umtna

Doug Groothuis’s Unmasking the New Age: A Review

Who is Douglas Groothuis?

According to various autobiographical web pages, Doug Groothuis is an “evangelical, protestant, near-Anglican”[1] Christian and a “constructive curmudgeon”[2]  On these informal web pages, Groothuis writes with regularity and at some length, with a fire in his bones[3], about Christianity. He is well-qualified to do so. “Groothuis joined the faculty (of Denver Seminary) in 1993 and is professor of philosophy at that institution. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Society of Christian Philosophers…Groothuis received a Ph.D. and a B.S. from the University of Oregon, and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin–Madison…He has written for scholarly journals such as Religious Studies, Sophia, Research in Philosophy and Technology, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophia Christi, Trinity Journal, and Asbury Theological Journal as well as for numerous popular magazines”[4]  He has written twelve books, of which Unmasking the New Age is the first, having been published in 1986.

 The Book’s Purpose: Explaining an Age to Come

The subtitle of the 1986 book Unmasking the New Age asks the question “Is there a new religious movement trying to transform society?”  Its author attempted to make the case that there was while attempting to prepare readers to identify and respond to its challenges from a Christian perspective.  According to him, “The Western World is faced with a new order, a new world view, a New Age…We are excitedly told that we are more than we imagined and that the world is world is about to take a leap into the light of expanded consciousness.” (36)  By now, of course, the New Age movement is no longer “new”.  Unmasking the New Age was written long before some of the spiritual practices and ways of thinking examined in the book became as popular as they today are.  For example, Doug Groothuis warned readers to “steer clear of yoga” (68) in the book’s third chapter.  This warning came nearly three decades before yoga became a “$27 billion industry with 20 million practitioners.”[5]  To put the matter bluntly, the New Age has been unmasked for quite some time.  Due to the book’s age, the contemporary reader of Unmasking the New Age must repurpose the work.  It is no longer a prophetic warning given to facilitate a proactive Christian apologetic against an emerging occult movement but rather a sort of exposition and history that helps the Christian reader formulate a reactive apologetic to the remaining influence of the New Age movement that was emerging in Western society during the 1980s.

An Exposition of Eastern Ecumenism

The content of Unmasking the New Age was broken down into eight chapters which progressively addressed the ramifications of the New Age movement.  In the book’s early chapters, Groothuis explained the spiritual beliefs inherent in New Age thought and examined the subcultures from which New Age influences were emerging.  He then explored the effects of New Age ideals upon Western healthcare, psychology, science, politics, and spiritual expression.  In the book’s final chapter, Groothuis contrasted Christian thought against that of the New Age, challenging his readers to meet the New Age movement head on with a Christian witness.  This was no simple task given that New Age thought, which emerged from Eastern spirituality, is hardly monolithic.

Whereas Western spirituality (which arguably includes the geographically Eastern religious systems of Islam and Judaism) tends to feature authoritative scriptures, principles, clerical bodies, confessions, and creeds, Eastern spirituality tends to be less formalized and somewhat decentralized.  Furthermore, the acceptance of contradictory statements as concurrently true is a “much more common and recurrent view in Eastern Philosophy than in the West.”[6]  Thus, it is difficult to pin down single doctrines and authorities within the New Age movement, which was described by one of Groothuis’ academic colleagues as “ecumenical” (9), to analyze and refute.  Nonetheless this is the very task that Groothuis set out to perform in writing Unmasking the New Age.  To do so, he epitomized New Age thought in a concept that he called “The One for All”.  The essential “doctrines” of the “One for All” are the ideas that “All is One” (18), “All is God” (20), “Humanity is God” (21), and “All Religions are One” (27).  For the New Age thinker, Jesus Christ isn’t any more God than he himself is.  “Jesus of Nazareth…is merely one of many appearances or manifestations of God throughout the millennia.” (28)  The mission of the New Age Jesus was to show his fellow men that they were a part of the universal, pantheistic god-consciousness of which existence is constituted.  This is not the mission of the Jesus of the Bible.  Thus Groothuis argued that New Age spirituality was a rejection of Biblical Christianity.

Additionally, Groothuis argued that the New Age movement was a rejection of an altogether different anti-Christian worldview as well, that of secular humanism.  He saw the New Age movement as having emerged from the 1960s counterculture, evolving along with the thinkers who developed out of that milieu.  They not only rejected Christianity but also the hopeless nihilism of secular thought.  They traded Western Christian and secular humanistic worldviews for an Eastern alternative that opened their minds to different ways of looking at the nature of existence.  Health wasn’t confined to anatomy but was holistically extended to energies and life forces.  Death became, not an end, but “a transition to another state of consciousness or…an illusion” (64).  The influence of New Age thought was apparent to Groothuis in the growing popularity of the physical practices such acupuncture, therapeutic touch, biofeedback, and yoga.  Groothuis also saw that mental practices fell under New Age influence, remarking that the New Age sought “personal transformation…to liberate the human mind, to provide a New Consciousness and psychology” (72) through promises of opening up the mind with practices such as ESP.[7]

The New Age, according to Groothuis, was also seeking to influence political affairs by “spiritualizing the left” (112).  In 1986, Groothuis saw the educational and political scene as primed for a New Age takeover.  In the antepenultimate chapter of Unmasking the New Age, Groothuis wrote that “the growing influence and popularity of pantheism in psychology, science, health care, and religious practices are bound to spill over into the political arena.” (113)  Groothuis foresaw a push from the “One for All” crowd for a “new world order where the nations are united politically and economically” (117).  He also foresaw a push from the “One For All” crowd to seed religious thought with mysticism and moral relativism.  The final chapter of his book straightforwardly addressed the stark differences between the Christian worldview and that of the New Age (and for good measure addressed the difference between those worldviews and secular humanism).  Despite these differences, Groothuis observed that “just as the New Age has infiltrated many disciplines with the attractiveness of its views, it has also seduced some Christians…some have assimilated compromised Christianity by assimilating New Age ideas and practices.” (171)  He expressly warned Christians to be careful with mystical writings and to avoid the practice of positive confession, ending his book with a call for Christian to do their best to stem the tide of the “One for All”.

