I’m sure if we knew more about him we could pick plenty of wholes in his doctrinal understandings.

    The villagers were getting a revelation of the spirit of truth. Jesus seems to manage to do this despite our imperfections.

    As we mature, it’s important to wrestle with the details but acknowledge our unity based on the simple truth of knowing Him.

    If we knew what we were doing and had all the answers we were be building our churches. As it is, we dont really have a clue, so we are totally reliant on Him building His Church.

  2. “Perhaps another current issue, is will the imperfect ever become perfect – can we make it happen? Aren’t there a few teachings about perfecting the Bride around at the moment?”

    I’m curious to know why Paul wrote his letters. I think he believed that the church could reach a certain state of perfection. I’m also interested why Jesus would tell the church in revelations to also improve their imperfections. It looks like New Testament writings suggest that there is a state of ‘perfection’ the church could aim for.

    If those writers were Spirit-filled, then would a reasonable case be that if they believed the church can be in a certain state of perfection, then we too should strive to be in that state too?

  3. Hi RavingPente

    You asked;

    Perhaps another current issue, is will the imperfect ever become perfect – can we make it happen? Aren’t there a few teachings about perfecting the Bride around at the moment?

    The Westminster Confessions Article 25 tells us that the Church will be imperfect this side of heaven and won’t be made perfect until Christ returns.

    I’m not aware of any teachings about perfecting the bride but it would make an interesting read.


  4. Hi Phil – I am sure I’ve come across some perfecting the Bride teachings somewhere, but perhaps my memory is faulty. (Definitely imperfect.) I think I might have a trawl and see if I’m right or wrong remembering that.

    I personally don’t believe that we can perfect society or our gatherings here until Jesus returns. So I guess we are always ‘engaging with imperfection’. Acting in love seems to be the only answer to my mind. As we know God more, and His work in us develops, over time we will improve.

    But how do we engage with the imperfections such as prosperity gospel where they emerge around us in our gatherings?

  5. In reference to the Bride, we see that Christ is in fact sanctifying and cleansing her, by the washing of the water by the Word, so that he might present her to himself a glorious Church, without spot, wrinkle or blemish. I don’t see where the where ‘perfection’ comes into it, except in the Father seeing the Church through the blood of Christ, which has cleansed the Body of all sin, and the Word, who is Christ, in whom we now have our redeemed life.

    “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

    The general concept of what is being called here ‘perfection’ is actually completion, and this takes place, spiritually, at the cross and resurrection. We are complete in Christ when we receive him as Lord. He is our completion, or perfection.

    ‘For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.’

    ‘…you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight– if indeed you continue in the faith…’

    Hebrews tells us that the blood of animals could never make those who approached perfect, or complete, which implies that the blood of Jesus can and does perfect us in him.

    The last thing to be redeemed is our bodies, which remain subject to the corruption that is in this world, which is why Paul admonishes us to exercise self-control, and to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God. Our soul, or, at least, our minds, need to be renewed to demonstrate the will of God in our lives, but our spirit is made righteous by the blood of Christ.

    We have come ‘to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect’, that is, made complete by the cross of Christ.

  6. I don’t see where the where ‘perfection’ comes into it, except in the Father seeing the Church through the blood of Christ, which has cleansed the Body of all sin, and the Word, who is Christ, in whom we now have our redeemed life.

    I agree.

    There seem to be some strange teachings out there on this, including ‘some’ Christian’s being part of the Bride (being somehow good or perfect enough), and others being matryed while the Bride is kept safe during the time of the Beast. Plus there are other teachings that the five-fold ministry gifts are working to perfect the Bride, rather than simply the blood of Christ. Also, other teachings say that the church is the Body of Christ, but the Bride is the perfected city, the New Jerusalem, as per Rev 21.2.

    Anyway – that was a side track really.

    Engaging with the imperfections of the expressions of church at large is the main topic. But perhaps thats just a matter of living in Christ, and as we go, dealing as He would with whatever we encounter. Does it shed any light on what we are doing here? When we look at questionable doctrines or practices, that’s one way of engaging with imperfections, but do we then alienate those we’d like to help by the way we do it? Our way of helping being rather imperfect itself? Is there a way of building relationships that go beyond these things.

    Teddy’s letter that she posted re Whitfield and Wesley was a great example of that.

  7. I heard that when Jesus said to the adulterer, ‘Be perfect the way your father in heaven is perfect’, it does not mean what we think it means.

    The image that has often been painted is the image of her remaining, spotless, sinless, righteous and radiating a glory like God. The image did not work for me.

    Perfect means something more like completeness, fullness or maturity. Being accountable, responsible and transparent would make us… perfect – even if we did stuff up and were transparent about it.

    The result is when we are this way minded – we carry integrity. Paul, Wesley, our brothers and sisters in Christ – this seems to be a realistic goal – rather than an unachievable one.

  8. I like that S&P. Shows our need for truly honest relationships where we can be accountable and transparent to this degree.

    We can’t be like that with everyone though, or expect that from others. Can we overlook some of the things we don’t like about Prince if he is in a transparent relationship with another believer? Can we see him as perfect, as the father in heaven is perfect? Is it right to judge a church based on our perceptions of the person who happens to lead it?

    I’m not clever enough to debate the doctrine, but surely his heart is in the right place.

    So on a person by person level we can engage with seemingly imperfect churches??? The organisation of that fellowship is purely a means of facilitating aspects of “doing” church (communion, teaching, worship etc), but “being” church is through the inter-relations of people and the living out of their everyday lives.

    “Doing” church will always be imperfect and will bring up issues, but if we respond rather than react we can still “be” a perfect church.

  9. A new banner will be put up soon. Signposts02 will be that much more closer to perfection.

  10. RP,

    But how do we engage with the imperfections such as prosperity gospel where they emerge around us in our gatherings?

    Peter had this to say;

    1Peter 3:15-16
    but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
    having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

    Something I fall far short of much too often….


  11. Thanks, yes, that’s the right quote to answer that question. It takes faith to do that, since its hard to imagine that entrenched cultures will respond to gentleness and respect at times. I like that the verse goes on to say, “…so that when you are slandered…’. Even when we make a defense gently and respectfully, we can expect to be slandered for it at times. That might be an accusation of rebelliousness or faithlessness for not believing the predominant teaching. But at least we will have acted in good conscience and can live with ourselves about it, whatever other people might say.

    Also, I don’t think we necessarily will change any cultures directly by ‘making a defense’ when we are asked about our thoughts on prosperity doctrine (for example), but it might encourage other individuals who are uncomfortable with the same teachings as they start to seek further on those kinds of things. Respect and gentleness are far more likely to encourage better relationships, in which God can work.

  12. The idea that we’ve been living 2000 years of contradicting ideas and doctrines, in regards to Christianity is a wrong perspective. As a “Protestant” we like to pit ourselves against Roman Catholicism and its “traditions” but according to 2 Thes 2:15, there ARE “traditions” that have been passed down by the apostles.

    Further as a Reformed Christian, we like to use the slogan, “Sola Scriptura” or “Bible alone” — however many people think it means the same as “private interpretation alone”.

    Lastly, as a believer in the Sovereign guidance of God/the Holy Spirit throughout these 2000 years of Christianity, I believe we can point to certain doctrines that have indeed been passed down and held in common by all Christians; regardless of denomination. THAT is the Christianity we should focus on. The Reformers issues were more with Papalism than with the Church. Let us not appear to chuck the Church in the process of resisting Papalism.

  13. 2 Thessalonians was written long before Roman Catholicism attempted to poison the trough.

    The traditions referred to were nothing like transubstantiation, penance, purgatory, indulgences, idolatry of saint worship and Mary worship, forbidding priests to marry, the infallibility of papal decision making, denying the people the Bible, political intrigue, corruption and manipulation, inquisitions, burning people at the sake for translating the Bible, or for speaking against Rome, or for being filled with the Spirit, and all the other atrocities and abominations perpetrated by the Mother of all whores. Babylon revisited. The mother of all cults revived.

    The Protestants weren’t perfect, but they had a point. Several points, in fact.

    100 years ago the Church leaders of Protestant churches were far more vocal and scathing of this apostasy. Don’t let our modern moderate silence allow the wolf another day.

  14. Well I suppose those early Protestants like Luther stopped being teachable and then started to become hypercritical of everything he saw in the local church. Then started to tell a select group of his ‘friends’ his ‘concerns’. Then began to subtly put out remarks that indicate he could do better, and draw disciples to himself.

    In the case of the early Protestants you fully support this process and say that to remain silent on it is dangerous. But in the case of the modern reformers you count it only as pride, causing division and say that we should be submitted.

    There are modern equivalents to some of the things you mention, occuring within the Pentecostal movements. Some of the names you call the Catholic church smack of fanaticism and extreme religious intolerance. I’m all for looking critically at an institution and a belief system but that is just name calling.

  15. FL is quite surprising … but actually, when you look at the things that concern him, he is quite correct, although the language is quite tough.

    Wazza also has a point … although I wouldn’t point out Pentecostalism on it’s own.

    I think that Evangelicals have become pentecostal-lite and are now not really Evangelical, while Pentecostal churches haven’t really moved to become more Evangelical. (if you know what I mean … Evangelical being very Bible Literate and interested in understanding and reading and teaching the Bible. Nowadays, that’s kinda old hat. It ain’t fashionable, and it’s a lot of hard work … lets have the quick hit from the Spirit and we don’t need to read that dusty old book.)

    So what might be the modern equivalents?

    transubstantiation, => mystical/contemplative?
    penance, => Bentley’s Restoration Process
    purgatory, => The idea that Jesus went to hell for 3 days and nights?
    indulgences, => Bentley’s Restoration Process
    idolatry of saint worship and Mary worship, => Angel worship
    forbidding priests to marry, => telling ‘ministers’ that adultery is ok as long as they divorce their wives and marry their mistresses, if they get caught
    the infallibility of papal decision making, => the infallibility of Peter Wagner and the NAR
    denying the people the Bible, => NAR and others twisting the Bible and making it less important than God’s New Revelation through the new Apostles
    political intrigue, => NAR and Rick Warren hijacking congregations through PDL and New Revalations etc.
    corruption and manipulation, => breaking churches and families apart through Willow Creek take-overs
    inquisitions => If you are not with the NAR then you are cast out of the Church … 😦

    All roads lead to Rome.


