True Gospel vs False Gospel

Here is a great response by Negrodamus to the following question by blog reader "Me"regarding True and False Gospel:

Me said:

Negrodamus, (great name btw)

As a matter of curiosity, and i mean this will all due respect, what Gospel were you preaching at CBC? And I request specifics because I know the Gospel I heard preached while I was there. I know and have had very personal conversations with Pastor Frank, Doug and Donna Lasit, Ken and Glenda Malmin, Lanny Hubbard, Asim Trent, Marc Estes, Jack Louman, Brian Dahne, and many many others. Also, while at PBC and CBC, I was also in leadership in Gen Church. I never heard any Gospel that I couldn't read in the Bible. So i earnestly ask what it was you were preaching, and if you feel as though you were taught that or somehow formed it on your own. Please if you've time, explain a bit more.

Negrodamus resonponds:

I'm glad you ask. Here's what I was preaching, a gospel of works. I don't know if I can keep it anymore simple. Hence, take one of Frank Damzio's newest books, say, "The Unshakable Life" http://www.citychristianpublishing.com/books/?isbn=1-59383-039-4, the comments from Frank read as following:

This book is written for those in the trenches of real life. It is written for those who experience challenges, surprises, disappointments, successes and failures that shake up their days. It is for those who are ready to build an unshakable life-a life that is anchored, immovable and indestructable. Join with the author as he develops each one of these Seven Declarations for an Unshakable Life, based on the unshakable Word of God: I will live life strong. I will love God's house. I will hold my head high. I will have an overflowing heart. I will turn to God at all times. I will walk on a level path. I will not lose heart.

Me, do you seee what's wrong with the premise here? The onus, the weight, the burden of living an unshakable life starts with you, not Christ. Look at how many times Frank says "I will", count them, it's seven. I will live, I will love, I will hold, I will have, I will turn, I will walk, I will not lose. Do you see that? It's all about I…I…I…I… The gospel always starts with Him…Him…Him…Him… The unshakable life is not found in a set of principles, it's found in a person, JC. Now of course, you could combat this by saying "Well, Frank does talk about Jesus in the book!" Of course he does, but only as an after thought. Christ is never the hero of the book, we are. In fact, they nicknamed Frank amongst his peers as the Porcupine Preacher because he was good at giving so many points and principles. I remember listening to those sermons back in the day like "wow, how in the hell did he find so many principles in that one passage???" He would take a biblical story like David and Goliath and teach on "how to face your giants?" He would say stuff like David didn't just have one stone, he had five other stones because David had brothers. I would sit there, clutching the pew in front of me totally mezmerized as I hung on to every point Frank made. Frank would say "do you know what those five stones represented?" I would think to myself "No, but whatever they are I need them to face down my giants!"
So Frank would go on point by point, he even had sub-points within the points and I would walk out of the domes that Sunday morning with a fresh commitment to living out those points. I think if you added it all up he gave something like 15 points that morning. Then I would go next week and there would be another 15 points if you included the sub-points and by the time I finished year one of listening to Frank's sermons I had something like 720 principles or points to cultivate in my life in order to have an unshakable, over-flowing, spirit-filled, set the atmosphere, leaving my past behind me, breakthrough, successfully achieving, financially providing, leadership developing, spiritual warfaring kind of life. And the list went on and on.

After a while I would be like "how in the world can I do all this????" Christianity became too exhausting, I wondered to myself "Where is the peace and rest that Chrsitianity offered?" I weighted and burdened the youth at CBC shoulders with principles and points that were impossible to keep. To put it simply, I burdened them with the law because I didn't get the point of the law. I used the law as a system of salvation. It became my savior. If I was keeping the law, the principles and the points then I assumed I was succeeding spiritually, but if I failed at any one of those 720 points Frank preached then I was crushed spiritually and emotionally. I didn't realize that I was saved from the law and yet saved for the law. I was saved from it in the sense that I can find my rest in Christ, my perfect life is found only in him. There is nothing I can do to get God to love me more and yet there is nothing I can do to get God to love me less. He loves me period. My role is to accept His acceptance of me. I am saved by grace and changed by grace. He met every point, every principle, every standard for me, so I can get off this treadmill of works, expending energy and yet ending up nowhere. And yet on the other hand not do away with the law because it is a good guide to life.