An Evaluation: Looking Back on the New Age

Nearly thirty years after Unmasking the New Age was published, it’s clear that political machinations of the New Age didn’t quite pan out.  Although the left has obtained significant influence in Western politics over the last decade, it seems more stepped in secular humanism than it does in New Age thought.  For example, the left has exerted tremendous influence over American society and the healthcare system through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare).  However, Obamacare largely regulates the commerce surrounding the practice of traditional western medicine.  In the realm of education, the Common Core initiative of in public schools seems more secular than spiritual.  Despite the deemphasis of American exceptionalism by the country’s current governing administration, the international scene remains divided, especially by the influence of radical Islam.  Perhaps the failure of the New Age to take hold in society is best illustrated by Groothuis’s most recent publishing in the realm of Christian apologetics, which is far from as focused on combating New Age thought as it once was.[8]  The new world order of the New Age has apparently lost out to the older world order of secular humanism.

Unfortunately, just as Groothuis feared, the New Age has made inroads into religious life, especially that of professing Christians.  Jesus Calling, which contains the mystical writings[9] of Sarah Young, has become a “runaway best-seller”[10] for the Christian-themed publisher Thomas Nelson.  It has even spawned its own “Jesus Calling” franchise of book products.  The mystical practice of contemplative prayer has been endorsed by evangelical ladies’ bible study luminaries Beth Moore[11] and Priscilla Shirer[12].  The immensely popular Bible Miniseries[13] was co-produced by New Age mystic Roma Downey, who holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.[14]  Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen are two of the most famous and wealthy “Christian” preachers in the world; both teach a “name it and claim it” message of positive confession.[15]  Popular television personality Oprah Winfrey, who arguably garners a religious level of devotion from many American women, helped make the positive confession self-help book The Secret a best-seller.[16]  Clearly, some of Groothuis most disconcerting fears have been realized.

Looking back over the past three decades, one could reasonably conclude that the New Age failed to transform society because it is, plainly, intellectually and scientifically bereft.  Outside of its lingering spiritual influence on undiscerning cultural Christians, it seems to be a fad that has lost its kitsch.  Aging baby boomers seem to have figured out that they want real doctors and sensibly scientific educations for their children.  Even the popular Eastern practice of Yoga appears to have been commercialized far away from its spiritual roots.  However, one could also reasonably conclude that the New Age failed to take stronger root in society because voices such as Doug Groothuis sounded an alarm.  Unmasking the New Age put forth a strong and informative Christian witness against a very unbiblical movement.  Even today, it is a witness that can still be appreciated.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Denver Seminary. Denver Seminary. http://www.denverseminary.edu/about-us/president-faculty-staff-board/faculty/dr-douglas-r-groothuis/ (accessed February 6, 2014).

Facebook. Douglas Groothuis. https://www.facebook.com/DouglasRichardGroothuis/about (accessed February 6, 2014).

Gregorie, Carolyn. How Yoga Became A $27 Billion Industry — And Reinvented American Spirituality. December 16, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/how-the-yoga-industry-los_n_4441767.html (accessed September 6, 2017).

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, USA, 2011.

—. The Constructive Curmudgeon. http://www.theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/ (accessed February 6, 2014).

Hill, Aaron. “Touched By A Cult: The Beliefs of Roma Downey.” A Ransomed Mined. March 30, 2015. http://www.aaronhill.org/touched-by-a-cult-the-beliefs-of-roma-downey/ (accessed September 11, 2016).

Kelley, Keith J. “Publisher anticipates high demand for follow-up to ‘Jesus Calling’.” New York Post. May 12, 2016. http://nypost.com/2016/05/12/publisher-anticipates-high-demand-for-follow-up-to-jesus-calling/ (accessed 11 2016, September).

Martin, Tim. “Joyce Meyer.” The Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook, December 2012.

Silva, Ken. “Apprising Ministries.” Priscilla Shirer and Contemplative/Centering Prayer. July 26, 2010. http://apprising.org/2010/07/26/priscilla-shirer-and-contemplativecentering-prayer/ (accessed September 11, 2016).

Slick, Matt. “Beth Moore.” Christian Apologetics Research Minsitry. https://carm.org/beth-moore (accessed September 11, 2016).

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Dialetheism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. March 28, 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/ (accessed September 10, 2016).

Walker, James. “The Secret.” The Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook,, March 2013.

[1] Facebook. Douglas Groothuis. https://www.facebook.com/DouglasRichardGroothuis/about

[2] Groothuis, Douglas. The Constructive Curmudgeon. http://www.theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/ (accessed February 6, 2014).

[3] Here, I paraphrase a comment he made during a lecture in New Orleans in January 2014.  In this comment, he alluded to Ezekiel 3:14.

[4] Denver Seminary. Denver Seminary. http://www.denverseminary.edu/about-us/president-faculty-staff-board/faculty/dr-douglas-r-groothuis/

[5] Gregorie, Carolyn. How Yoga Became A $27 Billion Industry — And Reinvented American Spirituality. December 16, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/how-the-yoga-industry-los_n_4441767.html (accessed September 6, 2017).

[6] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Dialetheism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. March 28, 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/ (accessed September 10, 2016)

[7] “ESP” is a common acronym for the pseudoscientific concept of Extrasensory Perception.

[8] Groothuis followed up Unmasking the New Age with Confronting the New Age and Revealing the New Age Jesus in 1998 and 1998, respectively. His Magnum opus, Christian Apologetics, published in 2011, is more a more general Christian apologetic and is not specifically focused on the New Age.

[9] Jesus Calling is written in the voice of Jesus Christ and purports to be revelation from him.  Young’s method for writing Jesus Calling has been likened to the occult practice of automatic writing.