    (And I like Catholics … I have met many Catholics who I would say believed in Jesus of Nazareth … it’s just they have a load of unhelpful spiritual baggage 😦 )


  16. “I think that Evangelicals have become pentecostal-lite and are now not really Evangelical, while Pentecostal churches haven’t really moved to become more Evangelical.” – Bull

    I think that’s true in a lot of places. The big Pente churches especially Hillsong seem to have less ‘pentecostal’ things that might disturb people in their meetings – you have to go to the smaller Pente churches to find these often. When they become big and successful, they often conform more to society around them, just as some things that were once controversial stop being so. Non-Pente evangelical churches have definitely brought more modern music into many of their services, and I guess they have healing services etc at times; many congregation members have experienced charismatic practices which they don’t necessarily leave behind them when they choose a more evangelical church.

    My ex-church was a real amalgamation of the two before its change of leadership, and frankly, I thought it was a good balance. Some used to find it not Pente enough (worship wasn’t as perfect and the crowd was mostly more conservative), but for me after a drought of Bible teaching, having better teaching more than made up for less amazing worship. Particularly when worship was a matter of attitude and shouldn’t really depend on the musicians or sound system being superb all the time.

    However – Sydney Anglicanism in particular, would be horrified at the suggestion that in any way other than more modern worship songs, they had become more ‘Pentecostal’. (So would at least one Presbyterian church that I know.) Anglicanism outside of Sydney is not necessarily the same. Interestingly, both many Pente and Sydney Anglican churches have experienced a lot of congregational growth, while others are struggling.

    Now interestingly we also have churches in Sydney which discretely advertise ministry for those exiting or ‘burnt’ by the big megachurches.

  17. What I left out was that the Pente churches here haven’t noticeably moved to introduce the breadth or calibre of bible teaching found in many evangelical churches, though they sometimes have as mentioned above, ‘softer’, less hard-core services, with less controversial Pente displays. Where there is good teaching, it is usually due to having an exceptional gifted or qualified teacher present, rather than an ongoing pattern of highly qualified teachers being trained or brought in who are like that.

  18. That sounds worse than I meant it to. Didn’t mean to imply there are no Pente churches at all that value good teaching. My ex one was good for many years; also, Mark Connor’s church in Melbourne appears to have a better emphasis on teaching. I think some people don’t realise what they are missing though, if they’ve never experienced a really good teacher in their church.

  19. I think that what I was trying to say is that Pente churches have toned down a little and met the evangelicals half way … but both have neglected systematic Bible teaching, particularly in the Pulpit.

    There are exceptions, of course and different countries will have a different spread … some more pente, less evangelical … others more evangelical, less pente.

    But largely the move has been for independent churches to gradually look more like one another.

    I call the end result Pentecostal-lite. Instead of churches ending up with the strengths of both … the tendency is to end up with the weaknesses of both.

    Instead of Strong Bible Teaching and Passionate Worship … we’ve got luke-warm, fuzzy teaching and straight-jacketed worship. (or am I describing only my own church?)

    I am not pointing the finger at anyone else. I am merely saying that perhaps, in an attempt to broaden appeal to the masses, both expressions have lost something as they come to look like one another.

    Jesus doesn’t want ‘bums on seats’ … he is looking for disciples. And really, it’s up to me to be a disciple … isn’t it?


  20. That’s a very interesting observation Bull. I suppose this is a process that repeats through history. Pentacostalism, for instance, didn’t start as a new method of doing church but an overflow of people’s passion from an impartation of God.

    Over time, it has settled into a methodology which is deemed as attractive to the prevailing culture and therefore looks like many other denominations that have followed the same process.

    We are creatures of habit that enjoy certain comfort zones. But God has a habit of ruining all of this!

  21. You are right Muppet.

    I get fed up of hearing that God is doing a ‘New Thing'(tm)

    He is doing the same thing that he has always done … draw people to himself. God has not changed.

    What happens is that individuals wake up and demonstrate real joy in worship … this can get infectious and there can be a real expression of love, joy and peace in worship.

    That’s really cool. It’s brilliant when the Spirit leads us into such times.

    However, the danger for us is in trying to replicate this over and over again in a formulaic fashion.


  22. First of all, wazza2, you subtly took what I said out of context, and created another argument altogether. I was describing the way church splits often occur. You thoroughly diminish the points I made with your detour. It was in reference to the pride issue. If you add the previous paragraph I wrote to your paraphrase it won’t make much sense.

    Secondly, the RC church was already an apostate organisation when Luther stumbled upon being saved by grace through faith, simply by reading his Bible, which was a largely forgotten and despised practice by his cultish peers up to that point, and, sadly, despite his protestations, throughout succeeding generations.

    Luther’s rebellion against the practices of Rome are only surprising in that it took so long for an unwitting protestant to have either the courage or the survival instincts to finally get the message across that she was apostate and in need of repentance, at best, and complete denunciation, at worse, and actually live long enough to tell the tale.

    In fact, Luther’s intention was never to leave Rome, but to point out that she was far removed from Biblical truth. He remained anti-Semitic, and ensconced in lawless catholic practices, despite breakthroughs in the understanding of grace and faith.

    The Catholic Church continued with its apostasy long after the Protestants moved on into another direction, and the Bible became accessible to ordinary citizens in most lands. We have yet to arrive at the true Biblical model of Church, such is the detour enforced by Catholicism.

    Meanwhile, despite progress amongst Protestants, in the late 19th century, Mary was attributed with immaculate conception, and became the female mediatrix through whom all catholics were encouraged to pray, and through whom even the latest of popes prayed, by their own admission.

    In fact, access to the Bible in their natural languages rather than obscure Latin, wasn’t even partially corrected until Vatican 2, in the middle of the 20th century, after decades of cultism which, at times, bound and diminished the entire civilised world, and bore little resemblance to Biblical Christianity.

    I can remember meeting with charismatic catholics in an inter-church Bible study in a small country town when I was a new believer, and they still were not allowed to have a Bible study without a priest present.

    So Luther was no more than the equivalent of a token judeo-christian pagan coming out of Babylonic paganism through reading the Bible, which has nothing to do with what I am talking about on the other thread.

    Finally, the strength of my language is influenced and born out by many reputable commentaries.

  23. Language like “The Mother of all Whores” as a description for the Catholic Church? Influenced by reputable commentaries? I suggest you widen your reading of reputable commentaries.

    And to call the entire Catholic church “Babylonic paganism” is simply ridiculous, as is calling Luther a “token judeo-christian pagan”. If you cant see shades of grey in every church and admit that there are some things they may have got right – as well as wrong – and consider that possibility for your own church, then in my opinion you are in a dangerous place. In fact “cultic” would be more applicable to this attitude than the way that you have applied it.

    My previous Pentecostal Pastor used to spend a day in the food-hall of the local shopping centre, talking to people. One day he spoke to a man who had cancer. He asked him if he had a church, and the man said he was Catholic. The Pastor said “Well you are fortunate, because you belong to a church which believes in the healing power of God – and you can ask the priest to be annointed with oil for healing”. And he was right, the Catholic church for a long time upheld the supernatural power of God when it had died out in many Protestant denominations.

    And this is not to deny the many problems you have rather gleefully pointed out. The Catholic church is at a crisis right now due to some wrong turns very early on.

    But thats not to say there arent people in that church that are following Jesus and making a difference in other people’s lives.

  24. Heaps of Catholics follow Jesus. I have many friends who are good Catholics, and perhaps many are actually saved despite the error. God is bigger than our prejudices, but he still demands truth. Being good is never enough is it, though? Being a good person cannot qualify any of us for salvation. Only acceptance of the true Christ can achieve this.

    But do they teach the correct Christ? Is that Christ they preach the one who comes down into the wafer at every mass? Are you saying this?

    The point is, though, that you have removed the essence of the original subject to suit your own means. To illicit a reaction. Fine, here it is.

    If you can make their doctrine right then I’d like to see how. Let’s set up a thread and you can correct my understanding of the key points to their doctrine. I would be happy to be proven wrong, but think you’ll have a hard job demonstrating the correctness of their doctrine. Where do you want to start? The wafer Christ? Christening new birth? Anointing of the dead? Purgatory? Indulgences? The worship of Mary? The idolatry of saints? The infallibility of papal bulls? Peter as pope? The death of martyrs at the stake, in fires, the torture of saints? The murder of Huss, the Waldenses, the persecution of Wycliffe, the inquisitions, pogroms? Forbidding to marry? I have no glee in this. It is just fact, or will you hide it away in some religious compartment and let your friends continue in it in ignorance? Where will you begin? Remember this; Luther was correct in his assessment, and it led to wars.

    I don’t ‘gleefully’ point out the extreme error in their teaching. I am rather upset by the prospect of having to say anything about it at all, but since it is a truth that you will know false teachers by their fruit, it is also true you’ll know a cult by its teaching. I’m sorry you are offended by what I say, but it is nonetheless true.

    The reputable commentaries include Adam Clarke and Gill. There are many others.

    Is being a good person enough, brother? I have known many JW’s who love Jesus, but will they make into heaven? Are they being led on the narrow road? Are they in the truth? There is only one Way, one Life and one Truth.

    If you can find any redeeming feature of Roman Catholicism please let me know. Even the change in 1973, only 40 years ago, after 1700 years of error, at Vatican 2, did not remove idolatry from their list of errors. Do you think God now ignores the idol worship of saints, and worse, of Mary as mediatrix? Should we tell our friends, or let them die in their sin and ignorance?

    Better to tell the truth and rescue the beautiful people of that faith than to lie and pretend that their doctrine is correct.

    Where would you like to begin?

  25. How do I know they teach the correct Christ? The same way that I know that you teach the correct Christ, FL.

    Ie. basically I don’t, but I believe that they do for various reasons. There’s no way of knowing for sure. Do they teach some incorrect things about Christ, or do they teach another Christ? What about yourself?

    How many incorrect doctrines do you need to have regarding Jesus before you are preaching another Jesus? Or do you have to have all of them correct? How would you judge which ones are correct?

    “Is that Christ they preach the one who comes down into the wafer at every mass?” Well He did say “This is my body”, are you saying he was a liar or are you “spiritualising” the text?

  26. ‘But do they teach the correct Christ? Is that Christ they preach the one who comes down into the wafer at every mass? Are you saying this?’ – FL

    That sounds rather Reformed!

    Usually we hear that kind of comment when a “Prosperity Jesus” is being opposed.

    Its true that teaching an incorrect version of Christ isn’t going to lead people to know the real Christ. But I wonder how many of us really have a faultless understanding of Christ. I suspect many of us misunderstand or have very limited knowledge of many aspects of Him.

