It’s GU Time

Well it's that time of year again.  The time when all the City Bible cronies get super hyped because there money maker conference Generation Unleashed is on.  I used to go to this thing back in the day when it was much less hyped, but since I haven't set foot in the bubble in over 10 years I have no idea what it is like now.  All I can see is what's online and what I hear.  From that it seems to me that they are trying really hard to be trendy, hip and cool, which is generally the case for most of what they do.  Just another example of trying to "be like the world without being in the world" (I always loved that line).  And the speaker line-up seems more inbred than ever with 8 of the 11 featured speakers being connected to either CBC or TCC in some way.  Haven't the kids who attend this thing heard enough of Frank Damazio, Judah Smith, Benny Perez and Marc Estes?  Maybe it's time to find some fresh blood out there.  Too bad they preach such softball messages of goodness, blessing and love.  Not that those are bad topics, but it would be nice to see a youth pastor throw in something on sacrifice, obedience, and servant hood once in awhile.  Something that really challenges kids to step away from trying to be hip and cool and encourages them to focus on Jesus.  This may be why generations of young Christians don't last past high school.  No one ever seems to get in their face and preach some truth.  I don't doubt young lives are being affected by GU, but I hope for their sake the kids don't stick around the domes too long afterwards.

So is this really a conference or just a concert?

GU 2011

What is wrong with City Bible Church?

Someone recently asked the following:   

I guess my question would be of the leaders of this blog (which has been a great encouragement to me) is… can they post a statement of what is the false doctrines CBC subscribes to that it might provide me more insight into what to present to my wife (and others if necessary)?

This is a very broad question, and I don't consider myself a leader of this blog, however I am a regular contributor and Catalyst gave me some administrative power (bet he regrets that) so I will address this briefly.  I mean after all, six years of posts and comments is a lot to sift through.  I must also point out though that I only speak for myself and there are likely many on this blog who will disagree with me, but here it goes.

I believe CBC is in the right place with the basics of Christianity.  In fact all Christian churches are really. Heck even the Mormons believe most of the basics. The Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, the Bible, Heaven/Hell…all that is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.  In my eyes, where they go wrong is the method of living as a Christian.  I found that CBC makes the Gospel (Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for our sins) the starting point of being a Christian but our actions the finish line.  (This is in contrast to the Bible, which makes the Gospel the start, middle and finish of Christianity).  CBC tells us you must have faith to come to God, but then actions to be loved by Him.  You must believe in Jesus to be saved by Him, but perform for Jesus to be known by Him.  You ask Him into your heart but He won't dwell there until you show you are worthy enough for His presence.  This is the distortion and falsehood of truth I refer to.  Why?

When Jesus uttered the words "it is finished" He wasn't referring to himself dying on the cross to save mankind as much as He was referring to the fact that the Gospel was completed.  The rat race of performance, penance, and human sacrifice (under the law) was over…humans were finally free.  He fulfilled the law and destroyed all the requirements of the Old Testament.  From then on anyone and everyone were completely covered by the blood of Christ.  Our job is simply to accept it, believe in it, and live for it.  But this is not what CBC teaches.  They say that after the little prayer asking Christ into your life you must move up the spiritual ladder and maintain yourself as a Christian through various forms of actions, disciplines, and beliefs.  You must pray, read the Bible, fast, tithe, separate yourself from your past, disassociate with the outside world, stop doing this and start doing that.  They use scripture like "faith without works is dead" in order to push a philosophy of works and performance as the means by which our relationship with Christ will remain, and our growth in Him will help us move up the level of importance in His kingdom and earn spiritual badges that will eventually put us at the highest level of importance in His eyes.  The better we are, the more faithful we live, the more dedicated to Him we appear, the greater our blessings on earth and in heaven we shall receive.  For the truly great (like Pastor Frank) there will be a place at the front of the crowd in heaven, directly beneath His feet at the throne.  They tell us that because the pastors and elders have spent so many years as active Christians learning in their faith with Bible degrees and the blessings of health and wealth, that they are more accepted by God at a higher level of righteousness, and ultimately more important in His eyes.  This importance gives them a direct line with God and a special mantel of power and authority to speak into others lives and dictate what we should or shouldn’t do.  Then to make matters worse, CBC uses guilt and manipulation to get people to buy into these theories.  They abuse young, innocent, immature people into following their brand of authority, demanding people follow and obey their interpretation of the scriptures and establish a class system of those who do and those who don’t.  And when you are one of those who don’t they barrage you with attacks about your disobedient spirit, unfaithful ways, and hard heart, ultimately forcing you to either conform to their ways or hit the highway.