[10] Kelley, Keith J. “Publisher anticipates high demand for follow-up to ‘Jesus Calling’.” New York Post. May 12, 2016. http://nypost.com/2016/05/12/publisher-anticipates-high-demand-for-follow-up-to-jesus-calling/ (accessed 11 2016, September).

[11] Slick, Matt. “Beth Moore.” Christian Apologetics Research Minsitry. https://carm.org/beth-moore (accessed September 11, 2016).

[12] Silva, Ken. “Apprising Ministries.” Priscilla Shirer and Contemplative/Centering Prayer. July 26, 2010. http://apprising.org/2010/07/26/priscilla-shirer-and-contemplativecentering-prayer/ (accessed September 11, 2016).

[13] and the related Son of God feature film and AD television series

[14] Hill, Aaron. “Touched By A Cult: The Beliefs of Roma Downey.” A Ransomed Mined. March 30, 2015. http://www.aaronhill.org/touched-by-a-cult-the-beliefs-of-roma-downey/ (accessed September 11, 2016).

[15] Martin, Tim. “Joyce Meyer.” The Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook, December 2012.

[16] Walker, James. “The Secret.” The Watchman Fellowship Profile Notebook,, March 2013.

AJWcover

David A Reed’s Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses Subject by Subject: A Review

Who is David A. Reed?

David A. Reed is a former Jehovah’s Witness and the author of numerous books, almost all of which critically address the religious doctrines and operation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the Watchtower), which Jehovah’s Witnesses believe to be “God’s organization on Earth” (103).  Wood first began writing about the Watchtower in 1981 under the pseudonym “Bill Tyndale, Jr.”[1].  At that time, Wood was still an active member of that sect, however, his personal Bible reading had caused him to question a number of official Watchtower teachings.  His critical writings and doubts about the Watchtower eventually led to his formal expulsion from the Jehovah’s Witness organization in 1982.  After his expulsion from the Watchtower, Reed came to embrace Biblical Christianity.  It was after this embrace that Reed “began writing articles and tracts with the aim of evangelizing Jehovah’s Witnesses” (233).  In 1996, the time of the publication of Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses Subject by Subject (the book), Reed was publishing a quarterly publication on the Jehovah’s Witness sect and maintaining a related website.  Presently, Reed does not appear to be involved in either activity.

The Book’s Purpose and Its Intended Use

Reed wrote the book as a follow-up to his earlier work, Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse.  By Reed’s account, “Today’s Jehovah’s Witness door-knocker seems to be a bit less versed in Scripture than when [Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse] was produced and a bit more inclined to use arguments learned by rote at training sessions. So there is a real need for a book to help Christians deal with issues that do not lend themselves to verse-by-verse treatment.” (xi)  At the time of the book’s publication Reed believed that, instead of being prepared to reason from scripture, many Jehovah’s Witnesses were prepared to argue from memorized arguments handed down by the Watchtower.  Thus a subject-by-subject treatment of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine was in order.

In addition to providing this treatment in what amounts to an index of Watchtower theology, the book contains advice on how to use the information therein to effectively evangelize to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The book advises readers not to engage in debates with Jehovah’s Witnesses about various subjects.  According to Reed, even when such debates are won, the Jehovah’s Witness who lost it remains dedicated to the Watchtower.[2]  Given that “…Watchtower leadership has instructed JWs not to listen to Christians who want to tell them about Jesus, not to debate doctrine with knowledgeable members of other churches, and not to read literature critical of the organization or its beliefs,” (x) it is more advisable to present Jehovah’s Witnesses with questions that present evidence which contradicts Watchtower teachings in a way that will force well-meaning Jehovah’s Witnesses to provide satisfactory answers, which is an essentially hopeless endeavor for an acolyte of the Watchtower.

This fool’s errand, according to Reed, is the key to turning Jehovah’s Witnesses away from their sect.  Reed believes that the Watchtower itself, and the mind control it exercises over individual Jehovah’s Witnesses, is the obstacle which must be overcome if Witnesses are to be reached with the truth.  The most effective way to leading Jehovah’s Witnesses to Christ, then, is “by revealing its prophetic failures, doctrinal flip-flops, and dishonest cover-ups,” (xii) of which the book provides numerous examples.

From Abbadon to Zionism

The meat of the book is a subject-by-subject index of Watchtower beliefs.  Since the book is an alphabetical listing of doctrines, it reads something like a theological dictionary of heretical beliefs which, in addition to definitions, includes critical commentaries.  Because the book is, aside from short introductory and concluding sections, a listing of terms, there is no narrative for the reader to follow.  However, there is a consistent thread that is weaved throughout: the Watchtower has many unbiblical doctrines, some of which contradict those to which it previously held and taught.  This is apparent from the very first entry in the index, “Abbadon” to the very last one, “Zionism.”

In a 1917 commentary on the book of Revelation, the Watchtower identified the angel of the bottomless pit depicted in Revelation 9:11 (whose name is “Abaddon”) as Satan.  However, in 1969 the Watchtower published a commentary identifying this same angel as “picturing Jesus Christ, the Son of Jehovah God.”  (1)  The book indicates that contemporary Jehovah’s Witnesses are familiar with the 1969 commentary but not the earlier one.  Similarly, many modern Jehovah’s Witnesses may be unfamiliar with the Watchtower’s former position on Zionism.  Both Watchtower founder Charles Taze Russell and his successor Joseph Rutherford actively supported Jewish claims to Palestine.  Rutherford even opposed proselytizing Jews “holding that such is not only wrong but contrary to the Scriptures” (214).  Yet, the Watchtower presently advocates the evangelization of Jews and has taken a position of political neutrality with regard to Jewish rights to the land of Palestine.