    My suspicion is that Love is the most important aspect. We can probably get a lot of other stuff wrong and still be saved at the end of the day, as long as we know that aspect of Him. Without love we have nothing, and we do not have Him. With love, we may still have other error, but love covers a multitude of sins.

    So whether we are Catholic, Pentecostal, Reformed, Greek Orthodox or whatever, if we walk in the love of Christ, we can walk in Him. Over time, hopefully we will all be brought into more and more truth. If we believe false teachings about Him, our walk will be frustrated, but that doesn’t mean its non-existent, particularly since it is God who does the work of salvation and sanctification in our lives, and He will direct each of us differently for His purposes.

  27. Ravingpente, totally agree. We dont have it totally correct about Jesus or his teachings.

    I do think the major problem for us ia that attempt to control our salvation by objecting Jesus with our theology instead of trusting that God is our salvation.

    Even if we got Jesus theology spot on, we would still make our understanding the golden calf not trust in Jesus.

  28. If you don’t know the right Christ and how to preach him you are in trouble.

    No! Christ doesn’t come down in the wafer, nor is he summoned by a priest. He died once and for all at the cross. He was raised once and for all at the resurrection. Your lack of understanding astonishes me.

    People have given their lives to defend these truths. Burned at the stake for preaching the true Christ and denying the false Christ of the mass. Do you not know the history of this movement?

    We do not eat his literal flesh, or drink his literal blood. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

    We can walk in love, and we fulfil the purpose of the law, but we cannot teach the degree of false doctrine the RC Church continues to teach and not be led away from the true Christ.

    I wonder, with this discussion, how far we’ve been drawn away from the true distinctions in doctrine, and how we have been desensitised to the degree of false doctrine still issued by this church.

    If you can so easily excuse such an obvious cult, why not JW’s, Christadelphians, Mormons, the Lodge, for surely they have a vague element of truth. And yet you readily condemn Pentecostals!

  29. Is Roman Catholicism Biblical? – John Macarthur.

    “In today’s spirit of ecumenism, many evangelicals have called for the Protestant Church to lay aside its differences with Rome and pursue unity with the Catholic Church. Is that possible? Is Roman Catholicism simply another facet of the body of Christ that should be brought into union with its Protestant counterpart? Is Roman Catholicism simply another Christian denomination?

    While there are many errors in the teaching of the Catholic Church (for example its belief in the transubstantiation of the communion wafer and its view of Mary), two rise to the forefront and call for special attention: its denial of the doctrine of sola Scriptura and its denial of the biblical teaching on justification. To put it simply, because the Roman Catholic Church has refused to submit itself to the authority of God’s Word and to embrace the gospel of justification taught in Scripture, it has set itself apart from the true body of Christ. It is a false and deceptive form of Christianity.

    The Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

    In the words of reformer Martin Luther, the doctrine of sola Scriptura means that “what is asserted without the Scriptures or proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but need not be believed.” Roman Catholicism flatly rejects this principle, adding a host of traditions and Church teachings and declaring them binding on all true believers—with the threat of eternal damnation to those who hold contradictory opinions.

    In Roman Catholicism, “the Word of God” encompasses not only the Bible, but also the Apocrypha, the Magisterium (the Church’s authority to teach and interpret divine truth), the Pope’s ex cathedra pronouncements, and an indefinite body of church tradition, some formalized in canon law and some not yet committed to writing. Whereas evangelical Protestants believe the Bible is the ultimate test of all truth, Roman Catholics believe the Church determines what is true and what is not. In effect, this makes the Church a higher authority than Scripture.

    Creeds and doctrinal statements are certainly important. However, creeds, decisions of church councils, all doctrine, and even the church itself must be judged by Scripture—not vice versa. Scripture is to be accurately interpreted in its context by comparing it to Scripture—certainly not according to anyone’s personal whims. Scripture itself is thus the sole binding rule of faith and practice for all Christians. Protestant creeds and doctrinal statements simply express the churches’ collective understanding of the proper interpretation of Scripture. In no sense could the creeds and pronouncements of the churches ever constitute an authority equal to or higher than Scripture. Scripture always takes priority over the church in the rank of authority.

    Roman Catholics, on the other hand, believe the infallible touchstone of truth is the Church itself. The Church not only infallibly determines the proper interpretation of Scripture, but also supplements Scripture with additional traditions and teaching. That combination of Church tradition plus the Church’s interpretation of Scripture is what constitutes the binding rule of faith and practice for Catholics. The fact is, the Church sets itself above Holy Scripture in rank of authority.

    The Doctrine of Justification

    According to Roman Catholicism, justification is a process in which God’s grace is poured forth into the sinner’s heart, making that person progressively more righteous. During this process, it is the sinner’s responsibility to preserve and increase that grace by various good works. The means by which justification is initially obtained is not faith, but the sacrament of baptism. Furthermore, justification is forfeited whenever the believer commits a mortal sin, such as hatred or adultery. In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, then, works are necessary both to begin and to continue the process of justification.

    The error in the Catholic Church’s position on justification may be summed up in four biblical arguments. First, Scripture presents justification as instantaneous, not gradual. Contrasting the proud Pharisee with the broken, repentant tax-gatherer who smote his breast and prayed humbly for divine mercy, Jesus said that the tax-gatherer “went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14). His justification was instantaneous, complete before he performed any work, based solely on his repentant faith. Jesus also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). Eternal life is the present possession of all who believe—and by definition eternal life cannot be lost. The one who believes immediately passes from spiritual death to eternal life, because that person is instantaneously justified (see Rom. 5:1, 9; 8:1).

    Second, justification means the sinner is declared righteous, not actually made righteous. This goes hand in hand with the fact that justification is instantaneous. There is no process to be performed—justification is purely a forensic reality, a declaration God makes about the sinner. Justification takes place in the court of God, not in the soul of the sinner. It is an objective fact, not a subjective phenomenon, and it changes the sinner’s status, not his nature. Justification is an immediate decree, a divine “not guilty” verdict on behalf of the believing sinner in which God declares him to be righteous in His sight.

    Third, the Bible teaches that justification means righteousness is imputed, not infused. Righteousness is “reckoned,” or credited to the account of those who believe (Rom. 4:3–25). They stand justified before God not because of their own righteousness (Rom. 3:10), but because of a perfect righteousness outside themselves that is reckoned to them by faith (Phil. 3:9). Where does that perfect righteousness come from? It is God’s own righteousness (Rom 10:3), and it is the believer’s in the person of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). Christ’s own perfect righteousness is credited to the believer’s personal account (Rom. 5:17, 19), just as the full guilt of the believer’s sin was imputed to Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The only merit God accepts for salvation is that of Jesus Christ; nothing man can ever do could earn God’s favor or add anything to the merit of Christ.

    Fourth and finally, Scripture clearly teaches that man is justified by faith alone, not by faith plus works. According to the Apostle Paul, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6). Elsewhere Paul testifies, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9, emphasis added; see Acts 16:31 and Rom. 4:3–6). In fact, it is clearly taught throughout Scripture that “a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28; see Gal. 2:16; Rom. 9:31–32; 10:3).

    In contrast, Roman Catholicism places an undue stress on human works. Catholic doctrine denies that God “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5) without first making them godly. Good works therefore become the ground of justification. As thousands of former Catholics will testify, Roman Catholic doctrine and liturgy obscure the essential truth that the believer is saved by grace through faith and not by his own works (Eph. 2:8-9). In a simple sense, Catholics genuinely believe they are saved by doing good, confessing sin, and observing ceremonies.

    Adding works to faith as the grounds of justification is precisely the teaching that Paul condemned as “a different gospel” (see 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6). It nullifies the grace of God, for if meritorious righteousness can be earned through the sacraments, “then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:21). Any system that mingles works with grace, then, is “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6), a distorted message that is anathematized (Gal. 1:9), not by a council of medieval bishops, but by the very Word of God that cannot be broken. In fact, it does not overstate the case to say that the Roman Catholic view on justification sets it apart as a wholly different religion than the true Christian faith, for it is antithetical to the simple gospel of grace.

    As long as the Roman Catholic Church continues to assert its own authority and bind its people to “another gospel,” it is the spiritual duty of all true Christians to oppose Roman Catholic doctrine with biblical truth and to call all Catholics to true salvation. Meanwhile, evangelicals must not capitulate to the pressures for artificial unity. They cannot allow the gospel to be obscured, and they cannot make friends with false religion, lest they become partakers in their evil deeds (2 John 11).”

    Adapted from John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994).

    Copyright 2004, Pulpit – Shepherds’ Fellowship. All Rights Reserved.

  30. And then there’s the confessional! Where does this fit into God’s Word? Is the priest now the mediator between man and God, or is Christ? Why is the priest empowered to call down Christ into a wafer? Is he higher than God? This is pure Babylonian hocus pocus.

    It strikes me that there has been very little said on blogs, or in commentary about what has just taken place in Australia regarding the alleged ‘sainthood’ of Mary McKillop. Here is a classic example of abject error, and hardly a word said. I find this troubling, especially since it has happened in 2010.

    So now, thousands of Catholics in Australia have been deceived into thinking they can pray through the new Australian idol, ‘saint’ Mary McKillop, and have their prayers answered! What happened to praying to the Father in the name of the Son?

    Further, thousands of Catholics, and as a result, millions of Australians are now deceived into thinking that the only way to sainthood is through good works, being a priest or a nun, a papal decree, and it can only come from extreme works, death, and a fifty year testing period, during which two major miracles have to take place when living people have to pray through you. Also, you have to have been a practising Catholic in your lifetime! This is rank deception.

    What happened to justification and sanctification through grace by faith alone? Why are the thousands of living saints being dismissed? What kind of evil doctrine is this that deceives entire nations?

    For once I agree, in essence, with McArthur. But there is far more to this deception than he brings out here, although his findings bring out the basic errors.

    I now discover that Jamieson, Fauset and Brown’s Commentary also name the apostasy led by papal error is the mother of all deceptions. Read any commentary on Revelation 17, and you will find apostate Rome and the papacy named somewhere in there.

    Which other ‘woman’ is drunk with the blood of the saints, sitting on seven hills, arrayed in purple and scarlet colours, full of the names of blasphemy’?

    Let he who has eyes to see and he that has ears to hear understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

    As John reminds us, the spirit of Antichrist is already amongst us (1 John 2:18, 4:3).

  31. Just as I don’t consign believers in the prosperity gospel to hell, I don’t consign Catholics to hell. Doesn’t mean I don’t have major issues with the doctrines of both. And there are some major parallels. We are just fortunate that God in His mercy doesn’t save us because of our perfect doctrine, but rather because of our faith in Christ. He wants all men to be saved so will work in all kinds of places to that end.

