Holy Spirit: Not Welcome Here

Holy Spirit is a powerful worship song often played on Christian radio stations and sung in Sunday Services all across America. The song was first released in 2012 by the band Jesus Culture and has since made its way westward from Redding, California, the band’s home. It’s lyrics are as follows:

There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord
There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

If this song is being sung in your local church, you should be very alarmed.

First and foremost, it presents a heretical view of God. The singers of this song “welcome” the Holy Spirit to “fill the atmosphere” of the room. God the Holy Sprit is not some element in gaseous form who can be expected to fill the room like oxygen, nitrogen, or helium. He is not to be breathed in to an intoxicating effect. The Holy Spirit is just that, spirit. He is immaterial. He is also the sovereign God of the cosmos. He requires no invitation nor does he need to he invoked by Christians to come as every born-again believer is already endwelled by him.

Secondly, the source of this song is wicked to the core. The band Jesus Culture hails from Bethel Redding Church, a den of blasphemy and deception that is a prominent part of a greater heretical movment, the New Apostolic Reformation. At Bethel Redding, the “presence” of the the Holy Spirit is physically counterfeited in the form gold dust “glory clouds” and angel feathers from the ceiling, among other things.

Should a song which includes chants about the presence of the Holy Sprit be provided by a group of blasphemors who make a living out of faking that presence, who make a living out of decieving others? Bethel Redding and Jesus Culture use their music to whip their followers into an emotional state fit to manipulate them. They do so in the name of “Jesus” and “The Holy Spirit”. Is the worship pastor of your church doing the same when he asks you to sing this song? The Holy Spirit is God. Respect him enough not the sing this song about him. Love your brother enough to challenge him in his error when he does. Do not welcome Holy Spirit at your church.

For information on Bethel Redding see this well-researched article.

For an example of how to challenge this song at your church, see this letter I sent to my former music minister:
Gary,

I’d like to generally commend you for your Sunday morning song selection. In all the time I’ve been attending RSBC, I can only remember hearing Hillsong once and the songs you pick are almost always sound.
One glaring exception is the song “Holy Spirit”. Not only is this song theologically unsound, it comes from the minds of “Jesus Culture”, the popular band hailing from Bill Johnson’s Bethel Redding Church. I’d like to offer you the following wisdom from Pastor Gabe Hughes about singing Jesus Culture songs in Christ’s church:
“Here’s three reasons why you shouldn’t play their music in church. First, their songs offer nothing substantive. Your church will not be missing anything if you don’t play Jesus Culture songs, but you will be missing something if you do. As I’ve written about before, there’s nothing biblically solid about their music. If you think you hear doctrinally sound lyrics, that’s because the song is ambiguous enough to allow you to impose your (probably better) theology upon it. But if their teaching isn’t biblical, neither will their music be.
Second, you would inadvertently be endorsing their church. If someone found out the song you sang on Sunday came from Jesus Culture, that could open the door for that person exposing them to Bethel’s teaching and heresy. I shared an occasion of this happening in a previous article (linked above).
And third, you would be paying them for their songs. If your church is singing something other than hymns or what’s in the public domain, then you probably have a CCLI license. That means you pay royalties on the songs that you sing. If some of those songs are from Jesus Culture, you are paying them to sing their music. (By the way, these reasons also apply to why we shouldn’t sing Hillsong tunes either.)”
Even if the song were not written by some of the most dangerous people in the Christian music industry, the Holy Spirit is not some kind of tangible gas that “fills the atmosphere” nor is he someone who needs our invitation or “welcome” to a specific place, especially a church. God tabernacles with believers. We needn’t ask for his presence.
I hope Gary, that you will never perform this song in our church (or anywhere else) ever again. It is not fit for God’s people.

Best,

Seth Dunn

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Cartersville Government Considers “Entertainment District”

Just three days ago, the Daily Tribune reported on a “Fall Pub Crawl” that is being planned by the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority. I wrote about this sobering moral development, as it relates to trend of selling alcohol in Cartersville, in my last blog. Yesterday, the Tribune reported that the City Council and Alcohol Control Board are now considering creating an “Entertainment District” in the downtown area in which retail establishments could sell alcoholic beverages. This is another cause for moral concern.

In my former career as an external auditor, one of my clients was the City of Forest Park. At that time the Army operated a base, Fort Gillem, in the city. The proximity of soliders infused a demand for alcohol and women into the local economy. The economy provided it and the city taxed it. The City of Forest Park imposed an adult entertainment tax on the local strip joints. I audited that tax. I had never heard of such a thing before and can remember being taken aback that a city government would profit* off of houses of ill repute. Yet, Forest Park did so.

Now, my own city is considering an “Entertainment District”. In the case of Cartersville, the “entertainment” in question is selling alcoholic beverages in shops. As a teetotaling Baptist I don’t see how drinking beer while shopping constitutes entertainment but I digress. I’ve never been one for slippery slope arguments but surely Cartersville faces one with the proposed Entertainment District. Could adult entertainment eventually fall under the regulation of such a district? Would the City of Cartersville, which already brings in revenue through an alcohol excise tax, one day tax strippers (male or female)?

Today, the Christians of Cartersville need to take a hard look at why church attendance has been trending either downward or toward entertainment-driven venues like Crosspoint City Church. The Christians of Cartersville need to ask why their city is run by a Roman Catholic mayor while their local Masonic Cult is run by Southern Baptists. Supposedly, Cartersville is in the Bible Belt. Unfortunately, it looks like the leather is wearing thin.

*I use the term “profit” loosely here. “Sin taxes” such as this one are typically meant to offset the costs of increased police activity associated with strippers and alcohol.