Neither “Abbadon” nor “Zionism” are doctrinal matters that occupy the central thoughts of Christians on a frequent basis.  In isolation, these issues may seem somewhat unimportant.  However, the way in which the Watchtower has flip-flopped on both of these doctrines demonstrates its historical inconsistency and should raise deep apprehension in those who live their lives by the Watchtower’s teachings.  If the Watchtower has changed its position on benign matters such as the Egyptian pyramids and the celebration of Christmas (and it has), it is reasonable to believe that it could currently be in error about more important ones, ones that effect earthly life and eternity.  The Watchtower has already engaged in failed end-time predictions and changed its position on the life-and-death matters of vaccines, organ transplants, and military service (152).  “Could it also be wrong about the identity of Jesus Christ and its soteriological stance?” is a question that every Jehovah’s Witness should ask himself given that the Watchtower, in opposition to orthodox Christian churches everywhere, asserts that Jesus Christ is not the eternal God incarnate but a created angel named Michael (132) and that salvation is works-oriented and grounded in the Watchtower (194).

Unfortunately, Jehovah’s Witnesses, when thinking through the documented doctrinal flip-flops of the Watchtower, can actually be emboldened to support the organization all the more.  This is because of the Watchtower doctrine of “New Light”.  To a Jehovah’s Witness, the fact that the Watchtower repudiates older “false” teachings in favor of newer “correct” ones somehow proves the Watchtower is actually on the right track.  Asking a Jehovah’s Witness about Watchtower doctrine changes is likely to engender a response such as “I learn from those past errors that this really is God’s organization. The fact that we no longer adhere to those false teachings proves that God keeps making our light get brighter. It proves that God is leading this organization.” (152)  Thus, of the many strange Watchtower doctrines to be refuted, the “New Light” doctrine may be the most important one.  It may very well be the case that the effective proclamation of each error identified and corrected by Reed in his index hinges on the successful refutation of the New Light doctrine.

An Evaluation

Though the book is not an easy read (it reads like a dictionary), it fulfills the purpose for which it was written.  It is informative, not only about Watchtower beliefs, but about effective ways to witness to those mired in the muck of Watchtower influence.  Unfortunately, the book is quite dated.  The Watchtower is an ever-changing organization with regards to both tactics and theology.  For example, the book presents the Watchtower prohibition of life-saving blood transfusion as one of the dreariest aspects of Jehovah’s Witness life.  It still is, however, in the years since the book’s publication, the Watchtower has softened in stance on the matter on the reception of blood for medical treatment.[3]  Also dated are the book’s references themselves.  Many of the sources cited as authoritative Watchtower literature, though they may be valid, predate the lives and memories of many living Jehovah’s Witnesses and may be hard to find for those Christians who wish to show members the text of the original Watchtower literature cited in the book.[4]  The effect of time on the book is not entirely detrimental, however.  It is available in Kindle format and can be discreetly referenced on a cell phone while conversing with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  However it may be referenced and whatever effect time has had upon it, the book is a fine resource.  Not only does it provide informative descriptions of Watchtower beliefs but scriptural refutations of them, as well as firsthand accounts of their detrimental effects on those who adhere to them.  It is a useful apologetic resource for any Christian who expects to one day receive a knock on his door from Jehovah’s Witnesses…and all should expect that knock to come.

Bibliography

Barker, Jason. New Watchtower Blood Transfusion Policy. 2000. http://www.watchman.org/articles/jehovahs-witnesses/new-watchtower-blood-transfusion-policy/ (accessed 28 2016, August).

Comments from the Friends. I WAS A JW ELDER. January 1990. http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/JwElderDavidReed10.htm (accessed August 20, 2016).

Reed, David A. NEWS about Jehovah’s Witnesses. March 1998. http://www.answerjw.com/cftf/online/ (accessed August 20, 2016).

 

[1] Comments from the Friends . I WAS A JW ELDER. January 1990. http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/JwElderDavidReed10.htm (accessed August 20, 2017).

[2] Personally, I have found that Jehovah’s Witnesses develop a hostile attitude when they feel they are being debated and are much less receptive to the questioning of their views.

[3] Barker, Jason. New Watchtower Blood Transfusion Policy. 2000. http://www.watchman.org/articles/jehovahs-witnesses/new-watchtower-blood-transfusion-policy/ (accessed 28 2016, August).

[4] The ability to provide original Watchtower literature is very important given that Jehovah’s Witnesses will almost always refuse to look at “apostate” material such as Reed’s book.  I referred to Wood’s book once while speaking with a Jehovah’s Witness and the conversation was soon ended by him.

The Word was God

Witnessing to the Watchtower: And the Word was ???

Almost every person reading this article should be able to recall a time when Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking at his or her door to proselytize.  Anyone who took the time to interact with the Witnesses at their door should have noticed that the Jehovah’s Witness sect has a very peculiar doctrinal stance that separates them from orthodox Christians -Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God.   This doctrinal stance is perpetrated in the New World Translation of the Bible, which is published by the official Jehovah’s Witness publishing source, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.  The New World Translation renders John 1:1 as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

This particular rendering of John 1:1 is almost completely unique to the Watchtower translation of the John.  It is markedly different from almost every other English translation of the same biblical verse.  Some examples from the most popular English translation of the Bible are as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” NASB

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” KJV

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” HCSB

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ESV

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” NRSV

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” NIV

Each of the translations listed above are “committee translations”.  A committee translation of the Bible is a translation completed by a group effort of Hebrew and Biblical scholars.  By using a group of scholars, committee translations are insulated from the theological prejudices of individual translators.  Renderings of Greek and Hebrew verses with ambiguous English meanings are the result of scholarly collaboration and not the hypothesis of a single individual, no matter how credentialed he might be.   According to the Watchtower Bible and Society, the New World Translation is a committee translation.   However, the names of the men who participated in the translation of the New World version of the Bible have been kept secret since its publication.   No one outside of the highest echelons of the Watchtower can verify that any of these bible translators are actual biblical scholars.  This includes nearly every Jehovah’s Witnesses who goes out knocking on doors.   To the contrary, the names of the men who translated the other English Bible versions listed above are well-known and their credentials as scholars of Hebrew and Greek are well-attested.   These biblical scholars did not classify the Word as “a god” in John 1:1, whereas the Watchtower translators did.  Why?