    Christine Pringle apparently used to make fairly disparaging remarks about Catholics from the pulpit, which was quite upsetting to some ex-Catholics in the congregation at times. And there are undoubtedly some settings where groups of Catholics display the love of God more noticeably than their evangelical cousins in the same neighbourhood.

    Please don’t read into this that I endorse Catholicism! In fact I’ve only just recently let a friend know that I can’t imagine ever becoming one! Or anything else other than just plain ‘Christian’ for that matter.

  32. The strangest reply I heard for years from certain people when asked the question “Are you a christian? The answer always given is – no I’m a catholic!” Hmmm…..

  33. I fail to see where there is a comparison to be made between a prosperity gospel and the errors of Catholicism.

    Prosperity teaching is about what occurs as a result of salvation. Being saved unto good works. Catholic doctrine preaches salvation by works. Being saved by works.

    The whole point of Luther’s reformed teaching is salvation by grace through faith, not of works.

    Whether Catholics are damned by their doctrine of salvation is up for debate, but you know and I know that good works save no one, and even good people will not be saved if they do not receive Christ as Lord and Saviour.

    Now, it is demonstrably true that the RC church teaches a different gospel, which is not another, being false. Paul says, let it be anathema, whether it is preached by men or angels. The gospel he is talking about is that which is received in the Spirit by faith, not that of law, nor of the flesh, nor of works.

    The argument here is about how a person receives salvation, and is received by God, not how we interpret the subsequent lifestyle of a Christian.

  34. Facelift: “The whole point of Luther’s reformed teaching is salvation by grace through faith, not of works.”

    I don’t agree with Luther’s position – but I’m not Calvinist either.

    I believe grace is given to us so we may believe. Faith came through grace so we may be saved. It was an act of grace that he chose to come save the world. Faith was that action revealed in grace.

    My two pennies – and this may be for another thread.

  35. Similarities? Putting men between us and God at times. The authority give to the senior pastor of a movement is very similar to that of the pope. When the senior pastor’s (or movement founder’s – etc) vision is to be followed as an act of submission to God; when they are elevated and held as if to hear more clearly from God than normal congregation members, and when their conclusions, teaching and visions are not to be openly questioned, then they become rather pope like. In fact, the Catholic church probably has more mechanisms to allow discussion of issues than some of these places where the leadership team rules in that fashion.

  36. Faithlift / Facelift – interesting that you can see that Christ’s words are not to be taken literally as you point out here:

    We do not eat his literal flesh, or drink his literal blood. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

    And yet, Christ emphatically told the “Jews which believed on him” that unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they had no part in him:

    John 6:53 – Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him

    So my question to you is thus – why is it that you take many other scriptures literally, especially those relating to wealth, finance and prosperity? If “flesh” and “blood” don’t mean what they initially appear to mean here, why is it that you think riches and wealth mean what they appear to mean elsewhere in the bible?

  37. When we travelled Europe I was astounded by the pervasive influence the Roman Catholic had on its culture. There were many sickening examples but I recall stepping into the Salzburg chapel of the original ‘Maria’ depicted in the Sound of Music story. At the altar was a statue of the holy Mary upholding the baby Jesus in one hand and a miniature church building in the other. The imagery was profound and disturbing; the mother of Christ, upholder of our Church and Saviour. As many people at that time were illiterate, this served as a lasting symbol of the relationship held by the church with God. I have a theory (completely unresearched) that the RC doctrines evolved as a syncretism of popular local folk belief and became embodied within its icons and imagery

    Was Europe Christianized after Constantinople? Has it largely lost its heritage (and become more humanist) than ever before? The conclusion is not that simple. A small handful of people of every generation probably received Christ in spite of the institutional church, not because of it.

    The greatest achievement of the Protestant movement was to introduce universal education and place the Bible in every person’s hands. It would a shame for us now to abuse this privilege.

  38. I gave you John 6:63, where Jesus explains to his disciples exactly what he means. There is a literal explanation, that of the Word and Spirit.

    Since Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of glory, how do you propose to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Communion is remembrance of his death until he returns, not transubstantiation.

    You don’t actually know what I take literally in regard to wealth, finance and prosperity, since I am not discussing this issue. The Word is clear on most of these subjects, however, and I am happy to discuss it with you if you have a specific question.

    But on the question of what means what, since Jesus explained exactly what he meant in regard to eating his flesh and drinking his blood, there is no need to do anything but follow his instruction, and partake of the Spirit and life as offered by Christ. Blood and flesh are covenantal.

    If God gives us the ability to get wealth so that he can establish the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with his descendants, then I guess that is what he means. If God promises he will prosper his servants, I guess that’s what he means. If he says that when we meditate on his Word day and night, and observe to do it we will prosper and have good success, I guess that os what he means. If Jesus says that riches are deceitful, I guess that is what he means.

    ‘Similarities? Putting men between us and God at times. The authority give to the senior pastor of a movement is very similar to that of the pope…’

    That is wrong. No one I know who leads a movement considers himself or herself as central to their belief system as the pope is considered. Can you give me one example with evidence to back it up?

    Besides, the issue is the central doctrine of salvation. I don’t know a single prosperity teacher who doesn’t put Christ and faith in Christ as a central tenet of their belief system, with the cross of Christ and the resurrection as key to salvation, with salvation being by grace through faith, and not of works.

    I don’t know any prosperity teachers who can issue a bull which supersedes scripture, i.e. the papal bull which attributed immaculate conception to Mary in 1854, contrary to scripture.

    You’re attempting to align a hierarchal system akin to Catholicism to Pentecostals, but it won’t work. What you’re actually doing is obscuring the truth that Catholicism is riddled with error to such an extent that it needs to be exposed, and we need to be seen as separate from their doctrine.

  39. Many followers consider their leaders in almost a popelike light. Not quite the pope, but pretty darned close. You yourself seem to regard some leaders in this way. Of course no one would ever say these leaders never make mistakes, but usually what they teach, preach or prophecy is treated as gospel. Questioning is not regarded highly and is regarded as showing some deficiency in the questioner.

    Fortunately its not the case in every church environment. Pentecostalism seems to have a lot of little popes though.

  40. There is a strong clergy/laiety divide, between the pastors and the ‘little sheepies’.


  41. RP,
    ‘You yourself seem to regard some leaders in this way.’

    I do? As a pope? I don’t think so! I know enough about history and the papal errors to absolutely deny that.

    I honour sound leaders, as I am admonished to in scripture. Those who labour amongst us and teach us the Word are worthy of double honour, but I don’t see them as infallible. Those who are accountable before God for our souls should be allowed to guide us with joy, but I test every spirit to see that it is of the Lord. I advise people to do the same when I minister. I tell them they are in jeopardy if they don’t test every word that is preached, and advise that they check all teaching against scripture. Why would I do less?

    Regarding leaders in a ‘pope-like light’ and honouring them are completely different. What is it to a leader if a person does regard them this way. Most leaders I know warn against this. They put our focus back on Jesus, even when applauded for saying something profound. There is nothing wrong with holding our leaders in high esteem, as long as we do not worship them.

    I’m sorry you consider Pentecostalism with such scepticism ad regard leaders as little popes. I do not have the same experience, and have been blessed with excellent leaders who love and serve God and his flock.

    The fact is that the Catholic dogma has done far more harm than anything Pentecostalism has done. Far, far more.

  42. RP,
    ‘There is a strong clergy/laiety divide, between the pastors and the ‘little sheepies’.’

    There is no other movement in modern history that has done more to empower the congregation. The entire teaching of the five-fold ministry is in reference to training the saints for the work of the ministry and to edify the Body.

    It is absolutely the teaching of Pentecostal and charismatic movements that has been instrumental in restoring the Biblical teaching on the five-fold ministry, and the concept of every-member in ministry.

    The separation of priest and laity was always Catholic, and was carried on through succeeding Protestant movements. The altar on stage was Catholic. The altar between the priest and the people was Catholic. The barrier between priest and people was Catholic. The robes and dress of the priesthood were Catholic. The Latin mass, keeping the laity ignorant, was Catholic, and not changed until 1965. The removal of the Bible texts from the laity was Catholic.

    It is a very recent development to include all members as ministers.

    Even Baptist ministries like Saddleback and Willow Creek have been influenced by charismatic and Pentecostal movements which were used by God as instruments in the restoration of the gifts of the Spirit and all-member ministry.

    It was the Pentecostal movements which introduced the cell-group structure for growth and member ministry, which has now been adopted and adapted by all contemporary church movements, and many mainline churches.

    Methinks you do not know church history.

  43. “I do? As a pope? I don’t think so! I know enough about history and the papal errors to absolutely deny that. I honour sound leaders, as I am admonished to in scripture.”

    Facelift! If I say Phil Pringle is manipulative; or if others say he is fleecing his congregation, deceiving his congregation, or brainwashing those in his ministry because they were the victims of such spiritual abuse – you would still CHOOSE not to believe it. And this is what many of our conversations evolve around. It seems to me you idolise Phil Pringle – because you can’t see the hurt he’s doing to others in the body.

    We’ve heard your opinions about dodgy ministers in America. But these are some of the people that Phil Pringle or other ministers and pastors like Brian Houston look up too. And if they look up to them, then there is a conflict between your views on leaders like Phil P or Brian H.

    I’ve seen, I’ve said, but you say ‘it can’t be’.

    What gets me frustrated is that I can quote Phil or share with everyone here what he said on a Sunday night – and you’d think I’m slandering him. Even if I am quoting him in context, or report how he is spiritually abusing his congregation. That’s like telling a reporter they are wrong if they are on the field. Or a student telling a teacher they are wrong. If anyone said ‘you’re wrong’, followed with their ego-waffle than that person in the classroom would be considered an idiot.

    In spite of this, these are the testimonies of people coming out of C3 and Hillsong. The place is rampant with spiritual abuse at the moment. But you will not believe this. People who have come out of these types of churches, but mainly C3 and Hillsong have told me they were ‘brain-washed’, ‘manipulated’, ‘charmed’, ‘treated like a fool’, ‘made gullible’, ‘stuck in a cult’.

    If your family was under C3 ministry – to me, this is the equivalent of having your son under the RC.

    If your son came to you and said he was being molestered by a priest – you would say he is an idiot because that priest is a great and influencial man of God. If your son Facelift was molestered by [snipped out by RP] today, you would go into shock and would not want to believe it. Now remove the issue of sex – the issue still remains: spiritual abuse and those playing a pope-like role over the congregation.