**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Cartersville Pub Crawl

When I moved to Cartersville in 1996, I don’t think the downtown area had a single bar. As I recall, there was an ordinance about not serving alcohol within so many feet of a church. At that time, Tabernacle Baptist, Gilmer Street Baptist, First Baptist, Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist, First Presbyterian, the Church of the Ascension were all downtown. That didn’t leave a lot of room for bars. When Appalachian Grill opened up under the bridge, there was some controversy as to whether or not it was okay for it to sell glasses of wine so close to Tabernacle.

Things have changed.

Of the three Baptist churches mentioned above, only Tabernacle remains in the downtown area. There are now quite a few bars and eateries which feature bar service in the downtown area. In fact, there are so many drinking establishments that the Downtown Devlopement Authority (DDA) can sponsor a Pub Crawl through downtown Cartersville on September 14th and 15th..

Some might call that progress. This Baptist doesn’t see it that way. Bartow County is 80% unchurched. While consuming alcohol isn’t a sin, many Baptist churches in the area forbid their members from consuming or selling beverage alcohol. It appears that church membership is trending downward while the frequenting of bars is trending upward, so much so that the DDA is putting on an event promoting drunkness (sober people don’t have to crawl). The residents of Cartersville, Georiga would do well to reconsider what they are doing on their Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Dear Waterford, About the Shack…

To My Neighbors and Neighbor in the Waterford,

As you all already know, our neighborhood recently recieved the gift of a “little library” where members of our community are free to lend to and borrow books from another. Yesterday, in between trips to the hospital, I stopped by and borrowed a book: The Shack by William Paul Young. I just finished reading it here at the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. Given what goes on at this place, I think my finding The Shack in our little library when I found it was providential. I think the book tries to provide answers to those who struggle in the wake of life’s hardest moments. I’m really glad I found it.

It is so blasphemous.

As a theologian, a Christian, and a neighbor, I want to reach out to whomever left The Shack in our little library. I know very little about you. I don’t know what you believe about the Lord Jesus or where (if) you go to church. I just know you live in my neighborhood and left The Shack in our library.

I don’t know how to put this except to say that leaving that book for others to find is something I could never have done. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God. The Shack so blashphemes my beloved Sovereign that it pained me to read it. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. I would not want to expose another person made in God’s image to what I just read.

Clearly, I am being judgemental. I don’t know if you are the kind of person who is put off by that. Like I said, I know little about you. I’d like to know more. Please seek me out. Let’s sit down and talk. I want to know what you think about Jesus and I want to share with you about what I know about him and His word.

Sincerely,

Seth Dunn

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Harmful Effect of Christianity #29

This post is the twenty-third in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #29:  Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.

“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:2-3

There are at least two problems with the assertion that Blue Laws are a harmful effect of Christianity.  The first is that there are no Blue Laws in the New Testament.  While work on the Sabbath[1] is forbidden for the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant, there is no prescription for civil government to restrict commerce on Sunday in the New Testament.  First century Christians, who were under Roman civil law, were not known for trying to lobby the government to restrict commerce on Sunday.  Christianity is typically understood to have begun circa 30 AD, at the resurrection of Jesus.  The first historical mention of the term “Blue Law” occurred some 1700 years later in the United States.  Thus, blue laws originated half a world away and hundreds of years after Christianity was founded in Jerusalem.  Can it be fairly said that such laws, while certainly adopted within cultures influenced by Christianity, are an effect of Christianity?

Secondly, is it the case that Blue Laws are harmful?  It’s hardly a given that they are.  To the contrary, it can be argued that a day of rest is good for workers and society, especially day where the sale of beverage alcohol is restricted.  It goes without argument to say that the sale and abuse of alcohol has been detrimental to society.  Even in the United States, where religious liberty is prized over theocratic fiat, Blue Laws have been determined to have secular benefit by governing authorities.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Johnson Field provided this legal opinion in 1896 regarding a Blue Law:

“Its requirement is a cessation from labor. In its enactment, the legislature has given the sanction of law to a rule of conduct, which the entire civilized world recognizes as essential to the physical and moral well-being of society. Upon no subject is there such a concurrence of opinion, among philosophers, moralists and statesmen of all nations, as on the necessity of periodical cessation from labor. One day in seven is the rule, founded in experience and sustained by science. … The prohibition of secular business on Sunday is advocated on the ground that by it the general welfare is advanced, labor protected, and the moral and physical well-being of society promoted.”

Whether or not one agrees with Johnson’s opinion, it is clear evidence that there are secular arguments for the enactment and enforcement of Blue Laws.  The authors of this list have once again provided a specious argument against Christianity.  Instead, they have taken a political policy they don’t like (the enacting of Blue Laws) and a condition they don’t like (churches receiving revenue), tenuously linked them, and deemed the result “harmful”.

“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #30: Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they’re right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.

[1] Blue Laws typically restrict commerce on Sunday in modern times.  In ancient Israel, the Sabbath occurred from Friday evening through Saturday evening.  Also, modern Blue Laws typically restrict retail commerce, especially the sale of alcohol.  In ancient times, the work being restricted on the Sabbath was manual, agrarian labor.  There were no liquor stores of which to speak.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 11

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

What are the most pressing areas for growth in your life?

Answer:

I need to work on managing my time to include exercise.  I need to improve my interpersonal relationship skills.  I have high-functioning autism and I see a Christian counselor to learn how to better communicate feelings and ideas to others.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 10

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

What are two things you’ve learned in the past year?

Answer:

I learned that formal cost deployment planning is more effective than brainstorming (I learned this studying financial methods at work).  I also learned a lot about child-rearing techniques, I am expecting my 5th child.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.