Jehovah’s Witness doctrine holds that the man Jesus was actually an incarnation of the angel Michael, a spirit being who had no body before he was born to the virgin Mary in the first century.  According to Jehovah’s witnesses, Michael was the first being ever created by God.  John’s gospel refers to Jesus as “the Word”.  If Jesus is the angel Michael, then “The Word” cannot be God since Jesus isn’t God but the angel Michael.  Thus the New World Translation must render the Greek phrase “Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος” in John 1:1 as the “the Word was a god”.  This is troublesome given that there is no Greek word for the English indefinite article “a”.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are well trained on this talking point.  Their argument is that the context on John 1:1 demands the indefinite article in English.  However, their argument stands at odds with virtually every credible Greek scholar in the western world.  If John meant to communicate that “the Word was God” the best Greek phraseology he could have used was the phraseology he actually did use.

Conversely, there are numerous ways John could have clearly communicated in Greek that the Word was a lesser god, an Angel, or Michel.  Here they are:

phrases

When evangelizing Jehovah’s witnesses, Christians can use this knowledge to help clear Witness minds of cultic preconditioning.  Here are suggested steps a Christian can take:

  1. Ask the Witnesss if he believes Jesus (the Word) was “a god” as their Bible translation indicates.
  2. Ask the Witness if he believes that Jesus was an angel in the beginning.
  3. Ask the Witness if he believes that Jesus was Michael in the beginning.

The Witness should answer affirmatively to all of these questions.  Then ask the witnesses to help you understand John 1:1.

  1. Ask the Witness the names of the men who translated the Watchtower Bible. (Either the witness will not know that the names are secret and you will have to tell him or he will know and indicate that they are kept secret out of humility)
  2. Inform the witness that the names and Greek credentials of the men who translated the NASB, KJV, HCSB, ESV, NRSV, and NIV are well-known and unassailable. (Maybe ask them a question if they’d like to know that their doctor went to medical school or their lawyer went to law school)
  3. Inform the witness that the translation committees of the translations listed above rendered John 1:1 as “the Word was God”.
  4. Show the witness the alternate Greek phrases listed above. (The phrases should be hand written as Witnesses often refuse to read religious literature from sources outside The Watchtower.)
  5. Ask the Witness why he thinks John didn’t use clearer wording if he meant to teach that Jesus was the Angel Michael and not God.

Be prepared for the witnesses to interject with references to Jesus from other places in scripture.  They may ask how the Father was “greater than” Jesus or how the Word was “with God” if he was God.  These are distractions.  Do you best to stick to one subject; the proper translation of John 1:1.  Most Witnesses are unfamiliar with Greek and many are generally uneducated (the result of a generation of Witnesses eschewing college because of a failed end-times prediction).  Their arguments will not be based on a educated understanding of how Greek works.  Making a Jehovah’s Witness doubt the authority or capability of the Watchtower organization could be the first step of leading a Jehovah’s Witness out of their cult an into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

For more information on Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and how to witness to them, please see the resources made available by the Watchman Fellowship.  It is also advisable to memorize John 1:1 in the Greek.

*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.

 

Prayer-Walk-Our-Schools

Should You “Prayer Walk” the Schools of Bartow County?

Summer is nearing its end, which means that the 2016-2017 school year is just around the corner.  The beginning of a new school year is an important time in the lives of many families, one which requires a significant amount of planning and preparation.   In the midst of buying new clothes, attaining school supplies, and arranging transportation, Christian families are wise to include prayer as a part of their preparation for the new school year.  Knowing this, the Bartow Baptist Association recently sent the following announcement to local ministers:

“Please encourage your people to go to the school of their choice this Sunday to prayer walk from 4-5pm. There will be material based on the movie WAR ROOM to prompt people to pray.”

Prayer is certainly important but why are local church members being encouraged to “prayer walk” at local schools?  A good number of Christians in Bartow County churches may have never heard of prayer walking.  For such people, at least two questions must be asked: “What exactly is ‘prayer walking’?” and “Is participating in it advisable?”   The best place to find an answer to any question about a (purportedly) spiritual practice is in God’s word.  However, those searching the scriptures for examples of the practice of “prayer walking” or commands to engage in it will not find such.   This is because prayer walking is not a biblical practice.  Information about it can be found on the internet, however.  According to the respected Christian-issues resource GotQuestions.org, “prayer walking” is:

“ the practice of praying on location, a type of intercessory prayer that involves walking to or near a particular place while praying…Prayer Walking is a relatively new phenomenon, the origin of which is not clear. There is no biblical model for prayer walking, although since walking was the major mode of transportation in Bible times, clearly people must have walked and prayed at the same time. However, there is no direct command that prayer walking is something we should be doing. To believe that prayers offered in any setting, or while in any position, are more effective than those offered at another time or in another manner is not scriptural.”

That “prayer walking” is not a scripturally prescribed practice should give those Christians who are considering participating in the school prayer walks organized by the Bartow Baptist Association pause.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with praying for local students, teachers, administrators, and schools.  In fact, the Bible says to “pray without ceasing”.  There is nothing at all unscriptural about praying for local schools and their stakeholders; doing so is a fine pastime.  However making a public event out of such prayer is not advisable.  The Lord Jesus commanded his followers not to make a spectacle out of their prayer activities, saying:

 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Organizing a county-wide prayer walk is anything but closing doors and praying in secret.  The intent of the heart of the prayer is of key concern in the context of this planned prayer walk.  Do people want to be seen?  Do they want to show up in numbers to let the school board to know that they vote?  These are not proper motivations for public prayer.  Even those with noble motives would do best to heed the words of the Lord Jesus and go to their “inner rooms” to prayerfully intercede for their community’s schools.  If churches wish to pray corporately for the beginning of the school year, church members should gather together in their church buildings or in together in various homes rather than making a spectacle of marching down the street and walking around school campuses.