    Not much has changed at all Facelift. Pastors or leaders preach behind the pulpit, but down at the ALTAR. That still has not been done away with. There is still emphasis that unless you go down the front to get prayer to get your heart right before God, you are backsliding – a tactic still used at C3. Sometimes, they are still called altar calls.

    They say all members are ministers… but only if you go through their bible colleges and fit their mould. That is still very catholic. And still… none can question or touch gods anointed.

    I’ll never forget Phil telling everyone when Kong Hee spoke at his church how the world has got the church so wrong and the leadership at his church had it right. He was yelling from the stage – “We know! Trust us!”.

    It was a giving talk – his emphasis on tithe and being faithful with your money to further the kingdom of God – another VERY catholic thing.

    The RC used fear (like Phil), erronous scripture (like Phil), condemnation (like Phil), indulgences (like Phil – promoting greed which i’ll explain later) to further build church buildings and maintain them, (like Phil). It’s not just Phil hear, this is Houston and other churches similar around Australia and those infamous ministries in the US.

    Methinks you do not know C3 presently.

  44. What do the RC and the church have in common today?
    Too much! Those who exalt leaders don’t listen to what others are saying.

  45. So now you’re accusing C3 ministers of pedophilia, s&p? If you have evidence of this you are obliged to report it to the relevant authorities. Whose name did RP snip out for you that you directly accused of pedophilia? Phil? Thank God RP has some sense! 🙂

    I think you should take some time out to study the history of the Roman Catholic Church, s&p. You really have no idea of what I’ve been saying on this thread. Your one-eyed view of the church your in is rather disturbing, and yet you still believe God is telling you to remain there to pull people out.

    None of what I have said in regard to the RCC bears any resemblance to C3 churches.

    I know for a fact C3 Churches preach Christ and him crucified, that salvation by grace through faith is taught, that people are saved by the power of the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day; and was seen of witnesses.

    Nowhere have I ever heard or seen it preached in C3 Churches that we are saved by works of any kind, nor have I heard anything resembling the doctrines of purgatory, transubstantiation, the ceremony of the mass, where Christ is called down by a priest, or indulgences for the dead, the confessional, the worship of Mary as mediatrix, infant baptism, the idolatry of prayer through saints, the idolatry of icon worship, creation of dad saints through whom to pray, the denial of the completed canon of scripture, the denial of Bible reading to the laity, and a host of other doctrines, which lead us to conclude that they indeed preach another gospel.

    C3 churches are definitely taught all-member ministry. The whole concept of what is called ‘Levels’ ministry to ministry teams in C3 churches is the mobilisation of the membership into ministry. The whole idea of what is called ‘Connect Group’ ministry is the mobilisation of membership into ministry.

    You say I don’t listen to what you say about the leadership at C3 or Hillsong, which has never been the issue of discussion on this thread, by the way, but that is not true. I have taken on board what you say. But I also take on board what others in C3 say, and what I see for myself, and what I hear, and what I know.

    I probably know C3 far more than you realise!

  46. fL, just for the record, your speculations re who I snipped out are completely wrong. 🙂 Lets not speculate any further, for everyone’s sake.

  47. FL says “I know for a fact that C3 churches preach Christ and Him crucified etc etc …..”

    Has something changed since we left? That’s why we left, because the gospel was not being preached! And hearing it now helps us recognise what we didn’t hear at C3, FL!

    PP, like you, doesn’t like John Macarthur and other preachers like him, because they have set the bar too high. Their sound exigesis is more spiritually sustaining your unsound eisegesis.

  48. Teddy, that’s a pretty good example of someone seeing what they want to see, without much relevance to what the text is actually saying or its context! There are some quite incredible extensions of meaning made there. Then there are the admiring comments that follow… exactly the attitude that I was referring to before. Sometimes his blog is OK but that’s the sort of entry which makes me wonder what I absorbed there that I still need to get out of my belief set! It’s a worry, but thankfully I can trust that God will show me over time.

  49. What is worse? To keep the Bible in an extinct language so that the laity must depend on an official interpretation – or scribble all over the Bible with your own thoughts and encourage the laity to think it is a sound interpretation?

    The effect is fairly similar after a while. The same types of problems always reoccur


    blah-blah’s question to FL was exactly the question I am interested in. How do we really know which bits of scripture to take literally and which bits to take as allegory? It seems to me that many of the differences between denominations are due to differences in opinion on this.

    For that reason I’m not in a position to condemn the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, because I also take literally some things which other churches take as allegory. We should condemn doctrines which are obviously manipulative and abusive, whether that is indulgences or tithes. But for others we need to have some humility.

    The Protestant doctrine of Salvation by Faith has caused an emphasis on correct knowledge of God through scripture. But correct practice is just as important as correct knowledge, because faith without works is dead.

  50. Teddy,
    ‘PP, like you, doesn’t like John Macarthur and other preachers like him, because they have set the bar too high. Their sound exegesis is more spiritually sustaining your unsound eisegesis.’

    I have never said I don’t like John McArthur. Some things McArthur says are helpful, and I would agree with. But he is a Calvinist, and I’m not, and he is a cessationist and I’m not, so we are bound to diverge on some issues. I don’t love him any less, and I’m sure there are things he would take exception over in my teaching, but he is bound by covenant to love me also. But I won’t set his bar! Let God do that!

    But how has he set the bar too high? What is the height to which we have to jump before we cut it like McArthur? What does it matter if we never reach his heights of whatever it is we fail to reach. God gave him talents. let him use them. I will use mine, and Phil will use his.

    It’s God we please not men. It’s men we persuade, not critics. It’s the foolishness of the gospel we preach, not some exegesis, or eisegesis or other. Know me by my fruit, not my oratory.

    I’ll stand with Paul on this one, ‘I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’.

    The way up is down. In that we can at least succeed. Without Jesus we can do nothing, with him all things are possible.

    If there is a bar, Jesus sets it, not McArthur. And the bar, as far as I can make out, in human terms, is closer to down on our face before God, under His mighty hand, than some dizzy height of man’s devising.

    Unless you consider being seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus the heights, in which case, no one is higher than anyone else.

    Or perhaps our gauge is the length and depth and height and width of the love of God, and, again, we are all equal in this place.

    Those of us who preach the gospel are all fools, we are all base, we are all unwise in the eyes of the world we are graced to confound with the gospel’s foolishness. It is God who receives the glory, not man. The love of Christ, the gospel of peace, the power and Presence of the Spirit, and the grace, forgiveness and mercy of God, are all levellers in our Kingdom.

    McArthur would agree with that, I’m sure.

    Would he seek to make his bar higher than others can reach, as you suggest? Suppose he couldn’t reach the heights he set for himself, wouldn’t I want to carry him on my shoulder to help him rise to his potential, or is it better to climb on the shoulders of the Saviour and reach the mark of the high calling of God, or, on the other hand, is Jesus asking us to descend together, as the Chuch of the Living God, into the depths of the Gates of Hades to rescue the lost? Surely that solves the problem of who is highest?

    Didn’t Jesus’ disciples have this discussion? ‘Who is the greatest?’ Says Jesus, ‘The one who serves’, and, ‘the one who humbles himself like a little child’.

    On a personal level, you say I have no sound exegesis, only unsound eisegesis. How do you reach this conclusion?

  51. wazza2,
    ‘What is worse? To keep the Bible in an extinct language so that the laity must depend on an official interpretation – or scribble all over the Bible with your own thoughts and encourage the laity to think it is a sound interpretation?’

    Well, the difference is that anyone can scribble in any number of translations of the Bible in any language they are used to, and they won’t be burned at the stake, tortured, or thrown into jail for doing so.

    And, even though some things might be, to a person of your intellect, inane scribbling, those who make notes might actually receive the truth if they read their Bible through under the leadership of the Spirit for long enough, as did Luther, rather than depend on the forced teaching of manipulated priests kept in the same state of ignorance.

    Luther was the exception, not the rule, in actually reading the Bible and not the Traditions of the post canon Patriarchs. He was condemned by papal bull for discovering the truth, not commended.

    As John McArthur pointed out, the RCC is guilty of rejecting Sola Scriptura, and introducing traditions which are contrary to scripture, most of which have become their doctrine. It was this fact that Luther rebelled against. So this is what the people were being taught in Latin, which none of them could understand. And all were kept in ignorance and darkness.

    Nowadays we have no excuse for not knowing the true Christ, and how to come to him, and how to be saved, and how to live the Word in our lifetime, because we have the translated scriptures, in our hands, in our ears, on the airwaves, on the net, everywhere, and at hand. Truly the Kingdom of God is at hand.

    What is worse? Ignorance, every time. The blind leading the blind.

    The doctrine of transubstantiation is clearly explained, by the scripture, and all through the words of Christ, as error.

    Jesus broke bread, and shared the cup, saying, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.

    It is remembrance of his death, not calling down Christ by an ordained priest. Christ is seated at the right hand of glory.

    Besides, we are all priests.

    Careful contextual reading of scripture will indicate what is allegory and what is literal.

  52. “…Careful contextual reading of scripture will indicate what is allegory and what is literal…”

    I have never read anything more hilarious in my life! LOL… Thank you Faithlift for an amusing evening thus far.

  53. Glad to be of service. A merry heart does good like a medicine.

    I was going to have a laugh myself before deciding it was better to state the obvious than mock.

  54. By using the expression “setting the bar high”, I should have said that these men simply limit their preaching to faithful exegesis, allowing the “sufficiency of scripture” to do its work.
    Practical application is still involved but not the sort of nonsense we see in most pulpits/stages today.

    Therein lies the power to transform people’s lives.

    If we are all honest about this, we must admit to be sick of hearing more about the preacher’s stories about themselves than we hear of Christ. Too lazy to do their private study for sermons? Have to fill up the void with nonsense and “vain imaginations”!

    FL, this breaks my heart because to see fine young men, hungry to serve faithfully, caught up in copying the methods of the senior pastors simply to please them. This causes confusion because they know it’s wrong – an “spiritual schizophrenia” so to speak, is the best way to describe it.These are bad habits and methods being promoted from one generation to the next.

    Is there hope? Yes – but it could mean eventually a split/divide will occur. There are young C3 men turning to Reformed theology, influencd by Francis Chan, Mark driscoll, John Piper, John Macarthur etc. They are even considering acquiring Moore Theological College training because they feel their own lack of sound doctrine not achieved at C3 colleges. That should come as a warning to the state of the current C3 college system.