Now, back to Frank's David and Goliath point. If he, we and all the Christianas in that building would have seen the real hero of the story that fateful morning, we would have walk out liberated, not burdened because we would have looked to Him and not ourselves to defeat our enemies. Christ stood like David as our representative, he faced down our giants when we were cowering in the hills like Israel's army defeated by our foes and He and He alone stares down, faces down or better yet beats down our ultimate enemy-sin and death. This is the heart of the gospel, not some man-centered gospel that brings into focus us when we approach a biblical text, but rather the true gospel of the bible all brings into focus Him, period. If Christ is is not the hero, than we make Him merely a helper but not a savior.

“Me” criticizes David Mackin for publicly disagreeing with “pastors with cancer.”

Me wrote: "David, honestly, your statement about Mal. 3:8-12, whether or not it was written to believers implies that God somehow changed His idea of tithing and blessing between now and then. Simply untrue."

Me, As a counselor I thought that you would know that when a patient simply makes an assertion, it does not make it true. Your assertion "Simply untrue" is just such a statement. If you would take the time to research the tithe on this blog, you will find many reasons given against the Mandatory Tithe being required to receive God's blessings. In my view, we need you to leave assertionism behind and come forward with well-interpreted Scripture.

Me wrote:"There's also the fact that Pastor Frank Damazio has completed his PhD work at ORU, which holds the highest accreditation available to a school of theology in the states…"

Me, It is true that FD just received a degree from ORU. ORU's Office of Verifications just informed me that he earned a 3.95 GPA while doing this, too. Good job! At the same time, he did not earn a Ph.D. degree as you claimed; he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree, a degree which is far less academic and much more practical than the typical Ph.D. degree, as joebib has previously pointed out on this blog.

Me wrote: "As far as I know, you've no such credentials, and therefore wouldn't really be a credible source for such criticisms as you so flippantly distribute on this site."

Me, I do not make my posts "flippantly" on this blog. It is true, however, that I do not hold a degree beyond a Bachelors of Religion. At the same time, I do not base anyone's final credibility on the letters after their name. I base my assessment on what they say and the way that they document what they say. I have a friend, as just one example, who does not have a doctorate but is published in learned journals and who has read every article in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible 4 vol. set, along with 1-2 solid commentaries on every book of the Bible, and much more. On the flip side, there are many atheists with advanced degrees who reject both God and Jesus Christ…

I would prefer you to dialogue with me about my content, sources and hermeneutics rather than dismissing so easily what I say because I don't have an advanced degree.

Me wrote: "After all, he's [David] spent so many hours of his life and time on this earth bashing…churches and pastors with cancer [Pastor Wendell Smith]."

Me, If I understand you correctly, you are saying that because Wendell Smith has cancer, than I should not criticize his teachings. Is this right? As a counselor, if you'll think about it, I think that you will recognize what you just said to me as a good example of pure guilt manipulation: don't criticize Wendell Smith because he has cancer. Do you actually encourage your patients to use guilt to manipulate others?

Where does the Bible say that because someone is sick that others should not disagree with their teachings? I don't know of any verse supporting that idea.

I have prayed, along with many others, that God would heal Wendell, but just because he may continue being sick, does not mean that God is giving him, or any other person with an unfortunate sickness, a license to teach whatever they want and to use the Bible or the gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever way they choose.

“PC” comes to the defense of Pastor Wendell Smith…

 

PC said: "I have to say that this entire site is the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen." 

PC, Have you honestly read this entire site? (I know I haven’t yet.) If not, how can you accurately say anything disparaging about “this entire site?” 

PC said: "It is a shame that some people study the scriptures not out of a heart to seek God but out of a heart to destroy the church." 