Another concern that Bartow County Christians should keep in mind while considering the practice of “Prayer Walking” is Christian Dominionism.  According to GotQuestions.org, Christian Dominionists believe that “Christians should, and eventually will, take control of the government.”  The Pentecostal off-shoot of this unbiblical worldview is known as “Kingdom Now Theology.”  Its adherents, according to GotQuestions.org, focus “on taking dominion of the earth by way of spiritual battle.”  Often times this spiritual battle is spoken about in terms of “prayer strategy” or the “7 Mountains Mandate”.  According to Dominionist thought, “Business, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, Education, Family, and Religion” are “7 Cultural Mountains” or change agents over which Christians must take dominion to influence culture.  The identification of these mountains is alternatively identified with Francis Schaffer, Bill Bright, and Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With a Mission.  Cunningham, a notorious Pentecostal, claimed to have received these 7 Mountains in a direct revelation from God while on vacation in Colorado in 1975.  These 7 Mountains are on the wall of the Bartow Baptist Association, which has been increasingly participating in mission work with non Southern-Baptist Pentecostals over the last few years.  Bartow County Christians should not be under the misguided notion that they can and should somehow “take dominion” over the Bartow County “mountain” of education by “prayer walking” local campuses or other Pentecostal strategies.  Bible-believing Christians should seek to disassociate themselves from the 7 Mountains mandates, especially organizations such as the Bartow Baptist Association.

Bartow County’s Christians should further understand that the undertaking to prayer-walk local schools is not truly a local initiative.  Baptist Associations across the country will be participating in similar events in the coming days.  National Prayer leaders, whomever they may be, are often talked about in Bartow Baptist circles but their influence extends well beyond the borders of Bartow. There is an overarching idea in the national Christian Community that some sort of “prayer strategy” will somehow put the USA back on the right path as secularism seemingly takes the country by storm.  Often times, this idea results in an unhealthy ecumenism and even industrial profiteering.  It’s apparent that the Bartow County prayer-walking initiative is not purely homegrown, given that materials from the nationally popular movie War Room are to be used “prompt people to pray”.  (Local Baptist Associations are essentially used as marketing channels by LifeWay and the larger Christian industrial complex, as I have written about here).  Surely local Christians are not so distant from communion with their Heavenly Father that they need copyrighted material from a fictional prayer movie to “prompt” their prayers.  Jesus, after all, did teach his followers how to pray in the pages of Scripture.  Are War Room materials and scripted marches really necessary to pray for Bartow County Schools?  Is there anything in scripture about “targeted prayer strategies”?

Battle-Plan-for-Prayer

Simply put, one does not have to be in a given geographic location to somehow pray more effectively for that place.  There is no power in a prayer’s location.  Rather, the power of prayer lies with God, who is omnipresent and omnipotent.  There is no place that His power and influence do not extend.  Before a Christian engages in a “Prayer Walk”, that much should be clear in his mind.  That’s not to say that there is no value in walking and praying.  By physically exploring a location, such as a school, one can visually identify people or things which may need prayer.  It is an absolutely great idea to walk and pray, especially in inconspicuous groups of two or three. “Prayer Walking” in very large groups, on the other hand, is simply wrong-headed.  Hopefully, those who choose to engage in the county prayer-walking initiative will think through the matter and realize as much.  Bartow County schools absolutely need and deserve prayer, but it should be biblical.  If anyone does choose to prayer-walk a local school, hopefully his commitment to the betterment of that place won’t end there.  There are multiple opportunities to be salt and light in local schools.  God has placed his church on planet Earth to be just that.  Outside of single day prayer events, local churches and local schools will hopefully conceive of charitable and evangelistic programs to reach out to the lost at local schools and come alongside Christian teachers providing a Christian witness where it is desperately needed.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/8138638?autoplay=true

*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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Pastor Gibson and the Masonic Deacon

The following is the personal testimony of Pastor Stan Gibson:

Not long after I first became a pastor, a deeply troubling circumstance necessitated that I began to consider the compatibility of Christianity and Freemasonry.  Before this incident, I had not given the matter much consideration.  I grew up in a Southern Baptist church which was filled with many Freemasons.  Despite being surrounded by Masons at my local church, I gave little thought to the Masonic order or its activities until well into my adult life.  That would all change as I became responsible for the care of souls.  The year was 1998 and I was pastoring a Southern Baptist Church in a rural area about thirty minutes outside of St. Louis, Missouri.  For a reason still unknown to me, perhaps Providence, an elderly couple brought to me An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Dr. Albert Mackey.  At the time I was unaware that Mackey is considered to be one of the most respected scholars of the Masonic craft and was himself a Master Mason during his life.  Upon receiving Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Masonry, I thanked the couple for their gift and placed the book on the desk in my office at the church.  I thought little of the gift at the time but its significance was made clear to me when the church custodian came into my office to do his usual cleaning and laid eyes on it.

Upon seeing An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on my desk, the custodian immediately snatched it up, tucked it under his arm, and said, “Where did you get this book? Why do you have this book? If you have any questions about the Masons, then you can ask me. I’ll take this book for you.” I told him where I got the book and that I was very interested in reading it for; I kindly asked him to place it back on my desk. He begrudgingly put the book back, doing so reluctantly.  It was obvious from his demeanor that he was very upset with me.  I asked him, “Why does this upset you? It’s obvious you don’t want me to read this book but why?” He simply replied, “If you want to know about the Masons, then ask me.”

“Are you a mason?” I asked the custodian.  He went on to inform me that he was not only in Mason, but that he was presently serving as the Worshipful Master in the local lodge…but he didn’t stop there.  He went on to tell me that I would be a better pastor if I knew the secrets of the Lodge and that there were things that were left out of the Bible that only initiates to the Lodge knew.  He then asked me two amazing questions.  The first was, “Don’t you want to be a better pastor?”  The second was, “If you do, would you like to become a Mason?” I couldn’t believe what I just heard! I replied to him this saying, “Are you telling me that the Bible is incomplete, and insufficient, and that I need to know what the Masons know to make me complete?”