  55. I can understand why they would consider Moore College. It would be a far more rigorous course. They may no longer be Pentecostal when they leave though. It could be very difficult for a Pentecostal to make their way through a Sydney Anglican environment like Moore College.

  56. Teddy,
    ‘By using the expression “setting the bar high”, I should have said that these men simply limit their preaching to faithful exegesis, allowing the “sufficiency of scripture” to do its work.’

    Then, from my understanding of scripture, and it’s practical application, they would encourage speaking in tongues, be zealous for the Holy Spirit to use them in His manifestations and gifts, and prophecy would be a facet in their meetings. They might even lift their hands in worship.

    Exegesis is the critical explanation of a text, from the Greek, which means ‘to interpret’, from ex-‘out of’, and hegeisthai-‘to guide, lead’.

    When we take a text of scripture, as teachers, we study diligently to be able to explain the meaning of that passage, using cross-reference, always within the context of the whole, and the context of the people involved in the passage, it’s meaning, it’s prophetic understanding, if present, its warnings, admonitions and instructions, and how it applies to our current situation.

    Since Christ, Paul, Peter, James, John and other writers of the NT used practical personal illustrations, as well as parables, allegory, OT references, and a number of other teaching devices, we can take it that this is allowable within the context of the passages we minister on and through.

    Straightforward reading of a text isn’t always going to reach the lives of people being ministered to, since Bible passages reference the whole scheme of things as well as an isolated incident. Accurate teaching requires contextualisation and explanation. Any illustrative devices available are relevant to the way we minister the Word.

    Then there is preaching, which is different again.

    You say the gospel isn’t preached. I was at Presence Conference last week, where J John and P Pringle held evangelical rallies in the night sessions. Hundreds were saved. The gospel was preached by both these men. With simple clarity and power.

    J John was brought into C3, an Anglican canon, because his teaching on preaching the gospel is so excellent, and fruitful. The C3 movement is being focused on the harvest by the introduction of gospel preaching teaching by such people. J John is widely recognised as one of the most effective communicators of the gospel at present.

    Interestingly, to this discussion, he uses many illustrations and anecdotes to highlight the means by which we can be effective in one on one soul-winning.

  57. The way we read the Bible seems to be important here. Religion can be defined as a group of believers who follow certain guidelines and rules that give it it’s sense of community.

    In this, we are all religious to an extent.

    However, if we read the Bible and interpret it so that it gives us the rules to live by, we heighten this sense of religion. We therefore get different denominations (communities) as a result of different interpretations.

    Religion puts us at enmity with each other and the world because we set ourselves apart.

    If we read the Bible as a revelation of what God is doing in us and through us, it becomes more of an explanation than a rule book. This is far more personalised and will bring up variations according to our experiences in God. There differences in our understanding of Scriptures become less important, and our relationship with God and each other becomes paramount.

    Often we purely take the Bible as a rule book and try to build His Church through following its rules and so we build religion, enmity and arguments over little things. Our relationships can become tainted with manipulation and control etc.

    Instead we should use it to help us see what God is doing and how He is building his church through the lives of every individual believer.

    I have friends who by background are Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox etc. They get on well and are able to share a like spirit, because they relate individually not through the rules and interpretations of their denomination.

    What PP gets out of reading the Bible is great! But for him. I’m totally different and unique (as we all are). As I abide in Him, He writes His guidelines on my heart which changes who I’m becoming. Reading the Bible myself becomes my personal revelation of what God is doing in me. My doctrinal understanding might not be 100%, but then I’m not telling others to live a certain way based on my interpretations.

    Does this sound Heretical?

    Where is Heretic for that matter?

  58. I’ve met pentecostal students from Moore,(we had one as a student at the first Anglican church we attended after leaving C3) they are challenged but in the right way. They apply their beliefs biblically now, not swayed by by the “fad-driven” stuff that keeps coming our way.

    As I’ve mentioned on other posts, pentecostal pastors in the States are coming around to a reformed view, and their churches are very biblical in their application of the “gifts”, everything in order! Iron Sharpens Iron is a radio programme where these pastors have round table talks and it’s very interesting to hear what’s happening.

    My views have changed considerably, as you know, 22 years of “stuff” that needed to be challenged. My passion for Christ is deeper and stronger as a result.

    Another point to bring up, when an established church decides to align itself to the C3 movement, but perhaps still continues to preach in their own way, perhaps even biblically, why make the alignment in the first place?

    Thoughts anyone? Perhaps a visitor here who has made that transition? Hmmmm…..?

  59. I thought you would be there FL. JJohns preached at our church 20 years ago. I know he’s good.

    Sad to think C3 has to bring in an outsider to preach the gospel soundly! That was my thinking over the last few weeks anyway. That’s what C3 is entitled to hear every Sunday but apparently PP is too busy planning the next “event”

    PP twitter today “Planning C3 Global Vision 2020 Conference in KL for Aug 2011. Heart pumping session! Guys way too excited!”

    I’ve spent 22 years listening to PP, and 5 years listening to the alternative , there’s no comparison, FL.

    I’m not going to argue with you FL, as I’ve said many times, you’re the “old” me. And the “old” me wouldn’t have a bar of John Macarthur et al.

    So lifting hands doesn’t happen in an Anglican church? Really? Then don’t visit mine, you might get disillusioned! Tongues? Been there, done that, I didn’t have the true gift of tongues (with interpretation) but I do have other gifts that have found their true fulfillment in the body of Christ.

  60. By the way FL, I’ve challenged C3 pastors over the issue of “tongues” as practiced at C3 and they totally agree with me. They don’t like it, they know it’s not done biblically.

    Fear of PP perhaps :(, or losing their jobs :)? Maybe they should bite the bullet and trust God to see them through into ministering in a more biblical church?

    I pray they do.

  61. Muppet, what you say makes sense. I don’t think it’s heretical. There is a temptation to make rules out of grace and form religion. There is far more commonality between Christians than is often realised. Denominalisation has drawn lines which make interaction more difficult than it should be, and creates loyalties which shouldn’t exist.

    Teddy, John McArthur is a cessationist. As long as he persists with this line of thought he will thwart the purposes of God for this age. I believe cessationist theology grieves the Holy Spirit. To remain a cessationist scripture has to be reinterpreted. It is a serious flaw.

    Reformed theology gives a completely different understanding of how the sovereignty of God is manifest, and, in my opinion, is one of the main divisive aspects of modern theology, since Reformed teachers are far more rigid and less likely to make allowances for differences.

    To illustrate this, most of the so-called ‘discernment ministries’ have Reformed or Calvinistic theology as the basis of their understanding of scripture and how it is interpreted.

  62. Muppet, don’t you think that leaves the church wide open for spiritual attack? The Bible isn’t a set of “interpretations”. It’s the Truth delivered, once and for all – there can only be one Truth.

    One of the major problems is approaching the Bible with the view “what does it mean to ME? Rather the approach should be – what does it MEAN.”

  63. FL, answer the question about established churches that align with C3. What’s in it for them?

  64. Teddy, I wish you well with your current church and line of thought. I don’t think you like PP very much, and that’s sad.

    Following John McArthur is fine. He’s a good minister. I don’t agree with some of his ideas. I don’t agree with all PP’s ideas. No one agrees with all of mine!

    But you are not stupid. You must know that your current theology is far removed from C3. It suits you, and of that I’m glad, but there are those of us who would consider some the Reformed theology to be dangerous, so how can you possibly have a happy conversation with an existing C3 pastor? You won’t bend, and they will either be unbending, indifferent, or make allowances for your unbelief and different understanding.

    I think you have a recipe for strife if you are working to pull people out. Better to love them and trust God to work them through issues.

  65. Love, trust, warn – a biblical principle I practice.

    Do I like PP? Yes, I do and I’ve have said before that I believe he is a man of personal integrity. But I also believe he has gone down a path that takes him further away from sound doctrine.

    And I have wonderful relationships with C3 pastors. Pastors that are being woken up by the Holy Spirit, not by me, to His Truth. You know too little of me and who I am FL, (or maybe not), doesn’t matter.

    I’m not in something that “suits” me, Fl. I was dragged kicking asnd screaming to this position and have never felt more grounded in His sovereign grace.

  66. By the way, prayer works! Hallelujah! C3 Pastors wanting to go to Moore College – an answer to prayer!!!

    Oops! Just had a pentecostal moment:) Hummmph!

  67. Teddy,

    We discussed on a different thread the subject of the Bible being the Word of God. Some believed the Word of God to be a person. And so the Truth is a person. That is my understanding. The bible is a lamp unto my feet, but the light in the lamp is Jesus.

    We are always open to “spiritual attack”, being part of a denomination doesn’t prevent this.

    But the way I read the bible helps me relate. I don’t relate to C3 so I have nothing to get angry about. I relate to people who attend C3 and that is great.

    But you have mentioned that you have felt controlled by C3. Isn’t this because of expectations, guidelines and interpretations of an organisation that you felt obliged to follow? Isn’t this a common problem of most denominations / organised churches?

    I like FLs final comment “Better to love them and trust God to work them through issues”.

  68. Sorry Teddy, a bit of cross over here, my comments are a little redundant in the light of your last post.

  69. I think you might be confusing me with Specks? I’m not “controlled” by C3 at all. Only a great concern for loved ones. We left three years ago – we have family still there, who are seeing the problems and are praying for change, others are pastoral and can bring that change about with time and much prayer.

    Some family members visit our church and love it, but it’s the C3 “community” spirit (can’t fault that, but it’s not enough to feed them spiritually) that keeps them there, not the preaching/teaching. Sad.

  70. Are yes that makes sense. Are they still new Christians? Do they still need to be fed spiritually by C3?

  71. Not being at all familiar with the organisation, can anyone here enumerate the main doctrinal issues (separate from style or liturgy) they have with C3 and any material that would support this concern.

  72. They are not new christians – it’s their maturity that’s causing their concerns. We took the next step and left. It’s a journey many are on – my analogy about “scales falling off eyes” works well here.

    It’s a world-wide phenomenon Muppet, just the tip of the iceberg, something’s going on.

  73. @Muppet: Heretic just doesn’t want to get into arguments with FL at the moment. He often puts a bit of effort into his comments, and doesn’t have much time to spend on the thought process.

    I’m too busy to think much right now too – so I’m sticking to light comments, that don’t take too much time.

    I’ve just migrated my PC to an Imac, so I’m spending some time getting familiar with virtual machines and new environments. And planning renovation work. Got plumbers outside at the moment removing a gully. Slow progress, and I don’t like to get work done until I’m almost 100% certain I’ve got it pinned down, so it takes me ages!