PC, How can you claim to know other people's motives for studying the Bible? We are seeking God by discussing if what we have been taught by pastors is truly what the Bible says; is that wrong? Did not Paul commend the Bereans for "searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so?"…even if it implied that they would question the very teachings that Paul was proclaiming?! 

PC said: " I’ve read and also heard first hand the statements by Pastor Wendell that were noted in this blog and I totally agree." 

PC, I'm happy that you are telling me that I accurately quoted Pastor Wendell; that he is consistent with the contents of his book when he gets into the pulpit; and that you probably attend his church. 

More importantly, however, is the question: Have you read what this site says about the Prosperity Doctrine or about the Mandatory Tithe so that you can intelligently discuss it with us and not hide behind your pastor? (If you want to, go to the right column on this page and click onto these topics.) 

PC said: "If you don’t want the blessing that comes from being faithful with your finances to God…" 

PC, I do want the blessing that comes from being faithful with my finances and that is why I am seeking better to understand the Scriptures so that I can please my Father. In my view, your comment is impudent, judgmental and cheap: it gives no reason for your statement except the vague implication that you probably have Malachi 3:8-12 in mind, which was not written to Christians. 

Pardon me for saying this but you remind me of myself after I graduated from Portland Bible College in 1974: I believed everything I had been taught was beyond question and I thought that I understood the Bible and the world "perfectly." Please come out of your naïve cocoon nestled safely behind your pastor. We invite you to join in true dialogue with us. 

PC said: "…then fine but don’t destroy the men and women of God…" 

PC, Have you ever read a book review, a movie review or the editorial page of a newspaper? The real world is real people quoting each other and asking questions and bringing honest critiques and opinions to the table (hopefully with a desire for the truth and a spirit of respect). 

I agree that not everything on this blog is shared with the utmost respect, but nothing is perfect including pastors in the pulpit and the religious business franchises that they attempt to build. The apostle Paul named names when he thought that someone had backslidden into false teaching. 

Have you read Pastor Wendell's book, Prosperity with a Purpose? If not, please read it, and then may I suggest that you read my review of his book which you will find on this blog, and then tell me if you think I was fair in my evaluation.  

I believe that genuine dialogue is an essential part of Christian education – not simply allowing ourselves to be blindly indoctrinated by the church pulpit or classroom podium. Paul told the Romans in 14, “Let each man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” That means that he was requiring members of the church to think and evaluate for themselves. 

Generally speaking, please realize that even though all true Christians believe that Jesus is Lord, in my view, the churches in which genuine dialogue on the non-essentials of the faith is actively quashed are places where pastors have perverted the church from a learning community into either a cult or a moneymaking business or both.

 Just stop and think about it for a minute: Why would the leaders of a cult or a moneymaking church franchise quash all questions toward its senior leadership and its teachings?  

PC said: "…who are pursuing the life and calling God has for them…" 

PC, My friend, we are seeking to know the ways of God and the general will of Jesus Christ for leaders and Christians alike. There are NT principles that apply to Pastor Wendell as well as to all of us. Believers need to hold each other accountable to being faithful to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Your statement sounds very defensive to me like "Go away! Leave my pastor alone!" I'm sorry, we're not going away and we're not going to leave Pastor Wendell, or any other leader alone, who we feel is deceiving the Body of Christ. We might be wrong in our concern, but right now, this is what we feel the NT teaches.   

I do hope that we hear from you again. I hope that you didn't visit us just to shoot emotion-based bullets that made you feel that you were doing your Christian duty to defend your pastor and then disappear under a pew at The City Church. 

My own childhood spirit is making this request of you: "Come out, come out, wherever you are and let's play for real!" 

 

We’re moving to Chicago!