The custodian’s answer was “yes.”

I then asked him, perhaps prompted by the Holy Spirit Himself, the following question, “Is Jesus the only Lord, and is he the Lord over the Masonic Lodge?” He replied, “He is my Lord.” Again I asked him, “Is Jesus the only Lord, and is he the Lord over the Masonic Lodge?” Again he replied, “He is my Lord.” It was clear that he was not going to answer my question; In fact, he was avoiding it on purpose. I asked the custodian, “If Jesus is not the Lord of the Masonic Lodge, then why would you want to be a part of such foolishness?” Indeed, I continued and asked him, “Does it disturb you as a professing Christian to hold the title of ‘Worshipful Master?’” When I asked this question, the custodian, a 67-year-old man, Chairmen of Deacons at the church, plugged both of his ears and ran to his car, which was parked out front. I followed him outside begging him to stay and to talk with me about the matter.  He peeled out of the parking lot and left.   Although he left, the matter was far from over.

I called for the other Deacons and me to meet and discuss the matter with him. Only two of the six deacons chose to be a part of this meeting; the rest refused and wanted to be no part of it. By the end of the meeting, the man had resigned as the chairman of deacons.  As he stormed out of the meeting, one of the other deacons said to him, “If you refuse to sit and talk about it here, I will have to bring this to the attention of the church.” The matter was brought to the attention of the church during the next business meeting; it was an ugly scene. I was accused of tearing down the church by a congregation who had theretofore held this man in high regard. They wanted to hear nothing of what actually transpired and nothing of what the word of God had to say concerning this matter.  Despite the difficulty, the meeting ended with the former Deacon Chair and his wife pulling their church membership.

After the contentious business meeting, a handful of men stayed around to encourage me and pray with me.  All of a sudden, we saw a car sliding into the church’s gravel parking lot.  A man bolted out of the car and sprinted towards the church. It was the custodian’s forty-year-old son. He charged through the doors of the church, grabbed a hold of my collar, and threw me inside my office.  He shut the door behind him and locked it.  The enraged son told me that he would “get me back”. He promised to burn my house, the church parsonage, down and even said he didn’t care if my wife and kids were inside of it when he did it. He vowed to me that my attack on the Freemasons would be vindicated and then stormed out of the church.

The men who had previously been praying with me stood outside my office bewildered by what had just transpired.  I asked them if I should take the threats seriously.  “Yes” was their reply.  I immediately hurried to the parsonage next-door. I told my wife and my two small boys to hurry up and pack because we needed to go. My wife kept asking me if the matter was really that serious.  I assured her that it was and we quickly piled into our van.  I backed out of the driveway into the cold winter’s night and began driving down a very dark country road.   Sure enough, headed towards the church was the custodian’s son; he was driving without his headlights turned on.  I turned off my own headlines and sped by him, accelerating to put distance between him and us.  We reported the incident to the local police but were not taken seriously. We hid for an entire week at a relative’s house.

All of these events caused me to be in desperate, fervent prayer to the Lord. My prayer wasn’t just for protection but for understanding about what the Freemasons truly are.  Less than one week later a former mason (whom I did not know at the time) called me out of the blue and offered all of his lodge books to me.  Right after that, the widow of a very powerful and influential Freemason called and asked if I would like to have all of his books; she gave me sixty of them.  Upon receiving these many books, I diligently studied the Freemasons from their own literature.  After exhaustive examination, I have come to the conclusion that Freemasonry is completely incompatible with biblical Christianity.

It must be confronted within the church.  I have been faithful to the Lord in this conviction to the point of informally debating a group of Freemasons about Christianity in one of their own lodges.  I hope other brothers and sisters in Christ, will, after their own study and under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, begin addressing the issue of Freemasonry in their own churches, calling errant brothers to Christ and standing firm against hardheartedness where necessary.

Stan Gibson is the Pastor of Pacific Baptist Church in Pacific Missouri.
(Edited by: Seth Dunn)

*I encourage pastors of all denominations to reach out to this blog and share their own testimonies of masonic dealings. 

**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.

Christian Values and The Bartow County Magistrate Election – Freemasons Among Us

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:11, KJV

This is a Christian Worldview blog.  Thus, political posts upon it are rare given that ours is a heavenly kingdom.   However, a political blog of local interest to my home county in Georgia is today necessitated.  On July 26th, a runoff election will be held between Brandon Bryson and Bobby Wilson for the office Magistrate Judge in Bartow County.  In investigated the background of the two candidates, it has come to my attention candidate Wilson is a Mason.  His campaign website reports:

Wilson was raised as a Master Mason in 1980 in Emerson Masonic Lodge #738 and served as Master of the lodge in 1995.  He is also a 32nd degree Master Mason.  Bobby also served as Past Worthy Patron of Emerson Chapter #538 Order of the Eastern Star

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Wilson

Wilson’s website also reports that he is “the head usher of Morning View Baptist Church is Acworth, Georgia”  From a Christian worldview standpoint, this is a serious problem for Morning View Baptist Church and Christian values voters of Bartow County.  Freemasonry stands opposed to a Christian worldview.

The Watchman Fellowship is “an independent Christian research and apologetics ministry focusing on new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age.”  It publishes a profile notebook which includes 4-page briefings of these  occultic religious movements; this profile notebook includes a briefing on Freemasonry  written by biblical scholar Ron Rhodes.  In this briefing, the secretive occultic aspects of Freemasonry are exposed.  According to Rhodes’ briefing on Freemasonry,

“God condemns all forms of occultism (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26,31; 20:27; Deut. 18:9-12; 1 Sam. 28:3). Many aspects of Freemasonry are thus off-limits to the Christian.”