  74. A similar experience to ours…..


    Now this will probably engender all sorts of defense from FL, but until he is more forthcoming about his association with C3 i.e. time spent under its umbrella, time spent with C3 pastors and teaching, his current affiliation etc, he has nothing to bring to the table (as others do).

    Has he had 22 years of C3 association/leadership under his belt? Has he sat through what many of us have – look at RP’s experiences for example? Has he ever questioned the, sometimes, aberrant methods? If so, what was the follow-up or result? Has he sat through staff meetings with questions unanswered, because of the pastoral “agenda”?

    Finally, has he ever experienced the “pain” of coming out of something he once loved. Has he had a pastor (like PP) who was not really interested in why people, once so loyal, leave – but who was more interested in defending his “prosperity” theology and ignored the part about not preaching the gospel!

    Sadly we are not a minority anymore.

  75. Yes I know it’s the tip of the iceberg. What I was getting at was that if they are mature Christians they don’t need PP to spiritual feed them, they can do that for themselves and for each other. C3 is merely a way of getting together (amongst many others).

    Understanding that the bible reveals the Truth (Jesus) rather than simply rules and guidelines, they can take a lot of PPs teaching, that he relates to C3, with a pinch of salt!

    I’m sure PP says a lot of good and inspirational things aswell, mixed in.

    I don’t think the problem is so much doctrine, as the religious outworking of it. I left my church, not because I couldn’t agree with what was taught (though some of it I did question) but because I had to be either in leadership or being trained for leadership – I couldn’t in good consciousness go along with that. The reality is my life is one of leadership, but I would have felt stiffled to follow their models.

    The religious outworking is what I’m trying to get at. On the discipleship thread there was a conversation about needing to know the Bible to know how to live and how to disciple. This is living out life from the stance of theology (ie thou shalt not commit adultry). The outworking of this is religious and we argue about doctrinal interpretations.

    We need to know the Bible so that we can see the amazing changes God is bringing about in us as we abide in Him (thou shalt not commit adultry is no longer a command but a revealing statement of who God has made us into as He changes our heart). This is coming at bible study, discipleship, fellowship from the point of relationship not organisation. The outworking is we ARE the body of Christ.

    Sorry – rambling and forgotten my point!

  76. I think my point was that we as individuals are the church not the organisations. Roman Catholic, Pentecostal – who cares – what is God doing in us as individuals??? – What is the culmination of all our individual lives regardless of which religious club we belong to?

  77. A lack of decent teaching in churches, teaching about the person of Christ and what He believed and how He lived, can be tragic. When we become Christians, and get to know the person of Jesus better, scripture shows us what He believed and how He lived. When all the teaching focus in churches is on the pastor’s vision, getting more people saved, and simple works such as tithing and appropriate attendance at church meetings and home groups, then people don’t hear what Jesus was like.

    They can’t really learn because all the focus is on activities which in some ways support the pastor’s vision to expand the church. It is assumed that in these activities, somehow the people will learn what they need to learn to become ‘good Christians’, and because of their faithful involvement, God will bless their other endeavours. But this does not automatically happen.

    This is not what God wants. Teaching with these goals is all about churches accomplishing works of some kind. It’s not works based salvation, but it is about doing ‘stuff’ that somehow is evidence of faith and achieves the purposes that we are told are God’s – which are usually incorporated in the senior pastor’s vision. It doesn’t focus on demonstrating Christ to people or value relationships over achievements.

    God wants us to know Him. This is what this all about. When the focus is always on achieving church goals, even evangelism, its not on teaching people Who Jesus is, or what He believed. The understanding of what He believed and taught is interpreted through the agenda of the church’s vision, distorting it, rather than through a plain desire to understand Christ better. So if you go along and support the church vision, you must logically be supporting what God wants. But what God really wants is a relationship with us in which we come to know and love Him and understand His love for us. By this we are transformed, and will begin to treat each other with the respect and love that Jesus did.

    If there is little or no teaching on the person of Christ, and what He believed, and only on how to be religious, then when people have a crisis in their life they will not cleave to Him and his ways. They will try to sort things out in their own strength, in ways that are no different from the way anyone in the world would try to address them.

    Positive thinking for example. Superstitious behaviour. Giving up and leaving one’s spouse. Caving in to pressure to do the wrong thing in order to win or keep a job. Etc. They will not have the the faith in the Way of Christ that will allow God’s transforming power to work in their situation.

    Magic won’t have worked for them – eg: giving so that God will answer their prayers – so they may even become resentful and angry at God. They may even feel condemned by their congregation, since things have gone wrong because they must have not done something they were meant to. Their relationship with God suffers, because they didn’t really know much that was correct about Him and had wrong assumptions about doing things to make other things happen.

    So they are poor, and they have not been much enriched by all their time devoted to church support and ministry. Then the rubber hits the road, they go into a crisis, and find out the hard way that the stuff they’d relied upon doesn’t work. Somehow in all this maybe they question what they’ve been taught and go back to the person of Christ. In that, healing may be found, but only after great cost.

  78. Sounds like “works” (supporting the vision)not “grace” (trusting in His completed work), doesn’t it RP? .

  79. Yes very good RP. The thread is about engaging with imperfection. Based on what you said, wouldn’t it be better to hold the organisation (activities etc) very lightly and concentrate on getting what you can out of an organisation like C3 (ie fellowship, whatever little teaching on Jesus there is etc)and have no part of the rest.

    C3 is not a church, it is a resource to the church (us). We can boost our teaching about Christ in a number of ways (internet, books, friends etc). We can choose to be a part of some activities or we can choose to not be a part of any of them.

    We have friends that go to a local mid-week fellowship group, but have nothing to do with the church in any other way.

    Is it wrong to engage with such organisations on our own terms?

  80. Where does leave that the next generation Muppet? We are all a generation away from unbelief e.g. OT Israel. God commanded them to pass on “sound doctrine” to their children – how can we do any less?

  81. Not sure what you mean Teddy? Why are we a generation away from unbelief? Didn’t Jesus say that He would build His Church? Isn’t He continuing to do this?

  82. Yes very good RP. The thread is about engaging with imperfection. Based on what you said, wouldn’t it be better to hold the organisation (activities etc) very lightly and concentrate on getting what you can out of an organisation like C3 (ie fellowship, whatever little teaching on Jesus there is etc)and have no part of the rest.

    – Muppet

    It is good to do that if you can. I couldn’t, so it was better to leave. Depends on the environment you are in, and on your own history.

    One reason we left was that we were getting a bit too worked up after the Sunday services once we got home, by some of the things that were being preached. Not desirable fruit in our lives. Also, we found that we couldn’t stay easily in a place where we couldn’t share with the community what we really thought. I was constantly censoring my reactions to what was being preached, and could only say things if I was willing to be controversial. That only upset people unless they already had the same issues with it as I did (and there were a few of those, admittedly). So it was hard then to honestly share with others and be ourselves without upsetting people.

    On the other hand, our personal relationships with individual people haven’t suffered, so in terms of engaging with people who are a part of that environment – well, we continue to do so. On a personal relationship level, the issues we had with preaching etc don’t exist.

  83. It is possible that at some point I’ll be able to engage with a church organisation again. Possibly if my kids want to go for example. Or if something worthwhile pops up in my neighbourhood. But I need time to disengage, and get some of the unwitting religion out of me. If I was to go anywhere now, I think I’d imagine all kinds of pressures, even if they weren’t there. It’s anathema to me at the moment, which probably just shows that there’s still some work to do in me.

    I – just – can’t – go!

    Thank God that I don’t have to if I don’t want to!

    There is certainly nothing wrong with ‘engaging with such places on our own terms’. I could for example imagine attending a local church bible study during the week, or some other activity for its own merits. Or even just to engage with other Christians.

  84. Of course Jesus is building His church, and a perfectly healthy one at that. However, what qualifies a group to call themselves the “church”?
    Sound doctrine which produces true believers.

    And where do we send our children, what are they receiving in church, besides the latest video games etc that amounts to kids ministries these days? Continuing the concept of church being all about “ME”.

    Children, like us are spiritually deficient in that they are sinful and do not know God personally. As parents we have to create an environment and a context which allows them to develop in these areas.

    Our children are at risk if we expose them to unsound doctrine (or none at all). Compromise the gospel and the next generation compromises what they have “received” even further and then we have the sin of “unbelief”.

    I have friends saying “What does it (doctrine) matter as long as we all get along!”

    I would hate to see my grandchildren exposed to that sort of thinking, and fortunately they are not because of the sound biblical input they receive at home.

  85. RP, I totally support your decisions. That was the hardest step for me to take, trying another church. It could have been a disaster!

  86. Teddy – “… and fortunately they are not because of the sound biblical teach they receive at home”.

    That’s great – isn’t that the key?! The children see who you are and it is backed up by what you teach.

    Rp – I wasn’t providing answers, just asking questions. I am in the same situation, I have left my church, unable to stay because of the implications of how my life would look.

    Many of our closest friends are still active members of the church and we have great times together.

    I’m not looking to go back to a local church though, I’ve yet to see the benefit of going to one when it is more fulfilling and richer to live relationally with one another with Christ as our head. We gather and have community in a variety of ways with other believers without having to be organised to do so by someone else.

  87. Well, I don’t have a problem with what Rick Ross says, Teddy. Basically his site quotes newspaper clippings about various ministries. Fair enough, although Hillsong cops it from the media, whilst JW’s are treated favourably!!

    He doesn’t think much of John McArthur, though!


    I’m not sure it’s very fair of you to set the agenda by which I am qualified to comment. My association with C3 is more recent than yours, but no less relevant. I have been in a position of leaving a movement in sad circumstances, which I’m not really in a position to discuss publicly, since we decided to move on and walk in love, but there were issues which were badly dealt with, and much pain to recover from. We live, learn and grow up, eh!

    I admire anyone who is the same church for 22 years. That’s quite an achievement. There must be a point at which a person has heard most of what the senior ministry has to offer in terms of teaching. I have three times offered to move on from our position in our church on the grounds that people must have heard my ministry several times over, but they are happy for us to continue, especially in view of new arrivals who haven’t heard it all before. They are ether very gracious, or gluttons for punishment!

    As Muppet indicates, once we have been under a ministry for a significant amount of time there comes a time when we need to step up to a level of ministering to others more than we are ministered to. I think I’ve brought this up before. As Hebrews 5 indicates, we need to become teachers, able to discern right from wrong, and bring new converts along.