Well, at least I am…

After five wonderful years in Washington DC, (the birthplace of City Business Church) I have taken a new job in Chicago, and I will be moving there next week.  It's a great opportunity, and I am very excited about the future. However, this is also likely going to cut into my blogging time. New job, new boss, new city, actually having to do work, well they all add up to a lot less free time for me. Thus, if my blogging is sporatic over the next month or so, that's the reason. But bear with me, I suspect it won't take long for me to figure out how to do nothing and get paid for it, at which point I'll be back to forcing my love of Obama on you, and regaling you with my great tithing jokes.

Also, I feel I should add that ever since I started this blog several years ago, my financial position has improved dramatically. I'm not bragging, I just want others to know that just because you question your pastor and church, that doesn't necessarily mean God is going to curse you. He may in fact, bless you! If the last few years are any guide, God evidently considers blogging the new tithing.

Anyway, thanks for all the support!

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Jesus criticizes the pastor/leaders of his day. Among other things, he describes them as false prophets (Mt. 7:15-20), false wonder workers (Mt. 7:21-23; Mt. 12:38-42), false builders (Mt. 7:24-27) and false teachers (Mt. 12:33-37). He tells his followers that they can recognize these false ministries “by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16, 20; 12:33). What did Jesus mean by the phrase, “by their fruits?” 

False prophets pretend to be sheep and/or shepherds in order to get closer to their prey. When they get close enough to the sheep, they ensnare them and then eat them to enrich themselves. The nature of wolves is to live off of eating sheep. As long as they are wolves, they cannot change their sheep-eating nature. Jesus subtly contrasts the wolf nature with the nature of grape vines and fig trees that yield their fruit freely to any passer-by. Wolves are sheep hunters and killers. Grape vines and fig trees are givers and nourishers. 

False wonder-workers operate in the gifts of the Spirit. They use the name of Jesus to prophesy, cast out demons, heal the sick and do many mighty supernatural signs. Outwardly, God’s people only see attention-getting, jaw-dropping phenomena. The problem, however, is that what the people do not see is the life of lawlessness that they live when off stage. 

False builders erect large buildings, attract huge crowds and grow sizable church organizations and institutions. What they build on the outside attracts much public attention and even influences others to follow their example. The hidden danger, however, is that they have built their entire ministry on a faulty foundation: They encourage the people to come every week to hear the words of Jesus (act as an audience), but they do not insist that the people do the words of Jesus (live as disciples). Eventually, what they have built falls because they have not discipled the people properly on how to weather the inevitable storms of life through demonstrating and insisting that they literally put into practice everything that Jesus tells his disciples to do. 

False teachers speak “evil words,” i.e., they promote unbiblical doctrines against the true gospel of Jesus Christ. These false doctrines proceed out of their flesh rather than the Spirit. In this sense, what they teach comes from the wrong source: it comes forth as the “offspring of snakes” rather than the offspring of God. 

(Who or what have you seen in the church world today that might fit the description of a false prophet, a false wonder-worker, a false builder or a false teacher? By what “fruits” are you recognizing them?)

 

 

A Statement on Giving

Someone recently said, "Very Few people on this blog will comment on what they DO believe, they just want to criticize you for your beliefs." Well, I would like to think that we frequently comment on what we DO believe and then criticize you for your beliefs. Anyways, here is what I believe in regard to one subject…giving.

I believe that giving is one of the most important things we, as Christians, can do to spread the gospel. Honestly.

Give. Everything.         

It's really that simple. Unfortunately, due to the miss-teachings of many prosperity preachers I must now clarify what I mean by "give". So allow me to present my "Give, but do NOT give" guideline.

Give, but do NOT give…a guideline

Give, but Do NOT give 10% of your income to your church to fulfill an Old Testament ritual. Give 10% to your church, but do it to fulfill New Testament direction from Jesus…and than tack on an extra 10% for fun. Or give 5% with a cheerful heart. Or give $20 bucks with a smile on your face. Give whatever you feel God wants you to give.

Give, but Do NOT give only to your church…give 10% of your income to your church, give another 5% to a local charity, then give $20 bucks to the guy standing on the corner, go buy the single mom down the street food, and also buy coffee for the businessman in a suit standing behind you in line at Starbucks, give to orphans in Africa…give to anybody and give to everybody.