The Watchman Fellowship is not an obscure fly-by-night organization but rather a nationally respected evangelical Christian ministry.  Its Profile Notebook is required reading for the Cult Theology course at the New Orleans (Southern) Baptist Theological Seminary.  Association with Freemasonry, with its secretive ceremonies, occultic elements, “many paths to God philosophy”, downplay of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and assertion that the true name of God is “Jabulon” is not appropriate for any Christian, especially not one serving in an official capacity at a local church.  Christianity is an inclusive, open-to-the-light-of-day, and biblical religion dedicated to the clear proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord, God incarnate.  Bobby Wilson is not novice Mason.  Given that he has been a “Master Mason” for nearly four decades, he is arguably not ignorant of many of the occultic rites of Freemasonary.

One of the major initiatives of the Bartow Baptist Association and other local Christian organizations has been Pray Bartow.  Many residents of Bartow County have surely seen the praybartow.com signs prominently displayed in yards across the community.  If Bartow County’s Christian citizens are truly committed to and serious about calling upon God to move in their community, should they elect a professed Freemason, who proudly advertises his masonic lodge affiliation on his campaign website along with this association with Christ’s church (Morning View Baptist)?

Spiritual darkness does not exist only outside the walls of the church building.  There is no shortage, in Bartow County and beyond, of Freemasons on deacon committees, in the pews, or even in the pulpit!  If Christians truly want unity among God’s people, then unbilbical, secretive, and occult practices need to be repented of and put out of our churches.  Nominal Christianity should not be looked upon favorably, especially during the election cycle.

That a local church has produced a free mason as a candidate for local office should be unacceptable in the eyes of Christians.  Vote wisely Bartow County.  Are you truly serious about honoring God in all you do?  Politics aside, I encourage all Bartow County Christians, especially pastors, to exercise church discipline upon the Freemasons in the midst of their local bodies.  Christians should bravely stand for God and oppose all spiritual darkness.  The masonic associations in our midst, as Christians, are bigger than politics because God’s church transcends worldy affairs.  Act like it does.  Don’t stand for masonic affiliations in the body of Christ.

After initially publishing this blog, I found this video from Christian apologist John Ankerberg and have posted it here for reference:

Disclosures and Information

  • The Magistrate court hears civil claims up to $15,000, landlord/tenant issues (evictions), preliminary criminal hearings, sets criminal bonds, issues arrest warrants and search warrants and hears county ordinance violations.
  • In the first election for Magistrate Judge, I voted for Brandon Bryson.  I have served with him on the Homeowner’s Association Board of my neighborhood.  Brandon did not ask me to write this blog and did not know of it’s publication beforehand.
  • At the time of this article was first published, I had not contacted Bobby Wilson or his church about his masonic affiliation.  I later spoke with the pastor of Morning View Baptist Church, who expressed no problems with the activities of masons.
  • I dated Bobby Wilson’s niece for a few months when I was 18.  I’ve met him but don’t remember much about him.  I was not a nice guy to the Wilson family when I dated one of their own and was totally in the wrong before God and them for that.
  • Brandon Bryson has served on the Board of Directors of the Church at Liberty Square.  I offer no commentary on or endorsement of the spiritually or theological soundness of that church body other than to say that I have visited it once for a Sunday service and was made uncomfortable by the speaking in tongues and the slaying of young women”in the Spirit” by the pastor.

*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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An Ignoble Ending

Fourteen months ago, I wrote the following plea to the “members”[1] of NewSpring Church:

“For the sake of you, your spouse, your children, and your fellow believers, leave NewSpring Church.”

This was plea was a part of an article critical of Noble’s unsound preaching and attractional methods.  It is not the only critical article I’ve written about Noble and NewSpring.  Just this March, I wrote two.  The first article addressed the tithing money-back guarantee that NewSpring was offering.  In that article, I issued another plea:

“If you know anyone who attends NewSpring or Venue, please approach him, in love, with Bible in hand and explain to him why this Tithing Challenge is a sinful affront to God.”

In my second March article, I denounced Noble as an “entertainer” who “despite being exposed as clearly unqualified to teach from God’s word, Noble (a seminary dropout) remains the head of NewSpring Church.”  Denouncements of Noble are not rare in Christian media.  On the Pulpit & Pen website alone, Noble has been negatively mentioned in an article thirty-three times since November of 2013.  Perry Noble, as a pastor, is an absolute disaster.  Although he draws crowds and makes lots of money, he’s been a reproach to the Christian religion for years.

This week, Perry Noble was fired as the Pastor[2] of NewSpring Church problems for the “overuse of alcohol” as well as marital problems.  His firing comes just four months after he hosted the “Most Excellent Way to Lead Conference” which included himself, Mark Driscoll (who himself had recently been fired from his own multisite megachurch), Steven Furtick, and Dave Ramsey.  Perry Noble, up until his recent firing, was actually considered an expert on leadership in his circles.  He regular released leadership podcasts, he wrote a leadership book, and he put on a leadership conference where he claims to have taught “how to leave a legacy by the impact of your leadership”.

Perry Noble is not the first pastor in history to be fired for moral failings and he’ll not be the last.  Still, it should be noted that the warning signs were there with this man.  Often times, people don’t understand why I write the articles that I do.  After all, I’ll never go to NewSpring church, so what’s it matter to me what they do?  There are hundreds if not thousands money-centric megachurches.  I can’t put them all out of business.

I can warn one person about them, though.  Making an impact on one person’s life is worth the time spent writing and researching an article.

The firing of Perry Noble has, in some way, vindicated the many negative criticisms of him.  He’ll be back though, as sure as Jimmy Swaggart cries on stage, he’ll be back.  Like I said before, Perry Noble draws.  He’ll be back, as will many more like him.  Hopefully, more people will start to heed the warnings about Noble and those like him.  This is a good time to reassess the messages preached and activities put on at your own church.  The chances are that your church is not a mega machine like NewSpring, but imitators are hardly rare and Noble is not the only unqualified pastor who is (or has been as the case may be) employed by a local church.

*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.

[1] They refer to themselves as “owners” at NewSpring, not members

[2] CEO seems to be a more accurate term to me.