    We also become more responsible for our spiritual and scriptural intake, allowing the Pastoral team to concentrate on new converts and newcomers. We take some of the load, and assist in the growth of those who are coming in.

    It is always a dilemma for a Pastor when he has to decide the depth of teaching, especially in the main weekly meetings. He has to be able to serve a meal which has milk and meat, which is not always easy, especially when those who crave larger chunks of meat complain that their portion have been cut into smaller slices than they would like to chew on, and those who are still on the milk think they might choke!

    Others want miracle meetings, healing meetings, worship meetings, repentance meetings, prayer meetings, prophecy meetings, needs-met meetings. How do you get the right mix? You can please everyone, so best to please the One!

    We provide Sunday night meetings with more expository teaching, plus Bible School style midweek training.

    It is also important to maintain vision and vision-casting, since there are people who can’t function without being shown exactly where we are going, and how we are going to get there.

    Depending on the size of the church, and the demographic, a Pastor is obliged to know the state of his flock, and to give exactly what is required for the whole, not focus on a few, whilst not abandoning them either. If he can get this balance right he is doing well, but I have yet to meet any Pastor who has got this right over a sustained period of time, since there will always be those who don’t feel they are being correctly catered for.

    After 22 years you should be chasing meat, but I don’t think you should be upset at Pastors who feel obliged to continue to serve some milk to new-borns and infants.

    I’ll comment on McArthur’s doctrine later.

    RP, I am slapped! I have been teaching on one on one evangelism. I am sure the Holy Spirit told me to do this, so I’ll continue, despite your protestations. 🙂 I have also been sharing our vision. Again, by the leading of the Spirit. The good news is that people are enjoying it and excited about leading their friends to the Lord, nd growing the church. I think it’s part of our mandate and charter to train up the Body for the work of the ministry and to build one anther up in Christ.

    You can give this guarantee to Heretic from me, that I won’t argue with him unless he demands a response. I have not commented on any of his comments on other threads for this reason.

  88. I had no intention of ‘slapping’ you, FL. I’m not implying either that there should not be evangelism taught, including one on one. Just lamenting the absence of some things in places I have been, in the light of the sad results I sometimes see, and am upset by.

    These days I don’t think there is a church that has completely sound doctrine – I think we’d all agree on that – and its really where the heart is that counts. Is the heart with Jesus and wanting to understand Him better, or is it in achieving things ‘for His sake’ but not really in the getting to know Him?

    Yes Teddy, I think that there was a lot of work based thinking – by some – but also they definitely believed in grace, and maybe couldn’t see how the works mentality had intruded and become religious. There are also plenty of people who don’t succumb to the works mentality, and through a relationship with Christ can freely let go of that, participating as they feel called to, without feeling guilty if they choose not to or to withdraw from some things. They think independently and kind of filter out any pressure from some of the dubious things taught. Often because they’ve had other kinds of teaching or their own bible reading prior.

  89. FL, just for the record and so we can put this topic aside and move on, the last thing we ever wanted was to leave C3. Even with the obvious flaws, and various issues that arose occasionaly. This was OUR church, and we had great relationships with lots of wonderful people – we were going to be carried out in our coffins as far as we were concerned.

    But God, but God, but God, how many times can I say these words! Something happened and our hearts were broken, and broken by His Word. As I say so often, it was as if scales fell off our eyes and suddenly, we were out in a wilderness of, literally, despair!

    We were NOT seeking this! But it happened, and we were left with no choice. Did we seek counsel? Yes, but to no avail. All we heard was, “chew the meat, spit out the bones”. But the gospel is a pure thing, and we knew we had to deal with it biblically.

    PP wasn’t interested FL! That’s such a sad thing, like finding out your husband or wife is not really in love with you. True biblical love is rooted in truth. When we truly love one another, we will uphold and teach each other God’s truth, “admonishing each other in the teaching of Scripture”. To do any less is to, in effect deny, that we truly care and love God and one another.

    We never had PP on a pedestal as so many do, we knew and loved him rather too well to do that! In saying that, PP knew us rather well too, so his reaction could initially have been just shock, but still no “let’s talk about this etc etc”. One thing we know about PP, he demands absolute loyalty, and if you seem to “violate” that, well, what can I say?

    Enough said, so Fl, while you are on your hunt to find more reasons to not like John Macarthur’s theology, search out John Piper, Jim McClarty (my absolute favourite!), Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Paul Washer….. I thank God for all their ministries and their faithfulness, in being part of our journey.

  90. Teddy, I didn’t raise C3 as an issue here. I was responding to Roderick who claimed we should embrace the traditions of Catholicism. You, I and John McArthur at least agree that this is not an acceptable idea. Then wazza2 supported the Catholic cause and it was on! 🙂 What followed this was the strange assertion that C3 is no different to historic Catholicism!

    You may say I have a problem with McArthur, and I do on some key issues, if not all, but my reticence to consider him sound is well founded. I point these things out because you are very determined to align C3 friends with his doctrine.

    On his Grace Community site, in the key ‘Distinctives’ section, where he outlines their church’s essential ethos, he includes, amazingly, ‘Speaking in Tongues’, and goes to great lengths to discount speaking in tongues as a modern Church phenomenon.

    To me, that is putting a block on his membership, which is a mega-church, and those associated with his ministry, on discovering for themselves whether this is a gift of God for today, or not.

    Having studied his exegesis, it is clear that what he says is error. I will go into it in more depth at some stage as matter of personal study, but he has, in my opinion, in view of his popularity in some circles, done the Body of Christ a great disservice with his attitude, which is carried through in his controversial work called ‘Charismatic Chaos’, which has been widely criticised for the depth of vitriol aimed at charismatics, and, by association, Pentecostals. From the outset, he takes the worse of these movements, and they are definitely out there, to falsely demonstrate his argument, then, as with his ‘Distinctives’ section, takes selected scriptures to falsely emphasise his doctrinal stance. This is not exegesis, but eisegesis.

    You can check this for yourself:


    His ‘Distinctive’ on tongues is error strewn and dismissive of debate. Even the historical analysis is incorrect, and leans towards his own stance, rather than offering an open discussion on what is surely a important issue.

    Thus he removes form his mega-church, and associated works, and anyone who follows him, an important tool in the armoury of the Church, and, along with this, his cessationist theology disarms his followers of the essential gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, the Spirit of God, who Personally tells us He is the Lord who does not change.

    In other sections of ‘Distinctives’, which I will review in more depth, he claims that miracles and healing through the Church have ended.

    He also claims that the only earthly leadership authorised by God is eldership, and uses scripture out of context to illustrate this, whilst completely leaving out the key passage in Ephesians 4:11-21, which references God’s ministry team for leadership in the Church. He is also adamant that women do not feature in the eldership structure of churches, hence the misogynist claims of some critics, although many traditionalists, including David Pawson, would agree with him on this.

    As to the other ministries; I will attempt to review their teaching, of course, but, so far, have found Paul Washer to be an extraordinarily angry young man, and extremely sin conscious rather than righteousness conscious. Some one to listen to occasionally for a slap in the conscience, but not all the time. He makes John Bevere seem positively cuddly!

    I think attempting to push a Reformist, deeply Calvinistic, cessationist doctrine on C3 people isn’t either helpful or wise. Go is not the author of confusion.

  91. Having listened to many sermons and talks by JM, where he has shared the “providence” of God working in his life and many others, sharing the wonderful interventions he has experienced, I have absolutely no problem with John Macarthur, end of story.

    I’m not looking to this blog for answers but have been very grateful to find I’m not alone in my “issues” with C3 and the reasons why we, and others, have left.

    Yes, you’re right, God is not the author of confusion. But C3 is has definately “authored” plenty of their own.

  92. Getting back to Muppet’s original question. There is no easy answers but there are some biblical principles or examples to adhere to

    1) We need to resist incorrect doctrine – particularly those that empty the cross of it saving power or denies the authority and grace of Christ.
    2) We should attempt to maintain the unity of the church if at all possible and not allow squabbling to be a poor witness to the world
    3) We should try to focus on the foundational truths that form the centre of the Gospel message e.g. Apostles creed, Nicene creed, Five solas and avoid ‘controversies’ that unnecessarily divide.
    4) Love and grace should dominate our behaviour. Prayerful consideration and the opening of God’s work is essential. The focus of discussion begins at scripture not on reputation, status or training (or even ‘results’)
    5) Occasionally we must agree to disagree and gracefully part company e.g. Paul and Barnabas

    There will always be variations in liturgy e.g. musical style, public displays of spiritual gifts. This is the diversity and richness of his Church.

    But the highest literary standards of biblical exegesis needs to be demonstrated and the hermeneutic methods transparent to the congregation. Haphazard handling of scripture serves as a poor example for the laity in their personal study.

    I don’t think there is any place for straw man or ad hominem arguments. There is a huge spectrum of church and institutional practice and generalisations can be unhelpful. We can comment on doctrine but I don’t think we can comment on someone’s heart. Only God can judge this.

  93. RE yes that’s a great benchmark. I think that this is often achieved, but seems a little harder as church congregations grow in size and activities.

    A small church can concentrate on equipping and encouraging and teaching. A larger church has bigger visions and involvemnts and require a higher degree of loyalty to itself/senior pastor.

    Point 2. then becomes more difficult to maintain. Unity is much easier when the leadership is free of agendas.

    Are there any good examples of large churches that have managed all aspects that you’ve mentioned?

  94. If a strong leader is committed to maintaining unity, then I think strong leadership can be helpful. Strong leadership that recognises, relates to and is willing to work with the church at large, rather than only focussing on internal goals, could be a good example. If strong leadership focusses on building internal loyalty to the organisation and visions though, then yes, it could be a hindrance.

  95. Perhaps the degree of control a leader wishes to exert over his congregation is inversely proportional to his ability to trust God to change hearts and minds.

  96. That’s fantastic! If we can produce a few more mathematical formulas to follow, advancing the Kingdom would be far easier!!!

  97. LOL, RE. I’ve always felt that one of the signs of a leader’s faith is their ability to resist any temptation to pressure or manipulate the congregation via preaching into doing things they want for the church vision. By that, I don’t mean not being open about the financial or other needs of the church organisation. I just mean not using any kind of coercion, whether it be carrot or stick. Inspiring people, or drawing them into the love of God so that any actions come from their hearts, is different.

  98. Muppet wondered “If we can produce a few more mathematical formulas to follow, advancing the Kingdom would be far easier!!!”

    How about this 😉 All our works are counted as zero as only Christ is number 1.

    Works without Christ: 00000000
    Works with Christ: 100000…..

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