Give, but Do NOT give only money (despite what "they" tell you, giving money is easy)…give of your time…give of yourself…give love…give hugs…give 1 night a week to serving food at a homeless shelter, give another night to read books to sick kids at the Children's Hospital, spend your Saturday afternoon mowing your neighbors lawn, spend a hot day passing around water bottles to those stuck outside in the heat, spend another day stuffing envelops for a local charity… treat others like Christ treated you.

Give, but Do NOT give so that God will bless you. Give because of what God has already done in your life. Give because Christ died so that you might be saved. Give because your eternity will be spent in heaven. Give because if you have Christ you have all the blessing you need. (And yes, if you give God will bless you… but do NOT attach the American definition of "blessing" to what God will do for you…God may just end up "blessing" you with disease, tragedy, and pain…and yet… still bring Himself glory.)

In summation, I believe that we should give… everything… and in doing so find complete contentment in what we already have from Jesus (Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace, Salvation) thus giving all the glory to God. 

For those keeping score allow me to also state, "Jesus is my Lord and Savior".

Does a U2 concert take people to a new level in worship?

Recently, I took a little heat when I poked fun at a young female for claiming that she went to a new level in worship at the latest Generation Unleashed Concert.  I argued that what she experienced wasn't worship, but instead excitement at attending a fun event.  Well, Exhibit A, in support of my argument is this video of the most recent Generation Unleashed Concert.

Generation Unleashed 2008

When you rely on special affects, lighting, guitar solos and crowd surfing, to get Christian teens excited, that's not worship that's manipulation. If worship is just a good concert, then the Rolling Stones have brought more people to Christ than Billy Graham.

Purity Ball: Commendable or Creepy?

We have discussed this before, but today's New York Times takes another look at the Purity Ball. The Purity Ball is a dance for fathers and daughters to attend and pledge to remain pure. I have to say, while I understood the intent of the Ball, I still got a real uncomfortable feeling reading the article:

The girls, ages early grade school to college, had come with their fathers, stepfathers and future fathers-in-law last Friday night to the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball. The first two hours of the gala passed like any somewhat awkward night out with parents, the men doing nearly all the talking and the girls struggling to cut their chicken.

But after dessert, the 63 men stood and read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

I'm down with the covenant, I guess. But why do you need a Purity Ball to do this. Just be a good father; you don't need to get all creepy and take your daughter to a dance.

And then there is this:

Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy. But studies have also shown that most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers.

The key is for fathers to maintain a good relationship with their children. That is the best way to protect your children from negative influences. The Purity Ball is just another event the makes Christians less able to relate to the rest of the world. And it doesn't add much in the way of actually helping your children. My guess is that this Purity Ball is more for the fathers than it is for the daughters. And that's a little sketchy.

Also, be sure to check out the pictures. How exactly does this promote the message of Christ?

The King of Kong

 

Allow me to take a break from all this discussion and invite everyone to join in on the greatest movie of all time…

The King of Kong

A Fistful of Quarters

If you haven't seen it, go find it, rent it, and watch it…which will inevitable lead to you going to buy it. It is the most quotable movie I have ever seen…I don't really know how to explain how great it is other than leave you with this quote from the movie:

I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame. I wanted the pretty girls to come up and say, "Hi, I see that you're good at Centipede."

                                                                       

                                                                                  -Walter Day

How to bring more people to Christ?

Protest Starbuck's old coffee cup logo. A group of Christians in San Diego is challenging the sexual content of an old Starbuck's logo that the company is now placing on some coffee cups.

I do believe this is spelled out in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19,20.

"Therefore go and find unimportant, uncontroverisal issues, protesting in the name of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Kenneth Copeland. Teach America to become increasingly annoyed with your lack of priorities and your obsession with wealth. And surely I am with you always, though embarrassed by your inability to understand the basics of grace and compassion."