The falsehood behind this kind of doctrine is that Jesus spent over 30 years on this earth serving with the people, living humble, weak, without riches, traveling from place to place, caring only about healing the sick, caring for the orphans and the children, the widows, and the lost. Jesus preached “come as you are” believe in Him to make you pure, and know that by His stripes we are healed.  He preached our justification is through Him alone.  He had no desire to be a rich king, or a ruling authority on the earth as the Son of God.  Instead he died on the cross to bring peace to us all, so we no longer had to serve God under our own power, by our own means, but instead by His grace.  CBC corrupts the pureness of this by smashing it down into a little box and saying that was great to get you started but now you must put that box on the shelf and start your plate spinning regimen of a quest for perfection to earn a complete place in God’s kingdom.  And should you fail at this quest He will take away His covering of righteousness on you and it will be a long hard climb back to the top of the “holiness hill”.  Being apart of this process creates a level of arrogance in those who are able to achieve such high performance and a sense of failure in those who don’t.  It creates an unhealthy relationship with God, where one views His love for them by how much they prayed or read their Bible that week.  Where one judges the good stuff in their life as a blessing from how faithful to God they are, and the bad stuff by how sinful they are.  People get on that treadmill or hamster wheel of performance, running in circles year after year but really going nowhere.  They tie their whole lives up into the church, sacrificing their own dreams and goals, educational and career desires and pursuits, only to come up short in the eyes of those they so desperately seek approval from.  And in the end, only a small handful of people actually make it to the promise land of God’s chosen on this earth, while the rest of us scrap for the crumbs from the king’s table.

So you see CBC is a breading ground of falsehood.  False theories of work and performance, preached by leaders/pastors who live under false assumptions that they are God’s chosen, and people/members who carry a false belief that they must do something for God to be more loved, accepted and important to Him.

Why did Wendell Smith die?

I think it was because he had a cancer. And cancer kills people. But I'm open to other thoughts as well.

I bring this up, because there have been a few comments (which I didn't approve) suggesting that the readers of this blog believe Wendell Smith's death was a result of God's judgment on his life. I decided to approve one of the comments below. Because, well, let's have that discussion.

My take: Everybody dies.

…so, you might as well enjoy your time on this earth while you can.

Christian Headlines Investigation: $34 billion to be stolen by Christian leaders in 2011.

I've been checking out the website Christian News Headlines as of late to read some of the bigger stories going on in the Christian world.  They recently started a new series on their blog looking at an overview of religious financial fraud. This is their first article in the series.  According to the article, the International Bulletin of Missionary Research reported that Christian religious leaders will commit an estimated $34 billion in financial fraud in 2011.  Researchers from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimate that Christian religious leaders will commit $90 million in financial crimes daily and the fraud is growing at a rate of 5.97% each year.  The three most common funding sources are:

  1. The Offering Plate — In 2002 NBC Dateline aired an exposé on Benny Hinn. Mike Estrella, a former Benny Hinn Ministries employee responsible for counting the money given at Hinn’s crusades, said that he observed Gene Polino, Hinn’s CEO, embezzle thousands of dollars from the crusade collection buckets.
  2. The Ministry Checking Account and Credit Card — Jason Reynolds, the finance director of National City Christian Church, used the church credit card to acquire a Lexus SUV and Land Rover. He also embezzled over $200,000 by writing himself checks.
  3. Investments — In 1999 the Baptist Foundation of Arizona filed for bankruptcy after accumulating $530 million in liabilities. Dishonest administrators engaged in a cover-up to hide bad investments. William Crotts and his associates set up more than 90 dummy corporations to hide financial losses and used a ponzi scheme to cover old investments. New Church Ventures was the largest dummy corporation formed by the BFA and held $173 million in debts. New Church Ventures had zero employees and provided no funds for building new churches even though that was its stated objective.

I am glad to see that more and more outlets are starting to investigate and report on this stuff.  I know the people who give are just as problematic as the people who steal, but it's no secret that Christians are gullible people.  If you present something with a claim that "God will bless you more by doing it," and attach a few Bible verses with testimony about how it changed someone’s life, countless sheep stand up ready to participate.  The liars who preach this stuff have to be more accountable then the followers who get sucked in.  Let’s hope 2011 is a year of change in the Christian world.  As these stories of fraud reach more and more people hopefully there will be a huge shift in the amount of money that is actually given to the corrupt organizations.  And once the rivers of money stop flowing, maybe, just maybe these crooks will be forced out of their evil ways.

Advice for Gabby

Happy New Year! (This is the first post of 2011).

This comment got lost in another thread and I thought it deserved to be addressed more openly so our readers could give Gabby some good advice.  Because after all that is what CBC is all about, right? If we don't help those in need, then what are we doing here?

Gabby said: "Hello!! Ok, so I've been one of those readers for a few years, and never said a word! I have been at City Bible for 6 yrs, started reading this blog 2yrs ago. I just want to say I myself am having problems and feelings like I should leave yet I end up feeling guilty for feeling that way and ask my self what's my problem! Well I know I have issues and all that but I'm starting to think that some of these feelings are there for a reason, so thank you all for your blogging it has help and is helping me to wade my way through all this….Blessing to you all!! At least we know this, we are the least of them and that's a good thing!!"

So City Business readers, what is Gabby to do?